Sunday, June 10, 2007

10/06/07 Second Sunday after Pentecost


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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, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; 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 24, 29; PM Psalm 8, 84
Deut. 29:16-29; Rev. 12:1-12; Matt. 15:29-39

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 7:11-17. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow.

There is a small doe that lives near our farm. She is always alone so I suspect her mate is dead. Once I saw her in the middle of our mown field, moving slowly toward a distant pond or maybe a trampled corn field. She was one of the widows of this world.

In New Testament times widows had a claim on their fellow Christians. If they were over sixty, there were special privileges accorded to them. Paul wrote that the community had the duty of this care.

The account here in Luke may be a miracle story which foreshadows Christ's rising from the dead, but I cannot overlook Luke's calling attention to widows. It jars the reader to remember how often Jesus spoke of caring for widows and orphans. He spoke of it frequently.

When we neglect widows we need to be reminded that Jesus left his own mother in the care of his beloved disciple, John. Even on the cross when he was suffering so much, he thought of her.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Oleh (Bendel, Nigeria)
++++++++++ Reflections

Those who are able to shut themselves up within this little heaven of the soul, wherein dwells the Maker of heaven and earth, may be sure that they will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way 20.5

Reading from the Desert Christians

We came from Palestine to Egypt and went to see one of the fathers. He offered us hospitality and we said, "Why do you not keep the fast when visitors come to see you? In Palestine they keep it." He replied, "Fasting is always with me but I cannot always have you here. It is useful and necessary to fast but we choose whether we will fast or not. What God commands is perfect love. I receive Christ in you and so I must do everything possible to serve you with love. When I have sent you on your way, then I can continue my rule of fasting. The sons of the bridegroom cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them; when he is taken away from them, then they will fast."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Empowered to Be

Who are we? Are we what we do? Are we what others say about us? Are we the power we have? It often seems that way in our society. But the Spirit of Jesus given to us reveals our true spiritual identities. The Spirit reveals that we belong not to a world of success, fame, or power but to God. The world enslaves us with fear; the Spirit frees us from that slavery and restores us to the true relationship. That is what Paul means when he says: "All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons [daughters] of God, for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Romans 8:15).

Who are we? We are God's beloved sons and daughters!

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

Day Ten - The Third Aim

To live simply

The first Christians surrendered completely to our Lord and recklessly gave all that they had, offering the world a new vision of a society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material possessions. This vision was renewed by Saint Francis when he chose Lady Poverty as his bride, desiring that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be overcome by love. This is the inspiration for the third aim of the Society, to live simply.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

LET US BEGIN TO SEE BEYOND race, beyond culture, beyond gender, beyond sexual orientation, beyond religion, beyond, beyond all these externals and see each other as God’s beloved. When we relate to others as God relates to us, our sense of being God’s beloved deepens even more.

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

From page 25 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 Eucharist"

The central symbol of Catholicism is the Eucharist. The Church keeps giving the bread of Jesus and saying, “This is who you are, you become what you eat. You are more one than many. You are one, but you are also broken.” That’s the mystery Catholicism constantly celebrates and tries to understand. I don’t think you become Catholic to get mystical, to get metaphysical, to get transcendent, to achieve some kind of nirvana. That might be Buddhist or Hindu holiness; it might be some of the sects and groups today who remind me of unidentified flying objects. That’s not Catholic Christianity. The Catholic understanding of Christianity, at its best, does not emphasize how to get you in the skies, but how to get your feet on the ground, how to get in touch with the real. Truly Catholic Christianity tells us how to get into society, into history, tied to the common good, how to be part of the muddiness and fleshiness of it all. We eat the body of Christ; we don’t just reflect on his ideas. That’s primal, archetypal, transformative energy.

from Why Be Catholic?

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

You will endure them in my name

For in the supper of my passion I gave you my body and blood to be eaten and drunk; and so now you may do the same on the altar in memory of me. Therefore I unfold the truth and say to you, my faithful followers: I will not again drink this cup of anguish in this oppression I now suffer from the Jews until that day when I rise from the dead and death is overthrown, and I bring in the day of salvation. Then I will drink with you the cup of your redemption and show you who are mine your new reason for rejoicing: that the perdition of the ancient crime is taken away, and the kingdom that my father has prepared for those who love him is opened to you. What does this mean? That by my death, which I suffered on the cross, you will know the salvation of souls; and when I ascend after my resurrection, you will receive the Spirit, the Comforter, and you will newly understand true doctrine. And then for my name's sake you will endure many tribulations, and I will endure them with you; not because I will suffer any miseries in the body after this, as I did when I was in the world in the body, but because you will endure them in my name. Therefore I will endure them with you, since you are in me and I am in you.

Hildegard of Bingen

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


"Seek, and ye shall find." Luke 11:9

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss." If you ask for things from life instead of from God, you ask amiss, i.e., you ask from a desire for self-realization. The more you realize yourself the less will you seek God. "Seek, and ye shall find." Get to work, narrow your interests to this one. Have you ever sought God with your whole heart, or have you only given a languid cry to Him after a twinge of moral neuralgia? Seek, concentrate, and you will find.

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." Are you thirsty, or smugly indifferent - so satisfied with your experience that you want nothing more of God? Experience is a gateway, not an end. Beware of building your faith on experience, the metallic note will come in at once, the censorious note. You can never give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have.

"Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." "Draw nigh to God." Knock - the door is closed, and you suffer from palpitation as you knock. "Cleanse your hands" - knock a bit louder, you begin to find you are dirty. "Purify your heart" - this is more personal still, you are desperately in earnest now - you will do anything. "Be afflicted" - have you ever been afflicted before God at the state of your inner life? There is no strand of self-pity left, but a heartbreaking affliction of amazement to find you are the kind of person that you are. "Humble yourself" - it is a humbling business to knock at God's door - you have to knock with the crucified thief. "To him that knocketh, it shall be opened."

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

I HAVE always been inclined to believe the ruck of hard-working people rather than to believe that special and troublesome literary class to which I belong. I prefer even the fancies and prejudices of the people who see life from the inside to the clearest demonstrations of the people who see life from the outside. I would always trust the old wives' fables against the old maids' facts. As long as wit is mother-wit it can be as wild as it pleases.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 7: On Humility

The twelfth degree of humility
is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
to those who see him.
That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
in the fields or anywhere else,
and whether sitting, walking or standing,
he should always have his head bowed
and his eyes toward the ground.
Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
and constantly say in his heart
what the publican in the Gospel said
with his eyes fixed on the earth:
"Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven" (Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
and again with the Prophet:
"I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37:7,9; 118:107).

Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
which casts out fear.
And all those precepts
which formerly he had not observed without fear,
he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
without any effort,
as though naturally and by habit.
No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
but rather the love of Christ,
good habit
and delight in the virtues
which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.


This paragraph is, at first reading, a very difficult excursion into the tension between the apparent and the real. Bowing and scraping have long since gone out of style. What is to be made today of a dictum that prescribes bowed heads and downcast eyes in a culture given to straight-shouldered, steady-eyed self-esteem?

What Benedict is telling us is that true humility is simply a measure of the self that is taken without exaggerated perfection or exaggerated guilt. Humility is the ability to know ourselves as God knows us and to know that it is the little we are that is precisely our claim on God. Humility is, then, the foundation for our relationship with God, our connectedness to others, our acceptance of ourselves, our way of using the goods of the earth and even our way of walking through the world, without arrogance, without domination, without scorn, without put-downs, without disdain, without self-centeredness. The more we know ourselves, the gentler we will be with others.

The chapter on humility is a strangely wonderful and intriguingly distressing treatise on the process of the spiritual life. It does not say, "Be perfect." It says, "Be honest about what you are and you will come to know God." It does not say, "Be flawless and you will earn God." It says, "If you recognize the presence of God in life, you will soon become more and more perfect." But this perfection is not in the twentieth-century sense of impeccability. This perfection is in the biblical sense of having become matured, ripened, whole.

The entire chapter is such a non-mechanistic, totally human approach to God. If we reach out and meet God here where God is, if we accept God's will in life where our will does not prevail, if we are willing to learn from others, if we can see ourselves and accept ourselves for what we are and grow from that, if we can live simply, if we can respect others and reverence them, if we can be a trusting part of our world without having to strut around it controlling it, changing it, wrenching it to our own image and likeness, then we will have achieved "perfect love that casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18.)" There will be nothing left to fear--not God's wrath, not the loss of human respect, not the absence of control, not the achievements of others greater than our own whose success we have had to smother with rejection or deride with scorn.

Humility, the lost virtue of the twentieth century, is crying to heaven for rediscovery. The development of nations, the preservation of the globe, the achievement of human community may well depend on it.

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

Sunday, June 10, 2007 Fish, Wine, & Oil Tone
1 All Saints of Mount Athos
Kellia: Deuteronomy 15:7-15 Epistle: Romans 2:10-16
Gospel: St. Matthew 4:18-23

Under God II ~ Assistance: Deuteronomy 15:7-15 LXX, especially vs. 11:
"For the poor shall not fail off thy land, therefore I charge thee to do
this thing, saying, thou shalt surely open thine hands to thy poor
brother." In this passage from Deuteronomy, the Prophet Moses instructs
us how to aid those in need of assistance - borrowers, the gravely poor
and the distressed, as well as those in our debt and service. As we do
so, the Prophet urges us to pay close heed to our own hearts before the
Lord - counsel that should surprise no Orthodox Christian. His primary
point is that the inward attitude of our heart must remain our uppermost
concern at all times.

As a Prophet of God, Moses requires that whenever we help those in need,
we be mindful of six pairs of contrastive states within our own hearts:
1) hardening or submissiveness, 2) iniquity or purity, 3) covetousness
or generosity, 4) grudging or willingness, 5) miserliness or liberality,
6) forgetfulness or remembrance. He alludes to these inner conditions
as he describes the way in which we can respond to the manifest needs of
others, whether it be in making loans, giving charity, or providing for
the welfare of those in our debt or employ.

First, God's Prophet commands us: "thou shalt not harden thine heart,
neither shalt thou by any means close up thine hand from thy brother who
is in want" (vs. 7). In hardening the heart against those in need, we
lose our submissiveness to God ,for He cares for those in distress and
privation. The Prophet Job, speaking of the devil, whom he calls
Leviathan and the Serpent, says that "his heart is as firm as a stone,
and it stands like an unyielding anvil" (Job 41:15 LXX). Let us not
perish in the sea of eternal death like Pharaoh who did not heed Moses
(Ex. 8:19).

The great Seer also warns each of us not to have "a secret thing in
thine heart, and iniquity" (Deut. 15:9 LXX). From hearts not purified,
we crave the good things of this life, and become attached to material
comfort above the condition of our soul. Then we are in danger of
wicked words which steal into our heart and whisper against losing
earthly pleasures. When we resist providing assistance, let us look
closely to see if we have lost godly purity.

Further, the Prophet urges us to notice any "secret thing in thine
heart, and iniquity" (vs. 9). The Wise Solomon saw that "a man with an
evil eye hastens after riches" (Prov. 28:22), and St. Ephraim discerned
that envy distorted Cain's vision of reality and led him to murder the
righteous Abel. The corrosiveness of sin caused those who were hired
early to murmur against God for doing good with His own on behalf of
those hired late (Mt. 20:15). As the heart is purified, the eyes see
through God's eyes and become filled with His generosity.

Grudging in the heart toward our needy brethren surely closes us off
from God's blessing; yet, when we are willing to give, Moses promises
that "the Lord thy God will bless thee in all thy works, and in all
things on which thou shalt lay thine hand" (Deut. 15:10).

Similarly, miserliness of heart prevents one from furnishing another
person liberally out of one's own resources (vs. 14). So, let us heed
the Prophet's admonition and cultivate the virtue of liberality in all
things spiritual and material, especially to those around us.

Finally, the Lord our God commands us to remember our own struggle in
slavery and the redemption that Christ purchased for us on the Cross.
Thus, earlier, He prompted Moses to call upon the ancient People of God
that each one should remember that "thou wast a [slave - oiketes] in the
land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee from thence" (Deut.
15:15). Only through prayer and God's grace can we regain mindfulness
and freedom in our hearts.

O God, Who hath provided us with all that we now possess: grant us grace
that we may honor Thee with our substance, remembering the account that
we must one day give.



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