April 25, 2020

Seven Miles Before Emmaus, Seven Readings Before the Altar

"The Pilgrims of Emmaus on the Road," by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

The Third Sunday of Easter

When Christ asked Cleopas and the other disciple what they were discussing as they walked along, the Gospel says: They stopped.

His question brought them to a halt, and it brought sadness to their faces— they were downcast, as the Gospel tells it.

With sad faces, Cleopas and the other disciple told what had happened in Jerusalem over the last few days to Jesus the Nazarene.

They also told what they thought of the Nazarene up until the last few days.

It is what all the followers of the Nazarene had thought until the chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.

All the followers of the Nazarene had thought he was a prophet mighty in deed and word, and were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.

They didn’t know that he really was God in person in flesh and blood.

After his resurrection, his disciples had to learn not only the mysteries of Easter, but also the mysteries of Christmas.

In the beginning was the Word... the Word was God... the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Far more than a prophet even though mighty in deed and word!

The apostle Thomas would be the first to put the truth into naked words:  My Lord and my God!

For forty days after he lived and died in flesh and blood, and then rose from the dead in flesh and blood, the Lord God came and went only among those who had already been followers of the Nazarene.

They were all Jews, God’s Chosen People.

The word Christian did not yet exist.

They were still Jews.

However, now that the Lord God had lived, died and risen in Jewish flesh and blood, his speaking and opening the Jewish Scriptures led to their own Jewish hearts burning within them.

Which Jewish Scriptures?

Today’s Gospel says that beginning with Moses and all the prophets, heJesusinterpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.

So beginning with Cleopas and his fellow disciple on the SEVEN-mile road to Emmaus, the followers of Jesus have turned to the old Jewish Scriptures and the newer Christian Scriptures to mark well in them all that refers to Jesus.

During Holy Saturday’s vigil Mass of the Resurrection, we joined the Church in reading from Moses and the prophets:  SEVEN readings— as it were, one reading for each of the SEVEN miles between Jerusalem and Emmaus.

After the SEVENTH reading from Moses and the prophets, the Church opens our eyes, as it were, by finally lighting at that moment the candles of the altar where BREAD WILL BE BROKEN.

And then, like Cleopas and the other disciple, we go to Jerusalem to hear from another disciple, Paul the Apostle, in his letter to the Romans.

With light now coming to our eyes from the altar, we hear again from Paul that we were baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus in flesh and blood.

Christ who opens our eyes and hearts to finding him in the Scriptures does so not by the Scriptures alone.

Rather, it is as Cleopas and his fellow disciple went and told the Church in Jerusalem, namely that the Lord God, Jesus the Nazarene, was made known to them IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD.

Here we are still today:  having opened the Scriptures, we now turn for the Lord God Jesus who rose from the dead in flesh and blood to make himself known to us in the breaking of the bread and also in the pouring of the wine.


FOR MANY— Cleopas was right after all: the Nazarene was the one to redeem Israel and ALL the nations as well.

In Christ, we are all Jews: we are all God’s Chosen People.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

April 20, 2020

General Intercessions at Mass During the Pandemic

Each day in my monastery, a different one among our priests takes a turn composing the general intercessions, presiding and preaching at Mass.  With slight variations depending on the Gospel of the day, here are the intercessions I have been providing when it is my turn.

Heavenly Father, in this difficult time, come to the help of our fathers in the Church, Pope Francis and all bishops,
we pray to You, Lord.

For all who are still waiting for Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist....

Strengthen us in living our Baptismal covenant and our monastic covenant....

For healing of the sick, for good health and for protection from illness and injury....

Give quick success to our search for lifesaving therapies and treatments for those who are sick....

For those who risk themselves to serve the welfare of others in any way....

For the homeless, the hungry and all the poor....

For all who are bereaved, frightened and sad....

For the elderly and all who are alone because of medical isolation, especially those who are dying....

Grant to all souls eternal rest and perpetual light....

April 19, 2020

The Take-Home Stay-Home Cross

The stay-at-home pandemic order seeks to save all our lives.

It is true that staying at home causes much economic hardship.

It is not asking us to die for others, but to suffer so that all may be spared sickness and death.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. [John 13:34-35]

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13]

But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. [Matthew 5:39-41]

Love your enemies. [Matthew 5:44]

Turn. Love. Repeat.

April 18, 2020

God's Good Breath

"The Disbelief of Saint Thomas," by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

The Second Sunday of Easter

Last Sunday’s Gospel showed the Risen Lord outside his tomb meeting at daybreak the women who came to fulfill what was not done at his quick burial.

In today’s Gospel, the Risen Lord showed himself twice to his followers.

He first went to them in the evening following his Resurrection, and standing before them he did three things.

First: he showed them his BODY with open wounds in his hands and side— his real BODY raised from the dead.

Second: he BREATHED on them and said:  Receive the Holy SPIRIT.

Third: he said, Whose SINS you FORGIVE are forgiven them, and whose SINS you retain are retained.

Three great things: the BODY; the BREATH or SPIRIT of God; the FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

These three also showed up in the earliest days of our race: BODY, BREATH and SIN.

The Word of the Lord in the Book of Genesis shows God shaping our BODY out of earth.

In today’s Gospel our BODY was the first great sign from the Risen Lord.

He showed his real BODY— no longer dead but raised and glorified.

In the Book of Genesis, after God shaped our body from earth, he BREATHED into it his own BREATH, the SPIRIT of Life.

In today’s Gospel, God’s BREATH, God’s SPIRIT was the second great sign and gift from the Risen Lord.

The Risen Lord BREATHED out the SPIRIT of God upon his disciples, his Church, his BODY— just as in Genesis God had BREATHED his SPIRIT into our earthen BODY.

In the beginning, after God shaped our BODY and BREATHED into it his SPIRIT, we went on to SIN against him.

And so, in today’s Gospel the Lord who rose from the dead in his BODY upheld his Body the Church to FORGIVE SINS.

Whose SINS you FORGIVE are forgiven them, and whose SINS you retain are retained.

So, on the day he rose from the dead he remade humankind in a new way: the BODY, the BREATH or SPIRIT of God and the FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

Christ risen from the dead BODILY is the new beginning of our race.

The apostle Thomas saw the new beginning a week later than the others.

But he was the FIRST person in the Gospels to say that Christ is himself GOD: My Lord and my GOD!

The weird token for Thomas that he was looking at GOD was the truth of the DEADLY WOUNDS in Christ’s body.

God bearing bodily the marks of suffering and death is weird and a scandal.

That true God was born a true man is a scandal.

That God died a human death as a criminal is a worse scandal.

That Christ is truly God who died on the cross, and rose bodily from the dead is a further scandal.

All those scandals are the same as the one here at the altar of the Eucharist.

The will of God the Father, the words of God the Son, and the power of God the Holy Spirit are one in changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ:

the Body and Blood born at Bethlehem;
the Body and Blood offered on the Cross for us as the new and eternal covenant for the forgiveness of sins;
the Body and Blood risen from the dead and shown to the apostles;
the risen Body and Blood for Thomas to feel with his own hands.

The Lord gave these scandals to his Church.

We go on making them known through the Gospel and the Eucharist.

We tell of Christ crucified and risen.

We call the world to believe and uphold with us the oath: My Lord and my God!

To own that faith and to undergo Baptism is to have God take us up and into the truth and life of the Risen Christ.

It is to live and move and be IN CHRIST.

Baptism takes our BODIES, our souls, our whole being into the promise and beginning of rising from the dead.

Because of Baptism, God the SPIRIT is BREATHING within us.


As we shall all swear in a little while: I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

In Baptism, in all the sacraments, in the Eucharist, the life of the world to come has already begun.

We the baptized no longer descend from Adam.

We now descend from Christ the Son of God.

His Eucharistic Body and Blood bear within them the end of the world, and give us God’s kingdom, the new heavens, and the new earth.

The world of bread and wine ENDS in the Eucharist where there is really present the true Body and Blood of Christ.

In his Eucharistic Body and Blood, he hands over to believers the DIVINE MERCY of his death for SIN and of his resurrection.

In his Eucharist, the Risen Lord still stands among his disciples as truly as he did among his first apostles.

With the apostles it is OUR OWN calling now to tell the world what the Word of the Lord says in the First Letter of Saint John [1:1-4].

That which was from the beginning,
which WE have heard,
which WE have looked upon
and touched with OUR hands,
concerning the word of life—
the life was made manifest,
and WE saw it,
and testify to it,
and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father
and was made manifest to US—
that which WE have seen and heard
WE proclaim also to you,
so that you may have communion with US;
and OUR communion IS with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

April 17, 2020

The Second Serving of Easter Fish

Pixabay / Public Domain.

For Easter Friday

Christ raised his beloved friend Lazarus from the dead.

Shortly thereafter came Christ’s messianic Palm Sunday procession into the nation’s capital.

Then, his Last Supper, arrest in Gethsemane, interrogations by the nation’s High Priest, elders, Roman governor, King Herod, his crucifixion and now his resurrection!

After that whirlwind of dramas, suddenly in today’s Gospel we see what starts out as the return of something relatively ordinary in the lives of the apostles.

The apostle Peter decides to go fishing.

He used to make his living doing so.

After his rabbi rose from the dead and turned out to be not merely the Messiah but the Lord God himself, Peter going fishing seems banal and anticlimactic.

Was it an accident that he caught nothing at all that whole night, or was that God’s plan?

No matter what the case might have been, what followed at dawn was no accident.

The Risen Christ, whom Peter and his fellow disciples do not recognize, calls out to them from the shore.

He does not call out to them as “men” or “friends” or “brothers.”

Rather, he calls out, “Children....”

With the knowing stance of Lord God and Father, he calls to them as to children.

This Gospel will continue tomorrow and show us the fatherly plan Christ has for the vocation of Peter.

For now, Christ asks these fishermen, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”


So. their plans and efforts have failed again— their earlier messianic aspirations about Christ, and now their plan to go back to ordinary fishing— all their plans have failed.

Now Christ takes over their lives once more.

He commands them where to cast the net, and he states as a fact that they shall have a catch.

They obey without speaking.

Right away they pull in an overwhelming catch.

It wakes up one man, the disciple whom Christ had touched with his love.

Waking up, he says to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When they get to shore, they find Christ has no need for their miraculous success, because he already has fish cooking on a fire, and he has bread.

Nonetheless, he commands them to bring over some of their catch.

They obey in silence.

The Gospel reports no words as they watch him prepare and cook the fish for them.

Also, it seems they stand away from him, because the Gospel reports he “came over” to give them the bread, and that he did so again to give them the fish he cooked.

Among them is Thomas, who had put into words the knowledge they all have now: “My Lord and my God!”

On the day he rose from the dead, their Lord and their God fed them the Holy Spirit with his own breath.

Their Lord and their God, risen from the dead, is now cooking their breakfast for them and serving it to them.

Perhaps they remember now with shock that at his Last Supper with them their Lord and their God had washed their feet.

Their own ideas and plans about him failed.

Their own ideas and plans about ordinary fishing have failed.

Now they let him ask the questions, they let him take command, they let him go into action, and they wait for him to speak.

He called them “children.”

He knew they needed him to be a father.

They need everything he does.

Apart from him they can do nothing.

That’s what he said to them at his Last Supper in this Gospel [15:5] on the night one of their own betrayed him.

Apart from him they can do nothing; but abiding in him, and he in them, they can bear much fruit or net an overwhelming catch.

The overwhelmingly successful catch they have made is due not to their own efforts in the dark of night, for on their own they have failed.

They owe their miraculous success to the dawning of his presence, fatherly concern, command, and their childlike obedience even without being awake to his presence and identity.

Christ will go on to command more from them, beginning with Peter, more than their own plans and their own strength can conceive and realize apart from childlike obedience to him as their father.

He himself, Christ, called his own resurrection an act of obedience to a mission he received from his Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

He said so in his first words to them after his resurrection [20:21-22].

“As the FATHER has SENT me,
even so I SEND you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Christ rose from the dead because the Father sent him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like his own Father, Christ also sends his “children” in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Only the work and the will of Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit that he himself, like a father, prepares and feeds to them in his Body and Blood, only that can bring from their childlike obedience a mighty catch and abundant fruit where mere human plans and efforts are doomed to fail.

On the day we recalled the resurrection of Christ, how right and necessary that we renewed the promises of the Baptism most of us received as children.

May we abide committed to him as he abides committed Bodily to us in the Blood and Spirit of the new and everlasting covenant.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

April 16, 2020

Eating Fish: The First Communion on the First Easter

Fish, and “baked fish” at that!

Pixabay / Public Domain.

Luke 24:35-48

Today we celebrate the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Today we are witnesses as he shows himself bodily to the first disciples.

Faced with his resurrection, they had to RESHAPE their thoughts and beliefs about who he was, and about their relationships with him.

They also had to RETHINK their own lives and what they thought and believed about themselves as human beings after seeing Christ risen from the dead.

Surely they spent much of the next fifty days RETHINKING everything.

In fact, we see in Sacred Scripture that from Good Friday until Pentecost, there was no public ministry either by Christ or by the Church.

Rather, for forty days after he rose from the dead, Christ came to and spoke to no one else but those who were already his followers— to no one else but those already inside his Church.

For forty days he answered their questions, and he provoked their questions, their thinking and RETHINKING.

On the fortieth day, as they looked on, he ascended into heaven.

For ten more days, that is, until Pentecost, the Church carried out no public ministry.

The first followers of Christ spent the first Easter Season interacting INSIDE the Church, surely RETHINKING everything in the light of the resurrection of Christ.

To RETHINK, to change one’s MIND— the MIND is the literal root of the Gospel’s Greek word metánoia that we usually translate as repentance.

Today in his Gospel, the newly risen Christ said to his disciples:

Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
[metánoia, change of mind]
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

From Jerusalem, from right where the disciples stood, from within themselves, within the Church, the repentance, the metánoia, the change of MIND, the RETHINKING had to begin.

That was part of their preparation for what the Spirit would do through them in ministry to those outside the Church beginning on Pentecost.

But Pentecost was fifty days after today in the Gospel.

Today in the Gospel is still Easter Sunday.

Today the gathered Church finds that Christ has risen from the dead and now stands in their midst.

He has open wounds from the nails of crucifixion.

If he is risen in victory over death itself, why does he not close up his wounds— he who had the power to heal broken bodies and erase disease?

I like to think and RETHINK that the Risen Christ kept the wounds of death to show his ongoing communion with us.

To show the first disciples that he was still in communion with them in flesh and blood, he not only showed his wounded body, he also asked for their food, and made a show of eating some in front of them.

Food— baked fish— was part of the first communion after Christ had risen from the dead.

We, too, are risen from the dead, for God already counts us so in Baptism.

We, too, bear wounds— in spirit, mind, and body.

When Christ returns, maybe he will no longer have wounds.

When he returns, he will reveal the resurrection into which he has already planted us through Baptism, the sacraments, his Eucharist.

He will close up all our wounds.

He will wipe away every cause of tears.

He will remake and give glory to our bodies, making them as his own.

Even now in his Eucharist, we are filled with his Holy Spirit that sent the Church out to the world at Pentecost.

In the Eucharist we are one body, one spirit in Christ.

In his Eucharist, the Risen Christ is still wounded and his blood still flows, even though he is forever risen, immortal and glorified.

In his Eucharist, God lets us have his own flesh and blood as his children.

Like the risen Christ, we still bear our wounds until he returns.

Until then, we need repentance— metánoia— we need to RETHINK and take strength from faith in the covenant of God’s work that the resurrection of Christ and Christ himself are real food and drink for us in body, mind and spirit.

That is the only way for us as the Church to begin to be believable in calling the pilgrims of the world to repentance, whether on the first Pentecost or today or any day to come.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

April 11, 2020

Getting Possessed for Easter, My, Oh My!

“Mary Magdalene Questions the Angels in the Tomb,” “Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene” and “Touch Me Not,” by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

My, oh my!

John’s Easter Morning Gospel [Jn. 20:11-18] is full of the word my spilling time and again from the lips of both Mary Magdalene and the Christ: MY Lord, MY Teacher, MY brothers, MY Father, MY God.

Moreover, even as Christ uses the word your he does so to encourage his disciples to share HIS use of the word my: MY Father who is YOUR Father, MY God who is YOUR God.

This Easter Morning, Mary Magdalene was the first to use the word my.

MY Lord— this was the first time in John’s Gospel that anyone called Christ MY Lord.

The second and only other time was the apostle Thomas who called Christ MY Lord and MY God.

Mary Magdalene, just in saying They have taken MY Lord, is already holding on to him with words— no mention of hands.

After she realized he was standing before her, the Gospel bothers to say she spoke in Hebrew: Rabbouni.

That is a form of the Hebrew word rabbi, a title for a teacher.

Others in the Gospel have already given Christ the title rabbi.

Mary Magdalene was the first to call him Rabbouni— which in truth means MY Rabbi (MY teacher).

First MY Lord, now MY Teacher— she is still holding on to him with words again— no mention of hands.

The Lord answers straightaway: Stop holding on to ME, for I have not yet ascended to the FATHER.

He goes on to hold out for her that she should hold on to the FATHER instead: to my Father and YOUR Father, to my God and YOUR God.

My, oh my— my, oh my!

At the heart of this short meeting in a garden abloom with possessives, the Lord pointed away from himself and to the Father.

Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.

It is as if to encourage us to join him in holding on to the Father: to my Father and YOUR Father, to my God and YOUR God.

However, there is not only a Father to hold on to.

For the first time in the Gospel, the Lord uses the word brothers to refer to his own disciples.

Furthermore, he calls them MY brothers.

But go to MY BROTHERS and tell them, ‘I am going to MY Father and YOUR Father, to MY God and YOUR God.’

Christ the Son of God, now that he is risen in glory from the dead, now that he is more unlike us than before, now he holds on to us as his brothers and sisters.

As a man who was to die as we die, he never called us brothers.

But risen in glory from the dead, more unlike us than ever before, now for the first time he calls us his brothers— MY brothers.

That is his sign and his word that we are to share in his resurrection and share in his ascension and share in his God and share in his Father.

That is what OUR risen Lord holds out for us to hold on to.

OUR resurrection, OUR ascension, OUR God, OUR Father!

My, oh my, indeed!

Turn. Love. Repeat.

April 10, 2020

Second Hand Son, Brother of Jesus

A public domain photograph of Yaakov ben Aharon ben Shalma around the year 1905. He lived less than forty miles from Cana in Galilee.

John 18:1 to 19:42
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John


Now and at the hour of his death,
what has changed?

What is new for me as his disciple?

What am I to do?

From his cross he told me only one thing:
“Behold, your mother.”

Then, as the Gospel says:
“from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

What is it to have her in my home and my life?

At Cana in Galilee,
she was the Gospel’s first witness of the misery of man and woman.

Having seen it,
she stepped in.

She already believed in her son.

She prayed:
“They have no wine.”

Then she stood with her son’s would-be servants,
and told them:
“Do whatever he tells you.”

Water became wine.

I saw.

I believed.

I wanted to do whatever he told me.

I followed him.

When the soldiers and police arrested him,
we, his handpicked men, ran away.

His mother went to his cross.

I crept out of hiding,
and stood in her shadow.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

I changed from runaway disciple into brother of Jesus and second-hand son of Mary.

Water into wine again!

The only thing Jesus said to me from his cross:
“Behold, your mother.”

That’s all.

From his cross, from him,
from that hour I took his mother into my home and my life.

I beheld her.

I behold her now.

At both Cana and Calvary,
she intervened.

At Cana,
Jesus yielded to her.

“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee,
and manifested his glory;
and his disciples believed in him.”

The last of his signs was on Calvary where he changed me into his brother, and said,
“It is finished.”

Mother of Jesus!
My mother!
Behold me.
I yield to you.
Draw me out of my hiding, and walk me to his cross.
Stay with me.
Teach me to keep the Sabbath.
Teach me to wait for the glory of Jesus Arisen to break into all the locked rooms where I hide now and at the hour of my death.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

For Good Friday

"The Death of Jesus," by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Elsewhere in his Gospel, Christ describes himself as the Man who is the King of Glory, King of Angels and King of All Nations.

On Palm Sunday, we saw him enter Jerusalem the city of God, with the crowds acclaiming Christ as messiah, king and savior.

On Easter Sunday, the Resurrection, Christ risen from the dead re-enters Jerusalem as the forever-invincible King of Life.

But today we commemorate his suffering, death, and burial.

We believe in him: King of Glory, King of Angels, King of All Nations, Anointed One, Savior, Risen and Invincible King of Life.

Eternal, Almighty God came to earth to be a man of flesh and blood, to live as a member of the human race, to suffer because we suffer, to die because we die.

His complete solidarity with us in life and death is a great sign of his goodness.

There is more.

Though entirely innocent, he chose to shoulder the responsibility for all human sin from the first to the last.

Sin— the primordial cause of all that is broken or evil in the universe!

The paradox is that God should not have to shoulder that responsibility.

The paradox is also that God alone could shoulder by choice such a responsibility.

Shouldering the responsibility for all human sin from the first to the last, and shouldering all that is broken and evil in the universe, Christ made all of it die in his own death.

His death wiped clean the slate of sin-laden human history so there could be a new beginning.

There is more.

He rose from the dead.

He— God— rose from the dead still a man—but unimaginably different and unimaginably new.

He rose from the dead still in solidarity with the human race, but having carried the human race through sin and death, having carried the human race in himself beyond into a new life and into holiness.

By coming into the human race, dying as the human race, and rising in the name of the human race, Christ gives us power and possibility for life without end and joy without limit.

It is a test for our faith that we may not see the victorious end of our destiny until the fulfillment of the world.

Yet we believe it.

Though Christ shouldered all our responsibility, he does not leave us without responsibility.

In answer to his goodness, we are to follow him.

As he took on all our suffering, we must answer by carrying all who suffer.

In his Gospel, Christ expects us to answer his goodness by our doing good to all who suffer.

Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine,
you did for me. [Mt. 25]

It is not enough for us to have faith in the goodness of the Lord.

He holds us accountable for giving an answer to his goodness by being good ourselves to others.

In the goodness of his Eucharist, he tells us to do the same.

Do this in memory of me.

Turn. Love. Repeat.