Wed, 16 January 2019
O father of monks
and all who would give themselves
completely to the Lord,
you who have been so obedient
to the word of God,
to His call
to sell everything,
to renounce all possessions
and follow Him –
how we need your prayers
when love for material things
possesses our very bodies
when prayer and penance
seem things of the distant past.
Make present to us
the blessed call of the Lord,
the renunciation of the world,
that we too might find
the riches of Heaven
you knew so well.
Pray we give up all for God.
Wed, 16 January 2019
(Heb.3:7-14; Ps.95:6-11; Mk.1:40-45)
“Today, if you should hear His voice,
harden not your hearts.”
Today we see Jesus continuing His healing ministry, and we see how it becomes “no longer possible for [Him] to enter a town openly” because of the public proclamation of His wondrous and powerful works. We see also how, though “He stayed in desert places… people kept coming to Him from all sides,” for His work must be accomplished. But we see most particularly the way we must come to Him to find our own healing.
“Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us,” David sings, calling all to their proper place before God. And this the leper in our gospel does today, indicating indeed to all the attitude we must have toward Jesus, the place we must find at His feet. With soft hearts we must come before our Lord in tears for the sin upon our souls. Not like those in the Egyptian desert can we be, those who “saw [His] works for forty years” yet “tested and tried” Him constantly. This generation indeed He “loathed” in His anger, calling them “a people of erring heart” who “know not [His] ways.” On the contrary, our hearts must burn with a tender love of God and one another as we approach the Lord in the desert where He waits to save us from our sin. He will match any tenderness of our own. “Moved with pity” we shall find Him, ready to gather our broken spirits into His arms.
“Take care, my brothers, lest any of you have an evil and unfaithful spirit and fall away from the living God.” See that your hearts are never “hardened by the deceit of sin.” It is always “today” and the Lord is always calling to your soul, always requiring your life from you – always offering His love to you. Offer your own in return, that you shall not be cast from His presence, that you shall not be ostracized like this leper from the community, but remain ever in His holy fold as “the flock He guides” with His gentle hand… and finally that you might “enter into His rest.” He calls you to healing at His hand; hear and answer on your knees.
O LORD, make our hearts soft and our spirits loving,
as your Son;
let us bow down to Him.
YHWH, let us not be of erring and unfaithful heart but let our love match your own and that of your Son, for He looks on our poor condition with pity and reaches out His hand to heal us of our sin, of our weakness before you. Why should we harden our hearts against Him when all He wishes is to save us? Let us accept and treasure such blessing which comes only from you.
So blind we can easily become, O LORD, so blind to your presence among us and your works done for us. So easily we are led astray; so easily we become deaf to your Word speaking to our hearts. O let our hearts not be hardened! but let us come humbly before you to worship you and call on your holy NAME. This is what brings life to our souls. In this worship alone do we find our rest.
O LORD, set us free from all pride, from all failure to remember your presence before us…. Be not angry with your wayward children but gather us into your loving arms.
Tue, 15 January 2019
(Heb.2:14-18; Ps.105:1-4,6-9; Mk.1:29-39)
“Since He Himself was tested through what He suffered,
He is able to help those who are tempted.”
And help them He does. Die for us He must. Each healing is a move of love which takes His life as sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus died on the cross for us, yes. He opened His arms and let His healing blood pour forth for all “the children of Abraham,” all those of faith. But His whole life, and especially His ministry of preaching and healing, is a dying, is a robbing of “the devil, the prince of death, of his power.” We see clearly in our gospel today how Jesus “free[s] those who through fear of death had been slaves their whole life long,” how He lays down His life for “the whole town [which] was gathered outside the door” of “the house of Simon and Andrew.” After healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a debilitating fever, He cures all who press upon Him, all “who were variously afflicted”; from them “the demons He expelled.”
And in these cures, in these expulsions of demons, do we not see our “merciful and faithful high priest” who has come “to expiate the sins of the people” at work in “blood and flesh,” dying for the nation’s salvation? Has the Lord not equated such healing with salvation, declaring there is no difference between forgiving sins and saying “be well” to the troubled soul (Mk.2:9)? And do not these demons desire to cry out that He is the Christ even as He gouges the life from them as He Himself dies? Does their rule not escape them now with every word of the Spirit He speaks? But He does “not permit the demons to speak,” for they would reveal who He is only that He might be tempted to become ruler on earth of these people who would certainly seek to crown Him king. But the salvation He brings rises beyond this dying life, and the Son of God has no relations with the prince of darkness and his lying rule.
And so our Lord “went into [the] synagogues preaching the good news and expelling demons throughout the whole of Galilee.” So He went forth robbing the devil of His reign, suffering and dying all the while, all the way to the cross, where His ministry is accomplished. And we, brothers and sisters, do we not continue His ministry to this day? Has the Lord not left the dying to us now – a cross upon each of His disciples’ backs to fill up what is yet lacking in His sacrifice? Is this not the great gift He gives us? And in His steps, by the apostles’ instruction, in union with His Church, do you walk through the suffering and darkness of this world to the Lord’s eternal light? For your sake has He died. So “seek to serve Him constantly” as He does you.
O LORD, in flesh and blood your Son has come
to drive all demons away from us
and save us from the power of death.
YHWH, your Son has come to heal us, to cast all our sin far from us, releasing us from all power of the devil. Death itself He conquers for our sakes, suffering all the weakness of our human condition that He might free us from its bonds. He has made Himself captive to flesh and blood that we might fly unto the kingdom with Him. And so, let us glorify His Name!
O LORD, how your Son lays down His life as He walks among us, taking our sickness upon Himself. How much He suffers as we come to Him to find our healing – how brokenhearted He is to witness our travail. But He does not turn from His mission or rest in His accomplishments; on He goes from place to place, redeeming all who come to Him. And this path leads inevitably to the Cross, to His death and our freedom from all sin. Let us praise Him for the sacrifice He makes, for His offering His life for our sakes.
Mon, 14 January 2019
(Heb.2:5-12; Ps.8:2,5-9; Mk.1:21-28)
“A completely new teaching in a spirit of authority!”
Thus do the people exclaim at the power of the word which issues forth from the mouth of Christ, into whose hands “all things” have been subjected. The devils see Him and shriek: “I know who you are – the holy one of God!” They know Him and they fear Him, for He has indeed “come to destroy” them and whatever authority they seemed to have. He it is who has come to return man to his rightful “rule over the works of [God’s] hands.” God has “crowned [man] with glory and honor, and put all things under his feet”; and though “at present we do not see all things thus subjected” because of man’s sin, because he has subjected himself to the works of the devil, yet Jesus has come to bring “many sons the glory,” to reveal in His own person the power of God present in all mankind.
And how does the Lord Jesus Christ destroy the devils? How does He redeem man from their clutches, from their possession? By suffering. By dying. Yes, even now we “see Jesus crowned with glory and honor” – the glory and honor to which we are all called – “because He suffered death.” By suffering death He conquered death, and thus any power the devil wielded by its weight upon our souls. And we are free! The devils are cast from us because He has walked among us; He has come into the synagogue and “taught with authority.” And so the pride of the devil is broken, and we see the angels’ place as servants to man as we see the dignity to which men are called in this Son of Man.
And the Lord “is not ashamed to call [us] brothers.” Though by our weakness, by our sinfulness, our disobedience, certainly we merit shame – and so, rightly does David cry to God, “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” – yet He does care for us, He is mindful of us… He suffers and dies for us, taking our shame upon Himself in His only Son. And what the Lord has earned we should not spurn, but treasure the grace that is ours through our Brother’s sacrifice. Let us put ourselves under His authority that His authority might be our own, and the devil shall be gone.
O LORD, all things are under the authority of your Son,
who came to save us from all evil.
YHWH, what authority is upon your Son! Your own authority, your own glory. He has power over all the earth, and the unclean spirits are subject to His command. There is nothing outside his rule, for His rule is your own.
And through your Son, and through His suffering, this rule, this glory, becomes our own. Since He has come as our Brother, we become your sons with Him. And so, great authority you place upon your children, LORD, upon the men you call forth; for you call us to share in the work of your Son and in His consecration.
Greater than the angels is Jesus, our Savior. O LORD, only He leads us to your glory this day. May we know the blessing that is ours through the Holy One of God and listen to His teaching. Let all men to the ends of the earth hear of His fame and believe in Him, that all might praise Him in the great assembly.
Sun, 13 January 2019
(Heb.1:1-6; Ps.97:1-2,6-7,9; Mk.1:14-20)
“This is the time of fulfillment.”
Brothers and sisters, no longer does God speak to us “in fragmentary and varied ways”; this is “the final age,” in which “He has spoken to us through His Son, whom He has made heir of all things and through whom He first created the universe.” With full voice does He make Himself known now, for “this Son is the reflection of the Father’s being, and He sustains all things by His powerful word.” Jesus is the Christ, and in Him the will of God is fulfilled.
And is it any wonder the disciples “immediately abandoned their nets and became His followers,” that at once they joined Him in “proclaiming the good news of God”? For here is the One they have been waiting for, the voice they have been longing to hear, and what can they do but heed His call to join in speaking the very Word of God? James and John even “abandoned their father Zebedee,” a good man, for the greatest of men, the Son of Man, God Himself, had come to them: their hearts could not resist for here indeed was the pure reflection of their Father in heaven, whom even Zebedee desired above all. (With his blessing we can presume they go, the “nets in order” they leave behind.)
O brothers and sisters, do you know who this is has come into your midst? Do you realize who has joined your race? This Jesus whom the Father deems His Son sits at “the right hand of the Majesty in heaven,” “far superior to the angels,” far superior to all creation, for indeed all creation has come to be through Him, who is one in being with the Father. Here is the heart of our creed, this Jesus, this Christ, who is God Himself, and yet also Man with us. Of His Son the Father says, “Let all the angels of God worship Him,” and indeed “all gods are prostrate before Him.” He is “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” who are no gods at all, unable to stand before the glory of His majesty.
And so should we not bow down to Him? Should we not follow when He calls, “Come after me”? Do we not wish to join with Him who is our salvation, who has “cleansed us from our sins,” on the way that leads to “the reign of God”? Yes, the kingdom of God has come to us in the Person of Jesus the Son; there is nothing more to wait upon. The time has come. Let us now follow Him.
O LORD, let us worship your Son in His glory;
let us follow Him unreservedly this day.
YHWH, let us abandon all things to follow your Son; with the angels let us bow down and worship Him. For He is the pure reflection of your Being all our hearts have been hoping to see, and so let us answer His call for our lives.
O LORD, you are the Most High over all the earth and your Son has joined you at your right hand. His glory is far above anything of Heaven or earth, for His glory is your own – and that glory He would bring to each of us, if we would but turn from our sins and set our hearts on His reign. O let us worship Him!
Speak to us this day, O LORD, through your only Son; call us to His side that we might do your will and rejoice in your glory. Let us not be deaf to His powerful Word but be transformed by its proclamation and find the time of fulfillment at hand. Alleluia!
Sat, 12 January 2019
O shepherd and doctor
of God’s holy Church,
is this not what you would declare
with all your breath
to the ends of the earth:
“Jesus is the Son of God
and God Himself”?
Would you not proclaim
the true light of Scripture
and the Word, the Light,
become flesh in our midst?
Know, O saint of the Lord,
that your words reach our ears
and our hearts
even to this day,
and this day we proclaim you holy
and your words true –
continue to speak to us;
please intercede for us,
that the Truth you declared
will be taken up again
by those in His stead today.
Sat, 12 January 2019
(Is.40:1-5,9-11; Ps.104:1-4,24-25,27-30; Ti.2:11-14,3:4-7; Lk.3:15-16,21-22)
“Heaven was opened
and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him
in bodily form like a dove.”
“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared.” Here we see its clear evidence in the Baptism of our Lord. Here He who “baptize[s] [us] with the Holy Spirit and fire” has the Spirit descend upon Himself. In our stead He places Himself (as He shall on the cross), and by the Spirit’s presence upon Him, we ourselves are made clean. This Jesus, this Son of God, shall “save us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” the Spirit which is united with His own, which is His own.
And so does He who “rules with a strong arm” enter our midst. And what does He say? “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” He who is “clothed with majesty and glory,” who has “constructed [His] palace on the waters” and made “the clouds [His] chariot”; He who “travel[s] on the wings of the wind” and “make[s] the winds [His] messengers, and flaming fire [His] ministers”… He comes begging the prophet: “Give comfort to my people.” O brothers and sisters, “the kindness and generous love of our God [has] appeared” and our souls have been “justified by His grace.” And now we are “heirs in hope of eternal life,” life that is in His gentle hands alone.
O Lord, “when you send forth your Spirit, [we] are created and you renew the face of the earth.” And so this day you send your Spirit forth; upon your Son your Spirit rests, and remains. His prayer – which is no other than our own – you answer, and witness to us that He is the Chosen One. Upon us, too, let your Spirit rest. As “in [your] arms” you gather “the lambs,” so let us be gathered with your Holy Lamb and know the Spirit’s power upon us, that to us, too, heaven will be opened, and we may enter there in the wake of our Lord. Let the waters of heaven pour upon us. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music is "Audio Track 8" by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, be pleased with us as you are with your Son
that we might be blessed with the Spirit as He.
YHWH, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. The Spirit has descended upon your Son and through Him has come to all who are cleansed in His blood. By His grace we are made whole; because of your love, all our crooked ways are made straight, every valley filled in and every mountain made low, and we are called into your kingdom with your beloved One. O let be fulfilled in us the Good News you bring this holy day!
Our salvation is at hand, for Jesus has come to John at the Jordan and made clean the waters in which we find rebirth. Now with the Holy Spirit and fire we are baptized. And coming up from the waters we hear your voice, O Father in Heaven, calling us to your side, calling us to share your glory with your only Son.
O let us give thanks to you, dear God, for paving our way to eternal life! Though you are clothed in majesty, to us poor creatures you come to pour your Spirit upon us through Christ our Savior. Alleluia!
Fri, 11 January 2019
(1Jn.5:14-21; Ps.149:1-6,9; Jn.3:22-30)
“The Son of God has come and has given us discernment
to recognize the One who is true.”
John’s disciples had difficulty recognizing “the One who is true.” They saw everyone “flocking to Him” and away from their master, so they came to their master questioning. But John was forthright: “I am not the Messiah,” he said, “I am sent before Him.” And now that He has come, the Baptist’s joy is complete.
Brothers and sisters, “we know that we belong to God, while the whole world is under the evil one.” “We are in the One who is true.” Jesus has brought us to such knowledge. And this knowledge, this reality of the eternal life of God, should make us rejoice with our psalmist. It should make our lives ones of thanksgiving in which we “praise His name in the festive dance” and “with timbrel and harp.” For, yes, “the Lord loves His people” and we are His faithful who “exult in glory.” Let us “be glad in [our] maker.”
The world is under sin, and there is deadly sin which destroys the soul lurking in the world. The devil is real as well, and will not simply go away. And though only God can cast him away ultimately, we can pray against much of his work in this world, “petition[ing] God,” interceding for our brothers who falter in sin that is not deadly… and finding their release through the grace of God. With this “confidence in God: that He hears us whenever we ask for anything according to His will,” we have a great gift and a great strength in this dark world – we can bring light to it, the light of the only Son. But we must always be as “the body” He adorns “with victory.” We must have the same attitude as the Lord’s “best man,” and say with the Baptist, “He must increase while I must decrease.” We must find our joy in Him and not in our works or in our pride. He is all and He is true, and He leads us to the kingdom in His baptism in water and the Spirit. Brothers and sisters, we must see the grace we have in our midst. Jesus is ours.
O LORD, let us remain in you
and rejoice at the coming of your Son.
YHWH, in Baptism we are begotten by you and protected from all sin and selfishness. Let what you have begun in us become complete – let all sin be taken from us that we might rejoice forever in your presence.
O LORD, let our joy be complete. Now that your Son has come and drawn us into His flesh and blood, now that He has cleansed us from our sins and made us whole again, let us decrease as He increases within us, until He is all in all in us… until we exult in the glory of your kingdom.
O LORD, let all your children praise your holy NAME and sing of the grace upon all the lowly ones of God. O true God, let us be your own, born again in your Son, in the Spirit upon Him. And we shall be ready even to die with Him that we might find new life in Him with all our brothers and sisters.
Save us from sin, dear LORD, and let us live in your glory.
Thu, 10 January 2019
(1Jn.5:5-13; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Lk.5:12-16)
“Whoever possesses the Son possesses life.”
What does our psalmist mean when he sings: “He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat He fills you,” but that we are in Christ? What are those “borders” but the flesh of Christ? What is this wheat but the manna, the Sacrament of His Body He gives us to feed upon during our earthly journey? And this word which “runs swiftly,” what is it but the Spirit which enlivens the Body of Christ, which brings the flesh of Christ to life? And why should we not “glorify the Lord,” the God of life, who provides His Son and His Spirit, who makes the world and all that is in it, who calls us to believe, as the human beings we are, in the name of the Son, that we might find all three who testify to truth and “are of one accord”?
It is through the Son we come to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we believe in God the Father, we believe “the testimony He has given on His own Son’s behalf,” and we find the eternal life that is thus ours through the Son. May the Spirit run quickly to us and teach us and guide us along the way of God.
In our gospel Jesus heals a leper. He reaches out His hand “to touch him” and so draws him into Himself, into the borders of His holy flesh, and he is made whole. He wills it so, that the bars of all our gates be strengthened, that all enter into Him – that we be healed, whole in Him, and that our children, the fruit of our own bodies be blessed by their truly being begotten therefore of Him. If we are in Him, so will our children be, so will all the works we perform. But we must come as the leper, “bowed down to the ground.” We, too, must see Jesus and be moved to humble ourselves before His loving glory. In faith we, too, must desire His touch upon our flesh, to be released from all sin, to be made whole again. And we must do as He instructs us through the power of the Spirit; then we shall find life with the Father in heaven.
If it is remarkable that the Son of God would draw the leprous man into His sacred flesh and make him His own, it is perhaps more remarkable that He would do the same for us poor sinners – that being possessed by Him, we possess Him, and so we enter life by the flesh of Christ.
O LORD, let all men know
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
and eternal life to all who believe in Him.
YHWH, by a word from your mouth and the touch of your hand, we are healed of all our ills; your Son has come to save us. He is all we need to find eternal life – let Him live within us.
You testify, O LORD, by the word of the Spirit that Jesus is your beloved Son and we should believe in Him. Your testimony let us embrace in faith that the life you desire for us we may know.
Your Word of truth runs swiftly, LORD, and brings peace to our gates and borders. Our very flesh is anointed in your Son – in Him your Spirit is upon us. And we are blessed as your children; we are made whole in your sight. Let your Word run to all the world, that all might know of the glory you bring us in Jesus your only Son, in the water upon Him and in His sacrificial blood. In faith let all bow down before Him, seeking a word from His mouth and the touch of His hand.
Wed, 9 January 2019
(1Jn.4:19-5:4; Ps.72:1-2,11,14-15,17; Lk.4:14-22)
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Today the Son has come into our midst. Today He has “unrolled the scroll” of the Word of God and read aloud the words written of Him for all to hear. Today the WORD is brought to life. As “appealing” as is the discourse which flows forth from His gracious lips, so much greater is the Spirit that is upon Him. For by that Spirit and in His sacred flesh He shall “bring glad tidings to the poor… proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and release to prisoners.” In word and deed He “announce[s] a year of favor from the Lord.” In Him all time comes together. In Him it is all one moment. And this moment reveals the love of God.
And by the Son we are begotten, by His love: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God.” And so, children we become with the one Child most blessed. And if we are all one child born of the love of God and His Word, what can we do but love one another? Does one not love his own flesh and bone? And so, “whoever loves God must also love his brother,” for his brother is of him as he is of God and both are His children in love, born of the flesh of the one Christ.
“In Him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed.” It is not for the few He has come, but for all. For God is the Father of all and the Son possesses and reveals all that is of the Father. “All nations shall proclaim His happiness,” for all peoples shall find their happiness in Him alone, who is love and which love is itself our happiness and our hope.
Speak to us, Lord Jesus. Work through us, dear God. Let your Commandment of love be fulfilled in us. Let our love be fixed on God and let us love our brother. May we hear the words you speak in our midst today. May your Spirit make us children of the Father.
O LORD, Jesus is the Christ;
your Spirit is upon Him and He has come to save us –
let us declare His praise.
YHWH, your Word is fulfilled in Jesus and in the Spirit upon Him. Glad tidings the poor hear from His blessed lips, and we who are blind may now see your glorious presence in our midst. From our prisons let us be released, that we might love as Jesus loves.
If we remain in your Son, we will be able to keep your commands and so be blessed forever. You will give us power to conquer the world, to conquer the world even as He has done. O LORD, in Him may our lives be governed with justice, that our mouths might bless you all our days.
O LORD, if we keep our eyes and ears and hearts fixed on Jesus, we will know your love and be able to share in that love. Truly we will love you and our brother, and every blessing will be ours by the grace upon your Son. Your Name be praised by the tongues of men for all the goodness He brings us
Tue, 8 January 2019
(1Jn.4:11-18; Ps.72:1-2,10,12-13; Mk.6:45-52)
“If we love one another, God dwells in us,
and His love is brought to perfection in us.”
Jesus has just fed the five thousand men with the five loaves and two fish. He has performed a great miracle before the eyes of His disciples and through their hands. Yet “their minds were completely closed to the meaning of the events,” and when He comes walking toward them on the water in the middle of the night as their boat is tossed about by a storm, they are “terrified.” They are afraid because they are not yet perfect. John tells us in his first letter, a letter of love: “Love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid” and “perfect love casts out all fear.” The disciples will not be perfect, will remain afraid, until after the death and resurrection of the Lord, and, really, until Pentecost, when the Spirit falls upon them. As John states, “The way we know we remain in Him and He in us is that He has given us of His Spirit.”
His Spirit is the Spirit of love and He, our Lord Jesus, is Himself love. John follows both the clauses, “If we love one another” and “When anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,” with the statement that God dwells in us. Jesus and love are equated as the Spirit and love are equated above. Why? Because “God is love” and both Jesus and the Spirit are God, and so are love.
Brothers and sisters, our love must be brought to perfection, and it is “brought to perfection in this: that we should have confidence on the day of judgment” – that we should have no fear of the punishment we deserve, that we know fully of His love. Jesus takes a step to preparing the disciples against the judgment, against fear and for love, by walking toward them on the water. He means to teach them that they should not be afraid of the wind and the waves which rock our boat in this world, nor should they be afraid of His miraculous, overwhelmingly loving presence. Let us learn what Jesus would teach the disciples: “Do not be afraid!” “For He shall rescue the poor man when he cries out.” He is love and He will save us. Let our minds open to His presence as we love one another, and let that love be brought to absolute perfection in us. May His Spirit be with you.
O LORD, your Son has come among us as a Man –
how can we recognize His glory in our midst;
how can we love as He has loved?
YHWH, why should we be afraid of your love, of your glory among us? Why would we rather remain in darkness than come into your light? Why can we not believe that your Son has walked among us and that He invites us to become one with you? How can our hearts bear such blessing?
O LORD, cast all the fear from us; let us not shrink from your presence, from your overwhelming love, but welcome it in our hearts with gratitude and a return of love to you and others. Let it be our desire to be saved and so glorify Jesus’ coming into our midst. Let Him enter our boat this day, and with Him let us remain.
Dwell within us, O LORD God. Dwell within us and rule over us with your justice and love. Hear us as we cry out to you; have pity on our afflicted souls. Speak to us: “Do not be afraid!” and open our eyes to your eternal protection.
Mon, 7 January 2019
(1Jn.4:7-10, Ps.72:1-4,7-8,11; Mk.6:34-44)
“Justice shall flower in His days, and profound peace,
till the moon be no more.”
Our psalm (of Solomon, the king of peace and wisdom) relates the infinite justice of God, He who “defend[s] the afflicted among the people” and “save[s] the children of the poor.” Such is the judgment of our God, who “rule[s] from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth”: His perfect justice He showers upon all.
And how is this justice effected? It is already evident from what we have said, from what our psalmist has sung of His Name, and our letter from John leaves no question – “God is love.” His ultimate justice and love have been “revealed in our midst in this way: He sent His only Son to the world that we might have life through Him.” In sending Jesus “as an offering for our sins,” His perfect love and perfect justice meet and kiss and become one. He bleeds for us, and so our sins are forgiven.
And what clearer proof that we all “have life through Him” is shown in our gospel, in which Jesus feeds the masses. First He teaches them with the Word “at great length.” Having pity on them, He feeds their souls with Truth. But His pity does not end there – His concern extends to the physical as well as the spiritual… for He knows all our weakness, and He feeds the peoples’ bodies as well as their souls.
What a beautiful picture this is: the people “neatly arranged like flower beds,” Jesus raising the bread to heaven and pronouncing the blessing, the disciples distributing it, and Jesus Himself dividing the fish among them. All eat and all are satisfied. Here is a picture of the Lord’s justice and love. And this scene we enact each day at Mass, listening to His Word, His teaching, and then eating the bread of life He distributes among us. May the Lord be praised!
And what have we to do to receive this bread of life but heed the words John offers and “love one another.” For “love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God.” And this knowledge we find in our love is that His justice is true and endures forever in the perfect peace His presence brings. Let us have faith forever.
O LORD, you sent your Son
to shepherd all afflicted and fainting souls;
may we be nourished by His love.
YHWH, you send your Son to rule over us with His love, to feed us with His own Body and Blood. May justice flower in His day and all the ends of the earth be blessed with His peace. And let us love as He has loved; let us lay down our lives for one another.
O LORD, upon your holy mountain let us take our rest, our souls arranged like flower beds, our hearts yielding to your Word. May your rule be made complete even in this deserted place where men are as sheep without a shepherd. To this place let your Son come and make it as your eternal home. Give us something to eat this day, LORD, by the hand of Jesus and His apostles, or we shall faint for weariness, or we shall starve to death.
It is only your love which sustains us, LORD, only our being joined to you. May we eat our fill of your goodness, and never be apart from your reign.
Sun, 6 January 2019
O redeemer of captive slaves,
those enslaved to sin
and those enslaved
by the clutches of the world –
preach to us this day
the freedom found
under the Cross of Christ
and in the repentance of heart
blessed by the grace
upon the Church.
Teach us well
the path to Heaven,
which is wrought not in comfort and peace
but in struggle against sin,
in the laying down of our lives
before our persecutors.
Ransom us from wayward
thoughts and actions,
and from the snares
of the adversary
who waits for our misstep.
In Christ alone
may we find our rest.
Sun, 6 January 2019
(1Jn.3:22-4:6; Ps.2:7-8,10-11; Mt.4:12-17,23-25)
“Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God.”
And for every spirit that acknowledges Him, He answers all prayers: “Whatever we ask we shall receive at God’s hands.” “Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance…” And so, when “they carried to [Jesus] all those afflicted with various diseases and racked with pain,” He heard this prayer made in faith, made in the belief that He could do this, and as Matthew so simply and wonderfully states, “He cured them all.” They had listened to His preaching: “Reform your lives! The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They accepted it, humbly, taking no offense at His words and His actions – but believing in Him. And so He could perform such wonders for them, He whose spirit is true; and so “on those who inhabit a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”
And now we should “give heed” and “take warning”; now we should “put the spirits to the test to see if they belong to God.” Now we must clearly acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and know what John tells us, “There is in you One greater than there is in the world,” and follow that Spirit within us. Are we “keeping His commandments and doing what is pleasing in His sight”? Do we “remain in Him”? He is never far away and He will hear all of our prayers and cure us of all ills, if we but believe in Him, if we but heed His teaching – if we reform our lives. We show our belief in Him when we follow His commandments, and we follow His commandments when we reform our lives. Thus we prove that we speak His language; in our love we reveal His Spirit in us.
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you.’” Even in our psalm are spoken the words of the Father to Jesus; and they are spoken to us, if we believe that He is the Christ. This is the salvation the Father offers; it is for us to accept it and live it. For a greater gift we cannot expect, more love He could not show – this is His Son, this is God… believe in Him. There is nothing else you need seek.
O LORD, all those who seek the truth
come to your Son,
and you make them your children.
YHWH, we shall be healed of every ill; all darkness will be banished from our midst, if we turn from our sins, if we seek to reform our lives – if we believe in the Name of your Son, that He has come in the flesh and is our Savior. And then our every prayer shall be answered, for we shall be living in your love.
It is not of the world we are to be, O LORD, not of the darkness of this place. For the world does not recognize that Jesus has come, nor has it ears to hear Him. But our ears are attuned to His voice and the truth He speaks to our heart. Let us not be deceived by those who would deny the truth, those who would speak against what is plainly before them. Let us hold fast to the teaching of your Son and His apostles, and we shall have power to overcome all such evil by His love.
Give us all we ask of you, LORD; give us a world remade in your image.
Sat, 5 January 2019
(Is.60:1-6; Ps.72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Eph.3:2-3a,5-6; Mt.2:1-12)
“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary His Mother.”
And so our prophecy of Isaiah and our psalm of David come to pass: “Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you… the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.” And “the kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him.” And so we have the revelation made known to the Apostle Paul and all His holy ones: “The Gentiles are now coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
Yes, the Light of Jerusalem has come, and it draws the ends of the earth by its radiance. Here is the star which rises in our midst; here is the true light which shines upon all men. And all men are drawn to it – none can deny its brightness before us, its truth and its glory. And who is this king but the One of “justice” and “profound peace”? Who is He but the One who “shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor He shall save.” And so all must make themselves poor before Him, laying their gifts at His blessed feet.
Today we celebrate the coming of Light to the nations, the manifestation of Jesus Christ to this world covered in darkness. And we find our hope and our joy in Him as did the magi two thousand years ago. For He continues to reveal Himself to our hearts. He continues to show His peace and justice to all who look for His coming. Let our eyes be raised to the heavens and our hearts be diligent in seeking Him, and we will be led to His crib. There the Mother holds Him in her arms; there before such beauty we should empty our souls in adoration of His blessed presence, like these magi who “prostrated themselves and did Him homage.” Then we shall rise fulfilled.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, lead us by your light
to lay down our lives before you.
YHWH, into this world of darkness you have sent a great light and now all nations desirous of truth, desirous of light, follow that light to find you, dear Father in Heaven. As the magi followed the star to find the Baby Jesus with Mary His Mother, so all poor souls follow your Son to find you who have created us all; for He is in you, and looking upon His innocent face we see you, our LORD and God, and the light is ours.
There is no division in your House, O LORD; all souls are called into your presence. Your star you make obvious for all to see that none may be left by the wayside but all keep to the road that leads to life. Help us, O LORD, to empty ourselves of all that keeps us from gazing at your light, all that makes our eyes blind to your glory. May we with the magi prostrate ourselves before your Child, offering all we have to Him and so to you. He is the King that shall rule us all – let us embrace His coming.
Fri, 4 January 2019
O shepherd who walked
in the humble stead
of your flock,
who worked so diligently
among those in your care,
speaking to their hearts;
you who gathered into schools
the little ones,
who saw to the education
of the children…
and all this in a foreign land –
pray for the country in which you ministered,
that its lambs
once again be raised
in the faith
and its strangers
be once again shepherded
by one as anxious as you
for their well-being.
Here let us find the grace of Christ
and the lost.
Fri, 4 January 2019
(1Jn.3:11-21; Ps.100:1-5; Jn.1:43-51)
“We should love one another.”
In our gospel, “first [Jesus] came upon Philip” – whose name means “love” – and invited him to follow Him. Love brought with him one in whom “there is no guile,” and he (Nathanael) declared openly to the Lord: “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” And so we must all be of love, and be without deceit. We must all “know that the Lord is God; He made us, His we are; His people, the flock He tends.” The Lord must find us all at peace “under the fig tree” with consciences that have “nothing to charge us with.” And great things wrought by the hand of God we shall see before our eyes.
“The Lord is good,” and we must be like Him. The Lord is of love, and loving as He does we pass “from death to life”: “The way we came to understand love was that He laid down His life for us; we too must lay down our lives for our brothers.” How well John speaks of the love all need in our first reading today. Here is the voice of a man, an apostle in the Spirit of Christ, who loves “in deed and in truth,” and since he does “not merely talk about it,” but lives it, his words are alive with that truth. Love. This is “the message [we] heard from the beginning.” This laying down our lives is our guiding light leading us to the eternal life of heaven.
And so we should “serve the Lord with gladness.” We should “come before Him with joyful song.” We should declare openly that He is God, as our love leads us to do. His “kindness endures forever”; yes, His love is for eternity, and we must come to share in that great gift of love. “The man who does not love is among the living dead,” but he who loves lives forever. The world will hate us because it is not of love; but all the more we should be encouraged to love, to die to the hatred the world brings and find our place in peace under our fig tree with the Lord who is love itself.
Let us love and be of love, brothers and sisters, and we shall live forever with our Lord and the angels of heaven.
O LORD, let us pass
from the death wrought by this world
to life with you in Heaven.
YHWH, may our consciences be clear before you; may we be of love and so be of you who are love. May we be without guile, seeking only you and the peace you bring to our souls. Then we shall praise you in joy forever, for then we will be your own.
O LORD, let us be true to our call to love you and one another. Let it not be only in words that we love but in truth, with our very lives. If we do not act as your Son, how can we call you ‘Father’; how will we know you at all? You dwell in ineffable light with the angels of Heaven, and only by love do we come to that light, only by laying down our lives as Jesus.
LORD, let us know your goodness in our lives that we might enter your gates with thanksgiving for all the blessings we share with your saints. In freedom may we bless your Name, you who look upon us with kindness. To your side let us be guided by our desire to love.
Thu, 3 January 2019
O mother through marriage
and religious Mother,
who indeed became mother of many,
many sisters whom you led
in the faith
and many children whom you taught
in your schools –
in your wisdom
teach many still
the path of Christ,
the way of charity He has trod,
that renewed will those be
who call you Mother,
and instructed well
those in their classrooms
throughout the land.
What should we teach our children,
Have we not forgotten the lesson of Christ?
Pray for us, I beg,
that the way and the truth
we shall follow.
Thu, 3 January 2019
(1Jn.3:7-10; Ps.98:1,3,7-9; Jn.1:35-42)
“When Jesus turned around and noticed them following Him,
He asked them, ‘What are you looking for?’”
Brothers and sisters, what Jesus asks the first two disciples He asks each of us who follow in their wake. What do we seek? Why are we following Him? What is it we hope to find at the place where He stays?
David makes clear in our psalm that the Son of God, “His holy arm,” has been revealed in our midst – in “wondrous deeds” He “comes to rule the earth.” “The world and those who dwell in it” should resound with joy. Him whom John the Baptist points out in no uncertainty is with us now. There is no other whom we should follow. And so we do. And so we come to Him each day, to receive our daily bread. Seeing where He lodges, we come to stay with Him.
But what does the Lord see when He looks upon us? Does He stay with us? When Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, He “looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John; your name shall be Cephas (which is rendered Peter).’” Jesus upon looking at Peter sees the Rock on which He will build His Church. Peter’s holiness, the strength he has in God and for God, is evident to the Lord. Jesus knows what Peter seeks, and both have found what they are looking for. Is it upon our hearts as well to find the holiness of heaven, to become one with the Son of God?
“The man who acts in holiness is holy indeed, even as the Son is holy,” but “the man who sins belongs to the devil.” Holiness or sin? Jesus or the devil? The choice is clear, and must be evident in our lives. “No one begotten of God acts sinfully” and “no one whose actions are unholy belongs to God.” The first letter of John, our first reading, could not more simply state our call in the Lord: to be holy, not to sin… to love our brothers and sisters well – to be as Jesus, the Son most holy.
Jesus will turn and see us; His eyes are upon us now. What does He see as He looks upon your heart? What is your answer to His question, “What are you looking for?” Let His dwelling be all you seek.
O LORD, let us follow your Son to where He lives,
in holiness with you.
YHWH, let us stay with you and with your Son. May He turn and look upon us with kindness, with pity for our frail condition. O let this Lamb take our sins from us that we might no longer be in the grip of the devil but come to eternal life in your House!
The Messiah you have sent is in our midst this day; let us come to the altar to receive Him, to receive His holy sacrifice and become one with Him. Only thus shall we be made holy; only with Him will we find true justice and so rejoice in your presence, O LORD. O let us be ruled by Him!
Make us your children, dear LORD. Make us as your only Son. May Jesus be with us this day and we with Him that we might become holy indeed. Never let us act sinfully but ever love as you love, as your Son loves us. Let us seek your love alone and so be founded upon true Rock, in your House.
Wed, 2 January 2019
(1Jn.2:29-3:6; Ps.98:1,3-6; Jn.1:29-34)
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
“This is God’s chosen One.” This is He upon whom “the Spirit descend[s]” – who takes away our sins and makes us pure by His own baptism “with the Holy Spirit.” He who walks with Him walks in holiness, for “everyone who acts in holiness has been begotten by Him” – we have become “children of God” because we have now the grace of the only Son.
Listen to the manner in which the Baptist “sing[s] joyfully before the King, the Lord” in our gospel today: “I saw the Spirit descend like a dove from the sky, and it came to rest on Him.” How like music, like “the harp and melodious song,” is his witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. His exclamation of Jesus as the holy Lamb of God, offered as a sacrifice pure and undefiled, resounds to the ends of the earth more eloquently and with greater power than “the trumpets and the sound of the horn” of which David sings in our psalm. Here is the voice proclaiming the Truth, the message our ears have so longed to hear.
“The very reason [John] came baptizing with water was that [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel,” and “the reason [Jesus] revealed Himself was to take away sins” – all this for our salvation. Yes, brothers and sisters, “in Him there is nothing sinful.” And we must be like Him. Insofar as we sin, we have “not seen Him or known Him.” Insofar as a man “keeps himself pure, as He is pure,” he is His child, knowing Him most intimately, and may exclaim in wonder with John the evangelist: “What love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God!”
All sin and struggle with sin all the while they are on earth. There are many times when we must admit that we do not see Him or know Him in order for Him to be revealed in our lives, in order for us to find His blessed purity. We must confess our sins that we might sing His praise. But all the while the Son is with us, the Lamb intercedes to remove our sins. And always we must look to Him whom the Baptist proclaimed to be “what we are,” to become “like Him” when His light comes to its fullness and His Spirit is all we know.
O LORD, your saving power, your Lamb,
has come to take away the sin of the world –
may all nations rejoice in such blessing.
YHWH, Jesus is your Chosen One, your only Son, the pure reflection of your Being… and we must be like Him. We must be pure as He is pure, as you are pure, as the Spirit that comes from Him and descends upon us is pure. O let us truly be pure! Let us truly be your children.
O LORD, Jesus has come to take away all sin from us. This is the mission, the work He has from you. It is for John to declare the coming of the Lamb of God, and it is for this Lamb to die for our sins. Let all be accomplished in your will. As John has made the Christ known and He has been crucified for our sakes, so let us find the purification from sin you desire for us that we might be united to you.
All the earth has seen your saving power, O LORD. Let all souls recognize that power in our midst and remain in Him who brings it.
Tue, 1 January 2019
O bishops and doctors,
O brothers so united in Christ,
united in your desire
to find His wisdom
and live His virtue,
for you what mattered
but to be like Christ?
All you would have given up
to find His way;
nothing of this world
did you wish
but to leave it behind.
One in heart and mind,
one in word and work
and in the food of which you partook…
how blessed it is
when men live as brothers,
when nothing they desire
but the other’s good –
teach us this way of union
in the love of God.
Tue, 1 January 2019
(1Jn.2:22-28; Ps.98:1-4; Jn.1:19-28)
“Remain in the Son and in the Father.”
In our gospel John the Baptist tells the priests and Levites sent by the Pharisees, “There is… one who is to come after me – the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to unfasten.” This Messiah has come, “The Lord has made His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice,” David proclaims in our psalm, and continues to invite us to sing praise of Him. It is the anointing that comes from Jesus that John, in our first reading, encourages us to hold on to, for it is true and leads invariably to the Father of all.
We must come to the Father; we must find ourselves in the presence of all truth, in the hands of our Creator, who loves us beyond all telling. And the way to the presence of the Father, in whom we find our true home, is Jesus the Christ. He is the Son and the only one who can lead us to the Father, for He and the Father are inextricably one. We cannot deny the Sonship of Jesus, His oneness with the Father – that He is the Christ, upon whom all true anointing rests – and come to know God. Jesus is the means the Father provides to come to Him; it is through Him alone we find the promise of eternal life. We must “remain in Him,” that we may “not retreat in shame at His coming.”
Those who do not believe in Jesus, who do not recognize Him as the only Son and so only way to the Father, are not to be persecuted – but they are not to be believed. Jesus is all. Those who know Him know this; they indeed have His anointing in their hearts. This “anointing teaches [us] about all things and is true.” It is this knowledge of His salvation, of His glory, which John instructs us to remember: His Word grows in our hearts. But again, this Word is not a weapon for the persecution and destruction of others – it is the means for the manifestation of light.
Remain in Jesus, brothers and sisters, and eternal life with the Father will be assured you.
O LORD, help us always
to proclaim Jesus as the Christ.
YHWH, we must indeed acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, as your only Son, as God Himself, and rejoice that your saving power has come to us through Him. And His anointing will rest upon us, the Holy Spirit will be with us to guide us in all things – we will be one with you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
John has prepared His way and in the sight of the nations His glory has been revealed. None can deny His divinity, except he be a liar. And to these we must not listen, LORD, but only to the teaching of your Church. For upon your apostles rests the anointing that is from above, and if we are to find our way to eternal life, no other voice should we heed.
John has indeed cried out the way we all must follow if we are to meet your Son and so you, Father. O LORD, let us listen to the Spirit that is upon him.