Feb 062005

Your Daily Tripod

"Your Daily Tripod" reflects the personal Fourth Day journeys of its authors and editors. We are happy to have companions like you share in this project. Our prayer is that these reflections will invite and inspire your Fourth Day journey of Piety, Study and Action as much as writing or editing them inspires our journey and brings us all close moments with Jesus and our neighbors.

“What the God of the Living Asks of Us” by Colleen O’Sullivan

On this account, I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.  (2 Timothy 1:12)

As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?  He is not God of the dead but of the living.  You are greatly misled.”   (Mark 12:26-27)

Words:  D.J. Bulls    Music:  Mark Shipp
To You, I lift up my eyes
To You, who reigns in the heavens
Be gracious unto us, O Lord
Be gracious unto us; be gracious unto us

Last week on America’s Got Talent, one of the contestants, Archie Williams, said he had spent 37 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.  Thanks to the Innocence Project, the fingerprints found at the scene, none of which matched Mr. Williams were looked at again.  With the help of more advanced databases and forensic techniques, the real perpetrator was identified, and Mr. Williams was set free.  As he sang Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” I kept wondering why those years of incarceration hadn’t broken him.  When he was speaking with host Terry Crews, he said, “Freedom is of the mind.  I went to prison, but I never let my mind go to prison.”  He said he prayed and sang when the days were dark.
That must be how the Apostle Paul dealt with his imprisonments; he must never have gone to prison in his mind.  He mentally stayed free for the Lord and continued to pray.  Otherwise, I don’t know how he could have written so many eloquent letters to friends and churches while under lock and key. 

Today’s first reading is the beginning of the Apostle’s second letter to his dear, younger friend Timothy.  Perhaps Paul has received word that Timothy isn’t the strong leader Paul is sure he could be.  Paul encourages him to remember the gift of the Spirit which Paul has passed on to him.  The Apostle encourages Timothy to take the spark of the Holy Spirit and fan it into flame.  Paul says the Spirit gives us the strength, wisdom, and courage we need to proclaim the Gospel to others.  It’s not always easy to be a messenger of the Gospel.  If we live in the Spirit, somehow, we are given the way to do that as well as the words to use.

And we also know when to give up and go on to more fertile fields, as Jesus shows us in today’s Gospel.  The Sadducees do not believe in resurrection or life after death.  Jesus knows he’s being played by the ridiculous story of a widow whose brother-in-law marries her and then dies; a scene repeated over and over until all seven of the brothers-in-law have died.  The Sadducees then want to know which one the widow will be married to in heaven.  Jesus says none of the above because when we rise from the dead, there won’t be any marrying in heaven.   Jesus says they must not know their Scriptures, for God is the God of the living, not the dead, but he doesn’t wait around to see if he’s convinced them.  Remember, Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust off their feet and go on if they were not well-received.  There are always more waiting to hear the Gospel. 

We preach the Gospel not merely in words, but by our actions as well.  In one of the Resurrection stories (John 21), Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him.  Peter says three times that he does, indeed, love Jesus.  Jesus responds three times: “Feed my lambs.”  “Tend my sheep.”  “Feed my sheep.”

Imagine Jesus saying those words to you.  Covid-19, with all its attendant shut-downs, has put a great many people out of work.  There are some very hungry sheep in need of feeding today.  There are people right here in our midst in northern Virginia whose cupboards are bare and whose paychecks have stopped coming.  If you are able, please consider giving to a food pantry or organization that is working to feed our neighbors who are not sure where their next meal will come from.

Jesus asks us not only to feed his precious lambs but to tend to their other needs as well.  Nowhere does Jesus say that certain sheep are more deserving than others.  All of us, regardless of race, skin color, ethnic origin, religious belief, abilities, or disabilities, are God’s precious children.  Maybe spend some time praying about how or whether our actions reflect that truth.

“Be On Your Guard” By Melanie Rigney


In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. (Psalm 90:1)

So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:17)

Even Jesus, help me to find stability in You.   

Human life is always fragile, and the past few months have attuned us to that. Things are going along in an unremarkable way, and then we or someone we love or know (or a friend loves and knows) dies of a disease we were only dimly aware of six months ago. New lives are stalled because weddings can’t go on. Big changes are delayed, if not canceled, because the company that was going to hire or promote us is downsizing or gone.

All this fragility may be leading you to spend more time in contemplation and prayer (there are only so many jigsaw puzzles that can be completed, only so much chocolate that can be consumed), and perhaps wondering about your readiness for your own death or the Last Judgment or why God let any or all of this happen. If that is the case, read carefully today’s first reading from 2 Peter. It is filled with words of compassion and encouragement—and instruction:
·         “We await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”
·         “Be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace”
·         “Be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability”
·         “Grow in grace”
And perhaps most importantly:
·         “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation”

If we believe, there is nothing to fear in this world… because God’s love is never fragile, in this world or in the next.

Read 2 Peter 3:12-15,17-18, out loud, slowly.

“Receive the Holy Spirit” by Sam Miller

Pentecost Sunday

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4

Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth! Psalms 104

And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20: 19-22

Spirit of the Living God Chorus
Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on me
Melt me, mold me
Fill me, us me
Spirit of the Living God,
Fall afresh on me

The arrangement of today’s readings is in such a fashion that, if I had the power to do so, I’d put the Gospel first.  Why? The action in the Gospel occurred, to my way of understanding, before the Acts of the Apostles.  The first and second readings speak of the coming and presence of the Spirit, which Jesus had already breathed on the disciples in the Gospel, telling them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

It seems Jesus had to repeat Himself for the disciples to “get it”!!  In today’s Gospel, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you.”, and later, “said to them again, “Peace be with you.”

How about receiving the Holy Spirit?  Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.  In last week’s reading from Acts 1:5, 8 there were unmistakable hints given regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit, in verse 5 “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”, and verse 8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  (From John 16:7) “It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.   But if I go, I will send him to you.

The convincing arrival of THE HOLY SPIRIT for all of Jesus’ disciples occurs today.  The Spirit comes from the sky with a noise as of strong driving wind and then appears as of tongues of fire.  The fire parted and came to rest on each of them! Holy smoke!!!

The phrase “Be not afraid” appears 365 times in the Bible, once for each day of the year.  There also are at least 36 occurrences of “I am with you,” at least one for each day of the month and then starting over, always comforting.

As Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR (from The Wild Goose) puts it, …” On Pentecost, something happened that changed the disciples—and that same something has to happen to us. We can’t live our spiritual lives in a locked room, but in front of the world, alive and full of joy.”

Lord, please bless me with the ability to “get it,” to know and believe what You say is so!!  Help me be blown away by the presence of Your Holy Spirit in me.  Let me be set afire with a renewed desire to share Your message of love & joy to all boldly!!  Amen!!

De Colores

"I pray for all my disciples" by Beth DeCristofaro

Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them. … The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.” (Acts 22:30, 23:11)

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, … Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”
(John 17:20, 26)

With boldness let us approach the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace as a timely help, alleluia.
(Entrance Antiphon from the Mass for the Day)

The Lord Jesus prays for you and me!  Do Jesus’ words make you as speechless as it does me?  Who me, Lord?  He gathers me into the embrace he shares with his father. Those of faith lean into this embrace, which is as necessary as air to our existence as human beings.   

Jesus’ beautiful “priestly prayer” is a model of the power of prayer.  Through his prayerful union with the Father Jesus is able to accept his passion but he doesn’t stop there.  He brings us through his suffering into his death and lifts us with his resurrection.  Prayer energizes us in the divine will.  How else can Paul and the other disciples have faced and persevered in their many trials?  How else do we thrive in spirit, even if our bodies fail? 

Jesus counts on us to embody the flow of divine grace into the world.

Does my prayer connect me to God’s embrace?  How do I allow God’s divinity to flow into the world so that God’s Word and healing are known?  Can my faith sustain me in those days when I feel distant from God’s presence?  Today, give thanks to God as Jesus did each time he prayed. Listen to his prayer for you, his disciple.

"Farewell Expressions of Love" by Colleen O’Sullivan

At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus: “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood… So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.  And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.” When he had finished speaking, he knelt down and prayed with them all.  (Acts 20:28, 31-32, 36)

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:  "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one… I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One…  They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  Consecrate them in the truth.  (John 17:11b, 15, 16-17)

Lord, we are grateful for your love and your presence in the midst of all the Covid-19 turmoil.  Whether it’s in sickness or in care-giving, in quarantining at home, social distancing or on the front lines as a first responder, keep us together in Your Name, we pray. 

Over the last month and a half, our Scripture readings have been full of farewell preparations, leave-taking, returns, and further farewells.  We celebrated our Lord’s Ascension into heaven this past Sunday.  Now we wait liturgically for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
I have just finished a 30-day virtual retreat,” Ascending with Ignatius,” led by Jesuit Father Mark Thibodeaux, which has followed the outline of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.   I don’t think I’ve ever before been drawn quite so deeply into the love of Christ or so appreciated the need to be one with Him in community.   The retreat ended with the story of Jesus’ Ascension.
That same love shines forth from both of our Scripture readings today.  The Apostle Paul, in the first reading, is about to leave Ephesus after three years.  We see and hear him praying for his friends who are the church leaders there.  He knows without a doubt that there will be days of hardship ahead.   He says that upon his departure, savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock.  He tells them the day will come when false disciples will emerge from within the Ephesian church itself and attempt to lure the people away from the Gospel.  There will be danger both from within and without the young church, and Paul urges the presbyters to be on guard.  Amidst tears of sadness and grief, he kneels and prays for his friends in the faith.  What more loving thing can we do for our friends than pray for them?  Saddened by this leave-taking, there is much hugging and kissing before the Apostle boards his ship.
In today’s Gospel, we return to the farewell discourses of Jesus.  He, too, prays for those He is leaving behind.  He asks his Father to keep these beloved friends together, united just as Jesus and the Father are one.  Being the Church is about being in community.  (It’s never just a Jesus and me thing.)  His friends will be hated, He says, just as He has been hated.  I know you can’t save them from that, Abba, but I ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One.  Consecrate them in the truth of your word.  Jesus can’t keep them his friends from suffering, but he can see to it that their suffering is filled with the presence of God. 
In the midst of these difficult times, know that Jesus is present with you as He was with his original friends.  Lift before Him your needs and those of the people around you when you pray today.  In a situation where there is so much suffering, go beyond prayer, and reach out to others.  It could be a phone call to someone lonely, a donation of food to a food pantry, an offer to do someone’s grocery shopping who can’t get out to the store – whatever you feel called to do to be in community with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

IMAGE 1: St. Paul’s Departure from Ephesus, stained glass, St. Mary’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex, UK, GNU Free Documentation License, Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Mary%27s,_Horsham_stained_glass_4.jpg

IMAGE 2: Albrecht Dürer, Praying Hands, 1508, Albertina Museum, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Praying_Hands_-_Albrecht_Durer.png

To Bear Witness

By Melanie Rigney

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. (Psalm 68:33a)

I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” (John 17:6)

Lord, teach me how to do Your will.   

I made my Cursillo in November 2006 at the Josephite Pastoral Center in Washington, D.C., and sat at the table of the amazing graces.

Two weeks earlier, I’d been on my first-ever parish council retreat. It was one day, held at a beautiful wooded setting that was just inside the Beltway but felt a world away from the hustle and bustle of DC.

It was a day of good work, ministry leaders getting to know each other, thoughtful discussion and sharing, plans for the coming year. It was already dark when about twenty of us went into the center chapel for a closing Mass.

Our pastor, Gerry Creedon, struck an entirely different note in his homily than I’d ever heard back at the parish. There, his themes generally were social justice or stories about growing up in a very large family in County Cork or his years of ministry in the Dominican Republic. At the retreat center, he was challenging, almost scolding. His message was that yes, we had accomplished some things and written up some nice plans, but what if? What if we were like the early Church, and gathering threatened our lives? What about the early martyrs? What about the martyrs of today? “What are you doing to bring souls to the Kingdom?” he asked.

I spent a lot of time contemplating that challenge on my Cursillo, and found myself coming up woefully short but not really knowing what to do about it. Then I kind of forgot about it, until now.

None of us on that parish council retreat envisioned a pandemic that would mean closed churches for weeks or months, and an entirely different experience at churches able to reopen. Financial donations are down, and religious institutions are laying off or furloughing staffers and reducing services for those on society’s margins just when they are most needed. There are fewer hands available, fewer dollars to buy food or clothing or medicine other supplies. Nice plans have fallen by the wayside.

Gerry died a few years ago, but I think I know what he would have done. He wouldn’t have stayed safe in the rectory. He would have figured out a way to charm or guilt or beg people like me out of more money than we’re used to giving. He would have come up with ways to distribute whatever his parish bought with those dollars. Some people who didn’t really need assistance would have gotten help dollars, because there wouldn’t have been a lot of forms to fill out. He would have borne witness.

And so I’m wondering anew: What am I doing to bring souls to the Kingdom? Maybe we should all be considering that—and doing it intentionally in whatever way we’re called. My personal pledge to God going forward is to think about it every morning—and to have an answer, small or large, every night.

Consider what you’re doing to bring souls to the Kingdom.

Let’s Go! By Wayne Miller
The Ascension of the Lord

As the Apostles were looking on, Jesus was lifted up.
“… wait for “the promise of the Father … in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. …you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:1-11)

God seated Jesus at his right hand in the heavens.
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe...” (Ephesians 1:17-23)

Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
(Gospel Acclamation Cf. Matthew 28:19a, 20b)

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:16-20)

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, Go! Go! Go!
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, Go! Go! Go!
Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, The Son, and Holy Ghost,
Go! Go! Go!
If you love Me, really love Me, Feed My sheep
If you love Me, really love Me, Feed My sheep
And know I’ll be with You forever and ever
Until the end of the world,
Go! Go! Go!       
 (“GO!”, a Christian Hymn)

       Jesus told his disciples – and us – to believe our Baptism in the Holy Spirit and exercise the Power to Witness to the ends of the earth.
       St. Paul prayed that God would give us Wisdom, Revelation and Enlightenment to know the Hope in Jesus’ Call, the Riches in His Inheritance, and the Power in us who believe in His Son Jesus.
       Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, our Triune God. He commanded us to teach them to observe what He commanded. And His Greatest Commandment is LOVE; Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and will; and Loving our neighbor as we Love ourselves. (Do I love myself? Am I lovable?)
       He promised that He is with us ALWAYS, in ALL WAYS.

We are in the middle of a worldwide health emergency, with no rational option but to isolate ourselves until science can identify a way to defeat this new virus. I am actually feeling quite comfortable in this time of isolation, as the pace of my life was becoming way too hectic to allow for quiet time with our Lord, reflecting on the miracles and challenges (opportunities) that I am blessed with each day.
Doing lots of “good” things is still just doing lots of things. And yet, how could I not answer His Call in so many parts of my life? I do not believe that God orchestrated this pandemic so that I can have some serious retreat time for reflection. But all things work together for Good for those that Love the Lord. And this enforced withdrawal from the world has brought me right back to the center of my universe, the Love of our Triune God in the Heart of my Sacrament. Living every day, all day, with my beloved spouse, seeing, feeling, sharing, and appreciating God’s Love in the precious, unique way that He formed us to express it.
        We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to celebrate Mass – the Source and Summit of our Christian Life – with many different communities and Presiders. They are pure gift to us for the simple act of learning a few new button strokes on our phones, computers, and smart TVs. While I love our local parish and priests, I confess to having found a soulmate in a young diocesan priest from Minnesota whose homilies and celebration of Eucharist touch chords rarely reached deep within my heart. While I yearn for and will run headlong back to communion with my parish community, I confess that I may celebrate Mass twice on Sundays from now on.  I will get an extra charge of Catholic Joy from that young televangelist as well as from my loving parish family. Our God is SO GOOD!
        Why do I do all this? I have met Jesus, not by any striving or study or accomplishment on my part, but because He expressed unequivocally to me that I am known and loved and accepted and forgiven exactly as I am. He told me that if I only stop trying to fix who I am and accept His Loving gaze of who I really am and know how lovable I am right now - I will know how simple it is to be the conduit of His Love to my world.
        I am a Catholic because I Love and I am Loved by the only Son of God. He taught me how to Love and be Loved. He commissioned me to Go and Love all of His Creation. And He established a Community of His Children who gather every day to celebrate His Living Presence as He taught.
        I cannot sit on my couch in my comfortable family room forever immersed in the rich environment of electronic spiritual enlightenment. I will Go when the world decides it’s OK to be out again. But I will be forever grateful for this time of pandemic refreshment and rediscovery of who He is and who I am and who we are. He is topping off our Love Tanks for whatever the “new normal” will hold because there is no version of life that is not utterly joyful if we are walking with Him.
        Look out, world! Pentecost is only a week away! The tongues of fire have struck! Let’s GO!

De Colores!

 Posted by at 8:28 am

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