Sat, 30 December 2017
(Gn.15:1-6,21:1-3; Ps.105:1-9; Heb.11:8,11-12,17-19; Lk.2:22-40)
“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,
and the favor of God was upon Him.”
What child is this of whom Simeon the prophet, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares to the Lord, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all peoples,” even as he holds Jesus in his arms? This indeed is He who is the “light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for [His] people Israel”; this indeed is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, foreshadowed in the birth of Isaac, by whom Abraham’s descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” “Binding for a thousand generations,” forever, was the covenant the Lord “entered into with Abraham and by His oath to Isaac,” and now that covenant is brought to perfection in the sight of Simeon and Anna; now “all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem” could rejoice and “give thanks to the Lord,” for to the temple had come the Christ of God: here is the Messiah.
“Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” for in Jesus His Son you shall find Him. Though raised in a humble family in the town of Nazareth, this is He who raises all His chosen unto heaven, who brings salvation to His people. And so rejoice indeed “you descendants of Abraham, His servants, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!” for even as “there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead,” innumerable descendants, even as the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham by the birth of Isaac, so the Lord’s promise to Simeon “that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord” is fulfilled in all our midst even this day. Listen to the prophet’s proclamation: the light has come! We are no longer in darkness, no longer in mournful anticipation. And so with Anna we should come forward now and speak “about the child” to all who will listen, to all who long to hear the good news of God.
Brothers and sisters, let the Lord grow in our midst. In this Holy Family that is His Church let Him be nurtured and known. For God’s favor rests upon Him alone and by no other child does salvation come. Today He is presented to all waiting hearts.
Written & chanted by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Abouna Joseph; used by permission.
O LORD, let your Word be fulfilled
in the lives of all your children –
let our eyes see your salvation.
YHWH, your Word you fulfill in our midst for you are faithful. Your Christ you send among us to save us from our sins that we might be as your children forever. Let us enter your generation, LORD, and be of your Holy Family.
Your Son has become our brother and so we know you as our Father, LORD. Your promise is fulfilled and He now dwells among us – and so you, too, are with us. From the womb of the Virgin Mary is born a Child with whom we grow into your holy image; we are made pure as she by the grace upon her Son.
In Nazareth let us make our home, O LORD, with Jesus and Mary and Joseph; then our home in Heaven will be secure and even here we will have your blessing. Though a sword must pierce our heart as it has with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and all your saints, yet we shall rejoice in your goodness toward us, that you make us fruitful with Abraham as children of a living faith. Let us become strong and wise in your sight.
Sat, 23 December 2017
(2Sm.7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16; Ps.89:2-5,27,29; Rom.16:25-27; Lk.1:26-28)
“The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father.”
“I have made a covenant with David my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations.” Here is the promise made to King David. Upon his seeking to build a house for the Lord, “the Lord… reveals to [David] that He will establish a house for [him].” Through the prophet Nathan, the Lord declares to His humble servant: “When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm.” This would seem like all the world to refer to the great King Solomon, but it does not. For, like the earth itself, Solomon and all his gold – and even “the rest from all [his] enemies,” the peace the Lord establishes under his reign – will pass away; they cannot “endure forever” and neither can such a kingdom. The prophet speaks of a kingdom established in heaven (where all by nature endures forever), not one of the earth.
And so it is not Solomon of whom the prophet and the psalmist speak, but Jesus, He whose coming is hailed today by the angel’s words to the Blessed Virgin: “He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” For Abraham has died and Jacob has died and David has died and Solomon has died… and their graves are with us to this day. But Jesus, Jesus lives; Jesus lives forever at the right hand of His Father.
It is indeed Jesus who most truly says to the Lord God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock.” It is He who is His only Son: it is He who is God Himself, one in being with the Father. This is “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings”; this is “the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith”: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the only Son – and we must worship Him.
Come now, brothers and sisters, to this Child Mary bears by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Him your peace shall be established in the Father’s kingdom. Come to His holy throne, enter into His eternal reign… and with His humble king, and with His humble Mother, you shall be blessed forever.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Removing the Log from my Eye" (first part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let the Mother of our Lord come to us, too,
that new life may stir in us as well.
YHWH, blessed is the womb of Bethlehem, of Israel, of Mary the Mother of your Son. For in her you have prepared a body, the body of Jesus, the Word made flesh, that shall be as offering for our sins. In Him we are saved, for in Him your majesty reigns, and so your glory is now in our midst.
O let us leap like John the Baptist at the approach of your Son and His Mother! Bring to life what has remained dormant for such a long time. Arouse within us the joy of new life that we might be stirred to proclaim your glory. He has come who shall shepherd us, LORD; let us be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The sacrifices of old now pass away as all prophecy is fulfilled in the flesh of your only Son. And so we pray, let your will be done. Let your greatness reach to the ends of the earth and your peace reign in every heart by the power upon Jesus the Christ. O LORD, let us be consecrated to you in His holy offering.
Sat, 16 December 2017
(Is.61:1-2,10-11; Lk.1:46-50,53-54; 1Thes.5:16-24; Jn.1:6-8,19-28)
“A man named John was sent from God.”
Here is the one of whom the prophet speaks, and who can rightly proclaim the words inscribed by Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.” Here is he who has come “to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.” The Spirit is upon him and he speaks of the coming Messiah. He has been sent by God to “testify to the light.”
But who heeds his proclamation? Who is able to hear this voice crying and find the joy of the path it would blaze in their hearts? How many are still as the priests and Levites and Pharisees of today’s gospel, inquiring so blindly, “Who are you”? How many are as the commentators of the missal I read, who term the prophecy of Isaiah a “poem,” and state that the Canticle of Mary is “a song that Luke put into the mouth of Mary”? How many have no sense of prophecy, or the Spirit, or God Himself? How many are deaf to John’s cry?
Our brother Paul instructs us: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances.” And yet the greatest of all prophetic utterances are watered down in ankle-deep wisdom. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” Mary declares. The Spirit wells up in her spirit and she cannot but “rejoice in God [her] Savior.” These are not words put into her mouth by any man; her prophecy does not come from the pen of a scribe but from the very Spirit of God!
The Word of God cannot be chained; the voice “crying out in the desert” cannot be tamed by those “not worthy to untie” the mysteries hidden in sacred Scripture. Paul will be put under house arrest; the Baptist Herod will cast into his dungeon; the Christ shall be crucified – but the Word of God will go forth, and nothing shall silence its voice. The testimony to the light must be heard, “so that all might believe through Him”; there will ever be proclaimed “liberty to captives and release to the prisoners” by the power of Jesus Christ, until all hear of the mercy He has “on those who fear Him.”
A man named John was sent, not to testify to himself, but to prophesy the grace of God; and his voice will cry out the way to the ends of the earth and to the end of time.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Removing the Log from my Eye" (second part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Son is coming
and we should repent of all sin
that we might be ready to rejoice and give Him praise.
YHWH, the fire of the Spirit has come to us; John has proclaimed the light in our midst. Jesus, your Son, is now among us, and what should we do but rejoice?
O LORD God, holy is your NAME, and holy is the One whom you send to us. So holy is He that we are not worthy to kneel at His feet. For He reflects your greatness, O LORD; His light is your own. How can we stand in your overwhelming glory, except that in Him we receive your promised mercy in our soul?
What mercy you bring us this day, LORD God! What grace is ours in the word the Baptist speaks. For he proclaims the Christ come among us – he proclaims the salvation of your lowly ones.
We are but your servants, LORD, unworthy to wait on your only Son. Yet you bless us with your loving mercy and invite us to perfection in Him. And so, what can we do but rejoice?
Sat, 9 December 2017
(Is.40:1-5,9-11; Ps.85:9-14; 2Pt.3:8-14; Mk.1:1-8)
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.”
And so, “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And so comes “the voice of one crying out in the desert,” in the desert that is our fallen lives: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”
Turn from your sins, brothers and sisters. Repent. It is the Lord’s will that “all should come to repentance,” that all should be “found without spot or blemish” on the day of His coming, on the day all “the elements will be dissolved with fire.” With the fire of the Holy Spirit does the Lord Jesus come now to baptize, that what John has cleansed from our souls might be gone forever – that the new person we become by this baptism of water might be made complete, might become hardened and lasting in the furnace of His love.
God “proclaims peace to His people. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.” Hear what His prophet says, for he cries “out at the top of [his] voice” that indeed all hearts might listen: “Here is your GOD! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by His strong arm.” Yes, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” and now the WORD is in our midst, walking amongst us as our shepherd and “leading the ewes with care.” The “justice [that] shall walk before Him, and prepare the way of His steps,” has come, and now the level highway that leads to His kingdom we must tread – there is no denying the road that is set before us.
Christ is coming, brothers and sisters, and Christ has come. The Baptist has prepared His path, and He, the Son of God, has walked it. And now we await His return in glory. And “the Lord does not delay His promise”; His return is sure. Already we see the “glory dwelling in our land.” He waits for you to come now to Him. In patience He looks for you to turn. Turn to Him now in earnest; with all your soul cry out His Name. “Jesus Christ the Son of God” dawns on the horizon. Embrace His love; walk His sacred path.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Please Even Me Out" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may peace be proclaimed to your people
and we follow on your way of salvation.
YHWH, let your Word be proclaimed to the ends of the earth that all hearts might be prepared for the return of your Son, for the Day when all the elements will be dissolved by fire and the thoughts and deeds of every soul revealed.
John the Baptist has come and prepared the way for the first coming of Jesus. Now His disciples go forth, now the Gospel is cried out from the heights of Zion – now every man shall plainly see that you, O LORD, are God; and peace shall come to him who turns to your glory.
With fire let us be baptized today, LORD, with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Washed clean from our sins let us now be perfected for life in your kingdom. Let us not fear the coming Day but welcome it and hasten it by living uprightly before you. In your patience you wait for us to turn from all sin and embrace your presence in our midst. Let us make straight your way into our hearts.
Sat, 2 December 2017
(Is.63:16b-17,19b,64:2-7; Ps.80:2-4,15-16,18-19; 1Cor.1:3-9; Mk.13:33-37)
“Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!”
“O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven, and see.” “Rouse your power, and come to save us.” Do not “let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden [not] our hearts so that we fear you not.” We are your fruitful vine, but “we have all withered like leaves… for you have hidden your face from us and delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are the potter.” “May your help be with the Man of your right hand.” May we be formed in His image and so be pleasing to you. May we be ready for His return, and our final meeting with you, our Lord and God.
Brothers and sisters, we must be as the Corinthians, among whom “the testimony of Christ was confirmed,” who “are not lacking in any spiritual gift as [they] wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He travels now abroad in the kingdom of His Father, but He will return. And He has indeed left us “each with his work”; all are gifted by God and called to bear fruit in the time that is ours now… “May He not come suddenly and find [us] sleeping.” When He “rend[s] the heavens and come[s] down, with the mountains quaking before [Him],” may we not be found quaking as well, having slipped into the slumber of sin, having been covered with this world’s darkness. Rather, let Him meet us doing right at whatever hour He may come. Let us constantly serve our God and “He will keep [us] firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” In many ways does He indeed say it: “Be watchful! Be alert!” Keep your eyes open! Stay awake! Be ready! But ever He tells us to remember that we are “called to fellowship with [the] Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” And as “God is faithful” so must we too be faithful to our call, giving witness always to the glory of our Lord.
Now is the time to turn from our sin and be formed in His image. Let the prophet not say over us: “There is none who calls upon [His] name, who rouses himself to cling to [Him].” Let us prepare ourselves for His coming by walking rightly in His ways.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Warm Forehead" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us enter into fellowship with your Son,
becoming one with Him
and watching for His return.
YHWH, let us be mindful of our ways as we wait for the return of your Son. May we be blessed with every spiritual gift as we watch for His coming. Though our good deeds have become as polluted rags, He makes them new, bringing us back to you.
Give us new life, O LORD, that we might call upon your NAME. You are our Father, our God; let us no longer be separated from you and your glory. We are the work of your hands, dear God – remake us in the image of your Son that when He comes we might stand with Him in your presence.
Make us irreproachable, LORD, by your grace, by your mercy, by your rending of the heavens and coming down to us. Let us lack nothing for the hour of Jesus’ return but be ready to enter the kingdom. May our eyes be open and our hearts awaiting our salvation.
Fri, 1 December 2017
(Dn.7:15-27; Dn.3:59,82-87; Lk.21:34-36)
“The day I speak of will come upon all who dwell
on the face of the earth.”
And so we must “pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The vision is explained to Daniel, and really it is quite simple: evil shall come, but good shall triumph in the end. Kingdoms of the Beast, of the evil one, “shall arise on earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship, to possess it forever and ever,” the angel tells Daniel, and reiterates this simple point: “All the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, whose kingdom shall be everlasting.” Yes, evil kingdoms shall rise and make war “against the holy ones,” devouring the earth, beating it down, and crushing it… but the court of the Lord will be convened and the “final and absolute destruction” of the evil one is thus at hand. In Daniel’s vision “the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.” And so it is; and so it shall be.
“Be on the watch,” the Lord exhorts us in our gospel for this the final day of our liturgical year. We must indeed “be on guard,” for if we do not watch, we will not be prepared for the coming day of the Lord which is ever at hand. Certainly we do not wish to be destroyed with the devil and his angels, but if our “spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares,” how shall we stand? And so it is that we must indeed pray constantly for the strength to withstand the coming chastisement – we cannot underestimate the devil’s power to seduce us with his lies even as the grass grows beneath our feet. As the grass grows, so must our spirits grow, in truth and goodness and love. His peace must surround us to guard us against the sin which attacks us here as we live and breathe upon the face of the earth.
The day will come. Let it be our joy to be found waiting for the Lord.
(And so, Advent is now upon us.)
O LORD, preserve us from what is to come;
give us the strength to stand in your glorious presence.
YHWH, the day of your judgment is coming upon all who dwell on the face of the earth, but on that day your holy ones will be glorified. The beasts and their kingdoms shall all be destroyed and your holy people will reign with your Son.
But we must be ready for that day; we cannot fall into drunkenness. If we become bloated with indulgence and worldly cares, we shall not stand secure before Jesus but be driven out with the evil one. O let not that day overtake us, dear LORD! Rather, take us then into your kingdom.
There is great trial coming upon this world; it is now underway. War is made against your holy ones, and they must suffer and even die. But let us praise your eternal glory, LORD. Let all your servants, the souls of all the just, bless your holy NAME. For our salvation is on the horizon, and nothing need we fear from Him who comes. Let us be awake in prayer.