Tag Archives: grace

Children of the Goldsmith

Cimabue, The Flagellation of Christ, 1280

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year I)

Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15

The dramatic parade of the “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 11 finds its finale in Jesus Christ, “the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The gap between the addressees of this homily and the Hebrews Hall of Fame was yawning. Some were “growing weary and losing heart” like dispirited athletes with “drooping hands” and “weak knees” (Hebrews 12:3, 12).

Endure your trials as “discipline,” says our Father and coach. “For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges” (Hebrews 12:6-7).

The Goldsmith wants to polish his beloved children to a perfect shine so that he can see his own reflection in them.

At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

Not every disciple will be asked to endure persecution like “chains and imprisonment,” “stoning,” being “sawed in two” or “put to death at sword’s point” (Hebrews 11:36-37), but every pilgrim faces an interior battlefield of thoughts, which is the root cause of all the strife in the universe.

The interior discipline of the heart and mind surpasses all exterior wars as it more closely resembles the warfare between angels and demons. The victory of patience or forgiveness in a heart ravaged by the opposite tendencies vanquishes powers and principalities and rejoices heaven’s “cloud of witnesses.”

St. Diadochos of Photiki (c. 400-486) offers spiritual guidance for transforming our heart into an oasis for the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, we must maintain great stillness of mind, even in the midst of our struggles. We shall then be able to distinguish between the different types of thoughts that come to us: those that are good, those sent by God, we will treasure in our memory; those that are evil and inspired by the devil we will reject. A comparison with the sea may help us. A tranquil sea allows the fisherman to gaze right to its depths. No fish can hide there and escape his sight. The stormy sea, however, becomes murky when it is agitated by the winds. The very depths that it revealed in its placidness, the sea now hides. The skills of the fisherman are useless.

Only the Holy Spirit can purify the mind: unless the strong man enters and robs the thief, the booty will not be recovered. So by every means, but especially by peace of soul, we must try to provide the Holy Spirit with a resting place. Then we shall have the light of knowledge shining within us at all times, and it will show up for what they are, all the dark and hateful temptations that come from demons, and not only will it show them up: exposure to this holy and glorious light will also greatly diminish their power.1

In a world that is increasingly polarized in every sphere of life, submitting our hearts and minds to the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit is essential for nurturing peace in the human family.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14


1 From the treatise On Spiritual Perfection by Diadochus of Photice, bishop. See Liturgy of the Hours, 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Office of Readings.

Seeds of the Logos

Vincent van Gogh, Sower, 1888

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)

Hebrews 10:32-39; Mark 4:26-34

The Word through whom the world came to be knew his creation intimately (John 1:3). Earth, air, soil, and water that composed his own body were fashioned in the beginning by the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2). That same life-giving Spirit keeps the world continually in being and becoming like a never-ending song.

He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29

Seeds of the Logos waft through the universe by the Breath of the Sower and grow by the mysterious life-giving energy of the Spirit. In the language of science, organic life emerged from inorganic matter though it knows not how. Spirit has not entered the vocabulary of science, but without it life’s mystery eludes empiricism. Spirit and matter interpenetrate, according to Genesis.

In Adam, organic life becomes conscious of itself as a person in communion with other persons and all living beings. Homo sapiens (“wise human being”) is matter awake. 

The Light, which enlightens everyone, scattered seeds of truth throughout the universe in preparation for his coming (John 1:9). All truth in the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament and in pagan philosophy originated from the Logos and dispersed by the Spirit. Knowledge of divinity and the natural law are accessible to all (Romans 1:20; 2:14-15).

He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-32

The mustard seed is the personal cosmos in the image of the Logos. Sown “in the beginning,” it grew inorganically, organically, and spiritually by the Breath of God. Seeds of wisdom (sapientia) prepared homo sapiens to receive the Word made flesh. 

Those who received the Word and became one with the Word followed the pattern of his life. 

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

John 12:24

Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering.

Hebrews 10:32

The seed of the Logos, growing into the theandric organism of the Blessed Trinity, must break to release the deifying energy of grace.

We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.

Hebrews 10:39


The Immaculate Conception and the Trinity

St. Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

John 14:9

Jesus’ response to Philip’s request at the Last Supper, “Show us the Father,” is packed with infinite mystery and depth. To know Christ Jesus is to enter into the presence of God the Father in whom the monad of divinity and the triad of hypostasity (unique personhood) are simultaneous and interpenetrating.

As the unique God-man and mediator Jesus Christ, the Son also ushers us into the heart of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who revealed the secret of her identity to St. Bernadette Soubirous, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This took place on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1858, at the Lourdes grotto in France.

The Son received his divinity from his Father and his humanity from his mother—Immaculate Son from Immaculate Virgin. The Father is the Virgin unbegotten and unconceived; Mary is the Virgin begotten and conceived in the mind of the Father from “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). The Incarnate Logos in the Father’s eternal plan is inseparable from the Theotokos, for the God-man has no existence as God-man apart from the Virgin Mother. Jesus Christ is the Son of God subsisting in two natures, divine and human.

The Son of God assumed humanity anew at the Annunciation, for without Mary’s consent, the Incarnation would not have taken place. Human nature had to be received, for “the holy Body of Christ” was not “brought from heaven” but bestowed by the generosity of the Virgin Mother, wrote St. Cyril of Alexandria in a letter that was read at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.1

Mary’s role is not “necessary” in the way that the Son is essentially begotten of the Father primordially, but she was conceived from before all ages to play a pivotal role in salvation history.

The Father shaped the Son in the Mother and the Mother in the Son as one Immaculate Conception by the Holy Spirit who “proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26). Ultimately, the Immaculate Conception returns to the Father as Source and Fountainhead of persons.

Mary Immaculata and her Son, Emmanuel, are the staircase and ladder of Jacob ascending and descending between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-19). The Theotokos is the door and gate for the earthly missions of the Son and Spirit from the Father, from whose womb poured forth the deifying grace of the Most Holy Trinity. 

“The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity.”2 Our return to the Womb of the Immaculate Virgin Father passes through the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mother: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). 


1 Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451).

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church 260.

The Orchard of the Lord

Icon of the Nativity of Christ, Novgorod, 16th century

Friday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31

A drunk and rebellious world spins recklessly out of control (Isaiah 24:20; 28:1; 28:7; 29:9), but sober intoxication from the springs of divine grace is promised from on high, declares the prophet Isaiah.

Thus says the Lord God: But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! (Isaiah 29:17)

The deserted forests of Mount Lebanon is a figure for the parched and desolate world turned away from the face of God, while the orchard is a fruitful garden, literally Carmel (karmel), overflowing with lush and abundant growth. The Hebrew word karmel comes from kerem (vineyard), an overarching symbol in the Old and New Testaments for the kingdom of God and his people (Isaiah 5:1; 5;7; Jeremiah 2:7; Matthew 20:1).

Many commentators interpret the prophetic statement as the rejection of Christ by the Jews (orchard) and the bestowal of blessings to the Gentiles (Lebanon). However, an alternative interpretation finds a parallel in Isaiah 32:15 which puts the accent on the superabundance of divine grace such that the orchard, prior to its anointing, seems barren as a forest.1

Until the spirit from on high
is poured out on us.
And the wilderness becomes a garden land
and the garden land seems as common as forest (Isaiah 32:15).

St. Paul’s statement that he “considers everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus” conveys the sense of that interpretation (Philippians 3:8). Prosperity in this life, compared with the imperishable riches of the kingdom of God, fades into insignificance (Matthew 6:19-21).

Figurative language often contains multiple layers of meaning, so a combination of the two interpretations is possible. The first reading appears in both patristic and classic commentaries, for Christ did mourn his rejection by his own brethren: Have you not read this scripture passage: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’—a statement made in the context of a vineyard parable (Mark 12:10 and other NT passages). The “cornerstone” was prophesied in both the Psalms and Isaiah (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16).

The gate of Christ is open to all peoples, Jews and Gentiles, as long as it is “today.” Prophetic, apocalyptic language has no other motive than divine love. Pride winces before the knife, but as St. John Chrysostom writes: “Suppose anyone has a wound; which should we most deservedly fear, gangrene or the surgeon’s knife? The steel or the devouring progress of the ulcer? Sin is a gangrene; punishment is the surgeon’s knife. If someone has gangrene and does not have surgery, he does not merely remain ill, he gets worse.”2

Gentiles have not been favored over the Jews, but as St. Paul writes, they are a wild olive shoot grafted into the olive tree (Romans 11:11-24). Grace does not discriminate among peoples and nations, but receptivity to Christ is a gift. The return of both Jews and Gentiles to the crib of the Infant Christ, in the footsteps of the shepherds and Magi, is possible.

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 29:18-19).

The two blind men in Matthew’s Gospel who receive healing from the “Son of David” are among the first to emerge out of the darkness prophesied by Isaiah (Matthew 9:27-31). The spiritually deaf, blind, lowly, and poor have been responding to the voice of the Shepherd ever since Pentecost. The ever growing calendar of Saints is evidence of the compelling light of Christ in a darkened world.

Speaking of “that day,” the Venerable Bede and Doctor of the Church (673-735) is the voice of reason and sobriety when he writes:

Neither was heaven created in any six-day period and the stars illuminated and the dry land separated from the water and the trees and vegetation planted. Rather, Scripture customarily uses “day” to denote an unspecified period of time, as the apostle did when he said, “Behold, this is the day of salvation.” He was not referring to a particular day but to the entirety of the time of the present life in which we labor for eternal salvation. The prophet also spoke not of one specific day but of numerous moments of divine grace, saying, “In that day, the deaf will hear the words of this book.”3

Patristic exegesis of apocalyptic literature is neither literalist nor millenarian. By the Spirit-filled teachings of the Fathers of the Church, Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction (Isaiah 29:24). 


1 See Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, Isaiah 29:17 and New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition, edited by G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, R.T. France, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 651. 

2 St. John Chrysostom, Homilies Concerning the Statues 6.14. From Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Isaiah 1-39, Steven A. McKinion, editor, and Thomas C. Oden, general editor, Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 2004, p. 177. 

3 The Venerable Bede, On Genesis 1.2.4-5. From Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Isaiah 1-39, p. 211.


31st Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

Luke 15:1-10

Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:6).

Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost” (Luke 15:9).

“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:32).

In Luke’s trilogy of joy, God presents himself as a shepherd, a woman, and a father in the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son. The choirs of angels in the court of heaven “rejoice” with the Lord at the restoration of grace to sons and daughters who had wandered far away (Luke 15:10). 

The Greek words for “rejoice” (sugchairó and chairó) spring from “grace” (charis)—divine favor, gift, blessing, or kindness. The angel Gabriel greeted the Virgin Mary with, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” and “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:28, 30). Mary was filled with grace by her union with the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ within her womb. 

At the Annunciation, the divine shepherd, woman, and father of the parables commenced their longing search for humankind upon the earth. Jesus and Mary, radiant with the grace of divine life, light and energy, restored paradise to Adam and Eve by their “Yes” to the Father.

The tireless shepherd searched high and low in mountains and valleys to retrieve the one lost sheep, humankind. In many of the Church Fathers, the other ninety-nine represent the blessed angels: “This one sheep is the man Adam, whom in the beginning the Lord had created in his image and likeness. This one strayed from the company of the angels by sinning, and through him the entire human race strayed from God.”1 The Good Shepherd descended to earth “to save the one sheep that had perished, that is, the human race.”2

The lost coin is stamped with “the royal likeness and image” according to St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. John Chrysostom.3 The coin has a homing instinct built in, a potentiality for grace and glory. The prodigal son is the father’s very flesh and blood. In all three parables, what was lost is found, and what was dead has come back to life.

“Rejoice!” the choirs of angels resound around the throne of the Blessed Trinity. “Rejoice!” for grace has been restored to Adam and he has come home.


1 Epiphanius the Latin, Interpretation of the Gospels 27.

2 Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 3.18.12.

3 St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 106. St. John Chrysostom’s commentary can be found in the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, Luke 15:8-10.

The Tower of the Spirit

St. Seraphim of Sarov feeding a bear

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year II)

Luke 14:25-33

Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? (Luke 14:28)

An architect must have the end in mind before embarking on the construction of an edifice. Jesus’ comparison of discipleship to a tower might lead one to measure spiritual progress by the success of our external projects, plans, organizations and institutes. What is the “tower” of which Jesus speaks?

The saints tell us that the answer is theosis—deification or divinization. “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (St. Athanasius). According to St. Seraphim of Sarov (1754-1833), the true aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

By baptism, every child of God becomes “a new creature… a partaker of the divine nature… and a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace… giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”1

St. Seraphim further explains:

He who has the grace of the Holy Spirit in reward for right faith in Christ, even if on account of human frailty his soul were to die for some sin or other, yet he will not die for ever, but he will be raised by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and freely gives grace upon grace. Of this grace, which was manifested to the whole world and to our human race by the God-man, it is said in the Gospel: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4); and further: And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness has never swallowed it (John 1:5). This means that the grace of the Holy Spirit which is granted at baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in spite of man’s fall into sin, in spite of the darkness surrounding our soul, nevertheless shines in our hearts with the divine light (which has existed from time immemorial) of the inestimable merits of Christ. In the event of a sinner’s impenitence this light of Christ cries to the Father: ‘Abba, Father! Be not angry with this impenitence to the end (of his life).’ Then, at the sinner’s conversion to the way of repentance, it effaces completely all trace of past sin and clothes the former sinner once more in a robe of incorruption spun from the grace of the Holy Spirit. The acquisition of this is the aim of the Christian life…2

The seed of grace planted at baptism must be watered, fertilized, and cultivated to flourish into a mature organism. Earthly attachments block the Son-light and water of the Holy Spirit from reaching the divine seed.

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes  to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:25-27).

Matthew’s version reads: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). The Greek verb for “hate” (miseó) means “to love less.” Since God the Father contains all persons, however, the love of Christ does not diminish other relationships but embraces them.

Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:18-33).

In the analogy, term A (building and military resources) is mapped to term B (renunciation of all possessions). From a material point of view, the analogy seems incongruous as they are opposites (addition and subtraction). However, Jesus is speaking about the inner tower of the spirit and the conquest of the ego, which detachment accomplishes by increasing faith, hope, charity, the virtues and fruits of the Holy Spirit. In the spiritual life, the laws of mathematics and physics are inverted: material and ego contraction leads to spiritual expansion.

Theosis by the grace of the Holy Spirit is our “tower” and “victory.” Our projects and apostolates are an overflow of the work of the Spirit. St. Paul discerned the need to prioritize the inner tower and combat from his apostolate of preaching: “No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27).

The Holy Spirit lays the first cornerstone of the tower, Jesus Christ:

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21).

The Holy Spirit arms us in the battle for theosis:

“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).

St. Seraphim’s blueprint and battle plan is simple yet profound: “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” 


1 Catechism of the Catholic Church 1265-6.

2 St. Seraphim of Sarov, On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit, Conversation with Motovilov. Although St. Seraphim was canonized by the Orthodox Church, St. John Paul II counted him among the saints for the Catholic Church: “Man achieves the fullness of prayer not when he expresses himself, but he lets God be most fully present in prayer. The history of mystical prayer in the East and West attests to this: Saint Francis, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and, in the East, Saint Serafim of Sarov and many others.” From Crossing the Threshold of Hope, trans. Jenny McPhee and Martha McPhee (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 18.

The Law Incarnate

Divine Mercy Icon

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

Luke 6:1-5

While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

With hawk-eyed precision, the restless experts in the law spent their Sabbath “rest” measuring the Immeasurable and his disciples. Walking through a field was unobjectionable, but picking, rubbing, and eating grain amounted to the forbidden labor of reaping, threshing, winnowing, and meal preparation on the Sabbath.

David, Jesus pointed out, received divine sanction to consume the holy bread of the tabernacle and share it with his starving companions (I Samuel 21:1-6). Not one iota of the law was transgressed, for mercy is the spirit of the law. Without mercy, the letter of the law is dead (Hosea 6:6). 

Jesus, the giver of the Sabbath, could not contradict himself by transgressing the law. By his merciful actions on the Sabbath, he demonstrated the heart and spirit of the law. What appeared to be transgression was the fulfillment of the law. 

“For the just man there is no law, he is a law unto himself,” St. John of the Cross discovered in his mystical Ascent of Mount Carmel. The deified person no longer operates on the earthly plane alone, but moves in synergy with the Holy Spirit. Divine and human action are virtually indistinguishable at the top of the mount, where self-emptying and detachment have given way to radical transformation by divine grace. 

As long as the law remains external, it judges and condemns persons. But when “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” true freedom becomes possible (Galatians 2:20). Deification is complete identification with the law who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

“The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath,” declared Jesus, the Law Incarnate and gate to the deification of humankind. The person who has become one with the law “can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone” (I Corinthians 2:15).


Related post: Another Point of View

The Father’s Plan

6th Week of Easter, Tuesday

John 16:5-11

“But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

The One who sent Jesus sees all the generations before and after Christ as one Body in need of reunion and restoration. Yet one earthly life lasts but a brief span. How will the mission be completed after Christ’s resurrection?

In the Father’s plan, persons born again in the Spirit will perpetuate the life of Christ on earth, bringing it to completion. This new life in grace would cause St. Paul to exclaim, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Such a close union was not experienced even by the disciples during Jesus’ entire earthly sojourn. A deeper, more interior union and communion needed to be effected.

“And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation…”

From east and west, north and south—every tribe, nation, people and tongue—the Advocate will convict human persons of the truth of Jesus Christ, of his eternal Sonship, and of the futility of a world separated from the Father. 

In the fire of the Holy Spirit, the second Adam, with all of his brethren gathered into one, will reopen the Paradise of personal communion in the heart of the Father. Eternity begins in time, in each human heart.


Morning Thoughts: The Sound of Life


Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

—Genesis 2:7


What is it this moment holds? Not last night, not later today. This moment. What does it hold?


Hello my friend. Good morning.

It is cold. Outside. In here though, it’s quite comfortable.

Just you and me.

Just me and you.

Shall we talk or just sit a while?

Ha, that reminds me of being in the chapel, early in the morning.

No one speaking but such a beautiful sound.

An old man, a holy priest, breathing quite loud.

But it wasn’t just air passing to and fro.

It was the sound of “spirit and truth.


Community is the beautiful sound of other people breathing.


May God truly bless your day. May we both appreciate what He has given. And may we forgive each other our petty crimes. For you, my friend, in many ways, here and now, in earthen clay, are all I got. For without you—my neighbor, my brother, my wife, my boss, my employee, my business partner, my competitor, my foe—I won’t glimpse the face of Christ. And that I so badly need to do. He is after all, all we truly got. My face and yours will dry up and wrinkle, His remains the same. His love never gets old. May we hear each other breathe, with compassion and mercy, knowing that so much we take in causes mold. But it’s also in that very sound—the mysterious sound of breath—that can seemingly annoy us to death—that we witness daily the Word become flesh, again and again, to and fro, the entire universe, expand and contract.

We hear the One who sits on the throne.

We hear Him reconciling the world to Himself.


Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit…

—John 20:21-22


—Howard Hain



God sent Jonah to the “enormously big city” of Nineveh. Three days to go through it. No wonder poor Jonah headed off in the opposite direction, seeking smallness, safe and sound. But God doesn’t call us to smallness. “You kingdom come” we pray; let’s work for it.

In this holy time,

a time of grace, Lord,

awaken kingdom dreams in us,

save us from dreaming too small.

You came to Jonah a second time,


send us into Nineveh

as your presence there.

For a homily.