Sunday, July 08, 2007

08/07/07 Sixth 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, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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 146, 147; PM Psalm 111, 112, 113
1 Samuel 14:36-45; Rom. 5:1-11; Matt. 22:1-14

From Forward Day by Day:

Isaiah 66:10-16. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.

This verse from Isaiah comes just before some very "Old Testament" descriptions of God. Just a few lines later we read "For the Lord will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to pay back his anger in fury, and his rebuke in flames of fire." This latter passage describes what many think of as the God of the Old Testament--vengeful, full of wrath, and ready to slay his enemies.

Other biblical passages, though, speak of a God of love and forgiveness, and they are found in both the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes these two personalities seem hard to reconcile. But, as Isaiah shows us, even in the midst of a passage about fury and anger, the loving Lord of the New Testament is also present. The Lord says, "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you." What is more loving or more gentle than a mother comforting her child?

Yes, God is sometimes angry, but God is also and always loving. He is the God who loved the world through creation, the God who delivered his people Israel, the God who taught through the prophets, the God who has always loved his people as a mother loves a child.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Polynesia (New Zealand)

Speaking to the Soul:

On Thy Wondrous Works I Will Meditate

Daily Reading for July 8 • The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Every morning I want to kneel down on the golden
cloth of the sand and say
some kind of musical thanks for
the world that is happening again—another day—
from the shawl of wind coming out of the
west to the firm green

flesh of the melon lately sliced open and
eaten, its chill and ample body
flavored with mercy. I want
to be worthy of—what? Glory? Yes, unimaginable glory.
O Lord of melons, of mercy, though I am
not ready, nor worthy, I am climbing toward you.

From "On Thy Wondrous Works I Will Meditate: Psalm 145 by Mary Oliver, in Thirst: Poems by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, 2006).

++++++++++ Reflections

By how many paths, in how many manners, through how many means do you reveal your love to us.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

God is the life of all free beings. He is the salvation of all, of believers or unbelievers, of the just or the unjust, of the pious or the impious, of those freed from passions or those caught up in them, of monks or those living in the world, of the educated and the illitrate, of the healthy and the sick, of the young or the old. He is like the outpouring of light, the glimpse of the sun, or the changes of the weather which are the same for everyone without exception.

Abba Pambo said, "If you have a heart, you can be saved."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Wounded Healer

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?" When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Jesus is God's wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus' suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

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

Day Eight - The Second Aim, cont'd

Members of the Third Order fight against all such injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfillment.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

BEING A CHRISTIAN IS NOT ABOUT US; IT’S ABOUT JESUS. Spiritual formation is about the life of Jesus being made visible in our bodies; it’s about engaging the Spirit because we are hungry for God; it’s about being disciples so that Jesus can pour his life into us. It’s about learning to love God with our heart, mind, body, and soul. It’s about having the courage to actually follow Christ — to place one foot in front of the other, to dare to live a life of grace.

- Derek Maul
Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men

From page 30 of Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men by Derek Maul. Copyright © 2007 by Derek Maul. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Live a Life of Charity"

If you're still breathing, there's more conversion and more life which the Lord wants to offer you. That's what John the Evangelist means when he writes, "You will know that the Spirit is within you 'because I live and because you will live'" (John 14:19).

Why do we feel the call to this kind of charity, this kind of love? It's not a tactic or a strategy in order to get into heaven. It's simply because that's who God is: God pours forth life in our hearts and calls us to be who God is.

It's the only thing that makes sense. When you know that your parent is love, then the only thing you want to be is love. The only thing that comes logically, naturally, to you is love. Nothing else makes sense after a while.

There is a given-ness to God. God is not withheld; God is the one who is handed over. That's what we mean when we say that God is love. But it's not like our love. When we love, we wait and we see something good out there. If it's attractive enough, if it's good enough, we give ourselves to it. God simply gives. We find that kind of love very hard to understand because we're not able to love that way.

from The Price of Peoplehood


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

The empty spirit

The most powerful prayer, and almost the strongest of all to obtain everything, and the most honorable of all works, is that which proceeds from an empty spirit. The emptier the spirit, the more is the prayer and the work mighty, worthy, profitable, praiseworthy, and perfect. The empty spirit can do everything.

What is an empty spirit? An empty spirit is one that is confused by nothing, attached to nothing, has not attached its best to any fixed way of acting, and has no concern whatever in anything for its own gain, for it is all sunk deep down into God's dearest will and has forsaken its own. A person can never perform any work, however humble, without it gaining strength and power from this.

We ought to pray so powerfully that we should like to put our every member and strength, our two eyes and ears, mouth, heart, and all our senses to work; and we should not give up until we find that we wish to be one with him who is present to us and whom we entreat, namely God.

Meister Eckhart

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


"Choose you this day whom ye will serve." Joshua 24:15

Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God's Spirit. When God gives a vision of truth it is never a question of what He will do, but of what we will do. The Lord has been putting before us all some big propositions, and the best thing to do is to remember what you did when you were touched by God before - the time when you were saved, or first saw Jesus, or realized some truth. It was easy then to yield allegiance to God; recall those moments now as the Spirit of God brings before you some new proposition.

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve." It is a deliberate calculation, not something into which you drift easily; and everything else is in abeyance until you decide. The proposition is between you and God; do not confer with flesh and blood about it. With every new proposition other people get more and more "out of it," that is where the strain comes. God allows the opinion of His saints to matter to you, and yet you are brought more and more out of the certainty that others understand the step you are taking. You have no business to find out where God is leading, the only thing God will explain to you is Himself.

Profess to Him - 'I will be loyal.' Immediately you choose to be loyal to Jesus Christ, you are a witness against yourself. Don't consult other Christians, but profess before Him - I will serve Thee. Will to be loyal - and give other people credit for being loyal too.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 31: What Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Should Be

As cellarer of the monastery
let there be chosen from the community
one who is wise, of mature character, sober,
not a great eater, not haughty, not excitable,
not offensive, not slow, not wasteful,
but a God-fearing man
who may be like a father to the whole community.

Let him have charge of everything.
He shall do nothing without the Abbot's orders,
but keep to his instructions.
Let him not vex the brethren.
If any brother
happens to make some unreasonable demand of him,
instead of vexing the brother with a contemptuous refusal
he should humbly give the reason
for denying the improper request.

Let him keep quard over his own soul,
mindful always of the Apostle's saying
that "he who has ministered well
will acquire for himself a good standing" (1 Tim. 3:13).

Let him take the greatest care
of the sick, of children, of guests and of the poor,
knowing without doubt
that he will have to render an account for all these
on the Day of Judgment.

Let him regard all the utensils of the monastery
and its whole property
as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.
Let him not think that he may neglect anything.
He should be neither a miser
nor a prodigal and squanderer of the monastery's substance,
but should do all things with measure
and in accordance with the Abbot's instructions.


Benedictine spirituality refuses to glorify a life of false frugality or fabricated irritations. The person who handles the supplies of the monastery, the cellarer, is to distribute the goods of the monastery calmly, kindly, without favoritism and under the guidance of the abbot or prioress, not to put people under obligation to them or to wreak vengeance on those who rebuff them.

The cellarer does more than distribute goods. The cellarer becomes a model for the community, a person who is to be "temperate," not a person who is "an excessive eater," not someone in other words with rich tastes and a limitless appetite for material things. Benedict wants the cellarer to be someone who knows the difference between needs and desires, who will see that the community has what is necessary but does not begin the long, slippery road into excess and creature comforts and indolence and soft-souledness. In the house of Benedict, the principles of the life live in ways no words can convey, in the people who carry them out. The call to be what we say we believe becomes a measure of authenticity for teachers, parents and administrators everywhere.

If Chapter 31 is anything at all, it is a treatment of human relationships. The one with power is not to annoy the powerless. The one with needs is not to demand. The chapter stands as stark warning to people in positions of authority and responsibility, whatever their station. They are to "keep watch of their own souls" guarding themselves against the pitfalls of any position: arrogance, disinterest, unkindness, aloofness from the very people the position is designed to serve. Then, to make the point clear, Benedict describes the people who are not to get overlooked for the sake of efficiency in the bureaucratic game of hurry up and wait. And they are everybody who cannot possibly be expected to want things when the office is open: the sick, the young, the guests and the poor. The one who has power and resources, the Rule says, must know for certain that "they will be held accountable for all of them on the day of judgment." As will we all who find ourselves too busy, too insensitive, too uncaring to see that the goods of the earth are given to the poor ones who have as much claim on the Garden as we but no way to get the staples of life for themselves. As will we all who use our positions to diminish the people in behalf of whom we bear responsibility by wearing them down and wearing them out while we dally with their needs. The spouse who lets the door swell to sticking before fixing it, or serves the meal an hour after its time; the employer who never buys the new file cabinet; the superior who never sees the staff personally, all fail in the Benedictine spirituality of service for the sake of the person that is taught in this chapter.

But the cellarer must do more than take care of people. A Benedictine cellarer has a responsibility to take care of things, too. Waste is not a Benedictine virtue. Planned obsolescence is not a Benedictine goal. Disposability is not a Benedictine quality. A Benedictine soul is a soul that takes care of things, that polishes wood and scrapes away rust and keeps a room clean and never puts feet on the furniture and mulches the garden and leaves trees standing and "treats all utensils and goods of the monastery like the sacred vessels of the altar." A Benedictine cares for the earth and all things well. The Benedictine heart practiced ecology before it was a word.

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

Sunday, July 8, 2007 Tone 5 Great-Martyr
Prokopios of Caesarea in Palestine
Kellia: Job 26:1, 4-14 Epistle: Romans
12:6-14 Gospel: St. Matthew 9:1-8

God the Lord I ~ Almighty: Job 26:1, 4-14 LXX, especially vs. 11, 12:
"The pillars of heaven are prostrate and astonished at His rebuke. He
has calmed the sea with His might, and by His wisdom the whale has been
overthrown." Job's friends speak about God and display a certain
theological erudition, but actually expose the missing elements in their
knowledge of God. Now Job shares his knowledge of God, an understanding
that gives him the strength to endure his present afflictions: "You wish
to speak about God? Very well, let us speak of God's might and of His
wisdom." In this chapter, the Prophet draws attention to the unbounded
power of God. In the eleven verses, 4-14, he expounds a closely
reasoned exposition of Divine might and power.

"To whom have you uttered words?" (vs. 4) Job asks, indicating that
even the paltry ability to speak about God itself is a gift from the
Almighty. Note: in the first creation account, God makes, speaks, and
blesses, "and it was so" (Gen. 1:9,11,15, etc.); but in making man "in
Our own image, according to Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26), God speaks to man
(Gen. 1:28), to one like God, in whose breath are words. Mankind did
not invent speech; it was given by God.

"Shall giants be born from under the water...?" (Job 26:5) Job asks and
declares that nothing can oppose God's power. Only those in the Ark
survived the flood (Gen. 7:23).

"Hell [Hades] is naked before Him" (Job 26:6). Job reminds us that the
dead as well as the living are subject to God, as the raising of Lazarus
demonstrated tangibly (Jn. 11:25).

"He stretches out the north wind upon nothing, and He, upon nothing,
hangs the earth" (Job 26:7). Men and women fashion many marvels but
always work from what exists, from material God has placed at our
disposal. God's infinite power is disclosed in that He creates out of
nothing. "The One Who was suspended on a Tree, suspended the earth
above the waters."

"He keeps back the face of His throne, stretching out His cloud upon it"
(vs. 9). As St. John of Damascus says, "The has revealed to us what it was
expedient for us to know, whereas that which we were unable to bear He
has withheld."

"He has encompassed the face of the water...until the end of light and
darkness" (vs. 10) Job asserts. The creation will endure only as long
as God wills. As at the beginning He said, "Let there be light;" and
there was light (Gen. 1:3), so at the end, "They shall perish...and they
all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold
them up" (Heb. 1:11,12).

"The pillars of heaven are prostrate....He has calmed the sea with His
might" (Job 26:11,12). We say in the Creed that He is "the Maker of
heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible," and it is
meet and right that He is worshiped in heaven and on earth (Rev.
5:13,14), for this is the One Who stilled the waters before the eyes of
His disciples (Mark 4:39) and let all worship and honor Him.

"And the barriers of heaven fear Him, and by a command He has slain the
apostate dragon" (Job 26:13). Here Job teaches us that God readily
overturns whatever He will, even "trampling down death by death," and
the lord of death, Satan.

"We will hearken to Him at the least intimation of His word" (vs.14) is
Job's own confession of faith. The true Prophet speaks the word of God
truly, the God he knows.

"The strength of His thunder who knows, when He shall employ it?" (vs.
14) Hereby, Job invites us to confess, with him, our limited power and
knowledge before the Almighty.

It is meet and right to hymn Thee, to bless Thee, to praise Thee, to
give thanks unto Thee, and to worship Thee in every place of Thy
dominion: for Thou art God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible,
incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally the same.



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