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.

On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves – I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings, I will seek Him whom my heart loves. I sought him but I did not find him. Song of Songs 3:1-2

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. John 20:1

O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you, my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water. Psalms 63:2

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw the stone removed. This excursion put in motion a series of actions on Easter Sunday morning – except that no one (yet) knew it was Easter Sunday morning. Like a good disciple and Cursillista, Mary Magdalene did not keep this moment to herself.  Being she had already made a friend with Peter and John, she ran to get them and bring them back to the tomb. But at this point, she still thought the body was stolen by either the Romans or the temple officials.

Although several others witnessed the empty tomb, she was the first to see Christ Risen. Her exclamation, "Rabbouni!" follows the second Epiphany. She saw the light of the world while it was still dark. Once the reality of the Resurrection was a reality in her experience, she passed it on. After being the first who witnessed the Resurrected Jesus, then she became the first who proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection to others. Does this make her the first Christian?  Perhaps. But she is clearly the “Apostle to the Apostles,” the first person in human history to proclaim the good news of the Resurrection.

Equally important to her status as an evangelist is her status as a seeker of the divine – echoed in the first reading from Song of Songs and Psalm 63.  I sought him whom my heart loves. 

The prize of seeking becomes finding.  Yet, seeking and finding are not the end.  Jesus commands her one more action:  "Stop holding on to me.”  Our role is to give away what we find and pass it on.

Pope Francis elevated the commemoration of the feast day for Mary Magdalene.  This puts her feast day on par with the other (male) disciples and marks her as the first evangelist.  God is always seeking us seeking God.  Is not that why you are here on this website or e-mail?  Is that not the whole reason to piety, study, and action – to seek God? And then when you find God, give God away to others?

How were your first female teachers who led you to Christ?  My first teacher was my mother, Ruth DeCristofaro.  Later, Sr. Francis Louise Sheridan, MSBT, became the “apostle” in my life shortly after college. She hired me after my graduation from Belmont Abbey College to help her co-workers resettle hundreds of Southeast Asian refugees after the fall of Saigon and the U.S. pullout from the Viet Nam War. Sr. Francis never stopped seeking God and giving the Spirit of God away to others in her service as director of Refugee Settlement as part of Catholic Social Services in the Diocese of Charlotte. She directed the settlement of more than two thousand refugees.  Sr. Francis helped me realize the role of Jesus as a refugee and to see Jesus in the “gardeners” who came to our airports from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and refugee camps around the world.  After sharing her heart with so many for so long, how fitting is it that she died on St. Valentine's Day in 2015? 

What would have become of our faith tradition if Egypt closed its borders to unwed parents two thousand years ago? 
We are Christians. Sr. Francis taught me that we should welcome refugees just like we would welcome Jesus. These days, for those who did not know Sr. Francis and others like her, the role of Christians in welcoming refugees to our shores is as clouded as the role of St. Mary Magdala. 

Over the years, the role of St. Mary Magdala was confused by the church and male leaders who might have felt threatened by her true role as a leader to the leaders in the community of Jesus.  However, in a homily delivered by Prof. Mary C. Boys, SNJM, for this feast day, she reminded us that we “live in hope.” 
Just as today, we cannot imagine a Boston or New York City or ANY marathon without women, may the day come soon that we can’t imagine the Church’s apostles without women alongside men.  May we let the Apostle Mary of Magdala step into her rightful place in our church and in our world.  Let us celebrate her as wounded healer, as evangelist and witness to the Risen One. May the Apostle to the Apostles continue to bear witness to Christ’s resurrection. 

Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the Lord made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land. (God gives his people instructions for the preparation of the Passover lamb and the marking of their lintels with the blood.)  “This is how you are to eat it:  with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight.  It is the Passover of the Lord.”   (Exodus 11:10, 12:11)

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath.  His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.”  (Jesus responded:) If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.”  (Matthew 12:1-2, 7)


How shall I make a return to the Lord

for all the good he has done for me?

The cup of salvation I will take up,

and I will call upon the name of the Lord.  (Psalm 116:12-13)


Nine plagues have been visited upon Egypt in an effort to persuade Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people leave.  As awful as each one has been, none of them has persuaded the Egyptian ruler to release these slaves.  In today’s first reading, God is determined, however, that this final plague will mark the passing over of his people from slavery to freedom.

God works relentlessly every day to free us from what enslaves us, namely sin.  Consider how often we find ourselves confessing the same sins over and over.  Despite the best of intentions, we’ve argued with our spouse and said something hurtful again.  We’ve broken our promise once more to spend time with our children, putting in more hours at work instead.  We’ve indulged in another angry outburst against someone or tightened our grip on the grudge we’re holding toward another.  Face-to-face with a hungry, homeless person, we, who’ve been to Starbucks every day all week, think to ourselves, “Why doesn’t he/she get a job?” and turn away.  Enticed by the pleasures of our backyard grill and hammock, another weekend has gone by without us darkening the doors of our church or spending any time in prayer.

God seeks to free us from our sins and hopes we will respond.  Beyond that, as we see in today’s Gospel lesson, God is merciful and compassionate when it comes to human needs. 


So, what is our response to God’s love for us?  The Hebrew people in the first reading, freed from Egyptian captivity, chose to grumble and complain all the way from Egypt to the Promised Land.  What is our response to God’s saving love?  What return will we make to the Lord for all the good he has done for us?

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)


Dear Lord, you have called me by my name.
You have carved me in the palm of your hand.
May I grow in trust and never give in to despair.

Your death on the cross has set me free.
I can live joyously and freely
without fear of death.
Your mercy knows no bounds.

I am surrounded by your loving presence, Lord,
But I am aware of my fragility and weakness.
Thank you that I can face my shortcomings
In your merciful embrace.


Me, I’m working on meek and humble of heart.  These seem to be key for me as I attempt to accept Jesus’ yoke.  He accepted humanness as a yoke with all its frailties, tribulations and dangers.  He carried the burden of my sin as he willingly stumbled under the cross.  Working in healthcare I meet many people who have yokes of disease that are not easy, burdens of incapacity that are far from light.  My dear friend who is a teacher frequently requests prayers for students whose burden of troubled families weigh so heavily that coping and academic skills are severely challenged.  The mothers of Aleppo, Mosul and other besieged cities bear yokes of fear and burdens of pain and abandonment.  Being human is often difficult and Jesus’ does not chastise us for bending under the strain.  Instead, meekly, humbly and with mercy, Jesus helps us bear i.

Humility opens me to declare God’s glory rather than my own.  Being humble implies succumbing to God’s will, God who wants so much more for me than I can ever imagine.    Jesus humbly told the disciples again and again that he came not to do his own will but the will of his father.

Meekness has to do with not being provoked easily.  It does not mean doormat.  A meek person knows how to channel anger into justice, reconciliation, healing and right.  Being meek is “what would Jesus do”.  Jesus meekly put the Word before the self-serving words of the temple leaders.


Without meekness or humility, we struggle unproductively and foist our anger, frustration, hurts onto those around us.  Others fall into helplessness and hopelessness without the reviving potency of Jesus’ meekness and the hope of Jesus’ humility.  What situations cause me to cling to false control or agenda?  What practices might help me build humility and meekness?  What might I forgo in order to yoke myself to Jesus? 

James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

(Pharaoh’s daughter was moved with pity for the baby in the basket and said,) “It is one of the Hebrews' children." Then Moses’) sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?" "Yes, do so," she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother. (Exodus 2:6-8)

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. (Psalm 69:33)

(Jesus reproached Capernaum, saying:) “For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:23-24)


Lord, may I always turn to You. You are all the refuge I need.


Talk about mercy. The daughter of Pharaoh, the ruler who had ordered the death of all Hebrew male infants, was moved enough by the sight of Moses in the bulrushes that she risked her father’s wrath and saved the baby’s life. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it, to think that a woman with so odious a father had such tender feelings for someone she was supposed to hate?

Jesus, however, is less than warm and fuzzy when he talks about the unrepentant towns, the very places where he had done so much of his work. It’ll be worse for you at the end than Sodom, he says, and we all know how despicable Sodom was with its ruthless raping and pillaging and lack of regard for the most basic of respect for other human beings.

The difference, perhaps, is in the awareness that something greater than the temple of ourselves is at work here. Pharaoh’s daughter recognized it in rescuing Moses. She recognized the value of a human life, regardless of her father’s edicts, regardless of the fact that the baby was not an Egyptian. The land of Sodom did not and, even worse, Capernaum did not recognize the Lord when He was in their midst.

Do we?

Pray with the Lord today about where you need to reflect His mercy—and live.
Sower with Setting Sun, van Gogh

(Thus says the LORD)  … my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. … But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear. (Matthew 13:3, 8-9)


O Holy Spirit, you who first enkindled in our hearts the joy of the Gospel, renew that same joy…for (those who attended) the Convocation of Catholic Leaders. Enflame the hearts of our bishops and their diocesan delegations; leaders of national organizations and movements; clergy, religious and laity; all who made this event possible; and Catholic leaders across the United States.

Move us to welcome the word of life in the depths of our hearts and respond to the call of missionary discipleship.

O Holy Spirit, transform our hearts and enable us to enter into the perfect communion that you share with the Father and the Son.

Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.  Amen.


In Jesus’ day, even the richest soil would not produce a harvest a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.  This is only one amazing among many incredible images in this parable.  The crowds must have wondered just what was this seed that provided such abundance.  Two thousand years later we see the ongoing and prolific harvest which God’s Word has produced in our world.  God’s mercy and goodness are seen and heard every day for those who have ears to hear.  In Cursillo, we practice hearing each other’s stories and sharing our own, of the presence and the influence of God’s word in our lives.  We can practice using our ears to hear the Word which is spoken through many modalities beyond words.   


And, of course, our Church is led and cultivated by many as those in Cursillo understand so well.  The recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders, “inspired by Evangelii Gaudium, this Convocation will form leaders who will be equipped and re-energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples, while offering fresh insights informed by new research, communications strategies, and successful models.” (USCCB)

Take a few minutes and explore the USCCB website regarding the Convocation.  Watch for opportunities to take action and continue to cultivate the Word in the “rich soil” of our hearts, mind, and spirit.  As God cultivates a hundred-fold in the ready soil of our being, sow God’s Word.

"Have no fear. Can I take the place of God? Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people. Therefore, have no fear. I will provide for you and for your children." By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.  Genesis 50:19-21

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”  Matthew 10:32


See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, take heart! (Psalm 69:33)


In the readings from Friday, Joseph was finally reunited with his dying father.  Now, after his father is buried in the ancestral grounds, Joseph finishes off his amazing journey of mercy with an ultimate act of forgiveness directed toward his always scheming brothers.  Those brothers continued their jealousy right up to the very end in order to save their own necks.   

Joseph’s humble words ring out across the millennia: “Can I take the place of God?”  Jesus might have been thinking about the example set by his ancestor Joseph when he was giving them the instructions for their mission.  “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”

Just as Joseph was an example of the responsibility he felt to care for his brothers and their children.  Not only did he offer forgiveness of sins, but in the long line of leaders of the Hebrew Bible, he pledged to care for their widows and children. “Therefore, have no fear. I will provide for you and for your children."


In the spirit of expressing our modern responsibility to care for others, Dorothy Day once said, “The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”  That rings true as we walk through the debate over health care.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, reacted strongly to the revised Senate health reform bill, the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (BCRA).

"The USCCB is reviewing carefully the health care bill introduced by Senate leadership earlier today. On an initial read, we do not see enough improvement to change our assessment that the proposal is unacceptable. We recognize the incremental improvement in funding the fight against opioid addiction, for instance, but more is needed to honor our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to ensure that essential protections for the unborn remain in the bill."

Consider how the Good News calls upon us to acknowledge God and care for his children, especially those who are poor. What can you do to help them take heart and be glad?
"I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you." (Genesis 45:4-5)

Jesus said to his Apostles: "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost, you are to give. (Matthew 10:7-8)

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,

except that of knowing that I do your will. 
  St. Ignatius Loyola

Kat Sigler
An accepted “truism” these days is that one should be charged a nominal fee for a service, a program, a training so that it will be valued.  Do we value God’s free gifts to us less – Creation, breath, humor, sensitivity, artistic ability (and on and on) because they are free?  Joseph’s brothers would undoubtedly have valued grain with or without a cost because it meant life or death.  Joseph gave them grain and gave them back their money with enormous mercy.  Joseph modeled generosity in a magnificent way, not only forgiving his brothers but dispensing life to a famine-struck world when he and Pharaoh might have instead closed the borders to foreign refugees.  Joseph turned betrayal and danger into the living hands of God reaching out to those in need and in loving embrace of family

Jesus sent the Disciples out to touch people’s lives with free, God-given abundance of faith.  We have the opportunity to be in giving, generous relationships every day but first, we need to recognize and cultivate God’s generosity to each of us.  Freely God gives to us.  Nothing is ours without God’s beneficence and thus freely, joyously, we can give away the love gifted to us.  In fact, when I accept God’s bounty with humble joy, I can begin to also see how privileged is my life.  Free grace blesses me.  Sharing my power in order to empower another, not just handing down charity to the less well-off, becomes my challenge:  Without cost (I) have received; without cost (I am) to give

This week the Senate will again put forward legislation on healthcare.  “Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has provided a more detailed critique of the Senate "discussion draft" health care bill, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (BCRA).  ‘Removing vital coverage for those most in need is not the answer to our nation's health care problems, and doing so will not help us build toward the common good, said Bishop Dewane. ‘For the sake of persons living on the margins of our health care system, we call on the Senate to reject changes intended to fundamentally alter the social safety net for millions of people.’"[i]

Although Bishop Dewane’s comments were specifically written for the bill which was not voted on, his insights are valid for this week’s debate and bill preparation.  Share what is freely given – alert your Representative and Senator that health care for all people, especially the poor and vulnerable, is essential to the mental and spiritual health of America and certainly is of our generous, giving God. 

 Posted by at 8:28 am

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