READING CHAIR – Portal: 3 Wolves and Butterflies

When we awoke in the morning, everyone was still reluctant to move from our camp site.  We preferred to talk about the previous day’s experience again.  No one seemed inclined to move on with our expedition, and no one brought up the fact that eventually we had to move on to reach our destination in time because of limited supplies.  We had a spot on our way to the observatory that we were supposed to be at with limited lee way in our schedule.  The only one who was slightly concerned was Michael.  We thought he was concerned ab4out meeting the butterflies and the wolves again.  The Professor was about to discuss his pet hypothesis of “Aliens” when we noticed the butterflies.

They came out of nowhere and just started to swarm all around us again like bees, but moving off here and there in a mass cloud of lavender.  “It is almost like they are trying to say something to us,” Michael noticed.  “I think they are trying to get us to move on,” I said.  “Keep your eyes out for the wolves,” the Professor reminded us.  “They are probably watching us now.”

He was right.  I could just see them in the tree line, just on the border, not quite wanting us to see them so clearly, but evidently watching us.  They seemed almost tame, concerned, but not agitated nor wanting to dash away.  Again the butterflies just seem to vanish into thin air, and then our guesses were confirmed by the wolves’ disappearance.  “Let’s go,” the Professor said.  “I think it is time we moved on. We don’t need any more hints.  We can always talk about this experience later.”

Soon we were quickly packed and heading down the path again, this time though, we were surrounded by the giant trees.  Over the centuries, they grew enormous on this side of the mountain, and the undergrowth was still thick in places.  At one point we rounded a switchback that took the path down a steep grade.  As we came around the bend, there was an opening in the trees because of a small canyon that opened up into a very long valley that stretched

Tower of the Valley

on into the distance.  But what really caught our attention was the tower that suddenly appeared, over fifty feet tall, strategically placed and it seemed to almost act as a sentinel to the valley.  We were quite exposed to its view and there was no other way down the path that would keep us out of view.  Whoever built the tower placed it in the possibly best place, almost as a warning to anyone coming down the path who might enter the valley.  The tower had mirror like windows placed at regular intervals spiraling up to the very top.  Anyone could see out, but no one could see in.  There was no way knowing if anyone was inside the tower.  The overall feeling that the tower’s presence presented to us was definitely ominous!  If the butterflies were trying to communicate a message of “Hurry Up,”  the tower definitely communicated a message of “Keep Away,” or “Trespass At Your Own Risk!”

We continued down the switchback so that it eventually led us back into a forest, but away from the valley with the tower.  Up ahead the path narrowed to a trail that led eventually out of the forest and into a meadow with a beautiful clear lake.  We all knew where our net camp would be, and so we stopped for the day and set up camp.  The day had warmed up a bit and the final hike down the path and along the trail was almost too warm for the clothes we were wearing.  This meadow gave us the chance to bathe and catch a much needed rest.  My companions and I were still excited about the encounter with the butterflies and the wolves that we were already discussing every detail.  And much of that happened while we set up camp, but Michael’s silence also caught our attention.

“Are you OK, Michael,” I asked.  “You seem a little quiet.”  “Oh, sorry!  I was just thinking about our last encounter and the weird experience with the tower,” he said.  “It almost seemed that it was watching us pass by.”  “Yea!  I felt that way too,” Sarah responded excitedly.  “And as soon as the tower was out of sight, I almost breathed a sigh of relief.”  “Those are the things that we need to be aware of, besides making observations of everything around us,” said the Professor.  “Especially as we head further into this land.  There is no telling what we will experience or encounter.  But I do feel that much of what is in this strange land may depend more on our feelings and intuition rather than our other senses!” he said.

“Professor,”I asked, “what was that structure?”  “I don’t know.  We will have to make a serious report when we get to our next rendezvous.  As I mentioned before, that may be one of the structures that has suddenly appeared in the area that we can just barely make out.  We will have to see if they want us to investigate that or not.  Anyway, it will have to wait until after we get to the observatory.  That is my main interest.”  “Talking about being more aware of our feelings,” Michael continued, “I had a distinct feeling of dread come over me when we neared the tower.  As the tower left our sight, the feeling left just a simply as it had come upon me when we first spotted it.”  “Personally, I believe that it may be a certain kind of warning device that would broadcast such a feeling as one nears a forbidden area,” the Professor said.  “Such devices were used by the ancients, but could also be used by the aliens.”  “Well, I am going to take a swim, while you three discuss as much as you want,” Sarah said.  “OK, we’ll join you,” I offered.  “It may be dangerous out here, though.”  “You may be dangerous,” Sarah teased.

The water was cold, but not as cold as I expected.  In fact, it felt invigorating after a long days hike.  We didn’t spend much time in the water, and I was ready to head back and start supper, when I distinctly heard Sarah mention that I had a nice butt!  “What?” I asked Sarah.  “I didn’t say anything,” she said and looked away.  But I caught her staring at my butt, and I knew she clearly said something like “What a nice butt!”  “She is thinking that you have a nice butt!” Michael said.  “But I don’t think she said it out loud.”  “What are you saying?” now I was confused.  “A while back when I was quiet,” Michael ventured, “I thought that I could hear everyone thinking.  I thought maybe I was going crazy.”  “He is right,” Sarah said.  “Michael does think you have a nice butt.”  “I can handle that,” I said.  “No, it is true,” she countered.  “Not about your butt, but that we can read minds.  I mean you do have a nice butt, but listen.  Can’t you read our minds?”  It was then that it hit me!  All these thoughts were coming into my mind; Sarah’s, Michael’s, and even the Professor’s.

“Now we can talk,” the Professor said.

READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “Tomorrow Takes Care Of Itself” Mt 6:24-34

Tomorrow Will Take Care Of Itself

Matthew 6:24-34

There are several directions that one could go with today’s Gospel reading.  For example, we could talk about the environment, which the Gospel sort of hints at from the perspective of Divine Providence.  “God takes care of nature, and God will take care of us.”  Or we could talk about trust in God, which is actually the main quote on our dollar bills; “In God We Trust!”  I’m surprised the atheists haven’t complained about that one yet.

At what point in our lives, though, do we begin to teach our children about Divine Providence, or trust in God, since they are still completely dependent on their parents until they leave home.  Of course, some of our senior citizens say that now it has been extended until they are married!  And then there are the grandchildren.  We teach our children to trust in God, but as parents, we are still providing for them; sort of a Parental Providence.  At what point in our own lives did we let go and depend on God?

Speaking for myself, coming from a family of ten other siblings, I couldn’t wait to leave home, but I learned very early that it wasn’t as easy as it sounded.  In fact, when I was five or six years old, I was fed up.  I told my Dad that I was running away.  I was surprised I told him, but more surprised how willing he was to let me go.  So I packed my suitcase and was heading out the door.  Then my Dad called to me as I was leaving, “Where are you going to stay?”  Quite smugly I said, “Uncle Richard’s house.” He was my Dad’s brother and close to our family.  Their family would come over on the weekends a lot, and while our parents played cards, we kids were free to practically burn down the neighborhood.

“He has a big family to take care of himself,” my Dad reminded me.  “Do you think he really wants another mouth to feed?  Besides, that’s our suitcase you are leaving with.  And the clothes you are wearing, I bought them for you, and you know you will hand them on to your brothers next year.  You need to leave what isn’t yours, here.  I provided for all those things.”

Since when did economics start entering into Divine and Parental Providence Providence?  I thought we were supposed to trust in God completely?  I really didn’t want to walk naked to my uncle’s house.  Not only would that be hard to explain, but I realized then and there I’m no Saint Francis.  I guess I would have to wait another ten or twelve years.  But next time I would be ready.  That was when I entered the navy and sort of depended on Military Providence.

So what about Divine Providence?  Does God really take care of nature, let alone the environment?  What about Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring”?  What about now…Global Warming?  It seems like we are getting into politics, but we are not.  We are really talking about our home, the planet earth.  God created the world, and God pronounced it GOOD!  But God can only do so much when creation is interfered with by others, like us.  Part of God’s plan, even Divine Providence, includes our cooperation.  And even nature can heal itself if left alone.  Look at the Mistake on the Lake, Cleveland, when the Cuyahoga River caught fire!  What was once an environmental disaster is now a success story; almost too good a success story.

As our faith matures, our trust in God continues to a point where we are asked to let go of everything.  We are asked to let go of Parental Providence, even Military Providence, any providence except for Divine!  One day we will have to let go of everything anyway, including our life!  In Ronald Rolheiser’s book, “Sacred Fire”, he gives an example of an elderly couple who were going to do just that, in a very radical way, let go of everything.  I will let them tell you.

“We have been praying over this for a long time and we feel called in a way like Abraham and Sarah.  We feel that God is calling us into the big, big unknown as he did them.  What we want to do is to sell our house and, after buying two one-way airline tickets, give the rest of money to the food bank.  The one-way tickets we would buy would be for Pakistan.  We feel that God is calling us to spend the rest of our lives as missionaries to Islam in Pakistan.  We picked Pakistan because there is so much tension today between Christians and Muslims, and there is a need for more understanding between us.  Our plan is to go there with no money and to live simply with the poor there, and to die there.  We presented this plan to our children, and they were beyond belief, stunned and horrified.  They think we are insane and demanded that, among other things, we talk to you, Father.  So what do you think of this idea?”  Actually, I met several American Lay Missionary couples living in Africa of the Protestant persuasion.

Let the story sink in.  Pray over it.  What would you do?  Have you thought about such an action for yourself and your spouse?  I would put this trust in Divine Providence at 10 on a scale from one to ten, with ‘one’ being the lowest and ‘ten’ the highest in Trust in God!  When I went to Africa, I was still nowhere near ten, but it was still a radical change in my life, even though I was nicely cushioned by Marianist or Church Providence.  The key here is that the above couple felt very strongly called, and the second thing is that they were sane enough to talk it over with someone else who was sane.  In case you were thinking of buying your tickets next week, even Saint Ignatius strongly recommends a period of waiting.  The more important the matter or decision the longer the wait!  I think his best advice was to Work as though everything depended on you, and Pray as though everything depended on God!

As we celebrate our Eucharist today, we are reminded that there are many ways here to serve without buying a ticket halfway around the world.  To trust in Divine Providence also means that if God wants us to relocate, God will certainly arrange the ticket/s.



READING CHAIR – Portal: 2 The Pass

By the time we arrived at the far shore, it was already late in the morning.  Surprisingly, it did not take us much longer to get under way, since the mountain path began at the lake shore.  The slow climb up the path was gradual and easy at this end, but soon it would become a little steeper and would eventually be work for us until we got to the top.  What a beautiful day for walking even if our pace eventually settled into more of a climb.  At least we were able to talk about the future of this expedition and ask more questions concerning the main priorities of the trip.  There wasn’t much more that the Professor could add, especially concerning the strange connections with the local fauna.  But he did continue to talk about his theory, soon to be fact, as he saw it, about the alien part in the Great Disaster.  But some of us wondered if the aliens were out to destroy us, or at least decrease our population.  Otherwise, why go to all the bother to preserve so much of the ancients’ technology?  It almost seemed, especially of the last hundred years or more, that we were being led in an ever increasing complex technology that would disclose more and more of the cosmos, rather than of ourselves and of the planet.  Many thought what else could there be to discover or even to invent.  Yet we were still clueless as to what really caused the Great Disaster.

“It almost seemed that the part of our history that would tell it all is still completely missing.  Where is it?” I wondered.

“Better yet, why was it hidden from us?” said Sarah.  “We have a right to know so that we do not make the same mistakes the next time.”

“And that is why I believe there is an alien connection,” the Professor said, “especially with the CETI Re-Initiative program.  Too many important facts are missing or hidden.  But I also believe that this expedition will bring us closer to the answers.”

“So you think that CETI may have been indirectly responsible for calling attention to our planet to outside aliens,” Michael asked?

 “…and this time, they answered,” Sarah added.

“Yes, I do,” he said.  “And I also believe that they may still be here, but hidden and waiting for the same reason that we were waiting; for the radiation levels to drop low enough and safe enough to start or continue with their projects.”

“This expedition is starting to sound a little more risky than what I was first led to believe,” said Sarah.

“That is why I am being honest and frank with all of you now,” the Professor stated.  “If you want to leave now, you may, and I will not be offended.  But if you stay, who knows what we will discover.”

“I think we all want to stay, Professor,” I said.  “Who would want to pass up such an exciting expedition?”

“Several have, I am sorry to say,” he said.  “Many would never believe my explanation anyway.  So I had to keep reasons for the expedition general.  That may explain why only a few responded, like yourselves, who know me, and also know that I will speak openly concerning the aliens once we are on our way.  Whether you believe me or not, I still have to present my view, my opinion.  If it is true, this could be quite a fantastic journey.”

“And filled with adventure and danger,” said Sarah.  “But also an unlimited chance to exercise my own specialty; alien communication, verbal and non-verbal.”

By late afternoon, we reached the summit of the pass, since this part of the mountain range was not very high in altitude.  The group discussed whether to camp here or continue.  I suggested that we continue to at least the tree line where it would be warmer at night and we would have a shelter near to or in the trees and out of the wind.  The rest were in favor of that since we were still in good shape from the last expedition.  Unfortunately, the view was blocked by late afternoon clouds, but we could still see well from where we came from, almost down to the lake.  Our view was also blocked occasionally by the trees.  After a short rest we started off again and made good time, since we were descending down the mountain and could easily reach the tree line there in the far distance with time to make camp.  The wind was a little chilly here, but our pace kept us comfortably warm.  When we reached our first camp site, we all seemed to know what to do from other expeditions, and started in right away preparing camp and supper.  By the time the food was ready we had a nice fire going and our camp set up.  We would have a little time for sharing tonight before turning in for the evening, since the next day we would need to reach the bottom of the mountain.  It all depended on what we could see of the Great Disaster area when we descended the mountain.

 As we all settled down for an evening cup of tea and coffee, Sarah called my attention to the butterflies all around us that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  Their coloration was light lavender and their wings about the size of a teaspoon.  When they fluttered together, their number seemed to make a large cloud of the same color.  The phenomenon was quite spectacular, like a lavender cloud floating around our heads.  It was then that I saw them, peeking out from the forest, watching us with those bright yellow-green eyes that seemed to glow in the dark.  The professor saw them also.

“Looks like we have visitors,” said the Professor.  “They seem a little shy, but hopefully friendly.”

“Their eyes are a peculiar color,” Sarah pointed out, “almost like they glow in the dark.”

“Maybe it’s something they ate,” responded the Professor.

“Or the effects of the radiation?” I asked.

We all realized that the butterflies had suddenly vanished into thin air, so distracted were we from our first encounter with the wolves.  As we turned our attention back to the wolves, they also had vanished.  Oh well, so much for our first encounter with the fauna.  We were all feeling wide awake now and a little giddy, like we had been drinking.

“Wow!  What an encounter.  I feel like staying up all night. We need to process that!” Sarah exclaimed.

“Not much happened,” Michael said.  “There were butterflies and then wolves.  I liked the butterflies though.”

“I wonder if there is any connection,” I added, “between the butterflies and the wolves?”

“Actually, that is a good observation, Nicholas,” the Professor said.  “I believe there is a connection.  What it is, I am not sure yet.”

“It is interesting that they both showed up at the same time,” Sarah mentioned.  “I almost felt the wolves wanted to communicate with us; like I could sense their minds.”

“Or read their minds?” Michael added.

“Well, I am sure there will be other encounters,” the Professor interjected, “because this is the first experience that the other expeditions reported.  I can say this now without prejudicing your observations, and even if I do, you need to be alert for future encounters.”

“This is great stuff, Professor,” Sarah said.  “I am looking forward to what we might find, no matter what you decide to tell us.  I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.”

“Well, I am not surprised.  The second experience the other groups reported was a strong euphoria upon the initial contact,” he said.  “I guess I don’t have to encourage all of you to be aware of these events, especially when they are happening, so we can make accurate reports and add these to our future studies.”

“So, Professor, this is sort of an academic field trip thrown in?” I said.

“Yes, one could say that.  Fortunately for us, these are not firsthand experiences, but follow-up.  That will make it easier for us to report, especially academically, so that there will not be any initial underlying doubt that may come from first hand reports.  I feel this is the most important study that we will come across in a long time, but that we need to address now.”

“Professor,” Michael called his attention, “Are you connecting this with your previous theory of the alien connection?”

“Yes!  That is where you will be coming in with your specialty,” he said, “Alien communication and non-verbal communication.”

“I am not like Sarah,” said Michael.  “I do not think I can wait for each and every experience to happen before you explain them.  Please, at least give us a clue.  Besides, I feel like we are  being used as guinea pigs.”

“Alright,” the Professor offered.  “I am sure by the next experience you will soon know or will at least be able to figure out for yourself the answers.  Again, I cannot yet give you any more clues until this particular experience happens.  But once it does, I promise you, I will fill you in completely with the rest of the information concerning our present expedition.”

 We were all very excited and wondered what that particular experience could be.  It was very difficult to get to sleep that night, and the Professor had to remind us that we do need our sleep for the next day.  So we reluctantly retired to our tents and to our own thoughts about the next day.  I was pleased to see that our relationships had continued to grow and that we were bonding quite well among each other.  Michael and I had always been close to each other, but I felt that our friendship was now reaching out to include others in ways that had never happened before.  Usually we felt that anyone else who entered our own personal life would either be competition, or “the” person, or the “special” person, or the “other half”, the “life-long” companion, mate, whatever.  And we would just work that out like everything else in our lives.  Never before had I thought beyond the fact that our relationship might be a special one.  Anyway, what brought on all these thoughts now was that we were all excited about the day’s experiences, and maybe that was amplifying our emotions and thoughts.

READING CHAIR – Portal I: 1 Expedition

I think we all were excited about the upcoming expedition.  It had been eons since that part of the globe had been opened to human resettlement.  The excitement was the thought of exploring new areas that have been left to nature for centuries because of the Great Disaster.  Imagine the evolutionary changes brought about by the radiation, good or bad, as we know from the experiences with the other groups.  We certainly had a lot to prepare for, and this was our third expedition, but the first major one. The other two were at smaller areas, since the radiation cleared in different places quicker than others, if one could call centuries quicker, and those were not so isolated as this one. We knew that evolutionary processes could take millennium, but radiation could also speed up the process.  There was also evidence from the fossil records that in some instances in time a dramatic blossoming of species could come about without any rhyme or reason.  Maybe conditions just happen to be right on earth and in that dimension called time.

I was also looking forward to seeing my old professor and was glad he was leading this expedition.  I felt much securer with him along, since he is a walking encyclopedia, and I was excited to meet the challenges.  Sarah was coming along also.  She was a great team member, and who knows, working on this new project with her could take us several years.  In fact, it seems with more and more of the areas opening up, we would soon have to decide which ones were more promising.  Already the Global Government Committee on Exploration (G.G.Ex.) was making a list and categorizing the more important areas that had a better chance of giving us information about our past and yielding more technology of the Ancients.

This particular area that we were entering had to be approached through the lake-side mountainside pass, but it was worth the trip, since it would open onto a very large area of the Great Disaster which seemed central to the whole mysterious conflict of the Ancients, according to the more poplar ongoing debates.  The good thing about these expeditions is that we would be on our own but fortunately not out of contact with the GG (Global Government).  They would have information from all the other expeditions to guide us if we come across anything new, promising, or dangerous.

Michael would be our fourth member, and he was coming this evening to spend the night.  Tomorrow we would start on our way.

 “Hello?  Is anyone home?” That was Michael’s voice.

“I’m in here, packing,” I answered.  “What took you so long?” I asked.

 “Like you, just busy with a lot of last minute details,” he said.

“I’m glad you came early.  I’m excited about our trip tomorrow.  Maybe we can put together an itinerary,” I offered.

“I thought the Professor will be leading this expedition?” he asked.

 “He is, but he also asked me to put some thoughts down on paper,” I mentioned.  “You can help me.  Two heads are better than one”.

 “First,” he queried, “what is for supper?”  “Not much, at least not fresh, since I have to clean out the cooler,” I teased.

“This is supposed to be our last good meal together before we get back, who knows when?” he said, rather disappointingly.

“OK.  Guess what?” I was hoping to surprise him.

“What?” he asked a little more excited.  “I have some fresh fish caught from the lake this morning.  How is that?” I offered.

“Now that is much better,” he answered.  “I was getting a little disappointed.”

“Well, we do need to defrost it,” I mentioned.

“I don’t exactly call that fresh,” he teased.

“The freshness is frozen in,” I said.  I was fortunate to be living near the lake and take advantage of the abundance of the many varieties of fish that still existed after all these years.

We sat by the lakeside and ate our meal.  I guess it was a good idea after all, since fresh fish was rare for most people, and I knew Michael loved any kind of fish.  We were thinking that it would have been good to invite Sarah and the Professor also, but I could not accommodate them for the night, since the cottage was a little small.  Anyway, we would be getting a very early start and it would be good if everyone had a good night sleep.  Michael and I were on several expeditions together before, as was I and Sarah, but it would be the first time for all of us to be together on this trip.  I knew Sarah from years back at the University, working together with the Professor.  So I looked forward to working with her again and the Professor.  That was probably why she was joining us and the reason that I was also invited.

 Michael was well known as an alien expert and was strongly suggested for this trip, which lead us to think that this trip would be different from the others.  Hopefully the Professor would fill us in.  Usually he was good about that, at least when he was my teacher.  But what exactly was an alien expert.  Michael tried to explain that it only means that he was very versatile with languages and extra non-verbal communications, what we would call body language.  I think there was more to it than that, but he wouldn’t say.  Sarah’s specialty was communication; our connection with the Directors of the Expeditions of the Global Government.  But her other expertise was astronomy, same as mine, with emphasis on extra-terrestrial flora and fauna, again what ever that meant.  The Professor’s area of expertise was mainly biology and astrology, but as I mentioned, he has a wide area of interest.  He would look at the possible mutation of species, flora and fauna, and if the Great Disaster area was truly safe to resettle, considering the long lasting effects of the radiation.  We would not really know until we actually inspected the area on foot and close up.  We were discussing what the connection between astrology and this trip was all about.  It was telling that the Professor, Sarah, Michael, and I, all have specialties in that same field!

My own expertise in astronomy was general, but with emphasis on particular stellar areas that are known to harbor life, or life producing molecules, according to the ancients records.  Since we were limited in living space on the planet, another planet with the whole surface available was always at the top of the quest.

The ancients had left so much data behind that it could take eons to get through it all.  This field was very exciting to me, and each new discovery of the ancients’ technology only deepened my interest.  Somehow I believe that there was a connection here and the Great Disaster since many records went missing.  This was strange, since the ancients kept meticulous records, especially in astronomy, concerning life on other planets and other star systems.  How did they get this information, just from looking through a telescope?  That seemed impossible to us now, since we were reticent when accepting the technology of their period.  They certainly seemed to believe that life was out there, especially when all the other information from the other expeditions from around the globe were put together!  It seemed that the whole planet in the past was part of a fad that analyzed all and any data from “Earth-like Planets”, as they were called, and theorizing on all the possible life forms that could exist.  And all this from their sophisticated telescopes quite powerful enough to view the planets and study them in detail.  Even though I found this all fascinating it was also frustrating.  Anything viewed through these scopes were in the past, light traveling from long ago.  In fact, the further away, the more in the past were the views coming to us.  And don’t even try to understand Michael’s expertise.  How does one become an expert on aliens without even meeting them?

Hopefully the Professor would let us know the main purpose of our expedition, since our backgrounds have raised many conflicting questions that we all would want answered.  Michael and I could have stayed up all night talking but until we had more information from the Professor it would be all conjecture.  But it was also fun to guess what it could all be about.  In the end, we would find out that the reality would be more surprising than all our guesses!

 The next morning, down the path, I saw the Professor and Sarah heading for my cottage.  “Greetings Sarah and Professor.  I see you found the place.”

“It wasn’t hard.  Sarah seemed to remember the place well,” the Professor teased.

“I have a good memory,” she teased back.

“I remember you mentioning your place, but did not realize how close you were to the lake, which is fortunate since that will be our starting point,” he said.  “Convenient.”

“Still beautiful as I remember it,” added Sarah.

“Well, I made all the arrangements.  We are ready when you are,” I added.

“OK. Let’s get started, ” he said, “the sooner the better.”

“First, let me introduce Michael,” I said.  “Sarah, this is Michael.  Michael, this is Sarah.”

“OK.  Now that is done, let’s go!” the professor said excitedly.  “We can chat on the way, I promise.”

As we traveled across the water, the morning sun was warm, but not hot.  It reflected off the water causing sparkles that did not quite hurt our eyes, but made focusing almost difficult.  Our captain, who met us at dock-side, seemed used to it and just steered ahead to the other side of the lake.  Fortunately the lake was not that big, but it would still take an hour or more to cross.

“Let me fill you all in concerning this expedition,” the Professor started.  “Since we have a little time on our hands, it will help you to know what we may be encountering on this trip.  The Directors are interested in this particular area, since it is believed to be the central point of the Great disaster.   That is why it is also the last of the areas to be opened up in the last ten years after centuries of radiation.  By now, everyone knows that.  What they do not know is that some very strange things have been encountered recently by the other expeditions across the globe.  They need to be verified.  So I will tell you about them shortly.  But first I need to let you know about at least three major concerns that the Directors have for sending us on this expedition.  Everyone else thinks that it is about the recent opening of this Great Disaster area.  To tell the truth, this area was ready to be explored decades ago.  Any questions so far before I go on?”

 “just one,” I said.

“Yes, Nicholas,” the Professor said.

“Michael and I were wondering what our background in astronomy had to do with this expedition,” I asked.

“We will come to that,” promised the Professor.  “Actually it may or may not be a help.  I feel that there is a connection, based on my own private research.  I have been able to convince the Directors that there may be more to the Great Disaster than meets the eye.  Let me give you my reasons.  Somehow I feel that the Great Disaster was not triggered by a global phenomenon, but purposely started in key areas to hide something bigger.  What that is, I do not know, but I do feel it may be from outside our planet!”

“What do you mean from outside,” Sarah asked.  “Do you mean aliens?”  She did not say it sarcastically like, since she heard this before from the Professor.  I think she was trying to nail him down again by what he meant by ‘aliens’.

“You well know that the ancient records mention this project called ‘CETI’,” the Professor said.  “Generally it was a program to listen for any kind of intelligent communications coming from outside the Solar System.  At first, there seemed a lot of excitement for such a project, but after almost fifty years with absolutely nothing, except for one little bleep on the receiver, the excitement died down, and so did the funding.  At least that is my conjecture.  The program took a new turn to get the public excited again by decided to broadcast messages to our alien friends.  The catch for a money raiser was that those who contributed, depending on the amount, could write their own message, within reason, to be broadcast.  It was a great success and with satellites in orbit around the earth powered by the sun, the project worked quite well, depending on who you asked.  No one bothered to ask those who were listening.”

Michael looked puzzled.  “I never knew that.  I did know that they had sent up a space-module containing messages that eventually went out beyond Pluto, but it was so slow that not much was expected of that project.”

“You probably did not hear the warnings by some of the astronomers that it may not have been a good idea to broadcast our presence to a more intelligent species.  And if they did show up, what if they were more powerful and nasty?” the Professor continued.  “I believe they did show up.  Whether they started the Great Disaster on purpose or not, we may never know, unless they tell us.”

“So this expedition is to find these aliens?” asked Sarah.

“Since the radiation cleared, ” the Professor said, “we were able to get clearer pictures of the area.  It seems like that particular area we hope to see as we come down from the mountain pass is what concerns us.  We need to verify that information.  There seems to be a cloaking device that flickers off and on, revealing some structures that were never there before.  Maybe the radiation was interfering with our own devices and theirs, hard to tell, and that’s why we couldn’t see it before.  Besides, we never thought that anything would survive, since the whole area was void of any structures.  We are hoping that it would be hard to hide from the ground.  But there is no guarantee if that will be the case.”

 “Professor, this is fantastic,” said Michael excited.

“But it may be dangerous,” Sarah said soberly.

“We are only going to verify any structures or any signs of life, present or past,” the Professor reassured.  “No contact!”

“So what is the second concern?” Michael asked.

“There has been spotted an observatory, possibly by the ancients, and not cloaked.  After looking at past records, there was no observatory, which is surprising, since this one is rather large!”

“An observatory, for stargazing?” Michael asked.

“Possibly, or for a Portal,” the Professor answered a little excitedly.

 “For transporting?” Sarah asked a little worried.

“Again, yes,” he said.  “I will not hide anything from you, since this expedition will have its dangers.  And I see that we are approaching the shore, so the last item is very important.  There seems to be some strange happenings reported by the other expeditions between them and the native animal and insect species.”

“OK.  Now I am excited.  This is great news,” Sarah said.  She was very attentive this time.

“I thought you would be, but I don’t promise anything, Sarah,” the Professor said.  “However, the encounters have been positive and many.  So we are to verify these connections.  However, we are not restricted as to how they may develop.  It seems they are even encouraging us to promote them, if it aids understanding.”

“Like what,” Sarah earnestly wanted to know.  “I can not say or that would bias your understanding and further research,” he said.  “The Directors specifically had you in mind, Sarah.  So, each of us has our specialties and most of us will need them eventually, even Michael, at some point.  Nicholas, your expertise will come in when we examine the observatory, but I am sure that all of us will still need to contribute to the expedition somewhere along the way.  Hopefully, we will not have much trouble.  I feel the most dangerous point will be at the beginning, as we come down from the mountain pass.  Please be alert and help each other.  That is also why I chose all of you, because you know each other or at least have heard of each other.  Your personalities will also go along way to cementing our group and give us that concern for each other that will keep us safe.  This is a golden opportunity.  Let’s take full advantage of it and grow in our gifts for the future.”

MUSIC ROOM – February 2017


…to my Music Room.  Featured here are my latest music compositions from the time period mentioned above.

I enjoy writing songs with lyrics taken from the psalms, popular poems, and my own  compositions. The many themes included, among others, are inspirational and easy listening melodies.

I also enjoy writing for various musical instruments and their different combinations, like string ensembles, with a variety of themes from inspirational to classical.  Of course, piano is my favorite instrument, so that will be featured in many of the pieces.

Enjoy my latest selection of instrumental music!

piano(Remember, these songs are copyrighted (c) 2016 Michael F. Nartker, SM.)

The first selection is called Requiem for Autumn.  The piece was originally composed for cello and piano, but the sound is much better using the bassoon!  The piece is more reflective on hope than on death, despite the title, hope in the after life.  This was composed when I was in Manziana, Italy, where I had lots of time on my hands.

The piece starts out with the piano setting the tempo throughout the composition.  After four measures, the bassoon comes in with its unassuming melody and builds to a crescendo and then goes silent.  The piano then continues its tempo, until the bassoon joins in again and the melody changes to one of hope and beckoning.  The piece ends on this melody of hope!


The second selection is called “Reflection“, composed for cello and piano.

If you listen carefully to the piece, the first melody introduces the composition, which then leads into the Main Melody which is repeated.  In the third part the then piano plays the first melody counterpoint to the cello playing the Main Melody.  In the fourth part the piano then plays the Main Melody to the cello’s arpeggio.  The piece then ends with the cello repeating the second part, which is the Main Melody and piano accompanying.


The third piece is called “Brass Carillon“, written for flugelhorn, two trombones, and a tuba.  The flugelhorn sounds very much like a  french horn.

The piece begins with a quick tempo led by the flugelhorn and repeated by the trombone and then blends into harmony with the tuba.  In the second part the piece slows to a more regal tempo but then quickly picks up tempo for the third part.  The third part is more contemporary rhythm with a lively tempo that deserves to be repeated, and then ends with a repeat of the regal section of the second part.


The last selection is called “Clod Hopp’n“.  Yes, I spelled it right!  This piece is written for oboe, tuba and piano (as you can tell I like the tuba!).  This piece moves right along, and before you know it, this foot tapping song has ended.  You may have to repeat it again (and again?).


Thank You For Listening!

I hope you enjoyed my music.  Please visit again!

Visit my new blog where I post some of my pieces with the sheet music:



READING CHAIR – Gospel Com: “Let Your Yes Mean Yes”, Mt 5:17-37

“Let Your Yes Mean Yes, and Your No Mean No!”

Matthew 5:17-37

6th Sunday Ordinary Time

As mentioned before, in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is the New Moses.  Several Sundays ago, he had Jesus go up the mountain and deliver his nine some “Beatitudes“.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks more specifically on the Commandments, namely the 5th, the 6th and the 2nd.

Do not kill, and do not even get angry against your brother (or sister, or Mother-in-Law).

Do not commit adultery, and do not even think or say nasty thoughts (especially when someone may be recording!)

Do not use the Lord’s name in vane, especially for oaths that you are not going to keep.

The Ten Commandments are divided, unevenly, where three are for the Lord and seven are for our neighbors.  Of the three for our Lord, Do not serve other gods (spelt with a small “g”), Do not take the name of the Lord in vain, and Keep holy the Lord’s Day, I believe the second one is most important.  If one is keeping the name of the Lord holy, then that person will not have other gods and certainly keep the Lord’s Day holy.  If we do this well for God, whom we do not see, then how much more important it is to keep holy the name of our neighbor!  Who would break all the other seven commandments if we hold the name of others as sacred?  Would we kill them?  Hardly not!  Would we steal or covet or bear false witness?  No!  But how do we hold the name of others as sacred or holy, except by blessing them, speaking well of them, and praying for them.

That is what Jesus did, even from the cross!  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing!”  And that is why we keep the corpus on the cross!

READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “She Anoints His Feet” Jn 11-13

She Anoints His Feet


 Sometimes it is good to step back and take a look at the Bigger Picture when studying or praying scripture.  One would be surprised what may emerge as a particular passage or pericope is viewed not only within the context of other surrounding passages, but also how a particular pericope may be key to understanding Scriptures in the context of other pericopes or chapters of a Gospel that may follow or even precede.  When we allow the passage to speak to us, through the Bigger Picture, one will notice several interesting patterns emerge that leads us to other passages, and even make interesting connections for deeper understanding.

The common tendency is to study a pericope, and glean as much meaning or information from that passage and then apply it to a similar setting, as when one is developing a Sunday Homily or a Retreat Theme, or to a Study Topic, or even using it within the context of prayer such as in Lectio Divina.  One sometimes forgets that the pericope was taken out of context of the Bigger Picture and may not fit the intended setting, or theme, or situation.  Even though this may be necessary at times, especially when no other passage seems to fit just quite right, it still tends to be an artificial use of Scriptures.  We are using the passage to fit our meaning in a certain setting, rather than allow the Word of God to speak to us and inform us or form.

Even though Lectio Divina approaches Scriptures with a sense of openness to the Word of God in allowing it to speak to us, we still use this approach in a narrow way, since the very passages used in this way of praying the Scriptures can be limited to several verses.  Looking at the Bigger Picture may be a way of deepening our praying experience of Scriptures and certainly our understanding of them.  Most importantly, we will gradually become aware that the Gospel writers wrote comprehensive and coherent works intending to bring the reader to a deeper love and appreciation for the person of Jesus, rather than the more common understanding that the gospels are a string of passages strung like rosary beads with little rhyme or reason.

In this article, we would like to step back from our passage of interest and see how that passage fits into the Bigger Picture of the Gospel story.  We will allow that passage to speak to us in a much larger context, thereby giving the Holy Spirit room to work.  When we allow the Spirit to lead us where it will, one may be surprised at the results and even the journey getting there.  The learning experience will be much deeper and richer, and hopefully more insightful.


 We have chosen the passage in John’s Gospel, Chapter 12:1-8, as our passage or pericope of interest and starting point, Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus.  This passage has always been a pericope of fascination, because of the strange action of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume and then drying his feet with her hair.  In focusing on this passage from John’s Gospel, we need to be aware that this story has been used by the other evangelists in other settings and contexts.  First, it has been used in Luke where he presents this passage early in his Gospel and before the Passion Narrative.  Second, it is used in other settings, as again in Luke’s Gospel in the house of Simon the Pharisee, or in Mark and Matthew in the house of Simon the Leper.  And third, the pericope is used even where the woman is not named as in Mark and Matthew, or was understood to be a sinner as in Luke’s Gospel.

In John’s Gospel Mary’s action was one of intimacy, affection, and love, done within the context of her home in a personal setting, the family meal, which was given as an appreciation for the return of their brother Lazarus from the dead.  We will look at this story in the light of John’s Gospel and try to forget the other three interpretations.

We will look closely at each passage and related passages beginning with our passage of interest, Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus, John 12:1-8.  As we take one step back from this passage we see that it is sandwiched between two other passages – Plot to Kill Jesus, John 11:45-57, and Plot to Kill Lazarus, John 12:9-11.  This may be more than coincidence, because important passages are often sandwiched for emphasis by the evangelist.  Such techniques help us to point out a key passage in understanding other passages that follow.

When we will take a second step back from these passages, we find the passage Resurrection of Lazarus, John 11:1-44, before our passage, and the passage Jesus Washes the Feet of his Disciples, John 13:1-17, after our passage.      The passage where Lazarus is Resurrected from the Dead, gives the reason and setting for the scene in our passage of interest, where Mary Anoints Jesus’ Feet.

The passage of Jesus Washing the Feet of His Disciples is interesting because of the possibility of a connection with Mary’s action.  She anoints Jesus’ feet with oil, where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet with water.  Mary’s action is an intimate sign of her love for Jesus and thanksgiving for the raising of her brother from the dead.  Jesus’ action is an intimate sign of his love for his disciples and is meant as an action to be repeated by his Disciples to show their love for each other through service.


 Mary Anoints Jesus’ Feet in Bethany, John 12:1-8

Here is the summary of the passage.  In the Johannine tradition the anointing takes place six days before the Passover in Bethany in the house of Lazarus, the brother whom Jesus raised from the dead.  Jesus was present at a meal served by Martha, sitting at table with Lazarus.  Then Mary took an expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet and then wiped his feet with her hair.  The sweet smell filled the whole house.  Judas complained that the perfume worth 300 hundred silver coins could have been given to the poor.  Jesus in turn admonished Judas to leave her alone, since her act was interpreted by him as a preparation for his burial.  Judas and Mary are contrasted with each other; Mary (true disciple) as the friend of Jesus with Judas (false disciple) the betrayer.

The scene took place six days before Passover, Jesus’ last Passover with his disciples.  There were rumors that Jesus would be arrested by the High Priest or the Jewish Authorities of Jerusalem.  “The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, he must report it, so that they could arrest him” John 11:57.  Bethany was outside the city limits of Jerusalem, about an hour walking distance.  Lazarus’ family may well knew this information and that this could be their last meal together, their Last Thanksgiving Supper in honor of Jesus who raised their brother from the dead.  What an interesting contrast: Jesus gives life to Lazarus and the Jewish Authorities wish death on both.  The family supper was a thanksgiving meal for what Jesus had done for the family.  This was her way of showing her appreciation and love for him.

Sitting at the table was Jesus and Lazarus and we can imagine what an interesting conversation they may have had together.  Lazarus may have told Jesus what it was like on the other side of death.  Many people who have been resuscitated lose their fear of death and even look forward to death.  Within this context of a family meal served by Martha with Lazarus and Jesus conversing together, we then have the action of Mary’s anointing.  Barclay comments that Mary’s action shows three things: Love’s Extravagance with the expensive perfume, Love’s Humility in anointing Jesus’ feet, and Love’s Un-selfconsciousness when Mary wiped Jesus feet with her hair.  “The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment”.  Barclay ends with this observation, that the memory of Mary filled the Church with the sweet memory of her action.

At least three observations stand out from this reading: the celebration of Lazarus’ Resurrection within the context of a Last Supper of Thanksgiving; Mary’s action of Anointing Jesus’ Feet and Drying Them with Her Hair; and the contrast between Mary and Judas in the Johannine tradition.  Before we comment on each observation, let us first step back from this passage and look at the surrounding passages that sandwich it or enclose it and try to see the Bigger Picture.  As mentioned above, the two sandwiching passages are the Plot to Kill Jesus and the Plot to Kill Lazarus too.  These two passages seem to highlight our passage of interest, Mary’s Anointing of Jesus’ Feet, not necessarily isolating the passage, but emphasizing this meal as special despite the dangers that surround the celebration from the world outside.  It is a celebration of life over death and that despite even the death threatening from the world outside “life” will triumph in the end.

The passage also celebrates the love of Mary for Jesus through her anointing of his feet, an intimate action followed by an even more intimate act of drying his feet with her hair.  Within the setting of a family meal Mary uses this last time to be with Jesus to show him her love and appreciation.  This passage is a celebration of Life and Love, as the two go together, surrounded by the two passages of jealous Hatred and plotting their Deaths.

For the first observation, the celebration of Lazarus’ Resurrection within the context of a Last Supper of Thanksgiving, we will step back from even these three passages (Plot to Kill Jesus, Mary’s Anointing of Jesus’ Feet, Plot to Kill Lazarus) and briefly glance back to Chapter 11 with the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead.  As mentioned above, this passage gives the reason for the setting where Martha prepares a Meal for Jesus in thanksgiving.  This passage is full of faith and life as Jesus reminds Martha that, I am the resurrection and life! John 11:25, and Martha’s response from faith in him, You are the Messiah, the Son of God! John 11:27.  With such a powerful miracle, the last sign or miracle in John’s Gospel, the family of Lazarus trusts in Jesus completely as the resurrection and life, even surrounded by threats of death.  The meal is Martha’s way of thanking Jesus and showing her love for him.

The second observation, Mary Anoints Jesus’ Feet and Drying Them with Her Hair, shows her love for Jesus in her actions.  Also in the passage of Raising Lazarus from the Dead, shows Jesus love for Mary by his own weeping.  When Mary arrived to where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet, John 11:32.  (She seems to be always at the feet of Jesus.)  ’Lord,’ she said, ‘if you had been here, by brother would not have died!’  Unlike Martha, Jesus does not begin a dialogue with her, but observes how everyone is weeping, and his heart is touched and he is deeply moved.  He weeps.

The third observation is the contrast in the Johannine tradition of Mary with Judas.  This point is underlined more clearly with Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the passage that follows.  He complains, Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?  Yet he himself will betray Jesus for a tenth of the amount, 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).

There are several ironies here.  A woman of faith, Martha, recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God; even before Jesus raises her brother from the dead.  The Religious Leaders obviously do not recognize Jesus as the “Son of God”, the “the Resurrection and Life”, and plan to kill him.  It is better that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish! John 11:50.  One would think that killing would have no effect on a person who can raise someone from the dead and talks of his own resurrection.  Mary, recognizes the inevitable outcome of Jesus, whose whole life was one of love and giving life to others through his miracles and the resurrection of Lazarus.  The irony continues with the Religious Leaders planning to kill Lazarus too.  These are leaders that should be models of the Law, but have taken the law into their own hands through their own lack of Faith and Love.  The Johannine tradition makes these two women models of faith and love and contrasts them with the Religious Leaders and with Peter who denies Jesus and Judas who will betray him.


 Jesus Washes the Feet of His Disciples, John 13:1-17

Here is the summary of the above passage.  The scene takes place the day before the Passover, (three days after Mary anoints his feet).  Jesus and his disciples were at supper.  Judas was present, the one who would betray him.  Jesus was preparing to wash his disciples’ feet and drying them with a towel that was tied around his waist.  When Jesus came to Peter to wash his feet, Peter at first refused to have them washed.  Eventually Peter understood what Jesus was doing and eagerly invited Jesus to wash his whole body.  Of course, Jesus refused, since the act concerned the feet only.  Jesus used this opportunity to state that one of them was not clean.  When he finished, Jesus returned to his place at table.  He then made clear the meaning of his action, that the disciples were to wash each others, feet as a sign of love and equality, “No slave is greater than his master”, John 13:16.  Jesus again pointed out that one of them would betray him.

Clearly, Judas was at this supper and his feet were washed by Jesus.  One wonders what may have went on in both their minds.  Judas was preparing to betray Jesus, maybe to force Jesus’ hand, as some scripture scholars offer.  Jesus was trying to touch Judas this one last time with washing his feet.  This last act of Jesus was an act of love, probably lost on most of the disciples, and maybe was too much for Judas.  John the Beloved understood.

To wash the feet of the guests at a feast was the office of a slave, Barclay reminds us.  The disciples of a Rabbi were supposed to render their master personal service, but a service as foot washing would never have been dreamed of.  Peter’s refusal could come from several misunderstandings, such as the above.  Peter was not a rabbi for whom Jesus’ action might be a sign of respect, NJBC 173, could be another misunderstanding.  Or probably more closer to the truth, such an action by Jesus would certainly be expected to be repeated by the disciples, something Peter would dread.

Three observations stand out in this passage.  The first is the connections to Judas, the second is the Washing of the Disciples Feet, and the third is the Refusal of Peter to Be Washed.  Judas is mentioned in the beginning of the passage as the one who would betray Jesus.  Then twice Jesus indirectly points to Judas, but not by name.  All of you, except one, are clean, John 13:10-11, and The man who shared my food turned against me, John 13:18.  It is not surprising that this passage will lead to the one where Jesus Predicts Judas’ Betrayal.

As we saw in the previous passage, Judas is portrayed as the false disciple, the disciple who did not love Jesus, where as Mary is portrayed as the true disciple.  It is not an enemy who taunts me–then I could bear it–it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me–then I could hide from him.  But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.  We used to hold sweet converse together; within God’s house we walked in fellowship, Psalm 55:12-14.  As Barclay mentions, …in the east to eat bread with anyone was a sign of friendship and an act of loyalty.  Judas was the disciple who did not love Jesus, but used him for his own advancement.  He was the only disciple who came from Jerusalem.  As John describes him, He was a thief, and used to help himself to the community purse.  He knew his way around Jerusalem since he came from there and would have many connections.

Our second observation, where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, may have been modeled by Mary’s act of love for Jesus.  As mentioned earlier, hers was an act of love and an appreciation for Jesus having raised her brother from the dead.  It was done within the context of her home in a personal setting, the family meal.  Jesus’ act was one of love and equality, I do not call you servants any longer…Instead, I call you friends, John 15:15.  It is an act done within the context of a supper, an important supper because it was their last.   Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with oil; Jesus washes his disciples’ feet with water.  Water pots were kept at the door of a house; and a servant was there with a pitcher and a towel to wash the soiled feel of the guests as they came in.  Jesus’ little company of friends had no servants.  The duties which servants would carry out in wealthier circles they must have shared among each other.  It may well be that on the night of this last meal together they had got themselves into such a state of competitive pride that not one of them would accept the duty of seeing that the water and the towels were there to wash the feet of the company as they came in; and Jesus mended their omission in the most vivid and dramatic way.  He himself did what none of them was prepared to do.”  This is Barclay’s interpretation, and sounds quite convincing.  I agree, but I also believe that Jesus was showing his love for them in a menial task by someone who loves another would take care of them when they are sick.  Barclay also mentions this in his commentary.  Soon the disciples would be quite sick with grief and hopefully they would remember how much Jesus loved them that he even washed their feet at their last supper together.  True love pushes us to do extraordinary acts for the ones we love.  But Jesus also intended that his disciples use this act of washing on each other as not only a sign of respect and love, but also one of equality.  You, then, should wash one another’s feet, John 13:15.

The third observation is Peter’s refusal to be washed by Jesus.  Again we turn to Barclay’s interpretation of the event.  Beyond doubt there is a reference to Christian baptism here (as we look for another meaning in John’s Gospel).  ‘Unless you are washed you can have no part in me’ is a way of saying: ‘Unless you pass through the gate of baptism, you have no part in the Church’…It was the custom that before people went to a feast they bathed themselves.  When they came to the house of their host, they did not need to be bathed again, all they needed was to have their feet washed.  The washing of the feet was the ceremony which preceded entry into the house where they were to be guests.  It was what we might call the washing of entry into the house…What you need is the washing which marks entry into the household of the faith.  The last sentence, ‘marks entry into the household of the faith’ points to what Peter lacks, faith.  In the First Part of this article, we mentioned that Martha was the model of ‘faith’, as was shown here by her statement of belief that she believed Jesus was, the ‘Son of God’.  She was the role model of faith for the true disciple.  Her statement is found on the lips of Peter in the other synoptic gospels.  Considering the above observation, Peter at first refuses to enter the household of faith, maybe more out of bravado, pride, or just plain ignorance.  Compared to Martha, Peter would be the disciple of little faith, and that would prove true with his denial of Jesus.  We would also have to mention Judas again, since his feet were washed, but as Jesus mentioned, All of you are clean, all except one, John 13:10.


 We are now ready for a final look at the Bigger Picture.  The structure in this section of John’s Gospel points to several parallels: Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet and Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet.  Mary’s anointing was in the context of an intimate family meal and Jesus’ washing was in the context of a intimate meal with his disciples.  Mary’s action is followed by the death threats of the chief priests against Jesus and Lazarus.  Jesus’ action is followed by the prediction of Judas’ betrayal and of Peter’s denial.  Also, Mary’s action was in response to Jesus’ raising her brother from the dead.  Jesus’ action was in preparation of his disciples for his own death by the prediction of two of his disciples.

We do not want to carry the comparisons to far, but it is an interesting connection that Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet was followed by Jesus washing of his disciples feet, and action that he copied out of love for his disciples?  Such a possibility makes this action of Mary richer and deeper in meaning; an act of love and appreciation for her Lord.  Jesus’ action also reminds us of our obligation to repeat this or similar actions for others out of love for our brothers and sisters in our daily lives.  There are many saints who have done just such actions: Saint Francis of Assisi, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and more, not to mention their followers.  We need to go beyond just admiring such saints and start imitating them.

Personal Stories, Music and Art