May 28, 2017
In the comic strip: “For Better or Worse” – Elizabeth can’t sleep. She goes to her older brother Michael’s room. He is awake too. They both can’t sleep. Michael: “I can’t sleep, Elizabeth…I’ve never known anybody who died before.” Elizabeth: “Me neither.” Michael: “Mrs. Baird was such a nice lady. I can’t believe she’s gone.” Elizabeth: “Don’t cry Michael…Now we know our very own angel!”
Both children and adults need to take in and absorb a significant loss of someone they have known. Jesus “was taken up and a cloud took him from their sight.” The apostles and women including Mary, the Mother of Jesus, can only look up at the sky. Jesus is no longer with them. But recall in the Bible, a cloud both hides and reveals God. Angels, two men in white, break the spell and tell the sky watchers that Jesus will return and reveal himself to them in new ways. From Mt. Olivet they return and enter the city of Jerusalem finding comfort and safety in the “upper room.” Here, where they shared supper with Jesus before he died, they now devote themselves with one accord to prayer.
In the 12 century St. Bernard joined a monastery along with 31 friends and family. The place had had been called “valley of wormwood” but after the reform of the monastery and renewal of the surrounding peasant community it was called “clairvaux” or “clear valley.” When Gerard, Bernard’s brother and travelling partner died, in his grief, Bernard prayed to God: “You gave Gerard. You have taken him away. And if we mourn because he was taken we forget not that he was given.”
Like, the disciples, when we are caught up in grief and disorientated, we need to devote ourselves to prayer -- asking for the grace to mourn, to see how Jesus is still present and to pray for Holy Spirit to give us the strength to continue. This is what we are about between the feast of the Ascension and Pentecost. Especially so, on this Memorial Day weekend, when we remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to our nation. They are not forgotten.
I placed a signup sheet in the ushers’ room for AED/CPR training. CPR means “cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” i.e. breathing into one’s mouth to revive the person unable to breathe. Jesus appears to his disciples huddled behind locked doors and breathes on them the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit calms their fear, instills peace and joy, and commissions the disciples t... READ MORE
During Lent and now during Holy Week I have been reading: “Dorothy Day – The World will be saved by Beauty” by Kate Hennessy – Dorothy’s granddaughter. Dorothy once asked: “What did the women do after the crucifixion?” She answered the question in her column in the Catholic Worker: “While the men mourned and prayed, the women had to get on with the business... READ MORE
After their supper together Jesus and his disciples go to a garden, Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives. The disciples sit down. Jesus takes Peter, James and John apart to pray. He requests that they watch with him. Do they hear Jesus pray: “Father, if it is possible the cup pass without drinking, but your will be done.” At the cross Mary Magdalene, Mary, the Mother of ... READ MORE
Yesterday I listened to a conversation on extending life on NPR. The study is funded by Silicon Valley and Nasa. Researchers have identified a molecule in all forms of life (mice & men) that is critical for vitality. When the molecule declines aging increases and the life form becomes more susceptible to disease. Do we want to live longer? Is it selfish keeping our pla... READ MORE
John, the evangelist, does not use the word “miracle.” He speaks of the “signs” Jesus performs. A miracle conveys a sense of something extraordinary, above the laws of nature, beyond our ability and comprehension. A sign engages us and brings about insight and understanding. Jesus heals the blind man at the Pool of Siloam and slowly helps him to come to insight reg... READ MORE