Sunday, May 06, 2007

06/05/07 5th Sunday 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.


Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 24, 29; PM Psalm 8, 84
Wisdom 7:22-8:1; 2 Thess. 2:13-17; Matt. 7:7-14

From Forward Day by Day:

Revelation 19:1, 4-9. I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah!"

This text from the Revelation to John offers comfort and hope. It promises God's presence among us in the midst of loss and grief. In the confusion of emotions, as relationships unravel and are rewoven, we are assured of God's companionship.

Recently I attended the funeral of a friend who died after a progressively debilitating illness. As remembrances were made of a faithful life as mother, friend, scholar, teacher, I was inspired by the evidence of the deep presence of God in her life. And also of the truth of today's text. God made a home in this faithful woman's life. God makes a home among and within us. In grief, stripped of so much we use to protect ourselves, there was a palpable sense of God's dwelling among us.

Even now, God is touching us, living among us, in the form of one another, within and without. The funeral made that knowledge real as we revisited my friend's faith-filled life. God was present in her ¬choices and her courage, comforting us with the promise that he also dwells in each of us. In our grief we were open enough to recognize that.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of North Kerala (South India)

++++++++++ Reflections

For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up ones' eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

The old men used to say, "If someone has faith in another and hands himself over to him in complete submission, he does not need to pay attention to God's commandments but he can entrust his whole will to his father. He will suffer no reproach from God, for God looks for nothing from beginners so much as renunciation through obedience."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Matthiah ben Charash said, Be beforehand in saluting every man; and be a tail to lions, and not a head to foxes.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Temptation to Hoard

As fearful people we are inclined to develop a mind-set that makes us say: "There's not enough food for everyone, so I better be sure I save enough for myself in case of emergency," or "There's not enough knowledge for everyone to enjoy; so I'd better keep my knowledge to myself, so no one else will use it" or "There's not enough love to give to everybody, so I'd better keep my friends for myself to prevent others from taking them away from me." This is a scarcity mentality. It involves hoarding whatever we have, fearful that we won't have enough to survive. The tragedy, however, is that what you cling to ends up rotting in your hands.

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

Day Seven - The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

SO OFTEN we go through the motions in our spiritual lives. We sing, we pray, we worship, we give the impression that we know that we are God’s beloved. But often in the deep places of our hearts, the assurance is not there; and we know it. We need to come home and let the Spirit of God whisper, “You are God’s beloved.” I cannot tell you who you are. Others cannot tell you who you are. Only the Spirit of God can.

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

From page 24 of The Way of Transforming Discipleship by Trevor Hudson and Stephen D. Bryant. Copyright © 2005 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Church Tells Us Who We Are"

It has been said over the years, with some degree of truth and some degree of heresy, "Outside the Church there is no salvation." I interpret it like this: Outside of those redeeming relationships that speak truth to us, that challenge us, that father us, that mother, brother and sister us, we do not know who we are. How many people are living in that kind of enslavement! They don't know who they are or what they want. When individualists come with their problems, one has no power to help. You pray with them, assure them that God loves them, that God forgives them, then they go right back to sick relationships - and a sick world system to which most people are addicted. They're all tied up by put-downs that have gone on for so many years they've become natural and accepted. Often the only way we can free these brothers and sisters from the lie about themselves is by inserting them in a new set of relationships that finally tell them the truth. That truth-telling of God's grace is what the Church is all about. It might be as simple as "two or three gathered" in the name of truth, it might be a vulnerable Twelve-Step group, but still it is the eternal mystery of Church and Christ at work.

from The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family


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

The Spirit restores our original beauty

The Holy Spirit renews us in baptism through his Godhead, which he shares with the Father and the Son. Finding us in a state of deformity, the Spirit restores our original beauty and fills us with his grace, leaving no room for anything unworthy of our love.

The Spirit frees us from sin and death, and changes us from the earthly people we were, made of dust and ashes, into spiritual people, sharers in the divine glory, children and heirs of God the Father, who bear a likeness to the Son and are his coheirs and his brothers and sisters, destined to reign with him and to share his glory. In place of earth the Spirit reopens heaven to us and gladly admits us into paradise, giving us even now greater honor than the angels, and by the holy waters of baptism extinguishing the unquenchable fires of hell. We need the Holy Spirit to perfect and renew us, for the fire of the Spirit can also wash us and the water of the Spirit can also melt us down and recast us.

Didymus of Alexandria, (318 - 398) was the head of the catechetical school at Alexandria. His teachings influenced Gregory of Nazianzen, Jerome, and Rufinus.

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


"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." Galatians 5:1

A spiritually minded man will never come to you with the demand - "Believe this and that;" but with the demand that you square your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One Whom the Bible reveals (cf. John 5:39-40). We are called to present liberty of conscience, not liberty of view. If we are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty - the liberty of realizing the dominance of Jesus Christ.

Always keep your life measured by the standards of Jesus. Bow your neck to His yoke alone, and to no other yoke whatever; and be careful to see that you never bind a yoke on others that is not placed by Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us out of the way of thinking that unless everyone sees as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God's view. There is only one liberty, the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.

Don't get impatient, remember how God dealt with you - with patience and with gentleness; but never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples," not "make converts to your opinions."

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

IRELAND is a country in which the political conflicts are at least genuine: they are about something. They are about patriotism, about religion, or about money: the three great realities. In other words, they are concerned with what commonwealth a man lives in, or with what universe a man lives in, or how he is to manage to live in either. But they are not concerned with which of two wealthy cousins in the same governing class shall be allowed to bring in the same Parish Councils Bill.

'George Bernard Shaw.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict


Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
"Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
I will liken to a wise person
who built a house on rock.
The floods came,
the winds blew and beat against that house,
and it did not fall,
because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).

Having given us these assurances,
the Lord is waiting every day
for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
And the days of this life are lengthened
and a truce granted us for this very reason,
that we may amend our evil ways.
As the Apostle says,
"Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom. 2:4)?
For the merciful Lord tells us,
"I desire not the death of the sinner,
but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).


Clearly, for Benedict, God is not something to be achieved; God is a presence to be responded to but to whom without that presence, we cannot respond. God isn't something for which spiritual athletes compete or someone that secret spiritual formulas expose. God is the breath we breathe. It is thanks to God that we have any idea of God at all. God is not a mathematical formula that we discover by dint of our superior intelligence or our moral valor. God is the reason that we can reach God. It is to this ever-present Presence that the Rule of Benedict directs us. It is to God already in our lives that Benedict turns our minds. The Hasidim tell the story of the preacher who preached over and over, "Put God into your life; put God into your life." But the holy rabbi of the village said, "Our task is not to put God into our lives. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that."

The words of the Rule are as fresh on this point as the day they were written. The fact is that we still compartmentalize God. We tell ourselves that we are working on reaching the spiritual life by saying prayers and doing penances and making pilgrimages and giving things up. And we keep score: so many daily masses, so many rosaries, so many fastdays, so many spiritual books read, so many conferences attended equal so many steps toward the acquisition of God. The Rule of Benedict sets us straight. God is with us, for the taking, but not for any spiritual payment, only for realizing what we already have.

God is neither cajoled nor captured, the Rule makes plain. God is in the Here and Now in Benedictine spirituality. It is we who are not. It is we who are trapped in the past, angry at what formed us, or fixated on a future that is free from pain or totally under our control. But God is in our present, waiting for us there.

"Life is only loaned to us," a Jewish proverb instructs and the Rule of Benedict explains further "by way of a truce." Long life, in other words, is given for the gift of insight: To give us time to understand life and to profit from its lessons and to learn from its failures and to use its moments well and make sense out of its chaos. That, perhaps, is why we expect the elderly to be wise. That, perhaps, is why we look back over the years of our own lives and wonder what happened to the person we were before we began to see more than ourselves. The problem is that there is a lot of life that dulls the senses. Too much money can make us poor. Too much food can make us slow. Too much partying can make us dull. Only the spiritual life enervates the senses completely. All life takes on a new dimension once we begin to see it as spiritual people. The bad does not destroy us and the good gives us new breath because we are always aware that everything is more than it is. The family is not just a routine relationship; it is our sanctification. Work is not just a job; it is our exercise in miracle making. Prayer is not just quiet time; it is an invitation to grow. We begin to find God where we could not see God before, not as a panacea or an anesthetic, not as a cheap release from the problems of life, but as another measure of life's meaning for us.

Clearly, living life well is the nature of repentance. To begin to see life as life should be and to live it that way ourselves is to enable creation to go on creating in us.



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

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman Christ is Risen!
Tone 4 May 6, 2007, Lord's Day
Kellia: Deuteronomy 1:26-46
Apostle: Acts 11:19-26, 29-30 Gospel: St. John 4:5-42

Choosing to Possess: Deuteronomy 1:26-46 LXX, especially vs. 26: "Yet ye
would not go up, but rebelled against the words of the Lord our God.."
The choice to possess the Kingdom of God through unwavering trust when
He calls us to take up the struggle is never forced on anyone of God's
People, neither under the Old Covenant nor under the New. There were
even Disciples who knew the Lord in the flesh and followed Him only for
a time. Then, at a certain moment some "did not believe" when they
found His words "too hard." As the Evangelist John records, many of
them "went back and walked with Him no more" (Jn. 6:64,60,66).

In this present reading, the righteous Moses reveals that without God's
grace no one can possess the promised Land, but the Prophet also reveals
that each disciple must himself take up the struggle. Tragically, many
ignore God's leadership, which is rebellion, but,.conversely, some
expect Him to provide blessings without struggle on their part. We
choose or refuse.

Notice that, in terms of real time, Moses gave this entire teaching to
the children of those who forty years earlier had refused God's promise
and command to possess the land (Deut. 1:3). Every generation of the
People of God and every individual decides for himself. Caleb and
Joshua believed the Lord and they showed themselves willing to struggle
and, as a result, they outlived the generation that rebelled and made
"excuse with excuses in sins" (Ps. 140:4 LXX).

Rebellion always is marked by excuses. Listen to the murmuring: "the
Lord hated us" (Deut. 1:27). "He has brought us out of the land of
Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us"(vs.
27). They allowed their brethren to draw away their hearts (vs. 28).
The excuses, the pleadings, the shifting of blame are well-worn. We
have heard it all, perhaps spoken by our own lips. God forbid! "Set, O
Lord, a watch before my mouth" (Ps. 140:3 LXX).

Despite Moses' reassurance (Deut. 1:29-31), the rebellion prevailed.
They "did not believe the Lord your God" (vs. 32). The Gospel is set
before us in all its radiance in every Divine Liturgy and the promise is
proclaimed, yet, too often, we turn back and fail to believe in the Lord
our God. When He assures us, then the choice is up to us.
Always, the issue is trust or mistrust. Tragically, the People's
mistrust even corrupted Moses (vs. 37). See chapter twenty of Numbers
for the details: the community lacked water and God directed Moses to
take his staff and speak to the rock, but, in his anger, he struck the
rock. God gave them water, but He told Moses: "Because ye have not
believed Me to sanctify Me before the children of Israel, therefore ye
shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them"
(Num. 20:12).

Often mistrust is attended by presumptuous self-reliance. Commanded not
to go up on their own against the Amorites, they "turned and marched"
into the wilderness (vs. 40); the People thought they could fight and
take the mountain of the Amorites, but God withdrew saying, "I Am not
with you" (vss. 41,42). Of course they were defeated (vs. 44), for "the
Lord hearkened not to [their] voice, neither did He take heed to [them]"
(vs. 45) pouting in their defeat. Observe how the worldly character of
their repentance was manifest even as they wept in their tents: once
again, in rebellion to the direct command of God, they did not journey
on through the wilderness from the Red Sea" (vs. 40), but "remained at
Kadesh many days" (vs. 46).

As the Apostle Paul teaches us, "godly sorrow produces repentance
leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world
produces death" (2 Cor. 7:10). Beloved of the Lord, let us heed God's
warning against rebellion, murmuring, mistrusting, and presuming.
Rather, let us humble ourselves before God that He may forgive and
refresh to possess.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, teach me
Thy statutes!


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