Monday, January 07, 2008

Daily Meditation, 01/07/08 Mon in the WEEK FO EPIPHANY 1



O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; 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

Psalm 103;
Deut. 8:1-3; Col. 1:1-14; John 6:30-33,48-51

From Forward Day by Day:

John 6:30-33, 48-51. I am the living bread.

Bread is not a part of some people's diet due to health reasons. My compassion is sent to those individuals. Bread has always been among my favorite foods. You might call me the Will Rogers of bread. Also, I never met a tortilla I did not like. I enjoy corn tortillas that are factory made or homemade, thicker corn tortillas from Central American countries, and flour tortillas that come from the Southwestern United States. Of course, I like sourdough, wheat, rye, and other breads.

Jesus lived among a people for whom bread was a staple of life. He teaches in one of his seven "I am" sayings that "living bread" is a gift from heaven. This living bread is better than any bread prepared in ovens or grills. It will feed all human beings, meet any spiritual yearning, fill any deprivation of the soul, and restore each pang of the heart. Jesus Christ is living bread that provides celestial nutrition for our daily pilgrimage.

The imagery in the Gospel of John often has multiple meanings. Living bread is to remind us of manna from heaven in the Exodus story, daily bread which nourishes, and the eucharistic feast that is our worship of God. Jesus invites you and me to taste and see.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Adelaide (South Australia, Australia)

Speaking to the Soul:

Listen to the story

Daily Reading for January 7

The story of the magi ranks right up there with the Christmas and Easter stories in terms of snaring the human imagination. Poets as distinct as William Butler Yeats and William Carlos Williams have wrapped words around the visit of the wise men. Longfellow even gave them names: Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar. Hundreds of artists have painted the scene, including Botticelli and Fra Angelico.

In more recent years, Garrison Keillor has told the story on National Public Radio’s “Prairie Home Companion,” and James Taylor has written a lilting song from which the title of this sermon comes. So much has been made of this story about which we know so little. They were not kings, of course, and there were not three of them, at least not according to Matthew. We do not know who they were, where they came from, or how many of them there were. We do not know how long it took them to get to Bethlehem or how old Jesus was by the time they got there. We are not even sure about that famous star.

It is not that the facts don’t matter. It is just that they don’t matter as much as the stories do, and stories can be true whether they happen or not. You do not have to do archaeology to find out if they are genuine, or spend years in the library combing ancient texts. There is another way home. You just listen to the story. You let it come to life inside of you, and then you decide on the basis of your own tears or laughter whether the story is true. If you are in any doubt, it is always a good idea to watch other people who have listened to the story—just pay attention to how the story affects them over time. Does it make them more or less human? Does it open them up or shut them down? Does it increase their capacity for joy?

From “Home By Another Way,” in Home By Another Way by Barbara Brown Taylor (Cowley, 1999).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

We connect to something larger than ourselves when we perform a ritual. Think of it as a Spirit Fax.
— Caroline W. Casey in Making the Gods Work for You

To Practice This Thought: Send a Spirit Fax at the place where you work.
++++++++++ Reflections

Look Jesus in the Face ... there you will see how He loves us.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Bringing doxology to the One born of the Virgin in church hymns
and spiritual songs, we must, outside the church as well,
unceasingly praise Him and give Him thanks for His ineffable
lovingkindness to us sinners, who are atoned by His honourable
blood and who have received through this promise life eternal,
blessed, and unceasing.

St. Amvrosy of Optina

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Gift of Friendship

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of marriage or community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of January 7, 2008

I come into solitude to die and love. I come here to be created by the Spirit in Christ.
I am called here to grow. "Death" is a critical point of growth, or transition to a new mode of being; to a maturity and fruitfulness that I do not know (they are in Christ and in His Kingdom). The child in the womb does not know what will come after birth. He must be born in order to live. I am here to face death as my birth.
This solitude-a refuge under His wings, a place to hide myself in His Name, therefore, a sanctuary where the grace of Baptism remains a conscious, living, active reality valid not only for me but for the whole Church. Here, planted as a seed in the cosmos, I will be a Christ seed, and bring fruit for other men. Death and rising in Christ.

Thomas Merton. Dancing in the Water of Life. Journals, Volume 5. Robert E. Daggy, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997: 333-334.

Thought to Remember:

I need to be "confirmed" in my vocation by the Spirit... This ordains me to be the person I am and to have the particular place and function I have, to be myself in the sense of choosing to tend toward what God wants me to be, and to orient my whole life to being the person He loves.

Dancing in the Water of Life: 334

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

Day Seven - The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Yearning to Know God
January 7th, 2008
Monday’s Reflection

I BELIEVE that all our vague, unsatisfied, and unsatisfiable yearnings are in some way at their root the yearning to know God, to be put right with God, and to see the world put right with God. Just as our physical hunger and thirst remind us that we are made to eat and drink, our hunger for meaning and direction in life reminds us that we are created to need and want God — continually, even if we have not yet put a name on the yearning — and to serve God.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes

From p. 55 of The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
How has faith led you into deeper mystery?

"Come, Lord Jesus." The Christian Bible ends with this great invitation for Jesus to be with us, the acknowledgment that what is coming is not fully here (Revelation 22:17). "Come, Lord Jesus" means that all of Christian history has to live out of a kind of chosen non-fulfillment.

Yet we demand that our anxiety be taken away. We say, Why didn't you do that for me? We tend to get disappointed because reality does not fulfill our expectations—or, more likely, somebody doesn't: our spouse, our children, our community. We're refusing to say, "Come, Lord Jesus."

So we refuse to live with openness, with freedom, with surrender. We demand of ourselves, and one another, what the Word of God told us not to demand and not even to expect.

To demand total life now is not to live in hope or faith. The only life promised to us in this world is the "mystery of faith"—which is life and death all mixed together, the paschal mystery: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will always come again.

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.

A teacher to be imitated

Our faith is not founded upon empty words; nor are we carried away by mere caprice of beguiled by specious arguments. On the contrary, we put our faith in words spoken by the power of God, spoken by the Word himself at God’s command. God wished to win us back from disobedience, not by using force to reduce us to slavery, but by addressing to our free will a call to liberty.

The Word spoke first of all through the prophets, but because the message was couched in such obscure language that it could only dimly be apprehended, in the last days the Father sent the Word in person, commanding him to show himself openly so that the world could see him and be saved.

We know that by taking a body from the Virgin he refashioned our fallen nature. We know that his humanity was of the same clay as our own; if this were not so, he would hardly have been a teacher who could expect to be imitated. If he were of a different substance from me, he would surely not have ordered me to do as he did, when by my very nature I am so weak. Such a demand could not be reconciled with his goodness and justice.

Hippolytus of Rome

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


"Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?" John 14:9

These words are not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus is leading Philip on. The last One with whom we get intimate is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One Who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18-20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come - "I have called you friends." Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His word, but do we know Him?

Jesus said, "It is expedient for you that I go away" - in that relationship, so that He might lead them on. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him. Fruit bearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1-4).

When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Jesus. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 7, May 8, September 7

And so we are going to establish
a school for the service of the Lord.
In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
our hearts expand
and we run the way of God's commandments
with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
Thus, never departing from His school,
but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
until death,
we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The spiritual life is not something that is gotten for the wishing or assumed by affectation. The spiritual life takes discipline. It is something to be learned, to be internalized. It's not a set of daily exercises, it's a way of life, an attitude of mind, an orientation of soul. And it is gotten by being schooled until no rules are necessary.

Among the ancients there is a story told that confirms this insight to this day:

"What action shall I perform to attain God?" the disciple asked the elder.

"If you wish to attain God, the elder said, there are two things you must know. The first is that all efforts to attain God are of no avail."

"And the second?" the disciple insisted.

"The second is that you must act as if you did not know the first," the elder said.

Clearly, great pursuers of the spiritual life know that the secret of the spiritual life is to live it until it becomes real.
The difference between Benedict and other spiritual masters of his time lay in the fact that Benedict believed that the spiritual life was not an exercise in spiritual gymnastics. It was to be nothing "harsh or burdensome." And it was not a private process. It was to be done in community with others. It was to be a "school" dedicated to "the good of all concerned." It was to be lived with "patience."

The private preserves of the spiritual life are far from dead, however. It is so much easier to go to daily Mass and feel good about it than it is to serve soup at a soup kitchen. It is so much more comfortable to say bedtime prayers than it is speak peace in a warring world. It is so much more satisfying to contribute to the building of a new church than it is to advocate for welfare legislation. It is so much more heroic to fast than it is to be patient with a noisy neighbor. It is so much easier to give the handshake of peace in church than it is to speak gently in the family. And yet, one without the other is surely fraud if life with God in community is truly of the essence of real spiritual growth.

The messages of the Prologue are clear: Life is very short. To get the most out of it, we must begin to attend to its spiritual dimensions without which life is only half lived. Holiness is in the Now but we go through life only half conscious of it, asleep or intent on being someplace other than where we are. We need to open our eyes and see things as they exist around us: what is valuable and what is not, what enriches and what does not, what is of God and what is not. It may be the neighborhood we live in rather than the neighborhood we want that will really make human beings out of us. It may be the job we have rather than the position we are selling our souls to get that will finally liberate us from ourselves. It may be what we do rather than the prayers we pray that will finally be the measure of our sanctity.

God is calling us to more than the material level of life and God is waiting to bring us to it. All we have to do is to live well with others and live totally in God. All we have to do is to learn to listen to the voice of God in life. And we have to do it heart, soul and body. The spiritual life demands all of us.

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

St. Luke 19:37-44 (1/7) For Monday of the 33rd Week after Pentecost (Mon
28th Week)

To Weep and To Laugh: St. Luke 19:37-44, especially vss. 37, 41: “Then,
as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole
multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise He drew
near, He saw the city and wept over it.” Wise Solomon once observed:
“All the things which He has made are beautiful in His time: He has also
set the whole world in their heart, that man might not find out the work
which God has wrought from the beginning even to the end” (Eccles. 3:11
LXX). Being made in His image, we yearn from our hearts to trace God’s
ways from beginning to end - yet the Infinite is beyond us!

By means of a written account, called a Gospel, the Evangelist Luke
guides us into the Mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4). He reveals Light
Himself Who illumines God’s ways. Beginning with the Lord Jesus’
Incarnation “of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,” the Evangelist
describes the Lord’s early ministry until “the time had come for Him to
be received up [when] He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem”
(Lk. 9:51). Following that declaration, St. Luke diligently records the
Lord’s recurring predictions of His Passion, the increasing opposition
to Him, and His solemn teachings concerning the cost of discipleship.

In this particular reading, St. Luke starts into the account of the
final days of the Lord Jesus’ Judean ministry - a season that led up to
His arrest, a few penultimate days when God shared in our humanity prior
to the time (in St. Cyril of Alexandria’s words) when the Lord Jesus
embraced “that Passion which was for the salvation of the whole world,
to free the inhabitants of the earth from the tyranny of the enemy, and
abolish death, and destroy the sin of the world.” In Solomon’s words it
was “...a time to weep and a time to laugh...” (Eccles. 3:4 LXX). But
let St. Luke teach you to appreciate those days in full. (Lk. 19:37,41).

After seeing Jesus, Truth Incarnate, heal incurable diseases, overcome
demons, feed crowds, and subdue natural forces, the disciples naturally
“began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice” (vs. 37) as they now
witnessed Him coming into Jerusalem. They had shared in His “mighty
works” first hand (vs. 37), and they had good, solid reasons,
well-supported by clear, tangible evidence, to believe that Jesus was
the long-awaited, God-anointed King Who, in the popular view of the day,
would inaugurate God’s Kingdom (vs. 38).

Since the days of King David, God’s People had seen very few good times
and far, far too many bad times. Current political, economic, and social
realities cried out for someone blessed and empowered of God to usher in
genuine freedom and real independence. The Lord Jesus obviously
possessed Divine power and every spiritual resource. The people were in
expectation: “O my Strength, I will keep watch for Thee, for Thou, O
God, art my helper” (Ps. 58:9 LXX). In the Lord Jesus people saw a
reason for joy and praise and a time of laughter.

Ironically, however, as the Lord drew near the city, He “...wept over
it” (Lk. 19:41). The eyes of God Incarnate scanned deep beneath the
surface of politics and economic conditions, down into the things of the
heart and soul, “...that make for your peace” (vs. 42). There He saw
that sin blinds people - and keeps the truth “hidden from your eyes”
(vs. 42). He knew that the Romans and Herods were only symptoms; for the
fact is, people’s “foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). As a
result, those in Jerusalem would not repent nor cleanse their hearts,
and soon their city would be destroyed (Lk. 19:43,44). Yes, they would
turn their wrath to crucifying Him and fighting the Romans. In the
process, they would lose. There is a time to weep.

O Thou Who of Thine Own compassion didst bear all things, saving all
from the curse, O long-suffering Lord, glory to Thee.

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