Tue, 30 June 2020
(Amos 5:14-15,21-24; Ps.50:7-13,16-17,23; Mt.8:28-34)
“Hear, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you.”
The chastising continues in our readings today. Against the people’s vain sacrifices and “noisy songs,” both Amos and our psalmist speak in the Lord’s name. In need of healing as the two men “possessed by demons” do we find ourselves in the sight of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?” comes the warning from the Lord. And is it not a word we who pray must keep constantly in our hearts? For how easy it is to fall into empty worship; how readily do we begin to offer mere lip service to our God, when it is our very souls He demands. And not for His sake does He instruct us to “let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream” – to put into practice the words we speak. He commands us to “seek good and not evil,” for “then truly will the Lord, the God of hosts, be with [us] as [we] claim.”
Indeed we claim His presence in our lives; we presume His blessing upon us as we attend Mass and read His words, each day receiving His Body and Blood and hearing His instruction. But continually we must check ourselves, for blindly do we fall into separation from the Lord, even in His house, and so may hear from His mouth: “I hate, I spurn your feasts… I take no pleasure in your solemnities.”
At these times we must come “out of the tombs” as do the demoniacs today. We must cry out to the Lord as we realize our sin. And He will be faithful to us. As He healed even these, He will cast the devils from us, too, and quickly. But first we must realize that His “are the world and its fullness,” that He needs nothing from us. First we must see that all our sacrifices do Him no good – only us. Then He “will have pity,” when we have humbled ourselves. Then He will gather us into His fold, when our hearts are set on His justice.
Let the devil be cast from your mocking lips; accept the chastising Word of God, and new life at His feet you may find, possessed of the breath of His Spirit. Then will your offerings find favor in His eyes.
O LORD, come to us and stay with us
and let us stay with you,
sharing your goodness with all,
your healing graces upon all souls.
YHWH, you are God and need nothing from us; justice alone you seek of our lives. To be as you are is your desire for us, and so you rebuke us in our wickedness.
Cast the devils from our heart, O LORD; let us never dwell in vain pride, for then we should live as if in a tomb, separated far from you and your love. Then we should know your justice.
Help us to come rightly before you and beg your mercy, LORD, to bow before your majesty. If we but recognized your greatness, your glory in our midst, and desired your rule over our wayward hearts… quickly you would come to save us – with a word from your mouth we would be redeemed.
Our words are empty, dear LORD, and our worship vain, except when you bless us with your presence, except when you take pity on our sinful state. Let your discipline bring us back to you; let us find ourselves at your feet, clothed and in our right minds. By your hand let us be fed this day – we beg you to stay with us at all times!
Mon, 29 June 2020
(Amos 3:1-8,4:11-12; Ps.5:4-9; Mt.8:23-27)
“The lion roars – who will not be afraid!
The Lord God speaks – who will not prophesy!”
Yes, the Lord prophesies against Israel today like a lion rending and roaring: “You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.” He brings upon His chosen “such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: [they are] like a brand plucked from the fire.” In no uncertain terms does He cry out through Amos – “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”
A frightening prospect indeed it is which is presented to us in our readings. Here is the Lord God coming to take vengeance on His people. This is He before whom “no evil man remains,” who “destroy[s] all who speak falsehood.” And against His own who turn from Him, He reserves greater punishment.
How shall we react, we who are now become His chosen children? What should we do before such an awesome prospect as the Lord’s hand coming with power? With David we should “bring [our] plea expectantly before [Him]”; with the disciples we should make “our way toward Him” and call out: “Lord, save us! We are lost!” And if we have the faith and humility of the Lord’s king, who declares, “I, because of your abundant kindness, will enter your house; I will worship at your holy temple in fear of you, O Lord,” then with his same confidence we may believe that the Lord will wake and take “the winds and the sea to task” – that what besets us because of our sin and separation from Him will be appeased by the same voice which threatens our destruction thereby. For indeed the Lord is abundantly kind and speaks to us as His own, and chastises us as His own. He raises His voice that we might return to Him; He places us in the fire that we might be purged. Let us find our strength in a holy fear.
And let us join His voice. Let us call out with Him to His blessed children, that all might return to Him who is their maker and protector – that all might be rescued from harm. The Lord would not see us caught in the snare laid for the wicked, and so He has sent His only Son to appease the wrath He has justly spoken forth. Let the lion’s mouth not close upon our heads, but may we be awakened by its voice and open our own mouths to declare the mercy of our God.
O LORD, the wind and the sea obey your Son,
but we harden our hearts against Him –
O let us heed His voice!
YHWH, even wind and sea obey you, and so we call upon your NAME to be saved from their clutches. Let not our sins overwhelm us, but bring us the grace of your salvation.
LORD, we deserve your just punishment, for we have stubbornly turned our hearts from you. Though you have been kind in watching over and protecting us from harm, we have not recognized your goodness toward us and praised your NAME; instead, we have turned to other gods and walked in the wickedness of our hearts. And so, what can you do but cry out against us; and so, what can we be but destroyed if we do not heed your voice?
Give us courage, LORD, for our strength fails us. All we can see is the turmoil our weakness brings upon us. Help us to see beyond the troubles the world presents, troubles we have brought upon ourselves, that we might see you and your power at work, and place all our faith therein. O let us listen to your prophets as they cry out and so walk your way in peace and light, despite the surrounding darkness.
Sat, 27 June 2020
(2Kgs.4:8-11,14-16a; Ps.89:2-3,16-19; Rom.6:3-4,8-11; Mt.10:37-42)
“Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The Lord encourages us today to “take up [our] cross and follow [Him],” to place Him first in our lives to find the reward He holds. And in our second reading Paul says the same, reminding us that “we were indeed buried with Christ through baptism into death,” that we have “died with Christ… to sin once and for all” – this is our cross – and that laying down our lives before the Lord we now find ourselves “living for God in Christ Jesus”; we now find ourselves “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father [that] we too might live in newness of life” with Him who is Life itself.
And Jesus sends us forth as His disciples, saying, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Thus, by our lives we call others to die with Christ that they too might live with Him in eternity, that they too might be blessed as we. Others should see in us the Lord and be prompted to give of themselves as we do, as He does – that in Him all might rejoice.
In our first reading we find a woman who has proven the truth of Christ’s statement, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” Quite literally does she give her “cup of cold water” to the great prophet Elisha, feeding him “whenever he passed by” and even making a place for him to stay in her home. She has recognized “that he is a holy man of God” and is drawn to him, desiring to have his godliness near her life. And by sharing her food and her home, she is laying down her life; by serving this “righteous man” she is serving God, and so she will know the blessing of God.
“This time next year you will be fondling a baby son,” is the holy man’s promise to the woman; and no greater blessing could she hope for. Here is life to her. Here is that “newness of life” of which Jesus speaks so well exemplified in our sight. And we should know that the same will be our own. “In the light of [His] countenance” we shall “know the joyful shout.” “At [His] name [we] rejoice all the day.” “The praises of the Lord [we] will sing forever,” for His Son has been born in our midst; our life has come to us, has suffered and died, and now sits with the Father on high. And to Him do we come with all we are. Before Him do we lay down our lives… and all we give freely He blesses.
Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Coat of Warmth" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we lose our lives for your sake,
we shall never die.
YHWH, let us receive your Son into our homes, and all those He sends; thus we shall be receiving you and have your Word alive in us. Thus we shall come to newness of life in your eternal kingdom.
And how do we receive your Son, O LORD, but by laying down of our lives and taking up the Cross He bears? Only by giving what little we have to Him for your sake will we find ourselves so blessed as to rejoice forever in your presence.
We are blessed insofar as your Son dwells with us. We are blessed insofar as we die with Him. For having died with the Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him, and what should we desire but this eternal life? O let us live for you alone, dearest LORD and God!
This day, dear God, let us give all we own to those who come in your Name; let us put all our lives at the service of your kingdom. Leaving this world behind, we shall be exalted in Heaven.
Fri, 26 June 2020
(Lam.2:2,10-14,18-19; Ps.74:1-7,19-21; Mt.8:5-17)
“It was our infirmities He bore,
our sufferings He endured.”
And oh how deep are those sufferings; “great as the sea is [our] downfall.” And graphically are they seen in the destruction of Jerusalem; sharply they pierce the flesh of the Son.
Yes, the Lord “has torn down in His anger the fortresses of daughter Judah… On the ground in silence sit the old men of daughter Zion; they strew dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth. The maidens of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground.” And the children and infants “faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers’ arms.” And so the prophet Jeremiah is “worn out from weeping”; and so his “gall is poured out on the ground because of the downfall of the daughter of [his] people.”
And is this weeping not Jesus’ own? Does He not shed tears over Jerusalem for the suffering it has known, and its suffering to come? Does He not indeed die for our sins? Listen to the description of the destruction of the holy city offered by our psalmist today: “With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary.” Are these not the blows Jesus suffered; are they not the nails which pierced His hands and feet and side? “They set your sanctuary on fire; the place where your name abides they have razed and destroyed.” Is not Jesus the Temple of the living God, crucified by the hands of lust and greed and jealousy? Have we not done such violence to our Lord? And has He not endured all for our salvation?
Let the priest and all the children note the cause of such destruction of God’s chosen ones, the suffering of His only Son. Is it not the prophets who proclaimed “false and specious visions,” who “did not lay bare [the people’s] guilt, to avert [their] fate”? And note the Lord’s own words and attitude toward those who follow Him, to the children of Israel who press upon Him: “The natural heirs of the kingdom will be driven out into the dark. Wailing will be heard there and grinding of teeth.” Does Jesus fail to show those in His care the narrow gate? And so should we continue to coddle faithless hearts unto their destruction?
He indeed bears all our infirmities, all the sickness our sin has wrought. But we must indeed see ourselves as the centurion’s servant boy, “in bed paralyzed, suffering painfully,” to find His word of healing. We must come with the faith of the centurion to know His saving touch. For destruction indeed awaits the land, and so we must cry out to Him, “Turn your steps toward the utter ruins; toward all the damage the enemy has done in your sanctuary,” if we hope to be redeemed by His blood.
O LORD, only Jesus could heal our ills,
only He could bear our suffering, for our guilt is great –
only He could take it away.
YHWH, how dire is the condition of your city this day; your people waste away on its streets, and none is there to help them. Should we not call upon you; and would you not be faithful in carrying away our afflictions, in saving us from the destruction that surrounds us because of our sin? We lie paralyzed before you; lift us up from our bed of pain.
Does not death surround us this day, O LORD? Is there not little hope among your people – are not the walls of our city torn down? Yet your Son would bear all our suffering; our infirmities He would take away. Let us come to Him for healing. Let us cry out to you for grace, for you are faithful to all sincere prayers… Look upon us in our desolate state.
O LORD, the sanctuary has been torn down – your Son has been crucified in our midst. But we know this death He endures with us will bring us new life if we but pour out our hearts like water in your presence. O let us come to your banquet in the kingdom!
Thu, 25 June 2020
(2Kgs.25:1-12; Ps.137:1-6; Mt.8:1-4)
“Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard,
led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city.”
And so the exile is complete. Not a soul remains in the holy city. And their captors “burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem.” Not a stone is left standing one upon another. Not even the government appointed by the king of Babylon could remain. And they even “tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.”
Now she is utterly exposed. Now she who was his precious pearl is cast out and trampled underfoot. And so our psalmist can but lament, “By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion.” And so his songs of joy are silenced in this “foreign land.” But in his lament today do we not find a kind of hope? Does not his abiding love for the holy city of God bring expectation of a better day? Listen to his faith: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.” Even as we hear of the utter destruction of the temple and the city of God, we are given a sense of the faith that will build it up again.
And on the day we hear of the completion of the exile of Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon, we hear of the healing of one who is completely ostracized by society. The leper comes begging for a cure, seeking to join his fellow men upon the land, and the Lord answers him: “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him and said, ‘I do will it. Be cured.’” Should this not give us hope in all our travails? Does this not signal not only the return of the exiles in seventy years, but our utter redemption and return to the Lord in the coming of the Person of Jesus? For upon heeding the Lord’s instruction to “show [himself] to the priest and offer the gift prescribed,” the leper will be welcomed into the Church and society – his exile will be ended.
We all stand exiled by sin. We are all utterly bereft of the blessing of the Lord. But there is hope. We are told that even in this exile to Babylon “some of the country’s poor” remained to till the land. And has not Jesus just come from the mountain where He has taught His disciples, “Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land”? If we humble ourselves before Him as has the leper, if we remain meek in His sight as have the poor of the land, the blessing of the Lord shall come to us and never leave. For He indeed wills it so. He indeed desires our return from exile. Do we have a heart to come to Him? Do we remember where we have been?
O LORD, it is your will that we be whole
and living in peace;
keep us poor in spirit
that we might not be removed from your sight.
YHWH, save us from our sin this day, even as you healed the leper; bring us back from our exile to dwell again in the holy City of Jerusalem. Are we not temples of your Spirit? Let us remember and return to them.
O LORD, come down from the mountain to walk amongst us, for we are in need of your presence. We live as though far from you in a land of darkness and exile. Is there yet hope for our beaten souls? May we yet be cured of our disease? Only if you are here with us, and we recognize you and call upon your love.
Why should your children remain apart from you? O LORD, why can we not sing of your glory? You are just and we deserve our punishment, but let us call upon your mercy this day. Then you will reach out to us; then you will speak your Word over us. Then your will shall indeed be known – that we be saved from the evil of this day.
Wed, 24 June 2020
(2Kgs.24:8-17; Ps.79:1-5,8,9; Mt.7:21-29)
“The rains fell, the torrents came,
the winds blew and lashed against his house.
It collapsed under all this and was completely ruined.”
Yes, “the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege,” and “Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who… took him captive… None were left among the people of the land except the poor”; and these, too, shall soon be struck.
Yes, the nations “have defiled [the Lord’s] holy temple, they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” And why has such destruction come? Our first reading tells us simply of Jehoiachin, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his forebears had done”; and now finally the day of reckoning has come. And now the nations “have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them.” Now does the Lord’s “jealousy burn like fire.”
And what shall be left when that fire is passed? Who shall stand on that day of reckoning that shall come to all souls, to peoples of all nations? Will you stand before the Lord and recount the great deeds you have done before Him who holds all the world in His holy hand? Will you attempt to justify yourself before Him who justifies all? Will your heart truly be set upon such vain pursuit? Truly then the Lord will “declare to [you] solemnly, ‘Out of my sight, you evildoers’”; for all you have done will be as a grain of sand in His sight, and that grain will be blown from His hand for your lack of humility, for your pride before whom none can stand.
How shall it be then that your house be “solidly set on rock”? How will you avoid the fate of His chosen city Jerusalem? If it has been destroyed, do you not think that you, too, are liable to be struck from His sight? Or do you find yourself perfect? You must cry out as our psalmist, “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” You must heed the words of Christ and consider yourselves unworthy servants (Lk.17:10), unfit as you are to stand before His eyes, to dwell in His light. Then He may have pity on your wretched soul. Then He might make you strong. Your tongue silent before His majesty, there will be hope that you shall remain.
Remember, brothers and sisters, this is He who “taught with authority” before whom you stand. Do not lose the awe of His presence. And perhaps the great collapse of your house will not be necessary; perhaps you shall find His great love which washes away all sin. Let the rains He sends but be cleansing. Endure them gracefully.
O LORD, the gold of the temple does not endure,
but only a humble soul set on your will.
YHWH, let us do your will, that we might stand humbly before you on the Day of judgment.
You cannot help but judge, dear LORD; you cannot help but condemn the pride and wickedness of an evil heart and a vain life. You would give us food to stand strong, your command that gives life indeed… but we would follow our own ways, and so, how can we end but removed from your sight?
You make us as temples, LORD, temples of your Holy Spirit feeding on the Body and Blood of your Son… but how faithful are we to the call to be as your Son, to listen to His words and the guidance of the Spirit – are we truly obedient to your will for our lives?
If we are not humble, LORD, then we know you not. If we expect return for works done in your NAME, then we understand not the great blessing of being your sons, and how unworthy we are to carry out your will.
O LORD, come back to us and help us because of the glory of your NAME. Let us make our home in you and in your Temple, and so find strength in you on the Day you return.
Mon, 22 June 2020
(2Kgs.19:9-11,14-21,31-36; Ps.48:2-4,9-11; Mt.7:6,12-14)
“I will shield and save this city for my own sake,
and for the sake of my servant David.”
Brothers and sisters, “renowned is He as a stronghold,” the Lord our God. And faithfully does He watch over His chosen one.
Our psalmist proclaims, “Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God.” He extols the glory of Mount Zion, of Jerusalem, “the city of the great King,” for the blessings of God upon it. Here is His temple and so here it is we “ponder [His] kindness”; here it is we take refuge, finding “the narrow gate” that leads to Him and to His salvation.
In our first reading today the Lord gives evidence of the way in which He protects His children; He reveals that He will not “give what is holy to dogs or toss [His] pearls before swine.” The king of Assyria has indeed “laid waste the nations and their lands,” including the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He has acted with seemingly invincible power, and now he has come to the Lord’s chosen city to destroy it as well. And though this Jerusalem, where His temple does dwell, and the chosen tribes of Judah (through whom His Savior shall come) shall not be protected forever… though this earthly tent shall so soon be ransacked and taken into exile itself, today the Lord shows how His promise, His covenant with them, will never be taken away. Though the temple’s walls be one day destroyed, His spiritual kingdom, His New Jerusalem is eternally blessed in heaven.
Hezekiah indeed “enter[s] through the narrow gate” of prayer. Taking the threatening letter from Sennacherib in his hand, “he [goes] up to the temple of the Lord, and spreading it out before Him, he pray[s] in the Lord’s presence.” He calls out, “O Lord, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” And the Lord listens. He takes pity on His “virgin daughter Zion… for out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors.” And by the hand of the Lord the king of Assyria is turned back.
Brothers and sisters, “Jerusalem will not be handed over” to the king of this world. Upon His Church His blessed protection remains. Through Judah and David, the king whose city is Jerusalem, Jesus has come – the Lord’s promise is fulfilled and the remnant now does thrive. Here is the Temple not made by human hands; here is the narrow gate through whom all must enter paradise… here is “the joy of all the earth,” God’s “holy mountain” in our midst; and on His heights and in these walls, we are shielded and saved forever.
O LORD, if we enter through the narrow gate,
we shall come into your presence,
and you shall always fight for us.
YHWH, how shall we find our way to your holy City, on which your protection rests, which shall always be saved from the violence of this world? No kingdom can conquer your Church; in her let us make our home.
On your holy mountain, the fairest of heights, let us find our place, O LORD. To your Temple let us come, stretching out our arms in prayer. And you shall listen to our pleas, and your help will be with us quickly – you will be our stronghold. And so, we will praise you forever, for you teach us the way that leads to your House; in your heavenly kingdom we shall ever remain.
O LORD, let us be holy as you are holy, as all your children are holy. Let us be as those who walk the narrow path to you, who find joy in the difficulties present there. Dwelling in faith we shall not fear the threats of the mighty, for you who are above all are our shield and guide.
Sun, 21 June 2020
(2Kgs.17:5-8,13-15,18; Ps.60:3-5,7,12-13; Mt.7:1-5)
“In His great anger against Israel,
the Lord put them away out of His sight.”
Jesus instructs His disciples today, “If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment.” In other words, “Judge not and you shall not be judged.” Here is the prerequisite not only for avoiding judgment and condemnation at the hand of God, but also for assisting and healing others, as is our call. If we wish to serve as Christians and remove the speck of sin from others’ eyes that they might see in the clear light of the Lord Jesus Christ, first it is certainly necessary that we ourselves see so clearly, that we come to the Lord and have our great sin removed from our souls. Otherwise our desire to help others in their frailty will indeed but turn to judgment of them; first we must recognize the great sinners we ourselves are – and so, that we cannot judge another – before we can find the grace from God to bring Jesus’ mercy to others. God alone judges, brothers and sisters, for God alone is good, God alone is pure… the Lord Jesus alone is free from every speck of sin.
And God will judge. Believe this. He will send His apostles and prophets forth to bring remission of sins – He has sent His Son to die on the cross that we might be cleansed in His blood – but failing the acceptance and embracing of the call of the Lord, indeed what hope have we of salvation? There is but His righteous judgment remaining for our souls; there is but His chastising Hand to be placed upon us.
That God does judge, that He does cast sinful man from His sight, is made evident in exemplary fashion in the fate of our ancestors, the Israelites. “Because the Israelites sinned against the Lord, their God,” He cast them into exile at the hand of their enemies. “The Lord warned Israel… by every prophet and seer, ‘Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes’”; He sought to turn them from their sins by those whom He had touched, but “they did not listen… They rejected His statutes, the covenant which He had made with their fathers, and the warnings, which He had given them.” And so, His pure eye unable to look upon them anymore, He removed them from before Himself.
“O God, you have rejected us and broken down our defenses,” David cries, and begs the Lord’s return to the Israelites’ ranks… And how often this must be our prayer because of our foolishness in the sight of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we have a greater covenant now with the Lord than did the ancient Israelites, for we have a greater than David or Moses or Abraham with us now. And more demanding is He of our purity, of our virtue before Him. For what threatens us now is not mere exile, but the fires of hell; what awaits those who turn from Him now is eternal damnation, and so let us remain faithful to our God. Indeed let us remove the log from our eye that we “will see clearly to take the speck from [our] brother’s eye” and so effect the building up of the kingdom of God. The time is now upon us; let us do all we can to remain in His sight.
O LORD, remove us not from your sight
but remove the plank from our eye.
YHWH, judgment is yours alone and it is eminently fair. Where we would condemn out of hand, you are merciful, and cast us from your sight only when we persist in our sin. Help us to see as you see, and to be as you are, that we might remain before you and help others to return to your presence.
We are outcasts, LORD, for our sins against you, for our failure to heed your blessed commands. You would save us from such fate as would separate us from you, and so you tell us of the path to tread. But we do not listen. And so we invite your wrath upon our souls; and so, how can we help others?
Save us this day, O LORD, from ourselves and from all our enemies. Let us listen to your voice and so enter into your love and the light of your presence. In your land let us dwell, in the land of Heaven, and there let us stay… and to this place let us draw others who seek you in the forgiveness of their transgressions and the following of your way. We have sinned against you, but gather us back into your arms, we pray.
Sat, 20 June 2020
(Jer.20:10-13; Ps.69:8-10,14,17,33-35; Rom.5:12-15; Mt.10:26-33)
“For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.”
Jeremiah “hear[s] the whisperings of many” who seek to “denounce him”; those who “watch for any misstep” plot his destruction: “Perhaps he will be trapped, then we can prevail, and take our revenge on him.” Like David he has “become an outcast to [his] brothers, a stranger to [his] mother’s children.” And for what does he suffer such persecution but for speaking the truth of God’s word to his fellow Israelites? As David declares to the Lord, “The insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me”; both the prophet and the king endure persecution for righteousness’ sake.
But both prophet and king declare victory in their struggle: “The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion; my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.” Through the power of God it is they who “will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.” The Lord hears their pleas for help, their prayers come before Him, “for the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” And so both king and prophet end in joy, in utter hope, as David proclaims, “Let the heavens and the earth praise Him, the seas and whatever moves in them”; and Jeremiah likewise calls all to honor our unfailing God: “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”
And, brothers and sisters, in what greater way is this salvation from the grasp of evil better known, more fully realized, than in our Lord Jesus Christ? Paul tells us, “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and this death came to all men.” What greater persecutor have we than death itself? But now “the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many” – now all are saved by Him who has died, and has risen. Its clutches no longer hold dominion.
So Jesus exhorts the Twelve, and all who would conquer death and all sin, to “fear no one”: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” What power has the prince of this world over our immortal souls now that Jesus has come? He can’t touch us by his persecutions; and so now we are called to “proclaim on the housetops” what we “hear whispered” by the Lord in our hearts. Now with Jeremiah and David we must fearlessly “speak in the light,” for the Lord has made us a promise, and His Word is true – “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” But if we deny Him, He will deny us. Therefore, let us be heedless of the shame and the pain we share with our Savior and never fear to declare His truth in love to all. Nothing is greater than the power of His Word.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us declare your glory,
you who set us free from the bonds of sin and death –
you who are our Savior!
YHWH, you have raised us from the power of sin and death, from the strength of our persecutors which we could not match. In the bonds of Satan we have been, and under his threat we dwelt in fear. But your Son has come to set us free that we might walk in liberty with Him and proclaim your holy Name to all the earth. Praise you, LORD! Thank you for your goodness to us. Let us live in your light.
O LORD, how hopeless we were, trapped in the bonds of death and sin. How could we hope when so oppressed that everywhere we looked we saw but emptiness and fear. But when we called out to you, you heard our plea… and your Son you sent into our midst to save us from all evil. Let us now with great zeal declare your glory, LORD, though it mean we must die for you. For in this death, this dying in your Name, indeed life comes to us once again.
To you we entrust our cause, dear LORD, and you are ever faithful. Save all men from the evil one!
Fri, 19 June 2020
(2Chr.24:17-25; Ps.89:4-5,29-34; Mt.6:24-34)
“Because you have abandoned the Lord,
He has abandoned you.”
How quickly Joash the king of Judah, who so recently had restored true worship in the temple at Jerusalem, “transgress[es] the Lord’s commands.” After Jehoiada the priest died, the people “forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols.” And so, “wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem.” So great is their apostasy that not only would they “not listen to [the prophets’] warnings” when they were sent “to convert them to the Lord,” but when Zechariah the son of Jehoiada stood up in their midst to call them back to the Lord, “they stoned him to death in the Lord’s temple.” And so the central place of worship becomes a place of murder.
How truly Jesus speaks in today’s gospel: “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other.” How clearly we see the hatred of God at work in Judah as she embraces false and empty gods. And so Judah becomes like her profligate sister in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. She who is set aside to preserve the temple and the holy city of Jerusalem, who is given yet a share in the inheritance promised David, turns boldly from her call and blessing to despise that which is most her own. And now does her hatred grow. And though she may escape the chastising hand of God a longer time than her sister, God’s promise: “If [David’s] sons forsake my law and walk not according to my ordinances, if they violate my statutes and keep not my commands, I will punish their crime with a rod and their guilt with stripes,” will not be set aside forever, and they shall follow their sister into exile.
Brothers and sisters, we must choose the master we shall serve: if the world and its spirit, then you court God’s condemnation; if the Lord, then remain faithful with your whole heart and follow His Son unto heaven. It is to heaven He desires your soul to come, but you must trust in Him and remain faithful to His call. For if you leave Him, He cannot but leave you; but if you hold fast to His love, He can do nothing but bless you.
Today Jesus, the Son of the Father in heaven, stands up to warn you against the traps of this world and call you into full, living worship of the One God. Will you enter into His love?
O LORD, in your House alone let us make our home,
and so find your kingship over us,
and so find your blessing forever.
YHWH, how kind your words to us are; how reassuring you would be. But do we listen to you; indeed, can we hear you at all? O heavenly Father, you know all that we need, and so would provide for us all things if we but followed in your way – but who among us has any faith?
O LORD, do we not rather fret over the passing things of this earth? Do our hearts not turn quickly to false gods, abandoning you and true worship to feed our bellies, to save the flesh? And what can we be but destroyed like the grass of the field if we have no more sense, no more faith, no more love for you than a lifeless statue? Woe to us as we turn from you, for you are our very life, and without your Spirit quickly we die… quickly we die.
Let us seek holiness, LORD, let this be our goal, our call, our only desire. Let us hope for you alone and for your heavenly kingdom, and we shall be blessed, and we shall remain in your House forever.
Thu, 18 June 2020
(Dt.7:6-11; Ps.103:1-4,8,10,17; 1Jn.4:7-16; Mt.11:25-30)
“He has loved us
and has sent His Son as an offering for our sins.”
Who better to hear from on this blessed feast than John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, whose words indeed continually breathe the fact that “God is love” and who eternally exhorts us to “love one another.” John cannot but speak of the love God has for His children and the love we must offer in return; and all of our Scripture today echoes his understanding and calls us to be washed in the blood of Christ.
In our gospel Jesus calls unto the hearts of all: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.” He invites His little ones: “Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” O so gentle and humble of heart is the Lord our God… so loving, so kind! David sings of Him so well in his psalm of praise and thanksgiving: “Merciful is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” Why does God’s king “bless the Lord” with “all [his] being” today? Because “not according to our sins does He deal with us.” Because of His forgiving grace – this greatest sign of His love, embodied in His only Son. And so, as Moses says to all the people in our hearing on this holy feast, we should “love Him and keep His commandments,” for He is “the faithful God who keeps His merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation.” Yes, this covenant of love has been fulfilled in Jesus’ blood, in Jesus’ heart from which His blood does come, and “when anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God”; then we “come to know and believe in the love God has for us.”
And to whom does the love of God come so readily? Who finds such faith in the Lamb of God and knows that “He pardons all [our] iniquities” and “crowns [us] with kindness and compassion”? Jesus in His prayer to the Father states, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children,” and this is confirmed by Moses, who tells the Israelites, “It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set His heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.” It is not the strong and the wise of the world the Lord showers His love upon, but the humble and the lowly. These know the love the mighty and humble, gentle Lord holds in His Sacred Heart. Alleluia!
Brothers and sisters, “it was because the Lord loved you… that He brought you out with a strong hand from the place of slavery.” Let your soul “find rest” in that merciful love this day, and let it share that love with all others.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how you love us!
sending your only Son to die for our salvation –
let us come to Him this day and know your love.
YHWH, so loving you are that you share your very self with us in the Person of the Son of God, in Jesus the Christ. How is it love come to us so truly? How is it you, who are love, make yourself known to us in such a real way? It is because you are love and desire therefore to share love with us, your poor creatures.
O LORD, you forgive all our sins, you heal all our ills… all that is evil you take from us that we might be one with you who are love. O that we might have a heart so humble and lowly as your own! that we might truly come to know your love, that we might truly come to be your own children. Let us share your love with one another and we shall find ourselves living in your love.
In you let us take our rest, O LORD, in your Sacred Heart. Jesus is your very heart and His blood you would have course through our veins. O let His Heart beat in our own, that overwhelmed with His love we might become one with you in Heaven. Give us your Spirit of love this day to make us your own people, your own flesh and blood.
Wed, 17 June 2020
(Sir.48:1-14; Ps.97:1-7,12; Mt.6:7-15)
“Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our psalm sings of the greatness of our God; in our first reading we hear of how this greatness was revealed in the prophets Elijah and Elisha; and in the Lord’s Prayer we call for this greatness to be present in our midst.
“Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes round about,” our psalmist declares in praise of God. “His lightnings illumine the world.” How great indeed is He: “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Nothing stands before His glance, for “justice and judgment are the foundation of His throne,” and this world is held in His all-powerful Hand.
And how well this greatness is brought to bear by His holy prophets. We are told, “Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” The consuming power of the Lord is indeed revealed in him, for “by God’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire.” He “brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the Lord… sent kings down to destruction,” and finally was “taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses.” How the Lord blesses His holy ones! How He reveals His greatness in them! And of Elisha it is said, “Nothing was beyond his power… In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.”
There is no end to the power the Lord provides to His children, for there is no end to His power, and this power He would share with all. Thus does the Lord encourage us to call upon the majesty of God our Father to be with us, to feed us each day, that His Name might indeed be praised, that His holiness might be revealed in His chosen ones. And to avoid His wrath, and to share in His power, what must we do? What is the central call of this all-powerful, all-holy Lord? Forgiveness. His grace is power, and grace and mercy we must share with all to share that power which has no end.
Trust in Him who holds you in His Hand, brothers and sisters. And His mighty Hand you shall see at work in the course of your day, and the fire of His grace shall pour upon your soul.
O LORD, let your power be upon us,
the power of your merciful love.
YHWH, you are all-good and all-powerful, and those who share your goodness share in your power. Let your kingdom come upon us; there let us dwell with you. We pray to be forgiven all our sins that your Spirit might be with us.
But we know, O LORD, for your Son has taught us, that if we are to come into your presence and share in your power and wonder, first we must forgive our neighbor – even our enemy we must love. Those who sin against us indeed become as our enemies, but your mercy we must share with them if we are to know your grace at work in our souls. Separated from you, all die, but in your light all are brought to life: let all souls come into your kingdom.
Let thy holy will be done, O LORD, in all your prophets, in all your disciples. Your power, your love, make known in all who bear your NAME. What should we fear if you are with us? Let your Word be spoken through us and His blood course through our veins. Let all peoples see your glory.
Tue, 16 June 2020
(2Kgs.2:1,6-14; Ps.31:20-21,24-25; Mt.6:1-6,16-18)
“As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”
Jesus instructs us in our gospel, “Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private.” This prescription the holy prophet Elijah fulfills in our first reading when he miraculously crosses the Jordan River and enters the wilderness, out of the sight of the prophets who remain standing on its other side. Elisha, too, he would have remain apart, but this holy man determines to stay with his father in faith. And so as their prayer becomes secret, as their conversation of God becomes hidden and private, even then Elijah is taken in flames of holy fire from the sight of men; even then he ascends to heaven. And though so otherworldly, the eyes of Elisha witness the hand of God lifting the prophet from our midst.
Brothers and sisters, can you see that this is as what happens with us when we pray to God in our private rooms? David in his psalm declares, “How great is the goodness, O Lord, which you have in store for those who fear you, and which, toward those who take refuge in you, you show in the sight of men.” When we “hide… in the shelter of [His] presence… screen[ed]… within [His] abode,” He reveals Himself to us in His glorious might, He lifts us up to heaven where He dwells. As He blesses those who keep their alms secret and repays those whose fasting is hidden, so He anoints the prayers of His children who find Him in the recesses of their hearts. From this wilderness, from this desert place, He lifts us to see the encompassing shining of holy light.
The quiet place is within your soul; the kingdom of heaven is within you. Converse with the Lord quite readily, quite faithfully, in this hidden place, and all shall be revealed to your eyes. Stay with Him; do not leave His side, and all your requests shall be filled in His blessed generosity. And His cloak He shall place upon you, His cross He shall lay across your shoulders, and the great blessings of heaven will be your own.
“Love the Lord, all you His faithful ones!
The Lord keeps those who are constant.”
And all humble souls He raises
to the throne of God.
O LORD, let us hide ourselves in you,
that you might carry us to Heaven.
YHWH, let us enter into your presence hidden within us; into this wilderness let us come that we might meet with you and you might bless us, and take us to Heaven. Hear our prayer this day.
LORD, you alone are our refuge, you alone are our glory and our peace – you are our only desire. Let us not seek the approval of this world or the praise it may give, but look always only to serve you, to love you, with all our might… and let all our might be only of you. Let it be you who work miracles in our life.
Take all we have, LORD; we ask nothing in return but to be with you. Quietly let us come to you who dwell in the purest silence, apart from all the vain distractions of this world.
You are quite above this dreadful place, though you come to dwell with us even here. In you let us transcend all the emptiness that surrounds us, even as we walk with you. O LORD, let us never leave your side that we might come to be where you are.
Mon, 15 June 2020
(1Kgs.21:17-29; Ps.51:3-6,11,16; Mt.5:43-48)
“Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.”
We have hope, brothers and sisters; we have hope that the very depths of our sin and depravity against the Lord shall be forgiven, and we shall be made new, washed in His blood. For the Lord “sends His rain on the just and the unjust,” and this He proves today in our readings.
The Lord forgives David his “blood-guilt,” he who has committed the dual sins of adultery and murder; and Ahab, too, of whom it is said, “No one gave himself to the doing of evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab,” finds a measure of His mercy. Indeed, if there is reconciliation of these sinners with the Lord God, then even we must have hope of the Lord’s grace at work within us.
The Lord is He who loves even His enemies, whose “sun rises on the bad and the good” alike, whose arm is not shortened, whose love knows no bounds – for has He not gone so far as to die on the cross as a common criminal, as the worst of sinners, to redeem all from their sins? But to receive such grace and mercy how must we come to Him?
It is clear both in our first reading and in David’s great psalm that forgiveness is not obtained in a casual manner. To find it, we must imitate our sinners in their repentance as we have mirrored them in our sin. For Ahab when he heard the condemnation of the Lord upon his house “tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh”; he did not hesitate to “acknowledge [his] offense” before the Lord and all the people. And recognizing that his “sin is before [him] always,” David comes begging the Lord, “Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt,” seeking the compassion he knows only God holds. And this trust in His mercy the Lord sees; this declaration of sin the Lord hears. It is because Ahab “humbled himself before [Him]” and because David proclaimed openly his guilt that God has mercy on their lives. And we must join them just so in our own repentance to find that same mercy and kindness.
More than this, brothers and sisters. To more than this are we called now, my friends. For like the Lord Himself we are commanded to be – to show such mercy as He. The blood of Christ now outpoured, and it having poured upon our souls, we must now see that it is shared with all. We do that by shedding our own blood, by sharing that same love with everyone, indeed even with our enemies, as with us the Lord has done. And so our freedom from sin is made complete in His heavenly presence.
O LORD, is it not only fair
that we should love our enemies
since you have loved us
who have done such evil in your sight,
even having your Son die for our sins?
YHWH, free us all from bloodguilt, for we are all guilty of shedding your Son’s blood; we are all sinners in your sight. Yet you love us, and offer forth your forgiveness as we repent before you – though we have been your enemies, you make us your friends. Help us to receive such grace from you, and to share it with others.
Your mercy pour upon us, LORD; each day let us come to you and find your cleansing rain. For continually our hearts turn from you… sinners we remain, and your healing grace ever we need to come into your presence and find your all-encompassing love. Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy!
And let us answer your call to show your love and mercy in our lives. The light you impart to us let us shine upon all souls. O what a great grace you offer us, LORD! to be as you are, to love as you do – to be perfect even as you. Let us find such grace at work in us; let it be all we desire.
Sun, 14 June 2020
(1Kgs.21:1-16; Ps.5:2-3,5-7; Mt.5:38-42)
“I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”
How divergent are the paths of Jezebel and Jesus. This Queen of Israel, wife of Ahab, holds the philosophy that if someone won’t give you what you ask for, take it by force; whereas the Lord says if someone wishes to take something from you, give it and more.
Here are the way of the world and the way of heaven in stark contrast. When as a petulant child Ahab refuses to eat after not getting what he wants, his wife plots the death of Naboth to obtain the king’s desired land. She truly is among “the bloodthirsty and the deceitful the Lord abhors.” Jesus and those who follow Him are they whom the Lord loves. Far from stoning the righteous man to death, they themselves are the righteous who shed blood freely at the hands of their enemies. Both the wicked Jezebel and the just Jesus go beyond the old law: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth.” She takes an eye and a tooth when none has been taken from her, going thus below the law; but Jesus says, “Offer no resistance to injury,” going thus above the law. Where He fulfills the law in love, she makes a mockery of God.
We hear these mutually exclusive paths spoken of even literally today. Jesus instructs His disciples: “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles,” encouraging His followers on the same way of suffering He models for all – a way revealed most clearly in His carrying of the cross to the hill of Golgotha; and our first reading tells us that “on hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it,” walking quite a different path of blood.
Brothers and sisters, it should be obvious that God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil man remains with [Him].” He indeed “destroy[s] all who speak falsehood” – the justice of God they shall not escape. But let it be equally obvious that we must follow the Lord’s words in turning the other cheek. His are not mere platitudes but necessary instructions for finding the way to God He Himself walks. If we do not walk where He has walked, how can we come to the place He now is? Do not think you will come to heaven along an easy path, much less a wicked one. You will obtain the vineyard of heaven only by drinking the blood of Christ where you are, only by laying down your very life here in this world.
O LORD, let us leave behind
all the wickedness of this world
and join in your Son’s holy sacrifice of love.
YHWH, let us leave the way of the wicked far behind and walk only in the path you mark out for us. In your Son’s blood let us make our home, that there shall be no blood upon our hands.
Let us lay down our lives with your Son, turning the other cheek to those who would harm us, to those who would slap us in the face. Yours is the way of forgiveness and love, of sacrifice in the name of goodness, in your NAME, O God.
Keep us from the path of the world, LORD, for it is one of evil, of use and abuse of neighbor, of the shedding of his blood, the blood of the righteous Man. O let us not have Jesus’ blood on our hands!
LORD, we are all sinners, but if we turn to you, you save us from such sin as would condemn our souls. But if we harden our hearts against your love, if we seek only our own gain, and at others’ expense, choosing to remain blind to your Son’s Cross of sacrifice, which is our only hope of salvation… we can only be destroyed. Help us to give all to others, to answer your call to love.
Sat, 13 June 2020
(Dt.8:2-3,14b-16a; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; 1Cor.10:16-17; Jn.6:51-58)
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
“Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” And here is the Word standing before our eyes. Here is the Bread that gives us life. Here is Jesus Christ, in this Blessed Sacrament, nourishing all our lives.
Yes, His “flesh is true food, and [His] blood is true drink,” for it feeds not only our bodies, but our souls as well, anointing us with His presence, joining us to His sacrifice. And so it becomes His flesh we carry in our bodies; so it becomes His blood running in our veins. For, as Paul asks so pointedly, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And so, do we not become like our God, who comes to us so humbly in this food, who becomes one with our own flesh and blood? Is heaven not here with us and within us as we eat of His presence? Or does He lie about His gift?
Brothers and sisters, nothing more wonderful could the mind of man conceive than this blessed gift we receive at the hands of our own Savior. It is a wonder beyond our understanding and yet a wonder truly present with us, as real as our own flesh and blood. As the Lord “fed [the Israelites] in the desert with manna, a food unknown to [their] fathers,” so we feed now on this food unknown to all – this bread of the angels. And though our doubting hearts may question, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat,” when we partake of this Sacrament of the altar, we find no question remaining; for in faith we taste His glory.
Over and over Jesus repeats His refrain: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” knowing how slow we are to hear, so slow of heart to believe – how easily we “forget the Lord, [our] God, who brought [us] out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.” And falling back to the “waterless ground,” we fall away from His table and fail to realize that “with the best of wheat He fills” us. But listen to Him. Come to Him. Eat. Drink. Do not have unbelieving hearts – but believe! Be as children, pure and lowly, and “glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion,” and what is beyond your understanding will become the light of your understanding, and lead you to eternal life. He has given His “flesh for the life of the world.” Live in Him, brothers and sisters. Live in Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, how you provide for us!
giving us even your Son’s Body and Blood
to nourish us on our journey to you.
YHWH, feed us with your Son’s Body and Blood, for He alone is the finest wheat and the drink that lasts unto eternity.
Apart from you we are dead in our sin, LORD, wandering aimlessly in this desert filled with snakes. But He came indeed to save us, to share with us the life that is you. As to an oasis we come to Him, and He does not fail to revive us at His table, at the altar of His sacrifice.
O LORD, may we ever find nourishment in Jesus; each day let us be fed by His Word and His Sacrament, which makes that Word so real… real as the blood coursing through our veins. He indeed took flesh for our sakes, and now by His sacrifice that flesh He leaves with us in this Bread of the angels.
Let us never turn from Him, LORD, but participate always in His Body and Blood. Make us your children, make us like Him, the Word made flesh to join us to you.
Fri, 12 June 2020
(1Kgs.19:19-21; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-10; Mt.5:33-37)
“I will follow you.”
Elisha gives His yes to Elijah, and so to God. He “kiss[es] [his] father and mother good-bye” and weds himself to the prophet who has thrown “his cloak over him.” And he shall not turn back, shall not fall short of giving his entire self to the service of God, and so shall be greatly blessed. All he leaves behind. His very livelihood he slaughters, and gives these twelve oxen “to his people to eat.” For he shall not return to work for them anymore.
“You are my inheritance, O Lord,” David sings; “my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.” All his soul trusts in the Lord in whom he “take[s] refuge,” and what more does the Lord’s king need? “My heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence”: all his being finds peace in the presence of God, for all his being is set upon Him.
So it is, brothers and sisters, that to the extent we give ourselves to God, to the degree that we give our yes to the Lord, even so will we find our place secure. For making our home in heaven with Him, there is nothing to keep us from His grace. All else falls short of His glory. Heaven and earth shall pass away, and the hairs on our heads are numbered: only the New Jerusalem is lasting; only heaven is secure, for only in heaven is God.
We must be with Him. We must give ourselves to Him. Why should anything less hold sway in our lives? Why should we hesitate to follow Him with our whole heart? For there is nothing else that has importance – heaven is all that matters, and giving our lives to this place which is all life, how protected we are from “the evil one” who would dilute our love of God. And how certain our yes to our God is a no to this adversarial devil.
Honor your mother and father, children; give to all the love that is due. But give to God your very soul; let your spirit rest in Him alone, and you will be blessed forevermore.
O LORD, let us follow you unreservedly
and know your presence at our side.
YHWH, let us give you our ‘yes’ even as your Blessed Mother, even as Elisha, even as all your faithful disciples. Let us give all things over to you and follow your way unreservedly. In your truth let us ever remain, not wavering or turning back to what we have left behind. In you let us make our home and we will dwell in Heaven.
What do we need but you at our side? For what should we be concerned but serving your will? For as we take refuge in you, as we set our hearts on your work and your will, nothing can disturb us – in complete confidence our soul abides. For you are all, O LORD; you are all and everything, and nothing exists apart from you. And so, if we have you, everything is ours. Let us but give our trust to you.
And we shall never die if we trust our lives into your hands. You shall be our food and drink, and we shall sit at your table forever… O LORD, we give you our ‘yes’ this day.
Thu, 11 June 2020
(1Kgs.19:9,11-16; Ps.27:7-9,13-14; Mt.5:27-32)
“Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.”
“Your presence, O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me,” David sings in our psalm; and it is the presence of the Lord that is made known to Elijah in our first reading. And that same presence stands most openly before us in the teaching of Jesus in our gospel.
Elijah comes to the mountain of God to find shelter against the persecutions of his own people, for as he says, “I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.” He alone holds the word of God, and so with what zealousness his life is sought. God promises to show Himself to His lone prophet, but neither in the “strong and heavy wind” nor in “the earthquake” nor in “the fire,” which come before Elijah with great power as he stands upon the mountain, does the prophet find God. By none of these is he moved. But in “a tiny whispering sound” the presence of the Most High God is made known (“it is not by sword or spear…” 1Sm.17:47); it is this still, small voice that instills the fear of the Lord in his pierced soul and causes him to “hid[e] his face in his cloak and [go and stand] at the entrance of the cave,” now seeking shelter from the power of God.
And is not this quiet Word made known in fullness today in the presence of Jesus, He who came “humble and mounted on an ass” (Mt. 21:5)? Does His simple teaching, do His gentle words not rend our hearts in twain? Here is the power of strong wind, earthquake, and fire all together in the voice of the Son of a carpenter; here in this unassuming flesh is God Himself made known.
And what does He teach us? And how difficult is it to hear! How we must cower at His words as they reach into our heart! For He tells us that our glance must seek God alone, that our heart must speak, our actions must reveal, His love only. Else what can we do with our eye but to “gouge it out and throw it away”? What can we do with our hand but “cut it off and throw it away” if it will not do the will of the Lord? For all else is waste, and to pursue in blindness the mere pleasures of the flesh, to look upon the vanity of the world with longing, will but bring us to Gehenna – this the gentle Lord would prevent with all His might, with even His death upon a cross.
Do not turn your look upon the sins of this degenerate age. Do not throw in your lot with those “who have forsaken [the Lord’s] covenant, torn down [His] altars, and put the prophets to the sword.” “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord,” and you “shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” – and you shall be wed in truth to Him who is all love, and you shall be called to anoint kings and prophets, to do the will of the Father in fullness as His holy children.
O LORD, let us be pure of heart,
that we might see you, that we might know you,
that we might be in your presence and do your will.
YHWH, how can we bear your Word reaching down into our souls; how can we stand in your presence? Though you come to us in gentleness and humility, your loving word is severe to hearts full of sin as our own. And so we hide our faces from your radiant presence.
Let us not be afraid, O LORD, to heed your Word and do your will; change our hearts that they might be pure as your own. Let us not look with lust upon the tempting objects of this world or reach our hand out to them or run to find them… In peace and in calm let us remain in your presence, your Word ministering to our poor souls. Let us desire only to be like you, dear God, and to dwell in your presence.
O LORD, you will take us to your kingdom after this earthly life is spent, if we spend it in your service. Keep us close to you all our days, protect us from the attacks of the devil, and we indeed shall come to see the glory of your transcendent kingdom. O let us be subject to you and your gentle, saving Word this day!
Wed, 10 June 2020
(1Kgs.18:41-46; Ps.65:2,10-13; Mt.5:20-26)
“You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.”
“There is the sound of a heavy rain.” The Lord is speaking. The Lord is teaching. Jesus is revealing the strait path of holiness that leads to the Father, and His words and His Person come like a fruitful rain upon a drought-stricken land.
O Lord, “thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield.” By your speaking, by your teaching… by your bleeding on the cross for us “you have crowned the year with your bounty, and your paths overflow with a rich harvest.” But will we receive these rains? Will we accept His chastisements which lead to life, which are the only way to the kingdom of God?
Here are the Lord’s words, the commands of His mouth: “Everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; any man who uses abusive language toward his brother shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and if he holds him in contempt he risks the fires of Gehenna.” To what extent has He increased the prescriptions of the law! For He calls us to a holiness that surpasses the holiness of the law. He calls us to the kingdom of God, and great rains are needed to foster its life. And so He demands that we “be reconciled with [our] brother”; and so He warns us to “settle with [our] opponent.” For we are on our way to His holy court, and not even the smallest sin will stand there.
The eyes of Elijah see but “a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.” It is but the shadows the prophets knew as “the sky grew dark with clouds and wind.” But it was enough to recognize the coming presence of the Lord that would relieve the drought upon the land, upon the nation of Israel. We, brothers and sisters, are those upon whom “a heavy rain fell,” for now Christ has come; now He calls to us in Person from the cross and from His throne in heaven. If you wish to come to where He is, you must go where He has been: the cross is the heavy rain which brings the sweet smelling flower of heaven.
“God’s watercourses are filled” and “rejoicing clothes the hills.” Listen to His words now. Be obedient to His command. It is the driving rain which breaks up the ground and prepares the soul for holiness.
O LORD, send your rain upon us to soften our hearts;
let us be perfect as you
by your chastising Word of love.
YHWH, release us from judgment, we pray. Send upon us your driving rain, to cleanse our souls of all harsh words and anger. How shall we stand before your throne if here we cannot forgive, for how shall we ourselves be forgiven our grave sins if our hearts are hardened? O send your rain, LORD! Send your rain, and let our hearts be open to receive it well.
Your Word is as a chastising rain to our souls, O LORD; it is the strong words from your mouth that serve to cleanse us from our sin and soften the ground of our hearts to receive your grace and blessings. If we have not your mercy within us, we are dead, for then there is no remedy for our sin. Speak to us; instruct us in your ways, and let us be obedient to your command, to your chastisement that brings new life from this poor land.
O LORD, subject us not to the trial; lead us not before your tribunal. For we have nothing to pay our debt and so cannot stand before you. Only your mercy will save us on that day. Let us have your mercy within us now, and share it with others.
Tue, 9 June 2020
(1Kgs.18:20-39; Ps.16:1-2,4-5,8,11; Mt.5:17-19)
“If the Lord is God, follow Him;
if Baal, follow him.”
Today “the only surviving prophet of the Lord” comes to reveal to the people that “the Lord is God!” Elijah seeks to open the Israelites’ eyes to the presence of God, to bring them “back to their senses.” And how evident it becomes that “they multiply their sorrows who court other gods,” and that those “who set the Lord ever before” themselves are able to declare with David in faith: “With Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”
The great futility, the absolute emptiness of following false gods is shown in clear focus in the four hundred and fifty “prophets” who “hopped around the altar” and “called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, ‘Answer us, Baal!’” How well our first reading summarizes the response of gods who are no gods: “But there was no sound, and no one answering.” After “Elijah taunted them: ‘Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened,’” they compounded their worship to utter absurdity as they “called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until blood gushed over them.”
From this exercise of futile worship Elijah calls the people, saying simply, “Come here to me.” And they move from this macabre circus scene over to the altar of the Lord the prophet prepares. And here the power of the Lord is unveiled beyond doubt to open the wayward hearts of God’s chosen ones. Water upon water is poured upon the evening sacrifice, but the Lord’s fire comes at the word of Elijah and consumes all.
“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel.” Let it be understood that your law must be followed and not the wicked contrivances of the human heart. Let be known the truth of your Son’s words: “Whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of God. Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God.” For we shall only know the “fullness of joys in your presence” if we keep to your way, following Him who has come “to fulfill” “the law and the prophets.” Let us never “court other gods” but with your humble king call out ever, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, all your Law is holy for you alone are holy
and lead us only into your presence –
praise you, O LORD our God!
YHWH, you alone are God indeed; you alone should we worship – your NAME alone should we call upon to answer all our needs. And your Law we should keep with all our hearts if we hope to gain a hearing from you.
We are so blind, O LORD, blind to your presence, blind to your power, blind to your love for us and the care you provide in your Word. We seek to make our own way, to worship a god of our own making, and so we fall away from you who hold our very lives in your hands. Send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon us to awaken us to your glory and your love here in our midst this day, that we might turn to true worship, worship of you who alone are worthy of our praise.
O LORD, let your Word be fulfilled in us; let us keep your commands perfectly, following in the way of your only Son, who is the fulfillment of your Word. Yes, you alone are God and He alone is the way to you – let us live in your truth.
Mon, 8 June 2020
(1Kgs.17:7-16; Ps.4:2-5,7-8; Mt.5:13-16)
“The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”
Again today we see in our readings that the Lord provides for His children’s needs, that indeed He is with us until the end of the age – yes, “the Lord does wonders for His faithful one.”
As “the brook where Elijah was hiding ran dry,” the Lord instructed him to go to Zarephath of Sidon, a pagan territory, saying, “I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” Elijah is obedient and the Lord is faithful to His word, for just “as he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there.” (Indeed, how wonderful it is to see the word of the Lord fulfilled!) Elijah does not hide the Lord’s prophecy from his benefactress, and she, too, believes the word the Lord has spoken. And so she and her son and the prophet were “able to eat for a year” from a jar that was all but empty.
Brothers and sisters, our psalmist David sings in joy to the Lord today, “O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!” And how certain it is that He gives light to those who seek Him, those who have faith in Him. For “when [we] call… [He] relieve[s] [us]… in distress… [and] put[s] gladness into [our] heart[s], more than when grain and wine abound.” For the light of the Lord is greater than the bread we eat; it is His love alone which provides all and alone brings joy to our souls.
And we are called to share in that light, to be “the light of the world.” It is into us He places His light and then invites us to “set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house”: “Your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.” As He is Light, we must be light; as He provides for the needs of all, we must provide for the needs of all. And we must believe that, as “the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah,” just so the light He gives our lives shall not dim and the salt which draws it forth shall not lose its savor – we must believe that He indeed will provide for us, even to His second coming. And it shall be so. His love shall ever grow and this Bread be shared more and more with those He calls out of the world. Though famine be upon the land, He feeds us with the finest wheat, and calls us to feed others.
O LORD, let your light shine upon us and through us –
let us have faith in you
and see your work accomplished in our lives.
YHWH, let the light of your countenance shine upon us, and let that same light shine through us to illumine the world, to give light to all who see us. You alone provide for us; you alone feed us; and you alone make our lives of worth – let it be you we bring to others.
If our salt be not of you, O LORD, what good will it be and what good can it do? Apart from you and the light of your love, we are useless, fit for the trash. But if we keep our eyes fixed on you and your holy light, if we call to you in our distress and have faith in the care you take for the souls of those who love you, then we shall be made whole in your sight and ready to serve your will.
What water can we find upon this earth, LORD, for it is dry and lifeless. Our spirits sag and the darkness threatens to overcome us. Let us not be of the darkness; let us not give in to its threats. Let us remember you and in you place our trust, and there shall be food and water in abundance, and we will see your hand at work even in our own lives. Praise you for your goodness!
Sun, 7 June 2020
(1Kgs.17:1-6; Ps.121:1-8; Mt.5:1-12)
“My help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
It is He whom we seek when we “lift up [our] eyes toward the mountains.” And what do we find but that “the Lord is [our] guardian; the Lord is [our] shade; He is beside [us] at [our] right hand.”
Does the Lord not watch over those who trust in Him? Take Elijah for your example. He is led into exile under the stars, separated far from his people, yet he finds “the sun shall not harm [him] by day, nor the moon by night.” He finds, in fact, his needs are met in a most marvelous way, for “ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.” At the Lord’s command even these birds of the air serve to provide the needs of those who take refuge in Him. And His refreshing waters are always at our side.
Brothers and sisters, what do we see when we lift our eyes to the mountain? Do we not see the Lord sitting, teaching us His way? Are our hearts not nourished by His Word and our souls refreshed by His Bread? He speaks to us only truth, assuring us that “blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.” He tells us what we indeed find as we live our lives under His wings. If our refuge were the world, how could sorrow and lowliness bring us blessing? Would our hunger and thirst not then be for the riches of this world, and we find ourselves fatted thereby for the day of slaughter? But being “single-hearted” and with a “hunger and thirst for holiness,” we find ourselves more than satisfied; we find that we “shall see God.” What more need has the devout soul than to dwell in the light of the Lord?
“The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever”; He shall not “suffer your foot to slip,” for “He neither slumbers nor sleeps” but is ever diligent in the protection He provides His holy ones. And so what should you do but “be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” As long as you remain with Him, He shall watch over you; and to His blessings there is no end, for all is held in His sacred hands and His desire is always to shower His mercy upon your soul.
O LORD, as we give ourselves over to your Word
and His way of the Cross,
you bless us and bring us into your kingdom.
YHWH, you watch over all our ways; you guard and guide and bless our days. Ever at our side you wait, to feed us with all we need. How blessed indeed we are to have you as our God. There is none who provides as you do.
And so, let us continue on your way, LORD; lead us each day to the place we should be. In your will all is accomplished well – let us be ever at your side.
Though we mourn and though we weep, though we hunger and thirst for your love… though we suffer in this world for holiness’ sake, you answer all our desires, O LORD our God.
And so, let us be as your prophets of old, trusting only in your hand, needing nothing but your presence with us and the promised reward of Heaven. For nothing can harm us if you are there, and with you we already taste the kingdom.
Sat, 6 June 2020
(Ex.34:4b-6,8-9; Dn.3:52-56; 2Cor.13:11-13; Jn.3:16-18)
“The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; and blessed is your holy and glorious name.” Brothers and sisters, let us praise God this holy day; let us rejoice in His love. Let us be as Moses, who upon hearing the NAME of the Lord spoken in his hearing, upon having the Lord’s presence revealed to him, “at once bowed down to the ground in worship.” He did not fail to bless God “in the temple of [His] holy glory,” but as the Lord “look[ed] into the depths from His throne upon the cherubim” – as He who transcends all made Himself known to His servant upon the earth – cried aloud to God for His protection, for the protection that the three holy men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) knew by the Hand of God, by His blessed angel, when saved from the flames in the fiery furnace. And though “exalted above all forever,” the Lord hears and answers His children.
God is three and God is love. The One God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is made known in His love. Both the unity of God and His gracious and merciful love are evident today in John’s famous quote: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” They are, of course, Jesus’ words whispered to Nicodemus in his night of doubt and question, and they should fall deeply into our own ears and speak clearly to our hearts of the intimacy of Father and Son and the love one holds and the other carries, a love which is in essence the working of the Spirit. It is this love and union with these to which we are all called, and which we all find by believing “in the name of the only Son of God.”
Brothers and sisters, the presence of God is among us always; the Son has come to save our race, and has thus made all things holy. What Moses knew on Mount Sinai with the “two stone tablets” in his hands, we should know simply by opening our eyes – for His NAME should be written on our hearts. And so always we should be in prayer and praise of the majesty of God. With the living creatures and the elders in heaven we should continually bow down before Him and stand to shout of His glory. Open your hearts to Him who is all in all.
On this Trinity Sunday I will leave you with Paul’s parting words to the Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Speaking of God" (first part) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may we believe in the only Son
whom you have sent
that we might have eternal life in the Spirit.
YHWH, you indeed are merciful, and so you send your only Son to us to save us from the condemnation upon our souls because of our sin against you. From your throne in Heaven send your Spirit forth to carry the salvation wrought by your Son to the very ends of the earth, that all might be one in you and live in your eternal peace.
O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to us you make yourself known, coming into our midst to dwell among us. And so we know your merciful love; and so we are drawn into your presence. Father in Heaven, speak your NAME into our hearts that in wonder we may stand before you, that with great love we might worship you, and come even to share your divine nature through the sacrifice of your Son and the power of the Spirit upon us this day. You alone are God, and we are your children – write your NAME upon our souls that we might dwell with you in the Temple of your holy glory.
Fri, 5 June 2020
(2Tm.4:1-8; Ps.71:8-9,14-17,22; Mk.12:38-44)
“Put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry.”
In final words to his blessed disciple, Paul exhorts Timothy with all the strength he is able to muster “to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient – correcting, reproving, appealing – constantly teaching and never losing patience.” He even invokes “the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead,” to emphasize the seriousness of his charge. Clearly the end approaches for Paul. He himself states: “The time of my dissolution is near” – and so it is with great urgency he desires his preaching task to go forth, for Timothy’s own sake, that he might share the “merited crown” that awaits his father in the faith, and for all who look “for [the Lord’s] appearing with eager longing.”
Paul sees as he draws nigh to the Day of the Lord what has perhaps never been known so clearly as today, that “the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears.” He prophecies so well what is true of every age but is magnified so greatly in the dark time in which we live: “They will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables.” More have died in war in the last century than in all the rest of human history; and the martyrs’ blood has never mounted as high to heaven as in this atheistic age wherein all hearts turn away from true doctrine to enshrine the workings of their own hands and minds. (May the smoke of Satan be blown from the confines of the Church and the devil’s veil of illusion be lifted from all minds!)
But we must not be as the scribes “who like to parade around in their robes and accept marks of respect in public, front seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.” The prideful adulation that sparks the unholy fire of the cults so prevalent in our glamorous time is not what must call to our hearts or be the leaven for our souls. We must but praise the Lord! With our psalmist we must sing to our Lord and our God, “the Holy One of Israel”: “My mouth shall be filled with your praise, with your glory day by day.” We must “give [Him] thanks with music on the lyre,” with our body’s every fiber.
Brothers and sisters, we must “always hope and praise [God] ever more and more.” Ever we are called to draw closer to the Lord. We have not yet been as the widow who “gave from her want, all that she had to live on”; we have not yet been “poured out like a libation” as has Paul; we have not yet shed blood with Jesus on the cross. We cannot yet say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”; for there is much race yet to be run and to the end our faith must endure and grow ever stronger day to day. Indeed our ministry must be fulfilled, all our strength spent in witness to the Word of Truth.
O LORD, send us true teachers of the faith,
that we might be so faithful ourselves,
pouring out our lives for your sake.
YHWH, to you let us turn in faith; instruct us ever in your way. Let your truth alone be taught by all who stand in your place. Laying down their lives for your flock, may they find their blessing on your Day.
And let us all lay down our lives with them; O LORD, let all men sing your praise. For none is released from your call to preach, to live the faith all our days.
Soon your Son shall return; let our eyes be up and looking for His coming. Let us desire to unite with you and so give all we have toward that end. We may not have much to give, LORD, but if we place all at your service, you will multiply our good works and make us worthy to stand with you.
O LORD, keep us from those who lead souls astray by their words and by their actions. To Jesus indeed let us look, and to His faithful disciples, to find the way we should walk. If we are diligent in following you, if we are humble and speak the truth, you will bless us and all we do, and join our song to that of your saints. May Jesus teach us this day.
Thu, 4 June 2020
(2Tm.3:10-17; Ps.119:157,160-161,165-166,168; Mk.12:35-37)
“Princes persecute me without cause
but my heart stands in awe of your word.”
The Word of God and persecution are our topics for today. On the one hand, Paul tells Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired of God and is useful for teaching,” and Jesus uses a passage of Scripture (Psalm 110) to refute His persecutors and verify that the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, is indeed greater than David – being David’s Son insofar as the flesh is concerned, but truly begotten of God the Father and one with Him from all eternity. And on the other hand, Paul states categorically, “Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus can expect to be persecuted,” and our psalmist sings, “My persecutors and my foes are many.” But these two hands become one hand, working in the one Body of Christ, revealed in the passage Jesus quotes: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” For by the power of the Word of God in Scripture and made flesh in Christ we His children conquer with Him all our enemies… these persecutors become as so much empty wind.
Brothers and sisters, never lose awe for the Word of God spoken in Holy Scripture. Be like Timothy who “from [his] infancy” knew “the sacred Scriptures, the source of the wisdom which through faith in Jesus Christ leads to salvation.” Treasure this gift at our hands, “inspired by the Holy Spirit” as it is for our instruction. And I pray your teachers will always be as Paul, so faithful to the Lord in knowing His Word and living it with “resolution, fidelity, patience, love, and endurance, through persecutions and sufferings.” Then your path will be straight on the way to God; then will your hearts and minds be filled with light. There are many “evil men and charlatans” about who, “deceived themselves” and “deceiving others,” fail to drink of the undrainable waters of Scripture, and who avoid the Lord’s cross at all costs… listen not to these.
“I turn not away from your decrees,” our psalmist declares, and so he finds “great peace” despite any trial. Brothers and sisters, for us who love the Lord and are like the crowd in today’s gospel who “heard [His words] with great delight,” “there is no stumbling block.” All our persecutions but add to our ever increasing knowledge of our Savior, drawing us ever closer to the kingdom of God, where Jesus reigns forever.
O LORD, as we contemplate your Word, we find you –
you who are Truth, you who are God…
and so have great peace.
YHWH, let us stand in awe of you and your Word; Jesus Himself is the Word imparting wisdom to us that by faith in you we might be saved. Lead us unto life everlasting by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And as we heed your Word, O LORD, and walk in His way, give us the endurance that comes from you; for indeed we shall be persecuted if to Him we remain true. As Jesus was led to the Cross and all His apostles as well, so will all those obedient to your Word in Sacred Scripture, all those who find life in your commands. But in you we shall ever have peace, for with you we shall ever be.
O majestic LORD, far above us all, let us not be deceived by false teachers who would lead souls into sin but be ever guided by those you appoint to stand in Jesus’ place and guide the Church unto glory. May your apostles remain firm in your way that all may come soon to your eternal kingdom.
Wed, 3 June 2020
(2Tm.2:8-15; Ps.25:4-5,8-10,14; Mk.12:28-34)
“Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior.”
Brothers and sisters, “Remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, was raised from the dead.” He is our Lord. He is our God. He is our Savior who speaks only truth. Listen to Him and walk in His way, “following a straight course in preaching the truth.”
After Jesus proclaims the greatest of all commandments today, finally, “no one ha[s] the courage to ask Him any more questions.” Finally the traps cease to be set to catch Jesus in His speech and the leaders of the people “stop disputing about mere words.” For who can argue with the Son of God when He makes known the clear path to God, when He exposes the heart of the law and the prophets in absolute terms? Only silence can follow such Truth. No vain utterance can stand in the face of such Love.
For the command is love, and Jesus is love – and this Paul has come to preach, “even to the point of being thrown into chains.” His only concern is for “those whom God has chosen, in order that they may obtain the salvation to be found in Christ Jesus.” For this he preaches the Gospel unto death, that all might hear and know of the love of God… and should we not join him? Should the Church not be a speaker of the truth in love, “a workman who has no cause to be ashamed”? Should she cower to declare Christ Jesus risen from the dead and fear offending those on the path to destruction? Should she stand by idly as false gospels are preached and docile lambs are led to the teeth of wolves in sheep’s clothing? Does she not care for the flock as does Paul, as does Paul exhort Timothy? Should it not be she who “guides the humble to justice” and “teaches the humble His way”?
Brothers and sisters, “there is no chaining the word of God!” and there is no place for falsehood to stand in its light. God is love and we must love others. We do not love by nodding as others fall into error – this is not our call in the Lord. We must teach the truth with Jesus our Lord with “heart,” “mind,” “soul,” and “strength,” His Spirit of love and truth upon us. Then will all lies fall silent. Then will light shine. Then will His love be known and all come to the “eternal glory” He holds.
O LORD, teach us your way of love
that humbly we might walk in it
and teach it with strength to others.
YHWH, Jesus is the true teacher of the faith, for He is risen from the dead – He is your Son, O God! Who can dispute with His wisdom? Who can question His knowledge, who compare with His holiness? None there is beside Him, yet send us true teachers to speak in His Name.
We are prone to go astray, dear LORD, to wander from your love, which is life itself to us. We do indeed tend to forget why we’re here and fall easily into sin. O send forth your preachers to remind us of your love, to remind us of the sacrifice your Son has made for us, and that He is risen from the dead. For if we forget not that He is raised for our sakes, will not your love remain in our hearts; will we not conquer sin and death and live with you in love of one another? Then let your Word come to us and make His home in us, that humbly we might worship you all the days of our life.
O LORD, let us be faithful to your Word at work within us and live in your love. May all our being bless your NAME!
Tue, 2 June 2020
(2Tm.1:1-3,6-12; Ps.123:1-2; Mk.12:18-27)
“He has robbed death of its power
and has brought life and immortality into clear light
through the Gospel.”
It is this Gospel which Paul exhorts his “dear child” Timothy to serve, to preach and to teach “with the strength which comes from God, bear[ing] [his] share of the hardship which the Gospel entails.” Paul has suffered for the sake of the Gospel – and suffers “present hardships” till the end – and he would see his favored disciple carry on in his way. And so he encourages him: “The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit but rather one that makes us strong, loving, and wise.” For of the life Christ brings the world must know, and who shall preach it if we don’t? And so, through his letter Paul calls us all to be as he is, “an apostle of Christ Jesus sent to proclaim the promise of life in Him.”
Does Jesus not bear well His hardships today in our gospel? Does He not stand strong and speak of life everlasting even before those who “hold there is no resurrection”? The Sadducees question Him: “At the resurrection, when they all come back to life, whose wife will she be” – she who has married so many? Again a trap is laid, and again it is shown so futile, for what word can stand before the word of God. And that Word answers simply and directly: “When people rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but live like angels in heaven.” These Sadducees “fail to understand Scripture or the power of God,” and so they are terribly blind in their mistaken thinking, which sees nothing beyond the present time. (Yet the present, too, they do not understand, for they do not recognize Him who stands before them.)
Brothers and sisters, we are called to live like the angels of heaven, and not only to live such, but to preach this life as our Savior has done, as Paul has done, as Timothy. We must keep “our eyes on the Lord, our God,” “confident that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to [us] until that Day” when we join Him who is “enthroned in heaven.” And so let us “stir into flame the gift of God”; let us speak His Word of life without fear for the hardships the Gospel entails. The Light that lasts forever has come into our midst, and before Him death has no dominion.
O LORD, through all the trials of this world,
bring us to the light of Heaven.
YHWH, God of the living, let our eyes be ever upon you, let us ever remember you whom we serve… and let us ever serve you with strength and dedication, knowing it is through you we are brought to new birth and made immortal as you. O let us live with you now and forever!
Why should we be afraid, LORD, of any challenge to our faith? Why should we turn away from our call to worship in your NAME? Why should we hesitate to proclaim your glory and the grace you bring us by your Son’s death and resurrection? His sacrifice means life to us, and to turn from His Cross would spell our death. May we serve Him and His Gospel in confidence all our days and so come to the place He prepares for us in Heaven.
All your angels and saints live forever in your holy presence, their eyes ever upon you and their voices ever praising your NAME. May we share with them in your holy life even as we toil for you on this plane.
Mon, 1 June 2020
(2Pt.3:12-15,17-18; Ps.90:2-4,10,14,16; Mk.12:13-17)
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s
but give to God what is God’s.”
“Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent after Jesus to catch Him in His speech.” These “two groups” seem to come one from God and the other from Caesar. But their devious plotting shows the only party present of God is Jesus Himself.
And to whom do we belong? Peter makes it abundantly clear in his letter today where our allegiance should lie. He exhorts us to “look for the coming of the day of God and try to hasten it!” We must not set our hearts on things below but on things above, where God dwells; for “the heavens will be destroyed in flames and the elements will melt away in a blaze.” It is “new heavens and a new earth” we must await, where “the justice of God will reside.”
What is of Caesar will return to the earth, just as God “turn[s] man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men.’” (For where is Caesar today? And where is the coin that was in their hands?) But the Lord is “from everlasting to everlasting”; “a thousand years in [His] sight are as yesterday… or as a watch of the night.” For He exists “before the mountains were begotten and the earth and the world were brought forth.” These indeed He created; and these are destroyed by His hand.
Brothers and sisters, as our years “pass quickly and we drift away,” let us listen to Jesus, who indeed “teach[es] God’s way of life sincerely.” Let us listen to His servant Peter, who tells us, “Be on your guard lest you be led astray by the error of the wicked.” The wicked surround us here on this earth, but even here our hearts must be set on God and we must “be found without stain or defilement, and at peace in His sight.” Here we must pray that the Lord will “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness,” that when He comes we shall know His glory… but also that even in these decaying earthen vessels we shall find His grace and see His work accomplished. “Glory be to Him now and to the day of eternity!” May He make us His own.
O LORD, let your eternal kingdom dawn upon us,
even as the kingdom of this world passes away.
YHWH, make us your own; let us come into your kingdom. On this barren earth let us not make our home, in princes and kings let us never trust – to you alone may we give our allegiance, waiting ever for your Day.
O LORD, our lives are but passing on this plane, but you are everlasting. Though we wither and die, though all we see shall be consumed by fire, with you we shall live, and rejoice eternally. And so, let us not set our hearts on the riches and glory this world holds in its grasping hands; let us give all over to you with praise.
The Day draws near, O LORD, we know, when your Son will return and bring with Him new heavens and a new earth. O let us hasten this Day by our prayers, let us prepare for it by our actions… let us never fear His coming because of our attachment to sin but give up all the darkness, the evil surrounding us and inviting us in, and wait in purity with our eyes to the heavens for our salvation to be fulfilled.
Come, Lord Jesus, and draw us into the Father’s kingdom.