Saturday, May 05, 2007

01/05/07 Sat in the week of the 4th Sun in 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 Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23)
Wisdom 7:1-14; Col. 3:12-17; Luke 7:18-28(29-30)31-35

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 7:18-28. Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?

I have a vivid image of the scene of John's disciples sending emissaries to Jesus to ask if he is the one they've been waiting for. Perhaps I first saw it in a movie or simply in my mind's eye, but Jesus is waiting in a field among a large crowd. As so often is the case, Jesus throws the answer back to the ones who ask. He calls on the inquirer to assess the situation. Jesus does not end the conversation with a simple, "Yes, I am the one, you can all go home now." Rather, he invites John's disciples to look at what they see happening. No hero worship is demanded here, but the scene is one of renewal of life: healing of many diseases, the blind offered sight, the deaf hearing, the poor receiving good news.

For us who already know Jesus, our following must be accompanied by more than a proclamation of identity. As disciples we are challenged to be witnesses engaged in that same ministry of feeding, healing, proclaiming good news to the poor. A yes or no answer is only the beginning.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba (West Indies)

++++++++++ Reflections

Enter within yourself and work in the presence of your Spouse Who is ever present loving you.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 1.8

Reading from the Desert Christians

The holy Syncletia said, "I think that for those living in community obedience is a greater virtue than chasity, however perfect. Chastity carries within it the danger of pride, but obedience has within it the promise of humility."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Jannai said, Neither the security of the wicked, nor the afflictions of the righteous, are in our hand.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

God's Generosity

God is a god of abundance, not a god of scarcity. Jesus reveals to us God's abundance when he offers so much bread to the people that there are twelve large baskets with leftover scraps (see John 6:5-15), and when he makes his disciples catch so many fish that their boat nearly sinks (Luke 5:1-7). God doesn't give us just enough. God gives us more than enough: more bread and fish than we can eat, more love than we dared to ask for.

God is a generous giver, but we can only see and enjoy God's generosity when we love God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength. As long as we say, "I will love you, God, but first show me your generosity," we will remain distant from God and unable to experience what God truly wants to give us, which is life and life in abundance.

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

Day Five - The First Aim of the Order

To make our Lord known and loved everywhere.

The Order is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God; that true life has been made available to us through his Incarnation and Ministry, by his Cross and Resurrection, and by the sending of his Holy Spirit. The Order believes that it is the commission of the church to make the gospel known to all, and therefore accepts the duty of bringing others to know Christ, and of praying and working for the coming of the of the Kingdom of God.


Upper Room Daily Reflection

EVER-LOVING GOD, who having loved us loves us still, help us to hear again your word, “By this shall they know you are my disciples; that you love one another.” Turn our hostility into hospitality and our callousness into care. Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

- Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck
A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People

From page 175 of A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck. Copyright © 1990 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Patriarchy and Power"

Christian men of power apparently have decided that happiness is optional. What is mandatory and necessary is that the world be divided into those who have power and those who don't. It makes for good order, at least for those on top, and order is more important than happiness. Our word for this addictive view of reality is "patriarchy," which means the "rule of the fathers." It is the basis of all major relational systems in the Western world. In the patriarchal view (1) all relationships are eventually defined in terms of superiority and inferiority and (2) the all-important need for order and control is assured by the exercise of dominative power. Now that does not sound so bad if the status quo happens to be working in your favor. But it has served to dehumanize and therefore de-spiritualize generations of races, nations, professions, women, sexual minorities, handicapped people, the weak and the elderly whom the powerful are able to culturally disparage and dismiss as "of no account." Not only are the rich and powerful able to protect their own darkness onto such groups, but the groups normally accept that darkness as their true value. The utter evil of such patriarchy is that both the oppressor and the oppressed are incapable of real spiritual growth. The powerful, by rejecting their shadow, are hopelessly inflated. The powerless, by receiving others' shadows, are endlessly deflated. Both lose. That is why patriarchy is evil.

from Radical Grace, "Is This 'Women-Stuff' Important?"

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

Out of sight, out of mind

The dry and barren waste must burst forth into springs of living water. This change must take place in our hearts if we would be saved; in a word, we must have what we have not by nature, faith, and love; and how is this to be effected, under God's grace, but by godly and practical meditation through the day?

Saint Peter describes what I mean, when he says, speaking of Christ, "Whom having not seen ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Christ is gone away; he is not seen; we never saw him, we only read and hear of him. It is an old saying, "Out of sight, out of mind." Be sure, so it will be, so it must be with us, as regards our blessed Savior, unless we make continual efforts all through the day to think of him, his love, his precepts, his gifts, and his promises. We must recall to mind what we read in the gospels and in holy books about him; we must bring before us what we have heard in church; we must pray God to enable us to do so, to bless the doing so, and to make us do so in a simple-minded, sincere, and reverential spirit. In a word, we must meditate, for all this is meditation; and this even the most unlearned person can do, and will do, if he has a will to do it.

John Henry Newman, (1801 - 1890) was a famous preacher in the Church of England and after his reception into the Catholic Church he continued preaching and writing and later was made a cardinal.

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

"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." 1 Peter 4:17

The Christian worker must never forget that salvation is God's thought, not man's; therefore it is an unfathomable abyss. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is only a gateway by which salvation comes into our conscious life. Never preach the experience; preach the great thought of God behind. When we preach we are not proclaiming how man can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out, it is the sign of God's love. Never sympathize with a soul who finds it difficult to get to God, God is not to blame. It is not for us to find out the reason why it is difficult, but so to present the truth of God that the Spirit of God will show what is wrong. The great sterling test in preaching is that it brings everyone to judgment. The Spirit of God locates each one to himself.

If Jesus ever gave us a command He could not enable us to fulfil, He would be a liar; and if we make our inability a barrier to obedience, it means we are telling God there is something He has not taken into account. Every element of self-reliance must be slain by the power of God. Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occasion for the Spirit of God to manifest His power.


G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

ANOMALIES do matter very much, and do a great deal of harm; abstract illogicalities do matter a great deal, and do a great deal of harm: and this for a reason that anyone at all acquainted with human nature can see for himself. All injustice begins in the mind: and anomalies accustom the mind to the idea of unreason and untruth. Suppose I had by some prehistoric law the power of forcing every man in Battersea to nod his head three times before he got out of bed: the practical politicians might say that this power was a harmless anomaly, that it was not a grievance. It could do my subjects no harm; it could do me no good. The people of Battersea, they would say, might safely submit to it; but the people of Battersea could not safely submit to it, for all that. If I had nodded their heads for them for fifty years, I could cut off their heads for them at the end of it with immeasurably greater ease; for there would have permanently sunk into every man's mind the notion that it was a natural thing for me to have a fantastic and irrational power. They would have grown accusiomed to insanity.

'All Things Considered.'


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict


Having our loins girded, therefore,
with faith and the performance of good works (Eph. 6:14),
let us walk in His paths
by the guidance of the Gospel,
that we may deserve to see Him
who has called us to His kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).

For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom,
we must run to it by good deeds
or we shall never reach it.

But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet,
"Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent,
or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain" (Ps. 14:1)?

After this question,
let us listen to the Lord
as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying,
"The one Who walks without stain and practices justice;
who speaks truth from his heart;
who has not used his tongue for deceit;
who has done no evil to his neighbor;
who has given no place to slander against his neighbor."

This is the one who,
under any temptation from the malicious devil,
has brought him to naught (Ps. 14:4)
by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart;
and who has laid hold of his thoughts
while they were still young
and dashed them against Christ (Ps. 136:9).

It is they who,
fearing the Lord (Ps. 14:4),
do not pride themselves on their good observance;
convinced that the good which is in them
cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord,
glorify the Lord's work in them (Ps. 14:4),
using the words of the Prophet,
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to Your name give the glory" (Ps. 113, 2nd part:1).
Thus also the Apostle Paul
attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself,
but said,
"By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
And again he says,
"He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).


Two themes emerge very strongly here. In case the meaning of the earlier paragraphs has escaped us, Benedict repeats them. Justice, honesty and compassion are the marks of those who dwell with God in life, he insists. Then, he reminds us again that we are not able to achieve God's grace without God's help. If we do good for the poor, it is because God has given us the courage to do good. If we speak truth in the face of lies, it is because God has given us a taste for the truth. If we uphold the rights of women and men alike, it is because God has given us eyes to see the wonders of all creation. We are not a power unto ourselves.

The two ideas may seem innocent enough today but at the time at which Benedict wrote them they would both have had great social impact.

In the first place, physical asceticism had become the mark of the truly holy. The Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, the dominant form of religious life prior to the emergence of communal monasticism, had been known and revered for the frugality, discipline and asceticism of their lives. They lived in the desert as solitaries. They ate little. They prayed night and day. They deprived their bodies to enrich their souls. They struggled against the temptations of the flesh and fled the world. Theirs was a privatized version of religious development not unlike those theologies that still thrive on measuring personal penances and using religion as personal massage rather than on making the world look the way God would want it to look. Benedict, then, introduces very early in the Rule the notion of responsibility for the human community as the benchmark of those who "dwell in God's tent," know God on earth, live on a higher plane than the mass of humanity around them. The really holy, the ones who touch God, Benedict maintains, are those who live well with those around them. They are just, they are upright, they are kind. The ecology of humankind is safe with them.

In the second place, Benedict puts to rest the position of the wandering monk Pelagius who taught in the fifth century that human beings were inherently good and capable of achieving God's great presence on the strength of their own merits. Benedict wants "good deeds" but he does not want pride. We do what we do in life, even holy things, the Prologue teaches, not because we are so good but because God is so good and enables us to rise above the misery of ourselves. Even the spiritual life can become an arrogant trap if we do not realize that the spiritual life is not a game that is won by the development of spiritual skills. The spiritual life is simply the God-life already at work in us.

An obligation to human community and a dependence on God, then, become the cornerstones of Benedictine life.

Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Saturday, May 5, 2007 Christ is Risen!
The Great Martyr Irene of Thessalonika
Kellia: Deuteronomy 1:19-25 Apostle: Acts 12:1-11
Gospel: St. John 8:31-42

The Promise of Possession: Deuteronomy 1:19-25 LXX, especially vs. 25:
"And they took in their hands of the fruit of the land, and brought it
to you, and said, The land is good which the Lord our God gives us." As
you may see in reviewing the preceding verses of Deuteronomy 1, vss.
5-18, the call of God upon us is to possess the inner land of the self.
It requires interior cleansing and submission of the will to the rule of
God. Like our forerunners, the People of God of the Old Covenant, we
have met God at His Holy Mountain. Still, we are far more blessed than
were our forerunners in the Faith who met God the Lord at Mt. Sinai, a
"mountain...touched and...burned with fire, and to blackness and
darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words,
so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to
them anymore" (Heb. 12:18-19). Rather, we have come to Christ our God
in Person directly.

Fellow Christians: we have "come to Mount Zion and to the city of the
living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,
to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn who are registered
in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made
perfect" (Heb. 12:22-23). We encounter God in human flesh and form in
the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Who came into the world to save
sinners, not to condemn us (Jn. 3:17). The whole of the New Covenant
known in the Church is incomparably finer and better, than the
relationship with God known under the Old Covenant. Examine the
similarities and differences.

Even to reach the edge of the Promised Land, the People of ancient
Israel had to pass through "that great wilderness and terrible" (Deut.
1:19). Do we not live in a spiritual wilderness that we know all too
well, with passions that assault and cravings of the body that cry out
for satisfaction now in this life (Num. 11:10-14)? As did ancient
Israel, we also encounter bickering, even within the Church (Num. 12).
Beloved of the Lord, listen to St. John of Kronstadt: "Our heart
continually flatters us, secretly exalting ourselves and depreciating
others. But we must constantly see our innumerable sins in order to
judge ourselves, to weep over ourselves, as for the spiritually
dead....laying aside all passions and every worldly care, and let us
stand....with faith and reverence, with understanding attention, with
love and peace in our hearts." Such is the path of the trek before us
through the terrible desert of the present age with its clamorous appeals.

As we brave this passage through the desert with the Church and the Lord
guiding and helping at each step, we have hope of reaching a true,
spiritual Promised Land. We shall come to our Kadesh-barnea, with an
unknown beyond. Ahead is the struggle to possess what God promises us.
Dark forces in us will not surrender without a fight. Still, hear the
Gospel whose type was clearly stated to ancient Israel: "Behold, the
Lord your God has delivered to us the land before you: go up and inherit
it as the Lord God of your fathers said to you; fear not, neither be
afraid." (Deut. 1:21). Our Risen Lord among us speaks these very words
to us (Lk. 24:36-37).

Like the company of Israel at Kadesh-barnea, we have glowing reports
available from so many who have gone before us, entered the Promised
Land, taken its fruits, and held them up to us to behold with our own
eyes (Deut. 1:23-25). St. John of the Ladder, recognizing that we "lie
in the deepest pit of ignorance, in the dark passions of this body and
in the shadow of death," nonetheless encourages us to consider the
dispassionate ones who attained the Promised Land, "while still in the
flesh." They always had God dwelling within them as their Pilot in all
their words deeds and thoughts," and apprehended "the Lord's will as a
sort of inner voice."

Lighten, O Lord, my supersensuous eyes, made blind by the gloom of sin.
Anoint them, O Compassionate One, with humility; wash them with the
tears of repentance.


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