Sun, 31 May 2020
(2Pt.1:2-7; Ps.91:1-2,14-16; Mk.12:1-12)
“I will deliver him and glorify him;
with length of life I will gratify him
and will show him my salvation.”
So the Lord speaks of us through prophecy of His only Son. So the Lord seeks to accomplish in everyone who “acknowledges [His] name.” So indeed He has sent “the Son whom He loved” for our salvation. So He prays with Peter, the Rock of His Church, “May grace be yours and peace in abundance through your knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord.” For “by His own glory and power… He has bestowed on us the great and precious things He promised, so that through these [we] who have fled a world corrupted by lust might become sharers of the divine nature.”
Brothers and sisters, “that divine power of His has freely bestowed on us everything necessary for a life of genuine piety through knowledge of Him.” He has come into this world, He has entered the vineyard despite the threat of death, and has indeed been “beat[en],” “treated shamefully,” and “killed,” all that He might found His Church among us; and His grace is for us “marvelous to behold.” Should we not then “make every effort” to employ the gifts He provides by the Holy Spirit and the Church He has made? Should gift not build upon gift so that in this house of ours we grow from the foundation of faith unto the divine love of all?
Let us not be like those tenant farmers who acted out of jealousy, who could only say of the Son: “Here is the one who will inherit everything. Come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance will be ours.” For the Lord has indeed “come and destroy[ed]” these faithless servants “and turn[ed] His vineyard over to others.” We are those others. And we “inherit everything” with the Son if we “say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Yes, brothers and sisters, it is we who “dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Let us be most conscientious in our work in His name; let us be ever ready to provide Him “His share of produce from the vineyard.” For the vineyard is all His, and we are all His, and He is with all of us and with all we do and are – and He will deliver us and glorify us in the eternal life to which He has come to lead us. In His Son is our salvation.
O LORD, on your Son we find our blessed foundation; in Him let us grow to perfection,
to union with you.
YHWH, your Son who was rejected by man, who was despised and put to shame and to a painful death, be the foundation of our lives – let our hearts be set upon Him alone that we might become sharers of His divine nature, as is your will.
Let us build our house on faith in you, O LORD, and grow in every virtue by increasing knowledge of your power and participation in your great love, till we come to rest with you in your eternal kingdom. That kingdom you build upon this earth this day, both in the hearts of all believers and in the Church you ordain to bear your NAME, to produce fruit by your grace. Let us remain ever in this House, in this vineyard you plant, that our houses may be like your own.
O LORD, take our souls unto yourself as we give all things over to you who are the source and deserving recipient of all good things… O let us dwell in your holy House in your surpassing peace all the days of our poor lives, and so become holy as you.
Sat, 30 May 2020
(Acts 2:1-11; Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34; 1Cor.12:3b-7,12-13; Jn.20:19-23)
“Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.”
What our first reading captures in all its dramatic moment, David’s psalm declares in clarity – “When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” – and our gospel defines in Jesus’ word and action with His apostles: “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The Spirit comes from heaven above, through the only Son, to redeem, renew, and strengthen all on the face of the earth.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” and they all spoke “of the mighty acts of God,” and each one of those gathered there “from every nation… heard them speaking in his own language.” For the language in which they spoke was the language of the Spirit, the language all understand. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… and we are all given to drink of one Spirit,” and what does this Spirit say but, “Jesus is Lord,” the truth to which all are called, for which every heart yearns.
And though all find life in “the same Spirit,” though all declare as one that Jesus is Lord, for each of us “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts.” As David exclaims, “How manifold are your works, O Lord!” And is not this call to “different forms of service” revealed in the fact that “there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them”? Each is thereby given his own “theme,” his own song to sing to please the Lord, and our prayer should therefore always be, “May the Lord be glad in His works!” (And for those who deny that man has been given the gift of forgiving sins, do they not read the Lord’s straightforward words to His disciples at this most decisive moment: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”?)
Praise God for the gifts He imparts to all His children. Praise Him for the peace He leaves us and the mission on which He sends us. But praise Him most especially for the breath of the Holy Spirit which animates our very beings, for “if [the Lord] take away [our] breath, [we] perish, and return to [our] dust,” but with this Spirit we share in the very power of God.
Fill this house, O Lord, with the power of your Spirit.
Let the Church always proclaim your praise.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "There Is No End to Life" (final part) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us be baptized in your Spirit,
renewed for the proclamation of your love.
YHWH, comes the driving wind from Heaven, the Spirit Jesus breathes upon His apostles, and so we are made your sons, dear Father, and declare your glory unto all. May your Church with one voice offer you due praise and teach the nations of your eternal call.
We must leave our sins behind and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit, living as one with the Son of God. If we keep His commandments, we shall dwell with you forever, O Father God. For He is with you and through Him you send the Spirit; all who desire to be your children you bless with purging fire this holy day.
Now the promised gift of the Spirit falls upon our immortal souls and we are refreshed and made new creatures, formed in the image of Jesus, your Son. One you make us in Spirit and Body, free from all the works of the flesh. Your Son stands in our midst and offers us His peace; the Advocate now testifies to all Truth… Come and make your dwelling in us, O glorious LORD and God.
Sat, 23 May 2020
(Acts 1:12-14; Ps.27:1,4,7-8,13; 1Pt.4:13-16; Jn.17:1-11a)
“One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
Obedient to the instructions of the Lord, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, where they gathered together in “the upper room” and “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer,” waiting for the promised gift of the Spirit of God. With David they long to “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple,” and so, with him they sing, “Of you my heart speaks, you my glance seeks.”
The Pentecost is soon to come; the Spirit shall soon fall upon the apostles and fulfill their longing for union with God. But as they wait, they suffer, as do we all, for waiting means to suffer – finding patience is to share in the passion of Christ, in the absolute subjection of our wills to the Father and so the death of our own ways. But Peter’s words come as comfort to us as we ourselves wait for the glory of God to come to us: “Beloved: Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.” He knows of what he speaks. For his patient waiting, his dying to self, has been rewarded by the gift of the Spirit now with him as he speaks… and each day his continued suffering brings renewed joy. He is able to sing with full voice the words of David’s psalm: “The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” And to such fullness of the glory of God we all should come.
In our gospel Jesus calls down the glory of the Father upon Himself and so, in turn, upon all who love Him, that He may “give eternal life to all [the Father] gave Him.” As the Son has glorified the Father on earth, now He seeks to be glorified by Him in heaven, and not for His own sake, but for the benefit of those who listen as He prays to His Father. In our midst He prays for us that the power of the Holy Spirit might make us one with Him as He is one with the Father, that we might share in the glory of God.
“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” “Out of the world” He calls us, away from its darkness He brings us, that “in the world” we may be, sharing His glory with all… so to find eternal life, so to find ourselves in the hand of God, in His Temple, gazing always upon the light of His face. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "There Is No End to Life" (second part) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we remain devoted to prayer
and to carrying the Cross,
we shall rejoice forever in your House.
YHWH, how we wait for your glory. How we pray we shall be ready to receive the fullness of your gift from on high. The Spirit promised your chosen ones be upon us this day to lead us to the glory of your Temple.
O LORD, give us light that we might see, that we might gaze on your loveliness, that we might contemplate your presence. To eternal life let us come. Through the persecutions of this world, through our sharing in the Cross of the Christ, let your Spirit rest upon us and we be joined to your glory.
It is Jesus’ desire that we be joined to Him, that we be with Him in your glory. He prays for us as we pray for your Spirit to come and anoint us with that glory. Hear our prayers, O LORD. May Mary and all your holy apostles pray for us as well, that together our prayers might rise unto you and we rise with them to eternal life.
Thu, 21 May 2020
(Acts 18:9-18; Ps.47:2-8; Jn.16:20-23)
“Go on speaking and do not be silenced,
for I am with you.”
As Paul continues his missionary journey, his fears are calmed by the Lord, who assures him: “No one will attack you or harm you,” though he be in Corinth, whose infamous immorality is illustrated in the riotous behavior of the Jews in its court, and to which the court “paid no attention at all.” And the Lord is true to His word, protecting Paul throughout his year-and-a-half stay, and keeping him even from having to defend himself from charges in today’s first reading.
In our gospel Jesus reassures the disciples at the Last Supper, as He is about to leave them and their hearts begin to be troubled: “You will grieve for a time, but your grief will be turned into joy.” And though there remains ever a measure of grief in our hearts as we labor in this world, our bodies apart from the fullness of the grace of heaven, yet we know that Jesus’ promise has indeed been kept in His sending His Spirit upon the apostles from His heavenly kingdom. It is, of course, this Holy Spirit who inspires and guides and protects Paul, making his missionary work fruitful, for he does all having been baptized by the fire of Christ. And, of course, the disciples to whom Jesus speaks today will soon have no more fear, for Pentecost is not far from them.
Pentecost is not far from any of us, brothers and sisters. The promised Spirit is come into the world to answer all questions, to calm all our anxieties. As we wait these nine days to celebrate this great feast of the Church, as we prepare again to enter into its birth in the Spirit of God, let us be assured that the Lord’s promise remains: “You are sad for a time, but I shall see you again; then your hearts will rejoice with a joy no one can take from you.”
No one can take from us the promised joy we now hold in our hearts and which is renewed in this season. As Paul is emboldened even through his most difficult trials, as the apostles rejoice at their persecutions for Jesus’ sake, so we should know that the Lord “brings people under us, nations under our feet”; and so, as powerful as the world may seem in all its brazen immorality, yet we are assured that “He chooses for us our inheritance, the glory of Jacob, whom He loves.” “There are many of [His] people in this city,” here where we dwell on earth, and we must speak to them of the Lord’s glory, His love strengthening us for every task. It is He who accomplishes all in us, and so He will guide and guard our way.
O LORD, give us reassurance of your presence with us,
now and until the end of time.
YHWH, soon our hearts shall rejoice at the return of your Son and our union with you in Heaven forever. But now your Spirit is with us reassuring us of the fulfillment of this promise and guiding and protecting us along the way. We can accomplish all the tasks you set before us because of the glory that is among us even this day in our Advocate from on high.
O LORD, though there is cause for us to weep and mourn in these days we remain apart from complete unity with you, we are strengthened as we wait by the knowledge that Jesus is yet present with us in the Spirit He sends. Let us take refuge in this gift and, as we wait now again for its outpouring in a few days, let us remember your faithfulness to us and our destiny to praise you forever in your eternal kingdom. O you who sit upon the throne, shine your light upon us this day.
Sat, 16 May 2020
(Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Ps.66:1-7,16,20; 1Pt.3:15-18; Jn.14:15-21)
“Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit.”
It is of this way to life Jesus teaches us when He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” for what is it to keep His commandments but to carry His cross – to lay down our lives, to die to the flesh, to suffer for His sake – and what is love but the life the Spirit brings. And both dying to self and loving God we find the Spirit at work in our lives; He is “the Spirit of truth,” yes, but also the Spirit of love, for He is the love of the Father and the Son, and it is by Him we become one in love with Father and Son, and so share in the oneness of the Holy Trinity.
Love and truth are really one and the same; neither exists without the other, for both are of God who is one in Himself. We know the commandment of God, which calls us by the fire of truth to kill all the sin within our souls, is simply a commandment to love, for the whole law is summed up in love. And when Peter calls us to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for [our] hope” (in other words, to speak the truth of the risen Christ), he cannot but immediately add, “Do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear”; for if not spoken in love, it is no truth at all – it is but vain posturing.
Truth and love may also be seen in Philip’s work in the city of Samaria. He went and “proclaimed the Christ to them” – thus the sword of truth goes forth to pierce hearts and bleed them of sin – but the new life that is brought about by this death to the flesh is also evident, in the signs of God’s love he enacted in casting out evil spirits and in the “many paralyzed or crippled people [who] were cured.” And oh how the fullness of truth and the perfection of love came upon these converts when Peter and John “laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” Alleluia! If before “there was great joy in that city” upon being “baptized in the name of Jesus,” now what joy there is for them to know this blessing would never leave.
Jesus promises to send “another Advocate to be with [us] always”; this is the Holy Spirit who confirms in us that once dead to sin, we shall live forever in Him. For this blessing let us “shout joyfully to God” and “sing praise to the glory of His name.” For indeed now by His kindness and His truth, by His grace and by His might, in love and justice He has set us free from the death of sin and brought us to life in Him. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Loving Sprit" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, reveal yourself to us this day
that we might praise you with joy.
YHWH, we sing praise to your Name for all your gifts and graces but especially for the great gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and truth, the Spirit of the Christ, ruling our lives. For sealed by the Spirit we are forever joined to you and your Son in surpassing glory. Alleluia!
How blessed are we, dear LORD, that your Son has been preached to us and we have welcomed Him into our hearts and so found healing from all that sin had inflicted upon us. What joy there is in being baptized in the Name of Jesus!
What everlasting joy we know in having the hands of your apostles laid on our heads that we might receive your Holy Spirit! For now we are filled to overflowing with your glorious praise. No longer orphans, we are joined to you, our Father, through Jesus your Son. One with you, O Triune God, we become as, put to death in the flesh, we are brought to life in the Spirit. Alleluia!
Sun, 10 May 2020
(Acts 14:5-18; Ps.115:1-4,15-16; Jn.14:21-26)
“May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
“Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him.” Thus are we blessed, by keeping the word of the Lord. Thus we know His love, for thus we accept the love He offers by His instruction and by His presence.
It is this blessing of “the living God, ‘the one who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them’” that Paul and Barnabas would bring to the hearts of the Gentiles to whom they preach. It is in the name of Jesus, Paul brings healing to the lame man who “used to sit crippled, never having walked in his life.” Indeed, the same healing he would bring to all the pagans before him who also have been crippled all their lives by the folly of worshiping “idols [that] are silver and gold, the handiwork of men” and the products of human imagination. Never have they walked in the true light of the Lord. In fact, their limitations are most evident in their desire to sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul themselves, as Zeus and Hermes; “even the priest of the temple of Zeus… wished to offer sacrifice to them,” and Barnabas and Paul must shout at them “frantically”: “We are bringing you the Good News that will convert you from just such follies as these”!
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name give glory” is our psalmist’s refrain today, and the same is exclaimed by Barnabas and Paul: “We are only men, human like you.” Worship the living God! is their exhortation. And Jesus Himself speaks in the same humility and with the same deference to the Father: “The word you hear is not mine, it comes from the Father who sent me.” All comes from the Father and must return to Him; and so we are all encouraged to make our home with Him alone.
“Our God is in heaven; whatever He wills, He does.” He wills to love all, to bless all, to make His home with all. To find our homes with Him, to know the blessed love the living God has for all His creatures, we must listen to the instruction of His Son, to the Holy Spirit the Father now sends in His name, and to the ones who are sent to preach the truth of the living God. May the light of His face shine upon you.
O LORD, let us keep your commands
and so live in your surpassing love.
YHWH, you come to all who love your Son and keep the Word He imparts to us. It is this Word that brings us love, and all who cherish love, cherish it, and so find your presence. May you be revealed to all souls in your only Son.
Help all wayward people to turn from vain worship to know you, O living and true God. May all your creatures give you due praise, turning resolutely from the work of their hands. Glory abides with you alone; may we find that glory by obedience to your call to love.
Let us dwell with you, O LORD; come, we pray, to dwell in us. Help us indeed to keep your commands, which are but life for our souls. Your Spirit be with us this day to lead us to all truth in your Son’s Name, that we might do your will in strength, proclaiming the Good News of salvation to all men. O let us rise from the dust to live in your Heaven!
Sat, 9 May 2020
(Acts 6:1-7; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,18-19,22; 1Pt.2:4-9; Jn.14:1-12)
“Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Peter tells us in his letter that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own.” Quoting Scripture, he calls us to “‘announce the praises’ of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light.” The house we become, the priests we are, and the sacrifices we offer are evident throughout our readings today.
First, in our gospel Jesus tells the disciples very directly, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” and that He is going “to prepare a place” for them, and so for us, there. And even now He draws us to that place He is with the Father, each to our own room, each with his own ministry. For, second, the priesthood all share in Christ is pictured in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. As the community of disciples grows in Jerusalem, so do the functions prescribed to its members. It becomes clear that the Twelve and their successors are to “devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” so in order to care for the particular concerns surrounding such matters as the daily distribution of food, they ordain “respectable men” to “serve at table,” thus instituting the ministry of the deacon. And, finally, the spiritual sacrifices all offer to God are sung of by David in our psalm: “Exult, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright is fitting.” As this humble servant “give[s] thanks to the Lord on the harp” placed in His hands by God, so all have their place in the kingdom founded on Jesus; all have their lives to offer in praise of God by the instruments He provides.
“Whoever believes in me will do the works I do.” Yes, the Lord’s works in great abundance are given to us to accomplish through Him who now sits with the Father. The way to His heavenly kingdom has been made clear by the ministry and the sacrifice of Jesus, and we must follow in His footsteps, for we are now the Body of Christ here on this earth. In Him and through Him we offer ourselves and all we do to draw all to the House which He prepares in light, to proclaim with our beings that “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.” Today we are encouraged to hear that “even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith,” that the priests of the Old Covenant were now finding themselves true priests under the New. And so we should realize the manner in which we are all called to service in the Temple of the Lord as members of His own Body, giving praise to the Father of us all through His only Son.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Blood in My Palate" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us live in your Son and so in you
that we might do your works in this world
and praise you forever in Heaven.
YHWH, let us be built into and grow as the Body of your Son. Make us a royal priesthood, a holy nation – your Church. Into your House let us come and dwell, eternally praising your Name.
Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus, and those who believe in Him and so in you become one with Him, and so with you, dearest LORD and God. O Father in Heaven, to Heaven let us come, to oneness with you. Let us do your works on earth and so find our way to your kingdom.
Why should we be troubled when we have the promise from Jesus that He prepares a place for us? Why should we fear when He is near in the power of the Holy Spirit? Let us follow closely the way He leads, that indeed we might exult in your presence forever.
Sat, 2 May 2020
(Acts 2:14a,36-41; Ps.23:1-6; 1Pt.2:20b-25; Jn.10:1-10)
“Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”
Jesus says in earnest to the Pharisees, “I am the gate for the sheep… Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” But they are as the thief who “comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy.”
Today, too, brothers and sisters, the thief is among us, those teachers who do “not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climb over elsewhere.” For neither seeing nor caring to seek the wholeness of Scripture, that it is here that God speaks, they attempt to enter another way, relying on their own devices. So it says in the commentary of the missal I read: “the author of the First Letter of Peter” and “the author of John’s gospel,” for the author here shows he knows not the Word of God. Like the Pharisees who were so preoccupied with the words of the law that they could not see the Author of Life standing before them, so these are blind to the voice of Jesus and His apostles speaking in this Holy Book. As they piece together the fragments of supposed facts gleaned by their fanciful imaginations, the wholeness of the Word, holiness itself, entirely escapes them. How can they hear His silence amongst such chatter?
And so the false shepherds strip the “verdant pastures” and pollute the “restful waters” of Holy Scripture. On wrong paths for their own sakes they lead others into the “dark valley” with no “rod” or “staff” of the Lord to give “courage.” Only coming before the Word of God as children will they “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” and so see the truth of prophecy – but this is entirely too shameful to their pride. By their own minds must they live; in their reason alone they seek their refuge, caring not to “dwell in the house of the Lord” and have His “goodness and kindness follow” them. They need this not – they are quite self-sufficient.
Brothers and sisters, my prayer is that you “save yourselves from this corrupt generation,” that you “run away” like sheep at the “voice of strangers,” saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” And as for these blind guides, I pray that they shall cease their vain effort to crucify the Lord again by making Him and His Word into a metaphor, a symbol – an empty construct of the human imagination – rather than the flesh and blood of God He Is. May they be “cut to the heart” as those at Peter’s preaching, and like the rest of the faithful who “had gone astray like sheep” now return “to the shepherd and guardian of our souls.” Entering through the gate that is Jesus, may they recognize the voice of God as He speaks through His Rock and His Beloved.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Lose the Pretense, How Do We?" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, the innocent Lamb is Himself our Shepherd;
may we find salvation at His side.
YHWH, let us enter into your presence through your only Son, who is the true Shepherd guiding us to you. May we follow in His steps. Even though it lead to the Cross, may we remain near Him, ready to give our lives as He has, as the innocent Lamb for our salvation. Though we are cut to the heart by the truth He speaks in His Word and through His apostles, let us turn to Him in repentance and find His comfort and peace – let us thus find ourselves in your holy arms.
O LORD, let our ears be open to hear His voice and His voice alone. Let us not be led astray by false shepherds, false prophets who seek only their own gain and not the welfare of your sheep. It is to sacrifice you call us, not to selfishness, and by laying down our lives, by entering the wounds in His flesh, we shall find eternal rest in your House. Let us be washed clean in His blood and so be saved from corruption.