Sunday, April 15, 2007

15/04/07 1st Sunday after Easter


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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

Psalm 111 or 118:19-24;
Acts 5:12a,17-22,25-29 or Job 42:1-6; Revelation 1:(1-8)9-19 or Acts 5:12a,17-22,25-29; John 20:19-31

From Forward Day by Day:

John 20:19-31. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

Poor old Doubting Thomas may have been the first Christian to think "I wish my faith were stronger," but he's had plenty of company over the years.

This faith business is pretty confusing. We all learn that faith is a grace gift, so we sit around waiting for it to fall down like manna upon us. Sometimes we even get a little disgruntled because the Lord seems to have visited everyone but us. Thomas wanted his own miracle, and so do we!

While it's true that faith is a gift, it also is true that we have to reach out and grasp the gift, unwrap it, and put it into use. Until I understood this and began living it, I had enormous guilt. We take hold of the gift of faith by speaking, acting, living as though we already have it--not in a hypocritical way, but simply. It's the same way a well-trained child comes to an intersection and reaches up for the hand of a parent.

What happens next is the grace part: God honors us with the faith we're pretending to have, and often, even gives a dollop more for good measure. Are you having a Thomas moment? Do you doubt that "having faith" could really be such a simple matter? Think on this: if you saw a little child reaching up a hand, would you send her into traffic alone?

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of New Hampshire (Prov. I, U.S.)
++++++++++ Reflections

In giving us His Son, His only Word (for He possesses no other), God spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and He has no more to say ... because what He spoke before to the prophets in parts, He has now spoken all at once by giving us the All who is His Son.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians

Some of the monks who are called Euchites went to Enaton to see Abba Lucius. the Old man asked them, 'What is your manual work?' They said , 'We do not touch manual work but as the Apostle says, we pray without ceasing.' The old man asked them if they did not eat and they replied they did. So he said to them "'When you are eating, who prays for you then?' Again he asked them if they did not sleep and they replied they did. and he said to them, 'When you are a asleep, who prays for you the?' They could not find any answer to give him. He said to them, 'Forgive me, but you do not act as you speak. I will show you how, while doing my manual work, I pray without interruption. I sit down with God, soaking my reeds and plaiting my ropes, and I say "God, have mercy on me, according to your great goodness and according to the multitude of your mercies, save me from my sins." ' So he asked them if this were not prayer and they replied it was. Then he said to them, 'So when I have spent the whole day working and praying, making thirteen pieces of money more or less, I put two pieces of money outside the door and I pay for my food with the rest of the mony. He who takes the two pieces of maney prays for me when I am eating and when I am sleeping; so, by the grace of God, I fulfil the precept to pray without ceasing.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

He used to say, Everything is given on pledge; and the net (Eccl. ix. 12) is cast over all the living. The office is open; and the broker gives credit; and the ledger is open; and the hand writes; and whosoever will borrow comes and borrows; and the bailiffs go round continually every day, and exact from a man whether he wills or not; and they have whereon to lean; and the judgment is a judgment of truth. And everything is prepared for the BANQUET.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Reading Spiritually About Spiritual Things

Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.

As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God's voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Fifteen - The First Way of Service, cont'd

The heart of our prayer is the Eucharist, in which we share with other Christians the renewal of our union with our Lord and Savior in his sacrifice, remembering his death and receiving his spiritual food.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

GOD, I SAW A CARDINAL on a top branch this morning, singing her heart out in abandon, successfully waking the world. The road to such freedom has been rocky, and we are not there yet. But thanks for your scriptures in clarifying the goal — simply that of granting to others what I need in order to be me. Amen.

- W. Paul Jones
An Eclectic Almanac for the Faithful

From page 135 of An Eclectic Almanac for the Faithful by W. Paul Jones. Copyright © 2006 by W. Paul Jones.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Walking in the Spirit"

When you no longer expect something more from life, you are for all practical purposes an atheist. When you are no longer open to do something new, to see and feel in new ways about old things, you might as well hang it up. There always is more of the Spirit for you to receive, or you would not be sustained another moment. The experience of the Spirit is an underserved, unmerited becoming, a new whole greater than the sum of all the parts. IT draws us out and beyond ourselves in spite of ourselves. IT is radical grace. To walk in the Spirit is to allow yourself to be grabbed by God and taken into a much larger world of meaning.

from The Great Themes of Scripture

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

The oil: Christ's gift

The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself, who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy. But you also have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing you have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life. Beware of thinking of this chrism as merely ordinary oil. As the Eucharistic bread after the invocation of the Holy Spirit is no longer ordinary bread but the body of Christ, so also the oil after the invocation is no longer plain ordinary oil but Christ's gift which by the presence of his divinity becomes the instrument through which you receive the Holy Spirit. While symbolically, on your foreheads and organs of sense, your bodies are anointed with this oil that we see, your souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.

Cyril of Jerusalem,(316 - 386), bishop of Jerusalem, has left us a precious legacy of twenty-four catechetical sermons.

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"But the high places were not taken away out of Israel; nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days." 2 Chronicles 15:17

Asa was incomplete in his external obedience, he was right in the main but not entirely right. Beware of the thing of which you say - "Oh, that does not matter much." The fact that it does not matter much to you may mean that it matters a very great deal to God. Nothing is a light matter with a child of God. How much longer are some of us going to keep God trying to teach us one thing? He never loses patience. You say - "I know I am right with God"; but still the "high places" remain, there is something over which you have not obeyed. Are you protesting that your heart is right with God, and yet is there something in your life about which He has caused you to doubt? Whenever there is doubt, quit immediately, no matter what it is. Nothing is a mere detail.

Are there some things in connection with your bodily life, your intellectual life, upon which you are not concentrating at all? You are all right in the main but you are slipshod; there is a relapse on the line of concentration. You no more need a holiday from spiritual concentration than your heart needs a holiday from beating. You cannot have a moral holiday and remain moral, nor can you have a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and this means that you have to watch to keep yourself fit. It takes a tremendous amount of time. Some of us expect to "clear the numberless ascensions" in about two minutes.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

THE women were of the kind vaguely called emancipated, and professed some protest against male supremacy. Yet these new women would always pay to a man the extraordinary compliment which no ordinary woman ever pays to him -- that of listening while he is talking.

'The Man who was Thursday.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
provided she is content
with the customs of the place as she finds them
and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
but is simply content with what she finds.
If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
and with the humility of charity,
let the Abbess consider prudently
whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
that the Lord sent her.

If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
her wish should not be denied her,
especially since there has been opportunity
during her stay as a guest
to discover her character.

New Sunday: The Sunday of Thomas Christ is Risen! April
15, 2007
4th Vigil of Pascha: Jonah 4:1-11 Apostle: Acts
Gospel: St. John 20:19-31

Reluctant Prophet IV: Jonah 4:1-11 LXX, especially vs. 3: "And now, Lord
God, take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to
live." In the last chapter of the Book of Jonah, the flaw in the
character of the famous son of Amittai is exposed. We see dark
bitterness in the heart of God's reluctant Prophet. Jonah fled rather
than preach in the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Yes, even when God forgave
him for disobedience, even when God saved him from drowning by sending a
great fish to swallow him and cast him up onto dry land miraculously,
and even when God blessed him with great success in his preaching, still
Jonah was peevish and angry.

The Book of Jonah is a warning - not to fall into the peevishness of
Jonah. While God relented from His plan to overthrow Nineveh because He
saw that the people of the city "turned from their evil ways" (Jon.
3:10), yet Jonah, as the opening line of this reading tells us, "was
very deeply grieved, and he was confounded" (Jon. 4:1). Strange that a
man so blessed by God should be distressed when his mission was
accomplished so very completely.

To begin, let us examine the opening language of chapter four,
especially the verbs, lupe and synecho. While lupe may express grief,
it also can suggest "vexation" and "anger." Similarly synecho may mean
either "confusion" or "frustration." The versions based on the Hebrew
text strongly favor "angry frustration." Hence, the RSV has, "
displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry" (vs. 1) - yes, annoyed
and petulant, because the result of his preaching was not to his
liking. Thus, the text describes the Prophet climbing the hill and
keeping his watch "over against the city...until he should perceive what
would become of the city" (vs. 5). Above all, remember that he climbed
and sat grumbling.

Jonah's petulance is most blatantly displayed in his virtual scolding of
God: "I made haste to flee to Tarshish; because I know that Thou art
merciful and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in kindness,
and repentest of evil" (vs. 2). We may easily complete his railing
against the Lord: "So, of course, Thou forgavest them! How couldest
Thou forgive the Ninevites, of all people?" Jonah had neither love nor
compassion for the Ninevites - but God did.

The disgruntled Prophet reflects the common view of the people of Israel
who, in the eighth century BC had repeatedly chafed under the superior
and subjugating power of the Assyrian empire. His outburst matches the
Psalmist's cry to God: "Lift up Thy hands against their pride at the
end, against the things which the enemy hath wickedly done in Thy holy
place....How long, O God, shall the enemy utter reproach?" (Ps. 73:4,11

The vignette describing the gourd that shades the Prophet momentarily
but then withers when eaten by a worm reinforces the emerging portrait
of a bitter man (Jon. 4:6-10).
Observe him: he flees to Tarshish to avoid any potential for complicity
in God's compassion, mercy, and forgiveness toward the Assyrian whom he
finds utterly repugnant. Even when he himself receives God's compassion
and mercy and even obeys and preaches as God instructs him (Jon.
3:1-11), still he clings to loathing the Assyrians. Finally, God makes
His message explicit: "shall not I spare Nineveh, the great city, in
which dwell more than twelve myriads of human beings, who do not know
their right hand or their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jon. 4:11).

The Lord directs us to forgive even them that hate us. Hence, St.
Gregory of Nyssa asks, "Do you want your debts to be forgiven by God?
Forgive them yourself, and God will ratify it. For your judgment of
your neighbor, which is in your power, will call forth the corresponding
sentence upon you. What you decide for yourself will be confirmed by
the Divine Judgment."

Our Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
against us.

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