Mon, 27 February 2017
(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.
Sun, 26 February 2017
(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.
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.
Fri, 24 February 2017
(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.
Thu, 23 February 2017
(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.
Wed, 22 February 2017
(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.
Mon, 20 February 2017
(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.
Sun, 19 February 2017
(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.
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.
Fri, 17 February 2017
(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.
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.
Wed, 15 February 2017
(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.
Tue, 14 February 2017
(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.
Mon, 13 February 2017
(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.
Sun, 12 February 2017
(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.
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.
Fri, 10 February 2017
(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.
Thu, 9 February 2017
(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!
Wed, 8 February 2017
(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.
Tue, 7 February 2017
(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.
Mon, 6 February 2017
(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.
Sun, 5 February 2017
(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.
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.
Fri, 3 February 2017
(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.
Thu, 2 February 2017
(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. Hide not your face from me.” Through all things let me remain in your light. And as John’s life ended, this greatest of “leaders who spoke the word of God” to us, so let my own, in faith in you, O Lord, who are with us forever.
O LORD, though thrown in prison or put to death,
still you protect us;
in purity in your presence let us dwell.
YHWH, O what fate awaits those who feed their lust, who wallow in the wickedness of this world! Theirs is a punishment far worse than death, for never will their fear come to an end.
But those who love you and their brothers, LORD, those who have pity on souls most in need, these are shielded by you in the day of trouble and shall rise to be with you in the end.
Your children are persecuted on this earth, O LORD our God. They walk in the footsteps of your Son. But despite the war that is waged upon them, despite the threat of death itself, those who trust in you are not shaken. But those who sit upon the thrones of sin, those who give free reign to their passion and greed – these do but fat themselves for the day of slaughter, when the dance of lust shall be long past.
Let us serve you in our brothers, LORD. Let us share in the pains of those oppressed and keep ever to your way, and you will keep us from all harm to sit with John and Jesus on the last day.
Wed, 1 February 2017
(Heb.12:18-19,21-24; Ps.48:2-4,9-11; Mk.6:7-13)
“You have drawn near to MountZion
and the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem…”
“…to the assembly of the first-born enrolled in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.” Alleluia! “Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God.” And great is our call to dwell in His blessed City with all His holy ones, and with our Lord. Could there be a greater cause for joy? For “His holy mountain, fairest of heights, is the joy of all the earth,” and the joy of heaven.
To the New Jerusalem we are drawn, brothers and sisters, to the fairest heights. Holiness in the Lord is our call – to dwell with our Lord forever. But what is the road that leads to such a blessed mountain? How do we who tread the dust of this earth find our way to heaven? Evident the Lord makes the path today in the summoning of His apostles. In their call we find our own.
“Do not bring a second tunic,” Jesus says to the Twelve as He sends them forth to preach and to heal. For they are to make no provision, to put no stock in the things of the earth… “to take nothing on the journey.” Their trust must be entirely in Him and the word with which He anoints them: the power He gives, the grace He provides, is sufficient not only to cast out demons, but to find all we need for our day-to-day lives. The Lord teaches us as He teaches them that our faith must be complete, our spirits wholly set on His will, if we are to make our way across the dust of this earth to His kingdom. Nothing short of the sacrifice He Himself offers first will bring us there. His sprinkled blood must be upon us, and work through us.
“O God, we ponder your kindness in your temple”; we marvel at your grace. For no longer by “fearful… spectacle” of “blazing fire” and “gloomy darkness” do you make yourself known to us. No longer are you “untouchable,” Lord. But present in our midst, sandals upon your feet, you, O unapproachable glory, draw near to us, and so enable us to draw near to you, to touch you, O wounded Savior. And your sandals you place upon our feet and invite us to walk in the way you have shown. May we do so, Lord, as humbly as thou; and so to our eyes and our hearts make your kingdom known.
All the saints in heaven, pray for us. All His holy angels, watch over our way. May our feet stand forever upon the Lord’s holy mountain. In His heavenly City let us make our home. (In His Church, in His Mass, He is with us.)
O LORD, may we take with us only
the Cross of your Son
as we journey to your holy mountain.
YHWH, how can we express the joy of the gracious gift of your Son in our midst? In Him your Temple comes to us; in Him we dwell in your City, O living God. He is the mountain to whom all holy souls come. His is the blood that washes us clean and prepares our hearts to receive your glory. May we follow in His steps this day that we might live ever in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Nothing need we but your Son and His Cross, O LORD. There is nothing in which we should put our trust but His Word. For walking in His sandals all is provided for us – what does any son need but you.
O Father in Heaven, in your great love you think of us and draw us into your presence with all the holy ones. Let us be made ready to stand on your mountain by our trust in you today. Let your Son work in us; in Him let us make our home.