Wednesday, July 18, 2007

18/07/07 Wednesday in the week of 7th Sunday after Pentecost


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 Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 38; PM Psalm 119:25-48
1 Samuel 20:1-23; Acts 12:18-25; Mark 2:13-22

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 2:13-22. And as he sat at dinner in Levi's house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples.

In Roman-occupied Israel, tax-collectors were like collaborators in wartime. They collected taxes for the occupiers, and added a substantial cut for themselves. Some called them extortionists. They were reviled by the Jewish population. Yet Jesus chose to dine with tax-collectors, much to the chagrin of the Jewish leadership. Why?

Jesus tells us he came to save not the righteous, but sinners. I think there's more to it than that. Like all good teachers, Jesus taught not only through his words, but also through his actions. The examples he set with his behavior speak as loudly as his parables.

What does Jesus teach by eating with tax-collectors? He teaches that disapproval of some people, because their sins are especially offensive to us, does not cast them outside the circle of God's love. We are all sinners, after all, just as we are all loved by God. Jesus calls on us to be accepting of all our fellow people, and to look on them not as tax-collectors or sinners, but as children of God.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Busan (Korea)

Speaking to the Soul:

Harriet Ross Tubman

Daily Reading for July 18

I looked at my hands, to see if I was the same person now I was free. There was such a glory over everything, the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in heaven. I had crossed the line of which I had so long been dreaming. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom, I was a stranger in a strange land, and my home after all was down in the old cabin quarter, with the old folks, and my brothers and sisters. But to this solemn resolution I came: I was free, and they should be free also; I would make a home for them in the North, and the Lord helping me, I would bring them all there. Oh, how I prayed then, lying all alone of the cold, damp ground; “Oh, dear Lord,” I said, “I ain’t got no friend but you. Come to my help, Lord, for I’m in trouble!”

From a story by Harriet Ross Tubman, the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Quoted in A Year With American Saints by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber. Copyright © 2006. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

++++++++++ Reflections

I open the Scriptures... then all appears clear, full of light... holiness appears easy.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, 'My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother's faults'. The old man told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus (the monk), 'In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man he asked him, "Father, why are you weeping?" "I am weeping over my sins," the old man answered him. Then his disciple said, "You do not have any sins, Father." The old man replied, "Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them. "

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Body of Community

When we gather around the table and break the bread together, we are transformed not only individually but also as community. We, people from different ages and races, with different backgrounds and histories, become one body. As Paul says: "As there is one loaf, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body, for we all share in the one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:17).

Not only as individuals but also as community we become the living Christ, taken, blessed, broken, and given to the world. As one body, we become a living witness of God's immense desire to bring all peoples and nations together as the one family of God.

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

Day Eighteen - The Second Way of Service, cont'd

As well as the devotional study of Scripture, we all recognize our Christian responsibility to pursue other branches of study, both sacred and secular. In particular, some of us accept the duty of contributing, through research and writing, to a better understanding of the church's mission in the world: the application of Christian principles to the use and distribution of wealth; questions concerning justice and peace; and of all other questions concerning the life of faith.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

MERCY IS the deepest quality of God’s love, the most encompassing movement of God’s heart, the most stunningly unexpected evidence of God’s generosity, the most enduring evidence of God’s sovereignty. … Flexible and strong, mercy is capable of bearing sorrow’s weight and of supporting every honest effort to build new life.

- John S. Mogabgab
“Editor’s Introduction
Weavings Journal

From Weavings Journal, September/October 2000. Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Four Stages of a Mans Life"

People in India recognize four stages of male life. The first stage is student, where one is a learner and takes in life. The second stage is the householder, where he marries, raises children and learns to love and be faithful to his wife. We Westerners for some strange reason consider this second stage to be the whole deal and the end of all life. People spend the remainder of their life fixing up the house, waiting for their children and then grandchildren to come home and visit them. The third stage is called the seeker, or forest dweller. This is one who, after raising a family, takes them and moves beyond the nuclear family to a bigger world picture. The question for most Americans today is, Who is going to get me a job next week? Who can keep the economy going next month? Thats how farsighted we are, thats how big of a global consciousness we have. Were not connected to the rest of the world; were not connected to anything except next week. Its hedonistic, its a-historical, its spiritually blind, and it keeps all of us from the fourth stage; the wise man, who puts the inner life together with the outer life, the small family together with the big family. Mahatma Ghandi personified this male journey. The sage, or wise man, thinks globally but lives and acts locally.

from A Mans Approach to God


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

The homeless

Plenty of strangers wander the roads, and everywhere we see their outstretched hands begging for help. Their home is the open air; they shelter in porticos, streets, and deserted corners of the marketplace, lurking in nooks and crannies like owls, and clothed in tattered rags. Their food is whatever they may get from a passerby, and they drink from the fountains with animals, using the hollow of their hands as a cup. Their storeroom is their pockets if these are not too torn to hold anything. For a table they use their knees pressed together; their bed is the pavement, and to bathe they have simply a river or pool which God gives for the use of everyone. Such is the rough, wandering path they follow, not because their life was like that from the start, but because misfortune has driven them to it.

You can help them through your fasting. Be generous to your brothers and sisters who are in trouble, giving to the hungry what you deny yourself, and making a fair distribution in the fear of God.

Gregory of Nyssa

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


"And he said, Who art Thou, Lord?" Acts 9:5

By the miracle of Redemption Saul of Tarsus was turned in one second from a strong-willed, intense Pharisee into a humble, devoted slave of the Lord Jesus.

There is nothing miraculous about the things we can explain. We command what we are able to explain, consequently it is natural to seek to explain. It is not natural to obey; nor is it necessarily sinful to disobey. There is no moral virtue in obedience unless there is a recognition of a higher authority in the one who dictates. It is possibly an emancipation to the other person if he does not obey. If one man says to another - 'You must,' and - 'You shall,' he breaks the human spirit and unfits it for God. A man is a slave for obeying unless behind his obedience there is a recognition of a holy God. Many a soul begins to come to God when he flings off being religious, because there is only one Master of the human heart, and that is not religion but Jesus Christ. But woe be to me if when I see Him I say - I will not. He will never insist that I do, but I have begun to sign the death warrant of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say - I will not, He will never insist; but I am backing away from the recreating power of His Redemption. It is a matter of indifference to God's grace how abominable I am if I come to the light; but woe be to me if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 39: On the Measure of Food

We think it sufficient for the daily dinner,
whether at the sixth or the ninth hour,
that every table have two cooked dishes
on account of individual infirmities,
so that he who for some reason cannot eat of the one
may make his meal of the other
Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brethren;
and if any fruit or fresh vegetables are available,
let a third dish be added.

Let a good pound weight of bread suffice for the day,
whether there be only one meal or both dinner and supper.
If they are to have supper,
the cellarer shall reserve a third of that pound,
to be given them at supper.

But if it happens that the work was heavier,
it shall lie within the Abbot's discretion and power,
should it be expedient,
to add something to the fare.
Above all things, however,
over-indulgence must be avoided
and a monk must never be overtaken by indigestion;
for there is nothing so opposed to the Christian character
as over-indulgence
according to Our Lord's words,
"See to it that your hearts be not burdened
with over-indulgence" (Luke 21:34).

Young boys
shall not receive the same amount of food as their elders,
but less;
and frugality shall be observed in all circumstances.

Except the sick who are very weak,
let all abstain entirely
from eating the flesh of four-footed animals.


Chapter 39 is a chapter on generosity and trust that flies in the face of a tradition of stern and demanding asceticisms. Benedict of Nursia never takes food away from the community. On the contrary, he assures himself that the fare will always be ample and will always be simple but pleasing. These were working monastics who needed energy to toil and peace to pray. Benedict decides that food is not to be the penance of their lives.

Everybody needs something in life to make the rest of life doable and uplifting. The important thing in the spiritual life is that while we are creating penances for ourselves to build up our moral fiber we are also providing possibilities for ourselves to build up our spiritual joy.

Exceptions. Exceptions. Exceptions. The Rule of Benedict is full of rules that are never kept, always shifting, forever being stretched. Only two Benedictine principles are implied to be without exception: kindness and self-control. The abbot is to make exceptions always; the monastic is never to take advantage of them or to lose control, to slip into dissipation, to fail to keep trying to keep the mind in charge of the body. Soft living, slouch-heartedness, a dried up soul is not what gives life meaning. It is stretching ourselves that keeps us supple and keeps us trim. We believe it about the body. We are inclined to overlook it in the soul. Let them have what they need, the Rule says, but let them forego what they don't so that they can run through life with their bodies unburdened and their souls unsurfeited. It is good, clean living that Benedictine spirituality is about, living that keeps us young in heart and sharp of vision, living that has something for which to strive.

The meat of four-footed animals was not part of the monastic diet because it was thought to heighten the animal facet of human nature. In a society whose philosophy was highly dualistic and whose world separated out neatly into things that were of the spirit and things that were of the flesh, the consideration was a serious one. Monastic life was about higher things and nothing was to be allowed to interfere with that.

The question for the modern world has seldom been what effect diet has on spirit--though interest in the field is certainly growing--but we have come to some conclusions about other things. We do know that colors, weather, light, environment, all affect the spirit. Too much of anything, we have discovered, can weigh us down. Each of us needs to fast from something to bring ourselves to the summit of our spiritual powers. The question is whether or not we have lost a sense of the value of fasting or do we simply fill ourselves, glut ourselves, without limit, without end, with the useless and the disturbing?.

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 Martyr
Emilianos of Silistria in Bulgaria
Kellia: Micah 5:1-15 Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:12-22
Gospel: St. Matthew 16:20-24

The Messiah's Impact: Micah 5:1-15 LXX, especially vs. 4: "And the Lord
shall stand, and see, and feed His flock with power, and they shall
dwell in the glory of the name of the Lord their God: for now shall they
be magnified to the ends of the earth." Earlier in his work, the
Prophet Micah forecast a new age for Judah and Jerusalem in which the
People of God would be exalted "above the hills," that is, above all
nations and movements that so often capture men's hearts and souls
(Micah 4:1). That future season would bring peace and draw people of
many nations to the worship of God and to "walk in His paths" (Micah
4:1,2). We took note that the Holy Fathers saw this prophecy as a
forecast of Christ and the Church. Now, in chapter five, Micah becomes
quite specific in assuring ancient Israel that although they were
"completely hedged in," laid under siege, and their tribes smitten "with
a rod upon the cheek" (Micah 5:1), yet God would radically change their
condition, so that they would be magnified to the ends of the earth (vs.

How could this be? Was it not obvious that a tragic and unthinkable end
to the People of God was coming down on them? Was not a major delusion
being exposed in the prophecy that purportedly was given by God to David
as King and Prophet: "I promise thee saying, there shall not fail thee a
man of the throne of Israel" (3 Kings 2:4)? The dwindling of Israel
before the world's great powers appeared to be moving to an utter end
for the nation (Micah 5:1). Having plainly described the present
situation of God's People, Micah prophesies how the nation's destiny
will change: out of Bethlehem "shall One come forth to [God] to be a
ruler of Israel (vs.2)....and all thine enemies shall be utterly
destroyed" (vs. 9).

The hope that Micah proclaimed, of a Messiah and the impact He would
have upon the nation and the world, had a profound effect upon the
Jewish people. To this day the Jewish people still look for the
Messiah. On the other hand, the earliest Christians, and the Church
through the centuries since then, know Jesus to be the fulfillment of
this very prophecy.

The Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem (vs. 2). Many Jews of the first
century knew that He came from Nazareth and not from Bethlehem:
obviously He was not the Messiah! They were able to ask, "Will the
Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ
comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David
was?" (Jn. 7:41,42). Yet of course, those who knew of the events that
took Jesus' family to Bethlehem at the time of His birth knew that out
of [Bethlehem] He came forth to God (Micah 5:2).

Furthermore, "His goings forth were from the beginning, even from
eternity" (vs. 2). This discovery on the part of those who came to know
Jesus intimately led them to identify Him as the Word Who "was with God,
and ...was the beginning with God" (Jn. 1:1,2). They also knew
that the Theotokos gave Him birth by Whom "the remnant of their brethren
shall return to the children of Israel" (Micah 5:3).

Little imagination is needed when Micah's prophecy is placed in the
light of Christ. The true Israel, the Church, has peace and deliverance
when Assyrians, Romans, Nazis, Communists, and every enemy comes against
Christ and His Church (vss. 5,6). The Body of Christ is the remnant of
which Micah spoke (vss. 7,8). God has repeatedly enabled the Church to
survive and thrive when she has been afflicted (vs. 9). The Church,
against the gates of Hell, has seen the destruction of "strongholds"
(vs. 11), "sorceries" and "soothsayers" (vs. 12), "graven images,"
"never any more [to] worship the works of...hands" (vs. 13). Glory to
Thee, O Christ!

Glory to Thee, Who hast shown us the light. O Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father that takest away the sin of the world, Thou only art
the Lord, O Jesus Christ!



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