Tue, 30 April 2019
O humble laborer in God’s House
who served to build up His Temple
by the sweat of your brow
and your careful concern
to follow His will –
pray that we shall embody
the same obedience
to the Word of God
and His call to our souls,
that we too will consecrate ourselves
and our daily labor
to service of the Lord
and the upbuilding of His Church,
and that we, too,
might be built into the House
wherein He makes
His eternal dwelling.
We are but poor creatures,
simple and weak;
pray the Lord our God
and His Son for whom you cared
will bless us with your dignity,
O righteous man of God.
Tue, 30 April 2019
(Acts 5:17-26; Ps.34:2-9; Jn.3:16-21)
“He who acts in truth comes into the light,
to make clear that his deeds are done in God.”
Jesus is “the light [that] came into the world,” and “happy the man who takes refuge in Him.” None shall fear anymore who love the Lord, for He shall answer all his cries. And newness of life shall be ours.
The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, “arrested the apostles and threw them into public jail.” They attempt to hide the truth in darkness, to kill the light of the Spirit. “During the night, however, an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the jail [and] led them forth,” telling them to preach again in the temple “about this new life.” And so, “they went into the temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.” Do you see the resurrection at work here, brothers and sisters? Do you see how the Word is rescued from the darkness of night, from the prison into which the world would cast it, and brought into the clear light of dawn? The Truth cannot be chained and death shall never overcome life.
And what do the apostles preach but the words Jesus whispers into the waiting ears of Nicodemus in the middle of the night – bringing him, too, out of the darkness into the Lord’s marvelous light: “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.” Eternal life! This is the Word come from God through His only Son begotten in love for us all. The high priest and the Sadducees would hide this; but here one of the leaders listens. He does not question anymore how this can be. And so the seed of eternal life is planted in his heart.
That seed must be planted in all hearts, and so the apostles repeatedly return to preaching, unafraid of the consequences. For how clearly it has been shown them that “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” How well they believe their own words, that in Jesus is found eternal life. In their hearts burns the faith, and so, openly they speak. And though they shall see just how much “men loved darkness rather than light,” yet they shall seek the salvation of all: unto death they shall stand in the light of truth, confident in the resurrection to follow.
May all believe “in the name of God’s only Son” and thus avoid condemnation. May all stand confidently in the Light of the new day, for the darkness of sin and death is banished when we call upon His Name.
O LORD, by faith in your Son and His resurrection,
may we be freed from all condemnation
and come into your light.
YHWH, in the morning light the apostles preach in the temple of the new life found in Jesus, your Son. From the prison of darkness they would rescue all souls, as they themselves have been rescued. Your angel delivers all who love you from death and fear; may our souls glory in the salvation found in your only Son.
That we might not die you sent Jesus into the world as the Light that conquers all darkness, and those who believe in Him come into the light and so find eternal life. There is no power that can chain or imprison your Word, O LORD, for it is your will that it go out to the ends of the earth.
May the Name of Jesus be proclaimed to all men that all who seek the salvation of their souls, all who would be released from their afflictions, might find the freedom of your sons and daughters and do all in you and in your light, O LORD our God.
Mon, 29 April 2019
O Shepherd of the Church
who led her through
a difficult time,
seeing to her reform
in faith and morals,
in teaching and prayer,
that the foundation once established
by the Lord Jesus Christ
might be confirmed
kept from decay –
pray this day, too,
MotherChurch will be blessed
by the nourishing food
of the Spirit,
that she might be fed
at the Lord’s table
and all might be encouraged to enter
the gates of Heaven
she guards and opens
to all souls in communion
with the Savior and His way…
May Peter lead us unto His Day.
Mon, 29 April 2019
(Acts 4:32-37; Ps.93:1-2,5; Jn.3:7-15)
“The community of believers were of one heart and one mind.”
This oneness is itself of heaven, is itself the sign that they are “begotten of the Spirit.” And this oneness is reflected in a very real manner in the fact that “none of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common.” This sharing of goods, of “lay[ing] them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to everyone according to his need,” is but an earthly thing. It is easy to see; it is easy to know, for it deals indeed with the things of the earth. But if like Nicodemus this earthly matter is beyond our comprehension, if we say such living as one on this plane is impossible, how far short we will fall of understanding the oneness that exists on the heavenly plane. For do you not see that one not only reflects the other, but in fact leads to the other? How can one be as the wind which “blows where it will,” how can one’s origin and destination be said to be unknown if one is unduly placed, indeed rooted, in the houses, in the property of this earth? And so Barnabas is indeed a “son of encouragement,” because by selling his entire farm and laying the money derived therewith at the apostles’ feet he is saying: I no longer live here on earth. My home is in heaven.
How tied we can be to earthly things. How blinded by them. And yet they can be a means to heaven, if one gives them to the Lord. For then already here in this world we will begin to see and know the life of heaven. Even now the Spirit shall move within us and our eyes will be opened to see “that all who believe may have eternal life” in Jesus. Yes, by the giving up of our goods, by dying to self in this real way, we may transcend this earthly plane.
“Holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days.” Do you not understand this matter, brothers and sisters? Do you not see that you are called here on earth during your limited length of days to live as though in heaven? Do you not know that it is but this which will lead to the unlimited number of days lived in holiness in heaven? Do not think that one is somehow separated from the other, as if heaven can be kept apart, as if its power is not all-encompassing. Here you must begin; even here you must find yourself on that eternal road. For such has Jesus been lifted up, to show you the emptiness of your earthly self. To such oneness with Him and His disciples does He call you – to be a child of heaven. Let us walk together in the Spirit of the Lord and love one another with the love that comes only from God.
O LORD, let us be as the wind,
moved by your holy will alone.
YHWH, in Heaven with you we find our home, not in the things of this earth. And so as we give the things of this earth over to you and your apostles, we draw closer to you and your kingdom. Help us to be born of you, to have life in you and in your Spirit, and not put trust in any possession.
You are King, O LORD, in splendor robed, and holiness alone befits your House. Thus, if we would dwell with you, we must indeed be holy. And to be holy we must be purified of any attachment to this world. As Jesus is lifted up on the Cross, we must be lifted up with Him; as He stands empty of all things, so must we be, if we are to be ready for Heaven – if we are to be raised in glory with Him.
It is in the resurrection of Jesus we take our life, dear God, but to find His resurrection we must first die; to dwell with you in Heaven we must lay down our lives. O may we live here as His disciples!
Sun, 28 April 2019
O wise and holy virgin
whose love for God
was matched by a great love
for the Church
and a great desire
to see her pure and holy
peace you brought to peoples
and to MotherChurch,
for peace you held
within your blessed soul,
held as you were
in the hand of God –
pray the light of the Lord
will be shed upon the Church
and all souls
and that reconciliation shall come
and we stand as one
in that surpassing light
and peace of the Trinity.
May holiness be all men’s desire,
to live in accord with the will of God.
Sun, 28 April 2019
(Acts 4:23-31; Ps.2:1-9; Jn.3:1-8)
“No one can see the rule of God
unless he is begotten from above.”
“Princes conspire together against the Lord and against His anointed,” we are told in our psalm as well as our first reading. But their rule shall be shattered “like an earthen dish” by the power of the Spirit and God’s anointed One, to whom He gives “the nations as an inheritance.” And in the Book of Acts we see the apostles begin to collect such inheritance “in the name of Jesus,” the “holy Servant” of the Sovereign Lord, the King He has set up “on Zion, [His] holy mountain.” All stream to Him upon seeing the “cures and signs and wonders” worked through them by the Holy Spirit.
In our gospel, it is these undeniable signs of God’s presence which lead a member of the princes who will crucify the Christ to seek understanding from Jesus. And how sad is the question Nicodemus whispers in the night to our Lord: “How can a man be born again once he is old?” It is sad not only because of the futility of his interpretation to “return to his mother’s womb,” but mainly because this is all he can see. He is so of the flesh he cannot understand anything but the flesh; and this sense extends even to the Pharisees’ grasp of the law, which has become as an empty shell void of meaning – bereft of the Spirit as they are. There is hope Nicodemus will hear the words of Jesus; there is possibility other leaders of the people will come to life. But first they will have to leave their vain pursuits behind.
“The wind blows where it will… but you do not know where it comes from, or where it goes.” So it is with the disciples as by the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit “the place where they were gathered shook as they prayed”; and so, filled within with the Holy Spirit they “continued to speak God’s word with confidence.” They are born from above. They have new life in the name of Jesus. All their lives are sacrificed with Him to the will of God. And so the princes have no power over them, but to make them rejoice at the persecution they find at their empty hands.
“You must all be begotten from above,” brothers and sisters. None is to be left behind with the carcasses that gather beneath the eagles’ circling flight. Take refuge in the Lord of Life; be born now in His Spirit.
O LORD, may the house we are in
be shaken by the Holy Spirit, that in Jesus’ Name
we might proclaim the truth before kings.
YHWH, let us be born of the Spirit, let us take life in the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit come through your only Son. In His hands is the inheritance of the nations; in Him all take refuge. Through Him and through His blood we find the strength to proclaim your praise in the face of persecution. Be with us in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Though the Gentiles rage and the kings of this earth conspire against your anointed One and all His children, their violence is in vain because you, O LORD, protect your chosen and give them power over every evil. By a word they are saved; by speaking your Name and declaring your glory, great signs and wonders are worked at their hands, for they are new creatures who take life in you.
O let us be born from above, begotten by your Spirit, O God!
Sat, 27 April 2019
O blessed wife and mother,
extraordinary in ordinary devotion
to your family and God,
you who freely gave your life
that your child might live,
who put the fruit of your womb
before your personal concern –
in this age when so many mothers
and seemingly without care
are more inclined to destroy
the life in their wombs
than nourish it
or sacrifice themselves
for their children’s sakes,
pray that these same may turn
to the love you have shown
and find the call of the Lord
upon their souls
in the heart beating
innocently and plaintively
Pray this holocaust shall be ended.
Sat, 27 April 2019
O apostle of Mary
and so of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to the Lord you drew souls
through devotion to His Mother.
How perfectly you have spoken
of this grace upon the Virgin
and the role she plays
in the salvation of the world –
pray this day
that her sweet protection
and most blessed intercession
will be with all the children
who turn in faith to the one
chosen by the Father
to be Mother of His Son.
May this Spouse of the Spirit
lead us into God’s presence
where with you
and all the heavenly saints
we shall find ourselves one
with the Most Holy Trinity
and sing forever the praises
of our Lord and God.
Sat, 27 April 2019
O great missionary,
you served to convert
a land and a people
that had never heard
of our blessed Savior,
and though killed for your work,
you loved those to whom you were sent
and toiled tirelessly
for their salvation –
pray the same kind heart you showed
we shall also know
in serving souls
placed into our care;
and pray the name of our Lord
shall go forth in freedom
to the very ends of the earth
What are our lives
compared with the service of Christ
and the salvation of souls
in faith in His name?
Let us live with your same zeal
the love that is Jesus and His Cross.
Sat, 27 April 2019
(Acts 5:12-16; Ps.118:1-4,22-27; Rv.1:9-13,17-19; Jn.20:19-31)
“When I caught sight of Him,
I fell down at His feet as though dead.”
But Jesus “touched [John] with His right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid.’” Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” as he humbled himself at the sight of the risen Christ who had appeared before him, and so he was blessed with faith. The first believers “carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.” And the sick and possessed brought forth “were all cured.” All “those who fear the Lord” know His eternal mercy!
Brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to humble ourselves in awe before the mighty Lord and the apostles He sends forth in His name and with the blessing of the Father. We must set our hearts on “the first and the last, the One who lives,” and let nothing keep us from the path to His grace, to the glorious vision of His holy face. He waits. He waits in expectation for all humble souls to turn to the blood poured out by the nail marks in His hands and the wound in His side. He wishes not to have died in vain, and so with power He sends the Spirit out through the ministry and the sacraments of His Church on earth.
“Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles,” and these same wonders and more are offered for our edification and our salvation this day. The time of fulfillment is upon us and the Lord Jesus is not remiss with His graces: generously the fount of mercy gushes forth. And as John was surrounded by water on the island of Patmos in the day of his divine vision, so are we surrounded with the blessings of the Lord, if we but come to His presence. He is near. He is waiting. Do not doubt; but believe – and whatever ailment of body or soul, heart or mind, which seems to obstruct your reception of the glory of God, will be removed in an instant, if you but fall down at His feet in awe.
Dead before Him we must be, dead to sin and sadness. Alive in the Spirit we must remain, keeping His peace within us. With John let us share “the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,” and the distress will disappear and the kingdom come, even as we endure all in His name. God’s “peace be with you.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your mercy endures forever;
help us to trust in you.
YHWH, let us lay our broken bodies in the streets that your apostle might pass by and we be healed of our infirmity. Let us fall down at the feet of your glorious Son and feel His hand upon us and hear His voice reassuring us. May the risen Jesus be known to us that in faith we might proclaim, “My LORD and my God!” O let His peace be upon us! May the Holy Spirit ever guide us.
O LORD, let your divine mercy be upon our souls that we might be forgiven all our sins; all our doubts and fears be washed away in the blood of your Son. He has been rejected by the builders, but those who are pressed hard by the trials of this earthly life know the wonders He does for all who believe. He was once dead but now is alive, and we who believe in Him are raised up from all sin to look upon Heaven. In His wounds we find new life.
Fri, 26 April 2019
(Acts 4:13-21; Ps.118:1,14-21; Mk.16:9-15)
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the good news to all creation.”
How faithfully Peter and John accomplish the Lord’s command, and with what strength, so much so that our first reading tells us, “The priests and elders were amazed as they observed [their] self-assurance” – for these “were uneducated men of no standing.” “How can this be?” they must have queried inside. “Then they recognized these men as having been with Jesus.” And so the answer had come: it is from Him all power derives. In His Spirit all God’s disciples “declare the works of the Lord.”
And how wonderfully silenced the leaders of the people are: “When they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could think of nothing to say.” For the works of the Lord speak for themselves, and the power of the Spirit cannot be denied. And though these priests of the Old Covenant attempt to silence the glory of God, telling Peter and John “that under no circumstances were they to speak the name of Jesus or teach about Him,” these first of apostles declare confidently, “We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen.” Indeed, “a remarkable show of power [takes] place in them.”
And what have they heard and seen? Our gospel tells us: “Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week.” From Mary Magdalene, to whom He first appeared, “they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her.” And the same “good news” is announced to them by the two disciples who had sojourned to Emmaus. And though “they refused to believe it,” and though when “Jesus was revealed to the Eleven,” when they saw His risen presence for themselves, He chastised them “for their disbelief and their stubbornness” – though the doubt from human corruption still clings to them, it shall no longer be so (as evidenced by Peter and John) when Pentecost has come. In the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, the Word shall be preached and believed in strength and power.
“The right hand of the Lord has struck with power.” “The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” has come now in fullness to all His children who hear and see and declare that the Lord is risen. “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior,” sing all the redeemed. As the psalmist “give[s] thanks to the Lord” and the people who had witnessed the great work wrought through the apostles “were praising God for what had happened,” so joy is unbounded for all who enter the “gates of justice” and know in their bones the power of the Spirit at work through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Brothers and sisters, let your joy be known by all; declare the good news to all the earth, that light may come to a world in darkness.
O LORD, let the Good News of your Son’s resurrection
be proclaimed to all believing souls.
YHWH, your right hand has struck with power, and what can we do but declare the glory of your risen Son by the Spirit that is now upon us? Though we be uneducated men of no standing in this world, yet you make us instruments of your salvation as we proclaim what we have heard and seen and believed – Jesus is indeed raised from the dead and in His Name all souls are raised with Him.
And so, let us enter your House and praise your glory, O LORD our God. Let us not stand outside the gates doubting the Word that comes to us or even persecuting the bearers of such Good News. Let us believe! Let us believe because it is Truth, undeniable, standing before us in the light of day and burning in our hearts.
May all who seek your kingdom be delivered from death and come to you in joy, LORD, by the power of the Spirit Jesus imparts to us.
Thu, 25 April 2019
(Acts 4:1-12; Ps.118:1-2,4,22-27; Jn.21:1-14)
“Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by you the builders
which has become the cornerstone.’”
What Peter has proclaimed to the people, he now proclaims even more boldly to their leaders: “There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved.” Jesus, whom they crucified, is the Messiah. And the same quote Jesus offered the Pharisees after making it clear to them they would lose dominion over God’s vineyard – over His people, over His Church – Peter invokes before the high-priestly class today… for here standing before them is the new authority on earth.
And so, here the Church is gathered, under Peter and the apostles. This day of preaching in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit has brought about five thousand children to God, and there shall be no stopping the power of the Word which goes forth to draw in all believers. On the Church goes “proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the person of Jesus.”
Our gospel today is the perfect parallel to our first reading, and reveals just from where the power of the apostles’ preaching comes. First, it shows Peter as the clear leader. He says among the seven – the number of fullness – disciples assembled: “I am going out to fish.” And they reply: “We will join you.” All night they toil in vain. Why? Because they lack the cornerstone who comes to them in the morning. (Notice in our first reading Peter and John are put in jail for the night to await their trial in the morning. But, ironically, this night is less of a prison than the one spent toiling in vain on the sea… for this day they have been most fruitful; for by this time they have been anointed by the Spirit.)
In the morning Jesus stands upon the shore and instructs them where to cast their net, much as He did when first He called His fishermen apostles. And like that morning, their catch is overwhelming. John cries, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumps into the water to swim to His Jesus as the others tow the net and fish behind him. Once all have come to land, it is Peter who goes “aboard and haul[s] ashore the net loaded with sizable fish” and drops it at the Lord’s feet. But it is the single fish Jesus has prepared which is most important, with which they must begin their feast. For Jesus is that fish Himself, the cornerstone upon whom the tallest of buildings stands. And see how He feeds them as at the Eucharistic table: “Jesus came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” Here the Bread of Life is distributed to those who shall impart it to all others.
One hundred and fifty-three (the number of Hail Marys in a full Rosary, pre-Mysteries of Light) fish are gathered by the disciples in a net beyond the point of breaking. Five thousand men are drawn into the fold by Peter and John’s fearless speaking. God’s Church is here built up on the cornerstone that is Jesus; and so we exclaim with our psalmist today: “O Lord, grant salvation! O Lord, grant prosperity! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has given us light.” Amen.
O LORD, by the resurrection of your Son
and the power of the Holy Spirit upon His apostles
may your Church be filled to overflowing
with believing souls.
YHWH, the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of your Church, and we are built upon Him and upon the Rock He has set in place as the first of His apostles. From the hands of the leaders of the Jews divine power has been wrested, for now Peter is your high priest and John your scribe. Now only in the Name of Jesus is salvation to be won, and all who come to Him and eat at His table enter into your House.
This is the day you, LORD, have made. Let us rejoice in the blessings now upon us in your Son. For now we are raised from the dead; now we share in His glory… now we know your merciful love and are given strength to do your work in this world.
On the flesh of your Son let us feed, O LORD; His Body let us be. Led by Peter may we come to Him who waits for us upon the shore – in the morning light let us praise your glory!
Wed, 24 April 2019
(Acts 3:11-26; Ps.8:2,5-9; Lk.24:35-48)
“In His name, penance for the remission of sins
is to be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
And so Peter begins the preaching at the temple: “When God raised up His servant, He sent Him to you first to bless you by turning you from your evil ways,” he announces clearly to the Jews, those first to hear of the Savior, Jesus. And again he speaks boldly and repeatedly of their sin: “You disowned the Holy and Just One… You put to death the Author of life,” for it is absolutely essential that they recognize their guilt if they are to find their salvation. How can they repent of what they do not see? How can “a season of refreshment be granted” through Jesus if they do not know that they are despoiled? And brothers and sisters, it is certainly no different for us. We must recognize our own complicity in the Lord’s death or we shall have no place with Him in life. Hear the message of His apostle: “Reform your lives! Turn to God, that your sins may be wiped away!” If you have nothing to reform, how are you a hearer of the Good News? And if your repentance falls short of knowing the blood of Christ upon your hands, how ineffective it will be.
“All the prophets… have announced the events of these days.” “God has brought to fulfillment by this means what He announced long ago: that His Messiah would suffer.” What Peter proclaims, Jesus confirms in His own teaching to the disciples, “It is written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,” as “He opened their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures.” What must be has been, and now is – Jesus has died and risen. “Look at my hands and my feet; it is really I,” He says to His incredulous apostles. And so in “flesh and bones” the Truth has become known, and this same flesh we eat each day.
The disciples same “sheer joy and wonder” we should share, brothers and sisters. For what is theirs is ours, too. Though “out of ignorance” we crucified Him, in grace we now know Him. And so should we not cry out, “O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth!” Should His blessed care for this sinful man not make us incredulous with joy? For though man is guilty of the Lord’s own death, yet He has “made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.” How little we deserve the Messiah, now glorified in heaven, to be with us; but oh how generous He is. No “power or holiness of our own” has brought us to life – it is His forgiveness that has made us whole.
O LORD, let us proclaim the Name of your risen Son
to all men.
YHWH, how wonderful is the Name of your Son throughout all the earth, for by it all men are healed – all are raised up from their sin and made whole again. With what wonder we should look upon Him risen from the dead; and with what faith we should believe in Him.
O LORD, in the Name of Jesus let penance for the remission of sins be preached to all nations. Beginning at Jerusalem and going forth to the ends of the earth, let it be known that the Messiah has suffered and died and been raised on the third day. May all souls be taught by the apostles you send forth – may we come to understanding of the Scriptures and turn from our sin.
O let us all rejoice in the newness of life He brings! the season of refreshment upon us in His Name. O LORD, let us reform our lives and turn to you that with Him whom you have glorified we might be one.
Wed, 24 April 2019
O proclaimer of the Word of God,
we know of our Lord
who suffered and died
that we might rise with Him
on the third day
because the Spirit inspired you
to tell us of this Good News.
Faithful you were to the Lord
and to His blessed apostles,
and so became an apostle yourself,
carrying the Gospel
to men of every nation –
pray that the Word
which you have served
to impart to us
may be remembered
and cherished in the hearts
of all believers,
and that we, too, shall work,
inspired by the Spirit,
to build up the Body of Christ,
making it ready for His return
to dwell with us forever.
Tue, 23 April 2019
O charitable and zealous soul
who gave your life
that others might know
the true and abiding Catholic faith,
you who cared for the sick and the dying,
those who were ailing in body
and diseased in spirit –
how shall we learn
to sacrifice all as you have done,
to stand in the face of opposition
and speak the truth
though those we would help
would devour us instead
of listening to the words
come from the Savior’s mouth?
Penance and prayer
are so far from us this day,
and who really cares
to show others Christ’s way?
Pray this ship shall be strengthened
by holy souls
eager for the salvation of all
and confirmed in the truth and love of the Spirit.
Tue, 23 April 2019
(Acts 3:1-10; Ps.105:1-9; Lk.24:13-35)
“The Lord is risen! It is true!”
And how it is proven this day! The two disciples find their “hearts burning inside” as He “explain[s] the Scriptures” to them on the road to Emmaus, and then they come “to know Him in the breaking of bread.” “The Eleven and the rest of the company” of disciples rejoice in Jerusalem because “He has appeared to Simon.” And the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate is pulled up by Peter “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean,” and he goes “into the temple with [Peter and John] – walking, jumping about, and praising God.” “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!”
Brothers and sisters, the Church is as this crippled beggar at the temple gate; it is as these confused disciples sojourning for answers to their deepest questions and fears – it is the whole company assembled and astounded and declaring with joy the truth of God’s presence among us. To the beggar the Lord says with Peter, “Look at us!” To those on the road to Emmaus He says, “How slow you are to believe!” And to all He appears in the breaking of the bread. The beggar He heals; in the seeker He instills faith; and to us all He leaves His Blessed Sacrament, the greatest proof of His presence.
“Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.” And as great as His healing may be, as wonderful as His teaching is, the greatest of these is the table He sets before us and the Body and Blood with which He nourishes us. Here is His love most known, here where we “give thanks to the Lord” and “invoke His name.” For in this we are healed, in this His teaching is made real – until the end of time this shall stand as proof of His presence… in this is ever declared, “The Lord is risen!”
“He remembers His covenant which He made binding for a thousand generations.” Never shall this blessing leave us, brothers and sisters. Always we have His Word at work within us, and always we share His Body and His Blood. Here He remains “powerful in word and deed in the eyes of God and all the people.” Let us not fail to declare all He has done for us; let us never be afraid to proclaim His truth. For then all shall be “struck with astonishment”; then all shall know the Risen Lord.
O LORD, in our astonishment let us rejoice
at Jesus’ risen presence among us.
YHWH, your Son has been raised and for this we praise you, for it means our salvation – we who were once crippled by sin, by His death and resurrection are made whole again, and so the words of your prophets are fulfilled. May we recognize Him each day in the breaking of the Bread, and may we live with Him now and forever.
O LORD, let us invoke the Name of your only Son and we shall know His salvation, we shall know the grace and mercy that pour forth from His sacrifice. He had to suffer and die at the hands of His own people that His people and all who would come to Him might be saved from their sin. For this blessing He has imparted to us let us dance and sing on this holy day.
Jesus is the One who sets all men free; dear LORD, let us know His risen presence in our midst this very hour and always.
Mon, 22 April 2019
O persecuted shepherd
whose flock repeatedly drove you
from their midst
but who accomplished
great work of conversion
to these indignant souls
you repeatedly returned,
ever spreading Christ’s net further –
pray for us, apostle to nations,
that in God’s Church today
His Word may go boldly forth
to convert hearts
so hardened by sin,
that the acquired ignorance
of peoples returning to paganism
will be thoroughly dispelled
Forth let all souls journey,
humbly proclaiming the Gospel
till all have heard and understood
the glory to which they are called
by our Savior.
Mon, 22 April 2019
O courageous soldier
in the army of our Lord,
you gave up the ranks
of this passing world
for the kingdom
wrought by Jesus Christ,
for such a just cause
and showing us the path
we must tread
to be found worthy
to stand with our God –
pray that we may be strengthened
in the battle of earthly life,
that our weak limbs
may not be disjointed,
that we might not tremble in fear
at the threats of the mighty
but take our refuge
in the Almighty
and fight for Him who fights for us
until we are wrapped in His arms,
until we cling to His breast.
Mon, 22 April 2019
(Acts 2:36-41; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; Jn.20:11-18)
“Let the whole house of Israel know beyond any doubt
that God has made both Lord and Messiah
this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Brothers and sisters, we are all as Mary Magdalene who “stood weeping beside the tomb,” and like the Jews who were “deeply shaken” by the words of Peter. Though it is to the Chosen people “that the promise was made,” it extends “to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls.” To all sinners, to all who ask His apostles, “What are we to do, brothers?” the Lord responds: “Reform and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven”; indeed, then we “shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – then our eyes shall be opened to His presence among us as we turn to Him in tears.
“She turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there,” this greatest of sinners become most faithful disciple. And as He speaks the name of her who cares only for Him – “Mary!” – so He calls “each one” of us who come to Him in our desperation by name; so He cares for all sinners who love Him and seek Him with all their heart. And the same joy that she has known shall also be ours; we shall declare, “I have seen the Lord!” to all who wait to hear of Him.
“Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray,” Peter urges his fellow Jews on Pentecost day, and “some three thousand” accepted his message and were baptized. Here is where the Church begins to grow, here among those who crucified the Lord – here among His own brothers in the flesh. And though the message is primarily to them this day, indeed it is for all who would be grafted to this tree of life, to this race of whom Jesus is come. For, indeed, it is so that all are sinners, that all bear the guilt of His crucifixion; and so to all who hear His call for repentance, forgiveness may come, and the Spirit follow.
“The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him… to deliver them from death.” What was sung of under the Old Covenant is even more true today; and so let what was true of those faithful under the Old be so with us now. Let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord.” Let us declare, “Upright is the word of the Lord,” and the Word in its fullness shall be ours, and the tears we cry shall be answered quickly by our Lord and Savior who calls us each by name.
O LORD, let us ascend to where your Son is,
far from this world of sin,
even to your side.
YHWH, baptized in tears we cry out to you that we might see your only Son, that we might know He is risen from the dead and sits now at your right hand. Leave us not alone in this world with our sins and weakness, but let your Word please strengthen us; in your mercy deliver us from death.
We have crucified the Holy One; we have killed our Lord. The Messiah has come to save us from our sins, to reunite us with you, O God, and we have turned away from Him and laid Him in a tomb. And what are we to do now? What can save us now that our very life we have murdered?
O LORD, let us be truly repentant of our sins and baptized in the Name of the One you have raised from the dead. To Him let us cling this day, to Him who has ascended on high. In Jesus may we be blessed to make our home, freed from the darkness of the tomb.
Sun, 21 April 2019
(Acts 2:14,22-33; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; Mt.28:8-15)
“You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.”
“It was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him.” And so “the paths of life” we now walk; “joy in [His] presence” is ours – “in confidence” we abide forever. For God has “raised Him up again,” this Jesus, our Lord. Let us be witnesses of His truth to the ends of the earth. Like Peter, our Holy Father, let us be faithful to the Word at work within us.
As the women “ran to carry the good news to [Jesus’] disciples” that He, the Lord, was no longer in the tomb, in the belly of this earth, the guards ran to the chief priests, who concocted a lie. See how the ways diverge between truth and lie. And see today the power with which Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, stands up even amongst those who had Jesus crucified, and proclaims the truth of the risen Lord. And God is with Him. He has heard the Lord’s words: “Peace!” and “Do not be afraid!” He knows full well that his soul will never be abandoned to the netherworld; he has life at work in him, the life that comes from “the resurrection of the Messiah.” And so he witnesses in strength, as do our popes to this day.
Let us “live on in hope,” brothers and sisters, “half-overjoyed and half-fearful,” though only with the fear of God which overwhelms our souls, and He will be before us always, speaking words of peace; and we will see Him walking in the places He was wont to walk on earth… and we will see Him walking everywhere we walk. For by our side will He be constantly in the power of the Spirit to lead and guide us always unto Life, the life that is already with us and will never leave us.
The Lord is risen, alleluia! The powers of death and hell shall never touch us, for in Him alone do we “take refuge,” He alone is our “allotted portion and cup” – in Him alone do we believe, and so we “shall not be disturbed” even by the darkness of night. The Light has dawned; in Him let our souls rejoice.
O LORD, let us take refuge in your Son,
who was not abandoned to the nether world
but lives and goes before us this day.
YHWH, in your Son we find the path to life, the path upon which the Spirit guides us. In His resurrection we are preserved from death and take eternal refuge. Nothing shall disturb us now that Jesus has been raised from the dead, for death no longer has power over us. Let us have but faith in Him and in His reassuring presence among us.
O LORD our God, our hope is in you and in the One who sits upon your throne. He is the Son of David who has conquered death and in whom there is no corruption. And if we believe that He is the One, to the grave we shall not come. For in Him we enter life.
The lies of this world let us leave far behind, O LORD. In truth alone let us make our home and the Spirit of Truth will be upon us to free us from death’s bitter pangs. He has died that we might live; let us find our peace in Him.
Sat, 20 April 2019
O sublime teacher
and defender of the Church
and her freedom,
the joy of Heaven
in your spiritual life,
and for the autonomy of MotherChurch
in your call as shepherd –
pray that we
who remain so blind
to the presence of God
will have our eyes opened
and draw closer
to Him who is our life,
in whose light
we alone find peace;
and pray, too,
that we shall fulfill our call
as disciples of truth
and defend with your same strength
the life of our Mother,
despite the persecutions that come.
Sat, 20 April 2019
(Acts 10:34a,37-43; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-24; Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor.5:6b-8;
Jn.20:1-9 or Lk.24:13-35)
“Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins
through His name.”
“His mercy endures forever,” brothers and sisters, and it is for us to “declare the works of the Lord”: that Jesus was “raised on the third day,” that He lives, that He still is “healing all those oppressed by the devil.” With Peter and the apostles we must “preach to the people and testify” that “the right hand of the Lord is exalted.” Yes, “they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,” but “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Yes, we all bear guilt for the death of the Son, but in His rising He brings about the death of our sin.
Brothers and sisters, “you were raised with Christ” and should have nothing more to do with sin. “Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and we must be seated there with Him. To Him should we raise our eyes for our “life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” No more should sin find place in us or grow within us unto death, but now that new life has come, we should find our place with Him.
Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing the news that Jesus was not there. Upon entering, they “saw and believed,” they “understood the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” Upon believing, death no longer held dominion over them; and soon they would proclaim to all the world the Gospel of life and peace. Soon the cornerstone of truth would take hold of all who heard their words, and grow in time unto heaven. And His kingdom shall not be removed.
Brothers and sisters, each day the Lord opens the Scriptures to us as we gather as His children. Each day we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. Each day we are called to make known the glory of the resurrection we hold in “our hearts burning within as He [speaks] to us on the way.” Here at His table we receive Him each day in Word and in Sacrament. May all men know the gift of life that is ours through the forgiveness of sins He offers. Let us pray that all will believe.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Every Day Is Christmas" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, He whom we crucified has been raised;
the tomb is empty
and His Word now burns in our souls – Alleluia!
YHWH, your Son has truly been raised. Alleluia! And this stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone of your Church. Let us be built up in Him and come to His glory. Alleluia!
Help us, O LORD, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the glory to which He leads us. In Him we find the forgiveness of our sins and so become new men. Let us not turn back as we walk on the road with Him; may His Word always burn in our hearts along our way to you, and may we partake always of His precious Body and Blood until we are present with Him in your eternal kingdom.
O LORD, we praise you for your glory, for your grace that has come into our lives and leads us to union with you. O let us die and be raised with Christ! Let us humbly run to the empty tomb and declare with His disciples that He has been raised. Let all hear His Word and believe in Him, and so enter into His glory. Alleluia!
Fri, 19 April 2019
(Gn.1:1-2:2; Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Ps.33:4-7,12-13,20-22; Gn.22:1-18; Ps.16:5,8-11; Ex.14:15-15:1; Ex.15:1-6,17-18; Is.54:5-14; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13; Is.55:1-11; Is.12:2-6; Bar.3:9-15,32-4:4; Ps.19:8-11; Ez.36:16-17a,18-28; Ps.42:3,5,43:3,4;
Rom.6:3-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-23; Mt.28:1-10 or Mk.16:1-7 or Lk.24:1-12)
“He is not here.”
The women come faithfully to the tomb early Easter morning. What do they find but that the stone is rolled back from its gaping mouth; and angel(s) in white deliver unto them the message of the ages: “He has been raised.”
This night, this early morning, we are led through salvation history, through our own history as human beings made in the image of God here upon the face of the earth, souls coming unto heaven. “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” is the song of the Old Testament. From the beginning of Creation our hearts are set on Him. Along the way “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” prefiguring the Father’s own sacrifice of His Son for our sins and our salvation. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of sin, through the Red Sea, “with the water like a wall to their right and to their left,” prefiguring our Baptism as Christians; and they “sing to the Lord for He is gloriously triumphant,” prefiguring our own joy.
Always we are reminded by the prophets of old: “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit.” And he who heard the call even then sang, “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.” Yes, repeatedly the Lord calls out through His prophets: “Come to the water!… Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” He promises, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.” We who “have forsaken the fountain of wisdom” by the sin that plagues our inheritance are called back to “the One who established the earth for all time… before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice”; we are called to cling to the Word of God, to Wisdom: “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.” For the sake of His Name, the Lord who “scattered them among the nations” now beckons His children home. And those of faith sing with David, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.”
Brothers and sisters, we know that “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” the death to sin. And having been “buried with Him,” we are also raised with Him this night, this morning, that “we too might live in newness of life.” Now His holy dwelling place is here among us with the purest of light that rises this day. Let us be children of this holy Light. No longer in the tomb let us dwell.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (third part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, from the tomb your Son has been raised,
and we shall be raised with Him.
YHWH, your Son is no longer in the tomb, and we have escaped with Him. It is the third day and He has been raised, just as He said. The stone is rolled away and so now all souls may leave the darkness of this world behind and come with Jesus to the light of Heaven.
You have led us to this day, O LORD, throughout all our history, it has always been your intention to save our souls and raise us to you, even from the time of Creation. And so you called Abraham to sacrifice his son; and so you led the Israelites out of Egypt. Your Wisdom has been upon your people every step of our way that we might be wed to you in your eternal kingdom.
And now in the death and resurrection of your Son you fulfill your will among us. And now we who are baptized into His death are raised to glory with Him. Let it be declared to all, LORD, that the Christ is no longer in the tomb, but awaits us all in new life.
Thu, 18 April 2019
(Is.52:13-53:12; Ps.31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25,Lk.23:46; Heb.4:14-16,5:7-9; Jn.18:1-19:42)
“He shall be raised high and greatly exalted.”
Here is your king: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” Pilate has written upon His cross. Here He is lifted up, where “many were amazed at Him – so marred was His look beyond human semblance and His appearance beyond the sons of man.” Yet “shall He startle many nations; because of Him kings shall stand speechless.” The Scripture passage is fulfilled: “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.” And there they shall see that He who “was spurned and avoided by people… one of those from whom people hide their faces,” held in “no esteem” as He was… this same “lamb led to the slaughter” “shall divide the spoils with the mighty”; for as He has been lifted up on the cross, debased beyond all others, so He shall be raised on high in His kingdom, one with the Father in heaven. Here they “wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head.” Here they “clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’ And they struck Him repeatedly.” But there no mockery shall He know; there all shall see that He is the Son of God.
Brothers and sisters, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.” Our weaknesses He has known in full, and now He brings us “light in fullness of days.” Though on earth “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” now has He become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” For all the tears He shed, all the scourging He underwent, all the humiliation He experienced and the death He knew, were all for our sake. “It was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.” And having suffered in our stead for the sins of those by whom He is condemned, now He has come unto what is His own, and invites us there as well.
“He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” The guilt of the nations is removed by Him who had “no guilt in Him,” and is known by all who “take refuge” in His wounds. And so, “take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord”; though we, too, may be “an object of reproach” in this world of sin, He awaits us all in His heavenly kingdom. And for this we call this Friday “good.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (second half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, on this day we killed your only Son –
may we look upon Him whom we have pierced
that our sins might be forgiven.
YHWH, your Son suffers a violent death at the hands of wicked men that our sins might be taken away. All our offenses you lay upon His shoulders, and this innocent Lamb becomes expiation for our transgression. Only by His bearing the Cross will we be freed; only by His shedding of blood will we be washed clean – only by looking upon Him lifted high on the Tree will we come to realize how we have separated ourselves from you who are Life, how we have wrought our own death.
And so Jesus takes upon Himself the guilt of us all; and so by His stripes we are healed. This broken, beaten Man whose divinity none can see startles all souls as He enters into His glory. O LORD, may we take our refuge in Him!
There is no salvation apart from the Christ; there is no sacrifice that could atone for our sins except that made by this High Priest. LORD our God, let us know that He is One with you, and let us worship Him as our only King.
Wed, 17 April 2019
(Ex.12:1-8,11-14; Ps.116:12-13,15-18,1Cor.10:6; 1Cor.11:23-26; Jn.13:1-15)
“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”
For this cup holds the Blood of our Lord. And, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord. “When I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.” As the Israelites mark each of their houses with the blood of a lamb, so our bodies are marked by the Blood of the Lamb; and so we are saved by the Lord our God and become temples of His Spirit.
“How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” the psalmist cries in joy. Each day we “offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,” taking up “the cup of salvation” and “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”: each day we partake of His blessed Body and Blood. And sharing in this celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; and so, into our midst He comes.
“He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” as “a model to follow”: “as I have done for you, you should also do.” He says to His brothers in the upper room the night “His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”: “You ought to wash one another’s feet.” And so by this teaching, and so by His masterful lead, He multiplies His presence in the world through His twelve apostles. And so shall these souls by whom the Bread of Life is multiplied, by whom we have inheritance with the Lord, wash the feet of all His followers by their witness and the ministry they shall bring to the ends of the earth. And so shall all who have bathed in His Blood be made clean for the Holy Day.
And we, as they, as the Lord, find the strength to lay down our lives in service of one another by being as our Jesus, who was “fully aware that the Father had put everything in His power and that He had come from God and was returning to Him.” Any power that any have comes only from the Father, and comes only through the Son, and is known only in His Blood – which all must share, by which all must be anointed, if we are to be preserved until the coming of the Christ again into this world of darkness.
Writen, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be washed clean
in the blood of your Son,
and so protected from all harm;
let us live in His New Covenant,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood.
YHWH, as your Son has laid down His life, the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our sins; as He has bowed down to wash our feet that we might be made clean and have inheritance with Him; so let us be humble and serve one another in His Name. Let His blood be upon us to save us from condemnation – let us die with Him that we might live again.
In His feast let us partake, of His very Body and Blood. At His table let us sit, His disciples ready to follow Him. Indeed, even as we eat let us be prepared to go out and serve, to step from the table where we have been nourished and into the way of the Cross. Far from Egypt we would be taken, LORD, far from all our sin; and others we would see follow Him in the path to the kingdom.
He has died that we might live – O LORD, let us be His children!
Tue, 16 April 2019
(Is.50:4-9; Ps.69:8-10,21-22,31,33-34; Mt.26:14-25)
“The Son of Man is departing, as Scripture says of Him.”
Of Him in Scripture we read, “Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” Even as death approaches, even as His betrayer goes forth (perhaps especially at this dark time), He sets His face “like flint” to confront those who oppose Him, those who would destroy Him. In His own voice He speaks to us in the first reading and the psalm of His trial and His resolve: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard,” though “they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” And He stands alone before such blasphemy – “I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none.”
Though only one of the Twelve betrays Him, all abandon Him in His brokenness; none stands by His side as He “bear[s] insult” in the Name of God. But the Father does not desert Him: “See, the Lord God is my help.” “For the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” And when He cries from the cross, it is not His fate He bemoans, but our own, whose dark separation from God He takes upon Himself as our guilt He bears.
Yes, He must depart in this way; He must suffer at our hands. But that it is written so, and that by this our souls are made whole, in no way nullifies that we have sinned – sin remains the evil it is. As for Judas, yet it would have been “better for him if he had never been born,” for the fires of hell are real; and as for the souls who abandon Him, as for all His disciples, it is only through similar darkness that we shall come back to His light.
Tears will fill our eyes as we look upon Him whom we have pierced. Yet, fear not, for the Lord hears the cry of the “lowly ones… who seek God”; and Scripture speaks just as faithfully of the third day.
O LORD, zeal for your House consumes your Son,
and so He is betrayed by one of His own
for thirty pieces of silver.
YHWH, your Son is betrayed by one who sits at table with Him, and by all He will be abandoned, left alone to die upon a cross. Yet He goes as you call Him; freely He accomplishes your will, with complete faith in your protection, with the strength found only in your love. O help us to be as He is! to bear all with patience, to so freely offer our backs for beating and our faces for spitting upon.
O how shall we go from putting gall in His food to being fed at His table in the kingdom if you do not help us, O LORD our God? We have no hope if you have no mercy on our poor souls. Let us find the strength He takes in you.
Only one of the Twelve betrays Him, only one hands Him over for crucifixion, but we all line the path He must tread – we are all cause for His shame. Dear LORD, in His sacrifice may we find freedom from such sin.
Mon, 15 April 2019
(Is.49:1-6; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; Jn.13:21-33,36-38)
“I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is now my strength!”
The Lord is with His servant, with Israel, with Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God: “From my mother’s womb you are my strength… O God, you have taught me from my youth.” And to this “sharp-edged sword” the Lord had concealed “in the shadow of His arm,” to this “polished arrow” He has hidden in His quiver, God says: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” He who was called from birth, given His name in His mother’s womb, prepared before all the ages, now comes to reveal the glory of God.
And how is it “the Son of Man [is] glorified and God is glorified in Him”? We see in our gospel the moment the glorification begins; we see in our gospel the path by which it comes. At table at the Last Supper Jesus grows “deeply troubled,” for the time of His betrayal has come. Judas eats the morsel of food dipped in the dish and “immediately after, Satan entered his heart.” Then, “no sooner had Judas eaten the morsel than he went out,” and, we are told, “It was night.” And immediately upon Judas’ leaving, the Lord proclaims His glorification has begun.
Here begins the Passion. Here begins the first of the three days Jesus will spend in the belly of the earth. How unlike the days the Servant spent in His mother’s womb these days shall be! And yet it is precisely these days and in this way that what God has prepared for Him and for all creation shall come to its fulfillment. Now shall the arrow be sharpened fully and shot forth to pierce all men’s hearts with truth – even as the nails pierce His hands and the sword His side. Through the depths of such absolute darkness, light shall shine forth, and this light shall in time reach to the ends of the world.
Now the time has come. Now all shall abandon Him. Now by the Suffering Servant shall all be saved.
O LORD, make us glorious in your sight,
even as your Son has been glorified by His sacrifice.
YHWH, now the darkness falls upon your Son and He is prepared to be glorified. In the death He must endure He will be revealed as the light of the world. Though we cannot follow Him now, let us soon follow where He leads. Help us, dear God, to lay down our lives with Him that we might come to Heaven.
He has been hidden for all ages, concealed in the shadow of your arm, LORD; but now this arrow is shot forth, this sword unveiled for all eyes to see. Now is the time for all to be justified by His holy sacrifice. O let us join with Him! Let us not fear the darkness which sets upon this corrupted earth but suffer its betrayal with the patience of the Son of Man.
In Him let us take our refuge, LORD; let us be one with your Servant. To this world help us bring His light, you who have been our trust from our Mother’s womb.
Sun, 14 April 2019
(Is.42:1-7; Ps.27:1-3,13-14; Jn.12:1-11)
“I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations.”
He has come “to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who dwell in darkness.” “He establishes justice on the earth,” and this justice is His bringing light to our darkness. But He could not release us from the dungeon unless He Himself had entered the dungeon. How else could light penetrate the darkness? And so He not only enters the veil of flesh, humbling Himself to be born as a man, but also gives Himself up to the death we all must die – in our own form He pays the wages of our sin, that we might be released from its prison.
How could we “be stouthearted” “when evildoers come at [us] to devour [our] flesh,” we who are so weakened by the scourges of sin, if He had not strengthened us by standing in our stead? How could we truly say with David, “Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust,” if He had not defeated the enemy which comes against us? We can say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” only because Jesus has brought God’s justice into our very midst, to our flesh and to our bone, by entering into the world of darkness we have created and taking upon Himself the death we deserved.
Lazarus, who sits at table with Jesus a week before His own death, is a sign of our release from the dungeon, from the tomb of our sin. As “Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him on account of Lazarus,” so should all be drawn to the promise of new life which the Lord shall fulfill now in His death and resurrection. And as we enter Holy Week, as we prepare ourselves for the great mysteries of our faith, how appropriate for Jesus to sit at table “in the land of the living” with this dead man. See that He will sit with us all just so in the kingdom of heaven.
Now the light comes; now justice is done. The aromatic fragrance of His holy sacrifice fills this house, and darkness shall be banished forever.
O LORD, your Son is the light
which saves us even from death;
let us die and rise with Him.
YHWH, as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so all who believe will be raised with Him and sit at His table in Heaven. As He defended Mary from Judas’ attack, so He will advocate for us all against the accusations of the evil one, so we will be protected from all condemnation and come into the light of your presence. Though we dwell as if in a dungeon here, release we shall soon find in the offering of your Son. From all our enemies we shall be saved; let us stand fast with Jesus.
The fragrance of the Spirit fills our souls even as darkness closes in. O LORD, your promise to us is sweet indeed and gives us courage in this world. For what victory has our Savior not won, what power has withstood His justice? And so, even death He tramples underfoot as in a tomb He is laid.
Sat, 13 April 2019
(Is.50:4-7; Ps.22:2,8-9,17-20,23-24; Phil.2:6-11;
Mt.26:14-27:66 or Mk.14:1-15:47 or Lk.22:14-23:56)
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
“The whole people” cry out for the death of Jesus. “Let Him be crucified,” they shout ever more loudly. The sins of us all demand the death of the Son. And though He would have us not bear such guilt – “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” – and though even after we have succeeded in our lust for innocent blood, He forgives… yet bear such a burden we must, to find release from its punishment under the shadow of His cross, where, upon the opening of our eyes in the fear of our crimes and the power of Him whom we have crucified, we shall proclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
Yes, it is an irony that the blood of this “King of the Jews,” the Chosen of the chosen, the Messiah, the Son of God, is upon our souls both for condemnation for the great crime all commit in crucifying the Lord always by our sins; and, of course, for our salvation by its cleansing the same sin from our souls through our belief in Him Who Is. And so He accepts our mockery. And so He remains silent before our accusations against Him. And so He “set [His] face like flint,” enduring “buffets and spitting”; as “many dogs surround” Him and “a pack of evildoers closes in,” He endures all for our sakes, knowing only this will bring us to open our eyes and see the light that is the love of God. “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.” Could more of a sacrifice be made for sinful man? Could greater than this be accomplished in the name of God? What more need you to believe? O let His blood pour upon you!
Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God has come among us and suffered all for our sake, that we might be washed clean of all the evil within us by His gentle acceptance of all our hatred, of all our doubt and fear, of all the violence we could mount, saying to our heart: “I love you still, and my Father, too,” that we might return to the grace that is ours in Him. Let us not be ashamed to bend the knee “at the name of Jesus.” Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him all you descendants of Israel.” Let His blood pour upon your soul.
Written, read & chanted, and published by James Kurt.
Music: "My God. My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (first half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Son humbles Himself
to die on a cross for us,
and we can but lay Him in a tomb –
how shall we be saved?
YHWH, your Son is led to death, even to crucifixion, but He turns not His face away from the buffets and the spitting, from the mockery of sinful men. He sets Himself to undergo all the suffering that is rightly ours to bear – and all the while we sleep, we take our rest.
All abandon your Son, O LORD; He is left quite alone. None is able to defend Him, to stand with Him in His place upon the Cross. No, we betray Him by our faithlessness, and so now must endure the sight of His bloodied corpse splayed upon the Cross.
O LORD our God, let us not fail to repent of our sin, of our crucifying the Son of Man. Let us not fail to recognize who He is and what He has done for us in His Person and death. This day let us partake of His Body and Blood that we might be taken with Him from the Skull place to your right hand in Heaven.
Fri, 12 April 2019
O martyred Father
of the Church,
you laid down your life
to save her from the enemy,
to preserve her in the truth
of orthodox faith;
unmindful of the humiliation
and exile you bore
at the hands of the king
of this world,
you died that all might know
in His divinity and humanity –
pray we shall indeed be saved
from all temptation
to turn from the faith,
and so find our way
to the kingdom
where now you dwell
with the Lord and all His holy angels.
May our leaders be as strong as you
and we follow them loyally
in the name of our Redeemer.
Fri, 12 April 2019
(Ez.37:21-28; Jer.31:10-13; Jn.11:45-57)
“My sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.”
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to “gather [His people] from all sides to bring them back to their land”; He is the “one prince for [us] all” by whom God makes complete the “everlasting covenant” with us: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is He “who make[s] Israel holy,” who makes us all one in Himself. And so, “no longer shall [we] defile [our]selves,” but we “shall live by [His] statutes and carefully observe [His] decrees” now written upon our hearts by the power of the Spirit upon His flesh and blood.
In our gospel the Sanhedrin fear the loss of the Jewish nation on earth when they say, “The Romans will come and sweep away our sanctuary and our nation” because of the wonders Jesus performs and the power He has over all people. So when Caiaphas asks, “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” it is of the protection of the temple and its worship he speaks and which is his concern. But, of course, he unwittingly prophesies the salvation of all in the eternal, heavenly Temple of the New Jerusalem, where Jesus “gather[s] into one all the dispersed children of God.”
Yes, “Jesus would die for the nation”; He would give Himself that all might live. The plan “to kill Him” He shall allow to bear fruit; though all are on the lookout to apprehend Him, yet He shall come to the feast to offer Himself as the spotless Lamb of Passover, to purge the nation of its sins and protect it from final damnation. And so, “He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, He guards them as a shepherd His flock.” And so we should “come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil” – so we should come now and consume His Body and His Blood. For the New Covenant is now set in place; His sanctuary is here among us. And forever He is seated in the heavenly kingdom to make intercession for us and for the purging of our sins, to draw into the presence of the Father all His holy children.
He is “likely to come to the feast,” brothers and sisters, for the feast would be nothing without Him. It is His sacrifice alone which “turn[s] our mourning into joy,” which “shall make [all] merry and dance” in the sanctuary of God’s love.
O LORD, by the blood of your Son
gather into one all your dispersed children.
YHWH, your feast is prepared and we are called now to enter in to the dancing and joy of your kingdom. Your sanctuary is set up in our midst, your Son has come into our presence, and so we become one holy nation in Him. Though He must die to save us and unite us, He shall face such a fate openly, and so lead us to the heights of Zion.
Up to Jerusalem Jesus comes with all the people for the Passover feast. The Temple you have set up comes now to the temple made by human hands; and though the latter shall soon be destroyed, the former shall never pass away but be set up forever as our dwelling place. O let us worship you, LORD, in your holy Temple!
Jesus is indeed our salvation and the New Covenant founded in His Body and Blood is now among us. O LORD, let your sacrificial Lamb be prince over us that we may come streaming to His blessings.
Thu, 11 April 2019
(Jer.20:10-13; Ps.18:2-7; Jn.10:31-42)
“He has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked.”
As Jeremiah’s persecutors surround him on every side but are “put to utter shame” when he calls out to the Lord, so as the Jews “again tried to arrest Him,” Jesus again “eluded their grasp.” And so when “the breakers of death surged around [us], the destroying floods overwhelmed [us]...” so when our sins seemed to have conquered our souls, the Lord came to save us.
Evil is all around. Always there is “terror on every side!” and those who would shout, “Denounce! Let us denounce him!” because of our missteps, because of our stumbling into sin. Ever the devil is on the watch to trap us with his wiles and cast our souls into “the netherworld.” But always, too, the Lord is present, and when to Him we entrust our cause, saying with David, “O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,” whenever we call upon His name, He hears and saves us from “the snares of death.” “Praised be the Lord, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies,” David sings. “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord,” Jeremiah echoes, and he, too, is safe. All who call upon Him He hears, and affords them His salvation.
“The Jews reached for rocks to stone Him,” but still He called to their hearts: “Many good deeds have I shown you from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” Still He invites them to look upon the good works He has done in His Father’s name to see that He is indeed the Son; still He desires their salvation. The signs He performs are recognized by many people who thus “come to believe in Him,” but the hardness of heart of these the leaders continues to blind their eyes to the truth of what John the Baptist said and what He is. This ignorance shall find its ultimate expression soon in the crucifixion of the Son of God; but even from this the Lord shall deliver Him – and by this sacrifice we shall all be saved. And many more will come to know thereby that He is God.
The Lord rescues all our souls when we cry out to Him. Let us put all trust in His saving grace.
O LORD, thank you for hearing our cries;
from death you have delivered us
by the grace of your Son
YHWH, let us come to believe that Jesus is your Son, one with you and the source of our salvation. You rescue from the power of the wicked all who put their trust in Him; even from death we are preserved by taking our refuge in Him. And so, why should we doubt His divinity?
In our distress you looked upon us, dear LORD, and heard us as we called out to you; and so you sent your only Son to answer our deepest prayers. We were enmeshed in the snares of death but from the netherworld you saved our souls, giving us safety in the blood of Jesus, the Christ. We thank you and we praise you, O God, for your grace upon us.
O let us ever praise your Name, our LORD and God, and we shall be ever safe from our enemies. Let us take our refuge in the flesh of your Son and nothing shall ever harm us. May our cry always come to your ears.
Wed, 10 April 2019
O soldier of Christ
who stood with courage
against the powers of this world,
leading the troops in your charge
even unto death –
pray that we may remain
loyal to our call,
faithful to the Lord
even unto our own death,
standing strong and tall
against the assaults of the world
and the devil
and forming those entrusted to us
in the ways of God
as you, dear shepherd,
have bravely done.
Let us not be afraid
to shed our blood for the truth,
to suffer persecution
in order to light the way
that leads to life,
the life that is Christ,
who strengthens us with the armor of God.
Wed, 10 April 2019
(Gn.17:3-9; Ps.105:4-9; Jn.8:51-59)
“Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
Abraham is a great man, the blessed patriarch, to whom God made the promise: “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” So Abraham becomes “the father of a host of nations,” not just by lineage, but by faith in the promise God has given him and the keeping of the covenant with Him. Abraham is father to all who believe in the one God: the sons of Israel, the Jews; the sons of Ishmael, the Muslims; and all who worship the living Lord and “seek to serve Him constantly.”
Yet as great as Abraham is, as fertile as he has become, Jesus is the greater and the more prosperous, for He Himself is the Lord our God, from whom Abraham receives his promise and so his greatness. “Abraham rejoiced that he might see [Jesus’] day. He saw it and was glad.” For here come to us is the only Son of the God before whom he “prostrated himself”; here is the Lord of all the nations of whom Abraham is father.
Jesus is equal with the Father, coeternal and all-powerful. He does not make Himself so but receives such glory from the Father, with whom He is always. How hard it is for the Jews to hear this. Though according to their faith they have been waiting for just such arrival of the Holy One, of the Messiah, yet their hearts are unable to accept such divine wonder. And so “they picked up rocks to throw at Jesus” upon His solemn declaration of His divinity.
Is it not just so hard for all of us who call ourselves believers to come to terms with the awesome majesty of Jesus our God? It seems something so far beyond our belief, that God could walk in our midst. And yet HE IS; and so we must see how much greater than any man He is. For though fully a man born in time and murdered upon a cross, yet He is God, living forever as Lord of all. So great a gift, so wonderful a presence, is all that assures us that we “shall never see death” but be as He is, alive in the kingdom as He has promised. Keep His word, and the Word of Life will be with you.
O LORD, a greater than Abraham we have in your Son,
for He is God with you –
let us live forever in Him.
YHWH, your Son is God with you, dear Father, the great I AM; and He would bring us where you are, to a life that passes not away. How could we die if we were with you? For you are Life itself, and your Son with you.
Abraham is the father of many nations; many lives came to be through him and all of faith find a father in him who was of the greatest faith. But you are the Father of Abraham, dear LORD, and Jesus is your Son – and so Jesus Himself is as Abraham’s Father, coming before him and giving life to him as He does.
O may He give us life, too, Father on high. In your Name let Him speak to us of your surpassing glory, a glory He shares with you and which He would share with us (as He has shared it with Abraham) if we would but listen and believe. Be our God forever, LORD, as you promised Abraham.
Tue, 9 April 2019
(Dn.3:14-20,91-92,95; Dn.3:52-56; Jn.8:31-42)
“The truth will set you free.”
Sin binds. Like the cords with which “the strongest men in [Nebuchadnezzar’s] army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” sin fetters our souls and casts us “into the white-hot furnace.” “Everyone who lives in sin is the slave of sin.” But for those like these three faithful servants who “will not… worship the golden statue that [the king of this world] set up,” there is freedom. For the Lord who is “praiseworthy and exalted above all forever,” who sits “on the throne of [His] kingdom… in the firmament of heaven,” “can save us from the white-hot furnace and from [the king’s] hands.” For those who “yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God,” sin holds no sway. And so we find them “unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire,” the angel of God at their side.
God sits on His “throne upon the cherubim,” but He “look[s] into the depths.” And so He sends His Son to walk among us and set us free from slavery to sin. As Jesus says, “I come forth from God, and am here.” Here is the Son; here is the true reflection of the Father. Here, indeed, is Truth itself, by whom we are all set free.
How Jesus strove to bring the truth to “those Jews who believed in Him” but struggled in their acceptance. But the Lord does not pull punches; He does not gloss over the truth, however harsh it may seem. He tells them plainly, “You are trying to kill me,” and so they do the works of Satan – and so do they sin. In their pride they deny their sin, and the envious plots in their hearts: “Our father is Abraham,” they argue, and not the evil one. “We are no illegitimate breed!” But the truth is that they are, and though it mean His death, Jesus must deliver this truth unto them… for it is all that will set them free.
How little it seems the truth is brought to the people today, and so, how few it seems are set free. As sin goes merrily along, the devil sits laughing… But God is still God, and the Son is still the Son, and all who give themselves to Him and not the idols of this earth will still find themselves set free. Brothers and sisters, “if the Son frees you, you will really be free.” Confront your own sin, and entrust all to Him.
O LORD, from your throne on high you send your Son
to rescue us from the fires of sin;
let us love His words and put faith in Him and you.
YHWH, you alone are God, exalted above all on your glorious throne. This is truth. And so, you alone should we worship with heart, mind, and soul. You alone we should praise. In you alone we should trust – you alone should be our Father.
But how easily we lie and become children of the father of lies; how readily we harden our hearts against your Word, against your truth, LORD, bowing down before the golden statue and going so far as to kill the One who bears your truth to us. Jesus would convict us of our sins. He would reveal to us the truth of our fallen nature that we might be saved, that we might be set free from the sin that binds us and casts us into the white-hot furnace. But our pride will not be broken, and so, trapped within it we remain.
O LORD, let us show the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Let us trust our very lives into your hands. Even in this furnace let us praise your Name, and your Son will come to us to set us free.
Mon, 8 April 2019
(Nm.21:4-9; Ps.102:2-3,16-21; Jn.8:21-30)
“From heaven He beheld the earth,
to hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
As the Lord has said to the Pharisees: “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above.” And truly, how could we come to where He is unless He reached down to lead us there?
The Israelites show just how much they are of this world below when they reject the food of the heavens in utter bitterness: “We are disgusted with this wretched food!” they say of the manna the Lord has provided. And punishment comes to them in the form of a serpent for their cursing the hand of God.
And the Pharisees are the same. They have the living bread from heaven standing before them, teaching them, yet they cannot grasp what He says and with mockery ask, “Who are you, then?” when He tells them, “I AM.” And so they too “will surely die in their sins” for their rejection of the great I AM.
But yet there is hope. For the Israelites, Moses “make[s] a serpent and mount[s] it on a pole,” and those who gaze upon it are healed from the serpent’s deadly bite. And, of course, Jesus Himself will mount the wood of the cross and be fixed there – and the Pharisees and we who gaze upon our sins (which, as with the serpents, have caused this punishment), we who see what we have done and repent thereof, shall be healed, restored, forgiven.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I AM,” says the Lord. And now we look up at Him who has died for us and pray He will take us where He has gone, that our cry will come to Him, that He will regard “the prayer of the destitute” and lift us up to heaven with Him as we share in His cross.
O LORD, you have answered our prayers;
let us be released from death
by looking upon your crucified Son.
YHWH, we are doomed to die; apart from you there is no life, and we have separated ourselves from you by our sin, by our complaining against your goodness toward us. How can one come to your presence on high if he desires but the world below, where is but dust and death? May we hear the call of your Son, who by His Cross would lead us to your kingdom.
Jesus will die. On the Cross He will be lifted up, crucified by sinful hearts. But His death means only life for us, for He is Life itself, O LORD, He is one with you; and that life is more powerful than the imposter death, which fades to nothing before His glory.
Your Son cannot but be raised on high, dear LORD, for He is one with you and dwells ever in surpassing light, to which He would draw all souls. May we indeed recognize He is the great I AM and come to life with Him, separated far from our sin and the poison it brings. Hear our prayer and save us.
Sun, 7 April 2019
(Dn.13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62; Ps.23:1-6; Jn.8:12-20)
“Judgment of mine is valid because I am not alone.
I have at my side the One who sent me, the Father.”
“It is laid down in [the Mosaic] law that evidence given by two persons is valid.” Thus does the assembly condemn Susanna to death, because the two elders testify as one against her. But then “God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel,” and so we find a better pair of witnesses – the Spirit and Daniel – to refute the lies of the wicked elders. And so Daniel, empowered by the Spirit, separates these evil men; and so the lack of integrity and unity in their testimony is exposed; and so “an angel of God shall receive the sentence from Him and split [them] in two” – the “fine lie” they have told will cost them their heads.
And can there be any truer witness of two than that which is known in the Father and the Son, both of whom testify, in the Spirit, that Jesus is “the light of the world”? This great truth cannot be hidden, and so those whose witness is most perfect must speak it, that “no follower of [His] shall ever walk in darkness” but “shall possess the light of life.” This is the will of God, whose Word is true; and this revelation shall be accomplished despite any deceptions devised by those who walk in darkness.
Brothers and sisters, be comforted that the Lord is “at [your] side, with [His] rod and staff that give [you] courage.” With Him and with His Spirit you shall be saved from all evil. Be as Susanna in your time of trial: “Through her tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly,” and He will strengthen you and “spread the table before [you] in the sight of [your] foes.” Taking Him as your witness, you cannot be denied. And the same justification she has known will be your own.
All wicked men shall meet their end, for lies cannot stand and the “past sins” of the false judges shall “come to term.” There is but one Judge whose verdict is true and lasting, and all those who find refuge in Him and His Father shall stand as He does unto eternity.
O LORD, your testimony is true as is that of your Son
for the Holy Spirit is upon Him.
YHWH, your Son is the light of the world; to this you testify in His every word, in His every action. He is one with you, O God, and looking upon Him we see your face. Father in Heaven, your Spirit is upon Jesus to speak the truth – may we know Him well that we might know you.
If in you we trust, dear LORD, we shall be saved from every trial. If we keep our eyes up and looking to Heaven, even through our tears you shall answer our prayers. None is left alone who calls upon your Name; help comes quickly to those who recognize their need.
And so, in your kindness you have sent us Jesus; the Spirit goes forth in His wake. To your table we are drawn, LORD, where our heads are anointed with holy oil. No judgment comes upon the soul who trusts in Christ, for He walks only in light… and so it is with those who follow in His way.
Sat, 6 April 2019
O good teacher
of the poor boys in your care,
minister of the Lord
to those most in need,
with what humble affection
you carried out your work
in educating souls
in the Gospel of Christ
and guiding others to do the same –
pray that we, too,
shall give ourselves in sacrificial silence
to the call the Lord has placed
upon our souls,
and especially that teachers
of the young and disadvantaged
will find grace and strength
from our Lord
to carry out in truth and love
their work for Christ and His Church.
May the Temple of God
be built up on this earth
in all poor souls
washed in Christ’s blood.
Sat, 6 April 2019
(Is.43:16-21; Ps.126:1-6; Phil.3:8-14; Jn.8:1-11)
“Forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal.”
In times past the Lord opened “a way in the sea” for the Israelites to pass through, while Pharoah’s army He “snuffed out and quenched like a wick.” Afterward, He “brought back the captives of Zion” from the lands to which they had been scattered to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. “Great things” the Lord has done for His people, but through the prophet Isaiah He enjoins all to “remember not the events of the past,” to “consider not” these mighty and wondrous deeds. For as marvelous as His deeds once were, now He proclaims, “See, I am doing something new!” And indeed, something new is in our midst.
We see perfect evidence of this surpassing work in the apostle Paul, who has “accepted the loss of all things” – including any righteousness this former Pharisee may have had by the law – that he may “gain Christ and be found in Him,” for he knew that all good things are to be found in Jesus the Lord. And now he is but “depending on faith to know Him and the power of His resurrection.”
Here is the new thing which is done: the only Son has died and been raised from the grave, never to die again. And so Paul seeks to share “of His sufferings,” to be “conformed to His death,” that he too “may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Nothing else is worth our time or our breath in this world; only this “one thing” calls us upward to God.
And see how this new thing has affected the adulterous woman, the sinner who represents us all. She is brought forward in all her abomination, deserving death for the act she has knowingly committed… yet she leaves Christ’s presence an entirely free woman. Free not merely to go as she pleases, but free from the sin which should have spelled her condemnation.
Here is the new thing as it affects every human soul: the forgiveness of our sins. And what joy this should bring us! For if Jesus who is to judge the heart of all sentient beings does not condemn us, who shall stand with stone in hand to punish our transgression? But heed, my brother, my sister, the Lord’s due warning, if you would truly know the grace of this new thing – “from now on do not sin anymore” – or what is new and bringing refreshment will become old and stale very soon. Forward we must strive all the days of our lives, leaving well behind our sins; only in heaven will we take full hold of Him who has taken possession of us by His mercy.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Cleansing" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, cleanse us of our sin
and draw us into your kingdom.
YHWH, great things you have done for us, and so we should announce your praise. For you have put behind us all our sins and call us upward now to you in your Son. There seemed no way through this desert, but like torrents of water in the wasteland you have poured your grace upon us; and we are set free, and we escape judgment… and we come running now to you.
Something new you indeed accomplish in our midst, something greater than the parting of the Red Sea or the drowning of Pharaoh’s army. For then you saved your people from certain death, yes, as well as from slavery; but they would soon die anyway, as do all who travel here. But now it is eternal condemnation from which we are redeemed. Now everlasting life we strain toward as we embrace Jesus’ holy Cross. O LORD, let us but know the grace come to us in your Son! Thank you for your forgiveness.
Fri, 5 April 2019
(Jer.11:18-20; Ps.7:2-3,9-12; Jn.7:40-53)
“Let us destroy the tree in its vigor;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will be spoken no more.”
With these words “they were hatching plots against” Jeremiah, and in the same way against Jesus. And so, “like a trusting Lamb led to slaughter,” “like the lion’s prey, to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue” are they. But “the malice of the wicked [shall] come to an end.”
“The upright of heart” are ever persecuted. Even Nicodemus, “one of their own number,” a member of the Pharisees who are seeking the life of the Lord, was “taunted” when he “spoke up to say, ‘Since when does our law condemn any man without first hearing him and knowing the facts.’” But the Lord “sustain[s] the just” “because of the innocence that is” theirs. In Him do they “take refuge,” and He will not leave them a prey to their teeth.
Even the temple guards recognize the power of the word that comes from Christ. “No man ever spoke like that before,” they state as the reason that “no one laid hands on Him.” “He is the Messiah,” it is sure, and only the hardest of heart are able to blind themselves to the authority that issues forth from His lips. But the Lord is the “searcher of mind and heart,” of “heart and soul”; He is the just Judge, the just God, and so even as He rescues the innocent from trial, so He “punishes day by day” the evil man.
Their plots shall come to naught; in vain do they pursue Him. For though He shall allow them “to apprehend Him,” yet He will be eternally free from their clutches. Indeed, He will be fixed to a cross. Indeed, like an innocent lamb He shall not open His mouth to protest or to call upon the angels for assistance. And they shall think that He is theirs. But rise from the dead He will, and His Name will be spoken to the ends of the earth. For nothing can destroy the power of the Word of God.
O LORD, though the innocent man be condemned,
you are there to save him.
YHWH, you save us from every snare of the devil, every plot of the wicked; you do not leave us prey to the lion’s teeth. Though we be ringed about by our accusers, though with your Son we be crucified, yet we shall not be destroyed – with Him we shall be raised on high.
For you, O LORD, are a just Judge; you look into the hearts of all. You know who is set upon the doing of your will and who would oppose you and your blessed One. Let us never be a curse unto you. Though we be condemned by men, in your sight let us ever be holy.
No man ever spoke like your Son, dear LORD, for no man else is the Word Himself. He comes from your very heart, and becomes our daily Bread. In your House with Him let us make our home, though it mean persecution and certain death. For in Him we shall be protected always, and brought quickly to your side.
Thu, 4 April 2019
O great preacher
who taught so well
the love of God
and the precepts of the Church,
who worked with such zeal
to repair the breach
within the Church
in a time of corruption –
pray that now the Word
may again go forth
to the ends of the earth,
that all might hear
the voice of the Spirit
speaking in their hearts
and turn resolutely
from their sins
to the grace of the Lord;
and pray, too,
there will be priests
to preach God’s Word
with that same loving zeal
you had for the Church
and every soul.
Thu, 4 April 2019
(Ws.2:1,12-22; Ps.34:17-21,23; Jn.7:1-2,10,25-30)
“He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is His Father.”
And for such He shall be persecuted; for such He shall be killed. For to the wicked “He is the censure of [their] thoughts; merely to see Him is a hardship” for those who stray from the Lord’s commands. And so, in vain attempt to spare themselves the just judgment of the Lord, in their jealousy they say to one another: “With revilement and torture let us put Him to the test”; and so they “condemn Him to a shameful death,” tempting the Lord God to watch over Him.
Evil are their thoughts and wicked are their ways. But the one “they want to kill,” the one “they tried to seize,” escapes their grasp, for indeed the Lord “watches over all His bones; not one of them shall be broken.” And they cannot take hold of Him unless He so wills it; so, frustrated are their efforts “because His hour had not yet come.”
Even when His hour comes and He is delivered into the hands of the prince of darkness, still their violence will not touch Him; yet will He be protected by the Lord, as are all who follow Him. Yes, David sings of what he knows: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.” And so, even in distress, even in death, the Lord is near to His chosen ones. The Lord shall ever be delivered from the grasp of those whose “wickedness blinded them.”
Jesus stands up in the temple and cries out: “I was sent by One who has the right to send… it is from Him I come.” He declares openly that He is the Son of God, and for bringing such light the wicked who would hide their sins seek to destroy Him. But it shall indeed be proven that He is the Son of the Most High, that God is His Father. The “recompense of holiness” shall be witnessed by all eyes. In subjection to their evil plots, in dying upon the wood of the cross, and in His subsequent resurrection, Jesus shall utterly destroy all the power of wicked men and reveal the one true light that shines, that cannot be overcome by darkness.
“We know where this man is from,” they say, and so they are blind. For God the Father is not of this dark earth, and neither is His just Son.
O LORD, you care for those reviled by the world;
make us as the Just One sent by you.
YHWH, the wicked cannot know the origin of your Son for they are blind to you and your holy will. He is sent by you to suffer and die, but the plots of evil hearts shall not succeed, for His life is ever in your hand. From the dead He shall be raised and draw all just souls to you.
Though the Just One suffer torture and humiliation for His purity, for the truth upon His soul; though those whom He reproaches for their sin seek to put Him to a shameful death; it is so, that none of His bones shall be broken, for you, O LORD, are close to the brokenhearted – those who are crushed in spirit you indeed save.
But those who are proud and envious, those who cannot bear the censure of their thoughts, the chastisement of their evil ways… these, O LORD, shall be destroyed even as you draw your just ones whence your Son has come.
Wed, 3 April 2019
O learned man
whose wisdom remained
not only in the mind
but found practice
in the Church of God,
you who read and studied Scripture
not just for its own sake
but that the Word might be implemented
amongst your flock –
pray we too might live
with the Word of God,
that we too might share
the light He would impart
to every soul.
Pray God’s grace
touch our innermost minds,
that the understanding our ear receives
will penetrate to our heart;
and pray, dear shepherd,
that God’s Word permeate
His Church as a whole,
led by servants as learned as you
in the way of love and truth.
Wed, 3 April 2019
(Ex.32:7-14; Ps.106:4,19-23; Jn.5:31-47)
“If you believed Moses you would then believe me,
for it was about me that he wrote.”
As Moses wrote, so Jesus speaks. As Moses wrote, so Jesus is. The eternal life to which the Scriptures testify is now in our midst. The Word has come to life; the Law is now fulfilled. The “form [we] have never seen” now stands before us. The “voice [we] have never heard” now speaks to our ears. But do we “have His word abiding in our hearts”? Do we “believe the one [the Father] has sent”? “The works the Father has given [Jesus] to accomplish” “testify on [His] behalf.” Let us exult in their light.
The Lord “had done great deeds in the land of Egypt,” “wondrous deeds” and “terrible things” in the sight of the Israelites through His servant Moses. But “they forgot the God who had saved them,” “making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it” instead of the living God. They could not wait for the Word to come to them; their hearts were not set on Moses’ return from the mountain with the Law of God. And so, for their lack of faith God “spoke of destroying them.” The fire of wrath the Lord would have “blazed up against them to consume them” – such was the thought of His heart.
But Moses “withstood Him in the breach.” “Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people,” he begs. And so, because of Moses’ intercession, “the Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened on His people” for their lack of faith in Him. And now it is Jesus who stands in the breach made by our sins, preventing now our eternal punishment at the hands of a righteous God. For by all accounts we deserve death for our lack of faith; but in His grace the chasm between us and God He fills by stretching out His arms on the cross.
Brothers and sisters, let us believe in His redemptive sacrifice. Let it never be said of us, “You do not have the love of God in your hearts,” for such a state would mean the end of our days. But God has promised: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.” About this Moses writes, and the words speak of Jesus, He who is our salvation. Let us not forget the One who saves us in His love, “on whom we have set [our] hopes.”
O LORD, as Moses once stood in the breach
to save your people,
now Jesus would return us to your love –
let us listen to Him.
YHWH, help us to believe in your Son and the work of love He accomplishes in our midst; in Him let us recognize your presence. Let us not turn from such true worship of you who are the only God to worship of the image of a grass-eating bullock or any of the images of this adulterous age. Let us have your love in our hearts, set ever upon your Word.
In your Son is eternal life, LORD; in Him all Scripture is fulfilled. Of Him Moses has spoken, of Him you yourself have given testimony – let us have faith in His glory, which comes only from you. Let our hopes be set on the testimony He offers of your presence among us.
O LORD, forgive our wayward hearts and minds, which turn so easily to the vain idols of this anxious world. Punish us not in your wrath but look upon your only Son, who has died for our sins.
Tue, 2 April 2019
(Is. 49:8-15; Ps.145:8-9,13-14,17-18; Jn.5:17-30)
“Just as the Father possesses life in Himself,
so He has granted it to the Son to have life in Himself.”
Here the great mystery of the unity of Father and Son is revealed, and so also our salvation.
God is life. The Father is the great I AM, He who will be what He will be and do what He will do – He who holds the world and all its wonders in His creating Hand. And Jesus is as He is. He shares absolutely in the Life that is the Father. “Speaking of God as His own Father, [He is] thereby making Himself God’s equal.” And this perfect union is most clearly evident in the fact that “the Father has given over to Him power to pass judgment.” For who can judge the soul of man but God, and so, who is Jesus but God Himself?
And this union of Father and Son in the absolute love that gives proof of the Spirit’s presence, and thus completes the Holy Trinity, is the key to our readings today. Thus, though the thrust of the Word is our own salvation from sin and death, this is only effected in the love of the Father for the Son – for it is in our own union with Jesus and in His washing us clean from sin by standing in our place upon the cross that we find union with the Father, that we find the Life to which we all are called… in whom we find our home of love.
The Lord says, “I will cut a road through all my mountains and make my highways level.” Jesus the Son is that road by which the Father “comforts His people and shows mercy to His afflicted” by leading them back to Him, guiding them “beside springs of water” that “they shall not hunger or thirst” but “find pasture” in His arms. For “can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” Greater than any mother’s love is the Lord’s love for us, and this He makes known through His only Son.
Brothers and sisters, “the dead shall hear the voice of God’s Son, and those who have heeded it shall live.” Even now the Lord is “saying to the prisoners: Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves!” Out from the tombs He calls us, for He is “compassionate toward all His works” and desires in His perfect will that all share in His holiness, in His Life. Let us do right in Him, and as His Son we, too, shall live.
O LORD, from the tombs let us come forth
at the sound of your Son’s voice.
YHWH, you are kind and merciful and so you send your only Son to reveal your loving will, to draw all unto you and so to eternal life. Let us heed His voice and so your own; let us thus come to your kingdom.
On your holy mountain let us make our home, dear LORD. Though desolate we may be, seemingly abandoned by you, far from your grace… yet you call us back to you and assure us of your loving kindness in the word and the Person of your Son. You do not forget us; let us not forget the wonders of your love you show us in Jesus.
Your Son shall judge all men’s souls. To Him you have given this power, O LORD. For He is One with you and does only your will, and so His judgment is your own. May we be so united with your will and your judgment in Jesus your Son that we shall ever know your surpassing love and come to dwell with you in Heaven.
Mon, 1 April 2019
O little one,
holy and true,
who wanted no more
than to leave the world
that you might draw closer
but who was followed by the world
and called to teach the world
of the way of holiness
in our blessed Lord –
pray we shall follow His path
of Passion and death,
death to self
and all animosity, all hatred,
finding thereby His peace,
peace in His Spirit
O that we might be sanctified!
our hearts converted to God,
following your example,
which leads to the Cross
and so the resurrection
of our humble Jesus.
Mon, 1 April 2019
(Ez.47:1-9,12; Ps.46:2-3,5-6,8-9; Jn.5:1-3,5-16)
“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.”
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our living water.
In our first reading, Ezekial speaks of his heavenly vision of the river of God which runs from His holy temple. The water, which increases as it flows further from its source, eventually “empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.” Along both banks of the river are trees whose “leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail… for they [are] watered by the flow from the sanctuary.” Their fruit nourishes and their leaves heal.
What is this river and this temple? What is this sea and who are these fruit trees revealed to the eyes of the prophet? Brothers and sisters, that Jesus is the river, the healing water, is made poignantly clear in our gospel. The sick man struggles daily to plunge himself into the healing pool at Bethesda but is never able to find the assistance he needs. When Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed and the man explains his plight, the Lord immediately states: “Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk!” The healing waters have come to him, and he is cured.
Yes, Jesus is the living water, and the cross is as the temple from which His healing blood flows. Upon us all who have prepared the cross and set it in place by our sins – which have made our water undrinkable – His grace pours to make us whole… and so we are the salt sea made fresh. And so the trees on the river’s banks, bearing fresh fruit each of the months, do we become, as we walk in the paths of the twelve apostles… who are first to know His redemptive power, and with whom God becomes “our refuge and our strength.”
“Come! behold the deeds of the Lord, the astounding things He has wrought on earth.” For by the river that flows from His side He has prepared a people and a kingdom. And all shall see what Ezekial sees; all shall know what the prophet is shown – the water of the Lord flows out now to the ends of the world, making all whole and fruitful by His presence.
O LORD, let us be watered
by the flow from your sanctuary,
healed by your only Son
that we might bear fruit as your holy Church.
YHWH, your Son is the healing water that cleanses us of our sins and makes us whole in your sight. The blood flowing from His side is the source of our salvation. May we wash in this river and have our hearts made new that we might bear fruit unto Heaven.
O LORD, may Ezekial’s vision be our own; may we sit with you on the banks of the River in your holy Paradise, where all shall be fed by the fruit of the trees there and healed by the medicine of their leaves. In your Church, founded on the twelve apostles, let us make our home, for there we shall rest in you, there we shall be as the Body of your Son, His blood flowing through our veins.
To newness of life let us come, dear LORD, raised from our sickness by a word from your mouth. Your Temple is with us in your Son who walks among us… May the healing graces He brings forth increase even to the ends of the earth.