29 Mar 2015

God's sign is humility - Pope Francis homily for Palm Sunday 2015

Homily of Pope Francis
29 MARCH 2015

At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and, consequently, that which must be the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the the story of the Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.

This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.

Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the “form of a slave” (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility also means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptyingoneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7). This – the pouring out of oneself - is the greatest humiliation of all.

There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, and only by his grace, with his help, we too can overcome this temptation to vanity, to worldliness, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.

In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person, the homeless....

We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time – and there are many. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. In truth, we can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” – the martyrs of our own time (cf. Heb 12:1).

During this week, let us set about with determination along this same path of humility, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26).

Original TextTranslation
Lauda Jerusalem Dominum,
Lauda Deum tuum Sion,
Quoniam confortavit seras
portarum tuarum.
Benedixit filiis tuis in te
Qui posuit fines tuos pacem,
Et adipe frumenti satiat te;
Qui emittit eloquium
suum terrae,
Velociter currit sermo eius;
Qui dat nivem sicut lanam,
Nebulam sicut cinerem spargit,
Mittit cristallum suam sicut buccellas,
Ante faciem frigoris eius quis sustinebit;
Emittet verbum suum et liquefaciet ea,
Flabit spiritus eius et fluent aquae.
Qui annuntiat verbum suum Jacob,
Iustitias et iudicia Israel.
Non fecit taliter
omni nationi
Et iudicia sua non manifestavit eis.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
Sicut erat in principio
Et nunc et semper
Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
for he has strengthened the bars of
your gates.
He has blessed your children within you.
He secures peace in your borders
and fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends forth his commandment
upon earth:
his word runs swiftly.
He bestows snow like wool,
he spreads hoar-frost like ashes,
he dispatches his ice like morsels:
when he produces cold, who can endure?
He sends forth his word and melts them;
he causes his wind to blow and water flows.
He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and judgments to Israel.
He has not done the same
for any other nations,
nor made known his judgments to them.
Glory to the Father and Son and Holy Ghost
as it was in the beginning,
is now and always,
and for ages of ages. Amen.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel

From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop
from the Office of Readings - Palm Sunday

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens—the proof, surely, of his power and godhead—his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.

So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.

28 Mar 2015

29th March 2015 - Palm Sunday and Holy Week

On this weeks programme John, Anne, Shane and Martina reflect on Palm Sunday and various particular focal points of the events of Holy Week and how we can enter into a deeper reflection of the Sacred Triduum.

For Palm Sunday we focus on the entrance of the Lord into the Holy City and how the acclamation's of Palm Sunday turned to the baying of a mob on Good Friday. Where are we in that crowd? Do we run with hare and chase with the hound in a mob context? 

We jump ahead to Spy Wednesday and remind ourselves that Judas was one of the Twelve, called by Jesus to be an apostle but whose path got turned aside thinking the ends justified the means. It gives us pause for thought before we condemn someone else.

Holy Thursday night we focus on the Mandatum - the Washing of the Feet and the call to Christian Service as well as the fact it is also the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist. How well do build up the Body of Christ in our service to God and to one another? 

Garden of Gethsemene - can we stay one hour with the Lord?

Good Friday sees the church gather in silence to Commemorate the Passion of the Lord. In starkness with a bleak and sparse liturgy the community recalls why we call this Good Friday.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence. We keep vigil at the Lord's tomb right into the darkness of the night when Light comes forth from darkness and we are called to sing out the Good News of the Lord.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks programme HERE.

The podcast of reflections on the days of Holy Week is HERE.

The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. Mosaic, Cathedral of St. Mark, Venice, Italy.
When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem,
to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately on entering it,
you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
If anyone should say to you,
‘Why are you doing this?’ reply,
‘The Master has need of it
and will send it back here at once.’”
So they went off
and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street,
and they untied it.
Some of the bystanders said to them,
“What are you doing, untying the colt?”
They answered them just as Jesus had told them to,
and they permitted them to do it.
So they brought the colt to Jesus
and put their cloaks over it.
And he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields.
Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!” 
(Mark 11: 1-10) 

The Donkey - G K Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Reflections and resources for reflecting on Palm Sunday:

Word on Fire - United in the Blood of Jesus
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy
Sunday Reflections

Resources for Holy Week from Phil Ewing over at Ennis Blue:

Here on SS102fm we often link to posts by the blogger Phil Ewing which has been presented to us under various manifestations online over the last couple of years. She always provides some great links and visual aids and again for Holy Week has a series of posts which we link below as well as archived ones. Head on over and say hello from us:

Holy Week Music - Taize Chants
Holy Week Music - Classical selection
Palm Sunday

Reflections for Holy Week

iBenedictines - Making a Good Holy Week and other posts tagged Holy Week

Thinking Faith - Holy Week
SS102fm - Pope Francis homily Palm Sunday 2014 -  Where is my heart before the suffering Jesus?
Ignatian Spirituality - Reflections for Holy Week - dotMagis blog
Pray as you go - Women of the Passion - Lent 2015 Online retreat
Patheos Engaging Easter Page which has many resources including Devotional Reflections of Easter
Creighton University online ministry - Holy Week; the Sacred Triduum
Limerick Diocese Weekly Resource Newsletter 

Liturgical odds and ends

Holy Week and the Sacred Easter Triduum out rank all saints memorials and commemorations this week so we wont be posting any saints of the week list. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

The Mass of Chrism, for the Year for Consecrated Life will be celebrated on Wednesday, 1st April at 7.15pm in Redemptorist Church, Mount St. Alphonsus, South Circular Road. 

This is a special gathering to which all are warmly invited. We especially invite families of those who will be baptised or confirmed this year - as the sacred oils for these sacraments will be blessed by Bishop Brendan and sent out to parishes from this gathering. For those who cannot attend in person: the Mass can be seen and heard live, via the 24hour webcam, at the Mount St. Alphonsus website at www.novena.ie

Lent ends at sunset on Holy Thursday before the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Reminder to people to bring your Trocaire box to church for collection.

Good Friday the traditional collection is taken up for the support of the Holy Places in the Holy Land.

Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics in Ireland.

The Stations of the Cross from the Colosseum in Rome - reflections for 2015

27 Mar 2015

The Province of Joy - Lenten Series 2015 - The Meeting on the turret stairs - Burton

"The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." (Song of Solomon 2:8-13, NRSV).

A number of years ago RTE conducted a survey to find Ireland’s favourite painting and the result was “The meeting on the turret stairs” by Frederic William Burton which is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery despite the fact that because its rather delicate nature it is not actually on public display that often.

“This richly coloured watercolour painting depicts the ill-fated lovers Hellelil and Hildebrand, meeting on the stone stairway of a medieval tower. The princess and her bodyguard had fallen in love but her father regarded the young soldier as an unsuitable match for his daughter and ordered his sons to kill him. Burton was inspired by the story of the ill-fated lovers told in an old Danish ballad. The poem had been translated into English in 1855 by Whitley Stokes, a lawyer and philologist, and friend of the artist”[1].

“A careful reading of the ballad reveals an imagined early moment in the relationship when the couple meet fleetingly on the stairs, as Hildebrand passionately seizes Hellelil’s arm, embracing it and making the most of a brief encounter in a doomed affair. In the words of George Eliot, ‘The face of the knight is the face of a man to whom the kiss is a sacrament’. Burton creates an emotionally charged situation—by focusing attention on the knight’s intense embrace of the arm of his lady, who, taken by surprise, turns aside, having dropped her flowers, scattering the petals on the stair—symbolising the brevity of the affair and its destructive nature[2]”.

The painting probably appeals to the romantic element in our Celtic temperament; the ideal of giving all for love as the story of Hellelil and Hildebrand is after all a tragic romance – like Romeo and Juliet there is no happy ending for the two lovers. The idea of the star crossed lovers like Deirdre (of the Sorrows) and Naoise is a common theme in many stories from an Fhiannaíocht and an Rúraíocht.

The painting depicts a stolen moment; a kairos encounter; an encounter stolen outside the running tide of time as the lovers seek to mark their love for each other. A fleeting embrace as they pass each other by.

Love can be such a fleeting thing; but it is part of being human where we recognise that not being in love somehow makes us seem less human; after all the saying is that it is better to have loved and lost then not to have loved at all. Our relationships in life can be complex and not simple. But always they are moments of encounter and relationships of love can be even sacraments of encounter. “As we journey from the womb of the sea with our gaze of longing fixed on the stars, we have stopped off on this earth for a short spell of belonging[3]. And sometimes the journey can be a “long and winding road” but “we are not asked to get it right, we are asked to be open, to keep the heart soft, and in this open space we discover the healing and stillness we long for. Maybe life is simply asking that we not anesthetise ourselves against the bigger questions, but with pilgrim hearts be always asking that which the poet Mary Oliver asks: ‘What is it you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life?’”[4]

Love is also the under lying theme of the scriptures. The stories, poetry, creation myths and historical recordings set out the journey of a people as they grow into a relationship with many side steps and tangents before its ultimate culmination and consummation in the empty tomb on Easter morning. And that idea of a love story is expressed in the Song of Songs or the Canticle of Canticles.

The Song of Songs is a book of the Old Testament which is regarded as part of the Wisdom literature. It is in unusual book in some ways with its earthy even erotic language of love and passion – recently I read of one commentator who described it as needing an R rating! In this book we hear the Shepherd and the Shulamite singing their love to each other, celebrating each other, praising each other, yearning for each other as much when they are together as when they are apart. It is the story of two lovers and their description of their love and passion for the other seen as an allegory for God’s love for the people of Israel.

As blogger Craig Adam’s notes[5]:

“....the books of Wisdom literature are life related. They speak to the here and now. They are reflections on life and how it is to be led. To the ancient Hebrews "wisdom" was the ability to live well. It was the ability to find happiness and fulfillment in life. We read in Ecclesiastes 3:12,13: "I know that there is nothing better for [people] than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil."

..... in the Song of Songs, we find ourselves in the ancient Jewish wedding festival. This is where these poems were originally read. They speak of the celebration of erotic love and of romantic longing. .......We should not be afraid of this part of ourselves.
Calling it "evil" and suppressing it will not make it go away. Our sexuality is woven into the fabric of our being. The more we reject and suppress the sexual urge the more out-of-control it is likely to become.

And, it's not an evil thing to see beauty and wonder in another human being. Hey, it's a good thing! It's not evil if it causes us to see and value that person as a human being. Really, our capacity for this is too small. The truth is that we are created in the image of God — don't you know? — and, there is a beauty in everyone that we are not always capable of seeing. God sees us as handsome and beautiful and wonderful — oftentimes tragic, yes — but nonetheless as God's "very good" creation. God delights in us.

God calls us into a relationship through Jesus Christ.
"Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Can you believe you are beloved, honored, valued?

Lent is a time for us to remind ourselves of that. Like the couple in the “Meeting on the turret stairs” God seeks to embrace us and often can only find those stolen moments of encounter. Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect on that fact that “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him[6]”.  

As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us “these words...express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny”[7]. It poses the question for us – can we claim John’s summary of the Christian life that “we have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”? After all “[b]eing Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”[8] expressed in communion and community. “In the Song of Songs love becomes a concern and care for the other.”No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice[9].”

But where is our passion? Where is our drive and desire for love? Why is it that the Celtic temperament and drama of the Christian love story has been subdued within us? Where is the energy and the out pouring of desire?

We are almost afraid to recognise that “I am my beloved’s, his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields[10]  Why do we not cry out and ask God to set “a seal upon [our] heart, as a seal upon [his] arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave[11]

Looking at the painting it almost seems to ask us can we make of our own the search for God, that “I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him....”[12]. But are we seeking, searching, asking, opening ourselves to that love? As Lent draws to a close and we enter into the sacred Triduum, we can ask ourselves do we allow that space for that sacrament of encounter so that we can say 
“My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. I will sing, I will sing your praise. Awake my soul, awake lyre and harp, I will awake the dawn[13].

[3] John O’Donohue, The Four Elements – Reflections on Nature; Transworld Ireland, 2010; quote from the foreword by Pat O’Donohue
[4] Martina Lehane Sheehan, Seeing Anew – Awakening to Life’s Lessons; Veritas, 2012, pg 13
[6] 1 Jn 4:16
[7] Deus Caritas est, para 1
[8] Deus Caritas est, para 1
[9] Deus Caritas est, para 6
[10] Song of Songs 7:10
[11] Song of Songs 8:6
[12] Song of Songs 2:
[13] Psalm 56

24 Mar 2015

March 25th - The Annunciation

The Annunciation
by D. Werburg Welch
(Source: iBenedictines)
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Today we mark the beginning of time, the new creation, a kairos moment. We mark the day when all the universe paused and waited with bated breath for the response of a simple young woman; who was asked to undertake a unique motherhood, to be God-bearer, Theotokas, and through the Cross mother of us all.

The divine messenger, standing in her simple home, bowing down to ask would she consent to God's will. The Divine humbling itself to the human, lowering itself down to the level of the created for to be able to ultimately divinise the dust of the earth. To walk with us, among us, as one of us through this "vale of tears". The fact that God-made-Man, entered into our existence, entered into our human history, experienced our pains, our joys, our needs, “like us in all things except sin,”is the ultimate hope given to us. The in-breaking of God into human history enables us to share in the ultimate love between the persons of the Godhead expressed as the Holy Spirit. Because Christ has taken on our frail human nature, we are able to participate in, no rather are part of, the Divine Eros, the Divine Love epitomised by the sending of that Spirit of Love on the first Pentecost, the manifestation of love on the world. No longer are we just made in the image and likeness of God, through His sharing in our humanity we share ultimately in his divinity.

Where do we stand in that room at the Annunciation? 

Are we the messenger? Are we the ones who can go to another and remind ourselves because of Mary's "Yes" that we are all indeed "full of grace"? The grace of being children of God, co-heirs with Christ, made in the image of the Divine Light? Do we provide that moment of reflection where we remind each other, God has a special plan for you too? 

Often we are asked to focus on Miriam, Mary, Maria. Her 'fiat' given to us as exemplar and example. Virgin Madonna, Holy inviolate Mother, Ark of the Covenant, Tower of David, Gate of Ivory. But have we wrapped the woman-child in too many layers of mystical pastiche? Where is the trembling, frightened, awe struck young lady who makes the ultimate sacrifice? But what if she has said "No!"?

The birth of the child was a divine manifestation but in a very human world. “In human terms, in paschal terms – [from the Greek verb pascho with its root word in strickeness and suffering] – the story of Jesus begins with a terrified teenager birthing onto a futon of straw in a rock cavity amid the incense of the breath of livestock. It begins in a Taliban territory, a sectarian state that murders single mothers by stoning them. It begins badly and ends worse – in the public execution of her child as a condemned criminal in a rubbish dump outside the city walls.”

In very human terms, still very much happening today, frightened young girls and women are giving birth in conditions not much better and often worse, relying on the divine grace of their human female nature – often so defiled and abused by the societies that they are in - to bring to climax the process of creation which they have participated in either willingly or unwillingly. Like that young Jewish girl giving birth without the benefit of midwives they too often “experience an unescorted birth; labour without amenity…there are no women present” .

But even before the messiness, the pain and suffering of birth in a dark cave where a mother, in her ultimate gift to the world, in bringing new life into that ungrateful world, prefigures the blood and pain of Calvary, she had suffered for her willingness to be open to the message of God.

She suffered from staring eyes and whispers behind her back which forced her to the shelter of her cousin Elizabeth to the consolation of another woman in the same predicament as she. Small consolation to her, but surely it offers hope to any woman in the situation of an unexpected pregnancy and worried about “what the neighbours may say”.

She suffered in the uncertainty as to whether her fiancée would stand by her in what in human terms he could have seen as being an ultimate betrayal. We can say that “Joseph was a very decent man. He didn’t want to give his girlfriend a bad reputation and after a reassuring dream he married her. But was it a happy life?”

She suffered “when Jesus was twelve they lost him in the crowd and when they found him, after three days of anxiously looking, their question: “Why did you do this to us?” was answered with something close to a reproach: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house”(Luke 2:49)? This response, “But didn’t you know I have more important things to do than pay attention to you,” is hardly consoling” to Mary and Joseph but must give hope to any parents of angst-ridden teenagers.

Take and eat…take and drink….we eat of his body, broken on the Cross, birthed in pain and suffering in a dark cave. We drink of his blood poured out for us, but as blood and water flowed from his side, so too it poured forth at this birth, prefiguring the sacrifice to be made on Calvary. Simeon’s prophecy to Mary was that she would experience suffering too for having brought this child into the world, but what mother does not experience suffering from the moment of birth as her child grows further and further away from her into their own person and ultimately journeys back to the God that made them?

“When Jesus hands over his body to the disciples he is vulnerable. He is in their hands for them to do as they wish...It embodies a tenderness that means that one may well get hurt. It is a self gift that may be met with rebuff and mockery and in which one may feel oneself to be used. The Last Supper shows us with extreme realism the perils of giving ourselves to anyone…The Last Supper is the story of the risk of giving yourself to others. That is why Jesus died, because he loved. But not to take the risk is even more dangerous. It is deadly…Love is the only impetus that is sufficiently overwhelming to force us to leave the comfortable shelter of our well-armed individuality, shed the impregnable shell of self-sufficiency, and crawl nakedly into the danger zone beyond, the melting pot where individuality is purified into personhood.” 

Mary too, as a mother, handed over her body to the world so that the world could receive the Divine Love into its midst and then suffered again as the world rejected that Divine Love by impaling it on a cross.



Let it be the middle of nowhere,

at the heart of nothing but wheat fields.
Let there be farmers swinging their arms,
broadcasting seed.

Let us see the terrible boredom of oxen
and small-town girls. Let there be one girl
grinding grain in her father’s house,
her face bland with inexperience,
her heart expectant of little
but marriage, customarily arranged.

Into this everyday, female life,

let there enter a messenger,
praising her and telling wild stories
about God inside her body.

Let the message flourish in the girl,

and make of her a prophet, capable of seeing
beyond the milky tenderness
of her promised pregnancy and motherhood,
to her son’s ironic kingdom.
Let her envision him befriending prostitutes
and children,
enraging priests and governors,
dying between thieves.

Let the girl be wise and curious.

Let her ask, how can this be?
When the messenger is overwhelmed
by beauty,
and he can tell her only
that the shadow of the holy will fall
across her life,
let her receive
the God of fearsome possibilities.
Let her conceive the Christ.

Rachel Srubas (Source)

The Annunciation
By Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
       Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
         God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.


Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
More often
those moments
      when roads of light and storm
      open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                 God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.


She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
  only asked
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
                     Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–

but who was God.
This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,


She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
                                                       raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
                                  consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
                               and the iridescent wings.
              courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.


Other reflections:

Salt + Light - Because Mary said “Yes…” — A Reflection for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord
Phil over at Ennis Blue
America - The Annunciation and You
Pope Benedict XVI reflecting on the Annunciation Advent 2012 - “The Annunciation wouldn’t have made today's headlines”
iBenedictines reflections- 20112012
OCA - The Annunciation: Announcing the Incarnation
Totus2us - The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary

35th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero

"Today is the 35th anniversary of the March 24, 1980 assassination of Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. The day is being met with marches and commemorations throughout the week and throughout the country as El Salvador looks towards May 23 and the celebration of Romero's beatification by the Roman Catholic church.

The image of Romero is everywhere in El Salvador, from a mural within the international airport which now bears his name, to the walls of houses in remote hamlets in the countryside.   It is evidence of how profound was the impact of this man of God who walked hand-in-hand with the oppressed and the poor in the country.  It was his commitment to justice rooted in faith which put him on the path to martyrdom at the hands of a death squad assassin."

Continue reading and see a collection of photos at Tim's El Salvador Blog
Lutheran Peace Blog has a series of links to videos, reflections and other resources -  Anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero
Thinking Faith from the UK Jesuits has a number of articles in their archive:
Previous posts on SS102fm on Oscar Romero here