Sat, 28 April 2018
(Acts 9:26-31; Ps.22:26-28,30-32; 1Jn.3:18-24; Jn.15:1-8)
“Let the coming generation be told of the Lord...”
Let the vine that is Christ continue to grow; let its branches extend to the ends of the world. Anointed by the Spirit, let all His children proclaim the name of Jesus, that “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord,” that in our midst the call upon the Church of God shall be fulfilled.
Brothers and sisters, we should all be like Paul, who “spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.” Though it brought him the threat of death, he did not mind; his sole concern was for greater growth of the people of God – that all might become branches of the vine of Jesus. And so, by apostles like Paul, “with the consolation of the Holy Spirit [the Church] grew in numbers” and spread to the four corners of the world, and “a people yet to be born,” including ourselves, have heard of the salvation that comes only by the Lord.
And so this growth must continue. Those who are still yet to be born, whether because they are still in their mother’s womb or because their hearts have not been touched by the Spirit of God, must also come to be grafted upon the holy vine. And so, can we fail to speak of Jesus our God? Can we fail to perform the deeds to which our Father calls us? Would you see any deprived of the blessing of “the true vine”? “By this is [the] Father glorified, that [we] bear much fruit and become [His Son’s] disciples,” bringing others to that same discipleship, that the house of the Lord might be filled to overflowing. “The lowly shall eat their fill,” hearts hungry for the word of God shall find their joy, only if we “fulfill [our] vows before those who fear the Lord,” only if we do the will of Him who sends us forth.
Brothers and sisters, let us “remain in Him, and He in [us]”; let “the Spirit He gave us” preserve us in His love… Let it be His blood which courses through our veins as we drink His cup. And let us call all souls to share in this cup, that we might be assured all our “descendants shall serve Him.” Lord, let your Church be built up in your truth and your love. May all believe in your name.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let your Spirit be with us to strengthen us
to speak out in the Name of your Son.
YHWH, let us go out to the ends of the earth preaching your Name fearlessly among the nations. Let us be true branches of the holy vine that is your Son Jesus. If in truth we live before you, then we shall be blessed with doing your will.
Help us, O LORD, to love one another, to believe in your Son and be as He was. If we live in Him, He shall live in us and we shall bear fruit in His Name. Let us never be separated from Him, becoming branches fit for the fire, but ever have His blood coursing through our veins.
Yes, let your Church be built up now, LORD, in the power of the Holy Spirit; let all be well fed on your Word, that every soul might bow humbly before you. We ask in the Name of your Son that your glory become known in us all.
Tue, 24 April 2018
(1Pt.5:5-14; Ps.89:2-3,6-7,16-17; Mk.16:15-20)
“Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”
Such is the call and accomplishment of our evangelist Mark, whose gospel reflects the song of our psalmist today, “The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.” For his inspired Word lives forever to declare the faithfulness of God. And “happy the people who know the joyful shout,” who exclaim like Peter in our first reading, “Dominion be His throughout the ages!” For they “walk in the light of [the Lord’s] countenance,” and so “they rejoice all the day.”
“The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere,” and those who believed in the Good News they proclaimed indeed were saved, as are we today. The promise Peter makes in our first reading is true: “The God of all grace, who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while.” Though answering the call of the Lord bring suffering in this world, it is but little to endure for the surpassing glory which is ours in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so to “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift [us] high” is a joy in itself; the suffering we experience for the sake of the Word is itself laced with great joy, for we know in our souls and have seen that it but leads to exaltation at the right hand of God. “Through your justice they are exalted” – so our psalmist praises God for His mercy and His truth. And all souls converted to the Lord will know the Lord’s justice in full flower.
And oh the signs that “will accompany those who have professed their faith,” the strength in the Name and the Spirit of God and the healing graces that are known in them. Every day and in every situation such power is invoked and implemented by those who believe. Be not so forgetful of the wonders Jesus works through those who walk with Him. “The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.” The verse is true, my friends. And as “the Lord continued to work with [the apostles] throughout and confirm the message [they proclaimed] through the signs which accompanied them,” so He will not leave alone this day anyone who takes up His cross and even in the humblest fashion proclaims His holy Name. The news is good and the Lord wishes all to hear. Make His message known to the ends of the world: salvation has come to all.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission.
O LORD, though we suffer for His Name,
your Son is with us all the day,
and we walk in the light of His countenance.
YHWH, you call your apostles to go out to the whole world and preach the Good News of the coming of Christ. May they be faithful in their mission and may all believe and be baptized, and so be saved. Humbly let all souls come to you, that we might be exalted at your right hand.
There is suffering in your call, O LORD; there is even the shedding of blood. But though we might die for the sake of your Name and that of your Son, your peace rests upon us. For it is you who fulfill your work in us, you who go out with all your apostles… and you who are with them till the end of time. May they lay their hands on the sick that they might recover, and not be afraid to lose their lives in the process.
To every corner of the earth let your Word now come, LORD, to every soul that sits in darkness. Awaken hearts to sing of your glory, you who raise all who bow humbly before you.
Mon, 23 April 2018
(Acts 11:19-26; Ps.87:1-7,117:1; Jn.10:22-30)
“Of Zion they shall say:
‘One and all were born in her.’”
“I tell of Egypt and Babylon among those that know the Lord; of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia,” sings our psalmist today. Yes, “when the peoples are enrolled” in the kingdom of heaven, when it is noted: “This man was born there,” it shall not be to the soil of Jerusalem to which the angels refer, but to birth in the spirit of the place, in the Holy Spirit Himself, who leads all into the New Jerusalem. For all nations are called, and it matters no more the land of your origin.
This impotence of place and importance of the Spirit is made clear in Jesus’ words to “the Jews gathered around Him” “in the temple area, in Solomon’s portico.” To those here in the heart of the city of Jerusalem He says, “You are not my sheep.” They “refuse to believe” that He is the Messiah and so they prove that they are no sons of Abraham, that they have no faith. Only those of faith hear the voice of the Shepherd, and only these are admitted into the kingdom. This He tells them plainly. For what is He saying when He declares, “The Father and I are one” but that He dwells with the Father in heaven, and not upon this earth. The earth to which they cling shall pass away, but the kingdom shall last forever.
“My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus says, and how that voice does work among all souls. (For this let us praise the Lord!) We are told in our first reading that at first “the community who had been dispersed by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, making the message known to none but Jews.” Here, even though the Word is spread far, it is kept for those born of the land of Zion. But then the change occurs, and the truth of the Word, which goes beyond all borders, becomes known, for “some men of Cyprus and Cyrene among them who had come to Antioch began to talk even to the Greeks, announcing the Good News of the Lord Jesus to them.” The church in Jerusalem, the protector of the faith – whose seat is now in Rome – sends Barnabas to investigate. He finds “the evidence of God’s favor” and rejoices to realize the Lord’s sheep come from near and far. Here “in Antioch the disciples were called Christians for the first time.” Here it becomes clear that there is a new Church being formed, one that finds “eternal life” in following Jesus.
“The gates of Zion” “the Lord loves,” and to this holy mountain He brings all, through the Gate that is Jesus. And “no one shall snatch them out of [His] hand,” for this mountain cannot be shaken, this Temple cannot be torn down. It is of the life of heaven “all shall sing, in their festive dance” when they proclaim: “My home is within you.” And this land shall endure forever.
O LORD, let us be found in your Hand,
filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith,
living as your Son.
YHWH, into your House all faithful souls are called; in your Church all find a home. We are born into the New Jerusalem by virtue of our Baptism, and so become assimilated to Christ. And as He dwells with you as your Son, so we become as your holy children, wherever we may come from.
Jesus is one with you, dear Father, and we are called to be one with Him. Though from the Jews He comes, He goes out to all the earth, bringing the light of salvation. And when by the Spirit we are reborn in Him, when His sacrifice bears fruit in us and we come to eternal life, we become as your City, O God, our names written in Heaven.
You establish your Church, O LORD; the New Jerusalem is built up in your Name. And all who long for truth and love hear the Good News of your risen Son and fly with Him unto your kingdom, where they rejoice all the day.
Sat, 21 April 2018
(Acts 4:8-12; Ps.118:1,8-9,21-23,26,28-29; 1Jn.3:1-2; Jn.10:11-18)
“There is no salvation through anyone else.”
Do not “trust in princes” or in any man; it is by Jesus alone “we are to be saved.” Though “the builders rejected” Him, though the princes of this age saw fit to crucify the Lord – yet “God raised [Him] from the dead” and exalted Him above every power on earth and in heaven. And so He is indeed now the foundation of our salvation, the only shepherd who will lead us to the Father… the one who “lays down His life for the sheep.”
Many wolves there are who fat themselves, scattering the sheep to desolate places. Their care is for the “pay” they receive and not the welfare of the flock they fail to tend. Only Jesus cares for the human race; only the Christ serves His sheep in love – only He dies that we might live, that we might indeed become members of His flock.
And so, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”; “what love the Father has bestowed on us” in Jesus, His only Son, for now we can be like Him – now we are God’s holy children. Taking “refuge in the Lord” by His Son, we come at once to our salvation. Oh what glory is ours following in our Savior’s wake! Listen to what our Good Shepherd states: “I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” Realize to what union with the Father of all you are called by the Child He has borne to us for our redemption. Oh how “wonderful in our eyes” this should be! And consider if you will that one day we His children “shall see Him as He is.” How shall our souls bear such blessing?
Brothers and sisters, like the cripple seemingly doomed to a life of incapacity are we all. But what Peter has effected by a word in Jesus’ name is now ours by that same name and through the ministry of His apostles. How? you say. How shall I discover such salvation? How shall this lame man leap like a stag? Faith. Faith in the Son draws the Father's mercy from above. And if I must tell you further, I shall, you wayward soul. Confess your sins! Kneel before the priest the Lord has ordained as His instrument of salvation and bare your heart to God on high. What graces are yours if only you have faith in the Lord and the Church He alone has founded. Turn from the wolves that besiege you, and come to Him who “is good.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Souls at a Carnival" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Son has died that we might be saved;
let us listen to His voice and follow Him.
YHWH, your Son lays down His life for us that we might be as He is, that we might be your children. In His Name all are healed from their sins, raised from the dust to be seated with Him. Help us to take refuge in Him and so in you; let us trust in this stone the builders have rejected.
Jesus dies for us; for the sake of your sheep He is crucified, O LORD. Yet He takes up His life again, and thus we are raised with Him. He does not run from the sacrifice you call Him to make, but knowing well it is the only way we shall be saved, fully embraces your command. O let us be as He is! willing to lay down our lives. Then truly we shall be your children.
There is no other name by which we are to be saved; there is no other way. In the Cross let us find our life this day, dear God. May your Son shepherd us to your kingdom.
Sat, 14 April 2018
(Acts 3:13-15,17-19; Ps.4:2,4,7-9; 1Jn.2:1-5a; Lk.24:35-48)
“He is expiation for our sins.”
Brothers and sisters, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.” For us this Savior has come; for our sins He has died on the cross. Even as it is written of Him in Scripture, so all has been accomplished in His Name.
And so we need fear no more. We need not be “startled and terrified” at the sight of Him in our midst. He has come to us and has taken His place among us, even as He sits at the right hand of God. And His place among us is the cross, even as God announced – “that His Christ would suffer” – and by His sacrifice He has been greatly blessed, and we greatly blessed with Him. Now His blood, once shed by our own hands, pours upon us for “the forgiveness of [our] sins.”
David once cried, “When I call, answer me, O my just God, you who relieve me when I am in distress,” and so in Christ his prayer is answered; for in this Jesus, our greatest distress – that inflicted by our transgressions – has been washed clean from our murderous souls. He lives. He lives now, brothers and sisters, to make intercession for our sins “and for those of the whole world.” Let us all come to Him in truth and find “the light of [His] countenance shin[ing] upon us!”
The light the Lord is, the salvation He affords to each of our souls, must “be preached in His name to all the nations”; all must come to know the blessing embodied in the risen Christ: all must see Him, that in His redemptive wounds all might take refuge. It is the will of God that all sins “be wiped away,” that all hearts be converted to truth and light, that all might live before Him in eternal peace.
Do not delay your repentance in His sight; freely forgiveness pours from His side. For this alone He has died, but to receive His mercy you must reform your lives.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Wish I'd Never Done It" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may the blood of your Son cleanse us of sin,
and may our own death glorify you.
YHWH, Jesus was killed by being hung on a tree, but you preserved Him from among those going down into the pit, you brought Him up from the netherworld, and with Him all those obedient to His Word. Now in glory He sits with you upon the throne, and the angels and all creatures in Heaven and on earth and under the earth praise His holy Name. And, yes, those who follow Him here unto death shall come to such glory with Him in Heaven.
To the Lamb who was slain belong all honor and glory and blessing; and to His disciples, to those who lay down their lives that His sheep might be fed, comes the blessing that rests upon Him. O LORD, make us fruitful in your sight! May we help turn the mourning of mankind into dancing and singing before your throne. Forever let us give you thanks for having been found worthy to suffer dishonor here for the sake of your Name.
Thu, 12 April 2018
(Acts 5:34-42; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Jn.6:1-15)
“I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord
in the land of the living.”
Seeing the vast crowd following Him up the mountain as He seeks to sit with His disciples, Jesus asks the one without guile, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat.” In honesty Philip answers, essentially, “It is impossible.” Ah, but nothing is impossible with God.
Brothers, is it not their seeing “the bounty of the Lord” that causes the apostles to leave the Sanhedrin and the whipping they received at their hands “full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name”? And is not this bounty revealed most clearly here “in the land of the living” in the Bread of Life Jesus provides for us at His Eucharistic table? And so should we not rejoice every day in this miracle?
“Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” Are not David’s words the ones Jesus speaks to His children in the feeding of the five thousand? Should the apostles not but sing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” as they stand each with one of the “twelve baskets full of pieces left over” from the miracle brought about at the Lord’s hands? Does He not here convey their mission of feeding His sheep?
And filled by the food at their hands, should not our own reaction be in accord with the joy expressed by the people in that green field, “This is undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world”? For does He not come into us each time we receive Him?
But king He shall not be made, not in this world. No, this world cannot contain His Kingship, for we have a greater than David here. The land of the living will ultimately be not upon this grass beneath our feet, but upon the clouds of Heaven. Thus the persecution comes, you see. Thus those who go about “fighting God Himself” scourge and crucify the Word they cannot bear and the messengers who bring it to their ears. But the ill-treatment that comes by their jealous hands brings no fear but only encouragement to the hearts of His apostles.
Brothers and sisters, let us be as they who “day after day, both in the temple and at home… never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Messiah,” making always this world as one with the kingdom of God.
O LORD, it is by faith we are fed,
and so let us seek you with all our hearts,
with our very lives.
YHWH, let us come to the Eucharistic banquet, that your Son may enter into us and we ever dwell as your temple in this world. Your bounty is revealed now, wrought by the hands of Jesus and brought to us by His disciples – let us partake of the Bread you provide and rejoice in all your blessings.
None can fight you, O LORD our God; none can destroy what you bring to life. And so, though whipped and ill-treated for the sake of the Name of our Savior, we can but rejoice indeed. For you cannot be overcome, nor those upon whom your Spirit rests. As we follow in the footsteps of your Son, we shall ever live with you.
In your House let us indeed make our home; you are our refuge, O LORD, and with you we are never afraid. For the destroying angel shall pass over all who eat of the flesh of the Lamb, all who are anointed by His blood.
Sat, 7 April 2018
(Acts 4:32-35; Ps.118:1-4,16-18,22-24; 1Jn.5:1-6; Jn.20:19-31)
“His mercy endures forever.”
Our psalmist “was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped” him. The disciples were locked in their rooms for fear, but “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” Thomas was hardened in unbelief, but His God appeared to him and said, “Bring your hand and put it into my side.” We are all sinners, but to us each, Christ offers mercy.
From that side into which Thomas placed his hand “blood and water” poured forth for the cleansing of souls and the realization of new life. The institution of Baptism and the Eucharist had come, and so the Church is born from the side of its Savior. And so all souls are justified; and so all souls find new life. And so all of the “community of believers” become “of one heart and mind.”
This is Divine Mercy Sunday, so proclaimed by the Spirit who testifies through Holy Church, and that to which the Spirit testifies is truth. God’s encompassing mercy our Mother and our Lord would have us celebrate this day – of that which Jesus thirsts to share with us, she and He would have us drink. Let none be unbelieving. Let none despair. Let all be blessed to own that faith which “conquers the world,” that makes us “children of God.” The Lord is ready to forgive men’s sins; He is desirous of this above all things. He has given power to His disciples to forgive in His name… Let all come and share in His mercy.
Let us love God and one another, my brothers and sisters. Let us love the Father by accepting the grace that comes from His Son, and let us love one another by sharing that grace and mercy with everyone. We keep His Word when we share in His mercy, when we swim in the ocean of love the water and blood from His side create. And new life will be our own as it was for the first disciples; there is nothing lacking for “those who have not seen but believed.” In fact, more blessed may we be now, for we must have the greater faith.
Forever the Lord’s mercy endures. Every day it is poured forth. And today we declare in truth its great graces, that all might be one in the Lord.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Cleansing" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your risen Son stands before us
and calls us to touch His hands
and enter into the wounds in His side
that we might believe in Him and be cleansed of sin.
YHWH, Jesus is the Christ, your only Son: let us believe in the preaching of the apostles and become one in His Name. May all have their sins forgiven, their doubt washed away in His blood, that all might declare with Thomas, “My LORD and my God!”
Jesus is God as you are God, O LORD, and we desire to be one with you by the grace and mercy that come to us through His death and resurrection. If we had but faith in Him, we would conquer the world; all sin falls by the wayside when His Spirit is upon us, and we can but shout in victory at the glory in our midst.
O may His peace indeed be with us, the peace which passes not away, the peace that comes to us in the Breath of the Holy Spirit. O LORD, let His nail marks be in our hands and His wound in our side that your love we might know to the depths of our souls.