Reflections on the Gospel

December 8, 2018: Eve of the Second Sunday of Advent In a few moments, another flame will kindle its warmth in the heart of the second candle. Last week our candle burned brightly to remind us of a bedrock quality in a monk: to listen. This evening we expand the listening even more. How is it that we listen? In the deepest way possible, with the ear of our heart. We hold the flame close to the center of our being and let it expand our depths with its warmth and challenge to grow. To listen with the ear of our hearts means openness to God wherever and however God comes. To receive with trust and love the coming of...

December 1, 2018: Eve Of The First Sunday Of Advent Here we stand at the beginning of a new liturgical year. Sr. Esther’s lovely Advent Wreath enfolds the four candles, poised and ready to receive light. Perhaps we can identify with each of the candles as they prepare to receive a particular point of light and burn brightly with it. This year, what if we look at some points from the Prologue of our Rule as points of light to which we open ourselves to invite light into our being. On this First Sunday of Advent, as we stare down centuries of waiting before the coming of Jesus, perhaps in some ways we can “look to the East” in our hearts...

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? A reflection on Luke 18:9-14 Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. How many times in our lives have we been asked, “Where do you live?” Countless times, right? In the divine scheme of things we are all connected – to one another, to the universe. This is where, ultimately, we live. How is this so? How can I be connected to every person and animal and all creation? And why should I care? Today’s Gospel, at it’s deepest level, is talking about just this level. It is the place within each creature where we come from the creative heart of God. It is this “place”...

ORDINARY? Do you remember the last words we sang at Vespers yesterday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord? I’m sure you do, but just in case, they were: “Christ our God has made all creation holy.”  So we burst from the season of light, glory, angels and God in human flesh into what we call Ordinary Time. I suppose you have to call it something, but is it really ordinary?  Ordinary can look so boring, grey and colorless. Yes. But if you think about what we sang last evening, “God has made all creation holy,” the truth is far from boring.  Why is all creation holy?  We all know the answer to that:  because God fills every atom...

Eve of the Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 23, 2017 Tonight’s candle fairly quivers with the joy of expectation!  It will burn only one day but stands as a herald of Emmanuel.  God-with-us, God to whom we can always open more of our being in the trust and love of a child of God.  May the Child in the manger, whose coming at Bethlehem inaugurated the Kingdom of God, of love, peace and kindness, bless this advent candle.  And may we, like the candle, receive with joy the spark of the Kingdom of Love and burn brightly in and with Emmanuel for him and for the world.

Eve of the Third Sunday of Advent: December 16, 2017 As we begin the liturgy for the Third Sunday of Advent, we light this candle to burn a full week. Next Sunday we will be joyously awaiting the dawn of our salvation in the person of Jesus. This week’s candle opens its heart to receive the spark of Emmanuel into our daily lives. Lives “humble, obscure and laborious” as our Constitutions say, but how glorious when the simplicity of openness can take what seems to be a rather grey-sounding experience and set it ablaze with the Presence of God and of the Kingdom that Jesus came to manifest. “I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it...

Eve of the Second Sunday of Advent: December 9, 2017 Tonight, as we light our second advent candle, the glow of the reality of God-with-us spreads in all directions. We take another step in the journey of openness to The Presence. Last week our journey took us within, to our center where God and each person are one. How much do we believe that God fills everything? Literally everything! We can never be separated from God. He is inside and outside. Upside and downside. Everywhere. Of course, there’s always the option to clutter our hearts but nothing can separate us from the Presence of God that fills our being. So perhaps as we light this week’s Advent Candle, it can...

Eve of the First Sunday of Advent: December 2, 2017 This evening we take our first step into the hallowed time of Advent. We light a candle to focus our desire, toward… toward what? What is it we experience when we enter that deepest place of quiet in our being? It can be confusing sometimes when we sing about opposing realities. We sing, “O come, O come Emmanuel.” Emmanuel, Hebrew for God-with-us. How can God come if he is already here? Of course, we’re echoing the cry of the human heart as sung by the Hebrews in days of old until now. And there is the infinite capacity of our hearts to receive more and more of God. There will...

THERE IS NEED OF ONLY ONE THING A reflection on Luke 10:38-42 "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing." I must admit it. I have a soft spot in my heart for Martha. I can understand her frustration and the range of emotions that must have filled her as she scurried about, preparing a meal for their guest, Jesus, while her sister just sat there and didn’t lift a finger to help. Much ink has been spilled on this gospel text and every time I approach it, I seem to come away with something different. As I sat quietly with it, another thought came to me. I wondered if the...

FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED A reflection on Matthew 10:5-8 Jesus sent out the twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” "Without cost you have received. Without cost you are to give." Hearing those words is like opening a window and experiencing the cool breeze of freedom and joy—letting it ruffle our hair and fill our lungs. Maybe that is the Kingdom of heaven: welcoming the...