Easter Week 5 Cycle A

Our readings for this Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, are here

These are the poem, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Sunday Mass of: 

  • May 18, 2014 Cycle A, Noon


The poem Fr Dennis references is:

In 2014, we reflected on —

  • In the gospel, Jesus knows he is leaving again relatively soon but offers some confusing statements when considered in tandem:
    • Jesus and the Father are one
    • Jesus is going to the Father (which implies distinctness or separation).
  • A note of exasperation at Phillip can be detected in Jesus’ words (“Have I been with you for so long a time …?”), but also Phillip’ and Thomas’ expectations for an understanding they perhaps ought to have internalized by now.  (That being said — their puzzlement is also a balm to us as we are enamored and struggle with the mystery of the Resurrection nearly 2000 years later!)
  • This dialogue and conversation captures the sacred tension between religious structure and the spiritual realm.
Catechism / Structure  <— Sacred Tension —>Spiritual Realm / Mysticism
What am I supposed to do? Where are we going?Who am I supposed to be? Who do I follow?
  • Jesus is teaching that by staying with Jesus, the Jesus inside each one of us, we stay close to God and this means that it matters who we’re traveling with (not as a matter of feet and maps) but our intention and focus (Matthew 6:21, also comes to mind)
    • with Jesus in our heartswith eyes and ears for Jesus in others
    • in prayer and Mass (the actual Presence being given to us anew, each time, for taking into ourselves and taking out into the world).
  • The Lincoln prose-poem of David Shumate is set in 1865, describing the man himself and what he had lived through the prior four years (recalling President Lincoln was assassinated on 14 April 1865 at 10:15PM, the country’s first presidential assassination, just five days after the Union received the words of surrender from the Confederacy on 9 April 1865, and several days before the Civil War’s official end).  It was not just Lincoln’s words that built community out of great division, but the man himself.

Some rl musings —

  • Our image of the post is The Boyhood of Abraham Lincoln by Eastman Johnson (1868). I first learned of it at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) (It rocks! Check it out!). Young Abraham Lincoln is leaning into the only light available to capture the light of the words from one of the only books available to him.  His act of hope in the future, a better future for many, is an echo to me of how Jesus himself brought Light into the world, and we need to have that Light inside us and share it and Jesus, as best we can.
  • rl – I have vague memories of the folk song, sung by any number of artists, title “Abraham, Martin, and John.”  I remember Dad growing quiet, or Mom quietly crying to it or having a social sadness that I wouldn’t understand at the time, but feels all too familiar these days.  My horizon of hopes ahead for me personally is, understandably diminishing as I age — both because of my limitations and because I’ve been blessed with so many hopes realized.  But it is the thought of what we need to do for our younglings generally, my grandnephew and grandniece or any child to have a full horizon of hope that shakes any melancholy, renews my faith in Christ “who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light,” and sets my sail accordingly to the hope the Resurrection encompasses.

Easter Week 4 Cycle A, Good Shepherd Sunday

Our readings for this Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, are here.

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

  • May 7, 2017 Cycle A


The poems Fr Dennis references are:

In 2017, we reflected on —

  • In Jesus’ time, the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd was personal, the sheep were family.  Even now, in the south Sudan, the Dinku tribe keeps cattle for food and milk.  The cattle sleep in the tents with the humans, and there is a ritual, emotional and intentional mourning, at their eventual death. And, as we know from the Nativity stories, the shepherds were among the lowest tier of Jewish social status.  Jesus, once again, goes to the margins of society to love and be present like the best of family, the best of friends.
  • Before the Resurrection: Jesus was Master
  • After the Resurrection:  Jesus is friend and peer
    • He returns to his friends and consoles them
    • He moves on in our lives with us, together, each of us with Jesus and each other.
  • One of the reasons to go with this interpretation of friendship is that in last week’s Emmaus story, the primary experience must have been one of Jesus consoling the disciples.  Why? Because he is not teaching — none of the links of his life to the scripture are recorded!, so the intent is more to show there was meaning to this suffering, from the beginning of God’s revelation in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to the current moment of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and a clear meaning at that (the many and uncaptured scripture references). 
  • rl paraphrases as: What was remembered from the encounter at Emmaus was not the makings of a killer scholarly paper, but the relief, the consolation of mercy from your dearest friend after fatal betrayal and abandonment by everyone.  Jesus gave their frailty context, meaning, and humanity.
  • David Budbill’s The First Green of Spring — eating and life, each day is a new resurrection.  Also, much of the resurrection is Jesus sharing meals with his friends.
  • Kiersten Dierking’s Lucky is a poem capturing the quiet work of God in our lives, much like a Good Shepherd leads us to green pastures.  The intimate trust of being safe with someone.

Easter Week 3 Cycle A

Our readings for this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, are here

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

  • May 4, 2014 Cycle A, 5PM Mass


The poems Fr Dennis references are:

In 2014, —

  • D2 opened with a joke.  (!)  “Someone gets in a cab in New York City.  After a bit, the passenger has a question for the driver and, from the rear seat, taps his shoulder.  The driver violently reacts to the touch, almost careens into a bus, swings back almost over the meridian, back to the curb, and stops just short of a plate glass window.  The passenger says, ‘I’m so sorry!; I didn’t realize you were so shell-shocked from all these years driving a cab!’  The driver said, ‘Oh no — it wasn’t you!  This is my first day driving a cab; I’ve spent the last twenty-five years driving a hearse.'”  🙂
  • Jesus in the Resurrection has that sort of startle effect.
  • In his apparitions, Jesus doesn’t make much of his resurrection, or why he keeps popping up all over the place — other than the obvious reason that he’s forgiving them (for abandoning him, betraying him, and giving way to despair (Cleopas)) and offering “Peace.”
  • It is notable how gently Jesus forgives — in a delicate way, a gentle way … so he doesn’t startle or haunt or afflict them beyond the abruptness of his appearances and vanishings.
  • Last week’s e.e. cummings poem, i thank You God for most this amazing, also works this week, particularly with the line “(now the ears of my ears awake and // now the eyes of my eyes are opened)” echoing Luke 24:32 (“With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.”)
  • In an email exchange with D2, he passed on Velázquez’s Servant Girl (c. 1620, Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland, Beit Collection) (our image today) and Denise Levertov’s ekphrastic poem composed to it, “The Servant-Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Velázquez).  The painting depicts a young woman listening through a kitchen window onto a conversation, looking much like the Emmaus dinner.  Interestingly, that corner of the painting had been overpainted and a later cleaning revealed the interesting composition of the ordinary life (the servant girl) as central to the composition with the Divine in the background, but providing the dynamism to the painting. 

The image, the Levertov poem, and one more, Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus, or The Mulata—after the painting by Diego Velàzquez, ca. 1619, by Natasha Trethewey, are available on this page of the SALT Lectionary, if you wish a single site for reflection on gospel in imagined image and poetic words.  (And, yes, in case you were wondering, I received D2’s email prior to the SALT Lectionary arriving in my inbox.)  🙂

And, of course, the Wiki link to the broader discussion of the paintings and academic (non-theological) discourse.

Easter Octave, Divine Mercy Sunday (Rebound Sunday) Cycle A

Allelujah!!  Allelujah!! He is (still) Risen!!

Our readings for this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday and, colloquially, as Rebound Sunday, are here.

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from Cycle 2014.  The Mercy Sunday masses we are visiting are: 

  • April 27, 2014 Cycle A, Noon & 7PM Masses


The poem Fr Dennis references is:

In 2014, we reflected that —

  • The story of “Doubting Thomas” is one of the most familiar from the Christian gospels, and it is easy to identify with Thomas.  Most of us have Thomas-like doubts about God, God’s Presence, and ourselves.
  • The apostles are in the upper room because
    • they are in fear of the other Jews (the religious leadership, who had just murdered Jesus through the crucifixion),
    • the upper room is a safe haven, a Jerusalem safehouse as it were,
    • the upper room is the last place all the apostles were gathered with Jesus, and
    • the upper room hosted the Last Supper, the place of the Institution of the Eucharist
  • Jesus meets them in peace in this place.  You can almost imagine the apostles somewhat teasing Thomas — “We saw the Lord [and you didn’t]!”
    • RL’s take is that Thomas was so wounded from the emotional journey of being the one to exhort that they go with Jesus to Jerusalem, even if they might die, to watching it all “end” horribly and running away as they all did.  That it all hurt too much.  He couldn’t deal with any more uncertainty, so he withheld himself from the thought of Jesus’ return.  Also, it is as if Jesus is saying everything I said and did in this place, prior to these wounds, is still true with the resurrected wounds.  🙂  Anyway, that is RL’s take on Thomas and place.  🙂   
  • In the gospel story, Jesus offers “Peace” and reassurance (“Don’t be afraid”) to his friends.  (rl – In one of the upper room account (Luke 21:41), Jesus asks, “Do we have anything to eat?” I imagine him looking around, maybe rubbing his belly, and looking for the chow.)
  • The image of the upper room is one in which Jesus gave himself completely in the bread and wine, in death, and the resurrection … and us?  what do we do? … or be??  This universal call in Christ, to be with each other “in the upper room” — what is it?
    • The early Jewish disciples / first unlabeled Christians?  The response was to sell everything they had and share with each other in community.
    • Nowadays?  We try to help each other.
  • e.e. cummings was a rebel in many ways, but particularly in how he found that people took their lives for granted, when, in truth, all we have to do is look around at the world and let the gift of it all fill us.
    • And so e.e. cummings offers this song of praise in i thank You God for most this amazing poem, humble and exuberant at the same time, “how should tasting touching hearing seeing // breathing any–lifted from the no // of all nothing–human merely being // doubt unimaginable You?
  • We trust in God, believe in God, follow Jesus and his way of service to others … by God’s Mercy.

In the hometown of Padre Pio, Pietrelcina, Italy, one of the churches has stations of the cross composed of scenes from the Resurrection.  Our image today is one of those, depicting the scene in the Upper Room with Thomas to one side … and that basket of fish in the Light of the Resurrected Christ.  Pax Vobis or “Peace be with you” can be seen in the upper right of the image.

Easter Sunday Cycle A

Allelujah!!  Allelujah!! He is Risen!!

This is a re-publish with a new image and a little new text, but the same sharing of the ABC readings and poems and my notes from the Fr Dennis’ Easter homilies from last year. It seems more Easterly to provide a bounty of poems! 🙂

Our readings for this Sunday, Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord are here. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041722.cfm).  The readings are ABC, meaning they are used every Easter Sunday when the Mass of the Day is celebrated (versus the readings of the Vigil Mass, the evening before). 

Again, these are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from seven different years.  Since the readings are the same each year, we’ll enjoy a feast of the poems, some notes, and a reflection or two of my own.  The Easters we are visiting are: 

  • April 21, 2019 Cycle C
  • April 1, 2018 Cycle B
  • 8:30 Mass on April 16, 2017 Cycle A
  • Noon Mass on March 27, 2016 Cycle C
  • 8:30 Mass on April 5, 2015 Cycle B
  • 7PM Mass on April 20, 2014 Cycle A


The poems Fr Dennis referenced are:

The following are notes from the earlier Easter celebrations — in later years I was often serving at other St Mary’s liturgies during the day and didn’t always get to hear the homilies associated with the poems and notes!

In 2016, we reflected on —

That we don’t know much about the actual resurrection —

  • There is nothing in scripture about it.
  • Not much else outside scripture.
  • The folded face cloth in the tomb helps John believe in the resurrection.  A robber or someone opposed to Jesus as the Messiah would not have taken such care; the cloth would have been tossed about.
  • The resurrection seems to be in the small things, in the overall fit of things.  It is not a perfect conclusion, but a sensible one, a reasonable one for a person of faith.  It leaves us “looking up.”
  • Blackbirds by Julie Cadwallader-Staub captures this with her final line “ah yes, this is how it’s meant to be.”

In 2015, we reflected on —

That Easter Sunday is a bit of a letdown from the Vigil and other Triduum masses, a less elaborate and less detailed exaltation.

  • It’s interesting to note that compared to his public ministry of healings and miracles prior to the Passion, Jesus “doesn’t do much” after the Resurrection.  He could have done fantastic things.  But other than the fish catch, there are no miracles.  Even that is not on a par with those miracles before the crucifixion or the resurrection itself.
  • It seems that all he wants to do is eat with his friends.  He seems quite content to be ordinary.
  • So … we’re going to rise, but we want to cherish what is happening all around us — food, eating, breathing, living.
  • Breathing — the miracle and depth of it in any given moment.  The Hoarfrost and Fog poem by Barton Sutter captures this beautifully.  Perhaps imagine that first breath again for Jesus.
  • We are all born again when we realize we have a God who became human so God could see things from our point of view; and he died and rose so that we could learn God’s point of view, i.e., God’s Love for us.

In 2014, we reflected on —

“In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.” W. H. Auden.

That Easter Sunday is more easily expressed in singing (or tail-wagging!) than words … and yet we try. 

  • The reign of God, the Kindom (co-opting Greg Boyle, SJ’s phrasing) that the Apostles and early Christian communities tried to live and witness in light of the mystery best captured in the gospel, its profit is … of no earthly value at all.  There is no economic profit in the Kindom.  Instead we might look to the “Invest in the millenium” stanzas of Berry’s Manifesto poem.  “Say that your main crop is the forest / that you did not plant, / that you will not live to harvest.”
  • “[P]racticing resurrection” is living life for life and love itself; there is no purpose in this world.  We have nothing to lose [in this world] because we have everything in Jesus.

For myself, I found that even the tomb of Holy Saturday begins the tail-wagging, though I’d never known there was a quote to match the feeling — let alone its source!!  And the final stanza’s reference to the resurrection fox — “making more tracks than necessary / some in the wrong direction” — was a wonderful synchronicity to my 2014 Lenten fox of Mary Oliver’s Maker of All Things – Even Healings” and currently, of course, “our” neighborhood foxes.

I struggled a bit with an image for the Resurrection.  I was not taken with (for these purposes) the Van Gogh suggestions from the SALT lectionary; tempted but not taken with Rembrandt’s Christ and St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb (is the top left angel playing marbles?)

Finally, I stumbled across a Jim Hasse, SJ prayer-poem and painting. It is titled Searching, as in the woman the woman searching for her coin like God seeks to gather us. But the dust and everydayness of this image remind me of one imagining of the resurrection: Jesus must have smelled of the earth, had a gardener’s smell to him, for Mary to think his resurrected body so. And that is a reassuring thought, to think that breathing, opening earth is part of the Resurrection.

For this year … field daisies. I always loved them, but loved them all the more learning that they are one of the few (if only) flowers found through the one huge continent of America, from north to south with its thin waist in the center. They cannot be sold or cultivated commercially because they have one bloom per stem. Isn’t that grand?

Yo Yo Ma said of his own art, “Am I trying to get it right?, or am I trying to find something?”  I might paraphrase that as “Am I trying to find someone?”  And, in Hasse’s prayer-poem, “Searching,” I find my resurrection this year is the insight that Jesus witnesses what life is like when we find Love Loving.  We can’t live that experience every single moment.  We’re human.  But we can have faith that we will have resurrection when we let God find us, and we find God, and like Jesus and to God’s delight, abide in Love Loving for all eternity.

In the Tomb and Palm Sunday, Cycle A

This blog is a bit of a mash-up over the course of this 2023 Holy Week.  I followed the encouragement of Fr Dennis’ 2014 homily and our Jesuits this year — engage with your life and the life of the Passion imaginatively, creatively, and fully.  Live, hurt, die, and — soon, soon, soon — resurrect with Jesus Christ, our best friend who doubles as Savior of the World.

Spoiler alert —  theology, spirituality, and mysticism and many words follow.

Our readings for Palm Sunday are here.  

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

  • April 3, 2014 Noon

The poem D2 references this year are:

In 2014, we reflected on —

In the gospel of Matthew’s Passion, the narrative contains much more silence and waiting for Jesus to speak relative to the Passion in Mark, Luke, and John.  Notable moments of silence and waiting are:

  • (1) Sit here while I go and pray (Gethsemane).
  • (2) Three times Peter, John, and James wait and fall asleep.
  • (3) When Jesus was with the Sanhedrin (“But Jesus was silent.”)
  • (4) Silence in response to “Prophesy for us, Christ; who is it that struck you?”
  • (5) There is no mention of Peter and Jesus locking eyes after the cock crows.
  • (6) And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer.
  • (7) Pilate asks, “‘Do you not hear … against you?’ But he did not answer him.”
  • (8) In the narrative portions featuring Barabbas, the praetorium, Simon the Cyrenian, the crucifixion, and two revolutionaries?  Jesus is silent.

What stuck out to me this time (2014) was “But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples left him and fled.  I suppose it was not that they just didn’t show up, but the scattered and ran from Him — even knowing how much they loved Him.

Similarly, it is a pretty brief treatment of the crucifixion by Matthew (from Golgotha to giving up his spirit), relatively speaking — perhaps capturing a sense of duty done.

I put together a small table, just quickly, but found that Mark was most similar to Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as silent and the sense of waiting.  Luke had a bit more interaction, and the Gospel of John had a number of expositions or dialogue, consistent with the rest of John.

Passage MatthewGospel of MarkGospel of LukeGospel of John
(1) 26:3614:3222:40 (“Pray that you may not come to the time of trial.”)NA
(2) 26:37-4614:33-4222:45-46 (only once)NA
(3) 26:57-62, 26:5314:53-6122:618:19-24 (a lot of Jesus teaching)
(4) 26:65-6814:63-65 (no note of Jesus’ silence or action) NA
(5) 26:69-7514:66-7222:61 (“The Lord turned and looked at Peter.”) 
(6) 27:1215:1-3, 5 (“no further reply”)22:63-7018 (dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Jesus)
(7) 27:13-1415:6 – 3223 (no answer to Herod, talks to daughters of Jerusalem)19:1-29
(8) 27:45-5015:33 – 3723:44-46 (dialogue with criminals)19:30 (few words by Jesus)

In Greenwich by Kirsten Dierking, the final line of her poem — after taking us through the naval museum and the primer meridian — is

One day, won’t we all have to be brave?

Some background scavenged up by rl for this reference rich poem:

  • Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) was a Viscount and Duke, famous for the Battle of Trafalgar in which he was wounded by a French sharpshooter from the rigging or crow’s nest of his ship to the deck of Nelson’s command.
  • A valorous officer and acclaimed strategist, he claimed many victories and lessened defeats.  In losing his arm during one battle, he returned to the decks after the amputation.
  • Likewise, Nelson was known for his acceptance and “taking on board” men freed from slavery and other bondage.  His personal and navel letters on the whole and actions toward the dignity of all people are likely to take precedence over a letter, now seeming falsely pieced together, indicating his support of the institution of slavery and denigration of others.  One more cautionary tale of judgment of one person based on what someone else writes or says of them.
  • The prime meridian, in a global society that seems to know no bounds, is the longitudinal (circumferential line running from north pole to south pole) line passing through Greenwich England accepted as the 0 degree of the longitudinal system.  It was designated so in 1884 because of the Transit Circle Telescope.
  • I love the choice of this poem, all the more today, when now all of Ukraine rages in defense of itself.  At the time of this homily Russia had unlawfully annexed Crimea, the southern peninsula portion of Ukraine that gave Russia a southern port. 

Lastly, D2 suggested taking time for an imaginative reflection with the Passion this week.

In 2014, I read all four gospels with the received intuition to “stick like a tick” to Jesus — with him, but not him, and basically invisibly.  In just being with him and obeying direct commandments during the Passion, I found eight statements and one observation

  • (1) Take and eat this bread
  • (2) Take and drink this cup
  • (3) Let us go [Jesus choosing the direction][not me doing so, in case that wasn’t clear]
  • (4, 5, 6) Three different kinds of watch, wait, and pray with Jesus
  • (7) Love one another as I have loved you [and love God with all your heart]
  • (8) The greatest Love is a complete offering of one’s self in service for another; serve one another / be a servant.
  • Walking … how much Jesus walked … 100 to 150 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem, from Bethany to Jerusalem and back again, all around Jerusalem, walking to his death.  A dead man walking.  How busy everything was around him and how alone he was in this world.  Were there vendors and shopkeepers he knew and had visited in Jerusalem since he was a boy?  Would they have been asking on Monday morning, “Did you hear about our Jesus?””Walking … how much Jesus walked … 100 to 150 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem, from Bethany to Jerusalem and back again, all around Jerusalem, walking to his death.  A dead man walking.  How busy everything was around him and how alone he was in this world.  Were there vendors and shopkeepers he knew and had visited in Jerusalem since he was a boy?  Would they have been asking on “Monday” morning, “Did you hear about our Jesus?”

This Holy Week (2023) (that was a quick ten-ish years!!), I focused on the presence and longing for Love of Jesus — captured in the smitten expression of the disciple at the table in our (re)featured image of Koder’s Last Supper.  In my heart, feeling Love in the Mass — the love of a good shepherd for us, our parish — that longing comes for and because of the Love of Christ.  Many of us still miss D2.  A visiting Irish Jesuit (and former longtime parish priest in Ireland) creates a lovely space of movement, voice, and silence.  Our off-the-charts pastor is leaving this summer, someone who loved us from Day One, and we loved right back.  The Grad/YP minister and his thoughtful homilies is moving on … and it just feels like a lot of change without any recovery from prior experiences. 

In taking in my own vulnerability of needing the Love of Christ in Mass and more, the gospel of Matthew read much more tenderly and horrifically as I watched my friend Jesus be railroaded and tortured.  The nature of terrorism is that not only is it a singular act of violence, but its intent and impact is destroy human community.  And, in this reflection of longing for Christ’s Love, I felt the possibility of that Love being destroyed with Jesus being crucified, and my own stinging incapacity to feel or share it like Jesus did with his disciples then or how he does so with me (all of us) now.

I’m in the tomb … and … hopeful.

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 https://i2.wp.com/www.unforcedrhythms.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/koder-well.jpg.&nbsp; 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.