Thursday, April 26, 2007

27/04/07 Thur in the week of the 3rd Sunday of 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.


O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
Dan. 5:13-30; 1 John 5:13-20(21); Luke 5:1-11

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 5:1-11. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken.

It isn't the raising of the dead or a spectacular healing that snares Simon Peter, James, and John. Conviction comes through a simple task, one they do each day. Jesus gets into one of their boats, and tells them where to drop the nets they had been washing, having given up on a catch that day. Their nets are so full--so incredibly full--that Peter knows at once he is in the presence of one who is beyond himself. Holy. Not like us. He reacts the way the Bible records people always do when encountering the holy. Peter is overcome by the taint of his own sin. "Leave, Lord!" he begs Jesus, kneeling. Jesus says to him what he says to all of us: "Don't be afraid. Take my hand!"

I used to worry that if I really committed my life to God I'd be required to leave behind all that I know. What happened was far more ordinary. Jesus met me where I was. He healed the broken places within me; he didn't turn me into somebody else. My work didn't change, just the one for whom I do the work.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Niger Delta North (Prov. II, Nigeria)
++++++++++ Reflections

Though we are always in the presence of God, it seems to me that the manner is different for those who practice prayer, for they are aware that he is looking at them.
St Teresa of Jesus
Book of Her Life, ch. 8

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Pastor said, "Judge not him who is guilty of fornication, if you are chaste, or you will break the law like him. For He who said "do not commit fornication" said also "Do not judge".

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Jochanan said, Whosoever fulfils the Thorah in poverty, will at length fulfil it in wealth; and whosoever neglects the Thorah in wealth, will at length neglect it in poverty.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Question from Above

What are spiritual questions? They are questions from above. Most questions people ask of Jesus are questions from below, such as the question about which of a woman's seven husbands she will be married to in the resurrection. Jesus does not answer this question because it comes from a legalistic mind-set. It is a question from below.

Often Jesus responds by changing this question. In the case of the woman with seven husbands he says, "At the resurrection men and women do not marry Ö have you never read what God himself said to you: 'I am God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?' He is God not of the dead but of the living" (Matthew 22:23-30).

We have to keep looking for the spiritual question if we want spiritual answers.

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

Day Twenty Six - The Second Note, cont'd

Therefore, we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship. Our love for them increases as their love for Christ grows deeper. We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love. We are on our guard against anything which might injure this love, and we seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged. We seek the same love for those with whom we have little natural affinity, for this kind of love is not a welling up of emotion, but is a bond founded in our common union with Christ.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

EVEN THOUGH CHRIST reveals to us that we are God’s beloved, many of us struggle to believe this good news. We may know it in our heads but not in our hearts. We may have heard other voices throughout our lives telling us we are no good, that we’ll never amount to much. Those words sometimes silence any other voices of affirmation. Some of us have been abused. Some of us have been through unspeakable moments of failure, rejection, and suffering. Some of us have been so deeply scarred that we wonder whether anyone really cares about us.

- Trevor Hudson and Stephen D. Bryant
The Way of Transforming Discipleship

From pages 22-23 of The Way of Transforming Discipleship by Trevor Hudson and Stephen D. Bryant. Copyright © 2005 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Catholic Worldview: Community"

Jesus used the image of the Kingdom; Paul, the image of the body of Christ; John, the vine and the branches. But it's all the same sense of mystical union: That, first, we are one; secondly, we became separate. I don't suppose that most of us can think that way. I want to think that way, and I try to let the Lord convert me, but I'm still an American individualist. I wish I were not. Such an exaggerated sense of the private self breeds competition: Your good becomes a threat to my good. Do you know what the Greeks called a private person? They called someone who had no sense of the common good an idiot. The original meaning of idiot is one who simply thinks of himself and has no sense of the city-state. Paul said the Spirit is given "for the sake of the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). We cannot make any claim to being Catholics or even people of the Spirit if we do not have that profound commitment to the common good first.

from Why Be Catholic?


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

The upward movement

Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men and women brought back to life. His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth. Because of Christ's resurrection the thief ascends to paradise, the bodies of the blessed enter the holy city, and the dead are restored to the company of the living; there is an upward movement in the whole of creation, each element raising itself to something higher. We see the underworld restoring its victims to the upper regions, earth sending its buried dead to heaven, and heaven presenting the new arrivals to the Lord. In one and the same movement, our Savior's passion raises men and women from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights.

Christ is risen. His rising brings life to the dead, forgiveness to sinners, and glory to the saints. And so David the prophet summons all creation to join in celebrating the Easter festival: Rejoice and be glad, he cries, on this day which the Lord has made.

Maximus of Turin,(~408 or 423), bishop of Turin, left us sermons to indicate that he must have been a zealous and effective pastor.

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


"Take now thy son . . and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." Genesis 22:2

Character determines how a man interprets God's will (cf. Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God's command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this tradition behind by the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs to be got rid of, e.g., that God removes a child because the mother loves him too much - a devil's lie! and a travesty of the true nature of God. If the devil can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of wrong traditions about God, he will do so; but if we keep true to God, God will take us through an ordeal which will bring us out into a better knowledge of Himself.

The great point of Abraham's faith in God was that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter to what belief he went contrary. Abraham was not a devotee of his convictions, or he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic. If you will remain true to God, God will lead you straight through every barrier into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself; but there is always this point of giving up convictions and traditional beliefs. Don't ask God to test you. Never declare as Peter did - "I will do anything, I will go to death with Thee." Abraham did not make any such declaration, he remained true to God, and God purified his faith.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

THE modern man thought Becket's robes too rich and his meals too poor. But then the modern man was really exceptional in history; no man before ever ate such elaborate dinners in such ugly clothes. The modern man found the Church too simple exactly where life is too complex; he found the Church too gorgeous exactly where modern life is too dingy. The man who disliked the plain fasts and feasts was mad on entrees. The man who disliked vestments wore a pair of preposterous trousers. And surely if there was any insanity involved in the matter at all it was in the trousers, not in the simply falling robe. If there was any insanity at all, it was in the extravagant entrees, not in the bread and wine.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

If it happens
that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
with all meekness and obedience.
But if she sees that the weight of the burden
altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
let her submit the reasons for her inability
to the one who is over her
in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
And if after these representations
the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
let the subject know that this is for her good,
and let her obey out of love,
trusting in the help of God.


The desert monastic, Samartus, had written in a culture that called material things evil and only spiritual things good: "If we do not flee from everything, we make sin inevitable." This fear of things outside the monastery was clearly still alive in the time of Benedict and well beyond. Monastics who traveled outside, then,--and they did, as we do, for reasons of business and personal need-- were reminded in this paragraph to call themselves consciously into the presence of God and the purpose of their lives before leaving their monasteries. Two things in particular make the paragraph valuable today. In the first place, however they saw the risks of the world in which they lived, they continued to confront them. They did not become less human in their search for the spiritual life. In the second place, however they counted their own commitment, they did not underestimate the lure of lesser things in life, even on them. They begged the prayers of the community while they were away, a practice which is continued to this day, and they kept as close as possible to the prayer schedule of the monastery while they were gone. Then, when the trip was over, they returned to their monasteries alert to the effects of the baubles and bangles of loose living. And they redoubled their efforts at monastic life. They started over again, prostrating themselves on the floor of the oratory as they had at the time of their profession praying to be reconcentrated on the real meaning of life.

The value of the chapter is clear even today: No one lives in a tax-free world. Life costs. The values and kitsch and superficiality of it takes its toll on all of us. No one walks through life unscathed. It calls to us for our hearts and our minds and our very souls. It calls to us to take life consciously, to put each trip, each turn of the motor, each trek to work in God's hands. Then, whatever happens there, we must remember to start over and start over and start over until, someday, we control life more than it controls us.

A Zen story tells of two monks walking down a muddy, rain-logged road on the way back to their monastery after a morning of begging who saw a beautiful young girl standing beside a large deep puddle unable to get across without ruining her clothes. The first monk, seeing the situation, offered to carry the girl to the other side, though monks had nothing whatsoever to do with women. The second monk was astonished by the act but said nothing about it for hours. Finally, at the end of the day, he said to his companion, "I want to talk to you about that girl." And the first monk said, "Dear brother, are you still carrying that girl. I put her down hours ago."

The things we ruminate on, the things we insist on carrying in our minds and heart, the things we refuse to put down, the Rule warns us, are really the things that poison us and erode our souls. We dull our senses with television and wonder why we cannot see the beauty that is around us. We hold on to things outside of us instead of concentrating on what is within that keeps us noisy and agitated. We run from experience to experience like children in a candy store and wonder how serenity has eluded us. It is walking through life with a relaxed grasp and a focused eye that gets us to where we're going. Dwelling on unessentials and, worse, filling the minds of others with them distracts from the great theme of our lives. We must learn to distinguish between what is real and what is not.


Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church. Dynamis is a project of the Education Committee of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.

Thursday, April 26, 2007 Christ is Risen!
Hieromartyr Basil, Bishop of Amasea
14th Vigil of Pascha: Jeremiah 31:31-34 Apostle: Acts 8:26-39
Gospel: St. John 6:40-44

The New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34 LXX, especially vs. 31: "Behold, the
days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the
house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." Seven centuries before
Christ, the Prophet Jeremiah prophesied that God would "make a new
covenant," and, the night in which the Lord Jesus "was betrayed, - or
rather, gave Himself up for the life of the world," He proclaimed "to
His holy disciples and Apostles" the arrival of those very days and the
launching of the New Covenant, saying: "Drink ye all of this: this is My
Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the
remission of sins."

It is noteworthy that the Apostle Paul, who tasted the Holy Cup (I Cor.
11:25), embraced Christ's saving death upon the Cross (Rom. 5:8), and
knew the risen Lord (I Cor. 15:8), chose to quote this entire prophecy
of Jeremiah into the body of his Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 8:8-12).
In doing so, he declared that Christ mediates the New more excellent
Covenant, one enacted on better promises than the former covenant (Heb.
8:6). Take note that Jeremiah's prophecy reveals 1) what the fault was
under the old covenant, 2) the Divine remedy for that fault, and 3) the
means by which God achieves that remedy in those who embrace the New

What was the problem, the limit of the former Covenant? Of itself, the
Law and the worship that Moses received on Mount Sinai, even though God
was its Author, still could not "perfect the conscience of the
worshiper" (Heb. 9:9). The former Covenant, as moral and social law and
as directives for the performance of worship, did not deal inwardly with
the souls and hearts of God's People. They could carry out the form of
the Covenant and yet be very far from God and their fellow members among
God's People. Laws and rules do not provide for inner formation but
only tell what to do, how to behave, and actions to take. Being
impersonal, statutes and instructions are subject to interpretation,
evasion, and outright infraction. As the Lord observed to Jeremiah, His
People "abode not in [His] covenant" (Jer. 31:32), even as they lived
with the Covenant. Instead, it was a matter of pride for them and a
badge to disdain others.

Notice what God promises through the Prophet Jeremiah: "this is My
covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; after those days,
saith the Lord, I will surely put My laws into their mind, and write
them on their hearts." Interiorizing the purpose of God's law is basic
to the New Covenant, which is exactly what we find in the teaching of
the Lord Jesus. He directs His disciples toward change of heart and
mind, repentance, and inward renewal, but not to the annulment of what
God had commanded for His people through the Law and the Prophets (Mt.
5:17). To be in covenant with God, one needs to turn within, to address
one's inward life, there to purify the state of one's heart and soul.
The whole of the Lord Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" is concerned with
this precise need (Mt. 5-7) - as was the whole of His ministry.

There is, of course, a major problem with the greater covenant that God
promised and the Lord Jesus taught so vigorously: fallen men and women
simply are bound to fail in being perfect as God their heavenly Father
is perfect (Mt. 5:48). Ah, but notice - in the New Covenant God
declared that He would "be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins
I will remember no more" (Jer. 31:34). Mercy of course is what we who
live under the New Covenant know and perceive as the other basic facet
of the ministry of our Lord. Forgiveness of sins is what He forcefully
and regularly offers. Listen to His Eucharistic words: "this is My
Blood of the New Covenant [or Testament], which is shed for you and for
many, for the remission of sins."

Forgive me all my sins, O God, that with a pure heart, I may partake of
Thy deifying mysteries, wherewith every man who eateth and drinketh
thereof with a pure heart is enlivened.

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