Sat, 29 July 2017
(1Kgs.3:5,7-12; Ps.119:57,72,76-77,97,127-130; Rm.8:28-30; Mt.13:44-52)
“The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.”
Wisdom. The “pearl of great price.” How precious the ability “to distinguish right from wrong” by the grace of God, and to choose the right way at all times. For finding the pearl is one thing, a gift from the Lord, but wisdom is revealed in him who “goes and sells all that he has and buys it,” knowing there is no treasure greater than the heavenly light shining from the face of God.
It is heaven we must desire. What else is of any worth, my friend? And in His justice, in His truth, in the wisdom and understanding that come from the touch of His hand and the words from His mouth alone will we find what is the desire of all the righteous souls.
Solomon demonstrates that he “love[s] [the Lord’s] commands more than gold,” and this pleases the God who seeks to rule His heart. He shows that he is the son of his father David by coming humbly before the Lord, recognizing that he is “a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.” And such utter dependence on the Lord’s grace He cannot but bless, declaring to His servant: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.” Because the young king has made the desire to “know what is right” his request of his God, he receives this, and so much more.
All knowledge, all wisdom is given to Solomon, and shall not be taken away. But perhaps we should note that what he is given here in such abundance, he shall not heed throughout his life – for he shall not always sell all else to follow in the light of the Lord’s decrees. Perhaps none but Jesus Himself can do this wholeheartedly; but none should also make the riches of the earth, which contradict the heavenly treasure, his abiding desire, as the older king shall do. All must strive to remain in His light, to be as “the scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven… who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old,” who serves as the angels that “separate the wicked from the righteous” – even on this earth distinguishing evil from good.
“Brothers and sisters, we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Paul’s words reflect the wisdom of God. For truly His elect are known to Him from before time; truly He calls us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” And truly we know that by the justification of our souls under the cross of Christ we shall come to the glorious presence of the Father in heaven. And this is all that matters. “Do you understand all these things?” Then place all in His hands.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: ""Heaven" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you yourself are the pearl
of the greatest price –
let us find you and your Word at work in us this day.
YHWH, let your kingdom come into our midst; let us seek it with all our heart. For nothing else has worth, nothing else lasts – only in you do we find a home.
Let your wisdom fill us, LORD, like light from above. Let us listen to your Son’s teaching that we may be conformed to His image. You desire to give us every good gift; it is your will to bring us to glory. May our desire be in accord with your own and all will work only for our good.
And we shall come to Heaven, where you dwell. We shall come to the light of your face, O LORD, and gaze upon you forever. Your angels will gather us into your House, and there we will remain always.
You invite us to ask of you our heart’s desire, and you cannot but grant what you offer freely. May our desire please you, LORD, may it be your own, and we shall be blessed with your treasure.
Wed, 26 July 2017
(Ex.19:1-2,9-11,16-20; Dn.3:52-56; Mt.13:10-17)
“Blest are your eyes because they see
and blest are your ears because they hear.”
Jesus tells us today, “Many a prophet and many a saint longed to see what you see but did not see it, to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” How blessed are we, for the light of His face now shines upon us, for His teaching is now in our ears.
With fear and trembling the Israelites came to Mount Sinai to witness the presence of God. They wished not to be there as He revealed Himself in mighty signs: “There were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.” What an astounding scene! For “the whole mountain trembled” and “the trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God answering Him with thunder.” Here is the revelation of God in all His majesty as He communicates Himself to His people. Our psalm, too, sings of the glory of the Lord and the praise due Him: “Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,” “on the throne of your kingdom,” “in the firmament of heaven.” The Lord is indeed “exalted above all for all ages.”
But overwhelming as the Lord is and difficult as it may be to find Him, we must never close our hearts to His presence. Yes, there must always be proper fear for the awesome glory of God, but our eyes must yet be open to see Him and our ears open to hear Him. He comes now to us not in thunder, not in earthquakes – but in a still, small voice… in the gentle presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And though this pregnant silence radiating the Word of God may be just as fearful to the heart darkened by the cares of the world, though the refining fire it is may bring a greater pain to the soul being cleansed of its sin, we must not turn away as did the ancient Israelites, as did many of Jesus’ time: we must not allow our hearts to be “sluggish” to understand.
He stands before us now, present here at Mass and in all His holy sacraments. Indeed, He comes to us speaking through the people and all the things around us. He is ever calling to our hearts, ever shining His light upon our minds. Do we open ourselves to Him? Do we seek to grow in the Spirit each day, every day…? Blessed are we now that Jesus has come and on the third day been raised from the dead. The Lord instructed Moses: “On the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people.” That day is now fulfilled in our sight; let us cleanse our hearts, that we might be prepared to see Him.
O LORD, what we see and hear,
what we taste and touch,
each day at your altar!
YHWH, how can we look upon you who are so far beyond our understanding, who are exalted above all for all ages, we who are so sluggish of heart? The ancient Israelites trembled at your glorious presence revealed to them at Mount Sinai. How could they bear the trumpet blasts, your voice speaking in peals of thunder, the fire, the smoke covering the mountain…? Would not any soul die at such display? How shall we approach your mountain?
Yet you look into the depths in which we dwell in our misery, in our darkness and our fear, and you come to us gently in the presence of your Son. Our fears you understand, LORD, and so seek to allay them; yet our blindness remains. Even to Jesus we close our hearts, though He comes only in love and bearing blessed truth to save our souls.
O let our eyes look gladly upon His face and our ears hear expectantly the words from His lips! Let us turn to Him, LORD, and find healing for our hardened hearts. Let us be at peace in your presence.
Sun, 23 July 2017
(Ex.14:5-18; Ex.15:1-6; Mt.12:38-42)
“The Lord Himself will fight for you;
you have only to keep still.”
But the scribes and the Pharisees cannot keep still, cannot hold faith firmly in their hearts, but are anxious for a sign. But it is “an evil and unfaithful age” that is “eager for a sign,” and so no sign will bring it salvation. Jesus indeed will die and rise again, but it will be of no avail to those whose hearts are closed, to those who blindly fight by their own power. Indeed, a sign was not needed by either the queen of the South or by Ninevah; the wisdom and the preaching that come from the Lord were enough for them to bend the knee and to repent. These pagans, these foreigners, had hearts open and seeking the word of the Lord – and so shall be saved thereby. But these scribes and Pharisees who hear the wisdom and truth pouring forth from the lips of Christ are deaf to its significance, and so shall be condemned.
The Lord indeed it must be who fights for us, and not we ourselves. We must sing with Moses, “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior.” Knowing we can do nothing by our own power, let us shout to our God, “Your right hand, O Lord, has shattered the enemy.” Is it Moses’ staff and “hand outstretched” which part the Red Sea, or is it indeed the Lord’s power? Is it we who save ourselves from the pursuit of sin marching like Pharaoh’s army against us, or is it God who hurls “Pharaoh’s chariots and army… into the sea”?
“Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today,” brothers and sisters. As He saved the Israelites from the relentless pursuit of the Egyptians, so He will save your soul from the onslaught of sin upon your soul. You must but trust in Him. Take not refuge in signs and wonders, which you might forget upon their passing, but be still and wait for the Lord, listening for His voice, remaining steady in the faith He instills in your heart, and you will not be shaken by the temptations and distractions and fears brought by the world and its blinded mind. “They sank into the depths of the sea like a stone,” Scripture tells us: so it will be with your sins and the temptations which surround you. “These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.” Have but faith in your hearts.
Jesus, may we simply know that you are with us
and follow in your footsteps each day.
Fight for us, O Lord,
for the battle is always yours.
O LORD, greater even than Moses
is your Son Jesus Christ;
should we not listen to Him and reform our lives?
YHWH, Jesus has drowned our sins in the sea, buried them in the belly of the earth, and we have been raised up with Him, saved from the pursuit of evil. In glory is He covered now; may we indeed stand with Him on the far shore.
Slaves of the Egyptians never let us be again. To fear of the march of Pharaoh’s army never let us return. O let us be filled with trust in you, LORD! Let us indeed be still and allow you to work for us. For it is only by your right hand, by your magnificent power, that we are saved from the pursuit of the enemy – only by the sacrifice of your Son are we preserved from sin and death. Let us today reform our lives that we might escape condemnation. Let us put our faith in the wisdom of your Son.
We need no sign beyond the presence of your Christ in our midst. O LORD, let us go forward through the sea with Him at our side.
Sat, 22 July 2017
(Ws.12:13,16-19; Ps.86:5-6,9-10,15-16; Rom.8:26-27; Mt.13:24-43)
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Such are the Lord’s instructions to the harvesters, His angels that come “at the end of the age,” when “just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,” so will “all who cause others to sin and all evildoers” be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
“Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Though the Lord is a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity”; though He is “good and forgiving… attend[ing] to the sound of [our] pleading” and “permit[ting] repentance for our sins” – though while the grass grows He is patient and waits for the weeds which have been sown to turn to Him, yet the time of harvest shall come: the time to judge the living and the dead. And so it is that the One who is “lenient toward all” shall reveal to all that indeed He does “show [His] might when the perfection of [His] power is disbelieved.” The obstinate of heart shall not remain forever; sin must be burnt with fire, and so those who cling to it and its sower, the evil one.
There is time. There is time and He who has “the cure of all” reveals indeed that “the just must be kind.” But the end presses on; it is upon us. And the time and lenience granted those who toil vainly for the evil one will but serve to prove their deserving of the Lord’s inevitable justice. They will but harden themselves further, to their own perfection of sin, meriting in the end the undeniable punishment of the loving and just One.
And the same is true of the just themselves. The time given by our gracious God, though it seem troublesome for the weeds of sin that prick our hearts, is but a means of proving, is but a refinement of the perfection of our God’s love within us. And so we must be patient as the tree does grow, acceptant of the pains it brings. And so we must but watch as the leaven rises, and we with it come to Christ. Yes, “the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit.” Take confidence in this. Just as the Lord knows the path to perdition the wicked sow within their souls, so He knows clearly the hope we have for heaven. And all shall reach their perfection in Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, in your greatness have mercy on our souls
and let us grow unto your kingdom.
YHWH, you are all good and all powerful, holding all the world in your loving hand; yet though you are kind and desire the repentance of every soul, your justice and love call for the punishment of evil.
Your angels shall go out at the end of the age and they shall do your holy will, gathering your just ones into your kingdom but burning with fire those who cause others to sin. This is but right, LORD; this is but kindness itself – that like should go to like and so the desire of hearts be fulfilled. Indeed, let those who set their hearts on evil come to evil, and those who set their hearts on you come to good.
You are patient, LORD; you give us time that we might grow to the perfection set for our lives. No soul is plucked up before his time – none comes to his end without opportunity to change his life. For you are gracious, you are kind, and your power you use for mercy’s sake. Let us turn to you this day and find the fire of your Spirit at work in our hearts.
Sat, 15 July 2017
(Is.55:10-11; Ps.65:10-14,Lk.8:8; Rom.8:18-23; Mt.13:1-23)
“The seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit.”
Comes the Word of God. To our eyes, to our ears. A seed sown within our hearts. May it find rich soil in which to grow, that we might know “the redemption of our bodies.”
“The rain and the snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth… so shall [God’s] word be that goes forth from [His] mouth.” For indeed it makes the earth “fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats”: it nourishes the expectant soul and provides seed for its increased growth. All is given life by the Word of God.
What Isaiah prophesies, David sings – “You prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield.” And by this grace which falls from heaven, consuming the manna which is its fruit, His children know the “bounty” of the Lord; for His “paths overflow with a rich harvest.” Hardly can we contain the blessings of “the valleys blanketed with grain.”
Jesus has come. The Lord has “visited the land and watered it.” The grace of God is in our midst in heavenly flesh and blood. And we are left dumb; for the Word of God indeed silences our tongue. What can we say as we see His fields coming to life? How can we speak of the beauty of a land bathed in light? Deeply into our souls His words do fall, and we awaken, we arise as His children of light, beginning now to understand the blessing at our fingertips, the redemption we do find in the Body and Blood of Christ. And though we “groan within ourselves,” we know these are the “labor pains” of growth. For in this cleansing rain purging our hearts we come to be “set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
What a wonderful word we have from our Lord: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.” What a promise He makes to those who gaze upon that which the prophets longed to possess: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.” And so, what confidence we who are granted “knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” should have in His grace-filled Spirit; and what fruit we should thus bear, even to life everlasting.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Listen through the Music" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let your rain fall upon us
that we might bear fruit in your Name;
let us hear your Word and answer your call.
YHWH, make us fertile and fruitful. Open our hearts to receive your Word; let it sink deep within us and grow by your grace. Your grace is as the rain which waters hearts set on your will. May we indeed receive your abundant gifts, O LORD, and yield a rich harvest in your Name.
So blind are our eyes, dear LORD, so dull our hearts. We are deaf to your Word as we set our sights on the things of this world. The devil easily enters in and steals from us that which we neither have nor desire. But you come to us in your compassion to teach us, to open our ears to your Word that we might be as the untilled meadows, the fields no human hand has touched, which produce fruit in abundance by your grace.
The first fruits of the Spirit we now have as a gift from you, LORD. Yet we await the fullness of your blessings; yet we groan in pain as still we need to grow in you. Set us free from all slavery to corruption that we might share in the glorious freedom of your children of light. May our fruit be worthy of your kingdom.
Sat, 8 July 2017
(Zec.9:9-10; Ps.145:1-2,8-11,13-14; Rom.8:9,11-13; Mt.11:25-30)
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
A remarkable confluence of Scripture today, extolling the “great kindness” of our King, who comes to us “meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass,” and inviting us to take refuge in Him and in His blessed humility.
Yes, upon a beast of burden, upon the young offspring of a beast of burden comes He who bears the burden of all our sins. Not on horse or in chariot does He come, for horse and chariot He casts into the sea: by Him “the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and He shall proclaim peace to the nations.” It is not the rich and powerful of this world He dies for, it is not their stead in which He stands, for the Lord has “hidden these things from the wise and the learned” of this world and “revealed them to little ones.” This we see in the “little one” His Son has become. This we find when we imitate His sacrifice.
David’s psalm echoes the Lord’s own words – “The Lord lifts up all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down” – and Paul says the same when he declares, “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you.” For what is it to “put to death the deeds of the body,” that by the Spirit we may live, but to humble ourselves in the sight of God, to bow down before God and men and bear His light burden? For though we be crushed by the weight of labor and persecution in Jesus’ name, yet we live eternally in “His dominion [which] shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord Jesus states clearly, “I am meek and humble of heart,” and like Him, and like His Father, we are called to be. And for the grace of Him who is “compassionate toward all His works” we should “rejoice heartily” with our Savior, who exclaims today, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth”; for all His works “give [Him] thanks” and “[His] faithful ones bless [Him]” for His faithfulness. “A just savior is He,” and “the glory of [His] kingdom” and His “might” are known in His mercy, are felt in the comforting hand He stretches forth to lift up the humblest of our kind. “Praise [His] name forever and ever.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Dust" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, blessed are you,
for your Son comes to us in humility
that we might come to you in glory.
YHWH, you speak of peace to your people, the peace that comes from your Son’s humble sacrifice. May we give praise to you, Father, that He has revealed to humble hearts your blessed way.
O LORD, help us put to death the deeds of the body, that we shall live in the flesh no more. Let your Spirit overtake our souls, that we might rise with your Son from this fallen earth. We bow down before you, our LORD and our God; raise our heads to praise your NAME forever.
Your burden place upon our shoulders, dearest LORD. Your Son’s Cross is indeed light for us to bear. For it is He who carries the Cross; it is He who bears the weight of our sin. It is He who takes from us the burden of the flesh and fills us with the Spirit of light and truth. O let us take His Cross upon ourselves and rest in the glory we thus find!
Make us your little ones, LORD, humble as the only Son.
Tue, 4 July 2017
(Gn.21:5,8-20; Ps.34:7-8,10-13; Mt.8:28-34)
“When the afflicted man called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress He saved him.”
Ishmael is the model of the afflicted man calling out to the Lord and being heard in all his distress. His very name means “he whom God hears” and indeed we see clearly today how, though “it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear [Abraham’s] name,” nonetheless, the Lord has pity on Ishmael and his plight – his rejection by the mother of the promised child and his wandering in a trackless waste – and declares that of him a “great nation” shall come. Indeed he is left to die by his mother, so desperate had their situation become; but upon the child’s crying out, the Lord hears and sends His angel to assist them and assure them of the boy’s future greatness.
Ishmael is a son of Abraham; though born of a slave woman, yet “he too is [Abraham’s] offspring,” and so for this the Lord takes special care to watch over him. For God has chosen Abraham to be the father of many nations and does not wish to see His blessed patriarch distressed. We have already seen how God has heard the prayer of Abraham for Lot; now we see the same regarding Abraham’s concern for Ishmael.
We must, brothers and sisters, understand whence our own blessing comes. We are spiritual sons of Abraham, of Moses, of David… but most particularly we are children of Jesus and His apostles, the Church. A far greater intercessor have we in the Son of God Himself, so let us not be afraid to cry out to Him in our need. For if God heard the prayers of Abraham, how much more will He hear the prayers of His Son? And if God watched over the kin and offspring of the blessed patriarch, how much more concern does He have for the children of light born of the blood of Jesus Christ?
Our confidence must be sure in Him, for He cannot help but hear our prayer. Indeed, our gospel tells us that when “the demons kept appealing to Him,” even them He heard and granted their plea. If the Lord hears such as these, how can we even begin to doubt His presence to us? Now let us not be afraid to come to Him. Let us not be like the inhabitants of that Gadarene territory who found the Lord too much to bear and “begged Him to leave their neighborhood.” Let us not think in our hearts coming to Him we will die, that His light is simply too bright. No. He calls us as children to take refuge in Him.
It is His desire to bless our days. Turn not away from Him, for as David sings for us, “Those who seek the Lord want for no good thing”; He hears and answers all our cries.
O LORD, you have power to bless and to save;
you have pity on every poor man,
and so, let us not be afraid to cry out to you.
YHWH, you cannot help but answer our cries; your Son cannot turn his back on those in need, those who plead for His mercy. For you are love and mercy itself, and your compassion knows no bounds. And so, the son of the slave girl you bless, and even respond to the demons’ request.
And will you not hear us when we call to you, LORD? Should we doubt your concern for our well-being? Every afflicted soul you would save from distress, if he would but your mercy seek.
For this grace let us praise you, LORD; let us not turn away from you in fear. For our sins you would wipe away, remembering them no more. Be with us now and let us grow in you. Let us remain with you forever, your blessing upon us all our days. O let us prosper in your love, in your holy presence.
Sat, 1 July 2017
(2Kgs.4:8-11,14-16a; Ps.89:2-3,16-19; Rom.6:3-4,8-11; Mt.10:37-42)
“Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The Lord encourages us today to “take up [our] cross and follow [Him],” to place Him first in our lives to find the reward He holds. And in our second reading Paul says the same, reminding us that “we were indeed buried with Christ through baptism into death,” that we have “died with Christ… to sin once and for all” – this is our cross – and that laying down our lives before the Lord we now find ourselves “living for God in Christ Jesus”; we now find ourselves “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father [that] we too might live in newness of life” with Him who is Life itself.
And Jesus sends us forth as His disciples, saying, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Thus, by our lives we call others to die with Christ that they too might live with Him in eternity, that they too might be blessed as we. Others should see in us the Lord and be prompted to give of themselves as we do, as He does – that in Him all might rejoice.
In our first reading we find a woman who has proven the truth of Christ’s statement, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” Quite literally does she give her “cup of cold water” to the great prophet Elisha, feeding him “whenever he passed by” and even making a place for him to stay in her home. She has recognized “that he is a holy man of God” and is drawn to him, desiring to have his godliness near her life. And by sharing her food and her home, she is laying down her life; by serving this “righteous man” she is serving God, and so she will know the blessing of God.
“This time next year you will be fondling a baby son,” is the holy man’s promise to the woman; and no greater blessing could she hope for. Here is life to her. Here is that “newness of life” of which Jesus speaks so well exemplified in our sight. And we should know that the same will be our own. “In the light of [His] countenance” we shall “know the joyful shout.” “At [His] name [we] rejoice all the day.” “The praises of the Lord [we] will sing forever,” for His Son has been born in our midst; our life has come to us, has suffered and died, and now sits with the Father on high. And to Him do we come with all we are. Before Him do we lay down our lives… and all we give freely He blesses.
Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Coat of Warmth" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we lose our lives for your sake,
we shall never die.
YHWH, let us receive your Son into our homes, and all those He sends; thus we shall be receiving you and have your Word alive in us. Thus we shall come to newness of life in your eternal kingdom.
And how do we receive your Son, O LORD, but by laying down of our lives and taking up the Cross He bears? Only by giving what little we have to Him for your sake will we find ourselves so blessed as to rejoice forever in your presence.
We are blessed insofar as your Son dwells with us. We are blessed insofar as we die with Him. For having died with the Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him, and what should we desire but this eternal life? O let us live for you alone, dearest LORD and God!
This day, dear God, let us give all we own to those who come in your Name; let us put all our lives at the service of your kingdom. Leaving this world behind, we shall be exalted in Heaven.