Sun, 30 June 2019
(Gn.18:16-33; Ps.103:1-4,8-11; Mt.8:18-22)
“While the two men walked on farther toward Sodom,
the Lord remained standing before Abraham.”
“Then Abraham drew nearer to Him…”
A marvelous scene. First, as Abraham walks along with the Lord, we hear the Lord’s thoughts. The Lord wishes to share His plans with him, not to act apart from His blessed one. He tells Abraham of the imminent destruction of Sodom, knowing he will be concerned for his kinsman, Lot. The Lord then stops and stands still, granting Abraham opportunity to speak. In great humility, but with the strength provided by God, he petitions the Lord. And the Lord is pleased to hear him. He is pleased that Abraham recognizes the justice of God, and He is satisfied with his fear in approaching Him: “I am but dust and ashes!” exclaims Abraham, and comes to each question with trepidation, pausing in silence before each to hear in that silence the Lord calling him to ask further. The Lord hears and answers his prayer to spare Lot.
Evident in this scene is the psalmist’s words: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord.” How patient and kind and forbearing. How He desires that we draw near to Him and share in His will. And how forgiving is He: “He pardons all your iniquities… He redeems your life from destruction.” For Lot He shall spare from that evil land; indeed, to all who repent He shows His favor. His promise is sure.
But we must come to Him in the humility of Abraham. We must not approach Him as does the scribe in our gospel, proclaiming so boldly and so foolishly his willingness to follow Jesus, yet knowing nothing of the glory of God and what following Him entails. Nor must we come so shakily as the disciple who makes excuses. Upon hearing of the difficulties, he attempts to put off following Christ for a time… There is but one time with God, and it is present, and it is now. We must come to Him in humility and find the strength His grace provides as He draws us to Himself.
There is a time to speak, brothers and sisters – a time to speak and a manner of speaking. It is not right to speak until the Lord stops to listen. We must wait on Him and His grace. One does not burst into the court of a king unannounced proclaiming his loyalty to Him who sits on the throne. One waits until called and then pours out one’s heart, trusting in the compassion of the Lord.
It is His desire to share with us all His works. It is His pleasure to hear our good prayers. But let us realize to whom we speak and come in true faith and humility; and He will hear and answer all our petitions, and we will become sharers in His promised glory.
O LORD, in the Day of Judgment
you will spare those who walk with your Son.
YHWH, how kind and merciful you are, for you stop to listen to our prayers; you desire to share with us your plans. What are we but dust and ashes? And yet you make us your own sons and shower your blessings upon us. Be so kind as to answer our call to save all those in need.
Your Son you send to us, LORD, to walk among us and lead us to you, our Father in Heaven. And so, all things of this earth we must leave behind if we are to walk in His way, if we are to rest with you in the heavenly kingdom.
But we are weak, dear God, so weak and so blind. We know not what it is you ask of us, and are afraid to come to your side. Draw us unto you, LORD, in your kindness; in your compassion help us to approach you with our plea. Without your help we shall not find the salvation you wish to share with us poor creatures. Without your grace we cannot follow your Son.
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.
Tue, 25 June 2019
(Gn.15:1-12,17-18; Ps.105:1-4,6-9; Mt.7:15-20)
“Abram put his faith in the Lord,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.”
In our gospel today, Jesus teaches us, “You can tell a tree by its fruit.” And what can we tell of Abram but that he is a bountiful tree, faithful and strong. Indeed, in his faith is his goodness, and in his children, who reach down even unto this day, his blessed fruit is known.
What holy, gentle conversation the Lord has with Abram, coming to him in visions to speak to his soul, to thus nourish this tree which He has planted upon the earth. And how faithful Abram is, patiently awaiting the growth which comes from God. Here, my friends, is the Lord’s relationship with man exemplified. This is how we should be with our God… seeking the Lord, asking Him the questions which are upon our hearts, believing Him as He speaks to us – as He surely does. For such is our God to us: coming to us in our fears, reassuring our souls, remaining ever faithful to us as He brings to maturity the fruit He has planted in our spirit. No doubt we should have of His blessing. His promise is sure.
And so with our psalmist we should celebrate; we should “glory in His holy name.” For we are “descendants of Abraham,” partakers of the faith brought to fulfillment in Jesus, fruit of the tree of life. And the Lord “remembers forever His covenant.” This grace we have been given shall never leave us; the life within us shall remain. And in our days, through our time, as we partake of our daily bread, the Lord continually speaks to us and blesses us, bringing our fruit to maturity as we progress and grow in His Name. And we shall look upon our children’s children. Our own trees shall indeed bear fruit in His light. We must but remain faithful to Him; we must but keep diligent as Abram who, though “birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,” stayed by his holy sacrifice.
We shall see the false prophets of our age come to naught; we shall see these trees “cut down and thrown into the fire.” And we will see and know the rebirth of true doctrine: our Church we will witness in all its heavenly glory. “Fear not!” the Lord says to Abram, and so He speaks to us. Our descendants shall be numerous as the stars. With all the children of God we shall rejoice. Keep faith in your hearts.
O LORD, how fruitful indeed is Abraham,
whose spiritual children surpass
the many nations born of his loins.
YHWH, let us be fruitful in your sight. Come to us and reassure us of your presence with us, of your blessing upon our souls, that we might enter into the Covenant you made with Abraham and be fruitful in faith as he. O let our descendants be as the stars in the sky.
O LORD, make us as your chosen ones, serving you constantly on this earth, and we shall rejoice forever in the glory of your kingdom with all your saints in light. Steadfast let us be in doing your will, in keeping the wolves at bay. May the sacrifice we offer be holy, and we be acceptable in your sight.
Your voice make known to us, LORD; let us hear and answer your call. A faith so simple and profound provide your disciples – make us as children before you. And as we seek you so, let us find you.... May the blood of your Son course through our veins, and so we bear fruit all our days in your holy NAME.
Mon, 24 June 2019
(Gn.13:2,5-18; Ps.15:1-5; Mt.7:6,12-14;)
“How narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road,
and how few there are who find it!”
In our first reading today, the way Abram walks with God is contrasted with the path Lot chooses for himself. Though the road seems wide and clear, this gate leads to damnation, and indeed, as our gospel states, is one which is chosen by the traveler himself; whereas the narrow path is one which is found in God.
Lot and Abram could no longer dwell together; their possessions were too great and the tensions were too high among their servants. Taking “no reproach against his neighbor,” acting as the just soul spoken of in our psalm, “Abram said to Lot: ‘Let there be no strife between you and me,’” and put the whole land at his disposal, offering to take what remained. So “Lot looked about,” Scripture tells us, to see what pleased his eyes, and then “chose for himself,” again the words of Scripture, that broad expanse of land which he thought would be fruitful for his needs. And where does this decision he takes by the sight of his own eyes lead him? To the depraved, to the reprobate, to the dogs and swine – to the infamous land of Sodom, whose people “were very wicked in the sins they committed against the Lord.” To such we are led by our senses.
Once Lot is gone, how is Abram led to his destination – are his feet led by his own eyes as well? No, the Lord comes to Him as guide. It is He who tells him to “set forth and walk about in the land.” It is again God and his faith which serve as his light. And what promise there is by way of this path! But what difficulties one must face to attain it.
When Abram arrived at his destination, “he built an altar to the Lord.” (In what contrast is this altar to the unholy sacrifices offered at Sodom.) The altar of Abram signifies both the faith of this just man and the sacrifice necessary to walk with God and find the life to which He leads us. We know that Abram’s path will be particularly rough, as will be that of his descendants. There will be slavery and wandering in the desert, and once come into the land of promise, it shall not remain with them. Indeed, it is only we now in the Spirit following the coming of Christ for whom that promise is fulfilled. And yet do we struggle. And yet every day must we examine our conscience and reform our lives to prepare ourselves to enter that gate which is so narrow. No sin will it accept. No foolish pride can exist in our hearts if we hope to enter life.
The way is rough, but what blessed protection the Lord gives by His guidance; and we “shall never be disturbed” by the trials of this world but come thereby to the sure promise of heaven.
O LORD, the wide road of the world
leads to damnation;
the narrow gate of the Cross of Christ
takes us to Heaven.
YHWH, let us be just, as Abraham, and as faithful to your Word. Not by our own eyes let us set forth, but led by your command. Your narrow way let us follow, the way that leads to life.
The just man thinks only the truth in his heart, and does not slander his fellow man. He is a man of peace who takes up no reproach against his neighbor but gives him preference of place. This is what it means to treat others as we would be treated, for when we give others such deference (as Abraham does for Lot), you, O LORD, defer to us… and we are truly blessed. For no one is as just as you.
Let us come to know your justice, LORD, and we shall be kept from the dogs and swine. Through the narrow gate let us enter and not the gate that is clear and wide, and we shall be preserved from all evil – for you will be at our side. And though the Cross does enter into our lives, it only serves to bless us with passage into your Promised Land.
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.
Fri, 21 June 2019
(2Cor.12:1-10; Ps.34:8-13; Mt.6:24-34)
“Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness,
and all these things will be given you besides.”
The call to treasure in heaven continues.
What care we for the things of this earth? What is money, what are food and clothing to us? Indeed, they must not be our concern. And what matter to us is our bereavement of these things and other like afflictions which the world may inflict upon us. We are called to be like Paul and be “content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress,” yes, even to boast about such weaknesses in the flesh, because we know that when the world attacks us, Jesus comes to save us. “In weakness power reaches perfection,” for when we are afflicted we share in the very “power of Christ,” which is all we can depend on in such times, and which comes to us without fail. Thus even our persecutions become cause for rejoicing and proclaiming with David, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
There is a weakness we should avoid, however. The beatings which come to us from outside us are indeed an opportunity for celebration; but the weakness of being distracted by the cares of the flesh and its pleasures is not to be ours. The Lord speaks lovingly to such weakness in us in our gospel today, gently calling us away from such preoccupation, for He knows, and states quite clearly, that such distractions will keep us from the gates of heaven. “You cannot give yourself to God and money.” We cannot be divided in this way. Our hearts must be set on the holiness of God, trusting even the needs of the flesh to His care, in order to come to vision of heaven – in order to know Christ the Lord and the Father to whom He leads us. Jesus is not concerned for these things and neither should we be. Whether we have or not and in what measure should not matter. We must find the vision of the Lord which rejoices even in our utter bereavement of all things of the earth. Indeed, we cannot come to heaven until we die. “Running after these things” will only kill the life of Christ in us; it is death to such concern which will bring us the true life of heaven.
All that we need will be given us, brothers and sisters, if we set our hearts on Christ. The Lord is not blind to our needs. He sees all and is ever near to assist us in all our troubles. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” We shall “want for no good thing” if we but seek His face. Readiness for heaven must now be with us.
O LORD, how weak we are
as we struggle in this world,
the Cross placed upon our backs –
but O the power of your grace at work within us!
YHWH, what a blessing it is to share in the sufferings of your Son, for then we share in His glory – it is then He is with us; it is then your angel watches over us.
What need we fear of the persecutions of this world if you are at our side? And if we put our trust in you, will you not provide? What is food and what is clothing, what are all the riches of this earth but things that pass with the dawning day? But you do not pass away. You hold all these things in your hand. And so, if in our weakness we find ourselves in need of assistance, you are ready to help us. Indeed, this is your great pleasure, O holy LORD.
Help us to depend on your grace, LORD, for nothing can come to us except as a gift from your loving heart. We shall indeed prosper on this earth and come quickly to the glory of Heaven, if we but take our refuge in you, if we but learn to trust in your care. Thank you for your goodness, which is always with us.
Thu, 20 June 2019
(2Cor.11:18,21-30; Ps.34:2-7,18; Mt.6:19-23)
“Store up heavenly treasure, which neither moths nor rust corrode
nor thieves break in and steal.”
It is clear where Paul’s treasure lies, and where it does not lie. In the litany of the sufferings and afflictions he has endured as a “minister of Christ,” we understand without question his utter lack of concern for the things of this world. How could it be otherwise with one who sacrifices himself so completely, readily bearing “labors” and “beatings” at every turn? He gives not only all his possessions, but his very body for the cause of the gospel. This is where his treasure lies – in Jesus and in His word – and he lays down all of this earth to see that blessed Word planted in the souls of all and grow to eternal life. Beatings and stoning and hunger are as nothing to him; it is “anxiety for all the churches” which causes him the greatest pain.
And now, though the moths and rust of this world could not touch him and he remained untroubled by the thieves who waylay ships at sea, there is another kind of thief who is attempting to break in and steal, to steal that about which he is concerned the most. False prophets have come along to influence his flock, and this corruption of the Word he cannot bear; so in this emotional diatribe he in effect calls on the Lord to open the eyes of the churches.
And it is not only those at Corinth who need to be roused from their stupor of nodding approval to the voices of all who come speaking high-sounding words in God’s Name: we today and everywhere must heed the call to be on guard against the thieves who would break into our souls. How strong and knowledgeable must we be in our faith, now with a history of Church teaching behind us – but how weak we often are.
Paul’s words were as caustic salve healing the wounds of his people. I pray they may be so now in calling us to right Church teaching. Each day we hear from those preaching the comfort to be taken in earthly treasure as they bow toward the god of this world – let us stand with eyes of holy light and speak of the unfading glory of heaven. On this may our hearts be set and on the word of Jesus, that all our afflictions will be as so much dust blown away by the wind, by the Spirit of Truth. In Him let us take our refuge.
O LORD, the darkness of this world is deep indeed;
but we are not overcome by it,
for we do not live in it but in the light of Christ.
YHWH, let our light not be darkness; let us not set our hearts on the things of this world but on the things of Heaven. Attached to this earth we would perish in sin – let us be aflame with the Spirit.
Why should we care if we must be beaten, if the threats of thieves surround our souls? The dangers of the world are as nothing, for what can they take from us but this mortal flesh? Our affliction comes only in seeing others fall into sin; our only fear is for their immortal souls, and our own. O LORD, let all stay close to you.
May all your children extol your NAME in the heavenly kingdom. May we all shine forth your light, even now while here on this dying earth. Let its corruptibility not touch us, LORD, as we set our hearts on doing your will. Be the light that shines in our eyes and our minds and we shall never go astray but through all trials increase in faith and come at last to eternal joy in your presence.
Wed, 19 June 2019
(2Cor.11:1-11; Ps.111:1-4,7-8; Mt.6:7-15)
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
And what we need is to be holy as He is holy. And it is this we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer. We simply seek to be like Him, and that all obstacles to holiness be removed from us. And like a loving father He meets our needs.
And Paul is a father to the community at Corinth; he loves them “with the jealousy of God Himself.” He has given them in marriage to Christ and is solicitous that the wedding chamber not be corrupted by false doctrine. “Super apostles” have come among them who “win a hearing by the sheer multiplication of words,” rattling on like empty wind and taking money from Paul’s children for the sound and the fury they bring. But they signify nothing by all their skill; they are but ravenous wolves amidst the flock.
Paul says of himself, “I may be unskilled in speech but I know that I am not lacking in knowledge”; and how his words echo Christ’s own, that we should not get lost in mere words. And how like a father knowing and caring for the needs of his children is Paul. In our psalm, too, is reflected the Father’s “gracious and merciful” nature which Paul shows to the Corinthians: “Sure are all His precepts… wrought in truth and equity.” This knowledge of God is what must be conveyed, and it is this Paul offers the people.
And like a caring father who provides sacrificially for his children, Paul refuses to take return from them for his work: his work among them is a labor of love for which he seeks no recompense. By this they must learn how freely God gives to those who seek Him and be purged of their notion that it is those whom they pay, and greatly, who care for them. Indeed, the Father knows always what we need, and gives it freely to those who simply come as repentant children. He exacts no cost and requires no dramatics to receive His presence and His love.
Forgive my folly here, but why do you turn to the icons and idols of this glamorous age to find the peace you seek, when in His Church the Father waits to answer all your needs? Do not be led astray by the powerful-seeming images which surround us in this day; come to the Lord of all, and before Him in silence kneel and pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us the wrong we have done
as we forgive those who wrong us.
Subject us not to the trial
but deliver us from the evil one.”
O LORD, you know what we need
and provide our food, the Bread He is,
through the apostles.
YHWH, let us not be seduced by our pride – it is not by our own words and our own will we shall come to Heaven. It is you who must inspire us; we must but be your humble servants. Then great deeds will be accomplished in us, for it will be your work alone that we do.
You, O LORD, are faithful and just to all who call upon you in truth, to all who have faith in your enduring love. Those who share your mercy with others are blessed with freedom from all cares, for in your mercy the evil one finds no place. Let all souls pray to you and know that you desire to give us all we need.
You are not blind, O LORD, to our plight; we know nothing of which you are unaware. And so let us not reach out our hands to the fruit of disobedience – let us not seek in ourselves or in those around us the glory that comes only from you. Then we shall remain in your Garden forever, doing the work for which you made us. Then we shall be wed to your Son.
Tue, 18 June 2019
(2Cor.9:6-11; Ps.112:1-4,9; Mt.6:1-6,16-18)
“Keep your deeds of mercy secret,
and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
In the ground, hidden and secret, the seed is planted. From the womb of the earth it sprouts, and gives its yield. We plant the seed; God provides the seed. And it is through His power that anything which we plant grows and increases. So it is with our generous acts, as well as our prayer and fasting.
“Happy the man who fears the Lord… His generosity shall endure forever.” For “He who supplies seed for the sower and bread for the eater will provide in abundance; He will multiply the seed you sow and increase your generous yield.” Trusting in Him, we shall know His blessings; and greater blessings than these shall we know and shall others know, who praise God for the gifts He provides. Wonderful it is to behold God’s ever-increasing generosity; more wonderful yet to participate in it. It is a fountain welling up to eternal life, in which we are cleansed and made of light.
But let us take to heart the warning of the Lord this day: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for others to see.” The world does not see God, it cannot know God. Thus God is termed “hidden” and “secret.” And though we are to make God known to the world, we cannot do so unless we exist where He is. In the recesses of our heart, in the quiet, we shall find Him. In the center of our being we must place Him. Closing the doors of our rooms, entering the stillness of our souls… kneeling there we shall find Him. And He shall hear us, and He shall reward us with the blessing of answered prayer, of fruitful yield in His Name. If we do not remain with Him there in secret – even in the midst of the city, even among the distractions of this world – all our actions will be in vain. It does us no good to gain the whole world and lose our souls; and all our good deeds are empty show without Him who is goodness at their core.
“He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully.” Let us know the blessing of bearing fruit in God. Let us give generously, knowing that for all the good we do, the Lord will provide yet more seed for us to sow, and we shall reap in abundance His heavenly blessings. If we do all without fanfare, but quietly, humbly, secretly trusting all to His care – the blessing of His presence we shall keep with us, and we shall see our works and our prayers bear fruit in the kingdom of God.
May God bless all humble souls with His bounty.
May He reveal Himself to their hearts.
O LORD, let us give all we have,
and give always from the heart,
and we will be giving with you…
and you will increase our yield.
YHWH, let us cheerfully give to you all we have; all we have is from you and so it is but justice that we place all in your hands. You will multiply our offering if in sincerity we sacrifice it to you.
In secret let us keep our deeds of mercy; hidden in the depths of our soul, let them grow by your Spirit. In the stillness you reside, and so, there we shall find you. There you shall hear and bless our prayers. O LORD, let our prayers rise up to you!
Help us to trust in you, dear God, and in your generous love. You wish to bless us with all that is good but cannot do so unless we believe in your goodness, unless we reflect your grace and mercy in our lives. We are called to live with you and remain with you. Let the light of faith dawn upon us this day.
Then we shall fear nothing; then we shall live in awe of your presence, LORD. Your glory dwelling in us and shining through us, we shall be greatly blessed. Then we shall give freely to all!
Mon, 17 June 2019
(2Cor.8:1-9; Ps.146:2,5-9; Mt.5:43-48)
“Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.”
Our psalm today begins with praise of God and the proclamation of the happiness of those “whose hope is in the Lord,” for it is He who “gives food to the hungry” and “raises up those that were bowed down.” Freeing captives, giving sight to the blind, protecting strangers… such is our God and Father. And in our gospel Jesus tells us, “You are sons of your heavenly Father,” and “you must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We must be His image, doing the things He does.
Paul presents Jesus, the only Son of the Father, as our model in generosity. In his gentle reminder he states: “For your sake He made Himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty.” He also presents to us the Macedonians, whose “overflowing joy and deep poverty have produced an abundant generosity.” And Jesus makes clear that our generosity, our “sharing in the service” of God, must extend beyond our friends. The Father makes no distinction – “His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust” – and so we are challenged “to know the grace of God” completely by giving our love to all, even as Christ’s arms are open to everyone as He hangs on the cross.
How is it that poverty produces such generosity? And how can we share in both with our God? The poverty of which the Apostle speaks and which Jesus exemplifies and calls us to follow is the emptying of self of all which is our own, and in the very act of emptying, of giving, is generosity itself. Whether it be a man of riches handing over his money or a man of great love performing acts of kindness, he who has is divesting himself of that which he has to enrich another. We remember that when the woman touched the hem of His garment, Jesus perceived power had gone forth from Him (Mk.5:30). Here is that emptying of love to heal the other. And on the cross, of course, Jesus emptied Himself completely… and so He died.
Should we be afraid, brothers and sisters, of sharing so completely in Jesus’ love? Do we think that if we give to others, we will have nothing remaining for ourselves? Is Jesus hanging on the cross the end of the story? No, brothers and sisters, we should not be afraid. We must see, indeed, that the more we give, whether of money or of love, the more we are bound to receive. Do you think that God does not see your generosity? Do you not realize that He rewards those who are His children? Do you think Christ still hangs on the cross?
Come to the holiness of God, brothers and sisters; there is no greater grace on earth. Give of yourselves entirely, love even your enemies, and you shall know in ineffable wonder the surpassing love of God for all. Such is our call and our joy.
O LORD, let us be perfect as you are perfect,
loving as Jesus on the Cross –
we will not know you otherwise.
YHWH, how shall we be made perfect as you are perfect; how shall we love as Jesus on the Cross? You alone are generous in giving. You are only of love. Help us to be unsparing as you who have given us your only Son.
It is you who provide seed, you who provide bread. We can produce no nourishment for our lives or the lives of others by our own hands. All is yours, but you will give abundantly to those who seek to love as you. All we need we will have, O LORD, and more, if we empty ourselves of all we own.
O make us ready to give all over to you, to love as you do! Let us not be afraid to share our very lives even with those who would kill us. To them let us give more freely, for they need your love all the more. You cannot but help love all those in need, LORD, to feed the hungry, to give sight to the blind, to set captives free… and we who hope in you, what else can we do but reflect your eternal glory?
Sun, 16 June 2019
(2Cor.6:1-10; Ps.98:1-4; Mt.5:38-42)
“When a person strikes you on the right cheek,
turn and offer him the other.”
“Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” Alleluia! And how do we know the salvation of the Lord except by the cross. This is our joy. These “difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, and riots”; the “hard work, sleepless nights, and fastings” – these crosses bring us immeasurable joy, for through them we share in the suffering of Christ and so also in His resurrection glory. Thus the Lord can encourage us not to seek to avoid such suffering; thus He instructs us to be prepared to suffer over and above that which comes to us – for He knows that as we give of ourselves in this ready way, as we lay down our lives without hesitation, we shall find ourselves in the hand of God, we shall come quickly to join Him in heaven. With Paul, we must “present ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid trials,” and His salvation will be made known in us. And we will rejoice with Paul in all our sorrows. And we will be able to exclaim with him, “We seem to have nothing, yet everything is ours!” For the fullness of Christ will reside with us.
Give. Give, and do not count the cost. How hard it is for us to freely give of our possessions, much less of our very lives. Are we ready to “give to the man who begs” from us? Are we prepared to care for others’ needs? Or do we hold tightly to our possessions, calling them our own? And what of the possession of our pride and the protection of ourselves from injury? What of our judgment of others? Are we ready to give these up so completely? Can we turn the other cheek to those who do us wrong, offering the pain to God and finding great comfort there, or do we need to strike back against the offending party, exacting the retribution due us according to the law? Do we indeed live by the law, or have we transcended the law: do we now live by the Law of love? Are we a new creation in Christ?
It is not easy to lay down our lives in such a way as Christ calls us. The world ever mocks the absurdity of this sacrifice. But we who are in Jesus should know the absolute truth of Paul’s words and Jesus’ instruction. If we are to be Christians, we must know the joy and freedom that come from suffering all with Him who is our salvation. He is all that matters. If we have Him, we have all things. Come to this truth, brothers and sisters; leave behind the fears wrought by attachment to the things of this world. This world is of sin, anyway. As we lose our possessions for Him, He gives us all the more. As the body dies, the spirit comes to life. What the devil would take from us, let us give him, for he cannot touch the life that is Christ: our souls are in the hand of God. And, as with Job, all will be restored to us, and more, in the day of the Lord. So, “wielding the weapons of righteousness with right hand and left,” let us learn always to turn the other cheek to our persecutors.
O LORD, grant us the grace to endure all trials
in patience and with love,
that we may give witness to your salvation at work in us.
YHWH, your salvation has come to us, and it comes in the form of a Cross; in the suffering and death of your Son we are set free to rejoice in you. Though we seem to have nothing, though we be beaten and robbed, yet Jesus is with us, and with Him everything is ours. O let us accept the salvation that He brings this day! Let us be patient amid all trials and we will know your presence among us.
Help us, dear LORD, to walk with your Son on the way of the Cross. He is struck repeatedly; He is stripped and forced to carry the burden of our sin. We beg you not to turn your back on us, though we have turned our backs on Him. Help us to do what we are unable to do – to give witness to the truth and love of the Christ… to endure all as He has done.
O to be disciples of Him who saves us! O to know His holy innocence and unending life! O to sing with joy to you, dear God, in the unbreakable Spirit of your Son.
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.
Fri, 14 June 2019
(2Cor.5:14-21; Ps.103:1-4,8-9,11-12; Mt.5:33-37)
“The love of Christ impels us who have reached the conviction
that since one died for all, all died.”
How strong is Paul’s “yes” for the Lord. With what ardor does he cry out: “The old order is passed away; now all is new!” How purely he is led in the Spirit to call to our very souls, “In Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!” He has no need to swear by earth or heaven of his conviction that Jesus died for our salvation. He is indeed a new creation and can but speak of that which he knows to the depths of his soul; driven by the miracle of his own reconciliation to God, he desires naturally – by the supernatural grace at work within him – to draw others to “become the very holiness of God.”
Paul sings out with our psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being bless His holy name.” He cries out with David: “He pardons all your iniquities, He heals all your ills.” This is the truth which impels him, which he cannot but preach – that our sins are forgiven in Christ the Lord and we need but to come to Him to be raised up to new life. This is His ministry of reconciliation; this is the message entrusted to him… and he must appeal for God’s holy will to be accomplished in us.
Let me join in his shout, let me state so unequivocally – let us all be convicted with Paul of the love God has for us, of the death He has died for us… of the new life we have in Him. Yes, let us indeed shout it from the rooftops, let us cry it out for all to hear. Many are on the path to destruction, many are dying in their transgressions; all are inclined to the condemnation the devil has wrought in our lives, and all must be encouraged, all must hear the exhortation to turn from their sins. May we give our “yes” firmly to God and our “no” firmly to the devil, that others might know in our very lives of the holiness of God and the glory to which He calls us.
“Merciful and gracious is the Lord”: this the world must know. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us”: this the sinful heart wallowing in the darkness of doubt must hear. The blood of Christ must be shown to all. Let us not hesitate to speak the great truth of God’s salvation through Christ the Son. Let us not fail to live His new life every day of our lives.
The Lord calls. The sound of His voice is unmistakable. All our sin is dead in Him; through Him we are raised to life. May this Word go forth to the ends of the earth, and may we help carry it there.
O LORD, by Jesus’ grace let us be reconciled to you –
let us say Yes to Him and No to the world.
YHWH, let us be reconciled to you. Let us be a new creation through Christ your Son and give our ‘yes’ ever to your will. Sure of soul let us be, of the salvation you bring in Jesus and His messengers. He has died for our sakes that we might be raised with Him. O let our transgressions be far from us this day!
What kindness you show to your wayward sons, O LORD. None of us has been found worthy of your kingdom, but in Jesus all our sins you wash away that we might stand in your presence. May all hear the call of the Apostle to our souls and be reconciled to you in Jesus’ Name. May all know the grace and mercy you offer freely forth.
Make us simple and make us sure; let us in all things do your will, giving our ‘yes’ to you and our ‘no’ firmly to the evil one. Then to Heaven we will come, LORD, to dwell with you upon your throne – O let us enter the New Jerusalem as your sons and daughters impelled only by your love.
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.
Wed, 12 June 2019
(2Cor.3:15-4:1,3-6; Ps.85:9-14; Mt.5:20-26)
“See the splendor of the gospel showing forth the glory of Christ.”
Today the gospel is preached: Jesus, the image of God, has come among us, “glory dwelling in our land,” and removed the veil from our understanding so that now we “are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.” The words of life are spoken by the Lord; the Holy Spirit comes amongst us as light to illumine our minds and lead us beyond the bounds of the law to the kingdom of God itself. And we must live in that light, we must make it our own, becoming children of the light of the Spirit of God, “that we in turn might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Christ.” He has indeed come amongst us, salvation is at hand, and we must become perfect as the Father is perfect, as Jesus who is the pure reflection of the Father is perfect – we must allow the Spirit to remove any taint of darkness from our souls.
Jesus tells us, “Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of God.” Here He means that the law may lead us out of Egypt, it may serve to release us from the bonds of this world of sin, but this guard we have while treading this earth is not enough to bring us into the promised land, into the heavenly kingdom to which we are called. And as long as we concern ourselves only with fulfilling the minimal requirements of the law (not to murder, not to commit adultery…), we will continue to suffer; we will remain unfulfilled. Jesus calls us to greater than that: He calls us into His very light of perfection in the presence of the Father. This call is implanted upon the soul of each one of us, and as long as we ignore it, as long as we veil our minds to the depth and the breadth of this call to perfection with Christ… as long as we say, “Well, I haven’t killed anyone,” and stop there… so long we will remain unsatisfied, so long will the fires burn – so long will we be in prison paying the last penny.
Jesus is calling you now, brothers and sisters; Paul and all the true preachers of Holy Church are calling you now to remove the veil from your eyes, to come into the Lord’s light – to cease to make excuses for your sins, however small they may seem – to seek perfection in Christ… to find the kingdom of God. The Spirit will aid you in your journey; He will be with you every step of your walk on the way of perfection, be assured of this. The Lord does not call us to Himself and then leave us alone to struggle vainly. He is with us through all our trials. But we must come to Him and live in His light of purity, and shine that light for others to see.
O LORD, your kingdom comes
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
who purges us of sin
and makes us shine with His radiance.
YHWH, your glory shines now in our midst in the face of Christ, and He calls us to that same glory by the Spirit that is within us. Let your light shine in the darkness of this world; let us make known your glory by our words and actions.
In the way of salvation we walk, insofar as we follow the commands of your Son and His love. He calls us to dwell with you, O LORD, to reconcile with one another and be perfect as you are perfect – to find our holiness fulfilled. We fall short as long as we limit ourselves to the principles of the law; your glory is far beyond the basics of the law, and it is to your glory and your love Jesus calls us.
What a gift is ours in Christ! Union with you, dear Father in Heaven! Let us not be blinded by the god of the present age, by unbelieving minds, but let the veil be lifted from our faces to gaze upon the glory of your Son and so be transformed into that glory by the Spirit upon us. Alleluia!
Tue, 11 June 2019
(2Cor.3:4-11; Ps.99:5-9; Mt.5:17-19)
“Not the smallest letter of the law,
not the smallest part of a letter,
shall be done away with until it all comes true.”
Jesus comes to fulfill the law and the prophets. The law watches over us while we are here in this world. It guards us and puts to death the sin that is inherent in our earthly nature. There is great glory in this blessed protection, as is witnessed in our psalm today – “Holy is the Lord, our God” – because it acquaints us with God’s justice and, as said, watches vigilantly over us to maintain our standing in the presence of God. But the law does not bring us to the fullness of God’s love; it does not bring us into the heavenly kingdom and “the glory that endures.” Moses brings the Israelites to the banks of the Jordan, but he does not cross over with them. He looks out over the Promised Land from his place on the mountaintop, but does not enter therein. It is Joshua who leads the people into the land promised through Moses (as even he does in today’s Office of Readings). And so it is Jesus who brings us to the heavenly kingdom by His law of love.
In speaking elsewhere of the glory of love (1Cor.13:8), Paul tells us that prophecy shall fail and tongues shall cease but love is eternal, favored well beyond any other gift. Prophecies speak of earthly matters and the law is for our earthly nature, but love speaks of God and heaven. We must be very careful to heed the words of Christ and realize that as long as we are in this world and subject to the sin that our flesh brings, the law has a prominent place in our lives and cannot be jettisoned prematurely – as many advocate by their lack of diligence to its precepts, presuming heaven before its time – yet we must always remember that it is the glory of heaven and not of earth to which Jesus calls us, and that there the law will be fulfilled; there we shall be made perfect in the light of God.
The law is “destined to pass away” only insofar as it is fulfilled, and therefore it never really passes away but is subsumed by a greater law. Let us continue to glory in the chastising hand of God and in the service of purification the law provides us. Let us come by its means to the flesh of Christ, and by the grace of God enter fully into Him.
Jesus is our Promised Land, brothers and sisters; with the law as our guide, but above all with faith in our hearts, let us come into His holy, eternal, loving presence. We have the manna of the Eucharist to share this day; tomorrow we shall feast in fullness on the Bread of Life that is Jesus Christ.
O LORD, your commands must be fulfilled
or they shall remain, along with our sin.
YHWH, you are holy and your glory surpasses all that is of heaven and earth. Though we are your creation and you are present to us, though you are with us even in the law you gave to Moses, and though we need your law to purge us of all evil, to put to death the deeds of the flesh… yet in such death we are not fulfilled. We must come to join you in your glory; we must find life in you.
And so, O holy LORD, your Son walks among us, not to destroy the law or contradict the prophets who call us from our wayward path, but to fulfill their voice by the very presence of the Word. Now your holiness has taken flesh, and so at your mountain we can worship in Spirit and in truth. Now we may enter your kingdom.
It is in Jesus we are saved from the death the law brings; it is through Him we find the ministry of the Spirit and so the glory that passes not away. This glory is your very presence speaking to us and shining upon us, dear LORD. O let us call upon your NAME and dwell with you forever!
Mon, 10 June 2019
(2Cor.1:18-22; Ps.119:129-133,135; Mt.5:13-16)
“God is the one who firmly establishes us.”
“Light of the world” and “salt of the earth” – this is what we are by the power of God. It is by Him we are “set on a hill” to give “light to all in the house”; it is we who preserve the integrity of creation. It is a holy call and a demanding one, and we should not waver in our resolve to follow the Lord and fulfill His work and His will; for it is indeed His will that we show His goodness before the eyes of men, and so “He who anointed us and sealed us” will always strengthen us for our task – by Him who holds the entire world in His palm, our own work will be made light.
But heed the words of our readings: we must always give our “yes” to God. Having put our hand to the plow, we cannot turn back. In fact, we should say with the psalmist, “I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands”; so great should be our love for God and for His life-giving words that ever do we thirst more greatly for the love and the light He brings us through our walking in them. His discipline is redeeming and freeing; and as we drink in its light, as we find ourselves becoming one with Him and with His Son who has shown us clearly and completely the way of perfection, we become the light He is. And we cannot but shine that same light to others, directing them to Him who establishes all holy souls in His blessed kingdom.
What joy should be ours as we find ourselves becoming one with God as His children of light. What absolute exhilaration is evident in Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians, as well as in our psalm. The source of such excitement is his firmness in faith; the Spirit is speaking in his heart and he is not afraid. Indeed, he takes his very life, his daily bread, in proclaiming it.
Have we such faith in our hearts, or have we somehow gone flat? Can we proclaim our unwavering trust in the Lord, or is our light still shaded by doubts and fears? If our love for God is true and our love for one another is real, we shall be firmly established – our light shall go forth.
Let us pray to Him that from the light of His words we shall not be distracted. The light of His presence is all that matters. Shine forth His light to the world.
O LORD, may the Spirit of Truth be with us
to guide us by His holy light.
YHWH, your promises have been fulfilled in Jesus and in Him you firmly establish our place before you, the Holy Spirit in our hearts. You call us to be salt and light to this world, to be the disciples of your Son. Help us to be steadfast in that call, that the light of the Spirit might go out to the ends of the earth.
We are anointed with the Christ and have His life within us. He it is who walks before us, making our footsteps firm. We must follow in His way and give our ‘yes’ entirely to you. O LORD, let us not waver in our weakness but ever keep your commands and so radiate your goodness to all men. Make our witness sure and true; let us ever remain in the light of your presence.
O LORD, let all praise be given to you from hearts filled with your glory. With open mouth let us ever yearn for your Word. In wonder let us stand before you, worshiping ever in your kingdom as your holy children. Let your countenance shine on your servants; transform us into your light.
Sun, 9 June 2019
(2Cor.1:1-7; Ps.34:2-9; Mt.5:1-12)
“Blessed are those persecuted for holiness’ sake;
the reign of God is theirs.”
Here is the core teaching of our faith. Here are the beatitudes, the call to sweet humility which flows like blessed honey from the lips of our Savior. And that teaching is that the humbled shall be exalted, that those who mourn and sorrow for the lack of love we find in this tainted world and who strive to bring that love to the hard heart of man shall be blessed, are blessed, for they share in the sufferings of Christ, who wept for the sins of His people, who, looking out upon them from the cross cried: “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why has this world made in the image of Christ turned so against Him, and when shall it return to the love of God? And we who cry with Christ, even for our enemies, even for the most despicable criminal, we shall know the joy He finds – like the repentant thief, we shall be this day with Him in paradise.
“Just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation,” St. Paul so concisely states. One can hear him brimming with joy as he speaks of the comfort we find in the Lord in all our afflictions, and the grace of sharing that consolation with others. This is our great possession. This is the kingdom of God within us: to see through all trouble and affliction, to conquer it in Jesus’ Name – to find such strength even while here on earth to overcome all evil and come to heaven. “Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you… Be glad and rejoice.” How marvelously the Lord exhorts us to come to the glory of heaven, to overcome the dark with light. For light it is where we dwell, and this light is unconquerable.
Let us make room for Him in our hearts, brothers and sisters; let us give place to Him in our lives. Let us even in the simplest ways show heaven’s glory here on earth. If we are lowly and we are true, our light cannot help but shine. And for those who seek it our lamps will shine, and we shall illumine one another. Let sweet humility be your treasure and the Lord’s peace your goal in life.
The angel of the Lord is around us to save us. Nothing of this earth shall touch us. Let us lay down our lives to destroy death’s bonds.
O LORD, it is the cross of suffering with Christ
that brings us great joy.
YHWH, blessed are we when persecuted because of our love for you, because of our desire to be as your Son, for enduring all the sufferings this world brings we find great joy in your presence. You console the afflicted who call out to you, for you are the refuge of all who suffer for your sake.
O LORD, let us be holy as you are holy; let us be made whole in your Son. If we must sorrow and mourn to be conformed to your Son, to be purged of all sin and join Him in your kingdom, let it be so. Let us take our strength in you; in you we find refuge. Reward in Heaven is all we desire – to you let us come by way of the Cross of your only Son.
Bless you, LORD, for the goodness you show to us, for the joy you bring us in our suffering for you. You deliver us from every danger, and so we stand firm in hope, consoled by the promise in the words of Jesus. Let us remain ever blessed as we set our hearts on serving you.
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.