Thu, 30 April 2020
O humble laborer in God’s House
who served to build up His Temple
by the sweat of your brow
and your careful concern
to follow His will –
pray that we shall embody
the same obedience
to the Word of God
and His call to our souls,
that we too will consecrate ourselves
and our daily labor
to service of the Lord
and the upbuilding of His Church,
and that we, too,
might be built into the House
wherein He makes
His eternal dwelling.
We are but poor creatures,
simple and weak;
pray the Lord our God
and His Son for whom you cared
will bless us with your dignity,
O righteous man of God.
Thu, 30 April 2020
(Acts 9:1-20; Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15; Jn.6:52-59)
“My flesh is real food and my blood real drink.”
And “the man who feeds on this bread shall live forever.”
The truth is simply stated to those who wonder at His words today in our gospel. As the Israelites in the desert asked, “What is this?” when presented with manna as their food, so now the Jews say, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” For those who do not believe, it is impossible; but for those who believe, it is the gift of God.
Here is the Bread of Life in our midst, as real as the Light which shone around Saul and knocked him off his horse; as real as the voice which spoke aloud to his soul. This bread and wine on the table of the Lord, this great grace upon His altar of sacrifice, is indeed that which feeds us, that which sustains us – that which makes Him most present to us. Our first reading says of Saul that “his strength returned to him after he had taken food.” For three days he had fasted in darkness, experiencing the absolute blindness of his life as persecutor of the Church. Then Ananias laid his hands on him and he recovered his sight. Then he was baptized. Then he could come to the table of the Lord our God and gain the strength “to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.” Yes, the Scripture refers in fact but to ordinary food, but indeed it indicates the “real food” Saul shall soon come to know and find his spirit through.
“The man who feeds on me will have life because of me.” He will become one with the Son as He is with the Father. And he, too, the Lord will be speaking of when He asks, “Why are you persecuting me?” By this Bread we become so one with our God, and with Him we suffer for His Name. “I myself shall indicate to him how much he will have to suffer for my name,” Jesus says to Ananias. And so the disciple is convinced that this man who has done nothing but harm to God’s holy people is truly being called to come to the Lord of all. It is through such suffering that discipleship comes, as it is through His sacrifice we have this food upon our table.
Eat His Body, dear brothers and sisters. Drink His Blood. Let us share together this day this gift of oneness with our God. And let us be strong; and let us bleed with Him upon the cross, to bring His Name to all. “The fidelity of the Lord endures forever,” and He shall never leave us orphaned. He shall feed us forever.
O LORD, feed us with the Bread that is your Son,
that we might have strength to do your will.
YHWH, how shall we come to see that your Son is the Bread of Life and we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life in us, to be united with Him as He is to you? We have scales upon our eyes and upon our hearts – how shall they fall away and our souls open to receive your Word? Send your disciples forth to lay their hands on all blinded men.
There are those still who persecute your Church, thinking they are acting in your Name, O LORD. There are many who cannot but harden their hearts to your gracious gift to them. Help all souls to accept your Son and see that it is His Body that acts in your Name. Help all come to the table of sacrifice and eat His flesh and drink His blood, that they too might proclaim Jesus as your Son.
From our horses we all need to fall; your light we need to shine about us. Let us hear your voice, O LORD, and be obedient to its commands, and so live in your presence forever.
Wed, 29 April 2020
O Shepherd of the Church
who led her through
a difficult time,
seeing to her reform
in faith and morals,
in teaching and prayer,
that the foundation once established
by the Lord Jesus Christ
might be confirmed
kept from decay –
pray this day, too,
MotherChurch will be blessed
by the nourishing food
of the Spirit,
that she might be fed
at the Lord’s table
and all might be encouraged to enter
the gates of Heaven
she guards and opens
to all souls in communion
with the Savior and His way…
May Peter lead us unto His Day.
Wed, 29 April 2020
(Acts 8:26-40; Ps.66:1,8-9,16-17,20; Jn.6:44-51)
“No one can come to me
unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
How evident it is in our first reading that the Father draws all believers unto Himself. For though it is clear that the Ethiopian eunuch is in search of God, has a desire for God, and welcomes God – He is coming from pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is reading Holy Scripture, and “invite[s] Philip to get in and sit down beside him” – which is necessary for belief as well, it is most certain that the Lord is leading him to Himself. The angel of the Lord directs Philip to the Ethiopian. The Spirit specifically instructs him to approach his carriage, and then inspires His disciple to speak to the eunuch of the Word of God and lead him into the waters of baptism (snatching him away immediately upon the completion of his task).
Also evident in our first reading is Jesus’ quotation of the prophets: “They shall all be taught by God.” For indeed it is God that, through Philip, enlightens the Ethiopian eunuch regarding the Suffering Servant spoken of by Isaiah, and all of Scripture, “telling him the good news of Jesus.” It is “not that anyone has seen the Father,” for the Father is not visible to our human vision. But the Father has sent the Son, “the one who is from God,” and “He has seen the Father,” and He knows Him. And now through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son sends His disciples forth as His own flesh and blood, with the same Spirit that inspires Him, to reveal the Father’s love to a waiting world.
“The bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” We are those who have heard His Word, who have been instructed in His way, and who have received His Body and His Blood. And so, having eaten “the bread that comes down from heaven,” we indeed become flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone. Wed we are to the Son of Man by the power of His Word and the blessing of His Sacrament. We have responded to the Lord’s call; He who draws all to Himself and to the Father has become our “living bread,” our life-giving water. And now at His command we must draw all men to the Son, who brings all to the Father.
The Light of the world shines in our midst, and we are drawn as moths to this flame, to Him who “is deprived of His life on earth.” And though we die in our turn as this Sheep who “was led to the slaughter,” yet “of His posterity,” and so our own, all the world will speak… and be drawn to Him who has been lifted up from the earth upon a cross, to Him who dwells with the Father in heaven.
O LORD, your Son is the living Bread
come down from Heaven;
let us seek Him and listen to Him,
and rejoice in Him.
YHWH, let us be taught by you; let us be drawn to you and receive the Bread that is your Son. Let us be baptized in His Name, with you and the Holy Spirit, and so let us come to eternal life in your kingdom. May all souls praise you for your goodness toward us!
What can we do but rejoice when we hear your voice speaking to us in the depths of our souls, when your Word is revealed to our ears and our hearts – when Jesus stands before us in the flesh and offers Himself to us for our salvation? And so, let all indeed come to Him, and so to you, LORD, and loudly sound your praise.
You stand before us in the flesh of your Son, O LORD our God, and this Good News goes forward by the power of the Holy Spirit upon His Church. We who eat the Bread He offers become His Body; let your Word now extend from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
Tue, 28 April 2020
O wise and holy virgin
whose love for God
was matched by a great love
for the Church
and a great desire
to see her pure and holy
peace you brought to peoples
and to MotherChurch,
for peace you held
within your blessed soul,
held as you were
in the hand of God –
pray the light of the Lord
will be shed upon the Church
and all souls
and that reconciliation shall come
and we stand as one
in that surpassing light
and peace of the Trinity.
May holiness be all men’s desire,
to live in accord with the will of God.
Tue, 28 April 2020
(Acts 8:1-8; Ps.66:1-7; Jn.6:35-40)
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
And why should there be such exultant joy among all the peoples of the earth? What should cause all men to “shout joyfully to God”? It is Jesus’ profession that “everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.” Nothing but life everlasting can bring such absolute joy, and we have the assurance from the Lord’s own lips that He “shall lose nothing of what [the Father] has given” Him, that all who come to Him He “will raise up on the last day.” Alleluia! Let us come to Him.
How evident the universal call of the Lord is in our first reading. Upon the persecution which follows the death of Stephen, Philip, a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian “goes down to the town of Samaria” – where the Jews intermarried with the pagans of the land – “and there proclaimed the Messiah.” And we are told that “without exception, the crowds that heard Philip and saw the miracles he performed attended closely to what he had to say” and that “the rejoicing in that town rose to fever pitch.” Here we see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy to the woman at the well, that all who worship Him will worship in spirit and in truth and not in any particular place; here we see the realization of the Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan, that all men truly are our neighbors. For now all are called into His holy fold. All now come to know the glory of the Lord. And, of course, he who leads the persecution against the growing Christian community, he who “entered house after house, dragged men and women out, and threw them into jail”… this same Saul we hear of today will soon become the great Apostle Paul, who travels to all the nations of the world converting waiting souls.
Yes, brothers and sisters, “He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot.” As the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, so now all God’s children pass through holy Baptism and have the way made straight before them. “The glory of His name” is upon us all, upon all who believe in His Son, and now we who were “paralytics or cripples” – who were unable to move for not having heard of His Name or who had had our limbs disjointed for having forgotten His Law – all, Gentile or Jew, are now welcomed into the Father’s eternal home. For “no one who comes will [the Son] reject.” In Him all find their dwelling, and so what should we do but “rejoice in Him” and “proclaim His glorious praise”?
O LORD, let us be raised with your Son
on the last Day – Alleluia!
YHWH, O how persecution brings great joy! For even as the disciples are hunted down and thrown into prison, many go out to new lands to proclaim the kingdom of God to waiting souls, souls who welcome the Word with shouts of joy. And, of course, it is looking upon Jesus on the Cross and believing in Him that brings us to eternal life. Alleluia! May the Word of God go out to the ends of the earth and all souls sing for joy at their salvation.
Jesus has assured us that He will lose nothing of what you, Father, have given Him; no one who comes to Him will He reject, but He will gather all your faithful children into your eternal presence. Let us but long to look upon Him whom you have sent. Let us but set our hearts on the love that passes not away. Let us but come to Him to find your surpassing glory, and all our sickness will be taken away, and we shall never thirst again.
Mon, 27 April 2020
O apostle of Mary
and so of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to the Lord you drew souls
through devotion to His Mother.
How perfectly you have spoken
of this grace upon the Virgin
and the role she plays
in the salvation of the world –
pray this day
that her sweet protection
and most blessed intercession
will be with all the children
who turn in faith to the one
chosen by the Father
to be Mother of His Son.
May this Spouse of the Spirit
lead us into God’s presence
where with you
and all the heavenly saints
we shall find ourselves one
with the Most Holy Trinity
and sing forever the praises
of our Lord and God.
Mon, 27 April 2020
O great missionary,
you served to convert
a land and a people
that had never heard
of our blessed Savior,
and though killed for your work,
you loved those to whom you were sent
and toiled tirelessly
for their salvation –
pray the same kind heart you showed
we shall also know
in serving souls
placed into our care;
and pray the name of our Lord
shall go forth in freedom
to the very ends of the earth
What are our lives
compared with the service of Christ
and the salvation of souls
in faith in His name?
Let us live with your same zeal
the love that is Jesus and His Cross.
Mon, 27 April 2020
(Acts 7:51-8:1; Ps.31:3-4,6-8,17,21; Jn.6:30-35)
“No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry,
no one who believes in me shall thirst again.”
“I myself am the bread of life,” Jesus declares, and it is in this Bread we take refuge. It is by this Bread we are fed.
Do you think that Stephen is at all hungry as he lives again the trial, way of the cross, and crucifixion of the Lord in our first reading today? No, even in this time, and perhaps especially in this sacrifice, the Lord feeds him with Bread from heaven. Even as he is stoned to death, the Lord God hides him “in the shelter of [His] presence from the plottings of men.”
Yes, in our first reading we have Jesus again chastising the elders and indeed all the people for their betrayal and murder of the Word of God. Here we have again Jesus being dragged “out of the city” and killed at the hands of those “who received the law through the ministry of angels [but] have not observed it.” And here again we have forgiveness offered with His last breath. Here is the persecuted Church found in the person of Stephen; here is Jesus. Recall Jesus’ words to Saul upon his conversion: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me”(Acts 22:7)? And here is that same Saul overseeing this first “act of killing,” this first martyrdom of the Body of Christ.
But all the while Jesus is there, not only in the persecution, but quite evidently in His glory. “I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand,” Stephen exclaims. And notice that it is not until this moment, not until they hear this declaration – despite their “shouting aloud, holding their hands over their ears” – that the people are moved “as one man” to destroy that voice. Stephen’s chastisement “stung [them] to the heart” and made them “ground their teeth in anger,” but it is this Truth of the presence of the Lord which they simply cannot stand. And what is the significance of Stephen’s vision being the impetus for his own death? It does bring his stoning, but simultaneously it prepares him for such martyrdom, for now truly the Lord is with him. Before this he would not have been able to bear so completely this cross. And without this Bread he would not have been killed.
“God’s bread comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” That bread of life is in Stephen’s trust in the Lord and in his echoing the words of David’s psalm, which are Jesus’ own: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” For even as he dies, he is most alive. It is this same faith we need, brothers and sisters, and we shall never be hungry, and we shall never be without the Lord, but shall declare His love and His truth to all, happy to be called His own. The Lord’s “face shine[s] upon [His] servant[s],” and they always have the Bread they need.
O LORD, give us the Bread from Heaven, your Son,
to be with us even unto death,
and help us to proclaim His Name.
YHWH, into your hands let us commend our spirit, and we will be protected. Though stones rain down upon our heads, vision of you will light our way, and we shall come into your presence. At your right hand with Jesus let us stand.
In your Son let us take our refuge, O LORD, in Him and in His Cross. Let us be as He was, revealing His image to this fallen world. Let us proclaim the truth in His Name, let us accept the persecution it brings… and let us forgive those who kill us, those who would destroy your Word this day.
Jesus is our Bread from Heaven; it is in His flesh we find our home. Let us be His Body in this world, crucified and rising on high. O LORD, O faithful God, out trust is in you alone, and in your Son – in our lives let your will be done.
Sun, 26 April 2020
(Acts 6:8-15; Ps.119:1,23-24,26-27,29-30; Jn.6:22-29)
“This is the work of God:
have faith in the One whom He sent.”
It is this faith that moves Stephen; it is this work upon which he sets his heart. And so he was unmoved when “the people, the elders, and the scribes… confronted him, seized him, and led him off to the Sanhedrin” and “brought in false witnesses” against him. Surely the words of our psalm are fulfilled in him as they had been in the Lord: “Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant meditates on your statutes.” Thus it is that throughout his persecution, “Stephen’s face seemed like that of an angel” – through it all it is the voice of the Lord to which he listens. And one wonders if the members of the Sanhedrin had not “stared at him [so] intently” because they had seen that face of an angel not long before in the One whom they had crucified, the One who stood before them like a sheep before its shearers. And this one, too, they would sacrifice.
“You should not be working for perishable food but for food that remains unto life eternal, food which the Son of Man will give you.” It is this food, which those who persecute him cannot see, that Stephen eats. If he were seeking to get his “fill of the loaves” which satisfy the stomach, he would not suffer the trial upon him, and not in such peace. Only Jesus gives this food, brothers and sisters. It is nourishment the world cannot touch, and to it there is no end. We need eat nothing else to sustain ourselves.
“Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” O Lord, what voice can compare with thine own? What word can stand where yours is spoken? For yours is “the way of truth,” and the truth cannot be shaken, cannot be changed over time. It is not subject to the corrupting forces present in our flesh; it is of the spirit. And so, in the Spirit let us be, called before your throne. Though we stand accused before the tribunals of this barren land, may your food be ever within us to sustain us – in your presence ever let us rest.
On this unshakable foundation we shall remain, even as the world passes away.
O LORD, let us have faith in your Son
and your work shall be done in us.
YHWH, let us meditate always on you and your wondrous deeds; let us eat of the food of the Spirit that passes not away, that we might come to dwell with you forever. We should not be concerned with the things of the body, with filling our bellies or even with whether we live or die. Like Stephen we should face all persecution with the patience of an angel, knowing you are at our side. And then we shall never die.
O LORD, if only it were eternal life upon which our hearts were set, then we would be truly blessed. Then we would have all we need, for then we would have you dwelling in our souls. You are Life itself, dear LORD, and this is what Jesus would give to us. This is what all His disciples preach, for they, too, would share what has been given them.
Teach us your ways, dear God; let us walk in your truth. And all wisdom will be ours, and we too will witness to your Holy One.
Sat, 25 April 2020
(Acts 2:14,22-33; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; 1Pt.1:17-21; Lk.24:13-35)
“God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.”
Peter stands up “with the Eleven” and proclaims to all the Resurrection of the Christ, that He who was crucified has been released “from the throes of death.” David “foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was He abandoned to the netherworld nor did His flesh see corruption.” The women who went to His empty tomb early Easter morning saw “a vision of angels who announced that He was alive”; this they declared to His apostles. And as for the two sojourning to Emmaus, “He was made known to them in the breaking of bread,” whereupon they “returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, ‘The Lord has been raised and has appeared to Simon!’” All reports converge. The earth cries out of the presence of the living God. He is risen!
“As you see and hear,” you who “invoke as Father Him who judges impartially,” “exalted at the right hand of God, [Jesus] received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured Him forth.” This truth is evident in all the words of Scripture, in all His holy witnesses, and in this bread and wine made the Body and Blood of our Lord. Do you not see? Do you not hear? Do you not know that “you were ransomed from your futile conduct… with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb”? Is it not you “who through Him believe in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory”? Is it not so that “your faith and hope are in God”? Do you not see? Do you not hear? Do you not know Him even as these witnesses? And do you witness with them?
Let us cry out with the words of our psalm, “O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot,” even as we approach His altar today. As we receive Him, let our eyes be opened to recognize His presence. Our hearts should burn as He speaks to us and with His witnesses “open[s] the Scriptures to us,” and in His breaking of the bread we should see Him. And then we should go forth, inspired as Peter, inspired as the women, inspired as the two disciples and all those gathered in His name, to proclaim that He is risen, that He is with us – that we see Him and know Him. Let all hear and understand that “He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time” for the sake of all. Yes, “the Lord has truly been raised.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (second part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, truly has your Son been raised from the dead,
and we with Him.
YHWH, open our eyes and ears to see and hear of your glory, of the resurrection of your divine Son. In the Scriptures and in the breaking of the Bread, in the preaching of your apostles let us come to believe in you and in your presence here among us even this day. How slow of heart we are to believe! Open our hearts and minds to your Word.
The Christ shall not know death and its corruption; He shall rise from the grave. This is declared to us by your prophets and kings, and is realized by all of faith. And our souls, too, shall not be abandoned to the nether world, if we but believe in Him whom you have sent, if we but live in the Spirit He pours upon us. O LORD, let us abound in joy forever in your presence.
Walk with us, O God, and speak to us along the way. Reveal your presence in the Sacrament of the altar. You are our portion and cup. In hope of your glory we dwell this day.
Fri, 24 April 2020
O proclaimer of the Word of God,
we know of our Lord
who suffered and died
that we might rise with Him
on the third day
because the Spirit inspired you
to tell us of this Good News.
Faithful you were to the Lord
and to His blessed apostles,
and so became an apostle yourself,
carrying the Gospel
to men of every nation –
pray that the Word
which you have served
to impart to us
may be remembered
and cherished in the hearts
of all believers,
and that we, too, shall work,
inspired by the Spirit,
to build up the Body of Christ,
making it ready for His return
to dwell with us forever.
Fri, 24 April 2020
(1Pt.5:5-14; Ps.89:2-3,6-7,16-17; Mk.16:15-20)
“Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”
Such is the call and accomplishment of our evangelist Mark, whose gospel reflects the song of our psalmist today, “The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.” For his inspired Word lives forever to declare the faithfulness of God. And “happy the people who know the joyful shout,” who exclaim like Peter in our first reading, “Dominion be His throughout the ages!” For they “walk in the light of [the Lord’s] countenance,” and so “they rejoice all the day.”
“The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere,” and those who believed in the Good News they proclaimed indeed were saved, as are we today. The promise Peter makes in our first reading is true: “The God of all grace, who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while.” Though answering the call of the Lord bring suffering in this world, it is but little to endure for the surpassing glory which is ours in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so to “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift [us] high” is a joy in itself; the suffering we experience for the sake of the Word is itself laced with great joy, for we know in our souls and have seen that it but leads to exaltation at the right hand of God. “Through your justice they are exalted” – so our psalmist praises God for His mercy and His truth. And all souls converted to the Lord will know the Lord’s justice in full flower.
And oh the signs that “will accompany those who have professed their faith,” the strength in the Name and the Spirit of God and the healing graces that are known in them. Every day and in every situation such power is invoked and implemented by those who believe. Be not so forgetful of the wonders Jesus works through those who walk with Him. “The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.” The verse is true, my friends. And as “the Lord continued to work with [the apostles] throughout and confirm the message [they proclaimed] through the signs which accompanied them,” so He will not leave alone this day anyone who takes up His cross and even in the humblest fashion proclaims His holy Name. The news is good and the Lord wishes all to hear. Make His message known to the ends of the world: salvation has come to all.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission.
O LORD, though we suffer for His Name,
your Son is with us all the day,
and we walk in the light of His countenance.
YHWH, you call your apostles to go out to the whole world and preach the Good News of the coming of Christ. May they be faithful in their mission and may all believe and be baptized, and so be saved. Humbly let all souls come to you, that we might be exalted at your right hand.
There is suffering in your call, O LORD; there is even the shedding of blood. But though we might die for the sake of your Name and that of your Son, your peace rests upon us. For it is you who fulfill your work in us, you who go out with all your apostles… and you who are with them till the end of time. May they lay their hands on the sick that they might recover, and not be afraid to lose their lives in the process.
To every corner of the earth let your Word now come, LORD, to every soul that sits in darkness. Awaken hearts to sing of your glory, you who raise all who bow humbly before you.
Thu, 23 April 2020
O charitable and zealous soul
who gave your life
that others might know
the true and abiding Catholic faith,
you who cared for the sick and the dying,
those who were ailing in body
and diseased in spirit –
how shall we learn
to sacrifice all as you have done,
to stand in the face of opposition
and speak the truth
though those we would help
would devour us instead
of listening to the words
come from the Savior’s mouth?
Penance and prayer
are so far from us this day,
and who really cares
to show others Christ’s way?
Pray this ship shall be strengthened
by holy souls
eager for the salvation of all
and confirmed in the truth and love of the Spirit.
Thu, 23 April 2020
(Acts 5:34-42; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Jn.6:1-15)
“I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord
in the land of the living.”
Seeing the vast crowd following Him up the mountain as He seeks to sit with His disciples, Jesus asks the one without guile, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat.” In honesty Philip answers, essentially, “It is impossible.” Ah, but nothing is impossible with God.
Brothers, is it not their seeing “the bounty of the Lord” that causes the apostles to leave the Sanhedrin and the whipping they received at their hands “full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name”? And is not this bounty revealed most clearly here “in the land of the living” in the Bread of Life Jesus provides for us at His Eucharistic table? And so should we not rejoice every day in this miracle?
“Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” Are not David’s words the ones Jesus speaks to His children in the feeding of the five thousand? Should the apostles not but sing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” as they stand each with one of the “twelve baskets full of pieces left over” from the miracle brought about at the Lord’s hands? Does He not here convey their mission of feeding His sheep?
And filled by the food at their hands, should not our own reaction be in accord with the joy expressed by the people in that green field, “This is undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world”? For does He not come into us each time we receive Him?
But king He shall not be made, not in this world. No, this world cannot contain His Kingship, for we have a greater than David here. The land of the living will ultimately be not upon this grass beneath our feet, but upon the clouds of Heaven. Thus the persecution comes, you see. Thus those who go about “fighting God Himself” scourge and crucify the Word they cannot bear and the messengers who bring it to their ears. But the ill-treatment that comes by their jealous hands brings no fear but only encouragement to the hearts of His apostles.
Brothers and sisters, let us be as they who “day after day, both in the temple and at home… never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Messiah,” making always this world as one with the kingdom of God.
O LORD, it is by faith we are fed,
and so let us seek you with all our hearts,
with our very lives.
YHWH, let us come to the Eucharistic banquet, that your Son may enter into us and we ever dwell as your temple in this world. Your bounty is revealed now, wrought by the hands of Jesus and brought to us by His disciples – let us partake of the Bread you provide and rejoice in all your blessings.
None can fight you, O LORD our God; none can destroy what you bring to life. And so, though whipped and ill-treated for the sake of the Name of our Savior, we can but rejoice indeed. For you cannot be overcome, nor those upon whom your Spirit rests. As we follow in the footsteps of your Son, we shall ever live with you.
In your House let us indeed make our home; you are our refuge, O LORD, and with you we are never afraid. For the destroying angel shall pass over all who eat of the flesh of the Lamb, all who are anointed by His blood.
Wed, 22 April 2020
O persecuted shepherd
whose flock repeatedly drove you
from their midst
but who accomplished
great work of conversion
to these indignant souls
you repeatedly returned,
ever spreading Christ’s net further –
pray for us, apostle to nations,
that in God’s Church today
His Word may go boldly forth
to convert hearts
so hardened by sin,
that the acquired ignorance
of peoples returning to paganism
will be thoroughly dispelled
Forth let all souls journey,
humbly proclaiming the Gospel
till all have heard and understood
the glory to which they are called
by our Savior.
Wed, 22 April 2020
O courageous soldier
in the army of our Lord,
you gave up the ranks
of this passing world
for the kingdom
wrought by Jesus Christ,
for such a just cause
and showing us the path
we must tread
to be found worthy
to stand with our God –
pray that we may be strengthened
in the battle of earthly life,
that our weak limbs
may not be disjointed,
that we might not tremble in fear
at the threats of the mighty
but take our refuge
in the Almighty
and fight for Him who fights for us
until we are wrapped in His arms,
until we cling to His breast.
Wed, 22 April 2020
(Acts 5:27-33; Ps.34:2,7,9,17-20; Jn.3:31-36)
“The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God;
He does not ration His gift of the Spirit.”
And thus it is that Peter and the apostles, sent by the Lord to speak His words, can boldly proclaim to the Sanhedrin’s chastisement for continuing “to teach about that name”: “Better for us to obey God than men!” In no way do they ration the Spirit as they testify that God “has raised up Jesus whom [they] put to death,” that it is “He whom God has exalted at His right hand as ruler and savior,” that He is “to bring repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” The praise of God and of His Son is “ever in [their] mouth,” for indeed they know the happiness of “the man who takes refuge in Him.”
And they know, too, the folly of those who deny the Truth of God’s presence in Jesus the Christ. For as He Himself says to Nicodemus in our gospel, “Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure the wrath of God,” and as David states in his psalm, “The Lord confronts evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth,” so the blessed Rock and his fellow apostles convey to the high priest and the Sanhedrin as they are persecuted by their hands. Their declaration that not only do they testify to Jesus as the Messiah but “so too does the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those that obey Him,” is a clear indictment of those to whom they speak, those who are deaf to the Spirit’s words. And it is for this implication that they lack the truth that the Sanhedrin “were stung to fury and wanted to kill them.”
But it is they who shall be killed. It is their rule which shall not last, which shall be overcome by the Just One and the Spirit of Truth upon Him and His own. It is Peter, who speaks for all the apostles, who shall lead the New Jerusalem, the holy Church of God. Such chastisement the leaders cannot bear, save perhaps for Nicodemus; the testimony of “the One who comes from heaven” they cannot accept, and so they fail to “certif[y] that God is truthful.” What then shall be left to them?
Brothers and sisters, though the just man find himself “brokenhearted,” “crushed in spirit,” and with many “troubles,” know that “out of them all the Lord delivers him.” And He shall deliver you, if you but speak His truth. Find strength in the witness of the apostles, in the saints and martyrs of all the ages, and in the Lord Himself. He is with the one He sends and so will bless him as he speaks the truth without fear. “The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to Him,” and He, in turn, gives to those whom the Spirit inspires. Trust in Him with all your lives.
O LORD, by your risen Son
the evil are confronted and the just lifted up –
let your Spirit be upon us.
YHWH, your Spirit is upon the one who believes in your only Son, for He is from Heaven and so the Spirit is upon Him. Let us be as He is; let us live and speak the truth, despite all threats of persecution, knowing well that you will save us as we cry out to you and for you.
O LORD, let us never disobey you or your Son. For what life can he have who turns from your will? How can the Spirit rest upon him? Let us not be afraid to admit our guilt, that we have put to death our Savior and are responsible for His blood, and so let that blood pour over us for the forgiveness of sins as we repent of what we have done.
Let our hearts not be hardened, LORD, by the chastisement of your Son and those who follow Him. Let us accept their testimony, let us thirst for such truth. For only this will bring us from our earthly bonds to new life in your kingdom – let your Spirit be upon the brokenhearted to carry them to your presence.
Tue, 21 April 2020
(Acts 5:17-26; Ps.34:2-9; Jn.3:16-21)
“He who acts in truth comes into the light,
to make clear that his deeds are done in God.”
Jesus is “the light [that] came into the world,” and “happy the man who takes refuge in Him.” None shall fear anymore who love the Lord, for He shall answer all his cries. And newness of life shall be ours.
The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, “arrested the apostles and threw them into public jail.” They attempt to hide the truth in darkness, to kill the light of the Spirit. “During the night, however, an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the jail [and] led them forth,” telling them to preach again in the temple “about this new life.” And so, “they went into the temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.” Do you see the resurrection at work here, brothers and sisters? Do you see how the Word is rescued from the darkness of night, from the prison into which the world would cast it, and brought into the clear light of dawn? The Truth cannot be chained and death shall never overcome life.
And what do the apostles preach but the words Jesus whispers into the waiting ears of Nicodemus in the middle of the night – bringing him, too, out of the darkness into the Lord’s marvelous light: “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.” Eternal life! This is the Word come from God through His only Son begotten in love for us all. The high priest and the Sadducees would hide this; but here one of the leaders listens. He does not question anymore how this can be. And so the seed of eternal life is planted in his heart.
That seed must be planted in all hearts, and so the apostles repeatedly return to preaching, unafraid of the consequences. For how clearly it has been shown them that “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” How well they believe their own words, that in Jesus is found eternal life. In their hearts burns the faith, and so, openly they speak. And though they shall see just how much “men loved darkness rather than light,” yet they shall seek the salvation of all: unto death they shall stand in the light of truth, confident in the resurrection to follow.
May all believe “in the name of God’s only Son” and thus avoid condemnation. May all stand confidently in the Light of the new day, for the darkness of sin and death is banished when we call upon His Name.
O LORD, by faith in your Son and His resurrection,
may we be freed from all condemnation
and come into your light.
YHWH, in the morning light the apostles preach in the temple of the new life found in Jesus, your Son. From the prison of darkness they would rescue all souls, as they themselves have been rescued. Your angel delivers all who love you from death and fear; may our souls glory in the salvation found in your only Son.
That we might not die you sent Jesus into the world as the Light that conquers all darkness, and those who believe in Him come into the light and so find eternal life. There is no power that can chain or imprison your Word, O LORD, for it is your will that it go out to the ends of the earth.
May the Name of Jesus be proclaimed to all men that all who seek the salvation of their souls, all who would be released from their afflictions, might find the freedom of your sons and daughters and do all in you and in your light, O LORD our God.
Mon, 20 April 2020
O sublime teacher
and defender of the Church
and her freedom,
the joy of Heaven
in your spiritual life,
and for the autonomy of MotherChurch
in your call as shepherd –
pray that we
who remain so blind
to the presence of God
will have our eyes opened
and draw closer
to Him who is our life,
in whose light
we alone find peace;
and pray, too,
that we shall fulfill our call
as disciples of truth
and defend with your same strength
the life of our Mother,
despite the persecutions that come.
Mon, 20 April 2020
(Acts 4:32-37; Ps.93:1-2,5; Jn.3:7-15)
“The community of believers were of one heart and one mind.”
This oneness is itself of heaven, is itself the sign that they are “begotten of the Spirit.” And this oneness is reflected in a very real manner in the fact that “none of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common.” This sharing of goods, of “lay[ing] them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to everyone according to his need,” is but an earthly thing. It is easy to see; it is easy to know, for it deals indeed with the things of the earth. But if like Nicodemus this earthly matter is beyond our comprehension, if we say such living as one on this plane is impossible, how far short we will fall of understanding the oneness that exists on the heavenly plane. For do you not see that one not only reflects the other, but in fact leads to the other? How can one be as the wind which “blows where it will,” how can one’s origin and destination be said to be unknown if one is unduly placed, indeed rooted, in the houses, in the property of this earth? And so Barnabas is indeed a “son of encouragement,” because by selling his entire farm and laying the money derived therewith at the apostles’ feet he is saying: I no longer live here on earth. My home is in heaven.
How tied we can be to earthly things. How blinded by them. And yet they can be a means to heaven, if one gives them to the Lord. For then already here in this world we will begin to see and know the life of heaven. Even now the Spirit shall move within us and our eyes will be opened to see “that all who believe may have eternal life” in Jesus. Yes, by the giving up of our goods, by dying to self in this real way, we may transcend this earthly plane.
“Holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days.” Do you not understand this matter, brothers and sisters? Do you not see that you are called here on earth during your limited length of days to live as though in heaven? Do you not know that it is but this which will lead to the unlimited number of days lived in holiness in heaven? Do not think that one is somehow separated from the other, as if heaven can be kept apart, as if its power is not all-encompassing. Here you must begin; even here you must find yourself on that eternal road. For such has Jesus been lifted up, to show you the emptiness of your earthly self. To such oneness with Him and His disciples does He call you – to be a child of heaven. Let us walk together in the Spirit of the Lord and love one another with the love that comes only from God.
O LORD, let us be as the wind,
moved by your holy will alone.
YHWH, in Heaven with you we find our home, not in the things of this earth. And so as we give the things of this earth over to you and your apostles, we draw closer to you and your kingdom. Help us to be born of you, to have life in you and in your Spirit, and not put trust in any possession.
You are King, O LORD, in splendor robed, and holiness alone befits your House. Thus, if we would dwell with you, we must indeed be holy. And to be holy we must be purified of any attachment to this world. As Jesus is lifted up on the Cross, we must be lifted up with Him; as He stands empty of all things, so must we be, if we are to be ready for Heaven – if we are to be raised in glory with Him.
It is in the resurrection of Jesus we take our life, dear God, but to find His resurrection we must first die; to dwell with you in Heaven we must lay down our lives. O may we live here as His disciples!
Sun, 19 April 2020
(Acts 4:23-31; Ps.2:1-9; Jn.3:1-8)
“No one can see the rule of God
unless he is begotten from above.”
“Princes conspire together against the Lord and against His anointed,” we are told in our psalm as well as our first reading. But their rule shall be shattered “like an earthen dish” by the power of the Spirit and God’s anointed One, to whom He gives “the nations as an inheritance.” And in the Book of Acts we see the apostles begin to collect such inheritance “in the name of Jesus,” the “holy Servant” of the Sovereign Lord, the King He has set up “on Zion, [His] holy mountain.” All stream to Him upon seeing the “cures and signs and wonders” worked through them by the Holy Spirit.
In our gospel, it is these undeniable signs of God’s presence which lead a member of the princes who will crucify the Christ to seek understanding from Jesus. And how sad is the question Nicodemus whispers in the night to our Lord: “How can a man be born again once he is old?” It is sad not only because of the futility of his interpretation to “return to his mother’s womb,” but mainly because this is all he can see. He is so of the flesh he cannot understand anything but the flesh; and this sense extends even to the Pharisees’ grasp of the law, which has become as an empty shell void of meaning – bereft of the Spirit as they are. There is hope Nicodemus will hear the words of Jesus; there is possibility other leaders of the people will come to life. But first they will have to leave their vain pursuits behind.
“The wind blows where it will… but you do not know where it comes from, or where it goes.” So it is with the disciples as by the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit “the place where they were gathered shook as they prayed”; and so, filled within with the Holy Spirit they “continued to speak God’s word with confidence.” They are born from above. They have new life in the name of Jesus. All their lives are sacrificed with Him to the will of God. And so the princes have no power over them, but to make them rejoice at the persecution they find at their empty hands.
“You must all be begotten from above,” brothers and sisters. None is to be left behind with the carcasses that gather beneath the eagles’ circling flight. Take refuge in the Lord of Life; be born now in His Spirit.
O LORD, may the house we are in
be shaken by the Holy Spirit, that in Jesus’ Name
we might proclaim the truth before kings.
YHWH, let us be born of the Spirit, let us take life in the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit come through your only Son. In His hands is the inheritance of the nations; in Him all take refuge. Through Him and through His blood we find the strength to proclaim your praise in the face of persecution. Be with us in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Though the Gentiles rage and the kings of this earth conspire against your anointed One and all His children, their violence is in vain because you, O LORD, protect your chosen and give them power over every evil. By a word they are saved; by speaking your Name and declaring your glory, great signs and wonders are worked at their hands, for they are new creatures who take life in you.
O let us be born from above, begotten by your Spirit, O God!
Sat, 18 April 2020
(Acts 2:42-47; Ps.118:1-4,13-15,22-24; 1Pt.1:3-9; Jn.20:19-31)
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Jesus comes to the disciples, repeatedly appearing to them after His Resurrection, to make certain there is absolutely no doubt in them: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” He invites them even to put their fingers in His hands and their hands into His side. To Thomas He speaks, yes, but them all He teaches. For He is commissioning them to go forth in His name in word and sacrament to bring forth life to souls who are dying, to preach the salvation from sin by His resurrection from the dead. “Peace be with you,” He says to His Twelve. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And so He breathes on them the Holy Spirit, giving them power even to forgive men’s sins. Now, those to whom they shall proclaim that God “in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” will not have had the benefit of seeing the Lord. And so, how can one expect them to believe just by the word of another if the speaker of that word is not completely convinced of its truth? Their witness, their commitment, must extend even to the grave – as it shall – if it is to go beyond the grave.
And the strength of the apostles’ witness and the fruit it has borne – which, in turn, becomes a faithful witness unto others – is greatly evident in our reading from Acts. Here we are told the first disciples “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” Sharing all in common, their lives were centered on daily prayer and the Eucharistic meal, the feast of thanksgiving. And “with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people,” they lived their lives in truth, they lived their lives in faith. What Peter ascribes to the disciples of Christ we find in these: “Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now… you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” How effective his and the other apostles’ witness has been.
Brothers and sisters, “His mercy endures forever.” The apostles’ words reach down to us this day and the sacraments of their hands are still in our midst. And so “the joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” we too should know. We too should sing, “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior.” Though the Church has been made to suffer persecution and been dispersed to the ends of the earth, this is but to bring the Word forth, and through all suffering to make it perfect within us. For ultimately the kingdom is not in this place; heaven we cannot completely see. Only faith will lead us to the Lord’s risen presence.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (first part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us make our home in
the nail marks of your hands and the wound in your side
that we might rise to new life.
YHWH, how great is your mercy toward us! How great the wonders that come upon us through your Son, our Lord. For He reveals your ineffable presence to us, taking from us all hardness of heart come from doubt and sin that our eyes might be opened to your glory, that we might enter into your joy.
He has been rejected that we might be accepted. His hands and feet and side have been pierced and He has died that we might rise with Him from the grave. All our sin He would take from us, and so He leaves this power with His apostles and with the descendents of His apostles, who, though they have not seen Him yet have His Spirit breathing upon them to accomplish His merciful will in our midst, to reveal your merciful love to us, O LORD and God.
O let us fall at His feet! Let us proclaim His divinity. Let us join as one in prayer and in the breaking of the Bread in His Name. O LORD, let us be your blessed disciples and so know your salvation of our souls. Alleluia!
Fri, 17 April 2020
(Acts 4:13-21; Ps.118:1,14-21; Mk.16:9-15)
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the good news to all creation.”
How faithfully Peter and John accomplish the Lord’s command, and with what strength, so much so that our first reading tells us, “The priests and elders were amazed as they observed [their] self-assurance” – for these “were uneducated men of no standing.” “How can this be?” they must have queried inside. “Then they recognized these men as having been with Jesus.” And so the answer had come: it is from Him all power derives. In His Spirit all God’s disciples “declare the works of the Lord.”
And how wonderfully silenced the leaders of the people are: “When they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could think of nothing to say.” For the works of the Lord speak for themselves, and the power of the Spirit cannot be denied. And though these priests of the Old Covenant attempt to silence the glory of God, telling Peter and John “that under no circumstances were they to speak the name of Jesus or teach about Him,” these first of apostles declare confidently, “We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen.” Indeed, “a remarkable show of power [takes] place in them.”
And what have they heard and seen? Our gospel tells us: “Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week.” From Mary Magdalene, to whom He first appeared, “they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her.” And the same “good news” is announced to them by the two disciples who had sojourned to Emmaus. And though “they refused to believe it,” and though when “Jesus was revealed to the Eleven,” when they saw His risen presence for themselves, He chastised them “for their disbelief and their stubbornness” – though the doubt from human corruption still clings to them, it shall no longer be so (as evidenced by Peter and John) when Pentecost has come. In the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, the Word shall be preached and believed in strength and power.
“The right hand of the Lord has struck with power.” “The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” has come now in fullness to all His children who hear and see and declare that the Lord is risen. “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior,” sing all the redeemed. As the psalmist “give[s] thanks to the Lord” and the people who had witnessed the great work wrought through the apostles “were praising God for what had happened,” so joy is unbounded for all who enter the “gates of justice” and know in their bones the power of the Spirit at work through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Brothers and sisters, let your joy be known by all; declare the good news to all the earth, that light may come to a world in darkness.
O LORD, let the Good News of your Son’s resurrection
be proclaimed to all believing souls.
YHWH, your right hand has struck with power, and what can we do but declare the glory of your risen Son by the Spirit that is now upon us? Though we be uneducated men of no standing in this world, yet you make us instruments of your salvation as we proclaim what we have heard and seen and believed – Jesus is indeed raised from the dead and in His Name all souls are raised with Him.
And so, let us enter your House and praise your glory, O LORD our God. Let us not stand outside the gates doubting the Word that comes to us or even persecuting the bearers of such Good News. Let us believe! Let us believe because it is Truth, undeniable, standing before us in the light of day and burning in our hearts.
May all who seek your kingdom be delivered from death and come to you in joy, LORD, by the power of the Spirit Jesus imparts to us.
Thu, 16 April 2020
(Acts 4:1-12; Ps.118:1-2,4,22-27; Jn.21:1-14)
“Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by you the builders
which has become the cornerstone.’”
What Peter has proclaimed to the people, he now proclaims even more boldly to their leaders: “There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved.” Jesus, whom they crucified, is the Messiah. And the same quote Jesus offered the Pharisees after making it clear to them they would lose dominion over God’s vineyard – over His people, over His Church – Peter invokes before the high-priestly class today… for here standing before them is the new authority on earth.
And so, here the Church is gathered, under Peter and the apostles. This day of preaching in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit has brought about five thousand children to God, and there shall be no stopping the power of the Word which goes forth to draw in all believers. On the Church goes “proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the person of Jesus.”
Our gospel today is the perfect parallel to our first reading, and reveals just from where the power of the apostles’ preaching comes. First, it shows Peter as the clear leader. He says among the seven – the number of fullness – disciples assembled: “I am going out to fish.” And they reply: “We will join you.” All night they toil in vain. Why? Because they lack the cornerstone who comes to them in the morning. (Notice in our first reading Peter and John are put in jail for the night to await their trial in the morning. But, ironically, this night is less of a prison than the one spent toiling in vain on the sea… for this day they have been most fruitful; for by this time they have been anointed by the Spirit.)
In the morning Jesus stands upon the shore and instructs them where to cast their net, much as He did when first He called His fishermen apostles. And like that morning, their catch is overwhelming. John cries, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumps into the water to swim to His Jesus as the others tow the net and fish behind him. Once all have come to land, it is Peter who goes “aboard and haul[s] ashore the net loaded with sizable fish” and drops it at the Lord’s feet. But it is the single fish Jesus has prepared which is most important, with which they must begin their feast. For Jesus is that fish Himself, the cornerstone upon whom the tallest of buildings stands. And see how He feeds them as at the Eucharistic table: “Jesus came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” Here the Bread of Life is distributed to those who shall impart it to all others.
One hundred and fifty-three (the number of Hail Marys in a full Rosary, pre-Mysteries of Light) fish are gathered by the disciples in a net beyond the point of breaking. Five thousand men are drawn into the fold by Peter and John’s fearless speaking. God’s Church is here built up on the cornerstone that is Jesus; and so we exclaim with our psalmist today: “O Lord, grant salvation! O Lord, grant prosperity! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has given us light.” Amen.
O LORD, by the resurrection of your Son
and the power of the Holy Spirit upon His apostles
may your Church be filled to overflowing
with believing souls.
YHWH, the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of your Church, and we are built upon Him and upon the Rock He has set in place as the first of His apostles. From the hands of the leaders of the Jews divine power has been wrested, for now Peter is your high priest and John your scribe. Now only in the Name of Jesus is salvation to be won, and all who come to Him and eat at His table enter into your House.
This is the day you, LORD, have made. Let us rejoice in the blessings now upon us in your Son. For now we are raised from the dead; now we share in His glory… now we know your merciful love and are given strength to do your work in this world.
On the flesh of your Son let us feed, O LORD; His Body let us be. Led by Peter may we come to Him who waits for us upon the shore – in the morning light let us praise your glory!
Wed, 15 April 2020
(Acts 3:11-26; Ps.8:2,5-9; Lk.24:35-48)
“In His name, penance for the remission of sins
is to be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
And so Peter begins the preaching at the temple: “When God raised up His servant, He sent Him to you first to bless you by turning you from your evil ways,” he announces clearly to the Jews, those first to hear of the Savior, Jesus. And again he speaks boldly and repeatedly of their sin: “You disowned the Holy and Just One… You put to death the Author of life,” for it is absolutely essential that they recognize their guilt if they are to find their salvation. How can they repent of what they do not see? How can “a season of refreshment be granted” through Jesus if they do not know that they are despoiled? And brothers and sisters, it is certainly no different for us. We must recognize our own complicity in the Lord’s death or we shall have no place with Him in life. Hear the message of His apostle: “Reform your lives! Turn to God, that your sins may be wiped away!” If you have nothing to reform, how are you a hearer of the Good News? And if your repentance falls short of knowing the blood of Christ upon your hands, how ineffective it will be.
“All the prophets… have announced the events of these days.” “God has brought to fulfillment by this means what He announced long ago: that His Messiah would suffer.” What Peter proclaims, Jesus confirms in His own teaching to the disciples, “It is written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,” as “He opened their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures.” What must be has been, and now is – Jesus has died and risen. “Look at my hands and my feet; it is really I,” He says to His incredulous apostles. And so in “flesh and bones” the Truth has become known, and this same flesh we eat each day.
The disciples same “sheer joy and wonder” we should share, brothers and sisters. For what is theirs is ours, too. Though “out of ignorance” we crucified Him, in grace we now know Him. And so should we not cry out, “O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth!” Should His blessed care for this sinful man not make us incredulous with joy? For though man is guilty of the Lord’s own death, yet He has “made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.” How little we deserve the Messiah, now glorified in heaven, to be with us; but oh how generous He is. No “power or holiness of our own” has brought us to life – it is His forgiveness that has made us whole.
O LORD, let us proclaim the Name of your risen Son
to all men.
YHWH, how wonderful is the Name of your Son throughout all the earth, for by it all men are healed – all are raised up from their sin and made whole again. With what wonder we should look upon Him risen from the dead; and with what faith we should believe in Him.
O LORD, in the Name of Jesus let penance for the remission of sins be preached to all nations. Beginning at Jerusalem and going forth to the ends of the earth, let it be known that the Messiah has suffered and died and been raised on the third day. May all souls be taught by the apostles you send forth – may we come to understanding of the Scriptures and turn from our sin.
O let us all rejoice in the newness of life He brings! the season of refreshment upon us in His Name. O LORD, let us reform our lives and turn to you that with Him whom you have glorified we might be one.
Tue, 14 April 2020
(Acts 3:1-10; Ps.105:1-9; Lk.24:13-35)
“The Lord is risen! It is true!”
And how it is proven this day! The two disciples find their “hearts burning inside” as He “explain[s] the Scriptures” to them on the road to Emmaus, and then they come “to know Him in the breaking of bread.” “The Eleven and the rest of the company” of disciples rejoice in Jerusalem because “He has appeared to Simon.” And the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate is pulled up by Peter “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean,” and he goes “into the temple with [Peter and John] – walking, jumping about, and praising God.” “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!”
Brothers and sisters, the Church is as this crippled beggar at the temple gate; it is as these confused disciples sojourning for answers to their deepest questions and fears – it is the whole company assembled and astounded and declaring with joy the truth of God’s presence among us. To the beggar the Lord says with Peter, “Look at us!” To those on the road to Emmaus He says, “How slow you are to believe!” And to all He appears in the breaking of the bread. The beggar He heals; in the seeker He instills faith; and to us all He leaves His Blessed Sacrament, the greatest proof of His presence.
“Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.” And as great as His healing may be, as wonderful as His teaching is, the greatest of these is the table He sets before us and the Body and Blood with which He nourishes us. Here is His love most known, here where we “give thanks to the Lord” and “invoke His name.” For in this we are healed, in this His teaching is made real – until the end of time this shall stand as proof of His presence… in this is ever declared, “The Lord is risen!”
“He remembers His covenant which He made binding for a thousand generations.” Never shall this blessing leave us, brothers and sisters. Always we have His Word at work within us, and always we share His Body and His Blood. Here He remains “powerful in word and deed in the eyes of God and all the people.” Let us not fail to declare all He has done for us; let us never be afraid to proclaim His truth. For then all shall be “struck with astonishment”; then all shall know the Risen Lord.
O LORD, in our astonishment let us rejoice
at Jesus’ risen presence among us.
YHWH, your Son has been raised and for this we praise you, for it means our salvation – we who were once crippled by sin, by His death and resurrection are made whole again, and so the words of your prophets are fulfilled. May we recognize Him each day in the breaking of the Bread, and may we live with Him now and forever.
O LORD, let us invoke the Name of your only Son and we shall know His salvation, we shall know the grace and mercy that pour forth from His sacrifice. He had to suffer and die at the hands of His own people that His people and all who would come to Him might be saved from their sin. For this blessing He has imparted to us let us dance and sing on this holy day.
Jesus is the One who sets all men free; dear LORD, let us know His risen presence in our midst this very hour and always.
Mon, 13 April 2020
(Acts 2:36-41; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; Jn.20:11-18)
“Let the whole house of Israel know beyond any doubt
that God has made both Lord and Messiah
this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Brothers and sisters, we are all as Mary Magdalene who “stood weeping beside the tomb,” and like the Jews who were “deeply shaken” by the words of Peter. Though it is to the Chosen people “that the promise was made,” it extends “to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls.” To all sinners, to all who ask His apostles, “What are we to do, brothers?” the Lord responds: “Reform and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven”; indeed, then we “shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – then our eyes shall be opened to His presence among us as we turn to Him in tears.
“She turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there,” this greatest of sinners become most faithful disciple. And as He speaks the name of her who cares only for Him – “Mary!” – so He calls “each one” of us who come to Him in our desperation by name; so He cares for all sinners who love Him and seek Him with all their heart. And the same joy that she has known shall also be ours; we shall declare, “I have seen the Lord!” to all who wait to hear of Him.
“Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray,” Peter urges his fellow Jews on Pentecost day, and “some three thousand” accepted his message and were baptized. Here is where the Church begins to grow, here among those who crucified the Lord – here among His own brothers in the flesh. And though the message is primarily to them this day, indeed it is for all who would be grafted to this tree of life, to this race of whom Jesus is come. For, indeed, it is so that all are sinners, that all bear the guilt of His crucifixion; and so to all who hear His call for repentance, forgiveness may come, and the Spirit follow.
“The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him… to deliver them from death.” What was sung of under the Old Covenant is even more true today; and so let what was true of those faithful under the Old be so with us now. Let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord.” Let us declare, “Upright is the word of the Lord,” and the Word in its fullness shall be ours, and the tears we cry shall be answered quickly by our Lord and Savior who calls us each by name.
O LORD, let us ascend to where your Son is,
far from this world of sin,
even to your side.
YHWH, baptized in tears we cry out to you that we might see your only Son, that we might know He is risen from the dead and sits now at your right hand. Leave us not alone in this world with our sins and weakness, but let your Word please strengthen us; in your mercy deliver us from death.
We have crucified the Holy One; we have killed our Lord. The Messiah has come to save us from our sins, to reunite us with you, O God, and we have turned away from Him and laid Him in a tomb. And what are we to do now? What can save us now that our very life we have murdered?
O LORD, let us be truly repentant of our sins and baptized in the Name of the One you have raised from the dead. To Him let us cling this day, to Him who has ascended on high. In Jesus may we be blessed to make our home, freed from the darkness of the tomb.
Sun, 12 April 2020
O martyred Father
of the Church,
you laid down your life
to save her from the enemy,
to preserve her in the truth
of orthodox faith;
unmindful of the humiliation
and exile you bore
at the hands of the king
of this world,
you died that all might know
in His divinity and humanity –
pray we shall indeed be saved
from all temptation
to turn from the faith,
and so find our way
to the kingdom
where now you dwell
with the Lord and all His holy angels.
May our leaders be as strong as you
and we follow them loyally
in the name of our Redeemer.
Sun, 12 April 2020
(Acts 2:14,22-33; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; Mt.28:8-15)
“You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.”
“It was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him.” And so “the paths of life” we now walk; “joy in [His] presence” is ours – “in confidence” we abide forever. For God has “raised Him up again,” this Jesus, our Lord. Let us be witnesses of His truth to the ends of the earth. Like Peter, our Holy Father, let us be faithful to the Word at work within us.
As the women “ran to carry the good news to [Jesus’] disciples” that He, the Lord, was no longer in the tomb, in the belly of this earth, the guards ran to the chief priests, who concocted a lie. See how the ways diverge between truth and lie. And see today the power with which Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, stands up even amongst those who had Jesus crucified, and proclaims the truth of the risen Lord. And God is with Him. He has heard the Lord’s words: “Peace!” and “Do not be afraid!” He knows full well that his soul will never be abandoned to the netherworld; he has life at work in him, the life that comes from “the resurrection of the Messiah.” And so he witnesses in strength, as do our popes to this day.
Let us “live on in hope,” brothers and sisters, “half-overjoyed and half-fearful,” though only with the fear of God which overwhelms our souls, and He will be before us always, speaking words of peace; and we will see Him walking in the places He was wont to walk on earth… and we will see Him walking everywhere we walk. For by our side will He be constantly in the power of the Spirit to lead and guide us always unto Life, the life that is already with us and will never leave us.
The Lord is risen, alleluia! The powers of death and hell shall never touch us, for in Him alone do we “take refuge,” He alone is our “allotted portion and cup” – in Him alone do we believe, and so we “shall not be disturbed” even by the darkness of night. The Light has dawned; in Him let our souls rejoice.
O LORD, let us take refuge in your Son,
who was not abandoned to the nether world
but lives and goes before us this day.
YHWH, in your Son we find the path to life, the path upon which the Spirit guides us. In His resurrection we are preserved from death and take eternal refuge. Nothing shall disturb us now that Jesus has been raised from the dead, for death no longer has power over us. Let us have but faith in Him and in His reassuring presence among us.
O LORD our God, our hope is in you and in the One who sits upon your throne. He is the Son of David who has conquered death and in whom there is no corruption. And if we believe that He is the One, to the grave we shall not come. For in Him we enter life.
The lies of this world let us leave far behind, O LORD. In truth alone let us make our home and the Spirit of Truth will be upon us to free us from death’s bitter pangs. He has died that we might live; let us find our peace in Him.
Sat, 11 April 2020
(Acts 10:34a,37-43; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-24; Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor.5:6b-8;
Jn.20:1-9 or Lk.24:13-35)
“Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins
through His name.”
“His mercy endures forever,” brothers and sisters, and it is for us to “declare the works of the Lord”: that Jesus was “raised on the third day,” that He lives, that He still is “healing all those oppressed by the devil.” With Peter and the apostles we must “preach to the people and testify” that “the right hand of the Lord is exalted.” Yes, “they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,” but “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Yes, we all bear guilt for the death of the Son, but in His rising He brings about the death of our sin.
Brothers and sisters, “you were raised with Christ” and should have nothing more to do with sin. “Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and we must be seated there with Him. To Him should we raise our eyes for our “life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” No more should sin find place in us or grow within us unto death, but now that new life has come, we should find our place with Him.
Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing the news that Jesus was not there. Upon entering, they “saw and believed,” they “understood the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” Upon believing, death no longer held dominion over them; and soon they would proclaim to all the world the Gospel of life and peace. Soon the cornerstone of truth would take hold of all who heard their words, and grow in time unto heaven. And His kingdom shall not be removed.
Brothers and sisters, each day the Lord opens the Scriptures to us as we gather as His children. Each day we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. Each day we are called to make known the glory of the resurrection we hold in “our hearts burning within as He [speaks] to us on the way.” Here at His table we receive Him each day in Word and in Sacrament. May all men know the gift of life that is ours through the forgiveness of sins He offers. Let us pray that all will believe.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Every Day Is Christmas" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, He whom we crucified has been raised;
the tomb is empty
and His Word now burns in our souls – Alleluia!
YHWH, your Son has truly been raised. Alleluia! And this stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone of your Church. Let us be built up in Him and come to His glory. Alleluia!
Help us, O LORD, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the glory to which He leads us. In Him we find the forgiveness of our sins and so become new men. Let us not turn back as we walk on the road with Him; may His Word always burn in our hearts along our way to you, and may we partake always of His precious Body and Blood until we are present with Him in your eternal kingdom.
O LORD, we praise you for your glory, for your grace that has come into our lives and leads us to union with you. O let us die and be raised with Christ! Let us humbly run to the empty tomb and declare with His disciples that He has been raised. Let all hear His Word and believe in Him, and so enter into His glory. Alleluia!
Fri, 10 April 2020
O soldier of Christ
who stood with courage
against the powers of this world,
leading the troops in your charge
even unto death –
pray that we may remain
loyal to our call,
faithful to the Lord
even unto our own death,
standing strong and tall
against the assaults of the world
and the devil
and forming those entrusted to us
in the ways of God
as you, dear shepherd,
have bravely done.
Let us not be afraid
to shed our blood for the truth,
to suffer persecution
in order to light the way
that leads to life,
the life that is Christ,
who strengthens us with the armor of God.
Fri, 10 April 2020
(Gn.1:1-2:2; Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Ps.33:4-7,12-13,20-22; Gn.22:1-18; Ps.16:5,8-11; Ex.14:15-15:1; Ex.15:1-6,17-18; Is.54:5-14; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13; Is.55:1-11; Is.12:2-6; Bar.3:9-15,32-4:4; Ps.19:8-11; Ez.36:16-17a,18-28; Ps.42:3,5,43:3,4;
Rom.6:3-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-23; Mt.28:1-10 or Mk.16:1-7 or Lk.24:1-12)
“He is not here.”
The women come faithfully to the tomb early Easter morning. What do they find but that the stone is rolled back from its gaping mouth; and angel(s) in white deliver unto them the message of the ages: “He has been raised.”
This night, this early morning, we are led through salvation history, through our own history as human beings made in the image of God here upon the face of the earth, souls coming unto heaven. “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” is the song of the Old Testament. From the beginning of Creation our hearts are set on Him. Along the way “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” prefiguring the Father’s own sacrifice of His Son for our sins and our salvation. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of sin, through the Red Sea, “with the water like a wall to their right and to their left,” prefiguring our Baptism as Christians; and they “sing to the Lord for He is gloriously triumphant,” prefiguring our own joy.
Always we are reminded by the prophets of old: “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit.” And he who heard the call even then sang, “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.” Yes, repeatedly the Lord calls out through His prophets: “Come to the water!… Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” He promises, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.” We who “have forsaken the fountain of wisdom” by the sin that plagues our inheritance are called back to “the One who established the earth for all time… before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice”; we are called to cling to the Word of God, to Wisdom: “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.” For the sake of His Name, the Lord who “scattered them among the nations” now beckons His children home. And those of faith sing with David, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.”
Brothers and sisters, we know that “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” the death to sin. And having been “buried with Him,” we are also raised with Him this night, this morning, that “we too might live in newness of life.” Now His holy dwelling place is here among us with the purest of light that rises this day. Let us be children of this holy Light. No longer in the tomb let us dwell.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (third part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, from the tomb your Son has been raised,
and we shall be raised with Him.
YHWH, your Son is no longer in the tomb, and we have escaped with Him. It is the third day and He has been raised, just as He said. The stone is rolled away and so now all souls may leave the darkness of this world behind and come with Jesus to the light of Heaven.
You have led us to this day, O LORD, throughout all our history, it has always been your intention to save our souls and raise us to you, even from the time of Creation. And so you called Abraham to sacrifice his son; and so you led the Israelites out of Egypt. Your Wisdom has been upon your people every step of our way that we might be wed to you in your eternal kingdom.
And now in the death and resurrection of your Son you fulfill your will among us. And now we who are baptized into His death are raised to glory with Him. Let it be declared to all, LORD, that the Christ is no longer in the tomb, but awaits us all in new life.
Thu, 9 April 2020
(Is.52:13-53:12; Ps.31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25,Lk.23:46; Heb.4:14-16,5:7-9; Jn.18:1-19:42)
“He shall be raised high and greatly exalted.”
Here is your king: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” Pilate has written upon His cross. Here He is lifted up, where “many were amazed at Him – so marred was His look beyond human semblance and His appearance beyond the sons of man.” Yet “shall He startle many nations; because of Him kings shall stand speechless.” The Scripture passage is fulfilled: “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.” And there they shall see that He who “was spurned and avoided by people… one of those from whom people hide their faces,” held in “no esteem” as He was… this same “lamb led to the slaughter” “shall divide the spoils with the mighty”; for as He has been lifted up on the cross, debased beyond all others, so He shall be raised on high in His kingdom, one with the Father in heaven. Here they “wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head.” Here they “clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’ And they struck Him repeatedly.” But there no mockery shall He know; there all shall see that He is the Son of God.
Brothers and sisters, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.” Our weaknesses He has known in full, and now He brings us “light in fullness of days.” Though on earth “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” now has He become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” For all the tears He shed, all the scourging He underwent, all the humiliation He experienced and the death He knew, were all for our sake. “It was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.” And having suffered in our stead for the sins of those by whom He is condemned, now He has come unto what is His own, and invites us there as well.
“He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” The guilt of the nations is removed by Him who had “no guilt in Him,” and is known by all who “take refuge” in His wounds. And so, “take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord”; though we, too, may be “an object of reproach” in this world of sin, He awaits us all in His heavenly kingdom. And for this we call this Friday “good.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (second half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, on this day we killed your only Son –
may we look upon Him whom we have pierced
that our sins might be forgiven.
YHWH, your Son suffers a violent death at the hands of wicked men that our sins might be taken away. All our offenses you lay upon His shoulders, and this innocent Lamb becomes expiation for our transgression. Only by His bearing the Cross will we be freed; only by His shedding of blood will we be washed clean – only by looking upon Him lifted high on the Tree will we come to realize how we have separated ourselves from you who are Life, how we have wrought our own death.
And so Jesus takes upon Himself the guilt of us all; and so by His stripes we are healed. This broken, beaten Man whose divinity none can see startles all souls as He enters into His glory. O LORD, may we take our refuge in Him!
There is no salvation apart from the Christ; there is no sacrifice that could atone for our sins except that made by this High Priest. LORD our God, let us know that He is One with you, and let us worship Him as our only King.
Wed, 8 April 2020
(Ex.12:1-8,11-14; Ps.116:12-13,15-18,1Cor.10:6; 1Cor.11:23-26; Jn.13:1-15)
“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”
For this cup holds the Blood of our Lord. And, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord. “When I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.” As the Israelites mark each of their houses with the blood of a lamb, so our bodies are marked by the Blood of the Lamb; and so we are saved by the Lord our God and become temples of His Spirit.
“How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” the psalmist cries in joy. Each day we “offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,” taking up “the cup of salvation” and “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”: each day we partake of His blessed Body and Blood. And sharing in this celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; and so, into our midst He comes.
“He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” as “a model to follow”: “as I have done for you, you should also do.” He says to His brothers in the upper room the night “His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”: “You ought to wash one another’s feet.” And so by this teaching, and so by His masterful lead, He multiplies His presence in the world through His twelve apostles. And so shall these souls by whom the Bread of Life is multiplied, by whom we have inheritance with the Lord, wash the feet of all His followers by their witness and the ministry they shall bring to the ends of the earth. And so shall all who have bathed in His Blood be made clean for the Holy Day.
And we, as they, as the Lord, find the strength to lay down our lives in service of one another by being as our Jesus, who was “fully aware that the Father had put everything in His power and that He had come from God and was returning to Him.” Any power that any have comes only from the Father, and comes only through the Son, and is known only in His Blood – which all must share, by which all must be anointed, if we are to be preserved until the coming of the Christ again into this world of darkness.
Writen, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be washed clean
in the blood of your Son,
and so protected from all harm;
let us live in His New Covenant,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood.
YHWH, as your Son has laid down His life, the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our sins; as He has bowed down to wash our feet that we might be made clean and have inheritance with Him; so let us be humble and serve one another in His Name. Let His blood be upon us to save us from condemnation – let us die with Him that we might live again.
In His feast let us partake, of His very Body and Blood. At His table let us sit, His disciples ready to follow Him. Indeed, even as we eat let us be prepared to go out and serve, to step from the table where we have been nourished and into the way of the Cross. Far from Egypt we would be taken, LORD, far from all our sin; and others we would see follow Him in the path to the kingdom.
He has died that we might live – O LORD, let us be His children!
Tue, 7 April 2020
(Is.50:4-9; Ps.69:8-10,21-22,31,33-34; Mt.26:14-25)
“The Son of Man is departing, as Scripture says of Him.”
Of Him in Scripture we read, “Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” Even as death approaches, even as His betrayer goes forth (perhaps especially at this dark time), He sets His face “like flint” to confront those who oppose Him, those who would destroy Him. In His own voice He speaks to us in the first reading and the psalm of His trial and His resolve: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard,” though “they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” And He stands alone before such blasphemy – “I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none.”
Though only one of the Twelve betrays Him, all abandon Him in His brokenness; none stands by His side as He “bear[s] insult” in the Name of God. But the Father does not desert Him: “See, the Lord God is my help.” “For the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” And when He cries from the cross, it is not His fate He bemoans, but our own, whose dark separation from God He takes upon Himself as our guilt He bears.
Yes, He must depart in this way; He must suffer at our hands. But that it is written so, and that by this our souls are made whole, in no way nullifies that we have sinned – sin remains the evil it is. As for Judas, yet it would have been “better for him if he had never been born,” for the fires of hell are real; and as for the souls who abandon Him, as for all His disciples, it is only through similar darkness that we shall come back to His light.
Tears will fill our eyes as we look upon Him whom we have pierced. Yet, fear not, for the Lord hears the cry of the “lowly ones… who seek God”; and Scripture speaks just as faithfully of the third day.
O LORD, zeal for your House consumes your Son,
and so He is betrayed by one of His own
for thirty pieces of silver.
YHWH, your Son is betrayed by one who sits at table with Him, and by all He will be abandoned, left alone to die upon a cross. Yet He goes as you call Him; freely He accomplishes your will, with complete faith in your protection, with the strength found only in your love. O help us to be as He is! to bear all with patience, to so freely offer our backs for beating and our faces for spitting upon.
O how shall we go from putting gall in His food to being fed at His table in the kingdom if you do not help us, O LORD our God? We have no hope if you have no mercy on our poor souls. Let us find the strength He takes in you.
Only one of the Twelve betrays Him, only one hands Him over for crucifixion, but we all line the path He must tread – we are all cause for His shame. Dear LORD, in His sacrifice may we find freedom from such sin.
Mon, 6 April 2020
O good teacher
of the poor boys in your care,
minister of the Lord
to those most in need,
with what humble affection
you carried out your work
in educating souls
in the Gospel of Christ
and guiding others to do the same –
pray that we, too,
shall give ourselves in sacrificial silence
to the call the Lord has placed
upon our souls,
and especially that teachers
of the young and disadvantaged
will find grace and strength
from our Lord
to carry out in truth and love
their work for Christ and His Church.
May the Temple of God
be built up on this earth
in all poor souls
washed in Christ’s blood.
Mon, 6 April 2020
(Is.49:1-6; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; Jn.13:21-33,36-38)
“I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is now my strength!”
The Lord is with His servant, with Israel, with Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God: “From my mother’s womb you are my strength… O God, you have taught me from my youth.” And to this “sharp-edged sword” the Lord had concealed “in the shadow of His arm,” to this “polished arrow” He has hidden in His quiver, God says: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” He who was called from birth, given His name in His mother’s womb, prepared before all the ages, now comes to reveal the glory of God.
And how is it “the Son of Man [is] glorified and God is glorified in Him”? We see in our gospel the moment the glorification begins; we see in our gospel the path by which it comes. At table at the Last Supper Jesus grows “deeply troubled,” for the time of His betrayal has come. Judas eats the morsel of food dipped in the dish and “immediately after, Satan entered his heart.” Then, “no sooner had Judas eaten the morsel than he went out,” and, we are told, “It was night.” And immediately upon Judas’ leaving, the Lord proclaims His glorification has begun.
Here begins the Passion. Here begins the first of the three days Jesus will spend in the belly of the earth. How unlike the days the Servant spent in His mother’s womb these days shall be! And yet it is precisely these days and in this way that what God has prepared for Him and for all creation shall come to its fulfillment. Now shall the arrow be sharpened fully and shot forth to pierce all men’s hearts with truth – even as the nails pierce His hands and the sword His side. Through the depths of such absolute darkness, light shall shine forth, and this light shall in time reach to the ends of the world.
Now the time has come. Now all shall abandon Him. Now by the Suffering Servant shall all be saved.
O LORD, make us glorious in your sight,
even as your Son has been glorified by His sacrifice.
YHWH, now the darkness falls upon your Son and He is prepared to be glorified. In the death He must endure He will be revealed as the light of the world. Though we cannot follow Him now, let us soon follow where He leads. Help us, dear God, to lay down our lives with Him that we might come to Heaven.
He has been hidden for all ages, concealed in the shadow of your arm, LORD; but now this arrow is shot forth, this sword unveiled for all eyes to see. Now is the time for all to be justified by His holy sacrifice. O let us join with Him! Let us not fear the darkness which sets upon this corrupted earth but suffer its betrayal with the patience of the Son of Man.
In Him let us take our refuge, LORD; let us be one with your Servant. To this world help us bring His light, you who have been our trust from our Mother’s womb.
Sun, 5 April 2020
(Is.42:1-7; Ps.27:1-3,13-14; Jn.12:1-11)
“I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations.”
He has come “to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who dwell in darkness.” “He establishes justice on the earth,” and this justice is His bringing light to our darkness. But He could not release us from the dungeon unless He Himself had entered the dungeon. How else could light penetrate the darkness? And so He not only enters the veil of flesh, humbling Himself to be born as a man, but also gives Himself up to the death we all must die – in our own form He pays the wages of our sin, that we might be released from its prison.
How could we “be stouthearted” “when evildoers come at [us] to devour [our] flesh,” we who are so weakened by the scourges of sin, if He had not strengthened us by standing in our stead? How could we truly say with David, “Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust,” if He had not defeated the enemy which comes against us? We can say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” only because Jesus has brought God’s justice into our very midst, to our flesh and to our bone, by entering into the world of darkness we have created and taking upon Himself the death we deserved.
Lazarus, who sits at table with Jesus a week before His own death, is a sign of our release from the dungeon, from the tomb of our sin. As “Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him on account of Lazarus,” so should all be drawn to the promise of new life which the Lord shall fulfill now in His death and resurrection. And as we enter Holy Week, as we prepare ourselves for the great mysteries of our faith, how appropriate for Jesus to sit at table “in the land of the living” with this dead man. See that He will sit with us all just so in the kingdom of heaven.
Now the light comes; now justice is done. The aromatic fragrance of His holy sacrifice fills this house, and darkness shall be banished forever.
O LORD, your Son is the light
which saves us even from death;
let us die and rise with Him.
YHWH, as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so all who believe will be raised with Him and sit at His table in Heaven. As He defended Mary from Judas’ attack, so He will advocate for us all against the accusations of the evil one, so we will be protected from all condemnation and come into the light of your presence. Though we dwell as if in a dungeon here, release we shall soon find in the offering of your Son. From all our enemies we shall be saved; let us stand fast with Jesus.
The fragrance of the Spirit fills our souls even as darkness closes in. O LORD, your promise to us is sweet indeed and gives us courage in this world. For what victory has our Savior not won, what power has withstood His justice? And so, even death He tramples underfoot as in a tomb He is laid.
Sat, 4 April 2020
O great preacher
who taught so well
the love of God
and the precepts of the Church,
who worked with such zeal
to repair the breach
within the Church
in a time of corruption –
pray that now the Word
may again go forth
to the ends of the earth,
that all might hear
the voice of the Spirit
speaking in their hearts
and turn resolutely
from their sins
to the grace of the Lord;
and pray, too,
there will be priests
to preach God’s Word
with that same loving zeal
you had for the Church
and every soul.
Sat, 4 April 2020
(Is.50:4-7; Ps.22:2,8-9,17-20,23-24; Phil.2:6-11;
Mt.26:14-27:66 or Mk.14:1-15:47 or Lk.22:14-23:56)
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
“The whole people” cry out for the death of Jesus. “Let Him be crucified,” they shout ever more loudly. The sins of us all demand the death of the Son. And though He would have us not bear such guilt – “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” – and though even after we have succeeded in our lust for innocent blood, He forgives… yet bear such a burden we must, to find release from its punishment under the shadow of His cross, where, upon the opening of our eyes in the fear of our crimes and the power of Him whom we have crucified, we shall proclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
Yes, it is an irony that the blood of this “King of the Jews,” the Chosen of the chosen, the Messiah, the Son of God, is upon our souls both for condemnation for the great crime all commit in crucifying the Lord always by our sins; and, of course, for our salvation by its cleansing the same sin from our souls through our belief in Him Who Is. And so He accepts our mockery. And so He remains silent before our accusations against Him. And so He “set [His] face like flint,” enduring “buffets and spitting”; as “many dogs surround” Him and “a pack of evildoers closes in,” He endures all for our sakes, knowing only this will bring us to open our eyes and see the light that is the love of God. “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.” Could more of a sacrifice be made for sinful man? Could greater than this be accomplished in the name of God? What more need you to believe? O let His blood pour upon you!
Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God has come among us and suffered all for our sake, that we might be washed clean of all the evil within us by His gentle acceptance of all our hatred, of all our doubt and fear, of all the violence we could mount, saying to our heart: “I love you still, and my Father, too,” that we might return to the grace that is ours in Him. Let us not be ashamed to bend the knee “at the name of Jesus.” Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him all you descendants of Israel.” Let His blood pour upon your soul.
Written, read & chanted, and published by James Kurt.
Music: "My God. My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (first half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Son humbles Himself
to die on a cross for us,
and we can but lay Him in a tomb –
how shall we be saved?
YHWH, your Son is led to death, even to crucifixion, but He turns not His face away from the buffets and the spitting, from the mockery of sinful men. He sets Himself to undergo all the suffering that is rightly ours to bear – and all the while we sleep, we take our rest.
All abandon your Son, O LORD; He is left quite alone. None is able to defend Him, to stand with Him in His place upon the Cross. No, we betray Him by our faithlessness, and so now must endure the sight of His bloodied corpse splayed upon the Cross.
O LORD our God, let us not fail to repent of our sin, of our crucifying the Son of Man. Let us not fail to recognize who He is and what He has done for us in His Person and death. This day let us partake of His Body and Blood that we might be taken with Him from the Skull place to your right hand in Heaven.
Fri, 3 April 2020
O learned man
whose wisdom remained
not only in the mind
but found practice
in the Church of God,
you who read and studied Scripture
not just for its own sake
but that the Word might be implemented
amongst your flock –
pray we too might live
with the Word of God,
that we too might share
the light He would impart
to every soul.
Pray God’s grace
touch our innermost minds,
that the understanding our ear receives
will penetrate to our heart;
and pray, dear shepherd,
that God’s Word permeate
His Church as a whole,
led by servants as learned as you
in the way of love and truth.
Fri, 3 April 2020
(Ez.37:21-28; Jer.31:10-13; Jn.11:45-57)
“My sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.”
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to “gather [His people] from all sides to bring them back to their land”; He is the “one prince for [us] all” by whom God makes complete the “everlasting covenant” with us: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is He “who make[s] Israel holy,” who makes us all one in Himself. And so, “no longer shall [we] defile [our]selves,” but we “shall live by [His] statutes and carefully observe [His] decrees” now written upon our hearts by the power of the Spirit upon His flesh and blood.
In our gospel the Sanhedrin fear the loss of the Jewish nation on earth when they say, “The Romans will come and sweep away our sanctuary and our nation” because of the wonders Jesus performs and the power He has over all people. So when Caiaphas asks, “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” it is of the protection of the temple and its worship he speaks and which is his concern. But, of course, he unwittingly prophesies the salvation of all in the eternal, heavenly Temple of the New Jerusalem, where Jesus “gather[s] into one all the dispersed children of God.”
Yes, “Jesus would die for the nation”; He would give Himself that all might live. The plan “to kill Him” He shall allow to bear fruit; though all are on the lookout to apprehend Him, yet He shall come to the feast to offer Himself as the spotless Lamb of Passover, to purge the nation of its sins and protect it from final damnation. And so, “He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, He guards them as a shepherd His flock.” And so we should “come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil” – so we should come now and consume His Body and His Blood. For the New Covenant is now set in place; His sanctuary is here among us. And forever He is seated in the heavenly kingdom to make intercession for us and for the purging of our sins, to draw into the presence of the Father all His holy children.
He is “likely to come to the feast,” brothers and sisters, for the feast would be nothing without Him. It is His sacrifice alone which “turn[s] our mourning into joy,” which “shall make [all] merry and dance” in the sanctuary of God’s love.
O LORD, by the blood of your Son
gather into one all your dispersed children.
YHWH, your feast is prepared and we are called now to enter in to the dancing and joy of your kingdom. Your sanctuary is set up in our midst, your Son has come into our presence, and so we become one holy nation in Him. Though He must die to save us and unite us, He shall face such a fate openly, and so lead us to the heights of Zion.
Up to Jerusalem Jesus comes with all the people for the Passover feast. The Temple you have set up comes now to the temple made by human hands; and though the latter shall soon be destroyed, the former shall never pass away but be set up forever as our dwelling place. O let us worship you, LORD, in your holy Temple!
Jesus is indeed our salvation and the New Covenant founded in His Body and Blood is now among us. O LORD, let your sacrificial Lamb be prince over us that we may come streaming to His blessings.
Thu, 2 April 2020
(Jer.20:10-13; Ps.18:2-7; Jn.10:31-42)
“He has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked.”
As Jeremiah’s persecutors surround him on every side but are “put to utter shame” when he calls out to the Lord, so as the Jews “again tried to arrest Him,” Jesus again “eluded their grasp.” And so when “the breakers of death surged around [us], the destroying floods overwhelmed [us]...” so when our sins seemed to have conquered our souls, the Lord came to save us.
Evil is all around. Always there is “terror on every side!” and those who would shout, “Denounce! Let us denounce him!” because of our missteps, because of our stumbling into sin. Ever the devil is on the watch to trap us with his wiles and cast our souls into “the netherworld.” But always, too, the Lord is present, and when to Him we entrust our cause, saying with David, “O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,” whenever we call upon His name, He hears and saves us from “the snares of death.” “Praised be the Lord, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies,” David sings. “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord,” Jeremiah echoes, and he, too, is safe. All who call upon Him He hears, and affords them His salvation.
“The Jews reached for rocks to stone Him,” but still He called to their hearts: “Many good deeds have I shown you from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” Still He invites them to look upon the good works He has done in His Father’s name to see that He is indeed the Son; still He desires their salvation. The signs He performs are recognized by many people who thus “come to believe in Him,” but the hardness of heart of these the leaders continues to blind their eyes to the truth of what John the Baptist said and what He is. This ignorance shall find its ultimate expression soon in the crucifixion of the Son of God; but even from this the Lord shall deliver Him – and by this sacrifice we shall all be saved. And many more will come to know thereby that He is God.
The Lord rescues all our souls when we cry out to Him. Let us put all trust in His saving grace.
O LORD, thank you for hearing our cries;
from death you have delivered us
by the grace of your Son
YHWH, let us come to believe that Jesus is your Son, one with you and the source of our salvation. You rescue from the power of the wicked all who put their trust in Him; even from death we are preserved by taking our refuge in Him. And so, why should we doubt His divinity?
In our distress you looked upon us, dear LORD, and heard us as we called out to you; and so you sent your only Son to answer our deepest prayers. We were enmeshed in the snares of death but from the netherworld you saved our souls, giving us safety in the blood of Jesus, the Christ. We thank you and we praise you, O God, for your grace upon us.
O let us ever praise your Name, our LORD and God, and we shall be ever safe from our enemies. Let us take our refuge in the flesh of your Son and nothing shall ever harm us. May our cry always come to your ears.
Wed, 1 April 2020
O little one,
holy and true,
who wanted no more
than to leave the world
that you might draw closer
but who was followed by the world
and called to teach the world
of the way of holiness
in our blessed Lord –
pray we shall follow His path
of Passion and death,
death to self
and all animosity, all hatred,
finding thereby His peace,
peace in His Spirit
O that we might be sanctified!
our hearts converted to God,
following your example,
which leads to the Cross
and so the resurrection
of our humble Jesus.
Wed, 1 April 2020
(Gn.17:3-9; Ps.105:4-9; Jn.8:51-59)
“Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
Abraham is a great man, the blessed patriarch, to whom God made the promise: “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” So Abraham becomes “the father of a host of nations,” not just by lineage, but by faith in the promise God has given him and the keeping of the covenant with Him. Abraham is father to all who believe in the one God: the sons of Israel, the Jews; the sons of Ishmael, the Muslims; and all who worship the living Lord and “seek to serve Him constantly.”
Yet as great as Abraham is, as fertile as he has become, Jesus is the greater and the more prosperous, for He Himself is the Lord our God, from whom Abraham receives his promise and so his greatness. “Abraham rejoiced that he might see [Jesus’] day. He saw it and was glad.” For here come to us is the only Son of the God before whom he “prostrated himself”; here is the Lord of all the nations of whom Abraham is father.
Jesus is equal with the Father, coeternal and all-powerful. He does not make Himself so but receives such glory from the Father, with whom He is always. How hard it is for the Jews to hear this. Though according to their faith they have been waiting for just such arrival of the Holy One, of the Messiah, yet their hearts are unable to accept such divine wonder. And so “they picked up rocks to throw at Jesus” upon His solemn declaration of His divinity.
Is it not just so hard for all of us who call ourselves believers to come to terms with the awesome majesty of Jesus our God? It seems something so far beyond our belief, that God could walk in our midst. And yet HE IS; and so we must see how much greater than any man He is. For though fully a man born in time and murdered upon a cross, yet He is God, living forever as Lord of all. So great a gift, so wonderful a presence, is all that assures us that we “shall never see death” but be as He is, alive in the kingdom as He has promised. Keep His word, and the Word of Life will be with you.
O LORD, a greater than Abraham we have in your Son,
for He is God with you –
let us live forever in Him.
YHWH, your Son is God with you, dear Father, the great I AM; and He would bring us where you are, to a life that passes not away. How could we die if we were with you? For you are Life itself, and your Son with you.
Abraham is the father of many nations; many lives came to be through him and all of faith find a father in him who was of the greatest faith. But you are the Father of Abraham, dear LORD, and Jesus is your Son – and so Jesus Himself is as Abraham’s Father, coming before him and giving life to him as He does.
O may He give us life, too, Father on high. In your Name let Him speak to us of your surpassing glory, a glory He shares with you and which He would share with us (as He has shared it with Abraham) if we would but listen and believe. Be our God forever, LORD, as you promised Abraham.