Sunday, May 20, 2007

20/05/07, 7th 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, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 66, 67; PM Psalm 19, 46
Ezek. 3:16-27; Eph. 2:1-10; Matt. 10:24-33,40-42

From Forward Day by Day:

John 17:20-26. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.

This prayer, this plea for oneness from John's gospel has always overwhelmed me. When my brain attempts to see logic, the words become confusing. Looked at as a plea for love, however, the entire passage is Jesus' fervent prayer for the disciples and for us who came after. The words suggest God enfolds us with love, and that we might know this all encompassing love deep within us. This love which the Father has for the Son dwells within us as well--not if we deserve it, or if we act a certain way, or as a reward, but because we are God's beloved. Jesus' prayer is that we might be so organically united in God that our very nature will be that of Jesus. It is God's love which makes that possible.

We know this message from biblical lessons, but it is hard to live as if we really believe it. Such wonderful news is sometimes too much for us to take in. Perhaps that is because the message of God's love for us is not logical, does not lend itself to anything but acceptance and saying yes. When we do so, we are also able to share it with one another.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Communion Sunday
++++++++++ Reflections

It used to help me to look at a field, or water, or flowers. These reminded me of the Creator … they awakened me, helped me to recollect myself and thus served as a book.
St Teresa of Jesus
Life, 9.5

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Antony said, "Our life and our death are with our neighbour. If we gain our brother, we have gained our God; but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

RABBI MEIR said, Whosoever is busied in Thorah for its own sake merits many things; and not only so, but he is worth the whole world: he is called friend, beloved: loves God, loves mankind: pleases God, pleases mankind. And it clothes him with meekness and fear, and fits him to become righteous, pious, upright and faithful: and removes him from sin, and brings him toward the side of merit. And they enjoy from him counsel, and sound wisdom, understanding, and strength, for it is said, Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength (Prov, viii. 14). And it gives him kingdom, and dominion, and faculty of judgment. And they reveal to him the secrets of Thorah; and he is made, as it were, a spring that ceases not, and as a river that flows on increasing. And he becomes modest, and long-suffering, and forgiving of insult. And it magnifies him and exalts him over all things.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus' Freedom

Jesus was truly free. His freedom was rooted in his spiritual awareness that he was the Beloved Child of God. He knew in the depth of his being that he belonged to God before he was born, that he was sent into the world to proclaim God's love, and that he would return to God after his mission was fulfilled. This knowledge gave him the freedom to speak and act without having to please the world and the power to respond to people's pains with the healing love of God.

That's why the Gospels say: "Everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all" (Luke 6:19).

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

Day Twenty - The Third Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries endeavor to serve others in active work. We try to find expression for each of the three aims of the Order in our lives, and whenever possible actively help others who are engaged in similar work. The chief form of service which we have to offer is to reflect the love of Christ, who, in his beauty and power, is the inspiration and joy of our lives.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD NEED SAINTS. They need saints more than they need more canny politicians, more brilliant scientists, more grossly overpaid executives and entrepreneurs, more clever entertainers and talk-show hosts. Are there any on the horizon now that Mother Teresa is no longer with us, either of the extraordinary or of the ordinary kind? I think there are. …

There are those whose lives have been irradiated by God’s grace, who seek not to be safe but to be faithful, who have learned how to get along in adversity, who are joyful, who are dream filled, and, above all, who are prayerful. That is what the church and the world need most. It begins with you.

- E. Glenn Hinson
Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership

From page 195 of Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership by E. Glenn Hinson. Copyright © 1999 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Fingerprints of God"

If creation history were a calendar year, human would first show up in the last three minutes of December 31. That means the entire Judeo-Christian tradition appears in the last millisecond of December 31. Do you think God waited until the last millisecond to start telling us who God is? How absurd! The Bible didn’t start revelation! I think that’s the Achilles heel of some narrow forms of Protestantism. We listen to human experience, to history, to the natural creation! We look at all of it, and say, this is already, as St. Bonaventure said, the footprints and the fingerprints of God. That’s also in Romans 1:20: “God has been there ever since creation for the mind to see in the things God has made.” Our task is to look at things as they are, and in all their seasons: in their agony, in their ecstasy. That will be your best teacher. Creation itself is the primary revelation of God and truth. I’m ashamed of Catholics who are fighting the Enneagram (although it’s mostly Catholics who are teaching the Enneagram, too). They don’t know their own tradition! Our tradition has always known how to integrate. For example, Aquinas integrated Aristotle and was called a heretic. That’s always been our tradition, though: Pull it in! If it can’t be integrated, it isn’t Christ for us. Because Christ is the whole one who includes all things. And if God is truth, then we have no truth to be afraid of: psychological truth, political truth, metaphysical truth, scientific truth, evolutionary truth – if it’s truth, it’s of God. That’s Catholicism at its best. But I find so few Catholics today. Catholic (kata holos, in Greek), means “according to the whole.” I’m afraid, though, that we’ve had a lot more provincialism than Catholicism. We’ve had a lot more ethnicity than catholicity. And catholicity makes no sense unless it includes Judaism and the Islamic tradition which also comes forth from Abraham. The Enneagram, some say, comes out of Islam. There’s room for everyone underneath the cosmic Christ.

from Enneagram II: Tool for Conversion

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

By falling down, Christ rose up

We see that when Christ rose like the sun from his sepulcher this meant that it was not only a ray of sunlight that was arising and shining at that moment, but rather many rays, many shining splendors, life itself, and the very future of the world, being embraced and enhanced by Christ. Joy, birth, a new birth for all of us: a wonderful birth in which we were all reborn, and moreover one that overcame death, anguish, despair. By contrast with darkness light shines brighter. The anguishing hours before such a birth, hours of despair and death, enhance such a birth, since out of suffering, misery, grief, came out victory and life. A paradox: By falling down Christ rose up, out of death life arose and conquered the heavens. In such a manner, we conclude that the deeper the roots, the higher the plant that grows out of such roots, and in a parallel way out of an experience so deep and poignant, of agony and despair, Christ came to know an existence of bliss.

Luis de León, O.S.A., (1527 - 1591), an Augustinian friar, was a poet, mystic, scriptural scholar, and theologian; above all he was a holy man who suffered much for his beliefs. He was the editor of the works of Saint Teresa of Jesus of Avila.

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


"In your patience possess ye your souls." Luke 21:19

When a man is born again, there is not the same robustness in his thinking or reasoning for a time as formerly. We have to make an expression of the new life, to form the mind of Christ. "Acquire your soul with patience." Many of us prefer to stay at the threshold of the Christian life instead of going on to construct a soul in accordance with the new life God has put within. We fail because we are ignorant of the way we are made, we put things down to the devil instead of our own undisciplined natures. Think what we can be when we are roused!

There are certain things we must not pray about - moods, for instance. Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won't. The Christian life is one of incarnate spiritual pluck.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

IF the authors and publishers of 'Dick Deadshot,' and such remarkable works, were suddenly to make a raid upon the educated class, were to take down the names of every man, however distinguished, who was caught at a University Extension Lecture, were to confiscate all our novels and warn us all to correct our lives, we should be seriously annoyed. Yet they have far more right to do so than we; for they, with all their idiotcy, are normal and we are abnormal. It is the modern literature of the educated, not of the uneducated, which is avowedly and aggressively criminal. Books recommending profligacy and pessimism, at which the high-souled errand-boy would shudder, lie upon all our drawing-room tables. If the dirtiest old owner of the dirtiest old bookstall in Whitechapel dared to display works really recommending polygamy or suicide, his stock would be seized by the police. These things are our luxuries. And with a hypocrisy so ludicrous as to be almost unparalleled in history, we rate the gutter boys for their immorality at the very time that we are discussing (with equivocal German professors) whether morality is valid at all. At the very instant that we curse the Penny Dreadful for encouraging thefts upon property, we canvass the proposition that all property is theft. . . . At the very instant that we charge it with encouraging the young to destroy life, we are placidly discussing whether life is worth preserving.

'The Defendant.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

22. Not to give way to anger.
23. Not to nurse a grudge.
24. Not to entertain deceit in one's heart.
25. Not to give a false peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, for fear of perjuring oneself.
28. To utter truth from heart and mouth.
29. Not to return evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to oneself.
31. To love one's enemies.
32. Not to curse those who curse us, but rather to bless them.
33. To bear persecution for justice' sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not addicted to wine.
36. Not a great eater.
37. Not drowsy.
38. Not lazy.
39. Not a grumbler.
40. Not a detractor.
41. To put one's hope in God.
42. To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.
43. But to recognize always that the evil is one's own doing, and to impute it to oneself.


The end of Benedictine spirituality is to develop a transparent personality. Dissimulation, half answers, vindictive attitudes, a false presentation of self are all barbs in the soul of the monastic. Holiness, this ancient Rule says to a culture that has made crafty packaging high art, has something to do with being who we say we are, claiming our truths, opening our hearts, giving ourselves to the other pure and unglossed. Shakespeare's Hamlet noted once: "A man can smile and smile and be a villain." Benedict is intent on developing people who are what they seem to be.

"Do not repay one bad turn with another (1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9)." Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently. "Love your enemies (Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27)." If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead. "Endure persecution for the sake of justice (Mt 5:10)."

A peacemaker's paragraph, this one confronts us with the Gospel stripped and unadorned. Nonviolence, it says, is the center of the monastic life. It doesn't talk about conflict resolution; it says, don't begin the conflict. It doesn't talk about communication barriers; it says, stay gentle even with those who are not gentle with you. It doesn't talk about winning; it talks about loving.

Most of all, perhaps, it offers us no false hope that all these attempts will really change anything. No, it says instead that we must be prepared to bear whatever blows it takes for the sake of justice, quietly, gently, even lovingly with never a blow in return.

A story from the Far East recounts that a vicious general plundered the countryside and terrorized the villagers. He was, they said, particularly cruel to the monks of the place, whom he despised.

One day, at the end of his most recent assault, he was informed by one of his officers that, fearing him, all the people had already fled the town, with the exception of one monk who had remained in his monastery going about the order of the day.

The general was infuriated at the audacity of the monk and sent the soldiers to drag him to his tent.

"Do you not know who I am?" he roared at the monk, "I am he who can run you through with a sword and never bat an eyelash."

But the monk replied quietly, "And do you not know who I am? I am he who can let you run me through with a sword and never bat an eyelash."

Nonviolence plunges the monastic into the core of Christianity and allows for no rationalizations. Monastic spirituality is Christianity to the hilt. It calls for national policies that take the poor into first account; it calls for a work life that does not bully underlings or undercut the competition; it calls for families that talk to one another tenderly; it calls for a foreign policy not based on force. Violence has simply no place in the monastic heart.

"You must not be proud, nor be given to wine (Ti 1:7; I Tm 3:3)." Refrain from too much eating or sleeping, and "from laziness (Rom 12:11)." Do not grumble or speak ill of others.

In the Tao Te Ching it reads:
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are,
When you realize there is nothing lacking
the whole world belongs to you.

Benedict reminds us, too, that physical control and spiritual perspective are linked: pride and gluttony and laziness are of a piece. We expect too much, we consume too much and we contribute too little. We give ourselves over to ourselves. We become engorged with ourselves and, as a result, there is no room left for the stripped down, stark and simple furniture of the soul.


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