The BreadCast
Daily Exposition of the Readings of Catholic Mass, from the book 'Our Daily Bread' by James H. Kurt (now with Chanted Verses, and added text of Prayer for the Day). Additional cast - SaintsCast, entries from the book 'Prayers to the Saints' (also by James Kurt). Both books bear imprimatur.

(Is.65:17-21;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Jn.4:43-54)

 

“You changed my mourning into dancing.”

 

Here in the midst of Lent we find the purpose of all our suffering, the hope to which we all are called.  “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”  And thus does this time of penance and fasting lead to the abundance found in Easter joy.  For what is darkness but the world in which we dwell, and what is the dawn but the coming of Jesus to our hearts, the kingdom of heaven within us?  And even in the midst of this darkness, the light begins to shine.  “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” the Lord says.  And today we hear that reassuring voice speaking to our waiting souls.

In our gospel today we find a marvelous sign of the light that follows the darkness, of the joy that follows sorrow.  A Gentile royal official, a man in darkness for his being apart from the chosen race – and whose darkness is compounded by his position of authority there – comes to the King of the Jews, the Light of God.  In sorrow he mourns the imminent death of his son, and so the darkness is quite complete.  But the man’s son shall not die, and neither shall the Gentile race.  For it is great faith he shows.  Enlightened by the One he seeks, he believes, and so his son is saved by the Son of the Most High, and so he enters the fold of Heaven.  What greater joy could he have hoped to find, for not only is his son “brought… up from the netherworld,” but indeed he (and the race he represents) is “preserved… from among those going down into the pit.”  No greater words of joy could we read than these: “He and his whole household thereupon became believers.”

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has made us to be a people of “rejoicing and happiness.”  He tells us so today through the prophet Isaiah: “I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people a delight.”  This is our destiny; this is our call.  If we must suffer for a time in this land of darkness, in this time of penance, let us be assured of the fullness of joy that comes Easter morning: “No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying.”  Yes, how particularly marvelous it is to hear of this light before us even as we stand in the midst of the darkness; what even greater joy do we feel! 

The Lord conquers all.  He wishes only life for our soul.  And that life is upon us even this day.  At the wedding feast we shall dance: “sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name.”

                                                                                               

*******

O LORD, no sign should we need of your love for us;

only give us new life in you.

YHWH, what sign need we that you love us and desire to save us from the darkness and death that envelop this fallen world?  For your Son has come and walked among us, and so your mercy is now near.  Create your new heavens and your new earth, we pray; remake us in His image.

O LORD, we wish to weep and cry no more; no more would we see our children die or our own lives cut short – let us never be separated from you, never come to the nether world, but let your dawn be upon us and our mourning be driven away.

Let the fever depart from us, Lord GOD, that we might not burn in unholy fire but be redeemed from all our iniquity and enter your presence with rejoicing and happiness, living as you created us, to be a delight in your sight.

Rejoice in Jerusalem, dear LORD, and let all the nations round about find the salvation that is upon your House; let all come to believe in you and praise your Name forever.

Direct download: BC-040411-M_4_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.16:1b,6-7,10-13a;   Ps.23:1-6;   Eph.5:8-14;   Jn.9:1-41)

 

“I am the light of the world.”

 

And by that light alone we see.  By this light which comes from God we who were born blind, who were born into sin, have our eyes opened.  And so having escaped the darkness we “live as children of light.”

When David was presented before Samuel, immediately the prophet’s eyes were opened to the one on whom God’s favor rested.  His eyes which had first “judge[d] from… appearance,” now with the Lord look “into the heart.”  How clearly he hears the Lord speak to him, “There – anoint him, for this is the one!”  And how readily he takes “the horn of oil in hand” and anoints the new king.  And how wonderfully “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”

Here is our own baptism in the Lord foretold.  Here is our own anointing with the oil of Christ presaged.  And as “Jesus made clay and anointed [the] eyes” of the blind man, so in our baptism we find our own anointing, an anointing which washes us clean of original sin, an anointing which prepares our hearts to receive Him – an anointing which opens our eyes to His light.  The eyes of our heart now see.  Our souls cry out from their depths of the light which has entered in and made them clean.  And so we say with the blind man in the presence of Jesus, “I do believe, Lord,” and we, too, worship Him as our “cup overflows” with “the goodness and kindness” of God.

“Christ will give you light.”  For this He has come into the world, “that those who do not see might see.”  In the words of Scripture, Paul entreats us today: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.”  The Lord has come to give us light.  As long as we say, “‘We see,’ so [our] sin remains”; we must be blind, we must recognize sin’s darkness encroaching upon our souls… and then we would “have no sin,” for then Jesus would remove from us our sin – then He would bring us light.

“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible,” and so we must bring our sins before Him, and from the dead we shall rise… and with His light we shall shine.  May the Lord anoint us all with the oil of Christ, and may we be faithful to that anointing.

 

(Note: In Confession as in Baptism we are washed clean of our sins by Christ, and light is thus brought to our eyes.  Constant recourse we have to this preservation of our souls.)

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (second part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, the innocent Lamb is Himself our Shepherd;

may we find salvation at His side. 

YHWH, let us enter into your presence through your only Son, who is the true Shepherd guiding us to you.  May we follow in His steps.  Even though it lead to the Cross, may we remain near Him, ready to give our lives as He has, as the innocent Lamb for our salvation.  Though we are cut to the heart by the truth He speaks in His Word and through His apostles, let us turn to Him in repentance and find His comfort and peace – let us thus find ourselves in your holy arms.

O LORD, let our ears be open to hear His voice and His voice alone.  Let us not be led astray by false shepherds, false prophets who seek only their own gain and not the welfare of your sheep.  It is to sacrifice you call us, not to selfishness, and by laying down our lives, by entering the wounds in His flesh, we shall find eternal rest in your House.  Let us be washed clean in His blood and so be saved from corruption.

Direct download: BC-040311-Su_4_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

O chosen one of the Lord,

how well you answered His call,

giving yourself entirely

to the angel’s word

and so conceiving in your womb

the salvation of the world –

pray, O Spouse of the Holy Spirit,

that His voice might inspire in us

your same commitment to the Word of God

and its working in our lives;

pray the Son be conceived in us as well

that we too might serve

to bring His salvation forth

into the light of this day.

How shall we give ourselves

completely to the Lord

without your prayers, dear Mother,

without your blessed intercession…?

O pray we shall follow in your wake

and add our ‘yes’ to your own,

that the Lord may indeed work in us,

that He might make His home in us

and we come to our home in Heaven.

Direct download: March_25_-_The_Annunciation.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

(Is.7:10-14,8:10;   Ps.40:7-11;   Heb.10:4-10;   Lk.1:26-38)

 

“Behold, I come to do your will.”

 

Today we celebrate the fact that the Word became flesh, that God became man through Mary and dwells among us to take away our sins.  In this is fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’”  She is the Virgin; He is the Son – we are they with whom He dwells.  Praise God for His grace!

Obediently Jesus takes on the body prepared for Him by the Father for all ages; humbly He bows under the Hand of God. To come among us is His delight.  For He shall fulfill the prescriptions of the old law – as is written, so shall it come to be.  And in His blood poured out for our sakes, in the love He shares with us men, indeed shall be fulfilled the will of God.  No longer need we wait or search in vain, for all that is written is accomplished in Him.

And Mary is, of course, the perfect reflection of the Lord’s obedience; it is she in whom He is formed.  As He says, “Behold, I come,” she says, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.”  As the Lord says, “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me.  To do your will, O God, is my delight,” His Lady says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  And so by the obedience won from her by the angel, this Blessed Virgin “will conceive in [her] womb and bear a son, and [she] shall name Him Jesus”; and “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”  She in her innocence and by the fullness of grace at work in her believes the reply to her question, “How can this be?”  She is assured by the miracle spoken of Elizabeth – for which this holy woman must certainly have prayed – and so the words of the angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” are realized; and she who believes becomes the instrument of our salvation.

Brothers and sisters, “we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all.”  His coming among us is more than the greatest miracle; it means life for our very souls.  For by His incarnation and by the sacrifice of His flesh for our sakes is effected the cleansing of our sins and the drawing up of our lives unto heaven where He eternally dwells.  As He has dwelt with us, so may we now dwell with Him who has come for this purpose.  Let no fear grip your heart.  Consecrate yourself to Him and to His holy sacrifice.  And give yourself to His Mother, that she may form you in His image, and you may know the blessed obedience which both hold, and which is itself the means of our salvation.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, make us all as your handmaid,

ready to do your will. 

YHWH, make us as selfless as Mary, as selfless as your Son, offering our bodies to your service, caring only for the salvation of others’ souls.  Freely let us give ourselves to your will, that your Son may work through us.

A Virgin conceives and bears a Son, LORD, and so your Word is fulfilled; your Word now walks among us.  This Virgin you prepared from all eternity to accomplish your will of saving souls.  Your own heart you placed within her, one of selfless sacrifice, and now as the angel comes to her, she is ready to accept your Word.

Upon hearing of her cousin Elizabeth, she is convinced that the angel is from your side, LORD; hearing answer to her sincerest of prayers, she knows you are in this Word.  Did she not perhaps offer her virginity for her cousin’s fertility?  Certainly her purity is blessed with the greatest fruitfulness, even as she who was thought barren prepares to give birth to a son.

Make us so fruitful, dear God.  Let us too lay down our lives, as has your Son, as has His Mother, that we might be of your generation, we pray.

Direct download: Annunciation_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Hos.14:2-10;   Ps.81:6-11,14,17;   Mk.12:28-34)

 

“Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!”

 

“There is no other than He,” and so what should we do but “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all [our] mind, and with all [our] strength”?  What promise the Lord makes to us if only we would return to Him and love Him: “If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, I would feed them with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”  Indeed, then we would be “not far from the reign of God,” even here on earth.

Brothers and sisters, we “have collapsed through [our] guilt.”  We have had “strange god[s]” among us and said, “‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands.”  Why should we continue so blind?  Why should we continue stumbling as sinners – why do we find the straight paths of the Lord so difficult to walk?  He will “forgive all iniquity” and strengthen us in justice; if we turn to Him, He will “heal [our] defection” and “love [us] freely.”  “In distress you called, and I rescued you,” He says in the words of our psalmist, and His words are true.  Turning away His wrath, He shall become “like the dew for Israel.”  And with His living water to nourish us, we “shall blossom like the lily… blossom like the olive tree.”  We “shall dwell in His shade and raise grain,” our “fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.”  We must but love God and our neighbor, and we shall “bear fruit.”

“Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.”  There is no God in all the world but the Lord, and it is He in whom “the orphan finds compassion.”  Why should you continue in your vain pursuits when love awaits your turning to Him?  What refuge can you find in your false gods?  In them and in your pride you indeed will find yourself orphaned, cut off from the love that only the Father holds.  But He loves the orphan, brother, and so He calls to your soul to return to Him with all your heart.  In this is true wisdom; in Him you will find strength.

 There is no further question when the love of God is known.  When His presence is revealed we fall silent, for nothing can be said in the face of Truth.  Listen, brothers and sisters; but listen – and then do.

 

*******

O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed,

that your inheritance you might share with us. 

YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin.  As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom.  And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation.

There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs.  Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name.

O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice.  Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.

Direct download: BC-04011-F_3_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O missionary shepherd

whose love for the truth

was a love for Christ

and a desire for your flock

to know Him

and the way to glorify God,

you who gave yourself

for the Truth that is Christ

and for His Church on earth,

through whom He teaches all men

and brings them into His fold –

may we, too, lay down our lives

and work as hard as you have done

in the name of Jesus,

that all our lives

and the lives of all His flock

might be in accord

with the will of the Lord

and faithful to the Mother

He has left for our care;

let all that is not of God

be cast from our midst

by the Spirit of Truth this day.

Direct download: March_23_Turibio_de_Mogrovejo.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Jer.7:23-28;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Lk.11:14-23)

 

“They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts

and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.”

 

The Lord calls His people to “listen to [His] voice,” to “walk in all [His] ways,” that they “may prosper.”  But with whom is there obedience?  How many harden their hearts against Him!

Of the people of Jeremiah’s time the Lord says, “Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.”  They, as all, should “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us,” but they, as we, do not recognize that “He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.”  They pay no heed to the voice of the prophet.

And this hardness of heart is fulfilled in the opposition of the faithless to Jesus.  In our gospel He casts out a devil that a dumb man may speak and some say, “It is by Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that He casts out devils.”  Indeed, the hardness of heart does not get any greater than this.  (And so for this sin against the Holy Spirit and His ways there can be no forgiveness.)  They call good “evil” and presume that the evil they speak is a good – but they are utterly lost in darkness.  “The reign of God is upon” them, and they desire to dwell in the realm of the devil who is being cast from their midst.  What can save such a soul?  For all prayers the Lord answers.

Brothers and sisters, it is a dark world and a difficult age in which we dwell.  But the response of our hearers is not our concern; we must speak as called regardless of the reaction – we must live our vocation despite any opposition.  Note the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: “When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you.”  For as with all the prophets, and as with ourselves, he speaks to “the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction.”  To these it is our duty to call; to darkness we must bring light.  And realize, too, the fate of Jesus, who will die on the cross for His work to bring salvation to the world.  It is this same cross to which we are all called, for it is by this same cross we have been called; and those who are yet to be gathered in must hear our voice.  Let us stand with the Lord and gather in His grain, despite the stiffened necks we might find.  There shall be others like us who hear the cry of Jeremiah and cling to the saving power of Jesus.  Test Him not with your own hardness of heart.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be saved from torment

by walking in the way of your risen Son.

YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the passing things of this earth – we shall but die if we fat our bellies and become bereft of your Spirit.

Jesus let us follow, LORD, for upon your will alone He set Himself.  Your Word let us meditate upon both night and day that we shall remain in your presence always and walk ever in your ways.  You reward the faithful soul with the blessings of your House but can only cast the wicked man far from your table of grace.

Let us not be rich in the things of this world nor turn our sights to what is evil.  Upon your love let us set our sights, that our hearts might be purged of all insolence, of all sin against your goodness.  And let us reach out a helping hand to those in need of your water, that all might have life this day in the Holy Spirit.

Direct download: BC-033111-Th_3_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dt.4:1,5-9;   Ps.147:12-13,15-16,19-20;   Mt.5:17-19)

 

“What great nation has statutes and decrees

that are as just as this whole law?”

 

“He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, His statutes and ordinances to Israel.”  The Lord in His grace “sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His word!”  And as the snow and the rain come down to nourish the land, to bring life to the earth, so His Word is food and life to all who listen to it.  By His Word He “strengthen[s] the bars of [our] gates,” giving us protection against the tribulations of this world, and by it He “bless[es] [our] children within” us, making fruitful all our endeavors.  By fulfilling and teaching His commands, we find life eternal in the kingdom of God; by breaking them and leading others to do so, we court death.

And so why should the Word be withheld from the ears of the flock?  By his silence does not a priest give credence to the breaking of the law?  And then are not the results upon his soul?  Has the devil so blinded his eyes to the truth that he cannot see the life-giving water the Word of God is, that His commands are not burdensome but bring release from labor under the weight of sin?  By withholding such nourishment does he hope to increase his flock?  Oh but it is so hard to open my mouth, you say, so difficult to speak the truth.  Better you die to self now than to find your soul dead to the kingdom of heaven.

Brothers and sisters, it is fulfilling “the smallest letter of the law… the smallest part of the letter,” that brings us to perfection, that brings us to the life that is our God.  Ignorance shall not bring you there.  As Moses instructs of the commands of the Lord, “Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.”  For they are a great gift made known to souls; they are the fountain of life, fulfilled in the flesh of Jesus.  So neither practice them in vain “nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,” for they hold life, and should you lose them, you shall lose the Christ.

Do you desire holiness?  Do you wish to be whole?  Do you long for the presence of God, thirsting for His truth?  Then follow the Word He speaks in your presence today and teach others to do so: Abortion is wrong.  Contraception is wrong.  Euthanasia is wrong.  Premarital sex is wrong.  Love of money and goods is deadly.  We have the word in our Church – our mouths must speak it, or we shall die.  By our Baptism we are all made priests in the sight of God and are called to live and to preach the Word of God.  “What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him” or whenever we come to His table of sacrifice to receive Him?  In love make His Word and presence known.

 

*******

O LORD, though good be repaid with evil,

we shall rise on the third day

if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son. 

YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom.  Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd.

The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son.  A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD.  But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains.  And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants.

Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God.  Save us from the snares of the devil.

Direct download: BC-033011-W_3_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dn.3:25,34-43;   Ps.25:4-9;   Mt.18:21-35)

 

“With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received.”

 

The Lord “guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way,” and so it is the prayer of these He receives; upon them He showers His mercy.  For His mercy is His justice and it is known by those who humbly share the same.

Azariah makes his prayer for mercy for his people Israel who suffer the purgatorial fires of their exile from the Promised Land, even as he himself stands in the quite literal fire of the furnace of the King of Babylon for his faithfulness to the living God.  He begs the Lord: “Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy,” and as he comes humbly and with great faith interceding for others and not himself, and thus exhibiting the mercy he desires of the Lord, he is well protected from the flames by the angel of God.  The Lord’s justice is known to him who “follow[s] [Him] with [his] whole heart.”

And Jesus makes quite clear the great mercy God holds for all who humble themselves before Him – “seventy times seven times,” eternally, He forgives.  His reign is like the king who “wrote off the debt,” though it was “a huge amount,” of his servant who begged His mercy.  For the Lord is “moved with pity” at our contrition for our sins.  But the same forgiveness we must offer to others if we are to prove that His blood runs in our veins.  The master tells his wicked servant: “I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me.  Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?”  And indeed the fires of hell and purgatory await those who break their bond of justice and mercy with the Lord by failing to manifest the same grace that has been revealed to their souls.  We are sinners and must see ourselves so.  The Lord forgives and we must accept His grace.  Others seek our mercy and we must grant it to them.  This is how the kingdom works.  Those who do not follow the Lord’s way of compassion do not enter there.

Brothers and sisters, we must be as Azariah, who “stood up in the fire and prayed aloud.”  For all, we must humbly intercede before our merciful God even in this dark world.  And for the contrition we show for our sins and those of others, the Lord holds an eternal reward.  As our priests, as Peter, as God Himself, let us forgive one another; if we receive one another humbly and mercifully, the Lord will receive us in His grace, in His justice.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight

that we might be saved from our sin

and enter your kingdom.

YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice.  If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed.  But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name.  For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked?  His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice.

There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions.  We desire to be exalted in the sight of others.  Oh if it were but our desire to serve you!  If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom.

O let us listen to you, LORD?  Let us heed your command, your word of instruction.  Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.

Direct download: Bc-032911-Tu_3_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O righteous man called by God

to be foster-father of His only Son

and protector of His Mother,

you who were obedient to the Spirit,

who took Jesus by the hand

and led Him from the temple

in Jerusalem

to the home in Nazareth

where Mary made a place for Him –

pray that we shall be built

into the house of Abraham,

the man of faith,

into the house of David, your father,

into the House the Holy Spirit builds

for the faithful even this day,

where our Mother waits for us

with you and all the saints;

pray that we too shall hear the words

spoken over you by the Lord:

“Well done, good and faithful servant;

enter into the joy of your Master.”

Pray we shall be righteous

as you.

Direct download: March_19_Joseph_Husband_of_Mary.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

(2Sm.7:4-5,12-14a,16;   Ps.89:2-5,27,29,37;   Rom.4:13,16-18,22;

Mt.1:16,18-21,24a  or  Lk.2:41-51a) 

“I will be a father to him,

and he shall be my son.”

It is through Joseph that Jesus is a son of David and so fulfills the promise to the king made by God: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever,” for He is the heir “raise[d] up” after David “who shall build a house for [His] name.”  “In heaven [the Lord has] confirmed [His] faithfulness,” and on earth He has made it known.  And so Jesus says of God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior!” and we of faith join His refrain.

As with Abraham, Joseph is made foster father of Jesus not merely by physical descent from David but “through the righteousness that comes from faith.”  For as Abraham believed and so became “the father of many nations,” so Joseph believed that it was “through the Holy Spirit that [Jesus] ha[d] been conceived” and “did as the angel commanded him and took Mary into his home,” thus becoming a father to Him who would “save His people from their sins.”  Like Abraham “he believed, hoping against hope,” and like Abraham he is blessed.

But, of course, Jesus is more than the Son of Joseph; in fact, this is the great sacrifice Joseph makes.  For truly he cares for Him who is more Son to the Father in heaven and Son of Man, born for all the human race.  Evident this is when He is found by Joseph and Mary in the temple after three days and He asks them (a question much like those He might have been putting to the teachers of the faith): “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” and in the curious fact that His parents waited a day before journeying back to Jerusalem to look for Him, for they were “thinking that He was in the caravan” – so much a part of His people had He become.

Jesus is Son of God and Son of Man, yet “obedient to them” – Joseph and Mary – He ever was.  And they were ever obedient to the dictates of the Father, that they should care for His only Son.  And so Joseph, husband of Mary, a simple carpenter, fulfills in simple fashion all the Lord had set out for him.  May we, too, by faith fulfill all the care we must take for Jesus, His mother, and His people.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music composed and performed by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

******* 

O LORD, let us dwell in your House forever.

YHWH, your Son is known as the Son of David, the Son of Joseph the carpenter.  And truly He is the fulfillment of your promise to the king that his son shall ever sit upon the throne.  But He is conceived by the Holy Spirit: He is the Son of God.  Give us the faith of Joseph that we might believe this and take Him into our home.

In our houses He would dwell, in our very souls.  Thus would He make them your House, dear Father, as is the soul of His Mother, and the soul of the righteous man we celebrate today.  Your Church let us be, dear God; in faith let us ever remain.

Your kindness to us is indeed great, O LORD; your very life you would share with us this day.  In your kingdom let us make our home – your sons and daughters let us be.  Jesus sits upon the throne now, for He is the Christ.  And so, your Covenant stands firm forever: all who believe in Him will be blessed.

O LORD, make us righteous in your sight, even as the humble Joseph.  In our lives let your will be done…  In your Son let us make our home.

Direct download: March_19_-_St_Joseph_Husband_of_Mary_2009.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Ex.17:3-7;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Rom.5:1-2,5-8;   Jn.4:5-42)

 

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;

but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.”

 

What is this “spring of water welling up to eternal life” but the Holy Spirit come upon us, the Truth of God in our midst through the blessed sacrifice of the Son for us “while we were still sinners.”  Brothers and sisters, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” even as Jesus’ words of spirit and truth are poured into the ears of the Samaritan woman.  Do we know His grace?  Do we hear His voice and leave our water jar at the old well as we go to tell others about the Christ?

In our readings today is the juxtaposition of the physical and the spiritual, and the call to enter into the Spirit of God.  In our first reading, the Israelites “in their thirst for water” while wandering in the desert cry out against God and Moses and long to return to their slavery in Egypt, that they might but be able to eat and drink.  The Lord would teach them to depend on Him, to trust in the Spirit and His love, and He will provide for all their needs, as He does this day, but they are blinded to the Hand of God.  “Though they had seen [His] works,” they continually tested Him, unable to find rest in Him, and for their hardness of heart virtually none shall themselves enter the Promised Land.  And the source of their lack of faith is ever their bellies.

In our gospel twice we see the inability to understand the Spirit speaking because of the belly’s grumbling.  The Samaritan woman confuses the life-giving water of which Jesus speaks with the passing water she came to draw from Jacob’s well: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming to this well.”  And the disciples think someone else has brought the Lord something to eat when He says, “I have food to eat of which you do not know,” at their urging Him to eat the food they have in hand.  But as He speaks to the woman of the Holy Spirit, He speaks to them of our daily bread – “to do the will of the one who sent [us] and to finish His work.”  Indeed, as He awaits the return of the sinful woman with her Samaritan neighbors, He prepares them for the mission that must now go forth even to “foreigners.”  It is the Spirit of God He desires them to eat that they might be fortified for their call.  And it is the Spirit found in the Body and Blood He has shed for our sakes of which we all must partake to slake our thirst and find the strength to do the work which leads us to the kingdom of God.  His is a kingdom for all; and it lasts forever.

  

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

  

Music: "The Spirit Rules the Body" from Breath, The Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us believe that your Son

is the Savior of the world,

and so have eternal life in Him. 

YHWH, give us to drink of the water of the Spirit.  Let us listen to the voice of your Son and so be filled with your Word.  It is you who feed us; it is you who satisfy our thirst.  Let us not set our hearts on the food of this earth but seek only the streams of living water which come to us by the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.  Yes, let us listen to His voice and be converted to His way, and we shall be saved, and we shall worship you in truth.

O what joy would be ours if we could but set aside the jar we use to carry the water of this world and run to tell others of the glory in our midst in your only Son!  O what grace would course through our veins and be proclaimed by our tongues if the Spirit we welcomed into our hearts!  Dear LORD, let us turn to you and not to our stomachs.  Let your river in Heaven brim over and pour upon all your faithful children.

Direct download: BC-032711-Su_3_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

O steadfast teacher of the faith

whom exile could not keep

from proclaiming the truths

of Scripture and the Church,

whose pastoral zeal

called souls

to the blessed chamber

of our divine Lord Jesus Christ

that we might unite with Him

who united Himself with us

to draw us unto Heaven –

pray that the shepherds of the Church

shall be just so diligent

and faithful

as you have consistently been

in imparting the Word of God

to waiting ears and hearts,

that all might be nourished well

and so prepared

to meet our King and Bridegroom,

grace upon grace

overflowing in souls

led by the Spirit of Truth.

Direct download: March_18_Cyril_of_Jerusalem.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Mic.7:14-15,18-20;   Ps.103:1-4,8-12;   Lk.15:1-3,11-32)

 

“While he was still a long way off,

his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.”

 

“He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”  Amen.  Such is the forgiveness of the Lord, that even while we are far from Him, yet while we are sinners, He sees our hearts turn to Him and welcomes us into His embrace.

We have all “sinned against God,” brothers and sisters.  We are all as the Prodigal Son who has “squandered his money on dissolute living.”  But oh the forgiveness of our God, who “with kindness and compassion” “redeems [our] life from destruction,” who in “pardon[ing] all [our] iniquities” raises us from the death of sin to sit with Him in heaven.  Does not the father in our parable say as much of the sinner? “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life.”  Is it not so that when we were still sinners Jesus died for us, to raise us with Himself to new life?

“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” the prophet Micah asks in our first reading, wondering at the infinite grace of our Father.  “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear Him,” sings David in our psalm.  And so, how joyous we should be, how our souls should “bless the Lord… and forget not all His benefits.”  For indeed, “not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.”  Rather, even though we deserve damnation, even though the most we could hope for is to be treated as one of His hired hands, yet does He remember His love for us.  Beyond all human reason, He graces us with “the finest robe” and calls us in to “eat and celebrate” at the heavenly banquet, where there shall be “music and dancing” to the Name of our God, where all the gifts of the Spirit poured forth through the blood of Christ are ours as we become one with the Father, as we return to Him “in good health.”  Is there anything more remarkable?

And let us not sin as the elder brother.  Let us not begrudge God, the loving Father, His infinite generosity to all His sons.  Let us not presume to stand in judgment against those the Lord deigns to forgive, but share His forgiveness and His grace toward all.  Then truly the father’s words to the elder son (which are a noticeably kind word to the Pharisees, whom this son represents) will be our own: “You are with me always, and everything I have is yours.”  Let us know the truth of this, God’s will for all our souls, and accept the gracious forgiveness which brings us to it as we come “to [our] senses” and turn to Him with all our hearts this day.  He is calling us home.

 

*******

O LORD, show us your grace

that you might rejoice in our return to you. 

YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding.  But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love.  We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us.

Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy.  Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain.

So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever.  And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.

Direct download: BC-032611-Sa_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O great apostle to the nations

who gave up your birthright of freedom

for the benefit of others,

who went forth in faith,

Christ ever above you and before you

and all around to protect you

who were brought through trial

to do His will

in bringing God to unbelievers,

you who never doubted –

pray that we, too, shall spend ourselves

for the sake of the Gospel

and all souls

yet to be gathered to the Lord,

that indeed from east and west

men shall come

and sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

in the kingdom of our God,

that from the ends of the earth

one people shall be drawn to Him…

and let us do all

without concern for persecution,

with the heart of a shepherd you had. 

Direct download: March_17_Patrick.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.37:3-4,12-13,17-28;   Ps.105:5,16-21;   Mt.21:33-43,45-46)

“They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.”

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone of the structure.”  Hear what Scripture says.  As he who was “sold as a slave” by his brothers became “lord of [the king’s] house and ruler of all his possessions,” so He whom the elders of the people could call “our brother, our own flesh,” whom they “seized… dragged… outside the vineyard, and killed,” has become the very foundation of the New Jerusalem.

How parallel are our first reading and gospel today.  Jacob, Israel, sends the son he loves best, he who is “the child of his old age,” to the brothers who are tending their father’s flock, to bring them food to nourish them in their labor.  The Father in heaven sends Jesus, His beloved Son – who is Child of His old age both in His existing with Him before time and in His coming here at the end of the age to His brothers – to those whom He has entrusted the care of His vineyard, through whom He feeds all the people, with the greatest of nourishment to sustain them unto heaven itself.  For their jealousy over the favor granted their brother, Israel’s sons strip Joseph of his long and princely tunic and cast him into a cistern “which was empty and dry” as their souls.  Out of the same jealousy and in the desire for His inheritance, the chief priests and Pharisees will soon arrest the Lord and see that He is stripped and nailed to a cross.

And, brothers and sisters, the outcome of each story shall be the same.  As his brothers must come on their knees to their brother to find grain to keep themselves from dying of famine on the parched earth once Joseph has taken his place as ruler of the king’s possessions, so the elders of the people and all of us who bear responsibility for the death of Christ by our continual sins against Him shall have to come on our knees before Him who sits on the throne of heaven robed in glory, to find nourishment for our journey here in His sacred Body and Blood, and to find a place at table in the kingdom to come.

There is much to be pondered in the rejection of Jesus, as is so with the betrayal of Joseph.  It is not only the Pharisees – who answer so well the Lord’s question regarding the fate of the tenant farmers, yet have not the faith to match the words God puts on their lips – who must look inside themselves and recognize their anger and jealousy and greed.  The Lord invites each of his brothers to examine his conscience this day, in this time.  In particular, are we showing ourselves to be the nation the Lord has given the kingdom of God?  Do we “yield a rich harvest” for Him who was sold for thirty pieces of silver?  Or have our souls gone bankrupt?  May from us the Lord “obtain His share of the grapes.”

*******

O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed,

that your inheritance you might share with us. 

YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin.  As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom.  And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation.

There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs.  Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name.

O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice.  Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.

Direct download: BC-032511-F_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jer.17:5-10;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;   Lk.16:19-31)

 

“He is like a tree planted beside the waters,

that stretches out its roots to the stream.”

 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”  For he shall be like the tree “that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.”  He shall never be “like a barren bush in the desert” or “like chaff which the wind drives away.”  Never shall he know the “place of torment,” for “the heat when it comes” shall do him no harm.  This man “follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners,” but rather “meditates on [God’s] law day and night.”  His faith and his hope are the roots that stretch out to the living water of the living God who nourishes all by His Word and in His flesh.

Brothers and sisters, we must never “trust in human beings” as do the Pharisees, or be as the rich man who “seeks his strength in flesh,” “dressed in purple and linen and feast[ing] splendidly every day.”  This earth itself holds not our food.  Notice that it is to the Pharisees Jesus addresses His parable in our gospel today.  How closely the rich man parallels these leaders of the people.  The bounty of God’s wisdom is bestowed upon them, but they use it to feed their bellies rather than to shepherd those in need.  They claim Abraham as their father and the Law of Moses as their guide, but they neither have the faith that makes Abraham the father of all, nor do they follow the instructions Moses conveys.  Only in the flesh are they Abraham’s sons; and though they see him from the hell to which they come, they cannot touch him, they cannot reach past him to the Father in heaven, who gives Abraham his blessing.  Dwelling but in their “father’s house” as the rich man who gorged himself on the pleasures of the flesh, they come not to the Father’s House on high, for their roots penetrate not to the living water that is found in faith, and now Lazarus cannot even “dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh [their] tongue.”  Dead as the stone upon which the commandments were written do they become. 

Notice, too, brothers and sisters, the connection between thoughts and actions, between faith and works, between the word and the flesh in our first reading, and present throughout Scripture: “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”  Only the Lord, who is Himself the living water, knows if His Word of life dwells in a man, and that faithful spirit is reflected directly in the just man’s deeds – for by these the Lord judges.  And Jesus is the just man; He is the Word made flesh in whom the Spirit dwells, in whom all find life.  He is the undying tree, one with the Father, whom all must imitate.  His words are living water; His flesh is food we eat: He alone is perfect in word and deed, for in Him spirit and flesh meet.  Let our hearts be set on Him, and we, too, shall be blessed; and we shall know that He is risen from the dead.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be saved from torment

by walking in the way of your risen Son. 

YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the passing things of this earth – we shall but die if we fat our bellies and become bereft of your Spirit.

Jesus let us follow, LORD, for upon your will alone He set Himself.  Your Word let us meditate upon both night and day that we shall remain in your presence always and walk ever in your ways.  You reward the faithful soul with the blessings of your House but can only cast the wicked man far from your table of grace.

Let us not be rich in the things of this world nor turn our sights to what is evil.  Upon your love let us set our sights, that our hearts might be purged of all insolence, of all sin against your goodness.  And let us reach out a helping hand to those in need of your water, that all might have life this day in the Holy Spirit.

Direct download: BC-032411-Th_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jer.18:18-20;   Ps.31:5-6,14-17;   Mt.20:17-28)

 

“Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?”

 

Do you know what He asks, brothers and sisters?  And do you know where it leads?

In our gospel today, Jesus is very deliberate in His instruction to His apostles.  As He starts out “to go up to Jerusalem,” where the chief priests and scribes “will condemn Him to death” and the Romans crucify Him, He takes “the Twelve aside on the road” to speak clearly to them of the fate which awaits Him.  (So objective are His words that He refers to Himself in the third person.)  Of course, the apostles are yet far from understanding His message, as shown by their soon dissembling into jealous indignation regarding the question of the power and importance of each.  And the Lord must teach them again that He has come “to give His own life as a ransom for many”; He “has come, not to be served by others, but to serve,” and that those who “aspire to [the] greatness” that is His must necessarily “serve the needs of all.”

We know that Peter is the first among equals “for whom it has been reserved by [the] Father,” as the Lord has indicated earlier, and not James or John – though both of these shall have prominent place in drinking of the cup of Christ: James as the first apostle martyred and John, the beloved, whose martyrdom shall be white, coming in the endurance of a long life – but all of us who seek to follow Jesus indeed share in the selfsame cross, and so shall receive of the selfsame blessings of Him who is raised up “on the third day.”  All are called to drink of the cup of suffering and service in Jesus’ stead.  We must be clear on this essential point of faith.

And does not Jeremiah’s persecution at the hands of the citizens of Jerusalem show that the cross of Christ extends even to the time before He had come in the flesh?  Do not the words spoken against the prophet: “Let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word,” echo exactly the plottings of the Pharisees against Jesus, whom they repeatedly sought to entrap?  And all this though He does “speak in their behalf, to turn away [the Father’s] wrath from them.”  And David in our psalm chants the same refrain: “They consult together against me, plotting to take my life.”

Brothers and sisters, as it was for David and Jeremiah and Jesus, following in the ways of the Lord will bring us persecution.  You may well ask, Must good be repaid with evil? but the Lord will answer, “Let it be for now.”  For “from the clutches of [our] enemies and [our] persecutors” He rescues those who trust in Him.  Take heart that the humbled shall be exalted as you drink deeply of His cup.

*******

O LORD, though good be repaid with evil,

we shall rise on the third day

if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son.

YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom.  Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd.

The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son.  A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD.  But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains.  And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants.

Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God.  Save us from the snares of the devil.

Direct download: BC-032311-W_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.1:10,16-20;   Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23;   Mt.23:1-12)

 

“To him that goes the right way

I will show the salvation of God.”

 

“Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.”  For it is only following in the way of the Lord we shall be saved; for mere words, vain pretense, the Lord has no patience.

Indeed it is so, what Isaiah proclaims: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.”  Forgiveness is offered forth generously by the Lord to the nation that goes astray.  But we must be “willing, and obey” the word “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  If we “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” our backs, if we but “recite [His] statutes” as the Pharisees whose “works are performed to be seen,” whose mouths profess the covenant but whose deeds are far from Him, how is it we shall find salvation?  For the Lord is not blind and deaf as we to the heart of man; and unlike our own, His word is true, and His command must be followed – we must serve Him and our neighbor.  We must humble ourselves in His sight if we hope to be exalted to His kingdom.

“Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”  Over and over we hear from the mouth of the prophet and the psalmist and the Son Himself – the Lord has compassion on the poor and lowly, and we must do as He calls… we must be His arms and legs in this world.  Unlike the Pharisees who “will not lift a finger” to carry even the lightest burden, whose “deeds are few,” we must take up the full weight of the cross.  It is not “places of honor” and “marks of respect in public” for which we hunger; but when we teach and as we serve, our hearts must be set on the salvation of souls, which can only be accomplished by living the way of the Messiah, by following His example.

What has Jesus not done for us?  What teaching has He left lacking flesh and blood?  And so, rightly is He called “Rabbi”; and so, truly is He the only Son of the one Father in heaven.  Brothers and sisters, we must go the way He leads – we must follow the humble path to the kingdom.  In this our sins shall become “white as wool,” washed in the blood of the Lamb.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight

that we might be saved from our sin

and enter your kingdom. 

YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice.  If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed.  But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name.  For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked?  His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice.

There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions.  We desire to be exalted in the sight of others.  Oh if it were but our desire to serve you!  If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom.

O let us listen to you, LORD?  Let us heed your command, your word of instruction.  Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.

Direct download: BC-032211-Tu_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dn.9:4-10;   Ps.79:8-9,11,13,103:10;   Lk.6:36-38)

“Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.”

It is a cry for forgiveness our psalmist makes to our compassionate God.  “Remember not against us the iniquities of the past,” he begs, seeking release from sin’s prison for himself and his people.  And Daniel does the same; acknowledging with full throat the sins of Judah and all Israel, he seeks the merciful hand of the Lord upon the people, interceding in their stead.  Though he himself is an upright man, he cries out, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil,” praying thus for the rebellious nation which has been scattered to “all countries” for their failure to heed the command of the Lord.

Well do our Old Testament figures embody Jesus’ teaching in our gospel, summed up simply: “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.”  For they “do not judge” or “condemn” those individuals primarily responsible for the apostasy and so the destruction of the kingdom and the covenant, but rather seek earnestly to heal the rift that has come by giving generously of themselves and their love for God and others, in Christlike fashion standing in the breach.  And so they earn the titles of prophet and psalmist of God; and so they foreshadow the heavenly compassion Jesus calls all His followers to pour forth in His name.  (And so we can be assured their compassion has been “measured back” to them by the Lord.)

Jesus on the cross dies for the sins of all people, and this is His central call to all our souls: to imitate Him is our blessed goal.  For insofar as we die for God and others, insofar as we lay down our lives in His truth, thus far we shall find His “compassion quickly come to us” and so live in the heavenly glory which is now His place.  To us all He calls this day to pardon and forgive, for in doing so we shall find the reconciliation of the Lord even with our enemies, and secure for ourselves a room in His heavenly home.

He who knew no sin was made sin for our sake.  He has humbled Himself to carry the sins of the nation…  Let us, brothers and sisters, die with Christ on the cross, that all sin might be taken away in His Name.

*******

O LORD, let us not turn away

from your Word to our souls

but be compassionate as you.

YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love.  Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor.  Though we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, though we have rebelled against you and your command, refusing to listen to the Word of truth you utter in our midst, hear our cry for deliverance from the prison into which our sins have cast us.  Save us in your love!

O LORD, if we do not judge we shall not be judged.  If we do not condemn we shall not be condemned.  If we but forgive others their transgressions against us, you will forgive our transgressions against you.  And we shall return to your pasture.

Help us to give, O LORD, to give as you give, to give as your Son gives… to lay down our lives for the sake of others – to seek pardon for their sins.  Jesus stands in the breach to reconcile us to you and one another; may we join Him in His mission of love.

Direct download: BC-032111-M_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.12:1-4a;   Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22;   2Tm.1:8b-10;   Mt.17:1-9)

 

“Rise, and do not be afraid.”

 

Here in the midst of the darkness we drink in during this Lenten Season comes a light shining to assure our hearts of the promise that is ours.  The Lord’s Transfiguration is presented to us this day to lead us through all the tribulations of the cross to the resurrection, which is our holy goal.

“Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God,” Paul says to his special child Timothy, and so the Lord speaks to us all, reminding us that “He saved us and called us to a holy life.”  It is “up a high mountain by themselves” Jesus leads His principal disciples Peter, James, and John, to reveal to them the glory to which they are called – thus signifying the cross we must all carry along the rough terrain of this world to reach our place in heaven.  In seeing that “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light” and then hearing the voice of the Father overshadowing them, they are overawed… but the hand of the Lord touches them, and strengthens them for the road ahead.

Our call is like that of Abraham, the father of all those of faith: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”  We all must leave behind the security this world holds and go according to God’s word, to travel in a land foreign to our souls.  But His assurance is with us, His blessing is upon us, and so the darkness of the night should not make us afraid.  For “the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.”  And so, however difficult the walk, however steep the climb, our hearts should never waver; for we have always at our side “our Savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

And so, brothers and sisters, as we travel through the heart of the sacrifice this Lenten time invites us to share, let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” and let our prayer be as David’s: “May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our hope in you.”  For Jesus is before us to lead us to our home.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "Going Home" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let your eyes be upon us

to guide us by your holy light,

and let our eyes look up and meet your own. 

YHWH, let us go as you direct us; let us follow your Son wherever He leads.  Though it be up a high mountain, though the path be rough and darkness overshadow us, let us not hesitate.  Let us listen to His voice speaking to our souls: “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

O LORD, you deliver us from death and preserve us despite any trial of this world.  To Heaven the way of the Cross does lead, so let us not be afraid.  Let us put our hope and our trust in you, knowing that you are always at our side, that your Spirit is with us ever to guide us to your eternal kingdom.  Let us know and remember that we will rise with Jesus.

All your works are trustworthy, dear God, and so let us be obedient to your call, that our lives, too, might be formed by your hand.  Grant us vision that we might see our way through the darkness of this world by the light of your beloved Son.

Direct download: BC-032011-Su_2_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Dt.26:16-19;   Ps.119:1-2,4-5,7-8;   Mt.5:43-48)

 

“You will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God.”

 

The promise made to the Israelites through Moses is also a command, and is fulfilled in the command of Jesus.

In our first reading Moses tells the people the Lord will raise them “high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations,” but makes it clear that this shall be so only as long as they “walk in His ways and observe His statutes, commandments, and decrees” – only if they “hearken to His voice.”  For His law is as food to the body and light to the mind and must be observed carefully, “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul,” to maintain the presence of God in our lives.  If “He is to be [our] God,” we must do as He commands.

Thus our psalmist sings of the happiness of those “who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart.”  Thus does he cry out in longing, “Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!” for he knows in them is life.  To “walk in the way of the Lord” is his joy.

And that joy is made complete, our life is made whole, by the new command of love Jesus imparts to our soul.  The Lord fulfills the Law of Moses, which gave light to the people, by commanding us not to love only our “countryman” but all: “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.”  Here is His challenge for us to “prove that [we] are sons of our heavenly Father,” to love as He loves, to know the greatness of His glory, therefore, in our very lives.  If the psalmist cried out in such joy at the blessing found in following the Law of Moses, what indescribable joy is ours when we follow Jesus’ words.  What greater call can we have than to “be made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”?  What greater merit and blessing could there be?  None.  For He is Life itself, and here we are called to live with Him.

“His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust.”  Nothing dims God’s holy light or stems the blessings He showers upon all.  In absolute light, in absolute love, the Father dwells, in the heavenly kingdom; and if we can love as He loves, as Jesus has loved, we shall know such blessing.  Love even those who hate you and you will be as the Father, who knows only love, and you will become sacred to Him – you will be saints in His kingdom.

*******

O LORD, if we follow your way with our whole heart,

we shall come to where you are, in Heaven.

YHWH, what can we be but blessed if we heed your commands and walk in your way, for then we will be like you, who are most blessed of all?  O to be a people sacred to you!  O to love as you love!

What greater blessing can we know, O LORD, than to love as you love, to love all, even our enemies?  What blessing it would be to know such absolute love, to live such absolute love – then we would be living with you; then we would be living in you.  You shine like the sun upon all creatures…  Let us live in your light this day.

Your Word is light to us, LORD; your commands are truth.  And by them you would lead us to all truth, to all love – by them you would lead us to yourself.  And your greatest command is to love our enemies, a command your Son embodies.  Let us join with Him in keeping this Word and so live in your heavenly presence.

Direct download: BC-031911-Sa_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Ez.18:21-28;   Ps.130:1-8;   Mt.5:20-26)

 

“Settle with your opponent while on your way to court with him.”

 

We are all on our way to court, brothers and sisters.  The judgment of the Lord awaits us all on the Last Day, and the Last Day is upon us here at the end of the age.  There is no time to lose; we must be “reconciled with [our] brother”; we must turn from sin today and find the Lord’s grace.  “With the Lord is kindness and plenteous redemption; and He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities” – but “out of the depths” we must cry to Him “in supplication” to find His blessed forgiveness; and from sinful paths we must turn our feet to know His salvation.

“If a wicked man, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.”  It is a great promise that comes to us through the prophet Ezekial, that none of our crimes shall be remembered by God when we return to Him.  For the Lord does not “derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked,” He “rather rejoice[s] when he turns from his evil way that he may live”; for the Lord wishes life for us all, wishes Himself, who is Life, for every soul, and gives it freely, and quite naturally, when we follow His ways.

It is really rather simple: as when a wicked man turns to good things he is no longer wicked but good and so lives in the Lord, so “when a virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.”  Evil brings death, and righteousness and justice (goodness) brings life.  The Lord desires life for us all and so He calls us to repentance, to repentance from even what might seem to our minds the smallest of sins – for so greatly does He wish life for us.  And clearly does He know that which we cannot see, that death holds sway over us by every sin on our soul.

Let us avoid the fires of hell and the pains of purgatory, brothers and sisters.  Let us call out to the Lord this day and find His “plenteous redemption” even as we turn from our sins.  And there shall be no prison into which we are thrown, as we forgive one another, and the Lord forgives us, our sins.

*******

O LORD, let us be released from all bondage to sin

that we might walk with you in righteousness

and so find life.

YHWH, forgiveness is with you, for it is your great desire to see us turn from our sin that you might have mercy on our souls.  And if we do so, if we leave behind our wickedness – even our wicked thoughts and words – we shall find your goodness; you shall gather us into your arms.  For then we shall be of goodness itself, and so, united with you.

But turning from the right path, what can we find but death in our separation from you, LORD?  What can we know but condemnation in leaving you behind?  For then you will not be with us, and without you there is no life.

O LORD, you are generous in redeeming us from all our iniquities.  Let us follow your way as your Son does call, purging all hatred from our lives.  Help us to be perfect as you are perfect – in love, in forgiveness, in grace… and we shall thus enter your kingdom, where only perfection exists.  No evil in our hearts let us desire; cast all iniquity from us this day as we love even our enemy.

Direct download: BC-031811-F_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O patient and loving soul

who cared for both

the physical and spiritual needs

of the poor and the sick,

who with a gentle word

would rebuke sins

and heal division

and with a gentle touch

bind the wounds

and smooth the beds

of the ill

in your home and in hospital,

who saw that remedies for the soul,

the Bread of life and holy Confession,

were available, too,

through the hands of a priest –

who cares as deeply and fully

for the needs of souls

this day?

Increase their number;

pray the Lord touch all souls

with your same patient affection,

with the love only He knows.

Direct download: March_9_Frances_of_Rome.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Est.C:12,14-16,23-25;   Ps.138:1-3,7-8;   Mt.7:7-12)

 

“My Lord, our King, you alone are God.

Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.”

 

In our gospel we have today a few of our Lord’s most famous words: “Ask, and you will receive.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Jesus encourages us to faithfulness in prayer, assuring all that our “heavenly Father [will] give good things to anyone who asks Him.”  How beautiful are His words, and how true.

And how well Queen Esther illustrates the faithful prayer of one who has “recourse to the Lord.”  She comes to the Lord in all humility as an obedient child before her father and opens her heart before God with a sincere plea for her fellow Jews, threatened with extinction by the enemy.  She says of her forefathers, proclaiming herself a daughter of Abraham, “You fulfilled all your promises to them,” and comes now seeking the same answer from the “King of gods and Ruler of every power.”  Such prayer for salvation before the God she recognizes “know[s] all things” cannot but be answered by the loving Father.  He will give her the food she desires.

In our psalm we hear David’s song of thanksgiving for the prayers the Lord has been faithful in answering for him: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth,” thus proving the truth of Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples, and indicating that Esther will also find answer to her prayer – and so, that we all should have assurance of God’s loving desire to heed all our sincere pleas.  David, too, acknowledges the greatness of God: “You have made great above all things your name and your promise,” and so comes to the place where the “kindness and [the] truth” of the Lord will be known to him.  And his faith in the Lord’s promise to be with him and hear him lasts for perpetuity: “The Lord will complete what He has done for me.”

Praise the Lord, who answers all prayers.  Praise the loving God who knows all things.  It is in His heart to feed us with the best of wheat, and this He does each day for those who “worship at [His] holy temple and give thanks to [His] name.”  “Forsake not the work of your hands,” dear Lord.  Be with us always to hear our humble prayers, that we might witness always your loving faithfulness to all who call upon you in truth.

 

*******

O LORD, forsake us not, for we are your children

and have no one but you to help us;

thank you for your mercy. 

YHWH, you readily give good things to those who ask them of you, for it is your will to give what is good to all.  You are goodness itself and would share yourself with all your children if they but desired your presence in their lives.  Let us turn to you and call upon your Name with faith that you hear all our prayers.

We need but seek you, LORD, and your hand at work in our days.  We need but a tiny seed of faith, and you will nourish us with your Word and see that we are protected from our enemies and have all we need to live forever with you.  In your kingdom we shall find our home if we but knock upon its door.

Your Name let us ever praise, O LORD our God, and we shall remain in your truth, and we shall remain in your light, ever growing unto your heavenly presence.  We would need fear nothing at all if we but trusted in you and the love you hold for all your people.  Your kindness be upon us this day as we raise our hearts to you.

Direct download: BC-031711-Th_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O servant of love

whom the angels knew

to be of God

for your blessed care

of the poor and the sick

and all the needy pilgrims

who came to you in abundance

that you might be the greater blest

by what you did for the least

of Christ’s brothers,

you who turned from the world

to absolute service of the Lord

and complete trust in His providence –

please pray that our hearts

may be enlarged

and we find the grace

to lay down our lives so freely

for the needs of others,

for their well-being,

that as we welcome all who come to us

we might ourselves be welcomed

in our misery

into the loving arms of Jesus. 

Direct download: March_8__John_of_God.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Jon.3:1-10;   Ps.51:3-4,12-13,18-19;   Lk.11:29-32)

 

“At the preaching of Jonah they reformed.”

 

Let us learn from the people of Ninevah, who heeded the message of repentance given Jonah.  At Jonah’s cry they “believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.”  Even the king “laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” in hopes of averting the destruction he knew God held in hand for his wayward city.  He decrees that “every man shall turn from his evil way” and “call loudly to God.”  Such utter repentance!  Such turning from sin!  And this from a pagan king and a pagan nation.

If Ninevah has so believed in God, if it has so recognized its sin before Him and turned so dramatically back to Him, pleading for His mercy, what should we not do, brothers and sisters, in this time of Lent set aside for the cleansing of our sins, we who have Jesus’ preaching now ringing in our ears and calling to our hearts?  Indeed, we must again and continually cry out to God with David for His mercy to come upon us.  Ever with “a contrite and humbled heart” we must sit before Him recognizing our sin.  For always our sin is with us, however much we might be ignorant of our guilt as we live our lives in vain.  “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me,” must be our eternal plea, for we are in continual danger of going away from Him.

Let us not be afraid to humble ourselves before God and man.  Let us seek nothing else but the wisdom of Christ, the call of the cross to our souls.  In humility, in sackcloth and ashes, let us prostrate ourselves before the true king who will come at the judgment to discern the worth of all souls.  Perhaps He will have mercy.  Perhaps He will “withhold His blazing wrath.”  Perhaps the punishment we deserve He may avert and “we shall not perish.”  Upon the soul He finds His cross inscribed, He shall take pity, my friends.

O Lord, we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight.  In your infinite mercy look upon our broken hearts, and help us to reform our lives.  For you alone are God.

*******

O LORD, your Son is greater than any prophet or king;

let us listen to Him as He calls us to repentance.

YHWH, let us be humble before you and your Word.  Let us repent at the preaching of your holy ones.  May your Son be a sign for us that we shall not forget – you are calling us to your kingdom, and to find our way there we must turn away from all sin.

O LORD, let us not fail to take this time to reform our lives; let us not be deaf and blind to the grace you offer forth to all men.  May we know true contrition for the wrongs we have done – O let our hearts be circumcised!  You desire to forgive us, if we would but leave off our evil ways.

We shall all indeed be destroyed if we do not heed your saving Word.  May your prophets cry out the message of the Gospel, and may all your holy ones cover themselves in sackcloth and sit in the ashes… may all fast from the poisonous food this world offers.  Then our spirits shall be renewed.  Then no judgment will come upon us.  Then we shall live forever with you.

Direct download: BC-031611-W_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O blessed martyrs

who willingly and happily

suffered a cruel death

by the teeth of beasts

and the point of a sword,

all for love of Jesus –

how can we match your faith;

where shall we find the strength

you displayed

in ecstasy at tortures

devised by the wicked of this earth,

and can we call ourselves Christian otherwise?

Pray for us, dear martyrs,

that the Lord will bless us

with such favor

as you have known

and we, too, will be enabled

to stand in joy

even in the face of the severest persecution,

even at the time of our death…

even then may Heaven be with us.

Direct download: March_7_Perpetua_and_Felicity.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Is.55:10-11;   Ps.34:4-7,16-19;   Mt.6:7-15)

 

“Give us today our daily bread.”

 

Our daily bread comes from the mouth of God; it is His Word that nourishes us.  His Word “water[s] the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats.”  By His Word our spiritual lives are anointed with holiness; the breath of His mouth makes us whole, and so we become fruitful in His Name.

Yes, we are sharers in His Word; it is His Word the just speak in their time of need.  “Crushed in spirit” before Him like holy seed, their cry comes to His ears and the rain He sends upon them saves them from all sin, “deliver[s] [them] from all fears.”  Jesus, the Word made flesh, is true, and His words are true: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”; and so the Father is quick to hear when we enter into His Word and call upon His Name in all humility.  It is this humility which makes us fertile earth, this trust in His will that lifts our faces toward His light, that we “may not blush with shame.”  “Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy,” O sinner.  “Glorify the Lord” and “extol His name,” for with you He shares His Spirit; in you He plants the Word that grows to eternal life.

Father in heaven, you alone are holy, and your Name is life to us.  Let “your kingdom come,” let “your will be done,” for apart from you we wither and die.  Make our earth your heaven; bring to us all the blessings you know we need to live ever in your light.  Feed us with your bread, feed us with your Word – your Son is all the food we need.  And for all “the wrong we have done,” as He has taught us, let us find our forgiveness by releasing from all bondage those who have done wrong to us, by loving our enemies.  In the end we pray, O Lord, that temptation be taken from our path; though we treasure your chastising Hand, let us not falter anymore – “deliver us from the evil one” who lurks in this world seeking the ruin of our souls.

O Lord, our lives are in your hands.  Our hearts are given life by you.  In our prayer let us not imitate the vain words of the pagans, but let us join in the Spirit with your Son and become one in the Word with you.  (Help me to remember your Name.)

 

(I witness here that however many times I speak the Lord’s Prayer, as however many times I attend Holy Mass, by the grace that comes through the Spirit, it is ever new and alive with the blessings that come from above.  These words are a gift to us we must cherish in our souls.)

 

*******

O LORD, may the grace of your forgiveness

flow upon us and through us

and so bear the fruit of salvation. 

YHWH, your Word be upon us to bless us and nourish us this day that our words might be fruitful as your own.  With your Son and by the words He has instructed us to pray, let us come to you and find your presence upon us, saving us from sin and leading us to your kingdom.  From the grasp of the evil one let us be released as we call upon your Name.

How shall we be fed this day, O LORD, if not by your hand, if not by the Spirit you send forth from your holy throne?  From on high you shower down upon us cleansing rain that we might be made whole and fruitful in your sight, that we might be as your Son on this earth, bringing your kingdom to bear on this plane.  O let us be as your sons and daughters, shining your light in this dark place!

Hear us as we call to you, LORD.  Deliver us from all distress and affliction.  Let our poor souls be blessed by you that we might ever praise your holy Name.  O Father in Heaven, let us be with you this day.

Direct download: BC-031511-Tu_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Lv.19:1-2,11-18;   Ps.19:8-10,15,Jn.6:63;   Mt.25:31-46)

 

“As often as you did it for one of my least brothers,

you did it for me.”

 

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Such is the golden rule and the second of the greatest commandments, which is like unto the first: Love God.  And the union of the two is made evident by Jesus in our gospel today; He makes clear that what we do to others we do to Him, and so to love God and neighbor become one and the same.  So tied is the Lord to His creation by the incarnation of His Son.

And how blessed are all His commands to us, all of which are summed up in love, and all of which give us life.  “Refreshing the soul… giving wisdom to the simple… rejoicing the heart… enlightening the eye… enduring forever” – such is the Word of God to the obedient soul.  All He speaks is just and all He speaks is holy and brings life, for all He speaks is of the Spirit of love.  And of that Spirit we must be, if we hope to attain to eternal life where He sits in glory.

“Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer,” is David’s prayer after extolling the virtues of the law of the Lord in his psalm today.  And such should be our prayer.  For if our hearts are set upon Him, and if our mouths speak truth, we can be assured that our actions will follow and we will please the Lord in all we do.  For being of the Lord, we can only feed the hungry; seeking His will, we can only welcome Him and all His children into our lives.  If we are founded upon this Rock, all will find in us the love of God.

For He is love, brothers and sisters, and all He asks of us is love.  Love does “not steal.”  Love does “not lie.”  Love does “not defraud” or “curse the deaf” or “act dishonestly” in any way.  In a word, if you are of love as He is love, “you shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.”  And all are our brothers, even the least of these; the Lord has made this known.  All are our neighbor and so none can “stand by idly when [his] neighbor’s life is at stake.”  All are called by love to lend their hand, His hand, to others in need.  For then we help Him.

Would we not help the Lord if we saw Him wanting?  Is it not our desire to ease His pain?  We have opportunity ever to do this in those around us.  When we do, we fulfill His command and find life for our souls, for then we are holy as He.

*******

O LORD, may your Word bring us to everlasting life;

let us be obedient to your call to compassion.

YHWH, let your Word be upon us that it might reprove us, that it might teach us and guide us in the way we should go… that it might refresh our souls.  We know not the way we should walk but tend toward selfishness and sin.  Speak to our hearts this day that our eyes might be opened and we be corrected and come to be holy like you.

Your Son tells us in no uncertain terms that condemnation awaits those who hate their brother, who turn their backs on their fellow man.  He lets us know that in doing so we turn our backs on you, O LORD.  And thus spurning your love and the practice of that love in our lives, what can we be but separated from you who are love and life?

But the righteous shall be blessed.  This He tells us, too.  If our hearts are set on fulfilling your commands and especially your command to love (which is all you command), then with you we shall ever dwell in eternal light and life.  May all men listen to your Son and live as He does.

Direct download: BC-031411-M_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.2:7-9,3:1-7;   Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17;   Rm.5:12-19;   Mt.4:1-11)

 

“Just as through the disobedience of the one man

the many were made sinners,

so, through the obedience of the one,

the many will be made righteous.”

 

And what obedience Jesus shows in His temptations.  For He was weakened, “He was hungry” after His forty-day fast in the desert, and the devil came at Him with all his power.  But He does not falter as did the first man; He remembers the Word of God and His command.  And by His faithfulness the sin of Adam is washed clean.

See how the Lord atones for our sins; see how directly His temptations parallel those presented to Eve.  As she is shown the goodness of the food before her, that it is “pleasing to the eyes,” so the devil tempts Jesus with bread that will sustain His life.  As Eve ventures to take the food despite the command of God, listening to the serpent’s words: “You certainly will not die!” so Satan would lead Jesus to cast His weakened body down from the parapet of the temple, with the encouragement that the angels will protect Him.  And as Eve is seduced by the devil’s promise, “You will be like gods,” so he tries the same promise of power over “all the kingdoms of the world” with Jesus.  In the first two temptations Jesus struggles as He will later under the weight of the cross, sweating and bleeding under the devil’s test; but in the third, perhaps with understanding that the end of the temptations is at hand, He now exclaims, “Get away, Satan!” apparently revived – and His words are a most cutting blow to the prince of darkness: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve”; for it is the great sin of Satan to presume to be as the Almighty God.

And so the prayer of David, found so poignantly in our psalm: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense,” is answered  And so the sin that has been “before [us] always,” since Adam fell in the garden, is now to be cleansed from our souls.  For now the angels do come to minister to Him; and now He begins the ministry that leads directly to the cross and the redemption of mankind in His sacrifice.  Now the die is cast for the salvation of our race.  Soon the devil will hold no dominion.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "The Chicken or the Egg: The Devil's Riddle" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us out of the desert of sin;

save us from temptation. 

YHWH, we have sinned and would drown in our sin except that you come to help us; your Son stands in our stead for redemption as once Adam stood in our place for rebellion, and so by His suffering the temptations we could not endure, cleanses us of all transgression.  And so, life comes now to our souls.

O LORD, by your compassion wipe out our offense.  Death has reigned among us because of the sin of our ancestor, but more powerful and wonderful is your grace, for it brings acquittal of our sin, removing our condemnation and so making it as if we had never sinned, as if death had never been.  Such is the gift your Son imparts.

Sustain your Holy Spirit within us, dear God, that we might remain in your grace and never again turn away from your Word.  Cast Satan far from us that we might stand with you, fed always by your Breath of life.

Direct download: BC-031311-Su_1_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

O patron of the impoverished

who though son of a king

counted yourself among

the poor in spirit,

you whose love abundantly flowed

to all in need,

who sought the purity

of our Blessed Mother,

who thirsted for our Lord

in the Blessed Sacrament,

who devoted yourself

to prayer

and constant works of charity –

teach us this day to be pure

and set our hearts

on serving the poor

that we too might come

to share the kingdom

with all God’s children,

all those who empty themselves

of the things of this world

to find the grace

of Heaven.

Direct download: March_4__Casimir.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Is.58:9-14;   Ps.86:1-6,11;   Lk.5:27-32)

 

“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,

“restorer of ruined homesteads.”

 

“Levi gave a great reception for Jesus in his house,” but it is Jesus who invites him, and all sinners, “to a change of heart” and to join Him in the home He makes for us all in heaven.  As Levi (or Matthew) has done, so must we all: we must leave our “customs post,” that which roots us to this world – we must stand up and follow Him.

“You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.”  David makes his prayer in our psalm, coming to the Lord as one “afflicted and poor,” begging the Lord’s pity upon his soul.  And there is confidence that his cry is answered, that his soul is gladdened; for the promise has been made through Isaiah that “He will renew [our] strength,” that we “shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.”  All that He has broken down in His anger against us and against our sins shall be raised up again: “The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up.”  As we turn to Him and “call the sabbath a delight… not following [our] ways, seeking [our] own interests, or speaking with malice,” we shall indeed “delight in the Lord” and in His inheritance; He shall indeed “nourish [us] with the heritage of Jacob” – the food He gives us will far surpass the bread upon the table at Levi’s banquet.  For it is upon His own Body we shall feed, and so find ourselves renewed in spirit and strengthened for the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord comes to invite all “sick people” to His healing grace.  All who turn from their sins shall be acceptable to Him.  And in His House they shall find a place, and be nourished well.  “Even on the parched land” they shall find the water of life, for His grace extends to all places and all peoples.  And with the bread we bestow on the hungry we ourselves shall be fed, for by this labor we shall unite with Him.  “The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Let us find the mercy His words desire for us.

*******

O LORD, help us to recognize our sin

and call upon you for healing,

that your House might be rebuilt. 

YHWH, teach us to turn from our sin, from following our own ways, that we might follow your Son where He leads, that we might come to Him for healing this day.  Let us come into your light and there remain.

You will renew us, LORD, if we do well, for it is your desire to share your mercy with us and make us as your own again.  Though in ruins our lives stand, though all seem lost because of our sin, when we call out to you, you hear us and gladden our souls with your refreshing love.

When Jesus comes to us, O LORD – as He shall come to all to heal us of all illness – when He stands before us and invites us to follow Him, may we be as Matthew and leave all of this world behind and set our hearts on obedience to His voice.  May we invite Him in to the table of our bodies and our souls that He might feed us always with His Word and with the Bread He is, and that we might thus feed others.  O let us be nourished well and be as a watered garden!

Direct download: Saturday_after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O mother to the poor

and disadvantaged,

missionary to those in your own country

isolated from their neighbors

because of the color of their skin,

some who lived upon the land

long before those who oppressed them,

others brought to this land

in chains…

you who sought to break the chains

of ignorance and poverty,

who gave your treasure

and the riches of your soul

that those without

might find a home –

pray for souls still disadvantaged

by poverty or ignorance;

pray that those with

and those without

might meet as one,

as brothers before the Lord

here on earth

and in the heavenly kingdom.

Direct download: March_3__Katharine_Drexel.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Is.58:1-9;   Ps.51:3-6,18-19;   Mt.9:14-15)

 

“Would that today you might fast

so as to make your voice heard on high!”

 

Brothers and sisters, in this day of fasting and penance, first we must “acknowledge [our] offense” as David in our psalm.  We must cry out to our God: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”  This is our leaven of truth.  “A contrite spirit, a heart contrite and humbled” the Lord cannot resist.  It is this heart the Lord answers; it is prayer of this soul He hears – to this “cry for help… He will say: Here I am!”

“When the day comes that the groom is taken away, then they will fast.”  We “go in mourning” when Jesus is no longer in our midst.  What does this then say of our fast?  For though the Lord may be with us always in the power of the Spirit, yet He is physically taken from us now till the end of time.  Our fast must therefore be a permanent condition all the while we walk this earth.  And so true is this if we understand the Lord’s definition of a fast as revealed in our first reading from Isaiah: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly… sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked… and not turning your back on your own.”  And what sense it makes that this be our fast now that Jesus is gone, for are we not His children here, called to carry out His mission in this world?  Are not these the very things He instructs us to do in His stead for the least of His brothers who suffer now?  On this earth here at the end of the age we should be engaged in fasting always.

And if we pray with a sincere heart, and if we do the will of the Lord in all things, what promise He makes to us: “Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed…  The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”  All we ask shall be given us; all we seek we shall find in Him.  And so, what shall our fasting be for us but pure joy, even as we become one with the Lord our God?

A blessed call is upon us now, one which makes our voices known to Him.  Let us “remove from [our] midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.”  Let us denounce any “quarreling and fighting” that keeps us from Him, and see that His will is done in our lives.  Then indeed He shall hear us; then by this death to sin we shall come to the glory of our God.

 

*******

O LORD, what can we do but fast

now that your Son has been taken from us? –

let us do His work, stand in His stead,

laying down our lives for all in need. 

YHWH, your Son has been taken from us, and so, on this day we fast.  He no longer walks among us, and so we must be as His presence.  We must free the oppressed and feed the hungry, doing the works He did while He was in our midst.  And if we do this, we shall be pleasing in your sight, as He was, and so be blessed.

With a contrite heart let us come to you, O LORD, recognizing our faults and failures to serve you as we ought.  Instead of laying down our lives in humble service of those in need of your Word and your Bread, we have spoken ill of our brother and been oppressors ourselves.  And so, any offering we have made has been in vain.  And so we have but served to separate ourselves from you and your compassion.

O LORD, let us not continue blind to our wickedness but seek each day to convert our hearts to your call to be as your Son and live His way of sacrifice for the sake of others.

Direct download: Fri._after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dt.30:15-20;   Ps.1:1-4,6,39:5;   Lk.9:22-25)

 

“The Lord watches over the way of the just,

but the way of the wicked vanishes.”

 

In our first reading, Moses makes clear the choice we all must face: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.”  “By loving the Lord… heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him,” the Israelites will be blessed with “long life” in the Promised Land; they “will live and grow numerous” by “loving Him and walking in His ways.”  This will be life for them.  “If, however, [they] turn away [their] hearts and will not listen… [they] will certainly perish.”  The promise to them will soon die if they walk “in the way of sinners.”

Life and death.  The blessing and the curse.  The just and the wicked.  To the Israelites the promise that they would be “like a tree planted near running water” if they followed the commandments of the Lord referred quite literally, quite physically, to the blessing of long life and enjoying the fruits of the earth.  It showed itself in the numbers of people in the nation and the land they were given to occupy.  When they were cursed, their kingdom was torn down and the land taken away from them.  They became “like chaff which the wind drives away” when they were forced into exile from the lands of Judah and Israel.

What is the land we must so treasure today, brothers and sisters?  What place are we called to preserve by following in the way of the Lord?  For now he “who gains the whole world” will likely “destroy himself in the process.”  Now our sights, our hopes, can no longer be set on the physical universe.  Jesus has come.  The Son of Man walks in our midst.  And His presence, His flesh, makes the heavenly homeland our desire – it is this which is now our Promised Land.  It is the number born into this kingdom which now causes our hearts to rejoice.  It is this blessing that now comes to him “who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.”

And the Lord makes clear what “the way of the just” now entails.  Our gospel tells us “Jesus said to all” – not just to His disciples, but to all who would find the blessing, would find life – “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.”  And His steps include enduring “many sufferings,” being “put to death” and then being “raised up on the third day.”  Now it is death that leads to life.  Now this world must be left behind.  Now, though we love all – even our enemies – and everything upon it, we must leave the earth we have held so dear.  The command is the same (to renounce all sin and love God), but now the prize is much greater, and so the way there much more narrow.  But the Lord blesses our every step toward Him.

*******

O LORD, let us remain in you and in your Son,

walking the way of His Cross

that we might not lose our souls

but gain the life of Heaven. 

YHWH, may we find not only long life on the land but eternal life in your heavenly kingdom by our turning away from all sin and following your Son on the way of the Cross.  Let us be dead to all the distractions of this wicked world that we might dwell with you alone.

Death comes to the wicked, LORD, death that spells the demise of his soul, of his life in you who are Life itself.  And so, how shall he live anymore if apart from you?  And so, what is his life then worth?  It is indeed like chaff driven away by the wind.

But those who take their refuge in you, who meditate on your Word and the Word that is your Son, these you prosper in all they do, for all they do is in your will and so cannot but receive your blessing, the blessing of your living presence, LORD.

Let us choose this day to live in you and never to turn our backs to your call to love.  Laying down our lives, O LORD, may we be carried by your angels.

Direct download: Thursday_after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jl.2:12-18;   Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17;   2Cor.5:20-6:2;   Mt.6:1-6,16-18)

 

“Even now, says the Lord,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”

 

“We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!” Paul exclaims; and the people of God today raise a cry, rending their hearts, begging His forgiveness… turning from their sins to find His healing grace.

The trumpet is blown in Zion; the people are gathered as one.  Now “let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber.  Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.”  For now is the time of mourning, now is the time of prayer… now is the time to cry with David, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.”  For now as we “acknowledge [our] offense” we find how “gracious and merciful is He”; now “the joy of [His] salvation” returns to us as “a clean heart” He creates for us, as His Holy Spirit He instills in our souls.  Yes, “Now is the acceptable time!  Now is the day of salvation!”  And so let us cry out to our Lord: “Spare, O Lord, your people!”

The Lord will hear us, brothers and sisters; He will be quick to respond, as long as we are careful “not to receive the grace of God in vain.”  As Jesus said to His disciples, so He says to us: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see.”  Only such vanity will prevent our finding the “recompense from our heavenly Father.”  Yes, we must give alms.  Yes, we must pray.  Yes, we must fast.  But listen to the Lord’s instruction to “keep your deeds of mercy secret,” to “pray to your Father in private,” and to make sure “no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden.”  For then indeed “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” for your sacrifice.  But if your offering is one to impress the eyes of man, be sure the eyes of God do not look upon it and it shall find no blessing in His sight.

The time has come, the time of great mercy.  As we call upon our God, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.”  In Jesus and in His sacrifice for our sin we might now “become the very holiness of God.”  May we find now the Lord “stirred to concern for His land and [taking] pity on His people.”  May we find His grace at work in our souls as now we give ourselves to Him.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "The Sackcloth Song" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, you see what is hidden;

let there be in our hearts no sin

but only your heavenly presence. 

YHWH, against you we have sinned, against you and your love.  We have turned our backs to you and our guilt is with us always.  But you are merciful and offer opportunity for repentance.  You are good and kind and allow us to return to you.  Help us to rend our hearts and weep in your presence, that we might know the healing touch of your forgiving hand.

Wash us thoroughly from our fault; let it no more be known in your sight, O LORD.  Now is the acceptable time for repentance – in Jesus you will hear our pleas.  O let His sacrifice be fruitful in your sight that we might be holy in Him this day!

And let our offering be acceptable to you as well.  May our fasting and praying and almsgiving bring down your blessings upon us.  Make us sincere, dear LORD, in our love for you and one another.  Let us lay down our lives with your Son and know your presence in our souls.  Spare us this day, O God; let us know the greatness of your mercy.

Direct download: Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

(Sir.35:1-12;   Ps.50:5-8,14,23;   Mk.10:28-31)

 

“The just man’s sacrifice is most pleasing,

nor will it ever be forgotten.”

 

Peter is moved today to voice his fear that all that he and his fellow apostles have offered, even their very lives, will not be enough to secure the kingdom of God.  But Jesus reassures all who serve Him: “I give you my word, there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for me and for the Gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many… and persecution besides – and in the age to come, everlasting life.”  None should fear that their sacrifice will be wasted, “for the Lord is one who always repays,” and repays in full, multiplying whatever gifts we offer beyond our expectations.

“But offer no bribes, these He does not accept!”  You will never be able to extort graces from the Lord, and so should always come without expectation of return.  Make all your sacrifices as “freewill gifts,” for only that which is given “generously” and “in a spirit of joy” does He smile upon.  Bring your gifts to the altar expecting nothing but the cross, in this find your return, and the glory of the resurrection shall indeed be yours.  You must learn from those whom the Lord rebukes, though their “holocausts are before [Him] always” – only “he that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies” the Lord, and so you must find joy in your cross.

Oh how “the just man’s offering enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.”  “He who observes the commandments” and “gives alms,” he who performs “works of charity,” who “refrain[s] from evil” and “avoid[s] injustice”… oh how this man “pleases the Lord”!  For his life is as a “sacrifice of praise,” an offering of peace and an atonement for sin, which cannot but reach to the throne of God.  Yes, “to him that goes the right way [the Lord] will show the salvation of God.”  Of this you can be assured.

*******

O LORD, the more we give you our lives,

the more we are blessed,

for the more we are of you.

YHWH, what is it you desire from us but to be generous as you are, to share all your gifts with others?  None is more generous than you; none could give a greater number of blessings here on this earth and in the heavenly kingdom.  Yet, do we trust in you and in your generosity, in the great wealth that only you possess?

All things are in your hands, O LORD.  Let us learn this simple lesson.  All things are in your hands and you give them freely and abundantly to those who serve you faithfully.  Though there be a cross we must bear in this world, how light it is made by the graces you pour upon us, by the love you share with all your disciples.

And so, let us give alms, let us be just, and let us do all with a cheerful countenance; and we shall reflect your glory in this world and carry even now your presence in our souls.  LORD, to the end let us follow in your way and offer ever a sacrifice of praise, and your blessings will be forever upon us.

Direct download: BC-030111-Tu_8_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.17:19-27;   Ps.32:1-2,5-7,11;   Mk.10:17-27)

 

“Jesus fixed His gaze on them and said,

‘For man it is impossible but not for God.’”

 

With these incisive words and particularly with this intent look, Jesus “encourages those who are losing hope.”  His disciples are “completely overwhelmed” at His statement: “It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” and to keep them from falling into despair at the impossibility of such a proposition, He seeks to teach them that “with God all things are possible.”  For truly none can be saved but by the grace of God.

“As Jesus was setting out on a journey a man came running up, knelt down before Him and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?’”  How like “the penitent [for whom] He provides a way back” is this man on his knees before the Lord today.  And even after the Lord seems to rebuff his advance, how he persists, begging further word from the Master with the reply to Jesus’ listing of certain commandments, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my childhood.”  Please tell me more, he seems to cry out.  And so “Jesus looked at him with love,” a love that is beyond the bounds of this world and beyond the bounds of the law – a love that makes all things possible, even the attainment of the kingdom of God, even for us wretched sinners.  “How great the mercy of the Lord, His forgiveness of those who return to Him!”  “Happy is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered”; for among the dead we would be if not for His divine mercy.

But oh “how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God.”  Though wrought with the Lord’s grace, how difficult it is to accompany Christ on His journey.  For our hearts are not on His love but on the things we must give up, and so, how readily we turn away in sadness.  It is indeed out of love Jesus calls the rich man from his possessions to His side; this is indeed an immeasurable grace pouring forth from the heart of God… but who among us can accept it?  Who among us truly seeks everlasting life?

“God watches over the host of highest heaven, while all men are dust and ashes.”  While “the thoughts of flesh and blood” are obscure, as the wise man tells us, and his possessions of even less consequence; while the sun itself “can be eclipsed” and all things of the earth are passing… yet the kingdom of the Lord endures and holds promise of shelter for the contrite spirit of a humble man.  For dust may pass easily through the eye of any needle, and we can be united with the vision of God; for us too all things are made possible, if we humble ourselves in the ashes – if we fall sincerely at the feet of the Lord, and accept His word.

 

*******

O LORD, help us freely renounce all of this world.

YHWH, please help us to inherit eternal life; though we must die first, though we must give up all things of this world, let us not look at what is lost but what is gained, being forever with you in Heaven.

Why should we prefer the riches of this life to life everlasting; why should we not want to be at Jesus’ side even here where we stand?  It is a fool who desires passing things to those that last; LORD, give us the wisdom and courage to do what is right.

You would let nothing stand in our way to you, LORD; all blindness and sin you would drown in the sea.  You would not remember our transgressions against you or our failure to heed your call… let us turn again and kneel before your Son.  Then we shall praise you with all the living on high.

It is not death we should fear or the renunciation of our goods.  Let us rather fear disobedience toward you and the loss of the kingdom.  O LORD, truly let us be cleansed of the guilt of our sin, that with clear eyes and open hearts we might follow you.

Direct download: BC-022711-M_8_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

 (Is.49:14-15;   Ps.62:2-3,6-9;   1Cor.4:1-5;   Mt.6:24-34)

 

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,

and all these things will be given you besides.”

 

Today’s gospel is the Lord’s beautiful exhortation not to be anxious about the things of this world: God takes care.  “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear,” Jesus instructs us.  And how true it is that “the birds of the sky,” who “do not sow or reap,” are fed in abundance, and that there is nothing more splendidly clothed than the flowers of the field.  And do we indeed think the Father will not care just so for our lives?  Yet all we do is worry about these passing things, even as our soul calls us to peace.

“Only in God is my soul at rest; from Him comes my salvation,” David so poignantly and appropriately sings.  And with this trust in his rock of refuge he knows he “shall not be disturbed at all.”  Similarly, St. Augustine has declared, from his own experience of pursuing worldly cares, that only in God do our souls find rest.  Are these witnesses not enough to trust in the salvation that comes from God alone?  Then hear of the undying love God holds for His creatures in the prophecy of Isaiah: to those who fret, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me,” he asks the simple yet profound question, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?”  Yet greater than a mother’s love is the Lord God’s care for us, for “even should she forget” (as seems to happen all too often in this age of abortion), the Lord states with certainty and full assurance, “I will never forget you.”

And much like this inclination to anxiety about the cares of life, and coming from the same faithless source, is our proclivity to judge others.  How many of us heed St. Paul’s warning not to “make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes”?  How many cannot trust that “He will bring to light what is hidden,” that all things He sees – that we need not do His job for Him.  “The one who judges me is the Lord,” Paul states.  Really, who else can do so?  As by no other hand does our food come, so by no other tongue shall all be judged.

“Trust in Him at all times, O my people!  Pour out your hearts before Him.”  Try it, and you will see – He alone provides all things.  Set your hearts on Him and He will take care.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "Breathing for a Living" from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us take rest in your arms

and not in the world’s distress. 

YHWH, you alone provide for all our needs; in you alone our souls find rest.  We cannot be at peace unless we give our lives in service of you, for serving the world we find only distress.

What is the motive of our hearts?  Whom do we truly serve?  What is it we seek with our lives?  Only you know our hearts, LORD.  Only you can see where our desire lies.  We cannot deceive you, and any attempt at deception, at pretending love for you above all, will only leave us in the same state of unrest as our openly seeking the things of this world.

Let them all die, all our errant desires, all of our fears about the things of tomorrow.  What indeed is food and drink and clothing?  Where do they lead us in themselves?  And what is not in your hands, O LORD?  Then why do we not trust ourselves into them?  There is no hope for us apart from you.  Let the peace of which your Son speaks be with us always, dear God.

Direct download: BC-022711-Su_8_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Sir.17:1-15;   Ps.103:13-18;   Mk.10:13-16)

 

“Let the children come to me

and do not hinder them.”

 

O how the Lord “looks with favor upon [our] hearts, and shows [us] His glorious works”!  And because “His majestic glory their eyes beheld, His glorious voice their ears heard,” so the “people were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them,” so they were offering their precious loved ones into the arms of the Savior.  And should we not all come to Him, should we not all run into His arms… are we not all His children?

Brothers and sisters, “the Lord from the earth created man, and in His own image He made him.”  Do you hear that?  In His own image we are made, as His sons and daughters.  “He endows [us] with a strength of His own…  He forms our tongues and eyes and ears, and imparts to [us] an understanding heart.”  He makes us as Himself, and then fills us with His presence!  And should we not come to Him, should we not come to His only Son, our own dear brother, the perfection of our race, that all disfigurement might be taken from us and we might radiate the light of God, that we might be remade in His image?

The Lord is only love and “His eyes are ever upon [our] ways” to guide us to His love.  He is “as a father [who] has compassion on his children.”  Yes, “the kindness of the Lord is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear Him,” and those who fear Him are His children.  But this fear, this overwhelming awe at the love the Maker of the universe has toward His simple creatures, is not one which makes us run from Him, but which moves us to leap into the arms of our Redeemer, into the arms of Him whose arms are always open to receive us, always open to embrace His children.

We know our blessed brother John has told us with holy affection that “we are God’s children now” (1Jn.3:2).  Of this grace at the hands of our Lord he has spoken most eloquently, most simply – most lovingly.  And it is so for all who love Him.  And so we should not hinder our hearts from coming to Him, from embracing Him as He embraces us… from giving ourselves to Jesus (particularly in the Sacrament), that we might be formed in His image.  Come to Him who is one with the Father, and one with the Father you shall become.

*******

O LORD, only your children come to you; 

welcome us into your kingdom. 

YHWH, let us come to you as children, trusting in your love.  And you will embrace us, and you will bless us… and we will come into your kingdom on high. 

We are but dust, O LORD, and our days pass like those of the grass.  A breath from your mouth and we are gone.  But it is your Breath that gives us life, that makes us wise, that makes us holy – that causes us to share in your glory.  You have created us from the earth but have endowed us with a spirit like your own.  Let us know your kindness upon us that we may endure unto eternity. 

LORD, let us remain in awe of you, ever grateful for the gifts that you give us, for the wonder that is upon us every day of our lives.  Let us not be separated from you but always be as your children, innocent and obedient and humble as you.  To your Son let us run and so find a home in His flesh and blood, and so be adopted into your love. 

Direct download: BC-022611-Sa_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.6:5-17;   Ps.119:12,16,18,27,34-35;   Mk.10:1-12)

 

“They are no longer two but one flesh.”

 

How much more clearly could the Lord speak of the unity found in marriage and so the respect due this sacrament?  How better could He get His point across to you that marriage is indissoluble, that it is not to be played with, that you commit adultery as you consider divorcing your spouse?  “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female.”  And by this Jesus does not mean that two separate creatures were made – He means that every one of God’s human beings is both male and female, and that in marriage one finds his wholeness in the sight of God.

When Adam was formed of the dust of the earth, Eve was already present within him, in his very body.  She was not created apart from him, but taken from him, “from man” – which is the meaning of “woman.”  Adam when he was first made held both male and female in himself, and when woman was taken from him, built of his rib, the two did not cease to be one.  Thus does he recognize Eve as flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.  Thus the two are inseparable.  In marriage this inherent unity returns, is fulfilled.  “Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined.”

And if “a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; [and] he who finds one finds a treasure,” how much more of a shelter is a spouse in whose body one makes his home – how much more valuable a treasure?  A friend and more is made by the marriage vow, for truly the spouses become one with one another, and one with the Lord.  And so, “when you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him.”  Know that you are joining yourself to this spouse body and soul, and such commitment is not to be taken lightly or falsely, with an eye toward leaving “when sorrow comes.”  Beware, lest you find “a friend who becomes an enemy,” or that you yourself are not a trustworthy mate.  For once joined you cannot be separated, try in vain as you will.  One might as well cut off a healthy limb as seek divorce, so grotesque is the proposal.  Worse than this, it is as cutting out one’s heart, for how can one divide blood that is commingled?

But you who are faithful of heart, know what blessing awaits you, for “a faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds.”  And if you seek “discernment, that [you] may observe [God’s] law and keep it with all [your] heart,” your spouse shall serve as savior to you, who are united with her to Christ.  In her you will find your life, even as the two become one.

*******

O LORD, may we take refuge in your friendship.  

YHWH, bless all marriages this day; may there be true, lasting friendship between all who vow their love for one another.  May they understand the commitment they make and the grace that comes to those faithful to it. 

Let us not think that we can separate at will, O LORD; help us to realize the bond that comes even from you in this holy sacrament.  Let us not harden our hearts against your loving will but sacrifice our desires to find union with that love.  Let us never be adulterous in our relationships with one another or with you. 

You would make a sturdy shelter for all those who marry in your NAME and in the blood of your only Son.  LORD, what could be of greater worth to us than a faithful friend, a faithful husband or wife, and a marriage founded in your surpassing love?  Open all eyes to the wonders you hold for those who love as you command.  Write your NAME upon our hearts and upon our wedding promises. 

Direct download: BC-022511-F_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O disciple of John

and shepherd who drank deeply

of the cup of Christ’s suffering,

you who bore both

the burden of a long life

and the pain of a violent death

yet remained faithful

till the end –

pray that the fire into which we are cast

we may also endure

as the sacrifice of Jesus

and so find it fruitful,

and so find it blessed…

and so rejoice in the witness

we are granted to give

in the name of our Savior.

May the offering of our lives

join with your own and all the saints’

in rising as holy incense

to the throne of God

and serve as witness,

to the eyes that behold us,

of the Lord’s great power and love.

Direct download: Feb._23_Polycarp.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Sir.5:1-8;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:50;   Mk.9:41-50)

 

“Mercy and anger are alike with Him;

upon the wicked alights His wrath.”

 

“The way of the wicked vanishes.”  It must vanish.  It cannot but vanish, for there is no place for wickedness in the kingdom of God.  And so, what is wicked must “be thrown into Gehenna”: what is to “enter life” must be purified.  Thus does the Lord command – Cut off your hand!  Cut off your foot!  Tear out your eye!  Remove even with violence whatever causes you to sin to preserve your life unto heaven.  For it is indeed better that you “enter life maimed” or “crippled” or “with one eye,” than to have your whole body cast into the fires of hell.

Do you fear being “plunged into the sea with a great millstone fastened around [your] neck”?  Does this seem a terrible fate?  The fires of hell are infinitely worse, and those of purgatory approach them.  Know that “everyone will be salted with fire”; everyone must be purified of sin.  And you can refuse this truth and so find yourself in the place “the worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished,” you can delay your purgation and suffer a measure of these flames in the state of purification after death – or you can remove the sin from your soul by the grace of God now, while there is yet time and His mercy is yet abundant.

“Great is His mercy; my many sins He will forgive,” you say, and you are not wrong.  But do you know how the mercy of God affects the sinful soul?  Do you think it a pleasant experience to be cleansed, to be refined as by fire?  Do you not understand that the Lord’s love and justice, His mercy and anger, are one for the wicked.  Yes, “the Lord will exact the punishment” that brings refreshment and renewal.  He must.  How else shall you be purged and purified for heaven?  All the sins upon your blackened soul are removed only by the chastising flames of His love.

So, “delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.”  Be not a fool “adding sin upon sin,” for every transgression must be accounted for.  But the Lord’s blood will wash me clean, you may say, if you have some sense of His redemptive sacrifice.  Yes, but it is still your soul that must be cleansed, and you shall own the purgatorial fires.  And so, hasten this day to the confessional; turn resolutely from your sin.  Then pray for the Lord’s indulgence, and you may be spared even temporal punishment for your transgressions (and even serve in the Lord’s stead to release others from the pain of purgatorial flames).

 

*******

O LORD, we will all be salted with fire – 

may our souls be preserved from your wrath. 

YHWH, let your wrath not suddenly flame forth to destroy our lives; the way of the wicked let us not walk that the unquenchable fire we shall never know.  You cannot but be angry with those who persist in sin – you cannot pretend that such evil does not exist or look past the hardened heart.  All will know your purgatorial flames, but may they be redeeming for every soul. 

Why are we so foolish, O LORD?  Why do we not turn to you this day, this hour, and delight in the Law you offer for our salvation?  Should we not walk the way of love your Son has set forth for us and seek to soothe His desire for our love by meditating on your Word and serving those who bring it to us? 

Let us not be cast into the sea with a millstone around our necks, LORD, but drink in the running water that comes from your Church, from the side of Christ.  Only this will quench the fires of your wrath. 

Direct download: BC-022411-Th_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O Rock of the Church,

leader of God’s people

to whom the Father has revealed

the divinity of His Son

and on whom the Son has therefore

built His Church,

giving you the keys to the kingdom,

the power to bind and loose

both on earth and in Heaven,

that the ship you steer

might conquer all Satan’s power

by the power of the Spirit

with which you serve your brothers,

secure in the blessed protection

and guidance of the Lord –

pray the Church you do yet lead

shall fulfill the call

the Christ has placed

upon every soul

and that we shall come to our heavenly home

in the light of the Messiah.

Pray we shall indeed be strong

and give faithful witness to our Savior. 

Direct download: Feb._22_Chair_of_Peter.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

(1Pt.5:1-4;   Ps.23:1-6;   Mt.16:13-19)

 

“On this rock I will build my Church.”

 

And Simon’s name is changed to “Peter”, which means “Rock”, to signify that here is the chief shepherd of the Church, upon whom the Church on earth rests.  It is he to whom Jesus gives “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”  Though all the apostles are given the power to bind and loose, it is Peter who leads – “a fellow elder” among all the elders and yet the one who speaks for all.

It is not by man’s decision that Peter is the Rock of the Church, but by the word of the Lord Himself.  Just as “no mere man ha[d] revealed” to him that Jesus is “the Messiah… the Son of the living God,” so no mere man works through him today as our Pope guides the ship that is the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is led by the Church and its teachings we are guided “in right paths.”  It is as we dwell in this “house of the Lord” that we are protected from all harm.  “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the Shepherd of all, and into the hands of Peter and the apostles He places care for His flock.

How well this first among equals instructs his fellow shepherds today in his letter: “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care.”  How well does Peter answer the Lord’s call to strengthen his brothers, to see that His sheep are fed.  The key pitfalls of “coercion” and “shameful profit” and “lording it over those assigned” to them, he warns them clearly against, and reminds them of “the unfading crown of glory” that awaits them.  It is they who must give “courage” to the flock, they who anoint heads with oil to make the cup of the Church overflow, even here on earth… and as they are faithful, they are Christ’s own special children.

To those who still doubt the primacy of Peter and its absolute necessity, I invite you to read again Scripture and notice how often and always Peter speaks for the whole and acts for the whole body as he does today.  It is to all the apostles Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” and though all may have faith, only one speaks up and answers in no uncertain terms.  As he does at the first council at Jerusalem, as he did in coming to the Lord on the water, Peter speaks and leads in the power of the Spirit.  The Church is one in Christ, and it has one rock it is set upon.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, as long as we remain in your House

we shall be secure,

for the faith of Peter will strengthen us. 

YHWH, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven you entrust to Peter; he is the Rock upon which your Church is set, the chief Shepherd leading all the rest.  Though your Son alone be the cornerstone, the true foundation of this House, it is into the hands of Peter you entrust your flock by his confession of faith.

You are at his side always, ever assisting him in leading the ewes with care.  It is by your Spirit he rules this House, generously giving his life in union with Jesus, our Savior.  And so, in verdant pastures your sheep make their home.  In your presence we are blessed to remain by your grace upon our souls, dearest LORD.

O living God, bless this day all your bishops and priests, and especially the Holy Father.  You indeed bless them by revealing yourself to them and strengthening them for the work they must accomplish.  With them may we all walk in the footsteps of your Son, laying down our lives for all, that we might come to eternal rest in the glory of your kingdom.

Direct download: Chair_of_St._Peter_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

O blessed reformer of the Church

who by a holy austerity

cleansed your soul

of the corruption of this world

and served by example

to lead others to a religious life –

teach us this day

of the chastising hand of God

and the suffering which leads

to joy,

that in the will of the Lord

we might all be purged

of our dross

and come to the kingdom of Heaven.

Pray that we, too, might realize

and so benefit from

the blessing upon us

when our souls are lashed

with pains

that threaten sorrow,

for He does but wish to lift us

from the sinfulness of this passing earth

to the consolation of His presence.

Direct download: Feb._21_Peter_Damian.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Sir.2:1-11;   Ps.37:3-5,18-19,27-28,39-40;   Mk.9:30-37)

“My son, when you come to serve the Lord,

prepare yourself for trials.”

Is Jesus not “teaching His disciples in this vein” when He speaks of His imminent death, a death they shall share, and calls them to “remain the least one of all and the servant of all,” even as He is?  Their arguing about importance reveals that they have not understood who they are, and so He would remind them that “in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.”

A kind of humiliation is upon the Lord’s disciples today as they fall silent in shame for “arguing about who was the most important, as Jesus stands a humble, silent child “in their midst” and calls them to embrace him, even as He has.  They must make themselves lower than even this “little child,” they must be even more “sincere of heart and steadfast,” if they are to find the reward which awaits them.  Yes, they must “cling to Him” even as He clings to them – even as He clings to this child – and “thus will [their] future be great”; thus will they come through the Son to the Father in heaven.

“Crushing misfortune” awaits the Lord’s disciples, for soon He shall be taken from them, and they will understand what His death means.  But as long as they continue to “fear the Lord… [their] reward will not be lost”; for “three days after His death He will rise,” and those who give their lives as He has done, even as the least of all, shall also know what His resurrection means.

Oh brothers and sisters, “the Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever,” and we must be counted among their number.  The Lord “forsakes not His faithful ones”; there is no one who has “hoped in the Lord and been disappointed.”  So let our hope be in Him and our service be for Him, and He will help us to endure “whatever befalls” us.  If He is our “refuge in time of distress,” we shall know our salvation, for whoever stands with Him in times of trial will also stand with Him in glory.  Let us but remain humble before Him, as a child; let us but accept the children He would place in our arms… and the birth pangs we find will but lead us to our home in heaven.

To His house the Lord leads us, even in this life.  Let us listen to His teaching.

*******

O LORD, even in times of crushing misfortune

you are with us,

if we but turn to you in humility.

YHWH, you are more humble than a little child, and if we could but trust in you and be as you, you would care for us in all things.  Make us as your children, as humble souls in your holy hand, that into your image we may be molded.

Your Son would lead us to you, LORD.  By His death He would show us the trust we must have in your love.  We must give all things over unto you, even our very life’s breath, to find how faithful you are, to find the life that is in you.  After three days Jesus did rise, and if we but trust our own death to you, we shall rise with Him.

O LORD, let us not fear trial or distress, but in such humiliation increase our faith.  This is your gift to us; this would bring us closer to you.  And what more should we desire than to be more like you, who are more humble than a speck of dust, whose days are without end.

Direct download: BC-022211-Tu_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.1:1-10;   Ps.93:1-2,5;   Mk.9:14-29)

 

“There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring,

seated upon His throne: It is the Lord.”

 

“The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” and He alone knows “wisdom’s root” and all “her subtleties”; for it is He who created her and “poured her forth upon all His works.”  And so He alone, whose “throne stands firm from of old,” He alone understands all things, and can answer any question.  And should we not be awestruck by His presence?  

That the Lord is robed in splendor as King over all we have seen only recently.  Even today He descends from the mountain on which He was transfigured; and though His face no longer shines more brightly than the sun, yet “immediately on catching sight of Jesus, the whole crowd was overcome with awe” and rushed up to Him, for still His glorious presence overwhelms.  At the base of the mountain the crowd and the disciples are engaged with the scribes “in a lively discussion” about the condition and fate of a poor child horribly possessed by a demon.  Their words are empty wind, but the one with all answers approaches.  And with a measure of faith from the boy’s father and those surrounding, He casts out the devil which even the disciples could not command, and which the scribes could not comprehend.

“What an unbelieving lot [we] are!  How long must [the Lord] remain with [us]?  How long can [He] endure” our lack of wisdom and grace?  Brothers and sisters, why do we so lack faith?  Why do we say to the Lord, “If you can”?  Do we not know that “everything is possible to a man who trusts”?  Do we think the Lord’s power is somehow cut short?  Yes, we are weak and pitiable creatures, blind to the glory which surrounds us, but He is not!  He is that glory, and that glory He shines for us.  We need but come to Him with the awe the crowd shows today, and He will do all things for us.

“All wisdom comes from the Lord and with Him it remains forever”; and for us “fear of the Lord is glory and splendor,” for by fear of the Lord are we graced with His wisdom.  And then what shall we lack of His power?  Indeed, we shall by holy fear come to know the “holiness [that] befits [His] house” and so dwell with Him who is “from everlasting.”  Do you believe this, my brother, my sister?  Come to the One who is seated far above us, and you shall do His work here on earth with the wisdom His Blessed Mother imparts to all her blessed children.

 

*******

O LORD, in your wisdom and majesty  

you save us from all evil;

let us stand with you in holiness.

YHWH, shine your wisdom upon us like holy light; let us grope in darkness no more, blind to your presence.  Jesus your Son has come down from the mountain to remain with us – may we run to Him for healing.

 

If wisdom had not been revealed to us, how would we know your majesty, LORD?  If the Christ had not come to us, what would we know of your glory?  But as it is, He has come, and in Him all things are ours to know.  As it is, the Spirit now breathes upon us. 

May we be blessed with fear of you, O LORD our God, that all demons may be cast from our hearts and we might stand in strength with your only Son.  O let us have faith in Him and the power at His command!  Let us know that we are the work of your hands and to holiness in your House you call us.  In awe let us come before you. 

Direct download: BC-022111-M_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

 (Lv.19:1-2,17-18;   Ps.103:1-4,8,10,12-13;   1Cor.3:16-23;   Mt.5:38-48)

 

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”

 

In the Book of Leviticus God says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and this is good.  But in the gospel Jesus adds, “Love your enemies” – and this is better.  In the old law we are commanded, “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people”; but in the new we hear, “Offer no resistance to anyone who is evil,” and even, “Pray for those who persecute you.”  For now it is revealed that all are God’s children, and so all must be loved as brothers.

“Is this wise?” you say, to love our enemies.  “Is this not foolishness?”  Indeed the wisdom of the world would call it so, but we are called to “become a fool, so as to become wise” in the eyes of God.  For what the Lord calls us to in this is no less than to be like Him, to become the very “temple of God” where “the Spirit of God dwells.”  “Merciful and gracious is the Lord,” and so are we called to be.  “Not according to our sins does He deal with us,” and so we should not deal with others according to theirs.  Our “Father has compassion on His children,” and we must have the same for all.

Has any of you put the words of the Lord into practice?  Has anyone sought to discover such love?  If you have then you know the glory it holds, the glory of a love which surpasses all.  And though justice is not wanting for those who reject it, His love cannot but be poured upon all.

O the happiness of the soul that receives such grace!  Oh the joy of him who knows the blessing of such utter sacrifice!  What greater blessing can there be than to “be perfect, just as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”?  With David the soul alight with God’s love sings: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless His holy name.”  With Mary the Mother of God our soul proclaims His greatness as we come to know “all His benefits” in the service of His love.  And our transgressions are put far from us; and the Lord’s grace abounds within us – and like His Son do we become, who upon the cross forgave even those who nailed Him to this tree. 

Brothers and sisters, no greater love will we ever find.  It is this gift of holiness our Lord calls us to this day.  Let us love as He.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "True Love" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, how shall we be holy as you are holy

if we do not love as you love? 

YHWH, you have redeemed our lives from destruction; you have not judged us according to our sins but looked upon us with compassion, offering forgiveness for our crimes, for you are love and mercy itself.  And you call us to be like you.

If we are to be your Temple, O LORD, if we are to reflect your glory, then we must go beyond the desire to strike those who strike us, to answer evil with evil.  We must learn to listen to the blessed words of your Son and love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us… for only then will we come to know you, to be like you, who love us as we strike you repeatedly on the cheek, who ever open your arms to all your prodigal sons.  We must transcend our own minds to find the surpassing grace and wisdom only you know.

Blessed be your holy NAME, O LORD!  Let us be holy as you are holy!  Let us heed the wisdom of your Son, who calls us to eternal love.

Direct download: BC-022011-Su_7_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Heb.11:1-7;   Ps.145:2-5,10-11;   Mk.9:2-13)

 

“Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here.”

 

In yesterday’s gospel Jesus promised, “Among those standing here there are some who will not taste death until they see the reign of God established in power.”  And today we witness the keeping of that promise, as upon “a high mountain” Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James, and John.  In all His glory does the Christ appear, with Elijah and Moses standing near and the voice of God the Father speaking of the blessing of His only Son.  Indeed, how good it is for these apostles to be here!

But what these favored apostles see is not for their eyes alone; through them all shall come to believe and so find vision of our glorious Lord.  Through them and their witness, faith is strengthened in all our hearts, faith which enables us to “perceive that the worlds were created by the word of God, and that what is visible came into being through the invisible.”  Yes, the invisible is made known to all our eyes by the power of God, and all the Lord’s disciples join Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor, basking in the vision of the glorified Son.

Know first though, brothers and sisters, that “anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him.”  Indeed, first one must have faith, or to one’s eyes nothing will be revealed.  Have faith and know that God is a loving God, that He desires greatly to share His glory with all His children of faith; even as He has with Peter, James, and John; even as He has with Abel, Enoch, and Noah; even as He has with Moses and Elijah.  But it is only “because of faith the men of old were approved by God,” only because of faith His apostles were able to see His Light shining – and only by your faith that you too will come into His presence.  Have you their “confident assurance” burning in your souls?  It is not far from you.

O Lord, “let all your faithful ones bless you.  Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.”  Let all proclaim the favor with which you have deigned to grace their lives.  Now that you have “risen from the dead,” now that our cause for faith is made complete, now that its firm foundation is set… open our mouths to declare your glory.  We know that you had to “suffer much and be despised” and that with Elijah, with the Baptist, “they did entirely as they pleased,” but we do not fear the persecution which must come – only let us be where you are.

 

*******

 

O LORD, make visible to us your invisible presence

and let us live in the light of your glory.

 

     YHWH, if we had but faith in you, what might our eyes not see? What awe might we know in your presence if our hearts were but set on worship of your glorious majesty.

     And why should we not have faith, LORD? Are there not signs of your glory everywhere, and most of all within our souls? Can we not hear you speaking to us if we but listen? Could we not see you if we but opened our eyes?

     Why should we need the proof this world requires when the proof you give is so much greater? Are we not living in your Word, O LORD? Are you not hope itself? Then let us but live and we shall know you, and such knowledge will be undeniable.

     Reveal to us your glory, LORD. Let us know what your apostles know; let us be witness to your majesty. Now that Jesus is risen let all the ends of the earth declare that your glory has come among us.

Direct download: BC-021911-Sa_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O seven men

who lived as one

in service of the Lord

under the mantle of Our Lady,

you who left everything of this world,

all you bought and sold,

that you might discover the riches

of Heaven:

to the mountain you went

to find perfection –

to the mountain let us come

to live with God.

Led by the prompting of our Lord and Lady,

let us, too, be fruitful on this plane,

founded in humility and love and poverty,

living as one in the Body of Christ,

freely giving our lives

and so knowing the blessing

of the virtues upon which you fed.

Pray for us through our Mother

that we too follow the call of her Son.

Direct download: Feb._17_Seven_Founders_of_the_Order_of_Servites.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.11:1-9;   Ps.33:10-15;   Mk.8:34-9:1)

 

“What profit does a man show who gains the whole world

and destroys himself in the process?”

 

Listen to what the men of old said among themselves at a time when “the whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.”  As they were migrating, they stopped in a valley and declared: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”  Hear how their desires reflect the Lord’s warning, “Whoever would save his life will lose it.”  For the Lord will thwart their plans made in a vain pride quite apart from Him and see that what they fear shall indeed come to pass – from this point they shall be forced to continue their migration, being scattered to the four corners of the earth.  Like David when he sought to number the people in his kingdom rather than allowing their increase in the sight of God, they do not put trust in the Lord but in the work of their own hands to make themselves a name.  And such work, such plans, cannot but come to ruin.

“The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples”; only “the plan of the Lord stands forever, the design of His heart, through all generations.”  And we must thank God that this is so.  For left to our own devices, we would go on “doing whatever [we] presume to do.”  Thus does God save us from doing as we please because “He who fashioned the heart of each, He who knows all their works,” knows well how inclined the human heart is to evil; He has witnessed the destruction that ensues when we are left to ourselves, and from this fate He would rescue our souls.  And so does He “confuse their language” at the Tower of Babel; so from there “He scattered them all over the earth” – to keep them from the sinful plots they would concoct.

Of course, our tongues are united again after Pentecost; we become one people under one God once more.  And indeed, “happy [is] the nation whose God is the Lord.”  But those who are set apart from Him, who do not lose their lives “for [His] sake and the Gospel’s,” do better in separation, where their sin is not as able to thrive.  And so, until that day “when He comes with the holy angels in His Father’s glory,” until the time of fulfillment of the coming oneness of all the children of God, only those who dedicate themselves entirely to Jesus and His cross will “see the reign of God established in power” here on this earth – even as “this faithless and corrupt age” courts its inevitable destruction in its unyielding pride.

 

*******

 

O LORD, let it be your reign we seek and not our own,

that our work might be blessed

and not cast to the ground.

     YHWH, vision of you alone let us desire. Your reign established in power let us see coming even this day. This world shall soon pass away; upon it let us not set our hearts or we shall die in a vain pride.

     If we seek to serve you, LORD, laying down our lives under the Cross with Jesus your Son, then alone will we be blessed and dwell in the City you prepare for us. But if we seek to make a name for ourselves, if by our own hands we would build our house – if we think we can raise bricks on this earth to attain to your heavenly kingdom, we shall be cast down to that earth in which we put our trust.

     O LORD, it is you who fashioned and made us and we can do nothing of worth apart from you. If we turn our backs to the way you mark out for us, we shall be aimless wanderers on this earth. Let our words only praise you and your glory and we shall share in your reign.

Direct download: BC-021811-F_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.9:1-13;   Ps.102:16-23,29;   Mk.8:27-33)

 

“The children of your servants shall abide,

and their posterity shall continue in your presence.”

 

In our first reading from Genesis, God remakes the world.  As once He sent forth Adam and Eve upon their creation, so now He blesses Noah and his sons with the same words: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.”  Here we are reminded that “in the image of God has man been made,” and once again God calls man to “abound on the earth and subdue it,” giving him power over all its living creatures.  And now a promise is added, a covenant is made “between [God] and the earth,” sealed with the sign of the rainbow – “never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth”…  We shall endure on the land He has made for us.

And the Lord works to remake His people in our gospel as well, as “on the way He ask[s] His disciples… ‘Who do you say that I am?’”  He is the new Creation, He is “the Messiah,” and in Him all children shall be remade in the image of God, shall become as His only Son.  And these truly shall endure, their posterity shall continue forever in the presence of Him who never dies.  Even after the final destruction of this earth and those who cling to it by the fire of God, even beyond the covenant made with Noah, which shall so soon pass with the dust from which we were made… eternally we shall remain in the new heavens and the new earth, the ones which themselves will never pass away.  For God’s promise to Noah is only for as long as the earth endures, but the earth is indeed passing away: only the covenant Jesus is bringing to His disciples and their posterity is one which is lasting as Heaven.

But to achieve this covenant, to found it firmly in the soul of Peter and his brothers and all us children of these servants, death must come to the only Son, and so surely to us all.  The paradox seems difficult to comprehend, but with the vision of God, who “look[s] down from His holy height,” it is easy to see: as long as the earth endures and we upon it, so long shall sin also endure.  (This is what the Lord sees when “from heaven He [beholds] the earth.”)  Thus the only way to “release those doomed to die” by their imprisonment to sin is for the corrupted vessel in which we dwell to pass from the Lord’s sight.  Thus does Jesus Christ die.  This must He do in the place of evil man and all his abominations that the world now in the hands of Satan might be destroyed, and the Spirit of God come to life.  And so His sacrifice brings our salvation, brings us new life in the New Jerusalem, where the servants of the Lord increase and multiply.  In the domain He has prepared by His blood, let us ever remain.

 

*******

O LORD, look down and save us from destruction

by the sacrifice of your only Son.

     YHWH, what do you see as you look down on us from your holy height? Can you be pleased with your creatures if they do not follow your ways? You desire to give us the earth and all it holds, but we are not worthy of such a gift. And so you send your only Son to redeem us, to remake us in your image, that we might be pleasing to you and that we might inherit not just this world but eternal life in Him who dies for us. Praise you for your kindness toward us! Let us come to Him and follow in His way.

     Jesus dies for us, LORD. In flesh He comes and offers His life that all the corruption upon us might be taken away, that it might die with Him on the Cross. And should we not follow Him to the Cross? Should we not see that all that is evil in us dies with Him that we might rise unto your heavenly kingdom? O let it be so! Let us come to the place where we shall never be destroyed. Look down upon us and hear our prayer.

Direct download: BC-021711-Th_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.8:6-13,20-22;   Ps.116:12-15,17-19;   Mk.8:22-26)

 

“Noah then removed the covering of the ark

and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up.”

 

A return to earth, the flood waters having ceased.  A new day dawns in this “the first month, on the first day of the month.”  The world is made anew, and it shall last, and man shall last upon it, until the last day comes.  Here is the second Creation, the first re-creation… the new generation extending from Noah.  After the cleansing rain, a soft white glow is upon the earth, a radiance of God’s presence.

Gradually it comes to us, this vision of new life that is the Lord Himself.  Three times Noah sent the dove forth from the ark before the blessed moment came when “it did not come back,” when all could rejoice that the waters had subsided.  And twice the Lord touched the blind man’s eyes before “his sight was restored and he could see everything clearly.”  Just as first the dove came back quickly, then with a “plucked-off olive leaf” in its bill (showing that the tops of trees were visible), before finding a place to make a home; so first the man sees people “like walking trees” before the Lord touches Him again and perfect vision becomes his own.  It is only gradually – day by day, week by week, year by year – that we come to full awareness of the Lord and with Him make our home.

And once out of the ark, “Noah built an altar to the Lord.”  And how pleased the Lord is with the “sweet odor” of the sacrifice he offers.  Here is the beginning of the sacrifices at the heart of Jewish worship which shall find their place in the temple at Jerusalem, “in the courts of the house of the Lord,” and know their fulfillment in the eternal sacrifice of the only Son.  Of course, it is not the odor alone which pleases the Lord, but what it signifies: Noah thinks first of Him who always thinks of us first, and so engages God in a marvelous mutual love.  Here our second human father reveals to the Lord that the goodness He has planted in us is not gone, that it is not necessarily so that “the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start,” that he is capable of love… though this truth shall not be known in full until the redemptive offering of Christ on the cross.

“As long as the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,” and mankind shall not be struck again from the land.  “How shall [we] make a return to the Lord” for this special blessing?  And how shall we repay Him for “the cup of salvation” we now “take up,” the cup which holds the blood of the Son?  For Noah’s sacrifice is indeed made complete in our midst, before our eyes, and the waters that once threatened to overwhelm us now recede as we discover our home in the heavenly kingdom.  We must show that the fullness of God’s love exists in us and join our lives to our Savior’s holy sacrifice.

 

*******

O LORD, open our eyes

that we might know your presence among us

and offer you due praise in the sacrifice of our lives.

     YHWH, may our sacrifice be acceptable in your sight. May it come from a sincere heart and express our gratitude for saving us from the overwhelming waters of our sins. May it be joined to the sacrifice of your Son and so be fruitful, and so serve to keep us from all harm and bring us to your kingdom.

     Our blindness we beg you cure, LORD, by the grace at the hands of Jesus. May He take us aside and place us in your presence that we might be healed of all that keeps us from knowing you and praising you for your goodness. Help us to have faith that you are leading us to the land you promise, to the new heavens and new earth. For this grace let us ever call upon your NAME.

     And help us to make return to you, O LORD, you who alone deserve our worship and love. A holy offering may we lift up even as we lay down our lives with your only Son.

Direct download: BC-021611-W_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O brothers in the faith

who brought that same faith

to the peoples

entrusted to your care,

who extended the reach of the Church,

gathering in lands

under her holy roof

and into her blessed arms…

faithful you were unto death

in proclaiming the word of God –

please pray that we, too,

shall be holy brothers of Christ,

offering our work, our lives,

for the sake of the nations

yet to be called

into His fold,

for the sake of peoples

unfamiliar with His Word,

that the heavenly kingdom

may come to fulfillment

and all be made one in God’s presence.

Direct download: Feb._14_Cyril_and_Methodius.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.6:5-8,7:1-5,10;   Ps.29:1-4,9-11;   Mk.8:14-21)

 

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters,

the Lord, over vast waters.”

 

“Mighty” indeed is the voice of God, but who can hear it?  Who listens to its “majestic” ringing in their ears?

In the time of Noah the Lord’s “heart was grieved,” for He “saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil.”  So great was the Lord’s grief over man’s disobedience that He uttered the saddest words we could hear: “I am sorry I made them,” and resolved to “wipe [them] out from the earth.”  If we have not pleased our Father, what hope have we of life?  If we have not listened to His voice, what can we hear but a sentence of condemnation?

It seems Jesus’ heart is grieved, too, today at His disciples’ ignorance of His instruction.  Here in a boat upon the waters His voice chastises their slowness to comprehend His call to wakefulness in the Spirit: “Are your minds completely blinded?  Have you eyes but no sight?  Ears but no hearing?” and finally, “Do you still not understand?”  And though He seems eminently frustrated by the fact that their vision is still trained so stubbornly on the bread of earth rather than the Bread of heaven, though they so quickly forget the miracles He has worked and the power He has revealed, yet He shall not remove them from His sight, but continue in patience with their schooling. 

For just as “Noah found favor with the Lord” and thus served to salvage our race from utter destruction, so the Lord’s apostles have found favor with Him.  And Jesus knows that as “Noah did just as the Lord had commanded him,” putting complete faith in God’s word, so these disciples will also in strength and in faith carry out His mission after His own death and resurrection, after His ascension into heaven… and with the Holy Spirit’s power upon them.  As in Noah’s ark God keeps man’s “issue alive over all the earth,” preserving them from the flood, so now in the barque of Peter “all the [Lord’s] household” takes refuge from the fiery destruction that is coming upon the world in these the last days.

Like the “one loaf” the disciples hold in their hands is the Church of the Lord – it is all that is needed for food in this world.  And so as we sail along to the farther shore, let us listen to God’s mighty voice speaking through Her.  As the end approaches, be sure to heed the Lord’s instruction: “Keep your eyes open!”  Beware the hypocrisy and pride of the powers that be.

 

*******

O LORD, how shall we be just in your sight

and begin to understand your majesty and glory?

YHWH, you are majestic, exalted far above earth and sea and every living creature.  But we are deaf and blind to your ways, and so, beset by wickedness.  How shall we hear your mighty voice calling to us over the waters, calling to us in your Son?  How shall we heed the thunder of your glory and praise you in your Temple with full voice?  How do we begin to understand what is far beyond our poor minds?

Send your Spirit upon us, LORD, that we might know and eat the Bread that is your Son, that we might be saved from the destruction that is coming upon all living things.  Into your Ark let us come, into your holy Church; with your apostles let us dwell, enlightened by your teaching and sharing in your food.

The Bread of Heaven make our own, LORD, that we might rise above the earth to where you dwell enthroned in glory and majesty with your only Son.

Direct download: BC-021511-Tu_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.4:1-15,25;   Ps.50:1,8,14,16-17,20-21;   Mk.8:11-13)

 

“Sin is a demon lurking at the door:

his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”

 

Thus does the Lord encourage Cain not to hang his head at his failures in worship but to learn from his errors and be strong.  Here already in Scripture we see how redemption is possible, how God gives us power to conquer sin.  But Cain does not fight off the demon at his door but instead attacks his brother Abel, killing him who has overcome sin.  The jealous demons write their name in Abel’s blood, by the hand of Cain his brother.

And the Pharisees are the same as Cain.  It is they of whom our psalmist sings, they who “recite [the Lord’s] statutes, and profess [His] covenant with [their] mouth,” but whose hearts are far from Him and who “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” themselves.  It is they who “sit speaking against [their] brother,” for indeed they come to “argue with Jesus,” to “test” Him who is most especially their brother, who is their Messiah.  And it is they who will shed their brother’s blood, who will conspire to kill their own “mother’s Son.”  And though Jesus Himself “correct[s] [them] by drawing [their sin] up before [their] eyes,” yet, like Cain, they refuse to see the evil taking hold of them, and so will be unable to turn from it.  And their punishment shall be greater than that of Cain, for so much greater is their sin.  As Cain is banished from the soil which had been his own, so the covenant which the Lord had given into the Chosen people’s possession shall be taken from their leaders’ hands, and they shall be left empty – except for the hope of turning to Him and cleansing themselves in Jesus’ blood.

The sign the Pharisees seek is essentially one they would make with their own hands, one which they would find at their command.  But “no such sign will be given” them, for then truly would they be condemned.  They must come to the sign Jesus is and accept it as the Lord God offers – their attempts to control the Father’s will are perhaps the most tragic of transgressions.  They say, as does Cain, that God must accept matters their way and are not humble to His Son’s teaching.  And so, sadly for them, “He left them” there on the shore alone, burning in their jealousy.

Fight the demons, brothers and sisters.  Ward off sin in all its forms.  The Lord promises we shall have the strength, if we are willing to turn from our sins and accept His chastising word… and wash ourselves in His cleansing blood.  But if we remain “resentful” and so “deaf” to the Lord’s correction, what shall save our souls?  And with Cain we will wander restlessly the earth, avoiding the glorious presence of the Lord.

 

*******

O LORD, we are a jealous race;

forgive our shedding the blood of our Brother.

YHWH, how sinful we are!  How we turn our hand against our brother, inflicting upon him the punishment for our guilt.  In condemning others we seek to rid ourselves of the condemnation we deserve; but this only brings the punishment on our own heads.  Help us to admit our sin and turn away from it!

Killing our Brother will not free us from the death upon our souls.  O LORD, how can we be so blind, so hardhearted, as to think such wickedness is our salvation?  Jesus comes to us as our Brother, as the one closest to us and most concerned for our well-being… but we cannot bear to hear His voice speaking of our need to turn away from sin, and so, what can we do but kill Him?  O set us free from bloodguilt!

Accept the sacrifice of a pure heart, dear God; make our offering to you sincere.  Our very hearts let us give in the service of our brother.

Direct download: BC-021411-M_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

 (Sir.15:15-20;   Ps.119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34;   1Cor.2:6-10;   Mt.5:17-37)

 

“Oh, that I might be firm in the ways

of keeping your statutes!”

 

The clear theme of today’s readings is the need to “exactly observe” the commands of the Lord, to keep His law “with all [our] heart.”  It is this walking “in the law of the Lord” that makes us blessed in His sight.

It is popular to believe that Jesus’ coming somehow nullifies the law and makes it unnecessary for our lives.  The Lord makes it quite clear the opposite is true: “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  In fact, He could not make the point more certain than His saying, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.”  Indeed, He does not say only that killing subjects one to judgment, but even anger at one’s brother.  Not only is committing adultery wrong, but “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Simply because forgiveness is greater in the presence of Jesus does not mean punishment is less; it is in fact greater as well, and more than greater – eternal.  Now “the Spirit scrutinizes everything.”  Now even the smallest of sins is exposed to the all-encompassing light of Christ and to the “all-seeing… eyes of God.”  The sins being more greatly exposed, of course the forgiveness is greater, for there is that much more for the all-compassionate God to forgive.  But by the same token, for those who do not come to Jesus to receive His grace and mercy, for those who choose death over life… the punishment is certainly all the greater; for more they see upon their souls about which to gnash their teeth.  And now the choice that is made by the will of man is no longer temporal: it is made eternal by the Son of Man.  There is no release from Gehenna, and Jesus comes to usher us into Heaven or cast our souls into Hell.  And further warning is found in the saints, who have said that most must pay “the last penny” in the fires of Purgatory before entering the heavenly gates.

The Lord gives no one “license to sin.”  All shall be responsible for their actions against Him and against His wisdom and love.  All are commanded to act justly before Him, if we hope to come into His kingdom.  “Yes” is “yes” with the Lord, and “no” is “no”: no deception will stand before Him.  We must pray each day for the wisdom to follow Him, and so find His everlasting grace upon our souls even as we journey through this world.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "Give Me Strength" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us resolve to walk in your wisdom

that we might find eternal life. 

YHWH, help us to follow in your ways with our whole heart, to seek ever to fulfill your commandments, to be obedient to your Word and that of your Son.  Then we shall be blessed, for then we shall be perfect even as you are perfect.

Now your Spirit reveals all your truth through the teaching of Jesus.  Now light is fully shed on the wonders of your Law.  Now we are called to love as you love – not to be angry with our brothers, not to have lust in our heart… not to let our eyes wander or our tongue speak anything but your truth.  The way to Heaven your Son makes clear to us: O LORD, let us heed His Word and walk in His holy way!

How holy we must be to enter your presence, how detached from all sin.  Nothing of darkness can approach your glory, and so to the letter we must follow your Word.  Indeed, we must wholly live in your love.  To see as you see, O LORD, to transcend our blindness… to come to what is beyond our minds, we must give ourselves over to the Spirit and be purified of every stain of sin. 

Direct download: BC-021311-Su_6_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

O lovely Lady who appeared to Bernadette,

Mary, Blessed Virgin and Mother of our Lord –

let our eyes, too, see your beauty

and hear your voice

calling us to pray for sinners,

calling us to come to you with our prayers

and to wash ourselves clean

in the water you provide

through Jesus your Son.

O Immaculate Conception,

so pure, so full of grace,

cleanse all our sickness from us;

let us be immersed

in the bath of purity

that washes us of sin,

that makes us whole

in the sight of God.

If we but had innocent hearts

we would see you,

we would remember the blessing you are

to all faithful souls…

O let us come to you

and find the grace we need this day.

Direct download: Feb._11_Our_Lady_of_Lourdes.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.3:9-24;   Ps.90:1-6,12-13;   Mk.8:1-10)

 

“You are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

 

Because of the fall we come face-to-face with this truth: our own mortality, our own humility, that we are but a creature made from the dust of the earth.  And this truth we must understand.  Because we have “eaten from the tree of which [God] had forbidden [us] to eat,” “thorns and thistles” the earth brings forth for us and “by the sweat of [our] face shall [we] get bread to eat,” until we learn our place – for our own sakes – before our Creator, or “until we return to the ground, from which we were taken.”

“Cursed be the ground because of you!” the Lord God exclaims to the man.  The womb of the woman, like the earth for man, shall bring her pain in bearing children, in bearing her fruit… and the serpent shall eat dust “all the days of [his] life.”  If now we should eat of the tree of life, to what state would we be condemned!  How shall we be saved from such a fate, wherein our own flesh brings upon us such pangs – how shall we escape ourselves?  And how shall we look upon God again?

“Teach us to number our days aright,” our psalmist cries, “that we may gain wisdom of heart.”  And what is he asking but that we realize, as God would teach us, that though He is “from everlasting to everlasting,” that though for Him “a thousand years are as… a watch of the night,” we are “like the changing grass, which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.”  So passing is our life.  This indeed we must comprehend, for this is truth, and failing to understand it we shall not find answer to our prayer: “Return, O Lord!  How long?  Have pity on your servants!”  But knowing our limitations before our God, He comes quickly to remedy our weakness.

See how Jesus looks upon those who “were without anything to eat,” those whose bodies fainted before His eyes.  Listen to the thought of His heart: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.  By now they have been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way.  Some of them have come a great distance.”  Oh how the Lord has pity on us!  Oh how He knows our plight – that we are but fading grass, having been far removed from His sight!  And how He wills to feed us, to nourish those who come to Him, who share the “three days” of His trial.  For though they toiled not, “the people in the crowd ate their fill” in the most peaceful of fields.  The Lord had come to save them!  And now eternal life is upon them.

Brothers and sisters, we need no longer fear our dying flesh, for the Lord feeds us with Bread that does not fail, that brings life eternal to the lowly body that eats it.  And so, no longer are we dust alone, though to dust our body may return.  But we become eternal souls in the hand of our Savior, eating from the tree of life He is.  In all humility let us receive His gift, His saving presence among us.  And to God we shall return, and now forever.

 

*******

O LORD, feed us with the Bread of life

that we might lie in the dust no more.

YHWH, have pity on our weakness, for our flesh is like the changing grass – we do but wilt and fade.  Weak in body and in spirit we find ourselves separated from you by our sins, by our disobedience to your command.  You care only for our good; let us come to you and remain with you till you take pity on our souls.

You give us food to eat, O LORD, even the body of your only Son.  Let us not prefer the food of this world or that which the devil offers.  If our eyes are opened unto death, if we but see our weakness, our nakedness before you, without realizing your eternal love… to what end shall we come?  We shall but return to dust.

Your punishments are good, LORD; your chastisements are what heal our tortured souls.  Let our suffering be joined to Jesus’ own, that we shall hunger for you alone, and in our humility you will be quick to feed us and return us to your fold.

Direct download: BC-021211-Sa_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O innocent soul,

pure as an angel,

meek as a lamb,

from slavery you were taken

to the house of God,

where freedom you found

in faith in the Lord –

pray for the freedom of all slaves

chained in soul or body,

that they shall be released

from the snares of this world

to walk at liberty with Jesus.

Pray His goodness reign

in all His children,

in all who would be

gentle as this Lamb;

may all those in need of His grace

hear His Word proclaimed,

and in His blood

be redeemed.

And pray His Mother watch over

all who are near or far from Him,

till they enter His presence.

Direct download: Feb._10_Scholastica.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.3:1-8;   Ps.32:1-2,5-7;   Mk.7:31-37)

 

“The eyes of both of them were opened,

and they realized that they were naked.”

 

How different this opening of the eyes of Adam and Eve is from the opening of the deaf man’s ears in our gospel; for our first parents’ eyes were opened unto blindness, but the deaf mute’s ears and tongue only to light.

Why this difference?  Why such contrast in the freeing of the senses to receive their signals?  Why is one evil and the other good?  The opening of the eyes of the man and the woman brings their downfall because they are not prepared for what they see.  They seek to be “like gods who know what is good and what is bad,” but they have not the skins to hold such wine of wisdom.  And so they burst.  And so they died before the glorious light suddenly before them… and so “the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden,” for they could not show their faces of dust before His Face of Majesty.  (Indeed, the woman first erred when she “answered the serpent,” when she responded to his enticement, not realizing she was no match for his “cunning”… much as she failed to understand she is no match for God’s wisdom.)

On the other hand, the opening of the deaf man’s ears and the loosing of his tongue is prepared by Jesus Christ, He in whose presence we are able to see light itself, He who provides the new wineskins for our becoming like God, enabling us to stand before the wonder of His Holy Face.  Notice how “Jesus took him off by himself away from the crowd” before healing the deaf-mute; see how this contrasts with Adam and Eve’s hiding from God.  Where they would avoid the glance of the Lord, Jesus brings the man closer to Him by drawing him away from the crowds; and there, more perfectly in His presence, He heals him.  And the man is healed, of course, because he himself does not hide: he is brought openly by his friends to Jesus.  In this way he “acknowledged [his] sin” before God; his “guilt [he] covered not” (as the man and woman covered their nakedness with fig leaves).  No, in his “spirit there is no guile,” and so his “fault is taken away”; and so, paradoxically, he who “confess[es] his sin to the Lord,” as the humble King David, finds that by the Lord his “sin is covered” – he is forgiven.

Brothers and sisters, let us learn to open our tattered souls to our Lord and God, never to hide; for to hide is hell and the Lord calls us to Him in the light of heaven.  And He will prepare our eyes to see, and He will make our ears ready to hear, and our tongues shall be loosed to praise His name and exclaim our amazement at His grace… for we shall be released from the blindness of sin and be as His Son, who alone can answer the devil.

 

*******

O LORD, let us hear your voice calling us

to confess our sins and return to you this day.

YHWH, how terrible it is when we transgress your Word, when we rebel against your loving will!  We are blinded by our sin even as our eyes are opened to our weakness… and so we hide from your glory, which we cannot contain.

We have bodies, LORD.  You have made us so.  We are not like you, pure Spirit and perfect Light.  And how weak our bodies can be when we lack your secure protection, when we lose your presence with us by our failing to love you.  Who can save us from such travail?  Who can open our ears again to hear and heed your holy Word?

O LORD, as we confess our faults to you, as we come before your Son to seek His healing – He who comes to show us that we are like you (for He is like you and we like Him), He who would restore us to our place as your children, blessed to be in your image… then our nakedness is covered; it is taken away as we reveal our weakness before you.  Let us listen only to you!

Direct download: BC-021111-F_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.2:18-25;   Ps.128:1-5;   Mk.7:24-30)

 

“A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife,

and the two of them become one body.”

 

And Jesus leaves His Father’s side and His mother’s care, and takes to wife His chosen people.  From His side indeed we are born, and become His holy family.

To the “sons of the household” Jesus comes; among the Israelites He walks, calling them to His table to eat the food of eternal life, of eternal union with Him and His Father.  Those who were conceived by God, who were taken as a rib from His own side and formed as His special bride, Jesus seeks to bring to full nuptial blessing in Him.  For this He would even die (as any man should for his wife).  But one “approached Him and crouched at His feet” who was not among those called to the “table first,” who was not of the family of the Chosen.  Unfazed by His rebuff she continues begging, not for “the food of the children” but just for their “leavings,” their crumbs, knowing even this will be enough to join her to His banquet, believing only a word from His mouth will save her own daughter from the devil’s clutches and bring her to His sacred presence.

And moved is He by her who is unmoved by His rebuke.  And so, “when she got home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.”  And so she finds herself and her family wed to Jesus the Christ.  Why?  Because she is one who does indeed “fear the Lord,” who does in fact “walk in His ways”; crawling on her knees before Him, she finds herself “happy” and “favored,” eating “the fruit of [her] handiwork.”  She knows she is not one of the “wild animals” or of the “birds of the air”: she is made in God’s image, a human being, and is inextricably drawn to His side, the side from which she has been born… and thus she finds her life and becomes with her daughter (with all us Gentile people) one of the “olive plants around [His] table,” grafted onto His “fruitful vine.”

Let man love woman as his own flesh, and let all men love one another as fellow children, for our Father in heaven loves us all much more greatly and draws us all to be wed to Him through our Bridegroom, His only Son.  As His side is opened by the lance and so we His Church are born in His blood, washed clean by His holy water, so let husbands give themselves for their wives, knowing they are “taken from” their own sides.  Yes, let us all die for one another that the love of God might extend to “the recesses of [His] home,” from which no soul is excluded.  In His blessed marriage feast let us all shout for joy!

*******

O LORD, blessed are those

who humble themselves before you;

they shall be joined to you.

YHWH, flesh of your flesh we are; flesh of your flesh let us be, wed to you through the flesh of your only Son.  One with you let us dwell forever, for from you our very lives taken.

And help us thus to love one another, LORD.  If you love us so much to give us yourself, let us then reflect your love and so give ourselves for the sake of others.  Let husbands love their wives and all souls serve the needs of others, finding great joy and blessing in thus serving your will.

To your table let all come, LORD, that they might share the food of your children, the Bread that is Jesus your Son, the Word that is your Spirit.  May all souls recognize the greatness and the goodness of Him who walks among us, and may we be hidden with Him in you and so become your fruitful children.  In faith let us be born and live in you and with you forever; let none be alone or apart from you.

Direct download: BC-021011-Th_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O innocent soul,

pure as an angel,

meek as a lamb,

from slavery you were taken

to the house of God,

where freedom you found

in faith in the Lord –

pray for the freedom of all slaves

chained in soul or body,

that they shall be released

from the snares of this world

to walk at liberty with Jesus.

Pray His goodness reign

in all His children,

in all who would be

gentle as this Lamb;

may all those in need of His grace

hear His Word proclaimed,

and in His blood

be redeemed.

And pray His Mother watch over

all who are near or far from Him,

till they enter His presence.

Direct download: Feb._8_Josephine_Bakhita.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT

O soldier for the Lord

and servant of the poor

who trusted in God alone

and gave your life

for those in need –

may we, too, become friends of the one Lord,

purified of all dross

by the trials we endure

and by doing His will

in this world.

His children let us become

as we care for the children

most in need,

those who seem abandoned

by Him.

His hands and His heart

let us be,

that in such love

we shall be free

of all fear and separation

from the Father

and so dwell with those we serve

in the peace of Heaven.

Direct download: Feb._8_Jerome_Emiliani.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.2:4-9,15-17;   Ps.104:1-2,27-30;   Mk.7:14-23)

 

“The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground

and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,

and so man became a living being.”

 

In addition, “out of the ground the Lord God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food.”  These would feed the body of the man.  But only spirit feeds the soul. 

Body and soul.  They meet in man and become one, yet one is the cause of life while the other passes.  When God formed man out of the clay of the ground, what He held in His hands was the body, and at the time it was dead.  Not until He breathed into him did man become alive: in this breath he found his soul.  And the time shall come when this form does rot, but not the soul.  Only in heaven will we have bodies that live eternally with our spirits (though certain saints – as did our Blessed Mother – may know this holy union even here on earth.)

And so does Jesus tell us “that nothing that enters a man from outside can make him impure,” and, to make this point graphically clear, adds, “It does not penetrate his being, but enters his stomach only and passes into the latrine.”  What is of the body is just so passing, and therefore of no consequence.  It is “what emerges from within a man” that “makes him impure.”  For sins such as “acts of fornication, theft, murder,” etc. are not the result of the food we eat, but of the thoughts in “the deep recesses of the heart.”  These are what make a man impure – or, by contrast, which will make him pure.  It is the soul that is capable of good or evil, not the body.  And even though it is eating of the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” that causes man’s downfall, this is not the result of the fruit itself, but of the covetousness and pride of man’s disobedience.  It is the ‘eating,’ the desire of the eye and the heart and the act which follows, which constitutes the sin, and not the fruit eaten.

Our psalmist speaks of the body and soul as well.  It is so that by the Lord we are “filled with good things,” that He gives us “food in due time,” food we need for our survival; but as the psalmist says of the soul, “If you take away their breath, they perish and return to the dust.”  How quickly we would die, in a moment or two, without the breath of God in our nostrils, without His Word to give us life.  And what great care we should take of the spirit that enters our beings.  May our souls ever be set upon our God and His teaching.  May our every thought and word and action be of Him, that we shall never be disobedient.  O Lord, “when you send forth your Spirit, [we] are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”  Give us your divine breath of life in our nostrils this day.

 

*******

O LORD, you make us of the clay of the earth,

but it is not the body that is of consequence

but the Spirit breathing within us –

let it be your own.

YHWH, it is you who make us of the clay of the ground and you who breathe the breath of life into our nostrils.  It is you who feed us in both body and spirit – you are our LORD and God.

It is you who care for us each day, O LORD, you who send your Son to take away our sins.  He reveals to us that it is not the flesh that gives life but the Spirit that is within; and He would cleanse us of all iniquity that we might stand as your sons always.

Though Jesus comes in the flesh and gives us of His flesh to eat, this food is not the passing kind but that which lasts unto eternal life.  And so, LORD, we pray that we shall embrace Him and the Word, the Spirit, He imparts to us.  Thus will we  be raised from the dust of death, from the chains that bind us to this earth, and rise with Him unto Heaven.

  Feed us with your Word, LORD, that we might be renewed and live forever in your Garden.    

Direct download: BC-020911-W_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.1:20-2:4;   Ps.8:2,4-9;   Mk.7:1-13)

 

“God created man in His image;

in the divine image He created him.”

 

At God’s word “the water teem[s] with an abundance of living creatures… birds fly beneath the dome of the sky,” and “the earth bring[s] forth all kinds of living creatures,” too.  And “God saw how good it was.”  Then God conceived the crown of His creation and said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  And so, “little less than the angels He made him” and gave him “dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”  And all this was “very good” in God’s eyes.  Alleluia!

But what does man do with this ultimate blessing from His Creator: he takes the freedom and power placed in his hands and makes himself a slave to “cups and jugs and kettles,” forever trying to wash his hands clean of the sin upon them.  God gives man “rule over the works of [His] hands, putting all things under his feet,” and all man can do is trample upon them as he forgets the God who made him.

“How accurately Isaiah prophesied about [us] hypocrites when he wrote…  ‘Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts.’”  Placing our traditions and practices above God’s commandments we lose sight of the glory upon us, of the majesty of God’s works around us, as we lock ourselves in a dark and empty room of our own making.  And all the creatures God has placed in our unclean hands suffer too, as our hearts turn from their stewardship to our selfish plottings.  And so, though we are crowned by God “with glory and honor,” we crown Him with thorns.

O Lord, “what is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?”  Lord, come and restore us to our former glory.  Father, let us give you true honor.  May your Word be made fruitful in our lives and we become as your Son.  Let all be blessed and made holy again in your sight.  In Jesus’ blood please wash our hands, that we might help you build your peaceful kingdom.

 

*******

O LORD, may your Word be fulfilled in us;

may we who were created in your image

be recreated in the image of your Son,

washed clean in His blood.

YHWH, you place all things in our hands, and we but corrupt them.  Your glory and majesty you reflect in your creation, and especially in man, but he cares not well for your gift and abuses his dominion.  His hands are not subject to your will but soiled by his own, and so creation with them.

In your image you create us, LORD: what greater blessing could there be!  Like gods we are made to reflect your presence on this plane – why have we gone so astray?  And how shall we return to you?  Only by heeding the chastising word of your only Son, who speaks with your own authority.  Listening to Him we heed your commands; turning from Him we can only be condemned.

Thank you for all your blessings, LORD, for the beauty and goodness of your creation.  Most of all, we thank you for making us in your image.  Let us not nullify your word and remove ourselves from your presence, but honor you in all we do.

Direct download: BC-020811-Tu_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O proclaimers of the faith

even unto death,

death on a cross,

you who have followed

in the way of our Lord

so completely,

loving your enemies

even as they killed you,

encouraging your brothers

even with your last breath –

may the blood you shed not be forgotten

by those of the nation in which you preached

and by all souls who seek God;

may it nourish the land

and bring it to bear much fruit

unto Heaven.

Pray that we who are so fearful here

may find the faith and courage

you displayed

and so be blessed with the same grace

that imparts the peace of the kingdom.

Direct download: Feb._6_Paul_Miki_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.1:1-19;   Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12,24,31,35;   Mk.6:53-56)

 

“How manifold are your works, O Lord!

In wisdom you have wrought them all.”

 

It is the Lord who “fixed the earth upon its foundation not to be moved forever,” and “with the ocean, as with a garment [He] covered it” – “the earth is full of His creatures.”  By the Word of His mouth all comes into being, and is sustained, sustained in the goodness of God.

Here as we read the beginning of sacred Scripture, we might do well to quote St. Bonaventure from the day’s Office of Readings.  In speaking of knowledge of Christ as “the main source of a firm understanding of the truth of all sacred Scripture,” He states: “It is impossible, therefore, for anyone to achieve this understanding unless he first receives the gift of faith in Christ.  This faith is the foundation of the whole Bible, a lamp and a key to its understanding.”  But how many read God’s Word as though in a dark room.

The prevailing lack of faith and so blindness to the truth of Scripture is evident again today in the commentary of my missal, which says of the Creation prophecy in Genesis, “The story is divided artificially,” giving as example the fact that “the sun is created after light.”  How indeed we grope in darkness without the light of the Spirit; without childlike faith we shall never understand God’s Word, never enter His kingdom.  Is the light of God dependent upon the sun or the stars?  When our psalmist sings of the Lord “robed in light as with a cloak,” is it sunlight of which he speaks?  Does the light of the Lord not necessarily precede the limited light of the sun – which the Lord has but made “to govern the day” for a time – even as it shall be all by which we see when the sun and the moon and the stars pass away?  Where is your faith, where is your understanding… why is the Lord’s light not in you, my brother?

Brothers and sisters, as the people of Gennesaret upon seeing Jesus “immediately recognized Him” and “scurried about” to bring all their sick to Him, so we must be drawn by the light of God to the Truth that is Christ the Lord.  He is in every page of Scripture.  He is at work with the Father in Creation.  He is the all-powerful Word which brings all into being by its eminent wisdom made flesh before our eyes; and we shall never know the wonder of God’s works and the wonders He has wrought in our own soul unless we come to faith in Him.  In Jesus are all God’s works revealed.  He is the light of the universe.  (And though His radiance extends beyond our sight to infinite galaxies, it is here in this dome between clouds and sea we dwell, the earth from which we have been formed solidly beneath our feet.)

 

*******

O LORD, you created the world and all it holds

and redeemed us by your Son –

let your light be upon us this day.

YHWH, by a word from your mouth you have created the heavens and the earth and given us light to guide our way.  It is you in whom all glory and majesty dwell, yet you have made this world as a reflection of your beauty.  For this we should ever praise you.

But how we have disfigured your Creation, LORD!  How we have lost our way.  Still, you do not leave us alone in the darkness we have made – to us you send your only Son, Word made flesh, Light of the world.  And as we recognize in Him your glory in our midst, as we reach out to Him for healing, we are made well again, whole in your sight.

Let us dwell, O LORD, in the place you have made for us; in your goodness let us remain.  Through the ministry of your Son let us be fed by your hand, that we might be led one day to your Promised Land.

Direct download: BC-020711-M_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O good child of God

who gave your life so willingly

for the sake of Christ

and so wore His holy blood

upon your robes,

you who were blessed

to remain ever faithful to the Lord

even as those around you

turned from His presence –

pray for us this day

that our lives too

may be holy and blessed

as your own,

that we too might give witness to the Lord

with the same pure love

you did so readily show.

Pray we shall be wed to the Spouse

you so intimately knew

and thus become one with Him

and all His saints in Heaven.

May our lives also be good,

may they also be godly,

and may we, too, stand as others fall.

Direct download: Feb._5_Agatha.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

“Your light must shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

 

And how shall “your light break forth like the dawn” except that you “share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.”  Indeed, you must “remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech,” for only “the man who is gracious and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice,” only for him “light shines through the darkness” – as he is thus light being brought to this world of darkness and sin – only “he shall not fear,” for “his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”  And he shall stand on the last day, when the light comes to its fullness.

This emptying oneself of all that is evil and finding oneself in all that is just by “lavishly [giving] to the poor,” by feeding all those in need, is as Paul comes to the Thessalonians: “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling.”  “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”  “Not with persuasive words of wisdom” does he come “but with a demonstration of Spirit and power.”  Embracing the cross he empties himself entirely of all selfishness, of all that is not of God, and thus the light that shines through him is entirely of the Lord, and serves as genuine food to the hungry soul.

Brothers and sisters, to whom is the Lord speaking in our gospel but to us?  Who is “the light of the world,” what is the “city set on a mountain” but the Church?  If we are not “the salt of the earth,” bringing out the flavor of justice and love from the flesh of the Body, who shall be?  And what shall become of us and the world, therefore, but “to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”?  Sometimes we look to others – to government, to business, to science – to lead the way.  But all that need be is that we light the lamp that is in our grasp by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the house shall be illumined; we shall no longer fear or worry for the fate of those in need, for we shall be present to serve them.  But if “under a bushel basket” we place the light that is ours, what can the world be but dark; and what can the people do but suffer?  Brothers and sisters, we are called to shine the love of God.  The time has come to do so.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (2nd part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us trust firmly in you

and so shine your light

even as your Son, Jesus. 

YHWH, help us to be the light you call us to be, the light we must be if the world is to be saved from darkness.  Your Son has come as the true light to illumine the hearts of all men, to save them from their sin, and we must now carry that light forth, for who else shall do so?

Bless your Church, O LORD. with the sacrificial Spirit of your only Son.  Instill in our hearts the love only He knows.  Help us to be generous, to lay down our lives for others, that the hungry might be fed and the naked clothed with your glory.  O may our light indeed break forth like the dawn in this dark world that all souls might be drawn to your kingdom!

No fear have we, dear LORD, but the fear of failing to serve you, failing to reveal the face of Jesus in all we do.  Let us not hide His light; let our spirits not be corrupted and we be trampled underfoot for turning from your call.  Rather, let us do good, let us do your will, that your glory may be ever with us.

Direct download: BC-020611-Su_5_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Heb.13:15-17,20-21;   Ps.23:1-6;   Mk.6:30-34)

 

“The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.”

 

All things are cared for by the Lord; our work and our rest are in His hands.  Nothing need we fear.  No good desire goes unfulfilled – His sheep He loves.

Brothers and sisters, “through Christ may [the God of peace] carry out in you all that is pleasing to Him.”  Let Him guide you “in right paths” for the accomplishment of His will.  In “good deeds and generosity,” in obedience to superiors, in every intention of the heart, “continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which acknowledge His name,” for this thanksgiving He desires before all deeds and in all deeds; such praise will ensure His blessing, and lead to greater praise, and so greater blessing!  Have every confidence that the Lord “will furnish you with all that is good, that you may do His will,” and rejoice always in all you accomplish by His grace.

See in our gospel that when “the apostles returned to Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and what they had taught,” “He said to them, ‘Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little.’”  They have done His work faithfully, and now He would give them rest; now He would refresh and renew their souls.  “Beside restful waters He leads me”: in a “boat by themselves” He takes them.  “In verdant pastures He gives me repose”: “to a deserted place” the boat goes.  And though upon arrival at their destination the people wait “like sheep without a shepherd” and so their work must resume, this does not distract from the promised rest which awaits the finishing of our work in this world, and indeed but emphasizes that our rest shall be complete only in heaven.

For now the Lord watches over.  Now He cares for us like needful sheep.  Now He takes upon Himself all our fears and burdens, and calls us to do the same for all.  What should we want?  What do we need when we do the Lord’s will?  In this laying down of our lives all is provided; in our work we take our rest, we eat our bread.  For He is with us with His “goodness and kindness”; He remains at our side even in darkness…  We become one with our Shepherd, and no further grace we desire.

 

*******

O LORD, in you alone we take our rest,

through the blood of your only Son.

YHWH, through Jesus may we carry out your will; washed in His blood may we be raised from the dead.  In Him let us take our refuge, and nothing shall be wanting to us.

In your Son all our needs are met, and this to overflowing.  For He has pity on all our weakness – O LORD, let us be obedient to our Shepherd!

LORD our God, let us praise you in all things, your NAME ever on our lips.  In all our work may we be blessed and brought into your heavenly presence.

You would give us rest, dear God; you call us to an out-of-the-way place to be with you.  May we find repose in your eternal kingdom after these days of toil are passed.

But even here you are with us, LORD, even in this dark place.  Your Son is the Shepherd who walks amongst His sheep, leading us ever to your side.

Direct download: BC-020511-Sa_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O bringer of light

to many nations,

you who struggled on

for the souls placed in your care

that all might know the Christ

for whom you toiled,

endlessly seeking

to convert obstinate hearts –

may your zeal

inspire missionaries this day

to go forth selflessly

proclaiming the Gospel to all,

bearing witness to the Lord

in the cross they bear

in season and out of season;

whether producing much fruit

or being rejected,

may their hearts be set on the Word

and the love of God

for His children.

Pray especially those lands you led to Christ

will turn again

to the one true light.

Direct download: Feb._3_Ansgar.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT

O shepherd whom we invoke

for the healing of throats,

you who suffered torments

for the sake of the Name

and embraced death

as leader of His flock –

open our throats

to speak of Jesus,

to declare His goodness and glory,

the salvation that comes

only through Him.

Let us not fear

our persecutors

nor shrink from the threats

of the mighty

but stand fast

in the Lord’s healing grace,

confident that His every blessing

will keep us well

and on the path

that leads only to Heaven.

Pray all sickness flee from us

this day and forever.

Direct download: Feb._3_Blaise.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Heb.13:1-8;   Ps.27:1,3,5,8-9;   Mk.6:14-29)

 

“I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you.”

 

A series of parallels we have today between our first reading and our gospel.  Paul instructs us in his letter to the Hebrews not to “neglect to show hospitality” to our “fellow Christians,” since we may be “entertain[ing] angels” thereby; but it is not angels Herod entertains at his birthday banquet, and a false sense of hospitality leads him to grave sin, as when Herodias’ daughter requests the Baptist’s head on a platter, “because of his oath and the presence of his guests,” he “dispatch[es] an executioner.” 

Paul also tells us to “be mindful of prisoners as if [we] were sharing their imprisonment”; and it seems almost against himself Herod indeed sympathizes with John.  We are told, “When he heard him speak he was very much disturbed; yet he felt the attraction of his words.”  He knows John is the angel he should better entertain, but denies the voice speaking to his heart.  And so Paul’s warning, “You may yet suffer as they do,” proves true with Herod, who is clearly imprisoned by his own fear that John has been raised from the dead to haunt his soul.

Of course, the central cause of all Herod’s problems is his breaking the command Paul expresses distinctly: “Let marriage be honored in every way and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,” for it is “on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married,” that John chastises Herod, that the king has the prophet imprisoned, and that he is cornered into murdering him.  And so now he knows very deeply the extent to which “God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”  Indeed, his adulterous relationship and his niece/daughter’s dance of lust stand as examples comparable to the profligate lands of Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality, for their opposition to the Father’s love.

It is the Father’s love and our trust therein which rises above the immorality and violence so present in our gospel.  At the heart of Paul’s letter is his paraphrase of today’s psalm: “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?”  Indeed the faith in God David sings of so confidently – “Though an army encamp against me… though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust” – is what the Baptist holds in his own spirit, even as he extends his neck for the executioner’s blade.  He knows well that the Lord “will hide [him] in His abode in the day of trouble,” and so no trouble does his death cause him: the Lord will certainly “set [him] high upon a rock,” keeping him untouched by the lust and destruction which surround him in Herod’s dank prison.  It is Herod upon whom darkness shall fall.

“Your presence, O Lord, I seek.