Friday, May 11, 2007

11/05/07 Fri week of 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 106:1-18; PM Psalm 106:19-48
Wisdom 16:15-17:1; Rom. 14:13-23; Luke 8:40-56

From Forward Day by Day:

Romans 14:13-23. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.

Peace and peacemaking are not merely the absence of conflict. Peace requires, as the text reminds us, a commitment to mutuality, to learning and listening, and to action. This is true not just at the level of international diplomacy where armies and nations are at stake, but also in the most basic interactions between people.

What does love require? We might ask ourselves this question when we are involved in difficult conversations. What can I learn from the others that I did not know before? Why are they so committed to something that seems unimportant to me or which I oppose?

The answers to these questions may allow for a new respect between people who disagree. Perhaps such questions could be the basis of a dialogue where all who participate are the richer for it. Mutual learning seems to be Jesus' groundwork for peacemaking. It should be ours as well. With St. Francis may we also pray, "Lord make me an instrument of your peace."

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northern Argentina (South America)

++++++++++ Reflections

I should like to respond by spending my earthly life as Our Lady did ... I unite myself to the soul of the Virgin at the moment in which the Father was covering her with His shadow, while the Word was taking flesh within her and the Holy Spirit came upon her to accomplish this great mystery.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Reading from the Desert Christians

An old man was asked, "What is humility?" and he said in reply, "Humility is a great work, and a work of God. The way of humility is to undertake bodily labour and believe yourself a sinner and make yourself subject to all." Then a brother said, "What does it mean, to be subject to all?" The old man answered, "To be subject to all is not to give your attention to the sins of others but always to give your attention to your own sins and to pray without ceasing to God."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Li'ezer ha-Qappar said, Jealousy, and lust, and ambition, put a man out of the world.

He used to say, The born are to die; and the dead to revive; and the living to be judged; for to know, and to notify, and that it may be known, that He is the framer, and He the creator, and He the discerner, and He the judge, and He the witness, and He the "adversary," and He is about to judge with whom there is no iniquity, nor forgetfulness, nor respect of persons, nor taking of a bribe, for all is His, and know that all is according to plan.

Let not thine imagination assure thee that the grave is an asylum; for perforce thou wast framed (Jer. xviii. 6), and perforce thou wast born, and perforce thou livest, and perforce thou diest, and perforce thou art about to give account and reckoning before the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed is He.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Lifting the Cup

When we hold firm our cups of life, fully acknowledging their sorrows and joys, we will also be able to lift our cups in human solidarity. Lifting our cups means that we are not ashamed of what we are living, and this gesture encourages others to befriend their truths as we are trying to befriend ours. By lifting up our cups and saying to each other, "To life" or "To your health," we proclaim that we are willing to look truthfully at our lives together. Thus, we can become a community of people encouraging one another to fully drink the cups that have been given to us in the conviction that they will lead us to true fulfillment.

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

Although we possess property and earn money to support ourselves and our families, wo show ourselves to be true followers of Christ and of Saint Francis by our readiness to live simply and to share with others. We recognize that some of our members may be called to a literal following of Saint Francis in a life of extreme simplicity. All of us, however, accept that we avoid luxury and waste, and regard our possessions as being held in trust for God.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

GOD DESIRES OUR HEALTH, our wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. This bold affirmation rests on the knowledge and experience of God in the life of Israel and the church. God was revealed to Israel as “the LORD, who heals you” (Exod. 15:26), whose deepest and most consistent desire was to redeem, bless, and restore God’s people. … In the here and now, we can count on this: that whenever we open ourselves to the activity of the Holy Spirit, some kind of healing takes place. Indeed, God invites us to ask for what we need just as a child would ask a parent. Even when our lives are filled with suffering or wracked with agonizing questions, we can cling to the faith that God is with us, somehow always offering new life and healing.

- Tilda Norberg and Robert D. Webber
Stretch Out Your Hand

From pages 51-52 of Stretch Out Your Hand by Tilda Norberg and Robert D. Webber. Copyright © 1998 by Tilda Norberg and Robert D. Webber.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Solidarity Is Our Calling"

The term Third World was coined at the United Nations back in the 1950's. I remember thinking, Well, that's about as low as you can go. Third World countries are those with low potential and low development. But there are Fourth World countries with some potential and no development and there are Fifth World countries with no potential and no development, like Nepal. I was in Nepal, in fact, giving a retreat to the Jesuits. They said, Welcome to a Fifth World country. And I said, What? There is such a thing? It's hard for us even to comprehend that two people living on the same planet could live in such utterly different worlds. The gospel isn't asking us to be do-gooders or altruistic, the big white fathers and big white mothers. I think it's calling for something that's really much harder than altruism and generosity (although that certainly is asked for in cases). The gospel is calling us into solidarity. The First World Churches will never be converted until they receive the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth parts of Christ's Body.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

The Lord's creative power

Consider how the Lord's creative power penetrates everything. Our Lord took a little bread, and in the twinkling of an eye multiplied it. Work that would take us ten months to accomplish he did with his ten fingers in a moment. His hands were as earth beneath the bread and his voice was as thunder above it. The movement of his lips acted as dew, the breath of his mouth as sunlight, and in a brief moment he accomplished what normally takes much time. Thus the shortage was forgotten; many loaves came from few as in the first blessing: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

The Lord also showed those to whom he gave his precepts the power of his holy word, and how swiftly he would reward those who accepted it. Nevertheless, he did not increase the number of loaves as much as he could have done, but only enough to satisfy those who were to eat them. His power was not the measure of his miracle, but the people's hunger. Had his miracle been measured by his power it would have been a victory beyond all measure.

Ephrem of Edessa, (306 - 373), deacon of Edessa, was a great poet who used his talent to write about the Christian mysteries in poetic form.

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


"Add to your brotherliness . . . love." 2 Peter 1:7

Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself (cf. Luke 14:26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practise the working out of these things mentioned by Peter.

The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me. The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now, He says to me, show the same love to others - "Love as I have loved you." "I will bring any number of people about you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you." You won't reach it on tiptoe. Some of us have tried to, but we were soon tired.

"The Lord suffereth long. . . ." Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God's love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God's love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

Let the Abbess always bear in mind
that at the dread Judgment of God
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
And let the Abbess be sure
that any lack of profit
the master of the house may find in the sheep
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand,
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.


Benedict puts a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of people in authority, but not all of it. Abbots and prioresses are to teach, to proclaim, but the community's responsibility is to listen and to respond.

Benedict wants a community that is led, but not driven.

The concept is clear: people are not acquitted of the responsibility for their own souls. Personal decisions are still decisions, personal judgments are still judgments, free will is still free will. Being in a family does not relieve a child of the responsibility to grow up. The function of twenty-one year olds is not to do life's tasks as their parents told them to do it when they were six years old. The function of twenty-one year olds is simply to do the same tasks well and to take accountability themselves for having done it.

Perhaps the most important result of a model of authority like this is the environment it creates. The monastery is not a royal court, a military barracks, or a detention home. The role of leadership is not to make lackeys, or foot soldiers or broken children out of adult Christians.

The purpose of Benedictine spirituality is to gather equally committed adults for a journey through earthen darkness to the dazzling light that already flames in each of us, but in a hidden place left to each of us to find.

The Rule's model of leadership and authority, then, is a paradigm for any relationship, husband and wife, parent and child, supervisor and employee. The function of authority is not to control the other; it is to guide and to challenge and to enable the other. Benedictine authority is a commitment to that, a promise of that.

A midrash on Genesis points out: "God prefers your deeds to your ancestors' virtues." We are not here simply to follow someone else. Being part of something good does not automatically make us good. What we do with our own lives is the measure of their value. We are here to learn to take ourselves in hand.

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

Friday, May 11, 2007 Christ is Risen!
Cyril & Methodios, Enlighteners of the Slavs
Kellia: Deuteronomy 3:21-29 Apostle: Acts
Gospel: St. John 10:17-28

Prayer Denied: Deuteronomy 3:21-29, especially vs. 27 LXX: "look with
thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and
behold it with thine eyes, for thou shalt not go over this Jordan."
Like children, we know God as a loving Father (Eph. 4:6). Knowing we
are unique creatures made in God's image (Gen. 1:27), Orthodox
Christians naturally beseech Him to permit us to have a small share in
His work in this fallen world. Therefore, the Incarnate God-the-Word
Himself encourages us to pray to our Father in Heaven: "I say to you,
whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them,
and you will have them" (Mk. 11:24). Still, even this assurance from
the Lord Jesus is no "carte blanche" of fulfillment, Likewise, not
seeing a response from God does not mean disfavor with Him.

Who among us has not had a heartfelt prayer? The Prophet and King
David besought the Lord for the child Uriah's wife bore to him, even in
the face of the Lord's judgment that "the child that is born to you
shall die" (2 Sam. 12:14). Still, David prayed and "fasted, went in and
lay all night upon the ground" for a week, opened his heart's desire
before the Lord (2 Sam. 12:16); and still "on the seventh day the child
died" (2 Sam. 12:18). How many of us have prayed so stringently and
been denied? Let us add that the message of God in refusing David
reveals why the great Moses, after years of service to God, could be
denied his heart's petition.

Notice how Moses' prayer was denied. Indeed, it is encouraging to
take the Lord Jesus at His word: to pray to God fully anticipating that
He will "hearken and have mercy," even when already there are strong
contraindications. The reading discloses, in addition, that when God
refuses our prayers, He does so graciously, assuring us that our lives
and service for Him are not wasted nor fruitless. We also learn that
when God denies a petition, He may still reserve another portion for us,
fulfilling later the very vision He originally awakened within us.

The great majority of Moses' prayers were heard and answered by God,
even when there were many reasons opposing positive answers. The Lord
announced His intention to strike the Israelites "with pestilence and
disinherit them" at Kadesh-barnea for refusing to advance into the Land
(Num. 14:12). Then, Moses besought the Lord: "Pardon the iniquity of
this people, I pray Thee, according to the greatness of Thy steadfast
love, and according as Thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even
until now" (Num. 14:19); and the Lord pardoned them (Num. 14:20). Be
assured even in the face of discouraging evidence, and place your
heart's desire before God.

In the present case, Moses' request was denied (Deut.3:25), but of
course, the Lord was not callous in refusing. Rather, He instructed His
Prophet to ascend a mountain and survey the whole land from there (vs.
27). He was to "charge Joshua, and strengthen him, and encourage him;
for he shall go before the face of this people" (vs. 28). Thus God
affirmed His promise that the People would inherit the land and that the
years of Moses' struggle were not in vain. The desire in the prayer -
"to see the land" - was blessed, but the time had come for Israel's
leadership to pass to Joshua. And already, east of Jordan, the Lord had
given Moses a foretaste of Israel's success in the land to the west - in
the defeat of the two kings (Deut. 2:32,33; 3:3).

Most significantly, as we note, the Lord gave Moses a vital role in the
conquest that lay ahead. He was to "charge Joshua, and strengthen him,
and encourage him" (Deut. 3:28). The wisdom of Moses' years was to be
transmitted to the next generation, so that Joshua's leadership would
give the People of God "the inheritance of all the land" (vs. 3:28).

O Compassionate God, Thou knowest our necessities before we ask:
mercifully give us those things, which for our unworthiness we dare not,
and for our blindness we cannot, ask.


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