Sunday, January 13, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/13/08


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.


Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 146, 147; PM Psalm 111, 112, 113
Gen. 1:1-2:3; Eph. 1:3-14; John 1:29-34

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 3:13-17. A voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

The movie The Lion King is one of my favorites. The opening scene is spectacular and majestic. The entire congregation of the animal kingdom is called to assemble below a cliff top. A lion cub has been born to the queen and king. The royal family stands before those gathered. A priestly baboon performs a ritual and anoints the newborn prince. The king and queen smile as the entire community cheers in approval.

Everyone enjoys a baptism, be it of an adult or child. The Book of Common Prayer teaches that Holy Baptism is to be a public rite, with sanctified water and anointing with chrism. In this act of Christian initiation, one is "sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and marked as Christ's own for ever (p. 308)." Baptism is the beginning of a spiritual calling that may never be broken.

The Lion King seeks to run away, tear apart, and deny his calling. Ultimately, he realizes that he must be who he was anointed to be. The baptized in Jesus are anointed to seek, share, and serve in the body of Christ. May we always know our blessed place in the reign of God.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Communion. Today is Anglican Communion Sunday throughout the world.

Speaking to the Soul:

Christ is baptized

Daily Reading for January 13 • The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: “I ought to be baptized by you.” He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. “I ought to be baptized by you;” we should also add: “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him.

From Oration 39 by Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople (389), quoted in Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, edited by J. Robert Wright. Copyright © 1991. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

My wife and I periodically try to engage in a "complaining fast." For a week at a time, we try to refrain from all whining and complaining. . . . Doing so makes it easier to become conscious of things that are going well in your life.
— Rabbi Joseph Telushkin in The Book of Jewish Values

To Practice This Thought: Commit to a complaining fast in your household.
++++++++++ Reflections

Scattering a thousand graces, he passed through these groves in haste, and looking on them as he went, with his glance alone, he clothed them in beauty.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 5.

Reading from the Desert Christians


The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the
special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity,
nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners,
releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the
brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty,
fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are
good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and
humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and
become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us
directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A
person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing,
confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our
Maker Himself.

St. Symeon of Thessalonica

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Still, Small Voice of Love

Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, "Prove that you are a good person." Another voice says, "You'd better be ashamed of yourself." There also is a voice that says, "Nobody really cares about you," and one that says, "Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful." But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, "You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you." That's the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.

That's what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us "my Beloved."

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

Day Thirteen - The Three Ways of Service

Tertiaries desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve in the three ways of Prayer, Study, and Work. In the life of the Order as a whole these three ways must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each individual's service varies according to his/her abilities and circumstances, yet the member's personal rule of life includes each of the three ways.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Work of a Lifetime
January 13th, 2008
Sunday’s Reflection

WE ARE CONVERTED one aspect of the self at a time. That phenomenon explains why some parts of us can be approaching holiness while others remain locked in resistance and rebellion. Because different parts of our soul proceed at different rates, the invitation to love with our “whole heart” is the work of a lifetime and beyond.

- Robert Corin Morris
Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words

From p. 109 of Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words by Robert Corin Morris. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Call to Church

Question of the day:
What is it to surrender to Holy Mystery?

A man shocked me one day when he said, "You Christians don't love Christ. You hate Christ. You hate what Christ stands for." He continued, "You cover up your own hatred and fear of Christ by talking about how much you love Jesus. But if you love Jesus, why don't you love your enemies? If you love Jesus, why don't' you really obey the gospel, most of which you ignore?"

I heard those words and I trembled inside, thinking, My God, is that true of me? Brothers and sisters, just open Mark's Gospel. Most of us haven't paid attention to nine-tenths of it. Most of the passages are just conveniently ignored by the institutional Church and by ourselves. In fact, I find we very often do the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches about, as if a bigger lie is easier to cover up. Christians and their leaders have been condoning and participating in war, greed and false security for centuries, while calling themselves the Body of Christ—or even the magisterium! Matthew 23 would seemingly make us unwilling to wear a long robe or tassels ever again! Strange, isn't it?

When was the last time you heard that someone was thrown out of the Church for not rejoicing and exalting when they were criticized? Did anybody ever think if it? Well, Jesus taught that (Matthew 5:11-13). How come we don't make that a matter for excommunication? The thought never entered our minds.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

May I always hold fast to my baptism

According to the apostle, Lord, your Holy Spirit fully understands and penetrates your inmost depths; he also intercedes on my behalf, saying to you things for which I cannot find the words. Nothing can penetrate your being but what is divine already; nor can the depths of your immense majesty be measured by any power which itself is alien or extrinsic to you. So, whatever enters into you is yours already, nor can anything which has the power to search your very depths ever have been other than your own.

I beg you therefore, Father, to preserve in me that pure and reverent faith and to grant that to my last breath I may testify to my conviction. May I always hold fast to what I publicly professed in the creed when I was baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May I worship you, the Father of us all, and your Son together with you and may I be counted worthy to receive your Holy Spirit who through your only Son proceeds from you. For me there is sufficient evidence for this faith in the words: Father, all that I have is yours, and all that is yours is mine, spoken by Jesus Christ my Lord who remains, in and from and with you, the God who is blessed for endless ages. Amen.

Hilary of Poitiers

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


"When He was alone the twelve . . . asked of Him . . ." Mark 4:10

His Solitude with Us. When God gets us alone by affliction, heartbreak, or temptation, by disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted affection, by a broken friendship, or by a new friendship - when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are dumbfounded, and cannot ask one question, then He begins to expound. Watch Jesus Christ's training of the twelve. It was the disciples, not the crowd outside, who were perplexed. They constantly asked Him questions, and He constantly expounded things to them; but they only understood after they had received the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26).

If you are going on with God, the only thing that is clear to you, and the only thing God intends to be clear, is the way He deals with your own soul. Your brother's sorrows and perplexities are an absolute confusion to you. We imagine we understand where the other person is, until God gives us a dose of the plague of our own hearts. There are whole tracts of stubbornness and ignorance to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now, or are we taken up with little fussy notions, fussy comradeships in God's service, fussy ideas about our bodies? Jesus can expound nothing until we get through all the noisy questions of the head and are alone with Him.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 13, May 14, September 13
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

In her teaching
the Abbess should always follow the Apostle's formula:
"Reprove, entreat, rebuke" (2 Tim. 4:2);
threatening at one time and coaxing at another
as the occasion may require,
showing now the stern countenance of a mistress,
now the loving affection of a mother.
That is to say,
it is the undisciplined and restless
whom she must reprove rather sharply;
it is the obedient, meek and patient
whom she must entreat to advance in virtue;
while as for the negligent and disdainful,
these we charge her to rebuke and correct.

And let her not shut her eyes to the faults of offenders;
but, since she has the authority,
let her cut out those faults by the roots
as soon as they begin to appear,
remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo (1 Kings 2-4).
The well-disposed and those of good understanding
let her correct with verbal admonition the first and second time.
But bold, hard, proud and disobedient characters
she should curb at the very beginning of their ill-doing
by stripes and other bodily punishments,
knowing that it is written,
"the fool is not corrected with words" (Prov. 18:2; 29:19),
and again,
"Beat your son with the rod,
and you will deliver his soul from death"(Prov. 23:13-14).

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

To "vary with the circumstances" may be the genius of the entire Rule of Benedict. It is undoubtedly clear here.

The Rule of Benedict does not turn people into interchangeable parts. Benedict makes it quite plain: people don't all learn the same way; they don't all grow the same way; they can't all be dealt with the same way. Those concepts, of course, have become commonplace in a culture that is based on individualism. But they were not commonplace as recently as fifty years ago. Historically, there has been a more acceptable way for just about everything: a more acceptable way to pray; a more acceptable way to celebrate the Mass; a more acceptable way to think; a more acceptable way to live. Not everyone did it, of course, but everyone had very clear criteria by which to judge the social fit of everyone else.

Personalism is a constant throughout the Rule of Benedict.Here, though, in a chapter on the abbot or prioress, you would certainly expect at least to find a clear call for order, if not for perfection and discipline and conformity. There is no room in Benedictine spirituality, though, for bloodless relationships between people in authority and the people for whom they have responsibility. Benedictine authority is expected to have meaning. It is to be anchored in the needs and personality of the other person. For the prioress or abbot or parent or supervisor, it is an exhausting task to treat every individual in our care as an individual but nothing else is worth our time. It is easy to intimidate the stubborn with power. It is simple to ignore the mediocre. It is possible to leave the docile on their own and hope for the best.

In the Rule, though, the function of the leader is to call each individual to become more tomorrow than they were today. The point of the paragraph is not how the calling is to be done, with firmness or tenderness or persuasion or discipline. The theories on that subject change from period to period. Some types respond to one approach, some respond better to another. The point here is simply that the calling is to be done. The person who accepts a position of responsibility and milks it of its comforts but leaves the persons in a group no more spiritually stirred than when they began, no more alive in Christ than when they started, no more aflame with the gospel than when they first held it in their hands, is more to be criticized than the fruitless group itself. It was Eli, Benedict points out, the father who did not correct his sinful sons, whom God indicts, not the sons alone.


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

St. Luke 18:35-43(1/13) For Sunday of the 33rd Week after Pentecost (Sun
of the 28th Week)

The Creator of Faith: St. Luke 18:35-43, especially vs. 42: "And Jesus
said unto him, 'Receive your sight: your faith has made you well.'" St.
Ephrem, reflecting on the Lord Jesus' healing of the blind man at
Jericho, observed that "Light came into the world to give sight to the
blind and faith to those who lacked it." St. Luke's account of a blind
man who cried out to the Lord illustrates the ways in which the Lord
constantly is creating faith and saving men and women thereby. The
passage provides a concrete illustration of the Apostle Paul's
declaration that the Lord is "the author and finisher of our faith"
(Heb. 12:2).

The Evangelist begins by revealing how Christ initially "authors" faith
in human hearts. First, He creates a climate conducive to faith or
trust in Himself. Then, He calls those in need to trust Him. The
passage also shows how the Lord brings trust in Himself to a complete
state - by giving those who come to Him tangible opportunities to
express their faith directly. His grace always is active, working in
advance of men's faith. Also, the Lord Jesus' grace actively creates
trust within a person, so that one may respond to Him and thus be
saved. The encounter of the Lord and the blind beggar at Jericho holds
up the dual truth: that "by grace you have been saved..." and that
salvation comes "through faith," that is, when faith is exercised (see
Eph. 2:8). This Gospel reading shows how salvation is synergistic, a
cooperation between man and God.

St. Luke records that the blind man heard a multitude passing and asked
"what it meant" (vs. 36). He was told "that Jesus of Nazareth was
passing by" (vs. 37). His reaction was instantaneous: he immediately
cried out to the Lord (vs. 38). Why so? The obvious answer is that the
Lord's fame and notoriety as a healer were well known by this point in
time - especially to a blind man. The Lord Jesus had been preaching to
the poor and healing various diseases (Lk. 4:40), including the giving
of sight to many blind persons (Lk. 7:21). His evident care for those
in need, coupled with His well-documented capacity to cure, was drawing
huge crowds (Lk. 8:19). Undoubtedly, the beggar knew about Jesus, for
the Lord had created an extraordinary climate of faith-potential. He
was feeding crowds of 5,000 or more (Lk. 9:12-17) and even giving life
to the dead (Lk. 7:11-18). All around us today He continues to heal
miraculously. And we hear the Gospels read to us with one account after
another providing reasons for trusting Him; and despite a dry climate of
doubt and scoffing, the wonders of God continue in and through His
Church. Truly, Christ our God not only responds to those who have faith
in Him, but, in our own day, He is creating faith-potential on every side.

Notice next that when the blind man cried out irrepressibly, the Lord
called him to Himself (Lk. 18:38-40). The Lord Jesus energizes faith by
calling those to Him who wish to have Him act in their lives. His
parable of the importunate widow tells of a woman who drove a judge to
distraction until he gave her vengeance. By such illustrations, the
Lord encourages appeal to God (Lk. 18:2-7). Pay attention to the
behavior of the blind beggar, for you, like all of us, are a blind
beggar. You can cry out to the Lord from your darkness with potential
faith, and He will hear you and call you to Himself. Ignore the voices
around you that ask, "What is the use?", or the voices that warn you,
"You are not important enough!", or that query, "If God exists, will He
reverse or change this situation?" The Creator of faith is not going to
abandon you in dark doubt. Cry out!

Finally, the blind man stood before Him, and Christ gave him an
opportunity to exercise faith in Himself. He asked him, "What do you
want Me to do for you?" (Lk. 18:41). Do you think the Lord did not
know what the blind man wanted? St. Cyril chides us, "Was his request
then unknown to Him?" No! The Creator of faith also lets us venture in
faith to learn that it works and how.

O Christ, Creator of all things, grant me the grace of faith always to
cry out unto Thee.


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