Sun, 30 September 2018
(Job 1:6-22; Ps.17:1-3,6-7; Lk.9:46-50)
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked I shall go back again.”
In the beginning and in the end, we have nothing: and so should be our attitude toward all things we are given – that they are not our own, that we do not possess them… that they shall pass from us unto eternity again. As shall we all.
In our first reading we begin to hear of Satan’s temptation of Job, of whom the Lord’s own words witness: “There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” But Satan in his jealousy responds, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?” and recounts all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on His “servant.” The adversarial angel then wins from God permission to tempt Job by removing all his blessings.
And the persecution is strong. All in a day Job loses all his multitude of livestock, his servants, and his children. Four messengers come, each with catastrophic news, each the sole survivor of the tragedy of which they speak, and each following the previous “while he was yet speaking.” In a moment all but his life is taken from Job. But Job proves God’s assessment of his character true by proclaiming, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” thus properly putting all things in God’s hands, and praising His glory even in such tragedy. We are told, “In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” He is as the child Jesus sits beside Himself in our gospel today.
Satan has failed in his effort to get Job to curse God; he will not do so even at his wife’s prompting. But Job, so Christlike in his suffering the abandonment God’s Servant knows so fully upon the cross, shall fall short of the Christ in one respect: this innocent child will not be able to keep from decrying his state or withstand the accusations of others that he must be guilty of sin. He will not be able to suffer in silence, not opening his mouth to defend himself (taking this unwarranted persecution upon himself to redeem others, as Jesus has done) but will declare his “just suit” to the Lord, begging Him to “attend to [his] outcry,” saying with David in our psalm: “Hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.” He shall not be able to keep from stating his innocence, from saying, “Though you test my heart, searching it in the night, though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.” And in this way Satan shall break him; in this manner he shall fall short of the perfect humility of Christ. (Though the Lord shall justify and reward his faithful servant in the end.)
Brothers and sisters, do not act with jealousy, as even the disciples seem to today in trying to stop one “not of [their] company” from healing in Jesus’ name. Do not even think among yourselves of who is the greatest. This is an abomination before God. Have the attitude of Job toward all things – that they are but gifts from the Lord and that we are nothing in ourselves. Then you will be like His little child and so know His blessings forever.
O LORD, naked we came forth
from our mother’s womb,
and naked we shall go back again –
our lives are in your hands.
YHWH, let us be as an innocent child sitting patiently at the side of your only Son. Though the foe come to test our hearts, by your grace let us prove ourselves worthy of your blessings. Let us never sin against you in word or in deed but place all things in your holy hands and accept whatever befalls us.
O LORD, let us never be jealous or proud; let us never imitate the sin of Satan, who would see your children falter, who would strike any against whom his envy might rise. Let us but seek to serve you in all humility and so know the great joy of being as your Son. From all wicked thoughts release our souls that we might walk with you.
Hear our prayer for mercy, LORD; though we be not perfect, you can make us so. Let it be our sole desire to be pure before you, that we shall never know your wrath or be cast from your sight. Take all things from us, but only spare our life. Please never leave our side.
Sat, 29 September 2018
(Nm.11:25-29; Ps.19:8-10,12-14; Jas.5:1-6; Mk.9:38-43,45,47-48)
“Would that all the people to the Lord were prophets!
Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them all!”
There is of course a striking similarity in our first reading and our gospel today. In one, Joshua, “who from his youth had been Moses’ aide,” comes to his master to inform him that two men who had not gone as instructed to the mountain to receive God’s Spirit were “prophesying in the camp”: “Moses, my lord, stop them,” he zealously proclaims. And in the other, John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, conveys his message to Jesus: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us,” he, too, attempting to thwart the Spirit of God which does not go forth in channels that seem proper. But Moses’ answer above could not be more strongly stated, and Jesus says plainly to His disciples, “Do not prevent them. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.” And so, let goodness go forth, unto the ends of the earth.
Indeed, Moses’ cry is the Lord’s will, and it is this will Jesus has come to realize – that all may embrace what is right and true and so come to the kingdom of heaven. However, inherent in Moses’ exclamation is also the unfortunate fact that most do not have the Spirit of God; most are not walking in His name. More often than not the “wanton sin” which James so graphically presents to our eyes and ears is the state of man; and so the horrible miseries he even more graphically represents become their fate. And so, to accomplish His work of salvation upon the face of the earth, the Christ must necessarily be severe in His speech, in His warning and His instruction: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off… If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off… If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” – better these measures than the fires of Gehenna… better any pain on this plane than the eternal punishments of the hell wrought by the sins so much a part of all our lives.
With great wisdom David speaks of the precepts of the Lord. First he recognizes that “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul” and “fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever”; then, seeking to endure forever with the Lord of all, he declares to God of His laws: “Though your servant is careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, yet who can detect failings?” And even wiser is he to cry out, “Cleanse me from my unknown faults!” for he knows only this thorough cleansing will make him any prophet of God; only if he be “blameless and innocent” will he maintain the Lord’s Spirit within himself. And so the same is true for all the Lord would gather into His arms, all who seek His eternal reward.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Open Air" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, that all were prophets!
that all would purify their souls in your undying light
and so enter into your kingdom.
YHWH, your Spirit be upon us this day. Let us turn away from all sin that we might enter your kingdom.
How perfect you are, O LORD, and how perfect is your Law. Your Word comes to us as a cleansing flame. But if we turn our hearts from love of you, that flame becomes a devouring fire. If we attach ourselves to the riches of this world, seeking its treasure by ungodly means, what can we be but separated from you on your holy Day. For all that is wicked shall be cast into flame, and from it shall not be withdrawn. But all your children will be refreshed by that flame, purified to stand in your presence.
O let us be innocent and blameless of serious sin, dearest LORD and God! And let us not lead any astray, that we might not merit condemnation. It is your will that all come to glory and you cannot but cast aside all who work against the bestowing of your Spirit upon souls.
Fri, 28 September 2018
(Dn7:9-10,13-14 or Rv.12:7-12; Ps.138:1-5; Jn.1:47-51
I shall treat of both first readings)
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
And who shall see such visions? He whose own vision is pure, he who is as Nathanael – he who has “no guile in him.” Such is the case both with Daniel and John the Evangelist, of whose visions we hear in either first reading. The angels are with them, indeed, and they lift them up to look upon the Most High God and His Anointed One.
Both first readings reveal vision of Jesus the Son, whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” and by whom “salvation and power have come.” In Daniel is shown the Ancient One, the Father, from whom all power comes as “surging streams of fire” from His throne; and in Revelation, John presents the defeat of Satan, who would presume to be like God but is “driven out” and “hurled down to earth” by the archangel Michael (whose name tells us that none is like God) before “the reign of our God” comes. In Revelation is included, too, our own participation in “the blood of the Lamb,” that the Church, “by the word of their testimony,” will share in the Lord’s dominion.
And David’s psalm sings today: “Great is the glory of the Lord.” His voice joins with the “thousands upon thousands… ministering to Him, and myriads upon myriads” attending Him. “In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise,” he declares, and finds himself “worship[ing] at [His] holy temple” Him whose name is “great above all things.” Is not the vision promised Nathanael and witnessed to by Daniel and John shared here with David, too; does he not glimpse, and share with us who long for the presence of the Lord, the ladder which reaches to heaven made known to Jacob in dream? Is not Jesus, His Lord, with him even in this time before His coming? It is one Jesus the eyes of all the pure of heart see and shall see. And did not the Old Testament prophet see that which was to come? Was not the eternal vision of heaven revealed to his eyes, as well as John’s? And how can this be, that they see what we would call the future, except that it has always been?
Brothers and sisters, we must declare with Nathanael, “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel,” but we must do so as He does – in absolute honesty and utter faith. We must believe without guile and declare without hesitation that Jesus is Lord. To do so and to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him, our hearts and our eyes must be pure. Let us pray that we shall come now to vision of heaven, where His angels and His saints do reign.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, give us eyes to see your angels
ministering to you,
and hearts to receive their blessed help.
YHWH, like flames of fire your angels surround you and your holy throne. These myriads of spirits attend you, ministering to you day and night in the place where there is no night, where light shines seven times as brightly as the sun. O may we join them in singing your praises and in doing your will upon this earth! With eyes unveiled let us look upon your glory and unite with your angels in Heaven.
If only we had hearts without guile, O LORD; if only we were your true sons and daughters. Then we would declare freely that Jesus is your Son and our King, He whose dominion is everlasting, whose glory is one with your own. Then would the devil be cast from our souls, driven out from among us by your power at work in your angels. Then would we worship in joy in your holy Temple all our days and become children of your blessed light. O may your angels be with us always!
Thu, 27 September 2018
(Ec.3:1-11; Ps.144:1-4; Lk.9:18-22)
“He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts.”
Yes, “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens”; and there is a time for time to cease and the timeless to come to the fore – a time for the things above the heavens. And that fullness of time has come upon the earth, for the Son of Man has known His “time to be born”; and in man’s discovering “the work which God has done,” no time for vain toil is there anymore. The time has come to make Him our “refuge and [our] fortress,” our blessed “rock” of truth.
“One day when Jesus was praying in seclusion and His disciples were with Him,” the time had come for Him to “put the question to them”: “Who do you say that I am?” And now it was Peter’s “time to speak,” to declare the faith of the Church: “The Messiah of God.” And though it was not then time “to tell this to anyone,” for the Son of Man had yet to know His “time to die,” soon the time would come for the Son to rise, and then there would be no more “time to be silent.”
That time has come upon us now, brothers and sisters. Now is only “a time to plant” and “a time to build” – a time to raise the kingdom of heaven here on earth, a time to labor to complete God’s Church. For timelessness now has its time; life eternal overtakes us. And so we have only “time to love,” having broken the wheel of sin by the sacrifice of Christ and so come out from under the shadow of hatred. No return to the vanity of the things of this world is there for us, for we must do all as if doing nothing.
It is true: “Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow,” but it is also so that the Lord “take[s] thought of him.” And in this earthen vessel He has placed the Spirit of life – and that Spirit is now known in full in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is “time to embrace” Him and know the “time of peace” He breathes eternally upon His creatures, letting all shadow pass away as we walk in His holy light and proclaim His holy name.
O LORD, your timelessness let us know in our hearts,
that we might overcome the world through your Son.
YHWH, in the fullness of time you sent your Son to die at our hands that we might be raised up with Him. And now that He has died for our sins, a new time has come to your people – a time of salvation.
All time pointed toward Him and all time flows from Him, and all time is in Him who is all that is. O LORD, let us make our home in Him and in His resurrection.
You are timeless, O LORD and God, and so how can we poor creatures so bound to time, so subject to the dust of this earth, come to know you who are beyond the heavens? We could never have discovered your hand at work among us if you had not sent your only Son to redeem us and reveal to us your glory. And so, let us embrace this gift you offer that we might mourn and weep no more but rejoice ever in your presence, despite the Cross that comes. Let us be raised on the Cross with Him that we might be raised unto His eternal reign.
Wed, 26 September 2018
(Ec.1:2-11; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:7-9)
“See, this is new!”
Here is He who is “new under the sun.” For it is not so that “John has been raised from the dead,” nor that “one of the prophets of old has arisen”: He has not “already existed in the ages that preceded us.” He is the Christ! He is the Messiah! He it is who has come to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.” In Him the dark of the night veiling our eyes is banished from our midst.
O Herod, drowning in your debauchery; O Qoheleth, pursuer of your passions in all their vanity, why do you race to catch up with the sun as if it should stand and wait for you? What makes you think you could hold the wind in your hand? Why would you see end of the rivers’ path to the sea? Why do you toil so blindly, taking your refuge in created things and frustrated when you cannot control them to your own ends, when they betray the peace you seek? “Back to dust” you shall indeed return, and the sun and the wind and the sea still stand; and above them all does reign our God, for whom “a thousand years… are as yesterday, now that it is past.” In Him you should have taken refuge.
Herod, do you too now begin to see the ends of your debauchery; does its emptiness now overtake your soul? Do you remember the words the prophet delivered to your ears? What is the cause of your curiosity, and will you listen now to the voice echoing through your halls? The kingdom of the world crumbles before our eyes and no “profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun,” unless it is the Lord who “prosper[s] the work of our hands for us.” Dead we are and alone will ever be in our profligacy, the emptiness upon us.
Qoheleth, your words are proven wrong: it is not so that “there is no remembrance of the man of old,” for we read your thoughts with diligence today; and three thousand years after your time you teach us still of the dark vision of life without the Christ. And of Him who has come after thee there is great remembrance, and more than this, for His breath is now upon us. In Him is “the ear filled with hearing” and the eye “satisfied with seeing,” for now truth and light do walk with us, even under the sun. And though our body “by evening wilts and fades” as of old, our soul “at dawn springs up anew.” For “the gracious care of the Lord [is] ours” and He “teach[es] us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And this wisdom is true; this wisdom is new: this wisdom bears us light to transcend the vanity of a worldly life and come to the kingdom of heaven.
O LORD, your Son is He who makes all things new –
let us live and work in the light of His presence.
YHWH, your Son is new under the sun; into our midst He has come. May we be more than anxious to see Him: may we be made new in Him.
In days past, LORD, the world and men toiled in futility for their sin against you, for their separation from you. You were ever new and ever calling us to life in you, but we labored in vain, going our own way – the way of darkness that leads to death, the way that is indeed apart from you. Return all souls to your light, your life, known to us now in your only Son.
You reign over all, LORD our God, all of time is but a moment to you and all the world is as a speck of dust. Have pity on us, LORD, for we are quick to wilt and fade. At daybreak may we rise with Jesus and walk in the light of your new day, dwelling forever in your reign, living and working always in your presence.
Tue, 25 September 2018
(Prv.30:5-9; Ps.119:29,72,89,101,104-105,163; Lk.9:1-6)
“Take nothing for the journey.”
How can he who takes nothing with him for his journey be provided for? Does not such action contradict the wisdom of the king who asks in his book of Proverbs – “Give me neither poverty nor riches”? Is it not poverty the Lord recommends to His disciples?
The evangelical counsel of poverty practiced by the religious communities and striven for by all true members of the Christian faith is not the same as that which our author of Proverbs wishes to avoid (no more so than the riches he would keep far from himself are those of the heavenly kingdom). For those whom Jesus sends out never find themselves “in want,” the want which would lead the desperate to steal and so sin; rather, the only “want” His disciples have is for an increasing understanding and practice of the word of God. And the poverty they practice is meant to feed this hunger for the greatest of food.
Proverbs itself gives us answer to the means by which the Lord’s disciples taking “no bread, no money” are fed: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” The Lord is always our food. Cannot He who “endures forever,” whose word is “firm as the heavens,” care for the small needs of His creatures here below? Will not he who labors for Him have all he needs to accomplish his work? Certainly! For though the disciples take nothing, it does not follow that they have nothing – for they have the Lord with them, and that is everything.
Indeed, it is because the first of the wise king’s requests of God – “put falsehood and lying far from me” – has been answered in them that this second is accomplished. “Remove from me the way of falsehood,” our psalmist echoes, and for the Lord’s disciples this has been done. They “add nothing to His words” as “from every evil way [they] withhold [their] feet”; and so “the law of [His] mouth,” which resounds from their own mouths as they “proclaim the reign of God,” “is to [them] more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” and feeds them abundantly.
The Word of the Lord will be received by those who seek His truth, and in turn feed the speaker as it does the hearer. So let us be wary of “being full” of the things of this world, lest we find no room for God, and let us make our psalmist’s declaration truly our own: “Falsehood I hate and abhor; your law I love.” Then all things will be provided for.
O LORD, you send us forth with your Word
to heal souls of all evil –
keep us on your way of truth.
YHWH, it is you who provide for all our needs. If we serve you, if we are true to your Word, we shall never be in want. For then all we shall desire is to be with you, and you will be faithful to this longing.
LORD, you are with those who go out in your NAME, who desire only to do your will. For they are of truth and you are of truth – you are Truth itself – and so they share in your way. And your way is a way of love and healing, your way is one that leads to life. Let us follow in this way, and we shall live forever.
You yourself hold our lives in your hand, and so what do we need but you? We cannot provide for ourselves; it is you from whom all our food comes. And if we trust in you we shall be fed, we shall have all we need to live, all we need to proclaim your Word, O LORD, and that your kingdom is nigh. Let us be a living witness to your presence among us and the care you give to all your children.
Mon, 24 September 2018
(Prv.21:1-6,10-13; Ps.119:1,27,30,34-35,44; Lk.8:19-21)
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God
and act upon it.”
Our readings today are filled throughout with one line pearls of wisdom culminating with Jesus’ above instruction in our brief gospel. And though each individual proverb or paean to the command of the Lord seems a separate entity distinct from the others which surround it, in fact, all speak of the same sword of truth that separates the way of the wicked from that of the just. In even thousands of proverbs there is but one word – that we must be hearers and doers of the word of God.
“Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases Him, He directs it.” Oh that such blessed obedience could be all our own! Oh that we would follow Him so perfectly, for “happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”; and they become as His only Son. “To do what is right and just” must be our constant aim, our eternal prayer. “Lead me in the path of your commands,” we must beg of our God, for in it alone we know the light of His grace; in His way alone we find all our “delight.” Only in observing His decrees, walking in His love, do we become brother and sister and mother to the Christ.
For the wicked shall not enter His embrace, shall not be counted among His family. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” the Lord will not countenance, for “the tillage of the wicked is sin” and with sin the Holy One has no relation. Thus we may be certain “there is One who brings down the wicked to ruin.” As grandiose as his plots may seem and as adamantly as he may pursue them with “a lying tongue,” he is but “chasing a bubble over deadly snares” and shall be caught in the trap he himself has laid.
“When the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge”; he draws ever closer to the light of the Lord as he drinks in His Word. Let us be as those who “meditate on [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds.” Let us beg Him with our psalmist: “Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.” When Jesus speaks let us be quick to listen and follow in His way, that truly we may become His blessed family, one in the Church modeled by the Mother of God.
O LORD, open our ears to hear your Word
and walk in your way.
YHWH, if we are haughty of eye and proud of heart, how can we know you and become one with you? You are holy and only those who strive for holiness walk in your way. Help us, LORD, to be as your Son and follow always your blessed commands.
O LORD, let our hearts ever be directed by your hand; let our obedience be such that we simply go as your guide led ever by your Spirit. In your Son there was no question as to what should be done or whether He should do good or ill – He did nothing of His own will but only yours. Help us to be perfect as He in living your Word, in embodying your truth. Then we shall be brothers to Him, for then you shall be our Father.
Let us be made in your image, LORD, doing what is right and just in all things. Your law of love let us observe – let us thirst for your wisdom and knowledge. Nothing let us desire but to be one with you and your only Son. Then we shall be blessed as His Mother.
Sun, 23 September 2018
(Prv.3:27-34; Ps.15:1-5; Lk.8:16-18)
“The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just He blesses.”
Light fills the house of him “who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue,” for he who does these things is as light itself, having no part with darkness. He knows that “to the Lord the perverse man is an abomination,” and so he “env[ies] not the lawless man and choose[s] none of his ways” but chooses always the way of God and so finds the “friendship” of the Lord which is with “the upright,” which is as light shining upon him and through him.
As for the wicked, “he who has not will lose even the little he thinks he has,” for the Lord is not with him; and all he has gained by “usury” and by “bribe[s] against the innocent” shall be revealed in all its emptiness on the day the Lord shines His encompassing light – he will indeed be left with nothing, for nothing he truly has. He who has “plot[ted]… evil against his neighbor” and “quarrel[led]… with a man without cause” will never be able to stand in the light of the Lord, for he has made his home in darkness, and in darkness he shall remain. Certainly this “reprobate is despised” by the Lord, for his rebellion puts him in opposition to the kingdom of God.
And so we must “take heed, therefore, how [we] hear” the Lord’s instruction, for His instruction is as light itself and brings the light of salvation to the receptive soul. This light we must make our own and place it “on a lampstand so that whoever comes in” – whoever approaches the house in which we dwell – “can see it” and can share in it freely. All shade of sin must be removed from our souls so that without hindrance and without hesitation our light will shine forth and all will know the abiding love of the Lord. “He who does these things shall never be disturbed.” He who does these things, who reflects the Lord’s justice and love all his days, cannot but be blessed by the Lord, for he himself becomes His own.
“When He is dealing with the arrogant, He is stern, but to the humble He shows kindness.” And so, having his deeds “brought to light” is as a curse for the wicked, but to the just it means eternal blessing.
O LORD, all is known in your holy light:
help us to do good and avoid evil.
YHWH, let us walk blamelessly before you; in innocence let us dwell. Let us not turn to the paths of the wicked but remain ever in your light, walking always in your way. Then we shall be blessed with your presence.
LORD, all shall be exposed in your holy light; from you none can hide. And so, let us not be afraid to do your will with confidence, with faith in your protection and guidance. Let us not shy away from shining your light with our very lives, for in this way we shall be kept from straying.
Those who stray, O LORD, you condemn. Those whose hearts are hardened against you walk the path to perdition, and so as long as they continue to travel in sin, their destruction is assured. For darkness has no place in your kingdom of light, and those who proudly persist in their sin cannot but be cast from your presence. But let us do no harm; let us honor you by thinking and speaking only truth and remaining ever humble before you.
Sat, 22 September 2018
(Ws.2:12,17-20; Ps.54:3-8; Jas.3:16-4:3; Mk.9:30-37)
“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.”
And can there be any greater foul practice come from jealousy and selfish ambition than that of which we hear in our first reading from the Book of Wisdom, for here the wicked plot the death of the Son of God – here is spoken of the horrible persecutions which the Messiah and all His followers undergo at the hands of the proud souls: “With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of His gentleness and try His patience.” And so the Lamb of God shall endure His “shameful death,” according to the dark threats they breathe.
“The haughty have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes,” David cries unto the Lord. He too knows those who “kill and envy,” who “fight and wage war” against the righteous one because he puts them to shame, because he “reproaches [them] for transgressions of the law,” his justice and truth ever a sign of contradiction against “the passions that make war in [their] members,” from which they refuse to be released.
But it is indeed so, as even their own words condemn the wicked, that “God will take care of [the just one],” that “God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.” “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life,” David exclaims in the midst of his trial – for indeed the help of the Lord is ever with us; He shall always “defend [our] cause.” And the wicked shall ever be put to death for their sins against Him.
And what of the disciples today? It is true that “they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.” At this point in the journey they still are “arguing about” petty matters which lead but to condemnation, even as Jesus speaks of His imminent death. But their vain pride shall not last the day. For even in the Lord’s placing a child in their midst there is a kind of turning point; ashamed they can only be now, and soon, so soon, they will follow their blessed Lord to their own cross of crucifixion.
Set yourselves on the right path, brothers and sisters. Be not afraid to ask the Lord of His way and of the help you need to follow. But do not ask in vain or your evil desires will destroy you, and you shall not know His kingdom. Let no jealousy rule your hearts, but order your lives according to the Lord’s pure wisdom, and be “full of mercy and good fruits,” as even our “gentle” and “compliant” Lord. Keep this Child ever before your eyes.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Unbind Yourself" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, only you will deliver us
from the hands of our foes
and from our own transgressions.
YHWH, your Son was condemned to a shameful death by the haughty hearts of men, but you sustained His life, as you do our own. If we but set our hearts on serving you and the least of our brothers, if we but keep our arms around those you place in our care – if we but die with your Son and in His love, with Him we shall rise again.
O LORD, let arrogance and pride find no place in our lives. Let us not be tortured by selfish ambition or torture others because of our impatience with you and your holy will. If we fight against your goodness, allowing our passions to rule us, what shall we find but death to our souls and blindness to your glory among us? Your Son let us but follow, even on the path to crucifixion, and your protection will be with us all our days. Your arms you will keep around us, embracing us as your own dear Child. In peace we shall remain.
Fri, 21 September 2018
(1Cor.15:35-37,42-49; Ps.56:10-14; Lk.8:4-15)
“Just as we resemble the man from earth,
so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”
It is not difficult to recognize our earthly bodies. They are with us always, and make themselves known in the “weakness” that befalls us. Adam’s sin is upon us his children and reminds us always that we are human, of the earth.
But as we know this body of the earth so “subject to decay,” so “ignoble” in itself, so we should know the “spiritual body [that] comes up” as this “natural body is put down” by us. Here is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching that we must lay down our lives, that we must die to this world to be raised up in His presence. For the earthly form we know so well by the weakness and sin inherent in its confines we must set aside, not nourish in its passions, that ever the Spirit might take shape in our lives… that we might take on the likeness of Christ. And so even our corrupted nature may bring growth and fruit of great significance when we sow it in the ground, when we place it back whence it has come. In this death is life.
“A farmer went out to sow some seed.” This farmer is, of course, Jesus, the spiritual Man who casts seed of the Spirit for all waiting hearts to receive and nourish to growth as a “full-blown plant” in the Father’s light. If we heed the Word He proclaims to us with exclamation, if we become ourselves as “the seed sown on good ground,” given rebirth in the Gospel of Christ, resurrection of our weakened form we will know; even now it shall begin to mature within us. But if we are empty as “those on the footpath” or rootless as “those on rocky ground” or stifled as “the seed fallen among briars,” how then shall we escape the natural body and its corruption and reach up to the kingdom of heaven? It cannot but be that we shall die – and in this death there will be no resurrection to life.
O brothers and sisters, let us be as David, who declares in faith, “Now I know that God is with me” and asks with such confidence, “What can flesh do against me?” How indeed can the flesh hold us down, pressed to the earth though it may be, if we have God’s Word in us growing so surely? In God let us “trust without fear,” and on the day of full growth, when this “earth formed from dust” has died completely and the Man of Spirit has His kingdom revealed, we shall rejoice with David and sing: “You have rescued me from death… that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” Then the Spirit so real we shall know.
O LORD, let your Word take root in our hearts
and grow unto your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word be firmly planted in our hearts; let us bear fruit unto Heaven. Let us be raised with your only Son and walk in the light of your presence. Let us be men of the Spirit.
Your Son comes casting seed upon this earth, dearest LORD. He seeks to plant your Spirit within our souls. O let us have ears to hear His Word! Let us have hearts open to His call. Why should we wish to die in sin? Why would we be subject to decay as our natural bodies? Should we not rather put on the body of Jesus and be thus spiritual men? O may we bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven!
Let us have no fear, LORD, as we grow with Jesus; let the flesh hold no sway against our coming to you. Help us to lay down our bodies that our spirits may rise and we may make our home in your eternal light. Open our eyes in your presence.
Wed, 19 September 2018
(1Cor.15:1-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,28; Lk.7:36-50)
“I am the least of the apostles.”
Brothers and sisters, “little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” And it is in the sweet tears of repentance that we discover the love held in the merciful heart of the Lord.
Paul speaks the truth of himself when he claims that he does “not even deserve the name” of apostle because he has “persecuted the Church of God.” “But through the favor of God” he has “worked harder than all the others,” preaching the Gospel of the Lord. As small as he is and as undeserving as he is, so great is the Lord’s blessing upon him. In the measure he recognizes his sin, the Lord pours His grace into him, and through him to others.
And what grace pours forth through the woman in our gospel today! In her we see our own encounter with the Lord. Here is she who is “known in town to be a sinner” standing and kneeling in tears before her God. And the Lord knows well “who and what sort of woman this is that touches Him – that she is a sinner,” and He knows well, too, her repentant heart. While the others at table see neither their own sin nor the woman’s repentance, He allows Himself to be touched by both (her sin and her repentance) – it is for just such a moment as this He has come. And how well the Lord speaks the truth in His detailed description of the woman’s repentance; how well we see His love reflected in her… and how blest is she to hear these words for which every heart does long: “Your sins are forgiven.” And how her tears increase at this word come forth from the mouth of the Holy One. And so, while the others argue blindly among themselves, He reaches out His hand, touches her face, and whispers to her soul: “Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace.”
“O my God, I extol you… You have been my savior.” Indeed, your “mercy endures forever,” and now I know that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the song the woman must sing; this is the song of St. Paul. This is the song of every soul redeemed by the love of the Lord. So let us all “stand firm” in the Gospel preached to us by those who have seen Him, from Peter to this wretched Paul; we “are being saved by it at this very moment if we retain it” in its purity. And here is the Word simply put: “That Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.” What grace is ours, we the least, we poor sinners – we who know the greatness of His love.
O LORD, let us have faith in your Son
and in His sacrifice for our sins;
on our knees in love let us come to Him,
and we shall find His mercy.
YHWH, how can we see you if tears of repentance do not fill our eyes? How will your mercy be known to us if we do not come on our knees before your Son? If we love but little we shall be forgiven little, and our sins will continue to blind our eyes.
Have mercy on us, O LORD, we are all burdened with debt we cannot repay. But you hear our prayers, you have pity on our poor, sinful souls, and you reach out your hand to touch our hearts, to relieve the burden we carry by the sacrifice of your Son. Thank you, LORD. We praise you for your love.
Let us welcome you into our homes; let us receive Jesus into our very hearts. In our spirits take up your residence, LORD, by our faith in Him and in His death and resurrection. For us He died and was buried; for us He rose on the third day. Let us never forget His enduring mercy – in great humility let us embrace your love.
Tue, 18 September 2018
(1Cor.12:31-13:13; Ps.33:2-5,12,22; Lk.7:31-35)
“We piped you a tune but you did not dance;
we sang you a dirge but you did not wail.”
“Like children squatting in the city squares and calling to their playmates,” seeking to have them comply with their own selfish will, so are “the men of today” according to our Lord. And so is their song not “a noisy gong”? Do they not lack of love? Could they be more “rude,” more impatient and unkind, than to declare of John the Baptizer, “He is mad!” and of the Son of Man, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard”? Could they any more “rejoice in what is wrong,” utterly shutting out the truth?
And why? Why is it they do so lack of love? Why are they so ungodly? Is it not that they fail to realize and state with the Apostle Paul: “Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect”? Is it not because they trust in their own minds that they do not come to the wisdom of God?
And what is “God’s wisdom”? It is what Paul speaks of so well today: God is love, and without God we are worth nothing. Yes, God is love. Love is the heart of the Law even as God is the heart of the Law, and without the heart the body is useless. But knowing God is love, hearing it repeated over and over, is not sufficient for our salvation. Certainly, “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.” The Lord ever pours forth His grace, His love upon all His creatures – but how do we come to have that love, how do we come to accept it? Again, the key is in Paul’s statement, “My knowledge is imperfect now.” It is in understanding that, even though “we put childish ways aside,” yet “we see indistinctly.” It is in the realization that we are not God, that we need God and His love; in a word, it is in repentance. Genuine repentance is the attitude that brings us to the love of God. And the need for it is constant!
I think there is a kind of divine equation to our relationship with the Lord: the more we recognize our misery, the more He shares His mercy; the more we acknowledge our lack of His wisdom and love, the more He fills our desire for them. Marvelous is the justice of God!
Brothers and sisters, “give thanks to the Lord on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant His praises.” It is ours to “speak with human tongues and angelic as well”; we must employ “the gift of prophecy,” “feed the poor,” and be ready to “hand over [our] body to be burned.” But all we do must be driven by His will, must be founded in His love. Our song must be set in His holy key and reflect His eternal harmony, or we have nothing to fill our emptiness.
O LORD, let us accept your Word and your way;
let us live in your love and praise you all the day.
YHWH, if we have not love, what good are we, for then we are not of you? If we are proud what can we be but condemned for our anger and judgment? If we seek to control you, where can such foolishness lead us but to separation from you and your love; and so, what shall we do but die in emptiness?
O LORD, what fools we are to trust in our own knowledge, in our own ways, when you lay the way to Heaven before us. You send your Son to lead us home, and we tell Him He knows not of what He speaks; we seek even to instruct Him of the way He should better walk. And so to what utter foolishness does our knowledge lead – what blindness is upon our souls!
We must love as you love, as your Son has shown us, dearest LORD. Patient and kind make us this day, humble before you that we might see how much we need you to find our way. To your kingdom let us come, praising you for your glory, living in your unending love.
Mon, 17 September 2018
(1Cor.12:12-14,27-31; Ps.100:1-5; Lk.7:11-17)
“A great prophet has risen among us.”
A great prophet, yes, and so much more; for here is He who is Himself the “one body” upon whom the “one Spirit” rests, and in whom all find their home.
“The body is one and has many members; but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ.” Christ is all things: He is apostle sent by the Father, prophet speaking for God, teacher instructing all on the narrow path that leads to heaven, miracle worker raising the dead, healer of body and soul causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see, assistant washing the feet of His disciples, administrator apportioning the gifts and graces which are His own, and speaker in tongues upon whom the flame of the Spirit eternally rests and whose Word goes forth to all nations. We are not all apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, and speakers in tongues – but He is. He is all these things for He is whole; He is the only Son of God, and we are “His people, the sheep of His flock” who share in His power according to our baptism in His Name.
And so should we not “sing joyfully to the Lord” for the Savior who has been raised from among us? Should not all “lands,” all members of His blessed body “serve the Lord with gladness,” that all might tend to the glory of God? In our gospel “a considerable crowd of townsfolk were with” the widow, and “a large crowd accompanied” Jesus. These met at “the gate of the town” called Nain. When the Lord raised the son of the widow from the dead, “fear seized them all and they began to praise God.” Is not this scene of celebration like that which should encompass the body of Christ? Should not such joy in recognition of the greatness of God course through all our veins, strengthening all our muscles? For we know more than they. We know this Man is more than a prophet – we know it is the Messiah who is among us. And so, let us “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise” as we “set [our] hearts on the greater gifts” at work within us now as members of the body of the only Son.
Alleluia! He raises us all from the dead to speak in the power of the Spirit.
O LORD, let us be raised from the dead to live in you,
ever praising your NAME.
YHWH, in your Son we approach the gates of Heaven; as His Body we become your own. Sheep of your flock let us ever be – let us enter the New Jerusalem.
O LORD, raise us from our litter, from the bed of death to which sin has brought us. The hand of your Son touch us this day, His voice let us hear speaking to our ears, that we might be filled with your Spirit and rise from our graves to praise you, to give witness to your glory dwelling in our land.
Alive in you let us ever be, O LORD. The blood of your Son let course through our veins. In His Body let us make our home, as His very members. Then we shall remember you; then we shall enter your courts with praise and ever give thanks to your holy NAME.
Let us do your will, O LORD, your work on this earth. As Jesus your Son, let us live out our days, bringing His Word and His teaching to everyone.
Sun, 16 September 2018
(1Cor.11:17-26,33; Ps.40:7-10,17,1Cor.11:26; Lk.7:1-10)
“Just give the order and my servant will be cured.”
By a word from His mouth what cannot be done? For those who have faith this is all that is needed.
Listen, brothers and sisters, to the centurion’s explication of “the meaning of an order”: “I say to one, ‘On your way,’ and off he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Do you see faith at work? Do you understand the power of a word? And if a mere centurion in the Roman army possesses such power and gains such loyalty by his commands, do you think the Lord’s words shall fall short or His servants be found lacking in obedience?
“I am not worthy to have you enter my house” are the words the centurion speaks to Jesus before our quote for the day, and they are of course the phrase we utter just before we receive the Lord in Holy Communion. That same sacrament of Communion is described for us by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians; he tells us of the Christ’s words and actions upon its institution “on the night in which He was betrayed.” “This is my body,” Jesus says; and, in Paul’s phrasing, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” And so do we partake of the Lord’s Body and Blood even as we remember His sacrifice for our sins; and so, like the centurion’s servant, we are healed of our ills.
Yet there are “divisions among [us]” regarding this central sacrament of our faith. Perhaps “there may even have to be factions among [us] for the tried and true to stand out clearly.” But the Lord is never pleased with a lack of faith. And if He decries the lack of “faith among the Israelites,” what is His thought on Christians who cannot believe in His presence in the Sacrament? Does the Lord not also have “soldiers under His command” like the centurion? Do they not also carry out His orders? Or is the word He gives them not powerful enough to carry out His will? Is it somehow impossible for the Lord to make himself present as He has promised by the intercession of His apostles, His priests – even as by the intercession of the Jewish elders the centurion gained his request from the Christ? Does your faith not fall short if you thus limit the power of God, of His Word, of the power given His apostles? “I received from the Lord what I handed on to you,” Paul states succinctly as he speaks to his disciples of the Lord’s Supper. And this meal shall last till the end of time; and it shall ever feed us body and soul with the presence of Christ.
“Behold, I come,” says the Lord. To do the Father’s will is the Son’s “delight” and the delight of all who follow Him. In body He comes and in body He remains, upon our altars and in His sons. This “justice” we “announce in the vast assembly”; we do “not restrain [our] lips.” For His faithfulness to us, we His slaves and soldiers well know; and for such love we can but proclaim: “The Lord be glorified”! For by a word from His mouth uttered through His priest – “This is my body” – He is in our midst.
O LORD, in faith let us come to you
to receive the Body and Blood of your Son,
and so find the new life He brings.
YHWH, your Son comes to us and gives us His own Body and Blood that we might partake of Him and so find our salvation in union with you. But have we the faith to see Him here in our midst; and have we the love to receive Him into our hearts?
The flesh can be such a distraction for us, O LORD; it can leave us quite blind. As we seek to feed our bellies, our souls can be greatly deprived. And so, do we not lose you by our lack of faith?
In your Word let us trust, dear LORD, not in the matter at our hands. Our hearts be set upon your grace, upon the sacrifice of your Son, that we might come to dwell in your House. O let us offer our bodies in union with His and we shall become sons as He, doing your will alone and so knowing your blessing.
Let us lay down our lives in faith, O LORD, declaring your glory to all with ears. Let our very lives be made in your image, in the image of your only Son. Let us become as He is as we eat His Body and drink His Blood.
Sat, 15 September 2018
(Is.50:5-9a; Ps.116:1-6,8-9; Jas.2:14-18; Mk.8:27-35)
“I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
A simple enough statement made by our psalmist today, or so it seems. For what does it mean to walk with Jesus along the way of the Almighty God? What does such travel entail? Is it but to impart a word of peace and blessing to those in need, and continue merrily along? Is it but to say, “I have faith in God”? Words alone will not get us where we expect to be; we must walk in the way of the Lord, and to walk means to work.
And what is this work with which faith cannot dispense; what does it entail? It could not be more succinctly stated than it is by Jesus to the crowds and His disciples in today’s gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” It is in the Lord’s steps we must walk, and, yes, those steps lead inevitably to crucifixion. This cannot be avoided. Do you not hear the Lord’s rebuke of Peter? Then how can you begin to explicate a life in Christ without His cross fixed firmly upon your shoulder? How can you think that “the land of the living” may be found by easy means? It cannot.
Listen to the words of the Servant spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard.” This and more the Lord did willingly to reveal the way you must walk – this all the children of Israel, all God’s holy ones, take upon themselves all for the sake of the Gospel.
But lest you lose heart in the face of all you must undergo, all the suffering you must accept to gain the kingdom, let me tell you something else. All those who take up the cross say also with the Servant, “He is near who upholds my right.” Do you hear what He says? “The Lord God is my help”! Do you understand its significance? We are with Christ and Christ is with God and so none of the blows of this world can hurt us. Indeed, they do not touch us, for it is Jesus who suffers all these blows for our sake. Though the cords may lacerate our skin, they cannot approach our soul, for the Lord indeed takes from us all “distress and sorrow” and saves our very lives. Thus the psalmist sings, “He has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” For He in whose sight we live our lives has already endured all evil, and now preserves us from its clutches. And so in this cross which seems so dark and foreboding, there is ultimate joy.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to lose our lives
for the sake of the Gospel;
if we take up our cross, you will certainly defend us,
and bring us to everlasting life.
YHWH, your work accomplish in us; the path of your Son let us walk. If we walk with you unto the Cross, we shall walk with you in Heaven. If from the Cross we turn, where shall we find our salvation? It is in suffering for the sake of the kingdom we find our freedom – let us lose our lives for you and your Son’s Gospel.
We must not think as men do, dear LORD, but as your Son instructs. If we wish to come to you, we cannot follow the way of the world. You are in Heaven and if to Heaven we wish to come then die we must to this empty life. Let not the darkness of this place encompass us, let it not touch our hearts, but let us take our refuge in the death of your Son and we shall be raised from the nether world.
Buffets and spitting may be our fate in this life, but if we endure all with faith in you, with your Son we will be made strong, and be justified in His Day.
Fri, 14 September 2018
(1Cor.10:14-22; Ps.116:12-13,17-18; Lk.6:43-49)
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”
The Body and Blood of Christ we have upon our altar and in the Word of His teaching. It is these which set a firm foundation within ourselves, these by which we bear fruit in His Name – these by which we come to be as He is.
Paul tells the Corinthians today “to shun the worship of idols,” not because they are real, for they are not, but because these sacrifices are made “to demons and not to God” and we, as sons and daughters of a jealous God, “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons” nor “partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons.” As “a good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit,” so evil has no place with good and demons no place in the house of God. Partaking of this table is like building a “house on the ground without any foundation” and will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy our faith in the Lord.
And so we should have no share in the things of the world or in the decayed fruit which such mammon bears. This unholy food and drink is but to be vomited out in the sickness it produces. And calling upon the name of the powers of the earth and the air will but cause us to choke in an unholy fear. We must “call upon the name of the Lord” and upon His Name alone build our home. It is “the cup of salvation [we must] take up” and drink of the blood that is sanctified by the sacrifice of our Lord and God. And what does our psalmist mean when he sings, “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people” but that, as Jesus Himself instructs us in our gospel, we must “put into practice” the promises we make unto God. Else our words are empty; else our words are evil, for else our words will bear no fruit and our worship will be in vain.
A great call have we, brothers and sisters: to be like the Lord. And this call is within our reach. His Body and Blood are upon our table; His words are ringing in our ears. We have but to eat; we have but to listen… we have but to accept these gifts and do His will, and even the torrents of death shall not shake our souls. For we shall be as “the man, who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock”; we shall stand solidly with unshakable trust in the eternal Lord. For Him we shall have become by sharing in His sacrifice.
O LORD, let us put your Word into practice,
living as your only Son,
sharing in His Body and Blood.
YHWH, let us dig deep and make our foundation in you, in your Word and in your Body and Blood, and we shall bear fruit unto your kingdom, and our house shall stand strong on your holy Day. Let us shun entirely the table of the wicked; let us not partake of the food of demons. Our hearts be set only upon you, and all sin will be purged from our midst.
If we act in evil, LORD, what are we but evil? But if we act in goodness, we shall be made good by you. Let us praise you each day for your goodness and your grace that we might be sharers in your glory, that we might be members of your Body. The cup of salvation let us take up each morning and live all our days wedded in the blood of the Lamb.
What a gift you give us, LORD, in holy Mass; your own presence in the flesh and blood of your Son. In your Word and in your food let us build our home, and we shall become holy as you.
Wed, 12 September 2018
(1Cor.8:1-7,11-13; Ps.139:1-3,13-14,23-24; Lk.6:27-38)
“The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.”
And what is your measuring stick, brother? Is it the ruler of this earth, limited by eyes of flesh? Or is it the yardstick of heaven, which reaches unto the Lord’s side and finds us in His sight? Do you toil on this plane alone, or do you climb the mountain where He sits, where He teaches? Do your ears hear only of the debits and credits recorded in the book of this world; or are they open to the word the Lord speaks, and the generous outpouring of His grace?
In our first reading Paul states: “‘Knowledge’ inflates, but love upbuilds.” What he means is that our knowledge of earthly things can do little but inflate our pride, and thinking that this is true knowledge makes us blind. The “knowledge” that we should seek is the love of God, which comes from God and teaches us all things. “If anyone loves God, that man is known by Him,” and living thus in His sight, in His light, we see all with heavenly vision. With this wisdom we understand that “there is no God but one” and that “an idol is really nothing”: all the idols man makes upon this earth are empty and vain, and all the teaching which comes from such has no resonance, falls short of truth.
Yet we are called to be patient with the weakness of others, with their failures in faith. We must “not be an occasion of sin” for others but always be prepared to pardon and love even those who hate us. For if someone does violence to us, what do we teach these who cannot measure beyond earthly passion if we do them violence in return? If we answer with violence, what language do we speak but that of the world? But we are called to converse with heavenly tongues, even with the word of our Lord, and cannot rightly be called His sons if we do not do so. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” And you are thus but saying that you are a child of the earth and not heaven, living in the flesh and not the spirit.
“Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb,” is David’s song of joy to God. He gives thanks that he is “fearfully, wonderfully made.” And if made by God should we not reflect God and the love He has revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Should we not be as His Son? And so, should we not with David call upon the Lord to “probe” us and to “know [our] heart” and our “thoughts,” that He might straighten out our “crooked” ways and set us on the path His love prepares? Do we not desire the overflowing joy He brings? Then we must measure as He, with the heavenly yardstick that reaches up to where the Trinity is.
O LORD, if we could but learn to love as you,
how blessed we would be!
YHWH, let us learn your lesson of love, your perfect knowledge, by putting into practice love of all, even our worst enemies. If we repay evil with good, then we shall be like you; then we shall know as you know, that nothing surpasses love.
LORD, you know all things for you see all things, even the hidden matters of the heart. Nothing is hidden from your eye but all is bathed in your wonderful light. But we shall not find that light or your knowledge if we do not love, and love without measure. All remains dark for those lacking love.
Let us but be concerned for our brother’s welfare, LORD, that he shall not sin, that he shall turn from his sin to find you. And so, let us not judge, let us not condemn, or we shall not show him your holy face and he will never come to you – and we will not know you either. Let us rejoice to turn the other cheek, to give to all who would take from us, to be compassionate even toward those who hurt us. For then we will know you and your love.
Tue, 11 September 2018
(1Cor.7:25-31; Ps.45:11-12,14-17; Lk.6:20-26)
“The world as we know it is passing away.”
And so, “hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house,” for the King is calling you from this passing world to the heavenly marriage feast – “He is your Lord, and you must worship Him.” This call is for every chosen soul, for who is the Lord’s virgin daughter, who is His Bride but the Church? It is she who is called, even as the Virgin Mother who has preceded her to heaven, and each of our souls must be wed to Him alone. And we who leave all behind to follow Him “shall be filled” and “shall laugh” on the Day of our marriage, for “the reign of God” will be ours.
It is not in this world we take our “consolation” – how sad those who do so. For the riches of this world will rust and rot, and its laughter shall prove so hollow. Thus Paul instructs the wise: “Buyers should conduct themselves as though they owned nothing,” for in truth they have nothing at all: of what worth is that which does not last? Only an illusion are the temporary pleasures and vain accolades of this dying earth. The trials we find are all that should cause us to “rejoice and exult, for [our] reward shall be great in heaven” if we endure our exile well.
To those who consider marriage, Paul gives the instruction: “[You] will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.” Certainly marriage is not sinful, and is even a fruitful sacrament, but even this which can be such a blessing is but passing in the eyes of God. And the attachment we find to our spouse, again, though blessed by the Lord, is a union that is also passing – one which must be ultimately left as well. Since only our marriage to the living God is that which endures, Paul in his wisdom offers this word: “Those with wives should live as though they had none”; for this beauty, too, shall fade, and it is not in it we are called to make our home.
Yes, “the time is short,” brothers and sisters. The time is always short because time itself is passing – only eternity remains. And so, set not your hearts on the fading things of this life. The Lord who has died now prepares a place for you in His heavenly kingdom. And “all glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” So, to His palace be “borne in with gladness and joy”… join now the song of all His saints in our heavenly homeland.
O LORD, let us turn from the things of this world
and set our hearts on your kingdom,
which passes not away.
YHWH, help us to remember that this world is passing away, that we should thus be attached to nothing of this world, and certainly not make our home in it, seeking the riches it offers. Help us to set our hearts on you and seek you alone, forgetting all that is not of you. For we wish to enter your kingdom, to sing your praises with all your saints, but how shall we come there if fattened on the fruits of this earth?
LORD, your Apostle’s counsel is a very wise one – to make use of the things of this world as if we were not using them at all, always with an eye to their temporal nature, that they are indeed passing away. For if we remember this world is passing, we shall better remember you who are eternal. You are all that matters.
You are all that matters, LORD, and so let us cry out for your presence, hungering for your kingdom. Let us give up all of this world that we might find you present to us, and make our home in your palace forever.
Mon, 10 September 2018
(1Cor.6:1-11; Ps.149:1-6,9; Lk.6:12-19)
“You have been washed, consecrated, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
Yes, “power went out from Him which cured all.” And as all were “healed of their diseases” and “those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured” by His touch, so we, too, are made whole in His sight; so we now become His holy children of light. For “the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God,” and His kingdom being the desire of our hearts, we come with “the whole crowd… trying to touch Him,” trying to reach His presence upon the mountain of God.
And He calls His apostles; He selects the Twelve. And the power to teach and to heal He bestows upon them and upon their descendants. His wisdom and His grace He imparts upon those to whom His Father leads Him; and this same power rests upon all those baptized in His name into His Spirit. And so, as these Twelve who are the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel, so it is that the redeemed of the Lord are, as Paul tells us, “to judge angels.” Yes, “the believers will judge the world.” This power which is the Lord’s alone He gives to all in the world to come, for all are to be infused with His wisdom, and His love.
And so are we not therefore “up to deciding everyday affairs”? “If the judgment of the world is to be [ours], are we to be thought unworthy of judging in minor matters?” And not only in cases “between one member of the Church and another,” but in all the details of our lives. If we are to judge with the wisdom and grace of God in heaven, we must here be able to see clearly the right from the wrong, or we have not His Spirit upon us – or we stand in opposition to His Truth and to His Church. “Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit God’s kingdom.” If your conscience tells you otherwise and you do these things or fail to condemn these things, you are sadly misinformed; and rather than judge the nations with the Lord and His apostles, you shall be judged by them.
Come only unto His Word, brothers and sisters; come only unto His Hand. And you shall be cleansed of all evil and be made able to stand here in this world as in His kingdom. And you shall sing His “praise in the assembly of the faithful” and with them “exult in glory” before your “maker” and “king.” “This is the glory of all His faithful”; His holy song is sung by all the redeemed.
O LORD, your power is upon your apostles
and all your holy people;
for this grace let us praise your NAME.
YHWH, who can judge but those who are like you, those who are holy, those washed clean in the blood of your Son with the power of your Spirit upon them? No sinner can judge, for no sinner can see; he is blinded by his sin and immersed in selfishness, and so, how can he be just?
O LORD, anoint us as you have the apostles, with your Spirit, with your blessing, with the blood of your Son. Let healing graces pour forth from our souls as we walk the way He has shown. Then all shall rejoice at His coming, all shall exult in your glory, as all are judged fairly in your sight.
We are but poor creatures, LORD, and yet by your grace you make us as yourself, you call us to you… even to judge angels with you. Certainly it is never we who judge but you; we can only give our wills over to you and allow you to work for our good. For only you are good, and so only by you are we made good and able to do anything at all. Let us be your faithful disciples even this day.
Sun, 9 September 2018
(1Cor.5:1-8; Ps.5:5-7,9,12; Lk.6:6-11)
“Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast,
that of corruption and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
For indeed, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed”; indeed, the new Sabbath has come. And on the Day of the Lord only goodness remains.
“Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough,” Paul commands the Corinthians as he chastises them for their “boasting” and self-satisfaction even while tolerating a professed sinner in their midst. He writes here to insist that they should be “grieving and getting rid of the offender,” both for the sake of the community and that the sinful man’s “spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” For, as David makes quite evident in his psalm, God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil remains with [Him].” And as for the vain pride of the community: “the arrogant may not stand in [His] sight.”
It is not an unkind exaggeration to say that the Lord “hate[s] all evildoers.” The sharp line dividing evil and good Jesus would make clear as He confronts the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue on the sabbath, “a man whose right hand was withered” standing before Him: “I ask you,” He says, “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath – or evil? To preserve life – or destroy it?” Then He heals the man, much to the chagrin of the scribes and Pharisees who deem this unlawful work for the day. But in the Lord’s House and on His Day good is always and only done – and certainly this healing is a blessed act. And since only the good remain in His House, just as the man who is “living with his own father’s wife” will be purged from the Corinthian community at Paul’s urging, so by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ these false leaders who harbor such distrust and jealousy will be cast from within the walls of the Lord’s Church; for “the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord abhors,” and indeed the blood of the Son is upon their hearts, and will be upon their hands.
But we, brothers and sisters, we have the new feast, the new Sabbath before us now. We come now into His House to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Each day, in fact, we may celebrate the greatness of God’s glory and the grace of His presence in our midst. And so, let us celebrate with a pure spirit, with His cleansing blood upon our hearts, that our goodness may be preserved and we who “love [His] name” and “take refuge in [Him]” may “be glad and exult forever.”
O LORD, why is man’s heart so set against you?
YHWH, the arrogant cannot stand before you, those who have the desire for evil in their hearts and blood upon their hands. How can they begin to know your undying love, those who would condemn even the Son of Man?
Should not the broken and sinful man always stretch his hand out to you? Is your arm somehow shortened in its merciful reach? Should we think that you, O LORD and God, are somehow limited in the dispensing of your grace? Will not Jesus show us otherwise as He stretches His arms out on the Cross?
And what shall save those who do not accept His embrace, who would rather embrace this corrupt and wicked generation? Condemnation shall be pronounced over the rebellious soul, unless he repents of his evil. O LORD, let us eat only the bread of sincerity and truth; let us desire only your goodness upon all. O let us embrace your Son!
Sat, 8 September 2018
(Is.35:4-7a; Ps.146:2,6-10; Jas.2:1-5; Mk.7:31-37)
“He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
The Lord makes all whole. He “sets captives free” from all their afflictions as He redeems us from all our sin. “Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense He comes to save you.” This is He who “has done all things well”; this is the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” By a word: “‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’” the deaf mute is healed by Jesus, causing all to be “exceedingly astonished.” And in their astonishment their eyes are opened, for “the Lord gives sight to the blind.” And so He who sustains “the fatherless and the widow” and “gives food to the hungry” stands before the eyes of all now; and so indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared… Then the tongue of the dumb will sing.” And so streams “burst forth in the desert” and “the lame leap like a stag,” for He comes – He comes to heal all nations.
Brothers and sisters, God chose “those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him.” He chose the blind; He chose the lame; He chose the deaf and the mute – He chose the hungry and oppressed. He chose you and me in all our sin, in all our weakness before Him, and came to release us from all fear. Making no distinction except to favor the soul who thirsts for Him, He came bringing “springs of water.” And these waters heal. And these waters set us free. And these waters remove our “shabby clothes” and don us “with gold rings and fine clothes” spun by the hand of God.
Brothers and sisters, “adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” For He is glorious indeed, and coming into His assembly with all your imperfections purged from your soul, you shall know such glory and not be able to withhold yourself from proclaiming such glory. Yes, you shall be one with “the Lord [who] shall reign forever.” He shall be “your God, O Zion, through all generations,” and with tongue loosened and renewed you shall sing “Alleluia” to the Lord forevermore. Know now His power upon you.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (2nd half) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, open our ears that we might hear your voice
and follow in your way.
YHWH, you chose the poor to inherit your kingdom. The deaf, the blind, the lame – to these you bring your healing touch. You come to those who recognize their need for you and take them to yourself. In your Son you fulfill your will for the good of all who desire you. For this we can but praise you.
O LORD God, you keep faith forever, you eternally offer forth love to us, the rivers of grace known in the work of Jesus. You can but love us; you can but desire our good. For you are all good, you are all love, and so you look with pity upon those in need, upon fallen man so separated from your love.
O may we all be cleansed of our sin! O may we all be made whole in your sight! Let the touch of your Son be upon us, dear LORD, that we might sing of your glory forever. O let our hearts be open to your love!
Fri, 7 September 2018
(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30; Ps.13:6,Is.61:9; Mt.1:1-16,18-23
Note: I shall treat of both first readings)
“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”
“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child? And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.” She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence. It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”
The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself. First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world. The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings. God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.
And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High. She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.
And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters. We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith. He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary
you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –
may He be always with us.
YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins. May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you. In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.
So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race. He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence. O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!
By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us. Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.
Thu, 6 September 2018
(1Cor.4:1-5; Ps.37:3-6,27-28,39-40; Lk.5:33-39)
“The salvation of the just is from the Lord.”
“For the Lord loves what is right, and forsakes not His faithful ones.” And so He comes. He comes bearing a new garment; He comes with the blood of a New Covenant, His own blood, to wash us clean and make us whole as He is. Drinking this new wine indeed we are made holy.
It is not as “John’s disciples” or as “the disciples of the Pharisees” we shall find our salvation – only as disciples of the Son of God, only by “commit[ting] to the Lord [our] way” will “justice dawn for us like the light.” And that His way, His covenant, is whole we see in His teaching that “no one tears a piece from a new coat to patch an old one,” for this indeed “will only tear the new coat, and the piece taken from it will not match the old.” What foolishness this would be. No, the New Covenant founded in the blood of Jesus Christ, though absolutely in accord with the Old, is whole unto itself and serves to redeem and fulfill the covenant that has come before. One cannot take pieces of it as it might suit one’s judgment – it must be received entire as grace from the Lord. Then, “bright as the noonday shall be your vindication,” and feast with the bridegroom you shall.
Brothers and sisters, “the Lord is the one to judge,” and His Word must be accepted in full. Only “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts,” for only His eyes see all things. And so, do not attempt to judge for yourselves the worth of a person or even yourself. Paul says, “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” not because he is innocent, but because God alone knows his heart. And as we cannot judge one another, so we cannot (as James has said elsewhere – 4:11) judge the Law of God. We must simply live under His Law, seeking to obey the Word of His covenant. We must only make it our concern to “turn from evil and do good, that [we] may abide forever.” For when the Lord comes again, when the New Covenant is fulfilled in our midst, “at that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.”
Neither praise nor condemnation from the mouth of man has worth. Trust not in this. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” Commit yourself entirely to His Word and Blood, and a new skin to receive His grace you shall find.
O LORD, let us put ourselves entirely in your hands,
and we shall be made new and holy in your sight.
YHWH, you are our salvation, you alone. How shall we be clothed in the white wedding garment of purity, how shall we enter your kingdom and feast at your table, if you do not save us, if you do not deliver us from the evil of the world and the evil in our souls. Let us give ourselves to you whole and entire, that new we may be made in your presence.
You declare men holy, LORD, for you alone judge hearts. We cannot see, we cannot know who is just in your sight, for our vision in limited to the surface of things – all we see are acts, but you know the intentions of hearts, the thoughts of man and what he truly desires… and so you alone know who is worthy of your blessings.
Make us worthy, O LORD, to rejoice at your table, to drink wine in your kingdom, to have the blood of your Son upon us to wash us clean in this world. Make our skins new, our souls new, to receive the grace you impart to your faithful disciples.
Wed, 5 September 2018
(1Cor.3:18-23; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.5:1-11)
“Amazement at the catch they had made
seized him and all his shipmates.”
What a truly remarkable scene! Here upon the call of the apostles, the first of apostles, Simon Peter, “fell at the knees of Jesus.” Here in his barque, boats once desolate now suddenly fill to bursting with fish flopping about everywhere, unable to be contained… This is a painting for the ages, this blessed moment! It is this image which drives the Church forth, filling the barque of Peter with blessed, saved souls. “From now on you will be catching men,” the Lord says to His Rock – and so the Church is called, on this sunlit day.
Yes, “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” And how wonderfully that fullness that is the Lord’s is revealed in these boats continually filled “until they nearly sank,” and how clearly these abundant fish represent we who dwell in God’s world. Even literally our psalm is fulfilled: “He founded it upon the seas,” David sings; and as He founded the world, so here He finds the Church, His renewal of the world, here upon the Sea of Galilee. Here He sends out His call to those who “stand in His holy place”; and through His apostles all will find the strength and purity to “ascend the mountain of the Lord.” Here is the faith firmly rooted, here in the barque of Peter. The race that “seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall find Him now, shall see Him even as clearly as Peter looking up at Him from here at His knees on this marvelous day.
“All things are yours,” Paul declares, “and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Indeed, the fullness of heaven and earth are at our hands through Jesus and the ministry of His apostles. All the apostles are ours, the world is ours, life and death are ours, the present and the future… Why? Because we are in Christ, in the boat in which He sits, surrounding our leader on his knees – all is ours because we leave everything to become His followers.
After the Lord’s resurrection this scene shall repeat itself, and so the call be fulfilled. Here it begins though, here in “nets [that] were at their breaking point,” here in boats that are filled – here in one man falling to his knees, all come before the Lord of all.
O LORD, it is only by your power anything is done –
make us holy by your Word.
YHWH, upon our knees let us come to you; in the way of your Son let us follow, and in Him and in His Church, all shall be ours. What can we lack if united to you? What is not ours if your abundance we know?
O LORD, all the world and all those who dwell in it are in your hands. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the soul of every man you hold. And to your Son you give all. And to your Church you give the same. For those who follow Jesus, who leave all behind for the kingdom’s sake, shall know your abundant blessings even this day.
To what of this earth should we hold, LORD? What is of worth apart from you? Let us know nothing but your Son, the Christ, and we shall ascend your holy mountain, and become holy as you. This alone should be our goal, the desire of our heart must be to be united to you.
Praise you for all your blessings, LORD! But praise you most for calling us through your only Son to dwell in your Church, where you reside.
Tue, 4 September 2018
(1Cor.3:1-9; Ps.33:12-15,20-21; Lk.4:38-44)
“To other towns I must announce the Good News of the reign of God,
because that is why I was sent.”
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.” And He continues to preach to all hearts through His blessed apostles, and His Church continues to grow. To the ends of the earth the kingdom progresses, and we each have a hand in its rising.
Yes, “he who plants and he who waters work to the same end,” but “neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth.” As Paul has said to the Corinthians: “Who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him.” As great as the work of any apostle may be, yet it is God alone through whom progress is made. He alone causes “His cultivation, His building” to grow; it is yet Jesus who announces salvation in any of our lives.
Indeed, no matter how big our work, it is God who accomplishes all – but also no matter how small. For all are called. And even as Paul and Apollos plant and water by their great gift of preaching, so we are told of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law that once Jesus had cast the fever from her, “she got up immediately and waited on them,” entirely ready to perform her work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. As with the sick the Lord “laid hands on each of them and cured them,” and as He taught with authority, so all in their way are invited to offer their service to the only God and thus become built into His kingdom. It is God who builds the House, but indeed “we are God’s co-workers” and must cooperate with His grace.
And how we should know Him and His working among us and through us! The demons declared, “You are the Son of God!” for they “knew that He was the Messiah” – they knew well He who had come to destroy them. Why is it we whom He has come to build up do not know Him just as well, or even more? Truly it is “He who fashioned the heart of each [of us], He who knows all [our] works”; it is He “who is our help and our shield,” and “in Him our hearts [should] rejoice” – and through Him we should accomplish all. Do we know His presence with us so well? Do we rejoice in Him and do His works and become His work…? Brothers and sisters, let it be indeed that the Good News is announced clearly to all through the Lord working upon our soul.
O LORD, in your holy NAME let us trust,
and we shall be healed of all our ills
and grow unto the kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word go forth through your people this day; to the ends of the earth let your Son travel, bringing the Good News of your reign to every soul through your Church and especially her apostles.
You dwell in Heaven, O LORD, far above our mortal ways, and we take life and do our work only through you who call us. Let us be your co-workers, branches of the vine that is your Son, and your Church shall be built up in truth, in the power that is only upon Him.
Let all be healed of their infirmities, LORD, that all might indeed serve you well; raise us from our bed of pain, release us from the grasp of the devil, and we shall work for you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let all be done as you will and all shall rejoice in your glory.
It is you who have made us, LORD; we are but your poor creatures. But with the blood of your Son coursing through our veins we rise above this dying flesh and make our home in the Spirit. Let us grow in your House this day.
Mon, 3 September 2018
(1Cor.2:10-16; Ps.145:8-14,17; Lk.4:31-37)
“We have the mind of Christ.”
The demon has been cast from us and we see the Lord as He is: “Good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” “The glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” is before our eyes, and it is this which gives us light. We have bowed ourselves down before Him, the demon has thrown us “to the ground before everyone’s eyes,” and we have found that “the Lord lifts up those who are falling.” No longer “the natural man” who finds “what is taught by the Spirit of God” complete “absurdity,” filled with His Spirit we now “recognize the gifts He has given us.” And in these gifts we rejoice, for we have become as He is.
“The Lord is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works,” and so what should we who are His works do but “discourse of the glory of His kingdom and speak of His might,” brothers and sisters? Should not all our words and all our works give Him due glory? How can we do otherwise, knowing now how “gracious and merciful” God is and that His “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages”? “All generations” must be called into His holy presence.
“He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” Here is the Good News in action; here is the glory of God come among us. All the evil that possesses the soul of man is cast out by a word from His Son’s mouth. And so is paved the way to the kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, embrace the Spirit of God at work in the world. Put on the mind of Christ. “The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit,” and so should we not teach as we have been taught? If indeed the light of the Lord is upon us illumining our minds and hearts, is it not but just that we should be compelled to impart that same Spirit to others that they might not be in darkness but might also be able to “appraise everything” “in a spiritual way,” that they too might know “the mind of the Lord”?
Devils, be gone! Be silenced before the Son of God! All the evil of the world shall be struck and destroyed by the all-powerful Word of God. All His children sharply shine His saving light.
O LORD, let us have your Spirit within us,
that our speech may be as your Son’s.
YHWH, let us be your children of light, with your Spirit within us. The mind of Christ let us put on, and we shall understand all things and be found in your presence.
Your Son speaks with authority, LORD, for He speaks your NAME in every word. His word casts all demons from our midst, for what evil can stand before your Spirit?
O LORD, let us speak of your glory to all souls, tell the nations of your might. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages; your dominion shall not pass away.
Holy are you, LORD, and no one can know you who does not seek your holiness. But you bless with great gifts those who love you and praise your NAME – your wisdom you grant to the spiritual man.
Let us listen to your voice calling to our souls. Let all darkness and sin be cast from our hearts. O let us be faithful to your Word! and we shall find ourselves in your kingdom on high.
Sun, 2 September 2018
(1Cor.2:1-5; Ps.119:97-102; Lk.4:16-30)
“Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men
but on the power of God.”
Paul comes to the Corinthians with preaching that has “none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit,” and with them he determines to “speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Similarly, when “Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been reared,” in the synagogue He simply read the passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming Messiah, sat down before the eyes of all, and stated, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I AM here. I AM He. This is the day of salvation. Period. And here even at the beginning of His ministry we see how the crucifixion is already near, as His townspeople attempt to kill Him for the truth He speaks.
Upon what is this simple wisdom, this power of the Lord, based but the Word of God? The psalmist, whose “meditation all the day” is the law of the Lord, declares in truth and in joy: “Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies.” It grants him “more understanding than all [his] teachers” and “more discernment than the elders,” because all genuine wisdom comes from the Word spoken by the mouth of God and not through human learning. We have seen that Scripture is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Himself, who is the Word of God made flesh. Yes, He speaks much more through “the appealing discourse which came from His lips.” Yes, there is oral tradition as well (for the Word of God is living and active); but on Scripture He begins His instruction, and continually He refers to the Word. Whether rejecting the devil’s temptations, rebuking the Pharisees and scribes, or enlightening the people – as He tries to do today by referring to Elijah’s having to go to Zarephath and Elisha’s healing only the Syrian, to show how prophets are not accepted in their native place – the Lord’s words are founded in the Word of God, in Scripture.
And, of course, an integral part of that Word is the suffering the Christ must undergo. But notice that even as the people intend “to hurl Him over the edge” of the hill of Nazareth, just as directly as He has spoken truth to them, so directly and with the power of God He “went straight through their midst and walked away.” For the Word is as a sword which pierces all the dark limits of the world, and even through death it shall lead all to salvation.
Brothers and sisters, let your faith rest on this Word that is Christ found in Scripture and living in the Church, for the Spirit does not die with the devices of the human mind. This Spirit holds eternal life.
O LORD, open our eyes that we might see and know
the blessing you bring us by your Son’s Cross.
YHWH, let us follow your Word and your way, the way of your only Son, the way of the Cross that leads to life. Of Christ crucified let us speak; with all our lives let us give witness to Him. Then we shall be obedient to your Word as He – then we shall make your wisdom our own.
O LORD, let us meditate on the Word that comes to us in Scripture, that comes walking among us in your Son. All the day let our hearts be set on the illumination your Word brings. Though in the Word we are chastised for our sins, though it lead us along a narrow path; if we observe your precepts and follow in the way of the Christ, you shall guard our steps and keep us from every evil. For then we shall be wiser than all our foes, wiser than any other soul, for then your Spirit will be with us; His power will be upon us.
May the Word of Truth come from our Savior’s mouth and lived in His very flesh help us to walk straight through the midst of our enemies and come to you.
Sat, 1 September 2018
(Dt.4:1-2,6-8; Ps.15:1-5; Jas.1:17-18,21b-22,27; Mk.7:1-8,14-15,21-23)
“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.”
Welcome it, yes, and “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” For how else shall you show that the word of God is planted in you except that you bear fruit? All that is planted well indeed grows and bears fruit in the light of God.
Brothers and sisters, God “willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits.” “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law?” Indeed the Law of God is whole, the Law of God is perfect – the Law of God gives life. For this reason Moses instructs the people: “You shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it,” for the Law is holy as He, and keeping it we prove ourselves to be so holy; keeping it we cannot but “give evidence of [our] wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” Yes, with the Lord “there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” His light is perfect, and His light is eternal, and we must be children of His holy light.
But what of those for whom the washing of hands has become more important than keeping the commandments of God? What about those over whom Isaiah prophesies: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”? Woe to these, for they have not the word of truth planted in them and so only evil things “come out from within,” and thereby they are defiled. Oh may the Lord never pronounce over our souls: “In vain do they worship me”! Oh let us never be producers of the evils of this world!
“Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” and he “who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue” knows the gifts of the Creator and walks in His holy light. No “great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him.” For His truth is indeed within us and this word comes straight to His ear. The beat of our hearts is known to our God as we worship in spirit and in truth. The only food that saves souls is laid upon our table. The Word of God we consume and so are made His children, caring for “orphans and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unstained by the world.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Is In Your Heart" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we walk according to your Word,
we shall be saved.
YHWH, your Word you have planted within us and so call us to follow in your way. Your Law comes to our ears that we might observe your commandments and so have life. But if we do not welcome the Word you give, if we do not do as we are commanded, we shall be empty vessels in which corruption may find a home.
O LORD, let us walk blamelessly before you, cherishing the truth in our hearts and guarding our tongues from all evil. You give us the grace to approach perfection; you are close to us when we call upon you, when you and your glory are our desire. May we be innocent of all sin, our hands clean from all defilement, and we shall be blessed all our days.
Let your Word live in us and grow in us, dear God. Let there be no room in us for greed or deceit or any of the wickedness known to man. With our very lives let us honor you – O let us be truly wise!