Sat, 26 September 2020
(Ez.18:25-28; Ps.25:4-9; Phil.2:1-11; Mt.21:28-32)
“Tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.”
Why? How can it be that such sinners gain such privilege, such grace? Is it for their sins? Shall we all become as they? We should be like them, but not in sin – in repentance. For it is because they have “turned away from all [the] sins that [they] committed” that they are saved; it is because they are “tax collectors and prostitutes” no more. And so we are all called to turn away from the sin which each of us surely has.
David sings beautifully of this in our psalm: “The sins of my youth and my frailty remember not,” as he begs the Lord for His kindness. For all that we have done in our ignorance and our weakness we should seek the Lord’s mercy, for He assures us throughout our readings that “He shows sinners the way” when they come humbly before Him.
When the first son in Jesus’ parable responds to his father’s request for him to work in the vineyard, “I will not,” what does this son do but sin against his father? – just as each of us sins against our heavenly Father when we turn from His will to blindly follow our own. But what did the son show when he “afterwards changed his mind and went” but his contrition and repentance at his insubordination, thus illustrating the manner in which our consciences should lead us from our own disobedience? And as Jesus makes clear, it was this son who “did his father’s will” and so will be blessed by him.
Our reading from Ezekiel makes this theme of turning from sin and finding blessing even clearer. It states in certain terms of the wicked man that “if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.” With such assurance, why should we delay our own conversion, which must be effected day to day?
St. Paul presents the attitude we must have before others and God in order to find the Lord’s grace. He states: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,” and then gives the clear example of the most humble of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.” He so “humbled Himself” that He became “obedient even unto death, death on a cross.” And so should we be proud? Should we harden ourselves in our sin, or rather turn and empty ourselves of all that is not of Him? The salvation repentance finds is indicated also in the fact that, because of Jesus’ humility, “God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name.” So let us not hesitate to join the tax collectors and prostitutes among us who bend the knee before Him; let our “tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and we shall know His reward.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Where's My Brother?" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, turning away from all our sins
and humbling ourselves before you,
let us but do your holy will.
YHWH, help us to turn from our sins and do your holy will. May we be obedient as your Son, who gave His life to save others. Let all souls repent of their wickedness and walk in His way, that all might find salvation in His Name.
If we could but be humble before you, LORD; if we could but admit our failings, our selfishness and pride, our blindness to your call for our lives… then we would be blessed by you and become your faithful sons. Break our hardened hearts that we might love, that we might look upon you who are love itself.
O let us be empty, LORD, of all we would possess, of all that we would grasp with our own hands. Let us indeed be blessed to recognize our sinfulness and find your mercy and forgiveness. You but want for us to turn to you that you might embrace us as your own. May your compassion be known in our hearts this day.
Fri, 25 September 2020
O highly honored martyrs
whose tomb drew many pilgrims
and brought about many miracles,
you laid down your lives as one in the Lord,
taking up His bitter and saving cup
all for your faith in Him and His Church,
and so, precious in His sight
was your death in His name –
from beyond the grave
pray for us this day,
that the healing blood of Christ our Savior
be poured upon our souls,
that we too might be raised by His sacrifice,
redeemed by the death He endured;
for He has overcome the world,
and you with Him in His blood.
Pray that we who are so weak of faith
may by the Lord’s grace and your intercession
bear witness to Jesus by our own deaths
upon the Cross with Him.
Fri, 25 September 2020
(Ec.11:9-12:8; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:43-45)
“The dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.”
“As a watch of the night” is our life, passing unnoticed while souls slumber. “You make an end of them in their sleep,” Psalm 90 prophesies (as we hear the same verses of this same psalm for the second time in three days); indeed man lies unaware of his coming death, ignorant of the day which passes. For though in our youth we “follow the ways of [our] heart, the vision of [our] eyes,” and seem to “ward off grief” at will, yet “the next morning [we] are like the changing grass”; so quickly does our flower fade. And so little of this do we see.
In our gospel the Lord speaks again to His disciples of His imminent death, and so, really, the death we all must undergo; but though He makes a clear point that they should listen carefully, saying, “Pay close attention to what I tell you,” yet they seem unable to hear His words. Our gospel tells us, “They failed… to understand this warning; its meaning was so concealed from them they did not grasp it at all.” He repeats what He has said before in no uncertain terms, and yet they are deaf to His word; yet they are blind.
How like us all the disciples are. When confronted with the coming of death how easily we shut our eyes. Though it draw upon us inevitably, how desperately we hold to the vanity of these passing things, unwilling to hear of the day when “the sun is darkened… and the strong men are bent… and the sound of the mill is low.” “Man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets” – so Qoheleth paints the image of the time when “the clouds return after the rain.” How compelling his verses are, and how ominous… and of this darkness we must hear. It is not wise to remain blind to the passing of this life, or with it we shall die when it ends. Though none of this should touch our souls, yet we must learn to let the body go.
O Lord, “you return man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men,’” yet you hold each of us in your loving hands. And so we cry unto you this day, “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” For we wait with expectant hearts for Him who has risen from the dead to come to us again. Let your Spirit breathe upon us now and turn this dust into the image of your Son. May it be your Day which comes to us, even as we die.
O LORD, we conquer death
through the death and resurrection of your Son –
be with us as we wait for His return.
YHWH, death comes inevitably to all. It draws near to us like the setting sun. We are mortal, the subjects of our own sin. And so to dust we return.
But your Son has subjected Himself to this death of ours, LORD; He has undergone its torments. In our place He has stood, and been broken for our sakes. He who lives with you in eternity has been delivered into the hands of men and suffered the darkness upon their souls. And so, may we not be born again?
O Jesus, you have overcome the darkness with your unending light; you have come to rescue us from falling into the well, that the clouds might not return again after the rain but that we might know new life with you in the morning after this world passes away, in the glory of your coming Day.
Help us, O LORD, to overcome our fear, to conquer the bonds of this dark place and our own mortality. Let this not be our lasting home, but raise us to your presence that even this day we might rejoice in you.
Thu, 24 September 2020
(Ec.3:1-11; Ps.144:1-4; Lk.9:18-22)
“He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts.”
Yes, “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens”; and there is a time for time to cease and the timeless to come to the fore – a time for the things above the heavens. And that fullness of time has come upon the earth, for the Son of Man has known His “time to be born”; and in man’s discovering “the work which God has done,” no time for vain toil is there anymore. The time has come to make Him our “refuge and [our] fortress,” our blessed “rock” of truth.
“One day when Jesus was praying in seclusion and His disciples were with Him,” the time had come for Him to “put the question to them”: “Who do you say that I am?” And now it was Peter’s “time to speak,” to declare the faith of the Church: “The Messiah of God.” And though it was not then time “to tell this to anyone,” for the Son of Man had yet to know His “time to die,” soon the time would come for the Son to rise, and then there would be no more “time to be silent.”
That time has come upon us now, brothers and sisters. Now is only “a time to plant” and “a time to build” – a time to raise the kingdom of heaven here on earth, a time to labor to complete God’s Church. For timelessness now has its time; life eternal overtakes us. And so we have only “time to love,” having broken the wheel of sin by the sacrifice of Christ and so come out from under the shadow of hatred. No return to the vanity of the things of this world is there for us, for we must do all as if doing nothing.
It is true: “Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow,” but it is also so that the Lord “take[s] thought of him.” And in this earthen vessel He has placed the Spirit of life – and that Spirit is now known in full in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is “time to embrace” Him and know the “time of peace” He breathes eternally upon His creatures, letting all shadow pass away as we walk in His holy light and proclaim His holy name.
O LORD, your timelessness let us know in our hearts,
that we might overcome the world through your Son.
YHWH, in the fullness of time you sent your Son to die at our hands that we might be raised up with Him. And now that He has died for our sins, a new time has come to your people – a time of salvation.
All time pointed toward Him and all time flows from Him, and all time is in Him who is all that is. O LORD, let us make our home in Him and in His resurrection.
You are timeless, O LORD and God, and so how can we poor creatures so bound to time, so subject to the dust of this earth, come to know you who are beyond the heavens? We could never have discovered your hand at work among us if you had not sent your only Son to redeem us and reveal to us your glory. And so, let us embrace this gift you offer that we might mourn and weep no more but rejoice ever in your presence, despite the Cross that comes. Let us be raised on the Cross with Him that we might be raised unto His eternal reign.
Wed, 23 September 2020
(Ec.1:2-11; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:7-9)
“See, this is new!”
Here is He who is “new under the sun.” For it is not so that “John has been raised from the dead,” nor that “one of the prophets of old has arisen”: He has not “already existed in the ages that preceded us.” He is the Christ! He is the Messiah! He it is who has come to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.” In Him the dark of the night veiling our eyes is banished from our midst.
O Herod, drowning in your debauchery; O Qoheleth, pursuer of your passions in all their vanity, why do you race to catch up with the sun as if it should stand and wait for you? What makes you think you could hold the wind in your hand? Why would you see end of the rivers’ path to the sea? Why do you toil so blindly, taking your refuge in created things and frustrated when you cannot control them to your own ends, when they betray the peace you seek? “Back to dust” you shall indeed return, and the sun and the wind and the sea still stand; and above them all does reign our God, for whom “a thousand years… are as yesterday, now that it is past.” In Him you should have taken refuge.
Herod, do you too now begin to see the ends of your debauchery; does its emptiness now overtake your soul? Do you remember the words the prophet delivered to your ears? What is the cause of your curiosity, and will you listen now to the voice echoing through your halls? The kingdom of the world crumbles before our eyes and no “profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun,” unless it is the Lord who “prosper[s] the work of our hands for us.” Dead we are and alone will ever be in our profligacy, the emptiness upon us.
Qoheleth, your words are proven wrong: it is not so that “there is no remembrance of the man of old,” for we read your thoughts with diligence today; and three thousand years after your time you teach us still of the dark vision of life without the Christ. And of Him who has come after thee there is great remembrance, and more than this, for His breath is now upon us. In Him is “the ear filled with hearing” and the eye “satisfied with seeing,” for now truth and light do walk with us, even under the sun. And though our body “by evening wilts and fades” as of old, our soul “at dawn springs up anew.” For “the gracious care of the Lord [is] ours” and He “teach[es] us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And this wisdom is true; this wisdom is new: this wisdom bears us light to transcend the vanity of a worldly life and come to the kingdom of heaven.
O LORD, your Son is He who makes all things new –
let us live and work in the light of His presence.
YHWH, your Son is new under the sun; into our midst He has come. May we be more than anxious to see Him: may we be made new in Him.
In days past, LORD, the world and men toiled in futility for their sin against you, for their separation from you. You were ever new and ever calling us to life in you, but we labored in vain, going our own way – the way of darkness that leads to death, the way that is indeed apart from you. Return all souls to your light, your life, known to us now in your only Son.
You reign over all, LORD our God, all of time is but a moment to you and all the world is as a speck of dust. Have pity on us, LORD, for we are quick to wilt and fade. At daybreak may we rise with Jesus and walk in the light of your new day, dwelling forever in your reign, living and working always in your presence.
Tue, 22 September 2020
O holy priest
who bore the wounds of Christ
in your hands
and in your ministry,
who served the Lord so greatly
in casting out many demons
in your confessional,
and whom He thus blessed
with miracles of the Spirit –
pray for us of lukewarm faith
who falter day to day
in following our dear Jesus’ path.
So close to Him you were
in His suffering and His love;
so far are we
from His Cross and so His grace.
Pray we shall be strengthened to approach Him
and find healing for our weakness,
the frailty of our souls
which keeps us from knowing the Christ
and laying down our lives for Him
as He calls, as you have done…
O pray His blood be upon us!
Tue, 22 September 2020
(Prv.30:5-9; Ps.119:29,72,89,101,104-105,163; Lk.9:1-6)
“Take nothing for the journey.”
How can he who takes nothing with him for his journey be provided for? Does not such action contradict the wisdom of the king who asks in his book of Proverbs – “Give me neither poverty nor riches”? Is it not poverty the Lord recommends to His disciples?
The evangelical counsel of poverty practiced by the religious communities and striven for by all true members of the Christian faith is not the same as that which our author of Proverbs wishes to avoid (no more so than the riches he would keep far from himself are those of the heavenly kingdom). For those whom Jesus sends out never find themselves “in want,” the want which would lead the desperate to steal and so sin; rather, the only “want” His disciples have is for an increasing understanding and practice of the word of God. And the poverty they practice is meant to feed this hunger for the greatest of food.
Proverbs itself gives us answer to the means by which the Lord’s disciples taking “no bread, no money” are fed: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” The Lord is always our food. Cannot He who “endures forever,” whose word is “firm as the heavens,” care for the small needs of His creatures here below? Will not he who labors for Him have all he needs to accomplish his work? Certainly! For though the disciples take nothing, it does not follow that they have nothing – for they have the Lord with them, and that is everything.
Indeed, it is because the first of the wise king’s requests of God – “put falsehood and lying far from me” – has been answered in them that this second is accomplished. “Remove from me the way of falsehood,” our psalmist echoes, and for the Lord’s disciples this has been done. They “add nothing to His words” as “from every evil way [they] withhold [their] feet”; and so “the law of [His] mouth,” which resounds from their own mouths as they “proclaim the reign of God,” “is to [them] more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” and feeds them abundantly.
The Word of the Lord will be received by those who seek His truth, and in turn feed the speaker as it does the hearer. So let us be wary of “being full” of the things of this world, lest we find no room for God, and let us make our psalmist’s declaration truly our own: “Falsehood I hate and abhor; your law I love.” Then all things will be provided for.
O LORD, you send us forth with your Word
to heal souls of all evil –
keep us on your way of truth.
YHWH, it is you who provide for all our needs. If we serve you, if we are true to your Word, we shall never be in want. For then all we shall desire is to be with you, and you will be faithful to this longing.
LORD, you are with those who go out in your NAME, who desire only to do your will. For they are of truth and you are of truth – you are Truth itself – and so they share in your way. And your way is a way of love and healing, your way is one that leads to life. Let us follow in this way, and we shall live forever.
You yourself hold our lives in your hand, and so what do we need but you? We cannot provide for ourselves; it is you from whom all our food comes. And if we trust in you we shall be fed, we shall have all we need to live, all we need to proclaim your Word, O LORD, and that your kingdom is nigh. Let us be a living witness to your presence among us and the care you give to all your children.
Mon, 21 September 2020
(Prv.21:1-6,10-13; Ps.119:1,27,30,34-35,44; Lk.8:19-21)
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God
and act upon it.”
Our readings today are filled throughout with one line pearls of wisdom culminating with Jesus’ above instruction in our brief gospel. And though each individual proverb or paean to the command of the Lord seems a separate entity distinct from the others which surround it, in fact, all speak of the same sword of truth that separates the way of the wicked from that of the just. In even thousands of proverbs there is but one word – that we must be hearers and doers of the word of God.
“Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases Him, He directs it.” Oh that such blessed obedience could be all our own! Oh that we would follow Him so perfectly, for “happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”; and they become as His only Son. “To do what is right and just” must be our constant aim, our eternal prayer. “Lead me in the path of your commands,” we must beg of our God, for in it alone we know the light of His grace; in His way alone we find all our “delight.” Only in observing His decrees, walking in His love, do we become brother and sister and mother to the Christ.
For the wicked shall not enter His embrace, shall not be counted among His family. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” the Lord will not countenance, for “the tillage of the wicked is sin” and with sin the Holy One has no relation. Thus we may be certain “there is One who brings down the wicked to ruin.” As grandiose as his plots may seem and as adamantly as he may pursue them with “a lying tongue,” he is but “chasing a bubble over deadly snares” and shall be caught in the trap he himself has laid.
“When the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge”; he draws ever closer to the light of the Lord as he drinks in His Word. Let us be as those who “meditate on [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds.” Let us beg Him with our psalmist: “Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.” When Jesus speaks let us be quick to listen and follow in His way, that truly we may become His blessed family, one in the Church modeled by the Mother of God.
O LORD, open our ears to hear your Word
and walk in your way.
YHWH, if we are haughty of eye and proud of heart, how can we know you and become one with you? You are holy and only those who strive for holiness walk in your way. Help us, LORD, to be as your Son and follow always your blessed commands.
O LORD, let our hearts ever be directed by your hand; let our obedience be such that we simply go as your guide led ever by your Spirit. In your Son there was no question as to what should be done or whether He should do good or ill – He did nothing of His own will but only yours. Help us to be perfect as He in living your Word, in embodying your truth. Then we shall be brothers to Him, for then you shall be our Father.
Let us be made in your image, LORD, doing what is right and just in all things. Your law of love let us observe – let us thirst for your wisdom and knowledge. Nothing let us desire but to be one with you and your only Son. Then we shall be blessed as His Mother.
Sun, 20 September 2020
O faithful apostle
who so readily answered
the call of the Lord,
leaving your station in this world
to follow in His footsteps
and so find your place in Heaven,
who even with these first steps
brought others to the Christ
as you opened your heart
as well as your home
to Him and to the least of His brothers –
pray, dear brother through whom the Spirit has spoken,
that we too shall follow Jesus
and so find His grace and mercy,
and so find our way to the Father.
Pray our hearts will ever be
so open to hear His voice
and invite Him in to our table,
where He may eat and speak with us,
feeding us with His presence.
And pray we may be blessed as you
in drawing others to the Word, our God,
till all are one in His Body.
Sun, 20 September 2020
(Eph.4:1-7,11-13; Ps.19:2-5; Mt.9:9-13)
“Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.”
“Till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature,” the Word of the Lord shall be carried forth by all His “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”; indeed, “each of us has received God’s favor in the measure in which Christ bestows it,” and each of us plays a role in bringing to fulfillment the Gospel of our “one Lord.”
“Matthew got up and followed Him.” He was called, he was chosen, and he answered the Lord’s call without hesitation. And he brought the Lord in immediately to dine with Him, welcoming Him fully at his table. And because of his openness to God and His Word, and because of his generous response, we see that it is Jesus who in fact feeds him, that he in turn might feed others with the true teaching, “the one faith” in the “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all,” from the least of sinners to the greatest of apostles. We are all thus called to follow Jesus Christ, to find the mercy He so greatly desires to impart to our sinful lives, that we might be whole and able to serve Him well.
One day we shall come to perfection in Him; in Him it is already fulfilled. And now insofar as we share His love, insofar as we “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience,” the Spirit who is indeed the origin of our unity in Him works through us and we, even with the twelve apostles, serve to bring His blessed peace, His divine life of salvation, to the world. Yes, “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge,” and soon that Word will reach to the ends of the earth; and soon it will come to fulfillment in our sight.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to a great hope, and to a great mission to bring it to light. Let us keep our hearts set on the Gospel and the promise it contains, and “build up the Body of Christ” until we stand with Him, as Him, in His eternal kingdom which stands in our midst even today through the words of His apostle and evangelist, in the breath of the Spirit upon us and in its message.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us all be drawn as one
into the Body of your Son,
that we poor sinners may become His saints.
YHWH, you are over all and work through all and in all, and your Gospel message goes out to all the world through your apostles and evangelists. O let us listen to your voice as it comes to us in the words of Scripture and through your prophets’ preaching! Let us be quick as Matthew to answer your call, that the Body of your Son might be built up on this earth and soon come to fulfillment in Heaven.
We are all sinners, O LORD; you see this and you know this. Help us to see this as you do and so come readily to the table Jesus spreads before us, a table of mercy and grace in answer to our repentance. Let us recognize that only in Him will we find our place with you in the kingdom. And help us to proclaim your love and your peace with your apostles, that in the one faith all might be baptized and come as your children to praise your Name.
You are our hope, O LORD; let your Spirit go forth.
Sat, 19 September 2020
O blessed, holy martyrs
who won for yourselves
the crown of salvation
by your undying faith in God,
who cherished well
the prize of persecution
the Lord offered your souls,
who stood fast despite the death
that raged around you –
pray we shall know as you
that all the hairs of our head
are numbered by God
and in His all-embracing providence
He has care over us all,
that we might stand as strong
in our little trials
as you did before the face
of the executioner.
To all people be a witness to the faith
that reaches ever unto Heaven.
Direct download: Sept._20_Andrew_Kim_Paul_Hasang_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Sat, 19 September 2020
(Is.55:6-9; Ps.145:2-3,8-9,17-18; Phil.1:20-24,27; Mt.20:1-16)
“You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.”
Our readings today reveal that the Lord is near, merciful, and just, and that these three qualities are one in God. For the Lord’s justice is shown in His mercy, and His mercy in His nearness to us. And so we should “praise [His] name forever.”
Isaiah conveys to us that the Lord’s thoughts and ways are “as high as the heavens are above the earth” with respect to our own thoughts and our own ways. As David proclaims, “His greatness is unsearchable.” But the prophet also encourages the faithful to “seek the Lord while He may be found, [to] call Him while He is near”; and the king declares, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” And is not the closeness of our great God – made most evident in the presence of Jesus among us – illustrated in the Lord’s parable? Does not the landowner go out at all times of day to draw laborers into his vineyard? Even to the final hour He invites us into His kingdom, coming to us always with the hope of making us fruitful workers upon His land.
And why does the Lord remain so near? Why does He call to us so incessantly? Is it not because He is so “generous and merciful,” because He is “good to all and compassionate toward all His works”? Is it not that we should turn from our idleness and the wickedness of our thoughts and ways that He ventures into the marketplace to find us? Does Jesus not come to redeem us from this world of sin? And should we not therefore “turn to the Lord for mercy, to our God who is generous in forgiving,” whose calling us to work in His vineyard is more that He should be able to give us all we need than that we might labor for Him?
And is His mercy not proven by His form of justice? For does He not give all a full day’s pay, even those with Him but an hour? Do not all who come to His kingdom know the blessings He pours forth? This is His way, this is His justice – the way of mercy and love. And it is by this love He remains so near us who may now proclaim with Paul: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death,” for His love is inseparable from us who believe, who have entered into His vineyard and share in His blood.
And should we not be merciful as He? Should His justice not become our own? We should not be as those servants who “grumbled against the landowner” for His generosity, courting envy in our hearts, but allow the Lord to be “free to do as [He] wish[es] with [His] own money.” Should we not wish the same joy upon all souls as we ourselves have been blessed to know? Though we may have had to bear “the day’s burden and the heat,” should this limit our generosity to others who have come late? We should rather with our Lord desire all to enter His vineyard, to be close to us, that all might receive the benefit of His merciful justice. We should thank Him that His ways are not our own, for then never would He have come near to us, and empty and idle we would be standing still.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Stumblebum" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, how our envy would kill us –
let us rejoice in your mercy toward all,
counting ourselves blessed to do your will.
YHWH, truly you are generous in forgiving, gracious and merciful to all, coming even at the eleventh hour to save us from our sin and share with us all the blessings of your kingdom. Let us set to work for you this day, this hour, rejoicing always that we might labor for you.
O LORD, we thank you that your ways are far above our ways, for where we would condemn, you would forgive, and so we would ourselves be condemned without your mercy. It is indeed your desire to save all souls and we need but turn our desire to you to find you present to us. Help us to leave the ways of this world behind and follow in the way of your Son, embracing the Cross as though it held all treasure for us, as if it is the greatest gift you give… as if it were the way to Heaven, which it is.
O LORD, why should we complain against your generosity, your mercy? Should we not rather seek to be like you? Then we would share in all the riches of your kingdom with nothing to keep us from praising your Name.
Fri, 18 September 2020
O protector of your sheep,
you laid down your life
giving your blood
for the service of souls
that all might witness
the surpassing love of the Lord
and the glory that awaits
those who die in Him –
pray for shepherds
who feed their sheep,
not lording it over them
or seeking what gain they might find
taking the milk and wool
of their flock
and leaving them naked and lifeless…
but living the call of Christ
as you, dear shepherd, have done.
Pray those who govern God’s Church
will be ready even to die for Him
and the people they serve.
Let all be protected by the blood of the Lamb.
Fri, 18 September 2020
(1Cor.15:35-37,42-49; Ps.56:10-14; Lk.8:4-15)
“Just as we resemble the man from earth,
so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”
It is not difficult to recognize our earthly bodies. They are with us always, and make themselves known in the “weakness” that befalls us. Adam’s sin is upon us his children and reminds us always that we are human, of the earth.
But as we know this body of the earth so “subject to decay,” so “ignoble” in itself, so we should know the “spiritual body [that] comes up” as this “natural body is put down” by us. Here is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching that we must lay down our lives, that we must die to this world to be raised up in His presence. For the earthly form we know so well by the weakness and sin inherent in its confines we must set aside, not nourish in its passions, that ever the Spirit might take shape in our lives… that we might take on the likeness of Christ. And so even our corrupted nature may bring growth and fruit of great significance when we sow it in the ground, when we place it back whence it has come. In this death is life.
“A farmer went out to sow some seed.” This farmer is, of course, Jesus, the spiritual Man who casts seed of the Spirit for all waiting hearts to receive and nourish to growth as a “full-blown plant” in the Father’s light. If we heed the Word He proclaims to us with exclamation, if we become ourselves as “the seed sown on good ground,” given rebirth in the Gospel of Christ, resurrection of our weakened form we will know; even now it shall begin to mature within us. But if we are empty as “those on the footpath” or rootless as “those on rocky ground” or stifled as “the seed fallen among briars,” how then shall we escape the natural body and its corruption and reach up to the kingdom of heaven? It cannot but be that we shall die – and in this death there will be no resurrection to life.
O brothers and sisters, let us be as David, who declares in faith, “Now I know that God is with me” and asks with such confidence, “What can flesh do against me?” How indeed can the flesh hold us down, pressed to the earth though it may be, if we have God’s Word in us growing so surely? In God let us “trust without fear,” and on the day of full growth, when this “earth formed from dust” has died completely and the Man of Spirit has His kingdom revealed, we shall rejoice with David and sing: “You have rescued me from death… that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” Then the Spirit so real we shall know.
O LORD, let your Word take root in our hearts
and grow unto your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word be firmly planted in our hearts; let us bear fruit unto Heaven. Let us be raised with your only Son and walk in the light of your presence. Let us be men of the Spirit.
Your Son comes casting seed upon this earth, dearest LORD. He seeks to plant your Spirit within our souls. O let us have ears to hear His Word! Let us have hearts open to His call. Why should we wish to die in sin? Why would we be subject to decay as our natural bodies? Should we not rather put on the body of Jesus and be thus spiritual men? O may we bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven!
Let us have no fear, LORD, as we grow with Jesus; let the flesh hold no sway against our coming to you. Help us to lay down our bodies that our spirits may rise and we may make our home in your eternal light. Open our eyes in your presence.
Thu, 17 September 2020
(1Cor.15:12-20; Ps.17:1,6-8,15; Lk.8:1-3)
“Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
This is the heart of our faith. This is the “Good News,” the Gospel preached in our midst. This is our firm belief. Upon it all our hopes stand. Christ has been raised, and His disciples will follow Him. As surely as we accompany Him here in His mission on earth, so surely will we find ourselves in His presence in heaven. Dying in Him means rising in light.
But “if our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men.” We could then be said to have truly wasted our time, for then the very heart of our faith would have been torn out, and what but scoffing would we have to hold? A dead Christ we would carry in our arms, and we “the deadest of the dead” with Him.
Paul speaks of this quite pointedly; he pulls no punches in this regard, declaring openly: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too.” Yet there are those today, as then, who “say there is no resurrection of the dead,” that “Christ was not raised” – and these would call themselves Christian. And in the same manner there are many who do not truly believe the resurrection, yet wear the Christian nametag. If we have doubt in our hearts, or, worse yet, if we preach against the core of the faith, what do we do but kill ourselves? What do we do but work against the very Gospel of Christ? And how then do we merit the name of Christian?
Brothers and sisters, we must know in our hearts and be assured that Jesus is risen from the dead. We must realize that God has “attend[ed] to [David’s] outcry,” that He has “hearken[ed] to [his] prayer” – that the most urgent longing of our souls has been answered by the “savior of those who hope in [Him].” With David, we of faith should say with his resolve: “On waking, I shall be content in your presence.” Has the resurrection not been indicated in the “women who ha[ve] been cured of evil spirits and maladies” and who now accompany Jesus? Does not Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven devils had gone out,” give clear example of hope in Christ fulfilled? For she is not at all as she was, and this woman once so completely possessed by death itself is the first to see the Lord risen.
We must know the resurrection in our lives on earth; this is the only way we will comprehend it in heaven. Release from sin allows us to see already the eternal fruits of the kingdom. Accompanying Him now, our sins behind us, already upon heaven’s road we tread. And we know of a certain we shall pass through these “towns and villages” even unto His kingdom.
O LORD, your Son has been raised from the dead;
may we be raised with Him and be at your side.
YHWH, your Son is raised from the dead for us that we might enter your glorious presence. Though in the shadow of the wings of the Cross on this earth we make our home, it but prepares us for the kingdom. For even here our sins are taken away, and we come to new life in the Spirit.
We cried out to you, O LORD, and you heard our voice and sent your Son to walk among us. And if we follow in His steps we shall come to where He leads – we shall come to you. The path He trod must be our own, for it is the way of salvation. Through death on the Cross we come to life, for as we die with Him so we are raised.
Let us rejoice in His resurrection, O LORD; let us have faith in the new life at work in us even this day, and look with hope to our place in your kingdom. On waking may we look upon your face and be content in your eternal presence. For your glory let us ever strive, giving all to you as we walk in your way.
Wed, 16 September 2020
O wise doctor
whose intellect served well
in defense of the Church
and her teachings,
who bore well the light yoke of Christ
that leads to eternal life
and shepherded your flock
in following you
along this path of our Lord –
speak to us this day
your words of grace
that the souls of all
within the Church’s gates
might be founded well
on the truths of the faith
and on the love of God.
Pray we shall be wise as you
in knowing the way
the Lord marks out for His sons;
pray we shall have shepherds
so blessed with His light
that all shall be saved from the wolves about
and remain secure in the Father’s arms.
Wed, 16 September 2020
(1Cor.15:1-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,28; Lk.7:36-50)
“I am the least of the apostles.”
Brothers and sisters, “little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” And it is in the sweet tears of repentance that we discover the love held in the merciful heart of the Lord.
Paul speaks the truth of himself when he claims that he does “not even deserve the name” of apostle because he has “persecuted the Church of God.” “But through the favor of God” he has “worked harder than all the others,” preaching the Gospel of the Lord. As small as he is and as undeserving as he is, so great is the Lord’s blessing upon him. In the measure he recognizes his sin, the Lord pours His grace into him, and through him to others.
And what grace pours forth through the woman in our gospel today! In her we see our own encounter with the Lord. Here is she who is “known in town to be a sinner” standing and kneeling in tears before her God. And the Lord knows well “who and what sort of woman this is that touches Him – that she is a sinner,” and He knows well, too, her repentant heart. While the others at table see neither their own sin nor the woman’s repentance, He allows Himself to be touched by both (her sin and her repentance) – it is for just such a moment as this He has come. And how well the Lord speaks the truth in His detailed description of the woman’s repentance; how well we see His love reflected in her… and how blest is she to hear these words for which every heart does long: “Your sins are forgiven.” And how her tears increase at this word come forth from the mouth of the Holy One. And so, while the others argue blindly among themselves, He reaches out His hand, touches her face, and whispers to her soul: “Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace.”
“O my God, I extol you… You have been my savior.” Indeed, your “mercy endures forever,” and now I know that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the song the woman must sing; this is the song of St. Paul. This is the song of every soul redeemed by the love of the Lord. So let us all “stand firm” in the Gospel preached to us by those who have seen Him, from Peter to this wretched Paul; we “are being saved by it at this very moment if we retain it” in its purity. And here is the Word simply put: “That Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.” What grace is ours, we the least, we poor sinners – we who know the greatness of His love.
O LORD, let us have faith in your Son
and in His sacrifice for our sins;
on our knees in love let us come to Him,
and we shall find His mercy.
YHWH, how can we see you if tears of repentance do not fill our eyes? How will your mercy be known to us if we do not come on our knees before your Son? If we love but little we shall be forgiven little, and our sins will continue to blind our eyes.
Have mercy on us, O LORD, we are all burdened with debt we cannot repay. But you hear our prayers, you have pity on our poor, sinful souls, and you reach out your hand to touch our hearts, to relieve the burden we carry by the sacrifice of your Son. Thank you, LORD. We praise you for your love.
Let us welcome you into our homes; let us receive Jesus into our very hearts. In our spirits take up your residence, LORD, by our faith in Him and in His death and resurrection. For us He died and was buried; for us He rose on the third day. Let us never forget His enduring mercy – in great humility let us embrace your love.
Tue, 15 September 2020
O brothers in Christ,
in death and in life
you gave yourselves as one
for the sake of the flock;
for the cause of the faith
readily you shed your blood
to serve the growth of God’s Church –
pray we today will be zealous as you
in defending the faith with our lives;
by fasting and by prayer,
by standing courageously
before the courts of the world
and offering our flesh in sacrifice,
may we imitate you who imitated Christ
and so come with all our brothers
to His resurrection and life.
Shepherd us well even this day
from where you now stand at the Lord’s side,
that we might be unafraid to speak
and to live the truth in undying love.
O let us lay down our lives with you!
Tue, 15 September 2020
(1Cor.12:31-13:13; Ps.33:2-5,12,22; Lk.7:31-35)
“We piped you a tune but you did not dance;
we sang you a dirge but you did not wail.”
“Like children squatting in the city squares and calling to their playmates,” seeking to have them comply with their own selfish will, so are “the men of today” according to our Lord. And so is their song not “a noisy gong”? Do they not lack of love? Could they be more “rude,” more impatient and unkind, than to declare of John the Baptizer, “He is mad!” and of the Son of Man, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard”? Could they any more “rejoice in what is wrong,” utterly shutting out the truth?
And why? Why is it they do so lack of love? Why are they so ungodly? Is it not that they fail to realize and state with the Apostle Paul: “Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect”? Is it not because they trust in their own minds that they do not come to the wisdom of God?
And what is “God’s wisdom”? It is what Paul speaks of so well today: God is love, and without God we are worth nothing. Yes, God is love. Love is the heart of the Law even as God is the heart of the Law, and without the heart the body is useless. But knowing God is love, hearing it repeated over and over, is not sufficient for our salvation. Certainly, “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.” The Lord ever pours forth His grace, His love upon all His creatures – but how do we come to have that love, how do we come to accept it? Again, the key is in Paul’s statement, “My knowledge is imperfect now.” It is in understanding that, even though “we put childish ways aside,” yet “we see indistinctly.” It is in the realization that we are not God, that we need God and His love; in a word, it is in repentance. Genuine repentance is the attitude that brings us to the love of God. And the need for it is constant!
I think there is a kind of divine equation to our relationship with the Lord: the more we recognize our misery, the more He shares His mercy; the more we acknowledge our lack of His wisdom and love, the more He fills our desire for them. Marvelous is the justice of God!
Brothers and sisters, “give thanks to the Lord on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant His praises.” It is ours to “speak with human tongues and angelic as well”; we must employ “the gift of prophecy,” “feed the poor,” and be ready to “hand over [our] body to be burned.” But all we do must be driven by His will, must be founded in His love. Our song must be set in His holy key and reflect His eternal harmony, or we have nothing to fill our emptiness.
O LORD, let us accept your Word and your way;
let us live in your love and praise you all the day.
YHWH, if we have not love, what good are we, for then we are not of you? If we are proud what can we be but condemned for our anger and judgment? If we seek to control you, where can such foolishness lead us but to separation from you and your love; and so, what shall we do but die in emptiness?
O LORD, what fools we are to trust in our own knowledge, in our own ways, when you lay the way to Heaven before us. You send your Son to lead us home, and we tell Him He knows not of what He speaks; we seek even to instruct Him of the way He should better walk. And so to what utter foolishness does our knowledge lead – what blindness is upon our souls!
We must love as you love, as your Son has shown us, dearest LORD. Patient and kind make us this day, humble before you that we might see how much we need you to find our way. To your kingdom let us come, praising you for your glory, living in your unending love.
Mon, 14 September 2020
O sorrowful Mother
whose heart was pierced by a sword,
who stood at the foot of the Cross
dying in spirit
as your Son died in the flesh…
Jesus was sent to suffer
and die for our sins,
and how intimately you shared
in the profound pain
He carried about all His life;
how preeminently you filled up
what was lacking in His suffering,
suffering the whole Church must share
with our crucified Lord –
pray we shall indeed enter into
the sacrifice of Christ your Son,
following in your wake,
O Mother of God;
pray we shall meet Him
along His Way of Sorrow
that His blood upon our souls
will carry us to Heaven,
where you stand at His side.
Mon, 14 September 2020
(1Cor.12:12-14,27-31; Ps.100:1-5; Lk.7:11-17)
“A great prophet has risen among us.”
A great prophet, yes, and so much more; for here is He who is Himself the “one body” upon whom the “one Spirit” rests, and in whom all find their home.
“The body is one and has many members; but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ.” Christ is all things: He is apostle sent by the Father, prophet speaking for God, teacher instructing all on the narrow path that leads to heaven, miracle worker raising the dead, healer of body and soul causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see, assistant washing the feet of His disciples, administrator apportioning the gifts and graces which are His own, and speaker in tongues upon whom the flame of the Spirit eternally rests and whose Word goes forth to all nations. We are not all apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, and speakers in tongues – but He is. He is all these things for He is whole; He is the only Son of God, and we are “His people, the sheep of His flock” who share in His power according to our baptism in His Name.
And so should we not “sing joyfully to the Lord” for the Savior who has been raised from among us? Should not all “lands,” all members of His blessed body “serve the Lord with gladness,” that all might tend to the glory of God? In our gospel “a considerable crowd of townsfolk were with” the widow, and “a large crowd accompanied” Jesus. These met at “the gate of the town” called Nain. When the Lord raised the son of the widow from the dead, “fear seized them all and they began to praise God.” Is not this scene of celebration like that which should encompass the body of Christ? Should not such joy in recognition of the greatness of God course through all our veins, strengthening all our muscles? For we know more than they. We know this Man is more than a prophet – we know it is the Messiah who is among us. And so, let us “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise” as we “set [our] hearts on the greater gifts” at work within us now as members of the body of the only Son.
Alleluia! He raises us all from the dead to speak in the power of the Spirit.
O LORD, let us be raised from the dead to live in you,
ever praising your NAME.
YHWH, in your Son we approach the gates of Heaven; as His Body we become your own. Sheep of your flock let us ever be – let us enter the New Jerusalem.
O LORD, raise us from our litter, from the bed of death to which sin has brought us. The hand of your Son touch us this day, His voice let us hear speaking to our ears, that we might be filled with your Spirit and rise from our graves to praise you, to give witness to your glory dwelling in our land.
Alive in you let us ever be, O LORD. The blood of your Son let course through our veins. In His Body let us make our home, as His very members. Then we shall remember you; then we shall enter your courts with praise and ever give thanks to your holy NAME.
Let us do your will, O LORD, your work on this earth. As Jesus your Son, let us live out our days, bringing His Word and His teaching to everyone.
Sun, 13 September 2020
(Nm.21:4b-9; Ps.78:1-2,7,34-38; Phil.2:6-11; Jn.3:13-17)
“God greatly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name.”
And why is it that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend”? Why does “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”? It is because “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” It is precisely because “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and dying as a cursed criminal, that this innocent dove who was “in the form of God” became the praise of our race and the source of our salvation.
Yes, He and His cross are now the source of our salvation. By His cross we find the forgiveness of our sins. Now that “the Son of Man has been lifted up… everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Now that we have been shown both our sins and the love God has for us sinners in the Lord’s being nailed to the cross, we may find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Just as the Israelites looked upon their sin, recognizing their guilt in the serpents God had sent among them – and finding also its conquering in the serpent’s being bronzed and “mounted on a pole” – so now we who look upon our crucified Lord cannot help but see how we have injured our God, and at the same moment find cleansing for those sins in His blood upon the cross to which we have nailed Him.
Do not be afraid to come to His cross, brothers and sisters. Do not shy away from His love or turn away from the recognition of your guilt. By it alone will you, too, be exalted with the Lord who has humbled Himself and died for you. By it alone will you find glory in God eternally.
He loves us so, brothers and sisters. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that He who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” And so the cross becomes a sign of triumph not only for our Lord, but for ourselves; for indeed by it we are saved – without it we would yet be lost in our sin. But as it is He “has come down from heaven.” As it is He has been “lifted up” before our eyes. As it is He has sacrificed Himself in absolute love to draw us unto Him and His love. As with the Israelites “He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not,” so now He forgives our sins and carries us “up to heaven,” whence He has come. And so we rejoice in the victory of His holy cross.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be saved from our sin
by the sacrifice of your only Son.
YHWH, to be saved from our sin we needed first to recognize our sin and repent of it. And how could our sin be made clearer to our eyes than in the crucifixion of God Himself, than in the suffering and death of your only Son? What could better bring us to repentance than to see the effects of our sin so graphically displayed?
And how could we better know your love for us, LORD, than in Jesus’ willingness to undergo all the tortures the sins of men could inflict upon Him, all only that these same men might be saved from the hatred that had taken hold of our hearts? Your Son has humbled Himself even to the point of death, death on a Cross; and so, what should we do but glorify His Name and the Cross which is the source of our salvation?
Forgive us, O LORD, our bitterness toward you. Raise us up with Christ, your Son.
Sat, 12 September 2020
O you of golden tongue,
how well you proved
the Word of God cannot be chained;
how well you revealed
its radiance to our ears and hearts…
unconquered by threats of death
and the sufferings
the world imposes,
you proclaimed the glory of God
and His presence with us
until the very end –
pray, O dear shepherd,
who held your flock
so close to your heart
that they became one body with you
that we all shall be so willing
to lay down our lives,
speaking and walking in
the Word the Lord gives us
to share with all our brothers in light.
Pray indeed God’s will be done
in all His holy children.
Sat, 12 September 2020
(Sir.27:30-28:9; Ps.103:1-4,8-12; Rom.14:7-9; Mt.18:21-35)
“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?”
How like the Lord’s own wisdom is that of Sirach; how like His teaching. For have we not heard the Master say, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” in His instruction to His disciples on how to pray? And does He not impart this same lesson by parable today?
“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.” Oh the woe of the unforgiving heart! “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?” How can we “refuse mercy to another” and “seek pardon for [our] own sins”? Do we not know that anger is itself a deadly sin, mortally wounding our anxious souls? Do we who sit in judgment think in our hearts that we are without sin, that we are perfect as He who is Most High? If indeed “we are the Lord’s” then we will act as the Lord and look with “kindness and compassion” upon others. Instead of condemnation we would practice divine forgiveness, for indeed mercy is the Father’s defining trait in His relationship with His children.
But no, rather than putting “wrath” and “enmity” and “hate” as far from our hearts as the Lord has “put our transgressions from us,” we cherish these abominations, setting them as trophies in our corrupted souls. Again, what woe there is for the unforgiving soul! For the same torture we would inflict upon others for their sins against us shall be the torture we ourselves shall face – then we will know what justice is! Then we will know the wrath of God! Then He who alone has power and wisdom and love to judge rightly shall inflict His punishment on all His wicked servants.
My brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Lord in both life and in death, the Lord cannot emphasize enough to us the need for forgiveness. We must first and always recognize and remember the sinners we have been and the grace we have received at our Lord’s hands. And with this ever in mind and heart we must come to others with that same mercy. It is this He desires of us, and He will accept nothing less.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "It Takes One To Know One" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, surpassing is your kindness toward us;
help us to transcend our vengeful hearts
and forgive as you have done.
YHWH, have mercy on our souls by helping us to show mercy toward others; even your own mercy let us share. Then how blessed we shall be to be like you, O compassionate God! Then your mercy shall pour forth like a refreshing stream and become an overflowing torrent.
But your kindness and compassion are far from us, LORD, so long as our sins remain near. So long as we cherish anger, we choke our souls and so cannot breathe in the light of your glory. If only we would turn and forgive, freely and without limit, then we would fully know the great blessing of your forgiveness, and find our sins put far from us.
Why should we wish to live or die except in you? Why would we separate ourselves from your loving presence? O let us rather die to the wrath we hold! Let us set all vengeance aside. Then we shall rise to where you are, LORD, to where your Son would lead us.
Fri, 11 September 2020
O Mary, sweetest of creatures,
whose name on our lips
brings joy to our hearts…
inflamed with love toward God
in speaking your blessed name –
pray we shall call your name,
in our time of need,
that you will be quick to intercede
with your Son
for our salvation.
Washed in the water from His side
and in His holy blood,
pray we shall rise above the sea,
beyond all rebellion,
that obedient as you, His Handmaid,
we shall find favor with the Lord
and enter into Heaven,
our names written beside your own
in the Book of Life,
Fri, 11 September 2020
(1Cor.10:14-22; Ps.116:12-13,17-18; Lk.6:43-49)
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”
The Body and Blood of Christ we have upon our altar and in the Word of His teaching. It is these which set a firm foundation within ourselves, these by which we bear fruit in His Name – these by which we come to be as He is.
Paul tells the Corinthians today “to shun the worship of idols,” not because they are real, for they are not, but because these sacrifices are made “to demons and not to God” and we, as sons and daughters of a jealous God, “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons” nor “partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons.” As “a good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit,” so evil has no place with good and demons no place in the house of God. Partaking of this table is like building a “house on the ground without any foundation” and will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy our faith in the Lord.
And so we should have no share in the things of the world or in the decayed fruit which such mammon bears. This unholy food and drink is but to be vomited out in the sickness it produces. And calling upon the name of the powers of the earth and the air will but cause us to choke in an unholy fear. We must “call upon the name of the Lord” and upon His Name alone build our home. It is “the cup of salvation [we must] take up” and drink of the blood that is sanctified by the sacrifice of our Lord and God. And what does our psalmist mean when he sings, “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people” but that, as Jesus Himself instructs us in our gospel, we must “put into practice” the promises we make unto God. Else our words are empty; else our words are evil, for else our words will bear no fruit and our worship will be in vain.
A great call have we, brothers and sisters: to be like the Lord. And this call is within our reach. His Body and Blood are upon our table; His words are ringing in our ears. We have but to eat; we have but to listen… we have but to accept these gifts and do His will, and even the torrents of death shall not shake our souls. For we shall be as “the man, who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock”; we shall stand solidly with unshakable trust in the eternal Lord. For Him we shall have become by sharing in His sacrifice.
O LORD, let us put your Word into practice,
living as your only Son,
sharing in His Body and Blood.
YHWH, let us dig deep and make our foundation in you, in your Word and in your Body and Blood, and we shall bear fruit unto your kingdom, and our house shall stand strong on your holy Day. Let us shun entirely the table of the wicked; let us not partake of the food of demons. Our hearts be set only upon you, and all sin will be purged from our midst.
If we act in evil, LORD, what are we but evil? But if we act in goodness, we shall be made good by you. Let us praise you each day for your goodness and your grace that we might be sharers in your glory, that we might be members of your Body. The cup of salvation let us take up each morning and live all our days wedded in the blood of the Lamb.
What a gift you give us, LORD, in holy Mass; your own presence in the flesh and blood of your Son. In your Word and in your food let us build our home, and we shall become holy as you.
Thu, 10 September 2020
(1Cor.9:16-19,22-27; Ps.84:2-6,8,12; Lk.6:39-42)
“Although I am not bound to anyone,
I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible.”
How like His Lord is Paul in his declaration, “To the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak.” For as Jesus descended from heaven to take on flesh and save those corrupted by its sin, so the Apostle has made himself “all things to all people,” stepping inside their skin “in order to save at least some of them.” Indeed, Paul proves himself to be “on a par with his teacher” in sacrifice and fruitfulness, for how well he serves “to remove the speck from [his] brother’s eye” that he might see Jesus in the clear light of day.
The Apostle has been “entrusted with a charge,” that of “preaching the Gospel.” And doing so willingly he finds his “recompense.” And what is this recompense but that he receive nothing in return for his work, nothing here on earth except of course the blessing of persecution such work for the Master entails? Then why engage in such toil, and why call others to such a life of self-sacrifice? Ah yes, because of the “crown that is imperishable” which awaits the runner of such a race. This heavenly blessing, too, is found when one does all “for the sake of the Gospel.”
“My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God,” our psalmist intones today, and goes on to proclaim the happiness of those “who dwell in [God’s] house.” “Continually they praise [Him]… They go from strength to strength,” for “grace and glory He bestows.” This is the goal Paul has in mind when he says, “I do not run like a man who loses sight of the finish line.” All his tribulations never distract him from his final destination; the kingdom of heaven remains ever upon his heart. And ever does he strain forward that he and so many others might attain that crown for which “our soul yearns and pines.”
Brothers and sisters, we must “discipline [our] own body and master it”; we must “remove the plank lodged in [our] own [eye]” if we hope to join Paul in the place where “even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young.” And our young we, too, must bring there – all those in our charge must know of the kingdom of God. And so let us join Paul and our holy Lord in here becoming slaves of all, enduring our exile bravely that we might draw others to the eternal home found on the altar of the living God.
O LORD, let us be led by your holy apostles
to lay down our lives with your Son,
that we might find our home in you.
YHWH, all holy hearts long for your presence, long to make their home in your house; and you send to us apostles, teachers of your way, that we might find you. O may the vision of all be made clear to see your glory! May all learn the lesson they need to know, taught by your Son in His sacrifice and carried on by His disciples.
We long to praise you, LORD, but there is a log in our eye that blinds us to your coming kingdom. Help us to remove all obstruction, all distraction, all our blindness, that we might not lose sight of the blessings you offer to those who spend their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Let us rather carry that Good News of salvation to all souls, serving to remove the specks from their eyes by your grace and mercy. Help us to be slaves of all that all might make their home in you. Keep us from the pit, we pray, by your guidance and secure protection. Let us always yearn for you.
Wed, 9 September 2020
(1Cor.8:1-7,11-13; Ps.139:1-3,13-14,23-24; Lk.6:27-38)
“The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.”
And what is your measuring stick, brother? Is it the ruler of this earth, limited by eyes of flesh? Or is it the yardstick of heaven, which reaches unto the Lord’s side and finds us in His sight? Do you toil on this plane alone, or do you climb the mountain where He sits, where He teaches? Do your ears hear only of the debits and credits recorded in the book of this world; or are they open to the word the Lord speaks, and the generous outpouring of His grace?
In our first reading Paul states: “‘Knowledge’ inflates, but love upbuilds.” What he means is that our knowledge of earthly things can do little but inflate our pride, and thinking that this is true knowledge makes us blind. The “knowledge” that we should seek is the love of God, which comes from God and teaches us all things. “If anyone loves God, that man is known by Him,” and living thus in His sight, in His light, we see all with heavenly vision. With this wisdom we understand that “there is no God but one” and that “an idol is really nothing”: all the idols man makes upon this earth are empty and vain, and all the teaching which comes from such has no resonance, falls short of truth.
Yet we are called to be patient with the weakness of others, with their failures in faith. We must “not be an occasion of sin” for others but always be prepared to pardon and love even those who hate us. For if someone does violence to us, what do we teach these who cannot measure beyond earthly passion if we do them violence in return? If we answer with violence, what language do we speak but that of the world? But we are called to converse with heavenly tongues, even with the word of our Lord, and cannot rightly be called His sons if we do not do so. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” And you are thus but saying that you are a child of the earth and not heaven, living in the flesh and not the spirit.
“Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb,” is David’s song of joy to God. He gives thanks that he is “fearfully, wonderfully made.” And if made by God should we not reflect God and the love He has revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Should we not be as His Son? And so, should we not with David call upon the Lord to “probe” us and to “know [our] heart” and our “thoughts,” that He might straighten out our “crooked” ways and set us on the path His love prepares? Do we not desire the overflowing joy He brings? Then we must measure as He, with the heavenly yardstick that reaches up to where the Trinity is.
O LORD, if we could but learn to love as you,
how blessed we would be!
YHWH, let us learn your lesson of love, your perfect knowledge, by putting into practice love of all, even our worst enemies. If we repay evil with good, then we shall be like you; then we shall know as you know, that nothing surpasses love.
LORD, you know all things for you see all things, even the hidden matters of the heart. Nothing is hidden from your eye but all is bathed in your wonderful light. But we shall not find that light or your knowledge if we do not love, and love without measure. All remains dark for those lacking love.
Let us but be concerned for our brother’s welfare, LORD, that he shall not sin, that he shall turn from his sin to find you. And so, let us not judge, let us not condemn, or we shall not show him your holy face and he will never come to you – and we will not know you either. Let us rejoice to turn the other cheek, to give to all who would take from us, to be compassionate even toward those who hurt us. For then we will know you and your love.
Tue, 8 September 2020
O slave to the slaves,
to those who came in chains
to the new world,
those whose dark skin
made them seem to eyes of flesh
less than men…
to you these were children of God,
souls to be saved by His love
and through His Church,
and so the thousands
baptized by your hands
celebrate your glorious sacrifice
this day in God’s presence –
pray for us, dear brother,
that the shackles of racial prejudice,
the pride that exalts man above man,
shall fall from our hands,
our tongues and our hearts,
and that all of the Lord’s holy people
will work so diligently
as you, His blessed slave,
for the care of the weakest among us
and the salvation of all souls.
Tue, 8 September 2020
(1Cor.7:25-31; Ps.45:11-12,14-17; Lk.6:20-26)
“The world as we know it is passing away.”
And so, “hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house,” for the King is calling you from this passing world to the heavenly marriage feast – “He is your Lord, and you must worship Him.” This call is for every chosen soul, for who is the Lord’s virgin daughter, who is His Bride but the Church? It is she who is called, even as the Virgin Mother who has preceded her to heaven, and each of our souls must be wed to Him alone. And we who leave all behind to follow Him “shall be filled” and “shall laugh” on the Day of our marriage, for “the reign of God” will be ours.
It is not in this world we take our “consolation” – how sad those who do so. For the riches of this world will rust and rot, and its laughter shall prove so hollow. Thus Paul instructs the wise: “Buyers should conduct themselves as though they owned nothing,” for in truth they have nothing at all: of what worth is that which does not last? Only an illusion are the temporary pleasures and vain accolades of this dying earth. The trials we find are all that should cause us to “rejoice and exult, for [our] reward shall be great in heaven” if we endure our exile well.
To those who consider marriage, Paul gives the instruction: “[You] will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.” Certainly marriage is not sinful, and is even a fruitful sacrament, but even this which can be such a blessing is but passing in the eyes of God. And the attachment we find to our spouse, again, though blessed by the Lord, is a union that is also passing – one which must be ultimately left as well. Since only our marriage to the living God is that which endures, Paul in his wisdom offers this word: “Those with wives should live as though they had none”; for this beauty, too, shall fade, and it is not in it we are called to make our home.
Yes, “the time is short,” brothers and sisters. The time is always short because time itself is passing – only eternity remains. And so, set not your hearts on the fading things of this life. The Lord who has died now prepares a place for you in His heavenly kingdom. And “all glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” So, to His palace be “borne in with gladness and joy”… join now the song of all His saints in our heavenly homeland.
O LORD, let us turn from the things of this world
and set our hearts on your kingdom,
which passes not away.
YHWH, help us to remember that this world is passing away, that we should thus be attached to nothing of this world, and certainly not make our home in it, seeking the riches it offers. Help us to set our hearts on you and seek you alone, forgetting all that is not of you. For we wish to enter your kingdom, to sing your praises with all your saints, but how shall we come there if fattened on the fruits of this earth?
LORD, your Apostle’s counsel is a very wise one – to make use of the things of this world as if we were not using them at all, always with an eye to their temporal nature, that they are indeed passing away. For if we remember this world is passing, we shall better remember you who are eternal. You are all that matters.
You are all that matters, LORD, and so let us cry out for your presence, hungering for your kingdom. Let us give up all of this world that we might find you present to us, and make our home in your palace forever.
Mon, 7 September 2020
O Virgin who bore the Son of God,
who became the divine dwelling place
for the Creator of us all,
should we not celebrate your birth
the blessing of the generation
of you who signal our salvation?
Pray for us, dear Mother,
pray for all your children,
all who would call themselves
sons of God
and brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ...
pray that all generations
will call you blessed,
that all will hail you
as Mother of our Savior
and glorify the Lord
who has filled you with His grace.
You are one of us, dear Virgin Mary,
one of the human creation,
yet in you God deigns to dwell;
pray we shall all be made worthy
to be such a temple for the Lord.
Mon, 7 September 2020
(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30; Ps.13:6,Is.61:9; Mt.1:1-16,18-23
Note: I shall treat of both first readings)
“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”
“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child? And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.” She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence. It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”
The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself. First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world. The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings. God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.
And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High. She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.
And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters. We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith. He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary
you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –
may He be always with us.
YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins. May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you. In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.
So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race. He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence. O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!
By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us. Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.
Sun, 6 September 2020
(1Cor.5:1-8; Ps.5:5-7,9,12; Lk.6:6-11)
“Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast,
that of corruption and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
For indeed, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed”; indeed, the new Sabbath has come. And on the Day of the Lord only goodness remains.
“Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough,” Paul commands the Corinthians as he chastises them for their “boasting” and self-satisfaction even while tolerating a professed sinner in their midst. He writes here to insist that they should be “grieving and getting rid of the offender,” both for the sake of the community and that the sinful man’s “spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” For, as David makes quite evident in his psalm, God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil remains with [Him].” And as for the vain pride of the community: “the arrogant may not stand in [His] sight.”
It is not an unkind exaggeration to say that the Lord “hate[s] all evildoers.” The sharp line dividing evil and good Jesus would make clear as He confronts the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue on the sabbath, “a man whose right hand was withered” standing before Him: “I ask you,” He says, “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath – or evil? To preserve life – or destroy it?” Then He heals the man, much to the chagrin of the scribes and Pharisees who deem this unlawful work for the day. But in the Lord’s House and on His Day good is always and only done – and certainly this healing is a blessed act. And since only the good remain in His House, just as the man who is “living with his own father’s wife” will be purged from the Corinthian community at Paul’s urging, so by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ these false leaders who harbor such distrust and jealousy will be cast from within the walls of the Lord’s Church; for “the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord abhors,” and indeed the blood of the Son is upon their hearts, and will be upon their hands.
But we, brothers and sisters, we have the new feast, the new Sabbath before us now. We come now into His House to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Each day, in fact, we may celebrate the greatness of God’s glory and the grace of His presence in our midst. And so, let us celebrate with a pure spirit, with His cleansing blood upon our hearts, that our goodness may be preserved and we who “love [His] name” and “take refuge in [Him]” may “be glad and exult forever.”
O LORD, why is man’s heart so set against you?
YHWH, the arrogant cannot stand before you, those who have the desire for evil in their hearts and blood upon their hands. How can they begin to know your undying love, those who would condemn even the Son of Man?
Should not the broken and sinful man always stretch his hand out to you? Is your arm somehow shortened in its merciful reach? Should we think that you, O LORD and God, are somehow limited in the dispensing of your grace? Will not Jesus show us otherwise as He stretches His arms out on the Cross?
And what shall save those who do not accept His embrace, who would rather embrace this corrupt and wicked generation? Condemnation shall be pronounced over the rebellious soul, unless he repents of his evil. O LORD, let us eat only the bread of sincerity and truth; let us desire only your goodness upon all. O let us embrace your Son!
Sat, 5 September 2020
(Ez.33:7-9; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Rom.13:8-10; Mt.18:15-20)
“O wicked one, you shall surely die.”
The Lord declares to the prophet Ezekiel: “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel.” He is to “speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,” that the sinner might not “die for his guilt” and that the prophet himself might not be “responsible for his death” by his silence.
As the Lord calls Ezekiel, so He requires all the Church to “warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way.” We must be diligent with all those in our care, all those we find in need, not in order to deliver condemnation upon souls but to invite all to “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us.” How can someone know this great glory if there is sin upon his soul? And how will he know to turn from his sin if those the Lord gives words to speak hold their tongues as the sheep goes astray? And what shall become of this soul who has not offered the word of loving wisdom, but rather determined in himself that there is no hope for the sinner he sees?
Brothers and sisters, when we are called to declare: “‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be,” it is out of love for the soul we see straying that we speak. For love is “the fulfillment of the law”; it sums up all its precepts, and so all its precepts are expressed in love. Do not think the law is opposed to love – love and justice are one in God; and the Lord does not call us to ignorance or acceptance of sin, but to truth and salvation.
“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault’”; do not pretend the fault does not exist, but confront him, for his sake and your own. For “if he listens to you, you have won over your brother” – you will have brought him back to the fold. However, “if he doesn’t listen,” the Lord calls us further: “Take one or two others along with you.” Bring objective witness to sway your loved one from evil. And “if he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.” Ah, the Church! The keeper of the Spirit of Truth and the flame of wisdom which no man can deny. What teaching the Lord has left with Her! And what power: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” For here are those “gathered together in [Jesus’] name,” and He indeed is “in the midst of them.” And if the soul “refuses to listen even to the Church,” what hope has it of finding salvation? But at least you have done all you can.
All must be done in justice and in love to save the soul straying in this land. This is why the Lord has left us the Church; this is why He has left His Spirit – and we are called to speak His Truth, that salvation might come to all.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "No Paranoia" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to love one another,
to bring one another to repentance
that all might sing your praise.
YHWH, help us to love others as we should, to speak the truth to them; let our concern be the salvation of souls, as it is for your Son.
LORD, you institute the Church to be your representative on earth, and you call each member to reflect your love and your glory; your justice must be the desire of every soul. And we must show that desire in our relations with others, in our concern for their welfare. Who could stand by and let his brother perish if he truly loves him? And will not sin cause the death of any who will not repent? And so, what should we do but speak out in your Name?
Let our tongues not be silent as we see others fall. Especially your pastors we pray for this day, that they not be afraid to chastise their flock, to warn them against wayward paths. And let their words be heeded, LORD – save souls from dying in their sin, that all might praise your holy NAME.
Fri, 4 September 2020
O lover of the poor
and of the unborn,
in whom you saw
the face of Christ,
by whom you held Him
close to your heart
and so comforted His thirst
for souls –
pray for us who are so blind
to the presence of Christ
in the least among us
or even in those
Pray, dear Mother,
that we will hear their cry,
which is Jesus’ cry
from the Cross,
and that we shall not fear
as we enter beneath the shadow
of His loving arms,
where we shall find
Fri, 4 September 2020
(1Cor.4:9-15; Ps.145:17-21; Lk.6:1-5)
“God has put us apostles at the end of the line,
like men doomed to die in the arena.”
“Up to this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, poorly clad, roughly treated, wandering about homeless,” the great Apostle Paul tells us of the persecution and slander all the Lord’s apostles must undergo. And yet “when we are insulted we respond with a blessing,” for this is our call in the Lord: to love even our enemies, that we might show the love of God to all, that we might indeed become “a spectacle to the universe, to angels and men alike” – “fools on Christ’s account,” yet bearing all patiently that the Gospel might truly be fulfilled and the last shall be shown to be first in the eyes of God.
It is this birth to which Paul brings the Corinthians, his “beloved children.” And though it seem a difficult fate to call down upon a people, yet we know that David’s psalm is true, that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth”; and so through all trials He leads us and comforts us, making any suffering a light burden to bear. And just as Paul is father to this nation, so the Father of all is there always to watch over all His children, for it is “in Christ Jesus” the Apostle has begotten them; and as He has heard the cry of His Son upon the cross and brought Him to resurrection, so “He hears [all His children] cry and saves them.”
In our gospel the Lord’s disciples are hungry, and so, in the hot sun, “walking through the standing grain” with Jesus, He feeds them: all around is food at their hands. Truly their prayer does He answer; their need does He see. But instead of seeing that the Lord “fulfills the desire of those who fear Him,” all the Pharisees can do is ask, “Why are you doing what is prohibited on the sabbath?” Thus the very men who should be present to bless and comfort and guide the followers of the Holy One can but call them into the arena of persecution with the rest of the fallen world. Thus the shepherds who are called to feed the sheep would remove the food from their hands and see them perish. Instead of becoming apostles themselves, they become their bane. For they cannot comprehend that God’s love transcends God’s law, that “the Lord keeps all who love Him” and this is what makes Him “just in all His ways and holy in all His works,” and not the mere precepts to which they hold so desperately, so blindly… so jealously. Thus the chosen of God become in their eyes “the world’s refuse, the scum of all.” And what can they be but crucified?
All must come to the holy Lord and “all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.” And though war be brought upon our souls, we must always “try conciliation” – peacemakers covered with blood and spittle is the state to which we are called. No other way will the world come to know that the love of God transcends all, and all call upon Him from their hearts.
O LORD, though persecuted and poor,
we are surrounded with your presence,
and so are fed in times of famine.
YHWH, you are our LORD and God; when we cry out to you, you save us. Though we must endure persecution for your sake, though we suffer want and go hungry, you surround us with standing grain – you are ever near to help us. Let us indeed praise your holy NAME!
What should it matter to us if we are beaten, if we are insulted and spat upon; if you are with us we are free of pain, for all these things your Son endures for our sake. We are your children and you love us, so even these trials you turn to good. Remain ever with us to save us by the Cross of your only Son.
He is Lord over even the Sabbath. He has power from on high. For you, LORD, have given all things over into His hands, and for us He does provide. Our rest we take in Him, our food He places in our mouths – through Him we remain close to you: He is our Bread of Life. And so, let us rejoice to walk in His way.
Thu, 3 September 2020
(1Cor.4:1-5; Ps.37:3-6,27-28,39-40; Lk.5:33-39)
“The salvation of the just is from the Lord.”
“For the Lord loves what is right, and forsakes not His faithful ones.” And so He comes. He comes bearing a new garment; He comes with the blood of a New Covenant, His own blood, to wash us clean and make us whole as He is. Drinking this new wine indeed we are made holy.
It is not as “John’s disciples” or as “the disciples of the Pharisees” we shall find our salvation – only as disciples of the Son of God, only by “commit[ting] to the Lord [our] way” will “justice dawn for us like the light.” And that His way, His covenant, is whole we see in His teaching that “no one tears a piece from a new coat to patch an old one,” for this indeed “will only tear the new coat, and the piece taken from it will not match the old.” What foolishness this would be. No, the New Covenant founded in the blood of Jesus Christ, though absolutely in accord with the Old, is whole unto itself and serves to redeem and fulfill the covenant that has come before. One cannot take pieces of it as it might suit one’s judgment – it must be received entire as grace from the Lord. Then, “bright as the noonday shall be your vindication,” and feast with the bridegroom you shall.
Brothers and sisters, “the Lord is the one to judge,” and His Word must be accepted in full. Only “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts,” for only His eyes see all things. And so, do not attempt to judge for yourselves the worth of a person or even yourself. Paul says, “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” not because he is innocent, but because God alone knows his heart. And as we cannot judge one another, so we cannot (as James has said elsewhere – 4:11) judge the Law of God. We must simply live under His Law, seeking to obey the Word of His covenant. We must only make it our concern to “turn from evil and do good, that [we] may abide forever.” For when the Lord comes again, when the New Covenant is fulfilled in our midst, “at that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.”
Neither praise nor condemnation from the mouth of man has worth. Trust not in this. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” Commit yourself entirely to His Word and Blood, and a new skin to receive His grace you shall find.
O LORD, let us put ourselves entirely in your hands,
and we shall be made new and holy in your sight.
YHWH, you are our salvation, you alone. How shall we be clothed in the white wedding garment of purity, how shall we enter your kingdom and feast at your table, if you do not save us, if you do not deliver us from the evil of the world and the evil in our souls. Let us give ourselves to you whole and entire, that new we may be made in your presence.
You declare men holy, LORD, for you alone judge hearts. We cannot see, we cannot know who is just in your sight, for our vision in limited to the surface of things – all we see are acts, but you know the intentions of hearts, the thoughts of man and what he truly desires… and so you alone know who is worthy of your blessings.
Make us worthy, O LORD, to rejoice at your table, to drink wine in your kingdom, to have the blood of your Son upon us to wash us clean in this world. Make our skins new, our souls new, to receive the grace you impart to your faithful disciples.
Wed, 2 September 2020
O great Shepherd,
watchman of the House of God
and protector of His flock,
though in the monastery you would have stayed,
when called to the Chair of Peter
you guided the Church well
through difficult times –
pray that as difficult days continue
a firm hand may continue to be found
at the helm of MotherChurch.
O pray that the faith be strengthened,
that the Rock upon which this House is set
will remain unshakable
and its light, its wisdom,
serve ever as a beacon
calling straying souls
into the Lord’s welcoming arms.
Humility and holiness
may all our leaders embody,
that by the Word of God on their tongues
and His wounds in their hands
all the poor of the earth
will be carried unto Heaven.
Wed, 2 September 2020
(1Cor.3:18-23; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.5:1-11)
“Amazement at the catch they had made
seized him and all his shipmates.”
What a truly remarkable scene! Here upon the call of the apostles, the first of apostles, Simon Peter, “fell at the knees of Jesus.” Here in his barque, boats once desolate now suddenly fill to bursting with fish flopping about everywhere, unable to be contained… This is a painting for the ages, this blessed moment! It is this image which drives the Church forth, filling the barque of Peter with blessed, saved souls. “From now on you will be catching men,” the Lord says to His Rock – and so the Church is called, on this sunlit day.
Yes, “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” And how wonderfully that fullness that is the Lord’s is revealed in these boats continually filled “until they nearly sank,” and how clearly these abundant fish represent we who dwell in God’s world. Even literally our psalm is fulfilled: “He founded it upon the seas,” David sings; and as He founded the world, so here He finds the Church, His renewal of the world, here upon the Sea of Galilee. Here He sends out His call to those who “stand in His holy place”; and through His apostles all will find the strength and purity to “ascend the mountain of the Lord.” Here is the faith firmly rooted, here in the barque of Peter. The race that “seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall find Him now, shall see Him even as clearly as Peter looking up at Him from here at His knees on this marvelous day.
“All things are yours,” Paul declares, “and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Indeed, the fullness of heaven and earth are at our hands through Jesus and the ministry of His apostles. All the apostles are ours, the world is ours, life and death are ours, the present and the future… Why? Because we are in Christ, in the boat in which He sits, surrounding our leader on his knees – all is ours because we leave everything to become His followers.
After the Lord’s resurrection this scene shall repeat itself, and so the call be fulfilled. Here it begins though, here in “nets [that] were at their breaking point,” here in boats that are filled – here in one man falling to his knees, all come before the Lord of all.
O LORD, it is only by your power anything is done –
make us holy by your Word.
YHWH, upon our knees let us come to you; in the way of your Son let us follow, and in Him and in His Church, all shall be ours. What can we lack if united to you? What is not ours if your abundance we know?
O LORD, all the world and all those who dwell in it are in your hands. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the soul of every man you hold. And to your Son you give all. And to your Church you give the same. For those who follow Jesus, who leave all behind for the kingdom’s sake, shall know your abundant blessings even this day.
To what of this earth should we hold, LORD? What is of worth apart from you? Let us know nothing but your Son, the Christ, and we shall ascend your holy mountain, and become holy as you. This alone should be our goal, the desire of our heart must be to be united to you.
Praise you for all your blessings, LORD! But praise you most for calling us through your only Son to dwell in your Church, where you reside.
Tue, 1 September 2020
(1Cor.3:1-9; Ps.33:12-15,20-21; Lk.4:38-44)
“To other towns I must announce the Good News of the reign of God,
because that is why I was sent.”
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.” And He continues to preach to all hearts through His blessed apostles, and His Church continues to grow. To the ends of the earth the kingdom progresses, and we each have a hand in its rising.
Yes, “he who plants and he who waters work to the same end,” but “neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth.” As Paul has said to the Corinthians: “Who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him.” As great as the work of any apostle may be, yet it is God alone through whom progress is made. He alone causes “His cultivation, His building” to grow; it is yet Jesus who announces salvation in any of our lives.
Indeed, no matter how big our work, it is God who accomplishes all – but also no matter how small. For all are called. And even as Paul and Apollos plant and water by their great gift of preaching, so we are told of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law that once Jesus had cast the fever from her, “she got up immediately and waited on them,” entirely ready to perform her work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. As with the sick the Lord “laid hands on each of them and cured them,” and as He taught with authority, so all in their way are invited to offer their service to the only God and thus become built into His kingdom. It is God who builds the House, but indeed “we are God’s co-workers” and must cooperate with His grace.
And how we should know Him and His working among us and through us! The demons declared, “You are the Son of God!” for they “knew that He was the Messiah” – they knew well He who had come to destroy them. Why is it we whom He has come to build up do not know Him just as well, or even more? Truly it is “He who fashioned the heart of each [of us], He who knows all [our] works”; it is He “who is our help and our shield,” and “in Him our hearts [should] rejoice” – and through Him we should accomplish all. Do we know His presence with us so well? Do we rejoice in Him and do His works and become His work…? Brothers and sisters, let it be indeed that the Good News is announced clearly to all through the Lord working upon our soul.
O LORD, in your holy NAME let us trust,
and we shall be healed of all our ills
and grow unto the kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word go forth through your people this day; to the ends of the earth let your Son travel, bringing the Good News of your reign to every soul through your Church and especially her apostles.
You dwell in Heaven, O LORD, far above our mortal ways, and we take life and do our work only through you who call us. Let us be your co-workers, branches of the vine that is your Son, and your Church shall be built up in truth, in the power that is only upon Him.
Let all be healed of their infirmities, LORD, that all might indeed serve you well; raise us from our bed of pain, release us from the grasp of the devil, and we shall work for you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let all be done as you will and all shall rejoice in your glory.
It is you who have made us, LORD; we are but your poor creatures. But with the blood of your Son coursing through our veins we rise above this dying flesh and make our home in the Spirit. Let us grow in your House this day.
Mon, 31 August 2020
(1Cor.2:10-16; Ps.145:8-14,17; Lk.4:31-37)
“We have the mind of Christ.”
The demon has been cast from us and we see the Lord as He is: “Good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” “The glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” is before our eyes, and it is this which gives us light. We have bowed ourselves down before Him, the demon has thrown us “to the ground before everyone’s eyes,” and we have found that “the Lord lifts up those who are falling.” No longer “the natural man” who finds “what is taught by the Spirit of God” complete “absurdity,” filled with His Spirit we now “recognize the gifts He has given us.” And in these gifts we rejoice, for we have become as He is.
“The Lord is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works,” and so what should we who are His works do but “discourse of the glory of His kingdom and speak of His might,” brothers and sisters? Should not all our words and all our works give Him due glory? How can we do otherwise, knowing now how “gracious and merciful” God is and that His “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages”? “All generations” must be called into His holy presence.
“He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” Here is the Good News in action; here is the glory of God come among us. All the evil that possesses the soul of man is cast out by a word from His Son’s mouth. And so is paved the way to the kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, embrace the Spirit of God at work in the world. Put on the mind of Christ. “The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit,” and so should we not teach as we have been taught? If indeed the light of the Lord is upon us illumining our minds and hearts, is it not but just that we should be compelled to impart that same Spirit to others that they might not be in darkness but might also be able to “appraise everything” “in a spiritual way,” that they too might know “the mind of the Lord”?
Devils, be gone! Be silenced before the Son of God! All the evil of the world shall be struck and destroyed by the all-powerful Word of God. All His children sharply shine His saving light.
O LORD, let us have your Spirit within us,
that our speech may be as your Son’s.
YHWH, let us be your children of light, with your Spirit within us. The mind of Christ let us put on, and we shall understand all things and be found in your presence.
Your Son speaks with authority, LORD, for He speaks your NAME in every word. His word casts all demons from our midst, for what evil can stand before your Spirit?
O LORD, let us speak of your glory to all souls, tell the nations of your might. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages; your dominion shall not pass away.
Holy are you, LORD, and no one can know you who does not seek your holiness. But you bless with great gifts those who love you and praise your NAME – your wisdom you grant to the spiritual man.
Let us listen to your voice calling to our souls. Let all darkness and sin be cast from our hearts. O let us be faithful to your Word! and we shall find ourselves in your kingdom on high.
Sun, 30 August 2020
(1Cor.2:1-5; Ps.119:97-102; Lk.4:16-30)
“Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men
but on the power of God.”
Paul comes to the Corinthians with preaching that has “none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit,” and with them he determines to “speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Similarly, when “Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been reared,” in the synagogue He simply read the passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming Messiah, sat down before the eyes of all, and stated, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I AM here. I AM He. This is the day of salvation. Period. And here even at the beginning of His ministry we see how the crucifixion is already near, as His townspeople attempt to kill Him for the truth He speaks.
Upon what is this simple wisdom, this power of the Lord, based but the Word of God? The psalmist, whose “meditation all the day” is the law of the Lord, declares in truth and in joy: “Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies.” It grants him “more understanding than all [his] teachers” and “more discernment than the elders,” because all genuine wisdom comes from the Word spoken by the mouth of God and not through human learning. We have seen that Scripture is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Himself, who is the Word of God made flesh. Yes, He speaks much more through “the appealing discourse which came from His lips.” Yes, there is oral tradition as well (for the Word of God is living and active); but on Scripture He begins His instruction, and continually He refers to the Word. Whether rejecting the devil’s temptations, rebuking the Pharisees and scribes, or enlightening the people – as He tries to do today by referring to Elijah’s having to go to Zarephath and Elisha’s healing only the Syrian, to show how prophets are not accepted in their native place – the Lord’s words are founded in the Word of God, in Scripture.
And, of course, an integral part of that Word is the suffering the Christ must undergo. But notice that even as the people intend “to hurl Him over the edge” of the hill of Nazareth, just as directly as He has spoken truth to them, so directly and with the power of God He “went straight through their midst and walked away.” For the Word is as a sword which pierces all the dark limits of the world, and even through death it shall lead all to salvation.
Brothers and sisters, let your faith rest on this Word that is Christ found in Scripture and living in the Church, for the Spirit does not die with the devices of the human mind. This Spirit holds eternal life.
O LORD, open our eyes that we might see and know
the blessing you bring us by your Son’s Cross.
YHWH, let us follow your Word and your way, the way of your only Son, the way of the Cross that leads to life. Of Christ crucified let us speak; with all our lives let us give witness to Him. Then we shall be obedient to your Word as He – then we shall make your wisdom our own.
O LORD, let us meditate on the Word that comes to us in Scripture, that comes walking among us in your Son. All the day let our hearts be set on the illumination your Word brings. Though in the Word we are chastised for our sins, though it lead us along a narrow path; if we observe your precepts and follow in the way of the Christ, you shall guard our steps and keep us from every evil. For then we shall be wiser than all our foes, wiser than any other soul, for then your Spirit will be with us; His power will be upon us.
May the Word of Truth come from our Savior’s mouth and lived in His very flesh help us to walk straight through the midst of our enemies and come to you.
Sat, 29 August 2020
(Jer.20:7-9; Ps.63:2-6,8-9; Rom.12:1-2; Mt.16:21-27)
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”
Paul says the same as Jesus when the Lord calls us to “take up [our] cross,” to lose our lives for His sake. And as Paul instructs the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” so Jesus teaches Peter, and all His apostles and disciples, when He insists he think as God and not as man.
Why? Why is the Lord so harsh with this Rock of the Church (and, as I say, with us all)? The answer is spoken clearly in our reading from Jeremiah. In it the prophet declares in near desperation: “The Word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.” He goes so far as to say the Lord has “duped” him, making evident that he had not expected to become “an object of laughter” upon taking on the mantle of prophecy. “Everyone mocks me,” he cries; and yet he “must cry out” still the way of the Lord. Yet he must call the people from their sins and warn them of the “violence and outrage” that is near them. He cannot remain silent, though he would greatly wish to, because the Word of the Lord is “like fire burning in [his] heart, imprisoned in [his] bones,” and he can do nothing but shout it from the rooftops, though it bring him scorn.
And what has this to do with Peter? Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and it is his voice above all that will cry out this truth to the ends of the earth; thus he and his fellow apostles must know clearly that to which they are called. As the Lord “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly… and be killed,” so must they walk the same path of persecution. This they must see. The contradiction of the cross they must realize, even as they preach it in this hostile world. For to it they must give themselves completely.
How? How can it be that the Christian take up such foolishness in the eyes of the world? How can it be that we die so freely, that we suffer such mockery, such persecution at the hands of sinners? Is it not that our “flesh pines and [our] soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water” for the living God? And is it not because we know that “as with the riches of a banquet shall [our] soul be satisfied”? The key is in this gospel quote: “The Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory.” The key is believing on the third day He was raised. If we have this faith it becomes easy to deny the pleasures of the flesh, for even in this we find the eternal life of the Spirit. Because our “soul clings fast” to God and to the hope that is only in Him, we are able to cling fast to His cross and so “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” And so we die with Him to live.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us always to take the lowest place,
that you might call us up to you.
YHWH, you give a home to the forsaken and call us to do the same; as you have provided for our needy souls – though we deserved it not – so you call us to care for others, or we shall not find our place with you.
We are truly lowly, dear God, for before you, who could stand? How can we hope to sit at the same table as your only Son and partake of the food He provides? Yet to His side He calls us; to be lowly as He is our great gift. His grace we shall know, and in abundance, if with Him we lay down our lives for those in need.
Then we shall come to your holy mountain, to the heavenly Jerusalem with all your angels and saints. Washed in the blood of the Lamb you offer for our sakes, emptied of all the vanity of our race, we shall be exalted and chant your praise, dearest LORD, we who have made ourselves humble and lowly before you, we who have thus found our place at your table with Jesus, and been made perfect by His Cross.
Fri, 28 August 2020
O witness to the Truth,
to the Light that has come among us,
you gave your very life
for the sake of Christ,
who redeemed us in His blood,
blood you shed with your Savior;
you who were a pillar of iron
against the whole land
and against its king,
you who stood so strong
against the lust of the world,
suffering its persecution so willingly,
fortified even in death
by the Lord and His promise –
how can our meager lives
measure up to your blessed sacrifice;
how can we who are so weak of knee
endure our exile so bravely?
Pray for us, O forerunner of the Christ
both in word and in the giving of your life,
that our blood may be joined to your own
and so to that of our holy Lord.
Fri, 28 August 2020
(1Cor.1:26-31; Ps.33:12-13,18-21; Mt.25:14-30)
“He called in His servants and handed His funds over to them
according to each man’s abilities.”
All comes from the hand of God. Yes. Do you see this? God it is who provides any talent you possess on this earth and “God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus.” Not yourself. It is not from you any power comes. God has proven His power by choosing “the lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing,” and making them strong. This is you. You are nothing; and yet you have all things in God.
Brothers and sisters, “mankind can do no boasting before God.” How could they? It is He who looks down from heaven and “sees all mankind”; it is He who chooses “His own inheritance.” It is He who places in our hands the “silver pieces” we employ on this earth – and it is He who expects us to use well that which we have been given. To Him we must answer for all things. And if we are “industrious and reliable” in our service, it is He who will declare, “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs.” On earth as it is in heaven… If our work is done well here, it shall lead to the greater fruits, and we shall “share [our] Master’s joy!” But it is always His joy to which we come and not our own.
God is all things to us. “He has made [Jesus] our wisdom, and also our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption.” All that we have is from Him, and without Him we could not live. And should you be resentful of so great a gift? Should you return the gift of Himself He lays before you on your table? Or should you not rather take it up, make it your own, and by it produce fruit according to the abilities He has shared with you? This is all He expects of you: that the graces He shares with you, you share with others.
“In His holy name we trust.” Yes, “our soul waits for the Lord” and “in Him our hearts rejoice.” For He does not fail us. What He gives He does not take back: it is we who reject His love; it is He who increases the yield within us. “Brothers, you are among those who are called,” and so be among “those who hope for His kindness.” For His kindness shall but enrich you each day as you make His will your own and find your “boast in the Lord.” Praise Him for His gifts and for His grace, for by His grace the gifts He provides become eternally fruitful in our lives. Alleluia!
O LORD, enrich us with your blessings
as we serve you humbly in this world.
YHWH, let us trust in your NAME and in your NAME alone. How can we trust in ourselves or in the riches of this world when all this is but dust? But in your hands this dust we are becomes as gold, for we become as you who are so far above this world.
O make us your own, dear LORD! Help us to look to you, to wait for you, to trust in you for all things. May our tongues praise your NAME and our hands work in your service, and then, O how we shall be blessed! For truly you will be with us, and we with you.
Into your joy let us come, O LORD, the joy that surpasses any joy of this earth, the grace that passes not away. Let us boast in you, that you are great and do marvelous things for those who trust in you, those who know your love. From death let us be delivered – into your House let us come.
O LORD, increase your yield in us; we are but instruments of your holy love, your poor children whom you raise from the dust.
Thu, 27 August 2020
O shepherd made anew
by Him who is within,
Him who made us all,
the Light above and beyond
who gave His life,
His flesh as food that we might live –
pray that the Lord and God of all
will break through our deafness
and dispel our blindness,
that He will breathe His fragrant Spirit
and we too will be created
saved by His grace from the sin
that has kept us from Him
and thirsting for the wisdom
which became your own,
with which you shepherded His people
apart from the things He created
to His very Beauty itself,
that all souls might rest in Him
who made them.
Thu, 27 August 2020
(1Cor.1:17-25; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,10-11; Mt.25:1-13)
“The world did not come to know Him through its ‘wisdom’.”
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever,” says the Lord God. And in its place we find the Gospel, “the message of the cross,” which is “complete absurdity to those who are headed to ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God.” It is this wisdom which saves us, even as the wisdom of the world falls to dust.
The wisdom of the world tells us to take our rest, to find our pleasure in the things of this life; the wisdom of God instructs us to “keep [our] eyes open” for the coming of the kingdom of God, wherein we shall find eternal rest. The wisdom of the world has only the torch to offer; like the foolish bridesmaids, it brings no oil for its lamp, for it can see nothing beyond its eyes – its immediate physical concerns are its preoccupation. The wisdom of God knows that all depends on the oil of the lamp, and so it calls us to find our souls in the Word of God, which is a flask whose contents never recede but rather increase with use and preserve the soul’s burning brightly before its Creator. The wisdom of the world is “wordy,” is empty rambling with no foundation in truth; God’s wisdom is founded in silence, pregnant with the power and authority of all ages.
“The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples.” What can stand that is not rooted in Him? What has purpose that is not spoken by His mouth? Apart from Him nothing comes to be or lasts. And does not the Lord thwart the ideas of the human mind most perfectly in the crucifixion of His Christ? Making “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” turns the vain strivings of men upside down and exposes them in all their emptiness. Here is my Word, He says; here is my Love. To this sacrifice does He call us all, that we might celebrate at His wedding feast and not be barred outside in the cold world. For indeed all that is of the world comes to nothing, “but the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations.” And it is His design that we become children of light, shining forever in the light of His wisdom, not burning to ashes in the deceit of our hearts.
In the cross all our empty words fall to naught as we are confronted with the truth of our sin and the love of our God. Thus our eyes are opened. May they remain so, fixed on this lamp which shines in the darkness of the night. By no other means will we come to know God and the meaning of our lives.
O LORD, let our eyes be open
with the light of your wisdom
that we might see your coming in the Cross of Christ.
YHWH, the plans of the nations you bring to naught to show all souls where wisdom lies: it rests with you and in the Cross of your Son, for the light of our minds is dim indeed without your Word to feed it.
How can we even speak of you, LORD, you who are beyond the realm of our words? We cannot determine whence we have come and do not know when our end shall be fulfilled… and so, how can we know anything? All we know is what you tell us through your Son in the love He offers.
Jesus has died for our sins. This is all we need to know, LORD, for such knowledge, such faith, will bring us to your doorstep; and by the light of the Spirit we shall be able to enter in – to enter into your presence and so come to know all things by your grace and mercy.
Dead are we apart from you, LORD, dead in our sin and in the emptiness of our minds. But the blood of your Son enlivens our souls that we might come to know the wisdom beyond all ages in His salvation. O may we be wed to you!
Wed, 26 August 2020
O tearful mother
whose persistent cries
for the soul of your son
were heard in time
by the Lord our God
and so led to his conversion,
to his becoming
not only a Catholic Christian
but a bishop and doctor of the Church,
a saint like yourself –
pray for the prayers of all mothers
who cry for their wayward sons;
pray indeed that all souls may turn
and come to know so deeply
the love of our Lord and God
and the blessing upon
His holy Catholic Church.
Pray that all who stray,
many as they are,
shall be raised from the death of sin
and come to the life of Heaven,
where you wait with your son
to welcome all his brothers.
Wed, 26 August 2020
(1Cor.1:1-9; Ps.145:1-7; Mt.24:42-51)
“He will strengthen you to the end,
so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Brothers and sisters, “you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord provides all you need, generously and faithfully. You “have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people” and so “have been richly endowed [by God] with every gift,” that you might fulfill the call He places upon your soul, that by His grace you might indeed be holy. And so you should realize “the favor He has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” and “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to gain all the blessings the Lord God is ready to pour forth upon you.
Brothers and sisters, “keep a watchful eye and [do] not allow [your] house to be broken into.” “Be prepared” for the Lord’s coming. Let His every gift be at work in you, that readiness will ever be yours. Do not think as the foolish and worthless servant, “My master is a long time in coming,” and turn thus away from His light, sagging into the world’s darkness. Such a thought brings only death and the punishment of the Lord. For never is He long in coming. Always is He present to us; ever is His Spirit here within us when we remain faithful to Him. He it is who is of life and light – it is we who grow blind to His grace and are slow to come to His eternal presence. Forsake not His gifts, which sustain us at all times.
Here is cause for rejoicing. Here is the reason David sings, “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever” (revealing thus the newness of life which is ever upon us): “God is faithful, and it was He who called [us] to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” No more than this need we know. For this reason “generation after generation praises [His] works” and “publish[es] the fame of [His] abundant goodness.” It is this which brings His praise to our throats. For indeed in His grace He has called us to be as His only Son, and of course He is faithful to His call. And so by faithfulness all is ours in the Lord, and on that Day His blessings shall be full. Remaining in His light, growing in His gifts and favors, there shall be no “wailing then and grinding of teeth” for our souls – no, “happy that servant whom His master discovers at work on His return!”
O LORD, let us be prepared and waiting
for your coming Day.
YHWH, strengthen us to the end that we might be blameless on the Day your Son returns; make us your servants, faithful and true, praising you ever for your goodness to us, and we shall be ready on the Day of His revelation.
LORD, great are you and highly to be praised, for you provide all the gifts we need as we await Jesus’ coming. You give us speech and knowledge, and consecrate us in the Name of your Son. May we be like Him whom you sent for our salvation, that with favor you might ever look upon our lives.
As your Apostle has borne witness to your glory, LORD, so let us proclaim your greatness this day, that from generation to generation your NAME might be known and all souls be prepared for your coming Day. Let us serve you with diligence and with love, never forgetting that He whom we serve loves us more than we could ever return, remembering always that you are the Most High God who has created us in your image, in the image of your only Son.
Tue, 25 August 2020
(2Thes.3:6-10,16-18; Ps.128:1-2,4-5; Mt.23:27-32)
“You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork.”
“Anyone who would not work should not eat” was the rule laid down by Paul among the Thessalonians. A man must earn his bread. And as on earth, so in heaven. For who shall come to the fruits of the kingdom if they are not as Paul, who has labored “to the point of exhaustion” for the sake of the reign of God? This is the “straight path” laid down for us by all the apostles: in the Lord’s name we must walk “day and night.” It is work which produces fruit.
And what fruit will the scribes and Pharisees know? Their work is to “erect tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the saints,” those who have been murdered by their forefathers. Yet they join these “in shedding the prophets’ blood,” thus making the tombs they erect all the more vain; yes, they shall “fill up the vessel measured off by [their] forefathers” by crucifying the Christ, the only Son of God. And this work they do shall have its fruit as well – it shall lead their souls to the gates of hell, where only the same blood they shed will save them.
We will be judged according to our deeds, brothers and sisters. All is seen by God who looks upon the heart and whose eyes are everywhere. Let not your works be empty, or just so empty will be your heart, will be your place in the reign to come. Each day our souls are required of us; ever the Lord seeks fruit upon our tree. So, if you wish to “see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life,” if you long to know always the blessing of God, then “walk in His ways.” “Fear the Lord” who holds your life in His hands and do as He commands. Then “happy shall you be, and favored”; then the fruits of the kingdom you shall taste even here. And even the death you die and the blood you shed shall not remove this favor – by it “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” will be fulfilled in you. Amen.
O LORD, let us work for the life found in your Son,
and not His death and so our own.
YHWH, let us be blessed to walk in your way, to follow wherever you lead – to do your work in this world till the end of our days. Then we shall be truly happy, for then our fruit shall bring us unto Heaven.
O LORD, let us be your fruit; let us be your handiwork, made in your image, living as your Son. If we can but imitate Jesus, laying down our lives as all your prophets and apostles have done, then we shall join their ranks in the Body of Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Your kingdom come, LORD. All vanity, all emptiness of heart and mind and soul and body take from us – let us be filled with your holy presence. Your kingdom within us let us know and live, breathing your Holy Spirit, bleeding as your Son… our spirits one with you and your love.
Why should we be without you, LORD, when you live at our very hearts?
Mon, 24 August 2020
O guardian angel of poor children
who formed them in the image of Christ,
an education of body and soul
you provided those most in need,
those most impressionable
and thirsting for the Lord’s care,
and led so many others
in this work for the least of our brothers –
pray we shall become fellow workers
with Jesus in the cause of truth
and teach with deep love,
the greatest patience,
and profound humility,
the souls He places in our hands.
May the desire to see all
attain eternal life
be that which most impels us
and especially those whose responsibility
is the formation of Christian youth,
that all men might rejoice at the straight paths
these walk to the kingdom.
Your zeal despite persecution
may we maintain in our call from the Lord.
Mon, 24 August 2020
O loyal subject of the Lord
and of His Church on earth,
though a king
you did not exalt yourself
but listened rather
to the words of your Savior
and chose to serve Him,
doing His work in this world:
the poor you cared for,
your children you raised
in the teaching of Christ,
and for all those in your reign
you sought true justice
and maintained concern
for their spiritual welfare –
pray we poor souls
will emulate your desire
for penance and prayer,
and your faithful obedience
to God and MotherChurch.
May we be blessed as your sons
to have your wisdom in our ears,
a wisdom reflective of Jesus’ own.
Mon, 24 August 2020
(2Thes.2:1-3,14-17; Ps.96:10-13; Mt.23:23-26)
“He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with His constancy.”
“Brothers, stand firm.” Be not “easily agitated or terrified” “on the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” This should not preoccupy your thoughts because this is not in your mind to know or your hands to control. The day and the hour are with God alone. Rather, you should pray that the Lord will strengthen your hearts “for every good work and word.” This is what is in your power, and effectively accomplishing the Lord’s will thus, all fear will be removed from your souls.
Brothers and sisters, be not like the scribes and Pharisees, the “blind guides” who “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” Distracted by the details, they inevitably neglect “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and good faith” – those for which the Lord calls us above all to be concerned. And so their vision and their actions are not whole, and they are not holy. Failing to see as God sees and to do as God does, they indeed become blind guides frittering the life of the Lord away in anxiety for external matters. Let this not be the fate of your soul.
Children, know of a certain that “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself… loved us and in His mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope.” We must make this hope our own. For “the Lord is King. He has made the world firm, not to be moved,” and we must be as immovable as He in our faith and in our work. We should not doubt that “He governs the peoples with equity,” that in fairness all are looked upon in His sight, and so, that if we strive to do His will with all our hearts He will indeed bless us.
Friends, we should know that, though not complete, though He does not stand before us in final judgment yet, still it is so that “the day of the Lord is here,” in our midst today. His rule has always been and has come to us in this place. And what we do now leads only to that day – the kingdom should be growing within us at all times. If we know not His justice and His constancy at work in our days, then indeed we have reason to fear and should heed the Lord’s rebuke. But if we strive with Him for holiness, any fear itself will be holy and lead us only to the joy that makes “the heavens… glad and the earth rejoice.” For each day we rejoice with them in the presence of our God.
O LORD, make us constant as you
in doing good works,
in dispensing justice and mercy according to your Word
– and have mercy upon our own souls.
YHWH, it is you who judge the earth, who come to rule all the world; your justice you bring to every man’s soul, preparing him for your Day. And there is no need for us to fear if we are striving to do your will. Rather, we should rejoice at your glorious coming!
O LORD, let us set our souls each day on your Word and your work, and your love and mercy shall meet us where we are and bring us soon to where you live. Even should we have to endure chastisement as the Pharisees, what should this bring us but a holy joy? For by such words of truth you make us in your image, if we but listen and respond in kind.
All the world shall rejoice at your coming, dear God; let us not be blind to such wonder and glory but set our hearts on that Day, cleansing our souls of every stain of sin by your grace and mercy, by your surpassing justice. Let no woe be on us in your Day but only your consolation, only the joy of your salvation, which you offer forth even this day.
Sun, 23 August 2020
O apostle of the Lamb,
man without guile
led by love to the Lord,
you who declared Jesus Son of God
and King of Israel,
whose eyes of faith were illumined
by angels’ wings –
pray we shall be found by the Christ
under our fig tree
in peace, in prayer,
and carry with you His holy Gospel
to the very ends of the earth.
With you as a foundation stone,
one of the Twelve,
may the Bride of the Lamb
be led to her Husband,
her heart burning with love
for Him alone;
her soul thirsting only for God’s presence,
may her eyes be opened
to see her Lord.
To vision of Heaven pray we all come
by an angelic belief in the Son of Man.
Sun, 23 August 2020
(Rv.21:9-14; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Jn.1:45-51)
“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.”
Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God. As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence. How else will we see Him? How else can we recognize Him? How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child?
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.” He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride. As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms. May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates.
And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles? These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.” These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.” But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.” We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom.
The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters. He knows us all. He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks. Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeemed in His blood.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us see the sky opened and the Son of God
and His holy Bride coming down out of Heaven;
let us have eyes that look for Him,
hearts that long for Him.
YHWH, may the sky be opened and our eyes see the glorious splendor of your kingdom coming down unto us. Let us be pure and innocent, without guile, as all your children must be, and indeed your glory shall be revealed to us. And we shall declare with all your apostles that you are God and Jesus is your only Son.
Through all ages your kingdom lasts, O LORD; your dominion endures through all generations. And that kingdom your Son comes to make known to us – and into that kingdom we must all be built. The apostles are the foundation stones of your Church, and they speak of your might to all, but every soul must shine with your radiance in your holy City.
O LORD, let us be wed to your Lamb and to His sacrifice; then indeed we shall have our eyes opened to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him. Then indeed we shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.
Sat, 22 August 2020
O penitential soul
whose eyes saw the Lord,
whose ears heard His voice
calling all to the Cross,
obediently you accepted
the afflictions that are necessary
to attain union with God
and His surpassing glory –
pray that fearful souls
like our own,
which turn in complaint
from every torment and trouble,
may be blessed with a measure
of your selfless devotion,
that the unfathomable treasure
of the Lord’s grace
might be our own
as we endure,
and even desire as you,
the pains that pave the road to Heaven.
Then we shall know Christ even as you
and proclaim His glory to all creatures.
Sat, 22 August 2020
(Is.22:19-23; Ps.138:1-3,6,8; Rom.11:33-36; Mt.16:13-20)
“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Thus the Lord grants principal authority in His Church to His rock, Peter. Thus He prophesies what He has promised: the power and teaching given those who sit on Moses’ seat shall pass to this new leader He appoints to guide the flock of the New Jerusalem. And is this designation, or redesignation, of power not remarkably foreshadowed in our first reading: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open”? For the Lord has said to “Shebna, master of the palace: ‘I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station… and give over to [Eliakim] your authority.’” The same declaration Jesus has made to the chief priests and leaders of the people, and here He indicates its fulfillment.
“He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” Is this not the case with our Papa, our Pope, whom the Lord has assigned in His “inscrutable” judgment to feed His sheep? “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” whose mind no man has known. For see the authority He gives to man, He who has all power to give. Even unto heaven does the reign of the apostles now extend, with Peter in the fore. And “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” for it is granted by “the Christ, the Son of the living God” through the revelation of His “heavenly Father.” “I will fix Him like a peg in a sure spot,” the Lord states of Eliakim; and now no surer peg is there than Peter, through whose care all “worship at [the Lord’s] holy temple.”
“Your kindness, O Lord endures forever.” Your love for your sons on earth reaches unto heaven. And so you grant us blessings beyond our imagining; you strengthen us beyond our weak frame. And as to the apostles you deliver authority, so one in your grace all become. How shall we repay you for your kindness toward us? How shall we care for the gift you give? How shall we maintain your presence among us, except that in your love you remain? Bless this House and all its leaders; may “in the presence of the angels [we] sing your praise.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. (Background chanting by members of Neocatechumenal movement awaiting arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the United Nations.)
O LORD, teach us always to do what is right
that we might be as your sons
and enter into your House.
YHWH, all peoples are called to your glory, to your kingdom, for all are sons and daughters to you. But truly you must be our Father, we must come from you, we must reflect your image, the image your only Son reflects to us in His way of the Cross, if we are to enter your presence. Relying on accidents of time or place we shall never be saved. Only by accepting the discipline you offer will be made ready for Heaven.
Strengthen us, O LORD, by the chastisement you bring to our souls, by the Word of truth come from Jesus’ mouth. He knows you and is the way to you – let us be obedient to His call and the call of His apostles to enter through the narrow gate, to leave all of this world behind that we might come rejoicing to your holy mountain with all our brothers and sisters, with all your blessed children. May all men hear your Son’s voice this day, that none shall be barred from your kingdom.
Fri, 21 August 2020
O Queen of Heaven and earth,
you radiate the glory of God,
for now you stand at His right Hand
in the heavenly kingdom.
Clothed with the sun,
the moon under your feet
and a crown of twelve stars
upon your head,
you give light to all souls
who thirst for the grace
our Lord and King
pours upon us through your intercession.
O how the angels rejoiced,
how the heavens rang with praise
when the Son led you into His presence
clothed in gold
to be forever His Bride!
O pray for us,
dearest Queen and Mother,
that we too shall be led in
among your maiden companions
to stand in God’s glory forever.
Our cause we entrust to your Immaculate Heart.
Fri, 21 August 2020
(Ez.43:1-7; Ps.85:9-14; Mt.23:1-12)
“The temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.”
Certainly the vision of Ezekiel is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and His founding the Church, the New Jerusalem, here amongst us. In this Temple He has “set the soles of [His] feet”; here He “dwell[s] among the Israelites forever.” For though the temple in Jerusalem shall be restored, it shall again be destroyed, and forever. In the Catholic Church now does His presence remain. Through it and through its teaching “the earth [has] shone with His glory.”
“Truth shall spring out of the earth”: Jesus is born in our midst and walks among us; “justice shall look down from heaven”: through Him the light of God shines upon us, bringing salvation to all souls. And it is in His Church truth and justice remain, “glory dwelling in our land.”
And “like the roaring of many waters” is His teaching, which comes with power, which comes with authority. And this teaching He leaves in the apostles’ hands. As “the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers” and Jesus has succeeded these, so do the apostles succeed Jesus; thus we must “do everything and observe everything they tell us” – the Spirit is upon the Church, which does not teach in error despite the sins of its members. These must be respected; it is upon these, and so upon Jesus’ teaching, the Catholic faith is founded.
And what if some refused to enter into this Temple and share in His glory present in His Church? What if they did not share the wholeness of His thought or receive His precious Body and Blood, offered each day in the New Jerusalem? Their eyes would be as blind and their vision as limited as those who quote our gospel today to prove that the Church should not call its priests “Father”. They would not be able to see that what Jesus teaches His disciples in telling them to avoid “marks of respect in public and of being called ‘Rabbi’” is to avoid having themselves inflated with pride. If these blind souls were correct, then no one could be called “teacher” either, for this is more the word the Lord wishes us to avoid. And they would have to condemn Paul for calling himself “father” of the Church in Corinth (1Cor.4:15). Such absurdity ensues when one has not the wholeness of Truth, but looks only on appearances.
Brothers and sisters, where would we be without the teaching of the apostles? In a word, we wouldn’t have Jesus. It is from Him their teaching comes, bringing His glory to the ends of the earth. In this Temple let us dwell, His Word and Sacrament sustaining our lives.
O LORD, your Son has humbled Himself
to walk among us;
the soles of His feet are set in this Temple, your Church
– may we follow in His steps.
YHWH, let us humble ourselves that we might be exalted in glory with you. You humble yourself to come among us as a Man; let us be as your only Son and so gain the favors of Heaven. Here in your Church make your home, in the soul of every believer.
And, LORD, let us have a reverent respect for those you place in position of authority, especially here in your Church. They carry your power through the Word of your Son, becoming as His body and blood with the teaching of the Spirit He breathes upon them. We cannot disobey their teaching without disobeying you, and so let us be faithful to your apostles. Then we shall come to know your surpassing glory.
What you revealed to Ezekiel help us to know and live this day – your glory here in your Temple bring to its fulfillment, we pray. In your kindness you come to us, Truth walking in our midst. The justice and peace of your Son let us find as we follow in His way of salvation.
Thu, 20 August 2020
O simple priest
who became Shepherd
of the universal Church
and defended her with courage
against the errors of the age,
you did not waver before the powers
that would dilute the purity
of the teaching of our Mother
but stood strong against the tide
attempting to wash her away –
are we not yet threatened
by falsehood and sin
being held up as good,
and so do we not yet need
your spirit and your prayers?
Though the tide may be turning,
returning to the solid rock of faith,
yet certainly we need your help
to see the Spirit of Truth
regain and maintain
His place in this House.
Pray indeed all priests and people
be simple and true as children before God.
Thu, 20 August 2020
(Ez.37:1-14; Ps.107:1-9; Mt.22:34-40)
“I will open your graves and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.”
The commentary in the missal I read states: “The lesson here is return from captivity, not life after death.” And so the speaker proves once again the limited vision of so many of our scholars – indeed, how like the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the lawyers of Jesus’ time these faithless are, how blind… how dry their bones without spirit.
Certainly the prophet Ezekiel speaks to the exiles of their return to Israel: to these he is sent, and of this redemption they must hear. But if this were all the Scripture says, what lesson would we take from it – this passage why should we bother to read? And if this were all God intended even for these scattered children, what an ineffective God He would be. (As limited in vision as so many of our leaders today.) For what is the land upon which any find life but the kingdom of heaven? And how do we come there except through death, the death of our attachment to this earth? Vain all is if we have not the resurrection of Jesus within us; we must rise from our graves before anything has meaning in life.
That the Lord speaks of more than the return to Israel in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones today is indicated clearly in our psalm, which equates “the redeemed of the Lord” with those “gathered from the lands, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” Is it not so that the Psalms, though greatly written a millennium before Christ (and hundreds of years before even Ezekiel’s time), speak of Christ, and even in the voice of Christ? Is it not Jesus who speaks even to Ezekiel himself? Listen to our psalm. It speaks of the Israelites’ wandering “in the desert wilderness.” It says they were “hungry and thirsty” and that “their life was wasting away within them.” Certainly they lacked food and water in this arid place – but is this all of which the psalmist speaks! Do they not rather fail to drink from the spiritual rock which follows them? Is their hunger not for Christ? And the “inhabited city” to which the Lord leads them, is it but the land beyond the Jordan River? Is it the dust of this earth that will satisfy their dry bones? No. They “give thanks to the Lord… because He satisfied the longing soul and filled the hungry soul with good things” – things of the spirit, not merely the body.
“On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as well,” Jesus says of the love of God and neighbor. Here is the Spirit! Here is the Life! Here is what nourishes the dry bones and makes them stand upright: the Love of God! This is in every passage of Scripture – every prophecy, every psalm… This Word is the lesson we must always find: Jesus Christ is risen from the grave!
“From the four winds come, O Spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.” May the Spirit of love open all eyes.
O LORD, your love bring to our hearts,
your Spirit breathe within us that we might stand
and praise you in our heavenly homeland.
YHWH, you bring us to life by a word from your mouth; speak over us your holy Word that we might rise from the death that has settled upon our souls, that there might be flesh on these dry bones and your Spirit breathing in us. Bring us back to the land you have set aside for all your children – let us enter Heaven.
If your command we follow, LORD, we cannot but come into your presence, we cannot but live forever. If there be love in our hearts for you and our brothers, what can we be but united to you? If we place you above all our joys, if we love you with heart, mind, and soul, your life will indeed be within us… for you yourself are love.
Breathe upon us this day, dear LORD. Speak your Word of truth and life. Announce by the tongue of your Prophet the way we must go to find you. And let us be obedient to His command of truth, His Word of life, that we might stand in hope with Him, our hungry soul fed by this spiritual Bread, our thirsting hearts washed clean in His blood.
Wed, 19 August 2020
O great light of the Church
who by word and work
inspired your brothers
and so many others
to a life of virtue,
to peace and unity with one another
and an abiding love
for our Lord and His Mother –
teach us this day, O blessed preacher,
of the way in which Jesus calls us,
of the life and love God offers
if we but respond in kind
in our weak and limited manner.
To all souls in His holy Church
and throughout the world
you brought the Word of God,
you imparted the light of His wisdom;
please pray, dear father in the faith,
that our lives may be conformed
to the loving will of the Lord
and we become children of His light
and bearers of His Good News to the nations,
till we stand with you in His surpassing glory.
Wed, 19 August 2020
(Ez.36:23-28; Ps.51:12-15,18-19,Ez.36:25; Mt.22:1-14)
“Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”
The Lord desires to “prove the holiness of [His] great name,” which has been “profaned among the nations” by the children of Israel. And so He determines to “gather [them] from all the foreign lands,” to bring them back from their exile from His sight, and bless them again upon their “own land.” He will “cleanse [them] from all [their] impurities… a new heart and… a new spirit within” them, and they shall be “careful to observe [His] decrees”: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
But when the time comes for the reign of God to be fulfilled in their midst, when all is prepared and they are invited to the “wedding banquet for His Son”… when indeed the Lord would wed the Israelites to Himself by the grace and blessing of the Messiah – they refuse the call. “Come to the feast,” He cries out; eat your fill of my delights. But they make excuses and even kill those by whom the invitation comes (laying hands even on the only Son). And so the chosen city having rejected His offer, the Lord tells His servants to “go out into the byroads and invite to the wedding anyone [they] come upon.” So do the apostles preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth; so are all now called to the wedding feast. But will all be prepared?
To “the chief priests and elders of the people” Jesus addresses His parable of the wedding banquet today, for it is these who refuse to hear Him – it is they who reject the call of the Lord. And so, indeed, to the nations does His voice go; the Gentiles now hear the call. And we, we who though founded firmly upon the rock of Judaism are in such great number of Gentile races, do we heed the call of the Lord and prepare our hearts to receive His food? We are now the chosen city and the banquet table is now spread before us each day: His Body and Blood is the greatest food of which we could ever hope to partake. But have we the wedding garment necessary to remain in His banquet hall, in His Church, or do we wander in ignorance of the gift and graces before us?
Brothers and sisters, we must pray not to be cast from the Lord’s holy presence. We must seek the purity of heart we need to receive His blessing, to partake of the food of His altar and grow in His grace. We shall only avoid being thrown “out into the night” if we nurture the light that is with us and prepare well to meet our Jesus. Only then will the Holy Spirit here remain.
O LORD, made pure in Jesus’ cleansing blood
may we rejoice with Him in your kingdom.
YHWH, you invite us to your wedding banquet, you call us to the feast prepared by your own hands, for you would wed yourself to us, making us your own holy children. But we must turn from our sins; with contrite hearts only can we approach your table and feed upon the Body of your Son. How shall we find our heavenly homeland if not cleansed in His blood? How shall we celebrate your glory if not renewed by your Spirit?
O LORD, bring us back to our own land, that with you we might dwell for eternity. Your light and your love make our own; you alone let us worship. Into your Temple let us come, that we might feast upon your Word, and upon your Son’s Body and Blood. Then what would we be but your children? What would we be but one with you?
A white wedding garment of purity provide for our souls, dear LORD, that we might not be cast from your presence but glory in you forevermore.
Tue, 18 August 2020
O priest of Jesus and Mary
so dedicated to the Hearts
of our Lord and Lady
and the formation of your fellow priests,
how well you preached
of our need to be one
with Christ our Head;
with what zeal you cared
for the poorest among us –
pray that priests and indeed all Christians
will have hearts and souls
beating and breathing as one
with the Lord,
in union with our Blessed Mother;
may all serve and glorify the Father
by using all their faculties
as if they were His alone.
O that we might indeed
belong to the Son of God
and be ruled by Him,
His own eternal life
coursing through our very veins,
His breath upon our tongue!
Tue, 18 August 2020
(Ez.34:1-11; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.20:1-16)
“I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”
How grateful we should be that “the Lord is [our] shepherd,” for with Him we want for nothing. Indeed, our “cup overflows” and “only goodness and kindness follow [us] all the days of [our] life”; for it is He who watches over our every step, and He is only goodness, He is only kindness – His mercy endures forever.
How the Lord’s hand contrasts with the false shepherds’ of the house of Israel. These “pastured themselves and did not pasture [the Lord’s] sheep.” They “fed off their milk, wor[e] their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings,” but the sheep they allowed to be “scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.” But where these shepherds “lorded it over [the sheep of Israel] harshly and brutally,” the Lord Himself is “generous.” Though under them the sheep “were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts,” the Lord, the owner of the vineyard, the Good Shepherd, goes forth at all times of day seeking every straying sheep, gathering all into His fold and seeing that we have wages enough to feed each of our families.
And whether the laborer works many hours or few, yet he is provided all his needs. Here, of course, is notice that the Gentiles, who come late to salvation history, enter the kingdom before the Jews, who have always been in the Lord’s house. Here is word that the generosity of our God extends to all, that His loving arms will not be shortened. And we may learn, too, from the response of the workers to the owner’s questioning why they have been “idle all day” – “No one has hired us” – that the Lord looks upon the heart and pays us not so much for the work accomplished but for the intention of our will. For these would have worked all day had they earlier been approached.
“In verdant pastures He gives me repose.” In the Lord’s loving arms we all find our home. Had He not come Himself to shepherd us, still we would be wandering alone. But as it is we work now in His vineyard, sharing in the very blood of the Son. As it is we are well cared for by a Father whose generosity knows no bounds. He whose mercy alone could redeem us has come with His staff to guide us on the “right paths” that lead to His kingdom. And so we say, gratefully, “Thank you, Jesus, for your kindness.”
O LORD, thank you for your generosity in saving us;
your Son is the true Shepherd, the Shepherd of love –
pasture us well this day in Him.
YHWH, because you are our Shepherd, we are well cared for; we have all we need for the day. If our desire is to do your will, to work for you in your vineyard, you will reward us well. For it is your desire but to see your children safe in your House, and to achieve this goal you are diligent in seeking us out.
To this end, you send your own Son to take on our flesh and blood; He becomes one of us that we might become one with you, LORD, fed by His Body and Blood. He shepherds us into your kingdom with great care.
O let us work for you, LORD, day in and day out! Let our hearts not be set on the wage we receive but on doing your will. For if we are with you in your vineyard, though the sun beat down on us, we shall be at peace. Nothing can disturb the soul set on serving you – our cup overflows with the wonder of your presence.
Let us be blessed to be gathered into your pasture, LORD, with all our brothers and sisters.
Mon, 17 August 2020
(Ez.28:1-10; Dt.32:26-28,30,35-36,39; Mt.19:23-30)
“Only with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of God.”
Yes, “close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them!” – those like the prince of Tyre who are “haughty of heart, and say, ‘A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!’” What condemnation they mount up for themselves, those who by their “great wisdom applied to [their] trading… have heaped up [their] riches,” for “the most barbarous of nations… shall draw their swords… [and] run them through [their] splendid apparel.” These shall be “thrust down to the pit, there to die a bloodied corpse in the heart of the sea.” How else shall they learn that they “are a man, not a god”? How else might they find the humility necessary for the kingdom of heaven?
It is tragic how riches and power turn men’s hearts away from truth, making them “a people devoid of reason, having no understanding.” For what do such as these say of their state but, “Our own hand won the victory; the Lord had nothing to do with it,” thus blinding themselves to the fact that all comes only from God? And so the Lord’s warning against those inflated by the riches of this world; and so “it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” For how their swollen pride makes it impossible to squeeze through the gates which admit only the humblest of children.
Brothers and sisters, store not up for yourselves a heap of riches which serve but to block the light of the Sun of God. Use not “your wisdom and your intelligence… [to make] riches for yourself.” This is not the proper end for the gifts God gives, and will serve only to bring the destruction of your haughty soul, along with the riches themselves. If you desire to “inherit everlasting life,” it is upon this your heart, your wisdom, your desire for riches, must be set. For the heavenly riches from the hand of God do not fail and cannot be run through by the sword of the nations; and in this kingdom “the last shall come first.”
O LORD, it is those who keep nothing for themselves
to whom you give everything,
including eternal life.
YHWH, how can a man whose heart is set on the things of this world come to the riches of Heaven? How can he who thinks himself a god know the God who rules over all? Only if we give up the riches of this world, only if we humble ourselves as servants, will we come to know you and so enter into your reign. Otherwise, we shall be trampled into dust.
You are life, LORD; you alone possess everlasting life, for the world and all it contains are in your hands – our very breath is your own. And so, how can we speak against you, how can we exalt ourselves above you, and expect to live, and expect to thrive? It is death we court by our insolent pride, not life. It is our condemnation we embrace by turning away from you.
O LORD, help us to give up the things of this world, entrusting all into your hands, for then you will care for our lives here, and share with us the life of Heaven.
Sun, 16 August 2020
(Ez.24:15-24; Dt.32:18-21; Mt.19:16-22)
“Son of man, by a sudden blow
I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes,
but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears.”
A striking similarity there is between our first reading and our gospel: as Ezekial’s wife dies, and so his most valuable treasure is taken from him by the Lord, so the rich young man is told by Jesus, “Go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor,” thus calling him to give up his treasure. But an ironic contrast also exists: Ezekial is asked by the Lord not to mourn his loss, though custom and conscience and righteousness would inform him otherwise, while the young man goes away in sadness when really he should be rejoicing that the Christ is calling him to follow Him. For the death of a loved one we should rightfully weep – for here is a life taken from us – but our possessions, what are they?
And more so should we weep when it is our sins which have caused our loss to befall us, as is the case with the Israelites. The Lord teaches them that He shall remove Jerusalem and its temple from their sight, for they have forgotten God and “angered [Him] with their vain idols,” and so He is “filled with loathing… toward His sons and daughters.” But will they cry out to Him for the loss their sin has brought about? Will they turn and seek Him in prayer and fasting? No. He tells them, “You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.” The hardness of their hearts shall keep their tongues from crying out, and so they shall not find the grace of God.
And oh the sad fate of the rich, who likewise are prevented from entering the realm of God, in this case by their wealth of possessions. These vain things should mean no more than the dust of the earth, and when called from them and the anxiety they produce, what should one do but rejoice to approach the gates of heaven? But rather than this, the soul is made sad. It is a twisted world which only the grace of God can remedy. But who of this “fickle race” will come to the font of life and drink in the Word of salvation? Who will mourn in earnest the loss of life granted by God and have no care for the dead things of our earthly existence? And who shall continue the wicked twisting?
O LORD, we should mourn the loss of our souls,
our hearts turning away from you,
not the loss of our possessions.
YHWH, why should we weep over the loss of our possessions, the vain things of this earth, these riches which keep us from knowing your face? Should we not rather rejoice when you call us from them to walk in your way? All we should care for is the life you give to our soul and that of our neighbor; all we need is to worship you.
Yet we rot away in our sins, LORD, mourning not the loss of your light in our midst as we embrace darkness and death itself. What hope is there for such a fickle race, sons and daughters who forget their God and turn rather to vain idols? What can you do but destroy those who desecrate your sanctuary?
We are your children, LORD, and you call us close to you, desiring but to share your goodness with us. O let our hearts be set on your love for us and following in your way. Turn not your face away from us but let us return to you.
Sat, 15 August 2020
O faithful king,
loyal son of MotherChurch
and just ruler of your people,
in peace and piety,
humbly and honorably
you executed your duties,
never showing favor to anyone
but always respecting all
and maintaining above all the faith
and the Church which propagates
that faith in Christ –
where is true Christian profession today,
where those in positions of power
truly dedicated to right service
of the Lord and His people?
Do pray for us, dear king,
that others shall follow in your footsteps
as has your son
so that all shall become
faithful followers of our Lord
in whatever position He grants them.
Pray especially for leaders
whose hearts are set on love of God and holy Church.
Sat, 15 August 2020
(Is.56:1,6-7; Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8; Rom.11:13-15,29-32; Mt.15:21-28)
“God delivered all to disobedience,
that He might have mercy upon all.”
(In love let me speak, O Lord.)
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Yet our scholars and leaders make it a den of unbelief. Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they are deaf and blind to the light of God. We must not follow in their steps, but speak the truth of the presence of Christ that all might enter the portals of the Lord.
I ask you: How shall the Lord’s “way be known upon earth; among all nations, [His] salvation,” if His Truth is blunted, if His Word is watered down into an alphabet soup? The commentary of the missal I read states of our gospel: “Matthew took this story from Mark… He molded it to bring out a message for the Church of his day.” And so again, and continuously, those who presume to speak for the Church know nothing of God’s Word. In their excessive analyzing, in their presumption and fabrication, they themselves attempt to mold the divine Scriptures to fit the vision of their blinded eyes, unable to see the Lord who stands before them. It is remarkable how ignorant these “intelligent” beings are to the simple fact that “prophecy has never been put forth by man’s willing it,” that “men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence” (2Pt.1:21). And so they seek to make the Bible as any other sacred text, and the Church no different than the next.
Why? So that there will be “an open-minded respect for all who seriously follow their religious convictions, provided of course that they fulfill their obligation to find the truth.” But what they do not see is that the very condemnation of people they seek so anxiously to avoid, they are themselves effecting, in an eternal fashion. For they do not open the loving arms of the Catholic Church and speak of the acceptance of all into its grace and favors. They themselves do not “fulfill their obligation” to the truth for they know not what truth is: that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life is not heard by those who thirst for it most of all.
And they do not see the absolute beauty of the woman’s cry, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Or Jesus’ wonderful exclamation, “O woman, great is your faith!”) They do not see the way is not easy for any to come to salvation – be it the Gentile to whom the gates had seemed to be shuttered (though even throughout the Old Testament the Lord makes it very clear that “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord… them [He] will bring to [His] holy mountain”) or the Jew who must repent of the hardness of his heart. They do not witness that all must come crawling on their knees to Jesus, and so how can they preach it? Their eyes are not open to see that the daughter who is healed is more than just the woman’s blood offspring, but all the Gentile race; and they do not call all these to the light of His face. May the Lord have mercy on their disobedience. “May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Whole Whale" (second half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, lift us up from the pit
and baptize us with your fire.
YHWH, opposition from sinners we must indeed endure if we are to be called by the Name of your Son. The Cross we must carry through this world if we are to come to where Christ is at your right hand. If we are lowered into a muddy cistern, what should that matter to us, as long as we ourselves are not guilty of sin.
Should we not take great strength in the suffering of Jesus and all those who have followed Him so faithfully to the Cross? Have they not proven that you come, O LORD, to save those who cry out to you? We shall be delivered even from death by the grace upon your Son, and so why should we fear the shedding of our blood?
Your sword of truth cannot but divide the evil from the good, those who look to you from those who take their refuge in the things of this earth. Let your fire come, dear God, and burn away all sin from our midst, that all your afflicted and poor may rise from the ground blessed.
Fri, 14 August 2020
O glorious Virgin Mary,
preserved from sin
from the moment of your conception
and now raised with your Son unto Heaven,
blessed are you among women,
most blessed of all God’s creatures;
kept from all corruption,
you His lowly servant
now reign with Jesus in His kingdom –
pray all generations will call you blessed
that all may indeed share in your blessing
and come by the grace of the Lord
to stand at His side
in the Father’s presence.
Above the choirs of angels,
where poor mortal man is called
to take his place
in union with the immortal Godhead,
you precede us, O Immaculate Mother,
by virtue of your eternal union with the only Son.
Pray we shall truly follow you to perfection,
conquering death by the Cross
and entering the light of the Lord.
Fri, 14 August 2020
(Rv.11:19a,12:1-6a,10ab; Ps.45:10-12,16; 1Cor.15:20-26; Lk.1:39-56)
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The Queen of Heaven here appears to us in her glory. She who has been taken up by her Son to His heavenly kingdom to stand at His side: “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.” Yes, Lord, the Mother you preserved from sin for all eternity you have preserved from the jaws of death; she who has suffered so intimately with you here on earth now shares your glory in heaven. And as she has said, “All generations will call me blessed,” for you have “lifted up the lowly” and she your humblest and most holy of all creatures can be nowhere but with you in your eternal life. May she bless us from her place with you this holy day.
In Mary we find our hope, brothers and sisters; in her we find it fulfilled, made real by the hand of God. We know that “in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and “in proper order” she so blessed in life is now so blessed in death, having been preserved from its clutches and preceding us into God’s heavenly realm. The devil would have devoured her and her child, but she and He, and we with them, have escaped his gaping mouth and the fire it breathes; this enemy and the death he wrought is destroyed by our Lord and His birth through the Virgin Mary, and so, “now have salvation and power come.” “The kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One” now reign supreme, and she who has been His special instrument in bringing such salvation now stands at His side in His paradise.
“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” asks Elizabeth in wonder at the blessed presence of Mary in her midst. She who carries the Lord shares in His divinity in a way beyond our comprehension, for if her own kinswoman could be filled with such awe, recognizing whence Mary comes, how much more should we be filled with veneration for the Virgin daughter of Israel? Indeed, it is her voice which causes the Baptist to leap for joy in the womb; with such joy we should approach this sacred day.
As intimately as she was with Jesus, and is with Jesus now, so intimately is she with His Church here on earth as well as in heaven. From her place at His side she watches over us and cares for our needs as any mother for her son. We are her sons and daughters, united to her through the One Lord, Jesus Christ. She comes to us now at the end of the age, granting wisdom and direction to those who seek their place with her Son. Call her blessed, brothers and sisters in Christ, and see her glory shining forth at the right hand of God. In her you will find light greater than sun and moon and stars. You will find the presence of our Lord and our God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, look upon all your lowly servants with favor,
that we might join Mary at your Son’s side
in the kingdom.
YHWH, your promise of mercy is fulfilled in our midst as she who is blessed comes to us bearing your Son. And our hearts leap for joy at her approach, for indeed she brings salvation with her, and so the destruction of death. In her Son is your kingdom, your power come, and to His glory we are all called.
Dearest Mary, who are we that you should come to us, O Mother of our Lord? O what blessing you are for those who rejoice with you in God our Savior! For as He has looked upon you, His lowly servant, so He looks upon all poor creatures and fills our emptiness with His presence. O that we might stand with you at His side this day!
LORD, in Jesus death is conquered and all souls are brought to life again. His Virgin Mother is the first to join Him in your glory, for you prepared a place for her. May we all find the place prepared for us in your kingdom.
Thu, 13 August 2020
O soldier of the Immaculate Virgin
and martyr for our Lord,
well you spread the fame
of the Mother of all graces,
calling all souls to repentance
that she might apply her Son’s blood
to save the straying among us;
and well you heeded our Savior’s call
to lay down your life for others –
pray this day we have such strength,
such conviction and determination
in serving our Lord and Lady,
in publishing the Good News
that by our dedication
we too may serve well upon this earth
in the army of the faithful,
also leading souls
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
that peoples and nations may be converted
and so learn in turn to serve
the surpassing glory of God.
Thu, 13 August 2020
(Ez.16:1-15,60,63 or Ez.16:59-63; Is.12:1-6; Mt.19:3-12)
“I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.”
Ezekial first “make[s] known to Jerusalem her abominations,” telling the people, “You were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome, the day you were born.” And though by the Lord’s blessing they “grew and developed”; and though when they were “old enough for love” He “spread the corner of [His] cloak over [them]”; and though when He “swore an oath to [them] and entered into a covenant with [them]” they became His, the recipient of all the bride’s gifts and graces – “You were adorned with gold and silver; your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food” – yet they took the beauty with which the Lord had endowed them, and turned to harlotry. The wisdom of the Lord, His laws and decrees with which He favored no other people, which were the source of their glory, they spurned in favor of the wickedness of the nations.
The hardness of the hearts of the Israelites we find well illustrated in our gospel today; their attitude toward the marriage covenant reveals their level of faithfulness to the Word of the Lord. A covenant is made binding for all generations, yet the Lord relates the truth to those who question Him: “Because of your stubbornness Moses let you divorce your wives.” Never was it meant to be so. This promise, this sacrament Paul later tells us mirrors the love of God for His Church, was ever meant to be lasting. But how weak is the faith and the love of even His chosen, causing even the disciples to marvel at all that is asked of them.
But the covenant the Lord made with His people in their immaturity, the marriage He called them to when they were but profligate children, He now comes to make everlasting through the grace brought by His only Son. He forgets us not in our sin and weakness; He remembers our humble origins.
Now may we “be utterly silenced for shame when [He] pardon[s] all [we] have done”; now may we declare, “God indeed is my savior” and rely entirely upon His strength and the word from His mouth. “Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!” and He comes now to wed you to Himself forever.
O LORD, let your Covenant with us never be broken;
may we be wed to you forever.
YHWH, if anyone ever had the right to divorce his wife, you have the right to separate us from yourself. For how unfaithful we have been! How profligate have been our actions against you who took us from the ground, from the gutter, and gathered us to yourself… washing us clean of our sin, of the blood upon our hands, and clothing us as a queen before your majesty. How foolish we have been, and yet you show us mercy.
Indeed, we are utterly silenced for shame at your grace at work in our lives, at the gifts you bestow on your rebellious child. O LORD, to yourself once again you take us, and for this what can we do but shout with exultation? We do not deserve your faithfulness toward us, yet you renew your Covenant with us in Jesus our Bridegroom; and even greater are the blessings now as we return to you. In His blood let us be washed, and clothed in His wedding garment.
Wed, 12 August 2020
O brothers united in faith
and in offering the ultimate sacrifice
for the sake of that faith,
for the sake of God’s Church –
pray nothing shall separate
one from another,
but that all members of His flock
and all those who lead His flock
will remain ever united
in His blood
under the See of Peter.
O pray that His Body
not be divided
but that it be healed,
by His Cross.
Into His arms
may we all offer our lives
and so join our Lord
in His kingdom.
Wed, 12 August 2020
(Ez.12:1-12; Ps.78:7,56-59,61-62; Mt.18:21-19:1)
“As captives they shall go into exile.”
“The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.” O the woe of the “rebellious house”! How their sins eat away at their souls like hands digging holes in a wall; how they must hide their faces from the light of day and from the Lord’s glorious face. Into what hell they cast themselves with no means of escape, their burden too heavy to bear.
The house of Israel “turned back and were faithless like their fathers,” and so the Lord “surrendered His strength into captivity, His glory into the hands of the foe.” And just such a fate awaits all who are hardened by sin, who have no forgiveness in their hearts. For all owe the Lord “a huge amount” and all have “no way of paying it”; and so all deserve to be sold into slavery. Only the mercy of God preserves us from such a fate. But can a heart know mercy which shows none? Can a soul receive forgiveness if it continues in sin? Does not this house remain in exile from its God? And what shall become of the one who spurns the love of God as does the wretched servant? Shall he not be like him whom “the master handed… over to the torturers until he paid back all that he owed’?
There is only woe for the soul so set in opposition to the loving will of God. There is only banishment from His sight. As the Lord “was enraged and utterly rejected Israel,” His chosen children whom He had loved and blessed and forgiven so much, so all shall die in their sin who refuse to turn to Him... for there is no place for the evil with the good.
From darkness let us come, brothers and sisters. Exile from the Lord let us avoid. May we, too, learn from Ezekial’s sign and open our eyes to the danger upon us. On our knees let us come to our confessor, who has been instructed by his Master to forgive “seventy times seven times,” and so wash ourselves clean of our rebellion – and then share the same with others. To the Lord let us return.
O LORD, save us from the captivity
wrought by our sin;
let your mercy and love work in and through us.
YHWH, how shall we avoid exile from you and from your holy face? For we are a rebellious house, blind to your mercy. And if we are blind to your mercy, if we cannot hear you calling us back to you through your prophets, through the Word that comes to us by your Son, how can we find anything but condemnation and exile? Into prison we shall be cast to pay for all our sins if your Son’s love we fail to recognize in our midst.
It cannot but be that as we reject you, as we rouse your jealousy by our vain idols, by the false love we so desire with our faithless hearts, you cannot but reject us – do you not respect our wills, dear LORD? And if we choose not to share the mercy you offer to our barren souls, if we have not love in our hearts for others in need of that same mercy… how can that mercy be said to be ours? If we harden our hearts against you and your love, we build the prison in which we find ourselves.
O LORD, release us from such hell to dwell with you and our brothers in your House.
Tue, 11 August 2020
O tireless worker for the Lord
who when cut off from everything
dearest to you
gave yourself completely to God,
you who have shown the way
of the martyrdom of love,
of dying entirely to self
and serving our Savior
in the sick and the poor,
in whose guise He comes –
pray our lives shall not wallow
pray we shall have
the same thirst for love as you,
that by our love we may die
and so overcome death
to live forever
in the presence of our Redeemer.
Visit us this day in our weakness
that our hearts, too, might be strong
and our lives be laid down
in the blood of the only Son.
Tue, 11 August 2020
(Ez.9:1-7,10:18-22; Ps.113:1-6; Mt.18:15-20)
“Where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I in their midst.”
And so the four living creatures, the cherubim gathered beneath the feet of the Lord, “rise from the earth” and move “straight forward,” the breath of the Spirit animating every beat of their wings. And so the angels called forth by the voice of God protect or destroy the inhabitants of His city, according to His command. And so Jesus can assure His disciples, “Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be held bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be held loosed in heaven.” For He is in our midst.
“Who is like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?” The answer is, of course, no one. And yet the answer is everyone, everyone whom the Lord touches – everyone He ordains to do His will. For the Lord does not work in a vacuum but anoints all His chosen to serve as His hands and arms, His feet and legs... His tongue and soul on earth and in heaven. We are not left alone, but become as He is. Though “above the heavens is His glory,” yet to the earth has He come down and walked amongst us, making us as His appointed angels. His work must be accomplished in us.
Raise your voice unto Him, brothers and sisters; with angelic blessings we are called to dwell. For He is here in our midst, He who is above the angels’ realm. So, may our hearts beat with the breath of the Spirit; may He animate our every thought and movement. May the will of the Lord be done in His Church, that all shall be prepared to receive His mark, that all will be prepared for the last Day... when the Lord passes through His “city,” when He comes to save and destroy. Now let men be taught what is right and what is wrong; now let us gather in His Name. “From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised.”
O LORD, judgment is yours
and you give it into the hands of your angels,
and your Church.
YHWH, you are exalted high above earth and Heaven; your glory is far beyond our human sight. And yet you look upon us here below and are in our midst. Your surpassing power you give to your angels, and to your Church. And so, saving and destroying angels go forth at your command; and so, on earth and in Heaven your apostles bind and loose. Your judgment is above any living creature, and yet in and through your creatures you dwell, giving them power to do your will.
Justice is in your right hand, O LORD, and all shall be judged in accord with your mind. For you see all things from where you sit and are soiled by none of what is below your glory. Are not those who defile your temple defiled themselves, and so should they not receive your just punishment? How can they be counted among the just, who mourn over such abomination?
O LORD, you are patient and kind with all but cannot live with wickedness. Let all souls turn to your glory!
Mon, 10 August 2020
O bride of Christ
whose poverty matched His own,
whose humility made Him known,
whose love indeed approached
and the embrace of His holy arms –
pray all souls will gaze into the mirror
that is our Lord
born in a manger,
dead upon a Cross,
risen unto Heaven.
Pray we shall be driven on
through the death we all must die,
through His marvelous poverty,
His wondrous humility,
to the indescribable delights
of those who remain at His side.
O that we might be poor as you were poor,
as He is poor
for the sake of every soul,
that we might come to embrace
His blessed sacrifice
and so know the glories of His kingdom.
Mon, 10 August 2020
(Ez.2:8-3:4; Ps.119:14,24,72,103,111,131; Mt.18:1-5,10,12-14)
“How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
And is there a sweeter promise or a sweeter teaching than that which Jesus gives today in our gospel? In answer to the disciples’ question, “‘Who is of greatest importance in the kingdom of God?’ He called a little child over and stood him in their midst and said ... ‘Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.’” And He goes on to assure them that none of His children is forgotten by the Father – each He searches out diligently. Always they shall behold the absolute sweetness of His countenance... forever they shall look on His presence. O to be as that innocent child in the Lord Jesus’ arms!
“Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” O Lord, “I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.” Let us be as your prophet Ezekial, to whom you bring the written scroll and command, “Open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.” Let us “eat what is before [us]”; let us “eat this scroll.” Let us consume your words and commands and “feed [our] belly and fill [our] stomach” with your teaching and your promises. For all your words are “sweet as honey in [the] mouth.” All that comes from you is grace and peace and joy. And though the words may be sour in our stomach, though we may have to declare “lamentation and wailing and woe!” to those who turn from your law – though suffering may indeed follow in accomplishing your will, yet the sweet knowledge that all comes from your hand shall sustain us; we shall never forget your blessing.
Nothing is sweeter, nothing is more wonderful, than fulfilling the word of God in our lives. Nothing is greater than coming to His table to eat. And now this Word made flesh is in our midst, and of its sweetness we daily partake. Of His presence we cannot receive enough; to His love there are no bounds. And children before Him we constantly become as we ever consume His promises, listening to His Word and eating and drinking His Body and Blood. And so, let us rejoice as we receive from the “hand stretched out to [us].”
O LORD, fulfill your promise, we pray,
and let all your children enter your reign.
YHWH, how sweet to my taste are your commands, are your words to our souls, for they are life to us – you save us by your prophecy.
You would have us be as humble as you, LORD, and so you call us to be as children. O let our eyes and our mouths open wide to receive the glorious food you offer, and in faith we shall come into your kingdom.
And if it should cause us pain to speak in your NAME, to live our lives according to your Son’s example – to follow in the way of the Cross, LORD – of what concern should this be to us? If we must proclaim your message of lamentation and wailing and woe that others might be saved from straying and be gathered into your fold, this too should be sweet to us; indeed, we should gasp with open mouth to aid the salvation of your little ones. Then our own salvation will be assured.
O LORD, let us be your disciples; let us share in your Son’s Cross, in the Word He is and shares with us… O let your will be done and let all enter your presence!
Sun, 9 August 2020
O generous soul,
you gave your life freely
to the poor
and your death completely
to the Lord;
a grain of wheat fallen to the earth,
you have indeed produced much fruit,
so closely have you followed Christ –
pray for us miserable souls
who cannot seem to draw near
your thorough sacrifice,
made without fear of the fire
ignited by your torturers,
made in joy of uniting
your death to Jesus’ own.
How shall we approach your love,
your blood so closely mingled
with that of our crucified Lord;
how shall we match your generosity
in serving His blessed call?
Pray we will find the courage
to give everything over to God
and know we are in His arms.
Sun, 9 August 2020
(2Cor.9:6-10; Ps.112:1-2,5-9; Jn.12:24-26)
“The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.”
The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name. Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God. His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow.
“The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel. As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.” We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth. We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice. “Where I am, there will my servant be.” By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father. To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow. They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord. He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven. So let us plant our prayers and our works and our lives in the fertile earth where the martyrs found their joy, and whether we live or die, we “shall be blessed in His holy presence.”
May all the Church ring out their praises to the God who calls and blesses us with the holy example of those who serve Him and give their lives completely to Him. “Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever,” so let us pray that this blessed yield the Lord provides will be increased in our own time, and that we may join in the grace of such sacrifice. In His Spirit and in His blood may we ever grow away from the earth and the death it holds and unto the life of “everlasting remembrance” in heaven with God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, if we serve you,
we will be where Jesus has been
– fixed to a cross –
and so, blessed will we be as He accepts our sacrifice,
for we will come to where He is now in Heaven.
YHWH, the seed and its yield are both in your hand, and you give freely to all of your abundance. Help us to be generous as you, trusting that you will always multiply and increase our yield, trusting that all we are and all we do are in your holy hand.
O LORD, let us unite ourselves with the Cross of your Son, let us plant our souls in His blessed death, that we might bear much fruit and endure unto eternal life. Let us be so blessed to be His servants, to follow in His way, to be joined to His holy sacrifice. Then we shall be honored with all your saints, with all who lay down their lives in your Name.
What is it to hate our lives in this world but to see ourselves as we are, small and insignificant as a grain of wheat? Yet giving what little we have cheerfully to you and to others, our yield becomes abundant, dear God.
Sat, 8 August 2020
O sacrificial victim
seeking to bring peace
to a dark world,
you found your wisdom in love,
in the love of Christ
and in His Cross,
and died three times for His sake:
once in entering His Church,
once in taking His habit,
and once in laying down your life
at the hands of the enemies of His peace –
pray, O blessed teacher
and sister to all men,
that the death of this life
be something we shall not fear
but embrace with the same grace
with which the Lord blessed you.
Why should we hold
to the things of the earth
when Jesus waits to embrace us
in His loving arms
and carry us unto Heaven?
Pray we shall be ready to answer His call.
Sat, 8 August 2020
(1Kgs.19:9a,11-13a; Ps.85:8-14; Rm.9:1-5; Mt.14:22-33)
“When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance to the cave.”
For the Lord was in the “tiny whispering sound.”
God speaks in silence. His Word sinks deeply into our souls, piercing the spirit within us, and so what can we be but afraid? His still, small voice brings us into His awesome presence.
Brothers and sisters, it is the same NAME of God revealed to Moses the lawgiver that is spoken to Elijah the prophet here on the same “mountain of God, Horeb.” This WORD, this NAME (YHWH), invokes fear, for it silences the tongue, stilling all distraction we might make, and so allows the purity of God to pass into us. What but fear, what but holy wonder, can penetrate our very bones when we become thus surrounded by His presence, when He penetrates the core of our being? “The Lord will be passing by” is the promise made to Elijah; and in the silent WORD the Lord’s promise is kept.
And is it not this same WORD in which Jesus rested when “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray”? Is it not this same WORD the Lord brought to Peter and the apostles when He “came toward them walking on the sea” as their boat “was being tossed about by the waves”? As He stepped into the boat with His blessed Rock, is it not so that “the wind died down”? My brothers and sisters, Jesus is this WORD spoken to Elijah, this NAME given Moses, made flesh in our midst. And in His presence “the strong and heavy wind,” “the earthquake,” and “the fire” become as nothing, as all distractions cease and we find ourselves at the feet of “the Son of God.”
Upon coming from this mountain Moses led his people out of Egypt. Upon coming from this mountain Elijah will anoint a king and a prophet to succeed him. Upon coming from the silence of the mountain Jesus – as He did before in calling His twelve apostles – comes to confirm the call upon Peter and his brothers even as He sees that His mission must increase with the death of John the Baptist. From the silent WORD all is spoken. It is His NAME for which we must listen, that we might “speak the truth in Christ.”
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” And so, let us “hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for He proclaims peace,” and in His peace alone will we discover our true and lasting home. (Fear not the troubling of your soul; He breathes a light calm upon the waters.)
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "WH" from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, our hope is in you;
may we patiently await the coming of your kingdom.
YHWH, how we hope for your kindness to deliver us from death, to save us from our adversaries, even from our very selves. We place all our trust in you – O may our faith soon be rewarded!
If we but had the faith of Abraham, dear LORD, blessed as he would we be, with no fear for the impending darkness, with hearts set solely on your coming light. The salvation of the just let us await with steadfast hearts, knowing well that you are faithful to all your promises and that you have promised a heavenly dwelling to all who seek their place with you.
To this earth let us not be attached; all of this world let us offer freely to you. You are our only treasure, dear God – you are all that is worthy of our concern. And so, let us await your Son’s return with loins girded and lamps burning. Let us be ever vigilant for His coming, serving well your holy will all our days, and our inheritance we shall find in you.
Fri, 7 August 2020
O humble preacher
who walked in poverty
with Christ your King
and spoke in power
to destroy lie by truth,
you gathered men around you
to be bearers of the grace of God,
to be men of the Gospel
inspired by love divine –
pray we shall be taught well
and walk with you in Jesus’ way,
that all we do
will be for the salvation of souls,
our lives even as our Savior’s.
May His Word
and deep love for others
lead us in all our work on earth
that always and in all things
we may beseech the Lord
to be with all His brothers.
Pray our hearts be set on His will
and we serve as His apostles.
Fri, 7 August 2020
(Hb.1:12-2:4; Ps.9:8-13; Mt.17:14-20)
“They trust in you who cherish your name,
for you forsake not those who seek you, O Lord.”
“Why could we not expel it?” the disciples asked Jesus regarding the boy so severely possessed by a demon. “‘Because you have so little trust,’ He told them.”
Brothers and sisters, is it the Lord who “delays”? Is it He who fails to cast wickedness and misery from our midst? Or is it not rather we who fail in faith? We complain and ask, When will the Lord act? but is the Lord not quick to act, as He does in our gospel today, whenever we call upon Him in truth? Does He not give us the power to do all in His Name? Does He somehow withhold His grace?
Certainly not. “He has not forgotten the cry of the afflicted,” and it is eternally true that “the just man, because of his faith, shall live.” The wicked man shall not “keep brandishing his sword to slay peoples without mercy”; and of the fool who “sacrifices to his net” for the fish that come through it – failing to see the God who provides all things and who alone deserves our trust… how long shall such vanity last? It shall disappear with the coming dawn.
“The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.” He who is here in our midst is coming to us, and we know “He judges the world with justice; He governs the peoples with equity.” And His time is soon fulfilled. But how we must trust in Him! How our faith must be purified! How our hearts must be taken from the empty things of this world and our eyes set entirely on the Lord. Only this will save us; and this is what He teaches.
Trust in Him and in His Name;
it is only He who saves us.
He forsakes not His children.
O LORD, let us but trust in you and you will heal us
and bring us to your glory.
YHWH, let us cherish your NAME; let us trust in you entirely and in the power and grace upon your Son. Then we shall be wanting for nothing. Then we shall be healed. Then the same power will be with us, to do all things in your NAME.
Wandering so blindly we see nothing but what is before our eyes, LORD, and so we sacrifice and burn incense to the vain things of this earth. We cannot see that there is no power in the things at our hands but that all power and all glory and our salvation are with you alone. And so we stumble along, falling into water and into fire, into sin and death.
O LORD, let us not be overwhelmed by the devil and his snares, by the empty things of this dark world. Let us make you our stronghold; let us put all faith in you and praise your NAME without ceasing. You shall remember us and answer our prayer, and come quickly to heal us. No longer let us be an unbelieving lot – let us come on our knees to you.
Thu, 6 August 2020
O reformer of the Church
and leader of her priests and people,
calling all to live the Gospel,
to give their hearts
in the service of Christ,
who alone can save men’s souls –
pray that your love for the Lord
and His holy Church
will be known in all
the members of His Body,
and so that apostles will be sent forth
to preach and to heal
even this day.
Pray we shall be one
with Him who made us,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood
and living according to the Word
He speaks to our souls
and all her faithful servants.
It is the Lord alone
who must be our concern;
pray we, too, shall walk in His footsteps.
Thu, 6 August 2020
O martyrs of the faith
ordained by the Lord
to shed blood for His sake
and the sake of His Church,
to give witness to the glory of Christ
and so win the crown
of eternal life…
it is in your blood
and by your sacrifice
the Church has grown
and become strong –
pray it shall always stand firm
in confessing the faith
despite any threat
from the powers of this world;
pray every soul
shall give his life in joy
and so emerge victorious
in the spiritual combat.
Handed over to death for Jesus’ sake,
may we, too, come to life eternal.
Thu, 6 August 2020
(Nah.2:1,3,3:1-3,6-7; Dt.32:35-36,39,41; Mt.16:24-28)
“It is I who bring both death and life,
I who inflict wounds and heal them.”
When the Lord comes indeed “He will repay each man according to his conduct.” And the justice and judgment that are the Lord’s alone are evident in His work amongst Israel and their enemies, spoken of in our first reading and psalm today.
“The flame of the sword, the flash of the spear, the many slain, the heaping corpses, the endless bodies to stumble upon!” such is the graphic description of the horrors inflicted by the “bloody city” of Ninevah, of Assyria, whose nation is “all lies, full of plunder, whose looting never stops!” And that which they have visited upon the nations, and upon the children of Israel, shall come to rest upon their own heads. For “surely, the Lord shall do justice for His people” and prove to the evildoers that it is He alone who “will sharpen [His] flashing sword”; it is He whose “hand shall lay hold of [His] quiver.” For vengeance is with the Lord alone and it is He who “will repay [His] foes and requite those who hate [Him].”
All those who take up the sword, what can be said of them? “Close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them.” Like Ninevah they shall be “destroyed, and who can pity her?” Is she not like he who has “gain[ed] the whole world and ruin[ed] himself in the process?” And shall not all who trust in “horses a-gallop, chariots bounding, cavalry charging,” themselves hear “the rumbling sound of wheels”? As the Lord has duly repaid those on earth, so He will more greatly repay all on the Day of salvation.
But even as death is visited upon the sinner, life dawns upon the righteous. For them, “the bearer of good news [comes], announcing peace.” Those who are pierced to the heart by the cross of Christ in this life, those who bear its weight through this forsaken land, walking in the footsteps of the Lord – even these shall “see the Son of Man come in His kingship.” For “whoever loses his life for [God’s] sake will find it,” and it shall be preserved unto eternity.
Brothers and sisters, though wounded here, the Lord Himself shall heal us. Let death come to all sin, and salvation shall be assured.
O LORD, let us not be trampled underfoot
but come rather to see your glory
by following in your way.
YHWH, it is you alone who bring both death and life, for life itself is in your hands, as is judgment of those who violate it. Your justice is both sure and true, and so you will repay each man according to his deeds: those who have embraced plunder and looting cannot but come to the death they have made; but those who embrace the Cross and lay down their lives in this world shall be blessed greatly by the sight of the Son of Man coming in His glory. Although such vision cannot but bring agony to those whose hearts are set on the ill-gotten gain of this evil age, the destruction of all evil in the LORD’s reign brings joy to the heart set upon Him who passes not away.
And so, dear LORD, let us be numbered among those who seek to lose their lives that they might be found walking in the way of your only Son. We pray the angels of Heaven may carry us to your kingdom on the Day He judges the world and all souls.
Wed, 5 August 2020
(Dn.7:9-10,13-14; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9; 2Pt.1:16-19;
Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36
Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail,
they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day)
“I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts. It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called.
The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God. He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.”
So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain. Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.” What a fearful, absolutely awesome scene it is for Peter, James, and John. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear in glory as well before them, speaking with Jesus of His coming sacrifice. If this is not enough to stir their hearts, and our own, they are overshadowed by a fearsome cloud and the Father’s own voice speaks to them: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Now they see Jesus alone, the Son of God Himself before their wide-open eyes. He tells them not to speak yet of the vision, but their mouths are already shut tight in awe. After the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit they will speak openly of the Lord’s glory – as Peter does for us today in our second reading, saying, “We had been eyewitnesses of His Majesty” – but for now they cannot utter the truth of such glory.
“The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been well documented for us now; “the prophetic message” reaches to the ends of the earth: Jesus is the Son of God and “all peoples shall see His glory.” What the apostles glimpsed on MountTabor, what Daniel and the prophets foresaw, what the psalms sing about and that of which the proverbs and parables speak is come. It dawns now on our human sight, the surpassing glory of the only Son; let us treasure that light with all our hearts. He comes now on the clouds of heaven.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how great is your power,
how bright your light,
and yet you make yourself known to our mortal eyes.
YHWH, how great is your Majesty! How wonderful your glory! How brightly does your light shine! You are a consuming fire, purging away all darkness, all the impurities of sinful man.
And does your Son not perfectly reflect your glorious Majesty? Is He not your very image, O God? And so, should we not listen to Him whom you have sent, Him who is your own, who carries your dominion among us?
How blessed were the eyes of the three apostles to see the transfigured glory of your Son, to glimpse the surpassing wonder to which all souls are called – and to hear your voice! O LORD, how fearful a moment this must have been, and how much joy it must have brought to them, and should bring to us.
Let us be so blessed, dear LORD, to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the light that is Jesus, and soon become one with your risen Son.
Tue, 4 August 2020
(Jer.31:1-7; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.15:21-28)
“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings.”
In our first reading Jeremiah prophesies the restoration of “all the tribes of Israel” to the grace and “age-old love” of their Lord and God. The Lord promises His virgin daughter Israel: “Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.” He will “turn their mourning into joy” as this “remnant of Israel” returns to the holy heights of Mount Zion, as he “gathers them together” as His chosen once again.
And in our gospel the Lord makes clear it is for the lost children of Israel He has come. Here in the mission of the Christ, Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. But more than the restoration of the nation of Israel do we hear of today. What we find is that not these alone shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings, but indeed all the nations shall find Him whom their hearts desire. And it is this Canaanite woman who leads the way for all Gentile people to receive the grace and favor of the One God.
On her knees she comes, crawling like a dog, this mother of all us not born of Jewish blood, to be grafted to the kingdom’s tree. Here is a sign of the humility we all must have. And when rebuffed she does not answer, “Who are you?” and leave in anger, but drops further on her face, pleading for “the leavings that fall from [the] masters’ tables.” And so she shows the Lord the “great faith” even we Gentiles can exhibit; and so she wins a hearing not only for herself but all people of foreign nations who, like Ruth, are able to say in truth: May your God be my God (see Ru.1:16). And so her daughter finds the healing touch of the Lord.