What Would We Ask of God? What Would Jesus Ask?

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

“I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
(From John 16:23b-28 – Saturday’s Gospel reading)

I wonder . . . We end our prayers in Jesus name . . .”we  ask this in the name of Jesus”, or “through Christ our Lord, Amen.” We make the sign of the cross at the beginning and the end of our prayers: “In the name of  . . . .” Do we use this as a formula after so many years of repetition? (I recall that teachers can often get the class quiet enough to pray by announcing loudly, “In the name of the Father . . .” Indeed, that is a formula!)

I wonder. Maybe Jesus meant to ask the way that he asks – to ask for the things that are in his heart – to live and pray in such a way that our prayers echo the prayers of Jesus. Of course God will answer, for those desires live in the heart of God.

Ask.

Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

To Be a Saint

Recently in a comment on one of my postings, Pastor John Keller reminded me of a quote about vocation by Frederick Buechner. Today I share another of Buechner’s quotes, this one is also about our vocation . . . what we are all called to as God’s  people . . . to be a saint.

To be a saint is to live not with hands clenched to grasp, to strike, to hold tight to a life that is always slipping away the more tightly we hold it; but it is to live with the hands stretched out both to give and to receive with gladness. To be a saint is to work and weep for the broken and suffering of the world, but it is also to be strangely light of heart in the knowledge that there is something greater than the world that mends and renews.

– Frederick Buechner

May we live our lives with hands unclenched and our hearts as open as this flower.

Ascension Thursday

Here in the U.S. we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension on Sunday. Nonetheless, I still see Thursday listed as an option on the USCCB website, and our Psalters still show the Ascension as a Thursday feast. So I say, let’s celebrate twice! It’s a joyous occasion, this rising from the dead and ascending into light!

The butterfly is often a symbol of resurrection . . . life coming out of a cocoon.
We can also be reminded of ascension as we watch the butterfly rise gracefully from the flower.

Heaven and Earth are Full of God’s Glory

Heaven and earth are full of your glory!

Wednesday’s Responsorial Psalm is 148. And there couldn’t be one that is more glorious and uplifting!

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise God in the heights.
Praise God, all you angels;
praise God, all you hosts.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Let the kings of the earth and all peoples,
the princes and all the judges of the earth,
Young men too, and maidens,
old women, men and children.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Praise the name of the LORD,
for God’s name alone is exalted;
God’s majesty is above earth and heaven.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

God has lifted up the horn of the people;
Be this God’s praise from all God’s faithful ones,
from the children of Israel, the people close to God.

R. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Everything We Do Is Sacred

Among the poets I enjoy reading is Hafiz. Today I share his poem, “Now Is the Time.”

Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.

Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.

Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child’s training wheels
To be laid aside
When you finally live
With veracity
And love.

Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon.

My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
And God?

What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?

Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.

This is the time
For you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
But Grace.

Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is sacred.

Everything we do is sacred.
How beautiful our world would be if all we did was with an intentionality about that sacredness.

This poem, and this translation, can be found in,
The Gift – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

Let All the Earth Cry Out to God with Joy

In Saturday’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 100) we read:

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness;
come before God with joyful song.

Know that the LORD is God;
God made us, we belong to God;
God’s people and lovingly tended flock.

The LORD is good:
God’s kindness endures forever,
and faithfulness, to all generations.

 

God’s Glory is above all the Earth

In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 57) we read,

I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.”
A glorious sky at Redwoods Monastery in Whitethorn, CA

God Desires Complete Joy for Us

Thursday’s Gospel reading is from John 15:9-11.

Does your life’s path lead you to joy?

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

Last week I spoke about discernment for life decisions in all of the junior religion classes at Justin-Siena High School in Napa. I found the students to be receptive, engaged, and welcoming. It is always a pleasure to visit that school.

Among the things I share with the students is that we need to follow our passions when choosing our life’s path. What is it that gives us joy? If we choose that which gives us joy, we will find ourselves in the heart of God. And I use this very passage, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” I also always quote from Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord your God, and God will give you the desires of your heart.”

Our deepest desires, those that result in our joy being made complete, are God given. The challenge . . . the journey of our lives . . . is discovering or uncovering just what those deep desires are.

It’s never too early or too late to embark on that journey. And it’s a journey on which the One who desires our deepest joy walks with us.

We Have Family in Iraq

Grapes from the Dominican convent garden in Pisa, Italy

As I read Wednesday’s Gospel reading (John 15:1-8), I remembered taking a picture of grapes in the convent garden of Iraqi Dominican Sisters in Pisa, Italy. The sisters there were taking safe refuge. Some of our U.S. Dominican congregations have also received young Dominican sisters from Iraq so that they could safely study in this country before returning to Iraq to do ministry.

These sisters truly are bearing fruit courageously, and have learned how to rely resting in Christ and on the blessings of the larger Dominican family. In return, they have blessed us, even those of us who have not been privileged to share their lives. I am reminded that, through through these sisters, I have family in Iraq. I am reminded that, through the ministry of Dominicans anywhere in the world, our ministry is extended . . . and that I am there too.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

God’s Creation Gives God Thanks

From today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 145), we read:

Let them discourse of the Glory of Your Reign


Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your reign
and speak of your might.

While these flowers in San Rafael may be delicate, still they speak of God’ glory and might. And they teach us just how to lift our heads and say, “Thank You!”