Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In a profoundly troubled world, we can pray.

This is an image of Our Lady of Good Remedy. The title comes to us from the 12th century when the Trinitarian Fathers needed money to ransom Christians from slavery. A remedy for that problem was swiftly and generously forthcoming. This is wonderful, and I have my own stories to tell of Mary's remedies over the years and in the work of the retreat house here.

But I would suggest that remedy here means so much more than Mary as fund-raiser, however good the cause, as the most needed remedy today is the remedy-ing of human hearts. Someone wrote with appreciation for the Thursday intercessions found here, as they help him/her to pray beyond the little and most immediate concerns of everyday. Now, Saint Paul writes::

The Lord is near; have no anxiety, but in everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, which is beyond our utmost understanding, will keep guard over your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. (Philipians 4:6,7)

But the verse says to make needs known in everything. And if we have global hearts, and open, aware, informed minds, then we will want to entrust so much more to the Mother called Remedy

A priest told me once that intercession is the lowest form of prayer. I was only a seminarian then and didn't now how to respond ~ but I don't believe that. The synagogue official in last Sunday's Gospel said, "Jesus, my daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He was interceding for his daughter, and Jesus responded at once and with great generosity. 

Here are some prayer-verses of my own. But each of us will think and feel beyond the prayer when it seems to end. 

For deniers and deceivers
For the lazy and indifferent
For the hopeless and embittered
A remedy, O Lady!

For racists and anti-semites
For resenters and bullies
For the militarized and dangerous
A remedy, O Lady!

For the priesthood and the candidates
For prisoners and killers
For haters and the hated
A remedy, O Lady!

For the dealers and death-purveyors
For terrorists and the obstruct-ors of good
For dividers and exploiters
A remedy, O Lady!

For the un-evolved and wounded
For planet-looters and the greedy
For the baby considered a problem
A remedy, O Lady!

For the addict and the fear-ridden
For the self-righteous and the soul-sick
For the fearful and the unhappy
A remedy, O Lady!

For beheaders and suicide bombers
For the master-minds and the broken-hearted
For the wanderers and the war-torn
A remedy, O Lady!

For the mourners and the dis-placed
For the children and the left behind
For wall-builders and false promise-rs
A remedy, O Lady!

For hearts that look the other way
For excuse-rs and rationalize-rs
For the person on the planet who most needs this prayer right now
A remedy, O Lady!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hemerocallis fulva is blooming ~ and talking to us!

Hemerocallis fulva - commonly called Orange Daylily or Ditch Lily is blooming now. And while each flower lasts only one day, the blooms are staggered over a period of two to three weeks, which makes for a lovely summer presence. 

News to me: this rather invasive plant (we all have our detractors) is enjoyed seemingly everywhere. On a Ditch Lily website people have chimed in to share their  Ditch Lily experiences from almost all of the fifty states. Some folks have shared observations about Ditch Lilies from The United Kingdom, Canada and China!

Once planted, if even carelessly, daylilies will spread by underground roots. And since they don't propagate by seeds, if you see them growing somewhere, know that someone (even a long time ago) planted them there. More often than not, zooming by,  we notice them as a large or long patch of bright roadside orange. Many people have no idea what the one-day flowers look like close up. 

But for all the ordinary, there's a lot of message in the daylily: Much of life is loss, so let's pay attention. Remember Joni Mitchell's 1970's song: They Paved Paradise. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone..."

Sometimes the loss starts before we even get started. As a brand-new priest I walked in the door of my first-assignment-rectory and the pastor was standing there, who clearly was alcoholic. That night at dinner I realized he was a nasty, broken, bruising alcoholic. Talk about the loss of an ideal. A joy stealer. A dream smasher. A month later the church was broken into and my antique, sterling silver ordination chalice was stolen. The detective said the next morning: "Don't bother, it's already melted down." 

Jesus understood how loss-permeating life is: his security was taken away as an infant and his family had to flee to Egypt for safety, he was separated from Mary and Joseph for three days at age twelve, he taught about God through parables of loss: lost boy, lost coin, lost sheep (Luke 15).

We can lose: a pregnancy, a parent or child, a friend, a job or income, our faith, our self-confidence, our sense of meaning or purpose, our life-direction. We can lose our way even with a GPS. We can lose our keys, the remote, our wallet, our glasses, the book we were reading, the password, we can lose love in a marriage. We lose patience. Sometimes we say in exasperation: I'm losing my mind.

Loss can cause us to become depressed, anxious, frustrated, cursing-angry, cynical, or conversely, persevering, enduring, grateful, hopeful. We all make our choices. 

The bright Orange Daylily summons: pay attention in the losses.

Pay attention to how I respond. 
Pay attention to what might be learned.
Pay attention to gratitude. 
Pay attention to how I might change or evolve. 
Pay attention to how I might serve in love. 
Pay attention to what needs to be healed within.
Pay attention to how close God is.

In color symbology/psychology, the color orange signifies emotional strength in difficult times. Orange assists people in grief recovery. It is the color of optimism, rejuvenation and spirit. As it is the color of a golden fruit it is celestial, symbolizing perfection and eternity. Didn't the nation get a big dose of lived-orange this past week?

Nine members of the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina were murdered by a racist gunman at a Wednesday night bible study. Among them, an elder parish matriarch, the parish pastor, a young man just graduated form college, a town librarian, a track coach and a woman who had just started her retirement - all killed. Out of their loss, relatives publicly spoke words of forgiveness to the young man who had murdered their loved ones and assaulted their community. The following Wednesday, the bible study group, usually no more than twenty people, gathered in the same room where the murders had taken place. But now over a hundred people gathered, too many for the room where the prayer normally takes place. 

In their brightness orange daylilies call us to attentiveness. In their short, seems-like-loss, sunrise to sunset existence they invite us to discover what matters: gratitude, hope, care, the heavenly, delight, healing and each other. 

I sure hope you see some Orange Daylilies soon!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Intercessions ~ Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The deep wound of racism still festers in our country./ With Saint Francis we pray:/ Where there is hatred, let me sow love./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday is the Feast of the First Martyrs of the Early Roman Church./ We pray for Christians who are struggling and suffering today in many countries around the world./ We pray to the Lord.

In the Heart of Jesus we see the Heart of God./ As June draws to a close/ we pray for Christ-hearts that are open and inclusive signs of Christ's salvation for all./ We pray to the Lord.

Mindful of the parishioners at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston/  who held their bible class in the same room where a week prior nine of their fellows were killed,/ we ask to be made steady and persevering./ We pray to the Lord.

For those who daily struggle with special needs,/ war injuries,/ chronic sickness,/ fatigue,/ emotional instability and anxieties./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for our families everywhere:/ for displaced persons and those who are traumatized by hazards and troubles./ We pray to the Lord.

For those who are asleep in death to arise,/ like the little girl in today's gospel,/ asking for them to see first/ the bright and joyful face of Jesus./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Life is a mix of lament and sadness, joy and hope.

I'm a priest of 35 years - not a pollster, not a politician, not policeman. A priest's thoughts, observations and insights shouldn't be like everyone else's. Mind you, there comes a time in the spiritual life when you stop caring about everyone agreeing with you. This is my lament - my hope. Why post it then? Sometimes people write and say about a post: "You know, I never thought about it that way before." And while there are so many people spewing hate all over the internet, I think the cyber-world can handle this:

I'm feeling a lament for this young man and so many others like him who are crazed with racial hatred. I feel shame that there is so much divisive abhorrence of others in our country.*

Sadness that this young man dropped out of school in the 9th grade and that there was no rush to find and save him - like the Gospel woman who turned the house upside down to find the lost coin. (Luke 15: 8-10)

A lament that the president of our God-Fearing country has had to address the nation fourteen times after a massacre of some sort. And shame that some Americans hate him for it.

I'm feeling shame that via CNN the whole world is watching our exceptional country devolve into gun violence and death. Empires and great countries collapse from within.

I'm feeling sadness for the unwilling, stubborn, obstructionist, elected politicians who refuse to take-on the control of deadly weapons sales and who hate those who do raise their voices. Saint Catherine said, "Shout like you have a million voices." Too many good people are silent. 

I'm feeling shame for the people of this country whose only agenda and vote is to defend gun rights. Like the Second Amendment is more sacred than a verse from the Holy Gospel.

Lament for those people and places who continue to fly a flag whose history has become one of disgrace and who lie and call it only a  flag of  pride and heritage. Changes in gun laws indeed - but all the more - the changing of hearts. A lament that religion often fails in this regard.

Lament that there is so much fuss and fury in defending that flag while so much of  the world is burdened with crushing problems beyond imagining. Lament that some Americans don't care.  

Lament for the self-proclaimed Pro-Life people who fiercely defend the right of the baby to be born (I get it),  but who don't see our national veneration of guns as a life issue.

I'm feeling shame for the nation's clergy of all the denominations (especially conferences of bishops) who won't speak to this issue because they're afraid of the money-denying anger of the gun worshipers in their pews.

I'm feeling shame for our idolatrous and conscience-diminished country: that gun and weapons manufacturing, sales and ownership is enshrined and worshiped. The people who composed the Second Amendment could never have envisioned the weapons available to citizens today. I feel a deep sadness that so many ignore this.

I'm feeling shame that in our country there are still places where there are no background checks for gun customers. If the life of one child is saved!

I'm feeling deep shame that in our country there's an NRA - flooded with money, high level connections, lobbying influence, huge membership and loving-admiring support - but if it's any other group: Catholic Church, Jewish whatever, gay rights, black rights, women's rights, environmental protection - there's bitterness and resentment.

I'm feeling joy and hope when I hear people in Charleston  roaring their hymn about overcoming the darkness of violent hatred. 

I'm feeling hopeful when I hear the relatives of victims saying immediately to Mr. Roof, "You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you." These could possibly be the first words of healing and salvation this broken, desperate young man might hear.

I'm glad and felt a ray of hope when the South Carolina politician (who had five years in office) said, "I didn't do my job" in trying to have the confederate flag removed from the state capitol lawn. And glad the interviewing reporter was stunned into fifteen seconds of radio silence, not knowing how to handle or respond to such honesty!

I'm feeling hopeful as on Sunday the Mother Emanuel Church bells rang as if it were Easter morning - the church packed with brave, singing-souls: like a landscape scorched and despoiled by fire, blooming from the ground-up the next spring.

I feel hopeful and joyful because Christ is Risen! And the African American Christians gift-ed the whole country on Sunday with this announcement - like the Easter women running to tell the frightened men. And Jesus has trampled down all the power of arsenals and empire, power-abuse, lies and loathing. Now we wait in joyful hope for the full realization of his victory - glad for the rays we detect already in the lives of saints and good people everywhere. 

I feel hopeful when I meet people who know we're not the Confederate States of America but the United States of America. **

The psalm says: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. I'm hopeful if even one hater hears that verse and in some reflective, conscience-raised way, takes it in.

I'm glad that the powerful preacher-man took Isaiah 54:17 as the basis of his Mother Emanuel Sunday sermon: No weapon forged against you will succeed.

*While I was chaplain to a school for young people in trouble for fifteen years, I asked a boy from a southern state about racism at home and what has happened to it after the years of Civil Rights legislation. He answered, "Oh all of that is still there; it's just quieter now." He was speaking too of his parents who were not yet forty. 

**I was on a seven hour flight from Dublin to New York years ago when as a young priest (and the Irish in those days were overly kind to the clergy) I was bumped up to first class. We weren't in the air fifteen minutes when the pretty lady next to me asked where I was from. When I indicated New York she launched into a monologue history lesson against the north as if the Civil War was still being fought full-flood. Somehow I thought it was my priestly duty to listen politely for those many hours despite the worst headache of my life. Today I would ring for the flight attendant and declare that I was too close to the front of the plane and that to avoid air sickness I would need to be returned to my humble seat in business class. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Finger Pointing at the Moon

A friend recently told of an extended journey to India where he met a Hindu holy man along the way. In conversation the holy man spoke of a finger pointing at the moon to reference all the things of religion that are supposed to indicate or direct us to an experience of God. I've subsequently discovered the saying in Buddhist thought, but it doesn't matter where the saying comes from. More importantly I'd suggest the finger pointing to the moon is:
  • the dogmas and doctrines of religion
  • the organization of the religions
  • the clerical castes of religion and
  • the things of hierarchy
  • all the permissions/dispensations/rubrics and canons of religion
  • the things we call traditions - especially those we claim can never to be changed
  • calendars, liturgies: My religion is true - hence yours is not
  • all the ways I claim my religion is the most ancient and  observant and from God
  • all the ways I make the claim - my way is the sure way to salvation. I might suggest that more than a few people who claim to know  the way to salvation don't even know what salvation means.

This is the pointing finger - it's not the moon. The moon is the often subtle, personal, contemplative experience of God. The trouble starts when we lock-down on the pointed finger and miss the moon. 

A graffiti-ed wall announces: I'm pointing at the moon and you're looking at my finger. Truth be told, many people are content with the pointing-finger-religious-life. Perhaps lacking an experience of God's nearness themselves, priests often (I'll boldly say usually) don't even mention the experience of God as a possibility - it's easier to view religion as pointing finger. An experience of God will require of us that we bend over to remove our inner shoes. God can be messy, unruly, un-settling and troublesome. "Christ, you have come to disturb us," Dostoevsky wrote. 

I lived in Assisi (Italy) for three months on a short sabbatical some years ago. On an autumn day  I walked up Mount Subasio (1300 metres above sea level) where Saint Francis and some of his fellows would go to retire from Assisi's agitation and  noise. There are caves there - really slivers in the boulders - where the saint and his friends would pray.

I set out before sunrise, just as the shops were opening. In a green-grocer I bought a bottle of water, some strawberries, a little loaf of bread and an red apple streaked with pink and soft yellow. I ate everything except the apple along the ascending, hair-pinned road. Upon my summit arrival I arranged to offer Mass, checked out the view of the valley below, sat quietly in the chapels (some of which were underground) and walked the wooded paths that connected the caves. 

Happy for the day I began the descent, intending to be back in Assisi before dark. Along the way I took out the apple which with the first bite created a kind fragrant cloud or atmosphere around my head. And then there was the realization that I was tasting something that was not only new or simply different, but a not-to-be-repeated taste that was from somewhere else. I savored every bit, even eating the core. The next day I went back to the grocer and bought two more of these apples which now tasted like all the other apples I'd eaten in my life. 

"You'd really opened yourself up" some monastic sisters told me when I related the story. "That's contemplative living" my priest-spiritual director said.

I'll offer a few thoughts about this kind of experience:
  • We don't summon-up God. An experience of God isn't about finding the right prayer-technique or posture. God isn't tied to a string of beads.
  • Our culture is in a deep coma - find ways of waking up and getting free of the cultural addictions to food and entertainment.
  • Instead of cursing them - go with distractions and requests that take us away from what we're doing. God might be waiting there.
  • God has become one of us in the face of Christ: a personal experience of God may well occur in our human encounters, especially those where we are making some gift of ourselves - or receiving others into our lives. 
  • Silence matters more than our culture can presently imagine or tolerate. Most of us waste precious time each day listening to someone else trying to sell us something. 
  • Observe yourself and tell it like it is about yourself: I'm pointing to the moon and you're looking at my finger.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Intercessions ~ Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We pray for those who live in storms of sadness,/inner conflict and emotional imbalance;/ storms of divorce and bankruptcy,/ war,/ illness and loss./ We ask for the restoration of balance,/ clarity and calm./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for fathers around the world today:/ asking strength,/ renewal/ and blessings for fathers who are up against fearsome challenges,/ inner damage and disadvantage./  We pray to the Lord.

Parts of the world are flooded with huge numbers of refugees fleeing in fear for their lives./ We pray for them/ and blessings for the countries and peoples who are welcoming and caring for them./ We pray to the Lord.

There are already many who are declared candidates for the 2016 Presidential Election./ We ask for them to be honest men and women who will help the world to develop peacefully/ and not to become lost in contention and rancor./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for our country and those others which are resource elites/ and for the turning of the national heart to the reverent protection and care of our vulnerable planet./ We pray to the Lord.

For the safety of summer travelers/ for those who are marrying,/ giving birth or having surgeries this week./ For the strengthening of the sick and those who tend to them./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray finally for those who are dying without loved one or friend./ And we prayerfully call to mind those who have gone ahead of us in death/ aware that many die suddenly,/ by violence or neglect./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Green Means Grow

new growth ~ soft green on spruce tips

HAVING COMPLETED the Easter cycle and the subsequent feasts of Trinity and Corpus Christi, we've returned to the long summer weeks of liturgical green. We're being told through color: Now go and grow in these things ~ grow in your own resurrection, up and out of yourself into a new creation. 

I'm listening to the many speeches of the many people who are declaring themselves as presidential candidates these days: They are saying the exact same things, making the same promises, using the same cliches and jargon they have been using since I can remember having a vote. New logos but otherwise, same old, same old. 

Why is a green question. We seldom ask why because the answer might very well be terribly threatening. That's why there are lots of folks already arrayed against the pope's pending encyclical about environment and climate and global poverty - they fear the pope's thoughts will threaten their (our?) security, power, money, elitism.

Many people won't even consider therapy or counseling because there the essential question is why. We want to answer, "I don't know" hoping it will get us off the hook or end our discomfort.

Personal growth really only happens when we ask why. May your green weeks of ordinary time be a time of why?!

~ ~ ~ 

But in symbology green is also the color of hope, the second of the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. Faith acknowledges and bows before an invisible world: "and so with angels and archangels and all the hosts of heaven we say, holy, holy, holy." 

Hope is not to be confused with wishing: "I sure hope there's no traffic...I hope rain doesn't ruin my vacation...I hope this recipe turns out..." Rather, hope means, I entrust myself, my little world and all of creation to God who I trust will act. 

And I allow for God to be God ~ and to act as and where and when God will act. It is a very beautiful virtue keeping us from becoming cynics. You can't please a cynic, for whom everything pushes down.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Learning Forgiveness Through the Opened Heart of Christ

That blood and water poured out of the stabbed side of Jesus Crucified indicates his heart was punctured and emptied. But it was mercy, compassion and forgiveness which poured out of his heart. Even in his dying, Jesus taught us. Some years ago Oprah Winfrey had a young man on as a guest who had a very important forgiveness message for the world.

He told of having been abducted from a school bus by a neighbor man who took him into the Florida Everglades, where he shot the boy three times and abandoned him. Two weeks later, on Christmas morning, the boy found himself sitting alone on the roadside. Passersby discovered him and took him to a hospital where he slowly recovered. The abductor was arrested and sentenced to prison. 

As he grew older the imprisoned man asked to see the boy, who by now was a grown man. The boy said to the man, "I forgive you for what you did to me years ago." The television audience was stunned. "How were you ever able to do that?" Oprah asked. "I chose to see myself more as the receiver of blessings than as the victim of a crime," the young man answered.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Intercessions ~ Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer Ginkgo

As we return to the season of liturgical green - the color of hope,/ we pray to trust God/ who can lead hearts to the creation of justice and peace./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for students and teachers to end their school year well:/ asking for summer gifts of safety,/ good health,/ renewal and family peace./ We pray to the Lord.

While the pope's encyclical on global climate and environment has yet to be released/ there are already people who are angrily opposed to his thoughts./ We ask God to calm our passions,/ our fanciful and fearful imaginings./  We pray to the Lord.

Pope Francis visited Sarajevo this past week to extend a hand of friendship to all/ and to encourage the Christian minority./ We ask for perseverance and hope where Christians are persecuted and struggling./ We pray to the Lord. 

We are approaching the summer solstice - the day of the longest light./ We ask to turn to Christ the light/ who can keep us from the stumblings of hate,/ vanity and arrogance./ We pray to the Lord.

We offer prayers for the many refugees around the world who are fleeing wars and conflicts./ We pray for those countries who generously and kindly receive them./ We pray to the Lord.

For the sick, / the elderly/ the weakest,/ the poorest/ and for those who help them./ And for those who have died/ to be welcomed by the bright face of Christ into the fullness of life./ We pray to the Lord. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Gardener's Prayer (In a Kind of Celtic-American Tradition)

Good morning, One in Three ~
Hello and Glory to you!

in the falls and frills of Iris, 
in the secret strength of seeds,
in the scent on breezes, 
and the decay of compost,

in the rocks and the rain,
in the fog-covered hill,
in the in-and-out sun,
and the flute-stream nearby,

in the shade of my cap,
in the sharpness of blade,
in the malleable soil,
and the contest of bird-song,

in the freshness of dill,
in the blister that's healing,
in the variance of cloud
and the red-painted fern ~

first showings of your transfigured face!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

O God Beyond All Praising

It is overcast and damp this June morning after last night's rain. The road at the start of this little video is an old railroad bed that used to connect the small villages in this far north-east corner of Pennsylvania. The train tracks were taken up in the 1960's leaving behind a wide path for walking and bicycle riding. Native flowers (never say weeds) grow along the way. Here are some of those green things accompanied by a very fine hymn, O God, Beyond All Praising, expressing gratitude for every gift you send.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Intercessions ~ Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

The purpose of our lives on earth is union with God./ We ask for a renewal of faith which recognizes this God-intimacy in the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ/ under the veil of bread and wine./ We pray to the Lord.

On this Feast of Corpus Christi/ we remember Jesus chose to stay with us as food./ We pray for those who have inadequate or no food - especially children./ And the privileged world to stop wasting food./ We pray to the Lord.

As the Body of Christ we ask for an increase of love which forgives,/ heals/ and invites others to the recognition of God's love shared with the world in Jesus Christ./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the safety of summer travelers and vacationers./ We ask for these months to be a time of restoration and renewal/ mindful of those who get no time away./We pray to the Lord.

Next Saturday is the June-feast of Saint Anthony of Padua - patron of lost things./ We ask Anthony to help us find Jesus where we have lost him to bitterness and fears./ And for the Church/ where it loses its Christ-center in defensiveness,/ exclusion,/ and power claims./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the conversion of hearts where there is injustice,/ indifference,/ lies,/ selfish neglect and fear./ And that we would find Christ this week/ in the surprise of some new way of thinking./ We pray to the Lord.

For those who are chronically sick,/ pained and weak./ For those who care for the sick,/ the immigrant and the needy./ For the soul-repose of those who have died/ asking for them gifts of joy and light./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Simon, do you love me?"

Before the end of the Easter Season, the lectionary offered this Resurrection Gospel. Oh, let's not ignore it, but run to it and its meaning for our living. How the world needs to heed it!

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time "Do you love me? and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you  and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this he said to him, "Follow me."  (John 21:15-19)

After their satisfying morning breakfast, Jesus got down to business, setting out to repair the damage done by Peter's denial of even knowing him the night of Jesus' arrest. Jesus asked about Peter's love three times to drive home the point gently: Peter had denied Jesus as many times. But rather than give a speech, Jesus gave Peter new tasks. In short: Take care of the others.

But let us get right to the heart of it: Jesus asks for love. He asks for love still. It is to this country's great shame that we refused love to the Natives who lived here so long before Europe's ships arrived and refused love again to the enslaved brought here by force from Africa. "Do you love me" is the universal and perennial question. It is bigger than human life.

The tiny uterine voice asks, Do you love me?
Civilians beneath the drone and rocket attacks ask, Do you love me?
The war-damaged ask, Do you love me?
The poorly parented teen asks, Do you love me?
In a dry marriage someone asks, Do you love me?

In every classroom at least one child asks, Do you love me?
The homosexual asks, Do you love me?
Priests ask their bishops, Do you love me?
Muslims and Christians ask their clerics, Do you love me?
Around the world the children ask the adults, Do you love me?

The elderly left behind ask, Do you love me?
The underpaid ask, Do you love me?
The mentally and physically challenged ask, Do you love me?
Border-crossing and shoreline immigrants ask, Do you love me?
The forests, the mountains, the oceans - indeed the planet asks, Do   you love me?