Fifth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here.   Gird your loins for the final opportunities and slogging of Lent!

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the Mass of

  • April 2, 2017 5PM

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2017, we reflected on —

  • Emotion — Jesus loves everyone; he has compassion in his innards and his very bones.
  • In the gospel of the Lazarus story, Jesus is really involved:
    • the resuscitation of Lazarus (dead and body “revived,” foreshadowing the true resurrection of Jesus)”wept””perturbed”
    • loving deeply
  • Martha (and Mary) — “If you had been here ..” what faith and accusation all rolled into one.
  • Billy Collins’ poem I Love You
    • Billy Collins is a one-time poet laureate for the United States
    • Bartleby, is a character in one of Melville’s novels — Bartleby the Scrivener (a copier)
    • “I would prefer not to” — this sense of Jesus revealing the glory of God’s Love through himself in his small, every day actions, but also even to resuscitating someone dear — an act that is surely to hasten Jesus’ own death, as the more Jesus performs miracles in public, the more urgency the leaders of the Jewish religious communities will feel to eliminate him and his ministry.
  • Kim Dower’s Room Service English Muffins
    • What if feels like to be far from home — in distance and in comforting familiarity (or even distortions of it)
    • But, in essence, the poem is capturing our hope for home, and that is a core intuition of today’s readings.  Our physical death is this waystation between the home we can make here, albeit a trickier tuning to our Home in God. 
    • This also reminds me (rl) of a poem recommendation Fr Dennis made, though he did not use it in a homily that I recall or noted.  It is John Shea’s The God Who Fell from Heaven, and the lines for by now / the secret is out / You are home.
  • Our image today is one I found while surfing the web for a different take on the Lazarus imaging and iconography.  It is The Raising of Lazarus by William E Pajaud, an American artist who draws deeply on his New Orleans upbringing.  I loved the painting for its colors, and its focus on the encounters between Mary, Martha, Jesus, and Lazarus through their faces, the use of circles, and the images and placements of hands. An African-American, Mr. Pajaud devoted much of his additional energies to the curating, education, and cultivation of additional African-American artists’ work and heritage.

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here.   Rejoice!  We are half-way through Lent!

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Masses of

  • March 26, 2017 10AM
  • March 30, 2014 8:30AM

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2017, we reflected on —

  • This time of preparation of our RCIA catechumens is the renewal time for all of us.
  • First Reading from Samuel
    • Samuel has been sent by the Lord to choose a king for God’s people because this is what the people said they wanted: kings, not priests-prophets.
    • Who does God choose?  The “runt of the litter,” so to speak, the youngest and sheepherder ==> God is helping Samuel to follow the Spirit and see through God’s eyes.
  • Gospel  Reading
    • The full version almost reads like a farce, with its rhythmic use of humor in the narrative.
    • The sin described in this account is the sin of not seeing when you can.  In this case, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders refuse to see and don’t listen to what the healed man is telling them.
  • How do we come to “see” more, to see with God’s eyes?
    • In part, we do so through mass, scripture, and communion.
    • In part, the arts can help us:
      • In Hoagland’s poem, Field Guide, we observe and share, thereby coming to know “the good parts”
      • In Boland’s poem, we observe and be self-aware, so we see who and what is in front of our very noses.

In 2014, Fr Dennis Dillon, SJ reflected —

  • The readings are about Light and Vision, the Lord who hears the cry of the poor
    • Samuel — anointing of David: the Lord sees what (and who) others do not.
    • Psalm 23 — The Shepherd of Light in the valley of dark and death
    • Ephesians — Light as the source for Vision, vision, and visibility, all of which enable the Truth to be revealed.
    • John – the blind man can see, Pool of Siloam, Jesus’ healing in this story (mud & spitball healing of vision)
  • Father Ron Rolheizer, OMI, president of the Oblate School of Theology (2005 – 2020) wrote a reflection on the gospel, incorporating what we know about people regaining vision as an adult.  What is it like?
    • J.Z. Young, an authority on brain function indicates it is actually pretty painful to begin receiving so much stimulus.  The first perceived images are a spinning mass of light and colors.  There is no recognition by sight only by touch because the eyes are untrained in “the rules of seeing.”This feels similar to the “two tries” of Jesus in the gospel.Could this be what it is like for our soul in purgatory, when we are first exposed directly to the Light and Love of God?  Is it a painful ecstasy of sorts?
    • If so, then purgatory can be re-thought of as a first stage of perfect Love and perfect Truth, rather than a place of retribution.  And that is an encouraging thought!
  • Our image today is from Patrick Comerford’s blog, his photo of our Lenten lilies — daffodils!

Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poem, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the Mass of

  • March 23, 2014 Noon

The prose-poem Fr Dennis references this year is:

  • Crying on a Public Bench by Elizabeth Cooper-Mullin in Online NYTimes City Room feature contribution in March 21, 2014

In 2014, we reflected on —

  • Themes of water and food and Christ as the ultimate thirst quencher and hunger satisfier
  • Water – thirst: Baptism, the drink that satisfies thirst
  • Food – hunger: Eucharist, the food that satisfies the hunger for something beyond the here and now; our desire for the Eucharist is our desire for a link to the Center of Everything through Jesus
  • In the gospel,
    • “It was about noon” (Jn 4:6)
      • Is this foreshadowing the crucifixion?
      • High noon would be a time to be very hot and thirsty, so a request might easily be abrupt in need and urgency
      • High noon and the Gospel of John? Lots and lots of light and Light
      • No respectable woman would have been about at noon; they all gathered in the morning when it was cooler and traded local information (or otherwise socialized).
    • Jesus’ “I am he, …” in response to the Samaritan woman’s “I know that the Messiah is coming …”  This is the first time and the first person in the gospel of John to whom Christ admits / declares this.
    • Her witness for and through Christ moves her to a new center in her spirit and in her community.
  • In the City Room feature of the online NYT, Elizabeth Cooper-Mullin contributes that sitting on a bench & crying her heart out to her mom after a boss had been cruel and thoughtless about the death of her father.  The stranger on the bench who listened to her emotional phone call with her mother simply left … but then returned with a box of tissues in a Duane Reader pharmacy bag for her.  The exchange prompted her to consider that when you think humanity has shown you its worst, it brings out its best.
  • Only Jesus could meet a woman wholly ostracized by her community and herself and then bring out the best in humanity to bring her and her community to the new center of their community, the formerly ostracized woman!

In 2017, we have some cameo reflections —

  • From our Into the Light group, including Fr Dennis, but I don’t have who contributed which thoughts:
    • Moses might have been scared and lonely with all his people so angry.  God stood between him and the crowd, surrounded him with elders … and the water flowed.
    • Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman was similar to how Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative describe his work with those on death row, seeking to overturn wrongful convictions.  You have to be
      • proximate
      • change the narrative
      • be hopeful
      • be willing to be uncomfortable.
  • From Fr Joe Wagner, SJ — her faith grows and we can hear this as her address to Jesus changes:
    • “a Jew”
    • “Sir”
    • “a prophet”
    • “the Messiah”
    • “the savior of the world” by her community, who now includes and heralds her
  • This is neither here nor there but on my walk in early in the morning, the lights on the side of a restaurant captured the slow 3D descent of large fluffy snowflakes and created 2D shadows jumping abruptly in all directions on the sidewalk.  The snowflake and its shadow (or sometimes shadows, depending on the lighting & placement of both) darted and jumped but, ultimately to have the shadow rush to the snowflake — as if to catch before it hit the sidewalk “hard.”  All that richness in mere moments and small spaces.

Our image today is Sieger Koder’s The Woman at the Well, accessed on 7 March 2022 via the Internet from  The image so powerfully captures the healing power and message of Jesus:  can we see the Divine Love in and with us and act in response in kind?

Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis Dillon SJ’s homilies from the Masses of

  • March 12, 2017 9PM
  • March 16, 2014 8:30AM

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2017, we reflected that —

  • How do I know I’m Christian?
  • How does anyone else know I’m Christian?  One technique — among many! — is to “practice resurrection” a là Wendell Berry’s Manifesto.  We keep turning, in forgiveness and joy, to the Light — most especially when we have been hurt.
  • The Transfiguration reveals the resurrected Jesus, foreshadowing (or foreLighting, I suppose!) that Jesus will rise from the dead in glory.  The Gospel of Matthew uses words that have been used to describe angels of light — “his face shone like the sun,” “his clothes became white as light.”
  • Mary Oliver’s poem captures the transcendence of the moment of The Transfiguration — or at least what we might imagine!  But the sense that “once you’ve there, you’re there forever” captures the gift of message Jesus was sharing.
    • rl notes we have most of the Lenten journey ahead of us, but what a gift, what a promise we receive in The Transfiguration reading.
  • D2 noted that a parishioner at D2’s previous parish almost always had tears in his eyes at Communion.  He shared that he felt so in communion in the moment, he felt he was seeing the Transfiguration and portion of the Resurrection.

In 2014, we reflected mostly on the Transfiguration Gospel that —

  • The readings from last week and this week provide the interesting pairing of Jesus being tempted (last week, The Temptations) and Jesus in charge (this week, The Transfiguration of Matthew).
  • One puzzle (and rather humorous) is that the apostles don’t have any reaction to Jesus in conversation with Moses and Elijah in a radiant cloud of glory as beings of light (clearly presented as divine) but drop in fear at the voice in the cloud, now super clear they are in the presence of the Divine.  Why?
  • Another puzzle is in the text “Peter said to Jesus in reply [emphasis added],”  Was this a typo?  Bad writing?  Or what had Jesus said (that we don’t hear or read)?
  • A tent for each?  Symbolically, Moses is the Law, Elijah is the prophet (the greatest of all the Hebrew Scripture prophets) ==> Jesus is the fulfillment of law AND prophecy; the three of them (Jesus, Moses, Elijah) comprise a Trinity of law, prophecy, and fulfillment.
    • Interestingly, Elijah didn’t write / record his own words, someone else recorded his words in what we call The Book of Kings.  Other prophets did write down their prophecies.  Jesus, the greatest of all the prophets (remember?  priest, prophet, king), also didn’t leave any writings of his own words.
    • Also, the interlinear translation of Ancient Greek for Peter’s “tents” is σκηνάς, or “tabernacles” or “eternal dwellings.” However, other sources indicate they are the sukkah tents for the Sukkot festival. (I have used up all my “knowledge” of this aspect of Jewish faith and culture with the previous sentence.)
  • God, the voice from the clouds says, “[L]isten to him.”  (In New Testament for Everyone and some other translations, “pay attention.”)  All these combine to exhort us to focus, focus on Jesus.
  • Another resource D2 introduced us all to is the blog “Left Behind and Loving It.” A West coast minister pulls apart the Greek for us and the context of the readings. He is part of a Protestant denomination, so the readings don’t always match with the Catholic place in liturgy — but close enough more often than not!
  • In Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, she writes
    • “Who made the world?” is the first question and line of the poem, in other words, who is our Creator?
    • “I do know how to pay attention …” “how to be idle and blessed” in paying attention to God in the world to celebrate what is here.
  • In the Transfiguration — Jesus shines like the sun, like what is just shines in the Reign of God; like the Angel of Resurrection will shine like the lightning, and Jesus shows us in the Light of his Transfiguration, how through his Resurrection, we will all each shine like Jesus, like the sun, as part of one Holy Family.

Our main image today is the Transfiguration of Jesus, Oil on Canvas by Armando Alemdar Ara (Creative Commons License © via Wikimedia Commons).  The brightness of the three figures captures the sense of transfiguration yet the painter also keeps the foreboding and overawed wonder Peter, John, and James experienced as they dropped to the ground.

Another image is from the St John’s Bible, the first illuminated Bible since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press!  This link also includes information buttons in the image that explain some of the creation techniques of the Transfiguration image.

First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poem, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Masses of

  • March 9, 2020 5PM
  • March 9, 2014

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

  • Original Sin by Lawrence Raab in 2020 (now realizing this was likely the last “live” homily our parish heard from Father Dennis, as the pandemic lockdowns began that week and he missioned to Colombiere Center Community in August 2020. He offered a streamed reflection and goodbye to us in August 2020.
  • I’m Nobody!  Who are you? by Emily Dickinson in 2014

In 2014, we reflected with D2 that —

in the Gospel,

  • The Temptations (the gospel reading) are all about who we are and how we are to act, held in a dynamic tension:
    • Adam and Eve are tempted with “you are going to be like gods” … yet/and we believe we share the life of God, i.e., Grace and in so doing/being, we belong to God’s family.  We are made divine through our brother, Jesus.
  • This is what the devil pounces on — this longing in our heart, arising out of our graced divinity, to be more than what and who we are.  The devil takes something good but uses it to lure us in a wrong direction, that wrong direction being away from God.
    • rl notes this is consistent with Saint Ignatius’ discernment of spirits:  in those trying to follow God more closely (n. 315 and n. 332 of the second set of discernment rules for those trying to follow the Lord)), evil spirits often assume the form of an angel of light.  The soul believes they are following an angel of light, only little by little to be baited and switched to sin by the camouflaged evil spirit.
  • So — the temptations of Jesus from Satan are because you are the Son of God:
    • change stones into bread, i.e., do something for yourself (wealth)
    • jump and be saved, i.e., be noticed for yourself (power)
    • take it all; i.e., take it all and worship me for yourself (pride)
  • And Jesus replies: That’s not who I am created to be by God nor how I should act ==> NO to the Temptations.

Second Reading from Romans

  • All of Paul’s letters can be summed up — if we know who we are, we will act as we should.
  • Emily Dickinson’s poem — “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” is a mildly whimsical take on the 2nd and 3rd temptations, and a general sense of not getting above ourselves. We are the beloved children of God, siblings to Jesus … and sinners.
  • Our journey is about coming to know the Light and Love who is in us, so we can share with those around us.

Our image today is from The Book of Kells. It is housed in Trinity College in Dublin. Their library has a write-up here.

And to keep a little laughter in our Lenten journey, here are some Motown Temptations in a clip from 1966 sharing their fine pipes and steps in “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” something the Trinity has sung to us from eternity’s beginning, about rending our hearts, not our garments, and in so doing, returning to God with all our heart.

Christmas, Cycle A

Merry Christmas!!

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are some of the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Christmas Masses in 2017.  For about ten years prior to the pandemic, Fr Dennis Dillon SJ celebrated the Nativity Pageant Mass (you know … Charlie Brown and the Christmas pageant?).  🙂  His spoken homily was very brief, then he invited the children close near at the sanctuary.  He then performed and amiably chatted his way through a couple magic tricks sharing the wonder and awe of Christmas.  You could see the kiddos have excitement, joy, and wonder — see those emotions being bundled with their pageant experience and the coming of Jesus Christ.  Pretty cool.

The children themselves create the Living Word in ways our adult imagination fails, or has forgotten.  One year at the pageant, after the Annunciation, Gabriel threw her hands up in joy and bounced herself up and out of the choir loft after getting Mary’s “yes.”  It’s easy to forget the joy of heaven of sharing the good news, let alone someone accepting it! 

This year, when the narrator read that ” … Gabriel departed,” Gabriel dropped like a rock (whump!!), slunk up the stairs until the focus was on the Visitation occurring on the other side of the choir loft.  It’s easy to forget, holy or not, Mary said “yes” amidst some pretty challenging irruptions of God in her life.


The gospel readings for Christmas are tied to the Mass, e.g., Vigil, Night, Dawn, or Day, and come from the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.  The Christmas readings are listed for ABC, rather than a single cycle, like we read during Advent, e.g., Matthew’s gospel is the dominant gospel account in Cycle A this liturgical year.  It and the Gospel of Luke are the only two of the four which discuss the birth of Jesus.  Luke has the shepherds and angels, Matthew has the magi and more about Joseph’s interactions with the angels. 

For clarification, both the gospels according to Luke and Matthew have plenty of angels!  However, one would expect the angels to interact with the key people in the story, like Mary and Joseph.  The messengers of God interact with key people. What is unusual about our God and the account in Luke, is the angels proclaimed “glad tidings of great joy” to shepherds, at that time some of the lowliest members and most on the fringes of Jewish society.  This is God’s very different take on who the key players are in God’s eyes and heart! This is one more exclamation point by God that salvation is for everybody!  St Gregory of Nazianzus wrote that we are most made in the image of God when we love humans, preferentially the poor.  This is one more example of God doing so!

Fr Jim offered the reminder in the homily today that Jesus was born poor so the lowly shepherds AND magi could visit him.  Birth in a palace would have left the shepherds out in the cold.

So the following is from a 2017 10AM Christmas Day Mass, I believe, celebrated by D2.

Some of the poems Fr Dennis references over the years:

  • December by Gary Johnson (a favorite, used on Christmas Eve 2016)

In 2017, we reflected on —

  • The Nativity Pageant and Mass are a celebration of the children of the world.  The pageant and its fresh interpretation of the story by each year’s cast of children renews our faith.  Fr Dennis wore the stole of children to honor all the children — those who are children by age, and those who are children at heart.  Most importantly, he wore it to honor the One who came to be with us … as a babe!
  • Why would the Trinity do this, this mystical incredible idea of the Incarnation?  What was Jesus hoping to say with the Incarnation?  Solidarity. Jesus of the Trinity became incarnate to share the vulnerability of a fertilized cell on to his last breath on the cross to be in total solidarity with us humans, God’s created.  This form of solidarity means:
    • His mercy comes from within, from his full humanity and divinity
    • He felt himself at home with us in a very simple meal of bread and wine, and being divine could leave this expression with us in the Eucharist, so we can always be together in the Sacrament
    • He became helpless, like we are helpless and vulnerable
  • Because of Jesus’ mercy of Incarnation, we aren’t so helpless, and no one of us is ever alone.  Our facades of independence become a barrier to our divinity and acceptance of salvation.
  • In today’s Collect Prayer for the Vigil Mass for the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas!), we pray that because of God we “share[e] in the divinity of Christ.”  In other words, through the Incarnation, we are called to be divine, and the call itself as well as its manifestation is Grace, God’s Life within us, now. 
  • May Sarton’s poem, Christmas Light, feels extra resonant tonight … as it feels like the joys and the busy-ness of creating space for reflection or giving or service this autumn and Advent having finally ceded before the coming of the Babe, and his Peace. I sit with my “small silent tree” bedecked with ornaments glittering with family memories and

    I [feel] reborn again,
    I kn[o]w love’s presence near

    [Is] with me in the night
    When everyone ha[s] gone
    And the garland of pure light
    Stay[s] on, stay[s] on.
  • Our featured image is John Swanson’s Nativity. He passed in September 2021. From his website: Mr. Swanson’s art reflects the strong heritage of storytelling he inherited from his Mexican mother and Swedish father. John Swanson’s narrative is direct and easily understood. He addressed human values, cultural roots, and the quest for self-discovery through visual images. These include Bible stories and social celebrations such as attending the circus, the concert, and the opera. He also depicted everyday life, city and country walks, visits to the library, the train station or the schoolroom. His parables optimistically embrace life and spiritual transformation.

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Masses of

  • December 18, 2016 5PM
  • December 22, 2013 Noon

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2016, we reflected that —

  • the Nativity is only in Luke and Matthew, but all the gospels have his death and resurrection because that is central to his life and message.
  • However, culturally, Christmas has moved to a more central part of the story
    • The birth of Jesus isn’t “all happy” because of the Death of the Innocents, as well as the pain and danger of birth to mother and child.
    • There is cultural fun, too, in that there are different stories about the birth of Jesus (e.g., the Huron Carol) and that every child, each of us!, is a reaffirmation of the birth of Jesus.
  • In December by Gary Johnson
    • He alludes to many Christmas carols (see some below).
    • The allusions suggest our hopes of greater holiness and wisdom
    • the dark of night : the dark of the future
  • In Going to Bed by George Bilgere
    • It is not just a poem about every day matters; like Johnson’s, he ties the ordinary modern things to reverence
  • In the sum of it all, there is simple excitement in knowing Jesus is our Savior, and that is something to celebrate in and of itself.

In 2013, we reflected that —

  • Joseph is a righteous man, meaning that he follows the law, but doesn’t want Mary to face public shame.
  • This sense we get of Joseph being faithful to the law and conscious of the people involved is like Pope Francis, about placing the person first then the law, i.e., being pastoral.
  • Gary Johnson’s December poem utilizes snippets and words evocative of specific Christmas carols, resulting in a poem with smiles but also the richness of a realistic faith:
    • Adeste Fideles — “singing for the faithful to come ye”
    • Twelve Days of Christmas — “partridge in a pear tree // And the golden rings and the turtle doves.”
    • O Little Town of Bethlehem — “In the dark streets [lights shining]”
    • Adeste Fideles — “Not much triumph going on here.”
    • O Little Town of Bethlehem — “And my hopes and fears are met // “
    • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing — “And are there angels hovering overhead? Hark.”

Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the Mass of

  • December 11, 2016 10AM

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2016, we reflected that —

  • In the gospel, there is the list of what Jesus tells the messenger to tell the imprisoned John the Baptist of what is happening — healing blind, lame, deaf, dead, etc…  Usually in a list the last item is the most important.  In this case, the last item is “the poor have good news preached to them.”  A good cause for reflection that it is in the same list as the others and in the place of prominence (the one that the listener will most likely remember).
  • Who could be scandalized by Jesus’ miracles?  Why are leaders so hostile?  It’s not just the miracles; it is what underlies them, i.e.,  that God is reconciled with us, and there is a Messiah. 
  • John the Baptist is the great cry in the wilderness but the least in the Kindom is greater.
  • Michael Blumenthal’s poem I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great is about the least in the Kindom of our times, and it has a lot of vocabulary builders!
    • quotidian = daily, ordinaryPerseus = an ancient Greek hero who slew Medusa (serpent head, and could turn you to stone) and flew the winged horse Pegasusmundanity = common, of the earth
    • übermenschlicke = good human, really humble, to the nth degree
  • Even John the Baptist is pointing to Jesus; the ordinary folks like us?  We’re still in the Kindom recognizing the presence of our Savior.
  • Something that I enjoyed from SALT Lectionary’s The Dawn Chorus reflection booklet this week:

When birds break into song and begin their glorious dawn chorus, you might wonder: Why do they sing in the first place? Here’s what we know. Birds sing for two big reasons: first, to mark their territories (This is my house!); and second, to attract a mate (Want to make a home together?). But some scientists believe birds also sing for the sake of delight. Charles Darwin, for example, wrote that birds sing “for their own amusement.” A third big reason, then, may be just that: birds sing because it gives them joy!

The same is true for humans. Especially when we sing with others, our brains release endorphins and oxytocin (the “bonding” or “love” hormone), which is known to reduce stress and increase feelings of trust and gladness. It’s no wonder Isaiah’s vision of a new world features the wilderness singing for joy!

Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Masses of

  • December 4, 2016 10AM
  • December 8, 2013

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

  • November, 1967 by Joyce Sutphen in 2016
  • Wild Geese by Charles Goodrich in 2013
  • Advent (for nelson mandela) by r. russeth

In 2016, we reflected that —

  • Waiting in Advent is
    • Expectation as hopeful waiting; God is present to us now and newly (and past … and future)
    • Waiting more peacefully as we look back on all that we have been given, in thanksgiving; waiting in hope is what sees us through these times
    • A practical sense of keeping hope alive with
      • a daily process of prayer
      • Sundays – 🙂 to see who would be there; seeing them there (good and bad), silent needs, and the community as a whole — we take strength and learn from one another.
      • rl notes the final comment about Sundays is significantly more poignant with our recent pandemic experience; how hard it was not to see each other … or our body language.
  • Joyce Sutphen’s November, 1967 poem captures our sense of gratitude for things in the past … in film, poetry, life, … We learn from the old and past to indeed be hopeful that God can bring about the miraculous.
  • It is like the shoot that springs from the stump: David.  Exile is a dead stump that brings forth life; it’s not logical.  🙂  But God can do remarkable, miraculous things … like bring out a new king, Jesus.  And God is constantly doing these remarkable, miraculous things.
  • There is the scary and encouraging line re chaff thrown into the unquenchable fire.  The unquenchable fire is like the burning bush: God’s light and heat in people without destruction.  (In a different homily once, Fr Dennis reminded us that John the Baptist was off the mark about the nature of Jesus as more condemnatory than the relatively gregarious, humorous, peaceful encounters we hear about.)
  • We are called to look for hopefulness, not just “better.”  Life goes on — remarkable things go on and arise, even out of things seeming dead.

In 2013, we reflected that —

  • Wild Geese is a bit like the work-a-day commitment of John the Baptist to his role, helping people prepare the way.  He preaches character and repentance — which is pretty hard work in preparation of Jesus and the Baptism of Holy Spirit and Fire He will bring.
  • Advent (for Nelson Mandela) by richard russeth offers the nobility and hope of the promise of Isaiah for Nelson Mandela, who had recently passed in 2013. Sorry … the text of this poem had been hard to find ten years ago. I had no luck this year.

First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poem, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the Masses of

  • November 27, 2016
  • November 29, 2013 Noon

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2016, we reflected that —

  • We receive apocalyptic phrasing (“swords into plowshares”) in Isaiah but they are nonetheless uplifting readings.
  • Gospel?  Stay awake! But what does that mean?
  • Advent is a time of rethinking / start over / retelling a story in our religious and personal and spiritual lives … and in retelling these stories we remember who we are and how God is in our life.
  • That kind of staying awake — a contemplative awake, an aware in gratitude awake (not fearful) — the kind we want more of!
  • Remember that Eucharist = thanksgiving, so we practice to turn more quickly to gratitude.
  • Poetry gets underneath where we are in our lives or their meaning.
  • Joyce Sutphen’s Country Roads
    • “as if we were waiting” evokes Advent
    • “for the waters to open” reminds us of the Red Sea or a river parting
    • “cross over Jordan” reference is the cross over to death in the psalms, the Hebrew scripture.
  • Other new life is the waiting to be seen or crossed over to.
  • This idea of “waiting for more” is waiting for the more who is once again the infant Jesus.

In 2013, we reflected that —

  • Each new birth is a sign of joy, of hope of a soul being given some purpose before God.
  • Advent is the waiting, the collapse of Mary’s pregnancy into 1 month.
  • Advent is the getting into the earthiness, the realness of God-with-us, of God being with us: The Incarnation is on His Way.  🙂
  • James Silas Rogers’ Rutabagas evokes this sense of Advent.  Each earthy taste of the dirt; the realness that won’t go away, like The Gift, the child Jesus Christ.

Our image is from our own Celeste Novak!