Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Monday, 2007


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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.


Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 93, 98; PM Psalm 66
Jonah 2:1-9; Acts 2:14,22-32 or 1 Cor. 15:1-11; John 14:1-14

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 2:14, 22b-32. This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

On his father's side, my husband is descended from Maronite Rite Lebanese-Christians. So on every Easter Day for more than 20 years, my father-in-law has greeted me in Arabic with the words all Christians used to use, "The Lord is risen!" The traditional response is, "He is risen indeed." I have to admit that I have annually muddled the Arabic and have to be re-instructed to get it right, which I want to do, because it is a special custom and one of the most ancient in the church. Every now and again a fellow parishioner will offer me the same greeting, fortunately in English. It's a lovely, joyful moment, that little back-and-forth witness of what we both believe. Yes! He is risen, indeed!

Often we think of "witnessing" as a big deal, something serious and nerve-racking, done with considerable preparation so that unbelievers will hear our good news.

Yet there is another kind of witnessing, which is the spontaneous sharing of our faith, and our faith stories with one another. The phone call to check on a friend. The hug and promise "I'll pray for you!" when an acquaintance is going through a difficult time. Like the Easter greeting, these too remind us who we are, and to whom we belong.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Navajoland Area Mission (Prov. VII & VIII, U.S.)
++++++++++ 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 John of the Cells told us this story: 'There was in Egypt a very rich and beautiful courtesan, to whom noble and powerful people came. Now one day she happened to be near the church and she wanted to go in. The sub- deacon, who was standing at the doors, would not allow her to enter saying, "You are not worthy to enter the house of God, for you are impure." The Bishop heard the noise of their argument and came out. Then the courtesan said to him, "He will not let me enter the church." So the Bishop said to her, "You are not allowed to enter it, for you are not pure." She was filled with compunction and said to him, "Henceforth I will not commit fornication any more." The bishop said to her, "If you bring your wealth here, I shall know that you will not commit fornication any more." She brought every thing saying, "If this has happened to me below, what would I not have suffered above?" So she was converted and became a vessel of election.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. La'zar ben Jehudah of Barthotha said, Give Him of what is His, for thou and thine are His; and thus he saith in David, For all things come of Thee, and of thine own have we given thee (I Chron. xxix. 14).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Being Handed Over to Suffering

People who live close together can be sources of great sorrow for one another. When Jesus chose his twelve apostles, Judas was one of them. Judas is called a traitor. A traitor, according to the literal meaning of the Greek word for "betraying," is someone who hands the other over to suffering.

The truth is that we all have something of the traitor in us because each of us hands our fellow human beings over to suffering somehow, somewhere, mostly without intending or even knowing it. Many children, even grown-up children, can experience deep anger toward their parents for having protected them too much or too little. When we are willing to confess that we often hand those we love over to suffering, even against our best intentions, we will be more ready to forgive those who, mostly against their will, are the causes of our pain.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of April 9, 2007
“It is not dutiful observance that keeps us from sin, but something far greater: it is love. And this love is not something which we develop by our own powers alone. It is a sublime gift of the divine mercy, and the fact that we live in the realization of this mercy and this gift is the greatest source of growth for our love and for our holiness.

This gift, this mercy, this unbounded love of God for us has been lavished upon us as a result of Christ’s victory. To taste this love is to share in His victory. To realize our freedom, to exult in our liberation from death, from sin and from the Law, is to sing the Alleluia which truly glorifies God in this world and the world to come."
Seasons of Celebration [SC]. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950: 156-57

Thought to Remember:
"Each day is a new dawn of that lumen Christi, the light of Christ which knows no setting."

SC: 53

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

Day Nine - The Second Aim, cont'd

As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

OF ALL THE MYSTERIES our faith invites us to contemplate, the Resurrection is by far the most astonishing. Not simply in the sense of being difficult to believe in a logical fashion. That, in a way, is the very point of it. The very idea of resurrection shatters all the categories of comprehension with which we make sense of our world. …

What astonishing proclamations we make. Death is vanquished! Sin is overcome! Creation itself becomes a font of blessings! A new covenant is trothed! For a day we live liturgically into the truths that we glimpsed off and on during the Lenten season. God’s reign of justice and peace becomes ours. Mercy overflows. Wounds are healed. Love, tender and limitless and astonishing, embraces us. It is the custom of the Christian community in Tanzania at the close of the vigil to dance until the coming of Easter dawn. What better way to celebrate the feasts of feasts: to dance for sheer joy!

- Wendy M. Wright
The Rising

From pages 117-118 of The Rising by Wendy M. Wright. Copyright © 1994 by Wendy M. Wright.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Meaning of Resurrection"

Jesus taught us something about resurrection not long before his own Resurrection, when he called his friend Lazarus back from death. In John's telling of the story, Jesus comes before the tomb, the tomb symbolizing the deadness, the coldness, the hard-heartedness in all of us. He stands as the powerful warrior, the victor, the conqueror before that deadness, Jesus tells them to take away the stone, then he asks of them a further sign of faith. Do you believe that I can do it? Can you be with me as I do it? Step out. Make a bit of a fool of yourself, move away the stone. "Untie him," Jesus told them, "and let him go free" (John 11:44). Notice what John may well be sing to the community. Though Jesus brings us to life, he needs us, the Body of Christ. He needs the community to unbind Lazarus. We now share in the power of resurrection. The eternal Christ says to the eternal Church: Unbind the suffering world and let it go free! That is the meaning of Church. It is our call, our burden, our task in human history. The risen Christ invites us on his path of liberation.

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 festival of victory

The festival we celebrate is one of victory — the victory of the Son of God, king of the whole universe. On this day the devil is defeated by the crucified one; our race is filled with joy by the risen one. In honor of my resurrection in Christ this day cries out: "In my journey I beheld a new wonder—an open tomb, a man risen from the dead, bones exulting, souls rejoicing, men and women refashioned, the heavens opened, and powers crying out: Lift up your gates, you princes; be lifted up, you everlasting doors, that the king of glory may come in. On this day I saw the king of heaven, robed in light, ascend above the lightning and the rays of the sun, above the sun and the sources of water, above the dwelling place of the angelic powers and the city of eternal life."

Hidden first in a womb of flesh, he sanctified human birth by his own birth; hidden afterward in the womb of the earth, he gave life to the dead by his resurrection. Suffering, pain, and sighs have now fled away. For who has known the mind of God, or who has been his counselor if not the Word made flesh, who was nailed to the cross, who rose from the dead, and who was taken up into heaven?

Hesychius of Jerusalem, (~451) was a monk who was highly esteemed as a priest and preacher of Jerusalem. He was a defender of orthodoxy and a gifted interpreter of scripture.

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


"After that He appeared in another form unto two of them." Mark 16:12

Being saved and seeing Jesus are not the same thing. Many are partakers of God's grace who have never seen Jesus. When once you have seen Jesus, you can never be the same, other things do not appeal as they used to do.

Always distinguish between what you see Jesus to be, and what He has done for you. If you only know what He has done for you, you have not a big enough God; but if you have had a vision of Jesus as He is, experiences can come and go, you will endure "as seeing Him Who is invisible." The man blind from his birth did not know Who Jesus was until He appeared and revealed Himself to him. Jesus appears to those for whom He has done something; but we cannot dictate when He will come. Suddenly at any turn He may come. "Now I see Him!"

Jesus must appear to your friend as well as to you, no one can see Jesus with your eyes. Severance takes place where one and not the other has seen Jesus. You cannot bring your friend unless God brings him. Have you seen Jesus? Then you will want others to see Him too. "And they went and told it unto the residue, neither believed they them." You must tell, although they do not believe.

"O could I tell, ye surely would believe it!
O could I only say what I have seen!
How should I tell or how can ye receive it,
How, till He bringeth you where I have been?"

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 56: On the Abbess's Table

Let the Abbess's table always be with the guests
and the pilgrims. But when there are no guests,
let it be in her power to invite whom she will of the sisters.
Yet one or two seniors must always be left with the others
for the sake of discipline.


This tiny chapter introduces a major question into Benedictine history and interpretation: Did the abbot eat in a separate dining room away from the monastics or did the abbot and guests eat at a special table in the midst of the community? And, whatever the case, what was the implication of this separate table for the rest of community life? If the monastic meal was a central symbol of community life, then the presence or absence of an abbot or prioress is of serious import, to say nothing of the notion that the ideas of cloister may then have been flexible enough to make guests, too, part of the monastery meal. There have been cogent arguments brought to bear on both interpretations that are both interesting and historically important. It seems, however, that the greater point of the chapter for us today is not the geography of the table but the fact that the leader of the community was expected to model the gift of self with strangers. It was the abbot and prioress themselves who showed the community the price and the process of availability and hospitality and presence to the other. Hospitality was not a warm meal and a safe haven. Hospitality in the Benedictine community was attention and presence to the needs of the other. Hospitality was a public ministry designed to nourish the other in body and in soul, in spirit and in psyche.

Welfare agencies give clothes; parishes collect food for the poor; flea markets provide rare goods at cheap prices. The problem is that too many of the handouts come with hardly a look and never a personal moment for the people they set out to serve. Benedictine spirituality sets a standard of comfort and care, conversation and respect--the things that make a human being human--as well as bed and board. And, the presence of the abbot and prioress prove, none of us can afford to be too busy or too important to do the same.

Bright Monday, April 9, 2007 Christ is Risen!
The Martyr Eupsychios of Cappadocia
1st Hour, Holy Friday: Zechariah 11:10-13
Apostle: Acts 1:12-17, 21-26 Gospel: St. John 1:18-28

The Princely Price: Zechariah 11:10-13 LXX, especially vs. 12: " So they
weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver." Today, we are bathed
with radiant Paschal Light, for God in His mercy has turned His face
upon us: "Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord hath
risen upon thee." Why then should we consider a reading from Great and
Holy Friday and Israel's rejection of her Shepherd? Ah, Beloved of the
Lord, now we read it anew, suffused in Paschal gleaming, we who are
united to Christ, "the Great Shepherd of the Sheep" (Heb. 13:20).

Six hundred years before the 'great divide' in the history of God's
People, the Lord granted a visionary warning to His People by the
Prophet Zechariah (Zech. 11:10-13) - that a time would come when "the
Canaanites, the sheep that are kept for me" would know the word of the
Lord" (vs. 11) while the majority of ancient Israel would reject their
true Shepherd. Thus, Gentiles [i.e., Canaanites] would predominate in
the membership of the People of God under a New Covenant. The Shepherd
of the People Who anciently had led them would break His staff,
symbolizing the end of His shepherding for them and of a time of
abandonment (vs. 10).

In the joy of our celebration at the triumph of our Lord, God, and
Savior revealed in His Holy Resurrection, let us not forget, also, to
mourn because of what befell the majority of the ancient People of God,
our predecessors as God's chosen and unique people. How many miracles
He worked among them! How He loves them! Yes, sadly, their chief
priests and elders disdained Him, the Kingdom that He offered them, and
a rightful share in the wonderful New Covenant that He provided for all
peoples of the earth, including them. He offered to them Life and
sought their true worship as He does of us all. So, let the calamity
that befell them never leave our hearts until they are restored,
something St. Paul has clearly promised (Rom. 11:22-26).

The verses we are examining today (Zech 11:10-13) prophetically toll the
moment of judgment by the Lord: "I will take my beautiful staff, and
cast it away, that I may break my covenant which I made with all the
people." (vs. 10). And God did remove His cover over His ancient
People, allowing the shepherd of deception to rule them who would "not
seek that which is scattered...and not heal that which is
bruised...but...devour...the choice ones" (vs. 16).

As we know from what happened on Great and Holy Friday, "it was
broken on that day" (vs. 11). Nevertheless, "the Faithful, around whom
the Canaanites would soon gather knew that it was "the word of the Lord"
(vs. 11) and they stood faithfully with Him (Jn. 19:25-27).

Observe how most of ancient Israel saw the truly Good Shepherd as but
a common slave. Do not miss the irony! The Mosaic Law, received of God
Himself, required that if a bull "gore a man-servant or a maid-servant,
he shall pay to their master thirty silver drachmas" (Ex. 21:32). A
slave was worth 30 pieces of silver! Through His Prophet, the Lord has
us consider the implications of what happened in The Betrayal: they
weighed for My price thirty pieces of silver" (Zech. 11:12). This was
ancient Israel's payment for God's care and protection for centuries!

Do not miss the irony: "My price" (vs. 13)! In Zechariah's vision,
God commands him to "drop" those thirty pieces of silver "into the
furnace, and I will see if it is good metal" (vs. 13). On the day of
fulfillment, the casting of the silver into the furnace of judgment fell
to the godless traitor, Judas (Mt. 27:3-5). What of us? Disciples of
Christ, do we ever fix a price on our relationship with the Life-Giver
- set a certain sum, perhaps even in the world's debased coinage? O
let us pay the full price He asks and commit all that we are to the
priceless Savior! ]

O, how noble! O how dear! O how sweet is Thy voice, O Christ; for
Thou hast verily made us a true promise, that Thou shalt be with us to
the end of time, an anchor for our hopes!

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