Comfort My Age, O God

Inspired by Isaiah 40: 1-8

Comfort, O comfort my age, I cry to my God.
Speak tenderly to my years,
for I have served my term, my penalty is paid,
I have received from life double for all my sins.

My voice cries out:
“In the wilderness of age prepare the way of hope,
make straight in the desert time of life a highway for grace.
Every valley of despair shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill of discouragement be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of living long shall be revealed,
And we shall see it together,
for joy speaks still to us.”

God’s voice says, “Cry out!”
And I answer, “Do you want to hear my cry?”
All people are grass,
our lives are like the flowers of the field.
We wither, the flower of our youth fades,
when the breath of life blows upon it;
surely we are grass.
Yes, we wither, the flower of our youth fades;
but the joy of our faith can stand forever.

In Memoriam RBG: After Ecclesiates

She has gone to her lasting home,
And mourners went to the court;
The silver cord of her strength snapped,
The golden bowl of her resolve broke,
And the pitcher of her wisdom shattered at the spring,
And the broken pulley of her service fell into the well,
And her dust returned to the earth as it once was,
And her life breath returned to God who gave it.

We weep
We remember
We are grateful
And we thank God for her.

Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13: A Woman’s Paraphrase

God channels the outflowing love of a righteous woman to nourish those who wither.

These are the truths she knows:

  • The wise follow God’s path
    And not the ways of the world.
  • To do what is right and just
    Is worth more than any showy achievements.
  • Too much haughty pride
    Leads to sorrow and loneliness.
  • Plain work patiently done
    Is its own reward.
  • Truth is solid, settling easy on the soul,
    Lies are bubbles, bursting peace.

These are the ways she lives:

  • She desires goodness,
    She spurns evil,
    She honors everyone as a neighbor.
  • She accepts correction
    For she values the wisdom
    That comes with knowledge.
  • She builds heart’s home
    On the love of God
    Lest her life lie in ruins.
  • She hears the cry of the poor
    And she helps
    For she knows what it is to need.

Luke 6:20-26 More or Less

Raising his eyes toward me Jesus might have said:
“Blessed are you when you feel poor and scared,
for even then the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you when you are hungry for more justice,
for that hunger is blessed and satisfying.
Blessed are you when you weep,
for weeping is as good and holy as laughter.
Blessed are you when you hate what you have done,
and when you berate yourself,
and recognize when you have done wrong
on account of your conscience.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your understanding is your reward
here and in heaven,
for your ancestors struggled
in the same way.
But woe to you when you are smug and self-satisfied,
for such feelings are their own reward.
Woe to you when you are full of your own accomplishments,
for such feelings will leave you hungry.
Woe to you when you laugh at others,
for such laughter will leave you lonely, grieving and weeping.
Woe to you when you brag and boast needlessly,
for you know that to be false pride.”

Almost Romans 8:28-30

Incredibly, unbelievably, miraculously
All things work for good
For those whom God loves
(And her love knows no limits
Of person, time or place
Infinite love from our infinite God)
We are called according to her grace
For she foreknew everything and everyone
She predestined our salvation
She gave us her own son
That we might conform to his example
And not the expectations of this world
So that he might be the firstborn
Among all her loved children.
As she predestined our salvation
So she calls to the ears of our hearts
And as she calls to us
So she bestows her grace for justification on us
And as she and only she justifies us
So she and only she shares her glory with us
(The only glory worth having
The only lasting glory)
Now and forever

The Good Samaritan, Pandemic Version

… a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A lonely man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho…Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he tried to grab his hands to bless him, but the man backed away. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, tried to kiss him on each cheek, but the man backed away. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him but not too near; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity, so he kept his distance but talked with him for awhile. He walked with him and gave him his email address and phone number and wrote down the man’s contact information so they could keep in touch. When he left the man, he smiled and wished him well and promised to call or email him regularly, but he kept his distance.”

And Jesus asked, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the lonely man?” The lawyer said, “The one who showed him mercy and kept his distance.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Almost Luke 10:25-37

Paraphrase of today’s first reading: Dn 3:25, 34-43

She stood up in the emptiness and prayed aloud:

“For your name’s sake, O God, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Sarah, your beloved,
Rebekah your servant,
Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah
your holy ones,
to whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O God,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our arrogance.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to gather, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received in our aloneness,
as though it were burnt offerings of our pride,
or pile upon pile of our greed.
So let our sacrifice be in your presence alone today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now, now that we are brought low,
now that we are isolated, each with our own thoughts,
now let us follow you with our whole heart,
let us worship you and pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your loving kindness,
and bring glory to your name, O God.”

A Hopeful Paraphrase of Today’s Lesson from Acts 15:7-21

After much debate had taken place,
the women who had been called by the Spirit got up and said to the Curia and the Cardinals,
“My brothers, you are well aware that in these later days
God made her choice known among you through many mouths
that women could hear the word of the Gospel and be called.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting us the Holy Spirit
just as She did you.
She made no distinction between you and us,
for by faith She purified our hearts and called us.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of women
a yoke that neither you nor your ancestors have had to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are called
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as you.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while these women described the signs and wonders
God had worked among women.

After they had fallen silent, the Pope responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
We have heard and witnessed how God concerns herself
with acquiring priests and deacons from among women.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the women on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to accept the priesthood of women who are called by God.

Paraphrase Isaiah 58:1-9a

[As often, I find in Isaiah words that I can adapt to be what I would say to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.]

Thus says GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my priests their wickedness,
and the house of Peter their sins.
They seek Me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a church that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask Me to declare what is due them,
pleased to imagine they have exclusive access to Me.
“Why do we set ourselves apart, and You do not see it?
exult ourselves, and You take no note of it?”

Lo, you set yourselves apart to carry out your own pursuits,
and drive away my children.
Yes, your setting yourselves apart results in pride and abuse,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might set yourselves apart
so as to make My voice heard through you!
Is this the manner of setting apart that I wish,
of keeping a vocation:
That a man stand proud behind the altar
robed in silk and fine linen?
Do you call this a vocation,
a life acceptable to GOD?
This, rather, is the life that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own;
Casting out the abuser and comforting the abused.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of God shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and God will answer,
you shall cry for help, and God will say: Here I am.

Riff on Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8

In these years of trouble, I look for our God,
Our gracious Lady Wisdom.
I imagine Her seated on Her high throne,
with the train of Her garment filling Her house,
providing a place of soft comfort and rest for all.

Seraphim are gathered above,
crying one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lady of All Wisdom and Peace!
All the earth is filled with Her glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the door opens to all
and the house is filled with sweet fragrance.

Then I boldly say to Her,
“Woe are we who are ignored, abused, cast out!
For priests have judged us unclean, unworthy,
living among a people who are unclean.
Yet our eyes see You, God,
though not as conquering Warrior King, Lord of Armies,
but as enveloping Wisdom Woman, Lady of Peace.”

Then one of the seraphim flies to us,
holding a small lily of the valley
that she had gently plucked from the shade
of our Lady’s garden.

She puts it in our outstretched hands and says,
“See, now that the Lady has given you this flower,
you are outcast no more.
Look on this flower’s gentle beauty
and know that you were never unclean.
Inhale its soft fragrance
and know you were never unworthy.
Consider how it grows and spreads,
even in the shade and poor soil,
and know you are strong and will thrive.

Then I hear the voice of the Lady asking,
“Whom shall I send? Who will dare go for us
To these errant proud priests?”
And the women, my sisters, join hands and cry,
“Here we are! Send us!
For we know how to carry the unseen,
how to speak for the voiceless,
How to love the loveless.
Send us and we will try, together.”