Sat, 29 June 2019
(1Kgs.19:16b,19-21; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; Gal.5:1,13-18; Lk.9:51-62)
“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind
is fit for the kingdom of God.”
We must follow Jesus. And the path He walks leads to the cross.
Our gospel tells us, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” Jesus knows what awaits Him in Jerusalem. He knows how He will weep over the city for its lack of faith, and He knows their lack of faith will bring His crucifixion. Yet into the waiting arms of death He travels, undeterred. And how many there are who proclaim their desire to walk with Him; how many volunteer to follow in His way. But how little they know of the difficulty found on that road: “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” – we must give up our homes. “Let the dead bury the dead” – we must leave behind our family. Yes, we must never look “to what was left behind,” namely, “the desire of the flesh” of which Paul speaks. We are now “guided by the Spirit”; the flesh no longer holds sway over us. That which is opposed to the Spirit we must give no thought to anymore.
Look at Elisha, the powerful prophet, in our first reading. He is called by the master, Elijah. Yes, he fails to follow immediately, but look at what he does in saying good-bye to his family. He takes what has been his livelihood to this day and sacrifices it utterly: he slaughters the oxen and even uses “the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,” giving the meat as food for his people. Nothing remains to call him back; he effects a total departure from his old self.
Brothers and sisters, we must take such complete refuge in the Lord. We must say with David, “O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.” All must be given over to Him and entrusted to His care. It does us no good to hesitate on our journey with Him or take up things which will weigh us down along the way.
“Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery,” Paul exhorts us. Leave all the desires of this world behind to find the freedom known only in heaven. Then we will proclaim with David: “I set the Lord before me; with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” We will know His mantle of strength and protection in our call to walk with Him; the yoke of slavery to sin will be broken from our shoulders. We are truly free, brothers and sisters, only insofar as we follow Him, submitting ourselves to the cross.
O Lord, take all that keeps us back from following in your way, that in such death to self we may draw nigh to your kingdom. Your cross is the path to life.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Hold On, Here We Go" (second part) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may your Spirit guide us
on the road to the Cross.
YHWH, how shall we be fit for your kingdom? How shall we give ourselves as we must to your will? Help us to leave all behind and never turn back to it. Help us to follow your Son even to the Cross. For if you do not help us, we shall falter on the way. Without your grace we shall not have the light and strength we need.
O LORD, our spirit is willing to follow you, but how weak is our flesh. How concerned we are about the things of this earth! And so your Son must be severe with us, for how else shall we break the yoke of slavery to sin? Without His sharp Word we would linger in complacency all our days.
O let the ties that bind us to this world be cut and we be free to walk with Jesus in utter service and love! May the fire of your Spirit be upon us to burn away all attachment to sin. Be our sole refuge, dear God, that no corruption we shall know but remain at your right hand forever.
Thu, 27 June 2019
(Ez.34:11-16; Ps.23:1-6; Rm.5:5-11; Lk.15:3-7)
“I have found my lost sheep.”
“We have found reconciliation” through the blood of Jesus Christ. So the Apostle Paul tells us, and so we know to the depths of our hearts, which are united to His Sacred Heart. Once we were sinners, scattered like sheep on the hillside, but the Lamb of God has come and died for us, and so we His scattered sheep are led home. He has brought to fulfillment the promise of the Father to walk among us and rescue us from the darkness that envelops this world. “The lost,” “the strayed,” “the injured,” “the sick,” He has come to lead back to the bosom of the Father, where we may take refuge in His Sacred Heart.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”; so let us recognize our sin that His blood might be efficacious. Let us not deny His grace as “people who have no need to repent.” For if we say we are righteous, the darkness will continue to surround us and He will not be beside us to guide us to the Father’s pasture: we will be left alone and forsaken. No, let us cause heaven to rejoice by repenting of our sin each day and always finding His blood at work within us. To what pasture He leads us! What protection we find even in this life, a blessing known especially in His Sacrament. And what future awaits us in His heavenly kingdom. We taste it and make our boast in it now, but there it shall be known in its fullness when, indeed, nothing shall ever harm us. “For, now we rejoice in the refuge He gives as we “walk in the dark valley”; even still He is gathering His scattered sheep. Yes, to this day He moves among us as our Shepherd, and then we shall rest eternally in the Father’s arms.
We give thanks to the Lord for the blessings He provides us on our path to His glory. We thank Him for His Church and its sacraments. We come to the altar and receive His sacrifice this day, knowing we are not worthy of such a call. But we confess our sins to Him. We seek His forgiveness through the ministry of the shepherds He has left us, and His mercy finds a place in us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, thank you for your grace and mercy.
Lead us home to the Father’s arms.
O Lord, like sheep we have all gone astray;
lead us back today,
and on your holy mountain
may we take rest.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, in your mercy and love
shepherd us to restful waters.
YHWH, is it not the blood of your Son that reconciles us to you, that shepherds us into your kingdom? And so, does Heaven not now await every repentant sinner? O let us rejoice in your presence with all who have found your forgiveness!
Your promise is sure, dear God. You promise to come among us and lead all straying souls back to you, back to your holy mountain; and this you have accomplished by sending your Son to die for our sins. And now by the grace upon us by virtue of His sacrifice, your Spirit guides us in right paths to your House, where we shall dwell forever in your peace.
Why do you love us so, dear LORD? Why does your Son so freely lay down His life for godless men like us? O let us but accept the healing grace that comes to us because of your compassion! Let all souls repent of their sin and rejoice in Heaven, in your Sacred Heart.
Wed, 26 June 2019
(Gn.16:1-12,15-16; Ps.106:1-5; Mt.7:21-29)
“Anyone who hears my words but does not put them into practice
is like the foolish man who built his house on sandy ground.”
The Lord hears our words and answers our cries, but He is not so interested in these as in our listening to His voice and remaining obedient to Him. His desire is that we always strive to do His will; the recounting of our own deeds rings empty in His ears.
It is ten years since the Lord’s call and promise to Abram. Abram and Sarai grow old and the word of the Lord has not been fulfilled. Sarai thinks to resolve the problem, taking matters in her own hands, and Abram, faltering in his faith and failing to turn to the Lord for guidance, instead “heeded Sarai’s request” to take Hagar as his concubine. And oh what shaky ground Abram would stand upon now! Oh what turmoil would be wrought by his failure to withstand the torrents that come with time! For now the lashing of the winds would only increase; now his sin would bear a son who would be “a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone,” indeed in continual war with his kinsmen. And when the son of the promise does finally come, his children will be subject to the yoke of the descendants of the son of this “Egyptian maid-servant.” Four hundred years they themselves will become slaves to her offspring. And persecution shall follow them through the desert and even into the Promised Land. Though yet blessed, they will not come to the fulfillment of the peace of God; only in the New Jerusalem founded in Jesus’ blood will the law given as their guide and the promise of the ages be fulfilled in God’s sight.
How empty our psalm rings today, for we are reminded by Abram’s fault that we do not “do always what is just”; we remember our own failures to patiently wait on the word of the Lord – we have now in mind our own lack of obedience in hearing and following His command. We see the tangled web we weave when we take matters of our life into our own soiled hands.
But this it is necessary to remember: by our own wills nothing is accomplished. We can do nothing except by God. And let us expect no recompense for that which has its beginning and end in the Lord. Our house will be founded firmly only by silent obedience to the authoritative teaching of Christ.
Jesus, forgive us all our wanderings in the thoughts of our own hearts. Redeem all of mankind in your blood; conform us to the will of God. Hear our cry. Make us silent before you. We are your unworthy servants.
O LORD, if we have you, we have everything,
and so shall stand;
without you we have nothing, and can only be destroyed –
it is by your blessing we live and prosper.
YHWH, if you build our house, it is blessed, it is set solidly on rock. But if we fail to hear and heed your voice, taking matters into our own corrupted hands, there is little hope for our salvation. We cannot be saved if we do not listen to the Word your Son brings us, for only He speaks with authority.
How difficult it is, LORD, not to listen to ourselves, not to be led astray by what seems right to our own minds. Your promise is with us always, and it is sure. Yet we cannot wait for its fulfillment, we cannot trust in your providence – even Abraham lacked faith that you would give him a son, and so he went in to his wife’s handmaid.
And our sins do not lack consequence, dear LORD; you do not fail to punish those who go astray. And so Ishmael will stand in opposition to all his kin; and so we are continually threatened by the fruits of our sin. Yet you hear our plaintive cry.
Sat, 22 June 2019
(Gn.14:18-20; Ps.110:1-4; 1Cor.11:23-26; Lk.9:11b-17)
“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over,
took bread, and, after He had given thanks, broke it and said,
‘This is my body that is for you.’”
There is food for all, and it is ever available. The Lord feeds us with His own Body and Blood, and He is generous in giving His eternal self to us. Both eternal priest and victim “of God Most High,” and God Himself, we need never fear that His provision for us will lapse. And so we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; we share in His holy sacrifice until it is made complete in heaven. For it is His death which gives us life, it is the holy offering of Himself which feeds us on our journey here. Let us come always to the altar of His Sacrament and feast upon the nourishment He provides.
In our gospel we hear that “Jesus spoke to the crowds of the kingdom of God,” healing those in need. After the Word was opened to them, the bread was brought forth. “Looking up to heaven, He said the blessing over [the loaves], broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” As He would do the night before He died, so He would do here, in answer to the concern of the Twelve for the people. He says to His chosen, “Give them some food yourselves.” He thus invites them to share in His sacrifice and in His ministry by laying down their lives for the Church.
Here is the Mass clearly foreshadowed. Here it is present even before the death of Christ. Even before the victim has fully offered Himself, He leads us to the table upon which we ever feed. And that which was begun in this desert place so long ago comes down to us this day. The twelve baskets of food remaining we continue to be fed with today; and this Bread continues to be multiplied – the more we eat of it, the more there is to be eaten. Such is God’s love and generosity. Such is the richness of the table He sets before us. Like our priest and victim, it is eternal. There is no end to God’s grace and the blessings He holds for us. We cannot consume the depths of His love.
And so we are to contribute to the spreading and the sharing of the holy offering Jesus is for us. We must call all to the altar of the Lord; we must see that His gift is multiplied. He is “a priest forever”; as long as we live, He dies for us – for as long as we breathe upon this earth, His blood is poured forth. Let us pray in words and in deeds that this blood will come to many and cleanse them of their sins. Let us pray that many come to life by His sacrifice, that many will partake of His Body and His Blood. By each one who comes to the table, we are all strengthened, for the Body is made more whole. Until the time this one Body has reached fulfillment, until His sacrifice is complete, let us continue indeed to “proclaim the death of the Lord,” who thereby feeds us with His eternal love.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Symbiosis: State of Living Together" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, it is you who deliver our foes into our hands,
for it is you who strengthen us
with the Body and Blood of your Son.
YHWH, Jesus shares His very Body and Blood, His own self, with us; and so we who are blessed to partake of this food become as He is, graced with the power of your only Son. As He hands the bread to His disciples to distribute to the people and it is in their hands the bread is multiplied, so His princely power is shared with all who eat His Body and drink His Blood. And so all are fed.
Jesus is the priest of the Most High God, the priest and victim whom you bless, O Father in Heaven. And the blessing upon Him falls on all who follow Him, upon all who come to His table and eat. It is for our sakes He accepts such a blessing; such a call to lay down His life He receives from you that we might have the food of Heaven, that we might not starve upon this plane. And so we proclaim the grace that is ours by His death, until He comes again.
Sat, 15 June 2019
(Prv.8:22-31; Ps.8:2,4-9; Rm.5:1-5; Jn.16:12-15)
“Everything that the Father has is mine.”
From the beginning Jesus is with the Father, one with the Father, the pure reflection of His being which cannot be separated from the substance of the Father. Through Him all things were made, and indeed He is reflected in all things. And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, who takes from what is the Father’s and Son’s, that anything that comes to be comes to be.
And man is the crown of the creation of this Most Holy Triumvirate. It is He who is the purest reflection of the love of Father and Son brought to birth by the Holy Spirit. It is he in whom the wisdom of God takes great delight. And all the wonders of earth and heaven are put in our hands: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.”
But a greater gift than this earth has the Lord in store for us: it is a oneness with the one God which we could not have imagined, and still strive forward to see. “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”; and that same Spirit, left to us by the Father and the Son, remains ever with us to bless and guide us to that magnificent vision of glory we hope one day to be able to bear in its fullness. The Spirit declares unto us the beauty that will be, and calls us to prepare ourselves to receive it.
And our afflictions do not deter us from attaining the promise of all truth; they do but strengthen us in our resolve as we conquer them day by day in the Spirit. “We have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand,” and our suffering shall not shake us – even Jesus’ own leaving us does not hinder our journey to God, for we indeed have faith that His Spirit is with us and that His Spirit has all that is of Jesus, who has all that is of the Father… and so we have all things through Him.
The first glory in which we were set is a marvel to behold, for His fingerprints are on all we see. But the second glory to which we are now called is simply beyond words, ineffable as is our God. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Mirror of Knowledge" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may your Spirit find delight in us
and we reflect your glory.
YHWH, your love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and we have peace with you by your only Son. To what glory we are called, we in whom you take delight, we who are your own – the blessed creature upon whom your favor rests. Your Wisdom is with us to guide us to all truth, to guide us even to you, and to all the graces you would pour upon us.
All things of this earth you have placed under our feet, and we realize this honor through Christ your Son. In Him we are crowned with great glory, for in Him you are well pleased, O LORD. And so, in Him let us place all our hope.
From the beginning you had us in mind, dear God; in your heart you held us well. Though we did not exist from the beginning with you, Jesus did, and by your Spirit you would make us one with Him who is one with you. And so we boast of the glory that is ours by faith.
Thu, 13 June 2019
(2Cor.4:7-15; Ps.116:10-11,15-18; Mt.5:27-32)
“While we live we are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh.”
In our gospel we continue to see how the grace of Jesus supersedes the Law of Moses. Yesterday we were told not only must we not murder, but that we must not even be angry with or speak ill of another. Today Jesus tells us the commandment against adultery applies even to our eyes, to our thoughts, and that God allows no divorce… And of what does Jesus speak but that which Paul tells us as well – that our bodies, our sinful flesh, must die in order for the glory of God contained therein to shine. Jesus makes this graphically apparent when He speaks of gouging out our eye and cutting off our hand: the body must provide no hindrance to entering the reign of God, and so it must die; sin must indeed be rooted out of us.
“In earthen vessels” we are, weak and mortal, subject to the afflictions of time. The trials of this world therefore do not escape us and indeed are necessary for us to overcome, to purify, our mortal flesh. We must be chastised. We must suffer. But we do not suffer in vain. “We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed.” The trials of this earth have no ultimate hold over us; in fact, they do not lead to death but to life. Why? Solely because it is “the dying of Jesus” we carry in our bodies; entirely because we unite our suffering to Christ’s, it becomes redemptive and not destructive. “We have that Spirit of faith,” and that Spirit of faith is life to us even in our greatest afflictions; and that Spirit of faith turns the deaths we undergo to new life. How? By our overcoming of these deaths and thereby giving death to sin.
A man is addicted to alcohol – this is a temptation and an affliction for him. By the power of Christ and faith in His Name, he puts down the bottle. Who can measure the grace at work in him? Who can capture the life he now knows? And we all have our addictions, be they anger or lust or greed or whatever, and they all must be overcome. And as we overcome them, what freedom do we find. For in this we thwart the devil’s plan to bring us to destruction by the weakness of the flesh. He does not like to see our faith in Jesus spawning such resurrections. And neither does the world like to see a man make progress in God. So the afflictions will be doubled; the world and the devil will attack our weak human vessels all the more. But “precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones”; and the more we set aside the sins of the flesh, the more He will bless us – the greater He will preserve us from evil.
He that is in us is far greater than he that is in the world, brothers and sisters. And the more the devil tempts us, the stronger only do we become, because the God of life holds even this purveyor of death in His all-powerful hand. We must but have faith and we will find life; through all our afflictions we will rejoice.
O LORD, all must be sacrificed
for the sake of the kingdom,
and in the death of this mortal flesh we shall find life.
YHWH, how sweet is the death of your faithful ones who unite themselves to the dying of your Son! How blessed is the fruit of such sacrifice! For not only is life revealed in the flesh of those who die for the sake of Jesus, but also in those to whom such witness speaks. And so, indeed, let our bodies die, our earthen vessels be broken, that our spirits might live forever with you in Heaven.
O LORD, despite the afflictions that come, though we are indeed delivered to death, yet we shall pay our vows in the presence of all your people; yet we shall remain faithful to our call to serve you by laying down our lives. For we are not adulterers and we wish for no lover but you alone. May we be wed to your Son in His sacrifice that we might be wed to Him in glory!
All our bonds you loose, O LORD, when we are prepared to die, when we hold to nothing of this sinful life. And so we shall not despair nor be destroyed even as we bleed for you and the love of our neighbor.
Sat, 8 June 2019
(Acts 2:1-11; Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34; Rom.8:8-17; Jn.14:15-16,23b-26)
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
The Spirit of God is with those who keep His commandments; and His Commandment is to love. In such love all become sons of God, all are made one in His Name. (Spirit of Love, anoint us.)
In our first reading the oneness of God’s children is emphasized: “They were all in one place together” and “they gathered in a large crowd.” The first quote refers to the disciples of Christ waiting for His Holy Spirit, the second to “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” who would be made one with the disciples by the power of the Spirit. We note particularly the word “devout”: because they were keepers of the Word of God, the Spirit descends upon them.
Our psalm exalts the renewing power of the Spirit of God; all creatures in the palm of God are given life, and new life, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Alleluia! We rejoice in His grace. In our second reading, Paul contrasts the life-giving Spirit with the death-bringing flesh, speaking, much as Jesus in our gospel, of the Spirit who dwells in those of God. “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him,” but belongs to sin and the world. He does not keep the Word of Jesus and so dies in the flesh; his flesh lacking the Spirit that gives life, he becomes as an empty shell. The love of God is not in him.
But for those who keep the Word of God, their hearts cry out in joy to the Father of all as they are made one with Him and one another, and led to the truth of everlasting life in His Spirit. May the Spirit of Jesus be with us.
Further note: expounding on the theme of keeping the Lord’s Word, we see in the fact that people of all languages hear this one language of the Spirit that the Word is not beholden to any tongue; it is the tongues of flame, the tongue of the Spirit which speaks the Word of God, we all must keep.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "There Is No End to Life" (end) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us be baptized in your Spirit,
renewed for the proclamation of your love.
YHWH, comes the driving wind from Heaven, the Spirit Jesus breathes upon His apostles, and so we are made your sons, dear Father, and declare your glory unto all. May your Church with one voice offer you due praise and teach the nations of your eternal call.
We must leave our sins behind and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit, living as one with the Son of God. If we keep His commandments, we shall dwell with you forever, O Father God. For He is with you and through Him you send the Spirit; all who desire to be your children you bless with purging fire this holy day.
Now the promised gift of the Spirit falls upon our immortal souls and we are refreshed and made new creatures, formed in the image of Jesus, your Son. One you make us in Spirit and Body, free from all the works of the flesh. Your Son stands in our midst and offers us His peace; the Advocate now testifies to all Truth… Come and make your dwelling in us, O glorious LORD and God.
Sat, 1 June 2019
(Acts 7:55-60; Ps.97:1-2,6-7,9; Rv.22:12-14,16-17,20; Jn.17:20-26)
“I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me.”
The Father gave Jesus His glory. It is Jesus’ own glory He owns, for He had it “before the foundation of the world,” but now the Father has given it to Him anew in His incarnation as the Son of Man; and in His death and resurrection He shall not only confirm it in Himself, but serve thus to make it our own.
What glory is ours in this Son of God who has come among us to draw us into the Father’s immortal, eternal love! It is the same glory the Father and Son know and share in the Spirit who makes them one. We are called to be so one with this Holy Trinity. Our jaws should drop at such a prospect, our hearts reach up, and praise of the Most High God resound upon our tongues; for what does Jesus pray for us but that we be one in glory with the Righteous One?
And this glory is “coming soon.” Jesus promises John that soon He shall return, and then absolute glory will be our own, if we have washed clean our robes from sin, if we have prepared our souls to eat from “the tree of life and enter the city through its gates,” coming thus to where the glory of God dwells in eternity. But if we are not clean, if we attempt to enter the city by other means than the gate before us, the gate who is Jesus and His teachings – climbing over the wall we shall but fall, and find the taste of the fruit of the tree terribly bitter.
The people and their leaders could not well partake of the blessed word Stephen brought to their ears. Of the glory of God and their own falling short they would not hear… and so could but stone its bearer to death. But Stephen finds himself present there within the City gates, even while upon his knees and crying out; for his eyes are open to see God’s glorious One, and these stones he returns to their throwers with but a prayer for peace.
Open your ears, my brothers and sisters. Open your hearts to His call. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come,’” and you must echo their glorious song to the Alpha and the Omega. To us soon Jesus the Christ is coming; “all peoples [will] see His glory.” Invite Him in and be one with Him, even as the stones are falling. “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen and Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "There Is No End to Life" (2nd half) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us hear the Word of your Son
and come to join Him in glory with you on high.
YHWH, you are the Most High over earth and Heaven, and you call us to yourself through your only Son. He would have us be one with you in the kingdom, and so He joins Himself to us that we might be joined to Him and so to you.
To your glory let us come, O LORD. Soon Jesus shall return to us; let us be prepared. Let us see Him at your right hand as has Stephen, and welcome Him so freely into our lives, ready even to die. For what is our death in this world but a falling asleep? What matter the stones raining upon our heads if we have vision of you in our eyes and in our minds? May we wash our robes clean and so freely call upon your Son to come.
With you and with your Son let us be one; let us see your glory. O may we stand in your presence forever, LORD! Please receive our spirit.