Sat, 28 December 2019
(Sir.3:2-6,12-14; Ps.128:1-5; Col.3:12-21; Mt.2:13-15,19-23)
“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.”
A man is a man, a woman is a woman, and children are children – this does not change with time or culture. All are called to be one in the love and sacrifice of Christ; all are one holy family.
Why do we find it necessary to make excuses for Holy Scripture and the “patriarchal family pattern” it reflects and “the subordinationist family ethic of the Biblical culture” (from the commentary of the missal from which I take today’s readings)? How is it we have lost the beauty of Paul’s words on the complementary nature of the conjugal relationship? How is it the family has become bereft of Christ?
One would think Paul states, “Husbands, beat your wives,” instead of “Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them,” by the way his text is avoided like the plague. Why such ignorance of what is actually present in Scripture? And if the Scripture is perverted, why do we not “in all wisdom... teach and admonish one another,” instead of casting the wisdom of the Lord from our presence, or rationalizing it away. Is it a sin for a wife to be submissive, to respect her husband; for children to be obedient toward their parents; for the husband and father to lay down his life for his family? Is power to be defined by the dictates of the world, or by the cross? Do we desire to control, or to love?
“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!” Here is the key to our roles, in the exclamation of our psalmist. “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him,” Paul summarizes his teaching. Hear in his letter the call to “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another,” even as the Lord has done with us. Be led by the Word of the Lord and His instruction and guidance. You, husbands, do you reflect Joseph’s obedience to the Word of God brought by the angel? Do you care for your families as God calls? Are you mothers like Mary, moving according to the protective hand upon your hearth, your house? And children, do you honor your father and mother’s authority over you as Jesus, who, though the Son of God, humbled Himself to be the child in this Holy Family? Let us all be as Christ – honoring, obeying, humbling ourselves… in a word, loving one another as He has loved us. Then we will be of the family of God.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Vision of Children" (2nd part) from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, call us out of Egypt to your holy land.
YHWH, obedient let us be to you, and serve one another. It is your will that we love one another, that we act with humility and patience, always forgiving and living in peace. Indeed, let us reflect the life of the Holy Family.
Was not Joseph obedient to your every word, dear LORD? Did he not have in his soul only to protect your Son and His Mother? Did he think of himself at all? O let all fathers lay down their lives in such a complete manner!
And was not Mary obedient to Joseph (who was obedient to you)? Did she not recognize, O LORD, that your will was being accomplished through his instruction, through the inspiration upon his soul? Did she stop to question his actions? Did she think herself better qualified, being the Mother of God? O let all wives be so respectful of their husbands!
And was Jesus not obedient in all things to Joseph and Mary, He who was Son of God and God Himself? Did He invoke His superiority over them? O God, let all children so honor their mother and father! Let all walk in your ways, in your way of sacrifice, and so be blessed as the Holy Family.
Thu, 26 December 2019
(1Jn.1:1-4; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,11-12; Jn.20:2-8)
“He saw and believed.”
And “the eternal life that was present to the Father and became visible to us,” which John now proclaims, is Jesus Christ the only Son of God, risen from the dead and present to us now even as He sits with the Father.
John has seen Him. He has believed in Him. His “hands have touched” Him and so he “proclaim[s] the word of life” made so real in his midst. What else could he do but declare that which burns in his heart? What else could be the Evangelist’s desire but to share the blessing he has known as “the one Jesus loved”? For brimming with love this apostle is, and only in writing of this joy, only proclaiming it to the world and seeing others enter into such selfsame blessing will make his joy complete. To this he has been called by the Lord.
“Light dawns for the just,” David declares, as if in his psalm to presage the coming of Christ and John’s own words on the coming of Light to this earth. And indeed the just shall see Him, and gladness shall be “for the upright of heart.” For all the just shall “be glad in the Lord… and give thanks to His holy name,” for their souls drink deeply of the salvation in their midst; they know Him whom their hearts love. They see Him, and believe.
And I note the special significance “the piece of cloth which had covered the head” of Jesus – which was “not lying with the wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself,” as John tells us in his gospel – seems to have as a catalyst to belief. John had seen the wrappings before entering the tomb, but not this cloth, and it is when he enters he sees and believes. It is as if the Lord left it neatly rolled up in a place by itself to indicate to them that He had not “been taken from the tomb” by robbers, as Mary Magdalene (another beloved of Christ) seems to fear. Why would a thief take time to do such a thing? And so, Jesus’ touch is upon the cloth.
“All peoples see His glory” now, brothers and sisters. By the witness of John and all the apostles, eyes are opened to His presence. Let us see Him with John; let us touch Him… and let us know His touch upon our hearts, and so continue to proclaim His glory.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us rejoice in the presence of your Christ
with us this day.
YHWH, let all men see your glory in the presence of your risen Son. Let all men come to that glory through faith in Him. Let us hear and believe what John tells us – that He has walked among us in the flesh, that the apostles’ hands have touched Him… that our hearts might be touched by His presence, and so your own.
With our eyes let us look upon your glory, LORD, we who are so blinded by sin and slow of heart to believe. Let us run to the tomb with your apostles that we may see your Son has been raised from the dead, that death no longer has dominion over us but with Him we have been raised. Let us rejoice at the light that dawns in our midst.
You are king over all the earth, LORD, and all the heavens proclaim your justice and your truth. May we join in the choir of your angels and your holy apostles in declaring your glory to the ends of the earth, that all men might be loved by you as was John.
Sat, 21 December 2019
(Is.7:10-14; Ps.24:1-7,10; Rm.1:1-7; Mt.1:18-24)
“God is with us.”
How shall we “ascend the mountain of the Lord”? How shall we scale the heights and come to know Him as He is, He who “founded [the earth] upon the seas and established it upon the rivers”? Only by the Son, who “will save His people from their sins,” are we made ready to stand in His presence. “For it is through the Holy Spirit this child has been conceived,” and we are made holy by the blessing of His presence among our kind.
He is one like us. Can you believe it? Can you understand it, understand its significance and the grace it is as a gift from God? Joseph struggled, certainly, to believe, to understand, to accept the greatness of this gift to him and to his people. The angel of the Lord had to come to him to convince him to receive such great grace into his life, into his home. But he did. He did believe, and he did fulfill his role in the coming salvation.
And, yes, what of us? We “are called to belong to Jesus Christ… called to be holy.” Paul answered the call from God to be His apostle and “bring about the obedience of faith”; again, what of us? Do we answer the call to holiness? Do we reflect that obedience? The time is upon us now. The great sign has been fulfilled in our midst. Jesus has been born and stands with us now to lead us to the purity of the Father – are we prepared to make this Child our own?
What greater truth can be proclaimed than that God is with us? What greater grace can we receive than the forgiveness of our sins, than the preparation of our hearts for heaven? Jesus accomplishes these blessings now for all who desire to enter the presence of God, for He is the presence of God among us; He Himself is divine grace. His mercy is upon us.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” brothers and sisters. The power of the Lord be upon your souls. May the “Spirit of holiness” establish you with the Son as a child of the Father. Be of “the race that seeks for Him,” and you shall find Him present, dwelling in your homes.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Vision of Children" (1st part) from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you call us to be holy;
let us indeed be as the Virgin Mother of your Son.
YHWH, you are with us now in your only Son, who has been born of the womb of the Blessed Virgin. All the earth is yours, and now this Child comes into the world to save it from its sins, from the destruction that is upon it for having turned from you. O let us welcome Him into our homes!
O LORD, let us belong to Jesus and so become one with you. May your grace and peace be upon us this day and all the days of our lives. Make us pure as His Mother that your holy mountain we might ascend and gaze upon your face with all your saints. Obedient to your call as Joseph let us be; let us listen to the voice of your angel.
You desire us all to stand with you, but our hands must be sinless and our hearts clean. May the Virgin Mary, she who has conceived and borne your Son, pray the Spirit upon us, that our obedience shall be like her own, and so her blessing also. Be with us this day, dear God, and let us be with you.
Thu, 19 December 2019
(Is.7:10-14; Ps.24:1-7,10; Lk.1:26-38)
“Blessed are you among women.”
“The virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and shall name Him Immanuel because ‘God is with us.’” “The virgin’s name was Mary.” And she has given birth to the Savior.
“Who may stand in His holy place?” King David sings in our psalm. “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?” Clearly Jesus is He. But as clear is that we are all called to be as He, and that she has been, she who is so like Him – she that is indeed His Mother. It is she who “seeks the face of the God of Jacob,” she “whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain…” and so she “receive[s] a blessing from the Lord,” the greatest blessing: the Son of God.
Fearful is she in her great humility in the awesome presence of the Lord. Questioning is she in the perfect innocence of her consecrated virginity. But obedient only is she as she hears of the answer to her devout prayer for the pregnancy of her kinswoman, and so assumes the role most native to her, the one she has promised to fulfill: “the maidservant of the Lord.”
O glorious Virgin Mary! You who worship so perfectly, so completely, the One who owns “the earth and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it,” and so bring that very fullness to us all, teach us to be like Jesus your Son, whom you imitate so absolutely, so naturally. Teach us to be as He who is flesh of your flesh. Be our Mother as well, that we might be brother and sister and mother to the Lord. Aid us in giving our total consent to the will of God. “O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you.” Pray He be with us now, too.
“With that the angel left.” Upon receiving her wholehearted acceptance of her call, his mission is finished, and so he goes. Brothers and sisters, may the angel leave our presence so satisfied that the call of the Lord for our lives will be so well answered. Take heart that “nothing is impossible with God” and that as blessed as she is, so blessed does the Lord call you to be – if you but say yes to His word burning in your soul and lay down your life as has the Mother of God. Give the Lord your “yes” this day.
O LORD, may the Blessed Virgin Mother of your Son
pray for us this day that we shall be pure as she,
and so, able to stand in your presence.
YHWH, she whom you call to be Mother of your Son is indeed sinless in your sight. Because her heart is clean, she can accept your Word and give birth to our Savior. O may we be of her race! May we with all our souls seek your face and so find the blessing that is upon her. O let us know your only Son in our midst!
The blessing you give us we could not imagine – it is beyond our ability to conceive. Yet, LORD, you come to us; you prepare a Virgin from among us that your Son might be with us and so we with you for all ages. O let all be done according to your will! Let us all follow the obedient path of our dear Mother. Let us be her children, O LORD, and so your own.
O Mother of our Lord, blessed among women, most blessed of our race, pray for us this dark day that we will hear the Word of God spoken to our hearts. Pray our hearts be pure as your own, that they might receive our Creator.
Sat, 14 December 2019
(Is.35:1-6,10; Ps.146:6-10,Is.35:4; Jas.5:7-10; Mt.11:2-11)
“Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Hope. What hope have we. And so we should “be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.” Indeed, we must endure “the early and the late rains” – having been converted to the Lord we shall be purged of all sin on the last day – but, though “hardship” be with us now, our hope should be firm in Him who comes, in Him who “is standing before the gates” even now.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the vision given Isaiah and the salvation sung of by our psalmist. By Him, “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” Should not He who has power over all maladies, and even death, bring us hope in the kingdom to come? Should not our seeing these wonders wrought by Jesus instill great faith in our hearts? Should we not even rejoice now in our suffering, knowing well that “sorrow and mourning will flee away” when He comes, that the very suffering we experience now will then be no more? Patience. Indeed, patience brings us hope, enables us to endure all, even joyfully.
And does Jesus not seek to encourage greater hope, greater faith in our hearts by His words about John the Baptist? “What did you go out to the desert to see?” He asks the crowds, addressing their longing for truth, their desire for hope, and confirms that the prophet they sought was indeed greater than all “among those born of women.” But He does not stop there. How much farther He leads them: “The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Remarkable. What hope have we, to be greater than the Baptist. For the Baptist is himself a man, who himself suffers and struggles, inquiring if Jesus is “the one who is to come,” and must himself be assured by the Lord. But in heaven no question will remain. This desert in which we seek the Lord will come to full bloom “with abundant flowers.”
Keep the faith in joy, brothers and sisters. We have every reason for hope; we have firm witness of His grace, at work in us even now.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music:"Hold On, Here We Go" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, come with your Word to heal our souls
that we might enter your kingdom.
YHWH, the coming of your Son is close at hand, when all your children will dance and sing for joy. Though He has come once to open our eyes, to clear our ears, yet in some measure we remain blind and deaf, waiting for the day when your kingdom shall be fulfilled in our midst. And so, we thank you for the release from sin Jesus has wrought, and we wait in hope for His return. Give us the patience we so desperately need.
John was the greatest of men, the greatest of prophets, who prepared the way for your only Son, O LORD. To this parched earth, this desert wasteland, he proclaimed a baptism of repentance that brought healing to our souls. Yet all he has done is but a shadow when compared to the glory of the eternal kingdom to which the Christ does carry us.
Strengthen our hands, dear LORD; make firm our weak knees. Let all sorrow and mourning flee from us as we humbly await Jesus’ return and our becoming one with you.
Fri, 13 December 2019
(Sir.48:1-4,9-11; Ps.80:2-4,15-16,18-19; Mt.17:10-13)
“Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.”
Elijah has come, to “restore everything.” The word has fallen like fire from heaven to prepare a path for the Lord to tread. The Baptist has cried out as a voice in the wilderness for us to make our hearts ready for the coming of the Lord.
But, sadly, “they did not recognize him and they did as they pleased with him.” They rejected the voice crying to them and attempted to cover over the way the word had cleared before them. He who came “to turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob,” was himself turned back; and they cast him into prison and beheaded the great prophet.
Yet the way remains open to us. He whom the prophet hailed has come into our midst, and His presence cannot be taken away – even to the end of the age (which is upon us). And we must join with our psalmist today in calling upon Him to “come to save us,” to “look down from heaven, and see,” to “take care of this vine” planted by His right hand. “Give us new life, and we will call upon your name,” must be our prayer, especially in this Advent season, for we must awaken and enliven the path to God the Baptist has served to blaze in our hearts. We must know now Him whom he has hailed.
And, yes, with this Elijah and with the Son of Man, we too will suffer at the hands of those who would silence the Word, who would extinguish the fire set upon the earth. But the fire is eternal and its light and power cannot be dimmed, much less extinguished. It will purify those who seek the face of God and destroy those who turn from Him. It cannot be otherwise. Now that the Lord has come, His angels wait in expectation to purge the world. Once more only the prophet Elijah will appear and the flaming furnace his words prepare will be fulfilled in God’s eternity by the return of the Son of Man. In absolute glory the Lord will reign.
O LORD, Elijah has come
and the way of the Cross has been prepared;
your Son is now present to save us.
YHWH, rouse your power and come to save us; purge us in the fire your Son has set upon the face of the earth. The Baptist has come in the spirit of Elijah – the way of the Savior is now prepared in our midst.
But we must walk this way of fire; we must be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, if we are to walk in the way of your Son. If our hearts are to be turned to you, LORD, we must have faith in the One to come.
And this path is one of persecution; it is one that reduces us to straits. For nothing unholy can enter your presence, and so we must be prepared along the narrow way. O LORD, make us strong in following you this day!
The Son of Man is now among us, He who has suffered and died for our sake. May the fire of the Spirit He sends, LORD, make us ready to share in His death, and so His glory.
Mon, 9 December 2019
(Is.40:1-11; Ps.96:1-3,10-13,Is.40:10; Mt.18:12-14)
“Like a shepherd He feeds His flock;
in His arms He gathers His lambs.”
His is the voice which “speak[s] tenderly to Jerusalem.” It is He who “give[s] comfort to [His] people.” For “it is no part of [the] heavenly Father’s plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief.”
Like a shepherd He leads us. With great concern He watches over His flock, careful that none is led astray. And diligent is He in finding the one who “wanders away.” This is indeed “good news.” These are indeed “glad tidings,” which make even “the trees of the forest exult.” For He cares about each one of the many of His creatures, and shall bring all back to Him by the sound of His gentle voice.
And of His sweet voice we must cry out. “Sing to the Lord; bless His name; announce His salvation day after day.” For all the earth must know that “He shall rule the world with justice and His peoples with constancy.” And so “a voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!” May all hearts be ready to meet Him. When “every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low… then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together.” O that that glorious day might come!
“Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever.” And so He stands behind us, whispering into our ears of the way we should walk. And so He calls to our hearts, carrying us “in His bosom” with care. And so His eternal presence ever comes to our tired bodies, our fading souls, and gives them life, and brings them back from their straying paths upon this dying earth. And so it is that all “exult before the Lord, for He comes; He comes to rule the earth.”
It is only in His eternity that we shall find a home, brothers and sisters. And into these arms He now gathers us. And with His food He now feeds us. Let us partake of His presence in Word and in Sacrament as we await His coming.
O LORD, we praise you
for the merciful justice and peace
you have brought into our midst
through your Son Jesus.
YHWH, truth has sprung out of the earth, for justice has looked down from Heaven and our redemption has come – Jesus has been born among us. He is the holy way, the way that leads to the splendor and glory of your kingdom. He is as the stream in the desert that cleanses our souls of all sins and so prepares us to dance and sing with Him in your eternal presence. We who were lame now leap like a stag for the blessing we have received from our Savior; yes, we have been forgiven, and are now crowned with everlasting joy.
O let your splendor come to us this day, dearest LORD and God. May we hear these blessed words from the mouth of your Son: “Your sins are forgiven.” O let us rise and walk with Him to our heavenly homeland! The parched land cries out to you; let your water pour down upon us that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might blossom forth with His gifts. Strengthened by such grace let us do your holy will in all things.
Sat, 7 December 2019
(Is.40:1-5,9-11; Ps.85:9-14; 2Pt.3:8-14; Mk.1:1-8)
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.”
And so, “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And so comes “the voice of one crying out in the desert,” in the desert that is our fallen lives: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”
Turn from your sins, brothers and sisters. Repent. It is the Lord’s will that “all should come to repentance,” that all should be “found without spot or blemish” on the day of His coming, on the day all “the elements will be dissolved with fire.” With the fire of the Holy Spirit does the Lord Jesus come now to baptize, that what John has cleansed from our souls might be gone forever – that the new person we become by this baptism of water might be made complete, might become hardened and lasting in the furnace of His love.
God “proclaims peace to His people. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.” Hear what His prophet says, for he cries “out at the top of [his] voice” that indeed all hearts might listen: “Here is your GOD! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by His strong arm.” Yes, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” and now the WORD is in our midst, walking amongst us as our shepherd and “leading the ewes with care.” The “justice [that] shall walk before Him, and prepare the way of His steps,” has come, and now the level highway that leads to His kingdom we must tread – there is no denying the road that is set before us.
Christ is coming, brothers and sisters, and Christ has come. The Baptist has prepared His path, and He, the Son of God, has walked it. And now we await His return in glory. And “the Lord does not delay His promise”; His return is sure. Already we see the “glory dwelling in our land.” He waits for you to come now to Him. In patience He looks for you to turn. Turn to Him now in earnest; with all your soul cry out His Name. “Jesus Christ the Son of God” dawns on the horizon. Embrace His love; walk His sacred path.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Under God" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may all souls come from this desert of sin
to your holy mountain.
YHWH, let us be gathered into your barn, into your reign of peace, where, the viper having been defanged, all your creatures live in harmony, glorifying you as God and Father. In your Son let us make our home.
Jesus comes into our midst endowed with your justice and judgment, O LORD. And the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire, but His wheat He will draw into His heart. With fire shall all men be baptized – may that fire be for us a purging light for entering your kingdom.
The Spirit that was upon John shall anoint all who hear his voice, who seek your way, O LORD and God. And so we must make straight our paths to you, following closely in the footsteps of your Son. O let there be fruit upon our trees! to prove our repentance genuine.
Your NAME shall be blessed forever, dear God; in peace shall all your children dwell. May we be covered with knowledge of you, and so live always in the light of your glory.