Thu, 15 December 2016
(Is.56:1-3,6-8; Ps.67:2-3,5,7-8; Jn.5:33-36)
“My house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Truth has come, and all nations are drawn to Him.
None is excluded in the House of God; His holy Temple is a place where all take refuge, where all find fulfillment, where all find joy. He only asks that we heed His testimony, that we see the works which He performs and act in accordance with His holiness. “Observe what is right, do what is just, for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed,” the Lord says to us all. Set yourselves on right paths with Him who has come, and you will be readily accepted into His presence.
“Loving the name of the Lord and becoming His servants,” this is what brings us into His house. No matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter when we are, we will be brought “to [His] holy mountain and [made] joyful in [His] house of prayer,” if we follow His ways. Exult in the light of the Lord, know that Jesus is the Temple to which your heart is drawn and your “holocausts and sacrifices will be acceptable on [His] altar.”
His justice is for all; His love extends to the ends of the earth. David’s prayer is answered in Jesus: “May your way be known upon earth, among all nations your salvation.” For now does He “rule the peoples in equity”; now “the earth has yielded its fruits.” Now the blessing of our God falls upon all whose hearts turn to Him.
“May all the ends of the earth fear Him!” Then will all be drawn into His house of prayer and know His love. This day shall not be long in coming; come now to “the lamp, set aflame and burning bright” for all eternity. Enter into the flesh of Christ.
O LORD, you sent your Son
that the light of your face might shine upon us
and all peoples might learn to love your NAME.
YHWH, let us exult in the eternal light that is your Son. He has come among us to draw all souls into your House of prayer, that all might offer holy sacrifice to you on high. And you accept all who come through Him; those who do what is right and keep your day holy you join to yourself. O may all men know such blessing! May all the ends of the earth glory in your presence.
All the nations you gather into your arms, O LORD, by the intercession of Jesus. Your works He performs in our midst to reveal your glory to us and so draw us to the truth, to your holy mountain – to the Heaven where you dwell. May we not be kept apart from your kingdom by any evildoing, by any ignorance of the Word your Son brings to us. Let us enter under your rule.
If we wish to be your children, you will welcome us, LORD. If it is our desire to give you worship, if our hearts are set on prayer, you will bless us. In your Son we will find answer to our prayer, if we believe His testimony, if we believe in the divinity He shares with you.
Wed, 14 December 2016
(Is.54:1-10; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13; Lk.7:24-30)
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.”
We are “the barren one who did not bear,” the “wife married in youth and then cast off” by our God. Once “forsaken and grieved in spirit,” blushing for the “shame of [our] youth,” now the Lord takes us home and promises us His love. “My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken,” the Lord in His mercy assures us. Though we be as those in the days of Noah, deserving of His destructive wrath, yet He takes pity on us, not only sparing our lives, but also promising to expand our space, to increase us in His blessed generosity beyond what we could imagine.
“At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.” Yes, our sin has made us sad; our separation from God has invited His wrath and made us less than what we are. But though the Lord may punish in His justice, yet “His anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime His good will.” David sings, “You changed my mourning into dancing,” for indeed great is His mercy toward us; tender is His touch upon us as He brings us “up from the netherworld” and places us at His side in the kingdom, as His holy bride.
And the Baptist makes the way the redeemed must walk. Necessary is “the baptismal bath he administered” in order to realize God’s plan for the salvation of our lives. He is the messenger who goes ahead of the Lord, preparing the path that leads to our being “born into the kingdom of God,” where our greatness cannot be measured for it will be in union with Him who is “God of all the earth.” Indeed, we must turn from our sins to find our way to this unity; we must repent in tears and turn back to Him. And He will be quick to rescue us, and we will be blessed to rejoice forever, to “break forth in jubilant song” at the graces poured forth upon us by our God in the forgiveness of our sins.
His tender Hand is near us, waiting to touch us. Is it your will to be wed to the Most High God? Then receive the baptism He requires and you will be made fruitful in the kingdom of God.
O LORD, take us back to you;
may our hearts be prepared to receive your glory.
YHWH, we must be cleansed in your baptismal bath, for you wish to draw us back to you from our sin; you wish to turn our mourning into dancing, but we cannot approach you, we cannot enter your kingdom if our shame still clings to us, if the dust of this earth remains upon our souls. We have been made barren by the evil our hands have done; we deserve to be drowned in the waters of the flood, to be cast to the nether world… but you look upon our desolation with mercy and seek to wed us unto you that we might again bear fruit, that we might spread out across all the earth. Bring your Heaven to this desert place, we pray.
Weeping we have known. Abandonment we have suffered, O LORD. Let us now hear your voice crying out to us, calling us back to your loving arms. Our sins indeed please wash away. Never leave us again, we pray; assure us of your abiding love. Into your kingdom let us come with all your holy people.
Sun, 31 July 2016
(Jer.28:1-17; Ps.119:29,43,68,79-80,95,102; Mt.14:13-21)
“Take not the word of truth from my mouth,
for in your ordinances is my hope.”
The word of truth is what Jeremiah speaks in the face of the lies of Hananiah. The false prophet declares in the name of God: “I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from off the neck of the nations,” even as he “took the yoke from upon the neck of Jeremiah” – which he wore to symbolize the exile to which Judah was fated – and broke it “in the presence of all the people.” A dramatic action and a prophecy all would gladly consume. But a lie. To Hananiah, Jeremiah prophesies the truth: “By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke!” as well as the false prophet’s own death, which comes in but a few months. And yes, it is seventy years the exile shall last, and not two.
And is it not the word of truth by which the Lord feeds the five thousand today? Using human logic the disciples suggest to Jesus that He “dismiss the crowds so that they may go to the villages and buy some food for themselves.” But it is with the word of truth Jesus states: “Give them something to eat yourselves.” How? they respond. “We have nothing here... but five loaves and a couple of fish.” How does the Lord multiply these loaves and fish? How can He feed five thousand with barely enough food for fifty? It is not possible except by the word of truth, which can move mountains. Is it not His looking up to heaven and blessing and breaking the food that causes it to be multiplied in the sight (and eating) of all? Does not the Father give the Son all for which He asks? Is His prayer not true?
Brothers and sisters, if the ordinances of the Lord are our hope, what can we not do? What food can we not multiply? What ailing hearts can we not heal? For trusting in Him and in His Word all is ours for the asking. But making our own words and our own desires our way in this world, what can we come to but death? What shall we find but an iron yoke upon our necks?
Yes, the yoke of the Lord is light, for it is formed by the word of God, and in its truth we are buoyed up unto heaven. And all our words are justified. And we are fed with the bread of life.
O LORD, your Word is fulfilled in our midst,
and so your Son feeds us with His Body and Blood.
YHWH, take all falsehood from our hearts and from our lives; on your Word alone let us depend. For as we go according to our own thoughts, so we are lost, so we are without answer to the difficulties of life and fooling ourselves with the responses we devise. But trusting in you, what cannot be done; what do we lack? For you feed us by your own hand if we but remain obedient to your command and come to your Son.
In your Word is our hope, dear God – let it be spoken clearly to our ears and let us cling to its truth. Let us not fear whatever darkness may come to us in this land of exile, but let us know that your yoke is light and it frees us from the yoke of sin and all oppression.
Heal our troubled souls, dearest LORD, by the compassionate touch of Jesus. Let us know we are not alone but that you care ever for your poor flock even in this deserted place. You hand be upon us to bless us, and your Word be spoken to the ends of the earth.
Tue, 19 July 2016
(Jer.1:1,4-10; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; Mt.13:1-9)
“O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.”
So does the seed grow, and bear fruit in the sight of the Lord.
Our psalmist declares, “On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength.” Indeed we are planted in our mother’s womb and we grow by the grace of the Lord. And as our bodies grow so gradually from the womb of our mother, so our spirits, too, grow from the womb of our Mother, the Church, in whose womb the Lord plants us and nurtures us with His water, the Holy Spirit. For it is the Lord who prepares the ground for our planting. As He declares to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” So even before we are planted as seed the Lord holds us in His Hand, and that Hand of love shall never leave us.
And what does the Lord expect of the seed He plants and nurtures but that it sprout and bear much fruit? What does He do but call us forth to proclaim His Word with our lives: “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak” – what He requires of Jeremiah He requires of us all. As “the Lord extended His hand and touched [the prophet’s] mouth, saying, ‘See I place my words within your mouth!’” so He reaches out to us all, planting His Word within our hearts and expecting it to grow and blossom forth. Into the light our works must come to reveal His heavenly presence.
“The crowd stood along the shore” as rows of plants in an ordered garden, and Jesus watered them with His teaching. And in whom would His Word take root? Who would grow unencumbered in His light? Who would bear fruit unto the kingdom of God? “Let everyone heed what he hears!” Make the Lord your “rock of refuge” and He will “rescue [you] from the hand of the wicked” and nurture you with His Bread and the Word of Life. And your “mouth shall declare [His] justice, day by day [His] salvation” as you come gradually and invariably – you know not now – to the kingdom our Savior prepares with His Blood.
O LORD, let the seed we sow with you
bear fruit by your blessing.
YHWH, from the womb you call us; from our conception you bless us with your Word to nourish us and help us grow in your sight, that upon maturity we might praise your NAME and share your Word with all. Help us indeed to grow each day in you and do your will with all our lives.
O LORD, may we bear fruit a hundredfold! May we be planted in good soil, in the womb of your Church, that fruitful indeed we might be. Touch our mouth with your hand that our tongue may be purified to speak of your glory and so serve to plant seeds of life in souls with ears to hear your voice. Let us not wither and die in our sin or be choked by the cares of this world; keep the clutches of Satan far from us, and we will be your own children, declaring your salvation until your Son returns.
O LORD, we depend on you for our very lives, for the breath in our nostrils and the love in our hearts. Shine your light on us this day and let our fruit be pleasing to you.
Sat, 18 June 2016
(Zec.12:10-11,13:1; Ps.63:2-6,8-9; Gal.3:26-29; Lk.9:18-24)
“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.”
Jesus is the Christ of God. It is He who suffers, He who has been pierced for our sins, and He whose blood cleanses us as we look upon Him, as we cry out in tears for the pain we have caused Him and resolve to follow Him now in His way of the cross. What is the “fountain to purify from sin” but the blood poured forth in His sacrifice, and what is it we thirst for but to drink in full the grace contained therein? And it is our great grace to suffer with Him, to take up our cross daily and share in His sacrifice, denying ourselves to find Him and His life. This is what makes us one, with Him and so with one another: this is the baptism that redeems us and makes us whole.
Do we live out our baptismal vows? Do we follow Him in the way of the cross? Are we truly longing for the Lord, pining for Him, gazing upon Him – what is the banquet we seek to satisfy our souls? Are we one in His Spirit, loving Him above all others? Or do we set our souls on the empty pleasures of this life? These we must lose to find Him. Here in solitude the Lord tells the disciples quietly and sincerely, knowing the vanity and thirst for power the devil would plant in their souls – “The Son of Man must suffer greatly.” How He desires them to hear His teaching. How He longs to keep them from the evil one and see that their hearts are not fixed on this life. He knows only this will save them. He knows only repentance brings the life of God, and so He approaches them in the silence of God that His words might sink deeply into them.
And they will listen. And they, too, will all die. They will understand the sacrifice that leads to life. And what of us? The Lord speaks to us, too, today. His words are here written down and proclaimed for our ears to treasure. Do we turn to this fountain of forgiveness, mourning for our sins “as one mourns for an only son”? And does our mourning lead us to lay down our lives?
Nothing of this world will suffice. His Body and Blood alone are our food and drink here in this life. They make us one and make us strong, and by them He will uphold us, if our hearts are set on losing this life to find Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Blood in My Palate" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, in the Cross let us find
your cleansing fountain.
YHWH, we look toward your sanctuary and what do we see but your Son pierced for our sins? And so we mourn, and so we cry… and it is in these tears we are washed clean – baptism in His blood purifies us of sin. And so, in the shadow of His wings we rejoice.
For now, O LORD, our souls may cling to you; by the sacrifice of your Son we are made one with Him and with one another. And His call to take up our own cross, to share in His sacrifice, we receive with great joy; for He has shown us that it is this path that leads to salvation, that leads to eternal glory in your presence.
O let us enter your sanctuary this day, LORD our God! Let us join ourselves to the offering Jesus makes for our sakes, eating His Body and drinking His Blood and doing your will as He has done. At the banquet of Heaven let our souls be satisfied!
Sat, 4 June 2016
(1Kgs.17:17-24; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-12; Gal.1:11-19; Lk.7:11-17)
“O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld.”
“You preserved me from among those going down into the pit.” For I was dead, but now I live. These should be the words of us all, for the Lord indeed is our salvation – our life breath comes from Him, and He will preserve us from all death. No longer in sin, we rise to new life.
The resurrecting power of God is clearly evident in our readings today. We see both Jesus and Elijah raising the dead. And perhaps the rising of Paul from the blind pit into which he’d fallen, which led him even to persecute and attempt to destroy the Church, is the most remarkable resurrection.
What we should take from today’s readings is the sure knowledge that God is life and that life has no origin other than Him. Paul proclaims the Word he preaches comes only from God through the revelation of Jesus Christ – emphasizing that no man taught him the Word which burns in his soul (a Word which gives life to all who hear it) – and in both the gospel and the first reading those who witness the raising of the dead attribute rightly its source to the Lord. In one they proclaim, “God has visited His people,” and in the other the widow of Sidon states of Elijah: “The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.” This is the character of the Word, this is the quality of God – He gives life. And so we know Him.
And we indeed are all as the widows in today’s readings; we are all bereft of our only sons, of the light of our eyes and our very life. We mourn for the loss of our souls which is imminent because of our sin. And we, too, weep. Who shall save us? Who shall speak a word to us to revive us, to return our life’s breath, to restore our souls? Jesus comes to us. He visits our city, He comes to our door. His Word approaches our hearts and calls to us to arise – He breathes upon us the breath of new life. His apostles go forth from the foundation set in Peter, and this true Gospel is that which shall save the world, which shall bring it from its mourning to joy.
But do we mourn the loss of our souls? Do we bewail that which is taken from us by sin? Do we see the death upon us? We must come as widows calling upon the Lord to find His Word at work in our hearts, bringing us to life. And we must share that Word with others. Once raised from the dead, we must proclaim what the Word has done for us. We must recognize His power at work in the world.
May the Word go forth to the ends of the earth, speaking of the saving power of God. May it raise all from death.
Written, read and chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let the life breath return to your children;
by your grace let us rise from the dead to praise you.
YHWH, your Son looks with pity upon our poor condition, He sees that we are bereft of our only Child, of the light of our eyes – He sees our souls descend to the nether world and desires only to raise them from such darkness to the eternal light of your presence… and He prays for us… and He calls to us… and we rise and are held in our Mother’s arms.
To the Church Jesus entrusts our souls; our very lives are in the hands of our Mother on earth. Dearest God, let us never be separated from the life-giving Breath you give us through your apostles, through the magisterium, through the teaching of your Son which they guard so assiduously. In your House let us remain all the days of our life.
What hope have we if you call attention to our guilt, to the sin upon our souls? But in your compassion you preserve us from certain death, and for this we praise you. Thank you, LORD, for visiting your people and changing our mourning into dancing before you.
Wed, 25 May 2016
(1Pt.2:2-5,9-12; Ps.100:2-5; Mk.10:46-52)
“Be as eager for milk as newborn babies –
pure milk of the Spirit to make you grow unto salvation.”
Does not the “blind beggar Bartimaeus” show his eagerness for the milk of the Spirit, for the blood of Christ upon his soul, when he persistently calls out “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” despite those who “were scolding him to make him keep quiet”? And was his ready desire to meet with the Lord not revealed most clearly when “he threw aside his cloak, jumped up and came to Jesus.” All else becomes as nothing as even in his blindness he strains forward to find the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, should we not “come to Him, a living stone, rejected by men but approved, nonetheless, and precious in God’s eyes,” just as this beggar? Are we not “‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people He claims for His own to proclaim the glorious works’ of the One who called [us] from darkness into His marvelous light”? Is it not so that “once [we] were no people, but now [we] are God’s people”? Once we were blind as Bartimaeus, without mercy for our souls, “but now [we] have found mercy.” And oh how we should treasure such grace – even as a newborn child treasures its milk.
Who better than Peter, our high priest, to let us know that we “too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”? Having been cured of our own blindness, having been purged of our “carnal desires,” we join this blessed Rock of the Church at the altar on high, sharing in the sacrifice of our Risen Christ. Should this thought not cause us to “serve the Lord with gladness”? Should it not make us ever eager to serve Him more, to draw ever closer to Him as He passes by? Is it not our desire to be with Him forever?
“Get up! He is calling you!” Do not be afraid for “He made us” and we are “the flock He tends.” The gentle Lord desires nothing more than to heal your troubled soul. See that you now “follow Him up the road” in joy, growing daily in the new life and light of the Spirit of God.
O LORD, in your great mercy
you have saved us from our sins
that we might see your glory –
let us proclaim your marvelous works this day.
YHWH, we praise you for the mercy you bring to our souls. We were once blind and begging by the roadside, but you have heard our cries and healed us; and now we walk with Jesus to Jerusalem. In His very sacrifice we share, offering ourselves and our works up in His Name. So generous you are that in His priesthood we now share.
O LORD, though we are the poorest of sinners, though we have been so far from you and your mercy, mired in the deepest darkness, yet you have come to us, you have passed by the gutter in which we were splayed, and you have lifted us by your Word from our emptiness – you have given light to our eyes. Let us thank you now by following in your way, and so fulfill your grace at work in us.
O LORD, let all our carnal desires be stripped from us like an old cloak and let us stand with you in white robes. Truly, O LORD, make us your own, that we might praise you forevermore.