Sunday, July 22, 2007

22/07/07 Eighth 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.


Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son 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 63:1-8(9-11), 98; PM Psalm 103
1 Samuel 23:7-18; Rom. 11:33-12:2; Matt. 25:14-30

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 10:38-42. The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing."

I spend much of my day "distracted by many things." Telephone calls, e-mails, errands, fixing dinner, exercising--these and a thousand other similar things take up most of my time. I can relate to Martha. How can I have time for the "one thing" Jesus says is most important when I must first attend to the details of daily life?

It's easy to let our spiritual life be pushed aside by the mundane. While most of us would probably say our relationship with God is more important than doing the laundry or mowing the lawn, at any given time those "distractions" seem more pressing. "I can pray anytime," we think; "but now, I need to take out the garbage."

We can all understand Martha. She had a visitor in her home, so naturally she was concerned about preparing a meal and making him comfortable. But imagine if Jesus came to your house and you spent the whole time cooking instead of listening to him? Well guess what...he is in your house, and he's waiting for you to turn from your distractions to the One Thing

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Raiwind (Pakistan)

Speaking to the Soul:

Become fully human

Daily Reading for July 22 • The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

After saying this, the Blessed One greeted them all, saying: “Peace be with you—may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you! Be vigilant, and allow no one to mislead you by saying: ‘Here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For it is within you that the Son of Man dwells. Go to him, for those who seek him, find him. Walk forth, and announce the gospel of the Kingdom.” Having said this, he departed.

The disciples were in sorrow, shedding many tears, and saying: “How are we to go among the unbelievers and announce the gospel of the Kingdom of the Son of Man? They did not spare his life, so why should they spare ours?”

Then Mary arose, embraced them all, and began to speak to her brothers: “Do not remain in sorrow and doubt, for his Grace will guide you and comfort you. Instead, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us for this. He is calling upon us to become fully human [Anthropos].” Thus Mary turned their hearts toward the Good, and they began to discuss the meaning of the Teacher’s words.

From The Gospel of Mary Magdelene. Translation from the Coptic and Commentary by Jean-Yves Leloup (Inner Traditions, 2002).
++++++++++ 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

Abba Gerontius of Petra said that many, tempted by the pleasures of the body, commit fornication, not in their body but in their spirit, and while preserving their bodily virginity, commit prostitution in their soul. 'thus it is good, my well-beloved, to do that which is written and for each one to guard his own heart with all possible casre.' (prov. 4.23)

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Bridging the Gap Between People

To become neighbours is to bridge the gap between people. As long as there is distance between us and we cannot look in each other's eyes, all sorts of false ideas and images arise. We give them names, make jokes about them, cover them with our prejudices, and avoid direct contact. We think of them as enemies. We forget that they love as we love, care for their children as we care for ours, become sick and die as we do. We forget that they are our brothers and sisters and treat them as objects that can be destroyed at will.

Only when we have the courage to cross the street and look in one another's eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family.

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

Day Twenty Two - The First Note -


We always keep before us the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples' feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

FEED THOSE WHO ARE HUNGRY. Shelter the stranger. Visit the sick. Minister to the prisoners. Bury the dead. Convert sinners. Instruct the ignorant. Counsel the doubtful. Comfort the sorrowing. Bear wrongs patiently. Forgive injuries. Pray for others.

It is not necessary to sense the presence of angels or to feel the encircling energy of the communion of saints to live into the reality that someone is watching over us. We can become presence for one another. We can be the arms, the legs, the feet, the heart of Christ in the world.

- Wendy M. Wright
The Time Between

From page 181-182 of The Time Between: Cycles and Rhythms in Ordinary Time by Wendy M. Wright. Copyright © 1999 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Centered People"

The greatest gift of centered and surrendered people is that they know themselves as part of a larger history, a larger self. In that sense, centered people are profoundly conservative, knowing that they only stand on the shoulders of their ancestors and will be open and reformist because they have no private agendas or self-interest to protect.

People who have learned to live from their center know which boundaries are worth maintaining and which can be surrendered. Both reflect an obedience. If you want a litmus test for truly centered people, that's it: They are always free to obey reality, to respond to what is.

from Radical Grace, "Center and Circumference"

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

Forgive and give

There are two works of mercy which will set us free. They are briefly set down in the gospel in the Lord's own words: Forgive and you will be forgiven, and Give and you will receive. The former concerns pardon, the latter generosity. As regards pardon he says: "Just as you want to be forgiven, so someone is in need of your forgiveness." Again, as regards generosity, consider when a beggar asks you for something that you are a beggar too in relation to God. When we pray we are all beggars before God. We are standing at the door of a great householder, or rather, lying prostrate, and begging with tears. We are longing to receive a gift — the gift of God himself.

What does a beggar ask of you? Bread. And you, what do you ask of God, if not Christ who said: I am the living bread that has come down from heaven? Do you want to be pardoned? Then pardon others. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Do you want to receive? Give and you will receive.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:3

The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get sepulchral. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. "If any man come to Me and hate not . . his own life, he cannot be My disciple."

The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but "myself," that is the place of death. Am I willing to be "myself," and nothing more - no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest - simply ready for death? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword." This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. "But it is so stern," we say; "He cannot wish me to do that." Our Lord is stern; and He does wish us to do that.

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to "me," determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with every thing but God.

When I pray - "Lord, show me what sanctification means for me," He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me. (1 Cor. 1:30.)

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table

At the hour for the Divine Office,
as soon as the signal is heard,
let them abandon whatever they may have in hand
and hasten with the greatest speed,
yet with seriousness, so that there is no excuse for levity.
Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God.

If at the Night Office
anyone arrives after the "Glory be to the Father" of Psalm 94 --
which Psalm for this reason we wish to be said
very slowly and protractedly --
let him not stand in his usual place in the choir;
but let him stand last of all,
or in a place set aside by the Abbot for such negligent ones
in order that they may be seen by him and by all.
He shall remain there until the Work of God has been completed,
and then do penance by a public satisfaction.
the reason why we have judged it fitting
for them so stand in the last place or in a place apart
is that,
being seen by all,
they may amend for very shame.
For if they remain outside of the oratory,
there will perhaps be someone who will go back to bed and sleep
or at least seat himself outside and indulge in idle talk,
and thus an occasion will be provided for the evil one.
But let them go inside,
that they many not lose the whole Office,
and may amend for the future.

At the day Hours
anyone who does not arrive at the Work of God
until after the verse
and the "Glory be to the Father" for the first Psalm following it
shall stand in the last place,
according to our ruling above.
Nor shall he presume to join the choir in their chanting
until he has made satisfaction,
unless the Abbot should pardon him and give him permission;
but even then the offender must make satisfaction for his fault.

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

Sunday, July 22, 2007 Tone 7 Mary Magdalene,
Myrrh-Bearer, Isapostolos
2nd Vespers - Elijah: 3 Kings 18:1, 17-40
Epistle: 1 Corinthians
1:10-18 Gospel:
St. Matthew 14:14-22

Contrition: 3 Kings 18:1, 17-40 LXX, especially vs. 37: "Hear me, O
Lord, hear me, and let this people know that Thou art the Lord God, and
Thou hast turned back the heart of this people." St. John of the Ladder
asserts: "However great the life we lead may be, we may count it stale
and spurious, if we have not acquired a contrite heart. For this is
essential, truly essential if I may say so, that those who have again
been defiled after baptism should cleanse the pitch from their hands
with unceasing fire of the heart and with the oil of God."

Beloved of the Lord, St. John proclaims the same truth that Elijah set
before the People of God on Mt Carmel. The Prophet offered the
possibility of contrition of heart to all Israel in four steps. And as
he did for ancient Israel, so he reveals to us how we may acquire a
contrite heart so essential for relationship with the living God: our
sin must be named; compromise must end; dependence on God must be
embraced; contrition must be demonstrated. These four steps are
necessary for all instances, whether one is aided prophetically as the
People were by Elijah on Mt. Carmel, or one is taught in the heart by
the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26).

Observe Elijah in this encounter. Directed by God, he goes to the
apostate king, Ahab. He censures him to his face, explicitly names the
king's sin, and shows the wrongdoing to be the cause of the drought (3
Kngs. 18:1,17,18). The Prophet is frank about the idolatry of the royal
house: "thou and thy father's house" (vs. 18). Elijah closes the door
to any evading of blame that Ahab might assign to Jezebel. The king
adopted her errors by forsaking the "commandments of the Lord" (vs.
18). He knew them full well. We must address sin specifically, by
name, and not in generalities. Those who offend must own their own
guilt. One may well question whether Ahab truly acknowledged his sin,
but the people did.

Elijah directed his challenge to the entire people and not just to
Ahab. In one of the most beautiful statements in all of Scripture, he
called upon them to stop compromising: "How long wilt ye halt on both
feet? if the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." (vs.
21). Although the people did not answer the Prophet - out of shame,
fear, or defiance - the challenge was laid down and the controversy was
squarely faced by Elijah's proposed "contest" (vss. 23,24). Elijah
offered both a challenge and a way to respond so that all compromise
might end, for equivocating cannot continue between ourselves and God if
we would call Him our God.

Let us note with great care that the Prophet did not depend upon
himself, but upon God alone. Look at his prayer: "Lord God of Abraham,
and Isaac, and Israel, answer me, O Lord, answer me this day by fire,
and let all this people know that Thou art the Lord, the God of Israel,
and I am Thy servant, and for Thy sake I have wrought these works. Hear
me, O Lord, hear me, and let this people know that Thou art the Lord
God, and Thou hast turned back the heart of this people" (vss. 36,37).
When we feel contrition in our hearts, Who gives the penitence and the
grief? It is never a human work, but the Lord Who "turns back the
heart" (vs. 37).

Finally, there follows the stunning miracle of God, a dramatic
intervention of the Lord Himself, through which He touches the people's
heart, for they prostrate themselves and cry out in contrition: "Truly
the Lord is God; He is God" (vs. 39). But Elijah does not accept mere
words. He demands the national life be purged of the Baals, that the
priests of Baal be executed. True contrition begins as one confesses
sin. Also, there must be steps to purge repetition. We must kill the
sin in the soul, resist each temptation to repeat the wrong, and beg
God's help.

O Physician and Healer of my soul, blot out all my transgressions, grant
me complete contrition of heart and grace to avoid my previous evil ways
and strength to resist further sin.



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