Monday, February 04, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/04/08



O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, by your Spirit you called Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles; Grant to your Church such a ready will to go where you send and to do what you command, that under your guidance it may welcome all who turn to you in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 25; PM Psalm 9, 15
Prov. 27:1-6,10-12; Phil. 2:1-13; John 18:15-18,25-27

From Forward Day by Day:

Philippians 2:1-13. Jesus emptied himself.

Today's lessons present starkly contrasting images. The epistle describes Jesus "emptying himself," pouring himself out in love for us, his arms extended on the cross. The gospel describes Peter's denial of Jesus.
The sixteenth-century Italian artist Caravaggio depicted the moment of Peter's denial in a dramatic painting in which Peters body language is the anti-thesis of self-emptying, a kind of physical reversal of the crucifixion. In protesting that he does not know Jesus, Peter points with both hands to himself, his arms curling inward as he clenches his whole body like a fist--refusing to give himself away.

These images offer us models for the choices in our own lives: we, like our Lord, can empty ourselves in obedience to God; or we, like Peter, can end up denying both our allegiance and our true selves.

I can feel in my own tense shoulders deep resistance to being open, to emptying myself. I carry in my self-defending armslike Peter in Caravaggios painting--a tendency to protect myself instead of giving myself away. Do you?

May we open our arms today to receive whatever following Jesus may bring us.

Today we remember:

Cornelius the Centurion
Psalm 67 or 33:1-5,20-21
Acts 11:1-18; Luke 13:22-29

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the clergy serving as chaplains in the Armed Forces (United States) and National Defence Forces (Canada)

Praying for those attending General Convention, 2009:

Speaking to the Soul:

Moving the boundaries

Daily Reading for February 4 • Cornelius the Centurion

If a boundary defines, then moving or removing that boundary means redefinition. Something new is being identified and named. The work of changing a boundary—or moving ourselves across a threshold—demands attention and a willingness to listen to the voices around us. . . .

Any decision to include or exclude either creates a different system altogether or modifies the existing one. Indeed, revolution itself might be defined as the setting of a new boundary. Responsible shifting of boundaries requires our asking a number of questions: Where is the boundary? Who or what determined it in the first place? Is this line of God, or was it set by powers acting contrary to God’s will? Does there need to be a line drawn where there was none before? How do we know? The answers we make to these questions can help us discover when and where boundaries need to be maintained, shifted, or abolished altogether, especially concerning those areas of human life in which there is considerable disagreement. Answers do not come easily. They will emerge only after intense work in personal and communal discernment—prayer, wrestling with God’s word in scripture, honest exchange.

From Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality by Caroline Westerhoff (Cowley Publications, 1999).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things.
— Japanese poet Ryokan quoted in When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

To Practice This Thought: Slow down. Contemplate just one thing. What does it mean?
++++++++++ Reflections

Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Oh, what great happiness and bliss, what exaltation it is to
address oneself to the Eternal Father. Always, without fail, value
this joy which has been accorded to you by God's infinite grace
and do not forget it during your prayers; God, the angels and
God's holy men listen to you.

St. John of Kronstadt

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Becoming Kind

Kindness is a beautiful human attribute. When we say, "She is a kind person" or "He surely was kind to me," we express a very warm feeling. In our competitive and often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response. But when we encounter it we know that we are blessed. Is it possible to grow in kindness, to become a kind person? Yes, but it requires discipline. To be kind means to treat another person as your "kin," your intimate relative. We say, "We are kin" or "He is next of kin." To be kind is to reach out to someone as being of "kindred" spirit.

Here is the great challenge: All people, whatever their color, religion, or sex, belong to humankind and are called to be kind to one another, treating one another as brothers and sisters. There is hardly a day in our lives in which we are not called to this.

Weekly Reflection from the Merton Institute:

Even the darkest moments of the liturgy are filled with joy, and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast. It cannot be otherwise, as it forms part of the great Easter cycle.

The Paschal Mystery is above all the mystery of life in which the Church, by celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ, enters into the Kingdom of Life which He has established once for all by His definitive victory over sin and death. We must remember the original meaning of Lent, as the ver sacrum, the Church's "holy spring" in which the catechumens were prepared for their baptism, and public penitents were made ready by penance for their restoration to the sacramental life in a communion with the rest of the Church. Lent is then not a season of punishment so much as one of healing.

Thomas Merton. Seasons of Celebration. (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950): 113

Thought for the Day

Compunction is a baptism of sorrow, in which the tears of the penitent are a psychological but also deeply religious purification, preparing and disposing him for the sacramental waters of baptism or for the sacrament of penance. Such sorrow brings joy because it is at once a mature acknowledgment of guilt and the acceptance of its full consequences: hence it implies a religious and moral adjustment to reality, the acceptance of one's actual condition.

Seasons of Celebration: 115

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

Day Three - The Object, cont'd

Jesus calls those who would serve him to follow his example and choose for themselves the same path of renunciation and sacrifice. To those who hear and obey he promises union with God. The object of the Society of Saint Francis is to build a community of those who accept Christ as their Lord and Master and are dedicated to him in body and spirit. They surrender their lives to him and to the service of his people. The Third Order of the Society consists of those who, while following the ordinary professions of life, feel called to dedicate their lives under a definite discipline and vows. They may be female or male, married or single, ordained or lay.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Dependent on God
February 4th, 2008
Monday’s Reflection

FASTING CAN MAKE US more aware that we are human, fragile, and utterly dependent upon God. You might try a simple fast with your family or friends. … Decide on a very simple meal: a baked potato, a bowl of rice, or a plate of pasta. No one would need to spend much time preparing for or cleaning up after such a meal. You could give the money you save on those meals to a food bank or a homeless shelter. Or you could spend the time you save not cooking and doing dishes working at such a place. But most importantly, you and your table companions could pray for awareness of your neighbors’ needs and the goodness of God.

- Susan Briehl, Mary Emily Briehl Wells, and Magdalena Briehl Wells
Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens

From p. 74 of Way to Live edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. Copyright © 2002 by the editors. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Path of Descent

Question of the day:
What does it mean to be in the infinite nature of now?

“It comes like a gentle dew” (Isaiah 45:8). Isn't that what so many of your Christmas cards are going to say and what the readings from the Old Testament say during Advent? Grace comes when you stop being preoccupied and stop thinking that by your own meddling, managing and manufacturing you can create it.

We're trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That's what's built our culture, and it's not all bad. But if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it's pure heresy. It doesn't work.

You can't manage and maneuver and manipulate spiritual energy. It's a matter of letting go. It's a matter of getting the self out of the way, and becoming smaller, as John the Baptist said. It's a matter of the great kenosis, as Paul talks about in Philippians 2:6-11, the emptying of the self so that there's room for another.

It's very hard for us not to fix and manage life and to wait upon it, "like a gentle dew."

Are we to be passive? No; very much the opposite. When Buddha asked a question similar to the one Jesus asked, "Who do people say that I am?" his disciples all gave reasons "Oh, you're this, you’re that." The Buddha replied, "I am awake." To be awake is to be vigilant and active.

Many of the Advent readings call us to the single, most difficult thing: to be awake.

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: God and man

Christ our Savior himself tried to show the people of Israel through many marvelous deeds that although for our sake he had become a man according to the divine dispensation, he was still God as he had always been. To help them to realize this he did things that were beyond the power of any human being—God alone could perform such miracles. He raised the dead from their graves when they were already in a state of corruption; like the Creator, he made the blind see the light of day; he rebuked unclean spirits with authority; he cured lepers by a word of command; and there were other things he did that were marvelous beyond description. Therefore, if I am not acting as my Father would, he said to them, do not believe in me. But if I am, even if you do not believe in me, accept the evidence of my deeds.

Cyril of Alexandria

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


"For the love of Christ constraineth us." 2 Corinthians 5:14

Paul says he is overruled, overmastered, held as in a vice, by the love of Christ. Very few of us know what it means to be held in a grip by the love of God; we are held by the constraint of our experience only. The one thing that held Paul, until there was nothing else on his horizon, was the love of God. "The love of Christ constraineth us" - when you hear that note in a man or woman, you can never mistake it. You know that the Spirit of God is getting unhindered way in that life.

When we are born again of the Spirit of God, the note of testimony is on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But the baptism of the Holy Ghost obliterates that for ever, and we begin to realize what Jesus meant when He said - "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me." Not witnesses to what Jesus can do - that is an elementary witness - but "witnesses unto Me." We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation. No one can stand like that for Jesus Christ who is not constrained by the majesty of His personal power. It is the only thing that matters, and the strange thing is that it is the last thing realized by the Christian worker. Paul says he is gripped by the love of God, that is why he acts as he does. Men may call him mad or sober, but he does not care; there is only one thing he is living for, and that is to persuade men of the judgment seat of God, and of the love of Christ. This abandon to the love of Christ is the one thing that bears fruit in the life, and it will always leave the impression of the holiness and of the power of God, never of our personal holiness.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 4, June 5, October 5
Chapter 7: On Humility

The seventh degree of humility
is that he consider himself lower and of less account
than anyone else,
and this not only in verbal protestation
but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction,
humbling himself and saying with the Prophet,
"But I am a worm and no man,
the scorn of men and the outcast of the people" (Ps. 21:7).
"After being exalted, I have been humbled
and covered with confusion" (Pa. 87:16).
And again,
"It is good for me that You have humbled me,
that I may learn Your commandments" (Ps. 118:71).

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

St. Mark 10:46-52 (2/4) For Mon. of the 37th Week after
Pentecost (Mon., 32nd Week)

Blind Beggars: St. Mark 10:46-52, especially vs. 46: "As He went out of
Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the
son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging." Beloved of the Lord, like
Bartimaeus of Jericho, we are all blind beggars. Who among us is not
working a place that he believes will be propitious for making a
living? After all, each one of us found our way to what seemed a
potentially good method for coping with life's demands. We did so to
garner from the passing traffic what we believe we need to survive.
Some of us found very comfortable, productive places along life's
roadway; for others, our spots have not proven so ideal. The son of
Timaeus was used to working the Jerusalem roadway, especially during the
high seasons when it was crowded with pilgrims - like Passover.

Bartimaeus was blind. According to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemos,1
he was blind from birth, although the four Gospels don't mention the
fact. No matter - without social services in the naked way of the first
century - he depended entirely on begging to earn his living, for
blindness narrowed his options. Which of us, like this man, can say
that he sees clearly all that is coming toward him in life? We do the
best we can, discerning what is likely, learning to survive where we
are, using what we have, and "making do" with what we hear. But like
Bartimaeus there is a realm or dimension of life we miss by living
outside our hearts - the things of the Spirit and Truth. Most of us are
quite blind in that all-important realm.

Most who are blind - like Bartimaeus - have other senses finely tuned to
changes occurring around them. He not only sensed that a greater than
usual pilgrim crowd was passing, but he "heard that it was Jesus of
Nazareth" Who was the epicenter and force that was stirring this large
crowd moving past him (vs. 47). As a beggar, he had no shame in calling
out to Jesus. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain (vss.
47,48). Learn to assert yourself toward the Savior; cry out to the Lord
Jesus. He is our compassionate God. There is nothing to lose and
everything to gain! You and I both know that Christ is renown for His
lovingkindness, for His healing, and for hearing even the faintest cries
of the poor and needy that others ignore. By all means, cry out to Him
in faith and in longing. He draws near!

Notice the interaction between Bartimaeus and the Lord Jesus. Cries to
the Lord Jesus are apt to cause Him to "stand still" and command us into
His presence (vs. 49). Let us quit praying mindlessly, but from our
need for healing. (And who of Adam's kin does not yearn for healing
from sin's blight on his life?) Also, "be of good cheer," knowing that
"He is calling you" (vs. 49). Why not freely cast off the layers of
personal protection. For a first-century beggar, it was his "himation,"
the upper covering or mantle wrapped against weather and sun (vs. 50).
For you and me, it probably is pride, the desire "to look good," or some
craving that has us begging.

Observe: when the son of Timaeus came before Jesus, His Creator asked
him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" (vs. 51). What, indeed! It
was simple for a blind man - his sight! Let us be straightforward:
"Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of David, have mercy upon me a sinner, a blind
beggar before Thee." And Jesus healed Bartimaeus' physical and
spiritual sight.

So come trusting in the same Lord, yearn to receive His healing for all
your blindnesses. The power of the Lord is extraordinary. He is able
to transform any beggar into a disciple (vs. 52) - any disabled person
into one able to pull the hard, uphill climb to Jerusalem and the
Cross. Yes even you and I, mired down as we are in darkness and in
need, we can be transformed.

O Christ our God, Who didst lighten the eyes of the beggar Bartimaeus,
lighten Thou the eyes of our souls, and reveal us as sons of the day,
that we may cry out to Thee in faith!


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