The BreadCast (Daily BreadCasts)
Daily Exposition of the Readings of Catholic Mass, from the book 'Our Daily Bread' by James H. Kurt (now with Chanted Verses, and added text of Prayer for the Day). Additional cast - SaintsCast, entries from the book 'Prayers to the Saints' (also by James Kurt). Both books bear imprimatur.

(Dn.13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62;   Ps.23:1-6;   Jn.8:1-11)

 

“Let the man among you who has no sin

be the first to cast a stone at her.”

 

“Then the audience drifted away one by one, beginning with the elders.”  And no one was left to accuse her.

In both our gospel and our first reading a woman is accused of adultery, one justly, the other unjustly.  Yet both are freed.  For under the old law the innocent were to be set free, but under the new, even the guilty.  In the blood of Christ sinners are saved from the fate they deserve; the Lord does not condemn us, and only He has power to do so – for it is always against Him that we sin.

It is curious to note that in both reading and gospel the accused woman is brought before the man against whom she is principally accused of sinning.  In the case of Susanna, it is her husband Joakim to whom the people come with their difficult questions, “because he was the most respected of them all”; and the woman in the gospel is brought before Jesus, the Lord and the bridegroom of us all.  It is only wed to Him that we find salvation, and He does not disappoint the repentant adulteress today.  Nor shall He condemn any of us who stand before Him weeping for our sins against His pure love.

There is a “dark valley” through which we all must walk.  One day we shall all stand before the Judge.  Some will be persecuted only for righteousness’ sake, accused of that which they have not committed; others will stand in the full light of their sin.  But all before Christ might find forgiveness, if they but realize their faults and who it is stands before them.  For the love of God is unimaginable; it is not something we humans can put our fingers upon.  The love of God and the grace and mercy He holds forth will never be deserved by our race.  Yet they are there.  Yet are we washed clean.  Yet the Truth will set us free.

Let no man condemn another; “the angel of God waits” “to receive the sentence from Him” – none of us is able to move His hand.  And so, always we must forgive to find His grace alive in our souls.

 

*******

O LORD, open the gate that we might enter in

and dwell in your presence. 

YHWH, let all hear and heed the voice of your Son, who is the true Shepherd leading repentant souls to salvation.  Send your apostles into every house that all might hear the call of Jesus, be purged in the fire of the Holy Spirit, and come to dwell in your House, beholding your holy face.

Let us be led forth by the Christ to your mountain, O God.  Make us one flock in Him, all as your blessed children.  O let us be as sheep slaughtered for your table, joining your Son on the altar of sacrifice; by His voice let us be cut to the heart and in our repentance become a holy offering to you.

False prophets keep far from us, dear LORD, those who work but for pay, who care nothing for your flock.  In the Spirit send forth disciples to lead to running water those who thirst for you, O living God.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(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.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(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.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(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.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(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.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.65:17-21;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Jn.4:43-54)

 

“You changed my mourning into dancing.”

 

Here in the midst of Lent we find the purpose of all our suffering, the hope to which we all are called.  “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”  And thus does this time of penance and fasting lead to the abundance found in Easter joy.  For what is darkness but the world in which we dwell, and what is the dawn but the coming of Jesus to our hearts, the kingdom of heaven within us?  And even in the midst of this darkness, the light begins to shine.  “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” the Lord says.  And today we hear that reassuring voice speaking to our waiting souls.

In our gospel today we find a marvelous sign of the light that follows the darkness, of the joy that follows sorrow.  A Gentile royal official, a man in darkness for his being apart from the chosen race – and whose darkness is compounded by his position of authority there – comes to the King of the Jews, the Light of God.  In sorrow he mourns the imminent death of his son, and so the darkness is quite complete.  But the man’s son shall not die, and neither shall the Gentile race.  For it is great faith he shows.  Enlightened by the One he seeks, he believes, and so his son is saved by the Son of the Most High, and so he enters the fold of Heaven.  What greater joy could he have hoped to find, for not only is his son “brought… up from the netherworld,” but indeed he (and the race he represents) is “preserved… from among those going down into the pit.”  No greater words of joy could we read than these: “He and his whole household thereupon became believers.”

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has made us to be a people of “rejoicing and happiness.”  He tells us so today through the prophet Isaiah: “I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people a delight.”  This is our destiny; this is our call.  If we must suffer for a time in this land of darkness, in this time of penance, let us be assured of the fullness of joy that comes Easter morning: “No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying.”  Yes, how particularly marvelous it is to hear of this light before us even as we stand in the midst of the darkness; what even greater joy do we feel! 

The Lord conquers all.  He wishes only life for our soul.  And that life is upon us even this day.  At the wedding feast we shall dance: “sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name.”

                                                                                               

*******

O LORD, no sign should we need of your love for us;

only give us new life in you.

YHWH, what sign need we that you love us and desire to save us from the darkness and death that envelop this fallen world?  For your Son has come and walked among us, and so your mercy is now near.  Create your new heavens and your new earth, we pray; remake us in His image.

O LORD, we wish to weep and cry no more; no more would we see our children die or our own lives cut short – let us never be separated from you, never come to the nether world, but let your dawn be upon us and our mourning be driven away.

Let the fever depart from us, Lord GOD, that we might not burn in unholy fire but be redeemed from all our iniquity and enter your presence with rejoicing and happiness, living as you created us, to be a delight in your sight.

Rejoice in Jerusalem, dear LORD, and let all the nations round about find the salvation that is upon your House; let all come to believe in you and praise your Name forever.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Hos.6:1-6;   Ps.51:3-4,18-21,Hos.6:6;   Lk.18:9-14)

 

“As certain as the dawn is His coming,

and His judgment shines forth like the light of day!”

 

It is night.  There is darkness.  In this world of sin we are afflicted on account of our guilt, for our failures to love God.  And so David cries out in our psalm, “Have mercy, O God, in your goodness”; and so the tax collector in our gospel “beat[s] his breast and say[s], ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner’”; and so with all the afflicted, in the words of Hosea, we should “return to the Lord, for it is He who has rent, but He will heal us.”

Brothers and sisters, we must “strive to know the Lord,” for “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth” to cleanse us of our sin and make us fruitful again.  To us the Lord will “be bountiful… by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.”  He will grant us a place for worship and again “be pleased with due sacrifices, burnt offerings, and holocausts.”  Our prayers shall again come before Him.  But if our piety is not to be “like a morning cloud, like the dew that passes early away,” we must come to know and love God.  And the first step to knowing God and showing our desire for His love is the recognition of our own sinfulness before Him, for “he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Yes, brothers and sisters, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.”  “He will revive us after two days; on the third day He will raise us up.”  But first we must die.  We must die to the sinful pride that afflicts our souls and leads us from the light that shines, that awaits all our coming to Him in blessed humility.  For He desires to show us mercy, but mercy we must have.  He longs to bring us light, but light we must seek to find.  His judgment, which is just, must be our desire, and it will come to us and wash us free of all our sin.  And we shall know Him.  And His love shall be our own.  And only light will shine in our souls.

It is night, brothers and sisters.  There is darkness.  Our sins are with us still.  But the Lord is coming: the light is upon us.  Turn to it now, and live.

 

*******

O LORD, show us your grace

that you might rejoice in our return to you.

YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding.  But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love.  We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us.

Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy.  Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain.

So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever.  And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.

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(Hos.14:2-10;   Ps.81:6-11,14,17;   Mk.12:28-34)

 

“Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!”

 

“There is no other than He,” and so what should we do but “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all [our] mind, and with all [our] strength”?  What promise the Lord makes to us if only we would return to Him and love Him: “If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, I would feed them with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”  Indeed, then we would be “not far from the reign of God,” even here on earth.

Brothers and sisters, we “have collapsed through [our] guilt.”  We have had “strange god[s]” among us and said, “‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands.”  Why should we continue so blind?  Why should we continue stumbling as sinners – why do we find the straight paths of the Lord so difficult to walk?  He will “forgive all iniquity” and strengthen us in justice; if we turn to Him, He will “heal [our] defection” and “love [us] freely.”  “In distress you called, and I rescued you,” He says in the words of our psalmist, and His words are true.  Turning away His wrath, He shall become “like the dew for Israel.”  And with His living water to nourish us, we “shall blossom like the lily… blossom like the olive tree.”  We “shall dwell in His shade and raise grain,” our “fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.”  We must but love God and our neighbor, and we shall “bear fruit.”

“Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.”  There is no God in all the world but the Lord, and it is He in whom “the orphan finds compassion.”  Why should you continue in your vain pursuits when love awaits your turning to Him?  What refuge can you find in your false gods?  In them and in your pride you indeed will find yourself orphaned, cut off from the love that only the Father holds.  But He loves the orphan, brother, and so He calls to your soul to return to Him with all your heart.  In this is true wisdom; in Him you will find strength.

 There is no further question when the love of God is known.  When His presence is revealed we fall silent, for nothing can be said in the face of Truth.  Listen, brothers and sisters; but listen – and then do.

 

*******

O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed,

that your inheritance you might share with us. 

YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin.  As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom.  And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation.

There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs.  Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name.

O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice.  Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dt.4:1,5-9;   Ps.147:12-13,15-16,19-20;   Mt.5:17-19)

 

“What great nation has statutes and decrees

that are as just as this whole law?”

 

“He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, His statutes and ordinances to Israel.”  The Lord in His grace “sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His word!”  And as the snow and the rain come down to nourish the land, to bring life to the earth, so His Word is food and life to all who listen to it.  By His Word He “strengthen[s] the bars of [our] gates,” giving us protection against the tribulations of this world, and by it He “bless[es] [our] children within” us, making fruitful all our endeavors.  By fulfilling and teaching His commands, we find life eternal in the kingdom of God; by breaking them and leading others to do so, we court death.

And so why should the Word be withheld from the ears of the flock?  By his silence does not a priest give credence to the breaking of the law?  And then are not the results upon his soul?  Has the devil so blinded his eyes to the truth that he cannot see the life-giving water the Word of God is, that His commands are not burdensome but bring release from labor under the weight of sin?  By withholding such nourishment does he hope to increase his flock?  Oh but it is so hard to open my mouth, you say, so difficult to speak the truth.  Better you die to self now than to find your soul dead to the kingdom of heaven.

Brothers and sisters, it is fulfilling “the smallest letter of the law… the smallest part of the letter,” that brings us to perfection, that brings us to the life that is our God.  Ignorance shall not bring you there.  As Moses instructs of the commands of the Lord, “Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.”  For they are a great gift made known to souls; they are the fountain of life, fulfilled in the flesh of Jesus.  So neither practice them in vain “nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,” for they hold life, and should you lose them, you shall lose the Christ.

Do you desire holiness?  Do you wish to be whole?  Do you long for the presence of God, thirsting for His truth?  Then follow the Word He speaks in your presence today and teach others to do so: Abortion is wrong.  Contraception is wrong.  Euthanasia is wrong.  Premarital sex is wrong.  Love of money and goods is deadly.  We have the word in our Church – our mouths must speak it, or we shall die.  By our Baptism we are all made priests in the sight of God and are called to live and to preach the Word of God.  “What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him” or whenever we come to His table of sacrifice to receive Him?  In love make His Word and presence known.

 

*******

O LORD, though good be repaid with evil,

we shall rise on the third day

if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son. 

YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom.  Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd.

The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son.  A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD.  But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains.  And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants.

Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God.  Save us from the snares of the devil.

Direct download: BC-033011-W_3_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dn.3:25,34-43;   Ps.25:4-9;   Mt.18:21-35)

 

“With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received.”

 

The Lord “guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way,” and so it is the prayer of these He receives; upon them He showers His mercy.  For His mercy is His justice and it is known by those who humbly share the same.

Azariah makes his prayer for mercy for his people Israel who suffer the purgatorial fires of their exile from the Promised Land, even as he himself stands in the quite literal fire of the furnace of the King of Babylon for his faithfulness to the living God.  He begs the Lord: “Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy,” and as he comes humbly and with great faith interceding for others and not himself, and thus exhibiting the mercy he desires of the Lord, he is well protected from the flames by the angel of God.  The Lord’s justice is known to him who “follow[s] [Him] with [his] whole heart.”

And Jesus makes quite clear the great mercy God holds for all who humble themselves before Him – “seventy times seven times,” eternally, He forgives.  His reign is like the king who “wrote off the debt,” though it was “a huge amount,” of his servant who begged His mercy.  For the Lord is “moved with pity” at our contrition for our sins.  But the same forgiveness we must offer to others if we are to prove that His blood runs in our veins.  The master tells his wicked servant: “I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me.  Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?”  And indeed the fires of hell and purgatory await those who break their bond of justice and mercy with the Lord by failing to manifest the same grace that has been revealed to their souls.  We are sinners and must see ourselves so.  The Lord forgives and we must accept His grace.  Others seek our mercy and we must grant it to them.  This is how the kingdom works.  Those who do not follow the Lord’s way of compassion do not enter there.

Brothers and sisters, we must be as Azariah, who “stood up in the fire and prayed aloud.”  For all, we must humbly intercede before our merciful God even in this dark world.  And for the contrition we show for our sins and those of others, the Lord holds an eternal reward.  As our priests, as Peter, as God Himself, let us forgive one another; if we receive one another humbly and mercifully, the Lord will receive us in His grace, in His justice.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight

that we might be saved from our sin

and enter your kingdom.

YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice.  If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed.  But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name.  For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked?  His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice.

There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions.  We desire to be exalted in the sight of others.  Oh if it were but our desire to serve you!  If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom.

O let us listen to you, LORD?  Let us heed your command, your word of instruction.  Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.

Direct download: Bc-032911-Tu_3_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Kgs.5:1-15;   Ps.42:2-3,43:3-4;   Lk.4:24-30)

 

“There is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

 

“There is a prophet in Israel,” brothers and sisters, and this prophet is God.  Jesus Christ has come, salvation from the Jews.  Do you recognize Him?  Will you accept Him?

It is only in “the waters of Israel” that we are made clean.  As wonderful as may be the waters of our native land, it matters not, for it is these alone that are blessed; these alone will make our flesh again “like the flesh of a little child.”  For a little child has come through these waters, has been baptized in this River, and it is His blood which baptizes us all and makes us clean as the flesh of God.

“Bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place,” our souls should sing with our psalmist as they seek “the running waters” of “the living God” that alone will satisfy all our needs.  Oh to “behold the face of God,” to “go in to the altar of God” in “gladness and joy”!  How we should search for His grace and His presence!  Like Naaman who came from a distant land upon the word of a servant girl, so should we obediently seek the grace that comes only from God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.  He is our dwelling place, the Temple of God.

“No prophet gains acceptance in his native place,” Jesus proclaims to those of His hometown.  And His prophecy is true.  For though salvation is from the Jews and they are Jews who serve as its foundation stones, yet the Church shall be constituted greatly by those of other lands.  The Jews who follow Him shall be greatly persecuted by their own, and the Word shall bear fruit to the ends of the world before the eyes of the Chosen shall be opened to the living water, the healing grace, in their midst.

Come in faith, brothers and sisters, to this holy mountain where the Lord does dwell, to find the cleansing of your sins.  Through none else does salvation come; in no one else is the Word made known.  The flesh of God is Jesus alone.

*******

O LORD, let us not turn away

from your Word to our souls

but be compassionate as you. 

YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love.  Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor.  Though we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, though we have rebelled against you and your command, refusing to listen to the Word of truth you utter in our midst, hear our cry for deliverance from the prison into which our sins have cast us.  Save us in your love!

O LORD, if we do not judge we shall not be judged.  If we do not condemn we shall not be condemned.  If we but forgive others their transgressions against us, you will forgive our transgressions against you.  And we shall return to your pasture.

Help us to give, O LORD, to give as you give, to give as your Son gives… to lay down our lives for the sake of others – to seek pardon for their sins.  Jesus stands in the breach to reconcile us to you and one another; may we join Him in His mission of love.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Mic.7:14-15,18-20;   Ps.103:1-4,8-12;   Lk.15:1-3,11-32)

 

“While he was still a long way off,

his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.”

 

“He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”  Amen.  Such is the forgiveness of the Lord, that even while we are far from Him, yet while we are sinners, He sees our hearts turn to Him and welcomes us into His embrace.

We have all “sinned against God,” brothers and sisters.  We are all as the Prodigal Son who has “squandered his money on dissolute living.”  But oh the forgiveness of our God, who “with kindness and compassion” “redeems [our] life from destruction,” who in “pardon[ing] all [our] iniquities” raises us from the death of sin to sit with Him in heaven.  Does not the father in our parable say as much of the sinner? “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life.”  Is it not so that when we were still sinners Jesus died for us, to raise us with Himself to new life?

“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” the prophet Micah asks in our first reading, wondering at the infinite grace of our Father.  “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear Him,” sings David in our psalm.  And so, how joyous we should be, how our souls should “bless the Lord… and forget not all His benefits.”  For indeed, “not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.”  Rather, even though we deserve damnation, even though the most we could hope for is to be treated as one of His hired hands, yet does He remember His love for us.  Beyond all human reason, He graces us with “the finest robe” and calls us in to “eat and celebrate” at the heavenly banquet, where there shall be “music and dancing” to the Name of our God, where all the gifts of the Spirit poured forth through the blood of Christ are ours as we become one with the Father, as we return to Him “in good health.”  Is there anything more remarkable?

And let us not sin as the elder brother.  Let us not begrudge God, the loving Father, His infinite generosity to all His sons.  Let us not presume to stand in judgment against those the Lord deigns to forgive, but share His forgiveness and His grace toward all.  Then truly the father’s words to the elder son (which are a noticeably kind word to the Pharisees, whom this son represents) will be our own: “You are with me always, and everything I have is yours.”  Let us know the truth of this, God’s will for all our souls, and accept the gracious forgiveness which brings us to it as we come “to [our] senses” and turn to Him with all our hearts this day.  He is calling us home. 

 

*******

O LORD, show us your grace

that you might rejoice in our return to you. 

YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding.  But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love.  We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us.

Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy.  Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain.

So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever.  And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.37:3-4,12-13,17-28;   Ps.105:5,16-21;   Mt.21:33-43,45-46)

“They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.”

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone of the structure.”  Hear what Scripture says.  As he who was “sold as a slave” by his brothers became “lord of [the king’s] house and ruler of all his possessions,” so He whom the elders of the people could call “our brother, our own flesh,” whom they “seized… dragged… outside the vineyard, and killed,” has become the very foundation of the New Jerusalem.

How parallel are our first reading and gospel today.  Jacob, Israel, sends the son he loves best, he who is “the child of his old age,” to the brothers who are tending their father’s flock, to bring them food to nourish them in their labor.  The Father in heaven sends Jesus, His beloved Son – who is Child of His old age both in His existing with Him before time and in His coming here at the end of the age to His brothers – to those whom He has entrusted the care of His vineyard, through whom He feeds all the people, with the greatest of nourishment to sustain them unto heaven itself.  For their jealousy over the favor granted their brother, Israel’s sons strip Joseph of his long and princely tunic and cast him into a cistern “which was empty and dry” as their souls.  Out of the same jealousy and in the desire for His inheritance, the chief priests and Pharisees will soon arrest the Lord and see that He is stripped and nailed to a cross.

And, brothers and sisters, the outcome of each story shall be the same.  As his brothers must come on their knees to their brother to find grain to keep themselves from dying of famine on the parched earth once Joseph has taken his place as ruler of the king’s possessions, so the elders of the people and all of us who bear responsibility for the death of Christ by our continual sins against Him shall have to come on our knees before Him who sits on the throne of heaven robed in glory, to find nourishment for our journey here in His sacred Body and Blood, and to find a place at table in the kingdom to come.

There is much to be pondered in the rejection of Jesus, as is so with the betrayal of Joseph.  It is not only the Pharisees – who answer so well the Lord’s question regarding the fate of the tenant farmers, yet have not the faith to match the words God puts on their lips – who must look inside themselves and recognize their anger and jealousy and greed.  The Lord invites each of his brothers to examine his conscience this day, in this time.  In particular, are we showing ourselves to be the nation the Lord has given the kingdom of God?  Do we “yield a rich harvest” for Him who was sold for thirty pieces of silver?  Or have our souls gone bankrupt?  May from us the Lord “obtain His share of the grapes.”

*******

O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed,

that your inheritance you might share with us. 

YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin.  As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom.  And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation.

There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs.  Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name.

O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice.  Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jer.17:5-10;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;   Lk.16:19-31)

 

“He is like a tree planted beside the waters,

that stretches out its roots to the stream.”

 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”  For he shall be like the tree “that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.”  He shall never be “like a barren bush in the desert” or “like chaff which the wind drives away.”  Never shall he know the “place of torment,” for “the heat when it comes” shall do him no harm.  This man “follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners,” but rather “meditates on [God’s] law day and night.”  His faith and his hope are the roots that stretch out to the living water of the living God who nourishes all by His Word and in His flesh.

Brothers and sisters, we must never “trust in human beings” as do the Pharisees, or be as the rich man who “seeks his strength in flesh,” “dressed in purple and linen and feast[ing] splendidly every day.”  This earth itself holds not our food.  Notice that it is to the Pharisees Jesus addresses His parable in our gospel today.  How closely the rich man parallels these leaders of the people.  The bounty of God’s wisdom is bestowed upon them, but they use it to feed their bellies rather than to shepherd those in need.  They claim Abraham as their father and the Law of Moses as their guide, but they neither have the faith that makes Abraham the father of all, nor do they follow the instructions Moses conveys.  Only in the flesh are they Abraham’s sons; and though they see him from the hell to which they come, they cannot touch him, they cannot reach past him to the Father in heaven, who gives Abraham his blessing.  Dwelling but in their “father’s house” as the rich man who gorged himself on the pleasures of the flesh, they come not to the Father’s House on high, for their roots penetrate not to the living water that is found in faith, and now Lazarus cannot even “dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh [their] tongue.”  Dead as the stone upon which the commandments were written do they become. 

Notice, too, brothers and sisters, the connection between thoughts and actions, between faith and works, between the word and the flesh in our first reading, and present throughout Scripture: “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”  Only the Lord, who is Himself the living water, knows if His Word of life dwells in a man, and that faithful spirit is reflected directly in the just man’s deeds – for by these the Lord judges.  And Jesus is the just man; He is the Word made flesh in whom the Spirit dwells, in whom all find life.  He is the undying tree, one with the Father, whom all must imitate.  His words are living water; His flesh is food we eat: He alone is perfect in word and deed, for in Him spirit and flesh meet.  Let our hearts be set on Him, and we, too, shall be blessed; and we shall know that He is risen from the dead. 

 

*******

O LORD, let us be saved from torment

by walking in the way of your risen Son. 

YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the passing things of this earth – we shall but die if we fat our bellies and become bereft of your Spirit.

Jesus let us follow, LORD, for upon your will alone He set Himself.  Your Word let us meditate upon both night and day that we shall remain in your presence always and walk ever in your ways.  You reward the faithful soul with the blessings of your House but can only cast the wicked man far from your table of grace.

Let us not be rich in the things of this world nor turn our sights to what is evil.  Upon your love let us set our sights, that our hearts might be purged of all insolence, of all sin against your goodness.  And let us reach out a helping hand to those in need of your water, that all might have life this day in the Holy Spirit.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jer.18:18-20;   Ps.31:5-6,14-17;   Mt.20:17-28)

 

“Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?”

 

Do you know what He asks, brothers and sisters?  And do you know where it leads?

In our gospel today, Jesus is very deliberate in His instruction to His apostles.  As He starts out “to go up to Jerusalem,” where the chief priests and scribes “will condemn Him to death” and the Romans crucify Him, He takes “the Twelve aside on the road” to speak clearly to them of the fate which awaits Him.  (So objective are His words that He refers to Himself in the third person.)  Of course, the apostles are yet far from understanding His message, as shown by their soon dissembling into jealous indignation regarding the question of the power and importance of each.  And the Lord must teach them again that He has come “to give His own life as a ransom for many”; He “has come, not to be served by others, but to serve,” and that those who “aspire to [the] greatness” that is His must necessarily “serve the needs of all.”

We know that Peter is the first among equals “for whom it has been reserved by [the] Father,” as the Lord has indicated earlier, and not James or John – though both of these shall have prominent place in drinking of the cup of Christ: James as the first apostle martyred and John, the beloved, whose martyrdom shall be white, coming in the endurance of a long life – but all of us who seek to follow Jesus indeed share in the selfsame cross, and so shall receive of the selfsame blessings of Him who is raised up “on the third day.”  All are called to drink of the cup of suffering and service in Jesus’ stead.  We must be clear on this essential point of faith.

And does not Jeremiah’s persecution at the hands of the citizens of Jerusalem show that the cross of Christ extends even to the time before He had come in the flesh?  Do not the words spoken against the prophet: “Let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word,” echo exactly the plottings of the Pharisees against Jesus, whom they repeatedly sought to entrap?  And all this though He does “speak in their behalf, to turn away [the Father’s] wrath from them.”  And David in our psalm chants the same refrain: “They consult together against me, plotting to take my life.”

Brothers and sisters, as it was for David and Jeremiah and Jesus, following in the ways of the Lord will bring us persecution.  You may well ask, Must good be repaid with evil? but the Lord will answer, “Let it be for now.”  For “from the clutches of [our] enemies and [our] persecutors” He rescues those who trust in Him.  Take heart that the humbled shall be exalted as you drink deeply of His cup. 

*******

O LORD, though good be repaid with evil,

we shall rise on the third day

if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son.

YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom.  Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd.

The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son.  A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD.  But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains.  And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants.

Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God.  Save us from the snares of the devil.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.1:10,16-20;   Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23;   Mt.23:1-12)

 

“To him that goes the right way

I will show the salvation of God.”

 

“Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.”  For it is only following in the way of the Lord we shall be saved; for mere words, vain pretense, the Lord has no patience.

Indeed it is so, what Isaiah proclaims: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.”  Forgiveness is offered forth generously by the Lord to the nation that goes astray.  But we must be “willing, and obey” the word “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  If we “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” our backs, if we but “recite [His] statutes” as the Pharisees whose “works are performed to be seen,” whose mouths profess the covenant but whose deeds are far from Him, how is it we shall find salvation?  For the Lord is not blind and deaf as we to the heart of man; and unlike our own, His word is true, and His command must be followed – we must serve Him and our neighbor.  We must humble ourselves in His sight if we hope to be exalted to His kingdom.

“Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”  Over and over we hear from the mouth of the prophet and the psalmist and the Son Himself – the Lord has compassion on the poor and lowly, and we must do as He calls… we must be His arms and legs in this world.  Unlike the Pharisees who “will not lift a finger” to carry even the lightest burden, whose “deeds are few,” we must take up the full weight of the cross.  It is not “places of honor” and “marks of respect in public” for which we hunger; but when we teach and as we serve, our hearts must be set on the salvation of souls, which can only be accomplished by living the way of the Messiah, by following His example.

What has Jesus not done for us?  What teaching has He left lacking flesh and blood?  And so, rightly is He called “Rabbi”; and so, truly is He the only Son of the one Father in heaven.  Brothers and sisters, we must go the way He leads – we must follow the humble path to the kingdom.  In this our sins shall become “white as wool,” washed in the blood of the Lamb.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight

that we might be saved from our sin

and enter your kingdom. 

YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice.  If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed.  But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name.  For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked?  His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice.

There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions.  We desire to be exalted in the sight of others.  Oh if it were but our desire to serve you!  If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom.

O let us listen to you, LORD?  Let us heed your command, your word of instruction.  Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.

Direct download: BC-032211-Tu_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dn.9:4-10;   Ps.79:8-9,11,13,103:10;   Lk.6:36-38)

“Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.”

It is a cry for forgiveness our psalmist makes to our compassionate God.  “Remember not against us the iniquities of the past,” he begs, seeking release from sin’s prison for himself and his people.  And Daniel does the same; acknowledging with full throat the sins of Judah and all Israel, he seeks the merciful hand of the Lord upon the people, interceding in their stead.  Though he himself is an upright man, he cries out, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil,” praying thus for the rebellious nation which has been scattered to “all countries” for their failure to heed the command of the Lord.

Well do our Old Testament figures embody Jesus’ teaching in our gospel, summed up simply: “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.”  For they “do not judge” or “condemn” those individuals primarily responsible for the apostasy and so the destruction of the kingdom and the covenant, but rather seek earnestly to heal the rift that has come by giving generously of themselves and their love for God and others, in Christlike fashion standing in the breach.  And so they earn the titles of prophet and psalmist of God; and so they foreshadow the heavenly compassion Jesus calls all His followers to pour forth in His name.  (And so we can be assured their compassion has been “measured back” to them by the Lord.)

Jesus on the cross dies for the sins of all people, and this is His central call to all our souls: to imitate Him is our blessed goal.  For insofar as we die for God and others, insofar as we lay down our lives in His truth, thus far we shall find His “compassion quickly come to us” and so live in the heavenly glory which is now His place.  To us all He calls this day to pardon and forgive, for in doing so we shall find the reconciliation of the Lord even with our enemies, and secure for ourselves a room in His heavenly home.

He who knew no sin was made sin for our sake.  He has humbled Himself to carry the sins of the nation…  Let us, brothers and sisters, die with Christ on the cross, that all sin might be taken away in His Name.

*******

O LORD, let us not turn away

from your Word to our souls

but be compassionate as you.

YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love.  Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor.  Though we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, though we have rebelled against you and your command, refusing to listen to the Word of truth you utter in our midst, hear our cry for deliverance from the prison into which our sins have cast us.  Save us in your love!

O LORD, if we do not judge we shall not be judged.  If we do not condemn we shall not be condemned.  If we but forgive others their transgressions against us, you will forgive our transgressions against you.  And we shall return to your pasture.

Help us to give, O LORD, to give as you give, to give as your Son gives… to lay down our lives for the sake of others – to seek pardon for their sins.  Jesus stands in the breach to reconcile us to you and one another; may we join Him in His mission of love.

Direct download: BC-032111-M_2_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dt.26:16-19;   Ps.119:1-2,4-5,7-8;   Mt.5:43-48)

 

“You will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God.”

 

The promise made to the Israelites through Moses is also a command, and is fulfilled in the command of Jesus.

In our first reading Moses tells the people the Lord will raise them “high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations,” but makes it clear that this shall be so only as long as they “walk in His ways and observe His statutes, commandments, and decrees” – only if they “hearken to His voice.”  For His law is as food to the body and light to the mind and must be observed carefully, “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul,” to maintain the presence of God in our lives.  If “He is to be [our] God,” we must do as He commands.

Thus our psalmist sings of the happiness of those “who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart.”  Thus does he cry out in longing, “Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!” for he knows in them is life.  To “walk in the way of the Lord” is his joy.

And that joy is made complete, our life is made whole, by the new command of love Jesus imparts to our soul.  The Lord fulfills the Law of Moses, which gave light to the people, by commanding us not to love only our “countryman” but all: “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.”  Here is His challenge for us to “prove that [we] are sons of our heavenly Father,” to love as He loves, to know the greatness of His glory, therefore, in our very lives.  If the psalmist cried out in such joy at the blessing found in following the Law of Moses, what indescribable joy is ours when we follow Jesus’ words.  What greater call can we have than to “be made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”?  What greater merit and blessing could there be?  None.  For He is Life itself, and here we are called to live with Him.

“His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust.”  Nothing dims God’s holy light or stems the blessings He showers upon all.  In absolute light, in absolute love, the Father dwells, in the heavenly kingdom; and if we can love as He loves, as Jesus has loved, we shall know such blessing.  Love even those who hate you and you will be as the Father, who knows only love, and you will become sacred to Him – you will be saints in His kingdom.

*******

O LORD, if we follow your way with our whole heart,

we shall come to where you are, in Heaven.

YHWH, what can we be but blessed if we heed your commands and walk in your way, for then we will be like you, who are most blessed of all?  O to be a people sacred to you!  O to love as you love!

What greater blessing can we know, O LORD, than to love as you love, to love all, even our enemies?  What blessing it would be to know such absolute love, to live such absolute love – then we would be living with you; then we would be living in you.  You shine like the sun upon all creatures…  Let us live in your light this day.

Your Word is light to us, LORD; your commands are truth.  And by them you would lead us to all truth, to all love – by them you would lead us to yourself.  And your greatest command is to love our enemies, a command your Son embodies.  Let us join with Him in keeping this Word and so live in your heavenly presence.

Direct download: BC-031911-Sa_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Ez.18:21-28;   Ps.130:1-8;   Mt.5:20-26)

 

“Settle with your opponent while on your way to court with him.”

 

We are all on our way to court, brothers and sisters.  The judgment of the Lord awaits us all on the Last Day, and the Last Day is upon us here at the end of the age.  There is no time to lose; we must be “reconciled with [our] brother”; we must turn from sin today and find the Lord’s grace.  “With the Lord is kindness and plenteous redemption; and He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities” – but “out of the depths” we must cry to Him “in supplication” to find His blessed forgiveness; and from sinful paths we must turn our feet to know His salvation.

“If a wicked man, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.”  It is a great promise that comes to us through the prophet Ezekial, that none of our crimes shall be remembered by God when we return to Him.  For the Lord does not “derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked,” He “rather rejoice[s] when he turns from his evil way that he may live”; for the Lord wishes life for us all, wishes Himself, who is Life, for every soul, and gives it freely, and quite naturally, when we follow His ways.

It is really rather simple: as when a wicked man turns to good things he is no longer wicked but good and so lives in the Lord, so “when a virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.”  Evil brings death, and righteousness and justice (goodness) brings life.  The Lord desires life for us all and so He calls us to repentance, to repentance from even what might seem to our minds the smallest of sins – for so greatly does He wish life for us.  And clearly does He know that which we cannot see, that death holds sway over us by every sin on our soul.

Let us avoid the fires of hell and the pains of purgatory, brothers and sisters.  Let us call out to the Lord this day and find His “plenteous redemption” even as we turn from our sins.  And there shall be no prison into which we are thrown, as we forgive one another, and the Lord forgives us, our sins.

*******

O LORD, let us be released from all bondage to sin

that we might walk with you in righteousness

and so find life.

YHWH, forgiveness is with you, for it is your great desire to see us turn from our sin that you might have mercy on our souls.  And if we do so, if we leave behind our wickedness – even our wicked thoughts and words – we shall find your goodness; you shall gather us into your arms.  For then we shall be of goodness itself, and so, united with you.

But turning from the right path, what can we find but death in our separation from you, LORD?  What can we know but condemnation in leaving you behind?  For then you will not be with us, and without you there is no life.

O LORD, you are generous in redeeming us from all our iniquities.  Let us follow your way as your Son does call, purging all hatred from our lives.  Help us to be perfect as you are perfect – in love, in forgiveness, in grace… and we shall thus enter your kingdom, where only perfection exists.  No evil in our hearts let us desire; cast all iniquity from us this day as we love even our enemy.

Direct download: BC-031811-F_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Est.C:12,14-16,23-25;   Ps.138:1-3,7-8;   Mt.7:7-12)

 

“My Lord, our King, you alone are God.

Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.”

 

In our gospel we have today a few of our Lord’s most famous words: “Ask, and you will receive.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Jesus encourages us to faithfulness in prayer, assuring all that our “heavenly Father [will] give good things to anyone who asks Him.”  How beautiful are His words, and how true.

And how well Queen Esther illustrates the faithful prayer of one who has “recourse to the Lord.”  She comes to the Lord in all humility as an obedient child before her father and opens her heart before God with a sincere plea for her fellow Jews, threatened with extinction by the enemy.  She says of her forefathers, proclaiming herself a daughter of Abraham, “You fulfilled all your promises to them,” and comes now seeking the same answer from the “King of gods and Ruler of every power.”  Such prayer for salvation before the God she recognizes “know[s] all things” cannot but be answered by the loving Father.  He will give her the food she desires.

In our psalm we hear David’s song of thanksgiving for the prayers the Lord has been faithful in answering for him: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth,” thus proving the truth of Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples, and indicating that Esther will also find answer to her prayer – and so, that we all should have assurance of God’s loving desire to heed all our sincere pleas.  David, too, acknowledges the greatness of God: “You have made great above all things your name and your promise,” and so comes to the place where the “kindness and [the] truth” of the Lord will be known to him.  And his faith in the Lord’s promise to be with him and hear him lasts for perpetuity: “The Lord will complete what He has done for me.”

Praise the Lord, who answers all prayers.  Praise the loving God who knows all things.  It is in His heart to feed us with the best of wheat, and this He does each day for those who “worship at [His] holy temple and give thanks to [His] name.”  “Forsake not the work of your hands,” dear Lord.  Be with us always to hear our humble prayers, that we might witness always your loving faithfulness to all who call upon you in truth.

 

*******

O LORD, forsake us not, for we are your children

and have no one but you to help us;

thank you for your mercy. 

YHWH, you readily give good things to those who ask them of you, for it is your will to give what is good to all.  You are goodness itself and would share yourself with all your children if they but desired your presence in their lives.  Let us turn to you and call upon your Name with faith that you hear all our prayers.

We need but seek you, LORD, and your hand at work in our days.  We need but a tiny seed of faith, and you will nourish us with your Word and see that we are protected from our enemies and have all we need to live forever with you.  In your kingdom we shall find our home if we but knock upon its door.

Your Name let us ever praise, O LORD our God, and we shall remain in your truth, and we shall remain in your light, ever growing unto your heavenly presence.  We would need fear nothing at all if we but trusted in you and the love you hold for all your people.  Your kindness be upon us this day as we raise our hearts to you.

Direct download: BC-031711-Th_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jon.3:1-10;   Ps.51:3-4,12-13,18-19;   Lk.11:29-32)

 

“At the preaching of Jonah they reformed.”

 

Let us learn from the people of Ninevah, who heeded the message of repentance given Jonah.  At Jonah’s cry they “believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.”  Even the king “laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” in hopes of averting the destruction he knew God held in hand for his wayward city.  He decrees that “every man shall turn from his evil way” and “call loudly to God.”  Such utter repentance!  Such turning from sin!  And this from a pagan king and a pagan nation.

If Ninevah has so believed in God, if it has so recognized its sin before Him and turned so dramatically back to Him, pleading for His mercy, what should we not do, brothers and sisters, in this time of Lent set aside for the cleansing of our sins, we who have Jesus’ preaching now ringing in our ears and calling to our hearts?  Indeed, we must again and continually cry out to God with David for His mercy to come upon us.  Ever with “a contrite and humbled heart” we must sit before Him recognizing our sin.  For always our sin is with us, however much we might be ignorant of our guilt as we live our lives in vain.  “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me,” must be our eternal plea, for we are in continual danger of going away from Him.

Let us not be afraid to humble ourselves before God and man.  Let us seek nothing else but the wisdom of Christ, the call of the cross to our souls.  In humility, in sackcloth and ashes, let us prostrate ourselves before the true king who will come at the judgment to discern the worth of all souls.  Perhaps He will have mercy.  Perhaps He will “withhold His blazing wrath.”  Perhaps the punishment we deserve He may avert and “we shall not perish.”  Upon the soul He finds His cross inscribed, He shall take pity, my friends.

O Lord, we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight.  In your infinite mercy look upon our broken hearts, and help us to reform our lives.  For you alone are God.

*******

O LORD, your Son is greater than any prophet or king;

let us listen to Him as He calls us to repentance.

YHWH, let us be humble before you and your Word.  Let us repent at the preaching of your holy ones.  May your Son be a sign for us that we shall not forget – you are calling us to your kingdom, and to find our way there we must turn away from all sin.

O LORD, let us not fail to take this time to reform our lives; let us not be deaf and blind to the grace you offer forth to all men.  May we know true contrition for the wrongs we have done – O let our hearts be circumcised!  You desire to forgive us, if we would but leave off our evil ways.

We shall all indeed be destroyed if we do not heed your saving Word.  May your prophets cry out the message of the Gospel, and may all your holy ones cover themselves in sackcloth and sit in the ashes… may all fast from the poisonous food this world offers.  Then our spirits shall be renewed.  Then no judgment will come upon us.  Then we shall live forever with you.

Direct download: BC-031611-W_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.55:10-11;   Ps.34:4-7,16-19;   Mt.6:7-15)

 

“Give us today our daily bread.”

 

Our daily bread comes from the mouth of God; it is His Word that nourishes us.  His Word “water[s] the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats.”  By His Word our spiritual lives are anointed with holiness; the breath of His mouth makes us whole, and so we become fruitful in His Name.

Yes, we are sharers in His Word; it is His Word the just speak in their time of need.  “Crushed in spirit” before Him like holy seed, their cry comes to His ears and the rain He sends upon them saves them from all sin, “deliver[s] [them] from all fears.”  Jesus, the Word made flesh, is true, and His words are true: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”; and so the Father is quick to hear when we enter into His Word and call upon His Name in all humility.  It is this humility which makes us fertile earth, this trust in His will that lifts our faces toward His light, that we “may not blush with shame.”  “Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy,” O sinner.  “Glorify the Lord” and “extol His name,” for with you He shares His Spirit; in you He plants the Word that grows to eternal life.

Father in heaven, you alone are holy, and your Name is life to us.  Let “your kingdom come,” let “your will be done,” for apart from you we wither and die.  Make our earth your heaven; bring to us all the blessings you know we need to live ever in your light.  Feed us with your bread, feed us with your Word – your Son is all the food we need.  And for all “the wrong we have done,” as He has taught us, let us find our forgiveness by releasing from all bondage those who have done wrong to us, by loving our enemies.  In the end we pray, O Lord, that temptation be taken from our path; though we treasure your chastising Hand, let us not falter anymore – “deliver us from the evil one” who lurks in this world seeking the ruin of our souls.

O Lord, our lives are in your hands.  Our hearts are given life by you.  In our prayer let us not imitate the vain words of the pagans, but let us join in the Spirit with your Son and become one in the Word with you.  (Help me to remember your Name.)

 

(I witness here that however many times I speak the Lord’s Prayer, as however many times I attend Holy Mass, by the grace that comes through the Spirit, it is ever new and alive with the blessings that come from above.  These words are a gift to us we must cherish in our souls.)

 

*******

O LORD, may the grace of your forgiveness

flow upon us and through us

and so bear the fruit of salvation. 

YHWH, your Word be upon us to bless us and nourish us this day that our words might be fruitful as your own.  With your Son and by the words He has instructed us to pray, let us come to you and find your presence upon us, saving us from sin and leading us to your kingdom.  From the grasp of the evil one let us be released as we call upon your Name.

How shall we be fed this day, O LORD, if not by your hand, if not by the Spirit you send forth from your holy throne?  From on high you shower down upon us cleansing rain that we might be made whole and fruitful in your sight, that we might be as your Son on this earth, bringing your kingdom to bear on this plane.  O let us be as your sons and daughters, shining your light in this dark place!

Hear us as we call to you, LORD.  Deliver us from all distress and affliction.  Let our poor souls be blessed by you that we might ever praise your holy Name.  O Father in Heaven, let us be with you this day.

Direct download: BC-031511-Tu_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Lv.19:1-2,11-18;   Ps.19:8-10,15,Jn.6:63;   Mt.25:31-46)

 

“As often as you did it for one of my least brothers,

you did it for me.”

 

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Such is the golden rule and the second of the greatest commandments, which is like unto the first: Love God.  And the union of the two is made evident by Jesus in our gospel today; He makes clear that what we do to others we do to Him, and so to love God and neighbor become one and the same.  So tied is the Lord to His creation by the incarnation of His Son.

And how blessed are all His commands to us, all of which are summed up in love, and all of which give us life.  “Refreshing the soul… giving wisdom to the simple… rejoicing the heart… enlightening the eye… enduring forever” – such is the Word of God to the obedient soul.  All He speaks is just and all He speaks is holy and brings life, for all He speaks is of the Spirit of love.  And of that Spirit we must be, if we hope to attain to eternal life where He sits in glory.

“Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer,” is David’s prayer after extolling the virtues of the law of the Lord in his psalm today.  And such should be our prayer.  For if our hearts are set upon Him, and if our mouths speak truth, we can be assured that our actions will follow and we will please the Lord in all we do.  For being of the Lord, we can only feed the hungry; seeking His will, we can only welcome Him and all His children into our lives.  If we are founded upon this Rock, all will find in us the love of God.

For He is love, brothers and sisters, and all He asks of us is love.  Love does “not steal.”  Love does “not lie.”  Love does “not defraud” or “curse the deaf” or “act dishonestly” in any way.  In a word, if you are of love as He is love, “you shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.”  And all are our brothers, even the least of these; the Lord has made this known.  All are our neighbor and so none can “stand by idly when [his] neighbor’s life is at stake.”  All are called by love to lend their hand, His hand, to others in need.  For then we help Him.

Would we not help the Lord if we saw Him wanting?  Is it not our desire to ease His pain?  We have opportunity ever to do this in those around us.  When we do, we fulfill His command and find life for our souls, for then we are holy as He. 

*******

O LORD, may your Word bring us to everlasting life;

let us be obedient to your call to compassion.

YHWH, let your Word be upon us that it might reprove us, that it might teach us and guide us in the way we should go… that it might refresh our souls.  We know not the way we should walk but tend toward selfishness and sin.  Speak to our hearts this day that our eyes might be opened and we be corrected and come to be holy like you.

Your Son tells us in no uncertain terms that condemnation awaits those who hate their brother, who turn their backs on their fellow man.  He lets us know that in doing so we turn our backs on you, O LORD.  And thus spurning your love and the practice of that love in our lives, what can we be but separated from you who are love and life?

But the righteous shall be blessed.  This He tells us, too.  If our hearts are set on fulfilling your commands and especially your command to love (which is all you command), then with you we shall ever dwell in eternal light and life.  May all men listen to your Son and live as He does.

Direct download: BC-031411-M_1_L.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.58:9-14;   Ps.86:1-6,11;   Lk.5:27-32)

 

“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,

“restorer of ruined homesteads.”

 

“Levi gave a great reception for Jesus in his house,” but it is Jesus who invites him, and all sinners, “to a change of heart” and to join Him in the home He makes for us all in heaven.  As Levi (or Matthew) has done, so must we all: we must leave our “customs post,” that which roots us to this world – we must stand up and follow Him.

“You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.”  David makes his prayer in our psalm, coming to the Lord as one “afflicted and poor,” begging the Lord’s pity upon his soul.  And there is confidence that his cry is answered, that his soul is gladdened; for the promise has been made through Isaiah that “He will renew [our] strength,” that we “shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.”  All that He has broken down in His anger against us and against our sins shall be raised up again: “The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up.”  As we turn to Him and “call the sabbath a delight… not following [our] ways, seeking [our] own interests, or speaking with malice,” we shall indeed “delight in the Lord” and in His inheritance; He shall indeed “nourish [us] with the heritage of Jacob” – the food He gives us will far surpass the bread upon the table at Levi’s banquet.  For it is upon His own Body we shall feed, and so find ourselves renewed in spirit and strengthened for the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord comes to invite all “sick people” to His healing grace.  All who turn from their sins shall be acceptable to Him.  And in His House they shall find a place, and be nourished well.  “Even on the parched land” they shall find the water of life, for His grace extends to all places and all peoples.  And with the bread we bestow on the hungry we ourselves shall be fed, for by this labor we shall unite with Him.  “The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Let us find the mercy His words desire for us.

 

*******

O LORD, help us to recognize our sin

and call upon you for healing,

that your House might be rebuilt. 

YHWH, teach us to turn from our sin, from following our own ways, that we might follow your Son where He leads, that we might come to Him for healing this day.  Let us come into your light and there remain.

You will renew us, LORD, if we do well, for it is your desire to share your mercy with us and make us as your own again.  Though in ruins our lives stand, though all seem lost because of our sin, when we call out to you, you hear us and gladden our souls with your refreshing love.

When Jesus comes to us, O LORD – as He shall come to all to heal us of all illness – when He stands before us and invites us to follow Him, may we be as Matthew and leave all of this world behind and set our hearts on obedience to His voice.  May we invite Him in to the table of our bodies and our souls that He might feed us always with His Word and with the Bread He is, and that we might thus feed others.  O let us be nourished well and be as a watered garden!

Direct download: Saturday_after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.58:1-9;   Ps.51:3-6,18-19;   Mt.9:14-15)

 

“Would that today you might fast

so as to make your voice heard on high!”

 

Brothers and sisters, in this day of fasting and penance, first we must “acknowledge [our] offense” as David in our psalm.  We must cry out to our God: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”  This is our leaven of truth.  “A contrite spirit, a heart contrite and humbled” the Lord cannot resist.  It is this heart the Lord answers; it is prayer of this soul He hears – to this “cry for help… He will say: Here I am!”

“When the day comes that the groom is taken away, then they will fast.”  We “go in mourning” when Jesus is no longer in our midst.  What does this then say of our fast?  For though the Lord may be with us always in the power of the Spirit, yet He is physically taken from us now till the end of time.  Our fast must therefore be a permanent condition all the while we walk this earth.  And so true is this if we understand the Lord’s definition of a fast as revealed in our first reading from Isaiah: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly… sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked… and not turning your back on your own.”  And what sense it makes that this be our fast now that Jesus is gone, for are we not His children here, called to carry out His mission in this world?  Are not these the very things He instructs us to do in His stead for the least of His brothers who suffer now?  On this earth here at the end of the age we should be engaged in fasting always.

And if we pray with a sincere heart, and if we do the will of the Lord in all things, what promise He makes to us: “Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed…  The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”  All we ask shall be given us; all we seek we shall find in Him.  And so, what shall our fasting be for us but pure joy, even as we become one with the Lord our God?

A blessed call is upon us now, one which makes our voices known to Him.  Let us “remove from [our] midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.”  Let us denounce any “quarreling and fighting” that keeps us from Him, and see that His will is done in our lives.  Then indeed He shall hear us; then by this death to sin we shall come to the glory of our God.

 

*******

O LORD, what can we do but fast

now that your Son has been taken from us? –

let us do His work, stand in His stead,

laying down our lives for all in need. 

YHWH, your Son has been taken from us, and so, on this day we fast.  He no longer walks among us, and so we must be as His presence.  We must free the oppressed and feed the hungry, doing the works He did while He was in our midst.  And if we do this, we shall be pleasing in your sight, as He was, and so be blessed.

With a contrite heart let us come to you, O LORD, recognizing our faults and failures to serve you as we ought.  Instead of laying down our lives in humble service of those in need of your Word and your Bread, we have spoken ill of our brother and been oppressors ourselves.  And so, any offering we have made has been in vain.  And so we have but served to separate ourselves from you and your compassion.

O LORD, let us not continue blind to our wickedness but seek each day to convert our hearts to your call to be as your Son and live His way of sacrifice for the sake of others.

Direct download: Fri._after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dt.30:15-20;   Ps.1:1-4,6,39:5;   Lk.9:22-25)

 

“The Lord watches over the way of the just,

but the way of the wicked vanishes.”

 

In our first reading, Moses makes clear the choice we all must face: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.”  “By loving the Lord… heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him,” the Israelites will be blessed with “long life” in the Promised Land; they “will live and grow numerous” by “loving Him and walking in His ways.”  This will be life for them.  “If, however, [they] turn away [their] hearts and will not listen… [they] will certainly perish.”  The promise to them will soon die if they walk “in the way of sinners.”

Life and death.  The blessing and the curse.  The just and the wicked.  To the Israelites the promise that they would be “like a tree planted near running water” if they followed the commandments of the Lord referred quite literally, quite physically, to the blessing of long life and enjoying the fruits of the earth.  It showed itself in the numbers of people in the nation and the land they were given to occupy.  When they were cursed, their kingdom was torn down and the land taken away from them.  They became “like chaff which the wind drives away” when they were forced into exile from the lands of Judah and Israel.

What is the land we must so treasure today, brothers and sisters?  What place are we called to preserve by following in the way of the Lord?  For now he “who gains the whole world” will likely “destroy himself in the process.”  Now our sights, our hopes, can no longer be set on the physical universe.  Jesus has come.  The Son of Man walks in our midst.  And His presence, His flesh, makes the heavenly homeland our desire – it is this which is now our Promised Land.  It is the number born into this kingdom which now causes our hearts to rejoice.  It is this blessing that now comes to him “who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.”

And the Lord makes clear what “the way of the just” now entails.  Our gospel tells us “Jesus said to all” – not just to His disciples, but to all who would find the blessing, would find life – “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.”  And His steps include enduring “many sufferings,” being “put to death” and then being “raised up on the third day.”  Now it is death that leads to life.  Now this world must be left behind.  Now, though we love all – even our enemies – and everything upon it, we must leave the earth we have held so dear.  The command is the same (to renounce all sin and love God), but now the prize is much greater, and so the way there much more narrow.  But the Lord blesses our every step toward Him. 

 

*******

O LORD, let us remain in you and in your Son,

walking the way of His Cross

that we might not lose our souls

but gain the life of Heaven. 

YHWH, may we find not only long life on the land but eternal life in your heavenly kingdom by our turning away from all sin and following your Son on the way of the Cross.  Let us be dead to all the distractions of this wicked world that we might dwell with you alone.

Death comes to the wicked, LORD, death that spells the demise of his soul, of his life in you who are Life itself.  And so, how shall he live anymore if apart from you?  And so, what is his life then worth?  It is indeed like chaff driven away by the wind.

But those who take their refuge in you, who meditate on your Word and the Word that is your Son, these you prosper in all they do, for all they do is in your will and so cannot but receive your blessing, the blessing of your living presence, LORD.

Let us choose this day to live in you and never to turn our backs to your call to love.  Laying down our lives, O LORD, may we be carried by your angels.

Direct download: Thursday_after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.4:1-10;   Ps.55:7-11,23;   Mk.9:30-37) 

“In the city I see violence and strife;

day and night they prowl about upon its walls.”

The violence this world holds is known most poignantly, of course, in “the Son of Man… [being] delivered into the hands of men who… put Him to death,” but exists most pervasively and fundamentally in our own bodies, insofar as they are conformed to the spirit of the world.  For as James asks so pointedly, “Where do the conflicts and disputes among you originate?  Is it not your inner cravings that make war within your members?”  It is indeed the evil desire in our bones, the “envy,” the “love of the world [that] is enmity to God” which causes us to “quarrel and fight,” which is the source of all sin, and so death, and so war.

That “the spirit He has implanted in us tends toward jealousy” is evident even in the apostles, whom we find in today’s gospel “arguing about who was the most important.”  Even these, who have yet to receive the “greater gift” – the Holy Spirit of God who serves to cleanse His children of the evil in them – even these are divided by the cravings that make war in our members.  Even these contribute to the crucifixion of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, if you would “find shelter from the violent storm and the tempest” at work in you and about you, you must “cast your care upon the Lord, and He will support you.”  “Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight.”  “Purify your hearts” of all that is not in conformity with the Spirit of God and you will find safe haven from the violence of this world and the violence of your own hearts.  For “never will He permit the just man to be disturbed.”

And both James and the Lord teach what it is to be just, what it is to excel before God.  If you desire the goodness of the Lord, rend your hearts; “be humbled in the sight of God and He will raise you on high.”  You cannot raise yourself, for you are but dust; and dust you must be if you desire holiness in the presence of the Most High: “If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all,” as is Jesus, the suffering Son crucified for the sins of each of us.

Brothers and sisters, let our hearts be so docile as to welcome His children openly – as His humble children we ourselves must be.  For then we shall welcome Him; for then we shall be sons of the Father, free from sin and so no longer subject to the violence known in the city that is this world of sin.  May our own members and all the members of the Church be cleansed of all strife by the power of the Holy Spirit.

*******

O LORD, help us to be humble before you,

that you might raise us up from our sin.

YHWH, should we not be as children before you?  Is your Son not like a Child, O LORD?  Is He not the humblest of all?  O let us be like Him, and you!

Is there some other image in which we should be made, LORD, than your own?  What of this world should beguile our soul?  To whom should we aspire but our heavenly Father, and how shall we find you except through your Son?  Does He not show us the way by His death on the Cross?

O LORD, let us not be deaf to your speaking to us in His words and actions, for He reveals to us who we must be.  Help us to leave the example of the world behind, to abandon all hatred and jealousy, all the sinful pride and insatiable greed wrought into our fallen nature, and come to you even this day that we might be redeemed by your Son’s sacrifice and our sharing therein.

O help us to be humble, LORD, to find the humility only you know.  With all our hearts let us serve you, and your glory will be ours.

Direct download: BC-022112-Tu_7_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.3:13-18;   Ps.19:8-10,15;   Mk.9:14-29) 

“The command of the Lord is clear,

enlightening the eye.”

What is the wisdom of which James speaks in our first reading but this enlightening of the eye and the mind by following the command of the Lord?  It is the words and the wisdom of Jesus, reflected clearly in the Lord’s own life, James relates to the waiting ear this day.  What does he instruct but to practice “a humility filled with good sense” and to “cultivate peace,” not to “nurse bitter jealousy in [our] hearts” but to “refrain from arrogant and false claims against the truth”?  We must be as “innocent” as the Lamb of God, and as forgiving.  Then we will realize that “the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple,” for “wisdom from above” will then fill us, and lead us by its sacred light.

How clear the command of the Lord is in our gospel, and how powerfully it enlightens the eye.  As He comes down from the mountain where He has been transfigured before His principal apostles, “a large crowd… on catching sight of Jesus” is immediately “overcome with awe.  They [run] up to greet Him.”  Being presented with the boy possessed by a spirit that often “throws him into the fire and into water,” Jesus “reprimanded the unclean spirit by saying to him, ‘Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: Get out of him and never enter him again!’”  And the boy is healed; he is freed from bondage to the devil, and now in his right mind, he can see.

Though perhaps not always so dramatic, every command of the Lord casts out just such darkness which pervades our souls.  Coming in faith before Him as the father who trusts in God and in His Son, the same healing do we know.  Following His words, our eyes and ears are opened, too, and we discover that indeed “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.”  So, brothers and sisters, let us pray with David today: “Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” that we might remain ever in His enduring purity and light.

*******

O LORD, if we but lived lives of prayer in all humility,

never could we be separated from you

and always you would work through us.

YHWH, how shall our words and thoughts match those of your Son, who commands and the devils flee, whose heart is set always on your will… who sacrifices His life for our sakes?  Help our unbelief, our lack of trust in you and in your power, that we might by your grace come to share in that power with Jesus, even as we share in His humility.

How can we live in your perfect innocence, LORD, we who are such a faithless lot, we who lack prayer in our heart?  O how easily we are overcome!  But you are our hope.  You come down from the mountain, from the glory on high, to dwell with the likes of us and save us from the devil’s grasp, which has such a dire hold upon us and upon our children.  Only by the grace of your presence will this generation be saved – leave us not till your work is accomplished.

Teach us, O LORD; give us your wisdom, that your peace might be ever in our souls and we might serve you with all our thoughts and words.  Save us, dear God, from all darkness.

Direct download: BC-022012-M_7_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.2:14-24,26;   Ps.112:1-6;   Mk.8:34-9:1) 

“Faith without works is as dead as a body without breath.”

How dead indeed is a body without breath; how short a time we can go without breathing before dying.  And so how much is our faith dependent on works to remain alive.

Brothers and sisters, we are human, we have bodies – of the earth, of flesh and bone, we are.  We are not angels.  And having bodies we must use what God gave us, what we are: it is in such action we prove the worth of our salt.  We cannot sit by idly while another suffers and call ourselves Christian; we cannot prove our faith other than by actions.  We must work out our call.  We must “take up [our] cross and follow in [Christ’s] steps.”  Sitting by the side of the road will get us nowhere.  Just as Abraham showed His belief in God by taking his son to be sacrificed, so must we move as the Lord calls.

And He calls us to service, He calls us to love.  He calls us to lay down our lives for the sake of others.  And this not just in thoughts or words, but in deeds.  We must be as He who “dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright” and conduct our “affairs with justice.”  If we are ashamed of Jesus and the doctrine of the cross He preaches, if we hide our light under a bushel basket afraid to speak or act in His name, He makes quite clear that He will be “ashamed of [us] when He comes with the holy angels in the Father’s glory.”  Profession of faith alone is not sufficient to enter “the reign of God established in power”; we must practice what is preached.

Was not Jesus of flesh and bone?  Did He not perform great works in our midst?  And does He not still perform great works through us His Church; or are we now angels flying at heaven’s gate?  Flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone we must be, or we are nothing worth.  We eat His body and drink His blood and shoulder His cross to find “the wealth and riches [that] shall be in His house,” that will live eternally.

(It occurs to me that the quote could be reversed to be phrased more literally: “Faith without works is dead as breath without a body,” wandering aimlessly; but it would not get across the dire need for works quite so forcefully.)

*******

O LORD, man and woman are one

and are brought together in your will;

in our covenants let us reflect your mercy

and faithfulness.

YHWH, give us your patience in enduring all things.  You are kind and merciful; let us be like you.  Help us to practice your compassion in our marriages and in all our relationships – let us be ready as you to forgive.  Yes, let all our sins be put far from us.

If we endure with you, O LORD, shall we not be blessed?  If with you we practice patience and kindness when put to the test, will we not share in your reward?  Let us be so joined to you, LORD, that we may indeed be called your Body in this world.

O my LORD, let us never be divorced from love of one another or love of you.  Let our covenants be sure as your own; for you have promised to be with us even till the end of the age, and so, should we abandon one another?  Would this not be an abandonment of you?

Let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, O LORD, and let us therefore live forever in your eternal Word, in the truth and love only you hold.

Direct download: BC-021712-F_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.2:1-9;   Ps.34:2-7;   Mk.8:27-33) 

“You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s!”

This is a most important statement Jesus makes; it really cuts to the heart of His teaching, and to His sacrifice for our sins.

He has just finished asking His apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” and for perhaps the first time heard their belief that He is the Messiah.  This is a critical moment.  But there is no time to sit back and enjoy it, for “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later.”  He knows they will not understand.  He knows they will not hear “rise three days later” but “suffer” and “death” and be appalled that the Son of God should be treated so.  The sacrifice is here beyond their comprehension.  And He knows, too, that Peter does not only speak for all when he declares Jesus the Messiah, but also when he “remonstrates with Him.”  And so the Lord turns around from where Peter had led Him privately, and makes a point of “eyeing the disciples”; for in His reprimand of Peter as “Satan”, He reprimands them all.  Their minds must be utterly changed; they must see things as God – they must look upon heaven and not earth.

James, of course, speaks of the same matter in his discourse condemning favoritism or the judging of others by appearance.  For if we favor the rich man with the gold rings, we are showing our preference for the mark of the beast “who blaspheme[s] that noble name which has made us God’s own.”  If we judge against the faith of the poor in favor of the wealth of the rich and powerful, what are we saying?  That we desire the riches and power of this world and not the treasure God holds in store for us in heaven.  We are indeed “as judges who hand down corrupt decisions,” for we are nothing but false to the faith we profess.

Again we must ask ourselves what our hearts are set upon.  The Lord’s challenge to our souls is severe.  Is it Satan’s realm we prefer, or are we as “the lowly” of whom David sings, who find salvation in glorifying the Lord.  It is a clear choice with which we are presented: to judge as God or to judge with the limited and ultimately deadly vision of man fallen under the sway of Satan.  It is from just such judgment the Lord has come to release the apostles, and all His Church, in His Name.

*******

O LORD, let us not be plunged in the sea

or herded into the nether world,

but let us set our hearts and minds on you

and so find life everlasting.

YHWH, let us be poor, poor in spirit, poor to this world and its deadly passions.  Let us put no hope in the riches that rot, or we shall rot with them.  Let us seek, rather, the riches of your kingdom by giving our poor cup of water for the upbuilding of your Church.

Take from us, LORD, all that keeps us from you.  Let us not steal or walk in the paths of the unrighteous or look with lust upon anything or anyone.  Take hand or foot or eye from us instead; keep us from all sin.  Let our salt not rot, our lives not be worthless, but let us bear fruit in your NAME.

LORD, our God, take especially from us our foolish pride, our belief that we can do anything of ourselves.  O let us not trust in ourselves or in the things of this world but only in you and help rather than hurt the just man you bless in your holy will.  Let all souls be led to your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-021612-Th_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.1:19-27;   Ps.15:1-5;   Mk.8:22-26) 

“Jesus laid hands on his eyes, and he saw perfectly.”

What is it to see perfectly but to be as “the man who peers into freedom’s ideal law and abides by it”?  For to see perfectly is to see as God sees, not looking upon the surface of things – that which is reflected in a mirror – but to see the light of God reflected off the souls of His children.  And not merely to speak of such things, but, as James states so forthrightly, to “act on this word,” to let the Lord’s light take “root in you”… to “humbly welcome the Word,” and then to “put it into practice.”

Does Jesus not put the word of God into practice in our gospel today?  James says we should be  “looking after orphans and widows in their distress,” and Jesus shows this concern for the poor and needy by taking “the blind man’s hand and [leading] him outside the village,” there to anoint his eyes and grant him vision to “see everything clearly.”  With all His life Jesus gives example of how we must put flesh to the word of God, for He Himself is the Word made flesh.  If we have not flesh to the laws we hold, to the teaching we receive, we have not Christ, and our faith is worthless.  “He who walks blamelessly and does justice,” he it is that is acceptable in God’s sight.

“Can you see anything?” Jesus whispers to all of us as He works to illumine our vision.  “Do you know my touch upon your eyes?”  If we see people “like walking trees,” He will touch us again, for He does not tire of serving our needs.  And must we not be the same?  Must we not never harm but always help our “fellow man”?  Must we not be men as Jesus?  He is the mirror in which we see ourselves.

And oh to gaze into His face when we awake!  Oh to even now know His flesh in our bones and His blood flowing through our veins!  Oh to be a Christian!  A Christian!  A man living as Christ…  What joy is ours as He gives light to our eyes and we see ourselves walking with Him!  Let it be so for all eternity.

*******

O LORD, let us be for you,

living perfectly in your will.

YHWH, let us be with you; let us give our lives to you, doing your work in accord with your will and not following the vain path our own desires mark out for us.  Let us be your own; let us be your own, your disciples in this world.

How can we do anything if you do not bless it, LORD?  Where shall we end if apart from you?  For we indeed are as vapor that quickly vanishes, and empty are all our plans.  But with you and in your NAME, miracles we can perform.  Great works we may accomplish if in humility we follow your way; for you are great and all powerful, and we become as you are when we walk with you.

O LORD, we do not know what tomorrow may bring.  Even this day is a mystery to us.  Let us but place this day into your hands, and tomorrow will care for itself in your will.  Let us not die seeking the vain riches of this earth but come to life by your saving grace.

Direct download: BC-021512-W_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.1:12-18;   Ps.94:12-15,18-19;   Mk.8:14-21) 

“He wills to bring us to birth with a word spoken in truth.”

But how deaf we are to His speaking.

The disciples exhibit a remarkable degree of ignorance in our gospel today.  It would be comical were it not so usual, were it not such a defining trait of us humans.  Preoccupied with their forgetfulness to bring bread for their journey, when the Lord mentions the word “yeast” in a chastising instruction, their minds go immediately to the bread they now lack by their negligence.  Able to go no deeper than the surface of the words, and able not to see beyond their immediate concerns, they are as blind to the truth Jesus would teach them as so often we weak humans are.  For those still struggling with the text at hand, Jesus is telling us that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.  Has not the Lord shown this quite directly by feeding the thousands by virtue of a blessing spoken upon a few loaves?

Our hearts should not be set on the bread of this world as are the Pharisees’, whose yeast is a pride in self that rises to condemnation.  It is pride that blinds us and concern for the body that produces ignorance.  “Keep your eyes open!” the Lord commands.  Do not let your minds be darkened by the cares of this world – the body is useless!  It is the spirit that gives life.  Open your hearts to the teaching of the Spirit, the great gift that Jesus imparts.  “Happy the man whom you instruct, O Lord, whom by your law you teach,” our psalmist sings, and so should all blessed to hear the Word of the Lord join his chorus.

James tells us in our first reading that God does not tempt us to sin.  “Rather the tug and lure of his own passion tempts every man”; only “genuine benefit comes from above, descending from the Father of the heavenly luminaries.”  Do we seek His gifts that are worthwhile, or are our hearts fixed on things below?  It may be hard to listen to His Word, to be brought to birth by His truth, but “happy the man who holds out to the end through trial!”  “The crown of life awaits… those who love” the Lord, and He is near to sustain us as we climb.

Brothers and sisters, once the Spirit fell upon the apostles, no longer did they experience such ignorance.  Is not the life-giving Word at work within us this very day?  Then our eyes should be open to His light.

*******

O LORD, help us to be humble before you,

that you might raise us up from our sin.

YHWH, should we not be as children before you?  Is your Son not like a Child, O LORD?  Is He not the humblest of all?  O let us be like Him, and you!

Is there some other image in which we should be made, LORD, than your own?  What of this world should beguile our soul?  To whom should we aspire but our heavenly Father, and how shall we find you except through your Son?  Does He not show us the way by His death on the Cross?

O LORD, let us not be deaf to your speaking to us in His words and actions, for He reveals to us who we must be.  Help us to leave the example of the world behind, to abandon all hatred and jealousy, all the sinful pride and insatiable greed wrought into our fallen nature, and come to you even this day that we might be redeemed by your Son’s sacrifice and our sharing therein.

O help us to be humble, LORD, to find the humility only you know.  With all our hearts let us serve you, and your glory will be ours.

Direct download: BC-021412-Tu_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.1:1-11;   Ps.119:67-68,71-72,75-77;   Mk.8:11-13) 

“Count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial.”

How well James explicates the wisdom of the cross.  First he encourages us to “realize that when [our] faith is tested this makes for endurance,” and then to “let endurance come to its perfection so that [we] may be fully mature and lacking in nothing.”  This is the wisdom of our suffering on earth; this is the blessing of the cross.

It is the same wisdom our psalmist propounds when he sings, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.”  If the Word of the Lord and the promise He offers is “more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” to us, then we must undergo many afflictions to prevent our going astray into the vain things of this world.  For these flowers of the field droop and die under the scorching heat of the sun, but what is of the Lord lasts forever, and thus to join Him we must be trained to endure.

How different is the wisdom found in suffering beneath the cross; how different is this school from the one found in this world.  The exact antithesis is our King to those who rule here in vainglorious power.  For this King preaches death, and dies for us in humble poverty – this would be the shame of the one who finds his teaching in the seeking of riches and fame.  And this is why the Pharisees cannot see Jesus and the sign He is before their eyes.  Their minds are closed to the cross and its wisdom, for their hearts are set on the vain illusions of earthly life.  But He is heavenly and all the sign we need; following in the shadow of His cross will lead us to all our hearts do seek.

Brothers and sisters, be not like the Pharisees, seeking some momentous occurrence to tantalize your eyes.  The Word is within you, it is of you; and shouldering His cross you will find it growing all your life.  Hold the wisdom of the cross, ask it in faith of the generous God who will give all to you, and find the beauty of His way as you are afflicted, and comforted again.  The Lord chastises those whom He loves, and His love is pure joy, while those who would stray He leaves to die, following their sinful ways.  Come to Him and His cross, and live.

*******

O LORD, if we but lived lives of prayer in all humility,

never could we be separated from you

and always you would work through us.

YHWH, how shall our words and thoughts match those of your Son, who commands and the devils flee, whose heart is set always on your will… who sacrifices His life for our sakes?  Help our unbelief, our lack of trust in you and in your power, that we might by your grace come to share in that power with Jesus, even as we share in His humility.

How can we live in your perfect innocence, LORD, we who are such a faithless lot, we who lack prayer in our heart?  O how easily we are overcome!  But you are our hope.  You come down from the mountain, from the glory on high, to dwell with the likes of us and save us from the devil’s grasp, which has such a dire hold upon us and upon our children.  Only by the grace of your presence will this generation be saved – leave us not till your work is accomplished.

Teach us, O LORD; give us your wisdom, that your peace might be ever in our souls and we might serve you with all our thoughts and words.  Save us, dear God, from all darkness.

Direct download: BC-021312-M_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.12:26-32,13:33-34;   Ps.106:4,6-7,19-22;   Mk.8:1-10)

“Whoever desired it was consecrated

and became a priest of the high places.”

For this sin “the house of Jeroboam… was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.”  Not only will their king be so punished, but the whole Israelite nation will find the wrath of the Lord for such idolatrous action.  Not learning from their forefathers, whom the Lord had a mind to wipe entirely from His book of life and the promise He had given Abraham, again “they exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.”  Led by Jeroboam, who from selfish anxiety for the power the Lord had given him made two calves of gold and set them up for the people to worship – by the ministration of priests not chosen by God – they sinned grievously; as Solomon had done, they broke the most essential command to love God above all else.  And this sin will stain the nation for perpetuity and lead in time to their exile.

Only those so ordained by God may serve at His temple.  Only in the place He assigned is sacrifice and worship to be offered.  And only He is to be worshiped and adored.  No man, no king, can take any of this in his own hands.  Trust in God and obedience to His will is necessary.  All must go up to Jerusalem.

It is clear that our gospel today is a foreshadowing of the Mass, wherein Jesus’ Body is the bread we eat.  After teaching the people at length, the Lord desires to share with them food that will nourish them for their journey home.  But the disciples had but seven loaves of bread.  Yet in an action foretelling the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, “taking the seven loaves He gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to His disciples to distribute.”  And the leftovers of this miracle reach down to us this day; from “the seven wicker baskets” the disciples gathered after four thousand had eaten, we yet feed.  And it is a wonderful paradox that the more we eat of the Lord’s blessed Body, the more there is for others to share.

But this feast is not eaten under every green tree.  None can build high places and make priests for themselves.  Only those ordained by Christ distribute His bread.  And so we must come up to the Church He has founded to receive Him, the Church within whose walls His sacred body rests each day.  Only this Temple is our Jerusalem.

*******

O LORD, you provide us Bread

at the hands of your apostles;

let us worship in your House alone.

YHWH, why are we so inclined to exchange the glory you give us for the image of a grass-eating bullock?  Why do we turn to the work of our own hands and worship the golden calves we make rather than you, the one true God?  How shall we conquer our pride?

It is you who feed us, dearest LORD, your hand alone that provides for all our needs.  You alone love your children, for you are a faithful Father.  Yet we put our faith in molten idols.

Your wondrous deeds you have made plain to our eyes; your own Son you have sent into our midst.  All we ask for He gives in His grace.  He would teach us all we need to know… yet how soon we forget His presence among us.  Help us, O LORD, to turn back to you.

All as one we assemble before you this day in your holy Church, dear God, and pray that by those you have ordained you will feed all your people with the Body and Blood of your only Son.

Direct download: BC-021112-Sa_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.11:29-32,12:19;   Ps.81:9-15;   Mk.7:31-37)

“My people heard not my voice,

and Israel obeyed me not;

so I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts.”

The Lord has said, “There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship an alien god,” but the people did not listen.  Led by their corrupted king, “they walked according to their own counsels” and took to themselves the perverse gods worshiped by the nations of the world.  And so it is that the prophet must remove his “new cloak” and tear it “into twelve pieces,” one for each of the tribes of Israel.  How sad that the great kingdom which had so recently been united and so greatly been blessed by peace round about under the reign of the wise Solomon, now is to be torn asunder.  Only a remnant will be left to David, out of respect for the Lord’s promise to him; and now, we are told: “Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.”

“If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways…”  The psalmist’s words come as a lament for the deafness of the nation.  If they would but listen and turn to Him, their amazement would go “beyond all bounds,” as does that of the people who brought Jesus “a deaf man with a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him.”  They, too, would exclaim, “He has done everything well!  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”  For Israel is this deaf man.  All of us are this man impeded in his speech.  All need desperately to turn to Him, to have Him pray over us – to seek the words of His lips.  And so all will know the blessing that comes thereby: “At once the man’s ears were opened; he was freed from the impediment, and began to speak plainly.”

Hear the voice of the Lord, brothers and sisters.  Listen to it in the deep recesses of your heart.  This voice comes to heal, like light to the very drums upon which the vibrations beat.  Such purity could be yours.  Such grace could be known in all the world, healing the rifts that divide nations and peoples, if all would but come to Jesus in the same faith as this deaf man and his friends.  And then would we speak plainly of what the Lord has done.  No deceit upon our lips, we would declare Him Lord… and the amazement at the peace He brings would extend to the corners of the world.  Let your ears “be opened!” to His voice; with a soft heart turn to Jesus the Christ.

*******

O LORD, you make the deaf hear and the mute speak;

heal our brokenness – let us worship you alone.

YHWH, open our ears that we might hear your voice calling us to worship you alone.  Let us turn from strange gods and walking in our own ways and be obedient to you.  We are deaf and we are dumb; may your Son touch us and pray over us that we might declare your glory to all.  O let us be healed!

Why are our hearts so hardened against your loving embrace?  Why do we turn so readily from the radiance of your face to look upon the corruption of this unholy place?  You alone are LORD and God, your Son alone can save us – O let us heed your call, dear LORD!  From our sin may He redeem us.

From rebellion let us come, we who are our own worst enemy.  Save us from ourselves, dear God, and our disobedience.  Take us far from the crowds and give us your attention, that somehow our hearts might open to your loving voice.

Direct download: BC-021012-F_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.11:4-13;   Ps.106:3-4,35-37,40;   Mk.7:24-30)

“It is not right to take the food of the children

and throw it to the dogs.” 

Jesus speaks these words to a foreign woman, a pagan Greek, who “beg[s] Him to expel the demon from her daughter.”  They seem harsh.  Some may interpret them so.  After all, in our gospel we find Jesus traveling to the northernmost part of Israel where “He retired to a certain house and wanted no one to recognize Him.”  And here comes this foreign woman to beg at His table…  Can He find no peace?  But though the Lord may be weary, He is not angry.  He but tells the truth: He has come for the lost sheep of Israel; it is only after He is gone that His followers will bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.  First, “the sons of the household” must be fed.  All in proper order.  Notwithstanding this, the woman’s great faith prevails upon the Lord – and probably greatly heartens Him – and her prayer is answered.

It is in the application of the quote to King Solomon that it becomes harsh, for is this not what David’s son has done?  Has he not taken the greatest of blessings the Lord has heaped upon or will heap upon any man, and turned them over to the devil?  Solomon, the wisest and richest of all kings, “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and that unreservedly – and that without compunction.  It is only for the sake of his father David that the Lord does not wrest all His gifts from him that very day.  You say, “But didn’t David sin greatly in committing adultery and murder?”  Yes, the servant of the Lord did sin.  But this king humbled himself ever before his God.  He repented with a whole heart, and did not return again to his sin.  Solomon recognizes no sin.  Scripture says nowhere he is sorry; his repentance is lacking.  And his sin is of the most grievous, the most deeply rooted kind: he turns to worship of other gods.  In his reign and by his leadership, the people “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons,” taking thus the very flesh and blood of the children of Israel and throwing it to the dogs.

For this “the Lord grew angry with His people, and abhorred His inheritance.”  For they perform abhorrent acts under him who had become a most abhorrent king.  This king who had received six hundred and sixty-six gold talents a year in regular payment showed himself comfortable with the mark of the beast unto whom he had turned his heart.  “His foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” he preferred to the love of the Lord; and so it is he who is cast from the Lord’s presence.

Our psalm says of the Israelites, “They mingled with the nations and learned their works”; the great works of sin known in the darkness of this world became their own.  But in our gospel it is a foreign woman who humbles herself before the True King.  What of us, brothers and sisters?  Where does our allegiance lie?  For His Word does now travel to the ends of the earth; one can now no longer hide.

*******

O LORD, cast the demons from our midst

that we might find a place in your kingdom.

YHWH, your chosen ones lose their blessing when they turn from you to the worship of demons; and those who were far from your favor have demons cast from themselves when they beg your grace at the feet of your Son.  It is but a crumb from His table we need to find our salvation.  May He turn His attention to our need.

The children of the promise lose their inheritance when they sacrifice their sons and daughters on altars built to the idols of the nations.  Led by Solomon in their disobedience, they are deprived of the kingdom you bestowed on them.  And now, by your great mercy, O LORD, those who had been enslaved to demons now may enter your presence and find your favor; those with whom your Chosen had mingled and so lost their way now have their inheritance blessed as they humble themselves before you.  O let us be in their number!

Direct download: BC-020912-Th_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.10:1-10;   Ps.37:5-6,30-31,39-40;   Mk.7:14-23)

“The mouth of the just man tells of wisdom

and his tongue utters what is right.”

Today in our readings we have a passage to illustrate the great extent of the wisdom and riches of King Solomon.  “The queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon’s fame, [comes] to test him with subtle questions.”  She had not believed the report she’d heard of him, but having “witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom” in the answers he gave to every one of her questions – “nothing remained hidden from him that he could not explain to her” – and having seen “the palace he had built” and all the amenities that surrounded him… “she was breathless.”  And rightly does this pagan queen attribute the blessings Solomon enjoys to the Lord, who “has made [him] king to carry out judgment and justice.”

How true it is that the Lord blesses him who holds “the law of God in his heart.”  And rightly does David declare in our psalm that if we “commit to the Lord [our] way… He will make justice dawn for [us] like the light.”  We shall shine “bright as the noonday,” bright as Solomon’s temple, if we “trust in Him.”  If Solomon’s servants were happy, how much happier should we be to “stand before [the Lord] always and listen to [His] wisdom.”  For having eaten at the table of such grace and glory, what could come from our mouths but the same?  And what shall we be called then but wise men?

But the same mouth which utters wisdom may also utter evil.  For though the good man from the treasure of his heart speaks only good, it is also so that “wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart” as well.  Here one may find murderous plots and malicious intent.  We shall find soon that Solomon’s heart will change and that what “emerges from within” him will bear little likeness to wisdom.  And so, should we not all heed the Lord’s words of warning in our gospel today and take care what comes from within our hearts, that we ourselves are not rendered “impure”?  Let the wisdom of the Lord and His holiness always issue forth from our hearts in all our words and actions.  Then we shall know the blessings of the eternal King.

*******

O LORD, make us pure;

make us wise according to your ways.

YHWH, what comes from our heart?  Does it condemn us or show us wise?  Do we trust in you and so commit our way in keeping with your own, or do we follow the wiles of this wicked world?  We need all look within ourselves to see if you are present there.

Be with us, LORD; let us be blessed by you.  It is from you we find anything of worth.  At your hand we receive our food, and it is your mouth that teaches us.  Help us to hear the words of your Son, the chastisement He brings to our souls.  Let us eat this day of His Body and His Blood.  Only this food will sustain us.  Only His words give us life.  Help us open our hearts to the wisdom He utters and so find our place at His table.

You are our salvation, LORD, delivering us from all evil.  Let us speak of your glory to all with ears.  May our lives be pleasing to you this day. 

Direct download: BC-020812-W_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.8:22-23,27-30;   Ps.84:2-5,10-11;   Mk.7:1-13) 

“Can it indeed be that God dwells among men on earth?”

Well does Solomon do in stating, “If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built!”  For though the Lord will heed Solomon’s prayer and “listen to the petitions of [His] servant and of [His] people Israel which they offer in this place,” He indeed will only “keep [His] covenant of kindness with [His] servants who are faithful to [Him] with their whole heart.”  When they do as the Pharisees and “disregard God’s commandment and cling to what is human tradition,” when they hold fast only to the walls of the temple and neglect to keep His Word, the blessing He provides through the temple they built shall be removed from their midst – the walls themselves shall crumble (as even they do, not many generations from Solomon’s time).

The Pharisees indeed sin by clinging to the walls, by a scrupulous observance of care for the body even as the soul rots.  They carefully wash hands and food and “cups and jugs and kettles” but forego the cleansing of their hearts within.  And so they “nullify God’s word in favor of the traditions [they] have handed on”; they ornament the walls of the temple, but God is not within.  They indeed fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy: “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me.”

Brothers and sisters, do we pray in truth?  Do our “heart and [our] flesh cry out for the living God”?  Can we say with our psalmist, “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord,” for His holy presence?  If it is so that we treasure the Lord above all, then we shall be as “the sparrow [who] finds a home, and the swallow [who has] a nest in which she puts her young” – then we shall dwell happily in the house of God and He shall hear our prayers.  For in truth the Lord Jesus has come to dwell among men on earth; the true Temple walks among us.  No longer need we be separated from God or anxiously fear the loss of His presence.  The temple walls and the traditions developed to protect us from uncertainty no longer must be clung to, for here are the temple walls in the flesh of Christ, and here is the cleansing we need in the shedding of His blood.  And His Church now is alive in the Spirit of God and is moving everywhere.  Let us enter its eternal walls and find true reverence there.  In this place He shall answer all our prayers.

*******

O LORD, we cry out to you:

let us look upon the face of your anointed

that we might be cleansed of our sin.

YHWH, make us faithful to your Word with our whole heart; let us worship you in spirit and in truth.  Let us not merely cling to traditions men have devised, let us not set our sights on the walls of the temple but enter inside and there find you present in your Son.  O let us dwell in your House forever!

Jesus is the Temple where you dwell, O LORD our God.  For Him our souls thirst, for it is you, the living God, our hearts desire.  And so, let us not be distracted by the gleam of the stones erected in your NAME.  Let us find in these houses of prayer a place to offer you fitting sacrifice, a place where you indeed dwell and where you listen to our cries…  But let us know all the while that even the highest heavens cannot contain you, that you transcend our thoughts and all the works of our hands.

Make us, O LORD, as your temple – in your presence let us remain.

Direct download: BC-020712-Tu_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.8:1-7,9-13;   Ps.132:6-10;   Mk.6:53-56)

“Let us enter into His dwelling,

let us worship at His footstool.”

“Advance, O Lord, to your resting place, you and the ark of your majesty.”  Yes, in our first reading, “the elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes” come to bring the ark of the Lord into the temple Solomon has built in Jerusalem.  “For the occasion [they] sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen too many to number or count.”  When the ark was in its place in the holy of holies, “the Lord’s glory… filled the temple” in the form of a cloud.  The Lord’s presence had come to rest in this “princely house.”  But this shall not be a dwelling “where [He] may abide forever,” as Solomon says; for the eternal Temple is Jesus.

In our gospel “crowds scurried about the adjacent area and began to bring in the sick on bedrolls” when the Lord and His disciples tied up their boat in Genessaret.  Here as everywhere He went “they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him to let them touch just the tassel of His cloak.”  Mark tells us, “All who touched Him got well.”  Here is the true Temple at work, a place where prayers are answered, where healing is known.  As the ark was placed “beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,” so the Father has the angels spread their wings over His Son, guarding and blessing His every step.  As when the ark is brought in to the holy of holies, the Lord’s glory fills the temple, so when He comes to us, when we but touch Him, we are filled with His presence and made whole.  As the Israelites crowded into the temple to offer sacrifice, so now all in need surround the Lord to share in the holy sacrifice of His Body and Blood.

Here is the Temple not made by human hands, brothers and sisters.  Here is the Lord’s eternal dwelling place.  Here is Jesus, the Son of God.  In all the tabernacles of all the churches throughout the world He rests, His presence abides.  Let us flock to Him.  Let us receive Him into our hearts and bodies.  Let us know His healing touch upon our souls.  Let us pray with our psalmist, “May your priests be clothed with justice; let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.”  For here is His holy presence; here is the glory of the Lord.  Here He hears our prayers as we call upon His Name and worship before Him each day.  Here He enters in and makes His home with us, and so we, too, become temples of the Lord.

*******

O LORD, may we but touch your Son and be healed,

your cloud of glory filling our souls.

YHWH, your Word has become flesh; the Law you inscribed on the two tablets of stone now walks among us in the Person of Jesus.  Here is the true Temple, your dwelling where you abide forever.  To Him should we come in praise and worship to find healing that we might rest with you.

O LORD, make us holy as He is holy; let us enter your sanctuary, the wings of your angels spread above us for protection.  Yes, let us become as the Body of your Son as we partake of His Word and Sacrament here in your House.  To your Temple let us come that we might be temples ourselves.

What should we not sacrifice to your glory?  What should occupy us but finding your Presence in our midst?  Should we not lay our sick souls at Jesus’ feet; should we not seek to enter His tabernacle?  O let us enter your dwelling place and make our home in His flesh and blood!

Direct download: BC-020612-M_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.3:4-13;   Ps.119:9-14;   Mk.6:30-34)

 “He began to teach them at great length.” 

“Who is able to govern this vast people of yours?” Solomon asks in his plea to God for wisdom.  And “upon disembarking Jesus saw a vast crowd” who “were like sheep without a shepherd,” our gospel tells us.  The apostles have just “returned to Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and what they had taught,” how they had managed to enter into His mission, and now it is time for rest in a deserted place.  But the crowds hasten on foot to fill that deserted place, and what can the Lord do but feed those who thirst so much for His presence and His word.

In our first reading Solomon reflects his father David’s humble obedience before God: “O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.”  And so he makes the request for wisdom that so pleases the Lord.  And so God grants his request: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one equal to you,” and adds the greatest of riches and glory to it.  Solomon it is who composes proverbs, who judges the most difficult of cases, who is able to answer any question – it is he who rules the great kingdom of Israel in peace.  And all this he is able to do because his soul is as our psalmist’s today; he sings with him, “With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands,” and, “In the way of your decrees I rejoice, as much as in all riches.”  But when the king strays, he shall lose the great promise which has been so marvelously revealed in his reign.  He, too, shall show that he is but human.

Only the Lord teaches, brothers and sisters!  Only the Lord is able to rule!  All teaching and all governance come only from Him and not our own souls.  As great as the wisdom of Solomon was, apart from the Lord it becomes nothing but vanity.  For it is He who grants it to the king, according to his humble request.  And it is He who can only take it back again, upon separation from Him. 

Let us keep to His words, brothers and sisters.  Let us remain under His Spirit’s tutelage, within the walls of Mother Church.  Here we shall be taught.  By His wisdom we shall come to know.  In His Word we shall find the salvation of our souls.  Come now to your Shepherd and hear His voice imparting the grace of wisdom, the food that sustains you, to your mind and heart.  Enter into His call.

*******

O LORD, teach your poor flock with your wisdom

that we might declare your Word to all.

YHWH, teach us at great length for we are as sheep without a shepherd, we are all as mere youths before you, children not knowing right from wrong.  Only you give us an understanding heart; only by your Word are we instructed in the way we should go.  How lost we would be without your command!

Show favor to your servants, LORD, for we wish to do your will.  Your Son we follow to deserted places that He might satiate our thirsting souls.  All the riches and glory of this world we would leave behind, if you would but give us your wisdom.

Within our hearts we treasure your promise – let us not sin against you!  Let your Spirit be with us to guide us in all truth that we might accomplish your call.  O may your Son feed us with His own Body and Blood!  May we join our sacrifice to His and so find our lives acceptable in your sight, dearest LORD and God.

Direct download: BC-020814-Sa_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.47:2-11;   Ps.18:31,47,50-51;   Mk.6:14-29)

“Herod feared John,

knowing him to be an upright and holy man.”

O how the Lord has given power to His great men.  It is He who “gave great victories to [the] king.”  David “called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm”; and as David “made sport of lions as though they were kids,” as he “slew the giant” and his “tens of thousands” in battle, so John the Baptist slays the sins of the multitude, even striking great fear into the heart of King Herod by the simple words: “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”  And though it is John who is beheaded, it is Herod who shakes in his boots long after the Baptist is gone.  As our gospel relates today, “On hearing of Jesus, Herod exclaimed, ‘John, whose head I cut off, has been raised up!’”  This king’s guilt remains, as do the words of the Baptist in his heart.

“He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him,” David declares so knowingly in our psalm today.  Indeed, the Lord’s blessed protection has been continually with his king, who has ever taken Him as his Rock.  Of David, Sirach writes, “With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise.  With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung.”  What tremendous witness the wise man gives to the Lord’s chosen king.  And perhaps most poignant and most significant is his statement that “the Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever.”  David does not lose his kingship because of his failures – as does Herod, who is already dead by his wickedness – but in fact has the establishment of “his throne in Israel” fulfilled in the coming of Christ.

The Lord’s power is upon His chosen.  To each He gives the grace needed to offer lives of sacrifice.  As David’s life was “like the choice fat of the sacred offerings” and John’s death a holocaust that rises yet unto God, so all our lives may be enriched and blessed, and made whole in His sight; so will they be as “sweet melody,” if we but entrust them to the Lord our God.  And then none shall be able to stand before the power that is with us, for His holiness conquers all.

*******

O LORD, may all we do be a song of praise

to your holy NAME;

let all evil be overcome by the strength of your Word.

YHWH, as David slew Goliath so John the Baptist slays Herod, even from the grave.  Still this vain king is tormented by the Baptist’s word of truth; still his sin is exposed and his guilt apparent.  Still he lives in fear.  Still John speaks in Jesus his Savior.

O LORD, with David let us sing praise to your holy NAME, for you conquer all evil in this world and the next; you give power to your Son Jesus and His apostles to destroy all wickedness.  Who can stand before your glory?  Before you the dance of lust turns to dust.

You are the shield of all who take refuge in you, LORD.  You are indeed God Most High, and to you we offer thanks and praise.  For there is nothing we need fear; with you at our side we are safe from all our enemies.

Into your kingdom let us come, dearest LORD and God, far apart from this sinful world.  Even here you reassure our hearts of your eternal presence.

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Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.2:1-4,10-12;   1Chr.29:10-12;   Mk.6:7-13) 

“Yours, O Lord, is the sovereignty;

you are exalted as head over all.”

Solomon begins his reign, and the apostles begin their mission.  But how different is their manner of rule.  Solomon sits in sovereignty upon a throne, while the apostles are sent in poverty to all towns.  Solomon’s reign is of the physical universe, with the riches of the world at his disposal; whereas the twelve apostles rule in the kingdom of heaven, shown by the Lord’s “giving them authority over unclean spirits.”  They go forth with “no food, no traveling bag, not a coin in the purses in their belts,” “preaching the need of repentance,” the dust upon their feet.  Solomon remains within the walls of his palace, well-guarded and with all “riches and honor,” seemingly of “grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory.”

Now let us not think that the riches themselves are evil, for these are a gift from God (rewarding Solomon for his initial desire for wisdom above all else); but it must never be forgotten that, as David declares to God at the time of his son’s anointing: “Riches and honor are from you.”  His always are the majesty and the glory.  If Solomon would remember this, if he would heed the Lord’s words to David’s sons to “remain faithful to [Him] with their whole heart and with their whole soul,” observing always His commands – his kingship would be blessed.  But Solomon, too, shall sin, and worse than his father: he shall turn to worship of other gods.  And the sons that follow shall only continue the decline, necessitating the reign of Christ to enter in.

So, humbly do the disciples of the Lord go forth, though with the greatest of power.  They call for the repentance of all proud souls, possessed of the throne of this unholy world.  The Twelve “expelled many demons, anointed the sick with oil, and worked many cures,” thus bringing the kingdom of God to this world; and we are called to follow them, in the same poverty.  None of this can we do if our hearts are set upon the riches of this world.  Empty must we be of the desire for the food of earthly security – into the Lord’s hands we must utterly place our lives.  Only then will we be rich in Him “from eternity to eternity.” 

Splendor awaits us all, brothers and sisters, in the cross we carry upon this dusty earth.

*******

O LORD, if we follow in the way of your Son,

we shall share in His power.

YHWH, yours are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory.  You are exalted over all and have dominion over all.  Yet your sons go out with nothing, nothing but the Cross.  In this alone do they find your authority and power; in Christ alone are all men saved.

It is not upon the throne of this world your Son sits, with gold rings and a royal crown.  No, His crown is of thorns and He is stripped of even His clothes.  And just so naked must His disciples be, bereft of all attachments to this place, trusting entirely in your grace.  O LORD, let us go forth strengthened by faith!

How shall we find our blessing, dear God, the blessing of your presence in our hearts and in our souls?  How shall we become your very temples in this world?  Write your NAME upon our souls, that no evil spirit will have power over us, that we might do your will in all things and so find your eternal blessing.

Direct download: BC-020212-Th_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.24:2,9-17;   Ps.32:1-2,5-7,   Mk.6:1-6)

“I acknowledged my sin to you;

my guilt I covered not.”

The Lord can heal only those who believe in Him, who turn to Him in their guilt to be saved.

David has sinned against the Lord once again.  His kingdom had been blessed by the Lord and was flourishing in His sight.  Rather than accept the blessings the Lord poured upon him and so find their increase, the king sought control over that which should have been left in the hands of God by numbering the people who had been the Lord’s gift to him.  And so now their number shall be decreased in his sight.

But David regrets his sin, acknowledging it before the Lord and begging His pardon: “I have sinned grievously in what I have done.  But now, Lord, forgive the guilt of your servant, for I have been very foolish,” and he throws himself on the mercy of God.  The Lord does destroy some seventy thousand in the kingdom, but relents at David’s intercession for the sheep under his rule who have done no wrong – the king entreats, “Punish me and my kindred,” and then offers an appeasing sacrifice to God.

David’s sin is severe and has serious consequences, but the Lord is faithful in forgiving him when he calls out to Him.  However, when “Jesus went to His own part of the country,” as shown in our gospel, their hearts were closed against Him and He could share no grace.  Were they any less sinners than David?  Had they any less need of His forgiveness, of His healing?  Their hardness of heart itself proves otherwise, but, sadly, “they found Him too much for them”; and “their lack of faith,” which distressed the Lord, prevented them from knowing the mercy found by their ancestor David.  Ironically, it is their own closeness to Him and His human family that keeps them from recognizing the greatness of the grace which works through Him.  Would they disown David, him whose sons they claim to be, if he had come to them in such a way?  And yet Jesus they reject. 

Brothers and sisters, our sights must be set on heaven and the mercy that falls from there through the Lord.  We have all sinned as David in our foolishness.  We must acknowledge it as he has, with faith that the Lord can heal us, that He walks amongst us as a brother to cure all our ills and teach us the way to love.  If we listen without acceptance of Him in faith, “no miracle” will be worked in our lives – and it is a miracle we most need, for we simple servants must lay down our lives.

*******

O LORD, let us not question the wonders

you work in our midst;

let us rejoice at the presence of your saving Son.

YHWH, forgive the guilt of our sin, that we have turned our backs on you and not believed in your providence, and not accepted your Son.  How could we be so blind to your hand at work among us, and why should you be so kind as to stay the angel of death?  We deserve to die for our sins against you, yet to our poor souls you offer forgiveness.

The teaching of Jesus is clear, His wisdom is of your perfect light, yet we question His miraculous presence in our midst.  Holding to the earth we can see, we fail to recognize the glory we cannot see, the joy you bring us in being in the number of your holy ones.  Staring too closely at what is at our hands, your transcendent Hand we miss, O LORD, even when He stands before us.

The burden of our guilt take from us, LORD, that we might be free of the punishment we deserve, that by your angels we might be blessed.

Direct download: BC-020112-W_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.18:9-10,14,24-25,30-19:3;   Ps.86:1-6;   Mk.5:21-43)

“Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer,

and attend to the sound of my pleading.”

Today in our readings we hear of desperate pleas made to the Lord.  In our gospel there are at least two “earnest appeal[s]”: Jairus “fell at [the] feet” of Jesus and begged Him to heal his dying daughter; and without words the woman “who had been afflicted with a hemorrhage for a dozen years” makes her appeal by working her way through the crowd simply to “touch His clothing” and be well.  The woman is healed “immediately” and hears from the Lord, “It is your faith that has cured you.”  Her He sends in peace, but peace and the same faith He does not find as He approaches Jairus’ house after having been told his daughter is dead.  There is “the noise of people wailing and crying loudly on all sides.”  Theirs seems to be a kind of pleading, but the Lord’s answer to such prayer they reject and mock, and so must be put out of the house – only those of faith can know of healing.

And so Jesus takes only Peter, James, John, and the girl’s parents into the room where the child lies, for they are able to heed His teaching: “Fear is useless.  What is needed is trust.”  And so when He reaches out His hand to the little girl and speaks to her, “Talitha koum,” she indeed rises and walks about.  The prayer of a true heart is always answered in the power of God.

What can we say of David’s “weeping and mourning for Absalom” in our first reading?  Again a father cries out for his child.  But here it is not an innocent “child of twelve” for whom the prayer rises up, but for a son who has rebelled against his father “with evil intent,” seeking indeed to overthrow David’s kingdom and put him to death.  David’s cry, “My son, my son Absalom!  If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!” stands in opposition to what is expected of him as he is informed of the “good news” that his enemies have been defeated and their leader killed.  But here again the king knows it has been his own sin which has led to such disruption in his house.  And so it is as much for himself he cries as for the child of his loins.  And though Absalom shall not be raised from the dead, perhaps the Lord hears the sorrow of David’s heart and will later comfort him. 

“To you I call all the day,” O Lord.  “I am afflicted and poor,” but “you, O Lord, are good and forgiving.”  Heal me as I cry out to you.  Look upon my weeping and mourning with your kindness; raise me from the dead by your word and feed me with your Body and Blood.

*******

O LORD, why do we wail at the prospect of death –

why do we not trust in you?

YHWH, you hear our cry, you answer our pleading and send your Son to die in our place.  We have rebelled against you, we have deserved death, but Jesus dies in our stead that we might be saved from the grave.  And so our amazement is complete at the love you bear for us.

Have pity on us, LORD, we are afflicted; we have been tormented many years.  Give us the faith to come to Jesus on our knees to find His salvation, to be healed of all our ills.  He cannot but hear us as we call to Him – His heart cannot but turn to us in our need.  For He carries your compassion and cannot but witness to your undying love for your poor creatures.

Speak to us, dear LORD.  Whisper in our ears with your sweet voice, inviting us to rise and walk with you.  Let us answer to your call that we might come from death to life in you.  Let us weep no more.

Direct download: BC-013112-Tu_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.15:13-14,30,16:5-13;   Ps.3:2-7;   Mk.5:1-20) 

“Many are saying of me,

‘There is no salvation for him in God.’”

Today David’s sins rise to his neck, and he is persecuted for them.  But in accepting the persecution as chastisement from the hand of God, David regains his kingly stature, becoming once again humble and obedient to the Lord.

David’s son Absalom has successfully led a rebellion against him among the Israelite nation under David’s command.  The king is forced to flee, and as he leaves, his son will lie with the wives and concubines he has left behind upon the same roof where David first spied the bathing Bathsheba.  How his sins come to visit him!

But it is in mourning David flees Jerusalem and climbs the Mount of Olives – the hill upon which Christ’s own passion shall begin in the garden where He is taken by the sword.  David “wept without ceasing.  His head was covered and he was walking barefoot.”  Repentant is the king in remembrance of his sins and the punishment now come upon him.  And his sincerity he exhibits profoundly again, for as Shimei curses and stones him, though he is surrounded by soldiers he does not exact retribution or seek to stop him.  Despite the fact this kin of Saul has no right to act toward the king in this way, yet David is struck to the heart by the truth of his words: “Now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer,” and leaves all in the hands of God, responding to his soldier, “Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’”  Open is David about the fact that even his own son is seeking his life, and so what standing can he expect to have with his enemies.  As he endures his trial, he hopes only it shall be purgatorial: “Perhaps the Lord will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curses he is uttering this day.”  And so he does not “fear the myriads of people arrayed against him on every side,” for he rediscovers his faith in God.

And as the Lord casts out the legion of demons from the possessed man of Gerasene, so He shall purge David of his sin.  To whatever extreme our afflictions have grown, the Lord is present to save.  For if this man who could not be secured with chains, who “uninterruptedly night and day amid the tombs… screamed and gashed himself with stones,” could be found by a word from the Lord “sitting fully clothed and perfectly sane,” what have we to fear of all the devils who accuse us of our sins?  Jesus is mightier than them and there is no telling “how much the Lord in His mercy” can do when we fall on our faces before Him in homage.  True repentance brings salvation to all sinful souls.

*******

O LORD, let us come from dwelling among the tombs

to sit at your feet in peace.

YHWH, though our adversaries be arrayed against us on every side, you are there to rescue our souls.  Though the devils press upon us and accuse us of our sins, you grant forgiveness… and bring us to our right minds.  O let us proclaim what you have done for us!  Though we have merited death, new life is ours in you.

How great is the attack of our foes in this dark world, dearest LORD.  Do not sin and death rule in this forsaken place?  Does Satan not have great power to harm your servants?  Yet so much greater is your power, for you look with pity upon our afflictions and cross the sea to come to save us.  It is our sins that cause us to weep and mourn – but our sins you take from us and so free us from the chains of the evil one.

The stones that shower down on our heads we accept as chastisement from your hand, knowing they shall bring cleansing of our guilt and that of others.  O LORD, we beg you to stay with us.

Direct download: BC-013012-M_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.12:1-7,10-17;   Ps.51:12-17;   Mk.4:35-41)

“I have sinned against the Lord.”

David is the man who “took the poor man’s ewe lamb and made a meal of it for his visitor.”  To feed his lust he has feasted on another man’s wife.  And he sees the injustice of this; he recognizes his guilt when his sin is exposed.  But why has he done it?  “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this merits death!”  And so David, too, has need of the true King and His cross to redeem him.

What does the Lord say to David as he “lie[s] on the ground clothed in sackcloth,” praying for the dying child he has conceived by his sin?  We know what he says to God, for we have Psalm 51 to eternally express the misery of this sinner, and all sinners.  We know he cries out: “Free me from my blood guilt, O God, my saving God.”  But how does God respond?  Is He with him?  We know the Lord forgives David – Nathan tells him so – but yet “the sword shall never depart from [his] house,” and he shall have his sin later exposed in broad daylight by his own son, Absalom, who lies with David’s wives in the public eye.  Much woe remains with David long after his fall, and really throughout the history of Judah and Israel.  He is assured: “You shall not die,” but though his house remain and is fulfilled in the coming of Christ, what pain must be with the king in this time.

If he had called upon the Lord, as He rebukes the wind and the sea in our gospel: “Quiet!  Be still!” so would God have calmed his lust upon a word from his mouth.  But he “utterly spurned the Lord.”  How is it such a humble and obedient king could do such a thing?  How is it the disciples are so “lacking in faith” at the specter of the violence of the sea?  Why do they become so “terrified”?

Would not we all, brothers and sisters?  Have we not all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?  Do we not all become awed by Him whom “the wind and the sea obey”?  Yet we must come to Him.  Yet we must beg His pardon.  Yet we must seek the strength of His Spirit, of His Word within us.  Yet we must fall to our knees before our priest and cry out to our God – “A clean heart create for me, O Lord, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.”  Thus we all have need of cleansing this side of heaven; we have all brought forth children unto death.

*******

O LORD, let us be obedient

as the wind and the sea to your command,

or we shall be overwhelmed by the waves of this world.

YHWH, why should we be so terrified at the wind and the waves?  Why should we fear the prospect of death?  Do you not hold both the sea and death in your hands, and are you not faithful in saving us when we call to you?  Why are we then so lacking in faith?

O LORD, we are not as you.  We are weak and sinful men.  How can we be strong when we look out and see the depth of our sin?  How can it not overwhelm us?  You are all good and we have sinned against you.  You are only of love, and we are but selfish.  How can we stand before you in our misery?

Help us to remember how gracious you are, dear God.  Help us to maintain your Spirit within us.  You desire our salvation, you desire our good; help us to desire it ourselves, and to act upon that desire.

O LORD, let us not go astray.  Cleanse our hearts and our hands from all our guilt and let us stand strong with you.  Forgive us our sin and all the effects of our sin.

Direct download: BC-012812-Sa_3_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.11:1-10,13-17;   Ps.51:3-7,10-11;   Mk.4:26-34)

“The seed sprouts and grows without his knowing how it happens.”

Jesus in our gospel tells us of the kingdom of God and of its gradual growth without our knowing.  Seed is scattered, the Word is sown in our souls, and as we “[go] to bed and [get] up day after day,” remaining in the presence of the Lord, good fruits little by little reveal themselves in our lives – till finally at the time of judgment we are gathered into the heavenly reign.  Though small and humble seed, once we are sown in the Lord’s grace, we “become the largest of shrubs, with branches big enough for the birds of the sky to build nests in its shade.”  And so this man made of dust may find life eternal in Jesus.

In our first reading there is another kind of gradual growth evident: the sin of David.  It is the time of year “when kings go out on campaign” with their armies, but David remains at home – and so in this sin of sloth is sown that which will grow into adultery and murder.  For one evening as the king “[rises] from his siesta and stroll[s] about on the roof of the palace,” he sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing, and lets his look linger upon her.  Lust having taken hold of him, he takes her to his bed and has relations with her, despite her being another man’s wife.  In a vain attempt to cover his sin, he recalls the husband from battle that he might go in to his wife and believe the child David has conceived is his own.  But the man is more faithful to the troops in battle than David is to his position as king, and remains apart from his home.  Finally, David resorts to arranging for Uriah’s death in battle.

O how sin has grown in the great king!  From a small seed tremendous guilt is born.  And now, what can the prince of the people do but seek the mercy of the Lord.  In his famous psalm of repentance David begs God, “Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt.”  He calls out, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt, and of my sin cleanse me.”  Recognizing his plight as a member of the fallen human race: “In guilt I was born, and in sin my mother conceived me,” the king shows genuine humility, and so finds the forgiveness of God – but now the sword shall be upon his house.  Though there shall be peace in the time of the son he will later conceive with the wife of Uriah, it shall not remain.  Only in Christ will God’s blessing truly return again.

Brothers and sisters, from small seeds indeed great trees come.  We must be ever diligent about the seed we sow, remaining always in the light of the Lord and nourished by the Spirit.  When “the time is ripe for harvest,” all we have done shall be exposed; until then, let us trust in His presence alone.

*******

O LORD, let us grow into your kingdom,

not into sin.

YHWH, let your kingdom grow among us and within us.  Let not our sin grow in its place, that we shall not come unto death but new life in you.

We are sinful men, O LORD.  All of us fall short of your glory; all of us have done evil in your sight.  But you are good and forgiving and there is no sin from which you cannot cleanse us.  David your servant has been guilty of adultery and murder.  He has acted out of sloth and lust and selfish pride, yet when he calls out to you, you look upon him with pity.  When he acknowledges his sin before you, you forgive.  What good is beyond your power to do?

And in the place of our sin you plant the seed of your kingdom, LORD.  Where once was but parched and fallow land, you bring fruitful growth.  Though this seem impossible in our sight, you accomplish it in your will.  Though we cannot see, though we do not know how, you work to raise us to your glory.  Turn your face from our sins and let us dwell with you.

Direct download: BC-012712-F_3_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.7:18-19,24-29;   Ps.132:1-2,3-5,11-14,Lk.1:32;   Mk.4:21-25) 

“If your sons keep my covenant and the decrees which I shall teach them,

their sons, too, forever shall sit upon your throne.”

Yes, “the Lord has chosen Zion; He prefers her for His dwelling.”  His blessings are upon His Church and its people, for “the Lord swore to David a firm promise from which He will not withdraw: ‘Your own offspring I will set upon your throne,’” and Jesus completes that promise by establishing the New Jerusalem in His Name.  But we must exhibit the “anxious care” David has shown for the preservation and promotion of the house which is ours through this Son of David and fulfillment of God’s promise.

If “the eye is the lamp of the body,” as Jesus has said elsewhere in the gospels (Mt.6:22), then we must say with David: “I will give my eyes no sleep, my eyelids no rest, till I find a place for the Lord.”  Always our light should be shining forth; always we should be looking to “make our call and election permanent” (as Peter has elsewhere stated – 2Pt.1:10) – always we must seek to serve Him, if ever we wish to dwell with Him.  For as Jesus says so poignantly to the crowd today: “Is a lamp acquired to be put under a bushel basket or hidden under a bed?  Is it not meant to be put on a stand?”  Thus He encourages us to bring our light “out into the open,” to let it shine forth for all to see.  For then it shall be blessed.

“Listen carefully” now to what the Lord says further: “In the measure you give you shall receive.”  Here is a golden rule which must be understood and practiced.  For it is so that the more we share the gifts the Lord places in our hearts and at our hands, the greater these blessings grow.  As we share our faith, more faithful do we become.  As we speak of Him, the more do we understand of Him.  In giving ourselves away for others and the sake of the kingdom, we find ourselves present in His light.  And so do we grow.  And so is our place in His house assured.  And so we shall dwell with Him forever.

Let us pray with David in our first reading, brothers and sisters: “Bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever,” that what the Lord has promised each of us through the Son of David may come to light.  As David simply asks the Lord to accomplish what He has graciously vowed to do – “Confirm for all time the prophecy you have made concerning your servant and his house” – let us beg the Lord to grant the same to His Church for the salvation of all souls who worship Him in truth and serve Him in strength.  Alleluia.

*******

O LORD, dwell in us as you have promised

that we might shine your light forth.

YHWH, who are we that you bless us with a place in your kingdom, that you shine your eternal light in our eyes?  How can we know you, how can we even approach you, we who are but useless servants….?  And yet you make us your sons.  Let us cherish the blessing you give us and shine the light you provide.

Your House is a house for all peoples, LORD, and all peoples you would draw into your sanctuary.  The promise you made to David comes to us all through the Son you place upon his throne.  Now that Jesus is with us, help us to be as generous as you and serve to extend your blessing to all men.  O what a blessing it is to share your love with others!  Let us not be afraid or hide your light away.

All we have let us give, O LORD, for all we have is a gift from you and it is increased only when we give it to others.  May all come into your presence.

Direct download: BC-012612-Th_3_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.7:4-17;   Ps.89:4-5,27-30;   Mk.4:1-20)

“Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;

your throne shall stand firm forever.”

David seems intent on establishing the Lord’s presence forever by building a permanent house in which He might dwell, but how well our God answers the great king’s thoughts with the promise of making “his posterity endure forever.”  It is the Lord who establishes all, and so He states, “I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance,” to show that He thinks of us and loves us first.  Though He approves and blesses our desires to care for Him and make Him known, as He shows by revealing to David that his son “shall build a house to [His] name,” He cannot be outdone in His love for us.

Solomon will build the temple of the Lord, yes, and it will be a great house in which all shall worship God and through which all shall find blessing from God.  But the true Son of David upon whom the Lord’s favor rests eternally is Jesus Himself.  It is His kingdom which truly “stands firm” forever.  It is through Him the Lord will “destroy all [our] enemies” and grant us peace round about.  He is the seed of David come to full growth, the promise of the king come to fulfillment.  This is He whom the Israelites truly sought when first they asked for a king – this is God’s blessed answer to their request for one of their own to rule them.

It is clear that David is as the seed “sown on good soil” which “yield[s] thirty- and sixty- and a hundredfold.”  Satan shall not come to carry off what is sown through him, nor shall he “wither for lack of roots” or be choked off by the cares of this world.  For as the Lord says of him, “I have been with you wherever you went”; and so His nourishment, the Spirit of the Lord which rushed upon David from his first anointing, remains, too, upon this chosen king.  And though he shall sin, and though his sons shall turn away from worship of the true God, yet the Lord’s blessing remains.  And in the enduring of the Lord’s correction “with the rod of men and human chastisements,” Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God, by His crucifixion and death opens the way for all children of David, all children blessed by God, to return to the Lord of all and remain with Him forever.  The kingdom of Jesus is now established; let us come to this Temple and be saved.

*******

O LORD, let us take to heart your Word

and align ourselves with your will

that we might reign forever with your Son. 

YHWH, a House you make for us in the Person of your Son.  His throne endures forever, and we with Him.

O LORD, make us fruitful in your NAME, in the flesh and blood of Jesus.  We are worth nothing without your grace, without your blessing upon our race – without your help all our words and deeds would fall to dust.  Maintain your kindness toward us, keep the teaching of your Son in our hearts, or we shall be cast from your presence.

How shall we hear the Word you wish to impart to poor souls?  How shall we learn the lesson of obedience and realize it is you who establish us, who give us a House in which to dwell?  You are our Father, our God, our Rock and Savior.  In your Son we are made your children and so endure forever in the light of your face.  Be with us now and remain with your faithful.  Let us be good soil and produce fruit for you.

Direct download: BC-012512-W_3_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.6:12-15,17-19;   Ps.24:7-10;   Mk.3:31-35)

“Lift up, O gates, your lintels;

reach up, you ancient portals,

that the King of glory may come in!”

In our first reading David leads all the Israelites in, “bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn.”  “Dancing before the Lord with abandon,” he brings the ark into Jerusalem and sets it within its tent or tabernacle.  All celebrate this day as they surround the ark on its journey and as David “offers holocausts and peace offerings before the Lord,” the ark having come to its place in the city of David.  The Lord is in their midst, and so all the people rejoice.

In our gospel the ever present crowd of people is assembled, seated “in a circle” around Jesus.  They surround the Lord as once the Israelites surrounded the ark – and how their hearts must celebrate at His presence in their midst.  And how indeed their hearts must leap up to hear what is said of them: “These are my mother and my brothers.”  For thus the Lord gathers them into His arms; thus He feeds them better than with the meat of any holocaust – thus they are protected forever by His holy presence.

“Who is this King of glory?  The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle.”  He blesses and protects all His children; He makes all who worship Him His own.  And what need we do but celebrate; what need we do but shout for joy?  For He is present before us.  For He enters into us, into the New Jerusalem in which we dwell.  Here in His Church we have His Blessed Sacrament to feed us on our way to Him.  In this He is already with us, as He is in His teaching and in His priests and in all His brothers and sisters and mothers – “whoever does the will of God” becomes one with Him.

We love you, Lord our God, for your presence among us!  We praise you, dearest Jesus, for your presence within us!  O brothers and sisters, make room for His entry into your hearts and minds, bodies and souls, that you might enter in with Him to His heavenly kingdom.  He stands and knocks at the door even now.  Will you open and welcome Him into your home?

*******

O LORD, let us rejoice before the ark of the Covenant

come into our midst in Jesus our King and Brother.

YHWH, come into our homes, into our hearts, that we might be your House, one with your Son.  He is truly your Temple; let us open wide our gates that He might enter in and make His home with us.

Mother and brother and sister of Jesus let us be, O LORD, surrounding Him as His holy family.  Let us rejoice at His Word and so follow your will in all things.  May He look upon us with mercy and give us of Himself to eat.

What should we do but dance and sing and praise your holy NAME for your presence in our midst, for your entering our poor souls and remaining ever with us?  O let us offer ourselves to you in sacrifice! that indeed your will might be done in our lives.  Come and make your home in us, dearest LORD and God.

We feed upon your Word, O LORD, and on His body and blood.  May He serve as King over us that we might enter your reign.

Direct download: BC-012412-Tu_3_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.5:1-7,10;   Ps.89:20-22,25-26;   Mk.3:22-30) 

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.”

How different are the scribes who come to Jesus from the Israelites who come to David to crown him king.  “The tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: ‘Here we are, your bone and your flesh.’”  So united would they be to him whom the Lord had said would “shepherd [His] people Israel,” so well do they remember his leadership in war, that they wholeheartedly invite him to rule over them.  They believe what God has said of His chosen king: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him,” and they confirm his anointing among them.

But the scribes would drive Jesus from their midst.  And as the Jebusites vainly threatened David before he took the stronghold of Zion and began his reign in Jerusalem, so these blind leaders of the people vainly attack Jesus before His entering and taking hold of the New Jerusalem.  If David was anointed by God, how much more is the Father’s anointing upon His only Son?  If David’s deeds in war deserved respect and praise, how much more Him who came to teach and heal the nation?  And if these scribes should not only reject Jesus but designate the holy deeds He has worked among them as coming from the prince of demons, what hope have they but to join the prince of demons in eternal damnation?  For if they call the good evil, how shall they come to accept the goodness of God and enter His reign?  Shall they not rather fling themselves toward the fires of hell, as even they do here, taking the evil for good, led astray as they are by their pride and jealousy?

The Lord’s hand is always with His Chosen One, “that [His] arm might make Him strong.”  It is in that strength we take refuge; it is in the blessing upon Him we find life.  We must invite Him who is good to rule over us – His works must be our own.  If we do not recognize the truth of His words and the grace in His deeds, what hope will we have of finding the fountain that washes us clean of our sins and prepares us for the holiness of paradise?  What can these scribes do but “carr[y] the guilt of [their] sin without end,” for they utterly reject Him.

Brothers and sisters, we choose life or we choose death.  We choose to side with the good or turn to become one with the evil.  Wickedness has no place with the grace of God and His goodness allows no evil to enter in.  Jesus destroys evil: speak only the truth of this Word.  The Spirit knows nothing of lies.

*******

O LORD, may your Son rule over us all

and make us strong.

YHWH, Jesus shall shepherd your people Israel; the blind leaders cannot prevent Him from taking hold of the holy City.  For your anointing is upon Him, and it is your arm that makes Him strong.  O let us enter Jerusalem with Him, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh!

May the house of Satan be plundered by Him who is stronger than he; let his property be despoiled, all the accusations with which he would attack your holy ones.  O let the Holy Spirit be upon us! the truth that cannot be denied.  Your goodness be upon our souls, O LORD, to lead us to all light.

David was your servant, LORD, the figure of Christ, your Son.  From his youth you blessed him with your grace and power, with the anointing of your Spirit.  Now that Jesus has come to fulfill this blessing among us, let us welcome Him into our homes, that we might be welcomed into your House, your forgiveness in our hearts.  Let none turn away from your truth.

Direct download: BC-012312-M_3_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.24:3-21;   Ps.57:2-4,6,11;   Mk.3:13-19)

“Sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession.”

Today we see David at perhaps his most humble and obedient in the sight of God – we see why he is the great king of Israel.

David is being hunted down by Saul once again in his jealousy.  His psalm, our psalm today, is his cry for protection from the Lord in whom he trusts: “I call to God Most High, to God, my benefactor.  May He send from heaven and save me.”  To the cave in which he hides, God sends his pursuer, vulnerable and at arm’s length.  But this man who will be king of the Israelites by God’s ordination refrains from taking the sword into his hand to kill the man who would kill him.  Why?  Because Saul is yet the king, “the Lord’s anointed,” whom David even calls “a father to me” despite the threat he is to his life.  Such an act of respect, such an understanding of the obedience due God and His will is unparalleled in Scripture.  This is David.  This is the king.

And how tragic a figure is Saul.  Upon having his eyes turned inward to his very soul and the injustice he wreaks upon David, he weeps aloud in recognition of his sin: “You are in the right rather than I; you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm.”  It is he who speaks the words of our quote today, he who recognizes the truly kingly nature of David…  Yet for all his penance and insight it shall not be long before his jealousy leads him to pursue David unrighteously once again.  He cannot escape his envy for David’s blessing.

And in our gospel we read of the blessed apostles of Christ, those “men He Himself had decided on,” whom He summoned and “who came and joined Him.”  These “He would send to preach the Good News”; these would “have authority to expel demons.”  They are named by name for us today: here is the foundation of the Church in which God dwells.  Here are His blessed kings of the New Jerusalem.  Let us not be jealous of them.  Let no man attempt to breach the authority given them; for pursue them as one would, none shall take their blessing away – it is they who are ordained by God for His service.  Humbly let us join them in their sovereignty over Israel.  Obediently let us come into the Lord’s kingdom.

*******

O LORD, though your justice is beyond our reach,

in your mercy make us your disciples. 

YHWH, those whom you appoint must be respected.  It is you who anoint the king and ordain apostles.  Jesus is your only Son and He has chosen the Twelve to follow Him.  Who are we to go against His will and pursue them and those who continue in their stead? 

O LORD, you have made Peter the rock of your Church and given all your apostles power to preach the Gospel and expel all demons.  At their hands your presence becomes real, of your Son’s flesh and blood we partake, and we are forgiven our sins.  If David your chosen could not kill an unjust king because of your blessing upon him, how much less can we usurp the power of the bishops and priests who stand this day in the very place of Jesus?  O let us learn the respect and obedience to your will that King David has clearly shown! 

You protect your righteous ones, dearest LORD and God.  And so we need have no fear as long as we take refuge in your justice. 

Direct download: BC-012012-F_2_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.18:6-9,19:1-7;   Ps.56:2-3,5,9-14;   Mk.3:7-12)

“Saul has slain his thousands,

and David his ten thousands.”

And Jesus His millions.  He slays an untold number of “unclean spirits [who] would catch sight of Him, fling themselves down at His feet, and shout, ‘You are the Son of God.’”  “A great crowd followed Him from Galilee, and an equally great multitude” from all the surrounding regions.  So great were their numbers He needed a boat to escape the press upon Him.  For He “cured many,” and many more desired to be touched by Him.

The women sing of David’s greatness upon his return from slaying the Philistine.  Their rightful attribution of praise for David, through whom “the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel” and so for its king (who had himself sought someone to stand against the giant Goliath), does nothing but provoke resentment and jealousy from King Saul.  His anger even leads to his plotting to kill the man who has saved his kingdom; and though he sets aside his plan “of shedding innocent blood by killing David without cause” for the moment, the plot never leaves his heart and shall repeatedly surface with greater intensity.  Thus Saul proves his inability to serve as king of the Lord’s people.  Thus his pride shall be his demise.

And rightfully does Saul claim of David that “all that remains for him is the kingship,” for in fact he has already been anointed king in place of Saul by Samuel the prophet.  And though as with the kingship of Jesus, who silences the demons from revealing “who He was,” David’s crown shall remain hidden for a time, inevitably –  again, as with the Lord’s reign – those who “press their attack against” the Lord’s anointed shall be turned back and the true king shall “walk before God in the light of the living.”  It is inevitable for it is God’s will, and neither the jealousy of Saul nor the plotting of the Pharisees – the jealous kings who would be overthrown by Jesus – can turn aside what God has ordained.

The Lord is with David.  Though his “adversaries trample upon [him] all the day,” he sings in praise of God in his psalm: “You have rescued me from death.”  And so we see how our psalms sing of Jesus Himself and why He is called Son of David.  For the greatest victory the Lord God shall achieve will be the resurrection of His Son from the dead, and the redemption of the many souls who shall follow Him.

*******

O LORD, we press upon you with our afflictions, 

and by your Son’s intercession we are saved. 

YHWH, how many evil spirits have you slain?  How many enemies have you turned back for those who trust in your NAME?  Though many fight against us, we are saved when we call out to you – forever we shall be safe from the malice of the wicked. 

Your Son has come to our shores and cured us of our afflictions.  By His grace He has freed us from all sin and evil.  His power is greater than that of the devil though the devil sit on the throne of a king.  For the spirit is greater than the flesh, and trusting in your Spirit, O LORD, we are released from the weakness of the flesh upon which the devil preys and made victorious in your NAME. 

Thousands may we too slay if we keep our vows to you and in you find our strength.  Then on the Day of your Son’s return, the angels shall sing of the glory which is ours in you and in Him, O LORD, as we enter your reign. 

Direct download: BC-011912-Th_2_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.17:32-33,37,40-51;   Ps.144:1-2,9-10;   Mk.3:1-6)

“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,

but I come against you in the name of the Lord.”

“The battle is the Lord’s” is the simple truth David proclaims to all those who stand in arms.  To “all this multitude,” he declares “that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves.”  Thus with David’s defeat of the Philistine giant is emphasized what has already been revealed in the anointing of this ruddy youth as king and the loss of that kingship by the tall-in-stature Saul: the exalted are humbled and the humbled exalted.  For God blesses those who make Him their “rock,” trusting not in their own wealth or strength.  “My refuge and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me,” David chants in praise of the Lord in his holy psalm.  And so should we all take refuge in the Lord, and find strength in praising His Name.

And in “hoping to be able to bring an accusation against Him,” do not the Pharisees come, too, with sword and spear against God’s holy one today in our gospel?  And do they not make this violence clear in their turning “to plot with the Herodians on how they might destroy Him”?  They are defeated in battle by the Word of truth which issues forth and indeed is embodied by the Christ of God, Jesus, Son of David, Son of God.  They cannot contradict the authority of His teaching or the blessing of the healing He brings from the Father on high, but yet they harden their hearts and close “their minds against Him,” seeking to confirm their trust in the warring hand of this world in the capture and crucifixion of their Savior.  But the battle is the Lord’s, and their attempts to destroy Him shall prove the fruitlessness of such trust in violence – indeed, their killing Him with sword and spear shall be the instrument which leads to His resurrection, bringing the dawn of new life in whose light death itself, and the pride of man, shall be destroyed forever.

Let all know it is the Lord who fights for those whom He loves, those who trust in Him and His ways, who seek to do good and not evil, to “preserve life” and not “destroy it.”  The question Jesus poses to the Pharisees He presents to us: do we cherish the saving power of the Lord of life and take refuge and joy in Him, or do we reach for the weapons at our side to destroy Him?  The posturing of this world is vain, for it is God who holds life and death in His Hand.

*******

O LORD, you save us from the clutches of evil men. 

YHWH, the battle is yours.  You strengthen our hands against the enemy and give victory to your chosen ones.  Despite the plots of those who surround us with evil intent, despite the might of the armies arrayed against us, you give confidence to those who trust in you, for with you the faithful soul triumphs over the powers of this world.

You deliver us in the day of battle, dear God; you are our refuge, our stronghold, and by your hand we destroy those who come at us with closed minds and hardened hearts, railing against your holy One.  They cannot stand before your awesome power – their swords and spears are broken by the Word that issues from your mouth. 

The head of the snake shall be cut off, crushed by the feet of your lowly ones, and we shall sing your praise, O LORD.  Forever we shall be preserved from the violence of the enemy. 

Direct download: BC-011812-W_2_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.16:1-13;   Ps.89:20-22,27-28;   Mk.2:23-28) 

“Man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”

Indeed, how different the vision of God from the vision of man, and how well the Lord illustrates this in His rejection of Saul and His choosing of David.  When Samuel sees Eliab, whose appearance and “lofty stature” are reminiscent of Saul, even this great seer is blinded by his eyes and must be directed by God to look beyond what is apparent to his sight.  All seven sons brought to the feast are rejected by the Lord, and the youngest, “who is tending the sheep,” must be sent for.  Jesse, his father, did not think David worthy of coming to the sacrificial banquet, but it is he who is the centerpiece of the celebration.  This ruddy youth is the one chosen by the eyes of God.

And lest we think that there is some kind of diametrical opposition between physical beauty and interior loveliness, we must note that David is not ugly to behold and the Lord does not choose him for a poor appearance.  He too was “handsome… and making a splendid appearance.”  But the beauty of David finds its source not in the skin but in a heart set on God, and it is this faithfulness and dedication to Him upon which the Lord gazes and, so, chooses, and not upon the curls falling around his face.  David’s appearance is beautiful because his soul is beautiful, and his soul is beautiful because it finds its life in God.  And so, from the day of his anointing by Samuel, God’s prophet, “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David” and there remained, for it had found its proper home.

In our gospel we have a quote like unto the one separated out for this day, and expressive of a similar lesson: “The Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath,” Jesus tells the Pharisees critical of His disciples picking, peeling, and eating heads of grain on the Lord’s Day.  For what do the Pharisees do but judge the law by its appearance alone, and fail to look into its heart.  The law is indeed beautiful to behold and was made for man for his benefit, to draw him close to God; but how far from its purpose these leaders of the people have come, and so, how distant from the Lord they stand – unable to recognize Him as He stands before them.  The sabbath itself was made for man’s rest and refreshment from labor, and yet when the disciples of Christ pick and eat to allay their hunger, to find refreshment for their failing bodies, these Pharisees deem it evil.  Again one wonders how they can be so blind.  Again it is apparent that they are unable to see beyond the surface.  Empty indeed are their hearts.

As He has done for David, the Lord makes us strong, makes us fruitful and beautiful.  He blesses our works as the works of this “highest of the kings of the earth,” if those works are founded in Christ.  If we truly say with David, “You are my father, my God, the rock, my savior,” the Lord will hear us, and finding His presence in our hearts, He will bless us, even as His only Son.

*******

O LORD, your Spirit be with us as with David, 

as with Jesus. 

YHWH, give us eyes to see what you see, hearts to understand your will.  Your Spirit dwell within us that we might be as your Chosen One. 

O LORD, as we are presented before you, may we be acceptable in your sight.  Let our hearts not be hardened to your Word but anointed by your Son’s blood.  O that we might call you our Father and know Jesus as our Savior!  Give us your Wisdom that we might radiate your beauty to all who look upon us this day. 

David you blessed, dear God, as king of kings, as the child upon whom your favor rested.  Is He not the figure of your only Son?  In Him do we not see presaged the Christ who would be Lord even of the Sabbath?  

And are we not called to be joined to Him, to have His anointing upon us this day, His Spirit to guide us in all things?  Let us be fed by your Anointed, O LORD, that His crown might be upon our heads, that our eyes might be open to His glory. 

Direct download: BC-011712-Tu_2_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.15:16-23;   Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23;   Mk.2:18-22)

“Does the Lord so delight in holocausts and sacrifices

as in obedience to the command of the Lord?

The answer to the question Samuel puts to Saul is, in a word, “No.”  “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams.”  Nothing does the Lord deem greater than our hearing and heeding His Word, than our obedience to His will.  And nothing will save us, nothing will preserve our place in His kingdom like our doing what He asks of us.

Saul loses his kingship for his disobedience to the command of the Lord.  The Lord has told him to destroy the enemy he invades and all that belongs to them.  Saul retains some of the animals to bring back for sacrifice to God.  Why waste them?  Why not honor God with them?  Reasonable thoughts to the human mind, but not the will of God.  And in heeding these thoughts is revealed the seed of Saul’s rebellion against God, which will lead to his attempts to destroy the king (David) the Lord has chosen to replace him, and end in his own suicide.

How prone the human mind is to favor its own counsels against those of God.  How foolish seem submission and obedience, especially when they go against our own logic.  But David will show the humility God desires in those He would bless.  “To him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God,” He promises us.  David will be one who does not hate the discipline of the Lord or cast His words behind his back.  When all justification is present for his killing Saul, who hunts down God’s chosen like an animal, he forgoes every opportunity, respecting his pursuer as God’s anointed.  How different his attitude from Saul’s, he who “rejected the command of the Lord” by taking matters in his own soiled hands.

The blessing obedience is, the transcendent joy of joining oneself to the will of the Lord, is evident in our gospel as well, in Jesus’ teaching that “new wine is poured into new skins” and not old.  Fasting is a blessed sacrifice provided by the law and by God.  But as wholesome as this practice, or any other religious observance, can be, it does not supersede being present to the Lord.  If we are not present to Him, all our works become empty.  The disciples are so close to Jesus, so happy to be in His company, it is as if they have stepped into heaven – and so how can the law’s prescription for fasting touch them in a place where fasting is no longer necessary?  Indeed, they shall fast upon His death, and we know our great saints have performed great fasts and sacrifices in the Name of the Lord and for His glory… but first the grace of God must be with us all, or all becomes empty show.

It is the new wine of which we drink now, brothers and sisters; it is the Word become whole which is ours.  Let us now be obedient to the Lord’s command, and all we do will be joy for us and for our God.

******* 

O LORD, make of us new wineskins 

that we might bear your Word within ourselves.

YHWH, let us not question your Word or your will but walk in your way, for only by such obedience will we find salvation.  Let us not pull away from you or presume our thoughts above your own.  For in such foolishness we shall surely die – how can we remain if rejected by you? 

And surely shall our rejection come if we fail to listen to your command and do your bidding.  For your command is life to us, O LORD, and following in your way our means to glory; thus we will be without hope if we turn from your discipline.

Let us listen to Jesus, Him whom you have sent as Bridegroom among us.  In His presence our hearts rejoice, and apart from Him we can only fast.  But in feasting and in sacrifice He is our treasure; Him do we love.  And so, let us be obedient to His teaching, LORD, that your blessing we might ever find. 

Direct download: BC-011612-M_2_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.9:1-4,17-19,10:1;   Ps.21:2-7;   Mk.2:13-17) 

“You are to govern the Lord’s people Israel,

and to save them from the grasp of their enemies round about.”

Tall and handsome, Saul gives every appearance of a king.  And so God gives the people what they want in this “handsome young man” who “stood head and shoulders above the people.”  But with Saul the Lord shall indeed prove that it is not upon appearances He gazes.  In the failure of Saul’s reign will be revealed the emptiness of such outward attraction and our proclivity to desire what is appealing to the eye.  For Saul shall not prove to be God’s anointed; His Christ shall be quite another.

It is not of Saul our psalm of David sings when it speaks of the blessings of the king.  The “majesty and splendor [the Lord] conferred upon him” is as passing as his beauty.  The “crown of pure gold” is to be placed upon the head of Jesus Christ alone; it is He the Father has made “a blessing forever.”  His glory will be reflected in David, the ruddy shepherd youth whose son he is called, but will be fulfilled only in the Person of Jesus.  It is He in whom all kings rejoice, in whom all find “the joy of [God’s] presence,” in whom all discover victory.

In our gospel, Jesus, the true king, comes, not with stately train, but “walking along the lakeshore.”  And crowds of people follow Him, people not of power and riches or reputation; rather, “many tax collectors and those known as sinners joined Him.”  This greatly disturbed the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees – it was not according to their vision of who He should be and what He should do.  “Why does He eat with such as these?” they complain to His disciples.  But He has a ready answer, one which cuts to the heart of us all and reveals the nature and purpose of this true king: “People who are healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do.”  And so the Savior comes into our midst, neither tall nor handsome nor desiring praise, to save us from our sin.

We are all sick, brothers and sisters!  Make no doubt; have no question about it.  We need Him!  It is this king and the “goodly blessings” that flow from Him that must be our heart’s desire, for He alone will bring us into the joy of the kingdom; He alone will save us from the sin into which we have all fallen.  Let us follow Him as Levi, leaving behind our sinful station in life, and He will govern us well.

*******

O LORD, Jesus you have made King over us 

that we might be saved from sin

and rejoice in your presence forever.

YHWH, your Son, our King, has come to call us from our sin, to save men in need of healing.  And who among us is not in need of Him?  Pity the poor soul who thinks himself so. 

What are we in your sight, O LORD?  However tall we might be, we are no more than ants.  To you all men are sick and in need of a physician; you see how quickly our beauty fades. 

Oh if we could only see as you see!  If we could only recognize your greatness among us in the humble stature of Jesus, the holy One.  Make us ready to follow Him as Matthew from his post.  Somehow open our eyes to see His gaze passing before us. 

Save us from the grasp of our enemies round about.  Only you could govern us; only in you could we rejoice in victory.  O LORD, let us join your Son in majesty and splendor – for us He is a blessing forever.  In Him we find all we need.  In Him we are all anointed kings. 

Direct download: BC-011412-Sa_1_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.8:4-7,10-22;   Ps.89:2,16-19;   Mk.2:1-12) 

“We have never seen anything like this!”

What the Lord can do, no one else is able to do – no king, no prophet, no priest.  Though all may do in His name, nothing is done except through Him.  He alone forgives sins; He alone heals.  He alone fights our battles, for He alone rules over us.

In asking Samuel to appoint a king over them, the Israelites reject the rule of God in their lives.  If they but believed, the Lord would take care of all their concerns and they would keep all His blessings – their children, their animals, their land… as their own.  But they do not trust in Him; rather, they fear the world, the surrounding nations, and seek to be like them, to fight as they do – to have one of their own to rule them.  And thus they will lose what they have, for when we give all to God, He returns all we give with manifold blessing; but when we trust in man, giving ourselves to him, he swallows up our offerings.

Our psalm expresses well the attitude we should have toward God.  It should be “in the light of [His] countenance” we walk.  It should be “at [His] name [we] rejoice all the day.”  We should say with our psalmist: “To the Lord belongs our shield, and to the Holy One of Israel, our king.”  And so it is Jesus who must be our King; He alone must rule our lives, for He alone truly belongs to God; He alone is the Son of God.

The scribes were right to ask, “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” for God alone stood before them, forgiving the sins of His children.  And it is now by His power, His presence, that our priests forgive men’s sins in His name.  “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” and He does not take that power from the face of the earth upon His return to the Father’s side in heaven: He multiplies that power – as well as the power to teach, to, in this sense, rule our lives – in His holy Church and its appointed leaders.  What He granted to the Israelites because of their stubbornness of heart, He now brings full circle by blessing us with the presence of Christ: our king, our prophet, and our priest.  No longer is it blasphemy for one to stand in God’s stead, for the Lord has visited His people.

And should we not praise Him, therefore, for the wonders He accomplishes in our midst?  Should we not shout for joy for His blessings?  For now we have a king to rule us, a king greater than any other; now we need not fear the attacks of any nation.  For even Satan He holds in His hands and casts him out at will; and so we are able to return to our land, to stand up and “go home.”  May “all give praise to God” for His goodness to us, turning our foolishness and sin to His grace and blessing before our very eyes.

*******

O LORD, let us walk in the light of your countenance; 

you alone are our strength. 

YHWH, forgive us our sins, forgive our rejecting your rule over us.  Forgive our seeking to be like other nations with one like ourselves as our king – O why do we not cherish your presence in our midst?  But thank you for sending your Son to be our King, to be Lord over us, for by this grace you take our foolish desire and make it holy.  By Him we are redeemed from our sin…  By Him we are forgiven.

Only you, O God, can forgive our sins, and this you do through your Son.  For He shares your authority – He Himself is God.  And this power to forgive sins you extend to men who stand this day in Jesus’ stead.  Though we be weak and sinful, in His Name all is accomplished according to your will.

And in your Church men now also teach in the Name of Jesus, and so in your NAME as well.  O LORD, let us hear your Word, let us know your healing, that all the day we might give praise to you.

Direct download: BC-011312-F_1_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.4:1-11;   Ps.44:10-11,14-15,24-25,27;   Mk.1:40-45) 

“Our souls are bowed down to the dust;

our bodies are pressed to the earth.”

The Israelites suffer “a disastrous defeat” at the hands of their worst enemy.  Not only do they lose thirty thousand men, but the ark of God – “who is enthroned upon the cherubim” which protect it – the tabernacle which holds the manna and the tablets of the Ten Commandments.  This most holy ark is taken into the camp of the Philistines.  How can this be?  The Israelites trusted in God’s presence to save them, and they are beaten down.  Our psalm addresses their plight directly: “You have cast us off and put us in disgrace, and you go not forth with our armies… those who hated us plundered us at will.”  And so the psalmist cries out with the defeated Israelites, “Why do you hide your face, forgetting our woe and our oppression?”

The Israelites – like the thieves on the cross either side of Christ, like us all – deserved their crushing defeat.  They, again, as us all, turned their faces from the Lord of hosts to worship false and empty gods.  There should be no question as to why the chastising hand of God is upon any of us.  But our psalm is about more than this defeat of Israel or even our own punishment for sin.  Written as the voice of Jesus Himself, it reveals the suffering of the innocent Lamb of God in our stead: “You made us the reproach of our neighbors, the mockery and the scorn of those around us.”  Jesus endures the scourging and the crown of thorns and the crucifixion for no other reason than to save our souls from similar fate, and worse, from condemnation.  The sinless dove dies for the sinful flesh, which keeps us all in prison and pushes our faces to the dust.  Though the sons of the high priest die in battle and are no more, Jesus lives, and through His death in battle for our souls, all now live.

In our gospel “a leper approach[es] Jesus with a request, kneeling down as he address[es] Him.”  Here we all are as sinners, symbolized by this outcast, coming earnestly to Jesus and humbling ourselves to the ground which, without God, is our place, is the dust from which we come and to which we return.  Jesus is “moved with pity.”  Jesus “stretch[es] out His hand.”  Jesus “touch[es] him,” and says: “Be cured.”  And the man is made whole. 

Yes, this leper must be each of us, brothers and sisters.  Humbly, our faces to the ground, knowing our sin and being repentant of it, we must come to Him.  And He will raise our souls from the dust and our bodies from the earth into which they have fallen.  This is why He has come; let us come to Him.

*******

O LORD, we come to you to beg your grace:

make us no longer the laughingstock of the nations.

YHWH, our bodies are pressed to the earth; we are bowed down to the dust.  As the leper we come before you begging your healing touch.  May your Son reach out to us that we might be saved from all evil. 

Disastrous defeat we suffer at the hands of the devil for we have sinned against you, O LORD our God.  Our enemies overcome us for you do not fight with us, and so we are without a savior.  Our courage fails for we are alone and have no help from you.

What can we do on our own, dear God?  Of what worth are our souls left to their own device?  Where shall we find the strength to withstand the attack against us?  Our oppressors bring us to woe, we are put to disgrace, for you have cast us off and we cannot enter battle alone. 

O LORD, if you will to do so, you can cure us!  Turn with pity to your wayward sons.  Hide not your face from us, but let us know the merciful gaze of Jesus.

Direct download: BC-011212-Th_1_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.3:1-10,19-20;   Ps.40:2-5,7-10;   Mk.1:29-39) 

“To do your will, O Lord, is my delight.” 

O how Samuel shows the “ears open to obedience” we all must have.  For when called, even from sleep, he immediately and repeatedly rises and presents himself for service to the Lord.  Even from his youth he is with the Lord and in His will.  Such readiness to serve is also revealed in Peter’s mother-in-law, who, when touched by Jesus, “immediately began to wait on them.”  She, too, rises quickly from bed (and sickness) to do the work of the Lord.

And certainly Jesus Himself is our greatest example of readiness to do God’s will, for He and the Father are indeed one and all He does is according to the Father’s word.  After healing the “whole town” of their afflictions, working to exhaustion to arouse those imprisoned by the darkness of demons and bringing them into the light of God for service of the good, He rises “early the next morning” and goes “off to a lonely place in the desert,” where “He was absorbed in prayer.”  When the disciples find Him, He is prepared to move on to the next town and the same exhausting work in service of the will of God, saying of the need to “proclaim the good news”: “That is what I have come to do.”

It is said of Samuel: he “grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.”  And so, well does this great prophet presage the coming of Christ – He who fulfills the will of the Father – and the faith of all those who follow Him.  For all those who wait for the Lord, He stoops toward.  To all those who say, “Behold, I come,” He Himself comes, He Himself strengthens… His greatness He makes known through His children.  So it is written in the scroll and upon our hearts: so is the will of God accomplished in our lives.

Only Him do we serve, brothers and sisters.  His voice alone we must hear and heed.  “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” must ever be our attitude toward the Creator of heaven and earth and the Savior of our souls.  The Spirit’s lead we must follow readily.  And He will be with us to bless and give us the strength we need to work in Him beyond exhaustion, beyond sickness… beyond death.   Life will be ours.

*******

O LORD, let your Good News be proclaimed

that all might hear and be healed

and ready to answer your call.

YHWH, to do your will is our delight, is our holy call in this world.  Let us be so blessed to hear your voice and accomplish the work you set before us.  Let nothing we say be without effect; let us never act apart from you.  Somehow let us find you so present to us as you were to Samuel – somehow let us follow in the footsteps of your Son.

In the temple let us dwell, in your holy resting place.  Before the ark of the Covenant let us keep watch – never let your light be extinguished from our hearts and minds.  Ready let us be to answer your call and show ourselves your servants.  O LORD, let us do your will. 

Why should we be afflicted when your Son is near to cast all demons from our souls, to heal us of every illness.  To His door let us come, O LORD, and He will reach out His hand to save us.  Give light to these eyes blinded by age and the falsehood of this evil world.  In obedience let us stand before you. 

Direct download: BC-011112-W_1_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.1:9-20;   1Sm.2:1,4-8;   Mk.1:21-28) 

“May the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”

For He holds all authority.  “He gives orders to unclean spirits and they obey.”  “The Lord puts to death and gives life; He casts down to the nether world; He raises up again.”  All He wills, He does – nothing is beyond His reach and power.  And His desire is to answer your prayer.  If you are faithful as is Hannah, if you come before Him in such sincerity and truth, then what you ask shall be yours; for He Himself is sincerity and truth and goodness, and when you join yourself to Him, you join yourself to His authority… and find the answer to your prayer by His presence in your heart.

And so your heart shall exult with Hannah’s.  And so you shall see how “He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap He lifts up the poor.”  Indeed the prayer of the poor touches His heart and He “seat[s] them with nobles and make[s] a glorious throne their heritage.”  To heaven do they come, for heaven is their love.

How evident is the Lord’s will and favor to those lowly ones who seek Him in the birth of Samuel – whose very name means “asked of the Lord” – to the barren wife Hannah.  None could be poorer in blessing than she; ridiculed by the world is she for the Lord’s lack of favor toward her.  But as bitter as the fruit she must taste, she does not rebel against her God, but comes to Him in all humility and with a heart full of prayer and eyes filled with tears.  And He loves His child.  And one of the greatest men of the Old Testament becomes her son.  And her song in praise of the Lord foreshadows Mary’s own.

“Jesus entered the synagogue on the sabbath and began to teach.”  He comes to us now with His Word, His authority.  Where Hannah sought Him, He now comes to us, offering freely the wisdom and power and grace which are His alone.  And there is nothing which stands in the way of that Word.  There is nothing to prevent its coming to our hearts and healing our souls of all injury, if we but listen, if we but seek His presence in our lives – if we but promise to give all to Him, He will give all we ask to us.

*******

O LORD, you have granted what we have asked of you

in Jesus your Son.

YHWH, the needy you lift up from the dust; the barren wife bears seven sons and the poor man you seat with nobles.  For you hear the prayer of those who cry to you, who believe in you despite their misery and come with a sincere heart – you cannot resist our tears.  You have all authority and that authority you wield to heal those in need and teach us your way of holiness. 

And so our hearts exult in you, O LORD.  You give us victory over all our enemies.  Sin you cast far from our souls; all unclean spirits vanish at your Word.  The holy One you have sent to us, and He is our LORD and Savior. 

And so we are rich in Jesus, your Son.  And so a glorious throne you make our heritage.  Though a moment before we may have been in the throes of evil, though so long we may have dwelt in sorrow, you give us new life and raise us to your side.  In Jesus let us make our home. 

Direct download: BC-011012-Tu_1_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.1:1-8;   Ps.116:12-19;   Mk.1:14-20)

“Hannah was childless.”

And so she would “weep and refuse to eat,” for it was “a constant reproach to her that the Lord had left her barren.”

But He will not leave her barren long.  Her husband’s love for her despite her condition and her own prayers will soon be answered: she will give birth to the great prophet and priest, Samuel, who will anoint kings in Israel.

And her song of joy, which will foreshadow our Blessed Mother’s own Magnificat, is here foreshadowed in our psalm in praise of the Lord’s favor to His servants: “To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord,” as is her faithfulness in fulfilling her vow to offer her son entirely to God: “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people.”  All who have looked upon her shame and sorrow shall marvel at the blessing the Lord’s “handmaid” will receive as He looses her bonds of emptiness and makes her fruitful in His eyes.

And in our gospel the Lord awakens the empty womb of the earth, stirring it to life.  “The reign of God is at hand!  Reform your lives and believe in the Good News!” He proclaims to a people in darkness.  And children He brings forth from this barren country, the disciples He calls unto Himself, to be the first to share in His life.  And they come forth, these pillars of the Church; they leave behind the world, all the world, to follow Him.  Immediately, “on the spot,” they “became His followers.”  “Along the Sea of Galilee,” beside this simple body of water, the waves of grace call forth from the darkness the light that shall illumine all men.

“How shall [we] make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for [us]?”  How shall we poor sinners, barren of good works, unfruitful in His sight, thank Him for hearing our grieving cries?  Simply, we must bear fruit in His name.

We are no longer childless.

*******

O LORD, call us to yourself

that we might be childless no more. 

YHWH, let us enter the temple singing your praise, for though we sit here in darkness weeping for our barrenness before you, you shall hear our prayer, you shall answer our weeping and make us fruitful in your sight.  For now the Word goes forth to the ends of the earth, the Good News your Son brings to us through His blessed apostles, and our lives will be reformed and we made ready to enter your presence.

Look upon us, LORD our God, as here we toil in vain for the bread which cannot satisfy our souls.  For you alone do we long, and long have we been waiting in tears for you to come to us and call us to your side.  Hearing the sound of your Son’s voice, what can we do but rejoice?  For He is our light in this darkness.

And so, let us offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving; let us leave all behind now to follow your Son, for He leads us to fruitful labor in your holy NAME.  O LORD, let us die to the things of this world that we might live in glory forever.

Direct download: BC-010912-M_1_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.5:14-21;   Ps.149:1-6,9;   Jn.3:22-30)

 

“The Son of God has come and has given us discernment

to recognize the One who is true.”

 

John’s disciples had difficulty recognizing “the One who is true.”  They saw everyone “flocking to Him” and away from their master, so they came to their master questioning.  But John was forthright: “I am not the Messiah,” he said, “I am sent before Him.”  And now that He has come, the Baptist’s joy is complete.

Brothers and sisters, “we know that we belong to God, while the whole world is under the evil one.”  “We are in the One who is true.”  Jesus has brought us to such knowledge.  And this knowledge, this reality of the eternal life of God, should make us rejoice with our psalmist.  It should make our lives ones of thanksgiving in which we “praise His name in the festive dance” and “with timbrel and harp.”  For, yes, “the Lord loves His people” and we are His faithful who “exult in glory.”  Let us “be glad in [our] maker.”

The world is under sin, and there is deadly sin which destroys the soul lurking in the world.  The devil is real as well, and will not simply go away.  And though only God can cast him away ultimately, we can pray against much of his work in this world, “petition[ing] God,” interceding for our brothers who falter in sin that is not deadly… and finding their release through the grace of God.  With this “confidence in God: that He hears us whenever we ask for anything according to His will,” we have a great gift and a great strength in this dark world – we can bring light to it, the light of the only Son.  But we must always be as “the body” He adorns “with victory.”  We must have the same attitude as the Lord’s “best man,” and say with the Baptist, “He must increase while I must decrease.”  We must find our joy in Him and not in our works or in our pride.  He is all and He is true, and He leads us to the kingdom in His baptism in water and the Spirit.  Brothers and sisters, we must see the grace we have in our midst.  Jesus is ours.

 

*******

O LORD, let us remain in you

and rejoice at the coming of your Son. 

YHWH, in Baptism we are begotten by you and protected from all sin and selfishness.  Let what you have begun in us become complete – let all sin be taken from us that we might rejoice forever in your presence.

O LORD, let our joy be complete.  Now that your Son has come and drawn us into His flesh and blood, now that He has cleansed us from our sins and made us whole again, let us decrease as He increases within us, until He is all in all in us… until we exult in the glory of your kingdom.

O LORD, let all your children praise your holy NAME and sing of the grace upon all the lowly ones of God.  O true God, let us be your own, born again in your Son, in the Spirit upon Him.  And we shall be ready even to die with Him that we might find new life in Him with all our brothers and sisters.

Save us from sin, dear LORD, and let us live in your glory.

Direct download: Saturday_after_Epiph.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.5:5-13;   Ps.147:12-15,19-20;   Lk.5:12-16)

 

“Whoever possesses the Son possesses life.”

 

What does our psalmist mean when he sings: “He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat He fills you,” but that we are in Christ?  What are those “borders” but the flesh of Christ?  What is this wheat but the manna, the Sacrament of His Body He gives us to feed upon during our earthly journey?  And this word which “runs swiftly,” what is it but the Spirit which enlivens the Body of Christ, which brings the flesh of Christ to life?  And why should we not “glorify the Lord,” the God of life, who provides His Son and His Spirit, who makes the world and all that is in it, who calls us to believe, as the human beings we are, in the name of the Son, that we might find all three who testify to truth and “are of one accord”?

It is through the Son we come to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit.  If we believe in God the Father, we believe “the testimony He has given on His own Son’s behalf,” and we find the eternal life that is thus ours through the Son.  May the Spirit run quickly to us and teach us and guide us along the way of God.

In our gospel Jesus heals a leper.  He reaches out His hand “to touch him” and so draws him into Himself, into the borders of His holy flesh, and he is made whole.  He wills it so, that the bars of all our gates be strengthened, that all enter into Him – that we be healed, whole in Him, and that our children, the fruit of our own bodies be blessed by their truly being begotten therefore of Him.  If we are in Him, so will our children be, so will all the works we perform.  But we must come as the leper, “bowed down to the ground.”  We, too, must see Jesus and be moved to humble ourselves before His loving glory.  In faith we, too, must desire His touch upon our flesh, to be released from all sin, to be made whole again.  And we must do as He instructs us through the power of the Spirit; then we shall find life with the Father in heaven.

If it is remarkable that the Son of God would draw the leprous man into His sacred flesh and make him His own, it is perhaps more remarkable that He would do the same for us poor sinners – that being possessed by Him, we possess Him, and so we enter life by the flesh of Christ.

 

*******

O LORD, let all men know

that Jesus Christ is the Son of God

and eternal life to all who believe in Him. 

YHWH, by a word from your mouth and the touch of your hand, we are healed of all our ills; your Son has come to save us.  He is all we need to find eternal life – let Him live within us.

You testify, O LORD, by the word of the Spirit that Jesus is your beloved Son and we should believe in Him.  Your testimony let us embrace in faith that the life you desire for us we may know.

Your Word of truth runs swiftly, LORD, and brings peace to our gates and borders.  Our very flesh is anointed in your Son – in Him your Spirit is upon us.  And we are blessed as your children; we are made whole in your sight.  Let your Word run to all the world, that all might know of the glory you bring us in Jesus your only Son, in the water upon Him and in His sacrificial blood.  In faith let all bow down before Him, seeking a word from His mouth and the touch of His hand.

Direct download: Friday_after_Epiph.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.4:19-5:4;   Ps.72:1-2,11,14-15,17;   Lk.4:14-22)

 

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

Today the Son has come into our midst.  Today He has “unrolled the scroll” of the Word of God and read aloud the words written of Him for all to hear.  Today the WORD is brought to life.  As “appealing” as is the discourse which flows forth from His gracious lips, so much greater is the Spirit that is upon Him.  For by that Spirit and in His sacred flesh He shall “bring glad tidings to the poor… proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and release to prisoners.”  In word and deed He “announce[s] a year of favor from the Lord.”  In Him all time comes together.  In Him it is all one moment.  And this moment reveals the love of God.

And by the Son we are begotten, by His love: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God.”  And so, children we become with the one Child most blessed.  And if we are all one child born of the love of God and His Word, what can we do but love one another?  Does one not love his own flesh and bone?  And so, “whoever loves God must also love his brother,” for his brother is of him as he is of God and both are His children in love, born of the flesh of the one Christ.

“In Him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed.”  It is not for the few He has come, but for all.  For God is the Father of all and the Son possesses and reveals all that is of the Father.  “All nations shall proclaim His happiness,” for all peoples shall find their happiness in Him alone, who is love and which love is itself our happiness and our hope.

Speak to us, Lord Jesus.  Work through us, dear God.  Let your Commandment of love be fulfilled in us.  Let our love be fixed on God and let us love our brother.  May we hear the words you speak in our midst today.  May your Spirit make us children of the Father.

 

*******

O LORD, Jesus is the Christ;

your Spirit is upon Him and He has come to save us –

let us declare His praise. 

YHWH, your Word is fulfilled in Jesus and in the Spirit upon Him.  Glad tidings the poor hear from His blessed lips, and we who are blind may now see your glorious presence in our midst.  From our prisons let us be released, that we might love as Jesus loves.

If we remain in your Son, we will be able to keep your commands and so be blessed forever.  You will give us power to conquer the world, to conquer the world even as He has done.  O LORD, in Him may our lives be governed with justice, that our mouths might bless you all our days.

O LORD, if we keep our eyes and ears and hearts fixed on Jesus, we will know your love and be able to share in that love.  Truly we will love you and our brother, and every blessing will be ours by the grace upon your Son.  Your Name be praised by the tongues of men for all the goodness He brings us

Direct download: Thursday_after_Epiph.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.4:11-18;   Ps.72:1-2,10,12-13;   Mk.6:45-52)

 

“If we love one another, God dwells in us,

and His love is brought to perfection in us.”

 

Jesus has just fed the five thousand men with the five loaves and two fish.  He has performed a great miracle before the eyes of His disciples and through their hands.  Yet “their minds were completely closed to the meaning of the events,” and when He comes walking toward them on the water in the middle of the night as their boat is tossed about by a storm, they are “terrified.”  They are afraid because they are not yet perfect.  John tells us in his first letter, a letter of love: “Love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid” and “perfect love casts out all fear.”  The disciples will not be perfect, will remain afraid, until after the death and resurrection of the Lord, and, really, until Pentecost, when the Spirit falls upon them.  As John states, “The way we know we remain in Him and He in us is that He has given us of His Spirit.”

His Spirit is the Spirit of love and He, our Lord Jesus, is Himself love.  John follows both the clauses, “If we love one another” and “When anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,” with the statement that God dwells in us.  Jesus and love are equated as the Spirit and love are equated above.  Why?  Because “God is love” and both Jesus and the Spirit are God, and so are love.

Brothers and sisters, our love must be brought to perfection, and it is “brought to perfection in this: that we should have confidence on the day of judgment” – that we should have no fear of the punishment we deserve, that we know fully of His love.  Jesus takes a step to preparing the disciples against the judgment, against fear and for love, by walking toward them on the water.  He means to teach them that they should not be afraid of the wind and the waves which rock our boat in this world, nor should they be afraid of His miraculous, overwhelmingly loving presence.  Let us learn what Jesus would teach the disciples: “Do not be afraid!”  “For He shall rescue the poor man when he cries out.”  He is love and He will save us.  Let our minds open to His presence as we love one another, and let that love be brought to absolute perfection in us.  May His Spirit be with you.

 

*******

O LORD, your Son has come among us as a Man –

how can we recognize His glory in our midst;

how can we love as He has loved? 

YHWH, why should we be afraid of your love, of your glory among us?  Why would we rather remain in darkness than come into your light?  Why can we not believe that your Son has walked among us and that He invites us to become one with you?  How can our hearts bear such blessing?

O LORD, cast all the fear from us; let us not shrink from your presence, from your overwhelming love, but welcome it in our hearts with gratitude and a return of love to you and others.  Let it be our desire to be saved and so glorify Jesus’ coming into our midst.  Let Him enter our boat this day, and with Him let us remain.

Dwell within us, O LORD God.  Dwell within us and rule over us with your justice and love.  Hear us as we cry out to you; have pity on our afflicted souls.  Speak to us: “Do not be afraid!” and open our eyes to your eternal protection.

Direct download: Wednesday_after_Epiph.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.4:7-10,   Ps.72:1-4,7-8,11;   Mk.6:34-44)

 

“Justice shall flower in His days, and profound peace,

till the moon be no more.”

 

Our psalm (of Solomon, the king of peace and wisdom) relates the infinite justice of God, He who “defend[s] the afflicted among the people” and “save[s] the children of the poor.”  Such is the judgment of our God, who “rule[s] from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth”: His perfect justice He showers upon all.

And how is this justice effected?  It is already evident from what we have said, from what our psalmist has sung of His Name, and our letter from John leaves no question – “God is love.”  His ultimate justice and love have been “revealed in our midst in this way: He sent His only Son to the world that we might have life through Him.”  In sending Jesus “as an offering for our sins,” His perfect love and perfect justice meet and kiss and become one.  He bleeds for us, and so our sins are forgiven.

And what clearer proof that we all “have life through Him” is shown in our gospel, in which Jesus feeds the masses.  First He teaches them with the Word “at great length.”  Having pity on them, He feeds their souls with Truth.  But His pity does not end there – His concern extends to the physical as well as the spiritual… for He knows all our weakness, and He feeds the peoples’ bodies as well as their souls.

What a beautiful picture this is: the people “neatly arranged like flower beds,” Jesus raising the bread to heaven and pronouncing the blessing, the disciples distributing it, and Jesus Himself dividing the fish among them.  All eat and all are satisfied.  Here is a picture of the Lord’s justice and love.  And this scene we enact each day at Mass, listening to His Word, His teaching, and then eating the bread of life He distributes among us.  May the Lord be praised!

And what have we to do to receive this bread of life but heed the words John offers and “love one another.”  For “love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God.”  And this knowledge we find in our love is that His justice is true and endures forever in the perfect peace His presence brings.  Let us have faith forever.

 

*******

O LORD, you sent your Son

to shepherd all afflicted and fainting souls;

may we be nourished by His love. 

YHWH, you send your Son to rule over us with His love, to feed us with His own Body and Blood.  May justice flower in His day and all the ends of the earth be blessed with His peace.  And let us love as He has loved; let us lay down our lives for one another.

O LORD, upon your holy mountain let us take our rest, our souls arranged like flower beds, our hearts yielding to your Word.  May your rule be made complete even in this deserted place where men are as sheep without a shepherd.  To this place let your Son come and make it as your eternal home.  Give us something to eat this day, LORD, by the hand of Jesus and His apostles, or we shall faint for weariness, or we shall starve to death.

It is only your love which sustains us, LORD, only our being joined to you.  May we eat our fill of your goodness, and never be apart from your reign.

Direct download: Tuesday_after_Epiph.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.3:22-4:6;   Ps.2:7-8,10-11;   Mt.4:12-17,23-25)

 

“Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh

belongs to God.”

 

And for every spirit that acknowledges Him, He answers all prayers: “Whatever we ask we shall receive at God’s hands.”   “Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance…”  And so, when “they carried to [Jesus] all those afflicted with various diseases and racked with pain,” He heard this prayer made in faith, made in the belief that He could do this, and as Matthew so simply and wonderfully states, “He cured them all.”  They had listened to His preaching: “Reform your lives!  The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  They accepted it, humbly, taking no offense at His words and His actions – but believing in Him.   And so He could perform such wonders for them, He whose spirit is true; and so “on those who inhabit a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

And now we should “give heed” and “take warning”; now we should “put the spirits to the test to see if they belong to God.”  Now we must clearly acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and know what John tells us, “There is in you One greater than there is in the world,” and follow that Spirit within us.  Are we “keeping His commandments and doing what is pleasing in His sight”?   Do we “remain in Him”?  He is never far away and He will hear all of our prayers and cure us of all ills, if we but believe in Him, if we but heed His teaching – if we reform our lives.  We show our belief in Him when we follow His commandments, and we follow His commandments when we reform our lives.   Thus we prove that we speak His language; in our love we reveal His Spirit in us.

“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you.’”  Even in our psalm are spoken the words of the Father to Jesus; and they are spoken to us, if we believe that He is the Christ.   This is the salvation the Father offers; it is for us to accept it and live it.  For a greater gift we cannot expect, more love He could not show – this is His Son, this is God… believe in Him.   There is nothing else you need seek.

 

*******

O LORD, all those who seek the truth

come to your Son,

and you make them your children. 

YHWH, we shall be healed of every ill; all darkness will be banished from our midst, if we turn from our sins, if we seek to reform our lives – if we believe in the Name of your Son, that He has come in the flesh and is our Savior.  And then our every prayer shall be answered, for we shall be living in your love.

It is not of the world we are to be, O LORD, not of the darkness of this place.  For the world does not recognize that Jesus has come, nor has it ears to hear Him.  But our ears are attuned to His voice and the truth He speaks to our heart.  Let us not be deceived by those who would deny the truth, those who would speak against what is plainly before them.  Let us hold fast to the teaching of your Son and His apostles, and we shall have power to overcome all such evil by His love.

Give us all we ask of you, LORD; give us a world remade in your image.

Direct download: Monday_after_Epiph.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.3:7-10;   Ps.98:1,3,7-9;   Jn.1:35-42)

“When Jesus turned around and noticed them following Him,

He asked them, ‘What are you looking for?’” 

Brothers and sisters, what Jesus asks the first two disciples He asks each of us who follow in their wake.  What do we seek?  Why are we following Him?  What is it we hope to find at the place where He stays?

David makes clear in our psalm that the Son of God, “His holy arm,” has been revealed in our midst – in “wondrous deeds” He “comes to rule the earth.”  “The world and those who dwell in it” should resound with joy.  Him whom John the Baptist points out in no uncertainty is with us now.  There is no other whom we should follow.  And so we do.  And so we come to Him each day, to receive our daily bread.  Seeing where He lodges, we come to stay with Him.

But what does the Lord see when He looks upon us?  Does He stay with us?  When Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, He “looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John; your name shall be Cephas (which is rendered Peter).’”  Jesus upon looking at Peter sees the Rock on which He will build His Church.  Peter’s holiness, the strength he has in God and for God, is evident to the Lord.  Jesus knows what Peter seeks, and both have found what they are looking for.  Is it upon our hearts as well to find the holiness of heaven, to become one with the Son of God?

“The man who acts in holiness is holy indeed, even as the Son is holy,” but “the man who sins belongs to the devil.”  Holiness or sin?  Jesus or the devil?  The choice is clear, and must be evident in our lives.  “No one begotten of God acts sinfully” and “no one whose actions are unholy belongs to God.”  The first letter of John, our first reading, could not more simply state our call in the Lord: to be holy, not to sin… to love our brothers and sisters well – to be as Jesus, the Son most holy.

Jesus will turn and see us; His eyes are upon us now.  What does He see as He looks upon your heart?  What is your answer to His question, “What are you looking for?”  Let His dwelling be all you seek.

*******

O LORD, let us follow your Son to where He lives,

in holiness with you. 

YHWH, let us stay with you and with your Son.  May He turn and look upon us with kindness, with pity for our frail condition.  O let this Lamb take our sins from us that we might no longer be in the grip of the devil but come to eternal life in your House!

The Messiah you have sent is in our midst this day; let us come to the altar to receive Him, to receive His holy sacrifice and become one with Him.  Only thus shall we be made holy; only with Him will we find true justice and so rejoice in your presence, O LORD.  O let us be ruled by Him!

Make us your children, dear LORD.  Make us as your only Son.  May Jesus be with us this day and we with Him that we might become holy indeed.  Never let us act sinfully but ever love as you love, as your Son loves us.  Let us seek your love alone and so be founded upon true Rock, in your House.

Direct download: January_4.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Jn.2:29-3:6;   Ps.98:1,3-6;   Jn.1:29-34)

“Look there! 

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

“This is God’s chosen One.”  This is He upon whom “the Spirit descend[s]” – who takes away our sins and makes us pure by His own baptism “with the Holy Spirit.”  He who walks with Him walks in holiness, for “everyone who acts in holiness has been begotten by Him” – we have become “children of God” because we have now the grace of the only Son.

Listen to the manner in which the Baptist “sing[s] joyfully before the King, the Lord” in our gospel today: “I saw the Spirit descend like a dove from the sky, and it came to rest on Him.”  How like music, like “the harp and melodious song,” is his witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.  His exclamation of Jesus as the holy Lamb of God, offered as a sacrifice pure and undefiled, resounds to the ends of the earth more eloquently and with greater power than “the trumpets and the sound of the horn” of which David sings in our psalm.  Here is the voice proclaiming the Truth, the message our ears have so longed to hear.

“The very reason [John] came baptizing with water was that [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel,” and “the reason [Jesus] revealed Himself was to take away sins” – all this for our salvation.  Yes, brothers and sisters, “in Him there is nothing sinful.”  And we must be like Him.  Insofar as we sin, we have “not seen Him or known Him.”  Insofar as a man “keeps himself pure, as He is pure,” he is His child, knowing Him most intimately, and may exclaim in wonder with John the evangelist: “What love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God!”

All sin and struggle with sin all the while they are on earth.  There are many times when we must admit that we do not see Him or know Him in order for Him to be revealed in our lives, in order for us to find His blessed purity.  We must confess our sins that we might sing His praise.  But all the while the Son is with us, the Lamb intercedes to remove our sins.  And always we must look to Him whom the Baptist proclaimed to be “what we are,” to become “like Him” when His light comes to its fullness and His Spirit is all we know.

*******