Sat, 25 February 2017
(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.
Sat, 18 February 2017
(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.
Thu, 16 February 2017
(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.
Sat, 11 February 2017
(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.
Sat, 4 February 2017
“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.