Sunday, May 13, 2007

13/05/07 6th 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.


O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 93, 96; PM Psalm 34
Ecclus. 43:1-12,27-32; 1 Tim. 3:14-4:5; Matt. 13:24-34a


From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 14:8-18. Even with [their] words, Paul and Barnabas scarcely restrained the crowd from offering sacrifice to them.

A bit further in this section of Acts, Paul, Timothy, and Silas visit Philippi--the first European town to be visited by Christian missionaries. Moved by them, Lydia was baptized. "When she and her household were baptized, she urged us saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home' " (Acts 16:9-15).

We do not know all of Lydia's story. All we are told is she sold purple (the royal color) cloth. She stops at the river, taking the sabbath rest. Hearing of Jesus, she does not hesitate to be baptized, and then urges Paul and his companions to stay in her home. Hospitality to Jesus' followers is the trademark of her conversion.

In the midst of busy lives we too can be open to hearing the word of Jesus and offer hospitality to him. It is notable that Lydia did not leave her family to become a follower of Jesus, but was able to incorporate faith, life, and work into her daily life. She did not drop everything, but incorporated Jesus into everything. What a wonderful witness for us to claim for faith and work.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northern Indiana

++++++++++ Reflections

If you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the Mansions of your desire, the important thing is not to think much but to love much; do then, whatever most arouses your love.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, IV.1

Reading from the Desert Christians

As abba Macarius was returning to his cell from the marsh carrying palm-leaves, the devil met him with a sharp sickle and would have struck him but he could not. He cried out, "Great is the violence I suffer from you, Macarius, for when I want to hurt you, I cannot. But whatever you do, I do and more also. You fast now and then, but I am never refreshed by any food; you often keep vigil, but I never fall asleep. Only in one thing are you better than I am and I acknowledge that." Macarius said to him, "What is that?" and he replied, "It is because of your humility alone that I cannot overcome you."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Seven things are in a clod, and seven in a wise man. The wise man speaks not before one who is greater than he in wisdom; and does not interrupt the words of his companion; and is not hasty to reply; he asks according to canon, and answers to the point; and speaks on the first thing first, and on the last last; of what he has not heard he says, I have not heard; and he acknowledges the truth. And their opposites are in the clod.

Seven kinds of punishments come on account of seven main transgressions. When some men tithe, and some do not tithe, dearth from drought comes: some of them are hungry, and some of them are full. When they have not tithed at all, a dearth from tumult and from drought comes. And when they have not offered the dough-cake, a deadly dearth comes.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Emptiness and Fullness

Emptiness and fullness at first seem complete opposites. But in the spiritual life they are not. In the spiritual life we find the fulfillment of our deepest desires by becoming empty for God.

We must empty the cups of our lives completely to be able to receive the fullness of life from God. Jesus lived this on the cross. The moment of complete emptiness and complete fullness become the same. When he had given all away to his Abba, his dear Father, he cried out, "It is fulfilled" (John 19:30). He who was lifted up on the cross was also lifted into the resurrection. He who had emptied and humbled himself was raised up and "given the name above all other names" (see Philippians 2:7-9). Let us keep listening to Jesus' question: "Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20:22).

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

Day Thirteen - The Three Ways of Service

Tertiaries desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve in the three ways of Prayer, Study, and Work. In the life of the Order as a whole these three ways must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each individual's service varies according to his/her abilities and circumstances, yet the member's personal rule of life includes each of the three ways.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

THE TENDER LOVE that our good Lord has for all who will be saved … comforts quickly and sweetly, explaining in this way: … “All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”

These words were shown quite tenderly, with no hint of blame toward me or any who would be safe.

- Julian of Norwich
Encounter with God’s Love

From page 31 of Encounter with God’s Love: Selected Writings of Julian of Norwich edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1998 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


If there's one thing that human beings are attached to, it's their self-image, whether it's positive or negative. We need a self-image; there's nothing wrong with that. The spiritual problem is our attachment to it! It determines most of what we feel free to do, to say, whom we link with or don't link with. "I am a well-educated, middle class, intelligent woman." "I am a fun-loving, only partially responsible, casually dressed man." Those are the things that determine most people's lives. And most of us have to say, Am I free to be something other than that? Much of spiritual direction is aimed at helping people detach from false self-images. Amazingly, we are just as attachment to our self-image. It limits what we pay attention to, what we ignore, what kind of God-lover we will accept or avoid. We probably have to have a self-image, but just don't take it too seriously.

from The Enneagram: Naming Our Illusions

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

The holy elements

The life-giving Word of God proclaimed that by uniting himself to a body of his own in a manner known only to himself, he gave that body life-giving power. The bread which I shall give, he said, is my flesh. I shall give it for the life of the world. And again: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no eternal life in you. If we do this then we have life within us, for he said: Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I abide in them.

It was necessary for Christ to dwell in us as God through the Holy Spirit, and at the same time to be intimately united with our bodies through his own holy body and precious blood. This in fact is what we have received as a life-giving blessing. We have done so under the appearances of bread and wine, so that we may not be struck with fear by actually seeing his body and blood set forth on the holy tables of our churches. Because Christ is God he accommodates himself to our weakness by infusing the power of life into the elements on the holy table, and giving them efficacy through his own body so that we may receive them in a life-giving communion, and the body of life may be like a life-giving seed.

Peter of Laodicea

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


"A conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." Acts 24:16

God's commands are given to the life of His Son in us, consequently to the human nature in which His Son has been formed, His commands are difficult, but immediately we obey they become divinely easy.

Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either towards God or towards what it regards as the highest, and therefore conscience records differently in different people. If I am in the habit of steadily facing myself with God, my conscience will always introduce God's perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offence. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God's Son, that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed, and I "make out" at once "what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

God always educates us down to the scruple. Is my ear so keen to hear the tiniest whisper of the Spirit that I know what I should do? "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." He does not come with a voice like thunder; His voice is so gentle that it is easy to ignore it. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. "Why shouldn't I do this?" You are on the wrong track. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks. At your peril, you allow one thing to obscure your inner communion with God. Drop it, whatever it is, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

SOLDIERS have many faults, but they have one redeeming merit: they are never worshippers of Force. Soldiers more than any other men are taught severely and systematically that might is not right. The fact is obvious: the might is in the hundred men who obey. The right (or what is held to be right) is in the one man who commands them. They learn to obey symbols, arbitrary things, stripes on an arm, buttons on a coat, a title, a flag. These may be artificial things; they may be unreasonable things; they may, if you will, be wicked things: but they are not weak things. They are not Force, and they do not look like Force. They are parts of an idea, of the idea of discipline; if you will, of the idea of tyranny; but still an idea. No soldier could possibly say that his own bayonets were his authority. No soldier could possibly say that he came in the name of his own bayonets. It would be as absurd as if a postman said that he came inside his bag. I do not, as I have said, underrate the evils that really do arise from militarism and the military ethic. It tends to give people wooden faces and sometimes wooden heads. It tends, moreover (both through its specialization and through its constant obedience), to a certain loss of real independence and strength of character. This has almost always been found when people made the mistake of turning the soldier into a statesman, under the mistaken impression that be was a strong man. The Duke of Wellington, for instance, was a strong soldier and therefore a weak statesman. But the soldier is always, by the nature of things, loyal to something. And as long as one is loyal to something one can never be a worshipper of mere force. For mere force, violence in the abstract, is the enemy of anything we love. To love anything is to see it at once under lowering skies of danger. Loyalty implies loyalty in misfortune; and when a soldier has accepted any nation's uniform he has already accepted its defeat.

'All Things Considered.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

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

Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
Let her not love one more than another,
unless it be one whom she finds better
in good works or in obedience.
Let her not advance one of noble birth
ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
let her advance one of any rank whatever.
Otherwise let them keep their due places;
because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
and bear in equal burden of service
in the army of the same Lord.
For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
and impose the same discipline on all
according to their deserts.


If Benedict of Nursia was anything, he was not a pious romantic. He knew the Gospel and he knew life and he set out to bring the two together.

In one paragraph of this chapter, he shapes a completely new philosophy of authority, in another paragraph he hints at a different philosophy of religious life and in this one he rejects, out of hand, the common social structures of the period. In his communities, slave and free are equal as the gospels demand.

This is the Jesus life. What is insane in the streets is common coin here. What is madness to politicians is life breath here. What is unheard of in nice company is taken for granted here. Here people are ranked in the order in which they came to the group--not by education, not by money, not by social status but simply according to the moment they came to Christ. There is, as a result, no rank at all and this is very disconcerting to a world that loves uniforms and titles and knowing people who are in Who's Who.

But do not be misled. Benedict is a realist, not a feckless libertarian. There are differences among us and he recognizes those. There is a kind of natural hierarchy of gifts. Some of us are business people and some of us are not. Some of us are musicians and some are not. Some of us are leaders and some are not. The question is not whether or not some of us should be put over others of us. The question is how we get there and why we're put there.

Here Benedict draws another sharp contrast with life as we know it. The monastic life, the spiritual life, is not a life dedicated to climbing and clawing to the top. The monastic mind is not set on politicking or groveling. Abbots and prioresses, good leaders anywhere, are not in the business of forming kitchen cabinets or caucuses.

No, favoritism and intrigue are not the mint of the monastic mindset, commitment is.

Benedict doesn't just want a business manager who can make money for the monastery. He doesn't want workers for their productivity only. He doesn't take for leaders simply those who know how to control a group or build a business. Whom Benedict wants appointed to positions of responsibility are people who are distinguished "in goods works and obedience," in "good works and humility." It is a model for leadership in those places where profit and power and the party line take precedence over what the business or the diocese or the social service agency proclaims it is about.

He does not want people in positions simply to get a job done. He wants people in positions who embody why we bother to do the job at all. He wants holy listeners who care about the effect of what they do on everybody else.
Imagine a world that was run by holy listeners.

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

The Sunday of the Blindman Christ is Risen!
Tone 5 May 13, 2007
Kellia: Deuteronomy 4:15-24 Apostle: Acts
Gospel: St. John 9:1-38

Idolatry: Deuteronomy 4:15-24, especially vss. 15, 16 LXX: "And take
good heed to your hearts for ye saw no similitude in the day in which
the Lord spoke to you in Horeb...lest ye transgress, and make to
yourselves a carved image." A powerful parallel exists between the
teaching of the Prophet Moses in today's reading and the doctrine of the
Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. Observe this parallelism in
the following digest from Romans: "since the creation of the world,
[God's] invisible attributes are clearly the things that are
made" (Rm. 1:20). "Men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rm.
1:18)....although they knew God...did not glorify Him as God, nor were
thankful (Rm. 1:21)....[but] exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and
worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator...." (Rm. 1:25).

Both the Prophet and the Apostle start with the invisible nature of God
and trace the emergence of idolatry to its source in the acceptance by
fallible humans of the corrupting lie of the service and worship of
creatures (Deut. 4:16; Rm. 1:25). Both list various physical entities
(Deut. 4:16-19; Rm. 1:23) that often are substituted as objects for
worship in place of "the Lord [Who] spoke to you at Horeb" (Deut.
4:15)....and brought you forth...out of Egypt, to be a people of
inheritance" (vs. 20)....the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a
jealous God" (vs. 24).

Appreciation and reverence for material things, as expressions of wonder
at God's creation, are, in themselves, healthy and natural movements of
men's hearts and minds: "How magnified are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom
hast Thou made them all; the earth is filled with Thy creation" (Ps.
103:26 LXX). Our trouble begins with the "exchange of the truth of God
for the lie" (Rom. 1:25). Men start believing that the creation holds
the supreme value and ought to receive the highest reverence and
devotion. To identify this exchange as the source of idolatry exposes
the dead-end into which the devil invites man. Suddenly, one can see
precisely what is wrong with modern secularist culture - its supreme
devotion to and worship of material things.

Today, secularists pride themselves on being free of religion. They
cannot imagine that men could be devoted to gods and deities "the
likeness of any beast of those that are on the earth, the likeness of
any winged bird which flies under heaven, the likeness of any reptile
which creeps on the earth, the likeness of any fish of those which are
in the waters" (Deut. 4:17,18). How could people "worship them, and
serve them" (vs. 19)?! But note! the kernel of the problem is service
of "the creature rather than the Creator" (Rm. 1:25), the central error
of secularism.

The Apostle continues his teaching by tracing a link between the service
of things and mankind's capture by "vile passions." For example, "women
[exchanged] the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise, men
also leaving the natural use of the woman [burning] in....lust for one
another" (Rm. 1:26,27). The connection between the service of things
rather than God and moral decadence is predictable. Let the reader
remember that Moses also cautioned the People against troubles of this
very sort that overtook them in fact when they participated in the
debaucheries of the cult of the Baal of Peor (Deut. 4:3; Nu. 25:1, 2, 3).

Thus, God's Prophet also calls us to the unseen, invisible and
ever-present Lord and God Who acts for His People in history, Who takes
us to be His own, and brings us forth "out of the iron furnace [that
ignites our passions], out of Egypt [the mind-set of worshiping things],
to be a people of His own possession" (Deut. 1:20). It is a worthy
question: How do I "despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and
longsuffering"(Rm. 2:4) to serve material goals as my first love, and to
worship their demands above all else with my time and money - God aside?

Receive me, a slave to passion, O Fountain of life that takest away the
sins of the world.


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