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.

(Ws.2:23-3:9;   Ps.34:2-3,16-19;   Lk.17:7-10)

“The souls of the just are in the hands of God,

and no torment shall touch them.”

What does the Lord mean when He instructs us in our gospel to say, “We are useless servants,” than that which David says in our psalm, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves,” and that which the Book of Wisdom states in our first reading: “Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself”?  For though we who serve Christ seem to be dead in the judgment of this world, and the laying down of our lives in service of Christ – who died upon the cross quite freely – seems to be nothing but “utter destruction,” yet we know that it is precisely this death in Christ which brings life… and in His hands we shall be blessed.

“The Lord confronts evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.”  Yet “when the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress He rescues them.”  Yes, “those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with Him in love: because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.”  And “they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their  king forever.”  For they have given their service to the One who rules the universe, and so in His service they shall remain – death shall have no power over them.  If “God formed man to be imperishable” and made him “the image of His own nature,” what shall touch those who serve Him, who treasure that image of God upon them?  How shall they die?

“We have done no more than our duty.”  This is the bottom line of our time on earth.  And the accomplishment of our duty, the fulfillment of the Lord’s Word at work in our hearts, is all that is needed to bring us to eternal life.  And though it is not His obligation, though certainly no reward is due us who have but carried out the orders of our superior, the Lord will say to us in His grace on that day, “Come and sit down at table.”  And we shall sup with Him eternally, His gracious hand upon us for good.

Brothers and sisters, forget not your call to serve Him, to lay down your lives before Him, and He shall not neglect to hear you now, and to give you life eternal.  Keep your “hope full of immortality” even “as gold in the furnace” your mettle is proven this day, and the day of the Lord shall be yours, when all torment shall have fled away.

*******

O LORD, we are indeed useless servants,

but you greatly bless those who serve you.

YHWH, death is upon us this day, you know.  But we who are joined to the Cross of your Son are not touched by it: from death you save your faithful servants.  Whatever power the devil has to threaten us with our sins and the death that comes from them has been destroyed by the sacrifice of Jesus.  And so, we who humble ourselves with Him will be blessed in your kingdom.

When we cry out to you, dear LORD, you are quick to save us; near indeed you are to the brokenhearted.  Though our spirits be crushed by the travails of this life, you raise them to your presence.  And so, what can we do but glory in your NAME?  What can we do but look forward to that day when we shall sit at your table?

O LORD, let us be purified of all dross by the affliction we suffer in union with your only Son.  Remade in His image, into your peace let us come, dwelling in immortality.

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(Wis.1:1-7;   Ps.139:1-10,24;   Lk.17:1-6)

“Where can I hide from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?”

Yes, “wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemous of his guilty lips.”  For the spirit of the Lord is everywhere and hears everything, listening closely to a man’s inmost thoughts.  “For the spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what man says.”  And so it is that David sings, “If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there, too.”  How could we escape His encircling Hand and His omnipresent justice if, as David says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all”?  And so, in heaven He is present to raise us to glory; but in hell, His presence condemns our sin.

We cannot sin, brothers and sisters.  If we do, we shall not escape His hand.  It cannot but be that the Lord condemns all evil, for “into a soul that plots evil, wisdom enters not,” and what hope have we of life if the spirit of wisdom guides us not?  Indeed, we must “seek Him in integrity of heart.”  Yes, justice must be our love, and wisdom our treasure.  This alone will bring us unto heaven.  If our counsels are perverse and we cause sin to occur, leading others astray by our unjust words and actions, the Lord makes quite clear our fate in our gospel today: “It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”  And there is a “little one” in ourselves, whom only the Lord – who probes our heart and mind – knows, and whom we condemn to destruction by our sin.

Rather, we must have faith.  We must forgive others and have an abiding faith in Him, Jesus tells us.  This faith will manifest itself in the great works done in His name, and in our following Him simply day to day.  With such faith we cannot be shaken.  Holding such faith, the light shining upon our souls by Him who sees all will purify us for the coming of His kingdom.

What can we say, brothers and sisters?  The Lord hears us.  Where can we go?  He is with us.  Either for evil because of our turning away, or for our good by our turning to Him, the Lord is ever present.  It must be our desire to come to Him, in wisdom and in justice, in forgiveness and in faith… and hell we shall avoid as gratefully into His glory we fly, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

*******

O LORD, you see us and the sin we commit,  

and so we must turn to you for forgiveness. 

YHWH, your Spirit fills the world; wherever we may go, you are present.  We cannot escape your light, and should we try, we would but find ourselves in hell.  You hear every word we speak: our inmost selves are exposed to your eye.  We must but believe in your love, and Wisdom will be with us as guide. 

But how difficult we make the path to faith.  How ready we are to listen to senseless and perverse counsels and so disbelieve you.  As easily as Eve we fall, O LORD.  May we know your just rebuke of our sins that we might find repentance and taste your forgiveness upon our souls.

O let us not fight against you, dear God! but work always and only for the salvation of all, for the recognition of your eternal glory present in our midst by the Spirit come through your only Son.  And so with you let us dwell.

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

(Rm.15:14-21;   Ps.98:1-4;   Lk.16:1-8)

 

“The worldly take more initiative than the otherworldly

when it comes to dealing with their own kind.”

 

What is the Lord teaching His disciples?  What does He wish to tell them of their call?  We need only look at the Apostle Paul, for here is a man, a child of God, who has taken the initiative the Lord would see wrought in us all.

Our first reading indeed speaks clearly of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.  Not only has he covered a vast measure of the globe (particularly for that time), but his intense initiative is seen most acutely in his never going “to preach in places where Christ’s name was already known”; rather, “they who received no word of Him” became Paul’s audience.  A greater example of taking initiative in the Spirit of Christ to bring His light to the world perhaps will never be known.

But it is required of all of us.  We are not free to revel in complacency because Paul has been so industrious.  It is still true that the Lord must make His salvation known “in the sight of the nations,” and it is still so that we Christians of the Church militant have the responsibility to see that the Lord’s work is accomplished.  Each of us is called to take a measure of initiative, is gifted by God with the responsibility of bringing a portion of His kingdom to light – in our own way, in our own time… but invariably the call is there and must be answered.  All must fulfill their role in salvation history before it can be truly and completely proclaimed: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.”

The devious employee’s heart was set thoroughly on the business at his hands, and he used his business wisdom, his worldly savvy, to save his skin.  Where is our spiritual savvy?  Where is the employment of our spiritual wisdom and insight to the salvation of others’ souls, and our own?  “I can take glory in Christ Jesus for the work I have done for God,” Paul says quite freely.  Are we able to say the same?  Let us work industriously and with initiative to bring the spiritual kingdom to fulfillment.  By God’s grace, let the Spirit come.

 

********

O LORD, let us do all we can to bring your Word

to the world.

YHWH, you have made your salvation known in the death and resurrection of your Son, but we must carry that truth to the ends of the world, even as the Apostle Paul.

We cannot sit on our hands, dear LORD; we must not dissipate your grace.  Rather, let us readily preach your Gospel in all we think, do, and say.  Then we will be pleasing in your sight, and all souls will be drawn into your presence.

O LORD, to your children you have granted complete knowledge of your ways and made them able to serve your kingdom.  In the power of your Spirit let us go forth to see that all peoples are consecrated to you.

Let all souls sing a new song to your NAME; let all praise your goodness to us, LORD.  From your work let us never turn away until we stand with you on your holy Day.

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(Rm.14:7-12;   Ps.27:1,4,13-14;   Lk.15:1-10)

 

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

 

Since “every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God,” who are we to “sit in judgment” or “look down on” a brother?  Why are our eyes set upon others’ sins instead of the Lord’s glory?  Why do we fall into this pit of condemnation?

Yes, Jesus welcomes sinners.  For this has He come.  How blessed are we that He makes such “a diligent search” to retrieve our souls from the grave of sin; how blessed are we when He finds us and puts us “on His shoulders in jubilation.”  In this forgiveness should we glory.  In this grace we should praise the Lord, and seek to help others come to such blessing.  But do we blind ourselves to the grace at work in our souls by setting our sights on the sins of others rather than the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ?  Are we as judgmental as the Pharisees and as those Paul warns today against condemnation of others?

Brothers and sisters, we should rather be with David in his psalm and seek “to dwell in the house of the Lord” forever, and set our “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple”; we must not let our sights fall from heaven to earth and so lose ourselves in the judgment of others’ sin.  This is the great danger.  This is the devil’s temptation: “Look at him,” he says, “see how evil he is.”  If he cannot get us to believe it about ourselves and so lose hope of redemption for our souls, he attempts to distract us with the sins of others, and so achieve the same ends.  We must realize that “both in life and death we are the Lord’s,” that He loves us and desires our salvation, and that He loves and desires the salvation of all our neighbors.  And so we must come to Him, take refuge in Him and in His love and forgiveness, and then we will “see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” and not die a miserable death.

Brothers and sisters, let each of us be that “repentant sinner” over whom the angels of God rejoice.  The Lord welcomes us though we are sinners.  Let us not forget His grace.  And let us welcome others.

 

*******

O LORD, let me be that one repentant sinner

you find and place upon your shoulders –

come to me even this day.

YHWH, it is your great joy to see the repentance of the sinner, and so your Son has come among us to invite us to such grace.  And if we are your friends, will we not rejoice with you?  If all of Heaven rejoices at the conversion of the poor lost sinner, we show ourselves not to be of you, not to be of Heaven, if instead we look down upon our brother.  O save us from such a miserable fate!

We all must bend the knee before your Son; we all shall have to appear before your judgment seat and give an account of our lives.  And is any of us without sin, except your Son’s dear Mother?  Then we must know that to dwell in your House, to contemplate your face, we all require your blessed forgiveness, LORD, that without it we will be left standing outside your gates.  And so, let us praise you for your goodness to us, and to others.  Let all souls be found rejoicing in your kingdom.

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(Rm.13:8-10;   Ps.112:1-2,4-5,9;   Lk.14:25-33) 

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Jesus tells us, “None of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions,” turning our backs even on father and mother, even on our very selves.  Our psalm states of the happy man, “Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever.”  And Paul makes clear that we “owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another.  He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

What is this love?  Where is this generous spirit?  How do we renounce all our possessions?  In the cross of Christ we find our call.  The cross of Christ means giving all, means laying down our lives for the Lord and our neighbor – the cross of Christ is love itself at work in this world in the death of self and the finding of the grace and the love of God in heaven.

Jesus wishes that you be sure about this.  He desires that you understand what is required of you – your very life, your absolute love.  Nothing short of total sacrifice will do; we must be entirely whole, utterly holy, to enter His gates, to follow Him into glory.  This is greater and more significant than any war, than any project conceived by the mind of man, for it is our eternal soul that is at stake, whose weight cannot compare to even all the world.  “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  We all have a cross graciously placed upon our shoulders by our loving Lord to make us one with Him in His redemptive suffering and death, to make us one with Him in such utter love.  How will we find heaven if we do not love?  How do we come to that place which is only of love if we do not give ourselves to love completely?

“How can I do this?” you say.  “The Lord asks too much.”  You must remember that it is only love He asks of you, and that it is His cross you carry – He who is only of love – and so He carries your cross with you, making it ever so sweet and light.  Do you think the saints feared to die in the name of Christ?  Do you think they shrank back even in the face of torture?  None of this has any significance to the soul who is set on Christ; and without Christ a hangnail can seem overwhelming.

Love, brothers and sisters.  It is simple as that.  Love.  Not this world, but His heart, His sacrifice, His cross.  And you will see all brought to life before you; and you will find joy in your soul.

*******

O LORD, what a beautiful invitation to love

is Jesus’ call to carry our cross with Him!

for He is only love,

and what can we find but love if we follow Him –

and who will we then not truly love?

YHWH, teach us of your way of love, embodied so perfectly in your Son, that we might give ourselves as generously as He to all those we find in need.  Help us to give up all things, to renounce our possessions, to turn our backs even on friends and family that we might truly love them and so teach them of your surpassing love.

O how sweet is the Cross your Son would impart to all His followers!  What light it gives to the world.  If with willing heart we lend to others, expecting nothing in return, how blessed are we to thus share in your love!  Love is all that matters; it is the fulfillment of your Law, O LORD.  And we find it in the Cross.

Jesus gives so lavishly to us poor souls, we who are so poor in spirit.  Nothing have we to offer in return, dear God, but the sacrifice of our lives.  May this poor offering be acceptable to you.

Direct download: BC-110211-W_31_OT_I.mp3
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(Rm.12:5-16;   Ps.131:1-3;   Lk.14:15-24)

“Come along, everything is ready now.”

Dinner is being served now in the kingdom of God.  But are we prepared to sit down at table?  Or do we turn our hearts to other things?

Jesus sets our place now in the kingdom of heaven.  He has come.  He has died.  He has risen and sends now the Holy Spirit to invite us into His presence.  And His presence is ever with us; He is ever knocking at the door of our hearts – His Spirit is always with us.  But, again, do we hear His call, do we heed His call?  Do we care to come into His presence and sup with Him, and receive His gracious gifts at His precious table, at His holy altar… or do we cling to what is evil, what is worldly?

How do we come to His kingdom?  How do we find ourselves in His presence?  Paul instructs us: we must simply do His will.  Doing His will upon the face of this earth brings us to the kingdom of heaven.  The teaching should be evident to all Christians: “One who is a teacher should use his gift for teaching…  He who gives alms should do so generously…  Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer…”  Do all things as is meet for those things.  It is not complex.  There needs no genius to figure it out, or a scholastic degree to understand it.  One need not travel miles to discover it.  It is truth.  It is Jesus.  It is to suffer and die for Him as called by the Lord.  “Your love must be sincere.  Detest what is evil, cling to what is good.”  What more can be said?  Find peace in the arms of the Lord.  Say with our psalmist, “I have still and quieted my soul… like a weaned child upon its mother’s lap.”  We must do as he proclaims: “I busy not myself with great things, nor with things too sublime for me.”  We must not complicate God’s simple love for us and our call simply to love Him with all He gives us.  We must, rather, heed His voice, and come into His presence when He calls.

The table is set.  His Word is speaking to us.  In silence we will hear Him; in quiet we will find His voice.  In the vain activity of this world we become deaf.  Only by hearing and doing His Word and will, will we come to sit at His table and partake of His heavenly banquet – only if this is the true desire of our souls.  Even now we taste Him in the Blessed Sacrament; even today we hear His Word proclaimed.  Are we prepared to meet Him?  Do we seek to do His holy will?

*******

O LORD, all are invited your House –

let us find our place in the Body of Christ

and serve Him well.

YHWH, help us to do your will in all things, simply and purely, as your sons.  What you give to us let us share with others, answering you readily when you call.

What need we do, dear God, but share the gifts you give us with others?  What do you expect of us but to use well what you place in our hands?  If we can teach, let us teach; if serve, let us serve.  Whatever we have let us be generous in offering at the service of our brothers.  Let us indeed love freely as you.

Then we will be ready to answer your Son’s call to the kingdom – we will already be answering it in our very actions.  We will not be distracted from coming to you, LORD, if our only desire is to do your will in all things, if we are serving you with all our lives.  Then your Bread will already be before us, and we shall come into your presence this day.  O let your peace reign in our hearts!

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(Rm.11:29-36;   Ps.69:14,30-31,33-34,36-37;   Lk.14:12-14)

 

“God has imprisoned all in disobedience

that He might have mercy on all.”

 

I begin to see “how deep are the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God.”  For though I am far from knowing “the mind of the Lord,” yet He does offer me a certain insight this early morning about Him whom Paul says, “From Him and through Him and for Him all things are.”

It is in the complementarity of the readings the insight comes, particularly viewing the gospel in light of the first reading.  Jesus instructs the chief of the Pharisees that when giving a banquet he should “invite beggars and the crippled, the lame and the blind” and to be “pleased that they cannot repay” him for his generosity, assuring him he “will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.”  Now, the Lord does not instruct us to be anything more or less than He and the Father are.  So this instruction reflects God’s own great desire and joy in giving to those who are not able to repay Him: it serves as a reminder that God is love, that He thrives, as it were, on mercy, on compassion.

Paul, in the first reading, states to the Romans, “God wished to show you mercy,” and that for this reason the Jews “have become disobedient,” as well as to fulfill God’s longing that “they too may receive mercy” upon returning to Him who set them apart for Himself.  Again we see the greatness of God’s love, we glimpse His burning desire to show compassion to all creatures.  Now, to the mind lacking wisdom (and love), it might seem as if God is somehow playing with us, causing our falling that He might lift us up again.  But it is necessary to remember that God did not desire us to sin, that this was not His intention… and indeed that He did not need us to sin to show us His mercy and love.  But our disobedience having come, God in His love is not conquered.  This temporary and empty victory by the devil does not tie His hands.  Rather, the Lord takes this opportunity to show in an even greater way the very mercy and love which are His essence – shown to us so clearly in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to forgive men’s sins – to show, really, His greatness, which has its source in this love.

And David’s psalm speaks in the same line: “The Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.”  In our affliction and pain we cry out and He comes with His “saving help”; He is pleased to “rebuild the cities of Judah,” to return us to His side.  It is not sin He desires, but the recognition of our dependence on Him for all things, that He might freely show us His love.  For this love at His heart’s core and which overcomes all – which is the essence of God and His creation – let us praise Him, brothers and sisters.  “To Him be glory forever.  Amen.”

 *******

O LORD, who can repay you

for your mercy toward us,

for your love is without measure?

YHWH, how great is your mercy, and how greatly you desire us to share in that mercy.  And so we have become imprisoned in disobedience, that your love you might freely bestow upon us.  And so you call us to give freely to others, that your blessing of mercy we might know even in our own souls. 

O LORD, how can we poor creatures share so intimately in your merciful love?  How can we who have hardened our hearts so much against you be blessed with the grace of forgiveness and come to the fountain of love you are?  We deserve it not.  We merit only condemnation.  And yet, it is your desire to show us such love, and to have us show it to others. 

How can we thank you, LORD, we poor beggars, we blind souls…?  How can we repay you for giving us, and then giving us back, our very lives?  In your generosity invite us to your table and by your grace let us feast with you.

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(Rm.8:31-39;   Ps.109:21-22,26-27,30-31;   Lk.13:31-35)

 

“For your sake we are being slain all the day long.”

 

And yet, “in all this we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us.”

We die.  Each day we die, we sacrifice our lives.  We are “as sheep to be slaughtered.”  This is our call, to be as our Lord who was crucified – our King wears a crown of thorns.  And yet in all this apparent weakness, in all those places where violence seems to reign, where death presumes dominion over us… it is void.  It has no power.  For God holds all the world in His creating hand, and He watches over us.  So, indeed, “if God is for us, who can be against us?”  If God fights for us, how shall we be conquered?  We shall not, we cannot.  “Christ Jesus, who died or rather was raised up… intercedes for us.”  And so the death He suffered, which led only to life, becomes our own, and only life is ours in Him.

The Lord would gather all His “children together, as a mother bird collects her young under her wing,” but so many refuse.  So many are disobedient.  So many desire not the love of God.  And so, death comes.  Because of our sin, Jesus must suffer, Jesus must die.  And we must die with Him if we are to follow Him through this world of darkness and sin into the kingdom of light.  For the emptiness of the power of this world must be exposed.  It must be shown for the nothingness it is.  And only by dying does this become clear to our minds.

And so, Jesus does not shy away from death; He does not save Himself from its clutches.  Freely He offers Himself for our sakes, that we might overcome the fear it produces in our fallen souls, that we might then be raised from darkness to light.  The prayer of David is the prayer of Christ, standing in our stead, “I am wretched and poor, and my heart is pierced within me.”  The sword, which has no power over Him, nor over us now, He accepts in His side that new life might flow out from His broken flesh.  The suffering which should be our own He takes and nails to the cross.  And it is dead.  And the power of Satan is nullified.  And in His “generous kindness” the Lord has rescued us.  And so as we suffer now with Him all the temptations of this earthly life, our heavenly king is by our side breathing upon us new life.  Let us have no fear for any presumed power of this universe; the Lord is greater than them all. 

 

*******

O LORD, you will save us

from all trial and persecution –

even death.

YHWH, by the love of Christ we have been saved, and nothing can separate us from that love.  Though Satan persecute us, though the kings of this earth seek to destroy us, yet we shall live in your only Son who, though He died, was raised up and sits now at your right hand interceding for us this day.  And so, what need we fear?

To His death Jesus went, freely and without fear.  In Jerusalem He was slain like all of the prophets.  Yes, the walls of Jerusalem were torn down and the temple abandoned.  But in His resurrection the true Temple is rebuilt, and to the holy City we are now drawn.  Blessed is he who comes in the Name of your Son!  Blessed are you, dear God, who desire so earnestly to justify our poor, broken souls.

And so, now that Jesus has died for our sakes, we shall not be condemned.  We shall conquer all sword and danger in His love.  Praise you for your kindness, LORD!  You have heard our cries.

Direct download: BC-102711-Th_30_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Rm.8:26-30;   Ps.13:4-6;   Lk.13:22-30)

 

“Lord, are they few in number who are to be saved?”

 

We question.  We wonder.  With the man who spoke to the Lord as He made His way toward Jerusalem, as He approached His own death, we question Jesus, “Who will be saved?” particularly as we face our own imminent death.  Jesus answers the man, and so He responds to us, too.  His answer is simple: “Come in through the narrow door.”  His answer is wise, and comes with, and itself is, a warning to us not to take for granted the salvation by our God but to be diligent about our striving toward His kingdom, to be purposeful about our dying for Him.  Those who walked with Him may have thought that this alone would be sufficient to ensure their entrance into heaven.  But simply knowing Him, seeing Him, and even eating with Him will not do: He must know us.  He must see us about His work as we see Him about the Father’s work – He must come in and eat with us, nourishing our souls with His daily bread of labor in His Name, of life in His Word.

Brothers and sisters, we may come to His table every day.  We may eat of His Body and drink of His Blood and hear His Word proclaimed to our ears; we may be members of His Church, sitting here in these pews; we may have since birth been graced with the blessings of the sacraments and teaching of our Catholic faith – but this alone does not assure our entering into heaven.  We must live that faith.  We must put flesh and blood to our belief.  There is no other way we can be saved, because this is our life and our life is required of us by God.  It will not magically occur at the moment of death if we have not spent our lives for Him.

O brothers and sisters, we must cry out with David, “Give light to my eyes that I may not sleep in death.”  We must sing to the Lord with him, “Let my heart rejoice in your salvation.”  We must seek Him, seek His life, with all our hearts, that the prophetic words of Paul might become our own, that our predestination “to share the image of His Son” the Father might accomplish in us.  For the Lord does call us, and we must respond.  As we respond, we shall be justified – He shall enter in and cleanse us of our sin.  And remaining on this path of justification we shall soon find glory with God in His eternal kingdom.

Brothers and sisters, let the will of the Lord be accomplished in us.  In our moments of doubt, when we have no words with which to come to God, let us turn to the Spirit who “intercedes for the saints as God Himself wills,” “with groanings which cannot be expressed in speech.”  He truly is our help in weakness.  He truly is our guard on this perilous journey.  Only remaining with Him and in His Church do we find comfort in the knowledge that we are to be saved.

*******

O LORD, call us unto your kingdom

that with your Son we might be glorified –

 let us embrace the Cross as we make our way to you.

 YHWH, send your Spirit to help us in our weakness; hear us as we cry out to you.  In our lives let your will be accomplished, that with your Son we might be glorified.  You lead us forth in your goodness – may we be obedient to the promptings of our heart.

Within us you place your Spirit, LORD; to our ears come the teachings of your Son.  Through the narrow door let us pass, by the groanings you inspire in us.  What can we do but call upon your NAME?  Let us not cry out in vain.

Our enemies surround us, LORD, and seek our downfall.  How they wish to see us sleep in death.  They would bar the door to your House that we might not enter – in your loving kindness defeat their plans.  Let us be made in the image of your Son that on the last day we might join your saints in the kingdom.

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(Rm.8:18-25;   Ps.126:1-6;   Lk.13:18-21)

 

“Hoping for what we cannot see

means awaiting it with patient endurance.”

 

We cannot see the coming of the kingdom of heaven.  It comes so gradually; it rises imperceptibly, “like yeast which a woman took to knead into three measures of flour.”  It grows like the tiny mustard seed, which “became a large shrub and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”  A most fruitful reign is the reign of God, and well worth the wait.  As Paul says, “I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.”  But wait we must.  In hope we take our refuge.  And as we hope, indeed we suffer, for “we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.”  With the rest of creation we groan “in agony” for the futility to which the physical universe has been subject.  Yet hope have we, and it is this which gives us a sense of joy even as we wait so patiently.

“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”  Our psalm gives us a picture of the joy that awaits us in the redemption of the just in the kingdom of God as it describes the happiness of the exiles’ return from Babylon: “We were like men dreaming.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.”  The knowledge of the Lord’s hand at work in the lives of these Israelites can only increase our hope, can only stir our faith that we too shall sing, “The Lord has done great things for us,” that we too shall “come back rejoicing” after this time of trial which is our stay here on this earth.  And the fact that we have the Spirit now as the first payment against the day of judgment and against the power of Satan in this dark world causes a sense of joy already in our bones, gives us even now a foretaste of the kingdom to come, and which comes to us indeed each day in every breath we breathe in His presence, and particularly in the food He leaves us to consume at the altar of His holy sacrifice.

Yes, we have His Word at work in us even now, brothers and sisters.  Even as we speak (even as I write), the seed does grow into a tree, the yeast does cause the dough to rise.  Though it take time and we hope most for its fulfillment, yet it is with us even now in this blessed growth we experience in the sight of our God, in the blood of our Lord.  Our hope is not in vain, and the tears we shed now certainly nourish the growth of the kingdom within us and all around us.  Even in these does our hope find fulfillment.  Even in these tears do we taste surpassing joy. 

*******

O LORD, let us hope in you always;

your kingdom is rising in our midst.

YHWH, in patience let us await the coming of your kingdom, for it shall surely come and is even now here within us.  When it shall be revealed to our eyes, our hope will be fulfilled and all our groanings answered.  We shall indeed rejoice in your presence on that holy day.

Your Spirit is now planted in us as a seed of the kingdom, and though we go forth in tears doing your work in this dark world, we ever have the Spirit’s reassurance – the hope He engenders makes any sufferings seem as nothing.  For your glory, O God, shall soon be revealed in its fullness; it shall soon come to full growth and we will take rest in its branches.  O let us rise unto you!

And so, with patient endurance let us wait, O LORD, for the dawn upon the horizon, for on the new day all Creation shall sing your praise, all its sorrow forgotten.

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(Rm.8:1-11;   Ps.24:1-6;   Lk.13:1-9)

 

“You will all come to the same end unless you reform.”

 

We hear again today in our readings of the distinction between those who are of the flesh, and so of sin, and those who are of the spirit and justice.  And since “the tendency of the flesh is toward death but that of the spirit toward life and peace,” rightly does Jesus warn us that we will die in our sin if we do not repent and turn to Him.  For indeed He and the Father, with the Spirit, are of life and have nothing to do with death, with sin.

Paul continues to make clear the difference, the separation, between those of flesh and those of spirit, and continues to encourage his reader to allow the body to die that the spirit might live: “If Christ is in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin, while the spirit lives because of justice.”  It is in Jesus that our salvation from sin has come, for when “God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, thereby condemning sin in the flesh,” He made it possible for us to live no longer “according to the flesh,” but “according to the spirit,” for we know that “He who raised Christ from the dead will bring [our] mortal bodies to life also through His Spirit.”  Even now His Spirit brings our spirit to life, and on the last day our flesh shall also be joined to Him in heaven.

David’s psalm questions, “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Or who can stand in His holy place?”  Only those “whose hands are sinless… shall receive a blessing from the Lord,” and so, again, we must turn to Him, we must be of “the race that seeks for Him.”  “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it” are of Him.  But how our hearts have turned from Him in sin, and so, how shaken we have become, inviting death into our lives.  And so only those who renounce their sin, who come by the power of the Spirit and the grace of Jesus’ blood, shall attain to His presence.  And only those who bear fruit in His Name will He preserve.

The end of our gospel makes clear that there must be fruit in our lives, brothers and sisters.  This is indeed the sign that we are of the spirit – if we “bear fruit” in the Spirit.  We cannot claim to be of the spirit and bear the fruit of the flesh, which is sin.  Jesus will not fail to recognize the difference, however much we may fool ourselves or others.  We will die in the flesh like any sinner if we do not live according to Christ and His Word.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be dead to the flesh

that we might bear fruit in the Spirit of Christ!

YHWH, let your Spirit dwell in us that we might conquer the flesh and bear fruit in your holy NAME.  How shall we be holy as you are holy, how shall we stand in your holy place, if your Spirit is not with us?  Fulfill our desire to see your face!

Your Son came and walked amongst us for three years, seeking fruit upon this fig tree.  Upon His death and resurrection He sent the Spirit forth to nourish the Church that we might perform works worthy of Heaven.  O LORD, help us to repent of our sin and reform our lives in the image of your Son.

Jesus has indeed condemned sin in the flesh that what is mortal might be redeemed and come to life in the Spirit, that we might be free from the law of sin and death by which all creatures are justly condemned and come to dwell in the peace of your presence.  LORD God, may the Spirit of Christ make us worthy to stand in your sight.

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(Rm.7:18-25;   Ps.119:66,68,76-77,93,94;   Lk.12:54-59)

 

“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is just?”

 

Do we not have the law of God at work in us now?  Must we yet subject ourselves to the judge of this earth, who cannot but condemn us for our sin?  If we cried out with our psalmist for the Lord to teach us His “commands,” His “statutes,” His “law,” and His “precepts,” His “promise” of “compassion” would be with us, His Spirit would come to us and instruct us on all matters.  No longer “the prisoner of the law of sin in [our] members,” we would be freed “from this body under the power of death.”  Not only would our “inner self agree with the law of God,” but our actions would reflect, by the grace of Him who is at work within us, that law now written on our hearts.  The “wisdom and knowledge” the Lord thereby imparts would be sufficient for the resolution of any problem in our lives, for there is nothing beyond the scope of the Spirit.

Both Paul and Jesus Himself encourage us to find the Spirit of Christ at work in our hearts.  We as a community of believers would have no need to turn to the works of the world to resolve our problems if we followed well the teaching of the Lord and His Church.  Should not the Church be our government?  Should not the teaching of God, which transcends all earthly wisdom, be sufficient for our discerning right and wrong in any situation?  Or is sin still at work in our members?  Are we yet subject to this law and the condemnation and death it brings?  Has the devil yet a hold upon us; does he yet cast us into darkness?  Are we therefore too blind to see right from wrong?

Brothers and sisters, we must cast from our souls all vestige of sin; it cannot hold power over us any longer.  We must find the light of Christ in our eyes and so be made able to judge all things in His justice.  With our psalmist we must proclaim to the Lord, “Your law is my delight.”  If we yet take refuge in the law of sin, it will bring but judgment upon our lives.  But if we turn to Him, true wisdom will be ours – and His compassion will save us.

All teaching the Lord puts into the hands of His apostles.  Our Pope and bishops and priests continue, as His servants, to proclaim His truth and impart His grace.  The Church is the home Jesus leaves us; upon it He places His Spirit.  Let us follow the teachings of the Lord and find His power at work in our lives, and all things will be clear to our eyes.  And so, condemnation we shall avoid as by the grace of God we judge all things rightly.

 

*******

O LORD, Jesus has indeed set us free by His power –

let us turn to Him for wisdom.

YHWH, keep us from being imprisoned by sin; only you and your Son have the power to release us from such bondage.  Help us to follow your precepts, help us to walk in His way, that we might find your kindness upon our souls and live in freedom this day.

Why is it we are so blind?  Why so trapped in the flesh?  Our eyes do not look upon the things of the Spirit except with great difficulty, except by the grace that comes to us through your only Son.  O LORD, let our eyes be opened to see Him standing before us, and let us follow your Law by His power.

Here we find a war at work within us.  Without you we have not the wisdom and knowledge to judge well the path to victory over sin.  O LORD, let us not be delivered up to the jailer, for we are not able to pay the price of our transgressions.  Let your compassion be upon us that we might live and do what is right.

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(Rm.6:19-23;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;   Lk.12:49-53)

 

“The Lord watches over the way of the just,

but the way of the wicked vanishes.”

 

The division is clear.  The Lord Himself has stated, “I have come for division.”  Far from establishing “peace on the earth,” His message makes clear the distinction between the evil and the good, the wicked and the just, drawn so well in our psalm today.  He has “come to light a fire on the earth.”  It shall purify the just for the kingdom of God even as it burns up all the wicked.

Paul also makes clear the division between the evil and the good, between that which is of God and that which is of sin.  “Formerly you enslaved your bodies to impurity and licentiousness for their degradation…  But now that you are freed from sin and have become slaves of God, your benefit is sanctification as you tend toward eternal life.”  The distinction is certain: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Indeed, the just “is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade,” but the wicked “are like chaff which the wind drives away.”  This division is what the Lord’s light and fire reveal; and this revelation is eternal.

It is painful, brothers and sisters.  It is painful to undergo our own transformation to justice and light from the depths of depravity into which we have fallen, and will be painful to witness others destroyed by the hardness of their hearts.  The Lord Himself expresses this pain when He says, “What anguish I feel till it is over!”  He takes no pleasure in bringing the agony of division, which begins with His own agony in the garden and ends with His crucifixion.  He suffers most to witness the sins of the masses so acutely.  They wag their heads at Him even as He cries from the cross.  What is to be done?  Division must come.  For the kingdom must come, the resurrection must take place, and sin cannot stand in its light – and so those who attach themselves to sin, to the works of the father of lies, will not stand in that day either.  And even now the judgment comes, even now we must take sides – even now we choose death, or life. 

*******

O LORD, set us free from our sin –

burn away all evil.

YHWH, the sword of the Spirit your Son brings separates the wicked from the just – it is a fire purging all evil from the earth, destroying those who give themselves over to impurity and licentiousness, yet lighting your servants’ way to Heaven.  He who walks in accord with that light, placing nothing before its demands to holiness, shall enter your presence even as the insolent are consumed.

What can we do, O LORD. to save souls from death?  It shall come inevitably to all slaves of sin.  We can but hope to make ourselves pure, seeking ever eternal life, and pray that men will turn to you.  All is in your hands; let us be sanctified by your touch. 

Who has not sinned?  Who has not degraded the dignity you instilled in our souls?  Yet you would make us fruitful in the Spirit, O God, if we but set our hearts on your Word.

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(Rm.6:12-18;   Ps.124:1-8;   Lk.12:39-48)

 

“Offer yourselves to God

as men who have come back from the dead to life.”

 

If we have come back from the dead to life, should we then offer ourselves up to death again?  As Paul questions, “Are we free to sin?”  How absurd a thought!  If we are sinners, let us give ourselves freely to sin, and find the condemnation which comes from this.  But if we are men of justice, let us give ourselves to “obedience” of the teaching imparted to us, and find life firmly in our souls.

Jesus states quite clearly, “When much has been given a man, much will be required of him.”  Brothers and sisters, much has been given us simply by our release from the sin which once enslaved us.  Indeed, “we were rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare,” as David’s psalm proclaims.  The “raging waters” that “would have overwhelmed us,” the “torrent [that] would have swept over us,” has been calmed…  For this alone we have much to be thankful; simply by this grace much has been entrusted to us.  And what follows only adds to this initial blessing; for each day our souls are required of us, each day He puts in our hands and calls us to the work set aside for our souls to complete.  Each day the gift of grace is increased within us.  So should we then begin “to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and drink and get drunk”?  Should we then return to the slavery of sin which blinds our eyes to His eternal presence?  Certainly not.  Rather, we should “be on guard” at all times, vigilantly prepared for our master’s return, employing the gifts He imparts to us each passing day.

We are no longer dead, brothers and sisters.  We have the grace of our God at work within us, lighting our eyes and filling our souls with His holy food.  We must now be holy as He.  It is not for us to return to the death of sin, to subject ourselves to its chains once again, to have our eyes darkened and our souls destroyed.  The grace, the light within us, must be diligently preserved.  We must come to Him, come to His stewards to whom the most has been entrusted, who hold in their power sacramental grace, and confess our sins in His presence, and come and eat of His Body and Blood.  Let us avail ourselves of these gifts these successors of the apostles hold and thus find the strength to give our own “bodies to God as weapons for justice” and not for sin.

 

*******

O LORD, let us give you all that we have,

all that we are;

then there will be nothing left to give.

YHWH, you have saved us from the raging waters, from the torrent that would have overwhelmed our souls – and should we cast ourselves back into the sea?  Should we once again give ourselves to sin?  No!  We must give ourselves as slaves of your justice and serve you all our days, never turning from the grace at work within us, never again obeying the flesh and its lusts.

For soon your Son shall return for us, O LORD – and should He find us in a drunken state?  Should He find us with violence in our hands and lust in our heart?  If so, then we would prove ourselves unworthy of trust; and what would we be then but beaten for our lack of love?

You yourself are present now in our very spirits, LORD.  Let us treasure this grace upon us and work out our salvation, never giving ourselves again to the teeth of the beast.

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(Rm.5:12,15,17-21;   Ps.40:7-10,17;   Lk.12:35-38) 

“To do your will, O my God, is my delight,

and your law is within my heart!”

“May those who love your salvation say ever, ‘The Lord be glorified.’”  May we who love the Lord “exult and be glad” in Him.  May we who take refuge in His grace sing aloud His praise.  What greater gift could we have than Jesus Christ, whose “single righteous act brought all men acquittal and life.  For truly we were dead in our sin,” truly the offense of Adam had infected our souls, truly through this “one man’s disobedience all became sinners” – but more truly “through one man’s obedience all shall become just,” for “His grace has far surpassed” the increase of sin.  And so, what should we do but rejoice with David at the truth of Paul’s instruction.

And what should we do but be ready, truly ready, really waiting, patiently, for the return of our Lord.  “Be like men awaiting their master’s return from a wedding.”  Set your hearts on His coming again, “so that when He knocks, you will open without delay.”  This is yet the greater blessing for us servants, that even in these dark days upon this earth, we stand ready for His return.  Here is His grace at work within us, that our hearts are set on Him, that His presence, the coming of His kingdom, we know even now in anticipation of its arrival.  No greater blessing could we hope for than to be “those servants whom the master finds wide-awake on His return.”  By this we know we have conquered sin; by this we see that we have overcome the darkness which surrounds us – if whether “at midnight or before sunrise” we are found prepared, if even in the darkest times we hold His light, if our eyes are like “lamps… burning ready” and our “belts… fastened around [our] waists”… we have all that we need in this world.

Be ready, my brothers and sisters, for the joy is coming; it will not delay.  That happiness of life in His presence we sense even now, we taste even this day in our mouths, will come soon to fulfillment in the reign of our God.  And so, “those who receive the overflowing grace and gift of justice [will] live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ,” for whom we await, in whom we take our refuge, whose name we praise, His saving word etched upon our souls and bleeding in our hearts.  In all we do we wait for His coming.  He alone is our desire, and we shall not be disappointed.

*******

O LORD, let us be always ready to serve you;

let your grace reign in us

and we shall come to do your will.

YHWH, grace has come to us by the sacrifice of your Son and cleansed us of the disobedience of Adam.  We are thus set free from sin and placed on the path to eternal life.  And so, what should we do now but wait for Jesus’ return, when that grace shall be fulfilled and we shall come to dwell with Him in Heaven?

Truly has Jesus been obedient to your command.  Truly has He achieved the conquering of death and the end of its reign for every man.  Truly has His death brought us acquittal and life.  And truly will He return, O LORD, to reward all His faithful servants; truly will He Himself be their food.

O let us be ready for His coming!  Let our lamps be burning ever and our hearts prepared always to open when He knocks.  Let us offer ourselves with Him as His Body, dear LORD, that to us quickly salvation shall come even in the dark night of this world.

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(Rm.4:20-25;   Lk.1:68-75;   Lk.12:13-21)

 

“We should serve Him devoutly

and through all our days be holy in His sight.”

 

For “this very night your life shall be required of you.”  Always and forever our faith is required of us, if we are to draw breath.  Always and forever the Lord asks us what fruit we have produced.  Always and forever we must be careful not to toil in vain, but to live according to His Word, believing in His promise.  Else our lives will indeed be empty vessels.

Holiness befits His house.  Adherence to His covenant is our call.  Faith in the One who is “saving strength for us” is our necessity.  We must indeed be as our father Abraham, who was “fully persuaded that God could do whatever He had promised,” whose “faith was credited to him as justice.”  And if we have the same faith as Abraham, we will find the same justice, the same reward as he.  “For our faith will be credited to us also if we believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”  Jesus “was handed over to death for our sins and raised up for our justification” and only faith in Him as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham will give us life.

Why do we turn to the things of this world and in them seek our fulfillment, and in them seek our rest, when they are so vain and when all the while Jesus calls to our souls to come to Him?  Why is it we think that in the goods of this world we can find refuge, we can find strength?  Why are we so blinded to believe that in them we can find our peace?  “Relax!  Eat heartily, drink well.  Enjoy yourself.”  Here is the fruitless mantra of this materialistic world.  Here is the epitome of our blindness to His will.  Here is the belly seeking to take the place of the spirit.

Can we not see that it is only the spirit that gives life, that the flesh is of no avail, that the riches of this earth serve more as a distraction to finding the life and the peace we seek in the depths of our souls than to bringing a fulfillment of this most human of desires?  This desire cannot be satisfied except in Christ.  We must not be as “the man who grows rich for himself instead of growing rich in the sight of God,” or when these passing riches rot away or are taken from us, we will be left terribly empty.  Rather, we should “avoid greed in all its forms” and dedicate ourselves to service of the Lord.  Only in Him is life and peace made known, and only by holiness do we come there.  At all times the Lord is calling to our soul; let us answer Him in faith.  

 

*******

O LORD, Jesus has died and been raised

for our salvation –

may we believe in Him and grow rich in your sight.

YHWH, let us not grow rich to ourselves, setting our hearts on the wealth of this passing world, but rather grow rich in your sight, in your gifts and graces.  Let us have faith, first of all; this blessing let us most treasure.

You have sent your Son as Savior for us – what more could we ask of you?  Here is the fulfillment of all our desires.  And if we put our faith in Him who has died for our sins and been raised for our justification, if we serve Him devoutly all our days, it will indeed be credited to us as righteousness and great reward will be ours in Heaven.  O LORD, let us know your mercy upon our souls!

Only in you our life is found, dearest LORD and God.  Our every breath is in your hands and when we come to the end of our days, what hope shall we have but that you breathe into us new life?  And so, let us store up wealth for you alone, the wealth of a faithful heart.

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(Rm.4:13,16-18;   Ps.105:6-9,42-43;   Lk.12:8-12)

 

“All depends on faith, everything is a grace.”

 

Faith is our father; it brings us to life for it makes us children of “the God who restores the dead to life and calls into being those things which had not been.”  By faith we entrust ourselves into God’s hands and become as Abraham, who is “our father in the sight of God in whom he believed.”  “Hoping against hope, Abraham believed and so became the father of many nations,” and insofar as we believe, we become his children before God.  Indeed, it is through faith alone that we are born into His kingdom.

And having faith, we must acknowledge its presence in our lives by witnessing to the Son of God.  If we are His disciples, as we must be, we will not hide His grace working in us but allow it to bear fruit in the profession of that faith before the world.  And so, as we “come before synagogues, rulers, and authorities,” as we stand before the face of this generation, as we do anything in this world, we must “not worry about how to defend [ourselves] or what to say.”  Jesus tells us, “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said.”  And so by this trusting in Him we prove ourselves children of faith.

This is the manner in which I produce this writing.  Trusting in Him as entirely as my faith allows, I am not concerned beforehand what I shall speak, what I shall write upon this page.  In the measure that I am a child of grace, I prove it by my allowing Him to speak through me at this moment and in His way.  This is what we must strive to do with all our work, in all our lives.  All our lives are founded upon this faith, and the Lord calls us in an ever greater way to express that faith, to live that faith, by consecrating all we think and do to His will and desire.  It is for us to but come into His presence, to remember He is here with us, and so to find His grace at work in our lives.

We must be prepared and be preparing ourselves always to stand before Him forever.  As we place ourselves in His presence now, it is so that we die to ourselves and begin to live by His grace.  More and more we must trust in that faith which joins us to Him and makes us children of the promise which “holds true for all Abraham’s descendants… for all who have his faith.”  Faith alone will bring us to life, for faith alone brings us into the presence of Him who is life.  Enter His grace, brothers and sisters, and find it working in your life.

 

*******

O LORD, if we believe in you,

you will be with us.

YHWH, you restore the dead to life and call into being those things which had not been.  And so, should we not put our faith in you?  And so, should we not proclaim your glory before men?  With a God such as you, what need we fear?  O let us live in faith and so be blessed!

All indeed depends on faith, O LORD; it is our very life breath.  Everything is a grace from you who bring all things into being, and we must acknowledge that grace at work in our lives in order to join ourselves to you and that grace, and so find life itself.  Separated from you we shall but die, but as children of Abraham, as children of faith who believe in you and in your Son, we shall live forever.

You are faithful and true to your Covenant with your chosen ones.  Let us trust in you, LORD,  and in your Spirit’s movement in our lives.

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(Rm.3:21-30;   Ps.130:1-7;   Lk.11:47-54)

 

“This generation will have to account for the blood of all the prophets

shed since the foundation of the world.”

 

And so shall it be with Christ’s own blood, the fulfillment of all the martyrs’ sacrifice; for these same scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus proclaims guilty of the prophets’ murders will indeed devise the murder of the Son of God.  And they prove the truth of His words immediately by their manifestation of “fierce hostility to Him” and their thus giving birth to the plot to crucify Him.

Perhaps most appropriate for today, with regard to Paul’s epistle to the Romans, is the Lord’s admonishment of the lawyers: “You have taken away the key of knowledge.  You yourselves have not gained access, yet you have stopped those who wish to enter!”  It is essentially the same message the Apostle teaches: “The justice of God has been manifested apart from the law… that justice of God which works through faith in Jesus Christ.”  It is not through “observance of the law” that justification comes; the works of the law – circumcision, animal sacrifice, dietary rules – which address the body, are useless in this regard.  God is Spirit and it is spiritual means He uses to redeem us – we must come in faith to Him.  And those who would restrict faith by the imposition of these laws serve only to impede the working of the Spirit and His grace.  Paul states the question succinctly: “Does God belong to the Jews alone?  Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?”  If He is God of all nations, it is not meet to impose Jewish religious practice upon those apart from Jewish tradition.  But these protectors, or rather “possessors” and defilers of the law – defiling it by their greed in seizing it, their pride in assuming it as their own and not God’s – cannot accept that “it is the same God,” that the Gentiles are equal in grace with the Jews… and so to them this teaching is blasphemy.

At the root of the problem is the fact that these leaders are not as the psalmist in our readings today, who sings: “My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.”  Nor do they cry “in supplication” “out of the depths” of their iniquity for God’s forgiveness.  If they had been so disposed, they would have seen who stood before them, they would have recognized His coming, and they would have fallen to their knees and found His grace.

Let us not be so hardhearted, for indeed the blood of Jesus is upon the hands of all who sin, just as His salvation is upon all who repent and believe in Him.  Water alone will not wash us clean; we must recognize the lack of love we have, and find His Spirit working in us.

*******

O LORD, your justice is shown in your mercy,

which you offer to every faithful soul.

YHWH, we have all sinned and fallen short of your glory, and cannot by our own strength find our way back to you.  We cannot justify ourselves but need the grace that comes to us through the blood of your Son to justify our souls, to set us right with you.

But what of those who fail to see they need your forgiveness, who fail to recognize that they, too, are sinners, that they have the blood of Jesus upon their hands?  O LORD, how can these be justified?  How can they come to faith in you if they do not listen to the One you have sent to draw us back to your presence?  They shall but continue in the way of sinning, mounting up the blood of the prophets for judgment day.

Your Son offers His life for our sakes; freely He sacrifices Himself upon the Cross that we might be saved.  Help us to turn to Him, O LORD, to see what we have done, repent, and be redeemed.  You are the God of us all, and to all souls Jesus’ blood does call.

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(Rm.2:1-11;   Ps.62:2-3,6-7,9,13;   Lk.11:42-46)

 

“Your hard and impenitent heart

is storing up retribution for that day of wrath

when the just judgment of God will be revealed.”

 

“He will repay every man for what he has done…  Yes, affliction and anguish will come upon every man who has done evil…  But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who has done good.”  This is the just judgment, and it comes only from God, not from sinful man.

And so we are chastised in preparation for that day, that of His wrath we may be spared.  We should all wish to be “insult”ed by Jesus as are the Pharisees and lawyers in today’s gospel, here, today, while there is still time.  We should all desire His difficult words of instruction which would serve, if heeded humbly, to separate us from the sins of the world, the attachments of this life that cling to our soul and prevent our coming into His presence.  Under His mighty hand we should all subject ourselves, that He might lighten our “impossible burdens,” that He might take from us all that is not holy, all that is not true – that we might be freed from the judgment upon our souls and walk with Him in immortality.  We must be ready for His day.  But as it is the darkness is with us.

“Only in God is my soul at rest.”  With David we must sing this truth from our hearts.  The emptiness of the flesh and its imagination must not possess us; vain pride must take no place in our lives…  All our lusts must be set aside and we must know with certainty that only in God do we find our peace: He is our refuge and our strength.  “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold,” we must cry, and “trust in Him at all times,” or wandering from the truth we will find ourselves in the way of destruction.

“God’s kindness is an invitation to you to repent.”  In His patience He gives you time to turn from sin and find His grace and mercy.  Pray He will convict you of your sin in this time and you will not convict yourself by your judgment of others.  Seek His redeeming hand at work in your life and do the good before Him.  Then you “shall not be disturbed,” when His Word has taken root in your soul, when you have left behind all the vanity of this world.  Then the glory of God will be your own, and nothing shall remove it from you.  Soften your heart to His blessed chastisement; it shall work for you against the day of judgment.

 

*******

O LORD, we will be judged by what we do,

and by what we fail to do –

let us set our hearts on you alone.

YHWH, let us not fall into judgment of others but treasure rather your Son’s chastisement of our souls, that we might find freedom from our sins and take our refuge in you alone.  Soon your just judgment will be revealed; let us benefit from your kindness and take this time to repent, lest we be condemned on your day of wrath.

Your love, O God, is shown in the call to repentance you make to all your children, the Jew first, then the Gentile.  You indeed chastise every son whom you love.  And so Jesus proclaims great woe upon the Pharisees, hoping to turn them from their wicked ways; and so St. Paul makes known to us our hard and impenitent hearts, that from the punishment they invite we might be spared.

While there is time, O LORD, while your grace and mercy are yet being offered forth, let us place our trust in you alone, and so find rest for our souls in your eternal glory.

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(Rm.1:16-25;   Ps.19:2-5;   Lk.11:37-41)

 

“They stultified themselves through speculating to no purpose,

and their senseless hearts were darkened.”

 

If these words do not refer to modern man most poignantly, then I imagine nothing can be said of anything.  In ancient times, “they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man, birds, beasts, and snakes” and bowed down to statues as if they were gods.  The images man worships today are also the creations of his own hands, sometimes as physical as the idols worshiped before the time of Christ – who does not long to see his own image on one of our television sets, and who is held in greater esteem than those movie stars whom we have never met but know only of their image on a screen? – but perhaps most particularly they are the vain ideas, which reveal their utter absurdity to any mind with a modicum of common sense, but which are propounded as sacred by the elite thinkers of our day.  Their numbers seem endless, and one wonders if man will rationalize himself out of existence, as perhaps he already has philosophically in the declaration that God is dead, and so often done in reality through movements such as Communism and Nazism.

Indeed, how relevant are all Paul’s words today: “They certainly had knowledge of God, yet they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks”; “they claimed to be wise, but turned into fools instead”; “they engaged in the mutual degradation of their bodies.”  But “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against the irreligious and perverse spirit of men who… hinder the truth.”  “These men who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” cannot but come to naught, for “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge” – the Gospel goes forth “to the ends of the world” and Truth overwhelms all lies.  As Jesus overturned the Pharisees who “cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but within… are filled with rapaciousness,” so shall the mind of modern man be shown for all its absurdity in the clear light of day.

Time.  There is but time to wait.  Time for the Word to go forth and to pray for the conversion of the nations, of all peoples.  And there is hope, hope that men shall turn from their absurdity and their perversity to embrace the light of the Gospel and the true teaching of love it brings.  We pray the senseless will find faith and be led thereby to salvation. 

 

*******

O LORD, openly your Word speaks to all men’s hearts,

calling them to salvation.

YHWH, how shall the senseless mind of man be redeemed?  If it turns from you, the Creator of all, to give praise to senseless creatures, will it not be ever as blind as they?  Trapped in its own contrivances, it shall never see the light of day or hear the Word of Truth.  And so, to these faithless souls the Gospel will be so much foolishness, as in foolishness they die.

Your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth and is revealed in all Creation.  But men who cannot see beyond the flesh quench the Spirit even as they engage in the destruction of their bodies.  For the purity of your Creation they pervert, and so fail to stand in your holy light.  O LORD, let us cleanse the inside of our cup that we might come to your glory!

Your eternal power and divinity help us to recognize, that filled with knowledge of you, O God, we may keep our hearts from being darkened by the false worship of this corrupted age.

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(Rm.1:1-7;   Ps.98:1-4;   Lk.11:29-32)

 

“You have a greater than Jonah here.”

 

Greater than any prophet is He.  Wiser than Solomon is the Lord who is the source of all wisdom.  For it is He of whom the prophets speak; it is His promised coming “the Holy Scriptures record.”  The fulfillment of prophets and kings is in our midst.  Our high priest is with us offering the sacrifice of Himself.  Let us thirst for Him as the Ninevites did for Jonah’s preaching and seek Him as the queen of the South for Solomon’s wisdom.  Let us listen to His servant and apostle Paul as he proclaims the Gospel of God and come to “obedient faith” with all the Gentiles “who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.”  Salvation is upon us as it is all nations.

If Jonah’s preaching was great, the Lord’s is the greater.  If he converted thousands, Jesus turns millions to the love of God.  If Solomon was wise, our Lord is so much the wiser.  For though this great king spoke well of all things of the earth by the grace of God, the Christ comes now with the wisdom of the richness of heaven.  And so now we are all “called to holiness, grace and peace.”  It is these gifts which are imparted to us “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  And by these blessings we become His children, greater indeed than any prophet or king of old.

Yes, the fulfillment has come.  “The Lord has made His salvation known.”  “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.”  His Word is brought forth even now, even this day to our hearts in the preaching of the Gospel that is Christ Jesus – “His resurrection from the dead” signals the redemption of all mankind.  And so we celebrate.  And so we “sing to the Lord a new song” as we, too, participate in His death and resurrection with the beloved apostle Paul, even as we come to the table set before us by His grace and holiness.

May that same “Spirit of holiness” which made Jesus “Son of God in power” now touch our souls and separate us from all that is unholy.  May we respond in kind with the Ninevites to Jonah’s preaching, that they might not condemn us on the last day for our lack of faith.  May the wisdom which comes to us now by the grace poured forth from His lips sink into our hearts and find a place in our lives.  For no greater than He shall we find; let us not be blind to this sign.

 

*******

O LORD, how blessed are we to hear the Gospel! –

let us repent and reform our lives.

YHWH, you have made your salvation known in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son.  He indeed is our salvation, the very life of those who follow Him, who listen to His preaching and reform their lives – who join themselves to Him and to His Church.  May we not be condemned for our deafness to His call but set our hearts on the wisdom that comes to us through Him and through His apostles, that indeed we might be saved and rejoice in your presence on the day of judgment.  With Him let us be raised from the dead.

May the Name of Jesus be proclaimed to the ends of the earth that His Gospel might be the source of salvation for all souls.  Let peoples come from the furthest corners of the world to hear that your promise has been fulfilled in your Son and the Spirit of holiness is now upon all who are obedient to His call.  For this grace let us sing your praise, O LORD!

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(Jl.4:12-21;   Ps.97:1-2,5-6,11-12;   Lk.11:27-28)

 

“Near is the day of the Lord in the valley of decision.”

 

And so, “blest are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”  For though “sun and moon are darkened and the stars withhold their brightness,” though “mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” “light dawns for the just,” and for them “the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk.”  Yes, “the heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a refuge to His people.”

Are we His people?  Are our hearts set upon Him?  Are we blest as our Mother with keeping the word of God, of putting it into practice, of giving our yes to all His words, and His commands?  Are these commands sweet as honey, are they the new wine we drink each day?  From Him do we find our daily bread?  Though we are in His Church and have the blessed breasts of this great Mother to nurse us, though we are here where the hills of the Lord “flow with [His] milk” – though we have at our hands the Body and Blood of the Lord and the true teaching, the Word of God, in our ears by His grace upon this House of God, do we truly appreciate these gifts He provides: do we eat and drink unto our salvation and keep His word as an ever flowing stream of life in our souls, at the heart of our beings?  “The channels of Judah shall flow with water,” as now they do.  Do we wash ourselves clean in that water that “issue[s] from the house of the Lord”?  Are we prepared for the day of decision?

Let us rejoice in Him, brothers and sisters.  “Be glad in the Lord, you just, and give thanks to His holy name.”  With the psalmist let us raise our song and proclaim His justice to all the peoples.  For what should we have but joy as we take refuge in His promise, as we come to the table of the New Covenant each day and share even now in the life He offers forth through His holy sacrifice.  And let us pray to our Mother, Mary, that we shall be as she is, that we shall be so true to the Lord and serve as His handmaidens amongst the world.  May she keep us close to the nourishing food the Church holds for all her children; and may our decision be as firm as hers as we give our unfailing yes to the Lord and so know His grace and blessing.

*******

O LORD, if we but keep your Word,

we shall be blessed on the Day Jesus comes.

YHWH, you dwell on Zion, your holy mountain; may we dwell there with our Blessed Mother.

The mountains melt like wax before you, O LORD.  The heavens and the earth quake, but you are a refuge to your people.  Truly blessed are all who make their home in you, who do your will in this world.  And so, as sun and moon are darkened, as this world you reduce to dust, may we be gathered into your arms, to the breast of our Mother.

Let the heavens proclaim your justice, LORD; let all holy souls give thanks to your NAME.  For light dawns through the darkness for the upright of heart, and your children abide forever in your presence even as their enemies are destroyed.

Blessed let us be, O Holy LORD, to follow where your Son does lead, for He leads us only unto you.  O may we hear and keep your Word!  Blessed Mother, pray for us.

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(Jl.1:13-15,2:1-2;   Ps.9:2-3,6,8-9,16;   Lk.11:15-26)

 

“It is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,

a day of clouds and somberness!”

 

And we must be prepared.  We must rend our hearts and not our garments.  We must “spend the night in sackcloth,” repentant of our sins.  We must “proclaim a fast” and “cry to the Lord,” “for near is the day of the Lord.” 

The prophet Joel sounds this alarm several hundred years before Christ, and in truth it proclaims the coming of Christ.  For it is His coming that separates the wicked from the just; it is He who “judges the world with justice” – it is by Him the names of the wicked are “blotted out forever and ever” and those who “declare all [His] wondrous deeds” find their salvation.

The day is coming and is already here, for the Lord declares in our gospel, “The man who is not with me is against me, and the man who does not gather with me scatters.”  He makes clear the works of Satan, which do not bring healing but only sickness and death, and the works of “the finger of God,” which overpower and “cast out devils.”  Here the judgment is come; here it begins.  In the end it shall be fulfilled and the great divide between evil and good will be set for all eternity, but here and in this time the Word of Truth goes forth, calling all souls to leave behind all sin.

But, brothers and sisters, our fasting must be complete; our weeping, our repentance, must be genuine.  We must turn entirely from our sins and make place only for the Lord Jesus Christ to live in the houses of our souls.  If the Lord lives in us, there is no place for darkness.  If the Lord is within us, no devil can dwell there.  But if in hypocrisy we pretend a conversion, we expand the space for the devil’s dwelling in our homes.  For the two are indeed mutually exclusive: the Lord has nothing to do with the devil, and the devil nothing to do with the Lord.  And so if we hope to stand on the day when darkness covers the earth, “spreading over the mountains, like a people numerous and mighty”; if we hope to remain when the Lord returns with His myriad of angels to judge the earth and the thoughts of men’s hearts… we must enter His grace this day – we must now call upon His Name.  There is no other way, my brothers and sisters.  You must be with Him or against Him.  The choice between life and death is presented before you; for the day of darkness is nigh.  Choose His eternal light!

 

*******

O LORD, your Day is at hand –

let us make room in our hearts only for you.

YHWH, your throne is set up for judgment; near is your Day.  Soon you will come to destroy all the wicked, that in your presence the just might shine.  Your Son you have sent to redeem the world, to call every soul from its sin, but failing repentance what shall happen to us on the great and terrible Day of His return?

Forever you are enthroned on high, O LORD, and who can approach your glory?  What hope have we of uniting with you, of looking upon your face, we who have been so sinful?  How shall we come into your House and there find eternal rest if we do not wholeheartedly accept the cleansing Word of your Son?

If there is any pretense in us, we shall not stand with Him.  And so, O LORD, let us fast and pray for all devils to be cast from us that we might forever sing your praise.

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(Mal.3:13-20;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;   Lk.11:5-13)

 

“For you who fear my name,

there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

 

Both our psalm and first reading make clear the distinction between the blessed and the condemned: “The Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes,” our psalmist declares.  The wicked are “like chaff which the wind drives away,” while the just are “like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.”  Malachi proclaims the same.  Where the Lord is healing rays of warmth to the just, for the wicked He comes “blazing like an oven… leaving them neither root nor branch.”  For one, His fire is holy and life-giving; for the other, it destroys.

And what is the sign that we “fear the Lord and trust in His name”?  Malachi speaks of “going about in penitential dress” and states, “They who fear the Lord spoke with one another, and the Lord listened attentively.”  Our psalmist tells us the just “delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on His law day and night.”  We must be repentant of our sins and come humbly before Him.  We must recognize, as Jesus tells us, that we indeed are ones “with all [our] sins.”  This is first.  But most importantly we must trust in Him and turn to Him, and pray in His Name.  For “the heavenly Father give[s] the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”  He is not remiss in making them His own.  He wishes all to be blessed and come before Him whole.  But we must not fail to seek His will, to seek His way, to beg it of our God.  We cannot be remiss in asking and seeking and knocking, for this persistence proves our love of Him and of His way, and by it we will find Him.

Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more important or more powerful than prayer.  It is our way of coming to Him and becoming one with Him.  It is at the heart of the distinction “between him who serves God, and him who does not serve Him.”  For all that we do will come to naught if not done in His presence, and it is only by prayer we enter the presence of His holy light.  First and always we must have faith, yes.  First and always we must believe.  But now and ever we must seek Him; forever we must ask His grace to come into our lives.  And He will hear.  He will “give [His] children good things.”  So neglect not to remain in the presence of God and your reward will be assured, and you will know the blessed light of His face.

*******

O LORD, give to us the Holy Spirit,

that in all things we might follow along the way

of your Son.

YHWH, we ask for your grace and mercy, your compassion upon our souls, that we might not be burned up with the wicked on your holy Day but stand blessed in the light of your face.  Let us be healed of all sin and come to serve you with all our hearts, leaving behind all doubt of your glory and trusting in your goodness toward us.  For you have made us and we are your own if we but have faith in you and come humbly before you with our petitions.

Yes, let us ask you for what we need, for all good things, those in accord with your will.  If our hearts are set on serving you and others, what will you not give us?  For then we will truly be your sons.  But, O LORD, if we should turn our sights upon the advancement of our own name, seeking to prosper by doing evil, the wind shall indeed drive us away, and we shall perish in unholy fire.

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(Jon.4:1-11;   Ps.86:3-6,9-10,15;   Lk.11:1-4)

 

“Your kingdom come.”

 

“You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.”  How beautifully Jonah speaks of God’s blessed compassion on His people.  And how poorly he is able to accept and live that grace.  The Lord’s forgiveness extends now to the ends of the earth; let us not be loathe to offer it unto all.

In our first reading, Jonah is angry with God for His mercy in forgiving Ninevah, the pagan empire and enemy of Israel.  But the Lord teaches Jonah that He watches over these, too, not only Israel, signaling His universal call to salvation (which shall be fulfilled in the teaching of Christ).  By comparing the city of Ninevah to the plant “that grew up over Jonah’s head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,” the Lord instructs us that not only does He care for all nations, but indeed that all nations have a holy call, a blessed purpose, in which God Himself takes pleasure and comfort.  He has raised all the nations and each is called as a member of His kingdom.

This word should give us great understanding of the graciousness of our God, and great joy in knowing that we are called by Him: “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.”  We can join with David in his prayer, knowing that God will “attend to the sound of [our] pleading” even as He does this blessed king of Israel; even as He listens to His chosen people, so He listens now to us, for the walls of division have been cast asunder and His love now extends to all.

But we must not be as Jonah shows himself to be today.  We must “forgive all who do us wrong” or the Lord will not hear our prayer to “subject us not to the trial.”  If we harbor anger, it will mean our death; and the Lord will send “a burning east wind” and a sun to beat down upon us, too, to draw us from the hardness of our hearts and the condemnation we breathe in our souls.  Our vision must be that of God, who sees that sinners “cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,” or as Jesus says from the cross, “They know not what they do.”  And so we, too, must forgive.

Let us join in prayer today, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s kingdom may come to earth.  Let us rejoice that His reign extends to all.  For it is the Lord’s desire to “forgive us our sins,” and it is His will that all find refuge in the shade of His presence.  And so we partake of “our daily bread” here in His Word and in His Sacrament; and so we live the kingdom of God.

 

*******

O LORD, let our prayer rise up to you, the Most High,

who are merciful and kind and forgiving toward all

and hear us when we cry out to you.

YHWH, you are abounding in kindness toward all, a gracious and merciful God desiring to show clemency to sinners, to lead them from the death upon their souls to a holy life in you.  For this what can we do but praise you?  What can we do but say: let thy will be done!

But how often we keep your mercy from others, dear God; how often we expect it for ourselves yet refuse to share it with those who seek it from us.  This is not your will.  In this your kingdom does not come.  For where forgiveness is withheld, your love does not exist; and where your love does not exist, you are not present.

Let us not die in desolation, O LORD, beneath a scorching wind and a burning sun.  Open our hearts to share your compassion and we shall find relief from all the trials we bring upon ourselves by our lack of pity, by our condemnation of others.

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(Jon.3:1-10;   Ps.130:1-4,7-8;   Lk.10:38-42)

 

“He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do them;

He did not carry it out.”

 

Ninevah is spared.  Because “they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth,” because they repented of their sin and called “loudly to God,” He did not punish them for their iniquity but forgave them and withheld “His blazing wrath.”  And so this pagan city finds God’s mercy through the preaching of Jonah. 

We are all called to repent.  We are all called to turn to the Lord and seek His forgiveness and grace to overcome and be spared of punishment for our falling short of His glory.  Our psalm declares, “Let Israel wait for the Lord, for with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption.”  And so to find His mercy we must have faith and we must be patient.  We must be as Mary in our gospel today, seated at His feet, listening to His words.  We cannot remove ourselves from this place and hope to find salvation for our souls any more than the Ninevites could have taken a break from their sitting in sackcloth and ashes to have a snack and yet hoped to find the forgiveness they so desperately needed.  Our fast must be total, our obedience complete.  Do you think Mary had a mind to rise as she listened to her Lord?  Do you think she was distracted by anything?  Certainly not.  And we in our prayer and in our work and in our lives must find the commitment she embodies if we hope to know the grace of God truly working in our hearts.

Indeed, the Lord “will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.”  Indeed, He hears the voice of all who cry to Him “out of the depths” of their sin.  He will come and wash us clean; He will come and make us new.  If we choose “the better portion,” we “shall not be deprived of it” and its reward.  But it must be our whole hearts that turn to the Lord, that are set on His word… that heed His preaching as it comes with its grace to our ears.

If we are short of prophets today, listen more closely, brothers and sisters.  If it is difficult to find the Word preached with the power and blessing of Jonah, open your Bibles and turn to your hearts.  Sit still before Him in silence and He will fill your soul with His light.  And fail not to come into His presence where the people gather for Mass.  The Word shall indeed fill you; His Bread shall indeed nourish you.  And your soul shall be saved according to your commitment to Christ. 

*******

O LORD, let our hearts be set on you

and your presence;

may our ears be open to hear your voice.

YHWH, let us turn to you with all our heart that we might find forgiveness of our sins and peace in your presence.  If in sackcloth and ashes we cry out to you in repentance, you will look kindly upon our souls; if in silence we sit at your feet, what shall we not be taught?  All is ours if we make ourselves your own.

O LORD, all nations you call to yourself.  There is no one for whom you do not care, whom you would not save in your mercy.  And so you send your prophets forth even to the ends of the earth, and so your Word goes out to all places and times – and so all who listen to your voice find redemption for their souls and enter your holy Temple.

Your ears listen for our voice calling out to you; your heart longs for us to set aside all things and worship you.  O LORD, let your gracious will be done in all our lives that none shall perish in separation from you.

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

(Jon.1:1-2:1,11;   Jon.2:2-5,7-8;   Lk.10:25-37)

 

“A Samaritan who was journeying along came on him

and was moved to pity at the sight.”

 

First let me note that the book of Jonah is not a parable, not an imaginary story, as popular scholarship would have us believe.  How do I know this?  I have faith, yes, which those who would explain away any miracle of God so sorely lack; but I know it, too, by Scripture itself.  For elsewhere the Lord compares Himself to Jonah, and states explicitly that the people of Ninevah – who had the faith to repent at the preaching of Jonah – will rise on the day of judgment and condemn those of Jesus’ time, and us, for our failure to repent at the words of the Son of God.  It is not possible that imaginary people could condemn others’ souls (the very idea is absurd, of course, but such are our minds in this “enlightened” age), and this comparison would suggest that Jesus Himself is but imaginary, which seems not against the belief of the vain prophets of our day.

In today’s gospel we have a parable: The Good Samaritan.  It begins as the universal story all parables are – “There was a man…” (“a man,” any man, every man), and its express purpose is to impart a lesson.  And the lesson today is God’s universal love.  The dreaded “Samaritan” represents nothing but faithlessness and sin to the Jewish mind, but Jesus demonstrates that it is sinners He calls – and that those thought of as sinners indeed often show the greatest faith.  We see this not only in our gospel, but also in our reading from Jonah, for notice how quickly the pagan mariners turned to their gods, who are no-gods, to seek deliverance from the “breakers” and “billows” which pass over them.  Indeed, it is they who arouse Jonah, who has fallen asleep in the despair of his separation from the will of God, to pray to his Lord.  And what horror overwhelms them when they hear how he has disobeyed the Lord’s command – “How could you do such a thing!”  Who has the faith here?  Who convicts whom of sin?

Though Jonah is clearly different from Jesus in this his sin, he is like Him in a crucial way – he sacrifices his life for those in danger of death.  Notice his words: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you.”  And so it does when he is finally cast forth (after remarkable, faith-filled prayer by these pagans); and so also these men “offered sacrifice and made vows” to the Lord, coming it seems to faith in God following Jonah’s laying down of his life.  And, of course, as Jesus will spend three days in the belly of the earth, so Jonah spends three days in the belly of the whale; and as the Lord will rise on the third day, so Jonah is “spewed upon the shore.”

Brothers and sisters, the Lord heard Jonah’s prayer from “the midst of the netherworld,” “from the belly of the fish.”  Do not doubt and test the Lord as the lawyer who seeks “to justify himself” in his pride.  In your moments of darkness, come to the Lord as the humble servant He calls you to be, and He shall assuage your doubts, He shall be moved with pity looking upon you, and teach you of the love and compassion only He knows.

 

*******

O LORD, how shall we be saved from the pit

into which we cast ourselves

if we do not have compassion for the plight of others?

YHWH, we have fallen into the pit, beaten and left for dead by robbers, by the demons, for our sin.  The breakers and billows pass over us and we are doomed to drown in the dark of the deep.

But you are merciful, LORD, truly compassionate to all in need.  And so you look upon our troubled state and send us help when we cry out to you – our prayer, even from the midst of the nether world, reaches your holy Temple, and you have pity on our poor souls.  For this let us ever praise you!

And to what do you call us but to be compassionate as you, to love you and to show that love by loving our neighbor as ourselves.  For we are all one in you and so if we are in you we will see that helping others we indeed help ourselves, and please you greatly by our love, by such awareness of our oneness in you.  May all our being worship you, O LORD!  Let us live your will of love and compassion.

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

(Bar.4:5-12,27-29;   Ps.69:33-37;   Lk.10:17-24)

 

“He who has brought disaster upon you will,

in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

 

That enduring joy which comes to us after this time of trial is our theme today.  Not only does Baruch come to it in his exhortation for the people to “fear not” anymore but to turn to God and be glad, but it is David’s song as well: “You who seek God, may your hearts be merry!” he exclaims as he assures us that “God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah,” which were once “left desolate” “for the sins of [her] children.”  Yes, as Baruch encourages Israel, “Fear not, my children; call out to God!” so David confirms that “the Lord hears the poor.”  And from all their sins He shall save them.

And does not our gospel tell us the same.  In it we are told that “Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit” and gave the Father “grateful praise,” saying, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.”  To His children, to the humble, to the poor, He reveals Himself.  And what can those who are blessed so, to see “what many prophets and kings wished to see” – what can we do but rejoice in His Spirit?  For He has given us “power to tread on snakes and scorpions and all the forces of the enemy, and nothing shall ever injure” us.  For sin no longer holds sway in our lives as it once did when we turned in the hardness of our hearts from the face of God and so were “handed over” to our foes.  Though once we “forsook the Eternal God,” we now return to Him; and so the “mourning and lament” suffered because of our sin now become joy in His eternal presence.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice so much in the fact that the devils are subject to you as that your names are inscribed in heaven.”  We should rejoice not so much in the gift as in the giver, not so much in the power we have as in Him who gives the power.  For great and wonderful as the overcoming of evil in this life certainly is, its entire purpose is to bring us into communion with the Lord in the New Jerusalem, in His heavenly kingdom.  “Those who love His name shall inhabit it,” so let us join with Jesus in the Holy Spirit to praise the Name of the Father and the great blessing of life He imparts to us.  And we shall find redemption from the punishment of our sins and rejoice as children in His presence forever.  Amen. 

*******

O LORD, the Son has made you known,

and we may see Him, and we may hear Him –

let us turn from our sins!

YHWH, great mourning has come upon us because of our sins, but great hope we have in you who desire our salvation.  Great joy is ours as we turn now from our sins and seek you ten times the more.  You are ours as we come before you on our knees, and the joy you bring us will last forever.

O God, you are eternal, dwelling in unending light.  And as that light comes to our eyes, what can we do but rejoice with your Son that your poor ones you bring to glory?  In Heaven our names are written by your loving hand, in the blood of your merciful Son; all He has He has given to us, revealing even your presence, dear Father.

What power has Satan over your faithful ones, those whom you bless with your power and love?  The Spirit has set us free from all bonds that we might walk with you, eternal LORD.

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

(Bar.1:15-22;   Ps.79:1-5,8-9;   Lk.10:13-16)

 

“We have been disobedient to the Lord, our God,

and only too ready to disregard His voice.”

 

Woe is upon us for our sin.  We “have sinned in the Lord’s sight and disobeyed Him,” and so “the evils and the curse which the Lord enjoined upon Moses… cling to us even today.”  And if we do not recognize our sin, as Baruch does so beautifully in our first reading today, if we do not admit our failure to “heed the voice of the Lord,” realizing and repenting of our going “after the devices of our own heart” rather than following in His holy way – if we do not accuse ourselves of “evil in the sight of the Lord,” He will accuse us on the day of the judgment, as He does with Chorazin and Bethsaida in our gospel… and the woe upon us then shall be interminable, as we are “hurled down to the realm of death” with the cursed Capernaum.  But if we turn to Him, if we cry out to Him as does Baruch, as does our psalm this day, declaring the evil and destruction that has come upon us for our sin, that same “reproach of our neighbors” which has “laid Jerusalem in ruins” will be removed from us – the Lord will “remember not against us the iniquities of the past,” and we shall preserve our souls on the day of judgment.

“They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem”: great is the suffering which has come upon the Lord’s wayward children.  It seems at times the Lord will be angry forever for the sins committed by the perverse heart of man.  But we know that His “compassion [will] quickly come to us,” that His anger lasts but a moment, it is only for a time, and that He shall indeed “deliver us and pardon our sins.”  This has He done in Jesus, in His sacrifice, and word of it now is preached to the nations.  If we accept it, we save our souls from destruction, from eternal damnation; if we reject the word of the Gospel, we reject Jesus, and we reject Him who holds the world in His creating hand – and so what hope of life have we, who have cast Life aside so wantonly… and so “burn like fire” forever only can the wrath of the Lord, our God.

Let us reject sin while there is time.  As His Word is still in our hearing, let us come to it and bare our souls before its truth “in sackcloth and ashes.”  The condition of this world of sin does not change, and it mounts up its punishment for judgment day.  Let us come out of the world, humbly professing our sin, and listen now to the voice that leads us to forgiveness and grace, to exaltation “to the skies,” standing at His side forever.

 *******

O LORD, let us not reject you!

but come rather on our knees seeking forgiveness.

YHWH, the gravity of our sin overwhelms us: our blood is poured out like water, our corpses given as food to the beasts of the earth.  How shall we make amends for our wicked deeds if even the presence of your Son and His sacrifice do not move us to repentance?  O save us from being hurled down to the realm of death!  Let us not reject the Word come from Jesus.

O LORD, let us heed your voice.  Though we have been disobedient, though the evils that fall upon us are but just punishment for turning our hearts from you, help us, please, to avoid the grave, to be preserved from the fire that is coming upon the earth.  Remember not our iniquities; let them be of the past.  Let your compassion come quickly to us to raise us from our lowly state.  In sackcloth and ashes let us bow humbly before you that we might find pardon for your NAME’s sake.

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

(Neh.8:1-12;   Ps.19:8-11;   Lk.10:1-12) 

“They understood the words that had been expounded to them.”

What a blessed day we hear of in our first reading.  And what a blessed reception the Word of God finds in the hearing of the people!  For “the whole people gathered as one man” and “listened attentively to the book of the law” of Moses as “Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion” and “read out of the book from daybreak until midday.”  And we know that all the people indeed understood the wonder of what was read to their humble, obedient hearts, “for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.”  They wept for the truth of these words, and for the fact that they as a people were so long without their instruction.  The truth of God’s Word brought repentance to their hearts, as it should to all.

But ultimately the Word of God caused them, as all, “to celebrate with great joy.”  Certainly this is its ultimate goal.  For as David sings so well of in our psalm today: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.”  And the rightness of this wisdom brings “rejoicing [to] the heart.”  For as rich as the food and sweet the drinks the people were encouraged to consume that day as celebration of the glory of God, none could compare with the commands of the Lord, which “are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.”  This bread of life is that which sustains us.

And it is this bread of peace and life the Lord sends the disciples to bring to the cities before Him in our gospel today.  He tells them that as they declare peace to any house or town along the way, “If there is a peaceable man there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.”  And woe to those who do not welcome the reign of God these disciples bring in Jesus’ name.  Indeed, we hear that “the fate of Sodom will be less severe than that of such a town.”  If the Israelites were so open and welcoming to the Word of God read in their midst from the book of the law by Ezra the scribe, how much more welcoming should these people who have the emissaries of Christ Himself, sent to “cure the sick,” be to receive the reign of God at hand.  And how much more should we be open to receive His Word, who now know of the Lord’s resurrection to glory and have the Holy Spirit in our midst by the authority given to His Church on earth.  Brothers and sisters, we must hear and understand as well as they of Nehemiah’s time, else what hope have we for celebration in Christ’s glory?  May His sweet words be in our ears and in our mouths, and so may we bleed with Him unto glory.

*******

O LORD, your Word brings the sweetest tears

of blessed repentance.

 YHWH, how sweet your Word should be to our ears, to our hearts – O how we should welcome it!  Though it bring knowledge of our sin, that knowledge is sweet, for that knowledge brings us to repentance and refreshes our souls.  Though we weep, though we cry for our transgressions, how sweet are our tears!  For it is these tears, this turning from our sins, that brings us into your presence, that brings your reign into our midst.

O how we should welcome your Word, LORD!  Once it came only through words in a book; once it had to be read aloud and interpreted for our simple hearts to understand.  But now it comes in flesh and blood in your only Son and in the apostles He sends out to proclaim your glory among men.

Indeed, your reign, O God, is at hand.  Your grace has come to us as a Man.  And so let us rejoice this day, for it is thus made most holy.

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

(Neh.2:1-8;   Ps.137:1-6;   Lk.9:57-62)

 

“How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?”

 

Our home is in heaven.  “The foxes have lairs, the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” the Lord tells him who would follow His way in our gospel today.  Our home is in heaven, and only there do we find joy.  And only finding our place there should possess our hearts.

We have a sign of the devotion we must have for the Lord and His Kingdom in our psalm and first reading.  Even as the psalmist hangs up his harp and weeps “by the streams of Babylon” for his exile from Jerusalem – “May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy” – so, too, Nehemiah is most “sad at heart” for his separation from and the ruination of “the city where [his] ancestors are buried.”  And as the king takes pity on his servant and sends Nehemiah to help rebuild Jerusalem, so, too, does the Lord look upon those who seek in ardent desire their true home with Him in heaven.  He knows we are sad at our separation from the kingdom of God; He knows only there we shall find peace in our hearts, and so He calls us along the way He walks.

But also He warns that all else must be set aside if we are to discover that which our hearts desire.  “Whoever puts his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.”  Does love for the New Jerusalem truly possess us as did love of the old for these exiles in Babylon?  Do we, too, recognize our own exile, our own homelessness, and seek with all our souls only the song that is sung in the kingdom of God?  Are we prepared to leave this land of exile, this foreign land in which we find ourselves, to come to Him to build with the wood He provides the new walls which will be our shelter and our place of worship even in this life?  Or do we look back to this world of sin and find ourselves drawn into its sad state?

The Lord awaits the turning of all toward Him and His kingdom.  He desires greatly our returning to His side.  The thought of our heart to give up all for Him He confirms with His blessing and love.  But we must be clear that this commitment is total, that nowhere else we shall find our joy but at His side in heaven. 

*******

O LORD, let us not be separated from you

but give all our lives to following in your way,

even to the Cross.

YHWH, let us set our hearts on you alone and our coming into your kingdom.  Why should anything else possess our souls?  Of what else should we sing?  Should we not proclaim your glory with full voice and so find your reign upon us?  We cannot make our home in any place but Heaven; help us to overcome the sadness of dwelling in this dark place, in this land of exile.  Bring us quickly into your presence.

Your House let us rebuild, O LORD, your House and your City.  Let your favoring hand be upon us this day as we seek to accomplish your will.  All else let us be ready to leave behind in order to do your work upon this plane.  For only in you will we find our joy – hear us as we pray to you.

Let us not be dead, O LORD, dead to your presence in our midst.  Let our hearts burn with love for you!  Let us remember your NAME forever.

Direct download: BC-092811-W_26_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Zec.8:20-23;   Ps.87:1-7,Zec.8:23;   Lk.9:51-56)

 

“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

 

God is with us, brothers and sisters.  And though all upon earth turn their faces from Him now, though in ignorance they reject Him and our preaching of His Word – there shall come a day when all nations find their home in Him.  In that day the Lord shall reign.

As Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem and His coming death at the hands of His own people, He passes through many towns and sends harbingers of His drawing nigh.  In today’s gospel we read of the Samaritans’, the dreaded “half-breed” of Israelites, rejection of His presence among them: “The Samaritans would not welcome Him because He was on the way to Jerusalem.”  And for this should they not be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah? request the sons of thunder, James and John.  But it is “only to reprimand them” that Jesus makes answer to such an idea.  Indeed, they reject the Son of God, but in this moment they certainly know not what they do.  Should they be any different than the Jews who will offer Him up for crucifixion or the apostles who will abandon Him?

From the gospel we must take solace, brothers and sisters, when our words fall on deaf ears, when the Word of God seems not to take root in souls.  We are only emissaries of His Word, and that Word will bear fruit only in His time.  But, of course, at the same moment we mourn rejection, we must be buoyed by the vision delivered by Zechariah in our first reading and confirmed so wonderfully in our psalm, for in it is the Truth of the resurrection that follows the Lord’s crucifixion.  We are told that “the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another and say, “Come!  Let us go to implore the favor of the Lord,” and that “in those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”  Not only will they hear the Word of God, they will beg its presence in their lives!  For the Lord shall draw them inextricably to His mountain.  “And of Zion they shall say: ‘One and all were born in her; and He who has established her is the Most High God.’”

Brothers and sisters, we dwell now in Zion; Holy Church is the New Jerusalem.  And hearts shall turn to her with longing – she shall find her treasured place here at the end of the age.  We need not fear or be anxious, for the day of the Lord shall come, when “all shall sing, in their festive dance: ‘My home is within you.’”  Continue on to every town, bearing His love.

 

*******

O LORD, all who desire the salvation wrought by Jesus

 will be welcomed into your House.

 

 YHWH, in Jerusalem let us make our home, in your holy Church.  To this House all nations shall come, for it is here you dwell on earth.  Heaven is indeed in our midst: you are with us.  And it is for you the heart of every man longs – O let us be born into your kingdom!

Toward Jerusalem the face of your Son is set; it is always to this place He comes.  Here He dies and here He is raised, and here He dwells unto eternity….  In His blood let us be reborn.  In Him your glory is known among us, O LORD, for you have established Him forever as our Home. 

Let us all come to Jesus in the New Jerusalem to implore your favor, O Most High God.  And let us bring all souls to these gates, that in glory they might enter in and find their place in Him.  His messengers let us be until the end of the age.

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

(Zec.8:1-8;   Ps.102:16-23,29;   Lk.9:46-50)

 

“The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in her streets.”

 

“Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the Lord of hosts.”  Sometimes we lose sight of the kingdom of heaven.  Sometimes our faith fails because of the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves.  Or sometimes our pride can be the obstruction, blinding our eyes to the presence of the Lord in our midst, speaking to us in the children who play all around us, who sit at His side… whose angels behold His face always.  Sometimes we lose hope and the promise of eternal life escapes us.

But why?  Do we not know that the Lord “has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer”?  Have we not experienced His redeeming grace many times in our lives?  Do we not believe Him when He tells His chosen ones: “They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice”?  Why are we so forgetful of His love for us and distracted by our situation?  For the Lord does “hear the groaning of the prisoners”; He does “release those doomed to die”; He does look down “from His holy height” and hear the prayers of us His lowly ones, if we but call out to Him.

“I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun.”  At the center of the universe shall we dwell, “within Jerusalem,” with the Lord.  This is our promise.  And this is our call – to bring others within those gates, to invite all His children to enter His holy presence.  Not to look past them in blind ambition, but to set our hearts on serving Him by striving always and only to build up His kingdom even here on earth.

Jesus knows our thoughts, brothers and sisters.  He knows how vain we can be in our ways.  And so He sets a child before us.  He shows us the lowliness we must know to enter the kingdom of heaven.  And He presents us with a challenge to gather His children there.  Indeed, heaven shall be filled with the laughter of children, but will we hear it – and will we find true reward by increasing it always in His Name?  Let your heart not fail or despair of any circumstances, for “the children of [His] servants shall abide, and their posterity continue in [His] presence.”  Ever maintain hope for the glory of Zion and see it rising in your midst. 

*******

O LORD, may we be as children before you

in your heavenly kingdom.

YHWH, gather your children together as one in your holy City of Jerusalem.  In the peace of your presence let us dwell all our days.  We are greatly troubled here upon this earth.  Help us to turn and become as children that in innocence and humility before you we might remain.  Hear us as we cry out and look down with pity upon our poor souls.

O LORD, let us be on your side; faithful and just make us, we pray.  O let us serve you in holiness that when you appear in glory we may enter your company and not be kept from you by our foolish pride.  You are our God; let us not be made blind to your presence.

O LORD, let us hear the sound of children playing in your streets, and let us be among them.  If we could but humble ourselves, in your eyes we would find our place secure.  Release those who are doomed to die; with you let us dwell forever.

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

(Zec.2:5-9,14-15;   Jer.31:10-13;   Lk.9:43-45)

 

“They shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings.”

 

The Kingdom is being prepared.  And as bleak as things may seem upon this earth, the glory of the Lord awaits us all.  This is the message of Jeremiah in our psalm and the message given Zechariah by the angel in our first reading.  “I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows,” is the word which sustains us.

Zechariah prophesies at the time the Israelites have returned from exile few in number to a rather desolate, broken-down Jerusalem.  But in his vision presented today he sees an angel measuring the great city of peace, apparently for its restoration.  And to this prophet at this difficult time in which hope is hard to hold on to is delivered this reassurance: “People will live in Jerusalem as though in an open country, because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.”  The Lord promises to be “the glory in her midst” and an “encircling wall of fire”: “Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day.”

Jeremiah’s message is the same.  “He who scattered Israel now gathers them together, He guards them as a shepherd His flock.”  Yes, even in the darkest moments of our exile here on this fallen earth, there is hope.  For ultimately the Lord’s love will conquer all; in the end we shall “mount the heights of Zion” – our salvation will be fulfilled.

Jesus tries to convey to the apostles the same message.  By telling them, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men,” He seeks to have them understand – even “in the midst of the disciples’ amazement at all that Jesus was doing” in teaching and healing the people – that when the time of mourning is brought to bear in their lives, when they see Him offered up for crucifixion… when darkness falls upon the land, then they should be assured that the glorious works they find wrought in their midst by the glorious hand of God shall not be dead at all, but only coming to fulfillment.

Our solace is in our sorrow.  Happy are we who mourn.  For the passing things we are robbed of here, we know will become eternal blessings in heaven.  Taste the pain, my brothers and sisters, the blood at the corners of your mouth, and lift your head to see the nations come streaming to His eternal kingdom. 

 

*******

O LORD, into the hands of men Jesus must be delivered

that He might gather them from far-off lands

into the kingdom of Heaven.

YHWH, your people have been scattered to the four corners of the earth, but from there you gather them together as one in your holy City.  From mourning you deliver your children that they might come in joy into your eternal presence.  O may the nations indeed come streaming to your blessings!  May all be surrounded by your wall of protection, with you at our very center.

The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men.  This sacrifice is necessary to fulfill man’s redemption.  O LORD, we could not be saved except by His suffering, for blind we were even to our sin until He mounted the wood of the Cross.

But now, dear LORD, what was so concealed from us has been revealed by His blood.  Let us follow closely His message and His way, that we might be found celebrating within the length and breadth of your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-092411-Sa_25_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Hg.1:15-2:9;   Ps.43:1-5;   Lk.9:18-22)

 

“Greater will be the future glory of this house

than the former, says the Lord of hosts.”

 

“Take courage… and work!  For I am with you,” the Lord says through the prophet Haggai to the remnant of the people returned from exile as they prepare to rebuild the temple.  “My spirit continues in your midst; do not fear!”  Of course, we know these words of encouragement are eternal, even as we know that “the future glory” of the temple prophesied by Haggai refers ultimately to the Kingdom Christ now builds for us with His Father in heaven, and in whose construction we participate to this day.  For Jesus is the Temple not made by human hands, and we are His Body here on earth, raising the walls of this holy place.

“And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts!”  In the former temple, that which relied upon human hands for its construction and could thus be destroyed also by human hands, the peace was necessarily passing.  Though the Lord remained present to His people, the temple in which they dwelt, in which they worshiped, was only temporary.  The future Temple which holds the glory of God come to fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ, to which He leads us and which is, in fact, the Lord Himself – to this Temple there is no end, and its peace is everlasting.  There we shall worship eternally.

And this Temple is present to us now; Jesus is in our midst this day, in His Church, in His Sacraments, with His Spirit, in the Word.  And we learn from the Lord in our gospel today the way that leads to its realization.  Yes, the apostles, in the person of Peter, recognize that Jesus is “the Messiah of God”; but not yet is it to be declared.  There are first “many sufferings” He must endure.  Indeed, He must “be put to death” before being “raised up on the third day.”  In the same manner we have much to endure in this world, filling up what is lacking of His suffering, before we come into the eternal glory of His resurrection.  We shall “go in to the altar of God” and give Him “thanks upon the harp.”  He shall receive our song of joy, as in measure He does this day.  In fullness we shall know Him.  And so, here as we travel toward Him, as we pass through our time of mourning, let us pray with our psalmist:

 

“Send forth your light and your fidelity;

they shall lead me on

And bring me to your holy mountain,

to your dwelling place…”

(where His glory shall be great).

 

                           *******

O LORD, you are the Most High God –

let us enter your House with praise!

 YHWH, you are with us, always with us, dearest LORD, and you call us to be with you; you promise us peace in your holy Temple.  And your Temple has come into our midst.  He has suffered and died for our sakes and been raised on the third day.  Now we must suffer with Him, we must do His work in this world, the work of building up His Temple… and soon we will come to dwell with Him in your eternal presence in your dwelling place.

O LORD, take away our mourning for what we do not have, for the lack of your glory among us.  Let us remember that Jesus is the Messiah, that though we be surrounded by darkness this day, His light is with us leading us forth to your kingdom, which even now is indeed being built up in your Church, in all those who work in His Name.  To greater glory bring us each day till your promise is fulfilled and we dwell in your presence forever.

Direct download: BC-092311-F_25_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Hg.1:1-8;   Ps.149:1-6,9;   Lk.9:7-9)

 

“He who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.”

 

“Bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory.”  Rebuild the house of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit you are.  Shore up the breaches in its walls and solidify its foundation, that you might “sing to the Lord a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful,” that you might be as those who are “glad in their maker…  For the Lord loves His people, and He adorns the lowly with victory.”  Humble yourself before Him, take care to observe the words of His mouth – turn from your selfish ways and your blindness to His presence, and you shall again sing with delight in a house of blessings.

Are you, too, like Herod, perplexed at the identity of Jesus?  Do you, too, question: “Who is this man about whom I hear all these reports?”  Be more than “curious to see Him,” my brothers and sisters; lay down your lives before Him and His teaching and His redemptive sacrifice, and you shall come to know that He is the Son of God – you shall find Him who is the salvation of your soul, which wanders now far from the safety of the walls of His temple.  In His flesh alone will you find your home.  Your vain curiosity is not enough to bring you there.  Your doubts about His glory must be faced and seen for the emptiness they hold – or you risk beheading yourself in the refusal to bow to Him who is Truth and holds all that matters in His redeeming hands.

“Let the high praises of God be in their throats,” our psalmist sings.  To such blessing of fulfillment he exhorts our souls.  This indeed is “the glory of all His faithful”; for to have our souls filled to overflowing with the praises of our Lord and our God, who loves us to overflowing and desires only for us to know His love in its being lived out in all our days and with all our being… in this we find our home in His blessed hands.

All else but God is vain, and its emptiness will rise to your eyes in a time you do not anticipate.  See now that you repair the holes in your very soul, that you might become a temple of His Spirit and find the grace to praise His Name worthily in the assembly of all His chosen ones.

 

*******

O LORD, in your House let us make our home

and to us you will be known.

YHWH, may you receive due glory from all souls, we pray.  May all bless your holy NAME with songs of praise in your Temple.  May all recognize that you are the God of all and that Jesus is your only Son, and so may all rebuild their broken souls by the grace that comes through Him.  O let us all put you first in our lives! as you deserve.

It is our joy to praise you, LORD, to recognize your glory in our midst and so join in that glory you offer through your Christ.  Without you, what are our lives worth?  We remain hungry despite the food on our tables; we remain naked despite the clothing on our backs – we remain empty and poor despite the riches we gather if we remain apart from you in our paneled houses.

O let us set our hearts on serving you, on humbly coming before you as your sons, dear God, and we shall exult in glory.

Direct download: BC-092211-Th_25_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Ezra 9:5-9;   Tb.13:1-4,6-8;   Lk.9:1-6) 

“Turn back, you sinners! do the right before Him:

perhaps He may look with favor upon you, and show you mercy.”

As the Word of the Lord comes to our villages and enters our houses, we must treasure it and heed its warning to turn from our sins.  If we harden our hearts against its grace and mercy, if we fail to recognize our sin in the blessed light it brings, the Word shall leave, shaking the dust from its feet, and we shall be left alone in despair.  But if we turn toward the light it brings and turn from our sins, we shall be saved – we shall be healed of all our afflictions.

How wonderfully Ezra humbles himself before the Lord our God, pouring out his soul and the sins of the people of Israel: “Our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven.”  For so often have the people sinned, so often have they turned from Him who chose them as His own… and even here, now that they have been returned from exile by the miraculous grace of God working through Persian kings, now that the Lord has given them “new life to raise again the house of [their] God and restore its ruins,” even now they have sinned again.

It is only the love of Jesus, brothers and sisters, and the grace that pours forth through His apostles, which will bring us to the “reign of God.”  Only He can heal our souls and only He can lift us from the mire of this world – only in His kingdom will we find perfection with God our Father.  This alone must we seek.  This certainly we must accept with open arms when it comes to us by the grace of our Lord.  For, indeed, we know that though we have fallen into “the great abyss,” though He may have cast us “down to the depths of the netherworld” for our sins, “He has shown [us] His greatness” and lifted our heads up to look upon His face – He has redeemed our race.

So let us rejoice this day “in the King of heaven” and “speak of His majesty,” for in our guilt the Lord visits us, He sends forth His Word to heal us.  He has given the Twelve and their successors “power and authority to overcome all demons and to cure diseases,” so let us welcome their touch and turn from our sins to receive the favor upon us, to find His mercy at work in our midst.

*******

O LORD, lead me forth in the peace of your presence –

restore our ruined house;

heal all our disease.

YHWH, you grant mercy to our souls.  Though we be cast down to the nether world for all our sins, you send forth your apostles to overcome all demons and cure us of our diseases; you raise our heads to look upon your face.  And so, what should we do but praise you with full voice?

Continually we falter, LORD; repeatedly your people fall back into sin.  But ever you call us to turn from our wickedness that we might find your favor again.  In your Son you make this mercy complete, and we find it now at work in your Church.  Let us receive well the Word that comes to us and so approach your kingdom.

What have you not done for us, O LORD.  Even the hearts of the kings of this earth you have turned to our cause to assist us in rebuilding your Temple.  All is in your hands, Almighty God!  Redeem us from captivity to walk in freedom with you at our side.

Direct download: BC-092111-W_25_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Ezra 6:7-8,12,14-20;   Ps.122:1-5;   Lk.8:19-21)

 

“The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building,

supported by the message of the prophets.”

 

And so, returning from exile and with the permission and indeed the financial support of the Gentile king, Darius, the Jews completed the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem.  And so, the prophecy of the return to the Lord from their sins is in a measure fulfilled here in this act and in the worship which once again transpires in “that house of God.”  But we know that this is not the fulfillment of the new covenant; this is not the realization of God’s promise through Isaiah to write His Name upon the hearts of His people and to be with them forever.  Though a sign of its coming, we know that such blessing cannot be fulfilled in buildings and on an earth so corrupted by sin – it can only be realized in heaven.

And so in our gospel His mother and kinsmen come to the Lord, who is the new Temple, the New Jerusalem Himself.  They come but do not find easy access for the crowd that has gathered to Jesus to worship at His feet.  And this is to show that it is not in our bloodline that we find salvation, but by faith in Him who is the ultimate sacrifice.  Indeed, all may come now to this holy sacrifice, all may enter the gates of this Temple… all may rejoice as they set foot within the gates of this New Jerusalem, if all but follow the Word of Truth which issues from His lips.  Returning to Jerusalem and having rebuilt the temple, the Levites offered sacrifice “for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves”; but Jesus’ one sacrifice is offered daily now for all who would come to the altar, to all who would sup at His table.

“I rejoiced because they said to me, ‘We will go up to the house of the Lord.’”  How blessed are these words to the ears of the Jew returning from exile, and how blessed now to the peoples of every nation are their fulfillment in our hearing.  Brothers and sisters of the Lord, let us hasten our steps toward His presence.  Let us long to worship before Him.  And let us continue to make progress in the upbuilding of the Church, His Temple, by our daily labor for the God who blesses all our endeavors with His providential care.  May His Word be fulfilled in us and in all His people.

*******

O LORD, the temple of our souls we must rebuild,

according to your Word,

that we might be His brothers and sisters,

that we might enter His House.

YHWH, let us go up to your House; let us enter its gates in joy, giving thanks to you who have made us as your Temple, built into the Body of your Son, as His brothers and sisters who do your will in this world.  He is the New Jerusalem and we desire to come to Him and make our home in Him.  Bless our efforts in building ourselves into your holy Temple, the Church.

Help us as we return from exile, as from sin we turn away and come back to you, O LORD our God.  We shall need your assistance in rebuilding lives which have gone so astray, in restoring the walls that keep us from harm, from the dangers all about our souls, and that found us in you and in the Word of your Son.

O let us hear your Word calling us into your presence! and let us act upon that Word and give glory to you, LORD, with our every breath, with every sacrifice we make in your NAME.

Direct download: BC-092011-Tu_25_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Ezra 1:1-6;   Ps.126:1-6;   Lk.8:16-18)

 

“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”

 

The Israelites toiled in tears for four hundred years under the yoke of the Egyptians, then rejoiced to finally enter the Promised Land (after wandering forty years in the desert).  For seventy years Judah had been exiled to Babylon, but rejoiced when, remarkably, the king of Persia called them to return to Jerusalem and, with his blessing, to rebuild the temple of the Lord.  And now we wait in exile for our Lord to return.  But sadness should not overwhelm us in this land of exile.  Indeed our lights must shine; for in the shining of these lamps of holiness is the coming of our Lord to this earth.  And the more we shine forth His light to this earth, the more we grow in that light, and so the closer the Lord comes to both us and the universe.

Tears do tend to be our lot here in this world; such is the way of the cross.  We cannot help but mourn the lack of His love and the failure of hearts to come to His peace.  Here where hatred and violence so often enter in by the ignorance of man’s soul to the Word of God and His presence in our midst, what can we do but cry?  But we are not without hope; and it is this hope our readings speak of this day.  For if the Gentiles could return the chosen people to their land of promise with such rich and generous gifts, how can we not take hope that the Lord shall “restore our fortunes” as well?  And so as we ascend the steps to the temple of our Lord in the highest heaven, may the nations say of us, too, “The Lord has done great things for them,” as they look upon our wisdom and grace even in this land where darkness reigns.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be exposed, nothing concealed that will not be known and brought to light.”  And so we take promise in the fact that that which we cherish now in our souls, the Word and the Bread of the Lord which nourishes us on this journey, shall come to their fulfillment in the joy of the kingdom of heaven.  But do not hide that light growing within you, brothers and sisters; shine it forth unashamedly for all to see, and the tears you sow in hope for the salvation of the world shall serve to cleanse your vision to behold the Lord in all His glory. 

*******

O LORD, you will repay the faithful soul;

you will repay him to the full – 

the lamp you light in us will never dim. 

YHWH, bring us into the New Jerusalem; return us to our true home with you.  In Heaven let us dwell this day, blessed with all the gifts and graces come from your hands.  Then we shall rejoice.  Then we shall laugh and sing.  Then our tears will be washed away as we join ourselves to you. 

How impossible it seems as we sit here in this dark world, and yet how very likely.  For even here you are present to us as we speak your NAME.  Even now we know your light shining in our minds and hearts.  Yes, LORD, even now we come to Heaven. 

You are with your people even in their exile, and you call even those who are strangers to help them along their way to you.  All the nations know your greatness and shall enter your Church, O LORD.  Let us build your Temple this day.

Direct download: BC-091911-M_25_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Tm.6:2-12;   Ps.49:6-10,17-20,Mt.5:3;   Lk.8:1-3)

 

“Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation, and a trap.”

 

Today we hear Paul’s famous words: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  They are oft-quoted, but how well are they understood and practiced in the avoidance of excessive possessions and inflated bank accounts.  Paul tells us, verifiably so, that men “have come to grief amid great pain” because of their passion for money.  And the pain is so much the greater if they had been men of faith, which stands so much in opposition to the things of this world.

One must be “content with a sufficiency,” Paul teaches us.  “If we have food and clothing we have all that we need.”  But how many are satisfied, grateful to God, for having their needs met?  And how many rather thirst for ever-increasing wealth, in which they foolishly believe they shall find peace and comfort?  Indeed, it is as an addiction, and blinds us to the providential hand of God and the humility we should have in His presence.  Our psalm speaks pointedly and graphically of the vanity of those for whom “the abundance of their riches is their boast,” but who, when they die, “shall take none of it”: “He shall join the circle of his forebears, who shall never more see light.”  Indeed, such trust in wealth leads invariably to hell.

“Then what should we do?” you may well ask.  Let us turn to our gospel.  It is brief and seemingly of little significance, but gives a concise picture of the life of the Lord and those who followed him.  In it we hear that Jesus and the Twelve did what Paul exhorts his disciple Timothy to do (in his letter): “Preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.”  This must be our concern.  This must be our desire – to fulfill the will and the word of God in our lives.  We must “fight the good fight of faith,” setting aside all preoccupation with the riches of this earth.  And we shall be cared for even as the women who accompanied Jesus and His apostles “were assisting them out of their means.”  They saw that the Lord and His disciples were clothed and fed.  They cared out of love for their basic needs.  And God will provide such as these to care for the needs of all who devote themselves to His work.

Let us never fall into the devil’s trap and temptation, as he attempts to distract us from the spiritual necessities God demands.  Such a fall is mighty indeed.  Trust in God’s hand and be satisfied with His call.

 

*******

O LORD, you are the Most High God –

let us enter your House with praise!

YHWH, you are with us, always with us, dearest LORD, and you call us to be with you; you promise us peace in your holy Temple.  And your Temple has come into our midst.  He has suffered and died for our sakes and been raised on the third day.  Now we must suffer with Him, we must do His work in this world, the work of building up His Temple… and soon we will come to dwell with Him in your eternal presence in your dwelling place.

O LORD, take away our mourning for what we do not have, for the lack of your glory among us.  Let us remember that Jesus is the Messiah, that though we be surrounded by darkness this day, His light is with us leading us forth to your kingdom, which even now is indeed being built up in your Church, in all those who work in His Name.  To greater glory bring us each day till your promise is fulfilled and we dwell in your presence forever.

Direct download: BC-091611-F_24_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Tm.4:12-16;   Ps.111:2,7-10;   Lk.7:36-50)

 

“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

prudent are all who live by it.”

 

If “the works of His hands are faithful and just,” as His children living in His Word and as His image, we must “be a continuing example of love, faith, and purity.”  If we do not attend to this duty, “so that everyone may see [our] progress,” how shall we “bring to salvation [ourselves] and all who hear [us]”?  Our love of Him must shine forth in all we do.

And what is the fear of the Lord spoken of in our psalm but the love shown by the woman in our gospel?  As she stands behind Jesus, what is she but fearful, what is she but filled with love?  This passage teaches us what fear of the Lord truly is, and what it isn’t.  Certainly she is struck to the heart.  Certainly in the presence of such purity she is convicted of her lust; certainly in the presence of such faith she is convicted of her lack thereof.  But if she were fearful as the world understands the word, would she presume to touch Him?  If she thought He might strike her to the ground, would she wipe His feet “with her hair, kissing them and perfuming them with oil”?  No, she would die where she stands.  But as it is her tears are sweet, for she knows the forgiveness He holds for her in His sacred hands.

This is the fear of the Lord we all must have; it is this which is the beginning of wisdom.  We must be convicted of our sins, yes; but at the same moment we must be filled with the overwhelming love of our God.  The two go hand in hand, and it is the practice of this fear of God in love of Him and neighbor that is the fulfillment of our duty before Him, that will keep us as a holy example of His presence in the world.  The Pharisee in our gospel lacks this holy fear.  First of all, he does not see his sin, and so he is not moved to love.  Failing to view himself in the light of the One present before him, he fails to find the grace that is the knowledge of our sins – and so he is not moved to love, and so he does not find forgiveness.

Let us not love little, brothers and sisters, for this would not be wise.  Failing to live in holy fear of the Lord, we shorten His hand’s working in our lives.  May we ever, by His grace, be convicted of our sins, and so turn to Him in love to find forgiveness.  We will do this only if we remain ever in His presence, bowed at His sacred feet.  Amen. 

*******

O LORD, in your House let us make our home

and to us you will be known.

YHWH, may you receive due glory from all souls, we pray.  May all bless your holy NAME with songs of praise in your Temple.  May all recognize that you are the God of all and that Jesus is your only Son, and so may all rebuild their broken souls by the grace that comes through Him.  O let us all put you first in our lives! as you deserve.

It is our joy to praise you, LORD, to recognize your glory in our midst and so join in that glory you offer through your Christ.  Without you, what are our lives worth?  We remain hungry despite the food on our tables; we remain naked despite the clothing on our backs – we remain empty and poor despite the riches we gather if we remain apart from you in our paneled houses.

O let us set our hearts on serving you, on humbly coming before you as your sons, dear God, and we shall exult in glory.

Direct download: BC-091511-Th_24_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Tm.3:14-16;   Ps.111:1-6;   Lk.7:31-35) 

“God’s wisdom is vindicated by all who accept it.”

“The Church of the living God” is the “pillar and bulwark of truth,” as Paul tells us.  And it is those who live the faith, “professing it” with all their beings, who prove its truth.  “Wonderful, indeed, is the mystery of our faith”; no greater grace or wisdom could we hope to attain.

“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up into glory…”  “Great are the works of the Lord, exquisite in all their delights…”  How our first reading and psalm sing of the glory of our God!  And how blessed are we to know “the power of His works,” to be recipients of His gift of “majesty and glory,” to be the children of so great a God.  We should indeed praise Him unceasingly for being “mindful of His covenant” with us, for shedding His blood for our salvation, for drawing us into the Father’s presence.  “He has given food to those who fear Him,” and we partake of His glorious meal each day in the Holy Eucharist.

Forget not the blessings the Lord imparts to us, brothers and sisters.  “Know what kind of conduct befits a member of God’s household.”  We must not be as the men of Jesus’ day who like spoiled children sought to form the Lord in the image they desired of Him, refusing to accept Him and His wisdom as it came to them, as it stood before them in the flesh.  How can we presume upon the will of our God and His wisdom?  How can we fail to accept the light and grace of the Gospel?  What folly it is to judge Him who judges the universe.  We must be open to His Word, open to His grace, open to His teaching and the marvelous works known only in adherence to His covenant of absolute truth and love.  He is the foundation upon which the Church is set, and a Church living His wisdom and grace is the vindication, the proof, of its eternal efficacy for the good of all. 

Rejoice in the Lord always, brothers and sisters, that He has blessed you with knowledge of His glory and fed you with His own body and blood.  Eat and drink this food He gives, do all He commands in His eternal wisdom, and with the angels you will behold His face as children of the Most High God.

*******

O LORD, lead me forth in the peace of your presence –

restore our ruined house;

heal all our disease.

YHWH, you grant mercy to our souls.  Though we be cast down to the nether world for all our sins, you send forth your apostles to overcome all demons and cure us of our diseases; you raise our heads to look upon your face.  And so, what should we do but praise you with full voice?

Continually we falter, LORD; repeatedly your people fall back into sin.  But ever you call us to turn from our wickedness that we might find your favor again.  In your Son you make this mercy complete, and we find it now at work in your Church.  Let us receive well the Word that comes to us and so approach your kingdom.

What have you not done for us, O LORD.  Even the hearts of the kings of this earth you have turned to our cause to assist us in rebuilding your Temple.  All is in your hands, Almighty God!  Redeem us from captivity to walk in freedom with you at our side.

Direct download: BC-091411-W_24_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Tm.3:1-13;   Ps.101:1-3,5-6;   Lk.7:11-17)

 

“He who walks in the way of integrity

shall be in my service.”

 

“God has visited His people.”  What the people said when Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead should be said of us all as we pass through this world.  That same love that moved Jesus to pity upon seeing the tears of this poor mother should move us all.  To all we should say, “Do not cry.”  To all we should step forward with the love of Christ fixed firmly in our hearts and bring the same grace and healing.

In our first reading Paul outlines the qualities necessary to be a servant of the Lord.  At whatever level we find ourselves, to whatever role we are called, we must walk in integrity of heart.  All “must be serious”; all “should be temperate”; all should be of peace and never of greed; and all must keep their homes in order.  “The man of haughty eyes and puffed-up heart I will not endure,” the Lord warns us in David’s psalm.  And we must heed that warning and walk humbly with our God, seeking to serve Him and our neighbor well, that we might ever be built up in “faith in Christ Jesus.”

His servants are blessed.  “My eyes are upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me,” of the Lord’s kindness and judgment David sings.  Indeed, those who follow in His ways will do things as great as He – even to the raising of the dead – and shall find themselves raised up on the last day.  But as we go through this world we cannot have cold hearts for our neighbors: we cannot allow the faith to die within ourselves.  That which has been nurtured within us must be shared with others; then we will “gain a worthy place” at the Lord’s side.

All are called to their stations in life; all have a part in the Body of Christ.  Let us not set before our eyes “any base thing” but look always to fulfill that call in a trustworthy manner, holding “fast to the divinely revealed faith with a clear conscience.”  If our conscience becomes clouded, we will be unable to serve Him, and our reward will be placed in jeopardy.  Therefore, let us ever maintain His goodness within us and let our actions always reflect the great love of God.  The Lord wishes us to be forever in His service.

 

*******

O LORD, the temple of our souls we must rebuild,

according to your Word,

that we might be His brothers and sisters,

that we might enter His House.

YHWH, let us go up to your House; let us enter its gates in joy, giving thanks to you who have made us as your Temple, built into the Body of your Son, as His brothers and sisters who do your will in this world.  He is the New Jerusalem and we desire to come to Him and make our home in Him.  Bless our efforts in building ourselves into your holy Temple, the Church.

Help us as we return from exile, as from sin we turn away and come back to you, O LORD our God.  We shall need your assistance in rebuilding lives which have gone so astray, in restoring the walls that keep us from harm, from the dangers all about our souls, and that found us in you and in the Word of your Son.

O let us hear your Word calling us into your presence! and let us act upon that Word and give glory to you, LORD, with our every breath, with every sacrifice we make in your NAME.

Direct download: BC-091311-Tu_24_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Tm.2:1-8;   Ps.28:2,6-9;   Lk.7:1-10)

 

“Offer prayers with blameless hands held aloft.”

 

We must pray.  We must petition the Lord for the good of the world, that the good of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ, might be known to all.  If we do not intercede, if we do not seek the healing of a people sick with sin, who shall do so?  The Lord desires “all men to be saved and come to know the truth.”  It is our responsibility, it is our call, to bring the love and forgiveness and healing of our Lord forth.

“Hear the sound of my pleading, when I cry to you, lifting up my hands to your holy shrine.”  Our eyes and our hands must be continually lifted up to the temple of the Lord and to His holy presence.  The Lord listens to our prayers, brothers and sisters.  The world depends upon our prayers.  Those for whom the Lord is “strength” and “the saving refuge” are near to Him, and He waits to hear from them.  He longs to hear the petitions of their hearts and is eternally prepared to respond to their pleas.  Should not we who are blessed to be within the walls of the Church, who partake of His Word and His sacraments, who have His teaching upon our hearts and His presence in our midst, be concerned for the good of all; should we not long to see the Lord’s will done on this earth?  Then pray.

And our gospel teaches us that those who disparage the faithful for depending on the intercessions of others, those who think they must always come directly to Jesus to find answer to their petition – those who fail to see the family of God and our connection here on earth with the saints who have preceded us to heaven – are in danger of a vain pride.  Learn from the centurion, who says to the Lord, “I did not presume to come to you myself.”  And why?  “For I am not worthy to have you enter my house.”  And so, first “he sent some Jewish elders to him” (are these not so much like our beloved saints?), and then “sent friends” to deliver the above message of humility.  And for his humility, and for his faith in the intercession of others… and for his realization that the Lord hears petitions offered for others and that He Himself has ministering angels who perform His work at His Word – the Lord holds this centurion in “amazement” and raises him up as a model of faith.

Do we believe?  Do we truly believe in the Lord and in His angels and His saints?  Do we believe His heavenly kingdom is near to us, and His will is for our good?  Then we should not hesitate to lift our hearts and our hands to the Lord in faithful prayer.

Blessed Mother, intercede for us before your Son, Jesus, that we who are not worthy to receive Him into our mortal bodies may be made immortal by His presence within us.  May He bring peace to the world.

 

*******

O LORD, you will repay the faithful soul;

 you will repay him to the full –

the lamp you light in us will never dim.

YHWH, bring us into the New Jerusalem; return us to our true home with you.  In Heaven let us dwell this day, blessed with all the gifts and graces come from your hands.  Then we shall rejoice.  Then we shall laugh and sing.  Then our tears will be washed away as we join ourselves to you. 

How impossible it seems as we sit here in this dark world, and yet how very likely.  For even here you are present to us as we speak your NAME.  Even now we know your light shining in our minds and hearts.  Yes, LORD, even now we come to Heaven. 

You are with your people even in their exile, and you call even those who are strangers to help them along their way to you.  All the nations know your greatness and shall enter your Church, O LORD.  Let us build your Temple this day.

Direct download: BC-091211-M_24_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Tm.1:1-2,12-14;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-8,11;   Lk.6:39-42)

 

“Remove the plank from your own eye first;

then you will see clearly enough

to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

 

The answer to Jesus’ question to His disciples: “Can a blind man act as guide to a blind man?” is obvious.  No.  It must be a man of sight, of vision, who leads those who are blind, who are without understanding.  Paul has become a prime example of one who is well able to lead others.  In our first reading he speaks to Timothy, his “true child in faith,” whom he has taught and led and who now stands as a bishop of the early Church.  But how did Paul come to be such a profitable apostle?  We see in our reading that he has taken the instruction of the Lord, his teacher, to heart, and first recognized and then removed the plank which once rested firmly in his own eye: “I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance.”  Indeed, this great Apostle of the Lord was once an egregious persecutor of the Church; and indeed we all have or have had great sins in our lives which have set us in opposition to God – but Paul has faced his sin, found “the grace of our Lord… in overflowing measure,” and served to remove innumerable specks from others’ eyes.  What of us?  Do we see our sins?  Have we removed them?  Do we see clearly enough to “remove the speck from [our] brother’s eye?”

“Every student when he has finished his studies will be on a par with his teacher.”  Paul has humbled himself before Jesus and absorbed the lessons the Lord imparts by the Spirit.  Timothy has proven himself a true student and son of Paul.  Who is our teacher?  Where do we get our knowledge?  Whom do we imitate?  And whom do we lead?  Are we falling into ditches following blind men’s leads?  Are we leading others astray with any false philosophy?  Or is it the Lord who “counsels” us as He does David in our psalm?  Do we say with him, “O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot,” and, “I set the Lord ever before me”?  Is it His “grace, mercy, and peace” we seek always; or in arrogance do we set about doing the business we think fit? 

The teaching of the Lord would lead us to set aside any sin within ourselves, to cleanse our hearts and purify our souls in order to have clear vision.  For it is by this holy vision His Church is led forth, and we must be part of this procession. 

*******

O LORD, in Christ Jesus let us grow in faith and love

by the forgiveness of our sins.

YHWH, remove the sin from our lives that we might be filled with your vision and serve to help you call others to faith.  On our own we remain blind, but we can bring light to others with you at our side.

O Jesus, teach us of the ways of God, and open our hearts and minds to listen to your voice and act upon your words.  We are worth nothing apart from you, but if we follow in your way we may become like you who see and know all things by love and lead all souls to salvation.

Have mercy on us, dear LORD, for without your grace upon our souls we shall die in our unbelief.  Who can come to you unless you call him?  And apart from you, indeed we die in sin.

Open our eyes to your glory; let us set you ever before us.  Let your counsel sink deeply into our hearts that we might live at your right hand and lead others to your glory.

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(Col.3:12-17;   Ps.150:1-6;   Lk.6:27-38)

“Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action,

do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

“Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs.”  Such is our speech and action when dedicated to God.  Our lives indeed become a symphony of His grace when we “let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in [us].”  The “blast of the trumpet… with lyre and harp… with timbrel and dance… with strings and pipe… with sounding of cymbals,” which our psalm exhorts in praise of God, are the litany of virtues we are called in both our first reading and our gospel to practice with our Christian lives.

Paul conducts us to “clothe [our]selves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”  He invokes “Christ’s peace,” “thankfulness,” and “wisdom made perfect” upon us, and states: “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect,” making love the key to this hymn we sing and play with our lives, the note to which we continually return and which is ever present at the heart of our melody.  And what a perfectly marvelous, heavenly song this is when sung in sincerity and truth.

The sincerity and truth to which we are called is made unmistakable in the Lord’s teaching in our gospel.  Here we have the greatest challenge to our virtue of love, and its greatest moment.  Here the magnum opus is sounded.  Jesus has for us a litany of virtues Himself: “Be compassionate… do not judge… do not condemn… pardon… give,” and assures us that “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” will be ours if we live by His word.  But the love which is the sum of all virtues is most poignantly accentuated in the command which sets the Lord and His grace apart from all others and their teachings, which makes Him so clearly the Son of God.  “To you who hear me, I say: Love your enemies,” He proclaims to His disciples, and then makes explicit the call to a Christian life: “Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, and pray for those who maltreat you.”  And more specifically, “When someone slaps you on the cheek, turn and give him the other; when someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well.”  Who can hear these words?  Who can heed these commands?  Who can live them in speech and action, as has our Lord upon the cross?  It is this sacrifice of love to which we are called, and only this will raise our song unto heaven.  We must act always out of love.

*******

O LORD, how shall we love as you who are Most High

when we cannot even love as humans? –

if we really are your chosen ones

we will die on the Cross with Jesus.

YHWH, let us praise you with all our lives; may all our words and all our actions be a song of praise to you.  Christ’s peace reigning in our hearts, help us to love one another, even our enemies, forgiving any wrong done to us and praying for the salvation of all souls.  As Jesus let us be in our compassion, desiring never to see others condemned but hoping always for their conversion in your blessed mercy.  Then our song shall reach to you and the angels will shower your graces upon us.

To what great love you call us, LORD! to be even as your only Son, even as you are in your infinite mercy.  If we could but hear your call, if we but answered Jesus’ instruction with the sacrifice it entails, how blessed we would be?  Help us to lay down our lives with Him, even for those who kill us.  Alleluia!

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(Col.3:1-11;   Ps.145:2-3,9-13;   Lk.6:20-26)

 

“Set your heart on what pertains to higher realms

where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.”

 

Is this not the central message of the Lord’s beatitudes: “Be intent on things above rather than on things of earth.”  For how could we be blest in poverty, hunger, and weeping if our hearts are set on this earth?  And how could riches and fullness and laughter be curses except that they do not find their origin in heaven?  Paul makes it explicit: “You have died!” he declares, and leaves no question but that our “life is hidden now with Christ in God.”  There must our hearts be.

“Put to death whatever in your nature is rooted in earth,” the Apostle continues.  Lust and anger and deceit have no place in the life of a follower of Christ, for these indeed are sins of this earth which stand in contradiction to the grace of heaven.  Therefore, we must set them all aside to become “a new man, one who grows in knowledge as he is formed anew in the image of his Creator.”  It cannot be that the Lord’s children have discourse with evil conduct; those who are called to heaven must “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” their souls must “speak of [His] might” and their lives must be lived in His light.

And so the Lord “raised His eyes to His disciples.”  And so He spoke to them of heaven.  And so the blessing of persecution in this world was made known to them, that their hearts might begin to understand.  God’s world is not this world; His kingdom is not of darkness but of light.  And if in the darkness we take our refuge, and if our hearts are not grieved by its injustice… if we fat ourselves on things of the flesh and turn our eyes from the demands of the Spirit… how shall we ever find justice and light?  How shall we ever come into the Lord’s glorious presence?  What will we do then but weep in our emptiness?

The Lord’s kingdom is coming, brothers and sisters.  Be assured.  What this world holds – its passion and death – is passing quickly, like a cloud in the night.  The rays of morning are not far from us, for the Lord is even now at our side.  And to His side in heaven we shall yet come, if we but accept His blessing.  So let us say with David, “Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations”; and let us enter now into His eternal presence. 

*******

O LORD, let us set our hearts on your kingdom

and let this world and its sin pass away.

YHWH, blessings and woes you hold for all souls, and so help us set our hearts on things above rather than things of earth, on your kingdom which endures forever and not on this dying, deceit-filled place.  Let our mouths bless you and speak of your glory, not be filled with every kind of wickedness.  For then indeed we will be blessed by you, as those who revel in their sin are subject to your wrath.

O let us not take our consolation now in this dark world!  Let us not give ourselves to the passion and lust that characterize this age.  We must die to all of this world and find our life in your Christ, who has died, or when He appears we shall be condemned.  Help us, O LORD, to rejoice in the persecution that is ours in following His way, knowing we are thus joined to Him and, so, destined also for His glory.  All idolatry let us set aside and make your Son our only desire.  O let us be poor souls who hunger ever for you!

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(Col.2:6-15;   Ps.145:1-2,8-11;   Lk.6:12-19)

 

“Coming down from the mountain with them,

He stopped at a level stretch where there were many of His disciples.”

 

In our gospel, the Lord has gone “to the mountain to pray, spending the night in communion with God.”  Then at daybreak He chose His twelve apostles.  On His way back down the mountain He comes upon those who have been waiting for Him, and He takes pity on this “large crowd of people” and reaches out His hand to heal them.

Yes, He in whom “the fullness of deity resides in bodily form,” as Paul tells us in our first reading, has come down from on high, from His union with the Father, to walk amongst us, to dwell with us – to “pardon all our sins.”  He “who is head of every principality and power” has bent down to the level of the humble creature dead in sin and circumcised him with the circumcision “which strips off the carnal body completely.”  He has accomplished this by taking the claim against us, our debt for our sins, and “nailing it to the cross.”  And baptized into Him and His cross we are “not only buried with Him but also raised to life with Him.”  The grace that comes from this sacrifice, the healing we find in the touch of His hand and by the power of His word and His blood, we must now treasure.  And so Paul tells us we must “be rooted in Him and built up in Him, growing ever stronger in faith,” lest we make His sacrifice void.

“The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works,” sings David in our psalm today; and how can this be greater shown than in His coming down from heaven to teach us and to heal us, and to fulfill this teaching and healing in dying on the cross?  What more could He do for us than to die for us to save us?  What greater love could our God impart?

Do not be deceived, brothers and sisters, by “any empty, seductive  philosophy… based on cosmic powers rather than on Christ.”  Avoid any teaching that does not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, as God Himself “in bodily form.”  Without Jesus there is no salvation, and failing to recognize “the fullness of deity” in Him, we cannot “share of this fullness” to which we are called.  Rather, let us sing with David, “Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.”  Always in the Lord Jesus let us take our refuge, and in His love; let us ever wait for His coming down from the mountain to touch and heal our hearts.  Alleluia.

 

*******

O LORD, power goes out from your Son

to heal us of all our sins – 

let us come to Him, and remain with Him. 

YHWH, your power resides in Jesus, He who is God in bodily form.  He it is who took our sins and nailed them to the tree that we might have new life in company with Him in your eternal presence.  In the fullness of His power we now share, with all His apostles and disciples; let us ever grow in faith and strength before you. 

How compassionate you are, O LORD!  And how that compassion is revealed in your only Son, He who died for our sins, He who came down from Heaven to heal us of all our ills.  And how He provides for us whom He loves by appointing His apostles, that indeed we might all become His disciples, anointed by His blood. 

Let us join Jesus our Savior in His union with you.  In prayer let us enter your presence and there remain.  O let us praise your NAME forever and ever, never ceasing to bless you for the glory you share with poor creatures such as us.  O LORD, in Jesus let us live and thrive.

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(Col.1:24-2:3;   Ps.62:6-7,9;   Lk.6:6-11)

 

“We admonish all men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom,

hoping to make every man complete in Christ.”

 

It is Paul’s desire to see the nations “enriched with full assurance by their knowledge of the mystery of God – namely Christ – in whom every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden.”  It is his desire for us all to be filled with this wisdom that is Christ, for it is his call from Christ to bring His Gospel forth to the eyes and ears of the whole world, to “fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.”  And it is our call to join Him in such sufferings in Jesus’ name, that indeed His Word might come to its fullness, that indeed in such suffering we might find with Paul the joy of knowing “the mystery hidden from ages and generations past but now revealed to His holy ones.”  This “glory beyond price” is ours as we listen to His Word, as we follow in His ways.

Jesus shows Himself to be the model teacher, the teacher of teachers, the Word itself, in our gospel today.  “On a sabbath Jesus came to teach in a synagogue where there was a man whose right hand was withered.”  For Jesus the synagogue was hostile territory, for the scribes and Pharisees “were on the watch” to “find a charge against Him,” to catch Him in His teaching.  Jesus does not turn away from the danger before Him but confronts them with the limitations of their interpretation of the teaching perhaps most dear to them – the command to keep the sabbath holy.  He would teach them the full meaning of this command; He would fulfill this wisdom before them, showing them that God does not preclude the doing of good for others on the sabbath, that this day made for rest is thus truly a day made for healing and that this day is therefore the best to come to Him for healing – for what does He wish for us but our healing, our salvation?  But being blind to the love of God and His desire for good and the good of all, they do not perceive His lesson, and make it instead a cause to “destroy” the Son of God.

It is difficult to understand how these leaders of the people could become “frenzied” at the healing of one of their flock – how can this be evil to do on the sabbath?  But we must remember that blindness to the will of God is not the sole possession of these scribes and Pharisees.  It is a foolishness which is part of us all in our all-too-human thoughts and actions.  It is this blindness which the Lord calls us from; it is this wisdom known in Christ to which Paul would direct us all.  Let us join with him, with Jesus, in the “work and struggle” to bring God’s healing word forth to the hands and hearts of all.  “God is our refuge.”  Let us firmly “trust in Him” and in His wisdom, and we shall be made whole. 

 

*******

O LORD, let us be whole in your sight

by the sacrifice of your Christ.

YHWH, in your Son every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden.  In Him let us take our refuge, that we might be taught in fullness of your goodness, of your love for us, and come to share in that love with all your holy ones.

O LORD, let us not harden our hearts against your work in our midst, against your Son come among us to lead us to you.  Let us not rather stay the path we travel in our blindness but recognize before the great mystery you reveal to us in the presence of your Son that we fall short of His glory because of our limited vision, and embrace the wisdom He holds out to us.

O let us stretch forth our withered hands! that we might be healed of all the wickedness in our hearts and come to serve you and your Church as you call us.  In suffering for the sake of your kingdom may we find our joy with Christ; ever strengthened and united in His love, let us take our refuge in the glory He bears us.

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(Col.1:21-23;   Ps.54:3-4,6,8;   Lk.6:1-5)

 

“Hold fast to faith, be firmly grounded and steadfast in it.”

 

“The Son of Man is Lord,” Lord of the universe, Lord “even of the sabbath.”  He is the Word through whom all things have come and it is He who has “achieved reconciliation” for all with God, the Father.  We must be presented to God “holy, free of reproach and blame.”  We must bow before His Majesty, trust all things to Him, and He will defend our cause.  But if we continue to nourish hostility in our hearts against the Lord of all, if we refuse to recognize Him as our God and Savior, if we remain stubborn in our blindness and our sins against His glorious presence… what hope have we?  We can only then be shaken in our weakness.

Such is the case so often with the Pharisees, who repeatedly harden their hearts against the Word of God and His presence amongst them.  Repeatedly He tries to teach them of truth and the necessity of holding to it, that their rules alone will not sustain them; but continually it seems their hearts are closed.  They cannot seem to understand because they cannot seem to bow before Him; and so they see only with their eyes and not with the wisdom that comes through fear of God.  And the bedrock foundation, the cornerstone of the Church, they cast aside as they concern themselves with its ornaments.

But we must hold to the faith, to the heart’s core of existence itself and the life that is God: Jesus Christ and His holy Gospel must be that which speaks in the depths of our soul.  Then we will know and sing with David, “The Lord sustains my life,” as we praise His name “for its goodness.”  Then we will be “unshaken in the hope promised… by the Gospel,” for the Gospel will be as the blood coursing through our veins and the food we eat; from it and from the Lord we will draw our life as a man draws water from a fountain.

Such light let us pray we maintain in our lives.  Such wisdom and strength which comes only in truth let us make our own.  He is happy to give us this life – for this He has died – let us not turn in blindness from His face but ground ourselves in Him who is the foundation of eternal life.

 

*******

O LORD, your Son gives His life to save us

and lead us unto Heaven.

YHWH, how your Son has saved us!  He who is Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of the universe, who is One with you and so holds every soul in His all-powerful hand – this same Christ has come amongst us not only to teach us of His glory in you, but to join us to that glory by dying for us.  Reconciliation He has achieved for us in His mortal body by dying, by allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross; and now His blood does redeem us from our sin and offers us the promise of eternal life with you in Heaven.

In our hunger we cried to you, dear God, and you hearkened to the words of our mouth.  You sent us help in Jesus your Son and we were released from all evil in our hearts, all the wicked thoughts that controlled our lives by an empty pride.  Help us now to bow down before your Son, to treasure His Word in us – make us firm in faith and unshaken in the hope of entering your House.  For even now your food is upon our table in the flesh of Christ.

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(Col.1:15-20;   Ps.100:1-5;   Lk.5:33-39)

 

“New wine should be poured into fresh skins.”

 

“The blood of His cross” is poured forth for us; it becomes the new wine we drink this day, that which makes us new men by its grace.  The scribes and Pharisees refuse this new wine, saying, “I find the old wine better,” so they cannot see “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creatures,” standing before them this day.  Do we see Him?  Do we hear His teaching?  Do we allow His Word and His presence to be poured into us?  Do we make ourselves “fresh skins” to receive the wine that is the Lord?  Or do we, too, prefer the old?  The old man under the burden of sin and death must be put away before the new man of grace and life can enter in.

“In Him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible.”  Paul tells us Jesus fills all the universe with His presence, for “all were created through Him and for Him.  He is before all else that is,” and “in Him everything continues in being.”  He is the source of life and life itself.  And He is “head of the body, the Church.”  “Firstborn of the dead,” primacy indeed is His “in everything.”  First to be born, first to die, He is also the first to be raised to new life… and by His power we are all raised to the new life we now find through His sacrifice.  The blood which fills the universe must now fill our beings; we must be filled with His presence, for only by Him does grace come.  Only by Him is the Law fulfilled, the Word made real, and the life of heaven become our own.

And those who are present to Him, those who are present with Him – those who are filled with His Spirit cannot help but rejoice.  The disciples could not fast while Jesus was with them, while the bridegroom to whom they wed themselves was in their midst, and likewise those who come into the presence of the Lord cannot come but with joy.  “Enter His gates with thanksgiving,” our psalm declares.  “Know that the Lord is God; He made us, His we are.”  And as we enter into the blessed Body and Blood of Christ, as we come to know the bridegroom of our soul… as His Spirit fills us what can we do but rejoice in the Lord, “whose kindness endures forever,” who makes us as His own – who redeems our very souls.  Make room for Him in your hearts.  There let His blood flow, that you might have new life.

*******

O LORD, with you we are called to dwell –

let us rejoice!

YHWH, absolute fullness resides in your Son, through whom you made the universe and through whose blood you reconcile all things.  He is your very image, and He calls us all to enter your gates through Him, that we might rejoice forever in your kingdom.

Jesus is the Bridegroom to whom we must be wed if we are to come into your presence and see the face of the One who made us.  His blood is the new wine poured out for our sakes, that which will unite us with Him as we come with pure hearts, with new wineskins, to Holy Communion.  O let us receive Him well, LORD! that we might be filled with the grace He offers forth.

You call us to sing joyfully before you, LORD, in the wedding feast of Heaven.  May we be your faithful flock, gratefully accepting the love that comes to us only through your firstborn Son.

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(Col.1:9-14;   Ps.98:2-6;   Lk.5:1-11)

 

“You will multiply good works of every sort

and grow in the knowledge of God.”

 

As Simon Peter and the others “caught such a great number of fish that their nets were at the breaking point,” so shall it be with any Christian who devotes himself to the work and the will of God.  But as the apostles “brought their boats to land, left everything, and became His followers,” so we must dedicate our lives entirely to Him if we are to “attain full knowledge of His will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight.”   We must leave all else aside and we will become “worthy to share the lot of the saints in light,” becoming ever more fruitful as fishers of men and bringers of that light into the world.

“The Lord has made His salvation known,” and notice from where He chooses “to teach the crowds.”  Looking for a mooring, a place from which to preach, “He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Peter.”  Yes, it is in the barque of Peter and through the barque of Peter that Jesus manifests Himself, that He brings His teaching forth.  In this boat He sits and teaches the nations.  It is this boat He encourages to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  For His blessing is upon this boat and him who steers it, as well as the partners he calls “to come and help,” that is, James and John and all the other apostles – the bishops and priests and all the holy people beckoned by the Lord through the office of Peter to fill His boats to bursting.

“He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son,” Paul, another blessed fisher of men, tells us.  And the forgiveness of the Lord necessary for one to be called to “a life worthy of the Lord” is evident in the repentance of our leader, our first of apostles, Simon Peter, as he “fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man,’” in awe at the presence of God before him.  Only by such humility are we drawn from the darkness of sin, only by recognizing our weakness are we made strong – only by bowing down before the Lord and serving others in His name are we made worthy of the kingdom of light.  Only then with our psalmist will we “with trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord.”  Rooted in His Church and its service let us ever grow in knowledge and joy before our God. 

*******

O LORD, let your salvation be fully known

in the lives of all your disciples –

let us leave all things to follow your Son.

YHWH, make us worthy to share the lot of your saints in light.  Bring your salvation to us, free us from the power of darkness, that we might rejoice in your kingdom and sing your praise forever.  It is through Peter and the Church you bring us salvation – let us be caught in his net and so become your disciples, and so become as your only Son.

How shall we attain full knowledge of your will, how shall we find the grace and wisdom we need, if separated from the bark of Peter, if outside the boat in which Jesus Himself has set His feet?  We shall not be able to please you, LORD, if we do not follow in the way your Son marks out for us, if we do not come to you through Peter and the apostles.

Let your salvation be known to the ends of the earth, O LORD.  Into deep water may Peter’s net be cast, that all sinful men may fall at the feet of Jesus.

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(Col.1:1-8;   Ps.52:10-11;   Lk.4:38-44)

 

“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.”

 

The Word goes forth, bringing healing to the hearts of the faithful.  The Word goes forth, ever growing among the people.  As “the message of truth, the Gospel… has come to [the Colossians], has borne fruit, and has continued to grow,” so “it has everywhere in the world.”  As Jesus has set out “into the open country” to bring “the good news of the reign of God” to all to whom He was sent; as Paul, as Timothy, as Epaphrus – as all the apostles have gone forward bringing the Word forth and planting it in the hearts of all who have ears open to the healing touch of God and making them “like a green olive tree in the house of God,” so that same Word goes forward today through the apostles the Lord has ordained to carry His message of truth; and so we hear of it in our readings of daily Mass, in our daily bread.

Our “love in the Spirit” must ever grow, brothers and sisters; it must ever move forward.  For the Word of God ever moves forward to the ends of the earth bringing the love of God to all, and we must move with it.  There is no stopping and staying long in any place along this path we tread with the Lord.  As He moved on from town to town doing the will of the Father, so our work must ever travel with Him, until it is accomplished in Him.  Here there is no place to stay, no place to lay our heads; here there is only moving forward in the Lord.

And, yes, we are moved “by the hope held in store for [us] in heaven.”  This is the place to which we travel in all our movements, in all our work and prayer.  We know now and it has been openly stated, plainly revealed, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He makes a place for us in His kingdom.  And by our “faith in Christ Jesus and the love [we] bear all the saints,” we, too, come into that kingdom, into His presence; with Paul, with the Colossians, with all the faithful who “trust in the kindness of God forever and ever,” we find that kingdom being revealed in our very hearts and in our very actions… and so heaven passes through our midst and makes us sons of the Most High.

Let us be healed of all that keeps us from growing to Him, of growing with Him, of moving forward in service of our Lord Jesus Christ.  With our words and in our actions let us preach of the glory of God and so move closer to His kingdom.

*******

O LORD, let all hear the Good News of your reign:

your Son has come into our midst

to heal us of all our sin.

YHWH, may your Word go forth to the ends of the earth, the message of truth everywhere in the world; may it bear fruit and continue to grow in every heart – bless all those who proclaim your NAME to your faithful ones!

As Jesus walked amongst us announcing the Good News of your reign, as He went forth from town to town healing their sick and casting out demons, so today your apostles go out into the open country to bring your love to all peoples, that in your love all may be reborn and grow.  In the way of Jesus let us all walk, dear God, that we might come quickly to you.

In your service let us remain, LORD, ready always to answer your call in bearing your love to all the saints, to all those you send in your NAME.  Let us grow each day into your kingdom until all are cured of their diseases and join your saints in Heaven.

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(1Thes.5:1-6,9-11;   Ps.27:1,4,13-14;   Lk.4:31-37)

 

“Wait for the Lord with courage;

be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”

 

The Word of the Lord has all “authority and power.”  The Word of the Lord casts out demons.  The Word of the Lord brings light to the soul who seeks Him.  In Him we have no fear.

He comes, brothers and sisters; yes, He comes…  As He entered the synagogue in Galilee and cast out the evil spirit from the man and from the place, so He will come at the end of the age and cast all evil from the face of the earth.  No longer shall the devil have a place here; all darkness will be banished.  This hope should bring us but joy.  We who are of light should long for the day when the Lord who is “our light and [our] salvation” comes to cleanse the world of evil; if we seek “to dwell in the house of the Lord” we must know that only His authority and power, only His sharp voice speaking truth and shaking the powers of this earth will bring “the loveliness of the Lord” our hearts desire to contemplate forever.  As He came to cast out the devil from the man in the synagogue, as He has come to cast all evil from the temple of our bodies, so He must come at the end of the age to cast all sin into hell, that His light and all His children of light might shine in unadulterated glory.

Do not fear.  Do not fear the coming of His kingdom, the power of His Word.  Though we may be “struck with astonishment” and wonder at “His speech,” though the teaching of the Lord leave us “spellbound,” yet we should welcome it and seek to increase its presence in our lives and in this world.  It is His teaching, it is the power of His Word we are called as children of His light to bring into this world.  For, indeed, the world is a dark place, and many there are who fear as the demon the destruction of the darkness in which they have taken what has seemed to them secure refuge.  It must be known that in darkness there is no “security,” in sin there is no “peace”…  Only in Him is true peace and security. 

Let us not be anguished at the passing of the darkness which comes by the just wrath of God.  Let us not slumber into its clutches and so find refuge there.  We must remain vigilant, seeking with eyes of light the coming of Jesus the Christ.  We are destined for salvation in Him.  In Him let us take comfort and upbuild one another, spreading “His renown” in our hearts and “through the surrounding country.” 

*******

O LORD, in Jesus’ Name and in His blood

let us be healed, washed clean

and ready for His coming Day.

YHWH, let us not take refuge in the darkness of this world and in its drunkenness take our peace and security.  Rather, let us live in your light and become children of that light, awake in your presence forever.  Your Son comes to cast all demons of darkness from our midst; let us welcome His powerful Word.

O LORD, you are our light and our salvation; you are our life’s refuge.  And so, why should we be afraid of your Son’s coming, He who brings your salvation to man?  Let us rather long for His return, for His cleansing presence before our eyes.  For how else shall we enter your Temple and gaze on your loveliness if all evil is not driven from our souls?

To the land of the living we long to come, so make us stouthearted as we wait for Jesus to return, LORD.  May your light upon us give us courage for that Day.

Direct download: BC-083011-Tu_22_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Thes.4:13-18;   Ps.96:1,3-5,11-13;   Lk.4:16-30)

 

“He comes to rule the earth.”

 

He is coming, and has come.  He set us free from the prison of sin when first He came, and will set us free from death when He comes again and “we shall be with the Lord unceasingly.”

In our gospel we read of His first coming “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives…”  Fulfilling the words of the prophets, He brought “a year of favor from the Lord,” to heal all those who waited for His coming, who trusted in His word.  And though even as His hometown of Nazareth rejected Him and His truth and led Him to “the brow of the hill” to be cast down, so all would turn their backs on Him and deliver Him up for crucifixion; yet His death was not the end and His life was not fruitless.  In His walking the earth He brought light into the darkness and in His bleeding on the cross provided means for its fulfillment.

And on the day when He comes again, death shall indeed be banished, darkness will be no more, for “God will bring forth with Him from the dead those who have fallen asleep believing in Him” and “we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”  This the apostle Paul makes quite clear.  As Jesus “died and rose,” so will all who believe in Him do the same: what was brought to us in His first coming – the light to the nations – will be made complete in His second coming in a year of favor that has no end.

And of both of these comings our psalm does sing, for both are gloriously triumphant: “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, let the sea and what fills it resound…”  All creation glories in the coming of God; in His holy presence it finds its fulfillment.  Forever it has longed to be joined with Him, and when first He came as man, it rejoiced to see Him; and when He comes “from heaven at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet” as the Son of God in all His glory, its joy and its song will know no bounds.  For then “He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy”: the world shall never again be moved from His way of truth and light, and neither shall we.  Rejoice at His coming, brothers and sisters, and live in His light. 

*******

O LORD, you come to save us,

and so we should not be afraid –

through all tribulation you lead us home.

YHWH, let us sing you a new song on the day of your coming, on the day of your Son’s return.  For then His glory will fill the sky and all the dead will rise.  O let us be in the number of those who are with you unceasingly!  From all darkness may we forever be set free.

When Jesus came to walk among us, to speak to us your marvelous words, to proclaim liberty to all held captive by sin, then we should have rejoiced at His presence and entered the glory of His reign.  But we crucified Him instead.  He came to bring glad tidings to poor souls, to open our eyes that we might see once again – but we closed our hearts and fixed Him to a cross.  O LORD, let your favor be upon us now especially, that we might be saved from such sin.

We wish to rejoice with your holy ones, O God, to praise your NAME to the heavens.  Let us listen now to the words of your Son and set our hearts on them.

Direct download: BC-082911-M_22_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Thes.4:9-12;   Ps.98:1,7-9;   Mt.25:14-30)

 

“Those who have, will get more until they grow rich,

while those who have not, will lose even the little they have.”

 

Again, brothers and sisters, we must always grow in the gifts and graces of the Lord, never looking down upon what He gives us as too little (or too much), but ever putting such talents to use that they might produce an abundant yield and bring us to the joys of heaven.

“Well done!  You are an industrious and reliable servant…  Come, share your master’s joy!”  Do we not wish to hear these words from our gospel today spoken to us on the last day?  Do we not wish to be put in charge of greater matters as we enter the joy of the eternal kingdom?  Are these not the riches we seek?  Then, indeed we must be industrious while here; we must put the Lord’s gifts to good use.  We must heed Paul’s exhortation “to remain at peace and attend to [our] own affairs.”  In this way of working quietly for the Lord we will certainly make “even greater progress,” until we find the victory proclaimed in our psalm.  On that day when “the rivers clap their hands” and “the mountains shout with them for joy,” the Lord “will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity”; He will surely give those deserving their reward, while they who have been “worthless, lazy lout(s),” those who have not served Him out of a holy fear, out of love, but have held a judgmental disposition toward Him and withheld a generous attitude toward others, shall be cast into “the darkness outside” where they will ever “wail and grind [their] teeth.”

Take hold of what the Lord gives you today: the breath in your nostrils and the beat of your heart are in His hands, and He calls you to employ your mind and body at His affair of bringing the kingdom of heaven and His love to this earth.  Whatever work He puts in your hands to accomplish, be not slack in its fulfillment.  Go forward with faith and a desire to please Him, and He will ever bless and multiply all you have a mind to do; and this work will bring you to the rich fruits of heaven and keep you from the empty darkness of hell.

 

*******

O LORD, you are generous and give to all,

and we must increase your love in the world.

YHWH, you give us each work to do; into every one of your servant’s hands you place talents we must employ.  We have time upon this earth before your Son’s return to bear fruit in your NAME.  Help us each day to love one another and do your will in all things.  For on the Day when your Son comes again, He shall come as judge; and of what worth will our lives have been if we stand empty-handed before Him?  O let us not be cast from your sight!

On the last day the mountains will shout for joy and the rivers clap their hands at the presence of your Son filling the universe with His love.  And we shall join in that holy song if it has been our desire to see Him come, if we have worked with our lives to bring His love to this place.  O LORD, let us enter into your eternal joy!

Direct download: BC-082711-Sa_21_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Thes.4:1-8;   Ps.97:1-2,5-6,10-12;   Mt.25:1-13)

 

“God has not called us to immorality but to holiness.”

 

And so, “keep your eyes open” and “make still greater progress” in the path that leads to His kingdom.  Your lights shining brightly as you await His return, be ready to enter His marriage feast.

“It is God’s will that you grow in holiness,” Paul instructs us in our first reading.  “Conduct yourselves in a way pleasing to God” is his message.  For there is a day coming on which the Lord will judge us and all we do; therefore, we must have nothing to do with “immorality” or “passionate desire” or “cheating” – “for the Lord is an avenger of all such things” – and these will find us barred from His kingdom.  Rather, we must stay the path we are on, guarding ourselves “in sanctity and honor” and securing even greater gifts and graces from God that we might keep in store against His judgment, against His wrath to come.  For if “the mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” how strong must we be to stand on that day of His return?

But for those who do stand strong, for those who do acquire “flasks of oil” to keep their torches burning for whatever hour the Lord might come – for them there shall be great rejoicing…  This is the fate of the just.  “Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart,” for their light is a match for His own and so He weds them unto Himself; to rejoice with the king of all the earth is their portion and cup.

Yes, “the ones who were ready went in to the wedding with Him,” but those unprepared were locked outside the doors.  And so we must ask ourselves, does Jesus know us?  Are we ready for the day of His coming?  Do we avoid all stain of sin which detracts from the purity we must maintain as bridesmaids of the Lord?  Or is there yet that which keeps us from standing ready at His gates?  He will come.  He will come again to judge our souls, this Son of God most just, and so we must heed the instruction of the Holy Spirit now to prepare ourselves against that day, ever making progress in His Name.

Let holiness be our treasured possession, brothers and sisters.  Let it be a flaming torch growing ever higher by the breath of the Spirit upon our souls, until it reaches unto Him and His kingdom.  The Lord’s “delay” in coming serves but to weed the evil from the good.  Take this time to increase in faith and in knowledge of God.  Be as His own.

 

*******

O LORD, we must keep ourselves pure

to meet with you who are purity itself.

YHWH, let our eyes be open to see you, our hearts set on fire with your love.  Let our flame not die out before the Day of your coming but ever increase as it rises unto you.  Let your Spirit be upon us to lead us in wisdom every hour of every day.

O LORD, how shall our holiness grow to meet your own that we might be wed to you?  How shall we turn from immorality, from the blindness upon our souls, and come to the glory to which you call us, your glory which you would make our own?  O help us to listen to the instruction of the Spirit that we shall remain just in your sight.

Let your light dawn upon us, dearest LORD; let your gladness fill our souls.  Let us rejoice at your wedding feast, at our union with you in your kingdom.  What need we but holiness?  And so, let us set our hearts on you.

Direct download: BC-082611-F_21_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Thes.3:7-13;   Ps.90:3-4,12-14,17;   Mt.24:42-51)

 

“Stay awake, therefore!

You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.”

 

And what is it to stay awake, to be ready, but to do as Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in our first reading: to continue to grow in holiness until that day we meet with the Lord.  This is our essential call.

Here we are, having been converted to the Lord, having found faith in God as our foundation and been appointed servants by Christ until He should return.  We are that “faithful, farsighted servant whom the master has put in charge of his household to dispense food at need.”  Certainly our priests dispense the most necessary food of the Word and the Bread of Life, but all Christians the Lord gifts with His store of nourishment for the people; all of us are called to provide spiritual as well as physical nourishment to our brothers and sisters.  We cannot do other than this or we are not Christians, and we will be far from the Lord at His second coming – when He calls to account all His servants.

And each day we must indeed know the Lord’s increase and “overflow with love for one another and for all”; we must always grow in the gifts the Lord gives us, not becoming impatient for the time which passes, but ever taking it as opportunity to strengthen our salvation in Christ.  We must in this way have the vision of God: “A thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch in the night,” our psalm declares (expressing the patience Moses and the Israelites needed in their forty years wandering through the desert); and so short should our wait seem if lived in the presence of our God.

And so now as we wait and watch, now as we make ourselves ready for the Lord by the service we perform in His Name, let us entreat the Lord to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness,” let us pray for Him to “prosper the work of our hands.”  For all in our hands is our gift from Him to accomplish in His Name and by His grace, and by so numbering “our days aright” in His presence, we shall “gain wisdom of heart” and be awake and ready for His coming. 

My prayer for you, brothers and sisters, is Paul’s own: “May he strengthen your hearts, making them blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.”  I pray we shall meet on that happy day.

*******

O LORD, we must serve you each day and every hour;

thus will we be ready for your Son’s coming.

YHWH, let us be ready for the return of your Son, our hearts set on His coming Day.  Make us holy before you, doing your work all our days that we might be acceptable to you.

O LORD, we long for the return of your Son, for the dawn of His light upon us.  For we are in exile here in this dark place and the devil would come and steal our love for you away, tempting us with the passing of time to become impatient for the fulfillment of your promise.

Let us not be led astray.  Let us remember that you are with us always, that a thousand years are as a single day in your sight – let us be blessed with your vision as we serve you, LORD!  All is ever new in your presence.

And let us never cease to serve you, never turn from the joy of joining our lives to your own.  Then our shortcomings shall be remedied, LORD, and we will see you face to face on your holy Day.

Direct download: BC-082511-Th_21_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

1Thes.2:9-13;   Ps.139:1,7-12;   Mt.23:27-32)

 

“Make your lives worthy of the God

who calls you to His kingship and glory.”

 

God is our Father, and those who preach “God’s good tidings” love us “as a father does his children,” for their message is “not as the word of men” but truly “the word of God at work within [those] who believe.”  Come to the Lord’s table.  Eat of His Body, drink of His Blood.  Become as He is by His holy Word.

Children of light we are called to be, and what is that light but the one which shines in all places at all times and which is inescapable.  “Where can I go from your spirit?” David wonders in our psalm.  Whether we fly to the heavens or “sink to the netherworld,” He is there.  For Him “darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day” because He Himself is light, and where He is, light shines – and He is everywhere.

How can we become children of such an awesome God?  How can we enter “His kingship and glory” as Paul exhorts us in our first reading?  The only way is by Jesus and the only way is to follow those who bring Jesus to us, whose conduct is “upright, just, and irreproachable” as is Paul’s – our means of salvation is the Church, its prophets and martyrs, its teaching and sacraments… its grace which comes to us through Jesus Christ to lead us to the Father of all.  On the apostles and their message of the Gospel our faith is set.

In our gospel Jesus again chastises the Pharisees, those who have not been loving and faithful fathers for the people, those from whom care of the kingdom will be taken for the “hypocrisy and evil” within them.  For though they present “a holy exterior,” it is but the bones of the saints they hold within their whitewashed tombs and not their blessed spirit.  Indeed, they shall show themselves murderous as their forefathers, who shed the prophet’s blood – and whom they ascribe to themselves by name – in their giving up the fulfillment of the prophets to crucifixion.  “Full of filth” inside and lovers of the tomb’s darkness, they are not worthy to be called fathers of the Lord’s children.  And Jesus proves that God’s light shines in even the darkest places by exposing their corruption in our gospel today.

Brothers and sisters, beware of following false leaders whose motives are not pure, who do not lay down their lives for the flock.  Remain within the walls of the Church, where the Spirit dwells and where the Father nourishes His people on their way to His kingdom and glory.

 

*******

O LORD, take all falsehood from our souls

and let us toil only for you.

YHWH, how shall we become true servants of your Word, free of all hypocrisy and evil, not seeking our own gain but the salvation of others?  Purge us of the filth within us and make our conduct irreproachable, that you may be known and all your children follow in your way.

Surround us, O LORD, with your presence this day; let your Word be at work within us.  Let us not whitewash our sin but acknowledge it before your all-seeing eye, and in repentance find our freedom.  Guide us in all things, even in the darkest night, that we may come to know you are ever with us.

For you let us work, LORD, and not for the burying of your light.  Let us toil on this earth only to bring your truth to all souls.  From the tomb let us be raised to dwell in your holy presence.

Direct download: BC-082411-W_21_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Thes.2:1-8;   Ps.139:1-6;   Mt.23:23-26)

 

“First cleanse the inside of the cup

so that its outside may be clean.”

 

The Lord rails against the Pharisees again today, calling them from false practice to genuine faith; and in Paul we again see the paragon of true ministry in the Lord’s Name.

In our gospel the Lord calls the Pharisees “frauds,” for they have the appearance of holiness in clothing and posture and minor actions, but inside are “filled with loot and lust.”  In our first reading, it is quite evident that the preaching of Paul “does not spring from deceit or impure motives or any sort of trickery,” as does the work of the Pharisees.  He is not at all guilty of “flattering words or greed under any pretext,” seeking the glory of God rather than “glory from men.”  This, of course, is the central question: do we perform our acts for others to see, from selfish motives of pride and greed and the accolades we might gain from man; or are we laying down our lives for God, giving no thought to our own importance or the opposition we may face?  Does our work and our life spring from truth, or does it spring from lie?

“O Lord, you have probed me and you know me,” David sings in our psalm today.  Truly the Lord is “the tester of hearts.”  He is familiar with all our ways and the motives whence they come.  Indeed, “even before a word is on [our] tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it.”  Inside and out He sees us, He scrutinizes us, that He may enter into us and renew us.  It is by His grace that the inside of the cup might be made clean and so our work be fruitful in His Name.

And so, what of us, brothers and sisters?  What does the Lord see when He peers within our hearts, when His penetrating gaze pierces our soul?  Do we meet “the test imposed on us by God” as Paul does and live in “justice and mercy and good faith,” or is there but corruption within us which will not allow the Lord’s light to enter, thus making us blind to His grace?

The Lord surrounds us so, that we call out with David, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain.”  Indeed, the Lord is far above and beyond our comprehension and His holiness can seem beyond our ability to attain; but if we have hearts that are open and trusting and loving of His Word, we find that He is “gentle as any nursing mother fondling her little ones,” that He, in fact, shares with us His very life, and so makes us as His own.  The Lord will cleanse the inside of the cup.  Let Him act upon your soul.

 

*******

O LORD, you see clearly the inside of our cup,

and would cleanse it by your gaze.

YHWH, you are the tester of our hearts; you scrutinize all our ways.  And you know us – you know us well.  The greed and deceit within us we cannot hide from your watchful eye.  You are not fooled by empty show.

You surround us with your presence, LORD, and test us by our trials.  You are far beyond us in eternal glory, and yet you come near.  You draw near to us in your Son and so declare to our souls the truth of who we are and what we have done, and what we have failed to do.  But you do this not for our condemnation; it is because you love us as a mother her child that you chastise us.  It is to make us whole.

O LORD, though knowledge of you is too wonderful for us to comprehend, though great fear fills our souls as you come to us with your piercing fire – though your scrutiny may cause us great humiliation, great suffering, you work gently to heal our hearts of all their affliction.

Direct download: BC-082311-Tu_21_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(1Thes.1:2-5,8-10;   Ps.149:1-6,9;   Mt.23:13-22)

 

“You turned to God from idols,

to serve Him who is the living and true God.”

 

Contrast is at the heart of today’s readings again.  The faith of the Thessalonians and the inspired preaching of Paul are in distinct opposition to the empty ways and words of the scribes and Pharisees.

In our first reading Paul praises the Thessalonians, who are “laboring in love, and showing constancy in hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” telling them, “Throughout every region your faith in God is celebrated.”  In our gospel Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for their blindness to the presence of God.  In contrast to the Thessalonians, they have turned from worship of the true God to idols; their vision set on the gold therein, they are unable to see the temple and how sacred it is – their hearts set on things of this earth and the laws they have contrived, they are blind to the Son of God, who sits upon the throne of heaven, as He stands before them.  And not only are their vain beliefs in contrast to the true faith of the Thessalonians, but their failures in carrying the Word of God forth stand also in sharp contrast to Paul’s fruitful preaching.  Paul’s preaching was “one of power; it was carried on in the Holy Spirit and out of complete conviction,” and so led to the conversion of many nations.  On the other hand, Christ says to the scribes and Pharisees: “You shut the doors of the kingdom of God in men’s faces…  You travel over sea and land to make a single convert, but once he is converted you make a devil of him twice as wicked as yourselves.”

We must be the fruit of the Apostle’s preaching, brothers and sisters, and not the vain teaching of those who set their souls on the gold of this world.  For as the faithful “sing to the Lord a new song of praise,” as they “rejoice in their king” and “praise His name in the festive dance,” even so the voice of the wicked will be silenced: they shall choke to death on all their pride.  So let us be those who “await from heaven the Son [God] raised from the dead – Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  With the Thessalonians let us prove our faith in our labor of love, working ever for the coming of the kingdom.  And “the high praises of God [will] be in [our] throats” and the “glory of all His faithful” will be ours.  Turning from all the idols of this blind generation, let us be born now of the Spirit of God.

 

*******

O LORD, we are your own;

let us offer ourselves to you.

YHWH, let high praise of you be in our throats; let us sing for joy in your presence.  O let us worship you who are the living and true God!  Let us turn resolutely from the idols of this vain world and so be made fruitful in your sight.  May the doors of your kingdom open for us and for all souls, we pray.

Jesus is seated upon the throne of Heaven and it is through Him we come to you, O mighty God, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of Truth be upon our hearts and our tongues as we preach the Gospel of Christ with all our lives – thus may we be found worthy to praise your NAME in the assembly of the faithful. 

There is woe in store for those who pervert your words to selfish ends, O LORD, who blind themselves and those they teach to the glory of your presence among us.  O let us labor in love in the Body of your Son!

Direct download: BC-082211-M_21_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22;   Ps.146:2,5-10;   Mt.22:34-40)

 

“Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge,

your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

 

How well our readings harmonize this day.  Jesus speaks plainly to the keepers of the law the greatest commandments – total love of God and neighbor – and Ruth puts them into practice for our witness.  And our psalm sings the praises of our great God of love, whose care for “the hungry” and “the strangers,” “the fatherless and the widow,” we are called to imitate.  Alleluia, indeed.

Ruth is a foreigner, from a land which follows other gods; yet she is willing to leave “her people and her god” to follow Naomi and the living and true God unreservedly.  Oh how this mirrors all our call to leave all of this world behind and follow the Lord and His way.  Oh that we had the courage and faith of this Moabite woman who will become the great-grandmother of King David.  How well this illustrates God’s call and blessing to any and all who seek Him, who long to walk in His steps.  And how well His way of compassion and love is shown in His care for this widow Naomi, who came to Moab hungry and leaves now to return to Israel with this blessed daughter-in-law to be with her and serve her without restraint.

The words of the Lord are so true: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”  They silence even the hardest of hearts with their radiance.  We know that God is love, that through His help we find blessing – that His concern for all those in need extends “through all generations” – and we know that we should be like Him… but how often we fail to practice Ruth’s resolve.

This day let us cast off our reservations, brothers and sisters, and cast ourselves upon the love and grace of the Lord.  Let us resolve never to “abandon or forsake” Him.  Knowing clearly the love of God which comes from the lips of our own Lord of love and our blessed psalmist, and which is embodied by Ruth’s profession of faith and commitment to love, let us vow in this spirit to return the Lord’s boundless love, for in loving we become like Him whom we love and so stand with Him who “shall reign forever” in the eternal kingdom of light and love.  Again I say, now is the acceptable time; today is the day of salvation.  Follow Him unreservedly.

 

*******

O LORD, may we increase in purity daily,

for the hour of your Son’s coming is nigh

and we must be ready to become His bride. 

YHWH, help us to trust entirely in you, to love you with all our heart, and our neighbors as ourselves.  Help us to leave behind our people and anything that keeps us from you.  To you and to your love let us come, and with you make our home.

You provide, O LORD, for all those in need, for the widow and the orphan, and the stranger who draws close to you.  You make no distinction among people: it is those of faith who are acceptable to you and whom you bless.  Those of faith who reflect your great love become as your sons and daughters; these are wed to you.

O let us never abandon or forsake you, LORD!  Let us go wherever you lead, and make your people our people.  With you and with those who follow you let us stay and remain, and we shall dwell securely in your love.  You are our only hope – reign over us forever.

Direct download: BC-081911-F_20_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Jgs.11:29-39;   Ps.40:5,7-10;   Mt.22:1-14)

 

“You have made a vow to the Lord.

Do with me as you have vowed.”

 

As with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is blessed not so much for giving birth to Jesus – or consecrating herself to God as a virgin – as for hearing and doing the word of God, being the handmaiden of the Lord extraordinaire… so the Lord delights not in “sacrifice and oblation,” per se, but in “ears open to obedience.”  In accepting the sacrifice of her fertility (the greatest sacrifice a woman could make, though it may be difficult to realize in these days of abortion and contraception), Jephthah’s daughter demonstrates the obedience required of all the redeemed.

“Happy the man who makes the Lord his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood,” David proclaims in our psalm today.  “The spirit of the Lord” upon him, Jephthah defeats severely the Ammonites, a nation which practiced the sacrifice of their children to their god, Molech.  The Lord thus shows disdain for them and their ways.  Thus also it should be evident that Jephthah would not do in the spirit of the Lord that which is directly opposed to His will.  The sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter is of her fertility – it is her virginity she mourns and not her death.  And Jephthah maintains his vow by consecrating her wholly to God, knowing that his generation will cease, since he has no other sons and daughters to bear his name, and thus making a great sacrifice himself.  If it were her life itself he offers God, he would be no better than those he destroyed and certainly no son of Abraham, who was taught the truth against such sacrifice so many years before.

This aside, we turn to our gospel.  It is clear that Jesus is telling the chief priests and elders of the people that they do not have the obedience required of the redeemed.  “In the written scroll it is prescribed” that all must do the will of God, but these who know the Scriptures so well, know nothing of them at all… and so the Word goes out to draw the whole world into the kingdom prepared by God.  But to these, too, Jesus has a warning: “The invited are many, the elect are few.”  If we are “not properly dressed for a wedding feast,” if we have not aligned our lives with the will of God, we too shall be thrown “out into the night” with the man who had to “wail and grind his teeth.”  And this wailing shall not come as holy sacrifice unto the ears of God; it shall not demonstrate our obedience to Him, but rather be the inflicting of judgment upon our souls.

Let us be obedient to the will of God in all things, brothers and sisters.  Let us hear His voice alone and follow where it leads.

 

*******

O LORD, let us offer ourselves as a holocaust to you;

then we will be fit to enter your presence. 

YHWH, how shall we give true worship to you and offer you the sacrifice you are due?  Only complete obedience to your will shall bring us into your presence; it is our very lives you desire of us.  For you know that only this will make us joyful – only union with you and your Son will fulfill the longing of our hearts.

To your wedding feast let us come, O LORD, and there let us remain, ever praising your glory with full voice, happy to be among those you have saved.  And so, in purity let us come, single-hearted let us be, and we shall not be cast out into the night but live in your holy light.

Your Spirit you send upon those who call upon you, who devote themselves to your will.  Let us fulfill our vows to you, LORD; let us turn from all idols and trust in you alone, and we shall be blessed forever in your House.

Direct download: BC-081811-Th_20_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Jgs.9:6-15;   Ps.21:2-7;   Mt.20:1-16)

 

“The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

 

Jesus, the Son of God and true King, who is first, has made Himself last, and so for His humility will be exalted forever; Abimalech, rebellious son of Gideon, who is least of all his brothers, has made himself first, and so will be humbled for his vain pride.

In our first reading Jotham curses his brother Abimalech from the mountaintop as this least of the trees is anointed king after having murdered all other of his brothers.  (There were seventy sons of the judge Gideon – who himself refused kingship.)  The people of Shechem have fallen by pride in this son of their own city and so they, too, are cursed for taking refuge in his dark shadow.  Abimalech’s thorns shall pierce them and shall prove a bitter medicine of purgation for these wayward Israelites.  They shall indeed be the death of one another.

In contrast to this false king, in David’s psalm we hear of the blessings the true king receives from God, in whom he rejoices and to whom he gives all glory for victory:  “O Lord, in your strength the king is glad.”  It is not by his own will that this king reigns, but by the will of the Father, and so his place is assured and he is exalted and made “a blessing forever.”  David, too, was the least of his brothers, but unlike Abimalech, who took matters into his own jealous and bloody hands, he trusted always in the Lord and humbled himself before the God of all, and so, “great is his glory in [the Lord’s] victory.”

And, of course, we know that it is the Son of David, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords: in Him is the blessed kingship of God fulfilled.  And, of course, it is His great humility which has made Him so exalted.  Did He not take the crown of thorns upon His head?  Was He not pierced by the pride of man’s rebellion?  Did He not accept the bitter wine as He died upon the cross?  And so should not all trees bow down to this sanctifying tree, this true vine?  Is it not by the fruit of this buckthorn that we are purged from our sins against Him who is Most High?  He who has been raised on the cross is indeed King of us all, and all others mere pretenders. 

Brothers and sisters, it is only in Christ and in the shadow of the tree that is the cross that we shall find blessing, that we shall find glory, that we shall be exalted and receive “a crown of pure gold.”  Follow no other, for false gods abound and their fall is great.  Toil only in the vineyard of the Lord and regardless of the length or breadth of your labor you shall receive your recompense, which is oneness with Him who is eternal and whose generous reign knows no bounds.  And be not envious of others’ entering in if it is you who must toil long – your service of God should be your joy and a source of great humility. 

*******

O LORD, those who are least in the eyes of the world

are first in your eyes,

for you love all souls, but despise sin.

YHWH, you have sent us a great King, before whom all others must bow, in whose light all other reigns pale.  For He is the only true King, the only King whose reign endures.  And only in Him is true justice; and only in Him is true charity.  Only in Jesus will all be cared for, will all be united with you.

Let us serve your Son well, dear LORD.  Let us enter His vineyard and do the work set before us by His gracious concern.  He seeks to draw us into His realm that we might be blessed by Him; let us not be idle or jealous of His goodness toward all, but treasure every hour we toil in His presence.

There are false gods enough to lead any soul astray, but only you are LORD and only on your Son do your majesty and splendor rest.  Let us take our refuge, Father, in the shadow of His Cross.

Direct download: BC-081711-W_20_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Jgs.6:11-24;   Ps.85:9,11-14;   Mt.19:23-30)

 

“Go with the strength you have and save Israel

from the power of Midian.  It is I who send you.”

 

The world is at enmity with God.  The kingdom of heaven is not as the kingdom of this earth, thus Jesus tells us that “the last shall come first.”  For though we pray the Lord’s kingdom come now to this earth, it shall not be fulfilled until “the new age when the Son of Man takes His seat upon a throne befitting His glory.”  We must therefore not judge with the mind of the world but continually struggle against it and its power.

In our gospel Jesus calls the apostles to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom.  As He instructs them of the danger of the riches of this world, they are “completely overwhelmed.”  Judging with an earthly mind, they think riches should be of assistance; but the Lord wishes to teach them of the mind of God, upon which the world is set in opposition.  The apostles indeed “have put everything aside to follow” Jesus, and for this they shall receive their reward.  But their only reward on this earth will be persecution; it is in heaven their glory shall come.

Yes, the Lord “proclaims peace to His people” and “justice shall walk before Him, and salvation, along the way of His steps”; and though the Lord blesses and guides us in our fight against evil now – imparting to us a share of His Spirit – yet we know “His benefits” shall only be fulfilled in heaven; this is the land which “shall yield its increase.”  As in our first reading the meat and cakes of Gideon are laid upon a rock, not consumed by the mouth for the sake of the belly but consumed by the fire of the Lord to feed his faith, so it is that the Lord and His angels and all those who follow Him are of the Spirit and not the flesh.  And so it is that the Lord chooses those who are least in the eyes of the world, as is Gideon: “My family is the meanest in Manassah, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house,”  and places His power upon them, to show us not only that “for God all things are possible,” but more so to instruct us not to put faith in the passing things of this world but in the eternal “justice and peace” of His heavenly kingdom.

We must indeed struggle continually against this world and its power with the strength God gives us, brothers and sisters.  In the riches of this life we must never take our ease.  For these are set in opposition to God in enmity.  God is Spirit and we must be as He is, taking our places in His heavenly glory with the apostles who have laid down their lives and so now judge in righteousness with Jesus the king.  Go forth now in His Name.

 

********

O LORD, let us follow in the way you mark out for us,

and we will be blessed.

YHWH, you come to those who are lowly, who place their trust in you.  Those who set their hearts on you and give up the things of this world will be blessed in your kingdom. 

Call us forth in your NAME to do your will, O LORD.  Without you, we are nothing, the meanest creatures on this earth.  But with the strength that comes from you, we can conquer all our enemies.  It is from you all blessings come; only through you will our land yield its increase, will we be fruitful here and in Heaven.

Why should we desire the riches of this world when you are the only treasure worthy of our time, when it is only your glory that passes not away?  O LORD, accept the offering of our lives.  Increase our faith in your protection, in the angel you send to call us to you, and we shall live ever in your peace.

Direct download: BC-081611-Tu_20_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Jgs.2:11-19;   Ps.106:4,34-37,39-40,43-44;   Mt.19:16-22) 

“They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,

and did not follow their example of obedience

to the commandments of the Lord.”

It is not long before the Israelites break their vows to the Lord, mingling with other nations and worshiping their idols.  As soon as the generation which has known Joshua dies out, their children begin to stray.  And though the Lord “raised up judges to deliver them from the power of their despoilers,” to save them from their enemies when He heard their cry of affliction, repeatedly “when the judge died, they would relapse and do worse.”  Thus it shall also be with the interminable series of good and evil kings which shall lead to their exile, and thus the necessity of the eternal King, Jesus Christ, under whose reign there is no faltering backward – for He lives forever to intercede.

So evil had the Israelites become that they “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.”  And one must ask, should the Lord God not punish such deeds?  Does He not hold justice in His right hand?  Should such action be allowed to transpire?  Although the Lord holds compassion in His left hand and always has regard for our affliction when we cry out to Him, He does not, He cannot, allow sin to go unpunished.  If He did so it would but grow more grave and the peril to the soul would be greater, and thus He would fail in compassion not only to the victims of oppression but to the soul of the oppressor.

How difficult this is to hear in the materialistic age in which we dwell, where the body is king and possessions take the place of the spirit.  How like the young man in our gospel many are when they hear the call to perfection, when they are challenged to give up their possessions, for our souls have become one with our material wealth, and to lose it we think spells death.  But it is not death but life to which Jesus calls us, life in the Spirit, which is life itself.  And whether we own things or not we must not own them; we must know that all belongs to God, or we shall not belong to God but to the false idols of the nations around us and the death and defilement their evil practices bring.  For do we not today sacrifice our children on the altar of abortion in the name of ease and luxury.

“There is One who is good.  If you wish to enter life, keep His commandments.”  If you wish for death, continue to stray.

*******

O LORD, how shall we give ourselves entirely to you,

you who alone love us?

YHWH, save us from following the false gods that surround us and close in.  Easily we go astray without your shepherds to lead us.  May your Son be present to us this day in your Church that we might be kept from falling into the power of our enemies by the sins we commit.

Why should we abandon you, LORD?  Why should we fall under the devil’s sway and give ourselves to the service of the empty things of this world?  Look upon our weakness.  Help us rather to abandon our passing possessions and put our trust in your unfading glory.  Help us keep to your Word and your way and find the goodness, the perfection, only you hold.

Your Son calls us this day away from the vain pursuits of this corrupted place.  May we heed His voice and turn from the evil sacrifices of wanton nations to join ourselves to His Cross.

Direct download: BC-081511-M_20_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Jos.24:14-29;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-8,11;   Mt.19:13-15)

 

“We will serve the Lord, our God, and obey His voice.”

 

Like children we must come before the Lord and extol His holy Name.  “Completely and sincerely” we must serve Him and He will place His hands upon our heads and bless us.  And we will sing with David of the “fullness of joys in [His] presence, the delights at [His] right hand forever.”  We indeed will be as children, and He will be our God.  Listen to the words of Jesus: “Let the children come to me…  The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  Oh to know the blessing of being in the Lord’s presence forever!

“My Lord are you.  Apart from you I have no good,” cries David to his God.  Indeed, how our psalm sings the praises of the Lord and the blessing of our refuge in Him.  How well it illustrates the fruit of the covenant the people enter into with God at Shechem under Joshua’s leadership.  The Promise having been fulfilled, Joshua calls the Israelites to renew their commitment to the Lord.  And though their fidelity to Him will only be for a short time and the stone set up shall soon be a witness against them, yet their vows are those we must all make in sincerity and in truth.  Obeying His voice is indeed our salvation.  As David sings, “I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.”  The Lord is ever there for those who trust in Him, who give their lives to Him, who serve Him – who come to Him as a humble child in innocence and love.  What greater blessing can we know than to love the Lord who is “a holy God” and so become one with Him?  This is our “allotted portion,” this is our “cup” – this is the reign of God upon us to which we are called.

“I set the Lord before me,” our psalm states, “with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”  If we but set our hearts on Him, brothers and sisters, there can be nothing that will move us.  If we but take our vows in the Spirit of Truth, He will be ever with us.  Let us not be afraid.  Let us not be afraid that we will fall, that He will leave us.  Let us pursue Him with heart and soul; let us give our lives over to Him.

To serve Him and to love Him is our blessed joy.  Let us be as children before Him and reap this joy unto life eternal.  Let our covenant with Him be written upon our hearts and evident in all our lives, and we shall stand in His presence forever.  Set aside all false gods; listen to His voice.  Alleluia!

 

*******

O LORD, may you be our God

and we be your children! 

YHWH, lay your hands upon our heads that we might be blessed, that we might have the strength to worship you alone.  Let us be resolved to serve only you, to put all false gods far from us.  It is you who are our allotted portion and cup, you who hold fast our lot – in you let us take refuge this day.

You alone are holy, LORD; you alone are exalted far above all gods.  In you alone we find our salvation, and so, to you alone should we come for blessing.  Let us be as children, with hearts set on loving only you, and the kingdom of Heaven shall be ours, for you will then be at our side. 

Forgive our transgressions, O LORD, our turning away from you… our breaking the covenant we made to serve you alone.  Let our vows be renewed this day, and let them be set in stone before you.  Help us by your grace not to waver, not to fear, but to know your innocence in our souls and remain humbly at the feet of your Son.

Direct download: BC-081311-Sa_19_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Jos.24:1-13;   Ps.136:1-3,16-18,21-22,24;   Mt.19:3-12)

 

“I gave you a land which you had not tilled

and cities which you had not built, to dwell in.”

 

All of our lives come to us by the grace of God, “for His mercy endures forever.”  It is never by our own hands that anything good is accomplished.  As the Lord says to the Israelites, “It was not your sword or your bow,” by which they conquered the nations – emphasizing that it was He who destroyed them – so we must know, too, that it is the Lord who goes before us and brings us to the land He has prepared for us; and it is by His hand that all our enemies, all obstacles, are conquered.

Our first reading and our psalm speak particularly of the Lord’s finally bringing the Israelites safely into the Promised Land.  Joshua, who has by God’s grace accomplished the work commissioned upon him through Moses, now seeks to remind the people of the blessings God has bestowed upon them in giving them this fruitful land, that they might not forget their God and the praise due Him.  As Moses prepared the people with his speech before they entered the Promised Land, so Joshua exhorts them now that they have attained their goal; and the focus of both addresses is that they not forget their God who provides them with all things.

In our gospel Jesus teaches us of the blessing of chastity, of the sanctity of marriage and the godly call to celibate life.  Of what does He speak but of the Promised Land become quite real in the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem.  We are told throughout the letters of especially St. Paul that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that sins against their purity and integrity are the gravest of offenses, for in these the sin is so real, so present, even to our flesh.  In these temples we dwell.  These temples we must keep holy, we must keep pure.  “It is so difficult,” you might say.  Then remember the Lord’s words to the Israelites; remember that it is He who “slew powerful kings” before them, that it is by His power they conquered, and you will be able to say with them that it is the Lord who “freed us from our foes.”

Jesus says of celibacy, perhaps the greatest gift of God and the closest to Him we can come, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, only those to whom it is given to do so,” and this is our key to attaining its grace, and indeed the grace of any form of chastity: we must know it is He who works in us and we must seek His blessing “for the sake of God’s reign”; and then He will make us steady and strong in the fields of His Promised Land as we call upon and praise His Name. 

*******

O LORD, there is no separating what you have joined;

you do not leave us but in your mercy bless our way,

and just so we should remain faithful to one another –

your promise should be our own.

YHWH, all good comes to us at your command, and so we praise and thank you for your merciful love, for your rescuing us from the land of Egypt and bringing us into your kingdom.  We cannot leave sin behind and enter into union with you except by your word and your will; and so, join us together, we pray – never let us be separated from you.

It is then we shall know your goodness fully, LORD, when, one with your Son, we renounce all of this world for the sake of your reign and find your grace at work in our lives.  Only then will we enter the Land you promise to your faithful children.

You make all our enemies flee before us, LORD; it is you who conquer all kings of sin.  For your mercy cannot be bound, and those who cry out to you, you save. 

Direct download: BC-081211-F_19_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Dt.34:1-12;   Ps.66:1-3,5,8,16-17,20;   Mt.18:15-20) 

“This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

that I would give to their descendants.”

The promise is coming to fulfillment; Moses looks out on the land the Lord so long ago vowed to give the great patriarchs.  And though he shall not enter in and dwell there with the people, yet he has confidence that the promise shall be fulfilled.  And though after forty years of struggle he will die here at the border, we know he has a greater reward stored up for him in heaven.

What is this Promised Land now?  Where do we find it today but in the Church founded by Jesus upon his apostles and living in the hearts and lives of all His disciples?  This is the Promised Land, the heavenly Jerusalem at work in the world even now.  Notice that Joshua “was filled with the Spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands on him.”  And “the Israelites gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command.”  In the same way the power of the Holy Spirit coming from Peter and the apostles is passed down to this day in the Lord’s Church: the power is indeed from Jesus and His Spirit, but their power works invariably through the deeds of men so ordained.  And by that power Joshua will lead the Israelites to the Promised Land even as Peter and his successors lead the Church to our heavenly homeland, insofar as we give obedience to them at the Lord’s command. 

Jesus in our gospel outlines the special place the Church holds both in judging offenses and offering prayers.  He repeats the Church’s power to bind and loose from fault, a power that begins with Peter but extends to all His disciples so ordained, and reminds them also of the great strength they take when together they call upon His name: “If two of you join your voices on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by my Father in heaven.”  The Lord does not work in a vacuum but accomplishes great and wondrous things through those He lays His hands upon.

What great works were accomplished by Moses: “He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to perform.”  Oh “the might and terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.”  Do you think this power dies with Moses?  Do you think it has come to an end?  No.  For his successor Joshua parts the Jordan River by the same power; and now in Jesus and through His Church that power comes to fulfillment.  Tremendous are the Lord’s “deeds among men.”  If we but “appealed to Him in words,” what wonders would we know.  Wars would cease and this world would look much more like the heavenly kingdom He has promised us all.  Let us pray with one voice, as one Church, in His Name.

*******

O LORD, what greater gift could you give

than the power upon your priests

to forgive men’s sins?

YHWH, what power you give to those who serve you; what tremendous deeds are wrought by your disciples.  For what equal had Moses in the signs and wonders you worked through him?  And what greater work can there be than the forgiving of men’s sins, which you accomplish by your priests this day?

Upon your Church you place your power, LORD; where two or three are gathered all prayers are answered.  And even judgment you give to Church leaders, the power to discern right from wrong.  As your lawgiver had clear vision till the end of his days, to see and know your will and teach the people of your ways, so this day is fulfilled in your Son and in those upon whom He lays His hands the grace of wisdom and understanding to lead souls into the promised land of Heaven.  Let us listen to the words they speak to us, let us be obedient sons.

Direct download: BC-081011-W_19_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Dt.31:1-8;   Dt.32:3-4,7-9,12;   Mt.18:1-5,10,12-14)

 

“It is the Lord who marches before you;

He will be with you and never fail or forsake you.”

 

“Do not fear or be dismayed,” little ones, the Lord is with us and watches over us.  Just as it was He who led the Israelites into the Promised Land, so it is He who leads us now into His “heavenly reign.”

In our first reading the Israelites stand poised to attain that which they have been so long promised.  Centuries after God’s call to Abraham and at the end of forty years wandering in the desert, the time has come for them to enter in and take possession of the land the Lord has set aside for them.  As they look toward their heritage on the other side of the Jordan River, Moses encourages them: “It is the Lord, your God, who will cross before you.”  “The Lord alone was their leader,” brothers and sisters; and now it is Jesus alone who shepherds us into the kingdom we look upon with bated breath, for which we patiently prepare ourselves.  It is He who has crossed before us in His death and resurrection and now faithfully guides us into His Father’s reign.

And just as Moses commissions Joshua to lead the Israelites: “You must bring this people into the land which the Lord swore to their fathers He would give them,” encouraging him to be brave and trust in God… so Jesus commissions His disciples to lead His sheep, and especially those who are lost or straying, into the kingdom of God – encouraging them to remain humble always, to make themselves lowly like a little child.  And His commission extends, of course, to us today; in these readings we hear His voice.

As for “these little ones” of whom Jesus tells us, “I assure you their angels in heaven constantly behold my Father’s face,” are we not they of whom He speaks?  Are we not His innocent doves in need of the Church’s wisdom and guidance to find our place in the Lord’s kingdom?  And certainly even those who lead the flock are members of the flock themselves, for ultimately it is always the Lord who leads, and all must come unto His presence.  Let us be assured, little flock, let us take blessed comfort in the Lord’s care for His people.  “It is no part of your heavenly Father’s plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief.”  So let us be as children before Him, beholding the face of God.  This is His will for all our souls; let us walk confidently with Him, knowing His love and His blood will never fail us.  The kingdom awaits our coming. 

*******

O LORD, only as a child will we enter Heaven,

for only as a child can we stand in your presence.

YHWH, make us humble and innocent as little children that you might lead us by your mighty hand into the land you promise all your lowly ones.  How shall we behold your face if we are not obedient to you, if we do not seek your glory by humbly doing your will?  Bless your people with your presence.

Send us leaders, LORD, to guide us to your kingdom, to shepherd us to your holy mountain.  Your power be upon those you send to stand in the place of your only Son, that all might find salvation.  Help us to have faith in you, to know that as you have been with us until this day, so forever you will remain, destroying our enemies before us, setting us free from all sin.

Let none of your children be lost, dear LORD, but come quickly to their heritage in you.  O let us be brave and steadfast! remembering ever it is you who go before us.

Direct download: BC-080911-Tu_19_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Dt.10:12-22;   Ps.147:12-15,19-20;   Mt.17:22-27)

 

“In His love for your fathers the Lord was so attached to them

as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to all other peoples.”

 

The Israelites are the chosen race, and Jesus the Chosen One of that race.  Upon them the blessing rests, and in the Son it is fulfilled.

Our first reading tells us that the Lord is a great God, “who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.”  And the Israelites are called to be made in the image of their Father, showing His might in this way of compassion and truth.  “And now, Israel, what does the Lord, your God, ask of you but to fear the Lord, your God, and follow His ways exactly,” declares Moses.  And so he enjoins upon the people the Lord’s word, “His statutes and ordinances,” which “He has not made known” to other nations, and which serve as their guide to maintaining His light in their lives.  “He has strengthened the bars of your gates…  He has granted peace in your borders,” our psalm confirms: by the grace of God’s law their children are blessed and become “numerous as the stars of the sky.”

And in our gospel we see again the fulfillment of the Father’s blessing and of His law in the Person of Jesus and the sacrifice He, and we, are called to make.  First Jesus makes clear that He is the Son of God exempt from the temple tax – how can the temple pay tax unto itself, or, better yet, how can the temple be paid tax by Him who made it?  Jesus is the Chosen One, the chosen of the chosen sons.  And His new Law, His new way – which again is but the fulfillment of the law laid out by Moses – is the cross.  Moses tells us of the compassion and justice of the Father, who cares for widows and orphans and aliens, and Jesus embodies that love and truth by being “delivered into the hands of men who will put Him to death” for our sin and to show the love God has for us in such utter sacrifice.

Brothers and sisters, allow me to note here that there is no distinction between the love and the justice of God: they are inseparable, the one ever complementing the other.  It is out of both love and a sense of justice that the Lord defends the widows and orphans, saving them from their oppressors and gathering them into His arms.  His love breeds justice and His justice love.  This is the way of God; and this must be our way as His children. 

Yes, God loves the world and so He sends His Son to make atonement for our sin.  We have sinned and atonement must be made; it cannot be otherwise.  And it cannot be otherwise but that God makes that atonement by His love.  Let us join to Him as sons in His holy sacrifice.  This is our special, blessed call.

 

 *******

O LORD, though in His love He made Himself

an outcast for our sakes, for our lack of love,  

Jesus is your only Son.

YHWH, you are the great God, mighty and awesome, your glory far above us and our ways.  Yet you bless us with your presence, you proclaim your Word to our hearts – you send your Son into our midst as the Temple in which we may worship you and so join ourselves to your surpassing glory.  For this grace let us never cease to praise you; let us never fail to follow in your way.

Your Son shows to us the way we must walk; the way of love He marks out for us in perfectly fulfilling your will, in freely going to the Cross.  Here your surpassing love for your poor creatures you reveal to us.  And this same love you call us to – this same glory is ours, O LORD, by the mercy He bears.

To this Temple let us come.  In your Son let us make our home.  He who humbles Himself for our sakes, who joins Himself to us for our salvation, let us follow unto glory.  Your Word be fulfilled in our midst.

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

(Dt.4:32-40;   Ps.77:12-16,21;   Mt.16:24-28)

 

“The Son of Man will come with His Father’s glory

accompanied by His angels.”

 

The Lord God came to “take a nation for Himself from the midst of another, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with His strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors.”  As He came with power to rescue the Israelites from the bonds of Egypt, so He will come at the end of time, and is come now, to save us from this world of sin.  Indeed, the Son of Man shall come fully into His Kingship on the last day and “repay each man according to his conduct.”

How shall we secure a place in His kingdom?  Moses tells the Israelites, in his final address to them before they enter the Promised Land, “You must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below,” and that they “must keep His statutes and commandments.”  Then they will be blessed and prosper.  Jesus tells us in our gospel, “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps.”  As it was then, it is now, only the road is more straitened for the goal is more blessed: now it is even unto death we must be obedient to His ways; but now we find not only life on the land, but glory everlasting.

“Among the people you have made known your power,” proclaims our psalm today, and indeed our first reading recounts the “wonders of old” the Lord wrought in the midst of His people: with their eyes they saw His “great fire,” and with their ears they “heard Him speaking out of the fire.”  It is, of course, the presence of Jesus we see before us now and hear speaking in our hearts by the fire of the Holy Spirit.  He makes His power known to us now in a far surpassing way.  And if we wish to know the glory of God burning in our midst and leading us to the eternal kingdom of light, we must be made holy by its power.  “O God, your way is holy,” our psalm states, and if we wish to follow in His way, we must be holy as He.

The Lord is coming with His holy angels.  He shall soon be here in all His glory.  Now He has left us a blessed cross to place upon our shoulders; it is this most wonderful of signs by whose testings we are led in power to the eternal reign of our Savior.  As intimately as you know His humble cross, as closely as you follow His sacrificial path, so well will you know His Father’s glory.

 

*******

O LORD, your greatness is revealed to all;

let us dwell in your light.

YHWH, how great were your deeds in bringing your chosen people out of Egypt!  What wonders you worked among them.  To them you showed that you are LORD and there is no other.

But how much greater is the presence of your Son among us this day and the deeds He has wrought for our salvation.  How much more clearly you speak to us now, LORD, through the wonders He works – and how perfectly your glory will be known when He returns accompanied by His angels!  There will be no greater deeds to be worked when that Day comes.

But until that Day let us walk with you here; let us take up our cross and follow in the way of Jesus, keeping your Word that we may prosper in good deeds ourselves and come finally to the Land you promise, to eternal life, our eyes looking upon your surpassing glory.

Direct download: BC-080511-F_18_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Nm.20:1-13;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Mt.16:13-23)

 

“‘You are the Messiah,’ Simon Peter answered,

‘the Son of the Living God!’”

 

With this response, because of this faith come from the “heavenly Father,” Jesus declares to Peter, “You are ‘Rock’, and on this rock I will build my Church.”  He entrusts to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, with power to bind and loose.  As from the rock Moses struck, “water gushed out in abundance for the community… to drink,” so through Peter and the Church Christ has founded we are nourished by the sacraments and true teaching.  So the Son of the Living God is with us.

“Let us acclaim the Rock of our Salvation…  Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us.  For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.”  By the hand of Peter the Lord guides the Church born of His blood.  Indeed, as Moses led the Israelites through the desert, so Peter leads us now to the gates of heaven.  Let us declare our faith with him; let us echo his words to the Lord, giving Him due praise and “joyfully sing[ing] psalms to Him.”  He is our God, He is our Savior, and in this Rock we take refuge. 

But let us remember, too, not to judge “by man’s standards but by God’s.”  His ways are not our ways, as both great leaders had to learn.  It seems to our human minds unfair that Moses should be deemed unfit to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land; it is they, after all, who continually tempted him with their grumbling, plotting even to take his life.  And why is the Lord so harsh toward Peter, even calling him “Satan”?  He is only concerned for Jesus’ life, is he not?  The Lord does not judge as we judge.  He wishes to teach Moses to deepen his love and concern for the people, that anger is never justified in the care of those in one’s charge – the Lord does not act in the rashness of anger and anxiety, and neither should we.  And to Peter He must show the necessity of the sacrifice of this life, that we must be “put to death” to be “raised up on the third day” – it is the laying down of this life which brings glory.

Really, in both cases the Lord is calling His leaders to lay down their lives for the people, to do as He does and take the people’s sins upon themselves.  And this is, of course, the call of us all – to be like Him, to join with our Savior, the Son of the Living God, in His sacrifice.  What is more against the standards of man than the cross of Christ, as Paul has told us elsewhere, “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1Cor.1:23) – and yet the source of our salvation.  For to come to the Living God we proclaim as our own, this world and its passions must be left behind.  The Father dwells in highest heaven and His ways must become our own.  Take refuge now in the Rock of Christ and in His Church; this shall lead you to His presence.

 

*******

O LORD, your ways are so far above our own,

 and how shall we attain to them,

except by faith and the grace that comes to us

 through your holy Church?

YHWH, how could we even begin to put you to the test?  How could we be so foolish as to ask you any question, as to doubt your goodness toward us, your presence among us?  What of this world should lead us to such blindness to your love?  Should we not be ready even to die for you?

It is you who have the power and grace to put us to the test, and so your Son asks, “Who do you say that I AM?”  Do we really believe He is the Messiah?  Do we really believe you have sent Him to us to die for our sins that we might be raised up with Him?  Or do we indeed doubt the greatness of your love?  O LORD, help us to judge as you judge, to see as you see, and so to know your glory.

It is not in this desert we shall find our home; it is not the food of this world that is our fare.  It is to Heaven we must come, and in your Church we shall find a way there.  Help us, O LORD, to show forth your sanctity, to join in the sacrifice of your Son and worship Him alone.

Direct download: BC-080411Th_18_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

(Nm.13:1-2,25-14:1,26-29,34-35;  Ps.106:4,6-7,13-14,21-23;  Mt.15:21-28)

 

“They forgot the God who had saved them.”

 

But He did not forget them.  Though He curses them in our first reading for their lack of faith, and though they shall indeed all – except for Joshua and Caleb – die in the desert over forty years, their children shall enter and take the Promised Land from the five tribes which inhabit it; and despite their repeated faltering in following His word, He shall come to redeem them from their exile once again, and in a full way, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The Israelites grumbled against Moses and against God in the desert.  Fearful at the report of the “giants” in the land they were called to seize as their own, they failed to remember the Giant who fought for them, “who had done great deeds in Egypt.”  “They waited not for His counsel,” nor trusted in His protection, and so they dissembled at what their eyes saw and their ears heard, having not the heart of faith, remembering not the word of the Lord.  The people of the land may have been giants, but the Lord towers over all the earth.  We must always remember His surpassing power.

And in our gospel we find one of the descendants of those who had made the Israelites so fearful to enter the Promised Land groveling at the feet of the Lord, this Son of David, indeed as a dog before its master.  How fortunes have changed.  Jesus says to this Canaanite woman, “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  See God’s love for His people.  See how He has kept the word of His covenant not to forget them.  See how He yet chooses them from among the nations, sending His Son in the flesh as one of them.  And yet, shall they recognize the grace that walks amongst them?  Will their hearts be open to accept Him now, or hardened to His call and blind to His presence will they remain?

This question is asked of each one of us, brothers and sisters, for we are the spiritual descendants of the Israelite people.  Will we remember Him and His Word amongst us?  Do we recall all He has done for us?  This Canaanite woman who begs crumbs from the Lord’s table is greatly blessed.  She has the faith required for the kingdom of heaven.  Again in Scripture it is a Gentile, a foreigner, who exhibits the faith the “sons and daughters” should have.  The Lord uses such as these to shame His chosen ones and show them how far His love does spread, how great His grace truly is – that it can capture even these giants in its net.  And so, should it not capture the Jew?  And so, should we not be taken in it as well?  Now that His salvation has extended to the ends of the earth, shall His chosen be forgotten?  Will they continue to forget their place in His land?  I pray it shall not be so for you and I, brothers and sisters, but that we will always remember His Name. 

*******

O LORD, if only we had faith!

we would never be afraid –

we would certainly be saved.

YHWH, why are we so forgetful of you and your power to save?  Why are we who know you, who have seen your hand at work, who have been blessed by your abiding presence – why are we so blind to your unending love for our poor souls?  Those who do not know you, who are so far away from you, come on their knees before your Son begging His grace and forgiveness, begging His blessed protection… and these receive answer to their prayers, even as those of your own household wither and die in the hardness of their hearts, in their lack of faith.

Forgive us, LORD, our crimes against you; let us not die in this desert of sin.  Send your Chosen One to help us, to save us from the condemnation we deserve for our wicked ways.  We are as mere grasshoppers before you, O Giant!  Have pity on your faithless sons and gather us into the land you have promised.

Direct download: BC-080311-W_18_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST