Sat, 30 January 2016
(Jer.1:4-5,17-19; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; 1Cor.12:31-13:13; Lk.4:21-30)
“I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
When God calls Jeremiah to prophesy “against Judah’s kings and princes, against its priests and people,” He tells him to “gird [his] loins” and commands: “Be not crushed on their account.” For though his people “will fight against” him, they shall “not prevail over” him. The Lord makes Jeremiah “a fruitful city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass” able to stand against attacks of any in “the whole land”; He preserves His prophet’s life despite any danger or threat.
In our gospel Jesus is likewise protected by God from any harm His people would inflict upon Him. Here in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus is called to prophesy against the faithlessness of the people; and though before He spoke His harsh word of truth they had “all spoke[n] highly of Him,” now “filled with fury” they drive Him “out of the town, and lead Him to the brow of the hill… to hurl Him down headlong.” But the deliverance promised Jeremiah and sung of so beautifully by our psalmist is with the Lord’s only Son as it had been with His prophet, and “Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.” Though they would not accept the deliverance He brings, He is delivered from them.
“O my God, [you] rescue me from the hand of the wicked”; you indeed are “my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety.” O Lord, “let me never be put to shame,” but “in your justice rescue me, and deliver me.” For you are “my rock and my fortress,” “my hope” who never fails to save. May I walk through all the difficulties of this world, all the darkness of sin and temptation and suffering, with you at my side, therefore with nothing to fear. Make me strong as your prophet, as your Son, for my life is in your Hand.
Brothers and sisters, soon all persecution will pass away with all the imperfect trappings of this desolate earth, and only God’s love will remain. Let us be as He who “endures all things”; let us be of love. And nothing of this world shall touch us as we pass through its midst, shielded by the Word of God, guarded by His eminent love.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Is This Your World?" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you rescue us from the hand of the wicked;
from our mother’s womb you are our stronghold.
YHWH, it is you who deliver us from all harm, from the fury of this world, from the anger of those unable to bear your truth. In chastising us you would show us the greatest love; but who is of love as are you, and so who is able to rejoice in your truth?
Few there are, O LORD, who desire to know their sins that they might turn from them and be saved. Few there are who trust in you from birth even unto death – who can place his whole life in your hands? Yet if we do not take refuge in you alone, we shall surely die. If we open not our hearts to your love, to your Word of truth that would redeem our souls, we will perish in our sin.
The hardened heart of man would hurl your Son to the ground from the hill He builds His town upon. Break our pride, LORD, that we might be saved. Open our hearts to your Chosen One, to the love He brings to us, that we might see you face to face.
Wed, 27 January 2016
(2Sm.7:18-19,24-29; Ps.132:1-2,3-5,11-14,Lk.1:32; Mk.4:21-25)
“If your sons keep my covenant and the decrees which I shall teach them,
their sons, too, forever shall sit upon your throne.”
Yes, “the Lord has chosen Zion; He prefers her for His dwelling.” His blessings are upon His Church and its people, for “the Lord swore to David a firm promise from which He will not withdraw: ‘Your own offspring I will set upon your throne,’” and Jesus completes that promise by establishing the New Jerusalem in His Name. But we must exhibit the “anxious care” David has shown for the preservation and promotion of the house which is ours through this Son of David and fulfillment of God’s promise.
If “the eye is the lamp of the body,” as Jesus has said elsewhere in the gospels (Mt.6:22), then we must say with David: “I will give my eyes no sleep, my eyelids no rest, till I find a place for the Lord.” Always our light should be shining forth; always we should be looking to “make our call and election permanent” (as Peter has elsewhere stated – 2Pt.1:10) – always we must seek to serve Him, if ever we wish to dwell with Him. For as Jesus says so poignantly to the crowd today: “Is a lamp acquired to be put under a bushel basket or hidden under a bed? Is it not meant to be put on a stand?” Thus He encourages us to bring our light “out into the open,” to let it shine forth for all to see. For then it shall be blessed.
“Listen carefully” now to what the Lord says further: “In the measure you give you shall receive.” Here is a golden rule which must be understood and practiced. For it is so that the more we share the gifts the Lord places in our hearts and at our hands, the greater these blessings grow. As we share our faith, more faithful do we become. As we speak of Him, the more do we understand of Him. In giving ourselves away for others and the sake of the kingdom, we find ourselves present in His light. And so do we grow. And so is our place in His house assured. And so we shall dwell with Him forever.
Let us pray with David in our first reading, brothers and sisters: “Bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever,” that what the Lord has promised each of us through the Son of David may come to light. As David simply asks the Lord to accomplish what He has graciously vowed to do – “Confirm for all time the prophecy you have made concerning your servant and his house” – let us beg the Lord to grant the same to His Church for the salvation of all souls who worship Him in truth and serve Him in strength. Alleluia.
O LORD, dwell in us as you have promised
that we might shine your light forth.
YHWH, who are we that you bless us with a place in your kingdom, that you shine your eternal light in our eyes? How can we know you, how can we even approach you, we who are but useless servants….? And yet you make us your sons. Let us cherish the blessing you give us and shine the light you provide.
Your House is a house for all peoples, LORD, and all peoples you would draw into your sanctuary. The promise you made to David comes to us all through the Son you place upon his throne. Now that Jesus is with us, help us to be as generous as you and serve to extend your blessing to all men. O what a blessing it is to share your love with others! Let us not be afraid or hide your light away.
All we have let us give, O LORD, for all we have is a gift from you and it is increased only when we give it to others. May all come into your presence.
Sat, 23 January 2016
(Neh.8:2-4a,5-6,8-10; Ps.19:8-10,15; 1Cor.12:12-30; Lk.1:1-4,4:14-21)
“He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it.”
These words are spoken of Ezra the scribe who “brought the law before the assembly” of all Israel as he stood above them preparing to read the word of God, but it surely more distinctly refers to Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who reveals Himself to the souls in the Nazareth synagogue today. As “Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all might understand,” so the Word is perfectly read and interpreted for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came “into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage” in Isaiah which speaks of Him: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me…” Thus is “fulfilled in [the people’s] hearing” the salvation promised from all time; the presence of the Word is with us in flesh and bone.
Brothers and sisters, the eyes of all are filled with vision of His light, of His glorious being in our midst; all ears are filled with the sound of His voice, like gently rolling thunder soothing our hearts. And so we see. And so we hear. And so His Church has eyes and ears of the Lord, for we become “Christ’s body and individually parts of it.” Our feet now walk with Christ and our hands serve Him, and all for the blessing and honor and upbuilding of the whole. If I write this to you now and you hear, do I write for myself alone? Is it even I who write at all? Are not all things in the Body in the Lord, taking strength from Him and nourishing in turn all its parts? What are we apart from the Body – we could not stand alone! Does the Lord not reveal these things to us in the opening of Scripture before our eyes? Is He not whole and one with all?
In our first reading all wept at the words come from the mouth of Ezra, and all celebrated together this day of feasting. All stood as one when the book was raised, and all were prostrate as the name of the Lord was praised. The Body is one, as St. Paul tells us, and none go off on their own: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”
Brothers and sisters, “the ordinances of the Lord are true, and all of them just.” Let us live as one in the WORD of the Lord, “the words of [our] mouth and the thoughts of [our] heart find[ing] favor before” our God, that the world might see the truth and the light of Christ alive in His Body.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Spirit be upon us
to accomplish your will in Jesus’ Name.
YHWH, your Law is perfect and is perfectly revealed in the presence of your Son. He it is who fulfills in our hearing, in our sight, the glory of your Word. Here is the Word made flesh for us to taste, and so to become as His Body.
High above us Jesus stands to shine the light of your wisdom upon all souls. By His presence in our assembly all eyes are enlightened, for by Him your command is made clear. And what gifts are thus given to your Church, O LORD, by the Spirit upon us now.
How shall our eyes take in the vision you share with us in Him? How shall we hear of the joy He proclaims? How shall we come out of our prisons and embrace the grace of His message, dear LORD, we who have dwelt so far from your will?
Refresh our souls this day, dear God, with the flesh and blood of your Son. Let us become one with Him and declare your truth to the world.
Sat, 16 January 2016
(Is.62:1-5; Ps.96:1-3,7-10; 1Cor.12:4-11; Jn.2:1-11)
“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding.” And it is here Jesus “revealed His glory”; here the beginning of His signs would take place in His changing water into wine.
But why? Why here at a wedding? And why this transformation as His first miracle? He would have begun His ministry some twenty years prior, in the temple at Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Would this not have been a more appropriate place, and a more marvelous age? But His Blessed Mother drew Him from there then, and He was obedient to the wisdom she offered by gift from her Spouse, the Spirit. She would teach Him of our human condition, and lead Him to bear His own patiently, that our high priest might be able to sympathize with our nature. Indeed, to all He seemed an ordinary man.
And now it is she who leads Him to accept His station as the Son of Man. Here at that most blessed, most cherished of human events – one which St. Paul tells us mirrors Christ’s own union with the Church, one spoken of repeatedly by the prophets of old (as does Isaiah today) to demonstrate the Lord’s great love for His people, and one which at the end of time (a time so marvelously depicted by John in his Book of Revelation) will be fulfilled in our midst in the descent of the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Holy Church, from Heaven to earth… here at this feast so human and yet so divine, He simply changes water into wine. As Eve the wife of Adam once offered her husband the apple he would consume to produce our fall, so here the “Woman,” Mary, the Mother of the Lord and Spouse of the Spirit, offers Jesus His ministry, which will lead to the death that redeems us all.
And the water becoming wine indicates the transformation we all undergo, baptized in the Spirit of the Lord, wed unto heaven. And this transformation produces in the Church the “spiritual gifts,” the outpouring of knowledge and prophecy and healing St. Paul speaks of today: our marriage to God cannot help but produce blessed fruit in us, even as God’s espousal of Mary has produced the only Son.
And, of course, each day we drink the spiritual wine, the wine become blood, poured forth upon our table, upon the altar of the Church. And this primarily feeds our spirits, sustains us human beings with food from heaven, not of earth. One with the Lord do we become by the consumption of this sacred fruit; in this Sacrament our Bridegroom rejoices in us His Bride and calls us to rejoice in Him, to “sing to the Lord a new song” of the purest love as we “worship [Him] in holy attire,” in the finest, the purest of wedding garments – in His flesh and blood. Sing alleluia to our God!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Miracle" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, no longer forsaken,
we rejoice and sing praise
at the revelation of your Son.
YHWH, we should sing as at weddings for your Son has revealed your glory to us here on this earth. You rejoice in us as a bridegroom in his bride, and should we not rejoice all the more at this great grace you bestow upon us? You make us as your own and place your Spirit within us. O make your Spouse fruitful in your sight!
In holy attire let us worship you, O LORD, clothed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pure and spotless let us be that we shall be desolate no more but know the blessing of your presence among us and partake of your surpassing wine. The hour has come to join ourselves to you by uniting ourselves to the flesh of your Son, and to proclaim such a wonder to all peoples.
Give us wisdom, O LORD, the wisdom to know that we are your own and to do your will in all things. Let us forever praise your NAME by the power of the Spirit upon us.
Sun, 10 January 2016
(1Sm.1:1-8; Ps.116:12-19; Mk.1:14-20)
“Hannah was childless.”
And so she would “weep and refuse to eat,” for it was “a constant reproach to her that the Lord had left her barren.”
But He will not leave her barren long. Her husband’s love for her despite her condition and her own prayers will soon be answered: she will give birth to the great prophet and priest, Samuel, who will anoint kings in Israel.
And her song of joy, which will foreshadow our Blessed Mother’s own Magnificat, is here foreshadowed in our psalm in praise of the Lord’s favor to His servants: “To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord,” as is her faithfulness in fulfilling her vow to offer her son entirely to God: “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people.” All who have looked upon her shame and sorrow shall marvel at the blessing the Lord’s “handmaid” will receive as He looses her bonds of emptiness and makes her fruitful in His eyes.
And in our gospel the Lord awakens the empty womb of the earth, stirring it to life. “The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the Good News!” He proclaims to a people in darkness. And children He brings forth from this barren country, the disciples He calls unto Himself, to be the first to share in His life. And they come forth, these pillars of the Church; they leave behind the world, all the world, to follow Him. Immediately, “on the spot,” they “became His followers.” “Along the Sea of Galilee,” beside this simple body of water, the waves of grace call forth from the darkness the light that shall illumine all men.
“How shall [we] make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for [us]?” How shall we poor sinners, barren of good works, unfruitful in His sight, thank Him for hearing our grieving cries? Simply, we must bear fruit in His name.
We are no longer childless.
O LORD, call us to yourself
that we might be childless no more.
YHWH, let us enter the temple singing your praise, for though we sit here in darkness weeping for our barrenness before you, you shall hear our prayer, you shall answer our weeping and make us fruitful in your sight. For now the Word goes forth to the ends of the earth, the Good News your Son brings to us through His blessed apostles, and our lives will be reformed and we made ready to enter your presence.
Look upon us, LORD our God, as here we toil in vain for the bread which cannot satisfy our souls. For you alone do we long, and long have we been waiting in tears for you to come to us and call us to your side. Hearing the sound of your Son’s voice, what can we do but rejoice? For He is our light in this darkness.
And so, let us offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving; let us leave all behind now to follow your Son, for He leads us to fruitful labor in your holy NAME. O LORD, let us die to the things of this world that we might live in glory forever.
Fri, 8 January 2016
(1Jn.5:14-21; Ps.149:1-6,9; Jn.3:22-30)
“The Son of God has come and has given us discernment
to recognize the One who is true.”
John’s disciples had difficulty recognizing “the One who is true.” They saw everyone “flocking to Him” and away from their master, so they came to their master questioning. But John was forthright: “I am not the Messiah,” he said, “I am sent before Him.” And now that He has come, the Baptist’s joy is complete.
Brothers and sisters, “we know that we belong to God, while the whole world is under the evil one.” “We are in the One who is true.” Jesus has brought us to such knowledge. And this knowledge, this reality of the eternal life of God, should make us rejoice with our psalmist. It should make our lives ones of thanksgiving in which we “praise His name in the festive dance” and “with timbrel and harp.” For, yes, “the Lord loves His people” and we are His faithful who “exult in glory.” Let us “be glad in [our] maker.”
The world is under sin, and there is deadly sin which destroys the soul lurking in the world. The devil is real as well, and will not simply go away. And though only God can cast him away ultimately, we can pray against much of his work in this world, “petition[ing] God,” interceding for our brothers who falter in sin that is not deadly… and finding their release through the grace of God. With this “confidence in God: that He hears us whenever we ask for anything according to His will,” we have a great gift and a great strength in this dark world – we can bring light to it, the light of the only Son. But we must always be as “the body” He adorns “with victory.” We must have the same attitude as the Lord’s “best man,” and say with the Baptist, “He must increase while I must decrease.” We must find our joy in Him and not in our works or in our pride. He is all and He is true, and He leads us to the kingdom in His baptism in water and the Spirit. Brothers and sisters, we must see the grace we have in our midst. Jesus is ours.
O LORD, let us remain in you
and rejoice at the coming of your Son.
YHWH, in Baptism we are begotten by you and protected from all sin and selfishness. Let what you have begun in us become complete – let all sin be taken from us that we might rejoice forever in your presence.
O LORD, let our joy be complete. Now that your Son has come and drawn us into His flesh and blood, now that He has cleansed us from our sins and made us whole again, let us decrease as He increases within us, until He is all in all in us… until we exult in the glory of your kingdom.
O LORD, let all your children praise your holy NAME and sing of the grace upon all the lowly ones of God. O true God, let us be your own, born again in your Son, in the Spirit upon Him. And we shall be ready even to die with Him that we might find new life in Him with all our brothers and sisters.
Save us from sin, dear LORD, and let us live in your glory.
Thu, 7 January 2016
(1Jn.5:5-13; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Lk.5:12-16)
“Whoever possesses the Son possesses life.”
What does our psalmist mean when he sings: “He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat He fills you,” but that we are in Christ? What are those “borders” but the flesh of Christ? What is this wheat but the manna, the Sacrament of His Body He gives us to feed upon during our earthly journey? And this word which “runs swiftly,” what is it but the Spirit which enlivens the Body of Christ, which brings the flesh of Christ to life? And why should we not “glorify the Lord,” the God of life, who provides His Son and His Spirit, who makes the world and all that is in it, who calls us to believe, as the human beings we are, in the name of the Son, that we might find all three who testify to truth and “are of one accord”?
It is through the Son we come to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we believe in God the Father, we believe “the testimony He has given on His own Son’s behalf,” and we find the eternal life that is thus ours through the Son. May the Spirit run quickly to us and teach us and guide us along the way of God.
In our gospel Jesus heals a leper. He reaches out His hand “to touch him” and so draws him into Himself, into the borders of His holy flesh, and he is made whole. He wills it so, that the bars of all our gates be strengthened, that all enter into Him – that we be healed, whole in Him, and that our children, the fruit of our own bodies be blessed by their truly being begotten therefore of Him. If we are in Him, so will our children be, so will all the works we perform. But we must come as the leper, “bowed down to the ground.” We, too, must see Jesus and be moved to humble ourselves before His loving glory. In faith we, too, must desire His touch upon our flesh, to be released from all sin, to be made whole again. And we must do as He instructs us through the power of the Spirit; then we shall find life with the Father in heaven.
If it is remarkable that the Son of God would draw the leprous man into His sacred flesh and make him His own, it is perhaps more remarkable that He would do the same for us poor sinners – that being possessed by Him, we possess Him, and so we enter life by the flesh of Christ.
O LORD, let all men know
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
and eternal life to all who believe in Him.
YHWH, by a word from your mouth and the touch of your hand, we are healed of all our ills; your Son has come to save us. He is all we need to find eternal life – let Him live within us.
You testify, O LORD, by the word of the Spirit that Jesus is your beloved Son and we should believe in Him. Your testimony let us embrace in faith that the life you desire for us we may know.
Your Word of truth runs swiftly, LORD, and brings peace to our gates and borders. Our very flesh is anointed in your Son – in Him your Spirit is upon us. And we are blessed as your children; we are made whole in your sight. Let your Word run to all the world, that all might know of the glory you bring us in Jesus your only Son, in the water upon Him and in His sacrificial blood. In faith let all bow down before Him, seeking a word from His mouth and the touch of His hand.
Wed, 6 January 2016
(1Jn.4:19-5:4; Ps.72:1-2,11,14-15,17; Lk.4:14-22)
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Today the Son has come into our midst. Today He has “unrolled the scroll” of the Word of God and read aloud the words written of Him for all to hear. Today the WORD is brought to life. As “appealing” as is the discourse which flows forth from His gracious lips, so much greater is the Spirit that is upon Him. For by that Spirit and in His sacred flesh He shall “bring glad tidings to the poor… proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and release to prisoners.” In word and deed He “announce[s] a year of favor from the Lord.” In Him all time comes together. In Him it is all one moment. And this moment reveals the love of God.
And by the Son we are begotten, by His love: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God.” And so, children we become with the one Child most blessed. And if we are all one child born of the love of God and His Word, what can we do but love one another? Does one not love his own flesh and bone? And so, “whoever loves God must also love his brother,” for his brother is of him as he is of God and both are His children in love, born of the flesh of the one Christ.
“In Him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed.” It is not for the few He has come, but for all. For God is the Father of all and the Son possesses and reveals all that is of the Father. “All nations shall proclaim His happiness,” for all peoples shall find their happiness in Him alone, who is love and which love is itself our happiness and our hope.
Speak to us, Lord Jesus. Work through us, dear God. Let your Commandment of love be fulfilled in us. Let our love be fixed on God and let us love our brother. May we hear the words you speak in our midst today. May your Spirit make us children of the Father.
O LORD, Jesus is the Christ;
your Spirit is upon Him and He has come to save us –
let us declare His praise.
YHWH, your Word is fulfilled in Jesus and in the Spirit upon Him. Glad tidings the poor hear from His blessed lips, and we who are blind may now see your glorious presence in our midst. From our prisons let us be released, that we might love as Jesus loves.
If we remain in your Son, we will be able to keep your commands and so be blessed forever. You will give us power to conquer the world, to conquer the world even as He has done. O LORD, in Him may our lives be governed with justice, that our mouths might bless you all our days.
O LORD, if we keep our eyes and ears and hearts fixed on Jesus, we will know your love and be able to share in that love. Truly we will love you and our brother, and every blessing will be ours by the grace upon your Son. Your Name be praised by the tongues of men for all the goodness He brings us
Tue, 5 January 2016
(1Jn.4:11-18; Ps.72:1-2,10,12-13; Mk.6:45-52)
“If we love one another, God dwells in us,
and His love is brought to perfection in us.”
Jesus has just fed the five thousand men with the five loaves and two fish. He has performed a great miracle before the eyes of His disciples and through their hands. Yet “their minds were completely closed to the meaning of the events,” and when He comes walking toward them on the water in the middle of the night as their boat is tossed about by a storm, they are “terrified.” They are afraid because they are not yet perfect. John tells us in his first letter, a letter of love: “Love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid” and “perfect love casts out all fear.” The disciples will not be perfect, will remain afraid, until after the death and resurrection of the Lord, and, really, until Pentecost, when the Spirit falls upon them. As John states, “The way we know we remain in Him and He in us is that He has given us of His Spirit.”
His Spirit is the Spirit of love and He, our Lord Jesus, is Himself love. John follows both the clauses, “If we love one another” and “When anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,” with the statement that God dwells in us. Jesus and love are equated as the Spirit and love are equated above. Why? Because “God is love” and both Jesus and the Spirit are God, and so are love.
Brothers and sisters, our love must be brought to perfection, and it is “brought to perfection in this: that we should have confidence on the day of judgment” – that we should have no fear of the punishment we deserve, that we know fully of His love. Jesus takes a step to preparing the disciples against the judgment, against fear and for love, by walking toward them on the water. He means to teach them that they should not be afraid of the wind and the waves which rock our boat in this world, nor should they be afraid of His miraculous, overwhelmingly loving presence. Let us learn what Jesus would teach the disciples: “Do not be afraid!” “For He shall rescue the poor man when he cries out.” He is love and He will save us. Let our minds open to His presence as we love one another, and let that love be brought to absolute perfection in us. May His Spirit be with you.
O LORD, your Son has come among us as a Man –
how can we recognize His glory in our midst;
how can we love as He has loved?
YHWH, why should we be afraid of your love, of your glory among us? Why would we rather remain in darkness than come into your light? Why can we not believe that your Son has walked among us and that He invites us to become one with you? How can our hearts bear such blessing?
O LORD, cast all the fear from us; let us not shrink from your presence, from your overwhelming love, but welcome it in our hearts with gratitude and a return of love to you and others. Let it be our desire to be saved and so glorify Jesus’ coming into our midst. Let Him enter our boat this day, and with Him let us remain.
Dwell within us, O LORD God. Dwell within us and rule over us with your justice and love. Hear us as we cry out to you; have pity on our afflicted souls. Speak to us: “Do not be afraid!” and open our eyes to your eternal protection.
Mon, 4 January 2016
(1Jn.4:7-10, Ps.72:1-4,7-8,11; Mk.6:34-44)
“Justice shall flower in His days, and profound peace,
till the moon be no more.”
Our psalm (of Solomon, the king of peace and wisdom) relates the infinite justice of God, He who “defend[s] the afflicted among the people” and “save[s] the children of the poor.” Such is the judgment of our God, who “rule[s] from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth”: His perfect justice He showers upon all.
And how is this justice effected? It is already evident from what we have said, from what our psalmist has sung of His Name, and our letter from John leaves no question – “God is love.” His ultimate justice and love have been “revealed in our midst in this way: He sent His only Son to the world that we might have life through Him.” In sending Jesus “as an offering for our sins,” His perfect love and perfect justice meet and kiss and become one. He bleeds for us, and so our sins are forgiven.
And what clearer proof that we all “have life through Him” is shown in our gospel, in which Jesus feeds the masses. First He teaches them with the Word “at great length.” Having pity on them, He feeds their souls with Truth. But His pity does not end there – His concern extends to the physical as well as the spiritual… for He knows all our weakness, and He feeds the peoples’ bodies as well as their souls.
What a beautiful picture this is: the people “neatly arranged like flower beds,” Jesus raising the bread to heaven and pronouncing the blessing, the disciples distributing it, and Jesus Himself dividing the fish among them. All eat and all are satisfied. Here is a picture of the Lord’s justice and love. And this scene we enact each day at Mass, listening to His Word, His teaching, and then eating the bread of life He distributes among us. May the Lord be praised!
And what have we to do to receive this bread of life but heed the words John offers and “love one another.” For “love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God.” And this knowledge we find in our love is that His justice is true and endures forever in the perfect peace His presence brings. Let us have faith forever.
O LORD, you sent your Son
to shepherd all afflicted and fainting souls;
may we be nourished by His love.
YHWH, you send your Son to rule over us with His love, to feed us with His own Body and Blood. May justice flower in His day and all the ends of the earth be blessed with His peace. And let us love as He has loved; let us lay down our lives for one another.
O LORD, upon your holy mountain let us take our rest, our souls arranged like flower beds, our hearts yielding to your Word. May your rule be made complete even in this deserted place where men are as sheep without a shepherd. To this place let your Son come and make it as your eternal home. Give us something to eat this day, LORD, by the hand of Jesus and His apostles, or we shall faint for weariness, or we shall starve to death.
It is only your love which sustains us, LORD, only our being joined to you. May we eat our fill of your goodness, and never be apart from your reign.
Sun, 3 January 2016
(1Jn.3:22-4:6; Ps.2:7-8,10-11; Mt.4:12-17,23-25)
“Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God.”
And for every spirit that acknowledges Him, He answers all prayers: “Whatever we ask we shall receive at God’s hands.” “Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance…” And so, when “they carried to [Jesus] all those afflicted with various diseases and racked with pain,” He heard this prayer made in faith, made in the belief that He could do this, and as Matthew so simply and wonderfully states, “He cured them all.” They had listened to His preaching: “Reform your lives! The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They accepted it, humbly, taking no offense at His words and His actions – but believing in Him. And so He could perform such wonders for them, He whose spirit is true; and so “on those who inhabit a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”
And now we should “give heed” and “take warning”; now we should “put the spirits to the test to see if they belong to God.” Now we must clearly acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and know what John tells us, “There is in you One greater than there is in the world,” and follow that Spirit within us. Are we “keeping His commandments and doing what is pleasing in His sight”? Do we “remain in Him”? He is never far away and He will hear all of our prayers and cure us of all ills, if we but believe in Him, if we but heed His teaching – if we reform our lives. We show our belief in Him when we follow His commandments, and we follow His commandments when we reform our lives. Thus we prove that we speak His language; in our love we reveal His Spirit in us.
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you.’” Even in our psalm are spoken the words of the Father to Jesus; and they are spoken to us, if we believe that He is the Christ. This is the salvation the Father offers; it is for us to accept it and live it. For a greater gift we cannot expect, more love He could not show – this is His Son, this is God… believe in Him. There is nothing else you need seek.
O LORD, all those who seek the truth
come to your Son,
and you make them your children.
YHWH, we shall be healed of every ill; all darkness will be banished from our midst, if we turn from our sins, if we seek to reform our lives – if we believe in the Name of your Son, that He has come in the flesh and is our Savior. And then our every prayer shall be answered, for we shall be living in your love.
It is not of the world we are to be, O LORD, not of the darkness of this place. For the world does not recognize that Jesus has come, nor has it ears to hear Him. But our ears are attuned to His voice and the truth He speaks to our heart. Let us not be deceived by those who would deny the truth, those who would speak against what is plainly before them. Let us hold fast to the teaching of your Son and His apostles, and we shall have power to overcome all such evil by His love.
Give us all we ask of you, LORD; give us a world remade in your image.