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.

“Forgive Seventy-Seven Times” by Beth DeCristofaro

The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house.  (Ezekiel 12:1-)

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:21-22)


Our Father, forgive my trespasses and help me forgive those who trespass against me.  Help me to be more compassionate and responsive to those who I might hurt or I do not notice are hurt. Make of me one of your children whom you love and who longs to love you in all ways.


Forgiveness.  I’m working on it.  Somehow, I seem to miss the mark even when I thought I’d sincerely forgiven.  However, when the person who I “forgave” does something else (or even the same thing!) my outrage is truly larger sized than it should be, clearly coming from anger or hurt which was not in fact given over to God.  This isn’t to say forgive and forget because each of us has the right to protect ourselves from future danger or exploitation.  But full forgiveness is to turn over to God as first creator and final judge the pain, desire for revenge, desire to be right or whatever, even if I have to do that seventy-seven times.  It is grace which empowers me to do so.

In Matthew’s Gospel from Tuesday Jesus told his followers to be as little children which gives me a clue of how to work on forgiving.  Children are, as a rule, good forgivers.  Just look at the inconsistent and irrational way even the best of parents treat them.  Yet children look for parents, hugs and nurturing despite missed expectations.  And how frequently little “best” friends upset each other only to recommence play as if nothing happened.  For children, relationships and basic needs surmount the overthinking adults do as we ration out forgiveness. 

Today our nation struggles with the need for much forgiveness.  We blame the refugee who flees abuse for invading our space forgetting that God made the land and the sea, not the boundaries.  We blame poor people for their poverty refusing to admit that our plenty comes from having things, contacts, and resources to which they have no access.  We blame people of color in disproportion for infractions – even if imagined – out of our inherently biased system.   And over the many years, our church has blamed victims for the abuse and oppression caused by its leaders.  One by one we can make the difference by acting to change things and practicing forgiveness for each person seventy-seven times as my daughters did while I raised them, as they did for their bestie friends who hurt their feelingsIt is what Jesus did with Peter, Joseph of Arimathea, Augustine and countless other saints on whose shoulders we worship and live.


What places of outrage remain in you for hurts, slights, crimes, rejections?  Pray for yourself to give over to God.  Pray to forgive yourself if necessary.  Pray also that those strong emotions be transformed through God’s grace into action for good, an action for healing, an action for forgiveness.

Illustration: “Reconciliation”, by Josefina by Vasconcellos, shows two former enemies embracing each other.  One statue is displayed at the ruins of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry England while its twin is displayed in the Peace Garden of Hiroshima, Japan.

“Mary, Mother of God and All of Us” by Colleen O’Sullivan

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:39-45)


And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever."  (Luke 1:46-55)


In Luke’s Gospel, we are told that after Mary and Joseph found their 12-year old son asking questions and listening attentively to the answers in the Temple, Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man (2:52).  We don’t hear another word about Jesus’ life until he’s about 30 and beginning his public ministry. 

In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, there is an opportunity to meditate on these so-called hidden years in Jesus’ life.  When I consider the years about which Scripture is silent, I cannot help but think about Jesus’ mother, Mary.  No human being is a carbon copy of his or her mother.  In fact, some of us lead lives quite different from those of our mothers, but I think it’s fair to say that a person’s mother leaves an indelible mark on who we become as we grow up. 

If we could have spoken to Mary toward the end of her life on earth, what might she have had to say about being the mother of Jesus?

I have lived a long and very full life.  I remember as if it were yesterday the visit from God’s messenger.  I didn’t know what to think.  Me, a mother?  How could that be?  I had eyes only for Joseph, and I had certainly acted with decorum in our relationship.  I pondered the angel’s words for months.  It was not until I went to visit my older cousin Elizabeth that the reality of it truly hit me.  I hadn’t said a word to her, yet she greeted me as “blessed among women.”  She went on to say that the child I carried was blessed as well and referred to the baby as her Lord! 

I did know something of taking care of a baby because I had helped with many of them in my village.  But this was a special child, born of the Holy Spirit.   My God was surely expecting something more from me than from other mothers. 

I remembered the words of prayer that burst forth from my lips when I heard Elizabeth’s greeting.  I would use them as my guide, I thought.  With help from my beloved Joseph, we brought Jesus up to love his Father in heaven, to regard God as holy, as someone to revere.  But I also wanted my son to know that his Father wasn’t far away and unapproachable; God is as close as a prayer.  I taught Jesus the words of prayers that our people had been using for centuries.  And I also told him to pray in his own words, to offer up whatever was in his heart.  I said he would be able to hear God’s response if he was very quiet and kept the ears of his heart open.

Throughout my entire life, I have wondered at God picking me, a lowly no one, to bear his Son.  God’s ways are not our ways on earth, however.  In God’s eyes, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  I am someone in God’s estimation.  Many of the great and mighty here and now will be last in the Kingdom.  At least that’s what Jesus always said, and I believed him. 

The saddest day in my life came when I watched my son die on a cross, but it was quickly followed by the joy of his resurrection three days later.  When I saw him standing before me that Sunday, there was no doubt in my heart that I was witnessing the glory of God!  The joy I experienced was beyond words. 

So, as I said in the beginning, I have lived a long and very full life.  It’s been lonely without Joseph and Jesus, although my son’s friends and their children have taken good care of me.   No mother ever expects to outlive her child.  I have now grown old, and it cannot be long before I see them again in heaven.  How I look forward to that reunion.


Mary was a wonderful mother to Jesus, teaching him to pray, introducing him to the ways of their people, opening his eyes to the plight of the poor, and teaching him to be merciful and compassionate, as is his Father in heaven.  Her arms are open to us today as well.  Whatever we ask for, she carries our needs directly to Jesus. 

Whatever your need on this day when we celebrate Mary’s Assumption, ask her, in her mercy, to carry your prayer directly to Jesus. 
“Eat What I Shall Give You” by Melanie Rigney

The Lord GOD said to me: As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you. (Ezekiel 2:8)

How sweet to my taste is your promise! (Psalm 119:103a)

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-3)


Lord, help me to quiet the demons inside and accept Your plan for me.


He was still a child when the Blessed Virgin put the choice before him: Would Raymond Kolbe accept a white crown for purity or a red one for martyrdom? He answered that he would accept them both.

And so, he did.

When he was thirteen, Raymond and an older brother entered a Franciscan seminary. When he was seventeen, he took his first vows… and the name Maximilian. He studied in Rome and spent time in China, Japan, and India before returning to Poland in 1936. The Gestapo arrested him in February 1941, and three months later, he became prisoner 16670 at Auschwitz. But while he might have been a number to his captors, he was a source of comfort to his fellow prisoners and salvation to one in particular. When Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out in agony when he was selected as one of ten men to starve to death, Maximilian offered to take his place. Two weeks later, Maximilian was the only one of the ten still fully conscious. He raised his arm and prayed when the camp executioner came to give him a lethal injection so the cell could be cleared for others.

The white crown for purity. The red crown for martyrdom. Maximilian accepted them. He wore them with humility and obedience to the earthly end. He didn’t rebel, didn’t complain to other prisoners about the unfairness of it all and wondering what would have happened if he’d been allowed to stay in Asia. He ministered where he was… and offered himself in Christ’s name. He ate what was given to him, as Ezekiel puts it in today’s first reading, and found the Lord’s promise to be sweet. May we have the faith to accept the crowns being placed before us.


Talk with a spiritual adviser about the daunting challenge of saying yes to the Lord.

Image credit: By http://www.v-like-vintage.net/uploads/images/Cropped700/00130919.jpg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
For Me and For You

When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?" When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt.  But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up.  Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you." Matthew 17:25-27


“Could you ask as much from any other man?

Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say)

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Jesus Christ, Superstar


Jesus can seem so revolutionary as he works to upset the expected order of society.  However, then he turns around and surprises us by taking steps directly to NOT rock the boat. Although Peter and the disciples were free from the legal duty to pay the temple tax, Jesus told Peter to pay it anyway.

The notes in the NABRE explain that “before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70 every male Jew above nineteen years of age was obliged to make an annual contribution to its upkeep (cf. Ex 30:11–16; Neh 10:33). After the destruction, the Romans imposed upon Jews the obligation of paying that tax for the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

Although Jesus and his followers are exempt, in order to avoid giving offense, the tax is to be paid.  Many times, we witness Jesus at his revolutionary best. Yet other times, he opts for a more evolutionary change that does not upset the powers that be. At least just not yet.

1. Tell no one what you witnessed.  
2. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
3. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.   

Hardly the words of a radical.  But clearly the words of someone who will humbly say, “Not my will but yours.” “That is who you say that I am.”

Would you ask as much from any other man?

This example of humble obedience serves as a standard for the conduct of all the disciples.

Growing up we often had to do things we did not want to do and two phrases from Parental Instruction 101 stood out.

1. Offer it up.
2. Grin and bear it.

What are some of the actions you take reluctantly but you take them nonetheless?  What is the payoff? Perhaps there is no reward other than getting to know what Jesus did better and more personally. 
“Thick, Thicker, ME” By Sam Miller

[T]he angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!"  He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. 1 Kings 19: 7-9

All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.  And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ…So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 4: 31-5:2

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.  It is written in the prophets:  They shall all be taught by God.  Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to Me.   Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.  Amen, amen, I say to you…whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." John 6: 44-48, 51


The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him         Psalm 34:8-9


I have noticed that the Gospel readings for every Sunday in August are from the 6th Chapter of the holy Gospel according to John, “The Bread of Life Discourse”!!  In every one of them, Jesus is exhorting His listeners to hear with ears and hearts, to internalize through mind to heart, and come to believe in Him.  Jesus IS the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, not to do His own will but the will of the One who sent Him.

Is Jesus trying to get someone’s attention and, could it be mine?!  Could I have been in the crowd that was fed and still asked for a sign so that I may believe?  Could I have been among the Jews who were murmuring about Jesus’ statement of being the bread that came down from heaven?  In that case, I’m way overdue for a Jethro Gibbs (TV series, “NCIS”) head slap!

I love how today’s readings have come together for me!!  God sent food and an angel, twice, to Elijah for strength for His mission.  I know how to be an imitator of God and live in love for I am “taught by God” as a child of God!!  I will eat the bread come down from heaven, Jesus’ flesh for the life of the world and live forever, Amen!

Lord, grant that by Your direction, I may put into practice all I have been taught about being an imitator of God!!!  Amen!!!
Move from Here to There

For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. (Habakkuk 2:3-4)

Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:19-20


Haba-whok?  In the cycle of daily readings, we do not come across readings from the Prophet Habakkuk very often.  When we get a reading in the sequence every other year, there are only three short chapters from which to draw one annual selection. (There are only two other books in the Old Testament which are shorter.

Scholars explain that two crucial events frame Habakkuk’s prophecy: the great Babylonian (Chaldean) victory over the Egyptians at Carchemish (605 B.C.) and the second Babylonian invasion of Judah (587 B.C.), which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem. The desperate conditions in Judah during these years, arising from internal and external threats, provoked Habakkuk’s struggle with difficult and important theological questions about divine justice.

The prophet complains about God’s apparent disregard for Judah’s inherent evils in language that echoes the preaching of prophets like Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  For the Law to be credible, the Habakkuk wants the Lord to punish the wicked and reward the just.

Despite the bleak outlook, the Lord tells the prophet to “write down the vision.” Writing down the vision can serve several purposes.  First, a troubadour may carry and proclaim its contents to the people.  Secondly, the written document serves as evidence, so the fulfillment of the vision is known and verified.

Conditions in the church also were bleak in the days of St. Clare and her divine inspiration Francis.  Clare chose to leave the world and enter religious life, first as a Benedictine before founding her order of sisters and writing a Rule for Life. We now know them as the “Poor Clares.” 

The cathedrals for these saints are just blocks apart on a hillside in Assisi.  Francis is known for the San Damiano cross before which he prayed and was given his mission/vision to “rebuild the church.” The actual cross upon which we model our replicas and icons hangs in the Basilica of St. Clare (which sits higher up on the hill than the Franciscan church at the base) and on the other side of the village.

During our 2008 visit to Assisi on Good Friday, we started our pilgrimage at the top of the hill and walked down, stopping first at Santa Chiara before moving down to the Franciscan monastery and basilica.


Sometimes the cultural world of humanity can be frustrating as Habakkuk and Clare found.  They put their trust in God.  Richard Rohr reminds us to find our place in the world as well.

“Go out into the natural world and look with God’s eyes; listen with God’s ears; know your place within God’s good creation.(Richard Rohr)
Unless A Grain of Wheat Falls to The Ground and Dies

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:8-10

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. John 12:24-25


Benediction by Nicholas Samaras (1954 – )

For what we are given.
For being mindful of what we are given.

For those who grieve and those who celebrate.
For those who remain grateful in the face of everything.

For the assembly of words that links us together.
For individual speech that becomes speech shared.

For the transformations a written page may effect in us.
For those who pay attention.

For the teachers who gave us the chrysalis of language.
For the comrades of the heart who left us signposts.

For the parent who gave us the one ethic of discipline.
For ourselves who may take discipline to heart, and not resent it.

For the second chance that is the writing down.
For those who know that half of poetry is silence.

For the language of breath, and the breath that is prayer.
For those who wake to light, and know the depths of sacrament.

For this common meal, and us who bow our heads and partake.
For those who remember that "so be it" is also written. Amen.

Taken from Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, editors, Before the Door of God; An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 425pp.


This is a busy week for Feast Days.  Although we are in the slow, vacationing days of summer, this ordinary week hop-scotches over green, white and red vestments to celebrate the Transfiguration (Monday); St. Dominic (Wednesday), St. Lawrence (today); and St. Clare of Assisi (tomorrow). The liturgical calendar gets no vacation.  Even if the parish priest takes some vacation time off, he has to find a worthy vocational substitute to cover for his absence as time marches on to fullness.

Deacon Lawrence is celebrated today.  There is a famous legend about his martyrdom.

As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the altar to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”

Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned, and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.”

The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!”[1]

Lawrence was a grain of wheat who died so that the church could grow. He did it with some humor.  That is the origin of why priests and deacons try to tell jokes in their homily.


"Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor."  

Pope Francis

Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury


Earlier this week, the USCCB Justice for Immigrants program held a webinar on For-profit detention centers and alternatives to detention for immigrants who are trying to legally enter the country and apply for asylum as our laws allow.  Here are the slides and the recording from the webinar.

Immigration and detention are long-standing concerns of the Catholic Church which recognizes that we are all one family under God. Alternatives advocated by the bishops cost less, cause less trauma and promote greater fairness in the process.  Take the time to check out the Justice for Immigration website and sign up for action alerts here.

 Posted by at 8:28 am

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