Fri, 10 November 2017
(Rm.16:3-9,16,22-27; Ps.145:1-5,10-11; Lk.16:9-15)
“Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.”
We are in the world, and amongst the wealth of this world. We have nothing to do with money and the world – “You cannot serve God and money,” the Lord has told us, and so we cannot serve money… yet what have we to use but the riches of this world? And so “through use of this world’s goods,” by showing ourselves trustworthy with this “elusive wealth,” we find and bring others to the “lasting” riches of heaven.
Paul at the end of his letter to the Romans lists all his “fellow workers in the service of Christ.” Here are those who have been faithful with the elusive wealth of this world. They themselves have died, their bodies have been laid in the tomb, yet their works live on in the Spirit they have brought forth. Nothing of this world lasts long, yet these transitory things can and must be used, that “glory be given through Jesus Christ unto endless ages.”
“Generation after generation praises your works and proclaims your might,” sings David to the Lord. And with our voice, too, while we have breath, we must “speak of the splendor of [His] glorious majesty and tell of [His] wondrous works.” Forever and in all our works we must praise and bless the Lord of all, that all we do leads unto the glory of the kingdom, that in all we serve God with all our might. We must join ourselves to Him, and we do this by the gifts He gives us, and by employing now what is at our disposal. So it is. So it has been back beyond the time of Paul, and so it shall be unto the coming of eternity.
Today we must think of how well we use this world’s goods, how well we employ this Word of the Lord in the world. In the “little” things of our daily lives do we honor God, or are we unjust in some manner? For today begins the road to heaven; this time leads to eternity. And if we wish to find “lasting reception” with the Lord in heaven, we must be ever faithful in our works today. To God let us give thanks. May we who are the work of the Lord give praise to Him in all our works upon this earth.
O LORD, let us give you glory
through all that is at our hands.
YHWH, generation after generation praises your works; from the time of the apostles unto this day, all those who serve the Gospel of your Son speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty – let us always discourse of the glory of your reign and give you due praise by all we do in your NAME.
O LORD, we are in the world, and though we can never be of the world, what do we have but the world this day? And so we must use it wisely and make great profit by it, even the salvation of the world itself. May many men come into your presence by the work of your servants each day. And may we always be in their company.
O LORD, let our names be written in the Book of those who have faithfully served you, who have turned their backs on unjust gain for the sake of your Church. May we forever sing your praise with all those your Son has saved.
Sat, 4 November 2017
(Mal.1:14b-2:2b,8-10; Ps.131:1-3; 1Thes.2:7b-9,13; Mt.23:1-12)
“Have we not all the one Father?
Has not the one God created us?”
And should not those who serve in His stead, bringing the word of God to waiting hearts, be as He is, loving all as He does and thus giving “glory to [His] name”?
“I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me,” King David declares, thus revealing the blessed relationship of the faithful, humble disciple and His Lord. We are indeed as little children before God, and He loves us as a tender Father, as the One who has made us with great care. And so we should take our peace upon His lap.
And when the sheep of the flock come to the shepherds the Lord has appointed to teach in His Name, they should find a reflection of the Father’s presence – in these one should discover His love. Yes, they must instruct according to the Word placed upon their souls by their ordination, but they should not merit the words Jesus speaks of the Pharisees: “They preach but they do not practice.” For if “all their works are performed to be seen,” if they teach and preach without love, without living the word of God themselves, soon the flock will be led astray by their vanity and turn from the word they speak itself. Malachi prophesies to the priests of his day: “You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction.” If these leaders show no reverence of God themselves, who will be led to reverence by their instruction?
Yes, still our duty is to God Himself and our worship is of Him alone – and so Jesus teaches the people, “Do and observe whatsoever [the scribes and Pharisees] tell you, but do not follow their example” – but He also demands of His followers that they not possess the vanity of these proud leaders. Oh if all approached the service of Paul, how blessed our Church would be! Listen to his words to the Thessalonians: “Brothers and sisters: we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children,” for he and his fellow workers “were determined to share with [them] not only the Gospel of God, but [their] very selves as well,” so much did they love their flock with the love of God.
And this is as all pastors are called to be, “working night and day” for the little ones in their care. “Feed my sheep,” the Lord commanded His Rock; and all our priests are called to feed the members of the Church not only with the Word of God, but also with His love, that they might learn to take refuge in Him who is Father of all. I ask you, has the Lord not become incarnate in our midst? And should that Incarnation not be known in all our flesh and in all our bone? Then let us serve one another in love.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Everyone's A Baby, Everyone's A Child" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us humble ourselves
before you, our Father.
YHWH, let us all be humble before you, as children on their mother’s lap; then we shall know your blessing – then we shall live in your love. But if we should become proud and seek the praise of others, our souls will be thus corrupted and we will know you no more.
O LORD, please send us holy priests to guide us in your ways. May they always preach your Word in truth that our hearts might not go astray; and may they live according to the Gospel they impart, that an example of your self-giving love will be ever with us.
What is a family without a father, and how can we be your children without your image revealed among us, without the instruction and sacrifice of your Son made real in our midst? You have created us, dear LORD, and you desire to share your blessings with us all. In genuine humility let us come before you and others, serving ever your saving Word.
Fri, 3 November 2017
(Rm.11:1-2,11-12,25-29; Ps.94:12-15,17-18; Lk.14:1,7-11)
“The Lord will not cast off His people,
nor abandon His inheritance.”
Today the gifts and call of the Israelites, which are “irrevocable,” are spoken of beautifully in our readings.
Indeed, the majority of Jews rejected and even persecuted Jesus and His followers. But as Paul tells us, the Lord has always and will always leave a remnant among them to maintain His covenant with them. As Paul reminds us, “I myself am an Israelite.” And of course so were all the apostles. God has not rejected His people, for “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” The promise He has made to bless the Israelites stands to this day.
Paul explains clearly the wisdom of God and how He works through the transgressions of the Jews to bring the Gentiles to salvation. And how the Gentiles’ conversion and the grace poured upon them shall lead the Israelite people back to the Lord: “Blindness has come upon part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in, and then all Israel will be saved.” Yes, all Israel will yet be saved; they shall yet come flowing to the mountain of God, to His Son, and find redemption, and find the honor bestowed upon them; and by their turning, how much all His holy people shall be blessed! “Judgment shall again be with justice, and all the upright of heart shall follow it.” Alleluia!
But there is another lesson for us today, and it, too, has to do with the quality needed by the chosen. Jesus speaks of it clearly in our gospel, and it illustrates the difficulty the Jews have in coming to the Lord, and warns us against the same mistake. Jesus comes to dinner “at the house of one of the leading Pharisees” and witnesses the guests scrambling for the best seats at table. Quietly He speaks to them, gently He reminds them, that they are not called to exaltation of their own position, gifted as it may or may not be, but to humility before all, as He has indeed shown us. How unlike our Lord, who though in the form of God humbled Himself to become human and even to die on a cross (without uttering a word), are they. And here is the teaching of Christ: “Sit in the lowest place.” The greater our call, the deeper should be our humility. This emptying ourselves as has Jesus is an indispensable virtue for any Christian. And only it will bring the Jew to realize the presence of Christ in his midst.
And should we who have been grafted to the kingdom’s tree late in time boast of our gift, walk with haughty eyes in His house? By no means, lest we be cast off by Him. Let us rather treasure the grace the Lord has granted us, preserve His call within us, and make our election permanent, beneath the shadow of His cross.
O LORD, we shall not enter your reign
until we are humble before you;
your Son is ever present
and so we must ever give place to Him.
YHWH, you do not abandon your people, Jew or Gentile believer, but serve in your wisdom to bring all to salvation, if they but humble themselves before you. For pride is the only thing that can condemn us, the only thing that can keep us from you and your merciful love; and so if you make your people to stumble, it is only for their good, only to see that they shall inherit your glory by their conformity to the humility of your only Son.
There is a greater than all of us present here at our feast. Should we not make room for Jesus, LORD? And if we do not, if we clamor to take our place above your Chosen One, if we look upon the gifts and graces that come to us only through Him and use them as excuse to exalt ourselves above others, will not such conceit, will not such blindness to the presence of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins keep us from sharing in His body and blood? O let us enter your gates by taking the lowest place with your chosen ones.
Thu, 2 November 2017
(Rm.9:1-5; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Lk.14:1-6)
“They could not answer.”
The Pharisees are dumb. The leaders of the Jewish nation cannot speak as to whether a man should be healed on the sabbath. How far they have fallen from the presence of God.
We know the Israelites were God’s chosen people. This is proclaimed clearly by both Paul and our psalmist today: “Theirs were the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the lawgiving, the worship, and the promises; theirs were the patriarchs, and from them came the Messiah”; yet when the Messiah, the Son, the fulfillment of all the gifts given them, stands before them… they are blind, they are dumb – they have no wisdom, no light. This is the nation whom the Lord has given “His statutes and His ordinances… He has not done thus for any other nation.” And yet they are unable to judge that it is right for a man to be healed at any time, that this is God’s will, that human life supersedes the mere observance of law, a law they have suffocated of its life.
And we? Again, being successors to the Jews we must always ask ourselves if we do the things which caused the promise to be taken from their hands. Do we proclaim the glory of this Word? Do we “speak the truth in Christ”? Or do we keep silent, too? And not the silence that bears all suffering as has our Savior upon the cross do I speak – I mean the death of the Word in our souls. The inability to discern His will. The fear to praise God by teaching the nations of the grace which has been granted us. “He sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His Word!” But does that Word come through us, does it work through us who are the keepers of the New Covenant, or do we let it die in our throats?
“Blessed forever be God who is over all!” Paul shouts as despair he begins to detect for the failure of so many Jews to turn to Christ. And so we should ever praise our God whenever doubt or fear enters our soul. It is our only refuge. It is our only strength. Silence before the courts of this world which observe us closely will not do. Acceptance of our death, yes, but not fear of retribution should be ours. We must speak the truth in love, relying on the wisdom which comes from Him alone as we make our way through the challenges of this world.
O LORD, why should our mouths be shut
in the presence of your glory?
YHWH, may your Word run swiftly to us and work swiftly through us. May we never hesitate to proclaim your praise, to declare your love for all in all our words and actions. May we think only the good and seek only your will. Let the dictates of the law never quash our souls.
How blessed were your chosen people, LORD! All things were given them at your gracious hands. True worship of you was theirs; but how far they have fallen from your love. Though all was made known to them by your Word, they forgot the blessing upon their nation and became blind to your will. O let their eyes be opened!
You desire only good for all, dearest LORD, and nothing that is for our neighbor’s good can contravene your law. The law you give to lead us to glory, and now that glory is in our midst in your only Son. Let us open our hearts to His teaching and live forever in your love.