Published: Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Last Build Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:01:58 +0000Copyright: James Kurt
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(1Pt.5:5-14; Ps.89:2-3,6-7,16-17; Mk.16:15-20) “Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.” Such is the call and accomplishment of our evangelist Mark, whose gospel reflects the song of our psalmist today, “The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.” For his inspired Word lives forever to declare the faithfulness of God. And “happy the people who know the joyful shout,” who exclaim like Peter in our first reading, “Dominion be His throughout the ages!” For they “walk in the light of [the Lord’s] countenance,” and so “they rejoice all the day.” “The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere,” and those who believed in the Good News they proclaimed indeed were saved, as are we today. The promise Peter makes in our first reading is true: “The God of all grace, who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while.” Though answering the call of the Lord bring suffering in this world, it is but little to endure for the surpassing glory which is ours in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so to “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift [us] high” is a joy in itself; the suffering we experience for the sake of the Word is itself laced with great joy, for we know in our souls and have seen that it but leads to exaltation at the right hand of God. “Through your justice they are exalted” – so our psalmist praises God for His mercy and His truth. And all souls converted to the Lord will know the Lord’s justice in full flower. And oh the signs that “will accompany those who have professed their faith,” the strength in the Name and the Spirit of God and the healing graces that are known in them. Every day and in every situation such power is invoked and implemented by those who believe. Be not so forgetful of the wonders Jesus works through those who walk with Him. “The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.” The verse is true, my friends. And as “the Lord continued to work with [the apostles] throughout and confirm the message [they proclaimed] through the signs which accompanied them,” so He will not leave alone this day anyone who takes up His cross and even in the humblest fashion proclaims His holy Name. The news is good and the Lord wishes all to hear. Make His message known to the ends of the world: salvation has come to all. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney. Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission. ******* O LORD, though we suffer for His Name, your Son is with us all the day, and we walk in the light of His countenance. YHWH, you call your apostles to go out to the whole world and preach the Good News of the coming of Christ. May they be faithful in their mission and may all believe and be baptized, and so be saved. Humbly let all souls come to you, that we might be exalted at your right hand. There is suffering in your call, O LORD; there is even the shedding of blood. But though we might die for the sake of your Name and that of your Son, your peace rests upon us. For it is you who fulfill your work in us, you who go out with all your apostles… and you who are with them till the end of time. May they lay their hands on the sick that they might recover, and not be afraid to lose their lives in the process. To every corner of the earth let your Word now come, LORD, to every soul that sits in darkness. Awaken hearts to sing of your glory, you who raise all who bow humbly before you.
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O charitable and zealous soul who gave your life that others might know the true and abiding Catholic faith, you who cared for the sick and the dying, those who were ailing in body and diseased in spirit – how shall we learn to sacrifice all as you have done, to stand in the face of opposition and speak the truth though those we would help would devour us instead of listening to the words come from the Savior’s mouth? Penance and prayer are so far from us this day, and who really cares to show others Christ’s way? Pray this ship shall be strengthened by holy souls eager for the salvation of all and confirmed in the truth and love of the Spirit.
Sun, 23 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Acts 4:23-31; Ps.2:1-9; Jn.3:1-8) “No one can see the rule of God unless he is begotten from above.” “Princes conspire together against the Lord and against His anointed,” we are told in our psalm as well as our first reading. But their rule shall be shattered “like an earthen dish” by the power of the Spirit and God’s anointed One, to whom He gives “the nations as an inheritance.” And in the Book of Acts we see the apostles begin to collect such inheritance “in the name of Jesus,” the “holy Servant” of the Sovereign Lord, the King He has set up “on Zion, [His] holy mountain.” All stream to Him upon seeing the “cures and signs and wonders” worked through them by the Holy Spirit. In our gospel, it is these undeniable signs of God’s presence which lead a member of the princes who will crucify the Christ to seek understanding from Jesus. And how sad is the question Nicodemus whispers in the night to our Lord: “How can a man be born again once he is old?” It is sad not only because of the futility of his interpretation to “return to his mother’s womb,” but mainly because this is all he can see. He is so of the flesh he cannot understand anything but the flesh; and this sense extends even to the Pharisees’ grasp of the law, which has become as an empty shell void of meaning – bereft of the Spirit as they are. There is hope Nicodemus will hear the words of Jesus; there is possibility other leaders of the people will come to life. But first they will have to leave their vain pursuits behind. “The wind blows where it will… but you do not know where it comes from, or where it goes.” So it is with the disciples as by the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit “the place where they were gathered shook as they prayed”; and so, filled within with the Holy Spirit they “continued to speak God’s word with confidence.” They are born from above. They have new life in the name of Jesus. All their lives are sacrificed with Him to the will of God. And so the princes have no power over them, but to make them rejoice at the persecution they find at their empty hands. “You must all be begotten from above,” brothers and sisters. None is to be left behind with the carcasses that gather beneath the eagles’ circling flight. Take refuge in the Lord of Life; be born now in His Spirit. ******* O LORD, may the house we are in be shaken by the Holy Spirit, that in Jesus’ Name we might proclaim the truth before kings. YHWH, let us be born of the Spirit, let us take life in the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit come through your only Son. In His hands is the inheritance of the nations; in Him all take refuge. Through Him and through His blood we find the strength to proclaim your praise in the face of persecution. Be with us in the power of the Holy Spirit! Though the Gentiles rage and the kings of this earth conspire against your anointed One and all His children, their violence is in vain because you, O LORD, protect your chosen and give them power over every evil. By a word they are saved; by speaking your Name and declaring your glory, great signs and wonders are worked at their hands, for they are new creatures who take life in you. O let us be born from above, begotten by your Spirit, O God!
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 19:05:00 +0000O persecuted shepherd whose flock repeatedly drove you from their midst but who accomplished great work of conversion among them… to these indignant souls you repeatedly returned, ever spreading Christ’s net further – pray for us, apostle to nations, that in God’s Church today His Word may go boldly forth to convert hearts so hardened by sin, that the acquired ignorance of peoples returning to paganism will be thoroughly dispelled by truth. Forth let all souls journey, humbly proclaiming the Gospel till all have heard and understood the glory to which they are called by our Savior.
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O courageous soldier in the army of our Lord, you gave up the ranks of this passing world for the kingdom wrought by Jesus Christ, dying willingly for such a just cause and showing us the path we must tread to be found worthy to stand with our God – pray that we may be strengthened in the battle of earthly life, that our weak limbs may not be disjointed, that we might not tremble in fear at the threats of the mighty but take our refuge in the Almighty and fight for Him who fights for us until we are wrapped in His arms, until we cling to His breast.
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000(Acts 2:42-47; Ps.118:1-4,13-15,22-24; 1Pt.1:3-9; Jn.20:19-31) “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jesus comes to the disciples, repeatedly appearing to them after His Resurrection, to make certain there is absolutely no doubt in them: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” He invites them even to put their fingers in His hands and their hands into His side. To Thomas He speaks, yes, but them all He teaches. For He is commissioning them to go forth in His name in word and sacrament to bring forth life to souls who are dying, to preach the salvation from sin by His resurrection from the dead. “Peace be with you,” He says to His Twelve. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And so He breathes on them the Holy Spirit, giving them power even to forgive men’s sins. Now, those to whom they shall proclaim that God “in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” will not have had the benefit of seeing the Lord. And so, how can one expect them to believe just by the word of another if the speaker of that word is not completely convinced of its truth? Their witness, their commitment, must extend even to the grave – as it shall – if it is to go beyond the grave. And the strength of the apostles’ witness and the fruit it has borne – which, in turn, becomes a faithful witness unto others – is greatly evident in our reading from Acts. Here we are told the first disciples “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” Sharing all in common, their lives were centered on daily prayer and the Eucharistic meal, the feast of thanksgiving. And “with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people,” they lived their lives in truth, they lived their lives in faith. What Peter ascribes to the disciples of Christ we find in these: “Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now… you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” How effective his and the other apostles’ witness has been. Brothers and sisters, “His mercy endures forever.” The apostles’ words reach down to us this day and the sacraments of their hands are still in our midst. And so “the joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” we too should know. We too should sing, “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior.” Though the Church has been made to suffer persecution and been dispersed to the ends of the earth, this is but to bring the Word forth, and through all suffering to make it perfect within us. For ultimately the kingdom is not in this place; heaven we cannot completely see. Only faith will lead us to the Lord’s risen presence. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (first part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us make our home in the nail marks of your hands and the wound in your side that we might rise to new life. YHWH, how great is your mercy toward us! How great the wonders that come upon us through your Son, our Lord. For He reveals your ineffable presence to us, taking from us all hardness of heart come from doubt and sin that our eyes might be opened to your glory, that we might enter into your joy. He has been rejected that we might be accepted. His hands and feet and side have been pierced and He has died that we might rise with Him from the grave. All our sin He would take from us, and so He leaves this power with His apostles and with the descendents of His apostles, who, though they have not seen Him yet have His Spirit breathing upon th[...]
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Acts 4:13-21; Ps.118:1,14-21; Mk.16:9-15) “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.” How faithfully Peter and John accomplish the Lord’s command, and with what strength, so much so that our first reading tells us, “The priests and elders were amazed as they observed [their] self-assurance” – for these “were uneducated men of no standing.” “How can this be?” they must have queried inside. “Then they recognized these men as having been with Jesus.” And so the answer had come: it is from Him all power derives. In His Spirit all God’s disciples “declare the works of the Lord.” And how wonderfully silenced the leaders of the people are: “When they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could think of nothing to say.” For the works of the Lord speak for themselves, and the power of the Spirit cannot be denied. And though these priests of the Old Covenant attempt to silence the glory of God, telling Peter and John “that under no circumstances were they to speak the name of Jesus or teach about Him,” these first of apostles declare confidently, “We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen.” Indeed, “a remarkable show of power [takes] place in them.” And what have they heard and seen? Our gospel tells us: “Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week.” From Mary Magdalene, to whom He first appeared, “they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her.” And the same “good news” is announced to them by the two disciples who had sojourned to Emmaus. And though “they refused to believe it,” and though when “Jesus was revealed to the Eleven,” when they saw His risen presence for themselves, He chastised them “for their disbelief and their stubbornness” – though the doubt from human corruption still clings to them, it shall no longer be so (as evidenced by Peter and John) when Pentecost has come. In the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, the Word shall be preached and believed in strength and power. “The right hand of the Lord has struck with power.” “The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” has come now in fullness to all His children who hear and see and declare that the Lord is risen. “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior,” sing all the redeemed. As the psalmist “give[s] thanks to the Lord” and the people who had witnessed the great work wrought through the apostles “were praising God for what had happened,” so joy is unbounded for all who enter the “gates of justice” and know in their bones the power of the Spirit at work through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Brothers and sisters, let your joy be known by all; declare the good news to all the earth, that light may come to a world in darkness. ******* O LORD, let the Good News of your Son’s resurrection be proclaimed to all believing souls. YHWH, your right hand has struck with power, and what can we do but declare the glory of your risen Son by the Spirit that is now upon us? Though we be uneducated men of no standing in this world, yet you make us instruments of your salvation as we proclaim what we have heard and seen and believed – Jesus is indeed raised from the dead and in His Name all souls are raised with Him. And so, let us enter your House and praise your glory, O LORD our God. Let us not stand outside the gates doubting the Word that comes to us or even persecuting the bearers of such Good News. Let us believe! Let us believe because it is Truth, undeniable, standing before us in the light of day and burning in our hearts. May all who seek your kingdom be delivered from death and come to you in joy, LORD, by the power of the Spirit Jesus imparts to us.
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O sublime teacher and defender of the Church and her freedom, the joy of Heaven you sought in your spiritual life, and for the autonomy of MotherChurch you fought in your call as shepherd – pray that we who remain so blind to the presence of God will have our eyes opened and draw closer to Him who is our life, in whose light we alone find peace; and pray, too, that we shall fulfill our call as disciples of truth and defend with your same strength the life of our Mother, despite the persecutions that come.
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Acts 4:1-12; Ps.118:1-2,4,22-27; Jn.21:1-14) “Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone.’” What Peter has proclaimed to the people, he now proclaims even more boldly to their leaders: “There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved.” Jesus, whom they crucified, is the Messiah. And the same quote Jesus offered the Pharisees after making it clear to them they would lose dominion over God’s vineyard – over His people, over His Church – Peter invokes before the high-priestly class today… for here standing before them is the new authority on earth. And so, here the Church is gathered, under Peter and the apostles. This day of preaching in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit has brought about five thousand children to God, and there shall be no stopping the power of the Word which goes forth to draw in all believers. On the Church goes “proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the person of Jesus.” Our gospel today is the perfect parallel to our first reading, and reveals just from where the power of the apostles’ preaching comes. First, it shows Peter as the clear leader. He says among the seven – the number of fullness – disciples assembled: “I am going out to fish.” And they reply: “We will join you.” All night they toil in vain. Why? Because they lack the cornerstone who comes to them in the morning. (Notice in our first reading Peter and John are put in jail for the night to await their trial in the morning. But, ironically, this night is less of a prison than the one spent toiling in vain on the sea… for this day they have been most fruitful; for by this time they have been anointed by the Spirit.) In the morning Jesus stands upon the shore and instructs them where to cast their net, much as He did when first He called His fishermen apostles. And like that morning, their catch is overwhelming. John cries, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumps into the water to swim to His Jesus as the others tow the net and fish behind him. Once all have come to land, it is Peter who goes “aboard and haul[s] ashore the net loaded with sizable fish” and drops it at the Lord’s feet. But it is the single fish Jesus has prepared which is most important, with which they must begin their feast. For Jesus is that fish Himself, the cornerstone upon whom the tallest of buildings stands. And see how He feeds them as at the Eucharistic table: “Jesus came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” Here the Bread of Life is distributed to those who shall impart it to all others. One hundred and fifty-three (the number of Hail Marys in a full Rosary, pre-Mysteries of Light) fish are gathered by the disciples in a net beyond the point of breaking. Five thousand men are drawn into the fold by Peter and John’s fearless speaking. God’s Church is here built up on the cornerstone that is Jesus; and so we exclaim with our psalmist today: “O Lord, grant salvation! O Lord, grant prosperity! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has given us light.” Amen. ******* O LORD, by the resurrection of your Son and the power of the Holy Spirit upon His apostles may your Church be filled to overflowing with believing souls. YHWH, the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of your Church, and we are built upon Him and upon the Rock He has set in place as the first of His apostles. From the hands of the leaders of the Jews divine power has been wrested, for now Peter is your high priest and John your scribe. Now only in the Name of Jesus is salvation to be won, and all who come to Him and eat at His table ent[...]
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Acts 3:11-26; Ps.8:2,5-9; Lk.24:35-48) “In His name, penance for the remission of sins is to be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” And so Peter begins the preaching at the temple: “When God raised up His servant, He sent Him to you first to bless you by turning you from your evil ways,” he announces clearly to the Jews, those first to hear of the Savior, Jesus. And again he speaks boldly and repeatedly of their sin: “You disowned the Holy and Just One… You put to death the Author of life,” for it is absolutely essential that they recognize their guilt if they are to find their salvation. How can they repent of what they do not see? How can “a season of refreshment be granted” through Jesus if they do not know that they are despoiled? And brothers and sisters, it is certainly no different for us. We must recognize our own complicity in the Lord’s death or we shall have no place with Him in life. Hear the message of His apostle: “Reform your lives! Turn to God, that your sins may be wiped away!” If you have nothing to reform, how are you a hearer of the Good News? And if your repentance falls short of knowing the blood of Christ upon your hands, how ineffective it will be. “All the prophets… have announced the events of these days.” “God has brought to fulfillment by this means what He announced long ago: that His Messiah would suffer.” What Peter proclaims, Jesus confirms in His own teaching to the disciples, “It is written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,” as “He opened their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures.” What must be has been, and now is – Jesus has died and risen. “Look at my hands and my feet; it is really I,” He says to His incredulous apostles. And so in “flesh and bones” the Truth has become known, and this same flesh we eat each day. The disciples same “sheer joy and wonder” we should share, brothers and sisters. For what is theirs is ours, too. Though “out of ignorance” we crucified Him, in grace we now know Him. And so should we not cry out, “O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth!” Should His blessed care for this sinful man not make us incredulous with joy? For though man is guilty of the Lord’s own death, yet He has “made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.” How little we deserve the Messiah, now glorified in heaven, to be with us; but oh how generous He is. No “power or holiness of our own” has brought us to life – it is His forgiveness that has made us whole. ******* O LORD, let us proclaim the Name of your risen Son to all men. YHWH, how wonderful is the Name of your Son throughout all the earth, for by it all men are healed – all are raised up from their sin and made whole again. With what wonder we should look upon Him risen from the dead; and with what faith we should believe in Him. O LORD, in the Name of Jesus let penance for the remission of sins be preached to all nations. Beginning at Jerusalem and going forth to the ends of the earth, let it be known that the Messiah has suffered and died and been raised on the third day. May all souls be taught by the apostles you send forth – may we come to understanding of the Scriptures and turn from our sin. O let us all rejoice in the newness of life He brings! the season of refreshment upon us in His Name. O LORD, let us reform our lives and turn to you that with Him whom you have glorified we might be one.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Acts 3:1-10; Ps.105:1-9; Lk.24:13-35) “The Lord is risen! It is true!” And how it is proven this day! The two disciples find their “hearts burning inside” as He “explain[s] the Scriptures” to them on the road to Emmaus, and then they come “to know Him in the breaking of bread.” “The Eleven and the rest of the company” of disciples rejoice in Jerusalem because “He has appeared to Simon.” And the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate is pulled up by Peter “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean,” and he goes “into the temple with [Peter and John] – walking, jumping about, and praising God.” “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” Brothers and sisters, the Church is as this crippled beggar at the temple gate; it is as these confused disciples sojourning for answers to their deepest questions and fears – it is the whole company assembled and astounded and declaring with joy the truth of God’s presence among us. To the beggar the Lord says with Peter, “Look at us!” To those on the road to Emmaus He says, “How slow you are to believe!” And to all He appears in the breaking of the bread. The beggar He heals; in the seeker He instills faith; and to us all He leaves His Blessed Sacrament, the greatest proof of His presence. “Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.” And as great as His healing may be, as wonderful as His teaching is, the greatest of these is the table He sets before us and the Body and Blood with which He nourishes us. Here is His love most known, here where we “give thanks to the Lord” and “invoke His name.” For in this we are healed, in this His teaching is made real – until the end of time this shall stand as proof of His presence… in this is ever declared, “The Lord is risen!” “He remembers His covenant which He made binding for a thousand generations.” Never shall this blessing leave us, brothers and sisters. Always we have His Word at work within us, and always we share His Body and His Blood. Here He remains “powerful in word and deed in the eyes of God and all the people.” Let us not fail to declare all He has done for us; let us never be afraid to proclaim His truth. For then all shall be “struck with astonishment”; then all shall know the Risen Lord. ******* O LORD, in our astonishment let us rejoice at Jesus’ risen presence among us. YHWH, your Son has been raised and for this we praise you, for it means our salvation – we who were once crippled by sin, by His death and resurrection are made whole again, and so the words of your prophets are fulfilled. May we recognize Him each day in the breaking of the Bread, and may we live with Him now and forever. O LORD, let us invoke the Name of your only Son and we shall know His salvation, we shall know the grace and mercy that pour forth from His sacrifice. He had to suffer and die at the hands of His own people that His people and all who would come to Him might be saved from their sin. For this blessing He has imparted to us let us dance and sing on this holy day. Jesus is the One who sets all men free; dear LORD, let us know His risen presence in our midst this very hour and always.
Mon, 17 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Acts 2:36-41; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; Jn.20:11-18) “Let the whole house of Israel know beyond any doubt that God has made both Lord and Messiah this Jesus whom you crucified.” Brothers and sisters, we are all as Mary Magdalene who “stood weeping beside the tomb,” and like the Jews who were “deeply shaken” by the words of Peter. Though it is to the Chosen people “that the promise was made,” it extends “to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls.” To all sinners, to all who ask His apostles, “What are we to do, brothers?” the Lord responds: “Reform and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven”; indeed, then we “shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – then our eyes shall be opened to His presence among us as we turn to Him in tears. “She turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there,” this greatest of sinners become most faithful disciple. And as He speaks the name of her who cares only for Him – “Mary!” – so He calls “each one” of us who come to Him in our desperation by name; so He cares for all sinners who love Him and seek Him with all their heart. And the same joy that she has known shall also be ours; we shall declare, “I have seen the Lord!” to all who wait to hear of Him. “Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray,” Peter urges his fellow Jews on Pentecost day, and “some three thousand” accepted his message and were baptized. Here is where the Church begins to grow, here among those who crucified the Lord – here among His own brothers in the flesh. And though the message is primarily to them this day, indeed it is for all who would be grafted to this tree of life, to this race of whom Jesus is come. For, indeed, it is so that all are sinners, that all bear the guilt of His crucifixion; and so to all who hear His call for repentance, forgiveness may come, and the Spirit follow. “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him… to deliver them from death.” What was sung of under the Old Covenant is even more true today; and so let what was true of those faithful under the Old be so with us now. Let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord.” Let us declare, “Upright is the word of the Lord,” and the Word in its fullness shall be ours, and the tears we cry shall be answered quickly by our Lord and Savior who calls us each by name. ******* O LORD, let us ascend to where your Son is, far from this world of sin, even to your side. YHWH, baptized in tears we cry out to you that we might see your only Son, that we might know He is risen from the dead and sits now at your right hand. Leave us not alone in this world with our sins and weakness, but let your Word please strengthen us; in your mercy deliver us from death. We have crucified the Holy One; we have killed our Lord. The Messiah has come to save us from our sins, to reunite us with you, O God, and we have turned away from Him and laid Him in a tomb. And what are we to do now? What can save us now that our very life we have murdered? O LORD, let us be truly repentant of our sins and baptized in the Name of the One you have raised from the dead. To Him let us cling this day, to Him who has ascended on high. In Jesus may we be blessed to make our home, freed from the darkness of the tomb.
Sun, 16 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Acts 2:14,22-33; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; Mt.28:8-15) “You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.” “It was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him.” And so “the paths of life” we now walk; “joy in [His] presence” is ours – “in confidence” we abide forever. For God has “raised Him up again,” this Jesus, our Lord. Let us be witnesses of His truth to the ends of the earth. Like Peter, our Holy Father, let us be faithful to the Word at work within us. As the women “ran to carry the good news to [Jesus’] disciples” that He, the Lord, was no longer in the tomb, in the belly of this earth, the guards ran to the chief priests, who concocted a lie. See how the ways diverge between truth and lie. And see today the power with which Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, stands up even amongst those who had Jesus crucified, and proclaims the truth of the risen Lord. And God is with Him. He has heard the Lord’s words: “Peace!” and “Do not be afraid!” He knows full well that his soul will never be abandoned to the netherworld; he has life at work in him, the life that comes from “the resurrection of the Messiah.” And so he witnesses in strength, as do our popes to this day. Let us “live on in hope,” brothers and sisters, “half-overjoyed and half-fearful,” though only with the fear of God which overwhelms our souls, and He will be before us always, speaking words of peace; and we will see Him walking in the places He was wont to walk on earth… and we will see Him walking everywhere we walk. For by our side will He be constantly in the power of the Spirit to lead and guide us always unto Life, the life that is already with us and will never leave us. The Lord is risen, alleluia! The powers of death and hell shall never touch us, for in Him alone do we “take refuge,” He alone is our “allotted portion and cup” – in Him alone do we believe, and so we “shall not be disturbed” even by the darkness of night. The Light has dawned; in Him let our souls rejoice. ******* O LORD, let us take refuge in your Son, who was not abandoned to the nether world but lives and goes before us this day. YHWH, in your Son we find the path to life, the path upon which the Spirit guides us. In His resurrection we are preserved from death and take eternal refuge. Nothing shall disturb us now that Jesus has been raised from the dead, for death no longer has power over us. Let us have but faith in Him and in His reassuring presence among us. O LORD our God, our hope is in you and in the One who sits upon your throne. He is the Son of David who has conquered death and in whom there is no corruption. And if we believe that He is the One, to the grave we shall not come. For in Him we enter life. The lies of this world let us leave far behind, O LORD. In truth alone let us make our home and the Spirit of Truth will be upon us to free us from death’s bitter pangs. He has died that we might live; let us find our peace in Him.
Sat, 15 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000(Acts 10:34a,37-43; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-24; Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor.5:6b-8; Jn.20:1-9 or Lk.24:13-35) “Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.” “His mercy endures forever,” brothers and sisters, and it is for us to “declare the works of the Lord”: that Jesus was “raised on the third day,” that He lives, that He still is “healing all those oppressed by the devil.” With Peter and the apostles we must “preach to the people and testify” that “the right hand of the Lord is exalted.” Yes, “they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,” but “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Yes, we all bear guilt for the death of the Son, but in His rising He brings about the death of our sin. Brothers and sisters, “you were raised with Christ” and should have nothing more to do with sin. “Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and we must be seated there with Him. To Him should we raise our eyes for our “life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” No more should sin find place in us or grow within us unto death, but now that new life has come, we should find our place with Him. Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing the news that Jesus was not there. Upon entering, they “saw and believed,” they “understood the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” Upon believing, death no longer held dominion over them; and soon they would proclaim to all the world the Gospel of life and peace. Soon the cornerstone of truth would take hold of all who heard their words, and grow in time unto heaven. And His kingdom shall not be removed. Brothers and sisters, each day the Lord opens the Scriptures to us as we gather as His children. Each day we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. Each day we are called to make known the glory of the resurrection we hold in “our hearts burning within as He [speaks] to us on the way.” Here at His table we receive Him each day in Word and in Sacrament. May all men know the gift of life that is ours through the forgiveness of sins He offers. Let us pray that all will believe. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Every Day Is Christmas" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, He whom we crucified has been raised; the tomb is empty and His Word now burns in our souls – Alleluia! YHWH, your Son has truly been raised. Alleluia! And this stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone of your Church. Let us be built up in Him and come to His glory. Alleluia! Help us, O LORD, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the glory to which He leads us. In Him we find the forgiveness of our sins and so become new men. Let us not turn back as we walk on the road with Him; may His Word always burn in our hearts along our way to you, and may we partake always of His precious Body and Blood until we are present with Him in your eternal kingdom. O LORD, we praise you for your glory, for your grace that has come into our lives and leads us to union with you. O let us die and be raised with Christ! Let us humbly run to the empty tomb and declare with His disciples that He has been raised. Let all hear His Word and believe in Him, and so enter into His glory. Alleluia!
Fri, 14 Apr 2017 22:00:00 +0000(Gn.1:1-2:2; Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Ps.33:4-7,12-13,20-22; Gn.22:1-18; Ps.16:5,8-11; Ex.14:15-15:1; Ex.15:1-6,17-18; Is.54:5-14; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13; Is.55:1-11; Is.12:2-6; Bar.3:9-15,32-4:4; Ps.19:8-11; Ez.36:16-17a,18-28; Ps.42:3,5,43:3,4; Rom.6:3-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-23; Mt.28:1-10 or Mk.16:1-7 or Lk.24:1-12) “He is not here.” The women come faithfully to the tomb early Easter morning. What do they find but that the stone is rolled back from its gaping mouth; and angel(s) in white deliver unto them the message of the ages: “He has been raised.” This night, this early morning, we are led through salvation history, through our own history as human beings made in the image of God here upon the face of the earth, souls coming unto heaven. “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” is the song of the Old Testament. From the beginning of Creation our hearts are set on Him. Along the way “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” prefiguring the Father’s own sacrifice of His Son for our sins and our salvation. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of sin, through the Red Sea, “with the water like a wall to their right and to their left,” prefiguring our Baptism as Christians; and they “sing to the Lord for He is gloriously triumphant,” prefiguring our own joy. Always we are reminded by the prophets of old: “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit.” And he who heard the call even then sang, “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.” Yes, repeatedly the Lord calls out through His prophets: “Come to the water!… Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” He promises, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.” We who “have forsaken the fountain of wisdom” by the sin that plagues our inheritance are called back to “the One who established the earth for all time… before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice”; we are called to cling to the Word of God, to Wisdom: “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.” For the sake of His Name, the Lord who “scattered them among the nations” now beckons His children home. And those of faith sing with David, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.” Brothers and sisters, we know that “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” the death to sin. And having been “buried with Him,” we are also raised with Him this night, this morning, that “we too might live in newness of life.” Now His holy dwelling place is here among us with the purest of light that rises this day. Let us be children of this holy Light. No longer in the tomb let us dwell. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (third part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, from the tomb your Son has been raised, and we shall be raised with Him. YHWH, your Son is no longer in the tomb, and we have escaped with Him. It is the third day and He has been raised, just as He said. The stone is rolled away and so now all souls may leave the darkness of this world behind and come with Jesus to the light of Heaven. You have led us to this day, O LORD, throughout all our history, it has always been your intention to save our sou[...]
Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Is.52:13-53:12; Ps.31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25,Lk.23:46; Heb.4:14-16,5:7-9; Jn.18:1-19:42) “He shall be raised high and greatly exalted.” Here is your king: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” Pilate has written upon His cross. Here He is lifted up, where “many were amazed at Him – so marred was His look beyond human semblance and His appearance beyond the sons of man.” Yet “shall He startle many nations; because of Him kings shall stand speechless.” The Scripture passage is fulfilled: “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.” And there they shall see that He who “was spurned and avoided by people… one of those from whom people hide their faces,” held in “no esteem” as He was… this same “lamb led to the slaughter” “shall divide the spoils with the mighty”; for as He has been lifted up on the cross, debased beyond all others, so He shall be raised on high in His kingdom, one with the Father in heaven. Here they “wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head.” Here they “clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’ And they struck Him repeatedly.” But there no mockery shall He know; there all shall see that He is the Son of God. Brothers and sisters, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.” Our weaknesses He has known in full, and now He brings us “light in fullness of days.” Though on earth “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” now has He become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” For all the tears He shed, all the scourging He underwent, all the humiliation He experienced and the death He knew, were all for our sake. “It was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.” And having suffered in our stead for the sins of those by whom He is condemned, now He has come unto what is His own, and invites us there as well. “He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” The guilt of the nations is removed by Him who had “no guilt in Him,” and is known by all who “take refuge” in His wounds. And so, “take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord”; though we, too, may be “an object of reproach” in this world of sin, He awaits us all in His heavenly kingdom. And for this we call this Friday “good.” Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (second half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, on this day we killed your only Son – may we look upon Him whom we have pierced that our sins might be forgiven. YHWH, your Son suffers a violent death at the hands of wicked men that our sins might be taken away. All our offenses you lay upon His shoulders, and this innocent Lamb becomes expiation for our transgression. Only by His bearing the Cross will we be freed; only by His shedding of blood will we be washed clean – only by looking upon Him lifted high on the Tree will we come to realize how we have separated ourselves from you who are Life, how we have wrought our own death. And so Jesus takes upon Himself the guilt of us all; and so by His stripes we are healed. This broken, beaten Man whose divinity none can see startles all souls as He enters into His glory. O LORD, may we take our refuge in Him! There is no salvation apart from the Christ; there is no sacrifice that could atone for our sins except that made by this High Priest. LORD our God, let us know that He is One with you, and let us worship Him as our only King.
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O martyred Father of the Church, you laid down your life to save her from the enemy, to preserve her in the truth of orthodox faith; unmindful of the humiliation and exile you bore at the hands of the king of this world, you died that all might know the Christ in His divinity and humanity – pray we shall indeed be saved from all temptation to turn from the faith, and so find our way to the kingdom where now you dwell with the Lord and all His holy angels. May our leaders be as strong as you and we follow them loyally in the name of our Redeemer.
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Ex.12:1-8,11-14; Ps.116:12-13,15-18,1Cor.10:6; 1Cor.11:23-26; Jn.13:1-15) “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.” For this cup holds the Blood of our Lord. And, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord. “When I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.” As the Israelites mark each of their houses with the blood of a lamb, so our bodies are marked by the Blood of the Lamb; and so we are saved by the Lord our God and become temples of His Spirit. “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” the psalmist cries in joy. Each day we “offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,” taking up “the cup of salvation” and “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”: each day we partake of His blessed Body and Blood. And sharing in this celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; and so, into our midst He comes. “He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” as “a model to follow”: “as I have done for you, you should also do.” He says to His brothers in the upper room the night “His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”: “You ought to wash one another’s feet.” And so by this teaching, and so by His masterful lead, He multiplies His presence in the world through His twelve apostles. And so shall these souls by whom the Bread of Life is multiplied, by whom we have inheritance with the Lord, wash the feet of all His followers by their witness and the ministry they shall bring to the ends of the earth. And so shall all who have bathed in His Blood be made clean for the Holy Day. And we, as they, as the Lord, find the strength to lay down our lives in service of one another by being as our Jesus, who was “fully aware that the Father had put everything in His power and that He had come from God and was returning to Him.” Any power that any have comes only from the Father, and comes only through the Son, and is known only in His Blood – which all must share, by which all must be anointed, if we are to be preserved until the coming of the Christ again into this world of darkness. Writen, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney. Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, let us be washed clean in the blood of your Son, and so protected from all harm; let us live in His New Covenant, eating His Body and drinking His Blood. YHWH, as your Son has laid down His life, the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our sins; as He has bowed down to wash our feet that we might be made clean and have inheritance with Him; so let us be humble and serve one another in His Name. Let His blood be upon us to save us from condemnation – let us die with Him that we might live again. In His feast let us partake, of His very Body and Blood. At His table let us sit, His disciples ready to follow Him. Indeed, even as we eat let us be prepared to go out and serve, to step from the table where we have been nourished and into the way of the Cross. Far from Egypt we would be taken, LORD, far from all our sin; and others we would see follow Him in the path to the kingdom. He has died that we might live – O LORD, let us be His children!
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Is.50:4-9; Ps.69:8-10,21-22,31,33-34; Mt.26:14-25) “The Son of Man is departing, as Scripture says of Him.” Of Him in Scripture we read, “Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” Even as death approaches, even as His betrayer goes forth (perhaps especially at this dark time), He sets His face “like flint” to confront those who oppose Him, those who would destroy Him. In His own voice He speaks to us in the first reading and the psalm of His trial and His resolve: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard,” though “they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” And He stands alone before such blasphemy – “I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none.” Though only one of the Twelve betrays Him, all abandon Him in His brokenness; none stands by His side as He “bear[s] insult” in the Name of God. But the Father does not desert Him: “See, the Lord God is my help.” “For the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” And when He cries from the cross, it is not His fate He bemoans, but our own, whose dark separation from God He takes upon Himself as our guilt He bears. Yes, He must depart in this way; He must suffer at our hands. But that it is written so, and that by this our souls are made whole, in no way nullifies that we have sinned – sin remains the evil it is. As for Judas, yet it would have been “better for him if he had never been born,” for the fires of hell are real; and as for the souls who abandon Him, as for all His disciples, it is only through similar darkness that we shall come back to His light. Tears will fill our eyes as we look upon Him whom we have pierced. Yet, fear not, for the Lord hears the cry of the “lowly ones… who seek God”; and Scripture speaks just as faithfully of the third day. ******* O LORD, zeal for your House consumes your Son, and so He is betrayed by one of His own for thirty pieces of silver. YHWH, your Son is betrayed by one who sits at table with Him, and by all He will be abandoned, left alone to die upon a cross. Yet He goes as you call Him; freely He accomplishes your will, with complete faith in your protection, with the strength found only in your love. O help us to be as He is! to bear all with patience, to so freely offer our backs for beating and our faces for spitting upon. O how shall we go from putting gall in His food to being fed at His table in the kingdom if you do not help us, O LORD our God? We have no hope if you have no mercy on our poor souls. Let us find the strength He takes in you. Only one of the Twelve betrays Him, only one hands Him over for crucifixion, but we all line the path He must tread – we are all cause for His shame. Dear LORD, in His sacrifice may we find freedom from such sin.
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O soldier of Christ who stood with courage against the powers of this world, leading the troops in your charge even unto death – pray that we may remain loyal to our call, faithful to the Lord even unto our own death, standing strong and tall against the assaults of the world and the devil and forming those entrusted to us in the ways of God as you, dear shepherd, have bravely done. Let us not be afraid to shed our blood for the truth, to suffer persecution in order to light the way that leads to life, the life that is Christ, who strengthens us with the armor of God.
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Is.49:1-6; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; Jn.13:21-33,36-38) “I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength!” The Lord is with His servant, with Israel, with Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God: “From my mother’s womb you are my strength… O God, you have taught me from my youth.” And to this “sharp-edged sword” the Lord had concealed “in the shadow of His arm,” to this “polished arrow” He has hidden in His quiver, God says: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” He who was called from birth, given His name in His mother’s womb, prepared before all the ages, now comes to reveal the glory of God. And how is it “the Son of Man [is] glorified and God is glorified in Him”? We see in our gospel the moment the glorification begins; we see in our gospel the path by which it comes. At table at the Last Supper Jesus grows “deeply troubled,” for the time of His betrayal has come. Judas eats the morsel of food dipped in the dish and “immediately after, Satan entered his heart.” Then, “no sooner had Judas eaten the morsel than he went out,” and, we are told, “It was night.” And immediately upon Judas’ leaving, the Lord proclaims His glorification has begun. Here begins the Passion. Here begins the first of the three days Jesus will spend in the belly of the earth. How unlike the days the Servant spent in His mother’s womb these days shall be! And yet it is precisely these days and in this way that what God has prepared for Him and for all creation shall come to its fulfillment. Now shall the arrow be sharpened fully and shot forth to pierce all men’s hearts with truth – even as the nails pierce His hands and the sword His side. Through the depths of such absolute darkness, light shall shine forth, and this light shall in time reach to the ends of the world. Now the time has come. Now all shall abandon Him. Now by the Suffering Servant shall all be saved. ******* O LORD, make us glorious in your sight, even as your Son has been glorified by His sacrifice. YHWH, now the darkness falls upon your Son and He is prepared to be glorified. In the death He must endure He will be revealed as the light of the world. Though we cannot follow Him now, let us soon follow where He leads. Help us, dear God, to lay down our lives with Him that we might come to Heaven. He has been hidden for all ages, concealed in the shadow of your arm, LORD; but now this arrow is shot forth, this sword unveiled for all eyes to see. Now is the time for all to be justified by His holy sacrifice. O let us join with Him! Let us not fear the darkness which sets upon this corrupted earth but suffer its betrayal with the patience of the Son of Man. In Him let us take our refuge, LORD; let us be one with your Servant. To this world help us bring His light, you who have been our trust from our Mother’s womb.
Sun, 09 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Is.42:1-7; Ps.27:1-3,13-14; Jn.12:1-11) “I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations.” He has come “to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who dwell in darkness.” “He establishes justice on the earth,” and this justice is His bringing light to our darkness. But He could not release us from the dungeon unless He Himself had entered the dungeon. How else could light penetrate the darkness? And so He not only enters the veil of flesh, humbling Himself to be born as a man, but also gives Himself up to the death we all must die – in our own form He pays the wages of our sin, that we might be released from its prison. How could we “be stouthearted” “when evildoers come at [us] to devour [our] flesh,” we who are so weakened by the scourges of sin, if He had not strengthened us by standing in our stead? How could we truly say with David, “Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust,” if He had not defeated the enemy which comes against us? We can say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” only because Jesus has brought God’s justice into our very midst, to our flesh and to our bone, by entering into the world of darkness we have created and taking upon Himself the death we deserved. Lazarus, who sits at table with Jesus a week before His own death, is a sign of our release from the dungeon, from the tomb of our sin. As “Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him on account of Lazarus,” so should all be drawn to the promise of new life which the Lord shall fulfill now in His death and resurrection. And as we enter Holy Week, as we prepare ourselves for the great mysteries of our faith, how appropriate for Jesus to sit at table “in the land of the living” with this dead man. See that He will sit with us all just so in the kingdom of heaven. Now the light comes; now justice is done. The aromatic fragrance of His holy sacrifice fills this house, and darkness shall be banished forever. ******* O LORD, your Son is the light which saves us even from death; let us die and rise with Him. YHWH, as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so all who believe will be raised with Him and sit at His table in Heaven. As He defended Mary from Judas’ attack, so He will advocate for us all against the accusations of the evil one, so we will be protected from all condemnation and come into the light of your presence. Though we dwell as if in a dungeon here, release we shall soon find in the offering of your Son. From all our enemies we shall be saved; let us stand fast with Jesus. The fragrance of the Spirit fills our souls even as darkness closes in. O LORD, your promise to us is sweet indeed and gives us courage in this world. For what victory has our Savior not won, what power has withstood His justice? And so, even death He tramples underfoot as in a tomb He is laid.
Sat, 08 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000(Is.50:4-7; Ps.22:2,8-9,17-20,23-24; Phil.2:6-11; Mt.26:14-27:66 or Mk.14:1-15:47 or Lk.22:14-23:56) “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” “The whole people” cry out for the death of Jesus. “Let Him be crucified,” they shout ever more loudly. The sins of us all demand the death of the Son. And though He would have us not bear such guilt – “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” – and though even after we have succeeded in our lust for innocent blood, He forgives… yet bear such a burden we must, to find release from its punishment under the shadow of His cross, where, upon the opening of our eyes in the fear of our crimes and the power of Him whom we have crucified, we shall proclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” Yes, it is an irony that the blood of this “King of the Jews,” the Chosen of the chosen, the Messiah, the Son of God, is upon our souls both for condemnation for the great crime all commit in crucifying the Lord always by our sins; and, of course, for our salvation by its cleansing the same sin from our souls through our belief in Him Who Is. And so He accepts our mockery. And so He remains silent before our accusations against Him. And so He “set [His] face like flint,” enduring “buffets and spitting”; as “many dogs surround” Him and “a pack of evildoers closes in,” He endures all for our sakes, knowing only this will bring us to open our eyes and see the light that is the love of God. “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.” Could more of a sacrifice be made for sinful man? Could greater than this be accomplished in the name of God? What more need you to believe? O let His blood pour upon you! Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God has come among us and suffered all for our sake, that we might be washed clean of all the evil within us by His gentle acceptance of all our hatred, of all our doubt and fear, of all the violence we could mount, saying to our heart: “I love you still, and my Father, too,” that we might return to the grace that is ours in Him. Let us not be ashamed to bend the knee “at the name of Jesus.” Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him all you descendants of Israel.” Let His blood pour upon your soul. Written, read & chanted, and published by James Kurt. Music: "My God. My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (first half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, your Son humbles Himself to die on a cross for us, and we can but lay Him in a tomb – how shall we be saved? YHWH, your Son is led to death, even to crucifixion, but He turns not His face away from the buffets and the spitting, from the mockery of sinful men. He sets Himself to undergo all the suffering that is rightly ours to bear – and all the while we sleep, we take our rest. All abandon your Son, O LORD; He is left quite alone. None is able to defend Him, to stand with Him in His place upon the Cross. No, we betray Him by our faithlessness, and so now must endure the sight of His bloodied corpse sp[...]
Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.37:21-28; Jer.31:10-13; Jn.11:45-57) “My sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.” Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to “gather [His people] from all sides to bring them back to their land”; He is the “one prince for [us] all” by whom God makes complete the “everlasting covenant” with us: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is He “who make[s] Israel holy,” who makes us all one in Himself. And so, “no longer shall [we] defile [our]selves,” but we “shall live by [His] statutes and carefully observe [His] decrees” now written upon our hearts by the power of the Spirit upon His flesh and blood. In our gospel the Sanhedrin fear the loss of the Jewish nation on earth when they say, “The Romans will come and sweep away our sanctuary and our nation” because of the wonders Jesus performs and the power He has over all people. So when Caiaphas asks, “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” it is of the protection of the temple and its worship he speaks and which is his concern. But, of course, he unwittingly prophesies the salvation of all in the eternal, heavenly Temple of the New Jerusalem, where Jesus “gather[s] into one all the dispersed children of God.” Yes, “Jesus would die for the nation”; He would give Himself that all might live. The plan “to kill Him” He shall allow to bear fruit; though all are on the lookout to apprehend Him, yet He shall come to the feast to offer Himself as the spotless Lamb of Passover, to purge the nation of its sins and protect it from final damnation. And so, “He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, He guards them as a shepherd His flock.” And so we should “come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil” – so we should come now and consume His Body and His Blood. For the New Covenant is now set in place; His sanctuary is here among us. And forever He is seated in the heavenly kingdom to make intercession for us and for the purging of our sins, to draw into the presence of the Father all His holy children. He is “likely to come to the feast,” brothers and sisters, for the feast would be nothing without Him. It is His sacrifice alone which “turn[s] our mourning into joy,” which “shall make [all] merry and dance” in the sanctuary of God’s love. ******* O LORD, by the blood of your Son gather into one all your dispersed children. YHWH, your feast is prepared and we are called now to enter in to the dancing and joy of your kingdom. Your sanctuary is set up in our midst, your Son has come into our presence, and so we become one holy nation in Him. Though He must die to save us and unite us, He shall face such a fate openly, and so lead us to the heights of Zion. Up to Jerusalem Jesus comes with all the people for the Passover feast. The Temple you have set up comes now to the temple made by human hands; and though the latter shall soon be destroyed, the former shall never pass away but be set up forever as our dwelling place. O let us worship you, LORD, in your holy Temple! Jesus is indeed our salvation and the New Covenant founded in His Body and Blood is now among us. O LORD, let your sacrificial Lamb be prince over us that we may come streaming to His blessings.
Thu, 06 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O good teacher of the poor boys in your care, minister of the Lord to those most in need, with what humble affection you carried out your work in educating souls in the Gospel of Christ and guiding others to do the same – pray that we, too, shall give ourselves in sacrificial silence to the call the Lord has placed upon our souls, and especially that teachers of the young and disadvantaged will find grace and strength from our Lord to carry out in truth and love their work for Christ and His Church. May the Temple of God be built up on this earth in all poor souls washed in Christ’s blood.
Thu, 06 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.20:10-13; Ps.18:2-7; Jn.10:31-42) “He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.” As Jeremiah’s persecutors surround him on every side but are “put to utter shame” when he calls out to the Lord, so as the Jews “again tried to arrest Him,” Jesus again “eluded their grasp.” And so when “the breakers of death surged around [us], the destroying floods overwhelmed [us]...” so when our sins seemed to have conquered our souls, the Lord came to save us. Evil is all around. Always there is “terror on every side!” and those who would shout, “Denounce! Let us denounce him!” because of our missteps, because of our stumbling into sin. Ever the devil is on the watch to trap us with his wiles and cast our souls into “the netherworld.” But always, too, the Lord is present, and when to Him we entrust our cause, saying with David, “O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,” whenever we call upon His name, He hears and saves us from “the snares of death.” “Praised be the Lord, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies,” David sings. “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord,” Jeremiah echoes, and he, too, is safe. All who call upon Him He hears, and affords them His salvation. “The Jews reached for rocks to stone Him,” but still He called to their hearts: “Many good deeds have I shown you from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” Still He invites them to look upon the good works He has done in His Father’s name to see that He is indeed the Son; still He desires their salvation. The signs He performs are recognized by many people who thus “come to believe in Him,” but the hardness of heart of these the leaders continues to blind their eyes to the truth of what John the Baptist said and what He is. This ignorance shall find its ultimate expression soon in the crucifixion of the Son of God; but even from this the Lord shall deliver Him – and by this sacrifice we shall all be saved. And many more will come to know thereby that He is God. The Lord rescues all our souls when we cry out to Him. Let us put all trust in His saving grace. ******* O LORD, thank you for hearing our cries; from death you have delivered us by the grace of your Son YHWH, let us come to believe that Jesus is your Son, one with you and the source of our salvation. You rescue from the power of the wicked all who put their trust in Him; even from death we are preserved by taking our refuge in Him. And so, why should we doubt His divinity? In our distress you looked upon us, dear LORD, and heard us as we called out to you; and so you sent your only Son to answer our deepest prayers. We were enmeshed in the snares of death but from the netherworld you saved our souls, giving us safety in the blood of Jesus, the Christ. We thank you and we praise you, O God, for your grace upon us. O let us ever praise your Name, our LORD and God, and we shall be ever safe from our enemies. Let us take our refuge in the flesh of your Son and nothing shall ever harm us. May our cry always come to your ears.
Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Gn.17:3-9; Ps.105:4-9; Jn.8:51-59) “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” Abraham is a great man, the blessed patriarch, to whom God made the promise: “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” So Abraham becomes “the father of a host of nations,” not just by lineage, but by faith in the promise God has given him and the keeping of the covenant with Him. Abraham is father to all who believe in the one God: the sons of Israel, the Jews; the sons of Ishmael, the Muslims; and all who worship the living Lord and “seek to serve Him constantly.” Yet as great as Abraham is, as fertile as he has become, Jesus is the greater and the more prosperous, for He Himself is the Lord our God, from whom Abraham receives his promise and so his greatness. “Abraham rejoiced that he might see [Jesus’] day. He saw it and was glad.” For here come to us is the only Son of the God before whom he “prostrated himself”; here is the Lord of all the nations of whom Abraham is father. Jesus is equal with the Father, coeternal and all-powerful. He does not make Himself so but receives such glory from the Father, with whom He is always. How hard it is for the Jews to hear this. Though according to their faith they have been waiting for just such arrival of the Holy One, of the Messiah, yet their hearts are unable to accept such divine wonder. And so “they picked up rocks to throw at Jesus” upon His solemn declaration of His divinity. Is it not just so hard for all of us who call ourselves believers to come to terms with the awesome majesty of Jesus our God? It seems something so far beyond our belief, that God could walk in our midst. And yet HE IS; and so we must see how much greater than any man He is. For though fully a man born in time and murdered upon a cross, yet He is God, living forever as Lord of all. So great a gift, so wonderful a presence, is all that assures us that we “shall never see death” but be as He is, alive in the kingdom as He has promised. Keep His word, and the Word of Life will be with you. ******* O LORD, a greater than Abraham we have in your Son, for He is God with you – let us live forever in Him. YHWH, your Son is God with you, dear Father, the great I AM; and He would bring us where you are, to a life that passes not away. How could we die if we were with you? For you are Life itself, and your Son with you. Abraham is the father of many nations; many lives came to be through him and all of faith find a father in him who was of the greatest faith. But you are the Father of Abraham, dear LORD, and Jesus is your Son – and so Jesus Himself is as Abraham’s Father, coming before him and giving life to him as He does. O may He give us life, too, Father on high. In your Name let Him speak to us of your surpassing glory, a glory He shares with you and which He would share with us (as He has shared it with Abraham) if we would but listen and believe. Be our God forever, LORD, as you promised Abraham.
Tue, 04 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O great preacher who taught so well the love of God and the precepts of the Church, who worked with such zeal to repair the breach within the Church in a time of corruption – pray that now the Word may again go forth to the ends of the earth, that all might hear the voice of the Spirit speaking in their hearts and turn resolutely from their sins to the grace of the Lord; and pray, too, there will be priests to preach God’s Word with that same loving zeal you had for the Church and every soul.
Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Dn.3:14-20,91-92,95; Dn.3:52-56; Jn.8:31-42) “The truth will set you free.” Sin binds. Like the cords with which “the strongest men in [Nebuchadnezzar’s] army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” sin fetters our souls and casts us “into the white-hot furnace.” “Everyone who lives in sin is the slave of sin.” But for those like these three faithful servants who “will not… worship the golden statue that [the king of this world] set up,” there is freedom. For the Lord who is “praiseworthy and exalted above all forever,” who sits “on the throne of [His] kingdom… in the firmament of heaven,” “can save us from the white-hot furnace and from [the king’s] hands.” For those who “yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God,” sin holds no sway. And so we find them “unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire,” the angel of God at their side. God sits on His “throne upon the cherubim,” but He “look[s] into the depths.” And so He sends His Son to walk among us and set us free from slavery to sin. As Jesus says, “I come forth from God, and am here.” Here is the Son; here is the true reflection of the Father. Here, indeed, is Truth itself, by whom we are all set free. How Jesus strove to bring the truth to “those Jews who believed in Him” but struggled in their acceptance. But the Lord does not pull punches; He does not gloss over the truth, however harsh it may seem. He tells them plainly, “You are trying to kill me,” and so they do the works of Satan – and so do they sin. In their pride they deny their sin, and the envious plots in their hearts: “Our father is Abraham,” they argue, and not the evil one. “We are no illegitimate breed!” But the truth is that they are, and though it mean His death, Jesus must deliver this truth unto them… for it is all that will set them free. How little it seems the truth is brought to the people today, and so, how few it seems are set free. As sin goes merrily along, the devil sits laughing… But God is still God, and the Son is still the Son, and all who give themselves to Him and not the idols of this earth will still find themselves set free. Brothers and sisters, “if the Son frees you, you will really be free.” Confront your own sin, and entrust all to Him. ******* O LORD, from your throne on high you send your Son to rescue us from the fires of sin; let us love His words and put faith in Him and you. YHWH, you alone are God, exalted above all on your glorious throne. This is truth. And so, you alone should we worship with heart, mind, and soul. You alone we should praise. In you alone we should trust – you alone should be our Father. But how easily we lie and become children of the father of lies; how readily we harden our hearts against your Word, against your truth, LORD, bowing down before the golden statue and going so far as to kill the One who bears your truth to us. Jesus would convict us of our sins. He would reveal to us the truth of our fallen nature that we might be saved, that we might be set free from the sin that binds us and casts us into the white-hot furnace. But our pride will not be broken, and so, trapped within it we remain. [...]
Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O learned man whose wisdom remained not only in the mind but found practice in the Church of God, you who read and studied Scripture not just for its own sake but that the Word might be implemented amongst your flock – pray we too might live with the Word of God, that we too might share the light He would impart to every soul. Pray God’s grace touch our innermost minds, that the understanding our ear receives will penetrate to our heart; and pray, dear shepherd, that God’s Word permeate His Church as a whole, led by servants as learned as you in the way of love and truth.
Mon, 03 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Nm.21:4-9; Ps.102:2-3,16-21; Jn.8:21-30) “From heaven He beheld the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.” As the Lord has said to the Pharisees: “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above.” And truly, how could we come to where He is unless He reached down to lead us there? The Israelites show just how much they are of this world below when they reject the food of the heavens in utter bitterness: “We are disgusted with this wretched food!” they say of the manna the Lord has provided. And punishment comes to them in the form of a serpent for their cursing the hand of God. And the Pharisees are the same. They have the living bread from heaven standing before them, teaching them, yet they cannot grasp what He says and with mockery ask, “Who are you, then?” when He tells them, “I AM.” And so they too “will surely die in their sins” for their rejection of the great I AM. But yet there is hope. For the Israelites, Moses “make[s] a serpent and mount[s] it on a pole,” and those who gaze upon it are healed from the serpent’s deadly bite. And, of course, Jesus Himself will mount the wood of the cross and be fixed there – and the Pharisees and we who gaze upon our sins (which, as with the serpents, have caused this punishment), we who see what we have done and repent thereof, shall be healed, restored, forgiven. “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I AM,” says the Lord. And now we look up at Him who has died for us and pray He will take us where He has gone, that our cry will come to Him, that He will regard “the prayer of the destitute” and lift us up to heaven with Him as we share in His cross. ******* O LORD, you have answered our prayers; let us be released from death by looking upon your crucified Son. YHWH, we are doomed to die; apart from you there is no life, and we have separated ourselves from you by our sin, by our complaining against your goodness toward us. How can one come to your presence on high if he desires but the world below, where is but dust and death? May we hear the call of your Son, who by His Cross would lead us to your kingdom. Jesus will die. On the Cross He will be lifted up, crucified by sinful hearts. But His death means only life for us, for He is Life itself, O LORD, He is one with you; and that life is more powerful than the imposter death, which fades to nothing before His glory. Your Son cannot but be raised on high, dear LORD, for He is one with you and dwells ever in surpassing light, to which He would draw all souls. May we indeed recognize He is the great I AM and come to life with Him, separated far from our sin and the poison it brings. Hear our prayer and save us.
Sun, 02 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Dn.13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62; Ps.23:1-6; Jn.8:1-11) “Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her.” “Then the audience drifted away one by one, beginning with the elders.” And no one was left to accuse her. In both our gospel and our first reading a woman is accused of adultery, one justly, the other unjustly. Yet both are freed. For under the old law the innocent were to be set free, but under the new, even the guilty. In the blood of Christ sinners are saved from the fate they deserve; the Lord does not condemn us, and only He has power to do so – for it is always against Him that we sin. It is curious to note that in both reading and gospel the accused woman is brought before the man against whom she is principally accused of sinning. In the case of Susanna, it is her husband Joakim to whom the people come with their difficult questions, “because he was the most respected of them all”; and the woman in the gospel is brought before Jesus, the Lord and the bridegroom of us all. It is only wed to Him that we find salvation, and He does not disappoint the repentant adulteress today. Nor shall He condemn any of us who stand before Him weeping for our sins against His pure love. There is a “dark valley” through which we all must walk. One day we shall all stand before the Judge. Some will be persecuted only for righteousness’ sake, accused of that which they have not committed; others will stand in the full light of their sin. But all before Christ might find forgiveness, if they but realize their faults and who it is stands before them. For the love of God is unimaginable; it is not something we humans can put our fingers upon. The love of God and the grace and mercy He holds forth will never be deserved by our race. Yet they are there. Yet are we washed clean. Yet the Truth will set us free. Let no man condemn another; “the angel of God waits” “to receive the sentence from Him” – none of us is able to move His hand. And so, always we must forgive to find His grace alive in our souls. ******* O LORD, open the gate that we might enter in and dwell in your presence. YHWH, let all hear and heed the voice of your Son, who is the true Shepherd leading repentant souls to salvation. Send your apostles into every house that all might hear the call of Jesus, be purged in the fire of the Holy Spirit, and come to dwell in your House, beholding your holy face. Let us be led forth by the Christ to your mountain, O God. Make us one flock in Him, all as your blessed children. O let us be as sheep slaughtered for your table, joining your Son on the altar of sacrifice; by His voice let us be cut to the heart and in our repentance become a holy offering to you. False prophets keep far from us, dear LORD, those who work but for pay, who care nothing for your flock. In the Spirit send forth disciples to lead to running water those who thirst for you, O living God.
Sat, 01 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0000O little one, holy and true, who wanted no more than to leave the world that you might draw closer to Christ but who was followed by the world and called to teach the world of the way of holiness in our blessed Lord – pray we shall follow His path of Passion and death, death to self and all animosity, all hatred, finding thereby His peace, peace in His Spirit and light. O that we might be sanctified! our hearts converted to God, following your example, which leads to the Cross and so the resurrection of our humble Jesus.
Sat, 01 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000(Ez.37:12-14; Ps.130:1-8; Rom.8:8-11; Jn.11:1-45) “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!” says the Lord God through the prophet Ezekial. “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit dwelling in you,” says St. Paul. And our psalm sings of the Lord’s “plenteous redemption,” that “He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities”; and so, “more than sentinels wait for the dawn, let [us] wait for the Lord,” who dispels all darkness, all death, by His Word, by His presence among us. Let us but believe in Him, and we shall live. The dawn comes to Bethany, to Martha and Mary, and to Lazarus. It comes to us all in this powerful sign of the Lord’s conquering of all darkness and death, “that [we] may believe.” Wrapped in burial cloth is Lazarus, laying in the sealed tomb four days. The tears of a people are shed for the loved one who has died, and Jesus joins their weeping. Deeply human is the Lord, and so, “perturbed and deeply troubled” He becomes at the sorrow we all know when death is near. He longs ever to cry out to us not to mourn, but believe, and now we hear His voice call upon the Father’s name; and now as He “crie[s] out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” we see that what He says is true: He is the resurrection and the life. And so, believing in Him, no longer does the Christian fear death. Death is of the flesh, but we are “in the spirit.” “The body is dead because of sin,” but “the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” And so, as we rise from the graves opened by the powerful word of the Lord, as we rise from our iniquities unto eternal life, we know His Spirit at work within us, the Spirit of Christ that is only life. In Him let us take refuge; in Him let us believe. He is here with us to keep us from death, to release us from all darkness – to free us all from sin. Let us remain with Him and so have eternal life. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt. Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us live in your Son and so in you that we might do your works in this world and praise you forever in Heaven. YHWH, let us be built into and grow as the Body of your Son. Make us a royal priesthood, a holy nation – your Church. Into your House let us come and dwell, eternally praising your Name. Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus, and those who believe in Him and so in you become one with Him, and so with you, dearest LORD and God. O Father in Heaven, to Heaven let us come, to oneness with you. Let us do your works on earth and so find our way to your kingdom. Why should we be troubled when we have the promise from Jesus that He prepares a place for us? Why should we fear when He is near in the power of the Holy Spirit?[...]
Fri, 31 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.11:18-20; Ps.7:2-3,9-12; Jn.7:40-53) “Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more.” With these words “they were hatching plots against” Jeremiah, and in the same way against Jesus. And so, “like a trusting Lamb led to slaughter,” “like the lion’s prey, to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue” are they. But “the malice of the wicked [shall] come to an end.” “The upright of heart” are ever persecuted. Even Nicodemus, “one of their own number,” a member of the Pharisees who are seeking the life of the Lord, was “taunted” when he “spoke up to say, ‘Since when does our law condemn any man without first hearing him and knowing the facts.’” But the Lord “sustain[s] the just” “because of the innocence that is” theirs. In Him do they “take refuge,” and He will not leave them a prey to their teeth. Even the temple guards recognize the power of the word that comes from Christ. “No man ever spoke like that before,” they state as the reason that “no one laid hands on Him.” “He is the Messiah,” it is sure, and only the hardest of heart are able to blind themselves to the authority that issues forth from His lips. But the Lord is the “searcher of mind and heart,” of “heart and soul”; He is the just Judge, the just God, and so even as He rescues the innocent from trial, so He “punishes day by day” the evil man. Their plots shall come to naught; in vain do they pursue Him. For though He shall allow them “to apprehend Him,” yet He will be eternally free from their clutches. Indeed, He will be fixed to a cross. Indeed, like an innocent lamb He shall not open His mouth to protest or to call upon the angels for assistance. And they shall think that He is theirs. But rise from the dead He will, and His Name will be spoken to the ends of the earth. For nothing can destroy the power of the Word of God. ******* O LORD, though the innocent man be condemned, you are there to save him. YHWH, you save us from every snare of the devil, every plot of the wicked; you do not leave us prey to the lion’s teeth. Though we be ringed about by our accusers, though with your Son we be crucified, yet we shall not be destroyed – with Him we shall be raised on high. For you, O LORD, are a just Judge; you look into the hearts of all. You know who is set upon the doing of your will and who would oppose you and your blessed One. Let us never be a curse unto you. Though we be condemned by men, in your sight let us ever be holy. No man ever spoke like your Son, dear LORD, for no man else is the Word Himself. He comes from your very heart, and becomes our daily Bread. In your House with Him let us make our home, though it mean persecution and certain death. For in Him we shall be protected always, and brought quickly to your side.
Thu, 30 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Ws.2:1,12-22; Ps.34:17-21,23; Jn.7:1-2,10,25-30) “He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is His Father.” And for such He shall be persecuted; for such He shall be killed. For to the wicked “He is the censure of [their] thoughts; merely to see Him is a hardship” for those who stray from the Lord’s commands. And so, in vain attempt to spare themselves the just judgment of the Lord, in their jealousy they say to one another: “With revilement and torture let us put Him to the test”; and so they “condemn Him to a shameful death,” tempting the Lord God to watch over Him. Evil are their thoughts and wicked are their ways. But the one “they want to kill,” the one “they tried to seize,” escapes their grasp, for indeed the Lord “watches over all His bones; not one of them shall be broken.” And they cannot take hold of Him unless He so wills it; so, frustrated are their efforts “because His hour had not yet come.” Even when His hour comes and He is delivered into the hands of the prince of darkness, still their violence will not touch Him; yet will He be protected by the Lord, as are all who follow Him. Yes, David sings of what he knows: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.” And so, even in distress, even in death, the Lord is near to His chosen ones. The Lord shall ever be delivered from the grasp of those whose “wickedness blinded them.” Jesus stands up in the temple and cries out: “I was sent by One who has the right to send… it is from Him I come.” He declares openly that He is the Son of God, and for bringing such light the wicked who would hide their sins seek to destroy Him. But it shall indeed be proven that He is the Son of the Most High, that God is His Father. The “recompense of holiness” shall be witnessed by all eyes. In subjection to their evil plots, in dying upon the wood of the cross, and in His subsequent resurrection, Jesus shall utterly destroy all the power of wicked men and reveal the one true light that shines, that cannot be overcome by darkness. “We know where this man is from,” they say, and so they are blind. For God the Father is not of this dark earth, and neither is His just Son. ******* O LORD, you care for those reviled by the world; make us as the Just One sent by you. YHWH, the wicked cannot know the origin of your Son for they are blind to you and your holy will. He is sent by you to suffer and die, but the plots of evil hearts shall not succeed, for His life is ever in your hand. From the dead He shall be raised and draw all just souls to you. Though the Just One suffer torture and humiliation for His purity, for the truth upon His soul; though those whom He reproaches for their sin seek to put Him to a shameful death; it is so, that none of His bones shall be broken, for you, O LORD, are close to the brokenhearted – those who are crushed in spirit you indeed save. But those who are proud and envious, those who cannot bear the censure of their thoughts, the chastisement of thei[...]
Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Ex.32:7-14; Ps.106:4,19-23; Jn.5:31-47) “If you believed Moses you would then believe me, for it was about me that he wrote.” As Moses wrote, so Jesus speaks. As Moses wrote, so Jesus is. The eternal life to which the Scriptures testify is now in our midst. The Word has come to life; the Law is now fulfilled. The “form [we] have never seen” now stands before us. The “voice [we] have never heard” now speaks to our ears. But do we “have His word abiding in our hearts”? Do we “believe the one [the Father] has sent”? “The works the Father has given [Jesus] to accomplish” “testify on [His] behalf.” Let us exult in their light. The Lord “had done great deeds in the land of Egypt,” “wondrous deeds” and “terrible things” in the sight of the Israelites through His servant Moses. But “they forgot the God who had saved them,” “making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it” instead of the living God. They could not wait for the Word to come to them; their hearts were not set on Moses’ return from the mountain with the Law of God. And so, for their lack of faith God “spoke of destroying them.” The fire of wrath the Lord would have “blazed up against them to consume them” – such was the thought of His heart. But Moses “withstood Him in the breach.” “Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people,” he begs. And so, because of Moses’ intercession, “the Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened on His people” for their lack of faith in Him. And now it is Jesus who stands in the breach made by our sins, preventing now our eternal punishment at the hands of a righteous God. For by all accounts we deserve death for our lack of faith; but in His grace the chasm between us and God He fills by stretching out His arms on the cross. Brothers and sisters, let us believe in His redemptive sacrifice. Let it never be said of us, “You do not have the love of God in your hearts,” for such a state would mean the end of our days. But God has promised: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.” About this Moses writes, and the words speak of Jesus, He who is our salvation. Let us not forget the One who saves us in His love, “on whom we have set [our] hopes.” ******* O LORD, as Moses once stood in the breach to save your people, now Jesus would return us to your love – let us listen to Him. YHWH, help us to believe in your Son and the work of love He accomplishes in our midst; in Him let us recognize your presence. Let us not turn from such true worship of you who are the only God to worship of the image of a grass-eating bullock or any of the images of this adulterous age. Let us have your love in our hearts, set ever upon your Word. In your Son is eternal life, LORD; in Him all Scripture is fulfilled. Of Him Moses has spoken, of Him you yourself have given testimony – let us have faith in His glory, which comes only from you. Let our hopes be set on the testimony He [...]
Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Is. 49:8-15; Ps.145:8-9,13-14,17-18; Jn.5:17-30) “Just as the Father possesses life in Himself, so He has granted it to the Son to have life in Himself.” Here the great mystery of the unity of Father and Son is revealed, and so also our salvation. God is life. The Father is the great I AM, He who will be what He will be and do what He will do – He who holds the world and all its wonders in His creating Hand. And Jesus is as He is. He shares absolutely in the Life that is the Father. “Speaking of God as His own Father, [He is] thereby making Himself God’s equal.” And this perfect union is most clearly evident in the fact that “the Father has given over to Him power to pass judgment.” For who can judge the soul of man but God, and so, who is Jesus but God Himself? And this union of Father and Son in the absolute love that gives proof of the Spirit’s presence, and thus completes the Holy Trinity, is the key to our readings today. Thus, though the thrust of the Word is our own salvation from sin and death, this is only effected in the love of the Father for the Son – for it is in our own union with Jesus and in His washing us clean from sin by standing in our place upon the cross that we find union with the Father, that we find the Life to which we all are called… in whom we find our home of love. The Lord says, “I will cut a road through all my mountains and make my highways level.” Jesus the Son is that road by which the Father “comforts His people and shows mercy to His afflicted” by leading them back to Him, guiding them “beside springs of water” that “they shall not hunger or thirst” but “find pasture” in His arms. For “can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” Greater than any mother’s love is the Lord’s love for us, and this He makes known through His only Son. Brothers and sisters, “the dead shall hear the voice of God’s Son, and those who have heeded it shall live.” Even now the Lord is “saying to the prisoners: Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves!” Out from the tombs He calls us, for He is “compassionate toward all His works” and desires in His perfect will that all share in His holiness, in His Life. Let us do right in Him, and as His Son we, too, shall live. ******* O LORD, from the tombs let us come forth at the sound of your Son’s voice. YHWH, you are kind and merciful and so you send your only Son to reveal your loving will, to draw all unto you and so to eternal life. Let us heed His voice and so your own; let us thus come to your kingdom. On your holy mountain let us make our home, dear LORD. Though desolate we may be, seemingly abandoned by you, far from your grace… yet you call us back to you and assure us of your loving kindness in the word and the Person of your Son. You do not forget us; let us not forget the wonders of your love you show us in Jesus. Your Son shall judge all men’s souls. To Him you have given this power, O LO[...]
Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.47:1-9,12; Ps.46:2-3,5-6,8-9; Jn.5:1-3,5-16) “There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High.” Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our living water. In our first reading, Ezekial speaks of his heavenly vision of the river of God which runs from His holy temple. The water, which increases as it flows further from its source, eventually “empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.” Along both banks of the river are trees whose “leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail… for they [are] watered by the flow from the sanctuary.” Their fruit nourishes and their leaves heal. What is this river and this temple? What is this sea and who are these fruit trees revealed to the eyes of the prophet? Brothers and sisters, that Jesus is the river, the healing water, is made poignantly clear in our gospel. The sick man struggles daily to plunge himself into the healing pool at Bethesda but is never able to find the assistance he needs. When Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed and the man explains his plight, the Lord immediately states: “Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk!” The healing waters have come to him, and he is cured. Yes, Jesus is the living water, and the cross is as the temple from which His healing blood flows. Upon us all who have prepared the cross and set it in place by our sins – which have made our water undrinkable – His grace pours to make us whole… and so we are the salt sea made fresh. And so the trees on the river’s banks, bearing fresh fruit each of the months, do we become, as we walk in the paths of the twelve apostles… who are first to know His redemptive power, and with whom God becomes “our refuge and our strength.” “Come! behold the deeds of the Lord, the astounding things He has wrought on earth.” For by the river that flows from His side He has prepared a people and a kingdom. And all shall see what Ezekial sees; all shall know what the prophet is shown – the water of the Lord flows out now to the ends of the world, making all whole and fruitful by His presence. ******* O LORD, let us be watered by the flow from your sanctuary, healed by your only Son that we might bear fruit as your holy Church. YHWH, your Son is the healing water that cleanses us of our sins and makes us whole in your sight. The blood flowing from His side is the source of our salvation. May we wash in this river and have our hearts made new that we might bear fruit unto Heaven. O LORD, may Ezekial’s vision be our own; may we sit with you on the banks of the River in your holy Paradise, where all shall be fed by the fruit of the trees there and healed by the medicine of their leaves. In your Church, founded on the twelve apostles, let us make our home, for there we shall rest in you, there we shall be as the Body of your Son, His blood flowing through our veins. To newness of life let us come, dear LORD, raised from our sickness by a word from your mo[...]
Sun, 26 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Is.65:17-21; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13; Jn.4:43-54) “You changed my mourning into dancing.” Here in the midst of Lent we find the purpose of all our suffering, the hope to which we all are called. “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.” And thus does this time of penance and fasting lead to the abundance found in Easter joy. For what is darkness but the world in which we dwell, and what is the dawn but the coming of Jesus to our hearts, the kingdom of heaven within us? And even in the midst of this darkness, the light begins to shine. “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” the Lord says. And today we hear that reassuring voice speaking to our waiting souls. In our gospel today we find a marvelous sign of the light that follows the darkness, of the joy that follows sorrow. A Gentile royal official, a man in darkness for his being apart from the chosen race – and whose darkness is compounded by his position of authority there – comes to the King of the Jews, the Light of God. In sorrow he mourns the imminent death of his son, and so the darkness is quite complete. But the man’s son shall not die, and neither shall the Gentile race. For it is great faith he shows. Enlightened by the One he seeks, he believes, and so his son is saved by the Son of the Most High, and so he enters the fold of Heaven. What greater joy could he have hoped to find, for not only is his son “brought… up from the netherworld,” but indeed he (and the race he represents) is “preserved… from among those going down into the pit.” No greater words of joy could we read than these: “He and his whole household thereupon became believers.” Brothers and sisters, the Lord has made us to be a people of “rejoicing and happiness.” He tells us so today through the prophet Isaiah: “I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people a delight.” This is our destiny; this is our call. If we must suffer for a time in this land of darkness, in this time of penance, let us be assured of the fullness of joy that comes Easter morning: “No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying.” Yes, how particularly marvelous it is to hear of this light before us even as we stand in the midst of the darkness; what even greater joy do we feel! The Lord conquers all. He wishes only life for our soul. And that life is upon us even this day. At the wedding feast we shall dance: “sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name.” ******* O LORD, no sign should we need of your love for us; only give us new life in you. YHWH, what sign need we that you love us and desire to save us from the darkness and death that envelop this fallen world? For your Son has[...]
Sat, 25 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000(1Sm.16:1b,6-7,10-13a; Ps.23:1-6; Eph.5:8-14; Jn.9:1-41) “I am the light of the world.” And by that light alone we see. By this light which comes from God we who were born blind, who were born into sin, have our eyes opened. And so having escaped the darkness we “live as children of light.” When David was presented before Samuel, immediately the prophet’s eyes were opened to the one on whom God’s favor rested. His eyes which had first “judge[d] from… appearance,” now with the Lord look “into the heart.” How clearly he hears the Lord speak to him, “There – anoint him, for this is the one!” And how readily he takes “the horn of oil in hand” and anoints the new king. And how wonderfully “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.” Here is our own baptism in the Lord foretold. Here is our own anointing with the oil of Christ presaged. And as “Jesus made clay and anointed [the] eyes” of the blind man, so in our baptism we find our own anointing, an anointing which washes us clean of original sin, an anointing which prepares our hearts to receive Him – an anointing which opens our eyes to His light. The eyes of our heart now see. Our souls cry out from their depths of the light which has entered in and made them clean. And so we say with the blind man in the presence of Jesus, “I do believe, Lord,” and we, too, worship Him as our “cup overflows” with “the goodness and kindness” of God. “Christ will give you light.” For this He has come into the world, “that those who do not see might see.” In the words of Scripture, Paul entreats us today: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.” The Lord has come to give us light. As long as we say, “‘We see,’ so [our] sin remains”; we must be blind, we must recognize sin’s darkness encroaching upon our souls… and then we would “have no sin,” for then Jesus would remove from us our sin – then He would bring us light. “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible,” and so we must bring our sins before Him, and from the dead we shall rise… and with His light we shall shine. May the Lord anoint us all with the oil of Christ, and may we be faithful to that anointing. (Note: In Confession as in Baptism we are washed clean of our sins by Christ, and light is thus brought to our eyes. Constant recourse we have to this preservation of our souls.) Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (second part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, the innocent Lamb is Himself our Shepherd; may we find salvation at His side. YHWH, let us enter into your presence through your only Son, who is the true Shepherd guiding us to you. May we follow in His steps. Even though it lead to the Cross, may we remain near Him, ready to give our live[...]
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:00:00 +0000O chosen one of the Lord, how well you answered His call, giving yourself entirely to the angel’s word and so conceiving in your womb the salvation of the world – pray, O Spouse of the Holy Spirit, that His voice might inspire in us your same commitment to the Word of God and its working in our lives; pray the Son be conceived in us as well that we too might serve to bring His salvation forth into the light of this day. How shall we give ourselves completely to the Lord without your prayers, dear Mother, without your blessed intercession…? O pray we shall follow in your wake and add our ‘yes’ to your own, that the Lord may indeed work in us, that He might make His home in us and we come to our home in Heaven.
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000(Is.7:10-14,8:10; Ps.40:7-11; Heb.10:4-10; Lk.1:26-38) “Behold, I come to do your will.” Today we celebrate the fact that the Word became flesh, that God became man through Mary and dwells among us to take away our sins. In this is fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’” She is the Virgin; He is the Son – we are they with whom He dwells. Praise God for His grace! Obediently Jesus takes on the body prepared for Him by the Father for all ages; humbly He bows under the Hand of God. To come among us is His delight. For He shall fulfill the prescriptions of the old law – as is written, so shall it come to be. And in His blood poured out for our sakes, in the love He shares with us men, indeed shall be fulfilled the will of God. No longer need we wait or search in vain, for all that is written is accomplished in Him. And Mary is, of course, the perfect reflection of the Lord’s obedience; it is she in whom He is formed. As He says, “Behold, I come,” she says, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.” As the Lord says, “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me. To do your will, O God, is my delight,” His Lady says, “May it be done to me according to your word.” And so by the obedience won from her by the angel, this Blessed Virgin “will conceive in [her] womb and bear a son, and [she] shall name Him Jesus”; and “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” She in her innocence and by the fullness of grace at work in her believes the reply to her question, “How can this be?” She is assured by the miracle spoken of Elizabeth – for which this holy woman must certainly have prayed – and so the words of the angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” are realized; and she who believes becomes the instrument of our salvation. Brothers and sisters, “we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all.” His coming among us is more than the greatest miracle; it means life for our very souls. For by His incarnation and by the sacrifice of His flesh for our sakes is effected the cleansing of our sins and the drawing up of our lives unto heaven where He eternally dwells. As He has dwelt with us, so may we now dwell with Him who has come for this purpose. Let no fear grip your heart. Consecrate yourself to Him and to His holy sacrifice. And give yourself to His Mother, that she may form you in His image, and you may know the blessed obedience which both hold, and which is itself the means of our salvation. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney. Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, make us all [...]
Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Hos.14:2-10; Ps.81:6-11,14,17; Mk.12:28-34) “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!” “There is no other than He,” and so what should we do but “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all [our] mind, and with all [our] strength”? What promise the Lord makes to us if only we would return to Him and love Him: “If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, I would feed them with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.” Indeed, then we would be “not far from the reign of God,” even here on earth. Brothers and sisters, we “have collapsed through [our] guilt.” We have had “strange god[s]” among us and said, “‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands.” Why should we continue so blind? Why should we continue stumbling as sinners – why do we find the straight paths of the Lord so difficult to walk? He will “forgive all iniquity” and strengthen us in justice; if we turn to Him, He will “heal [our] defection” and “love [us] freely.” “In distress you called, and I rescued you,” He says in the words of our psalmist, and His words are true. Turning away His wrath, He shall become “like the dew for Israel.” And with His living water to nourish us, we “shall blossom like the lily… blossom like the olive tree.” We “shall dwell in His shade and raise grain,” our “fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.” We must but love God and our neighbor, and we shall “bear fruit.” “Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.” There is no God in all the world but the Lord, and it is He in whom “the orphan finds compassion.” Why should you continue in your vain pursuits when love awaits your turning to Him? What refuge can you find in your false gods? In them and in your pride you indeed will find yourself orphaned, cut off from the love that only the Father holds. But He loves the orphan, brother, and so He calls to your soul to return to Him with all your heart. In this is true wisdom; in Him you will find strength. There is no further question when the love of God is known. When His presence is revealed we fall silent, for nothing can be said in the face of Truth. Listen, brothers and sisters; but listen – and then do. ******* O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed, that your inheritance you might share with us. YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin. As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom. And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation. There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and [...]
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:00:00 +0000O missionary shepherd whose love for the truth was a love for Christ and a desire for your flock to know Him and the way to glorify God, you who gave yourself for the Truth that is Christ and for His Church on earth, through whom He teaches all men and brings them into His fold – may we, too, lay down our lives and work as hard as you have done in the name of Jesus, that all our lives and the lives of all His flock might be in accord with the will of the Lord and faithful to the Mother He has left for our care; let all that is not of God be cast from our midst by the Spirit of Truth this day.
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.7:23-28; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Lk.11:14-23) “They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.” The Lord calls His people to “listen to [His] voice,” to “walk in all [His] ways,” that they “may prosper.” But with whom is there obedience? How many harden their hearts against Him! Of the people of Jeremiah’s time the Lord says, “Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.” They, as all, should “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us,” but they, as we, do not recognize that “He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.” They pay no heed to the voice of the prophet. And this hardness of heart is fulfilled in the opposition of the faithless to Jesus. In our gospel He casts out a devil that a dumb man may speak and some say, “It is by Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that He casts out devils.” Indeed, the hardness of heart does not get any greater than this. (And so for this sin against the Holy Spirit and His ways there can be no forgiveness.) They call good “evil” and presume that the evil they speak is a good – but they are utterly lost in darkness. “The reign of God is upon” them, and they desire to dwell in the realm of the devil who is being cast from their midst. What can save such a soul? For all prayers the Lord answers. Brothers and sisters, it is a dark world and a difficult age in which we dwell. But the response of our hearers is not our concern; we must speak as called regardless of the reaction – we must live our vocation despite any opposition. Note the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: “When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you.” For as with all the prophets, and as with ourselves, he speaks to “the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction.” To these it is our duty to call; to darkness we must bring light. And realize, too, the fate of Jesus, who will die on the cross for His work to bring salvation to the world. It is this same cross to which we are all called, for it is by this same cross we have been called; and those who are yet to be gathered in must hear our voice. Let us stand with the Lord and gather in His grain, despite the stiffened necks we might find. There shall be others like us who hear the cry of Jeremiah and cling to the saving power of Jesus. Test Him not with your own hardness of heart. ******* O LORD, let us be saved from torment by walking in the way of your risen Son. YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the pas[...]
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Dt.4:1,5-9; Ps.147:12-13,15-16,19-20; Mt.5:17-19) “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law?” “He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, His statutes and ordinances to Israel.” The Lord in His grace “sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His word!” And as the snow and the rain come down to nourish the land, to bring life to the earth, so His Word is food and life to all who listen to it. By His Word He “strengthen[s] the bars of [our] gates,” giving us protection against the tribulations of this world, and by it He “bless[es] [our] children within” us, making fruitful all our endeavors. By fulfilling and teaching His commands, we find life eternal in the kingdom of God; by breaking them and leading others to do so, we court death. And so why should the Word be withheld from the ears of the flock? By his silence does not a priest give credence to the breaking of the law? And then are not the results upon his soul? Has the devil so blinded his eyes to the truth that he cannot see the life-giving water the Word of God is, that His commands are not burdensome but bring release from labor under the weight of sin? By withholding such nourishment does he hope to increase his flock? Oh but it is so hard to open my mouth, you say, so difficult to speak the truth. Better you die to self now than to find your soul dead to the kingdom of heaven. Brothers and sisters, it is fulfilling “the smallest letter of the law… the smallest part of the letter,” that brings us to perfection, that brings us to the life that is our God. Ignorance shall not bring you there. As Moses instructs of the commands of the Lord, “Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” For they are a great gift made known to souls; they are the fountain of life, fulfilled in the flesh of Jesus. So neither practice them in vain “nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,” for they hold life, and should you lose them, you shall lose the Christ. Do you desire holiness? Do you wish to be whole? Do you long for the presence of God, thirsting for His truth? Then follow the Word He speaks in your presence today and teach others to do so: Abortion is wrong. Contraception is wrong. Euthanasia is wrong. Premarital sex is wrong. Love of money and goods is deadly. We have the word in our Church – our mouths must speak it, or we shall die. By our Baptism we are all made priests in the sight of God and are called to live and to preach the Word of God. “What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him” or whenever we come to His table of sacrifice to receive Him? [...]
Mon, 20 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Dn.3:25,34-43; Ps.25:4-9; Mt.18:21-35) “With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received.” The Lord “guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way,” and so it is the prayer of these He receives; upon them He showers His mercy. For His mercy is His justice and it is known by those who humbly share the same. Azariah makes his prayer for mercy for his people Israel who suffer the purgatorial fires of their exile from the Promised Land, even as he himself stands in the quite literal fire of the furnace of the King of Babylon for his faithfulness to the living God. He begs the Lord: “Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy,” and as he comes humbly and with great faith interceding for others and not himself, and thus exhibiting the mercy he desires of the Lord, he is well protected from the flames by the angel of God. The Lord’s justice is known to him who “follow[s] [Him] with [his] whole heart.” And Jesus makes quite clear the great mercy God holds for all who humble themselves before Him – “seventy times seven times,” eternally, He forgives. His reign is like the king who “wrote off the debt,” though it was “a huge amount,” of his servant who begged His mercy. For the Lord is “moved with pity” at our contrition for our sins. But the same forgiveness we must offer to others if we are to prove that His blood runs in our veins. The master tells his wicked servant: “I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me. Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?” And indeed the fires of hell and purgatory await those who break their bond of justice and mercy with the Lord by failing to manifest the same grace that has been revealed to their souls. We are sinners and must see ourselves so. The Lord forgives and we must accept His grace. Others seek our mercy and we must grant it to them. This is how the kingdom works. Those who do not follow the Lord’s way of compassion do not enter there. Brothers and sisters, we must be as Azariah, who “stood up in the fire and prayed aloud.” For all, we must humbly intercede before our merciful God even in this dark world. And for the contrition we show for our sins and those of others, the Lord holds an eternal reward. As our priests, as Peter, as God Himself, let us forgive one another; if we receive one another humbly and mercifully, the Lord will receive us in His grace, in His justice. ******* O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight that we might be saved from our sin and enter your kingdom. YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into [...]
Sun, 19 Mar 2017 13:00:00 +0000O righteous man called by God to be foster-father of His only Son and protector of His Mother, you who were obedient to the Spirit, who took Jesus by the hand and led Him from the temple in Jerusalem to the home in Nazareth where Mary made a place for Him – pray that we shall be built into the house of Abraham, the man of faith, into the house of David, your father, into the House the Holy Spirit builds for the faithful even this day, where our Mother waits for us with you and all the saints; pray that we too shall hear the words spoken over you by the Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Master.” Pray we shall be righteous as you.
Sun, 19 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000(2Sm.7:4-5,12-14a,16; Ps.89:2-5,27,29,37; Rom.4:13,16-18,22; Mt.1:16,18-21,24a or Lk.2:41-51a) “I will be a father to him, and he shall be my son.” It is through Joseph that Jesus is a son of David and so fulfills the promise to the king made by God: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever,” for He is the heir “raise[d] up” after David “who shall build a house for [His] name.” “In heaven [the Lord has] confirmed [His] faithfulness,” and on earth He has made it known. And so Jesus says of God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior!” and we of faith join His refrain. As with Abraham, Joseph is made foster father of Jesus not merely by physical descent from David but “through the righteousness that comes from faith.” For as Abraham believed and so became “the father of many nations,” so Joseph believed that it was “through the Holy Spirit that [Jesus] ha[d] been conceived” and “did as the angel commanded him and took Mary into his home,” thus becoming a father to Him who would “save His people from their sins.” Like Abraham “he believed, hoping against hope,” and like Abraham he is blessed. But, of course, Jesus is more than the Son of Joseph; in fact, this is the great sacrifice Joseph makes. For truly he cares for Him who is more Son to the Father in heaven and Son of Man, born for all the human race. Evident this is when He is found by Joseph and Mary in the temple after three days and He asks them (a question much like those He might have been putting to the teachers of the faith): “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” and in the curious fact that His parents waited a day before journeying back to Jerusalem to look for Him, for they were “thinking that He was in the caravan” – so much a part of His people had He become. Jesus is Son of God and Son of Man, yet “obedient to them” – Joseph and Mary – He ever was. And they were ever obedient to the dictates of the Father, that they should care for His only Son. And so Joseph, husband of Mary, a simple carpenter, fulfills in simple fashion all the Lord had set out for him. May we, too, by faith fulfill all the care we must take for Jesus, His mother, and His people. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney. Music composed and performed by Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, let us dwell in your House forever. YHWH, your Son is known as the Son of David, the Son of Joseph the carpenter. And truly He is the fulfillment of your promise to the king that his son shall ever sit upon the throne. But He is conceived by the Holy Spirit: He [...]
Sat, 18 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000(Ex.17:3-7; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Rom.5:1-2,5-8; Jn.4:5-42) “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.” What is this “spring of water welling up to eternal life” but the Holy Spirit come upon us, the Truth of God in our midst through the blessed sacrifice of the Son for us “while we were still sinners.” Brothers and sisters, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” even as Jesus’ words of spirit and truth are poured into the ears of the Samaritan woman. Do we know His grace? Do we hear His voice and leave our water jar at the old well as we go to tell others about the Christ? In our readings today is the juxtaposition of the physical and the spiritual, and the call to enter into the Spirit of God. In our first reading, the Israelites “in their thirst for water” while wandering in the desert cry out against God and Moses and long to return to their slavery in Egypt, that they might but be able to eat and drink. The Lord would teach them to depend on Him, to trust in the Spirit and His love, and He will provide for all their needs, as He does this day, but they are blinded to the Hand of God. “Though they had seen [His] works,” they continually tested Him, unable to find rest in Him, and for their hardness of heart virtually none shall themselves enter the Promised Land. And the source of their lack of faith is ever their bellies. In our gospel twice we see the inability to understand the Spirit speaking because of the belly’s grumbling. The Samaritan woman confuses the life-giving water of which Jesus speaks with the passing water she came to draw from Jacob’s well: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming to this well.” And the disciples think someone else has brought the Lord something to eat when He says, “I have food to eat of which you do not know,” at their urging Him to eat the food they have in hand. But as He speaks to the woman of the Holy Spirit, He speaks to them of our daily bread – “to do the will of the one who sent [us] and to finish His work.” Indeed, as He awaits the return of the sinful woman with her Samaritan neighbors, He prepares them for the mission that must now go forth even to “foreigners.” It is the Spirit of God He desires them to eat that they might be fortified for their call. And it is the Spirit found in the Body and Blood He has shed for our sakes of which we all must partake to slake our thirst and find the strength to do the work which leads us to the kingdom of God. His is a kingdom for [...]
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 19:00:00 +0000O steadfast teacher of the faith whom exile could not keep from proclaiming the truths of Scripture and the Church, whose pastoral zeal called souls to the blessed chamber of our divine Lord Jesus Christ that we might unite with Him who united Himself with us to draw us unto Heaven – pray that the shepherds of the Church shall be just so diligent and faithful as you have consistently been in imparting the Word of God to waiting ears and hearts, that all might be nourished well and so prepared to meet our King and Bridegroom, grace upon grace overflowing in souls led by the Spirit of Truth.
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Mic.7:14-15,18-20; Ps.103:1-4,8-12; Lk.15:1-3,11-32) “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.” “He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.” Amen. Such is the forgiveness of the Lord, that even while we are far from Him, yet while we are sinners, He sees our hearts turn to Him and welcomes us into His embrace. We have all “sinned against God,” brothers and sisters. We are all as the Prodigal Son who has “squandered his money on dissolute living.” But oh the forgiveness of our God, who “with kindness and compassion” “redeems [our] life from destruction,” who in “pardon[ing] all [our] iniquities” raises us from the death of sin to sit with Him in heaven. Does not the father in our parable say as much of the sinner? “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life.” Is it not so that when we were still sinners Jesus died for us, to raise us with Himself to new life? “Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” the prophet Micah asks in our first reading, wondering at the infinite grace of our Father. “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear Him,” sings David in our psalm. And so, how joyous we should be, how our souls should “bless the Lord… and forget not all His benefits.” For indeed, “not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.” Rather, even though we deserve damnation, even though the most we could hope for is to be treated as one of His hired hands, yet does He remember His love for us. Beyond all human reason, He graces us with “the finest robe” and calls us in to “eat and celebrate” at the heavenly banquet, where there shall be “music and dancing” to the Name of our God, where all the gifts of the Spirit poured forth through the blood of Christ are ours as we become one with the Father, as we return to Him “in good health.” Is there anything more remarkable? And let us not sin as the elder brother. Let us not begrudge God, the loving Father, His infinite generosity to all His sons. Let us not presume to stand in judgment against those the Lord deigns to forgive, but share His forgiveness and His grace toward all. Then truly the father’s words to the elder son (which are a noticeably kind word to the Pharisees, whom this son represents) will be our own: “You are with me always, and everything I have is yours.” Let us know the truth of this, God’s will for all our[...]
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 19:00:00 +0000O great apostle to the nations who gave up your birthright of freedom for the benefit of others, who went forth in faith, Christ ever above you and before you and all around to protect you who were brought through trial to do His will in bringing God to unbelievers, you who never doubted – pray that we, too, shall spend ourselves for the sake of the Gospel and all souls yet to be gathered to the Lord, that indeed from east and west men shall come and sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of our God, that from the ends of the earth one people shall be drawn to Him… and let us do all without concern for persecution, with the heart of a shepherd you had.
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Gn.37:3-4,12-13,17-28; Ps.105:5,16-21; Mt.21:33-43,45-46) “They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.” “The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone of the structure.” Hear what Scripture says. As he who was “sold as a slave” by his brothers became “lord of [the king’s] house and ruler of all his possessions,” so He whom the elders of the people could call “our brother, our own flesh,” whom they “seized… dragged… outside the vineyard, and killed,” has become the very foundation of the New Jerusalem. How parallel are our first reading and gospel today. Jacob, Israel, sends the son he loves best, he who is “the child of his old age,” to the brothers who are tending their father’s flock, to bring them food to nourish them in their labor. The Father in heaven sends Jesus, His beloved Son – who is Child of His old age both in His existing with Him before time and in His coming here at the end of the age to His brothers – to those whom He has entrusted the care of His vineyard, through whom He feeds all the people, with the greatest of nourishment to sustain them unto heaven itself. For their jealousy over the favor granted their brother, Israel’s sons strip Joseph of his long and princely tunic and cast him into a cistern “which was empty and dry” as their souls. Out of the same jealousy and in the desire for His inheritance, the chief priests and Pharisees will soon arrest the Lord and see that He is stripped and nailed to a cross. And, brothers and sisters, the outcome of each story shall be the same. As his brothers must come on their knees to their brother to find grain to keep themselves from dying of famine on the parched earth once Joseph has taken his place as ruler of the king’s possessions, so the elders of the people and all of us who bear responsibility for the death of Christ by our continual sins against Him shall have to come on our knees before Him who sits on the throne of heaven robed in glory, to find nourishment for our journey here in His sacred Body and Blood, and to find a place at table in the kingdom to come. There is much to be pondered in the rejection of Jesus, as is so with the betrayal of Joseph. It is not only the Pharisees – who answer so well the Lord’s question regarding the fate of the tenant farmers, yet have not the faith to match the words God puts on their lips – who must look inside themselves and recognize their anger and jealousy and greed. The Lord invites each of his brothers to examine his conscience this day, in thi[...]
Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.17:5-10; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5; Lk.16:19-31) “He is like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream.” “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” For he shall be like the tree “that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.” He shall never be “like a barren bush in the desert” or “like chaff which the wind drives away.” Never shall he know the “place of torment,” for “the heat when it comes” shall do him no harm. This man “follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners,” but rather “meditates on [God’s] law day and night.” His faith and his hope are the roots that stretch out to the living water of the living God who nourishes all by His Word and in His flesh. Brothers and sisters, we must never “trust in human beings” as do the Pharisees, or be as the rich man who “seeks his strength in flesh,” “dressed in purple and linen and feast[ing] splendidly every day.” This earth itself holds not our food. Notice that it is to the Pharisees Jesus addresses His parable in our gospel today. How closely the rich man parallels these leaders of the people. The bounty of God’s wisdom is bestowed upon them, but they use it to feed their bellies rather than to shepherd those in need. They claim Abraham as their father and the Law of Moses as their guide, but they neither have the faith that makes Abraham the father of all, nor do they follow the instructions Moses conveys. Only in the flesh are they Abraham’s sons; and though they see him from the hell to which they come, they cannot touch him, they cannot reach past him to the Father in heaven, who gives Abraham his blessing. Dwelling but in their “father’s house” as the rich man who gorged himself on the pleasures of the flesh, they come not to the Father’s House on high, for their roots penetrate not to the living water that is found in faith, and now Lazarus cannot even “dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh [their] tongue.” Dead as the stone upon which the commandments were written do they become. Notice, too, brothers and sisters, the connection between thoughts and actions, between faith and works, between the word and the flesh in our first reading, and present throughout Scripture: “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.” Only the Lord, who is Himself the living water, knows if His Word of l[...]
Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.18:18-20; Ps.31:5-6,14-17; Mt.20:17-28) “Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?” Do you know what He asks, brothers and sisters? And do you know where it leads? In our gospel today, Jesus is very deliberate in His instruction to His apostles. As He starts out “to go up to Jerusalem,” where the chief priests and scribes “will condemn Him to death” and the Romans crucify Him, He takes “the Twelve aside on the road” to speak clearly to them of the fate which awaits Him. (So objective are His words that He refers to Himself in the third person.) Of course, the apostles are yet far from understanding His message, as shown by their soon dissembling into jealous indignation regarding the question of the power and importance of each. And the Lord must teach them again that He has come “to give His own life as a ransom for many”; He “has come, not to be served by others, but to serve,” and that those who “aspire to [the] greatness” that is His must necessarily “serve the needs of all.” We know that Peter is the first among equals “for whom it has been reserved by [the] Father,” as the Lord has indicated earlier, and not James or John – though both of these shall have prominent place in drinking of the cup of Christ: James as the first apostle martyred and John, the beloved, whose martyrdom shall be white, coming in the endurance of a long life – but all of us who seek to follow Jesus indeed share in the selfsame cross, and so shall receive of the selfsame blessings of Him who is raised up “on the third day.” All are called to drink of the cup of suffering and service in Jesus’ stead. We must be clear on this essential point of faith. And does not Jeremiah’s persecution at the hands of the citizens of Jerusalem show that the cross of Christ extends even to the time before He had come in the flesh? Do not the words spoken against the prophet: “Let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word,” echo exactly the plottings of the Pharisees against Jesus, whom they repeatedly sought to entrap? And all this though He does “speak in their behalf, to turn away [the Father’s] wrath from them.” And David in our psalm chants the same refrain: “They consult together against me, plotting to take my life.” Brothers and sisters, as it was for David and Jeremiah and Jesus, following in the ways of the Lord will bring us persecution. You may well ask, Must good be repaid with evil? but the Lord will answer, “[...]
Mon, 13 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Is.1:10,16-20; Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.23:1-12) “To him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.” “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.” For it is only following in the way of the Lord we shall be saved; for mere words, vain pretense, the Lord has no patience. Indeed it is so, what Isaiah proclaims: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” Forgiveness is offered forth generously by the Lord to the nation that goes astray. But we must be “willing, and obey” the word “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” If we “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” our backs, if we but “recite [His] statutes” as the Pharisees whose “works are performed to be seen,” whose mouths profess the covenant but whose deeds are far from Him, how is it we shall find salvation? For the Lord is not blind and deaf as we to the heart of man; and unlike our own, His word is true, and His command must be followed – we must serve Him and our neighbor. We must humble ourselves in His sight if we hope to be exalted to His kingdom. “Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” Over and over we hear from the mouth of the prophet and the psalmist and the Son Himself – the Lord has compassion on the poor and lowly, and we must do as He calls… we must be His arms and legs in this world. Unlike the Pharisees who “will not lift a finger” to carry even the lightest burden, whose “deeds are few,” we must take up the full weight of the cross. It is not “places of honor” and “marks of respect in public” for which we hunger; but when we teach and as we serve, our hearts must be set on the salvation of souls, which can only be accomplished by living the way of the Messiah, by following His example. What has Jesus not done for us? What teaching has He left lacking flesh and blood? And so, rightly is He called “Rabbi”; and so, truly is He the only Son of the one Father in heaven. Brothers and sisters, we must go the way He leads – we must follow the humble path to the kingdom. In this our sins shall become “white as wool,” washed in the blood of the Lamb. ******* O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight that we might be saved from our sin and enter your kingdom. YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into prac[...]
Sun, 12 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000(Dn.9:4-10; Ps.79:8-9,11,13,103:10; Lk.6:36-38) “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” It is a cry for forgiveness our psalmist makes to our compassionate God. “Remember not against us the iniquities of the past,” he begs, seeking release from sin’s prison for himself and his people. And Daniel does the same; acknowledging with full throat the sins of Judah and all Israel, he seeks the merciful hand of the Lord upon the people, interceding in their stead. Though he himself is an upright man, he cries out, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil,” praying thus for the rebellious nation which has been scattered to “all countries” for their failure to heed the command of the Lord. Well do our Old Testament figures embody Jesus’ teaching in our gospel, summed up simply: “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.” For they “do not judge” or “condemn” those individuals primarily responsible for the apostasy and so the destruction of the kingdom and the covenant, but rather seek earnestly to heal the rift that has come by giving generously of themselves and their love for God and others, in Christlike fashion standing in the breach. And so they earn the titles of prophet and psalmist of God; and so they foreshadow the heavenly compassion Jesus calls all His followers to pour forth in His name. (And so we can be assured their compassion has been “measured back” to them by the Lord.) Jesus on the cross dies for the sins of all people, and this is His central call to all our souls: to imitate Him is our blessed goal. For insofar as we die for God and others, insofar as we lay down our lives in His truth, thus far we shall find His “compassion quickly come to us” and so live in the heavenly glory which is now His place. To us all He calls this day to pardon and forgive, for in doing so we shall find the reconciliation of the Lord even with our enemies, and secure for ourselves a room in His heavenly home. He who knew no sin was made sin for our sake. He has humbled Himself to carry the sins of the nation… Let us, brothers and sisters, die with Christ on the cross, that all sin might be taken away in His Name. ******* O LORD, let us not turn away from your Word to our souls but be compassionate as you. YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love. Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor. Though we have sinned and do[...]
Sat, 11 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000(Gn.12:1-4a; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; 2Tm.1:8b-10; Mt.17:1-9) “Rise, and do not be afraid.” Here in the midst of the darkness we drink in during this Lenten Season comes a light shining to assure our hearts of the promise that is ours. The Lord’s Transfiguration is presented to us this day to lead us through all the tribulations of the cross to the resurrection, which is our holy goal. “Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God,” Paul says to his special child Timothy, and so the Lord speaks to us all, reminding us that “He saved us and called us to a holy life.” It is “up a high mountain by themselves” Jesus leads His principal disciples Peter, James, and John, to reveal to them the glory to which they are called – thus signifying the cross we must all carry along the rough terrain of this world to reach our place in heaven. In seeing that “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light” and then hearing the voice of the Father overshadowing them, they are overawed… but the hand of the Lord touches them, and strengthens them for the road ahead. Our call is like that of Abraham, the father of all those of faith: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” We all must leave behind the security this world holds and go according to God’s word, to travel in a land foreign to our souls. But His assurance is with us, His blessing is upon us, and so the darkness of the night should not make us afraid. For “the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.” And so, however difficult the walk, however steep the climb, our hearts should never waver; for we have always at our side “our Savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” And so, brothers and sisters, as we travel through the heart of the sacrifice this Lenten time invites us to share, let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” and let our prayer be as David’s: “May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our hope in you.” For Jesus is before us to lead us to our home. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Going Home" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fo[...]
Fri, 10 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Dt.26:16-19; Ps.119:1-2,4-5,7-8; Mt.5:43-48) “You will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God.” The promise made to the Israelites through Moses is also a command, and is fulfilled in the command of Jesus. In our first reading Moses tells the people the Lord will raise them “high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations,” but makes it clear that this shall be so only as long as they “walk in His ways and observe His statutes, commandments, and decrees” – only if they “hearken to His voice.” For His law is as food to the body and light to the mind and must be observed carefully, “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul,” to maintain the presence of God in our lives. If “He is to be [our] God,” we must do as He commands. Thus our psalmist sings of the happiness of those “who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart.” Thus does he cry out in longing, “Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!” for he knows in them is life. To “walk in the way of the Lord” is his joy. And that joy is made complete, our life is made whole, by the new command of love Jesus imparts to our soul. The Lord fulfills the Law of Moses, which gave light to the people, by commanding us not to love only our “countryman” but all: “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.” Here is His challenge for us to “prove that [we] are sons of our heavenly Father,” to love as He loves, to know the greatness of His glory, therefore, in our very lives. If the psalmist cried out in such joy at the blessing found in following the Law of Moses, what indescribable joy is ours when we follow Jesus’ words. What greater call can we have than to “be made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”? What greater merit and blessing could there be? None. For He is Life itself, and here we are called to live with Him. “His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust.” Nothing dims God’s holy light or stems the blessings He showers upon all. In absolute light, in absolute love, the Father dwells, in the heavenly kingdom; and if we can love as He loves, as Jesus has loved, we shall know such blessing. Love even those who hate you and you will be as the Father, who knows only love, and you will become sacred to Him – you will be saints in His kingdom. ******* O LORD, if we fol[...]
Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Ez.18:21-28; Ps.130:1-8; Mt.5:20-26) “Settle with your opponent while on your way to court with him.” We are all on our way to court, brothers and sisters. The judgment of the Lord awaits us all on the Last Day, and the Last Day is upon us here at the end of the age. There is no time to lose; we must be “reconciled with [our] brother”; we must turn from sin today and find the Lord’s grace. “With the Lord is kindness and plenteous redemption; and He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities” – but “out of the depths” we must cry to Him “in supplication” to find His blessed forgiveness; and from sinful paths we must turn our feet to know His salvation. “If a wicked man, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.” It is a great promise that comes to us through the prophet Ezekial, that none of our crimes shall be remembered by God when we return to Him. For the Lord does not “derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked,” He “rather rejoice[s] when he turns from his evil way that he may live”; for the Lord wishes life for us all, wishes Himself, who is Life, for every soul, and gives it freely, and quite naturally, when we follow His ways. It is really rather simple: as when a wicked man turns to good things he is no longer wicked but good and so lives in the Lord, so “when a virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.” Evil brings death, and righteousness and justice (goodness) brings life. The Lord desires life for us all and so He calls us to repentance, to repentance from even what might seem to our minds the smallest of sins – for so greatly does He wish life for us. And clearly does He know that which we cannot see, that death holds sway over us by every sin on our soul. Let us avoid the fires of hell and the pains of purgatory, brothers and sisters. Let us call out to the Lord this day and find His “plenteous redemption” even as we turn from our sins. And there shall be no prison into which we are thrown, as we forgive one another, and the Lord forgives us, our sins. ******* O LORD, let us be released from all bondage to sin that we might walk with you in righteousness and so find life. YHWH, forgiveness is with you, for it is your great desire [...]
Wed, 08 Mar 2017 20:00:00 +0000O patient and loving soul who cared for both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor and the sick, who with a gentle word would rebuke sins and heal division and with a gentle touch bind the wounds and smooth the beds of the ill in your home and in hospital, who saw that remedies for the soul, the Bread of life and holy Confession, were available, too, through the hands of a priest – who cares as deeply and fully for the needs of souls this day? Increase their number; pray the Lord touch all souls with your same patient affection, with the love only He knows.
Wed, 08 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Est.C:12,14-16,23-25; Ps.138:1-3,7-8; Mt.7:7-12) “My Lord, our King, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.” In our gospel we have today a few of our Lord’s most famous words: “Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus encourages us to faithfulness in prayer, assuring all that our “heavenly Father [will] give good things to anyone who asks Him.” How beautiful are His words, and how true. And how well Queen Esther illustrates the faithful prayer of one who has “recourse to the Lord.” She comes to the Lord in all humility as an obedient child before her father and opens her heart before God with a sincere plea for her fellow Jews, threatened with extinction by the enemy. She says of her forefathers, proclaiming herself a daughter of Abraham, “You fulfilled all your promises to them,” and comes now seeking the same answer from the “King of gods and Ruler of every power.” Such prayer for salvation before the God she recognizes “know[s] all things” cannot but be answered by the loving Father. He will give her the food she desires. In our psalm we hear David’s song of thanksgiving for the prayers the Lord has been faithful in answering for him: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth,” thus proving the truth of Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples, and indicating that Esther will also find answer to her prayer – and so, that we all should have assurance of God’s loving desire to heed all our sincere pleas. David, too, acknowledges the greatness of God: “You have made great above all things your name and your promise,” and so comes to the place where the “kindness and [the] truth” of the Lord will be known to him. And his faith in the Lord’s promise to be with him and hear him lasts for perpetuity: “The Lord will complete what He has done for me.” Praise the Lord, who answers all prayers. Praise the loving God who knows all things. It is in His heart to feed us with the best of wheat, and this He does each day for those who “worship at [His] holy temple and give thanks to [His] name.” “Forsake not the work of your hands,” dear Lord. Be with us always to hear our humble prayers, that we might witn[...]
Tue, 07 Mar 2017 20:00:00 +0000O servant of love whom the angels knew to be of God for your blessed care of the poor and the sick and all the needy pilgrims who came to you in abundance that you might be the greater blest by what you did for the least of Christ’s brothers, you who turned from the world to absolute service of the Lord and complete trust in His providence – please pray that our hearts may be enlarged and we find the grace to lay down our lives so freely for the needs of others, for their well-being, that as we welcome all who come to us we might ourselves be welcomed in our misery into the loving arms of Jesus.
Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Jon.3:1-10; Ps.51:3-4,12-13,18-19; Lk.11:29-32) “At the preaching of Jonah they reformed.” Let us learn from the people of Ninevah, who heeded the message of repentance given Jonah. At Jonah’s cry they “believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” Even the king “laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” in hopes of averting the destruction he knew God held in hand for his wayward city. He decrees that “every man shall turn from his evil way” and “call loudly to God.” Such utter repentance! Such turning from sin! And this from a pagan king and a pagan nation. If Ninevah has so believed in God, if it has so recognized its sin before Him and turned so dramatically back to Him, pleading for His mercy, what should we not do, brothers and sisters, in this time of Lent set aside for the cleansing of our sins, we who have Jesus’ preaching now ringing in our ears and calling to our hearts? Indeed, we must again and continually cry out to God with David for His mercy to come upon us. Ever with “a contrite and humbled heart” we must sit before Him recognizing our sin. For always our sin is with us, however much we might be ignorant of our guilt as we live our lives in vain. “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me,” must be our eternal plea, for we are in continual danger of going away from Him. Let us not be afraid to humble ourselves before God and man. Let us seek nothing else but the wisdom of Christ, the call of the cross to our souls. In humility, in sackcloth and ashes, let us prostrate ourselves before the true king who will come at the judgment to discern the worth of all souls. Perhaps He will have mercy. Perhaps He will “withhold His blazing wrath.” Perhaps the punishment we deserve He may avert and “we shall not perish.” Upon the soul He finds His cross inscribed, He shall take pity, my friends. O Lord, we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight. In your infinite mercy look upon our broken hearts, and help us to reform our lives. For you alone are God. ******* O LORD, your Son is greater than any prophet or king; let us listen to Him as He calls us to repentance. Y[...]
Mon, 06 Mar 2017 20:00:00 +0000O blessed martyrs who willingly and happily suffered a cruel death by the teeth of beasts and the point of a sword, all for love of Jesus – how can we match your faith; where shall we find the strength you displayed in ecstasy at tortures devised by the wicked of this earth, and can we call ourselves Christian otherwise? Pray for us, dear martyrs, that the Lord will bless us with such favor as you have known and we, too, will be enabled to stand in joy even in the face of the severest persecution, even at the time of our death… even then may Heaven be with us.
Mon, 06 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Is.55:10-11; Ps.34:4-7,16-19; Mt.6:7-15) “Give us today our daily bread.” Our daily bread comes from the mouth of God; it is His Word that nourishes us. His Word “water[s] the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats.” By His Word our spiritual lives are anointed with holiness; the breath of His mouth makes us whole, and so we become fruitful in His Name. Yes, we are sharers in His Word; it is His Word the just speak in their time of need. “Crushed in spirit” before Him like holy seed, their cry comes to His ears and the rain He sends upon them saves them from all sin, “deliver[s] [them] from all fears.” Jesus, the Word made flesh, is true, and His words are true: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”; and so the Father is quick to hear when we enter into His Word and call upon His Name in all humility. It is this humility which makes us fertile earth, this trust in His will that lifts our faces toward His light, that we “may not blush with shame.” “Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy,” O sinner. “Glorify the Lord” and “extol His name,” for with you He shares His Spirit; in you He plants the Word that grows to eternal life. Father in heaven, you alone are holy, and your Name is life to us. Let “your kingdom come,” let “your will be done,” for apart from you we wither and die. Make our earth your heaven; bring to us all the blessings you know we need to live ever in your light. Feed us with your bread, feed us with your Word – your Son is all the food we need. And for all “the wrong we have done,” as He has taught us, let us find our forgiveness by releasing from all bondage those who have done wrong to us, by loving our enemies. In the end we pray, O Lord, that temptation be taken from our path; though we treasure your chastising Hand, let us not falter anymore – “deliver us from the evil one” who lurks in this world seeking the ruin of our souls. O Lord, our lives are in your hands. Our hearts are given life by you. In our prayer let us not imitate the vain words of the pagans, but let us join in the Spirit with your Son and become one in the Word w[...]
Sun, 05 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Lv.19:1-2,11-18; Ps.19:8-10,15,Jn.6:63; Mt.25:31-46) “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Such is the golden rule and the second of the greatest commandments, which is like unto the first: Love God. And the union of the two is made evident by Jesus in our gospel today; He makes clear that what we do to others we do to Him, and so to love God and neighbor become one and the same. So tied is the Lord to His creation by the incarnation of His Son. And how blessed are all His commands to us, all of which are summed up in love, and all of which give us life. “Refreshing the soul… giving wisdom to the simple… rejoicing the heart… enlightening the eye… enduring forever” – such is the Word of God to the obedient soul. All He speaks is just and all He speaks is holy and brings life, for all He speaks is of the Spirit of love. And of that Spirit we must be, if we hope to attain to eternal life where He sits in glory. “Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer,” is David’s prayer after extolling the virtues of the law of the Lord in his psalm today. And such should be our prayer. For if our hearts are set upon Him, and if our mouths speak truth, we can be assured that our actions will follow and we will please the Lord in all we do. For being of the Lord, we can only feed the hungry; seeking His will, we can only welcome Him and all His children into our lives. If we are founded upon this Rock, all will find in us the love of God. For He is love, brothers and sisters, and all He asks of us is love. Love does “not steal.” Love does “not lie.” Love does “not defraud” or “curse the deaf” or “act dishonestly” in any way. In a word, if you are of love as He is love, “you shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.” And all are our brothers, even the least of these; the Lord has made this known. All are our neighbor and so none can “stand by idly when [his] neighbor’s life is at stake.” All are called by love to lend their hand, His hand, to others in nee[...]
Sat, 04 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000(Gn.2:7-9,3:1-7; Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17; Rm.5:12-19; Mt.4:1-11) “Just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.” And what obedience Jesus shows in His temptations. For He was weakened, “He was hungry” after His forty-day fast in the desert, and the devil came at Him with all his power. But He does not falter as did the first man; He remembers the Word of God and His command. And by His faithfulness the sin of Adam is washed clean. See how the Lord atones for our sins; see how directly His temptations parallel those presented to Eve. As she is shown the goodness of the food before her, that it is “pleasing to the eyes,” so the devil tempts Jesus with bread that will sustain His life. As Eve ventures to take the food despite the command of God, listening to the serpent’s words: “You certainly will not die!” so Satan would lead Jesus to cast His weakened body down from the parapet of the temple, with the encouragement that the angels will protect Him. And as Eve is seduced by the devil’s promise, “You will be like gods,” so he tries the same promise of power over “all the kingdoms of the world” with Jesus. In the first two temptations Jesus struggles as He will later under the weight of the cross, sweating and bleeding under the devil’s test; but in the third, perhaps with understanding that the end of the temptations is at hand, He now exclaims, “Get away, Satan!” apparently revived – and His words are a most cutting blow to the prince of darkness: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve”; for it is the great sin of Satan to presume to be as the Almighty God. And so the prayer of David, found so poignantly in our psalm: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense,” is answered And so the sin that has been “before [us] always,” since Adam fell in the garden, is now to be cleansed from our souls. For now the angels do come to minister to Him; and now He begins the ministry that leads directly to the cross and the[...]
Fri, 03 Mar 2017 20:00:00 +0000O patron of the impoverished who though son of a king counted yourself among the poor in spirit, you whose love abundantly flowed to all in need, who sought the purity of our Blessed Mother, who thirsted for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, who devoted yourself to prayer and constant works of charity – teach us this day to be pure and set our hearts on serving the poor that we too might come to share the kingdom with all God’s children, all those who empty themselves of the things of this world to find the grace of Heaven.
Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Is.58:9-14; Ps.86:1-6,11; Lk.5:27-32) “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “restorer of ruined homesteads.” “Levi gave a great reception for Jesus in his house,” but it is Jesus who invites him, and all sinners, “to a change of heart” and to join Him in the home He makes for us all in heaven. As Levi (or Matthew) has done, so must we all: we must leave our “customs post,” that which roots us to this world – we must stand up and follow Him. “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.” David makes his prayer in our psalm, coming to the Lord as one “afflicted and poor,” begging the Lord’s pity upon his soul. And there is confidence that his cry is answered, that his soul is gladdened; for the promise has been made through Isaiah that “He will renew [our] strength,” that we “shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” All that He has broken down in His anger against us and against our sins shall be raised up again: “The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up.” As we turn to Him and “call the sabbath a delight… not following [our] ways, seeking [our] own interests, or speaking with malice,” we shall indeed “delight in the Lord” and in His inheritance; He shall indeed “nourish [us] with the heritage of Jacob” – the food He gives us will far surpass the bread upon the table at Levi’s banquet. For it is upon His own Body we shall feed, and so find ourselves renewed in spirit and strengthened for the kingdom of heaven. The Lord comes to invite all “sick people” to His healing grace. All who turn from their sins shall be acceptable to Him. And in His House they shall find a place, and be nourished well. “Even on the parched land” they shall find the water of life, for His grace extends to all places and all peoples. And with the bread we bestow on the hungry we ourselves shall be fed, for by this labor we shall unite with Him. “The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Let us find th[...]
Thu, 02 Mar 2017 20:00:00 +0000O mother to the poor and disadvantaged, missionary to those in your own country isolated from their neighbors because of the color of their skin, some who lived upon the land long before those who oppressed them, others brought to this land in chains… you who sought to break the chains of ignorance and poverty, who gave your treasure and the riches of your soul that those without might find a home – pray for souls still disadvantaged by poverty or ignorance; pray that those with and those without might meet as one, as brothers before the Lord here on earth and in the heavenly kingdom.
Thu, 02 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Is.58:1-9; Ps.51:3-6,18-19; Mt.9:14-15) “Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!” Brothers and sisters, in this day of fasting and penance, first we must “acknowledge [our] offense” as David in our psalm. We must cry out to our God: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.” This is our leaven of truth. “A contrite spirit, a heart contrite and humbled” the Lord cannot resist. It is this heart the Lord answers; it is prayer of this soul He hears – to this “cry for help… He will say: Here I am!” “When the day comes that the groom is taken away, then they will fast.” We “go in mourning” when Jesus is no longer in our midst. What does this then say of our fast? For though the Lord may be with us always in the power of the Spirit, yet He is physically taken from us now till the end of time. Our fast must therefore be a permanent condition all the while we walk this earth. And so true is this if we understand the Lord’s definition of a fast as revealed in our first reading from Isaiah: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly… sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked… and not turning your back on your own.” And what sense it makes that this be our fast now that Jesus is gone, for are we not His children here, called to carry out His mission in this world? Are not these the very things He instructs us to do in His stead for the least of His brothers who suffer now? On this earth here at the end of the age we should be engaged in fasting always. And if we pray with a sincere heart, and if we do the will of the Lord in all things, what promise He makes to us: “Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed… The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” All we ask shall be given us; all we seek we shall find in Him. And so, what shall our fasting be for us but pure joy, even as we become one wit[...]
Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Dt.30:15-20; Ps.1:1-4,6,39:5; Lk.9:22-25) “The Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.” In our first reading, Moses makes clear the choice we all must face: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” “By loving the Lord… heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him,” the Israelites will be blessed with “long life” in the Promised Land; they “will live and grow numerous” by “loving Him and walking in His ways.” This will be life for them. “If, however, [they] turn away [their] hearts and will not listen… [they] will certainly perish.” The promise to them will soon die if they walk “in the way of sinners.” Life and death. The blessing and the curse. The just and the wicked. To the Israelites the promise that they would be “like a tree planted near running water” if they followed the commandments of the Lord referred quite literally, quite physically, to the blessing of long life and enjoying the fruits of the earth. It showed itself in the numbers of people in the nation and the land they were given to occupy. When they were cursed, their kingdom was torn down and the land taken away from them. They became “like chaff which the wind drives away” when they were forced into exile from the lands of Judah and Israel. What is the land we must so treasure today, brothers and sisters? What place are we called to preserve by following in the way of the Lord? For now he “who gains the whole world” will likely “destroy himself in the process.” Now our sights, our hopes, can no longer be set on the physical universe. Jesus has come. The Son of Man walks in our midst. And His presence, His flesh, makes the heavenly homeland our desire – it is this which is now our Promised Land. It is the number born into this kingdom which now causes our hearts to rejoice. It is this blessing that now comes to him “who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.” And the L[...]
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 11:00:00 +0000(Jl.2:12-18; Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17; 2Cor.5:20-6:2; Mt.6:1-6,16-18) “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.” “We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!” Paul exclaims; and the people of God today raise a cry, rending their hearts, begging His forgiveness… turning from their sins to find His healing grace. The trumpet is blown in Zion; the people are gathered as one. Now “let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.” For now is the time of mourning, now is the time of prayer… now is the time to cry with David, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” For now as we “acknowledge [our] offense” we find how “gracious and merciful is He”; now “the joy of [His] salvation” returns to us as “a clean heart” He creates for us, as His Holy Spirit He instills in our souls. Yes, “Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” And so let us cry out to our Lord: “Spare, O Lord, your people!” The Lord will hear us, brothers and sisters; He will be quick to respond, as long as we are careful “not to receive the grace of God in vain.” As Jesus said to His disciples, so He says to us: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see.” Only such vanity will prevent our finding the “recompense from our heavenly Father.” Yes, we must give alms. Yes, we must pray. Yes, we must fast. But listen to the Lord’s instruction to “keep your deeds of mercy secret,” to “pray to your Father in private,” and to make sure “no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden.” For then indeed “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” for your sacrifice. But if your offering is one to impress the eyes of man, be sure the eyes of God do not look upon it and it shall find no blessing in His sig[...]
Mon, 27 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.35:1-12; Ps.50:5-8,14,23; Mk.10:28-31) “The just man’s sacrifice is most pleasing, nor will it ever be forgotten.” Peter is moved today to voice his fear that all that he and his fellow apostles have offered, even their very lives, will not be enough to secure the kingdom of God. But Jesus reassures all who serve Him: “I give you my word, there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for me and for the Gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many… and persecution besides – and in the age to come, everlasting life.” None should fear that their sacrifice will be wasted, “for the Lord is one who always repays,” and repays in full, multiplying whatever gifts we offer beyond our expectations. “But offer no bribes, these He does not accept!” You will never be able to extort graces from the Lord, and so should always come without expectation of return. Make all your sacrifices as “freewill gifts,” for only that which is given “generously” and “in a spirit of joy” does He smile upon. Bring your gifts to the altar expecting nothing but the cross, in this find your return, and the glory of the resurrection shall indeed be yours. You must learn from those whom the Lord rebukes, though their “holocausts are before [Him] always” – only “he that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies” the Lord, and so you must find joy in your cross. Oh how “the just man’s offering enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.” “He who observes the commandments” and “gives alms,” he who performs “works of charity,” who “refrain[s] from evil” and “avoid[s] injustice”… oh how this man “pleases the Lord”! For his life is as a “sacrifice of praise,” an offering of peace and an atonement for sin, which cannot but reach to the throne of God. Yes, “to him that goes the right way [the Lord] will show th[...]
Sun, 26 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.17:19-27; Ps.32:1-2,5-7,11; Mk.10:17-27) “Jesus fixed His gaze on them and said, ‘For man it is impossible but not for God.’” With these incisive words and particularly with this intent look, Jesus “encourages those who are losing hope.” His disciples are “completely overwhelmed” at His statement: “It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” and to keep them from falling into despair at the impossibility of such a proposition, He seeks to teach them that “with God all things are possible.” For truly none can be saved but by the grace of God. “As Jesus was setting out on a journey a man came running up, knelt down before Him and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?’” How like “the penitent [for whom] He provides a way back” is this man on his knees before the Lord today. And even after the Lord seems to rebuff his advance, how he persists, begging further word from the Master with the reply to Jesus’ listing of certain commandments, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my childhood.” Please tell me more, he seems to cry out. And so “Jesus looked at him with love,” a love that is beyond the bounds of this world and beyond the bounds of the law – a love that makes all things possible, even the attainment of the kingdom of God, even for us wretched sinners. “How great the mercy of the Lord, His forgiveness of those who return to Him!” “Happy is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered”; for among the dead we would be if not for His divine mercy. But oh “how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God.” Though wrought with the Lord’s grace, how difficult it is to accompany Christ on His journey. For our hearts are not on His love but on the things we must give up, and so, how readily we turn away in sadness. It is indeed out of love Jesus calls the rich man fr[...]
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000(Is.49:14-15; Ps.62:2-3,6-9; 1Cor.4:1-5; Mt.6:24-34) “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” Today’s gospel is the Lord’s beautiful exhortation not to be anxious about the things of this world: God takes care. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear,” Jesus instructs us. And how true it is that “the birds of the sky,” who “do not sow or reap,” are fed in abundance, and that there is nothing more splendidly clothed than the flowers of the field. And do we indeed think the Father will not care just so for our lives? Yet all we do is worry about these passing things, even as our soul calls us to peace. “Only in God is my soul at rest; from Him comes my salvation,” David so poignantly and appropriately sings. And with this trust in his rock of refuge he knows he “shall not be disturbed at all.” Similarly, St. Augustine has declared, from his own experience of pursuing worldly cares, that only in God do our souls find rest. Are these witnesses not enough to trust in the salvation that comes from God alone? Then hear of the undying love God holds for His creatures in the prophecy of Isaiah: to those who fret, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me,” he asks the simple yet profound question, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” Yet greater than a mother’s love is the Lord God’s care for us, for “even should she forget” (as seems to happen all too often in this age of abortion), the Lord states with certainty and full assurance, “I will never forget you.” And much like this inclination to anxiety about the cares of life, and coming from the same faithless source, is our proclivity to judge others. How many of us heed St. Paul’s warning not to “make any judgment before t[...]
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.17:1-15; Ps.103:13-18; Mk.10:13-16) “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” O how the Lord “looks with favor upon [our] hearts, and shows [us] His glorious works”! And because “His majestic glory their eyes beheld, His glorious voice their ears heard,” so the “people were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them,” so they were offering their precious loved ones into the arms of the Savior. And should we not all come to Him, should we not all run into His arms… are we not all His children? Brothers and sisters, “the Lord from the earth created man, and in His own image He made him.” Do you hear that? In His own image we are made, as His sons and daughters. “He endows [us] with a strength of His own… He forms our tongues and eyes and ears, and imparts to [us] an understanding heart.” He makes us as Himself, and then fills us with His presence! And should we not come to Him, should we not come to His only Son, our own dear brother, the perfection of our race, that all disfigurement might be taken from us and we might radiate the light of God, that we might be remade in His image? The Lord is only love and “His eyes are ever upon [our] ways” to guide us to His love. He is “as a father [who] has compassion on his children.” Yes, “the kindness of the Lord is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear Him,” and those who fear Him are His children. But this fear, this overwhelming awe at the love the Maker of the universe has toward His simple creatures, is not one which makes us run from Him, but which moves us to leap into the arms of our Redeemer, into the arms of Him whose arms are always open to receive us, always open to embrace His children. We know our blessed brother John has told us with holy affection that “we are God’s children now” (1Jn.3:2). Of this grace at the hand[...]
Thu, 23 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.6:5-17; Ps.119:12,16,18,27,34-35; Mk.10:1-12) “They are no longer two but one flesh.” How much more clearly could the Lord speak of the unity found in marriage and so the respect due this sacrament? How better could He get His point across to you that marriage is indissoluble, that it is not to be played with, that you commit adultery as you consider divorcing your spouse? “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” And by this Jesus does not mean that two separate creatures were made – He means that every one of God’s human beings is both male and female, and that in marriage one finds his wholeness in the sight of God. When Adam was formed of the dust of the earth, Eve was already present within him, in his very body. She was not created apart from him, but taken from him, “from man” – which is the meaning of “woman.” Adam when he was first made held both male and female in himself, and when woman was taken from him, built of his rib, the two did not cease to be one. Thus does he recognize Eve as flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. Thus the two are inseparable. In marriage this inherent unity returns, is fulfilled. “Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined.” And if “a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; [and] he who finds one finds a treasure,” how much more of a shelter is a spouse in whose body one makes his home – how much more valuable a treasure? A friend and more is made by the marriage vow, for truly the spouses become one with one another, and one with the Lord. And so, “when you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him.” Know that you are joining yourself to this spouse body and soul, and such commitment is not to be taken lightly or falsely, with an eye toward leaving “when sorrow comes.” Beware, lest you find “a friend [...]
Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000O disciple of John and shepherd who drank deeply of the cup of Christ’s suffering, you who bore both the burden of a long life and the pain of a violent death yet remained faithful till the end – pray that the fire into which we are cast we may also endure as the sacrifice of Jesus and so find it fruitful, and so find it blessed… and so rejoice in the witness we are granted to give in the name of our Savior. May the offering of our lives join with your own and all the saints’ in rising as holy incense to the throne of God and serve as witness, to the eyes that behold us, of the Lord’s great power and love.
Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.5:1-8; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:50; Mk.9:41-50) “Mercy and anger are alike with Him; upon the wicked alights His wrath.” “The way of the wicked vanishes.” It must vanish. It cannot but vanish, for there is no place for wickedness in the kingdom of God. And so, what is wicked must “be thrown into Gehenna”: what is to “enter life” must be purified. Thus does the Lord command – Cut off your hand! Cut off your foot! Tear out your eye! Remove even with violence whatever causes you to sin to preserve your life unto heaven. For it is indeed better that you “enter life maimed” or “crippled” or “with one eye,” than to have your whole body cast into the fires of hell. Do you fear being “plunged into the sea with a great millstone fastened around [your] neck”? Does this seem a terrible fate? The fires of hell are infinitely worse, and those of purgatory approach them. Know that “everyone will be salted with fire”; everyone must be purified of sin. And you can refuse this truth and so find yourself in the place “the worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished,” you can delay your purgation and suffer a measure of these flames in the state of purification after death – or you can remove the sin from your soul by the grace of God now, while there is yet time and His mercy is yet abundant. “Great is His mercy; my many sins He will forgive,” you say, and you are not wrong. But do you know how the mercy of God affects the sinful soul? Do you think it a pleasant experience to be cleansed, to be refined as by fire? Do you not understand that the Lord’s love and justice, His mercy and anger, are one for the wicked. Yes, “the Lord will exact the punishment” that brings refreshment and renewal. He must. How else shall you be purged and p[...]
Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:00:00 +0000O Rock of the Church, leader of God’s people to whom the Father has revealed the divinity of His Son and on whom the Son has therefore built His Church, giving you the keys to the kingdom, the power to bind and loose both on earth and in Heaven, that the ship you steer might conquer all Satan’s power by the power of the Spirit with which you serve your brothers, secure in the blessed protection and guidance of the Lord – pray the Church you do yet lead shall fulfill the call the Christ has placed upon every soul and that we shall come to our heavenly home in the light of the Messiah. Pray we shall indeed be strong and give faithful witness to our Savior.
Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:00:00 +0000(1Pt.5:1-4; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.16:13-19) “On this rock I will build my Church.” And Simon’s name is changed to “Peter”, which means “Rock”, to signify that here is the chief shepherd of the Church, upon whom the Church on earth rests. It is he to whom Jesus gives “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” Though all the apostles are given the power to bind and loose, it is Peter who leads – “a fellow elder” among all the elders and yet the one who speaks for all. It is not by man’s decision that Peter is the Rock of the Church, but by the word of the Lord Himself. Just as “no mere man ha[d] revealed” to him that Jesus is “the Messiah… the Son of the living God,” so no mere man works through him today as our Pope guides the ship that is the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is led by the Church and its teachings we are guided “in right paths.” It is as we dwell in this “house of the Lord” that we are protected from all harm. “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the Shepherd of all, and into the hands of Peter and the apostles He places care for His flock. How well this first among equals instructs his fellow shepherds today in his letter: “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care.” How well does Peter answer the Lord’s call to strengthen his brothers, to see that His sheep are fed. The key pitfalls of “coercion” and “shameful profit” and “lording it over those assigned” to them, he warns them clearly against, and reminds them of “the unfading crown of glory” that awaits them. It is they who must give “courage” to the flock, they who anoint heads with oil to make the cup of the Church overflow, even here on earth… and as they are faithful, they are Chri[...]
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000O blessed reformer of the Church who by a holy austerity cleansed your soul of the corruption of this world and served by example to lead others to a religious life – teach us this day of the chastising hand of God and the suffering which leads to joy, that in the will of the Lord we might all be purged of our dross and come to the kingdom of Heaven. Pray that we, too, might realize and so benefit from the blessing upon us when our souls are lashed with pains that threaten sorrow, for He does but wish to lift us from the sinfulness of this passing earth to the consolation of His presence.
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.2:1-11; Ps.37:3-5,18-19,27-28,39-40; Mk.9:30-37) “My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.” Is Jesus not “teaching His disciples in this vein” when He speaks of His imminent death, a death they shall share, and calls them to “remain the least one of all and the servant of all,” even as He is? Their arguing about importance reveals that they have not understood who they are, and so He would remind them that “in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.” A kind of humiliation is upon the Lord’s disciples today as they fall silent in shame for “arguing about who was the most important, as Jesus stands a humble, silent child “in their midst” and calls them to embrace him, even as He has. They must make themselves lower than even this “little child,” they must be even more “sincere of heart and steadfast,” if they are to find the reward which awaits them. Yes, they must “cling to Him” even as He clings to them – even as He clings to this child – and “thus will [their] future be great”; thus will they come through the Son to the Father in heaven. “Crushing misfortune” awaits the Lord’s disciples, for soon He shall be taken from them, and they will understand what His death means. But as long as they continue to “fear the Lord… [their] reward will not be lost”; for “three days after His death He will rise,” and those who give their lives as He has done, even as the least of all, shall also know what His resurrection means. Oh brothers and sisters, “the Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever,” and we must be counted among their number. The Lor[...]
Sun, 19 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Sir.1:1-10; Ps.93:1-2,5; Mk.9:14-29) “There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon His throne: It is the Lord.” “The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” and He alone knows “wisdom’s root” and all “her subtleties”; for it is He who created her and “poured her forth upon all His works.” And so He alone, whose “throne stands firm from of old,” He alone understands all things, and can answer any question. And should we not be awestruck by His presence? That the Lord is robed in splendor as King over all we have seen only recently. Even today He descends from the mountain on which He was transfigured; and though His face no longer shines more brightly than the sun, yet “immediately on catching sight of Jesus, the whole crowd was overcome with awe” and rushed up to Him, for still His glorious presence overwhelms. At the base of the mountain the crowd and the disciples are engaged with the scribes “in a lively discussion” about the condition and fate of a poor child horribly possessed by a demon. Their words are empty wind, but the one with all answers approaches. And with a measure of faith from the boy’s father and those surrounding, He casts out the devil which even the disciples could not command, and which the scribes could not comprehend. “What an unbelieving lot [we] are! How long must [the Lord] remain with [us]? How long can [He] endure” our lack of wisdom and grace? Brothers and sisters, why do we so lack faith? Why do we say to the Lord, “If you can”? Do we not know that “everything is possible to a man who trusts”? Do we think the Lord’s power is somehow cut short? Yes, we ar[...]
Sat, 18 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000(Lv.19:1-2,17-18; Ps.103:1-4,8,10,12-13; 1Cor.3:16-23; Mt.5:38-48) “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” In the Book of Leviticus God says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and this is good. But in the gospel Jesus adds, “Love your enemies” – and this is better. In the old law we are commanded, “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people”; but in the new we hear, “Offer no resistance to anyone who is evil,” and even, “Pray for those who persecute you.” For now it is revealed that all are God’s children, and so all must be loved as brothers. “Is this wise?” you say, to love our enemies. “Is this not foolishness?” Indeed the wisdom of the world would call it so, but we are called to “become a fool, so as to become wise” in the eyes of God. For what the Lord calls us to in this is no less than to be like Him, to become the very “temple of God” where “the Spirit of God dwells.” “Merciful and gracious is the Lord,” and so are we called to be. “Not according to our sins does He deal with us,” and so we should not deal with others according to theirs. Our “Father has compassion on His children,” and we must have the same for all. Has any of you put the words of the Lord into practice? Has anyone sought to discover such love? If you have then you know the glory it holds, the glory of a love which surpasses all. And though justice is not wanting for those who reject it, His love cannot but be poured upon all. O the happiness of the soul that receives such grace! Oh the joy of him who knows the blessing of such utter sacrifi[...]
Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Heb.11:1-7; Ps.145:2-5,10-11; Mk.9:2-13) “Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here.” In yesterday’s gospel Jesus promised, “Among those standing here there are some who will not taste death until they see the reign of God established in power.” And today we witness the keeping of that promise, as upon “a high mountain” Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James, and John. In all His glory does the Christ appear, with Elijah and Moses standing near and the voice of God the Father speaking of the blessing of His only Son. Indeed, how good it is for these apostles to be here! But what these favored apostles see is not for their eyes alone; through them all shall come to believe and so find vision of our glorious Lord. Through them and their witness, faith is strengthened in all our hearts, faith which enables us to “perceive that the worlds were created by the word of God, and that what is visible came into being through the invisible.” Yes, the invisible is made known to all our eyes by the power of God, and all the Lord’s disciples join Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor, basking in the vision of the glorified Son. Know first though, brothers and sisters, that “anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Indeed, first one must have faith, or to one’s eyes nothing will be revealed. Have faith and know that God is a loving God, that He desires greatly to share His glory with all His children of faith; even as He has with Peter, James, and John; even as He has with Abel, Enoch, and Noah; even as He has with Moses and Elij[...]
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000O seven men who lived as one in service of the Lord under the mantle of Our Lady, you who left everything of this world, all you bought and sold, that you might discover the riches of Heaven: to the mountain you went to find perfection – to the mountain let us come to live with God. Led by the prompting of our Lord and Lady, let us, too, be fruitful on this plane, founded in humility and love and poverty, living as one in the Body of Christ, freely giving our lives and so knowing the blessing of the virtues upon which you fed. Pray for us through our Mother that we too follow the call of her Son.
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Gn.11:1-9; Ps.33:10-15; Mk.8:34-9:1) “What profit does a man show who gains the whole world and destroys himself in the process?” Listen to what the men of old said among themselves at a time when “the whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.” As they were migrating, they stopped in a valley and declared: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.” Hear how their desires reflect the Lord’s warning, “Whoever would save his life will lose it.” For the Lord will thwart their plans made in a vain pride quite apart from Him and see that what they fear shall indeed come to pass – from this point they shall be forced to continue their migration, being scattered to the four corners of the earth. Like David when he sought to number the people in his kingdom rather than allowing their increase in the sight of God, they do not put trust in the Lord but in the work of their own hands to make themselves a name. And such work, such plans, cannot but come to ruin. “The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples”; only “the plan of the Lord stands forever, the design of His heart, through all generations.” And we must thank God that this is so. For left to our own devices, we would go on “doing whatever [we] presume to do.” Thus does God save us from doing as we please because “He who fashioned the heart of each, He who knows all their works,” knows well how inclined[...]
Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Gn.9:1-13; Ps.102:16-23,29; Mk.8:27-33) “The children of your servants shall abide, and their posterity shall continue in your presence.” In our first reading from Genesis, God remakes the world. As once He sent forth Adam and Eve upon their creation, so now He blesses Noah and his sons with the same words: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.” Here we are reminded that “in the image of God has man been made,” and once again God calls man to “abound on the earth and subdue it,” giving him power over all its living creatures. And now a promise is added, a covenant is made “between [God] and the earth,” sealed with the sign of the rainbow – “never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth”… We shall endure on the land He has made for us. And the Lord works to remake His people in our gospel as well, as “on the way He ask[s] His disciples… ‘Who do you say that I am?’” He is the new Creation, He is “the Messiah,” and in Him all children shall be remade in the image of God, shall become as His only Son. And these truly shall endure, their posterity shall continue forever in the presence of Him who never dies. Even after the final destruction of this earth and those who cling to it by the fire of God, even beyond the covenant made with Noah, which shall so soon pass with the dust from which we were made… eternally we shall remain in the new heavens and the new earth, the ones which themselves wil[...]
Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Gn.8:6-13,20-22; Ps.116:12-15,17-19; Mk.8:22-26) “Noah then removed the covering of the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up.” A return to earth, the flood waters having ceased. A new day dawns in this “the first month, on the first day of the month.” The world is made anew, and it shall last, and man shall last upon it, until the last day comes. Here is the second Creation, the first re-creation… the new generation extending from Noah. After the cleansing rain, a soft white glow is upon the earth, a radiance of God’s presence. Gradually it comes to us, this vision of new life that is the Lord Himself. Three times Noah sent the dove forth from the ark before the blessed moment came when “it did not come back,” when all could rejoice that the waters had subsided. And twice the Lord touched the blind man’s eyes before “his sight was restored and he could see everything clearly.” Just as first the dove came back quickly, then with a “plucked-off olive leaf” in its bill (showing that the tops of trees were visible), before finding a place to make a home; so first the man sees people “like walking trees” before the Lord touches Him again and perfect vision becomes his own. It is only gradually – day by day, week by week, year by year – that we come to full awareness of the Lord and with Him make our home. And once out of the ark, “Noah built an altar to the Lord.” And how pleased the Lord is with the “sweet odor” of the sacrifice he offer[...]
Mon, 13 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000O brothers in the faith who brought that same faith to the peoples entrusted to your care, who extended the reach of the Church, gathering in lands under her holy roof and into her blessed arms… faithful you were unto death in proclaiming the word of God – please pray that we, too, shall be holy brothers of Christ, offering our work, our lives, for the sake of the nations yet to be called into His fold, for the sake of peoples unfamiliar with His Word, that the heavenly kingdom may come to fulfillment and all be made one in God’s presence.
Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Gn.6:5-8,7:1-5,10; Ps.29:1-4,9-11; Mk.8:14-21) “The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the Lord, over vast waters.” “Mighty” indeed is the voice of God, but who can hear it? Who listens to its “majestic” ringing in their ears? In the time of Noah the Lord’s “heart was grieved,” for He “saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil.” So great was the Lord’s grief over man’s disobedience that He uttered the saddest words we could hear: “I am sorry I made them,” and resolved to “wipe [them] out from the earth.” If we have not pleased our Father, what hope have we of life? If we have not listened to His voice, what can we hear but a sentence of condemnation? It seems Jesus’ heart is grieved, too, today at His disciples’ ignorance of His instruction. Here in a boat upon the waters His voice chastises their slowness to comprehend His call to wakefulness in the Spirit: “Are your minds completely blinded? Have you eyes but no sight? Ears but no hearing?” and finally, “Do you still not understand?” And though He seems eminently frustrated by the fact that their vision is still trained so stubbornly on the bread of earth rather than the Bread of heaven, though they so quickly forget the miracles He has worked and the power He has revealed, yet He shall not remove them from His sight, but continue in patience with their schooling. F[...]
Sun, 12 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Gn.4:1-15,25; Ps.50:1,8,14,16-17,20-21; Mk.8:11-13) “Sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.” Thus does the Lord encourage Cain not to hang his head at his failures in worship but to learn from his errors and be strong. Here already in Scripture we see how redemption is possible, how God gives us power to conquer sin. But Cain does not fight off the demon at his door but instead attacks his brother Abel, killing him who has overcome sin. The jealous demons write their name in Abel’s blood, by the hand of Cain his brother. And the Pharisees are the same as Cain. It is they of whom our psalmist sings, they who “recite [the Lord’s] statutes, and profess [His] covenant with [their] mouth,” but whose hearts are far from Him and who “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” themselves. It is they who “sit speaking against [their] brother,” for indeed they come to “argue with Jesus,” to “test” Him who is most especially their brother, who is their Messiah. And it is they who will shed their brother’s blood, who will conspire to kill their own “mother’s Son.” And though Jesus Himself “correct[s] [them] by drawing [their sin] up before [their] eyes,” yet, like Cain, they refuse to see the evil taking hold of them, and so will be unable to turn from it. And their punishment shall be greater than that of Cain, for so much greater is their[...]
Sat, 11 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000(Sir.15:15-20; Ps.119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34; 1Cor.2:6-10; Mt.5:17-37) “Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!” The clear theme of today’s readings is the need to “exactly observe” the commands of the Lord, to keep His law “with all [our] heart.” It is this walking “in the law of the Lord” that makes us blessed in His sight. It is popular to believe that Jesus’ coming somehow nullifies the law and makes it unnecessary for our lives. The Lord makes it quite clear the opposite is true: “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.” In fact, He could not make the point more certain than His saying, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.” Indeed, He does not say only that killing subjects one to judgment, but even anger at one’s brother. Not only is committing adultery wrong, but “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Simply because forgiveness is greater in the presence of Jesus does not mean punishment is less; it is in fact greater as well, and more than greater – eternal. Now “the Spirit scrutinizes everything.” Now even the smallest of sins is exposed to the all-encompassing light of Christ and to the “all-seeing… eyes of God.” The sins being more greatly exposed, of course the forgivenes[...]
Fri, 10 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000O lovely Lady who appeared to Bernadette, Mary, Blessed Virgin and Mother of our Lord – let our eyes, too, see your beauty and hear your voice calling us to pray for sinners, calling us to come to you with our prayers and to wash ourselves clean in the water you provide through Jesus your Son. O Immaculate Conception, so pure, so full of grace, cleanse all our sickness from us; let us be immersed in the bath of purity that washes us of sin, that makes us whole in the sight of God. If we but had innocent hearts we would see you, we would remember the blessing you are to all faithful souls… O let us come to you and find the grace we need this day.
Fri, 10 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000(Gn.3:9-24; Ps.90:1-6,12-13; Mk.8:1-10) “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Because of the fall we come face-to-face with this truth: our own mortality, our own humility, that we are but a creature made from the dust of the earth. And this truth we must understand. Because we have “eaten from the tree of which [God] had forbidden [us] to eat,” “thorns and thistles” the earth brings forth for us and “by the sweat of [our] face shall [we] get bread to eat,” until we learn our place – for our own sakes – before our Creator, or “until we return to the ground, from which we were taken.” “Cursed be the ground because of you!” the Lord God exclaims to the man. The womb of the woman, like the earth for man, shall bring her pain in bearing children, in bearing her fruit… and the serpent shall eat dust “all the days of [his] life.” If now we should eat of the tree of life, to what state would we be condemned! How shall we be saved from such a fate, wherein our own flesh brings upon us such pangs – how shall we escape ourselves? And how shall we look upon God again? “Teach us to number our days aright,” our psalmist cries, “that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And what is he asking but that we realize, as God would teach us, that though He is “from everlasting to everlasting,” that though for H[...]