Mon, 26 October 2020
(Eph.5:21-33; Ps.128:1-5; Lk.13:18-21)
“To what shall I compare the reign of God?”
Jesus Himself compares it to a mustard seed which grows so steadily into a “large shrub,” and to yeast which makes “the whole mass of dough” rise. And Paul tells us of the marriage union that it “refers to Christ and the Church.” These images should lead you, brother, to understand the glorious kingdom that is beyond all image.
“The husband is head of the wife just as Christ is head of His body, the Church,” and husbands should “love [their] wives, as Christ’s loved the Church,” giving themselves “up for her” as the Lord has done for us. A wonderfully beautiful call; a marvelous image which is to bring the Lord so really into our midst: love between husband and wife – the love of love upon this earth, which indeed brings the fruit of new life. “A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cling to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Here is a word of truth incomparable to others in the joy it brings the ear and the heart open to its call. For by it is promised great happiness to those “who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.” Yes, the obedient man will find that his “wife shall be like a fruitful vine” and his “children like olive plants around [his] table”; great is the blessing upon those who wed in love, the true love of the Lord.
But a greater promise than this does this word bring, for in it is indeed “a great foreshadowing”; in it we see not only the fruitful love of man and woman, but of God and His people. For does not Jesus leave His Father in heaven and cling to us? Does it not bring the great knowledge that we shall be made one with Him and with His Father in heaven? If “he who loves his wife loves himself,” does this not emphasize the absolute oneness of husband and wife? And if such marriage foreshadows Christ’s love for us, can we not conclude that we will be as He is?
Oh to what glory we are called! To be as the only Son of God, to be one with Him. Indeed “we are members of His body” even now, certainly. Has Jesus not asked Saul why he was persecuting Him, referring to His Church (Acts 9:4); and has He not said what we do unto the least of our brothers we do unto Him? We are one with Him even now, but yet we are growing, yet we are rising. And the immeasurable glory to which we come is beyond even the most poignant image to depict. It is absolute fullness, absolute union with our Lord and God. Alleluia! “The prosperity of [the New] Jerusalem” is ours.
O LORD, teach us to love one another
that we might be joined to your Son
and so enter your reign.
YHWH, may husbands and wives be truly one in your sight; let there be no separation between them. For they are one as we are one with your Son, and why would we separate ourselves from our Lord? Salvation is ours in Him and in our love for one another. Let us be obedient to His voice and fear you and walk in your ways, and we shall grow unto Heaven.
O LORD, you greatly bless those who fear you, who worship you alone and always do your will. Help us to live according to your Word, particularly as it affects marriages. For this day there is great separation between husband and wife, between man and woman; no sense of their oneness seems known anymore. Set against one another do they not set themselves against you? And living thus, how shall their love grow? Then what hope have any of being fruitful in your sight and coming into your eternal presence? It seems their children they would let die. O save us from such destructive pride that we might love one another as ourselves, as you love us in your Son.
Sun, 25 October 2020
(Eph.4:32-5:8; Ps.1:1-4,6,Eph.5:1; Lk.13:10-17)
“There was a time when you were darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.”
Brothers and sisters, remember always that “God has forgiven you in Christ.” Once you “walk[ed] in the way of sinners,” but now you are as he who “delights in the law of the Lord.” And so as God has shown His mercy to you, so should you do unto others; we must “be imitators of God as His dear children.” As when Jesus saw the woman who “was badly stooped – quite incapable of standing erect,” for eighteen years afflicted by her infirmity, He had pity for her, called her to Him and “laid His hand on her” so that “immediately she stood up straight and began thanking God”… so should our hearts go out to all those in need, all those afflicted by infirmity and sin, that all might be as well as we have become, that all might praise God as we do.
“Make no mistake about this: no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person – in effect an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Brothers and sisters, how many of us have been guilty of the deadly sins of which Paul speaks today? (And if not these, what others?) How many of us have deserved to be barred from the kingdom? In truth we must say that all of us have fallen short of God’s glory and found ourselves in desperate need of the salvation only Christ brings. And so should we hold out no hope for those who commit such sins now, who are as we have been? Certainly “there are sins that bring God’s wrath down on the disobedient” and put them in danger of dying; but do we instruct these to “have nothing to do with them,” do we offer light to those in such darkness… or do we presume their condemnation?
The Lord left not the stooped woman in Satan’s clutches, despite the “indignant” attitude of the leaders of the synagogue – whose own inability to stand erect is so much more difficult to cure. No, the Lord saw a soul in need and reached His hand out to her; and should we not do the same with those we see suffering affliction, if not with a healing touch of our hand at least with the healing touch of devout prayer? The well-being of others must always be our concern. We must ever “be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving.” For if our hearts stoop to jealousy and judgment as does the leader of the synagogue’s, what hope shall there be for us then of entering God’s kingdom? We must ever be children of light, dispelling all darkness, if we are truly to be the “dear children” of our Lord.
O LORD, let us stand up straight before you,
turning from sin and walking in your way at all times.
YHWH, let us be as your dear children, kind and compassionate toward others, ever reflecting your glory. Let there be no sin among us, not even the whispering desire for sin. Let us live as your children of light – banish all darkness from us.
Help us to walk in your way, O LORD, to be well instructed in your paths; for there are many who wander aimlessly and are easily subject to Satan’s wiles. Let us be taught as the Jews of Jesus’ day and listen with attentive hearts to His words. Indeed, like Him let us become, like a tree planted near the running water of the Spirit, and we shall prosper all our days, ever bearing fruit in your NAME.
Make clear to all, O LORD, that sin is sin, that the idolatry of lust is a turning from you and the light of your truth and the love of your heart. Keep us from certain death, from the counsel of the wicked, delighting only in your Law day and night.
Fri, 23 October 2020
(Eph.4:7-16; Ps.122:1-5; Lk.13:1-9)
“Each of us has received God’s favor
in the measure in which Christ bestows it.”
Paul reminds us today of Scripture: “When He ascended on high, He took a host of captives and gave gifts to men.” Christ Himself “descended into the lower regions of the earth,” coming to the place where we lowly humans dwell, and then “ascended into heaven, that He might fill all men with His gifts,” that those to whom He comes here on earth might know the riches of heaven to which He draws us all.
“It is He who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in roles of service for the faithful to build up the body of Christ.” Yes, He gave us these leaders such as Paul to guide us to all truth, but He no less has given us each a share of His heavenly glory and bestowed upon each of us the gifts that are our portion from Him. None is without gifts, and none can fail to employ these gifts. It is necessary that the Body of Christ has “the proper functioning of [its] members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament” if it is to grow in love as it is called to do. All our gifts must be employed to the full; each must fulfill his role.
The Lord makes clear the call upon each of our souls to utilize the gifts He grants to each of His members. Listen to the words of the vinedresser in His parable: “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree and found none.” Who is that vinedresser but Jesus Himself and who is that fig tree but we who claim to be His disciples? And finding no fruit on the fig tree, what does the vinedresser say? “Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground?” Why indeed should we drag down the Body of Christ struggling to grow in love in this world; if we are dead members, what place have we in His kingdom? And unless we reform in the short time we are given, what shall become of our souls?
Brothers and sisters, do we not wish to “go up to the house of the Lord,” to rejoice in the heavenly Jerusalem, to “form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature”? Then our tree must bear fruit in His name and serve to build up the Body in love; “if not, it shall be cut down,” and we shall be separated from the glorious presence of the Lord. See the great graces and gifts the Lord showers upon you; pray for their fulfillment, for their growing more and more – “profess the truth in love” and the favors you have been given will bear their fruit, for your benefit and that of the whole world.
O LORD, let us not be cut down
but built up as the Body of your Son.
YHWH, let us make our home in you; in the Body of your Son let us find our place. In your holy Church may we ever dwell, bearing fruit in your NAME. To full maturity let us come, in Jesus who has come to us.
O LORD, in your House let us rejoice; let us find our peace in the New Jerusalem. Within Her gates we are safe from every false doctrine, from every whim and fancy of man. For divine wisdom rests in Her whom the Christ has formed by His own hands, in His own blood. Since He has founded the Church and its servants, it is He who lives in it with you.
But we must leave behind our sin if we are to find such perfection in Him. We must reform our lives if we are to be made in the image of Christ your Son. O LORD, let our lives not be empty; let us not come to a sudden end… May we please you by our repentance and know your blessings upon us this day. Let your Church and all its members grow and bear fruit in Jesus’ Name.
Thu, 22 October 2020
(Eph.4:1-6; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.12:54-59)
“Make every effort to preserve the unity
which has the Spirit as its origin
and peace as its binding force.”
Is this not what Jesus instructs the crowds in saying, “When you are going with your opponent to appear before a magistrate, try to settle with him on the way”? Do not both Paul and Jesus speak of the love we must have one for another, even for those who may seem our enemies? Again, in the House of God there is unity, there is peace. Among His children there should be understanding, there should be grace. We must make every effort to have no enemies – to hate no one, to bear no grudge against any – in this life or the next.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to live as one, “bearing with one another lovingly,” for “there is but one body and one Spirit” in Christ; “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” which we all share, and so we should live as children of the “one God and Father of all.” On our oneness in the Lord our hearts should be set, and nothing should disturb the peace we find in Him. We see so many other things, we understand so much of the world and its ways… why do we not understand this? Why do we not know and practice God’s way?
“The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” This David tells us: all are one under the Lord God. But only those “whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” “may stand in His holy place.” We cannot “ascend the mountain of the Lord” if we are not made perfect as He. And so the Lord warns us of the necessity of settling all our accounts here, now, while there is time – while we yet have breath and eyes to see – lest we come to the judge at the end of time with the darkness of sin upon our soul. Now is His mercy offered forth, and we are called in turn to offer it freely to others. Then will be grave punishment for sin, for failures to love and maintain unity.
“A blessing from the Lord” awaits us all. He “that seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall receive his reward. Even now the Spirit of the Lord grants us a foretaste of such grace. But we must be ever diligent to maintain it. We must be ever ready to forgive one another if we are to remain in Him. And so I ask: forgive me, brother; forgive me, sister, any wrong I have done you… and be assured of my forgiveness.
O LORD, help us to stand in your holy place,
as reflections of your peace and your love for all.
YHWH, you are LORD of Heaven and earth and all is under your watchful care. We are in you and in your Son and have your one Spirit at our heart’s core. Let us live in peace! Let us live as your children, holy as you are.
If we maintain not humility and peace in our souls, can we be said to be your own? O LORD, if we settle not with our opponent here on this earth, how can we come unto your heavenly presence? There can be no anger or hatred in us; indeed, our hands must be sinless if we are to enter your eternal kingdom and make our home in you.
And so, dear LORD, help us to forgive one another, to love all as you love them – let us be the race that seeks ever your holy face and never turn aside from such desire for utter love in your presence. Forgive all those who sin against us, and please let us be forgiven in your sight.
Wed, 21 October 2020
“Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth?”
Strong contrast we find in our readings today. Jesus speaks of the division He has come to bring by the fire of truth He lights on this earth – fire like a sword separating even the closest of family members one from another; whereas Paul speaks of “the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of Christ’s love” and the great oneness found in “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.” How does one reconcile this apparent contradiction? Is the Lord of peace or division?
Brothers and sisters, there is no contradiction here. Paul speaks of the “glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus” which exists “through all generations” and which we share “with all the holy ones” for whom “charity [is] the root and foundation of [their] life.” As our psalmist proclaims, “Happy the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance.” In the House of God is peace. In His Church is the oneness of perfect love, and all its members “experience this love which surpasses all knowledge” and “attain to the fullness of God Himself.”
Then whence the division the Lord emphasizes? The division exists here on earth, as He Himself states. When the light of truth comes up against the darkness that is this world, when the holy ones of God meet up with the children of this evil age, there is necessarily division. Despite the best efforts of the just to bring peace to all, how often is our offering of peace rejected – how frequently is Christ nailed to the cross. So, though we yet hold love for all as the disciples of our living Lord, it cannot but be that many will cling to darkness and so find an enemy in the light. And thus division comes. Though in heaven and in the Church there is nothing but peace, the world breeds only division.
Brothers and sisters, “may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith.” “May [the Father] strengthen you inwardly through the workings of His Spirit” as you undergo the anguish of the baptism His Son has known. May He keep you in peace and “bestow on you gifts in keeping with the riches of His glory.” For soon division will be gone and His peace will be all that is known.
O LORD, how your love separates
the evil from the good! –
may we know the fullness of your love
at work in our lives.
YHWH, great is your glory, far above the ways of men – how can we grasp this surpassing knowledge, how can we know your all-encompassing love? Though you dwell beyond our reach, in your kindness you stoop down to us, to share with us the great riches of your glory.
And so, what should we do but praise your NAME? What should we do but thank you in song? For you have looked upon us in our lowliness and delivered us from death and sin, and made us one with all your holy ones in your eternal kingdom.
But what of those who reject you, LORD? What of those who spurn your love, who desire not the peace which surpasses understanding? What can they do but fight against your Church? And those may be of our own family. Then where are we? How shall there be peace on this earth among those who despise your gifts? Give us strength to share in the baptism of your Son, in the fire we must endure on our way to Heaven; help us to conquer all division and stand always with you.
Tue, 20 October 2020
(Eph.3:2-12; Is.12:2-6; Lk.12:39-48)
“When much has been given a man,
much will be required of him.”
Yes, “more will be asked of a man to whom more has been entrusted,” and today we see two of the men to whom the most has been entrusted. First, of course, is Peter, who queries the Lord and to whom the Lord addresses His question, “Who in your opinion is that faithful, farsighted steward whom the master will set over his servants to dispense their ration of grain in season?” knowing full well it is to the blessed Rock of His Church He speaks. And Paul tells us how “through the gift God in His goodness bestowed on [him] through the exercise of His power, [he] became a minister of the Gospel.” Paul has been “given the grace to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to enlighten all men on the mysterious design which for ages was hidden in God, the Creator of all.” The Rock of the Church and its great Apostle – how much has been entrusted to these two men!
And what has been entrusted to these is entrusted to all who follow in their wake, to all “the holy apostles and prophets” to whom “the mystery of Christ” is “revealed by the Spirit.” And so the same responsibility is upon them as well. The Lord has promised, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,” and how can the faithful find such life-giving water if the Lord’s priests and preachers do not offer it forth freely as it has been given them? If they withhold the children’s food and their tongues cleave to the roofs of their mouths, how shall the Church be fed, how shall she be instructed in the way she should walk? If the guardians of the truth are not vigilant, but rather begin “to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and drink and get drunk,” feeding only themselves, their own bellies… what shall become of the Body of Christ? And what shall become of those who have allowed the Lord’s House to be broken into?
“Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth”: that “God indeed is [our] Savior,” and all are called unto Him. Brothers and sisters, we all share in the priesthood of Peter and the evangelical ministry of Paul, and so, “drawing near Him with confidence,” we must all “among the nations make known [the Lord’s] deeds.” All have been given a measure of the Lord’s grace and power, and all are responsible for fulfilling the “master’s wishes” with regard to our call. This is our gift from God, to share in His work of service, in His cross. Let us embrace it as readily as have Peter and Paul.
O LORD, may we all be faithful stewards
of your manifold gifts
and find our salvation in your Son.
YHWH, you are in our midst and you call us all to your work, to service of your Church in your holy NAME. Through your Son Jesus Christ we all may share in your manifold wisdom, in the salvation to glory wrought by His blood… Let us give thanks to you and acclaim your NAME, serving you faithfully all our days.
LORD, it should be our joy to serve you; it should be our very food. What greater gift could we hope for than to share in your promise and in your blessed ministry with Peter and Paul? One are we in your Body, in the flesh of your Son, and freely may we come to you now with all our petitions and find you ready to answer our plea – what blessing is ours by your grace!
Let us draw water at the fountain of salvation, LORD; let us drink freely of the glory you offer forth. Remaining ever faithful to your will, let us draw ever closer to you, till we sing your praises forever in your kingdom.
Mon, 19 October 2020
(Eph.2:12-22; Ps.85:9-14; Lk.12:35-38)
“You who were once far off
have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”
We who “were excluded from the community of Israel,” who were not of His chosen people upon whom His Spirit rested and so were “without hope and without God in the world,” now are “fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God” by the great grace of the cross of Christ. Now, “in Him [we] are being built into this temple”; now all “have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
“He came and ‘announced the good news of peace to you who were far off, and to those who were near” – to us who were far off, we of the nations apart from “the covenant and the promise,” that the promise might be ours as well; but also to those who were near, those to whom the covenant had been given. For those who were near were also far off; they too were blind to His presence in their midst and needed their eyes opened by the living Christ. For though the word and the sacrifice were at their hands, far was He from their hearts, and so the blessed coming of the Messiah is for these, of course, as well. He came, in fact, for them first of all.
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.” Gentile or Jew, it does not matter. Now there is but one race: Christian. Now there is but one Savior for all. For now indeed there is “glory dwelling in our land,” and any who come to it become children of its light and are fitted into the House of the Lord. “He proclaims peace” now unto all, that all might know “His benefits.”
And are we ready for His coming again? Do we heed our Lord’s exhortation in our gospel today? Do we serve Him constantly, ever keeping a place for Him in our hearts and at our tables, that when He comes the great promise He makes to His servants – “He will put on an apron, seat them at table, and proceed to wait on them” – we will know? Will we be gathered into His heart and His home? Brothers and sisters, “become a dwelling for God in the Spirit.” Realize the blessing that is ours now through the cross. If under its blessed shade we take refuge, if we heed the call to come from our former residences so distant from Him and draw near to the love of the Lord, then already we will sense “the master’s return” upon us, and holy light it will bring to our souls.
O LORD, let us be built into your Temple
and become your dwelling place in the Spirit –
your light in our eyes, your peace in our souls,
your love in our hearts at all times.
YHWH, let us be prepared for the second coming of your Son; may the blood He shed make us one with you and with one another, that in peace we might wait for His return, that in your Spirit we might dwell even this day. As your holy temple let us be, that we might know your call in our souls and do your will in all things.
You look down upon us in kindness, LORD, and so your Son you have sent. He is Truth walking among us, leading us on the way of peace. And so, your benefits we may know; our work may yield its increase – our lives may be made worthy of your coming kingdom.
O LORD, let our eyes be open, looking for your Son’s return; let our hearts be set on the promise He leaves us. O let Him freely enter our homes and we be fed by His hand alone – please let us be joined to your saints in Heaven, forming one House in your NAME.
Sun, 18 October 2020
(Eph.2:1-10; Ps.100:2-5; Lk.12:13-21)
“It is owing to His favor that salvation is yours through faith.
This is not your own doing, it is God’s gift.”
Brothers and sisters, salvation is no “reward for anything [we] have accomplished.” It is nothing we make by our own hands, but comes only by God’s “kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
“God is rich in mercy.” Here is the great truth; this is our great hope: “Because of His great love for us He brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin.” By our own hands we had but built up our condemnation and so “deserved God’s wrath.” Like the foolish rich man, we thought we could take our refuge in the things of this earth, that in them we would “have blessings in reserve for years to come.” But however much we “pull down [our] grain bins and build larger ones,” filling them with all the “grain” and “goods” of the world, we yet will have nothing; yet will we be empty and in need. For our life is in His hands alone. “He made us” and not we ourselves; “we are truly His handiwork,” and so, dependent on Him for all things. And if not for His mercy we would yet be dead in our sin.
Brothers and sisters, we must not “live at the level of the flesh”; we cannot give our “allegiance to the present age and the prince of the air” and remain in the favor of God. “Following every whim and fancy of our own” will but lead us down a dark road, and all the “piled-up wealth” we can amass will give us no light for the night ahead. Truly we must realize that we are “created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.” Now that by His mercy He has saved us, has lifted us from the mire into which we’d sunk, it is ours to “serve the Lord with gladness” and “come before Him with joyful song.”
“In Christ Jesus [God] raised us up and gave us a place in the heavens, that in the ages to come He might display the great wealth of His favor.” And should we not but accept this gift from Him “whose kindness endures forever”? Should we not humble ourselves before our Holy Lord and “enter His gates with thanksgiving”? All He requires of our souls is to accept the salvation He brings us, and to grow “rich in the sight of God.”
O LORD, make us rich in your sight;
by the favor you have granted us
through the salvation wrought in Christ Jesus,
remake us in your image.
YHWH, you made us and have remade us in the image of your Son who has died for us that we might be dead in sin no more. Let us praise the great favor from you and live always according to your Word.
We have accomplished nothing, LORD, nothing but our own condemnation, nothing but distraction from you as we turn to the flesh and riches of this world. As to the evil spirit we give our allegiance, we find your wrath upon us; we find the death we have wrought by sin.
But you are merciful, LORD, and call us through your Son to salvation from this darkness that has enveloped our souls. You would indeed remake us in Christ; He would indeed restore us to our former glory and carry us to your kingdom. O let us not set our hearts on the riches of this earth but seek only the grace that comes to us at your hands, in His blood. Let us enter your courts with songs of praise this day.
Fri, 16 October 2020
(Eph.1:15-23; Ps.8:2-7; Lk.12:8-12)
“Whoever acknowledges me before men –
the Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
We are only very small, less than a speck of dust in the eyes of God. Beholding His heavens, “the moon and the stars which [He] set in place,” should we not cry out to God with David in our psalm: “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” Truly we are but miserable creatures. And yet the Lord of all has deigned to make man “little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor”; and yet through Jesus Christ He raises him up to His heavens.
How like the acknowledgment the Lord promises is Paul’s acknowledgment of the Ephesians: “I have never stopped thanking God for you and recommending you in my prayers.” For their “faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love for all the members of the Church,” rightly do they gain honor from the Lord’s Apostle, and from the Lord Himself. And all who are like them shall know “the wealth of glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the Church.” “Like the strength [God] showed in raising Christ from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in heaven,” so will be the strength and grace Jesus shows in raising us up to be one with Him and His Father among the angels of heaven.
“He has put all things under Christ’s feet and made Him head of the Church, which is His body.” And all who acknowledge His greatness, all who serve the Lord and His members, become part of “the fullness of Him who fills the universe in all its parts.” Indeed they will be lifted up with Him who is “high above every principality, power, virtue, and domination, and every name that can be given in this age or in the age to come.” For the body shares in the blessing of its head; the oil poured upon our Lord flows down upon all His members through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And, yes, the Spirit is with us, brothers and sisters, defending us always and teaching us at every moment just what we need to do and say, if we have but faith. He gives us all the “wisdom and insight” we need to know the greatness of our call in Him and to accomplish all His works, if we but call upon the Lord’s Name. Acknowledge Him always in all you do; be among the “babes and sucklings” who praise His majesty and glory, and His blessing you shall know to the depths of your soul, and the heights of heaven.
O LORD, let your Spirit be upon us to speak in us
and work through us always.
YHWH, teach us by the Spirit all we should say and do; may He enlighten our innermost vision that we may know the great hope to which you call us. How great is your power in us who believe! To what glory we are led by the Spirit! For we are thus joined to your Son who has all power in Heaven and on earth – members of His Body do we become.
You have put all things under Christ’s feet, dear LORD, crowning Him with your own glory and honor. And as you have raised Him from the dead and seated Him at your right hand in Heaven, so you will raise us up with Him whose Name is above all names. And so, what should we do but praise you and honor you with all our lives.
O LORD, let us indeed acknowledge your Son here where we stand, before all men, that He might indeed acknowledge us before your angels and they might lift us to your presence at His command. Glory to you forever!
Thu, 15 October 2020
(Eph.1:11-14; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,12-13; Lk.12:1-7)
“What you have whispered in locked rooms
will be proclaimed from the housetops.”
What we have whispered and what has been whispered to us, the teaching of the Lord, the truth of the Spirit, is destined to grow unto praise of God – to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. What begins here in a small way in Jesus the Messiah, shall proceed in His disciples to all nations. In the dark, first it is but whispered. It sinks deep into the locked rooms of our guarded hearts. There the truth finds a home, takes root, and grows. And all the world shall know… All the world shall know all that is spoken in your heart.
Brothers and sisters, “when you heard the glad tidings of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit who had been promised.” In Him and in His truth whispering in your heart you found “the pledge of our inheritance, the first payment against the full redemption of a people God has made His own to praise His glory.” Though a tiny spark at first, concealed in the dark, this flame has burned intensely, and now becomes the fire of praise unto God. “We were predestined to praise His glory”; this was the Lord’s desire from the first moment He touched us with His Word. And now His plan must be fulfilled.
As Jesus looks about in our gospel and sees “a crowd of thousands had gathered, so dense that they were treading on one another,” He realizes how the flame has already begun to grow. And so He warns His disciples to be true to the Word He has labored to plant in their minds and hearts and souls. He knows that they will be tempted by “the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” that they may be inclined to speak what will tickle the public’s ear in order to gain their approval and support. Thus does He say, “Do not be afraid”: do not be afraid of what the truth may bring or that you might be killed for speaking it. Remain true to what I have whispered to you in our locked rooms, for the Word must go out to the ends of the earth. Their mission upon them, He calls His friends to fulfill it.
And so let all our voices resound with the praise of God who has saved us, for “praise from the upright is fitting.” “Exult, you just, in the Lord… for upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy.” Now all must know that “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full,” so fail not to “chant His praises,” to proclaim His truth to all the world. It is here we are called to do so.
O LORD, let us not fear to praise your glory
before all the world.
YHWH, we are called through your Son to declare your glory, to sing your praises in the light of this day. May we in faith and sincerity fulfill this call and come at last into your kingdom.
You are our LORD, you are our God, and all things are known to your eyes. Life and death are in your hands, and only in you do we find the promise of the Holy Spirit fulfilled – only in you and by your Son will we inherit eternal glory. Let us be your true disciples that, though we die for your cause, we may ever have life in you.
Praise you, LORD, for your goodness to us, for your watching over us and providing your Son to save us and your Spirit to lead us to your glory. Let the truth you have spoken in the depths of our hearts be proclaimed openly to the ears of all men that the devil may be overcome and all your poor sparrows find their home in you.
Wed, 14 October 2020
(Eph.1:1-10; Ps.98:1-6; Lk.11:47-54)
“It is in Christ and through His blood
that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven.”
Oh, brothers and sisters, “so immeasurably generous is God’s favor to us.” He “has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens!” In Christ we are chosen “to be holy and blameless in His sight, to be full of love… to be His adopted sons.” In our midst the Lord fulfills the plan “to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship.” And He does all this by the shedding of His blood.
“God has said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of these they will persecute and kill.’” “From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who met his death between the altar and the sanctuary,” to the blood of Christ, who died within the sanctuary – who is the sanctuary and whose blood is poured out upon every altar until this day – the sacrificial blood of the martyrs has been poured forth. And all the blood shed until His time, and all the blood shed by His faithful until His Day… all is the blood of the Christ who redeems us all who shed that blood by our sins. And we should but desire to add our own blood to fill up what is yet lacking in the sacrifice of the Lord, that all the chosen may enter His kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, no longer is “the key of knowledge” kept from us; we now have access to enter into His reign. For “God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery” of the plan of His salvation. And it speaks to us in Christ’s blood. And in His blood we should rejoice; we should “praise the divine favor He has bestowed on us in His beloved.” For “the Lord has made His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice.” And His justice is this: that though the devil accuse us rightly of our sins, though the blood of the prophets be on our hands, though none is worthy of the kingdom and all should be justly thrown into hell – yet “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God,” yet there is One who has died in our place to wash us clean from our sins, to measure off the justice due us… yet the devil’s hope for our condemnation is thwarted by the One who loves us immeasurably. And so we can enter in and “with trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord.” And so we may know fully the blessings of Christ’s blood.
O LORD, the blood of your Son be upon us this day
to redeem us from our sin
and bring us knowledge of your glory.
YHWH, thank you for sending your Son to redeem us from all our sins and make us one with Him and so with you in the heavenly kingdom. Your salvation this day is known to all by the blood He has shed on the Cross – may all hear His call to repentance, that all might sing in your presence.
O LORD, every spiritual blessing you offer to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. O that we might be holy as He, holy as you, and praise you joyfully for your love. Let us not linger in jealousy, in envy of His goodness and truth, but listen to His words that chastise our hearts, that we might be made pure for Heaven. The key of knowledge is ours in your Christ; the wisdom of the ages comes to us through Him – let us but long to follow Him to your glory.
In His blood indeed we are saved. Though our hands have shared in the shedding of that blood, yet it is the source of our salvation, if we but turn to you in love. Praise you, LORD, for your favor toward us!
Tue, 13 October 2020
(Gal.5:18-25; Ps.1:1-4,6,Jn.8:12; Lk.11:42-46)
“Since we live by the spirit,
let us follow the spirit’s lead.”
“Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent”; these indeed follow not the spirit’s lead but the dictates of the flesh. And all their “licentiousness” and “drunkenness,” all their “hostilities” and “envy,” shall but lead to their doom. For “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!” When they die – as already they are dead – the grave alone shall be their home, with the tortures that are found there. But “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” and so know the “fruit of the spirit” and not the flesh. “Love, joy, peace” and all the precious gifts are theirs in this life, and shall remain with them forever. The Spirit leads us to such blessing.
As for the Pharisees in our gospel today, they prove themselves children of the flesh and not the spirit, for though they “pay tithes on mint and rue and all the garden plants,” though they are so careful about the details of the letter of the law, their worship is in vain for they do all “while neglecting justice and the love of God,” thus tearing out the very heart of the law of God they presume to follow. And so their path is the one which leads but to the grave. They clearly are even now dead, “like hidden tombs over which men walk unawares.” Here are “the insolent” the just must avoid. Here are those who build pretense of holiness but have nothing of the spirit inside. And so their decaying souls shall crumble from within, and “like chaff which the wind drives away,” so shall their remains be scattered like dust by the truth of the Spirit, which exposes and destroys all lies.
“The way of the wicked vanishes,” brothers and sisters. It cannot stand, for there is no foundation, there is no truth on which it rests. It is but empty, illusory, passing. But we who claim to be sons and daughters of the living God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and following the lead of the Holy Spirit, must have nothing to do with the fruits of this way. Our worship must be true, must be genuine, must be that in which the flesh is crucified and the spirit allowed to breathe, that none of us will be crushed under the burden of sin but all be set free to walk in liberty now and forever.
O LORD, let us not be counted among the wicked
but have your love and your truth burning in our souls.
YHWH, let our worship be genuine, let our hearts be set on love of you. Let us follow the Spirit’s lead; your way of truth be our own this day. Meditating on your Law, let us live it and bear its fruit.
Apart from you let us never be, O LORD, never separated from your love. Crucified let our passions be, that we shall share in new life with your only Son. Your joy and peace be with us always; keep us forever from jealousy and outbursts of rage. In the Spirit let us make our home, never turning to what comes of the flesh.
Far from the paths of the wicked please keep us, LORD, that we shall not live our lives in vain; day and night let us think of you, and we shall be ever blessed. O that we might bear your fruit all our days, that our leaves might never fade… Keep us always close to you by your chastising word of truth. Then the water of your Spirit will nourish us well and our sin will be known no more.
Mon, 12 October 2020
(Gal.5:1-6; Ps.119:41,43-45,47-48; Lk.11:37-41)
“Any of you who seek your justification in the law
have severed yourselves from Christ
and fallen from God’s favor!”
Brothers and sisters, “it is in the Spirit that we eagerly await the justification we hope for, and only faith can yield it.” The works prescribed under the testament of old have had their day and their time is passed. Circumcision, the central act of the law, along with the temple and its sacrifices, has been rendered useless. Physically there may yet be benefit to this practice, and so it is employed widely, but spiritually it is now without merit. All that is of the old law has been subsumed by the new, and to set our hearts on what is now dead will leave us but as empty and dead ourselves.
Now there is baptism in the name of the Lord. Now there is Jesus and His Body, the Church. Now there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With these in our midst all else pales, for these are set upon the Rock of eternal life; these are founded in the Spirit which does not pass, nor can be destroyed – and these are known only by faith. Truly, “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor the lack of it counts for anything; only faith, which expresses itself in love.” Now that love has overcome the law, now that it has fulfilled it, why should we be concerned with the cutting of flesh? It is our hearts that must be circumcised.
What is inside is what matters. Jesus has said this repeatedly and He declares it again today to the Pharisee who is so preoccupied with physical washing, with the need to “cleanse the outside of the cup and dish.” This is slavery! Indeed it is born of an attachment to the things of this earth and places our neck under its yoke. If we do not “give what [we] have as alms,” if we do not open our hearts to love of the Lord and love of neighbor, all the scouring of our skin will be utterly useless – in this way we shall never touch our souls. We must have love, we must have faith, and do the outside things only as necessary.
“Let your kindness come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise.” Though I am no longer under the law of old, yet I see how weak I am, how reliant on the works of faith, and how ignorant and blind to your presence I can become. And so I pray that you “take not the word of truth from my mouth.” I pray you enter my house and recline at my table, and that my heart will be set on love of you above all… and that all things else will but serve this love. Let me not fall from your favor, from your love.
O LORD, help us to cleanse the inside of the cup
that by faith and love
we shall come to new life in the Spirit.
YHWH, you call us to love what is within, where you live, where you make your home. But we are distracted by what is without, so shallow is our vision. Help us to see as you see, to desire what is in your heart. Then truly we shall be set free to walk as your sons.
O living God, your love instill within our souls; your truth alone let us speak. Let us not be concerned with the works of the law, with the cutting of flesh and the washing of hands, but with the accomplishment of your will. And so, to save ourselves from such empty worship, let us give all things to you.
If we had but faith, O LORD, then our vision would be clear, our hearts would be set on you alone, and all things would be ours. Let us but seek our salvation in the keeping of your Word, and you will care for all else. Make us clean in your sight!
Sun, 11 October 2020
(Gal.4:22-24,26-27,31-5:1; Ps.113:1-7; Lk.11:29-32)
“At the judgment, the citizens of Nineveh
will rise along with the present generation,
and they will condemn it.”
Paul’s words to the Galatians today sound much like a parable: “Abraham had two sons, one by the slave girl, the other by his freeborn wife.” He himself states pointedly, “All this is clearly an allegory: the two women stand for the two covenants.” But though Hagar may be seen as the mother of all “children [born] to slavery” and Sarah may be compared to “the Jerusalem on high,” which is free, the allegorical significance notwithstanding, both Hagar and Sarah were flesh and blood human beings who walked the face of the earth along with the father of their children, Abraham. So, though the life of anyone may be seen in an allegorical light, it does not mean the life itself is but an allegory.
And yet the scholars of our day would turn the life of Jonah into a mere allegory – as they would, it seems, with Jesus. They say that Jonah did not exist, that the book written of him is but a story, a parable. And so they say that the Lord would compare Himself to a parabolic figure: “Just as Jonah was a sign for the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be a sign for the present age.” And so they say we will be judged by fictional characters.
The Lord’s words remain ever true: “This is an evil age.” It is given a sign, the greatest of signs, and it denies it. It seeks further sign with a heart only to deny once more. Why? Because it has no faith. And without faith one cannot reason; without faith one can see nothing. Truth remains ever hidden from one’s eyes. And so those with empty minds stumble blindly through their theorems, the products of a diseased imagination. And so those without faith seek at every turn to tear down the faith, which ever eludes their clawing grasp. But they shall be judged. What shock will be theirs when the ones they have sought so vainly to make into fictional characters stand before them to condemn them to death. Perhaps then they will see. Perhaps then there will be an end to “the yoke of slavery” they would place upon the “freeborn” children of God.
Beware the faithless soul, dear children. Remember only, “From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised.” Indeed, “high above the nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory,” and He shall lift you “lowly from the dust” to be with Him. As He tears down those who exalt themselves and reveals their children to be so vain, then He will bring your fruits to light and you will bear many. The works of all will be exposed on that Day.
O LORD, how great you are
and how great is your gift to us,
for your Son has freed us to walk with Him –
let us repent at His word.
YHWH, we are your freeborn children for whom your Son has died; in Him we find new life. In the blood of Jesus is found the New Covenant, a covenant which unites us with you in glory.
Praise you, LORD, for such a great gift! Thank you for the grace that comes to us, your once wayward sons. Though we have been barren of children, empty of any fruit as we wandered far from you outside the walls of Jerusalem, yet you have looked upon us with mercy and called us to your side. Help us to reform our lives that the fullness of your gracious gift might be known to us on the Day your Son returns to judge all souls.
Yes, LORD, the lowly ones you raise from the dust to sit with you in heavenly places, to know your great blessings in the kingdom on high. Free our souls to praise you for your glory. Set free from slavery to sin we shall share in the joy of the New Jerusalem and declare your wonders forever.
Fri, 9 October 2020
(Gal.3:22-29; Ps.105:2-8; Lk.11:27-28)
“Each of you is a son of God
because of your faith in Christ Jesus.”
Praise God! “Glory in His holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” For He has come among us. Born of the womb of Israel, the Messiah is in our midst. And so we should “sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.” For now by faith in Him we live, and are truly blest.
Brothers and sisters, “before faith came we were under the restraint of the law… the law was our monitor until Christ came to bring about our justification through faith.” Under the law we lived in sin, for who could fulfill all the demands of the law? “But now that faith is here, we are no longer in the monitor’s charge.” We have found One who has fulfilled the demands of the law, and who is perfect in the eyes of God; and He makes us as Himself, as sons of the living God! And so what can we do but rejoice. We “who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have clothed [our]selves with Him.” And so we stand naked to the world no more. And so we hide no longer from the sight of God, for our sin before Him has been taken away, and with it the law.
Listen attentively to the preaching of Paul, that “there does not exist among [us] Jew or Greek,” that it is faith in the Lord that saves us all. It is the same lesson Jesus teaches in our gospel today. For “the womb that bore you” refers to Israel; it is the breasts of the Chosen that have given Him suck, that have nourished Him well – it is of them He comes. But not for this is the people blest; we cannot boast of our heritage. Rather, we shall be judged worthy of blessing only by how well we “hear the word of God and keep it,” as our Blessed Mother has done in preeminent fashion. She, as Paul, does not boast in her Jewish upbringing. She knows that it is not even for her great work of bearing the Son of God that she found favor with Him. Rather, all favor, the highest favor and grace, comes to her for the love she bears Him and the service she performs eternally in His Name… for her absolute faith.
We must “seek to serve Him constantly” as does our Blessed Mother, as does our Mother, the Church, in faith. Then truly we shall be “descendants of Abraham, His servants, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!” And we shall rejoice to see His Day.
O LORD, may we hear your Word and keep it in faith,
like Abraham, like Mary,
that we might inherit eternal life in Jesus your Son.
YHWH, because of our faith in your Son, we become as your children, indeed, as He is before you. You bless all who come to you through Jesus, all who do your will. And what should we do but rejoice for such grace, for this wonder you perform in our midst.
It is Israel that bore your Son; at Mary’s breast He did suck. But it is not for this the nation is blessed, nor she who carried Him in her womb. It is your people’s obedience you seek, and so any may become as your Chosen by listening to your Word and keeping it in their hearts. As Mary let us be, LORD, giving you our lives.
All of faith are descendants of Abraham. All are blessed who are baptized in Christ. He it is who justifies us in your sight, LORD, and makes us sons of the Most High. Glory to you for the grace upon our souls in Jesus’ Name.
Thu, 8 October 2020
(Gal.3:7-14; Ps.111:1-6; Lk.11:15-26)
“All who believe are blessed along with Abraham,
the man of faith.”
But those who do not believe cannot be called “sons of Abraham,” in whom “all nations shall be blessed,” for they have not the faith of the father of many nations. For those who do not proclaim the Lord’s “renown for His wondrous deeds,” but rather say of His “gracious and merciful” acts: “It is by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that He casts out devils,” there is only a curse. They curse themselves and scatter their own salvation to the winds by the evil thoughts of their hearts. “The reign of God is upon” them, and they say it has come from hell. Have such as these faith? Have they even eyes in their head? Then how shall they be saved? How shall they be called Abraham’s children? Rather, the devils will return to them “to find [their] house swept and tidied,” prepared by the emptiness of their hypocrisy for these to take up eternal residence there.
“He has given food to those who fear Him… He has made known to His people the power of His works.” All those of faith see that this is the Messiah and “give thanks to the Lord with all [their] heart in the company and assembly of the just.” All these are blessed. They live in a house guarded by “a strong man fully armed,” and their “possessions go undisturbed.” For the devil cannot break into the house of God, and he has no key to enter; but the Lord breaks down the doors of the evil one and all his weapons are removed from his hands. And so we are free… We are free because the Lord has redeemed us, and in His house we are protected from sin.
Brothers and sisters, the Savior has been “hanged on a tree… that through Christ Jesus the blessing bestowed on Abraham might descend on the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, thereby making it possible for us to receive the promised Spirit through faith.” This faith itself is redemptive. In this faith is the blood of Christ. It is this blood which fills our hearts and makes room there for the Holy Spirit to come in. There no devils can enter, for our doorposts have been anointed by Him. And so, what can such souls dwelling in this house of faith do but sing out with our psalmist, “Great are the works of the Lord, exquisite in all their delights”? What can we do but declare His “majesty and glory” as we see that “His justice endures forever” and His justice is founded in love? For by our faith He has made us whole; we who once grumbled against Him are now sons of Abraham. He has taken all our sin away, and it shall not return again.
O LORD, your power is only for good;
let your Spirit be with us this day through faith,
that we might be saved.
YHWH, if we have not faith, we have nothing but emptiness, and thus make a place for the devils to dwell. But if we have faith in you, your Spirit fills us, and into your house we do come. Make us temples of your Holy Spirit!
Your Son has died, O LORD, that we might have life, that we might be set free from the course sin has wrought upon our souls and enter into your kingdom as your blessed children. Why should we not believe in your love for us? Why do we doubt the salvation you provide through your Son?
Let us rather rejoice in your glory, LORD, in your goodness to us. Let us sing your praise with all the strength of our souls, thanking you with all our hearts in the assembly of your holy ones, among your saints in Heaven. To such glory you do call us, away from the darkness of this place… Let us but have faith in you and we shall be as your sons.
Wed, 7 October 2020
(Gal.3:1-5; Lk.1:69-75; Lk.11:5-13)
“I can’t get up to look after your needs.”
Does Jesus ever speak these words to us? Does He ever deny our petitions, failing to bring them to His heavenly Father? Do we ever find ourselves empty-handed when we come to Him “in the middle of the night”? Does He ever tire of serving us, of saving us from our sins? Then neither should we turn our back on our brother’s needs; neither should we fail to hear his cry and give him food.
Brothers and sisters, is it not “you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was displayed upon the cross?” Have you not seen for yourselves the miracle in which we have found “salvation from our enemies and from the hands of all our foes”? And so should you not “serve Him devoutly and through all [your] days be holy in His sight”? If we do this, if we wake in the night to answer the needs of those who call, if we make ourselves available always as does the Lord, then even as we rise from rest Jesus will be with us – in this very action we will know His salvation present in our hearts. For as we lay down our lives, as we die with Him in service of others, the light of His resurrection already becomes present to our eyes.
Though the burden is made light by the Lord, this way is not easy – but we should not tire of imitating Him. Does Paul tire of teaching and preaching the faith, of correcting his wayward children who seem so foolishly to stray? Just as the heavenly Father would never give His son “a snake if he asks for a fish, or hand him a scorpion if he asks for an egg,” so the Apostle, too, knows the needs of his flock and works constantly to feed them with the Word of God. Though it weary him no end, yet he ever pours himself out as a libation for their sakes. He is ready for heaven, ready to die and unite with God, yet he gets up in the night, yet he remains present to his children, to provide the food that is due them. And we must be the same as this Apostle.
A great assurance the Lord gives us: “Whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; whoever knocks, is admitted.” If we “have faith in what [we] heard,” we shall indeed find “that God lavishes the Spirit on [us] and works wonders in [our] midst.” For He is faithful and forgets not His promise to us. Yes, “He has raised a horn of saving strength for us in the house of David His servant,” and our Savior is ever present to answer all our needs. But who shall carry out His Word? Who shall know the cross of Christ and its redeeming grace in their own flesh? Who shall serve Him and be thus as His children? Those who rise to look after others’ needs, they shall be bone of His bone.
O LORD, you give your Spirit
to those who have faith in you,
to those who call upon your NAME –
hear our prayer this day.
YHWH, give us this day the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us to the salvation wrought by your Son, Jesus Christ. Leave us not alone on this plane, hungry and apart from you. Help us to pray, to knock upon your door with faith, knowing it is your good pleasure to answer our needs. Then we shall serve you devoutly all our days and be holy in your sight forever.
If your Spirit is with us, LORD, there is nothing else we need, for then you, too, are with us with your only Son. And we will be founded firmly in your Church, safe from all our enemies and nourished by your Bread.
We are not able to give good things or do good works on our own, dear LORD. We need your help and guidance; we need the Spirit that comes from you to bless us with your abundance. We shall wither quickly and die without your assistance – come to us this day with your Spirit that we might be your children.
Tue, 6 October 2020
(Gal.2:1-2,7-14; Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15; Lk.11:1-4)
“He who worked through Peter as His apostle among the Jews
had been at work in me for the Gentiles.”
And that same Spirit, that same God, that same Lord and Creator is at work in all His holy apostles, and is the Father of all who call upon His Name.
“Father, hallowed be your name.” You are great and you are glorious, and you bless all your children, your children of light. From every nation you call us by the power of your Word. You send out apostles as you sent out Paul, to the ends of the earth. You gather all your children together at your one table to feast upon your Body and your Blood, and you speak to the heart of all creation. We your people you call to pray; your disciples you teach to call upon your Name. To the depths of our souls you breathe your Spirit, and so you make us your own. Like you we would be, O Lord! Like you, dear Jesus, in your devotion to our Father.
Help us, O Lord; teach us to forgive, teach us to love. Teach us not to draw away from others, but to join with all who heed your call. Let us always be “straightforward about the truth of the Gospel,” always breathe it and speak it with all our lives – with all our strength let us love and welcome all, especially the poor. And let us present ourselves to your “recognized pillars,” to the leaders of your Church. Let us not go off on our own, with our own thoughts, pursuing our own goals, but let us be ever obedient unto those in whose hands you have placed your teaching ministry… let us lay down our lives “for their scrutiny” as has even the Apostle Paul. For none can work without your approval, without the blessing that comes in “the handclasp of fellowship” your Church extends. And so, in your Church, under its guidance, and in absolute love of all, what shall we then lack?
“Praise the Lord, all you nations, glorify Him, all you peoples!” For the Lord comes to you now – He teaches you His sacred way to the Father of all. Heed but His Word; speak and do but His work. Love always Him and all His people and you shall know how wonderfully “the fidelity of the Lord endures forever”; His children you shall indeed become, and He shall work through you as He has Peter, as He has Paul… as He has His only Son. Say amen to His Spirit. Amen.
O LORD, you are our one Father
and we are your one children in Jesus your Son –
let your kingdom come.
YHWH, make us your faithful and holy children, honoring always your blessed NAME and doing always your will. Let your kingdom come through us; let your Word go forth to the ends of the earth.
Obedient to the authority of your Church let us ever be. Let us never turn from you, LORD, by veering from the path of the apostles. In union may your whole people stand, in the truth your Spirit speaks.
Yes, let us be one in the true faith, LORD, in your will and in your way. Forgive us all our sins and give us the grace to forgive all who sin against us, that we might partake of your food together at the table you set for us.
This world is a place of trial, we know, LORD, but you save us from all trial by your presence in our midst. Let us never be separated from you or one another but ever set our hearts on serving you by bringing your Word to all our brothers.
Mon, 5 October 2020
(Gal.1:13-24; Ps.139:1-3,13-15,24; Lk.10:38-42)
“The time came when He who set me apart before I was born
and called me by His favor
chose to reveal His Son to me.”
Paul speaks of his conversion to the faith today. But before he changed and became the Lord’s great Apostle, he tells us, “I made progress in Jewish observance far beyond most of my contemporaries, in my excess of zeal to live out all the traditions of my ancestors,” and that he “went to extremes in persecuting the church of God and tried to destroy it.” Now, isn’t Martha as Paul was? Is it not her own zeal for observance of Jewish tradition which makes her so anxious and blinded to truth? We hear that she “was busy with all the details of hospitality,” a venerable Jewish custom and requirement of the law; but does not her own “excess of zeal” for this observance lead her even to persecute the Church of God, as it has with Paul? For is her sister not as the Lord’s Church, as His holy Bride seated at His feet? And what does Martha intend to inflict upon her when she asks in her presumption, “Lord, are you not concerned that my sister has left me all alone to do the household tasks? Tell her to help me,” but by such public humiliation to draw her from the blessings of Christ into her own anxiety? But as Paul has heard the call of the Lord, so now Mary does as well, and nothing shall remove such favor from her. And instead of the drawing of Mary from the Lord, it is the Lord who calls Martha from her chores to listen to the voice of God.
Martha shall heed the Lord’s call, we know, for it is she who shows such great faith at the tomb of her brother Lazarus, she who hears the Lord’s most wonderful revelation: “I am the resurrection and the life.” And so she, like Paul, like her sister, finds herself chosen by the Lord. And so must we all, brothers and sisters! So must we all. We all must know the call of Him who “formed [our] inmost being,” by whom our “soul” and our “frame” were “made in secret, when [we were] fashioned in the depths of the earth,” in our “mother’s womb.” We must all come to that place where He will speak to these very depths of our being – where only He probes – and know the “wonderful” call of the Lord, that as it was said of Paul, “He who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy,” so it will be said of us that all doubt and fear we have left behind and the Lord’s will is our only occupation. We must hear His voice and we must speak His NAME, or all we do will be in vain.
“My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar,” O Lord. And so I pray that all my rest will be taken in you and all my work you will bless. Bring us all to the quiet place within our souls, where you speak in silence, where your will is revealed to waiting hearts… let us be seated always before you.
O LORD, it is you who have formed us,
and you formed us to love you;
let us listen to your voice and do your holy will.
YHWH, how shall we find ourselves at your feet, dearest LORD? How shall we become as Mary, our hearts set on you alone, knowing your presence deep in our soil as we listen to your holy words, as we marvel at your flesh before us? In your Son let us make our home, that your Word might be instilled in our soul.
In silence let us sit, O LORD. And in peace let us rise and do your will. As we travel even to the ends of the earth, bringing your Word forth, let us remain ever seated at your feet. Oh never leave us! though much work we do for you.
Be our blessed guide, LORD, at all times. Hold us in your arms as you knit us in our mother’s womb, and we shall never be apart from you, and anxiety shall never distract us from your eternal presence. You who have made us, you who know all our thoughts and ways, please see that it is with you we remain, ever speaking your holy NAME.
Sun, 4 October 2020
(Gal.1:6-12; Ps.111:1-2,5,7-10; Lk.10:25-37)
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?”
Do you really want to know? Do really seek to hear of the Gospel of Christ? Do you really desire the Word of God, which is “reliable forever and ever, wrought in truth and equity” and which “came by revelation from Jesus Christ?” If so, listen to what He speaks to you today; do not go on “so soon deserting Him who called you in accord with His design in Christ” – be not as the priest and the Levite who, coming upon the man “stripped” and “beat[en],” “saw him but continued on.” For He shows Himself to you this day. He lies before you like “the man who fell in with the robbers,” and He calls you to love.
You know what to do, brothers and sisters, just as the lawyer knew so well the Shema, the great command to love God and neighbor. The answer to the question of “who treated the man with compassion” is obvious. We see the love of God, we know the love of God, and we know that we are called to practice the love of God. “Then go and do the same,” Jesus says. “Go and do the same.” Here is the Gospel in short, in this short phrase: love others as I have loved you. Lay down your life; die to yourself and live for God and others if you wish to inherit eternal life. Such inheritance comes only after such death, and love is all that will bring you there.
“If anyone preaches a Gospel other than the one you received, let a curse be upon Him!” This exclamation by Paul is also one of love. For to love does not mean “to win man’s approval,” “to please” or “ingratiate” oneself to others that all might speak well of us who have spoken well of them – to love means to speak the truth, for only by such truth is love preserved. There is no Gospel but the Gospel of love spoken by the mouth of the Lord, one which calls us not to an easy compliance with the world, a nod of the head and a sidestep around the wounded bodies before us… it is that which calls us to lay down our lives along this road of ours. This is what is from God, shown most clearly by the death of His Son.
Brothers and sisters, “holy and awesome is His name” and His call. “His praise endures forever” in our mouths for “He has ratified His covenant forever”; and the love of Jesus is all we need to know. Can you do all the Samaritan has done for the stranger? Then everlasting life is indeed close to your heart. Follow in His way.
O LORD, your Word, your Gospel,
is that we should love,
that we should love you and others –
let us hold to your Word and so live in your truth.
YHWH, praise you, our LORD and our God! Help us to follow your Word and your way. For you are great and worthy of praise, and we must be as you.
Your love is unbounded, O LORD; it reaches to the ends of the earth and to every soul. All you would care for in your love, and you call us to do the same.
Let us be your hands and your voice, LORD, in this dangerous place. Let us have hearts for healing and spirits for speaking your truth, that all souls might indeed be saved by your holy Gospel.
If in silence we stand as souls go astray, or if we avoid the needy man in our way, what, O LORD, shall be our fate – shall not a curse be upon us? And so, let your love and your truth be fulfilled in us that we might preach without fear and serve without hesitation, that we might accomplish your will. Let us love you first of all, and all souls as you love them.
Fri, 2 October 2020
(Job 42:1-3,5-6,12-16; Ps.119:66,71,75,91,125,130,135; Lk.10:17-24)
“I watched Satan fall from the sky like lightning.”
Oh how our readings conspire together today to bring heavenly light to our eyes. Truly by them the Lord would say to us what He says to His apostles, what is so evident with Job: “Blest are the eyes that see what you see.” For what more could we hope to behold than the defeat of Satan and the power of the Almighty at work in our lives?
“I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you,” Job declares unto the Lord who stands before him. Could there be a greater blessing than this for him who has longed for just this moment? For just in this moment comes to him who has suffered so greatly at the hands of Satan the vindication of the Lord’s servant, the justice that is in the hand of God. Truly is Satan now cast down before the Lord of all, and truly do the eyes and the heart of Job witness this power of the Most High. For truly is he set free from the evil one’s clutches and blessed so abundantly. Job’s eyes see the return and the increase of his myriad of animals; they witness the great blessing of seven sons and three daughters, of whom it is said, “No other women were as beautiful as the daughters of Job.” These eyes behold “his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren,” yes, but the greatest of all visions for which Job is truly blessed and which brings any and all other blessings is that his eye has seen the Lord: he knows now Him who has made him and rejoices sublimely with the apostles that his name is “inscribed in heaven,” indeed that it cannot be blotted out; for Satan has done all he could to accomplish this, and failed.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes” – our psalmist’s words could be Job’s own, for indeed in the Lord’s faithfulness He has afflicted Job to “teach [him] wisdom and knowledge.” And what knowledge the seventy-two disciples receive this day in our gospel; a knowledge hidden from all ages, a power residing only with God, is given over unto their spirits. Satan himself and all his minions are now subject to their command. What falls short of the light in their eyes; what do they now lack? And so, what can they do but rejoice greatly? For even Jesus Himself rejoices “in the Holy Spirit”; even the Son of God gives “grateful praise” to the Father for the power and wisdom granted His “merest children.” Brothers and sisters, the blessings of the Lord are overwhelming… and we do not yet even see heaven!
“The revelation of your words sheds light,” O Lord, “giving understanding to the simple.” Let us hear what you wish to teach us this day. That which “prophets and kings wished to see… and hear” you reveal to us at this time – that the power of your Word casts out sin and Satan, and that your own glory you share with your little ones on earth. Bless us here with your gifts, O Lord. Remove from our hearts all fear. Let us know with certainty that you have destroyed the evil one, and draw us now inextricably to your kingdom.
O LORD, let our eyes see you,
that we might not sin against you but do your holy will.
YHWH, you are great beyond compare, the LORD of Heaven and earth; yet you share your greatness with your children, delivering power into their hands.
How can we bear to see you, LORD? How can such wonder be known to our eyes? Make us repentant of our sin and innocent before you, then we shall be able to receive your great gifts.
LORD, even Satan and his minions are subject to us, for they are subject to you and we are yours alone. Help us ever to trust in you, and that our names are written in Heaven. For if it is upon Heaven our sights are set, then we shall find no trouble upon this earth; we shall be subject to none of the wiles of the evil one.
We have been afflicted by you, O LORD, afflicted as Job by the scourges of Satan. It has seemed to us that you left us abandoned, but this was to teach us of your loving presence and just how close you are to our souls. Open our eyes to see you this day, and all your many blessings.
Thu, 1 October 2020
(Job 38:1,12-21,40:3-5; Ps.139:1-3,7-10,13-14,24; Lk.10:13-16)
“I put my hand over my mouth.”
When the Lord speaks, what can we be but silent? When He chastises us for our pride and sin, we can only be ashamed. No defense have we before Him who holds us and all the world in His mighty hand and who comes to us with His redeeming love. We can but bow before Him.
The Lord has “commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place”; He has “entered into the sources of the sea [and] walked about in the depths of the abyss” – He has “comprehended the breadth of the earth” and the highest heavens. And so, if we “take the wings of the dawn, if [we] settle at the farthest limits of the sea,” He is there. If we “go up to the heavens” or “sink to the netherworld,” He is present. He is present everywhere, and everywhere we are, we are subject to His hand. For He has “formed [our] inmost being”; He has “knit” us all “in [our] mother’s womb.” And He alone knows “the dwelling place of light” and “the abode of darkness,” and to which place our souls shall come. There is nothing we can say before the Creator and Judge of all the earth except, “I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works,” as we humbly give thanks to Him who scrutinizes all our ways.
And when He comes to us with His love, when He has wrought forgiveness in “the miracles worked in [our] midst” by the grace of the only Son… when redemption for all our sin He offers by a merciful hand, what must we do but accept it? For how shall it be for us on “the day of judgment” if we reject the Word of God walking among us and speaking to our hearts? It cannot but “go ill” with us if we fail to reform our broken lives when the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth stands before us with love in His arms, blood pouring from them as He hangs upon a cross.
Should not our hands be over our mouths at such a sight, brothers and sisters, at such a witness of undying love? Should it not convict us of our sin and make our hearts burn with a spirit of repentance and cry silently to God as our prideful tongues cleave like stone to our palate? What hope have you if you yet dare to speak before Him? Rather, bow your heads and fall to your knees and beg the forgiveness of Him who has made you and who loves you to the heights and depths, with all the breadth of His Spirit.
Lord, like Job, I have “no more” to say; I am yours.
(Blessed silence before the Lord may we all come to know.)
O LORD, it is you who made us and you who save us;
let us not be hurled down to the realm of death
but raised up to dwell with you.
YHWH, what should we do but repent in sackcloth and ashes before your majesty? What can we be but silent before you? For you are all-powerful and all-knowing, and we are but your creatures.
What place has pride before your glory, LORD? How can we be so foolish as to assert our will and our way before you whose ways are not known to man, whose will is so far above and beyond our own? It is you who have made the world and all it holds; it is you who have formed us in our mother’s womb. And would we presume to instruct you? And would we be obstinate in following your commands?
O LORD, though we are nothing, but dust of the earth, yet you love your humble creatures as you love all you have made. For you have made us good. Have pity on us poor sinners and help us to heed your Word which comes to us through your Son and His apostles. May we find ourselves at home in your sight, in your heavenly kingdom.
Wed, 30 September 2020
(Job 19:21-27; Ps.27:7-9,13-14; Lk.10:1-12)
“I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that He will at last stand forth upon the dust.”
“The hand of God has struck me!” Job exclaims as he begs pity from his friends who “hound [him] as though [they] were divine,” reminding him unendingly of the Lord’s justice and ever accusing him of having sinned against his Maker. Job defends himself and wishes “that with an iron chisel and with lead” his “words were written down.” And truly his prayer is answered, for here are his words “inscribed in a record… cut in the rock [of Scripture] forever.”
And what has this poor soul to say? Reflecting David’s own call for pity from the Lord and his own desire to know his God – “Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks” – Job declares, “My inmost being is consumed with longing”; his heart, too, is set upon God. And as David proclaims in great hope, “I believe I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living,” so Job makes known, too, his faith and hope in the Lord: “My own eyes, not another’s, shall behold Him.” What testimony from a man in such travails!
And in our gospel we see that his (and David’s) hope is not in vain, for here now stands the Lord forth upon the earth, Himself having taken the form of our dust and multiplying His presence among us as He “send[s] workers into His harvest.” And He comes to bring peace; His disciples declare, “The reign of God is at hand.” And every “peaceable man” receives now this gift of grace from the Lord Most High, this realization of His presence before us. No longer does He hide His face.
And now we wait again, for the Lord to return once more to our towns; now we long for the Day when with our “flesh [we] shall see God,” when we shall gaze upon Him forever and know His everlasting peace. Now He comes to heal us; now He sends forth His Word and His workers to prepare His way… and so now we should make straight His way, for His reign is upon us.
May He never have cause to “shake the dust” of our town from His feet – may He never regret having come among us. But let us, brothers and sisters, “wait for the Lord with courage” and perseverance, with a blessed hope born in faith. Let us with Job know that our Vindicator lives and He shall not be long in coming… indeed, He is already here. “Be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” Welcome His Spirit into your home.
O LORD, stand forth upon the dust;
send out your workers into the harvest,
that we might know your peace,
that we might enter your reign.
YHWH, let your peace rest upon this house; let our eyes be blessed with seeing you this day. Help us to have courage as we wait for your Son’s return – believing hearts form in us that we shall never be removed from your presence.
Your reign, O LORD, is indeed at hand. It has walked amongst us in the form of your Son. And it continues to go forth in the apostles you send to bring your peace to every land. O let us be welcoming of your Word, and help us to bring that Word to every waiting soul.
If we have but faith, O LORD, we have all we need. Though in darkness we sit, yet such hope gives us light, and we know that we shall see you again. Though we go forth with nothing, empty of the things of the earth, in you we have everything – the great abundance of the Spirit is ours.
To you alone let us hold, LORD, knowing you will not cast us off, knowing your pity deep in our souls… Let your rich harvest be gathered into your rooms.
Tue, 29 September 2020
(Job 9:1-12,14-16; Ps.88:3,10-15; Lk.9:57-62)
“Why, O Lord, do you reject me;
why hide from me your face?”
The cry of our psalmist certainly reflects that of Job, who in his travails asks, “How can a man be justified before God?” who realizes that the Lord “does great things past finding out” and that “should He come near [us], [we] see Him not.” But it also reflects Jesus’ treatment of those who might follow Him, and could easily be their cry as well.
“If I appealed to Him and He answered my call, I could not believe that He would hearken to my words.” Such a seemingly hopeless attitude may be understandable in one suffering such a plight as Job. For he is as “the mountains [removed] before they know it”; he is shaken as “the earth out of its place.” He is as one suddenly confounded by God, who is “wise in heart and mighty in strength.” Before such power how can he speak, or expect to be heard? And so, rightly in silence he must remain. Certainly he could cry out to the Lord, “Will you work wonders for the dead?… Do they declare your kindness in the grave, your faithfulness among those who have perished?” and in justice be saved from “the land of oblivion.” But the test Job undergoes passes beyond justice to the suffering of the innocent before the mighty power of God.
And what of those who would be Christ’s disciples spoken of in our gospel today? To them why does the Lord speak so severely? Why does it seem they, too, are unable to come before His face – why does He seem to reject them? Is He not of love, this Son of Man, unlike the judgmental God? Does He not welcome all with open arms? Then why such sharp words to those who approach and those He calls to “come away and proclaim the kingdom of God”? The Lord does not reject them, but puts them to the test as He has with Job to see if their hearts are truly set upon Him alone, as indeed they must be. It is, of course, for the great glory to which He calls them that all His disciples are chastised so vehemently.
Think not that He rejects you, brothers and sisters, when He hides His face from you. Know that you are never hidden from Him, and that should He remove Himself from your presence, it is only to grant you clearer vision of His face. None is more blessed than Job for none has known so fully the awesome power of God and given himself over to it so completely. None but Christ and His followers, who give up all things, who suffer all persecutions innocently, silently, in order to know the surpassing might and tender mercy of God. Indeed His “wonders [are] made known in darkness,” for then they most clearly shine.
O LORD, let us follow your Son, even unto death.
YHWH, we must give up all things to follow you; it must be your will alone we have in this world. Even if you should put us in darkness, yet we should defer to your judgment, to your power over all things for good.
Your Son is severe with those who would follow you, LORD, who would be as you are, as His disciples. For what a call this is! And how ready must we be to enter its demands. Your reign far surpasses anything we know, anything we come to rely on in this world, and so the passing of this world – and even our own lives – we shall not mourn but learn to entrust all our cares to you.
If the sun and the mountains are moved by you, LORD, how much more should we put ourselves in your hands. Our trust should be so complete that we accept even your seeming rejection. Hear our prayer and come to save us! that we might walk with your Son in your way.
Sun, 27 September 2020
(Job 1:6-22; Ps.17:1-3,6-7; Lk.9:46-50)
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked I shall go back again.”
In the beginning and in the end, we have nothing: and so should be our attitude toward all things we are given – that they are not our own, that we do not possess them… that they shall pass from us unto eternity again. As shall we all.
In our first reading we begin to hear of Satan’s temptation of Job, of whom the Lord’s own words witness: “There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” But Satan in his jealousy responds, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?” and recounts all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on His “servant.” The adversarial angel then wins from God permission to tempt Job by removing all his blessings.
And the persecution is strong. All in a day Job loses all his multitude of livestock, his servants, and his children. Four messengers come, each with catastrophic news, each the sole survivor of the tragedy of which they speak, and each following the previous “while he was yet speaking.” In a moment all but his life is taken from Job. But Job proves God’s assessment of his character true by proclaiming, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” thus properly putting all things in God’s hands, and praising His glory even in such tragedy. We are told, “In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” He is as the child Jesus sits beside Himself in our gospel today.
Satan has failed in his effort to get Job to curse God; he will not do so even at his wife’s prompting. But Job, so Christlike in his suffering the abandonment God’s Servant knows so fully upon the cross, shall fall short of the Christ in one respect: this innocent child will not be able to keep from decrying his state or withstand the accusations of others that he must be guilty of sin. He will not be able to suffer in silence, not opening his mouth to defend himself (taking this unwarranted persecution upon himself to redeem others, as Jesus has done) but will declare his “just suit” to the Lord, begging Him to “attend to [his] outcry,” saying with David in our psalm: “Hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.” He shall not be able to keep from stating his innocence, from saying, “Though you test my heart, searching it in the night, though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.” And in this way Satan shall break him; in this manner he shall fall short of the perfect humility of Christ. (Though the Lord shall justify and reward his faithful servant in the end.)
Brothers and sisters, do not act with jealousy, as even the disciples seem to today in trying to stop one “not of [their] company” from healing in Jesus’ name. Do not even think among yourselves of who is the greatest. This is an abomination before God. Have the attitude of Job toward all things – that they are but gifts from the Lord and that we are nothing in ourselves. Then you will be like His little child and so know His blessings forever.
O LORD, naked we came forth
from our mother’s womb,
and naked we shall go back again –
our lives are in your hands.
YHWH, let us be as an innocent child sitting patiently at the side of your only Son. Though the foe come to test our hearts, by your grace let us prove ourselves worthy of your blessings. Let us never sin against you in word or in deed but place all things in your holy hands and accept whatever befalls us.
O LORD, let us never be jealous or proud; let us never imitate the sin of Satan, who would see your children falter, who would strike any against whom his envy might rise. Let us but seek to serve you in all humility and so know the great joy of being as your Son. From all wicked thoughts release our souls that we might walk with you.
Hear our prayer for mercy, LORD; though we be not perfect, you can make us so. Let it be our sole desire to be pure before you, that we shall never know your wrath or be cast from your sight. Take all things from us, but only spare our life. Please never leave our side.
Fri, 25 September 2020
(Ec.11:9-12:8; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:43-45)
“The dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.”
“As a watch of the night” is our life, passing unnoticed while souls slumber. “You make an end of them in their sleep,” Psalm 90 prophesies (as we hear the same verses of this same psalm for the second time in three days); indeed man lies unaware of his coming death, ignorant of the day which passes. For though in our youth we “follow the ways of [our] heart, the vision of [our] eyes,” and seem to “ward off grief” at will, yet “the next morning [we] are like the changing grass”; so quickly does our flower fade. And so little of this do we see.
In our gospel the Lord speaks again to His disciples of His imminent death, and so, really, the death we all must undergo; but though He makes a clear point that they should listen carefully, saying, “Pay close attention to what I tell you,” yet they seem unable to hear His words. Our gospel tells us, “They failed… to understand this warning; its meaning was so concealed from them they did not grasp it at all.” He repeats what He has said before in no uncertain terms, and yet they are deaf to His word; yet they are blind.
How like us all the disciples are. When confronted with the coming of death how easily we shut our eyes. Though it draw upon us inevitably, how desperately we hold to the vanity of these passing things, unwilling to hear of the day when “the sun is darkened… and the strong men are bent… and the sound of the mill is low.” “Man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets” – so Qoheleth paints the image of the time when “the clouds return after the rain.” How compelling his verses are, and how ominous… and of this darkness we must hear. It is not wise to remain blind to the passing of this life, or with it we shall die when it ends. Though none of this should touch our souls, yet we must learn to let the body go.
O Lord, “you return man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men,’” yet you hold each of us in your loving hands. And so we cry unto you this day, “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” For we wait with expectant hearts for Him who has risen from the dead to come to us again. Let your Spirit breathe upon us now and turn this dust into the image of your Son. May it be your Day which comes to us, even as we die.
O LORD, we conquer death
through the death and resurrection of your Son –
be with us as we wait for His return.
YHWH, death comes inevitably to all. It draws near to us like the setting sun. We are mortal, the subjects of our own sin. And so to dust we return.
But your Son has subjected Himself to this death of ours, LORD; He has undergone its torments. In our place He has stood, and been broken for our sakes. He who lives with you in eternity has been delivered into the hands of men and suffered the darkness upon their souls. And so, may we not be born again?
O Jesus, you have overcome the darkness with your unending light; you have come to rescue us from falling into the well, that the clouds might not return again after the rain but that we might know new life with you in the morning after this world passes away, in the glory of your coming Day.
Help us, O LORD, to overcome our fear, to conquer the bonds of this dark place and our own mortality. Let this not be our lasting home, but raise us to your presence that even this day we might rejoice in you.
Thu, 24 September 2020
(Ec.3:1-11; Ps.144:1-4; Lk.9:18-22)
“He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts.”
Yes, “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens”; and there is a time for time to cease and the timeless to come to the fore – a time for the things above the heavens. And that fullness of time has come upon the earth, for the Son of Man has known His “time to be born”; and in man’s discovering “the work which God has done,” no time for vain toil is there anymore. The time has come to make Him our “refuge and [our] fortress,” our blessed “rock” of truth.
“One day when Jesus was praying in seclusion and His disciples were with Him,” the time had come for Him to “put the question to them”: “Who do you say that I am?” And now it was Peter’s “time to speak,” to declare the faith of the Church: “The Messiah of God.” And though it was not then time “to tell this to anyone,” for the Son of Man had yet to know His “time to die,” soon the time would come for the Son to rise, and then there would be no more “time to be silent.”
That time has come upon us now, brothers and sisters. Now is only “a time to plant” and “a time to build” – a time to raise the kingdom of heaven here on earth, a time to labor to complete God’s Church. For timelessness now has its time; life eternal overtakes us. And so we have only “time to love,” having broken the wheel of sin by the sacrifice of Christ and so come out from under the shadow of hatred. No return to the vanity of the things of this world is there for us, for we must do all as if doing nothing.
It is true: “Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow,” but it is also so that the Lord “take[s] thought of him.” And in this earthen vessel He has placed the Spirit of life – and that Spirit is now known in full in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is “time to embrace” Him and know the “time of peace” He breathes eternally upon His creatures, letting all shadow pass away as we walk in His holy light and proclaim His holy name.
O LORD, your timelessness let us know in our hearts,
that we might overcome the world through your Son.
YHWH, in the fullness of time you sent your Son to die at our hands that we might be raised up with Him. And now that He has died for our sins, a new time has come to your people – a time of salvation.
All time pointed toward Him and all time flows from Him, and all time is in Him who is all that is. O LORD, let us make our home in Him and in His resurrection.
You are timeless, O LORD and God, and so how can we poor creatures so bound to time, so subject to the dust of this earth, come to know you who are beyond the heavens? We could never have discovered your hand at work among us if you had not sent your only Son to redeem us and reveal to us your glory. And so, let us embrace this gift you offer that we might mourn and weep no more but rejoice ever in your presence, despite the Cross that comes. Let us be raised on the Cross with Him that we might be raised unto His eternal reign.
Wed, 23 September 2020
(Ec.1:2-11; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:7-9)
“See, this is new!”
Here is He who is “new under the sun.” For it is not so that “John has been raised from the dead,” nor that “one of the prophets of old has arisen”: He has not “already existed in the ages that preceded us.” He is the Christ! He is the Messiah! He it is who has come to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.” In Him the dark of the night veiling our eyes is banished from our midst.
O Herod, drowning in your debauchery; O Qoheleth, pursuer of your passions in all their vanity, why do you race to catch up with the sun as if it should stand and wait for you? What makes you think you could hold the wind in your hand? Why would you see end of the rivers’ path to the sea? Why do you toil so blindly, taking your refuge in created things and frustrated when you cannot control them to your own ends, when they betray the peace you seek? “Back to dust” you shall indeed return, and the sun and the wind and the sea still stand; and above them all does reign our God, for whom “a thousand years… are as yesterday, now that it is past.” In Him you should have taken refuge.
Herod, do you too now begin to see the ends of your debauchery; does its emptiness now overtake your soul? Do you remember the words the prophet delivered to your ears? What is the cause of your curiosity, and will you listen now to the voice echoing through your halls? The kingdom of the world crumbles before our eyes and no “profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun,” unless it is the Lord who “prosper[s] the work of our hands for us.” Dead we are and alone will ever be in our profligacy, the emptiness upon us.
Qoheleth, your words are proven wrong: it is not so that “there is no remembrance of the man of old,” for we read your thoughts with diligence today; and three thousand years after your time you teach us still of the dark vision of life without the Christ. And of Him who has come after thee there is great remembrance, and more than this, for His breath is now upon us. In Him is “the ear filled with hearing” and the eye “satisfied with seeing,” for now truth and light do walk with us, even under the sun. And though our body “by evening wilts and fades” as of old, our soul “at dawn springs up anew.” For “the gracious care of the Lord [is] ours” and He “teach[es] us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And this wisdom is true; this wisdom is new: this wisdom bears us light to transcend the vanity of a worldly life and come to the kingdom of heaven.
O LORD, your Son is He who makes all things new –
let us live and work in the light of His presence.
YHWH, your Son is new under the sun; into our midst He has come. May we be more than anxious to see Him: may we be made new in Him.
In days past, LORD, the world and men toiled in futility for their sin against you, for their separation from you. You were ever new and ever calling us to life in you, but we labored in vain, going our own way – the way of darkness that leads to death, the way that is indeed apart from you. Return all souls to your light, your life, known to us now in your only Son.
You reign over all, LORD our God, all of time is but a moment to you and all the world is as a speck of dust. Have pity on us, LORD, for we are quick to wilt and fade. At daybreak may we rise with Jesus and walk in the light of your new day, dwelling forever in your reign, living and working always in your presence.
Tue, 22 September 2020
(Prv.30:5-9; Ps.119:29,72,89,101,104-105,163; Lk.9:1-6)
“Take nothing for the journey.”
How can he who takes nothing with him for his journey be provided for? Does not such action contradict the wisdom of the king who asks in his book of Proverbs – “Give me neither poverty nor riches”? Is it not poverty the Lord recommends to His disciples?
The evangelical counsel of poverty practiced by the religious communities and striven for by all true members of the Christian faith is not the same as that which our author of Proverbs wishes to avoid (no more so than the riches he would keep far from himself are those of the heavenly kingdom). For those whom Jesus sends out never find themselves “in want,” the want which would lead the desperate to steal and so sin; rather, the only “want” His disciples have is for an increasing understanding and practice of the word of God. And the poverty they practice is meant to feed this hunger for the greatest of food.
Proverbs itself gives us answer to the means by which the Lord’s disciples taking “no bread, no money” are fed: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” The Lord is always our food. Cannot He who “endures forever,” whose word is “firm as the heavens,” care for the small needs of His creatures here below? Will not he who labors for Him have all he needs to accomplish his work? Certainly! For though the disciples take nothing, it does not follow that they have nothing – for they have the Lord with them, and that is everything.
Indeed, it is because the first of the wise king’s requests of God – “put falsehood and lying far from me” – has been answered in them that this second is accomplished. “Remove from me the way of falsehood,” our psalmist echoes, and for the Lord’s disciples this has been done. They “add nothing to His words” as “from every evil way [they] withhold [their] feet”; and so “the law of [His] mouth,” which resounds from their own mouths as they “proclaim the reign of God,” “is to [them] more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” and feeds them abundantly.
The Word of the Lord will be received by those who seek His truth, and in turn feed the speaker as it does the hearer. So let us be wary of “being full” of the things of this world, lest we find no room for God, and let us make our psalmist’s declaration truly our own: “Falsehood I hate and abhor; your law I love.” Then all things will be provided for.
O LORD, you send us forth with your Word
to heal souls of all evil –
keep us on your way of truth.
YHWH, it is you who provide for all our needs. If we serve you, if we are true to your Word, we shall never be in want. For then all we shall desire is to be with you, and you will be faithful to this longing.
LORD, you are with those who go out in your NAME, who desire only to do your will. For they are of truth and you are of truth – you are Truth itself – and so they share in your way. And your way is a way of love and healing, your way is one that leads to life. Let us follow in this way, and we shall live forever.
You yourself hold our lives in your hand, and so what do we need but you? We cannot provide for ourselves; it is you from whom all our food comes. And if we trust in you we shall be fed, we shall have all we need to live, all we need to proclaim your Word, O LORD, and that your kingdom is nigh. Let us be a living witness to your presence among us and the care you give to all your children.
Mon, 21 September 2020
(Prv.21:1-6,10-13; Ps.119:1,27,30,34-35,44; Lk.8:19-21)
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God
and act upon it.”
Our readings today are filled throughout with one line pearls of wisdom culminating with Jesus’ above instruction in our brief gospel. And though each individual proverb or paean to the command of the Lord seems a separate entity distinct from the others which surround it, in fact, all speak of the same sword of truth that separates the way of the wicked from that of the just. In even thousands of proverbs there is but one word – that we must be hearers and doers of the word of God.
“Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases Him, He directs it.” Oh that such blessed obedience could be all our own! Oh that we would follow Him so perfectly, for “happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”; and they become as His only Son. “To do what is right and just” must be our constant aim, our eternal prayer. “Lead me in the path of your commands,” we must beg of our God, for in it alone we know the light of His grace; in His way alone we find all our “delight.” Only in observing His decrees, walking in His love, do we become brother and sister and mother to the Christ.
For the wicked shall not enter His embrace, shall not be counted among His family. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” the Lord will not countenance, for “the tillage of the wicked is sin” and with sin the Holy One has no relation. Thus we may be certain “there is One who brings down the wicked to ruin.” As grandiose as his plots may seem and as adamantly as he may pursue them with “a lying tongue,” he is but “chasing a bubble over deadly snares” and shall be caught in the trap he himself has laid.
“When the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge”; he draws ever closer to the light of the Lord as he drinks in His Word. Let us be as those who “meditate on [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds.” Let us beg Him with our psalmist: “Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.” When Jesus speaks let us be quick to listen and follow in His way, that truly we may become His blessed family, one in the Church modeled by the Mother of God.
O LORD, open our ears to hear your Word
and walk in your way.
YHWH, if we are haughty of eye and proud of heart, how can we know you and become one with you? You are holy and only those who strive for holiness walk in your way. Help us, LORD, to be as your Son and follow always your blessed commands.
O LORD, let our hearts ever be directed by your hand; let our obedience be such that we simply go as your guide led ever by your Spirit. In your Son there was no question as to what should be done or whether He should do good or ill – He did nothing of His own will but only yours. Help us to be perfect as He in living your Word, in embodying your truth. Then we shall be brothers to Him, for then you shall be our Father.
Let us be made in your image, LORD, doing what is right and just in all things. Your law of love let us observe – let us thirst for your wisdom and knowledge. Nothing let us desire but to be one with you and your only Son. Then we shall be blessed as His Mother.
Fri, 18 September 2020
(1Cor.15:35-37,42-49; Ps.56:10-14; Lk.8:4-15)
“Just as we resemble the man from earth,
so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”
It is not difficult to recognize our earthly bodies. They are with us always, and make themselves known in the “weakness” that befalls us. Adam’s sin is upon us his children and reminds us always that we are human, of the earth.
But as we know this body of the earth so “subject to decay,” so “ignoble” in itself, so we should know the “spiritual body [that] comes up” as this “natural body is put down” by us. Here is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching that we must lay down our lives, that we must die to this world to be raised up in His presence. For the earthly form we know so well by the weakness and sin inherent in its confines we must set aside, not nourish in its passions, that ever the Spirit might take shape in our lives… that we might take on the likeness of Christ. And so even our corrupted nature may bring growth and fruit of great significance when we sow it in the ground, when we place it back whence it has come. In this death is life.
“A farmer went out to sow some seed.” This farmer is, of course, Jesus, the spiritual Man who casts seed of the Spirit for all waiting hearts to receive and nourish to growth as a “full-blown plant” in the Father’s light. If we heed the Word He proclaims to us with exclamation, if we become ourselves as “the seed sown on good ground,” given rebirth in the Gospel of Christ, resurrection of our weakened form we will know; even now it shall begin to mature within us. But if we are empty as “those on the footpath” or rootless as “those on rocky ground” or stifled as “the seed fallen among briars,” how then shall we escape the natural body and its corruption and reach up to the kingdom of heaven? It cannot but be that we shall die – and in this death there will be no resurrection to life.
O brothers and sisters, let us be as David, who declares in faith, “Now I know that God is with me” and asks with such confidence, “What can flesh do against me?” How indeed can the flesh hold us down, pressed to the earth though it may be, if we have God’s Word in us growing so surely? In God let us “trust without fear,” and on the day of full growth, when this “earth formed from dust” has died completely and the Man of Spirit has His kingdom revealed, we shall rejoice with David and sing: “You have rescued me from death… that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” Then the Spirit so real we shall know.
O LORD, let your Word take root in our hearts
and grow unto your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word be firmly planted in our hearts; let us bear fruit unto Heaven. Let us be raised with your only Son and walk in the light of your presence. Let us be men of the Spirit.
Your Son comes casting seed upon this earth, dearest LORD. He seeks to plant your Spirit within our souls. O let us have ears to hear His Word! Let us have hearts open to His call. Why should we wish to die in sin? Why would we be subject to decay as our natural bodies? Should we not rather put on the body of Jesus and be thus spiritual men? O may we bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven!
Let us have no fear, LORD, as we grow with Jesus; let the flesh hold no sway against our coming to you. Help us to lay down our bodies that our spirits may rise and we may make our home in your eternal light. Open our eyes in your presence.
Thu, 17 September 2020
(1Cor.15:12-20; Ps.17:1,6-8,15; Lk.8:1-3)
“Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
This is the heart of our faith. This is the “Good News,” the Gospel preached in our midst. This is our firm belief. Upon it all our hopes stand. Christ has been raised, and His disciples will follow Him. As surely as we accompany Him here in His mission on earth, so surely will we find ourselves in His presence in heaven. Dying in Him means rising in light.
But “if our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men.” We could then be said to have truly wasted our time, for then the very heart of our faith would have been torn out, and what but scoffing would we have to hold? A dead Christ we would carry in our arms, and we “the deadest of the dead” with Him.
Paul speaks of this quite pointedly; he pulls no punches in this regard, declaring openly: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too.” Yet there are those today, as then, who “say there is no resurrection of the dead,” that “Christ was not raised” – and these would call themselves Christian. And in the same manner there are many who do not truly believe the resurrection, yet wear the Christian nametag. If we have doubt in our hearts, or, worse yet, if we preach against the core of the faith, what do we do but kill ourselves? What do we do but work against the very Gospel of Christ? And how then do we merit the name of Christian?
Brothers and sisters, we must know in our hearts and be assured that Jesus is risen from the dead. We must realize that God has “attend[ed] to [David’s] outcry,” that He has “hearken[ed] to [his] prayer” – that the most urgent longing of our souls has been answered by the “savior of those who hope in [Him].” With David, we of faith should say with his resolve: “On waking, I shall be content in your presence.” Has the resurrection not been indicated in the “women who ha[ve] been cured of evil spirits and maladies” and who now accompany Jesus? Does not Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven devils had gone out,” give clear example of hope in Christ fulfilled? For she is not at all as she was, and this woman once so completely possessed by death itself is the first to see the Lord risen.
We must know the resurrection in our lives on earth; this is the only way we will comprehend it in heaven. Release from sin allows us to see already the eternal fruits of the kingdom. Accompanying Him now, our sins behind us, already upon heaven’s road we tread. And we know of a certain we shall pass through these “towns and villages” even unto His kingdom.
O LORD, your Son has been raised from the dead;
may we be raised with Him and be at your side.
YHWH, your Son is raised from the dead for us that we might enter your glorious presence. Though in the shadow of the wings of the Cross on this earth we make our home, it but prepares us for the kingdom. For even here our sins are taken away, and we come to new life in the Spirit.
We cried out to you, O LORD, and you heard our voice and sent your Son to walk among us. And if we follow in His steps we shall come to where He leads – we shall come to you. The path He trod must be our own, for it is the way of salvation. Through death on the Cross we come to life, for as we die with Him so we are raised.
Let us rejoice in His resurrection, O LORD; let us have faith in the new life at work in us even this day, and look with hope to our place in your kingdom. On waking may we look upon your face and be content in your eternal presence. For your glory let us ever strive, giving all to you as we walk in your way.
Wed, 16 September 2020
(1Cor.15:1-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,28; Lk.7:36-50)
“I am the least of the apostles.”
Brothers and sisters, “little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” And it is in the sweet tears of repentance that we discover the love held in the merciful heart of the Lord.
Paul speaks the truth of himself when he claims that he does “not even deserve the name” of apostle because he has “persecuted the Church of God.” “But through the favor of God” he has “worked harder than all the others,” preaching the Gospel of the Lord. As small as he is and as undeserving as he is, so great is the Lord’s blessing upon him. In the measure he recognizes his sin, the Lord pours His grace into him, and through him to others.
And what grace pours forth through the woman in our gospel today! In her we see our own encounter with the Lord. Here is she who is “known in town to be a sinner” standing and kneeling in tears before her God. And the Lord knows well “who and what sort of woman this is that touches Him – that she is a sinner,” and He knows well, too, her repentant heart. While the others at table see neither their own sin nor the woman’s repentance, He allows Himself to be touched by both (her sin and her repentance) – it is for just such a moment as this He has come. And how well the Lord speaks the truth in His detailed description of the woman’s repentance; how well we see His love reflected in her… and how blest is she to hear these words for which every heart does long: “Your sins are forgiven.” And how her tears increase at this word come forth from the mouth of the Holy One. And so, while the others argue blindly among themselves, He reaches out His hand, touches her face, and whispers to her soul: “Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace.”
“O my God, I extol you… You have been my savior.” Indeed, your “mercy endures forever,” and now I know that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the song the woman must sing; this is the song of St. Paul. This is the song of every soul redeemed by the love of the Lord. So let us all “stand firm” in the Gospel preached to us by those who have seen Him, from Peter to this wretched Paul; we “are being saved by it at this very moment if we retain it” in its purity. And here is the Word simply put: “That Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.” What grace is ours, we the least, we poor sinners – we who know the greatness of His love.
O LORD, let us have faith in your Son
and in His sacrifice for our sins;
on our knees in love let us come to Him,
and we shall find His mercy.
YHWH, how can we see you if tears of repentance do not fill our eyes? How will your mercy be known to us if we do not come on our knees before your Son? If we love but little we shall be forgiven little, and our sins will continue to blind our eyes.
Have mercy on us, O LORD, we are all burdened with debt we cannot repay. But you hear our prayers, you have pity on our poor, sinful souls, and you reach out your hand to touch our hearts, to relieve the burden we carry by the sacrifice of your Son. Thank you, LORD. We praise you for your love.
Let us welcome you into our homes; let us receive Jesus into our very hearts. In our spirits take up your residence, LORD, by our faith in Him and in His death and resurrection. For us He died and was buried; for us He rose on the third day. Let us never forget His enduring mercy – in great humility let us embrace your love.
Tue, 15 September 2020
(1Cor.12:31-13:13; Ps.33:2-5,12,22; Lk.7:31-35)
“We piped you a tune but you did not dance;
we sang you a dirge but you did not wail.”
“Like children squatting in the city squares and calling to their playmates,” seeking to have them comply with their own selfish will, so are “the men of today” according to our Lord. And so is their song not “a noisy gong”? Do they not lack of love? Could they be more “rude,” more impatient and unkind, than to declare of John the Baptizer, “He is mad!” and of the Son of Man, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard”? Could they any more “rejoice in what is wrong,” utterly shutting out the truth?
And why? Why is it they do so lack of love? Why are they so ungodly? Is it not that they fail to realize and state with the Apostle Paul: “Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect”? Is it not because they trust in their own minds that they do not come to the wisdom of God?
And what is “God’s wisdom”? It is what Paul speaks of so well today: God is love, and without God we are worth nothing. Yes, God is love. Love is the heart of the Law even as God is the heart of the Law, and without the heart the body is useless. But knowing God is love, hearing it repeated over and over, is not sufficient for our salvation. Certainly, “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.” The Lord ever pours forth His grace, His love upon all His creatures – but how do we come to have that love, how do we come to accept it? Again, the key is in Paul’s statement, “My knowledge is imperfect now.” It is in understanding that, even though “we put childish ways aside,” yet “we see indistinctly.” It is in the realization that we are not God, that we need God and His love; in a word, it is in repentance. Genuine repentance is the attitude that brings us to the love of God. And the need for it is constant!
I think there is a kind of divine equation to our relationship with the Lord: the more we recognize our misery, the more He shares His mercy; the more we acknowledge our lack of His wisdom and love, the more He fills our desire for them. Marvelous is the justice of God!
Brothers and sisters, “give thanks to the Lord on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant His praises.” It is ours to “speak with human tongues and angelic as well”; we must employ “the gift of prophecy,” “feed the poor,” and be ready to “hand over [our] body to be burned.” But all we do must be driven by His will, must be founded in His love. Our song must be set in His holy key and reflect His eternal harmony, or we have nothing to fill our emptiness.
O LORD, let us accept your Word and your way;
let us live in your love and praise you all the day.
YHWH, if we have not love, what good are we, for then we are not of you? If we are proud what can we be but condemned for our anger and judgment? If we seek to control you, where can such foolishness lead us but to separation from you and your love; and so, what shall we do but die in emptiness?
O LORD, what fools we are to trust in our own knowledge, in our own ways, when you lay the way to Heaven before us. You send your Son to lead us home, and we tell Him He knows not of what He speaks; we seek even to instruct Him of the way He should better walk. And so to what utter foolishness does our knowledge lead – what blindness is upon our souls!
We must love as you love, as your Son has shown us, dearest LORD. Patient and kind make us this day, humble before you that we might see how much we need you to find our way. To your kingdom let us come, praising you for your glory, living in your unending love.
Mon, 14 September 2020
(1Cor.12:12-14,27-31; Ps.100:1-5; Lk.7:11-17)
“A great prophet has risen among us.”
A great prophet, yes, and so much more; for here is He who is Himself the “one body” upon whom the “one Spirit” rests, and in whom all find their home.
“The body is one and has many members; but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ.” Christ is all things: He is apostle sent by the Father, prophet speaking for God, teacher instructing all on the narrow path that leads to heaven, miracle worker raising the dead, healer of body and soul causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see, assistant washing the feet of His disciples, administrator apportioning the gifts and graces which are His own, and speaker in tongues upon whom the flame of the Spirit eternally rests and whose Word goes forth to all nations. We are not all apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, and speakers in tongues – but He is. He is all these things for He is whole; He is the only Son of God, and we are “His people, the sheep of His flock” who share in His power according to our baptism in His Name.
And so should we not “sing joyfully to the Lord” for the Savior who has been raised from among us? Should not all “lands,” all members of His blessed body “serve the Lord with gladness,” that all might tend to the glory of God? In our gospel “a considerable crowd of townsfolk were with” the widow, and “a large crowd accompanied” Jesus. These met at “the gate of the town” called Nain. When the Lord raised the son of the widow from the dead, “fear seized them all and they began to praise God.” Is not this scene of celebration like that which should encompass the body of Christ? Should not such joy in recognition of the greatness of God course through all our veins, strengthening all our muscles? For we know more than they. We know this Man is more than a prophet – we know it is the Messiah who is among us. And so, let us “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise” as we “set [our] hearts on the greater gifts” at work within us now as members of the body of the only Son.
Alleluia! He raises us all from the dead to speak in the power of the Spirit.
O LORD, let us be raised from the dead to live in you,
ever praising your NAME.
YHWH, in your Son we approach the gates of Heaven; as His Body we become your own. Sheep of your flock let us ever be – let us enter the New Jerusalem.
O LORD, raise us from our litter, from the bed of death to which sin has brought us. The hand of your Son touch us this day, His voice let us hear speaking to our ears, that we might be filled with your Spirit and rise from our graves to praise you, to give witness to your glory dwelling in our land.
Alive in you let us ever be, O LORD. The blood of your Son let course through our veins. In His Body let us make our home, as His very members. Then we shall remember you; then we shall enter your courts with praise and ever give thanks to your holy NAME.
Let us do your will, O LORD, your work on this earth. As Jesus your Son, let us live out our days, bringing His Word and His teaching to everyone.
Fri, 11 September 2020
(1Cor.10:14-22; Ps.116:12-13,17-18; Lk.6:43-49)
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”
The Body and Blood of Christ we have upon our altar and in the Word of His teaching. It is these which set a firm foundation within ourselves, these by which we bear fruit in His Name – these by which we come to be as He is.
Paul tells the Corinthians today “to shun the worship of idols,” not because they are real, for they are not, but because these sacrifices are made “to demons and not to God” and we, as sons and daughters of a jealous God, “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons” nor “partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons.” As “a good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit,” so evil has no place with good and demons no place in the house of God. Partaking of this table is like building a “house on the ground without any foundation” and will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy our faith in the Lord.
And so we should have no share in the things of the world or in the decayed fruit which such mammon bears. This unholy food and drink is but to be vomited out in the sickness it produces. And calling upon the name of the powers of the earth and the air will but cause us to choke in an unholy fear. We must “call upon the name of the Lord” and upon His Name alone build our home. It is “the cup of salvation [we must] take up” and drink of the blood that is sanctified by the sacrifice of our Lord and God. And what does our psalmist mean when he sings, “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people” but that, as Jesus Himself instructs us in our gospel, we must “put into practice” the promises we make unto God. Else our words are empty; else our words are evil, for else our words will bear no fruit and our worship will be in vain.
A great call have we, brothers and sisters: to be like the Lord. And this call is within our reach. His Body and Blood are upon our table; His words are ringing in our ears. We have but to eat; we have but to listen… we have but to accept these gifts and do His will, and even the torrents of death shall not shake our souls. For we shall be as “the man, who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock”; we shall stand solidly with unshakable trust in the eternal Lord. For Him we shall have become by sharing in His sacrifice.
O LORD, let us put your Word into practice,
living as your only Son,
sharing in His Body and Blood.
YHWH, let us dig deep and make our foundation in you, in your Word and in your Body and Blood, and we shall bear fruit unto your kingdom, and our house shall stand strong on your holy Day. Let us shun entirely the table of the wicked; let us not partake of the food of demons. Our hearts be set only upon you, and all sin will be purged from our midst.
If we act in evil, LORD, what are we but evil? But if we act in goodness, we shall be made good by you. Let us praise you each day for your goodness and your grace that we might be sharers in your glory, that we might be members of your Body. The cup of salvation let us take up each morning and live all our days wedded in the blood of the Lamb.
What a gift you give us, LORD, in holy Mass; your own presence in the flesh and blood of your Son. In your Word and in your food let us build our home, and we shall become holy as you.
Thu, 10 September 2020
(1Cor.9:16-19,22-27; Ps.84:2-6,8,12; Lk.6:39-42)
“Although I am not bound to anyone,
I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible.”
How like His Lord is Paul in his declaration, “To the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak.” For as Jesus descended from heaven to take on flesh and save those corrupted by its sin, so the Apostle has made himself “all things to all people,” stepping inside their skin “in order to save at least some of them.” Indeed, Paul proves himself to be “on a par with his teacher” in sacrifice and fruitfulness, for how well he serves “to remove the speck from [his] brother’s eye” that he might see Jesus in the clear light of day.
The Apostle has been “entrusted with a charge,” that of “preaching the Gospel.” And doing so willingly he finds his “recompense.” And what is this recompense but that he receive nothing in return for his work, nothing here on earth except of course the blessing of persecution such work for the Master entails? Then why engage in such toil, and why call others to such a life of self-sacrifice? Ah yes, because of the “crown that is imperishable” which awaits the runner of such a race. This heavenly blessing, too, is found when one does all “for the sake of the Gospel.”
“My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God,” our psalmist intones today, and goes on to proclaim the happiness of those “who dwell in [God’s] house.” “Continually they praise [Him]… They go from strength to strength,” for “grace and glory He bestows.” This is the goal Paul has in mind when he says, “I do not run like a man who loses sight of the finish line.” All his tribulations never distract him from his final destination; the kingdom of heaven remains ever upon his heart. And ever does he strain forward that he and so many others might attain that crown for which “our soul yearns and pines.”
Brothers and sisters, we must “discipline [our] own body and master it”; we must “remove the plank lodged in [our] own [eye]” if we hope to join Paul in the place where “even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young.” And our young we, too, must bring there – all those in our charge must know of the kingdom of God. And so let us join Paul and our holy Lord in here becoming slaves of all, enduring our exile bravely that we might draw others to the eternal home found on the altar of the living God.
O LORD, let us be led by your holy apostles
to lay down our lives with your Son,
that we might find our home in you.
YHWH, all holy hearts long for your presence, long to make their home in your house; and you send to us apostles, teachers of your way, that we might find you. O may the vision of all be made clear to see your glory! May all learn the lesson they need to know, taught by your Son in His sacrifice and carried on by His disciples.
We long to praise you, LORD, but there is a log in our eye that blinds us to your coming kingdom. Help us to remove all obstruction, all distraction, all our blindness, that we might not lose sight of the blessings you offer to those who spend their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Let us rather carry that Good News of salvation to all souls, serving to remove the specks from their eyes by your grace and mercy. Help us to be slaves of all that all might make their home in you. Keep us from the pit, we pray, by your guidance and secure protection. Let us always yearn for you.
Wed, 9 September 2020
(1Cor.8:1-7,11-13; Ps.139:1-3,13-14,23-24; Lk.6:27-38)
“The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.”
And what is your measuring stick, brother? Is it the ruler of this earth, limited by eyes of flesh? Or is it the yardstick of heaven, which reaches unto the Lord’s side and finds us in His sight? Do you toil on this plane alone, or do you climb the mountain where He sits, where He teaches? Do your ears hear only of the debits and credits recorded in the book of this world; or are they open to the word the Lord speaks, and the generous outpouring of His grace?
In our first reading Paul states: “‘Knowledge’ inflates, but love upbuilds.” What he means is that our knowledge of earthly things can do little but inflate our pride, and thinking that this is true knowledge makes us blind. The “knowledge” that we should seek is the love of God, which comes from God and teaches us all things. “If anyone loves God, that man is known by Him,” and living thus in His sight, in His light, we see all with heavenly vision. With this wisdom we understand that “there is no God but one” and that “an idol is really nothing”: all the idols man makes upon this earth are empty and vain, and all the teaching which comes from such has no resonance, falls short of truth.
Yet we are called to be patient with the weakness of others, with their failures in faith. We must “not be an occasion of sin” for others but always be prepared to pardon and love even those who hate us. For if someone does violence to us, what do we teach these who cannot measure beyond earthly passion if we do them violence in return? If we answer with violence, what language do we speak but that of the world? But we are called to converse with heavenly tongues, even with the word of our Lord, and cannot rightly be called His sons if we do not do so. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” And you are thus but saying that you are a child of the earth and not heaven, living in the flesh and not the spirit.
“Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb,” is David’s song of joy to God. He gives thanks that he is “fearfully, wonderfully made.” And if made by God should we not reflect God and the love He has revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Should we not be as His Son? And so, should we not with David call upon the Lord to “probe” us and to “know [our] heart” and our “thoughts,” that He might straighten out our “crooked” ways and set us on the path His love prepares? Do we not desire the overflowing joy He brings? Then we must measure as He, with the heavenly yardstick that reaches up to where the Trinity is.
O LORD, if we could but learn to love as you,
how blessed we would be!
YHWH, let us learn your lesson of love, your perfect knowledge, by putting into practice love of all, even our worst enemies. If we repay evil with good, then we shall be like you; then we shall know as you know, that nothing surpasses love.
LORD, you know all things for you see all things, even the hidden matters of the heart. Nothing is hidden from your eye but all is bathed in your wonderful light. But we shall not find that light or your knowledge if we do not love, and love without measure. All remains dark for those lacking love.
Let us but be concerned for our brother’s welfare, LORD, that he shall not sin, that he shall turn from his sin to find you. And so, let us not judge, let us not condemn, or we shall not show him your holy face and he will never come to you – and we will not know you either. Let us rejoice to turn the other cheek, to give to all who would take from us, to be compassionate even toward those who hurt us. For then we will know you and your love.
Tue, 8 September 2020
(1Cor.7:25-31; Ps.45:11-12,14-17; Lk.6:20-26)
“The world as we know it is passing away.”
And so, “hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house,” for the King is calling you from this passing world to the heavenly marriage feast – “He is your Lord, and you must worship Him.” This call is for every chosen soul, for who is the Lord’s virgin daughter, who is His Bride but the Church? It is she who is called, even as the Virgin Mother who has preceded her to heaven, and each of our souls must be wed to Him alone. And we who leave all behind to follow Him “shall be filled” and “shall laugh” on the Day of our marriage, for “the reign of God” will be ours.
It is not in this world we take our “consolation” – how sad those who do so. For the riches of this world will rust and rot, and its laughter shall prove so hollow. Thus Paul instructs the wise: “Buyers should conduct themselves as though they owned nothing,” for in truth they have nothing at all: of what worth is that which does not last? Only an illusion are the temporary pleasures and vain accolades of this dying earth. The trials we find are all that should cause us to “rejoice and exult, for [our] reward shall be great in heaven” if we endure our exile well.
To those who consider marriage, Paul gives the instruction: “[You] will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.” Certainly marriage is not sinful, and is even a fruitful sacrament, but even this which can be such a blessing is but passing in the eyes of God. And the attachment we find to our spouse, again, though blessed by the Lord, is a union that is also passing – one which must be ultimately left as well. Since only our marriage to the living God is that which endures, Paul in his wisdom offers this word: “Those with wives should live as though they had none”; for this beauty, too, shall fade, and it is not in it we are called to make our home.
Yes, “the time is short,” brothers and sisters. The time is always short because time itself is passing – only eternity remains. And so, set not your hearts on the fading things of this life. The Lord who has died now prepares a place for you in His heavenly kingdom. And “all glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” So, to His palace be “borne in with gladness and joy”… join now the song of all His saints in our heavenly homeland.
O LORD, let us turn from the things of this world
and set our hearts on your kingdom,
which passes not away.
YHWH, help us to remember that this world is passing away, that we should thus be attached to nothing of this world, and certainly not make our home in it, seeking the riches it offers. Help us to set our hearts on you and seek you alone, forgetting all that is not of you. For we wish to enter your kingdom, to sing your praises with all your saints, but how shall we come there if fattened on the fruits of this earth?
LORD, your Apostle’s counsel is a very wise one – to make use of the things of this world as if we were not using them at all, always with an eye to their temporal nature, that they are indeed passing away. For if we remember this world is passing, we shall better remember you who are eternal. You are all that matters.
You are all that matters, LORD, and so let us cry out for your presence, hungering for your kingdom. Let us give up all of this world that we might find you present to us, and make our home in your palace forever.
Sun, 6 September 2020
(1Cor.5:1-8; Ps.5:5-7,9,12; Lk.6:6-11)
“Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast,
that of corruption and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
For indeed, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed”; indeed, the new Sabbath has come. And on the Day of the Lord only goodness remains.
“Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough,” Paul commands the Corinthians as he chastises them for their “boasting” and self-satisfaction even while tolerating a professed sinner in their midst. He writes here to insist that they should be “grieving and getting rid of the offender,” both for the sake of the community and that the sinful man’s “spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” For, as David makes quite evident in his psalm, God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil remains with [Him].” And as for the vain pride of the community: “the arrogant may not stand in [His] sight.”
It is not an unkind exaggeration to say that the Lord “hate[s] all evildoers.” The sharp line dividing evil and good Jesus would make clear as He confronts the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue on the sabbath, “a man whose right hand was withered” standing before Him: “I ask you,” He says, “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath – or evil? To preserve life – or destroy it?” Then He heals the man, much to the chagrin of the scribes and Pharisees who deem this unlawful work for the day. But in the Lord’s House and on His Day good is always and only done – and certainly this healing is a blessed act. And since only the good remain in His House, just as the man who is “living with his own father’s wife” will be purged from the Corinthian community at Paul’s urging, so by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ these false leaders who harbor such distrust and jealousy will be cast from within the walls of the Lord’s Church; for “the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord abhors,” and indeed the blood of the Son is upon their hearts, and will be upon their hands.
But we, brothers and sisters, we have the new feast, the new Sabbath before us now. We come now into His House to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Each day, in fact, we may celebrate the greatness of God’s glory and the grace of His presence in our midst. And so, let us celebrate with a pure spirit, with His cleansing blood upon our hearts, that our goodness may be preserved and we who “love [His] name” and “take refuge in [Him]” may “be glad and exult forever.”
O LORD, why is man’s heart so set against you?
YHWH, the arrogant cannot stand before you, those who have the desire for evil in their hearts and blood upon their hands. How can they begin to know your undying love, those who would condemn even the Son of Man?
Should not the broken and sinful man always stretch his hand out to you? Is your arm somehow shortened in its merciful reach? Should we think that you, O LORD and God, are somehow limited in the dispensing of your grace? Will not Jesus show us otherwise as He stretches His arms out on the Cross?
And what shall save those who do not accept His embrace, who would rather embrace this corrupt and wicked generation? Condemnation shall be pronounced over the rebellious soul, unless he repents of his evil. O LORD, let us eat only the bread of sincerity and truth; let us desire only your goodness upon all. O let us embrace your Son!
Fri, 4 September 2020
(1Cor.4:9-15; Ps.145:17-21; Lk.6:1-5)
“God has put us apostles at the end of the line,
like men doomed to die in the arena.”
“Up to this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, poorly clad, roughly treated, wandering about homeless,” the great Apostle Paul tells us of the persecution and slander all the Lord’s apostles must undergo. And yet “when we are insulted we respond with a blessing,” for this is our call in the Lord: to love even our enemies, that we might show the love of God to all, that we might indeed become “a spectacle to the universe, to angels and men alike” – “fools on Christ’s account,” yet bearing all patiently that the Gospel might truly be fulfilled and the last shall be shown to be first in the eyes of God.
It is this birth to which Paul brings the Corinthians, his “beloved children.” And though it seem a difficult fate to call down upon a people, yet we know that David’s psalm is true, that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth”; and so through all trials He leads us and comforts us, making any suffering a light burden to bear. And just as Paul is father to this nation, so the Father of all is there always to watch over all His children, for it is “in Christ Jesus” the Apostle has begotten them; and as He has heard the cry of His Son upon the cross and brought Him to resurrection, so “He hears [all His children] cry and saves them.”
In our gospel the Lord’s disciples are hungry, and so, in the hot sun, “walking through the standing grain” with Jesus, He feeds them: all around is food at their hands. Truly their prayer does He answer; their need does He see. But instead of seeing that the Lord “fulfills the desire of those who fear Him,” all the Pharisees can do is ask, “Why are you doing what is prohibited on the sabbath?” Thus the very men who should be present to bless and comfort and guide the followers of the Holy One can but call them into the arena of persecution with the rest of the fallen world. Thus the shepherds who are called to feed the sheep would remove the food from their hands and see them perish. Instead of becoming apostles themselves, they become their bane. For they cannot comprehend that God’s love transcends God’s law, that “the Lord keeps all who love Him” and this is what makes Him “just in all His ways and holy in all His works,” and not the mere precepts to which they hold so desperately, so blindly… so jealously. Thus the chosen of God become in their eyes “the world’s refuse, the scum of all.” And what can they be but crucified?
All must come to the holy Lord and “all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.” And though war be brought upon our souls, we must always “try conciliation” – peacemakers covered with blood and spittle is the state to which we are called. No other way will the world come to know that the love of God transcends all, and all call upon Him from their hearts.
O LORD, though persecuted and poor,
we are surrounded with your presence,
and so are fed in times of famine.
YHWH, you are our LORD and God; when we cry out to you, you save us. Though we must endure persecution for your sake, though we suffer want and go hungry, you surround us with standing grain – you are ever near to help us. Let us indeed praise your holy NAME!
What should it matter to us if we are beaten, if we are insulted and spat upon; if you are with us we are free of pain, for all these things your Son endures for our sake. We are your children and you love us, so even these trials you turn to good. Remain ever with us to save us by the Cross of your only Son.
He is Lord over even the Sabbath. He has power from on high. For you, LORD, have given all things over into His hands, and for us He does provide. Our rest we take in Him, our food He places in our mouths – through Him we remain close to you: He is our Bread of Life. And so, let us rejoice to walk in His way.
Thu, 3 September 2020
(1Cor.4:1-5; Ps.37:3-6,27-28,39-40; Lk.5:33-39)
“The salvation of the just is from the Lord.”
“For the Lord loves what is right, and forsakes not His faithful ones.” And so He comes. He comes bearing a new garment; He comes with the blood of a New Covenant, His own blood, to wash us clean and make us whole as He is. Drinking this new wine indeed we are made holy.
It is not as “John’s disciples” or as “the disciples of the Pharisees” we shall find our salvation – only as disciples of the Son of God, only by “commit[ting] to the Lord [our] way” will “justice dawn for us like the light.” And that His way, His covenant, is whole we see in His teaching that “no one tears a piece from a new coat to patch an old one,” for this indeed “will only tear the new coat, and the piece taken from it will not match the old.” What foolishness this would be. No, the New Covenant founded in the blood of Jesus Christ, though absolutely in accord with the Old, is whole unto itself and serves to redeem and fulfill the covenant that has come before. One cannot take pieces of it as it might suit one’s judgment – it must be received entire as grace from the Lord. Then, “bright as the noonday shall be your vindication,” and feast with the bridegroom you shall.
Brothers and sisters, “the Lord is the one to judge,” and His Word must be accepted in full. Only “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts,” for only His eyes see all things. And so, do not attempt to judge for yourselves the worth of a person or even yourself. Paul says, “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” not because he is innocent, but because God alone knows his heart. And as we cannot judge one another, so we cannot (as James has said elsewhere – 4:11) judge the Law of God. We must simply live under His Law, seeking to obey the Word of His covenant. We must only make it our concern to “turn from evil and do good, that [we] may abide forever.” For when the Lord comes again, when the New Covenant is fulfilled in our midst, “at that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.”
Neither praise nor condemnation from the mouth of man has worth. Trust not in this. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” Commit yourself entirely to His Word and Blood, and a new skin to receive His grace you shall find.
O LORD, let us put ourselves entirely in your hands,
and we shall be made new and holy in your sight.
YHWH, you are our salvation, you alone. How shall we be clothed in the white wedding garment of purity, how shall we enter your kingdom and feast at your table, if you do not save us, if you do not deliver us from the evil of the world and the evil in our souls. Let us give ourselves to you whole and entire, that new we may be made in your presence.
You declare men holy, LORD, for you alone judge hearts. We cannot see, we cannot know who is just in your sight, for our vision in limited to the surface of things – all we see are acts, but you know the intentions of hearts, the thoughts of man and what he truly desires… and so you alone know who is worthy of your blessings.
Make us worthy, O LORD, to rejoice at your table, to drink wine in your kingdom, to have the blood of your Son upon us to wash us clean in this world. Make our skins new, our souls new, to receive the grace you impart to your faithful disciples.
Wed, 2 September 2020
(1Cor.3:18-23; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.5:1-11)
“Amazement at the catch they had made
seized him and all his shipmates.”
What a truly remarkable scene! Here upon the call of the apostles, the first of apostles, Simon Peter, “fell at the knees of Jesus.” Here in his barque, boats once desolate now suddenly fill to bursting with fish flopping about everywhere, unable to be contained… This is a painting for the ages, this blessed moment! It is this image which drives the Church forth, filling the barque of Peter with blessed, saved souls. “From now on you will be catching men,” the Lord says to His Rock – and so the Church is called, on this sunlit day.
Yes, “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” And how wonderfully that fullness that is the Lord’s is revealed in these boats continually filled “until they nearly sank,” and how clearly these abundant fish represent we who dwell in God’s world. Even literally our psalm is fulfilled: “He founded it upon the seas,” David sings; and as He founded the world, so here He finds the Church, His renewal of the world, here upon the Sea of Galilee. Here He sends out His call to those who “stand in His holy place”; and through His apostles all will find the strength and purity to “ascend the mountain of the Lord.” Here is the faith firmly rooted, here in the barque of Peter. The race that “seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall find Him now, shall see Him even as clearly as Peter looking up at Him from here at His knees on this marvelous day.
“All things are yours,” Paul declares, “and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Indeed, the fullness of heaven and earth are at our hands through Jesus and the ministry of His apostles. All the apostles are ours, the world is ours, life and death are ours, the present and the future… Why? Because we are in Christ, in the boat in which He sits, surrounding our leader on his knees – all is ours because we leave everything to become His followers.
After the Lord’s resurrection this scene shall repeat itself, and so the call be fulfilled. Here it begins though, here in “nets [that] were at their breaking point,” here in boats that are filled – here in one man falling to his knees, all come before the Lord of all.
O LORD, it is only by your power anything is done –
make us holy by your Word.
YHWH, upon our knees let us come to you; in the way of your Son let us follow, and in Him and in His Church, all shall be ours. What can we lack if united to you? What is not ours if your abundance we know?
O LORD, all the world and all those who dwell in it are in your hands. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the soul of every man you hold. And to your Son you give all. And to your Church you give the same. For those who follow Jesus, who leave all behind for the kingdom’s sake, shall know your abundant blessings even this day.
To what of this earth should we hold, LORD? What is of worth apart from you? Let us know nothing but your Son, the Christ, and we shall ascend your holy mountain, and become holy as you. This alone should be our goal, the desire of our heart must be to be united to you.
Praise you for all your blessings, LORD! But praise you most for calling us through your only Son to dwell in your Church, where you reside.
Tue, 1 September 2020
(1Cor.3:1-9; Ps.33:12-15,20-21; Lk.4:38-44)
“To other towns I must announce the Good News of the reign of God,
because that is why I was sent.”
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.” And He continues to preach to all hearts through His blessed apostles, and His Church continues to grow. To the ends of the earth the kingdom progresses, and we each have a hand in its rising.
Yes, “he who plants and he who waters work to the same end,” but “neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth.” As Paul has said to the Corinthians: “Who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him.” As great as the work of any apostle may be, yet it is God alone through whom progress is made. He alone causes “His cultivation, His building” to grow; it is yet Jesus who announces salvation in any of our lives.
Indeed, no matter how big our work, it is God who accomplishes all – but also no matter how small. For all are called. And even as Paul and Apollos plant and water by their great gift of preaching, so we are told of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law that once Jesus had cast the fever from her, “she got up immediately and waited on them,” entirely ready to perform her work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. As with the sick the Lord “laid hands on each of them and cured them,” and as He taught with authority, so all in their way are invited to offer their service to the only God and thus become built into His kingdom. It is God who builds the House, but indeed “we are God’s co-workers” and must cooperate with His grace.
And how we should know Him and His working among us and through us! The demons declared, “You are the Son of God!” for they “knew that He was the Messiah” – they knew well He who had come to destroy them. Why is it we whom He has come to build up do not know Him just as well, or even more? Truly it is “He who fashioned the heart of each [of us], He who knows all [our] works”; it is He “who is our help and our shield,” and “in Him our hearts [should] rejoice” – and through Him we should accomplish all. Do we know His presence with us so well? Do we rejoice in Him and do His works and become His work…? Brothers and sisters, let it be indeed that the Good News is announced clearly to all through the Lord working upon our soul.
O LORD, in your holy NAME let us trust,
and we shall be healed of all our ills
and grow unto the kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word go forth through your people this day; to the ends of the earth let your Son travel, bringing the Good News of your reign to every soul through your Church and especially her apostles.
You dwell in Heaven, O LORD, far above our mortal ways, and we take life and do our work only through you who call us. Let us be your co-workers, branches of the vine that is your Son, and your Church shall be built up in truth, in the power that is only upon Him.
Let all be healed of their infirmities, LORD, that all might indeed serve you well; raise us from our bed of pain, release us from the grasp of the devil, and we shall work for you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let all be done as you will and all shall rejoice in your glory.
It is you who have made us, LORD; we are but your poor creatures. But with the blood of your Son coursing through our veins we rise above this dying flesh and make our home in the Spirit. Let us grow in your House this day.
Mon, 31 August 2020
(1Cor.2:10-16; Ps.145:8-14,17; Lk.4:31-37)
“We have the mind of Christ.”
The demon has been cast from us and we see the Lord as He is: “Good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” “The glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” is before our eyes, and it is this which gives us light. We have bowed ourselves down before Him, the demon has thrown us “to the ground before everyone’s eyes,” and we have found that “the Lord lifts up those who are falling.” No longer “the natural man” who finds “what is taught by the Spirit of God” complete “absurdity,” filled with His Spirit we now “recognize the gifts He has given us.” And in these gifts we rejoice, for we have become as He is.
“The Lord is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works,” and so what should we who are His works do but “discourse of the glory of His kingdom and speak of His might,” brothers and sisters? Should not all our words and all our works give Him due glory? How can we do otherwise, knowing now how “gracious and merciful” God is and that His “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages”? “All generations” must be called into His holy presence.
“He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” Here is the Good News in action; here is the glory of God come among us. All the evil that possesses the soul of man is cast out by a word from His Son’s mouth. And so is paved the way to the kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, embrace the Spirit of God at work in the world. Put on the mind of Christ. “The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit,” and so should we not teach as we have been taught? If indeed the light of the Lord is upon us illumining our minds and hearts, is it not but just that we should be compelled to impart that same Spirit to others that they might not be in darkness but might also be able to “appraise everything” “in a spiritual way,” that they too might know “the mind of the Lord”?
Devils, be gone! Be silenced before the Son of God! All the evil of the world shall be struck and destroyed by the all-powerful Word of God. All His children sharply shine His saving light.
O LORD, let us have your Spirit within us,
that our speech may be as your Son’s.
YHWH, let us be your children of light, with your Spirit within us. The mind of Christ let us put on, and we shall understand all things and be found in your presence.
Your Son speaks with authority, LORD, for He speaks your NAME in every word. His word casts all demons from our midst, for what evil can stand before your Spirit?
O LORD, let us speak of your glory to all souls, tell the nations of your might. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages; your dominion shall not pass away.
Holy are you, LORD, and no one can know you who does not seek your holiness. But you bless with great gifts those who love you and praise your NAME – your wisdom you grant to the spiritual man.
Let us listen to your voice calling to our souls. Let all darkness and sin be cast from our hearts. O let us be faithful to your Word! and we shall find ourselves in your kingdom on high.
Sun, 30 August 2020
(1Cor.2:1-5; Ps.119:97-102; Lk.4:16-30)
“Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men
but on the power of God.”
Paul comes to the Corinthians with preaching that has “none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit,” and with them he determines to “speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Similarly, when “Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been reared,” in the synagogue He simply read the passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming Messiah, sat down before the eyes of all, and stated, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I AM here. I AM He. This is the day of salvation. Period. And here even at the beginning of His ministry we see how the crucifixion is already near, as His townspeople attempt to kill Him for the truth He speaks.
Upon what is this simple wisdom, this power of the Lord, based but the Word of God? The psalmist, whose “meditation all the day” is the law of the Lord, declares in truth and in joy: “Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies.” It grants him “more understanding than all [his] teachers” and “more discernment than the elders,” because all genuine wisdom comes from the Word spoken by the mouth of God and not through human learning. We have seen that Scripture is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Himself, who is the Word of God made flesh. Yes, He speaks much more through “the appealing discourse which came from His lips.” Yes, there is oral tradition as well (for the Word of God is living and active); but on Scripture He begins His instruction, and continually He refers to the Word. Whether rejecting the devil’s temptations, rebuking the Pharisees and scribes, or enlightening the people – as He tries to do today by referring to Elijah’s having to go to Zarephath and Elisha’s healing only the Syrian, to show how prophets are not accepted in their native place – the Lord’s words are founded in the Word of God, in Scripture.
And, of course, an integral part of that Word is the suffering the Christ must undergo. But notice that even as the people intend “to hurl Him over the edge” of the hill of Nazareth, just as directly as He has spoken truth to them, so directly and with the power of God He “went straight through their midst and walked away.” For the Word is as a sword which pierces all the dark limits of the world, and even through death it shall lead all to salvation.
Brothers and sisters, let your faith rest on this Word that is Christ found in Scripture and living in the Church, for the Spirit does not die with the devices of the human mind. This Spirit holds eternal life.
O LORD, open our eyes that we might see and know
the blessing you bring us by your Son’s Cross.
YHWH, let us follow your Word and your way, the way of your only Son, the way of the Cross that leads to life. Of Christ crucified let us speak; with all our lives let us give witness to Him. Then we shall be obedient to your Word as He – then we shall make your wisdom our own.
O LORD, let us meditate on the Word that comes to us in Scripture, that comes walking among us in your Son. All the day let our hearts be set on the illumination your Word brings. Though in the Word we are chastised for our sins, though it lead us along a narrow path; if we observe your precepts and follow in the way of the Christ, you shall guard our steps and keep us from every evil. For then we shall be wiser than all our foes, wiser than any other soul, for then your Spirit will be with us; His power will be upon us.
May the Word of Truth come from our Savior’s mouth and lived in His very flesh help us to walk straight through the midst of our enemies and come to you.
Fri, 28 August 2020
(1Cor.1:26-31; Ps.33:12-13,18-21; Mt.25:14-30)
“He called in His servants and handed His funds over to them
according to each man’s abilities.”
All comes from the hand of God. Yes. Do you see this? God it is who provides any talent you possess on this earth and “God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus.” Not yourself. It is not from you any power comes. God has proven His power by choosing “the lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing,” and making them strong. This is you. You are nothing; and yet you have all things in God.
Brothers and sisters, “mankind can do no boasting before God.” How could they? It is He who looks down from heaven and “sees all mankind”; it is He who chooses “His own inheritance.” It is He who places in our hands the “silver pieces” we employ on this earth – and it is He who expects us to use well that which we have been given. To Him we must answer for all things. And if we are “industrious and reliable” in our service, it is He who will declare, “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs.” On earth as it is in heaven… If our work is done well here, it shall lead to the greater fruits, and we shall “share [our] Master’s joy!” But it is always His joy to which we come and not our own.
God is all things to us. “He has made [Jesus] our wisdom, and also our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption.” All that we have is from Him, and without Him we could not live. And should you be resentful of so great a gift? Should you return the gift of Himself He lays before you on your table? Or should you not rather take it up, make it your own, and by it produce fruit according to the abilities He has shared with you? This is all He expects of you: that the graces He shares with you, you share with others.
“In His holy name we trust.” Yes, “our soul waits for the Lord” and “in Him our hearts rejoice.” For He does not fail us. What He gives He does not take back: it is we who reject His love; it is He who increases the yield within us. “Brothers, you are among those who are called,” and so be among “those who hope for His kindness.” For His kindness shall but enrich you each day as you make His will your own and find your “boast in the Lord.” Praise Him for His gifts and for His grace, for by His grace the gifts He provides become eternally fruitful in our lives. Alleluia!
O LORD, enrich us with your blessings
as we serve you humbly in this world.
YHWH, let us trust in your NAME and in your NAME alone. How can we trust in ourselves or in the riches of this world when all this is but dust? But in your hands this dust we are becomes as gold, for we become as you who are so far above this world.
O make us your own, dear LORD! Help us to look to you, to wait for you, to trust in you for all things. May our tongues praise your NAME and our hands work in your service, and then, O how we shall be blessed! For truly you will be with us, and we with you.
Into your joy let us come, O LORD, the joy that surpasses any joy of this earth, the grace that passes not away. Let us boast in you, that you are great and do marvelous things for those who trust in you, those who know your love. From death let us be delivered – into your House let us come.
O LORD, increase your yield in us; we are but instruments of your holy love, your poor children whom you raise from the dust.
Thu, 27 August 2020
(1Cor.1:17-25; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,10-11; Mt.25:1-13)
“The world did not come to know Him through its ‘wisdom’.”
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever,” says the Lord God. And in its place we find the Gospel, “the message of the cross,” which is “complete absurdity to those who are headed to ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God.” It is this wisdom which saves us, even as the wisdom of the world falls to dust.
The wisdom of the world tells us to take our rest, to find our pleasure in the things of this life; the wisdom of God instructs us to “keep [our] eyes open” for the coming of the kingdom of God, wherein we shall find eternal rest. The wisdom of the world has only the torch to offer; like the foolish bridesmaids, it brings no oil for its lamp, for it can see nothing beyond its eyes – its immediate physical concerns are its preoccupation. The wisdom of God knows that all depends on the oil of the lamp, and so it calls us to find our souls in the Word of God, which is a flask whose contents never recede but rather increase with use and preserve the soul’s burning brightly before its Creator. The wisdom of the world is “wordy,” is empty rambling with no foundation in truth; God’s wisdom is founded in silence, pregnant with the power and authority of all ages.
“The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples.” What can stand that is not rooted in Him? What has purpose that is not spoken by His mouth? Apart from Him nothing comes to be or lasts. And does not the Lord thwart the ideas of the human mind most perfectly in the crucifixion of His Christ? Making “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” turns the vain strivings of men upside down and exposes them in all their emptiness. Here is my Word, He says; here is my Love. To this sacrifice does He call us all, that we might celebrate at His wedding feast and not be barred outside in the cold world. For indeed all that is of the world comes to nothing, “but the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations.” And it is His design that we become children of light, shining forever in the light of His wisdom, not burning to ashes in the deceit of our hearts.
In the cross all our empty words fall to naught as we are confronted with the truth of our sin and the love of our God. Thus our eyes are opened. May they remain so, fixed on this lamp which shines in the darkness of the night. By no other means will we come to know God and the meaning of our lives.
O LORD, let our eyes be open
with the light of your wisdom
that we might see your coming in the Cross of Christ.
YHWH, the plans of the nations you bring to naught to show all souls where wisdom lies: it rests with you and in the Cross of your Son, for the light of our minds is dim indeed without your Word to feed it.
How can we even speak of you, LORD, you who are beyond the realm of our words? We cannot determine whence we have come and do not know when our end shall be fulfilled… and so, how can we know anything? All we know is what you tell us through your Son in the love He offers.
Jesus has died for our sins. This is all we need to know, LORD, for such knowledge, such faith, will bring us to your doorstep; and by the light of the Spirit we shall be able to enter in – to enter into your presence and so come to know all things by your grace and mercy.
Dead are we apart from you, LORD, dead in our sin and in the emptiness of our minds. But the blood of your Son enlivens our souls that we might come to know the wisdom beyond all ages in His salvation. O may we be wed to you!
Wed, 26 August 2020
(1Cor.1:1-9; Ps.145:1-7; Mt.24:42-51)
“He will strengthen you to the end,
so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Brothers and sisters, “you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord provides all you need, generously and faithfully. You “have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people” and so “have been richly endowed [by God] with every gift,” that you might fulfill the call He places upon your soul, that by His grace you might indeed be holy. And so you should realize “the favor He has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” and “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to gain all the blessings the Lord God is ready to pour forth upon you.
Brothers and sisters, “keep a watchful eye and [do] not allow [your] house to be broken into.” “Be prepared” for the Lord’s coming. Let His every gift be at work in you, that readiness will ever be yours. Do not think as the foolish and worthless servant, “My master is a long time in coming,” and turn thus away from His light, sagging into the world’s darkness. Such a thought brings only death and the punishment of the Lord. For never is He long in coming. Always is He present to us; ever is His Spirit here within us when we remain faithful to Him. He it is who is of life and light – it is we who grow blind to His grace and are slow to come to His eternal presence. Forsake not His gifts, which sustain us at all times.
Here is cause for rejoicing. Here is the reason David sings, “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever” (revealing thus the newness of life which is ever upon us): “God is faithful, and it was He who called [us] to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” No more than this need we know. For this reason “generation after generation praises [His] works” and “publish[es] the fame of [His] abundant goodness.” It is this which brings His praise to our throats. For indeed in His grace He has called us to be as His only Son, and of course He is faithful to His call. And so by faithfulness all is ours in the Lord, and on that Day His blessings shall be full. Remaining in His light, growing in His gifts and favors, there shall be no “wailing then and grinding of teeth” for our souls – no, “happy that servant whom His master discovers at work on His return!”
O LORD, let us be prepared and waiting
for your coming Day.
YHWH, strengthen us to the end that we might be blameless on the Day your Son returns; make us your servants, faithful and true, praising you ever for your goodness to us, and we shall be ready on the Day of His revelation.
LORD, great are you and highly to be praised, for you provide all the gifts we need as we await Jesus’ coming. You give us speech and knowledge, and consecrate us in the Name of your Son. May we be like Him whom you sent for our salvation, that with favor you might ever look upon our lives.
As your Apostle has borne witness to your glory, LORD, so let us proclaim your greatness this day, that from generation to generation your NAME might be known and all souls be prepared for your coming Day. Let us serve you with diligence and with love, never forgetting that He whom we serve loves us more than we could ever return, remembering always that you are the Most High God who has created us in your image, in the image of your only Son.
Tue, 25 August 2020
(2Thes.3:6-10,16-18; Ps.128:1-2,4-5; Mt.23:27-32)
“You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork.”
“Anyone who would not work should not eat” was the rule laid down by Paul among the Thessalonians. A man must earn his bread. And as on earth, so in heaven. For who shall come to the fruits of the kingdom if they are not as Paul, who has labored “to the point of exhaustion” for the sake of the reign of God? This is the “straight path” laid down for us by all the apostles: in the Lord’s name we must walk “day and night.” It is work which produces fruit.
And what fruit will the scribes and Pharisees know? Their work is to “erect tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the saints,” those who have been murdered by their forefathers. Yet they join these “in shedding the prophets’ blood,” thus making the tombs they erect all the more vain; yes, they shall “fill up the vessel measured off by [their] forefathers” by crucifying the Christ, the only Son of God. And this work they do shall have its fruit as well – it shall lead their souls to the gates of hell, where only the same blood they shed will save them.
We will be judged according to our deeds, brothers and sisters. All is seen by God who looks upon the heart and whose eyes are everywhere. Let not your works be empty, or just so empty will be your heart, will be your place in the reign to come. Each day our souls are required of us; ever the Lord seeks fruit upon our tree. So, if you wish to “see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life,” if you long to know always the blessing of God, then “walk in His ways.” “Fear the Lord” who holds your life in His hands and do as He commands. Then “happy shall you be, and favored”; then the fruits of the kingdom you shall taste even here. And even the death you die and the blood you shed shall not remove this favor – by it “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” will be fulfilled in you. Amen.
O LORD, let us work for the life found in your Son,
and not His death and so our own.
YHWH, let us be blessed to walk in your way, to follow wherever you lead – to do your work in this world till the end of our days. Then we shall be truly happy, for then our fruit shall bring us unto Heaven.
O LORD, let us be your fruit; let us be your handiwork, made in your image, living as your Son. If we can but imitate Jesus, laying down our lives as all your prophets and apostles have done, then we shall join their ranks in the Body of Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Your kingdom come, LORD. All vanity, all emptiness of heart and mind and soul and body take from us – let us be filled with your holy presence. Your kingdom within us let us know and live, breathing your Holy Spirit, bleeding as your Son… our spirits one with you and your love.
Why should we be without you, LORD, when you live at our very hearts?
Mon, 24 August 2020
(2Thes.2:1-3,14-17; Ps.96:10-13; Mt.23:23-26)
“He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with His constancy.”
“Brothers, stand firm.” Be not “easily agitated or terrified” “on the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” This should not preoccupy your thoughts because this is not in your mind to know or your hands to control. The day and the hour are with God alone. Rather, you should pray that the Lord will strengthen your hearts “for every good work and word.” This is what is in your power, and effectively accomplishing the Lord’s will thus, all fear will be removed from your souls.
Brothers and sisters, be not like the scribes and Pharisees, the “blind guides” who “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” Distracted by the details, they inevitably neglect “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and good faith” – those for which the Lord calls us above all to be concerned. And so their vision and their actions are not whole, and they are not holy. Failing to see as God sees and to do as God does, they indeed become blind guides frittering the life of the Lord away in anxiety for external matters. Let this not be the fate of your soul.
Children, know of a certain that “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself… loved us and in His mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope.” We must make this hope our own. For “the Lord is King. He has made the world firm, not to be moved,” and we must be as immovable as He in our faith and in our work. We should not doubt that “He governs the peoples with equity,” that in fairness all are looked upon in His sight, and so, that if we strive to do His will with all our hearts He will indeed bless us.
Friends, we should know that, though not complete, though He does not stand before us in final judgment yet, still it is so that “the day of the Lord is here,” in our midst today. His rule has always been and has come to us in this place. And what we do now leads only to that day – the kingdom should be growing within us at all times. If we know not His justice and His constancy at work in our days, then indeed we have reason to fear and should heed the Lord’s rebuke. But if we strive with Him for holiness, any fear itself will be holy and lead us only to the joy that makes “the heavens… glad and the earth rejoice.” For each day we rejoice with them in the presence of our God.
O LORD, make us constant as you
in doing good works,
in dispensing justice and mercy according to your Word
– and have mercy upon our own souls.
YHWH, it is you who judge the earth, who come to rule all the world; your justice you bring to every man’s soul, preparing him for your Day. And there is no need for us to fear if we are striving to do your will. Rather, we should rejoice at your glorious coming!
O LORD, let us set our souls each day on your Word and your work, and your love and mercy shall meet us where we are and bring us soon to where you live. Even should we have to endure chastisement as the Pharisees, what should this bring us but a holy joy? For by such words of truth you make us in your image, if we but listen and respond in kind.
All the world shall rejoice at your coming, dear God; let us not be blind to such wonder and glory but set our hearts on that Day, cleansing our souls of every stain of sin by your grace and mercy, by your surpassing justice. Let no woe be on us in your Day but only your consolation, only the joy of your salvation, which you offer forth even this day.
Fri, 21 August 2020
(Ez.43:1-7; Ps.85:9-14; Mt.23:1-12)
“The temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.”
Certainly the vision of Ezekiel is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and His founding the Church, the New Jerusalem, here amongst us. In this Temple He has “set the soles of [His] feet”; here He “dwell[s] among the Israelites forever.” For though the temple in Jerusalem shall be restored, it shall again be destroyed, and forever. In the Catholic Church now does His presence remain. Through it and through its teaching “the earth [has] shone with His glory.”
“Truth shall spring out of the earth”: Jesus is born in our midst and walks among us; “justice shall look down from heaven”: through Him the light of God shines upon us, bringing salvation to all souls. And it is in His Church truth and justice remain, “glory dwelling in our land.”
And “like the roaring of many waters” is His teaching, which comes with power, which comes with authority. And this teaching He leaves in the apostles’ hands. As “the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers” and Jesus has succeeded these, so do the apostles succeed Jesus; thus we must “do everything and observe everything they tell us” – the Spirit is upon the Church, which does not teach in error despite the sins of its members. These must be respected; it is upon these, and so upon Jesus’ teaching, the Catholic faith is founded.
And what if some refused to enter into this Temple and share in His glory present in His Church? What if they did not share the wholeness of His thought or receive His precious Body and Blood, offered each day in the New Jerusalem? Their eyes would be as blind and their vision as limited as those who quote our gospel today to prove that the Church should not call its priests “Father”. They would not be able to see that what Jesus teaches His disciples in telling them to avoid “marks of respect in public and of being called ‘Rabbi’” is to avoid having themselves inflated with pride. If these blind souls were correct, then no one could be called “teacher” either, for this is more the word the Lord wishes us to avoid. And they would have to condemn Paul for calling himself “father” of the Church in Corinth (1Cor.4:15). Such absurdity ensues when one has not the wholeness of Truth, but looks only on appearances.
Brothers and sisters, where would we be without the teaching of the apostles? In a word, we wouldn’t have Jesus. It is from Him their teaching comes, bringing His glory to the ends of the earth. In this Temple let us dwell, His Word and Sacrament sustaining our lives.
O LORD, your Son has humbled Himself
to walk among us;
the soles of His feet are set in this Temple, your Church
– may we follow in His steps.
YHWH, let us humble ourselves that we might be exalted in glory with you. You humble yourself to come among us as a Man; let us be as your only Son and so gain the favors of Heaven. Here in your Church make your home, in the soul of every believer.
And, LORD, let us have a reverent respect for those you place in position of authority, especially here in your Church. They carry your power through the Word of your Son, becoming as His body and blood with the teaching of the Spirit He breathes upon them. We cannot disobey their teaching without disobeying you, and so let us be faithful to your apostles. Then we shall come to know your surpassing glory.
What you revealed to Ezekiel help us to know and live this day – your glory here in your Temple bring to its fulfillment, we pray. In your kindness you come to us, Truth walking in our midst. The justice and peace of your Son let us find as we follow in His way of salvation.
Thu, 20 August 2020
(Ez.37:1-14; Ps.107:1-9; Mt.22:34-40)
“I will open your graves and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.”
The commentary in the missal I read states: “The lesson here is return from captivity, not life after death.” And so the speaker proves once again the limited vision of so many of our scholars – indeed, how like the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the lawyers of Jesus’ time these faithless are, how blind… how dry their bones without spirit.
Certainly the prophet Ezekiel speaks to the exiles of their return to Israel: to these he is sent, and of this redemption they must hear. But if this were all the Scripture says, what lesson would we take from it – this passage why should we bother to read? And if this were all God intended even for these scattered children, what an ineffective God He would be. (As limited in vision as so many of our leaders today.) For what is the land upon which any find life but the kingdom of heaven? And how do we come there except through death, the death of our attachment to this earth? Vain all is if we have not the resurrection of Jesus within us; we must rise from our graves before anything has meaning in life.
That the Lord speaks of more than the return to Israel in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones today is indicated clearly in our psalm, which equates “the redeemed of the Lord” with those “gathered from the lands, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” Is it not so that the Psalms, though greatly written a millennium before Christ (and hundreds of years before even Ezekiel’s time), speak of Christ, and even in the voice of Christ? Is it not Jesus who speaks even to Ezekiel himself? Listen to our psalm. It speaks of the Israelites’ wandering “in the desert wilderness.” It says they were “hungry and thirsty” and that “their life was wasting away within them.” Certainly they lacked food and water in this arid place – but is this all of which the psalmist speaks! Do they not rather fail to drink from the spiritual rock which follows them? Is their hunger not for Christ? And the “inhabited city” to which the Lord leads them, is it but the land beyond the Jordan River? Is it the dust of this earth that will satisfy their dry bones? No. They “give thanks to the Lord… because He satisfied the longing soul and filled the hungry soul with good things” – things of the spirit, not merely the body.
“On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as well,” Jesus says of the love of God and neighbor. Here is the Spirit! Here is the Life! Here is what nourishes the dry bones and makes them stand upright: the Love of God! This is in every passage of Scripture – every prophecy, every psalm… This Word is the lesson we must always find: Jesus Christ is risen from the grave!
“From the four winds come, O Spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.” May the Spirit of love open all eyes.
O LORD, your love bring to our hearts,
your Spirit breathe within us that we might stand
and praise you in our heavenly homeland.
YHWH, you bring us to life by a word from your mouth; speak over us your holy Word that we might rise from the death that has settled upon our souls, that there might be flesh on these dry bones and your Spirit breathing in us. Bring us back to the land you have set aside for all your children – let us enter Heaven.
If your command we follow, LORD, we cannot but come into your presence, we cannot but live forever. If there be love in our hearts for you and our brothers, what can we be but united to you? If we place you above all our joys, if we love you with heart, mind, and soul, your life will indeed be within us… for you yourself are love.
Breathe upon us this day, dear LORD. Speak your Word of truth and life. Announce by the tongue of your Prophet the way we must go to find you. And let us be obedient to His command of truth, His Word of life, that we might stand in hope with Him, our hungry soul fed by this spiritual Bread, our thirsting hearts washed clean in His blood.
Wed, 19 August 2020
(Ez.36:23-28; Ps.51:12-15,18-19,Ez.36:25; Mt.22:1-14)
“Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”
The Lord desires to “prove the holiness of [His] great name,” which has been “profaned among the nations” by the children of Israel. And so He determines to “gather [them] from all the foreign lands,” to bring them back from their exile from His sight, and bless them again upon their “own land.” He will “cleanse [them] from all [their] impurities… a new heart and… a new spirit within” them, and they shall be “careful to observe [His] decrees”: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
But when the time comes for the reign of God to be fulfilled in their midst, when all is prepared and they are invited to the “wedding banquet for His Son”… when indeed the Lord would wed the Israelites to Himself by the grace and blessing of the Messiah – they refuse the call. “Come to the feast,” He cries out; eat your fill of my delights. But they make excuses and even kill those by whom the invitation comes (laying hands even on the only Son). And so the chosen city having rejected His offer, the Lord tells His servants to “go out into the byroads and invite to the wedding anyone [they] come upon.” So do the apostles preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth; so are all now called to the wedding feast. But will all be prepared?
To “the chief priests and elders of the people” Jesus addresses His parable of the wedding banquet today, for it is these who refuse to hear Him – it is they who reject the call of the Lord. And so, indeed, to the nations does His voice go; the Gentiles now hear the call. And we, we who though founded firmly upon the rock of Judaism are in such great number of Gentile races, do we heed the call of the Lord and prepare our hearts to receive His food? We are now the chosen city and the banquet table is now spread before us each day: His Body and Blood is the greatest food of which we could ever hope to partake. But have we the wedding garment necessary to remain in His banquet hall, in His Church, or do we wander in ignorance of the gift and graces before us?
Brothers and sisters, we must pray not to be cast from the Lord’s holy presence. We must seek the purity of heart we need to receive His blessing, to partake of the food of His altar and grow in His grace. We shall only avoid being thrown “out into the night” if we nurture the light that is with us and prepare well to meet our Jesus. Only then will the Holy Spirit here remain.
O LORD, made pure in Jesus’ cleansing blood
may we rejoice with Him in your kingdom.
YHWH, you invite us to your wedding banquet, you call us to the feast prepared by your own hands, for you would wed yourself to us, making us your own holy children. But we must turn from our sins; with contrite hearts only can we approach your table and feed upon the Body of your Son. How shall we find our heavenly homeland if not cleansed in His blood? How shall we celebrate your glory if not renewed by your Spirit?
O LORD, bring us back to our own land, that with you we might dwell for eternity. Your light and your love make our own; you alone let us worship. Into your Temple let us come, that we might feast upon your Word, and upon your Son’s Body and Blood. Then what would we be but your children? What would we be but one with you?
A white wedding garment of purity provide for our souls, dear LORD, that we might not be cast from your presence but glory in you forevermore.
Tue, 18 August 2020
(Ez.34:1-11; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.20:1-16)
“I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”
How grateful we should be that “the Lord is [our] shepherd,” for with Him we want for nothing. Indeed, our “cup overflows” and “only goodness and kindness follow [us] all the days of [our] life”; for it is He who watches over our every step, and He is only goodness, He is only kindness – His mercy endures forever.
How the Lord’s hand contrasts with the false shepherds’ of the house of Israel. These “pastured themselves and did not pasture [the Lord’s] sheep.” They “fed off their milk, wor[e] their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings,” but the sheep they allowed to be “scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.” But where these shepherds “lorded it over [the sheep of Israel] harshly and brutally,” the Lord Himself is “generous.” Though under them the sheep “were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts,” the Lord, the owner of the vineyard, the Good Shepherd, goes forth at all times of day seeking every straying sheep, gathering all into His fold and seeing that we have wages enough to feed each of our families.
And whether the laborer works many hours or few, yet he is provided all his needs. Here, of course, is notice that the Gentiles, who come late to salvation history, enter the kingdom before the Jews, who have always been in the Lord’s house. Here is word that the generosity of our God extends to all, that His loving arms will not be shortened. And we may learn, too, from the response of the workers to the owner’s questioning why they have been “idle all day” – “No one has hired us” – that the Lord looks upon the heart and pays us not so much for the work accomplished but for the intention of our will. For these would have worked all day had they earlier been approached.
“In verdant pastures He gives me repose.” In the Lord’s loving arms we all find our home. Had He not come Himself to shepherd us, still we would be wandering alone. But as it is we work now in His vineyard, sharing in the very blood of the Son. As it is we are well cared for by a Father whose generosity knows no bounds. He whose mercy alone could redeem us has come with His staff to guide us on the “right paths” that lead to His kingdom. And so we say, gratefully, “Thank you, Jesus, for your kindness.”
O LORD, thank you for your generosity in saving us;
your Son is the true Shepherd, the Shepherd of love –
pasture us well this day in Him.
YHWH, because you are our Shepherd, we are well cared for; we have all we need for the day. If our desire is to do your will, to work for you in your vineyard, you will reward us well. For it is your desire but to see your children safe in your House, and to achieve this goal you are diligent in seeking us out.
To this end, you send your own Son to take on our flesh and blood; He becomes one of us that we might become one with you, LORD, fed by His Body and Blood. He shepherds us into your kingdom with great care.
O let us work for you, LORD, day in and day out! Let our hearts not be set on the wage we receive but on doing your will. For if we are with you in your vineyard, though the sun beat down on us, we shall be at peace. Nothing can disturb the soul set on serving you – our cup overflows with the wonder of your presence.
Let us be blessed to be gathered into your pasture, LORD, with all our brothers and sisters.
Mon, 17 August 2020
(Ez.28:1-10; Dt.32:26-28,30,35-36,39; Mt.19:23-30)
“Only with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of God.”
Yes, “close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them!” – those like the prince of Tyre who are “haughty of heart, and say, ‘A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!’” What condemnation they mount up for themselves, those who by their “great wisdom applied to [their] trading… have heaped up [their] riches,” for “the most barbarous of nations… shall draw their swords… [and] run them through [their] splendid apparel.” These shall be “thrust down to the pit, there to die a bloodied corpse in the heart of the sea.” How else shall they learn that they “are a man, not a god”? How else might they find the humility necessary for the kingdom of heaven?
It is tragic how riches and power turn men’s hearts away from truth, making them “a people devoid of reason, having no understanding.” For what do such as these say of their state but, “Our own hand won the victory; the Lord had nothing to do with it,” thus blinding themselves to the fact that all comes only from God? And so the Lord’s warning against those inflated by the riches of this world; and so “it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” For how their swollen pride makes it impossible to squeeze through the gates which admit only the humblest of children.
Brothers and sisters, store not up for yourselves a heap of riches which serve but to block the light of the Sun of God. Use not “your wisdom and your intelligence… [to make] riches for yourself.” This is not the proper end for the gifts God gives, and will serve only to bring the destruction of your haughty soul, along with the riches themselves. If you desire to “inherit everlasting life,” it is upon this your heart, your wisdom, your desire for riches, must be set. For the heavenly riches from the hand of God do not fail and cannot be run through by the sword of the nations; and in this kingdom “the last shall come first.”
O LORD, it is those who keep nothing for themselves
to whom you give everything,
including eternal life.
YHWH, how can a man whose heart is set on the things of this world come to the riches of Heaven? How can he who thinks himself a god know the God who rules over all? Only if we give up the riches of this world, only if we humble ourselves as servants, will we come to know you and so enter into your reign. Otherwise, we shall be trampled into dust.
You are life, LORD; you alone possess everlasting life, for the world and all it contains are in your hands – our very breath is your own. And so, how can we speak against you, how can we exalt ourselves above you, and expect to live, and expect to thrive? It is death we court by our insolent pride, not life. It is our condemnation we embrace by turning away from you.
O LORD, help us to give up the things of this world, entrusting all into your hands, for then you will care for our lives here, and share with us the life of Heaven.
Sun, 16 August 2020
(Ez.24:15-24; Dt.32:18-21; Mt.19:16-22)
“Son of man, by a sudden blow
I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes,
but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears.”
A striking similarity there is between our first reading and our gospel: as Ezekial’s wife dies, and so his most valuable treasure is taken from him by the Lord, so the rich young man is told by Jesus, “Go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor,” thus calling him to give up his treasure. But an ironic contrast also exists: Ezekial is asked by the Lord not to mourn his loss, though custom and conscience and righteousness would inform him otherwise, while the young man goes away in sadness when really he should be rejoicing that the Christ is calling him to follow Him. For the death of a loved one we should rightfully weep – for here is a life taken from us – but our possessions, what are they?
And more so should we weep when it is our sins which have caused our loss to befall us, as is the case with the Israelites. The Lord teaches them that He shall remove Jerusalem and its temple from their sight, for