Monthly Archives: May 2015

Maurin, Berrigan, Macedonia, and me

If I have my notes correct, today is the birthday of Fr. Dan Berrigan in 1921 and of Peter Maurin in 1876, two men who are important prophetic figures in the church in the US.

Peter Maurin, a French peasant, met Dorothy Day in 1932 and together they found themselves beginning a movement that continues to call the Church to live the Gospel with the poor. Peter Maurin had a vision and Dorothy Day had the desire to connect her new faith with the needs of the poor.

Peter Maurin was noted for his pithy poems, his “Easy Essays,” which often contained messages that are far from easy:

The world would be better off
if people tried to become better.
And people would become better
if they stopped trying to become better off.
For when everyone tried to become better off
nobody I better off.
But when everyone tried to become better,
everyone is better off.

Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried to become richer.
And nobody would be poor
if everyone tried to be the poorest.
And everybody would be what he ought to be
if everyone tried to be
what he wants the other fellow to be.

Dan Berrigan is a Jesuit priest, poet, prophet, and peacemaker – a man of God who has put his body where his words led him. As he is reported to have said:

Your faith is rarely where your head is at and rarely where your heart is at. Your faith is where your ass is at! Inside what commitments are you sitting? Within what reality do you anchor yourself?”

Where is my butt?

It’s here in Honduras. In a way, it’s here because I was open to the call when I visited in 2006 and heard today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles 16: 1-10. Paul wants to go a few places but the Spirit prevents him. Then he has a dream where a Macedonian tells him: “Come across to Macedonia and help us.”

So here I am, but is my butt really with the poor?

That’s the continuing question.

The Vine from the Cross

I am the vine and you are the branches.
John 15: 5 

 Today in many parts of Central America we celebrate the feast of the Cross. In parts of El Salvador and Guatemala crosses are decorated with elaborate floral arrangements. I have not seen such a custom here in Honduras.

The Cross is central to our faith. The Cross is the source of our salvation: we have a God who became flesh and suffered for us. It can also be a source of consolation for many who can see Christ sharing in their sufferings. It can be a source of hope when we remember that death is not the final word. Christ Jesus, bearing the wounds of the Cross, was raised from the dead.

As I was reflecting on today’s Gospel that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, I came across two quotations that express this clearly.

José Antonio Pagola, in a commentary on the Sunday Gospels, writes:

Jesus is the «true vine», full of life; the disciples are branches that live off the sap that reaches them from Jesus.

Centuries earlier, St. Cyril of Alexandria explained this relationship with a beautiful maternal image:

Jesus says he is the vine, the mother and nourisher, as it were, of his branches. For indeed we are begotten anew from him and in him…

2012-06-29 09.15.35 As I reflected on the Crucified Jesus as the one who nourishes us, as a mother, I thought of the mosaic of the church of San Clemente in Rome. At the center is the Cross, surrounded by vines, which come from the plant below the Cross.

The Cross is life-giving. From it come all. It is not merely a sign of death. It is a sign of a love that saves us, that nourishes us that gives us life.

The Church of San Clemente does not permit photographs; so the photo above comes from another source.

Seeing the Father

Master, show us the Father…
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
John 14: 8-9 

 When we see Jesus, we see God the Father.

But what do we see?

I see a father who loves his loves his prodigal son, as Jesus tells us in the parable.

I see a father who feeds the hungry, as Jesus fed the crowds with only five loaves and two fish.

I see a father who heals the sick, as Jesus healed many including the woman who was hemorrhaging and the synagogue leader’s daughter.

I see a father who talks with the marginal, as Jesus talked with the woman at the well.

I see this and more, but an image that touches me deeply is that of Jesus welcoming the children.


Maybe this is because my own father deeply loved children and welcomed them into his life – even as his life faded. I remember the time he gave ought fifty-cent pieces to kids at a church Halloween party.

God welcomes us to come and sit with him.

Sitting with Jesus helps me open my heart and let others sit with me, listening to their joys and sorrows, their hopes and concerns.

May God give me always the grace to sit with Him – and to sit beside others.