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.
I am heeding you By Beth DeCristofaro
Abraham prostrated himself and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?” Then Abraham said to God, “Let but Ishmael live on by your favor!” God replied: “Nevertheless, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact, to be his God and the God of his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I am heeding you: I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly. (Genesis 17:17-20)
And then a leper approached, did (Jesus) homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” (Matthew 8:2-3)
Jesus, my friend, prepare my heart to receive your surprising gifts. And soften my heart to share them among all your friends.
The readings today amplify God’s generous work in the world. Both Abraham and the leper are given new lives and new community, surprise gifts. I am touched by their approach to the divine – gentle skepticism? Push back? Yet hope and yearning. Divinity assures each that they are heard.
In other Scripture passages, people respond with what appears to be skepticism, and God’s answer is not acceptance and generosity. King Ahaz famously answers God’s offer to “ask for a sign” by saying I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test (Isaiah 7:12). The Pharisees and Sadducees devise questions to trap Jesus, who rightly points out their duplicity. God sees into our hearts and responds to Truth, not to words. And God wants our hearts to be one with Jesus, one with the Word.
In his Angelus address June 20, Pope Francis said, “Faith begins from believing that we are not enough for ourselves, from feeling in need of God. When we overcome the temptation to close ourselves off, when we overcome the false religiosity that does not want to disturb God, when we cry out to him, he can work wonders in us. It is the gentle and extraordinary power of prayer, which works miracles.[i]”
In believing that we are not enough for ourselves but that we first and foremost need God, our hearts become open to God’s surprising gifts. And also, our hearts become primed to expect surprising gifts for all those God loves. We no longer need to categorize or judge ourselves or others.
What does my heart hold as Jesus approaches me? Do I cling to narrow definitions of myself and others? How can I better invite and accept Jesus’ cleansing? God is heeding me.
[i] “Journey with the Pope”, Missio, June 24, 2021
“The Narrow Gate” by Colleen O’Sullivan
The land could not support (Abram and Lot) if they stayed together; their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. So, Abram said to Lot: “Please separate from me. Lot looked about him and saw how well watered the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar like the Lord’s own garden or Egypt. This was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain and set out eastward. Abram stayed in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain, pitching his tents near Sodom. Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked in the sins they committed against the Lord. (Genesis 13:6, 9b, 10-11a, 12-13)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets... Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:12-14)
Lord, help me look at myself honestly, seek forgiveness where it is needed, and ask for your help in living a more Christ-like life in what I think, say, and do.
Our Gospel reading today is still part of the Sermon on the Mount, which, in its entirety, is more likely a collection of Jesus’ sayings over time on the qualities found in a true disciple than a one-time actual sermon. In today’s verses, Jesus talks about the Golden Rule, treating others as we would like to be treated, as well as the narrow gate that leads to eternal life.
Getting through this narrow gate requires being intentionally Christ-like in our actions and direction in life. That, in turn, means we need to be mindful of all we say and do. However, many of us don’t examine ourselves that closely – our thoughts, our intentions, or our actual actions. Consequently, we float obliviously through the wide gate much of the time on any given day.
I thought about those wide and narrow gates as I read the story of Abram and Lot. Abram is a generous uncle to his nephew Lot. Both of them have large households, and extensive livestock holdings, more than one parcel of land could support. They need two separate holdings. They stand together, surveying the land as far as the eye can see. Abram gives Lot the first choice as to where he, his family, and flocks will go. Lot seems rather self-centered. He looks to the horizon, and he selects the more beautiful-looking portion of the land (at least at a distance). In his eagerness to get the better piece of land, he forgets that this choice will put him just down the road from Sodom and Gomorrah, two places infamous for their sinful ways.
According to Genesis, life goes on for years, and then, one day, God can’t put up with the iniquity pervasive in Sodom or Gomorrah any longer. God destroys the cities but not before having two angels visit Lot to warn him, so he and his family can escape. Eventually, all that gorgeous, fertile pasture land dries up, and a long time later, the Dead Sea appears. Lot ends up being spared, but his dreams go up in smoke. All that is left are the ashes.
When I was young, I found the image of the narrow gate frightening. What would a person have to do to slip through it?
God doesn’t usually seem to punish us as much as allows us to reap the consequences of our sinful decisions and actions. Lot didn’t seem that caring about his uncle. He didn’t seem appreciative of the hugely generous gesture on his uncle’s part, allowing him first say. All Lot could see was a bountiful expanse of pastureland in the distance, which he wanted for himself. He let his greed blind him to the downside, the sin, and temptation present in the town nearest his intended home.
Maybe Lot had never heard the saying: Don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble will find you soon enough. He didn’t use caution in terms of the people in whose neighborhood he chose to live. He lost his wife while they were fleeing, his fertile land, and presumably his livestock.
When I was much younger, I was much too busy with work and outside activities. I remember thinking one day that I had my schedule totally in hand. I got up every morning and went through my day as though I were the God in control of things. God expects us to take care of ourselves, and I went off track. I was brought up short when I landed in the hospital for a couple of weeks and then had to spend a long time recovering after that. I was reminded that even Jesus went off to quiet places and rested from time to time. I tell myself today that the first step toward the narrow gate is acknowledging first thing every morning that God is in control.
When you think about the narrow gate, is there anything you would like to improve upon or change in your life? When you are praying today, ask Jesus to help you. Jesus desires to welcome each of us on the other side of that narrow opening.
“Be Still” by Rev. Paul Berghout
The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? (Job 38:1, 8-9)
(Jesus) woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:39-40)
The boat was 26.5 feet long, 7.5 wide and 4.5 feet high, the fore and aft sections were decked.
Jesus had gone to the back of the boat to catch a nap, and then a storm hits.
“Why doesn’t he intervene?” “Do you not care that we are perishing?”
Glen Scrivener says that a few years ago he prayed to God that he would get to know God better. Within a week of that prayer, Glenn’s employers transferred him from England to Australia, his longtime girlfriend broke up with him, and parents announced they were divorcing. In the midst of all these painful events, Glen had a revelation: God was using these storms to answer Glenn’s prayer. He realized that Jesus often leads to challenging pathways, into a storm because we can’t understand the power and the peace of God UNLESS we encounter it a storm. The best way to know is to be caught in a storm with Him.[i]
That is a lesson the disciples had to learn, and they could not learn it any other way. --“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
All of us will encounter storms.
The question is whether we have faith for the storms.
A few years ago, a woman named Chastity Patterson lost her father. After his death, Chastity continued to send daily text messages to his old phone number. She just wanted to feel like he was still there, still sharing the ups and downs of her daily life. It was her way of dealing with a storm of grief. For four years, she sent daily text updates to her father’s old phone number. And then one day, she got a reply. [ii]
Just before the fourth anniversary of Chastity's father’s death, she received this text from his old number: “My name is Brad and I lost my daughter in a car wreck August 2014 and your messages have kept me alive. When you text me, I know it’s a message from God.”
Chastity posted their text exchange on social media to show her friends and family “that there is a God it might take 4 years, but he shows up right on time!”
In the Bible two other people were also asleep in a boat during a storm: Jonah and a drunk person in Proverbs 23:34. But only Jesus got up and said “Be Still” (it was actually more like Shut Up) because linguistically there is a linkage between exorcism and rebuking the sea.
The waves are akin to persecution whose source is Satan’s implacable hostility to Jesus’ mission.
Jesus is overcoming the demonic element it was his purpose to destroy, because that element is at enmity with God, and therefore with God's creature, man.
"The breakers of death engulfed me." or “The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.” (2 Samuel 22:5)
“He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemies." (2 Sam 22:17-18).
One writer suggests that “maybe he was inviting the disciples to reflect on what it means to be alive on the other side of a situation they thought would kill them. For us, that situation might be a divorce, an illness, the death of a parent or even a child, the loss of a job, depression, or middle school. It can feel as if it’s going to kill us.
Maybe, if we survive the situation, we are being encouraged to ask questions. Where was my faith? Where was God? What did I fear?”[iii]
There are several Old Testament verses in which sleeping peacefully is a sign of trust in God’s provident care (Psalms 3:5, 4:8, Proverbs 3:24).
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?
Faulty thinking, that God does care instead of believing in God’s Provident care.
Be still, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. The Lord is master even of those things.
St. Therese says that Jesus was sleeping as usual in her little boat, saying, “Ah, I see very well how rarely souls allow Him to sleep peacefully within them.”
Divorce is no real solution for many stormy marriage problems. Hang in there and make it through the storm.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain” (Anonymous).
“Greater is He that is in you” than any force trying to overwhelm you.” (1 John 4:4)
[i] Dynamic Preaching]
[ii] Dynamic Preaching]
[iii] Ordinary #12B (Mark 4:35-41) by Nadia Bolz-Weber June 12, 2012
“My Grace Is Sufficient” by Melanie Rigney
(B)ut he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. (Psalms 34:9a)
“Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)
Jesus, take the wheel.
There’s a lot to worry about in this world.
- What will the tests show about my loved one’s fatigue?
- Will I get that job I so desperately, desperately need?
- Will I have enough money to retire?
- Will my grandchildren get into the colleges they so desire?
- Will traffic be bad again today?
- Will dinner turn out all right if I use sweet Italian sausage instead of hot
- Will I ever be able to expand Farm 24 in Farm Town?
Laugh if you will, but don’t your worries range from the serious to the ridiculous? To me, that’s one of the benefits of all those rosary beads—plenty of opportunities to offer up those worries in prayer.
It’s human nature to worry. We like to have control. Or rather, we want to think we have control. But we focus on the wrong things. We don’t have control over that loved one’s medical test results. We do have some control over our reaction—and the compassion we show in offering to help set the treatment plan. We don’t have control over colleges accepting the grandkids. We do have control over showing delight if they are successful—and helping them learn resilience if they are not.
If we exercise the control, we do have and show confidence in God for the rest, and we can be made great where we are weak. We can show others what the power of Christ looks like when we get out of the way.
Offer up your worries, one by one, as you pray the rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. Then let them go for the day.[i]
[i] Photo credit is Malgorzata Tomczak via Pixabay, https://pixabay.com/photos/depression-sadness-man-2912424/
Light the Darkness By Beth DeCristofaro
Brothers and sisters: Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. To my shame I say that we were too weak!
(2 Corinthians 11:18)
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”(Matthew 6:22-23)
My friend Jesus, too often I find myself distracted by the shiny, glittering things about me in life: a lovely house, the coveted promotion, a seat at a not-diverse table, comfortable and reliable food, water and A/C. I genuinely do not want to experience the sufferings of Paul, even if they are in your name. May your light show me that suffering happens to us all. Open my eyes to your presence above all else and bend my heart to you no matter where it leads me.
In today’s reading from Corinthians, Paul catalogs some of the trials he experienced as he evangelized. He did this to respond to charges that he was inauthentic in his preaching. And yet, he states he and the community were all too weak despite enduring hardship and cruelty because there is no price too high for following Jesus. Paul’s detractors, among other charges, claimed he was an ineffective preacher. He points out that worldly goods, shallow practices and personal ability, such as public speaking, do not necessarily lead us to Jesus. In fact, they might derail us as we focus on the transient not the eternal.
In our Cursillo weekends, and hopefully, in our Group Reunions, we try to identify the priorities (Jesus calls them “treasures”) of our lives. Our walk with Jesus helps us to balance our treasures better. Perhaps the greatest weakness we can strive for is that more profound relationship with Jesus, which illuminates our soul. The lamp of the body is the eye. It is the beacon of God’s light that indeed reveals where our treasure is. It points the way to safe passage – a life of loving God first and our neighbor as ourselves. And it shines to provide safe passage around the dangerous shoals of transient, decadent “treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19). Living out of our greatest weakness will indeed look like foolishness when we drop the trappings of a successful life (as defined by society) and with Christ live with and love the poor, prisoners, blind, oppressed, and proclaim Jesus by his light shining from us. (from Luke 4:18)
We can’t love others if we are blinded by too much obstructing our line of vision. Neither the threat of suffering nor the empty promise of success can keep Jesus from enfolding us in his loving arms. What might be blocking you from seeing that light?
Pray today for all those who cannot see the light. Pray extra for those who choose not to see Christ’s light, those who use God as an excuse for hatred, bias, judgment of others.
Your Father Who Sees What Is Hidden
Brothers and sisters, consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 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. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
“And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:18)
A candle as it diminishes explains, 'Gathering more and more is not the way. Burn, become light and heat and help. Melt.' (Rumi)
There is a part of Mass which occurs only ONCE a year yet it is one of the most moving experiences that many Catholics never experience.
On the Easter Vigil, Mass (yes that three-hour Mass) in our parish begins
outside the church building in the dark of night. The pastor lights a bonfire from which the new Pascal Candle for the next Liturgical Year is lit from those flames.
Everyone there to worship on this holy, silent, dark night gets a candle and lights it off the Paschal candle (or from another candle which was lit by a candle lit from the paschal candle). The deacon holding the candle, leads us into the darkened sanctuary to reveal Salvation History and teh fulfillment of the covenant..
That old Youth Group song comes to life. It only takes a spark to get a fire going as we move from Lent and the Triduum to Easter during that Mass. Not a single candle gets dimmer in sharing its light with another candle.
Today’s readings bring to mind that ceremony because we have life lessons in the letter to Corinth and the Matthew's Good News. Our faith asks us to sow seeds so that others might reap. We also are not to do it in a proud or boastful manner. We do it quietly. As encouraged in Proverbs 11:24-25:
One person is lavish yet grows still richer;
another is too sparing, yet is the poorer.
Whoever confers benefits will be amply enriched,
and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Much attention is on charitable giving from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day – holiday giving and year-end (tax-deduction) gifts. But here in the middle of the year, needs continue.
MacKenzie Scott reminds us of some stark facts with her latest round of giving:
- People are struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change that they are creating.
- Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity.
- Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities has been deepening.
- Over 700 million people globally live in extreme poverty.
Where can you give now? Let’s not wait until the end of the year when we are trying to save on taxes.
“God’s Love for Us Calls Forth Our Love for Others” by Colleen O’Sullivan
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, of the grace of God that has been given to the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 9)
Praise the LORD, my soul!
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live. (Psalm 146:2)
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? (Matthew 5:43-46a)
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1, NIV)
Our readings today seem rather challenging. Paul is asking the Corinthian Christians to send a contribution to the embattled church in Jerusalem. To his way of thinking, this would constitute not simply a charitable act but would also speak volumes about the bonds between Christian churches. The apostle mentions in his letter that the Macedonian church, deep amid great affliction and overwhelming poverty, has nevertheless managed to send a generous offering joyfully. The Macedonians have experienced the grace of God and, out of gratitude, have the desire to help their struggling brothers and sisters in Christ.
I think Paul may have written in detail about the sacrificial offering on the part of the Macedonian church partly because he was encouraging the Corinthians to be equally generous. St. Paul also realizes that many of us then and now seem to assume the “poor” don’t experience joy or happiness or have much to give because “they” don’t possess wealth or all the material goods that adorn others’ lives. Paul shoots that notion down. And as a pastor in my younger days, I sat at the bedsides of many people preparing to depart this life. I honestly don’t remember a single one of them talking about what they owned or didn’t own and how they would miss any of it. Nearly all of them spoke of what they were thankful for: the love bestowed on them by God and the love shared with family and friends.
Never assume that the poor aren’t wealthy in ways other than material goods. St. Teresa of Calcutta didn’t have two nickels to rub together. However, what she did possess in abundance was love for those about whom no one else cared. St. Mother Teresa was kind and caring toward the sick and dying people she found on the streets. She may have been a tiny person in stature, but she broadcast a considerable message about love and the value of every human life around the globe.
Paul points out that Jesus could have considered being in heaven with his Father and the Holy Spirit a privilege, but, out of love for you and me, he willingly came to earth as a needy newborn in an obscure village in the Middle East. Out of his poverty among us came the riches of our salvation.
If the first reading doesn’t challenge us enough, take a look at the Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells us to love our enemies. It’s difficult enough sometimes to get along with family and friends, and now Jesus asks us to widen the circle of our love to include people we think of as dubious characters in our life stories. You know – the family member you haven’t spoken to in years because of a ridiculous argument one Thanksgiving, the ex-friend who voted for the “other” party’s candidate, your transgender child, etc. What if God hated all the enemies of the Kingdom? Remember, that includes you and me every time we sin and turn our backs on the Lord. No, Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything that he and the other persons of the Trinity don’t do. Fortunately for us, we are loved by God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit every minute of every day.
Today’s psalm sums up the reason for our gratitude by laying out all that God has done for us. God created everything we see about us - heaven and earth, the seas, and all they contain. God seeks justice for those treated unjustly, feeds the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, and raises those overwhelmed by their burdens. God loves those who act with justice and protects those who find themselves in alien territory.
It’s not a bad thing for God to challenge our thinking about giving and poverty. Great things can spring up from practically nothing, whether an offering to help a suffering sister church or a Savior who rescues us from our sinfulness. The small in this world can still do great things. Nor is it unreasonable for God to ask us to love our enemies because God loves us even on our worst days as disciples.
today’s Scripture passages so much ground that you could pick just one thing out of all of it:
- Giving when we have very little ourselves,
- Gratitude for all God has done for us and given us, or
- The challenge to love those we regard as our enemies.
Spend your prayer time talking to the Lord about what that means to you.