Friday, December 28, 2007

Daily Meditation 12/28/07 On the 4th Day of Christmas; Feast of Holy Innocents



We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 2, 26; Isaiah 49:13-23; Matthew 18:1-14
PM Psalm 19, 126; Isaiah 54:1-13; Mark 10:13-16

From Forward Day by Day:

Jeremiah 31:15-17. Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work.

I long maintained a basic faith that if I followed the rules, did my homework, wore sunscreen, brushed my teeth, did unto others as I would have them do unto me, and said my prayers, all would be well.

Well, it ain't necessarily so. Sometimes the problem is untrustworthy people. Sometimes it's bodily weakness (even with sunscreen). Sometimes a series of exterior events comes together to crush us. Pain and disappointment are part of the human condition.

When we get clobbered, it's easy to give in to disappointment, to cast blame and withdraw, to dwell on hurts-and even easier to overlook our own parts in these debacles.

What's hard is to admit that we made mistakes and try to rectify them, to acknowledge that saying our prayers does not indemnify us against problems, to keep going with the things we should be doing. Sometimes it's almost more than we can do-but it's necessary. It's easy to have faith when everything's going well, but it's the tested faith that gets us through the rocky times.

Today we remember: The Holy Innocents

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Yukon (British Columbia and the Yukon, Canada)

From: Christmas CLARESHARE December 2006
Ty Mam Duw Poor Clare Colettine Community

28th December
Feast of the Holy Innocents
A day for children and fools! This day used to be called the feast of fools!
It is the day of remembrance for the little children of Bethlehem and the surrounding area who were killed by King Herod at the time of Jesus' birth.
Recall a happy childhood memory of Christmas. Thank God for it (it was his gift).
Sum it up in no more than 3 words and yes, stick it up on your fridge door.
Remember all suffering children and the unborn who do not live to see the
light of day.

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 4, December 28
Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Day of Christmas
The Four Gospels (four calling birds)

There has been an injustice done. Only one.

The only absolutely sinless man to ever live has died. Just four days ago we celebrated his birth. Mary gave birth to God’s only begotten son.

We rejoiced.

We sang carols.

We feasted.

We gave.

We received.

What a celebration it was. We thought about it late into the night.

This is considered the fourth day of Christmas. On the fourth day of Christmas my true love (God) gave to me -- Four calling birds (The four gospels).

What are they calling? They are telling us the story of the injustice.

A story of a virgin giving birth to a son. A son who never needed punished his whole life. I believe we have recorded the only possible scolding Jesus ever received when he was twelve years old.

It is a story of a love being the absolute perfection of 1 Corinthians 13. It is a story of one who had the favor of all the common people. One who taught like no other could. One who was totally obedient to the Father.

Then disaster. Injustice. Death to the only innocent man to ever live.

We look at all the hurts in this world. We see Adam and Eve disobeying God. We see Cain killing Abel. And we would have liked to have been able to prevent it.

We see a president shot and killed. We see a bomb dropped on a city that wiped out all the living for miles around. We see a Challenger space shuttle explode, one of the passengers a beloved school teacher, her students watching the explosion.

We say, "What an injustice!" "What an atrocity!" We want to change it. We want to go back and correct it. We all feel the pain. We want to justify it in our own thinking and for all who have gone through the pain of it.

But as unfair as we see it, as much pain as there is by it happening, it is the result of missing the mark. Not being perfect. Making the wrong choices. All the way from the choice of Adam and Eve.

Yes, as unfair as it seems it will never compare to the death of Jesus on the cross. He did not make wrong choices. He did not sin. He could never deserve death for the life he lived.

The rest of us do. We say the means of death is sometimes brutal, but it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement.

Jesus had no judgement to face. He did not deserve death. Yet, he died. It was finished. There is no reversing it. A true injustice has been done and it is the result of our lives and choices. There is no restitution for such an injustice. No way to make it right. It is an infinite injustice and the gospels tell us about it.

But that is not the end of the story. The injustice was not the final. The grave could not hold him. Death could not get a grip. He overcame and because he has gone through the same suffering we go through. Because he died as we deserve. Because such an infinite injustice was done he has paid the price that makes all of those who will receive the gift from him free from our sin and death. He is the sympathetic high priest. He can say to the Father, “My death was unjust and will never be made right. Even if you put the sins of the whole world on me, they are not my sins so I can toss them off and free the sinner.” He holds the key. He calls us brothers. He was the perfect sacrifice that can never be reversed. Whose blood will never lose its power. The blood of Abel calls out to us as does the death of so many who have had a horrible death, but the blood of Christ does more than call out to us. It cleanses us completely.

Jesus, thank you for the calling of your blood as described in the four gospels. I cannot begin to comprehend how you lived a sinless life on this earth, but you deserve every praise and honor, the highest respect, the greatest majesty, the gift of ourselves to live such a life, as you enable us to, for you. All things have been given to you and rightfully so.


~ Ron Pruitt
Sarasota, Florida, USA

Lord Jesus,

Thank You for bringing us good news, God spell, Gospel. We have never needed anything else so greatly. You warned of days of wars and rumors of war. All through history and even today such concerns abound. But, in You we have the victory. You have won the battle and the enemy IS defeated. You have paid the great price for our freedom, our salvation, our deliverance. And all you asked is that we keep Your commands. Help me, Brother, to love.


Speaking to the Soul:

Disruption at work

Daily Reading for December 28 • The Holy Innocents

Sorting through the stack of cards that arrived at our house last Christmas, I note that all kinds of symbols have edged their way into the celebration. Overwhelmingly, the landscape scenes render New England towns buried in snow, usually with the added touch of a horse-drawn sleigh. On other cards, animals frolic: one card shows an African lion reclining with a foreleg draped affectionately around a lamb. Inside, the cards stress sunny words like love, good-will, cheer, happiness, and warmth. It is a fine thing, I suppose, that we honor a sacred holiday with such homey sentiments. And yet when I turn to the gospel accounts of the first Christmas, I hear a very different tone, and sense mainly disruption at work. . . .

The earliest events in Jesus’ life give a menacing preview of the unlikely struggle now under way. Herod, King of the Jews, enforced Roman rule at the local level, and in an irony of history we know Herod’s name mainly because of the massacre of the innocents. I have never seen a Christmas card depicting that state-sponsored act of terror, but it too was a part of Christ’s coming. Although secular history does not refer to the atrocity, no one acquainted with the life of Herod doubts him capable. Five days before his death he ordered the arrest of many citizens and decreed that they be executed on the day of his death, in order to guarantee a proper atmosphere of mourning in the country. For such a despot, a minor extermination procedure in Bethlehem posed no problem. . . .

As I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog. Growing up, Jesus’ sensibilities were affected most deeply by the poor, the powerless, the oppressed—in short, the underdogs. Today theologians debate the aptness of the phrase “God’s preferential option for the poor” as a way of describing God’s concern for the underdog. Since God arranged the circumstances in which to be born on planet earth—without power or wealth, without rights, without justice—his preferential options speak for themselves.

From The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (Zondervan, 1995)

Spiritual Practice of the Day

It is not in our power to explain either the prosperity of the wicked or the sufferings of the righteous.
— Joseph Telushkin in Jewish Wisdom

To Practice This Thought: Respect the mysteries of both good and evil.
++++++++++ Reflections

I understood that love comprised all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraced all times and places, in a word, that it was eternal! ... O Jesus, my Love ... my vocation, at last I have found it, my vocation is love! the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Blessed is he who always has before his eyes that "the earth is
the Lord's and the fulness thereof" (Ps. 23:1), and keeps in mind
that God is powerful to arrange for His servants as is pleasing to

St. Barsanuphius

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Being Safe Places for Others

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realise that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many this happens even without our planning. Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it. Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.

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

Day Twenty Eight - The Third Note -


Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that they follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God's world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within them an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

December 28th, 2007
Friday’s Reflection

LISTEN for the Lord is very near! May the sound of his voice draw you closer and closer in obedient love — coming and going, waiting and watching, now and forever. Amen.

- Pamela C. Hawkins
Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent

From p. 89 of Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins. Copyright © 2007 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Those at the Edge Hold the Secret

Those at the edge, ironically, always hold the secret for the conversion of every age and culture. They always hold the projected and denied parts of our soul, the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, that we hate and deny, that we're afraid of in ourselves. Only as the People of God receive the stranger and the leper, those who don't play our game, do we discover not only the hidden and hated parts of our own souls, but the Lord Jesus himself. That's how we say, "Come, Lord Jesus." In letting go, we make room for the Other. The church is always converted when the outcasts are reinvited into the temple.

from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr


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

Christ continues to be born in us

Those who lived before the incarnation approached their noble task differently from those who lived after it, but even so Christ was born to all who lived to one and the same faith. Yet what is more amazing is that Christ continues to be borne to us today. Daily he allows himself to be brought forth by every believing soul. What virginity accomplished physically in the mother of the Lord when she gave birth, a conscience purified from sin and full of merits accomplishes spiritually in our inmost being. Whenever anyone is incorporated into Christ's body in the womb of holy Mother Church, becoming one of his members, that person by reason of his or her faith becomes Christ's brother or sister; as he himself says through the psalmist: I will declare your name to my brethren.

So it is that what we revere in the Lord we also can become if we follow in his footsteps. If in our minds we bind ourselves to the head himself, it is fitting that we should make every effort to be united also to his members; I mean, to those servants of God, who, as I said before, bore witness that the Son of God would come in the flesh. When we hear of their virtues, remember them, and practice them ourselves, we bring Christ down from heaven into the world.

Sedatus of Béziers

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


"Except ye be converted, and become as little children. . . ." Matthew 18:3

These words of Our Lord are true of our initial conversion, but we have to be continuously converted all the days of our lives, continually to turn to God as children. If we trust to our wits instead of to God, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. Immediately our bodies are brought into new conditions by the providence of God, we have to see that our natural life obeys the dictates of the Spirit of God. Because we have done it once is no proof that we shall do it again. The relation of the natural to the spiritual is one of continuous conversion, and it is the one thing we object to. In every setting in which we are put, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered, but we have to "put on the new man." God holds us responsible every time we refuse to convert ourselves, our reason for refusing is wilful obstinacy. Our natural life must not rule, God must rule in us.

The hindrance in our spiritual life is that we will not be continually converted, there are wadges of obstinacy where our pride spits at the throne of God and says - I won't. We deify independence and wilfulness and call them by the wrong name. What God looks on as obstinate weakness, we call strength. There are whole tracts of our lives which have not yet been brought into subjection, and it can only be done by this continuous conversion. Slowly but surely we can claim the whole territory for the Spirit of God.

Chesterton Day by Day


THAT little urchin with the gold-red hair (whom I have just watched toddling past my house), she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict's. No; all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. The winds of the world shall be tempered to that lamb unshorn. All crowns that cannot fit her head shall be broken; all raiment and building that does not harmonize with her glory shall waste away. Her mother may bid her bind her hair, for that is natural authority; but the Emperor of the Planet shall not bid her cut it off. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken and the roofs of ages come rushing down; and not one hair of her head shall be harmed.

'What's Wrong with the World.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 28, August 28, December 28
Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random

Every occasion of presumption
shall be avoided in the monastery,
and we decree that no one be allowed
to excommunicate or to strike any of her sisters
unless the Abbess has given her the authority.
Those who offend in this matter
shall be rebuked in the presence of all,
that the rest may have fear.

But children up to 15 years of age
shall be carefully controlled and watched by all,
yet this too with all moderation and discretion.
All, therefore, who presume
without the Abbess' instructions
to punish those above that age
or who lose their temper with them,
shall undergo the discipline of the Rule;
for it is written,
"Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tobias 4:16).

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

This chapter of the rule is not about fist fighting. This chapter is about the arrogant usurpation of authority and the legitimization of violence. Even in a culture that routinely disciplined its young or unlettered with physical whippings, Benedict simply does not allow a culture of violence. Benedictine spirituality depended on personal commitment and community support, not on intimidation and brutality. Benedict makes it clear that the desire for good is no excuse for the exercise of evil in its behalf. This is an important chapter, then, for people whose high ideals lead them to the basest of means in the name of the achievement of good. To become what we hate-- as mean as the killers, as obsessed as the haters--is neither the goal nor the greatness of the spiritual life.

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

Friday, December 28, 2007 Venerable Simon, Founder of Simonopetra
on Mount Athos
2nd Vigil Nativity: Numbers 24:2-3, 5-9, 17-18 Epistle: James
2:1-13 Gospel: St. Mark 12:1-12

Balaam's Prophecy: Numbers 24:2-3, 5-9, 17-18 LXX, especially vs. 17: "I
will point to Him, but not now; I will bless Him, but He draws not near:
a star shall rise out of Jacob, a Man shall spring out of Israel."
Israel's years in the wilderness concluded when finally they "encamped
on the west of Moab by Jordan toward Jericho" (Nu. 22:1). Fearful at
the presence of such a great horde, the King and the elders of Moab and
the elders of Midian - the two nations east of the river Jordan - sent
emissaries to the famous Prophet Balaam inviting him to come from his
home in Mesopotamia near the river Euphrates and "curse this
people...since it is stronger than we" (Nu. 22:6). Balaam, after
consulting God, refused to join Balak, but King Balak of Moab persisted,
offering greater honors, after which God said to Balaam, "rise and
follow them; nevertheless the word which I shall speak to thee, it shalt
thou do" (Nu. 22:20). Balaam tried to oblige Balak, but under
inspiration of God he was not able to curse Israel. The present
reading, from the last of four oracles (Nu. 24:2), is a prophecy of the
coming of the Christ.

Balaam declares that "there shall come a Man out of his [Israel's] seed"
(vs. 7 LXX). This word established the expectation that the Messiah
would be a man, which proved true; for "when the time had fully come,
God sent forth His Son" (Gal. 4:4), born of a woman.

The Lord Jesus' future "rule over many nations" also was predicted by
Balaam (Nu. 24:7 LXX). He foresaw that "a Kingdom greater than Gog's
[would] be raised up" (vs. 7 LXX), and the Kingdom of God is greater
than Gog's (one of Scripture's names for Satan).

The Lord Jesus' Kingdom has been "enlarged" or "increased" and will
continue to expand until all nations shall come before Him and worship
Him (vs. 7 LXX).

Although the Prophet did not speak of the flight of Joseph and the
Virgin and the Christ child from Herod's realm, he did foresee that "God
led Him out of Egypt" (vs. 8), a vision given to the Prophet Hosea years
later (Hos. 11:1), and fulfilled when Joseph, in Egypt, obeyed the
angel, "arose and took the young Child and His mother and came into the
land of Israel" (Mt. 2:20).

Balaam likewise prophesied the Lord's power in overcoming nations and
the adversaries of the Gospel: "He shall consume the nations of His
enemies" (Nu. 24:8). This striking prophesy of the advance of the Lord
and His Church over the centuries is steadily being fulfilled.

The Holy Spirit revealed to the Prophet how men would respond to the
Messiah, and also how their responses to Him would affect them in turn:
"They that bless thee are blessed, and they that curse thee are cursed"
(vs. 9). How tragic are those who accept the religions of false gods!

The Prophet foresaw all these things about the Christ Who would come,
but he would only say, "I will point to Him, but not now; I will bless
Him, but He draws not near" (vs. 17), for the coming of the Son of Man
would occur in the age of Rome.

Most wonderfully, Balaam was even given a hint of the star of Bethlehem:
"a star shall come forth out of Jacob" (vs. 17), which, indeed, led the
Magi from the East to the cave!

Balaam's prophecy discloses that the true Messiah of Israel would
"crush" the enemies of the People of God, and all the traditional
enemies of ancient Israel were named - Moab, Edom, and Seir (vss.
17,18). The Church, as the true Israel that worships Christ, is the
living witness to Truth Himself, He Who was born in the cave to the
Virgin Mother. He has dispossessed His enemies and established His
People valiantly. How blessed we are, Beloved, for we do not look ahead
into the future as did Balaam. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Let us, therefore, praise and magnify Him, the God born in flesh from
the Virgin, the King born in a cave, the God worshiped by the Magi, Who
hath delivered us from the curse.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home