Wed, 11 December 2019
(Is.41:13-20; Ps.145:1,8-13; Mt.11:11-15)
“I will make you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged.”
A “worm” and a “maggot” are we. We are “the afflicted and the needy [who] seek water in vain, [our] tongues… parched with thirst.” But holding our right hand, the Lord speaks to us: “Fear not, I will help you.” “I will open up rivers on the bare heights… I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water.” And has not John the Baptizer come, into the desert, into the wilderness, and there poured the water of God’s compassion upon us for the forgiveness of sins?
Lush trees now grow in the desert: we who were once empty are now filled with God’s grace. And yes, “the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” For all these wonders accomplished in our midst are but to “make known to men [His] might and the glorious splendor of [His] kingdom.” Indeed, we now “thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff,” but all this is done in His power.
And how then do we understand Jesus’ words: “From John the Baptizer’s time until now the kingdom of God has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force”? We know that John spoke boldly in the name of God; unafraid of his oppressors, he called all to repentance. We should all learn from the power of God he displayed in crying out in the wilderness. We know also that at the time Jesus spoke the above words, John was imprisoned in Herod’s dungeon, suffering genuinely the violence of this generation. We know Jesus Himself will be crucified. We know all the apostles (save John) will be martyred for the faith – all His children suffer under the weight of the cross imposed by the violent of this world.
But we know also that this very cross is the means God has chosen to most poignantly reveal His powerful hand at work. For the nails which fix our hands to the wood have no power over us, and so by the humble acceptance of the violence of this age we do most dramatically destroy, crush into dust, the mountains of this world. And we upon whom the greatest violence is inflicted indeed effect the greater violence upon our oppressors, for by this sacrifice wickedness is destroyed and the righteous enter the kingdom of heaven. Let us act with such strength from God, brothers and sisters, for the sake of the kingdom.
O LORD, let there be springs of water
in the desert of this world,
that we poor souls might not die
but enter into your kingdom.
YHWH, Elijah has come as a threshing sledge preparing the way for your Son – and now all souls may enter your kingdom!
To the desert of our lives you have brought your water, O LORD. We who were parched and lifeless have heard the Baptist’s call to repentance and known the grace that comes to us thereby. Your Son, your very Son has come among us and opened the gates of Heaven; in His sacrifice you show your great compassion, and now this tree of life flourishes in our midst.
To the Cross we must all be nailed, dear LORD; all the evil in us must die. But what blessing such violence brings! For joining ourselves to your Son’s sacrifice, the glorious splendor of your reign is revealed to our eyes.
Though we must die, LORD, you live in us and remain in us until the end of time. And so for such grace we bless you; so this day we heed your Son’s voice. Let us be washed clean in the water from His side and come quickly to eternal life.
Wed, 11 December 2019
O Patroness of the Americas
and Protectress of the Unborn,
look upon our troubled state,
where lust and greed abound,
where thousands are killed in the womb
where the poor and the rich
are separated by steel walls
and thirsting souls
die in the desert –
help us, dear Mother,
to discover life,
to find your guidance
in this land of opportunity
and broken dreams,
in these hearts that have grown so cold
that more are sacrificed
on unholy altars
than when you first came
to turn our hearts to the Lord!
Pray for us, Our Lady,
or we shall surely die
in a soulless pride.
Wed, 11 December 2019
(Zec. 2:14-17; Lk.1:46-55; Lk.1:29-47)
“Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
for He stirs forth from His holy dwelling.”
And His own stirring forth causes John the Baptist to stir forth, to “leap for joy” – thus is opened the mouth of the one who will proclaim His way.
On this the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we celebrate the Lord’s stirring forth in astounding fashion in the Americas. As the Lord looked upon His humble servant Mary to bring forth the only Son of God, so He smiles upon the humble Juan Diego, to bring the conversion of a continent. His Mother comes humble and with child to bring new birth to a land in darkness… And how that land sits in darkness now, awaiting renewal by the graces from His hand.
“He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness” once, and again; let us pray a humble spirit He shall once more find in this place and on this earth, that indeed “the hungry shall be filled with good things,” that He who has “lifted up the lowly” will remember them now that they are trodden down, now that the most humble are destroyed in the womb.
“Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day.” And many have. But how sincere is their commitment to Him? Are they truly “His people,” and so will “He dwell among” them? Have we cause to “sing and rejoice,” to be as she who “proclaims the greatness of the Lord” – or to cry tears of sorrow for the land to which we have come? For the womb is barren; the spirits are proud – and in these the Lord takes no joy.
Silence before Him we must find once again, that He might turn to us and bring new birth to this land.
“Stir forth, O Lord, from your holy dwelling,”
and renew our languishing souls.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger and Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may our hearts stir to life
at the sound of Mary’s voice,
at the approach of your Son.
YHWH, you sent the Mother of your Son to a land in darkness, to a barren place, that the people might be converted to the faith, that the blood upon their hands might be washed away. May she come again to this continent and this world that unholy sacrifice might again be stopped by her humble presence. O LORD, bring us new life!
LORD, we would rejoice in you and in your presence in our midst. We would see all the nations gathered into your arms. But how can you come to a place that despises life, that kills its children in the womb? Have pity on us, dear LORD, and send Mother Mary to prepare the second coming of your Son.
The Baptist awoke and leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary brought his Savior to him. O let us awake this day, dear God, awake from our slumber in such darkness and come into the light of your day. Let us be humble and lowly as she who bore your Son, and we shall be lifted with her to your side. Save us, O LORD our God.