Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin, Permanent Deacon.



The Leper

Cosimo Rosselli The Healing of the Leper (detail, Cappella Sistina, Vatican, 1481-82
The Leper
Lk. 5:12-16

Known only as the ‘the leper’,
outcast within the town.

With eyes from his marred face,
he watched all those around.

He saw the men at work,
strong, with muscles bold.

He saw the mothers back holding,
their children, with stares so cold.

He saw the friends, the lovers,
their smiles, their warm embrace,

and watching them to touch,
made within his heart to ache.

Known only as the leper,
outcast within the town,

touched only by the scorn,
where fear and hate abound,

his leper’s wealth abundant,
his lonely tears surround.

Until the day He came.
Jesus was in the town.

And when his eyes did see Him,
from his face marred and scared,

he fell, the hated leper,
before Him,  to hope, he dared.

Faith’s desperate plea escaped him,
for cleansing did he make.

At least, for words, of mercy
within his heart to place.

Amazed saw he then,
Love’s hand for him to reach…

Amazed. then in awe,
His touch, His cleansing, His peace.

Then within his heart
the words he longed to hear,

I will, be clean, and go.
 Love’s healing touch to show.

Compromise ~ With Promise

“Compromise”.  It is interesting that for so many people it is a word and concept fraught with fear and negativity.  The ancient conflicts in the Mid-east, our own political strife, relationship discord, economic angst all are opportunities for compromise yet most people fear taking those steps toward finding a compromised solution.
Many people perceive it as a weakness to be avoided at all costs.  Many people are most secure in their perception that life issues are very precise and clear, black and white.  It has been said that with both God and nature there is no compromise.
I for one see both God and creation a bit differently.  Yes there is black, white, darkness and light.  But….there is also gray.  Our Lord who gives us the bright clarity of a sunny day, the inky darkness of a moonless night also gives us the  times and places of fog shrouded faith.  Indeed there are issues, times, places where  clarity is sharp and us.  Yet perhaps we need to remember that not everyone is where we are on all issues.  What may be pristine in clarity to us may be a cloud-shrouded path for others.
Perhaps the issue of compromise can be looked at in another way.  If we were to take the word, literally to the roots, we can share a fresh understanding.  Com=With & Promise = Promise.   On most issues can we look to find a common value, understanding on which to start a place of “sharing the promise”?

Even God, pristine in the total beauty of full holiness found the way of compromise.  In His holy, pure love God came to us, became man and walked the path of compromise, the path of fearless, conquering love.  We know it now as the Way of the Cross.  It leads to the place of compromise, the Cross.

I, for one, am eternally grateful God “shared the promise” of holiness and love to find me.

1st Week of Advent: Know ~ Hope

A prayer for this 1st week of Advent:

Heavenly Father as we seek Christ the King, your Son, our Savior, we ask you,
to help us to be ready
for His coming.
Forgive us our failings.
Our world is deeply wounded and struggling
and this is seen
in many wounded and struggling souls.
Holy Love,
help us to cherish all life,
to nurture our life choices
by sharing your compassion.
Help us comfort the wounded and anxious.
May our words bring hope,
our deeds, healing.
May we live and share faith,
in your mercy,
and, together,
Know Hope,
as we discover the beauty of Your Truth, Jesus.
Holy King, Holy Love, come!

Being Thankful

It is the day before Thanksgiving. Here in Northern California, as I look out the window of my candle shop I see the heavy grey clouds thickening from the west as a storm approaches. As the rain comes I realize how much for which I have to be thankful. The work of Dolorosa slowly grows. Family, loved ones are well, even as some are now gone and missed. Our Lord, in His love, brings the rain to both nourish and cleanse.
Yet as I observe the news I sense little thanksgiving in our world. The economic pressures are being daily confronted by most. The political atmosphere in the country is seemingly as acrimonious and divisive as it was prior to the Civil War. Instead of thanks we see the obsession to blame. Hate and the bitter intolerance for anyone not in agreement is pandemic. Humanity is battered by storms of destructive visions and words. How our human-caused storms differ from those God brings into creation. Yet, if we but stop and allow God to lift us out of our selves there is always …hope. There is always cause for being thankful.
This holiday season what would happen if instead of…
passionate divisive intolerance we share,
a shared compassion for life in all creation and each other.
Instead of blaming and casting stones of destruction,
we take responsibility and build bridges of hope.
Instead of wallowing in the stye of entitlement attitudes,
we resurrect our noble gifts of service for God and others.
Instead of obsessing with Occupying and Getting
we seek simply healing and nourishing and giving.
Instead of stressing to judge and condemn,
we seek to love as He loved.
Instead of choking on the bitter gruel of resentments,
We feast on …being Thankful.

Entering His Wounds

Contemporary rendition of Carraviggio’s “Doubting Thomas” painted by: John Granville Gregory

The door is locked. Fear has them bound, hidden away in a room.

This Second Sunday of Easter, also recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday, we return to the followers of Christ. On Easter Sunday our joyful songs express our faith in our Risen Savior and Lord. Today we find the disciples where we too may be at times in our life, locked away in our fears.
Of what are you afraid? Yes we profess our faith in Christ, yet, sadly, we sometimes place more faith in our doubts and fears than in Him. We focus on failures, real or feared of others, or ourself. Fears and doubts of health, or economic well-being, relationships, careers, families, our Church, all may well bring us to be locked in darkened rooms of doubt and fear. Where is our faith? In our fears and doubts or in Him who conquered fear, doubt, sin and death?

It is easy to sing, to say we believe. We may well express our amen’s and alleluia’s yet when we leave the church and return to the rooms of our lives we may once again find our life locked in fear and doubt. Is there really any hope? How can we know true freedom from that which we fear, from the doubts that would cripple our souls and our lives. This Sunday of Divine Mercy, we find in God’s word the true and practical way to that freedom as we heed Christ’s Words and enter His Wounds we will enter into His Holy love by which all fear and doubts is conquered.

The voices of fear, the messages of doubts are loud and abundant. The cacophony of noise from this world composed by the dark prince of fear and despair is always available to fuel our fear and renew our doubts. Yet the Prince of Peace can enter the darkest of doubts, the rooms of fiercest fear and in His noble voice of holy love proclaim His Peace in our midst and in our hearts. We have the ability to seek to call upon Jesus to enter our hearts, our homes, our most difficult places and to guide us to His Peace. No dark voice of fear or doubt can overcome Him who proclaims His holy peace that conquered the powers and places of hell itself. From the cacophony of darkness we can enter hear the symphony of grace of which we all are called to join His holy angels in songs of hope, mercy and joy. As we seek, as we heed His Words of peace, mercy, healing and hope we will find Him guiding us closer to His Presence. We will experience Jesus the Truth that sets us free.

Out of the dark rooms of our fears and doubts the Risen Christ calls and leads us to..Himself. It is in His Presence we, along with the early disciples, can see His wounds, like Thomas himself we can touch and enter into the very wounds of Christ. While it is true we may not physically see Jesus as did the disciples in Scripture we can know His very real blessing He gave all who were not there, the blessing to see Him, and enter His wounds with eyes of faith. It is as His nail-scared hands touch our soul that we then can see Him, His wounds in others, in each other, in the needy, in the suffering of all creation as we await the return of our Savior and Lord. It is in our own brokenness we can enter His wounds as well. It is also in the simple places of prayer, during Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, in the prayer closets of our life that God can call and bring us to enter into His presence, His wounds and find the hope, the freedom to believe and follow Him in the power of the Risen Christ.

From the locked room of fear we discover His voice proclaiming His peace, we draw close to Him, we see, we touch, we enter into His wounds, we enter into His Love by which all fear and doubt is conquered.

Cyber-version of my homily for the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Mass Readings: Reading I: Acts 2:42-47; Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Reading II: I Pet. 1;3-9; Gospel: John 20:19-31

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