Tuesday 2/11/20

Title: “An Exposition. This Above All: Purity of Heart

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for the grace of Your blessings in the midst of struggles, as we continue faithfully on towards You in patient endurance.

Please my Lords, allow that in longsuffering and in kindness, in meekness and humility, in charity and in devoted honesty, we may reach You with fruits of sacrifice from Your own true vine, as gifts to Thy glory to be offered up in You and with You, and always to You, LORD of all that is good.

 

“An Exposition. This Above All: Purity of Heart

There is one crucial step to doing anything well, anything that must come in love and truth from the heart, and that is maintaining purity of heart.  This art and practice has nothing to do with the specific work one may endeavor to undertake, but it is like a preliminary step and necessary requirement, to doing anything from the soul, if it is to be anything at all.  This clarity of mind and purity of heart, is the central task and focus of maintaining that “singleness of vision,” “for if thine eye be light, how great is that light.”  This is like being “shod in the readiness of the gospel,” or “being clad in the whole armor of the Spirit of God,” in being then “ready for every good work,” and “to be able to give answer to anyone who asks of the reason of our hope.”

This preparation of the Spirit and soul, of maintaining a very pure heart, is crucial and pivotal to grounding oneself in God—in patient humility, in love, and in honesty and truth above all.  “Then will our light shine before us for all to see…”.  In couching first our devotion to God, in blanketing layers of virtue and solidness of trust, we remain stouthearted and well-planted, in the things that are above and of the Spirit, in the abstracted goodness of pure moral virtue, and not in the things that are below in the material, in the world of man.  In trying so very hard to keep our hearts very pure, we acquire through years of practice and effort, with a true art’s precision, that firmness of heart that stands tall in the certitude of the LORD.  Confidence, it passes right through us, as honest humility takes its place, and courage, somewhere between cowardice and foolhardiness, steps us up to the plate.  We strive first to maintain this most delicate balance, of purity of heart, so that the mind’s eye can see clearly through the tangle of confusion that would otherwise lay hold of our minds, and lead us astray.

We stay pure-hearted with a singleness of focus, that is upon God and God alone, in His truth of goodness and love, and we strive to uphold His own goodness ourselves, in being true to His Word.  In this singleness of vision, with the eye of the soul, all things are seen clearly, like through the depths of a calm serene placid pool.  And when the waters are stirred up and troubled, with the agitation of a storm from the deep, we grasp hold of this eye in our center, Who keeps us calm and courageous, though of ourselves we are weak.  “For in weakness, there is strength,” “for in weakness the power of God is made perfect.”

In Christ is my anchor, in this purity of heart, that sees and pierces through all things, and knows always the way back to shore.  To the mainland, the Fatherland, a mere lifetime away, lies the fruit of our labor in the mansion entrusted to our Spirit.  We seek not the things of this earth, but the things from above, and so in all things, in all tasks and all sciences, in all labors and arts, in all and practices and perfections, and endeavors and jobs—be it cleaning and cooking, or dancing and writing, or painting and praying, or with God’s gifts making love—we strive first to maintain that purity of heart, so that all things may be done well and in Christ, and produce good fruit for God.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be” (Matthew 6:19-23, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:15-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:15-16, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Wednesday 2/12/20

Title: “A Delicate Balance: Finding that Inner Tension in the Balancing of Dualities as a Necessary Requirement in the Soul’s Search for God.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for the grace of Your majesty poured into these blessings, placed by You in the heart after recognizing in Yourself that which the heart desires, and most delicately strewn and bestowed, like a trail of roses, to lead us ever closer in loving union to You.

Please my Lords, in this new day of new life and in the new birth of the soul’s glory found in You and as You, please allow that we continue on in this journey, and triumph to arrive upon Your truth, as we seek You in all things and find You as You respond, through this world Your creation as the raw material to be used for deepening our spiritual encounter, as we yet find You closest in the heart, and in that silent space of contemplative joy.

 

“A Delicate Balance: Finding that Inner Tension in the Balancing of Dualities as a Necessary Requirement in the Soul’s Search for God.”

Always two… there are always at least two.  In this balancing of dualities, of tensions, the goal and objective runs exactly opposite to what we are accustomed to in most cases, which is to find that space of relaxation, that zone of comfort, and soften into the laxness that is a rest and a peace.  In this striving towards spiritual groundedness in God, however, the goal and objective is not to find the point of rest, but the point of tension, and to seek out that inner opposition until we have found its midline.  This game of duality, this balancing of forces, is a fundamental principle of any disciplining in arts or in truth, or in spiritual oneness for that matter, as we find our point of recollection in pinpointing the soul.  In the mind’s eye and imagination, the pineal gland has it, in the structure of the brain, as this only unpaired structure, not duplicated across hemispheres, has famously been called “the seat of the soul,” as we visualize our way into this new spiritual plane.

Always with two, at least two complementary opposing forces….  We gather in paired dualities, like animals set for Noah’s ark, and welcome into our mind frame of a ship’s hull this natural balance and groundedness of equilibrium that a matched harmony entails.  As we may occasionally sink into a laxness, if we don’t soon find and collect ourselves back into our center, and find that tension, that duality, that delicate balance of forces and focus, then we shall surely drift off to one side or another, like a ship left unanchored, as we must make use like of both sides of a rope this opposition, to keep it taut, and keep uplifted our center, as we stretch out our arms, nay, our minds, to both sides of that spectrum, creating force.

This tension and balance, found in body, soul and mind, all three, is what we use to stay centered and balance, and to find that midline in the first place, like stretching out in our heads our own spiritual map.  We keep these muscles tensed and the mind focused, and as if holding onto a gymnast’s two rings hanging at once from the ceiling, if we lose sight of one of those sides of this duality, we shall surely fall off.  We balance atop our center aplomb, atop the center of the mind’s eye, as our bodies are temples in which we worship our LORD.

And as these bodies and temples, and minds, spirits and souls, are all aligned as one to the same center, we may balance out with our humanness an even keel to this hull as we seek out our God.  Both human and divine in this realm of His making, give pull and hold weight as the water of this Spirit uplifts us, and as we feel that tug, that inwardly discomfits us, we know we are in a state of balancing to precede perfect union—wherein for however brief a time, we are balanced and centered in a state of divine flow, acting in accord with God’s will while unaware of the struggle.  But in all other times this tension is our lifeline and safety net, letting us feel the pull and the tension that will reel us in back to center, and provide the force of two complementary sides, that while opposing diametrically, work together in cooperation, like a hypostatic union, to keep this ship most miraculously, and at times, in a most finely-tuned balance, most uncannily afloat.

 

Thursday 2/13/20

Title: “What is the Kingdom, the Kingdom Within?”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the marvel and mystery of Thy blessings, as we step lightly across this world of Your creation and enter more solidly the inward realm to bear witness to the inner man, as in Spirit we shall find You as in the soul we proceed to seeking, in faith, hope, and love, and in that which is most true to Yourself.

Please my Lords, in this new day of new exploration and an adventure of life into its innermost depths, please allow that in all our strivings we may seek one thing first, and that is the Kingdom and that Thy will be done, so that in all things we may be with You, and in all our tasks, be in You and so complete our work bearing fruit for the Kingdom to come.

 

“What is the Kingdom, the Kingdom Within?”

This is the Kingdom, it is a field sown with seed.  It is a field sown with seed and with the enemy’s tares.  It is a mustard seed, so small, yet the greatest of trees when it is grown, and it is a pearl of great price greatly desired by a merchant, yet before swine, not to be thrown.  It is a fisherman’s net cast over the sea, and it is a nobleman’s banquet requiring the proper attire.  It is the marriage supper of the Lamb and the prodigal son’s return, and it is the Kingdom within us, as Luke’s Gospel gets a turn.

It is so many things, true, and yet it is just one thing at best, just as in the precision of an analogy we may see through to the center from all sides and angles of a single sphere.  This Kingdom, this peart, this soul within man, is to be attained, nay, rather claimed, as our inheritance as adopted coheirs with Christ.  This Kingdom, this treasure, worth a multiplication of loaves’ weight in gold, is to be staked out and staked in, as beyond the cost of one’s life.  What greater love has man than this, but to give his life for his brethren?  And yet, what is one’s life worth, if you sell your soul to attain it, sacrificing your immortal treasure for the rust and corruption of earthly treasure?

This Kingdom of heaven, of the immortal soul within, has been well-researched and investigated, by all saints through the ages.  And this Kingdom, this soul, crowned by God’s Holy Spirit like a queen, like Mother Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem may be all things as Mother Church, God’s chosen spouse, as she descends from the heavens to suit His fancy and fill His claim.  This Kingdom of heaven, of God, is a kingdom to be sure, for my Father’s house has many chambers, many mansions, and I go there to prepare a place for you.  For if it were not so I would not have told you, as from the Word’s own mouth we receive the truth, and bedecked in the virtues proper to the estate of a saint, we carefully craft our own lives to make there our own room.

My Father’s house has many chambers, if it were not so I would not have told you, and yet each of these rooms, mansions, and chambers lays its own unique claim to this estate.  That Interior Castle, of St. Teresa of Avila, is just one room in this castle, this house, this Fatherland, that is the Kingdom of God.  In my Father’s house… that is, the Father of all faithful, as Abraham through faith was pleasing to God, and we transcend the house of David, Judah, or Joseph, to give due justice to all God’s children, God’s creatures, created souls who bear the seal of this claim.

Before your birth I have formed you, and knitted you together in the womb, to fulfil this immortal destiny knowable to man through these resources, these materials, plus our reason, right will, and goodly desires.  Fear of the LORD, that is, love, is the beginning of wisdom, and so too love is the end-all, be-all, like an Alpha-Omega clasp to these gilded gates of that holy temple within.  Four pearls upon four gates, and a multiplication of pearls, and four sides to this story, as a second story of four Gospels finishes her off, this book writ like a castle with tiers.  With tears.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another” (John 15:13-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:24-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23, Authorized King James Version).
  4. “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:2-3, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I dedicated you,
    a prophet to the nations I appointed you” (Jeremiah 1:5, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “Thus says the Lord, your redeemer,
    who formed you from the womb:
    I am the Lord, who made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    I spread out the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “You formed my inmost being;
    you knit me in my mother’s womb.
    I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
    wonderful are your works!
    My very self you know” (Psalm 139:13-14, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  8. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  9. “The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  10. “It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, [the names] of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and to it the kings of the earth will bring their treasure” (Revelation 21:12-13, 21-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Friday 2/14/20

Title: “The Summa Wrestler”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day and for all the music and melody of Thy divine syncopation that so masterfully weaves its way into this heart and this soul, that enwraps us in Your upholding hand and uplifts our spirits in Your unsurpassed holiness, You, Who are my melody and my music, and the beat of this heart, all through this life and on into the next.

Please my Lords, allow us to learn in greater depth all the things that Your divine mercy upholding Your divine justice has in store for us, as we Your humble servants seek only to trust in Your love and conform our wills into perfect love, as we acquire likeness to You in learning better Your ways.

 

“The Summa Wrestler”

At the outset of life’s race, we have all that we need to be individually crowned victors, and yet in the heat of each moment is the only time we can use these resources to make our right choices that lead on to the fruits of the victor.  Only in each moment, as it fast approaches us, do we have the opportunity to prove that we have what it takes, in being doers of the Word and not sayers only, and to put our hearts into action, as well-versed and yet inexperienced as they may be.

And it is in facing up to the challenge time and time again, that experience is earned as we pay the debt of our souls into it, in standing up for what is right, in waging spiritual battle with heartfelt javelins of sharp, swift prayers, in meeting each challenge with discernment and tempered responses, and in never once sacrificing our good wills for self-seeking at the expense of another, but in all things bearing witness to that victor in Jesus Christ.

It is in waging this war fairly, and in fighting the good fight, that this race, this championship is made valid with each and every footstep of our lives.  We train our minds like athletes, and our souls like blazing stars, to hold the torch and burn with zeal as we ourselves are just preparations to pass the baton off to the Conqueror of sin and idleness within us.  We wrestle with souls and ideas, and we practice our art like an Olympian training for the race, and we keep our hope in the LORD as He is our crown, just as we are His, that awaits us in His victory in the life to come.

With all the diligence and persistence of a contender, a gladiator, we contend in a much different way, and these disciplines in virtues, they carry us far beyond what we could have hoped to accomplish on our strength alone.  As we pour out our energy and vitality, into our patience and our work, we run the race that is already won, as just as our souls rest in the hope of our home in the LORD, so our flesh too shall rest in hope.

And as we pull from our repertoire each most suitable virtue to win us the race, like an archer bearing each arrow as a different virtue as he pulls the quill from his quiver, we know we have what it takes to contend in this world, for we are no longer prisoners of false life.  We fight for the Kingdom and the salvation of souls, and for the rest to come in the body’s resurrection after this life, as we stake our claim in our hearts and in our God, as the Almighty is the one Conqueror of all.  And we put to death death, and like that red serpent put sin underfoot, so that we may know at all times where this temptation lies, as we tread the footsteps of those gone before us who have led more perfect lives.

We keep our minds in line with the buffeting of the virtues, and like constraints they keep us, as we keep them, on the straight and narrow, and we broaden only our minds and our hearts, and not our phylacteries or our trespasses, as we strengthen the Word and the sword of the Spirit as the tool of the trade, on the sharpening block of the Bible, and a Summa Theologica to match.  We are Summa wrestlers, gladiators, and contenders, who like Israel wrestling with the angel, shall know God like a Trainer and Teacher, as we are disciples sparring toe-to-toe with Him, to be His spiritual paired match.  As we walk away limping.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” (Hebrews 12:1-4, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “I have set the Lord always before me:
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
    Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
    my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:8-9, Authorized King James Version).
  5. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12, Authorized King James Version).
  6. “But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:13-14, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “Jacob was left there alone. Then a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that Jacob’s socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him. The man then said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.’ ‘What is your name?’ the man asked. He answered, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.’ Jacob then asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ He answered, ‘Why do you ask for my name?’ With that, he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘because I have seen God face to face,’ he said, ‘yet my life has been spared.’ At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip. That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket, because he had struck Jacob’s hip socket at the sciatic muscle” (Genesis 32:25-33, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Saturday 2/15/20

Title: “The Harvest of the Good Reaper, Grinning and Grim”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day and for all the grace of Your touch poured in through the soul to enliven and motivate us in all things great and small, so that we may be faithful, through You, in all things, and in each task give You honor, as through them, we honor You.

Please my Lords, grant us this day a clean will and pure desires, seeking as we do and desiring as we do, to remove from our heart all desires which reflect not You within them, and all wants that are of man for his own and for self and not for souls and salvation.  Please give us a giving heart, so that we may ask not for ourselves, to take from Thee, but to be more like You in giving, and to give, loving freely, like Thee.

 

“The Harvest of the Good Reaper, Grinning and Grim”

“Reap!”  “Thrust in thy sickle and reap.”  The injunction is delivered like a soul from the dust, and rising with ash on my face like an Ashy Wednesday, the penitential rite is sealed like a solemn oath, a pact, and I can hear the words echoed within me “It is done.”  It is finished.  It is the LORD that hath done this… as the ancient Old English trails away like the magnificent hem of a garment from Isaiah 6.  “Reap,” it implores me, that still small voice within, that so launches itself in my heart like a bottle rocket in a midnight garden.  Reap, reap, insists this ticking timebomb heart, that watches expectantly on the edge of His seat, like the grim Reaper Himself, minus the grimness of final death.  I scan quickly the horizon and astutely size it all up, this land within my mind, beyond time, that declares within itself that the time is nigh.

Reap, reap, we move as one, as I stick in the sickle, and like a pinprick in a balloon, the puncture has done its job.  Good fruit is revealed, from within and without, as this harvest of the heart is only the first of many to come.  “Even now I am being poured out like a libation,” as the end draws in close, and each fruit is harvested and collected like figs from the tree, like grapes from the vine.  This heart and this Spirit, is bursting forth from the plantation, as the outgrowth of the soul is the fruit of the heart.  This heart it sustains us bearing within itself the communion of Eucharistic desire, and well-planted and well-grafted, onto the True Vine, the Vinedresser and Husbandman come forth, to show forth this prized fruit.  Like a ewe lamb claimed madly but not yet uprooted from the bunch, these bunches of grapes become bushels as this branch is pruned back to wield, and yield, yet more good fruit.

This is the harvesting of souls, for the time is nigh, and our own work it sustains us as the outgrowth of our own efforts, towards goodly virtue and a heart set on God.  This harvest bears forth a cornucopia, a sacrificial horn full of collected desires, budded with their virtue of the Word like seeds still intact beneath their supple ripe skin.  Harps hang from the poplars, ripe with this new strange fruit, as they hang heavy in the rustling of the breeze of Ruach Elohim, in a mid-afternoon walk.  The psalm comes easy to these lips, our lips, as we lift up from the branches its fruit, and proceed to play on the harp that melody that eases through this mind, such strange fruit.

The reaping is ready, and the time is nigh, and we set our hearts on the kingdom like synchronized watches from the watchtower, and strings tuned with a tuning fork.  In tine and in tune, yet outside the temporal order, we bear bushels of our harps, our fruit, as heart-borne instruments ripe for the LORD.  What strange fruit has grafted itself onto this tree, shutters the True Vine as it sheds light like an aura, and truth to set us free.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Then I looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.’ So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven who also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel [came] from the altar, [who] was in charge of the fire, and cried out in a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth’s vines, for its grapes are ripe’” (Revelation 14:14-18, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:6-8, Authorized King James Version).
  3. “A seed shall serve him;
    it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
    They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness
    unto a people that shall be born,
    that he hath done this” (Psalm 22:30-31, Authorized King James Version).
  4. “In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered” (Isaiah 6:1-2, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “By the rivers of Babylon
    there we sat weeping
    when we remembered Zion.
    On the poplars in its midst
    we hung up our harps.
    For there our captors asked us
    for the words of a song;
    Our tormentors, for joy:
    ‘Sing for us a song of Zion!’
    But how could we sing a song of the Lord
    in a foreign land?

Remember, Lord, against Edom
that day at Jerusalem.
They said: ‘Level it, level it
down to its foundations!’
Desolate Daughter Babylon, you shall be destroyed,
blessed the one who pays you back
what you have done us!
Blessed the one who seizes your children
and smashes them against the rock” (Psalm 137:1-4, 7-9, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Sunday 2/16/20

Title: “On Choice and Chosen

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this magnificent new day and for the grace of Your presence displayed in patience and understanding, to which I do strive in my life to bear witness.

Please my Lords, in this new day of new work and new daily bread, please do let us encounter You on Your terms, as in our minds we yield to Your own perfect will, and in our hearts we stay teachable, through our adherence to obedience, and the virtues of tender compassion.

 

On Choice and Chosen

“I did not choose to be a prophet, and neither do I come from a company of prophets.  I was a dresser of sycamore trees, and a tender of herds, and I was called into this by the Almighty God, Whom you have chosen to reject.  So because you have done this, I say to you, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel…’”.  Amos the prophet echoes in the discontent of the ages of all prophets who were rejected by their people, though “it is really the LORD they reject,” as is made clear by Him to Samuel.  “I did not choose to be a prophet,” says Amos, as he describes his own life’s chosen work, as a dresser of sycamore trees and a tender of a herd.  This man was called, that is, called by God, to fulfill for Him His purposes, like Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Jonah.  The point of this calling, is that it is not just following one’s own heart, it is following the Master and “Searcher of all hearts,” as He makes His will known to him whom He has called.

In following this truest of all vocations, to be true to God, prophets like these were treated beyond poorly and spat on, close to killed, or put to death.  Prophets were placed in the stocks or the lion’s den like Daniel, for this people to whom the LORD willed to be spoken, “resisted always the Holy Spirit,” who spoke out with a righteous claim to this voice—the voice of wisdom and the voice of reason, that ought to echo universally throughout the world, within the conscience of everyone’s head.

These people who resisted hearing condemnation for their evil ways, chose instead lying and stealing and all forms of corruption to further them in these paths, of sin, far from the true Way.  The Way of Christ is of honesty, first of all, and the humility that follows in not wrongly exalting oneself, or building up lies and treachery to the heart’s truth, that is, God, to which one’s true self can never stand up to, and a false view of the ego’s inflated self, to which the heart in truth, in God’s flame, can’t hold a candle to, it being so terribly false.

In this Way of Christ, that is truth and honesty, all things in humility flow on from there, but these people wouldn’t hear it, the warning of the prophets, and save for a few cases like Jonah at Nineveh, these communities met their fate in an ensuing wrath like the rapture, in sealing their own fate.

“Speak to us of peace,” and console us in our misdeeds, so that we may take comfort in our sin and cast out and ostracize our guilt, and yet to these erring masses of people, it must be said, “peace shall not come for you lest you amend your ways.”

“Make restitution for harms done, uphold justice and not deceit, make straight your paths and out of the darkness you shall come, doing good deeds that are not merely an insult to uprightness, in their effort to merely cover up greater wrongs.  But do root out in God’s truth and honesty the sins upon which you have built your fallacious towers of self-serving lies.  All of it must go, and many who are last shall be first, for only God knows the truth in our hearts and how well we bear witness to Him.  And many who are first shall be last, going from being seen in the eyes of men to the eyes of God, as for this treason they have committed, they too shall be cast out just as they choose to cast out their guilt but retain the sin, as into the everlasting fire of damnation they shall go.”

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “To Amos, Amaziah said: ‘Off with you, seer, flee to the land of Judah and there earn your bread by prophesying! But never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.’ Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I am not a prophet, nor do I belong to a company of prophets. I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores, but the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” Now hear the word of the Lord:

You say: “Do not prophesy against Israel,
do not preach against the house of Isaac.”
Therefore thus says the Lord:
Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword.
Your land shall be parcelled out by measuring line,
and you yourself shall die in an unclean land;
and Israel shall be exiled from its land’” (Amos 7:12-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Samuel was displeased when they said, ‘Give us a king to rule us.’ But he prayed to the Lord. The Lord said: Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king. They are acting toward you just as they have acted from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this very day, deserting me to serve other gods. Now listen to them; but at the same time, give them a solemn warning and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them” (1 Samuel 8:6-9, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “More tortuous than anything is the human heart,
    beyond remedy; who can understand it?
    I, the Lord, explore the mind
    and test the heart,
    Giving to all according to their ways,
    according to the fruit of their deeds.
     A partridge that broods but does not hatch
    are those who acquire wealth unjustly:
    In midlife it will desert them;
    in the end they are only fools” (Jeremiah 17:9-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it’” (Acts 7:51-53, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “To whom shall I speak?
    whom shall I warn, and be heard?
    See! their ears are uncircumcised,
    they cannot pay attention;
    See, the word of the Lord has become for them
    an object of scorn, for which they have no taste.

They have treated lightly
the injury to my people:
‘Peace, peace!’ they say,
though there is no peace.
They have acted shamefully, committing abominations,
yet they are not at all ashamed,
they do not know how to blush.
Therefore they will fall among the fallen;
in the time of their punishment they shall stumble,
says the Lord.
     Thus says the Lord:
Stand by the earliest roads,
ask the pathways of old,
‘Which is the way to good?’ and walk it;
thus you will find rest for yourselves.
But they said, ‘We will not walk it’” (Jeremiah 6:10, 14-16, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Because they led my people astray, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace, and when a wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, say then to the whitewashers: I will bring down a flooding rain; hailstones shall fall, and a stormwind shall break forth. When the wall has fallen, will you not be asked: ‘Where is the whitewash you spread on it?’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: In my fury I will let loose stormwinds; because of my anger there will be flooding rain, and hailstones will fall with destructive wrath. I will tear down the wall you whitewashed and level it to the ground, laying bare its foundations. When it falls, you shall be crushed beneath it. Thus you shall know that I am the Lord. When I have poured out my fury on the wall and its whitewashers, it will fall. Then I will say to you: No wall! No whitewashers— the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem and see visions of peace for it when there is no peace—oracle of the Lord God” (Ezekiel 13:10-16, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “For this reason I struck them down through the prophets,
    I killed them by the words of my mouth;
    my judgment shines forth like the light.
    For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice,
    and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:5-6, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
    and what the Lord requires of you:
    Only to do justice and to love goodness,
    and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
    releasing those bound unjustly,
    untying the thongs of the yoke;
    Setting free the oppressed,
    breaking off every yoke?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:6, 8, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Monday 2/17/20

Title: “The Ancient Japanese Art of… The Love of the LORD Shines Through”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the grace and dignity with which You show us all the proper respect, without yet showing partiality or “respect for persons.”

Please my Lords, help us this day to bestow all our best efforts upon the task at hand, in the name of service or worship to Thee, and to shower down all our best intentions upon those closest to us and those most in need, while yet striving to be like You in Your perfect love without bias, and Your immaculate virtue of charity shown without partiality.

 

“The Ancient Japanese Art of… The Love of the LORD Shines Through”

The ancient Japanese art of “kintsugi,” is a practice where when a valuable piece of ceramics or pottery is broken, like a priceless Ming vase, the piece is not discarded, destroyed, or thrown out, but the breakage is repaired with glue mixed with powdered gold, so that the breakage becomes not its end, but part of its history, and the cracks of its break become its most valuable assets, as they shine with the gold used to repair the damage.

This is indeed a Japanese practice with a long history and plenty of existing examples to demonstrate its utility and art, but so too is this piece of Eastern practice and wisdom an analogy of a person going through life’s journey as broken, but healed in the LORD.

“What if God, wishing to show his wrath and make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction? This was to make known the riches of his glory to the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared previously for glory” (Romans 9:22-23, New American Bible Revised Edition).  This is far from a solitary instance of a human vessel and heart, the soul and body of man, being compared to the work of a potter or an artisan’s hands in the Bible.  Traditionally this comparison between the vessels of wrath in the vessels of mercy in Romans 9, is seen as meaning to explain the reason why not all people go on to heaven and why some are fitted to wrath and destruction.  Indeed, it is through their own choices and their free will that some forego the good choices that lead a soul on to heaven, and choose instead to destroy some sort of goodness in man that becomes their own undoing.

But too, these vessels or wrath offset and highlight the vessels of mercy, for “a light that shineth in the darkness” seems brighter indeed than a lantern in broad daylight.  And for the source of a comparison, how is the color white to be understood on a blank white canvas, if not by the addition of other elements of color, or the contrast of black, to show the difference and demonstrate what it isn’t.  By this manner also, many things are initially known, by understanding what they aren’t, and so like by a process of elimination, we come to understand better what in fact they are.

This analogy of vessels too, of wrath or of mercy, can be seen as apart from the context of a comparison between persons in the final judgment, and applied to the context of change within one person’s own individual life, to understand better how God’s mercy shines through after we forsake the ways deserving of wrath.  Whether we “suffer for righteousness’s sake,” or suffer from our own sins, or even suffer for the sins of others, when we find our repair, our “reparations” are in the LORD, and just as “in weakness there is strength,” to which the great convert St. Paul will testify, so in our most broken places or fractures and cracks, like those ancient vessels of the Japanese art of kintsugi, it is in those most broken places that the golden love of God shines brilliantly through.

As another famous for his conversion, St. Augustine attests, “In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.”  This indeed is the ancient lost art of restoration and conversion, of setting our wounds before the LORD as He heals all of our most broken parts, and in the resplendent glory of golden supernatural life, our greatest weaknesses and cracks and scars become our greatest strengths, as “it is now not I, but the LORD Who liveth in me.”

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4-5, Authorized King James Version).
  2. “Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps” (1 Peter 2:19-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Tuesday 2/18/20

Title: “The Eye of the Heart, the Windshield to the Soul”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for the grace and repose of a slow and gradual awakening, reaching further and plumbing the deepest depths of this spectrum of the soul, in love and in truth, and in the Spirit of holiness by Your presence within.

Please my Lords, in this new day that is just the blink of an eye as we grasp at the expanse of Your infinitude, please allow that we too, while we yet remain within the temporal order, may have a taste of the eternal through Your indwelling within us, for as we do proceed to do all things in Your presence and in Your will, and as we do all things through You and in You, we may in this way do all things viewing them through Your eyes, from the perspective of the eternal.

 

The Eye of the Heart, the Windshield to the Soul”

It’s that new car smell, that smell of soft, buttery new leather, and that fresh, tight, trim stitching around a firmly bound steering wheel.  You step in the new car, you turn the wheel, you crack the window as you click through your radio presets, and you’re off.  This is a new car.  Or is it?  As you just pull off the lot, in your brand new car, you speed away leisurely, checking the speedometer as you roll onto the highway.  You are somewhat cautious about the sound of highway grit bouncing off the tires and sides of your car, simply because this one is new, and not because that is something you’ve ever worried about before, in any of the other cars you’ve driven.  You speed on ahead and at least two or three little bugs find themselves smushed on your windshield as they whiz through the air, leaving newly formed smudges on the once immaculate glass.  You turn on the windshield wipers, but the smudges only get worse, and so you try a few more times with the click of a button, the flick of a switch, to erase those smears, before you just let it go and enjoy the ride.

This is your windshield, it is a pane of solid glass, not easy to break but not impossible either.  The eyes are the window to the soul, or so it’s been said, as from there expression without contrivance can most clearly be seen, but the soul has its own eyes too, the eyes of the heart, and this inner eye and vision is not reserved for some select few, but is open to all who from within see with it, and through it, like a windshield to the soul.  This is your windshield.  Or is it?

As you pull into your driveway and park your car, you consider wiping the smears and smudges off your windshield, but you still have some work left over to do that you brought home from the office, and so you let it go until another time.  I’ll get it washed later, or maybe just a little Windex here and there, you think to yourself, as the thought then escapes you.  Three days later you drive through a rainstorm, and more smudges are added as you drive through the dirt.  And within the next three months, a puddle here, a puddle there, some debris, new smudges, new dirt.  This accumulation on your once pristine windshield has tainted the vision through the glass, and now with so many smudges and so much dirt and grime, any new smudge hardly makes any difference to you, and with so much to squint through you can hardly see the road.

Without proper care and maintenance, and the needed cleaning and repairs, the windshield wipers too soon yield to the smudges on the glass, as the soft plastic blades bend and warp under the weather, and now no longer conform to the smoothness of glass, but buckle under the pressure of the wiper, and leave streaks on the glass.  This is your car and this is Your windshield.

This is your soul and its eyes as you try to see through your sins.  Without getting your hands dirty to sift through the soap and suds to clean it, without putting in the time in your schedule to get the job of absolution done, these sins they accumulate, like grime on the windshield, until you can barely see through it at all.  For each tiny little sin is a smudge on the windshield, and many seem just as happy in their state of sin to see nothing at all.  Until then comes the day when that dirty windshield, obstructs your vision with the coinciding irksome circumstances in place, and just as the neglect of one smudge lessens your care of another, so too will you ignore the need of the passerby, pedestrian, you struck dead one fine day.  This is the story of a car and a windshield.  Or is it?  The End.

 

Wednesday 2/19/20

Title: “Keep Calm and Carry the Cross”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all Your kindness and consideration expressed so simply and entirely, within the grace of Your touch, the meaning of Your Word, and the unfolding of Your presence.

Please my Lords, in this new morning of another new day of hope and understanding, please let us follow in Thy footsteps what Thy life has set out, and bear our burdens patiently, as to do so without patience, would hardly be a virtue at all, but rather a fact of life.

 

“Keep Calm and Carry the Cross”

Quiet reservation, polite confidence, congenial self-restraint, prepossessing and self-possessed courtesy and civility, and good manners above all.  Gentlemanliness at its best, this culture of downplayed emotion, played up civility and etiquette, quiet self-restraint, and a cool, calm flow of chilly emotion, carries with it a set of burdens all its own.  “Keep calm and carry on,” is a popular saying of the day, and yet this extreme calmness, exaggerated to the point of a frosty lack of emotion at all, save for what may be played off as wit or humor, despite what its deeper sarcastic intentions may otherwise be, this extreme overvaluation of calmness, pays its own price if it entails a denial of truth.

The number one rule in most any situation of critical importance, wherein worry or unbridled emotions may cause unnecessary mistakes and errors, is “don’t panic.”  But to go from this wise injunction, “don’t panic,” because it will affect your ability to think clearly and react quickly under pressure, to “never expose any outward display of emotion in any way whatsoever,” is to cut out an entire middle ground of both healthy and necessary emotional responses to emotionally stimulating situations.

In responding to an impetus that stirs rightly felt emotions, we don’t use those emotions to thoughtlessly react, letting them power our actions without first being tempered and restrained by our thinking and higher reasoning, but so too by the same token, neither do we ignore this emotional effect felt in the passions of the heart to the point where we repress them entirely, and are no longer able to be stirred to pity and compassion by the circumstances of those in need, and so able to act rightly by thought and reason to bring us fully into wisdom, in the precious unity of heart and mind.

In keeping calm, we do keep this, a calmness within, but not at the expense of severing our heartstrings entirely so that we cannot be pulled to act in mercy with spontaneity, which is rightly called courage in this case.  This comes to mind as we recall the stories of first responders running into burning buildings to save helpless victims, while many others run away from them by pure instinct, just to save themselves.

This carrying on in calmness, is often indeed what it means to “carry the cross,” provided its actually the cross we are carrying in our hearts, and not some misguided notion of what selfishness demands to succeed.  As we carry our hearts, and resist the urge to leave them behind us in the dust, trailing behind us in the voice of the conscience until one day at last they’re not there to be found at all—as we resist the urge to forsake our hearts and souls to preserve our own lives, we carry the cross within us and so too these emotions that a heart working truly and properly-tuned must feel, and these feelings too become our burden as we carry on with composure and poise.

But yet we must be wary, lest we deny these feelings their proper place, for what goes unsaid in the open often resounds in yelling and violence behind closed doors, in the privacy of the home, and what is denied within one’s own self, as an honest and true emotional response, will lead to an unhealthy repression that is carrying on in self-destructive denial entirely, and not carrying on in calmness despite the pressure at all.  As we “keep calm and carry the cross,” we accept our burden and the feelings that must be carried along with it, avoiding both the explosion and the implosion that would otherwise ensue, were we to forsake our hearts and deny our cross.  In the name of Christ, therefore, we carry on.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “You shall not hate any of your kindred in your heart. Reprove your neighbor openly so that you do not incur sin because of that person. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:17-18, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:15-18, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Thursday 2/20/20

Title: “The Time Capsule of the Soul: Into the Abyss

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the pain and heartache, care and consolation, purity and singlehearted desire, and agony and ecstasy, with which You bless me and provide the raw material by which to grow in strength and understanding, and to learn and to love You all the more greatly.

Please my Lords, in this new morning of a new day that is a gift to be used rightly and not to be ignored and rejected, let us grow in our knowledge of You, as our faith for us brings us to salvation while it expands our horizons.

 

“The Time Capsule of the Soul: Into the Abyss

In the wide-angle lens of a daily undertaking seen as a part of every day and not as just this one day, the little thoughts and actions of a person’s mind and life all blend together into the abyss of eternity as that which knows no end.  A taste of the infinite, is but a moment in this abyss, and to feel the mind enter into it, is to be encapsulated by faith.

In this portal, this capsule, that is beyond the realm of time, the mind knows as if by Your mind, just how to interpret a life bound to this infinitude in You.  In holy expectation of this joy beyond life, the mind enters its soul, this time capsule, that encapsulates each moment as a window, as a taste, of the eternity that is the ever after to be lived out, after life here on earth.

To enter into this capsule, this zone time forgot, the actions of life are performed as if all in one day, though to each individual day they belong.  In living as if it is now the hereafter, this coming has come, as the mind is adjusted into itself, into its soul, as this soul and Your Spirit become one.  Living each day as if it is the last one, and all one and the same, this day is the eternity we hope for, and it is all we ever have.  This present, this moment, lived from within the soul’s timeless view, assumes a whole new meaning as this meaning it takes on, in taking on every day like this anew.

In the capsule of the soul, the time capsule beyond the reach of time, it is as if all time is encapsulated, suspended, in the breadth of eternity’s wake.  Ever-present, ever-ready, ever-looming just overhead, that hope which is holy expectation is lived out fully, as it encompasses all that is You, all that is divine, all that is true.  The scope of this abyss, this time capsule, this token of that which is yet to come, is our periscope, our telescope, and the vision it beholds.

Our hope and our expectation, it merges with the present of our reality, and immersed in this abyss of infinitude of being, we are one.  It is a state of being attained, as we attune our hearts into You, and clutching the window as it is flung open, we cling to this openness again.  We keep our hearts and souls, these windows, these portals of the mind, ever open, and ever more deeply, do we take You in.  With a deep breath of fresh air from this capsule, we take in the expanse, as the abyss opens itself up to us, as we open ourselves to it.

This is faith, hope, and love, and that which is beyond just these three, as the supernatural virtues that take us straight into contemplation of Thee.  This abounding abyss, that is the pure depth of faith, it rises in our suspension, as in hope’s grasp is our grip.  As we rise to meet it by love, as that which is guiding our heart, this encapsulation of the soul over tempo, over time, it unfastens its grip.

In the security of a foothold upon the shore of the other side, we lift open the veil of the temporal order, and step yet again back inside.  This expanse leads us deeper, in the depth of the soul, and more deeply we come to love Thee, as we find ourselves coming into You.  Into the reality of hope’s grasp, all time slips away, but this soul it contains us, encapsulated evermore in faith, over the abyss.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out” (2 Peter 3:8-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Lord, you have been our refuge
    through all generations.
    Before the mountains were born,
    the earth and the world brought forth,
    from eternity to eternity you are God.
    You turn humanity back into dust,
    saying, ‘Return, you children of Adam!’
    A thousand years in your eyes
    are merely a day gone by,
    Before a watch passes in the night,
    you wash them away;
    They sleep,
    and in the morning they sprout again like an herb” (Psalm 90:1-5, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Friday 2/21/20

Title: “A Parable: The Counterfeit Christ”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the pain and suffering, effort and hard work, difficulties and struggles, and lessons and challenges, with which You bless this soul, to form and mold and shape and configure it into the image of Your Spirit through the love of Christ within, by which we better know You and please You in this life of worship.

Please my Lords, help us this day to remain within the capsule of Your grace and the circle of Your presence, so that in dwelling with You and abiding in You, we can be sure that Your will shall be done, which is the very heart of all our truest prayers, aimed after Your own heart.

 

“A Parable: The Counterfeit Christ”

There are very few cases of words, where adding a particular adjective just before them, will fundamentally alter the meaning of that word, such that after it is modified by a descriptive adjective, its total opposite is meant.  One such example, is “counterfeit money,” where after you add the word “counterfeit” before it, the word “money” now means something entirely opposite to that which it first meant.  It goes from being the product of work, the fruit of income, and the material means of practical support, to something fraudulent, illegal, and a crime just to have.  The word “counterfeit” here, completely alters the meaning of the word “money,” such that when combined, “counterfeit money” is practically the opposite—as it goes from morally good or neutral to in all cases bad—of what the word ‘money” means on its own.  Evidence to the effect of money, or better said, the love of money, as being “the root of all evil,” in this case notwithstanding.

The point of drawing this analogy, to describe what can happen to “a Word,” when particular other words are used to describe it, is not at all to point out the evils of money, but rather, the evils of lying and dishonesty.  It is by the nature of this first word, “counterfeit,” that the nature of the second word is fundamentally altered, and at the very heart of the meaning of this first word, that has such power to turn something from good to bad, is the very essence of deceit.  It is this aspect of lying and treachery, of fraudulence and dishonesty, of a word indicating that it is indeed not what it purports to be, that is the source of the fundamental alteration in this case, because, despite what we could say against money, about the evils of a love of money, at the heart of all evil is this simple fact—that “the devil is a liar, and all those who are his, are those who follow after him in this respect.”  God is truth and God is light, and He wills to deceive no man, nor leads anyone to sin.  But the root of all evil, is dishonesty and deceit, and with this descriptor before any word, “counterfeit,” or fraud, or fake, the quality of whatever word follows is revealed to be judged, by this word preceding it calling it out as a sham.

And so the moral of this story, this parable?  Well, it hasn’t come to its completion yet, but we can be sure that, “even the devil disguises himself as an angel of light,” and after the due course of time, this disguise has for some run rather thin.  So too does the devil know this, that just as convincingly as he is masquerading around in a façade of lies composed as light, it is just as convincing for him to array by the words of his deception the one true God and this Jesus our Christ, in a shroud of darkness and a disguise made up of his lies and web of deceit.  Instead of purporting himself as an angel of light, he can just as well purport the Christ as its evil antithesis, and thus to do the work of Satan, “the father of lies” and deceit, he has fabricated a disguise for the true Christ as an angel of darkness.

And it is in this way that the Antichrist cries out “Antichrist!” to the true Christ, thus marking us all casual observers and passersby, with the mark of the beast.  We shall know Him at His coming, for He shall be preceded by this… “False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you beforehand…. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:24-25, 30, New American Bible Revised Edition).

And so, just as adding “counterfeit” before “money,” makes it dark, evil, illegal, and illicit, so too, adding “Anti” before “Christ,” negates Him of His truest nature, and we can be sure that the real Antichrist, before Christ’s coming, who is the “false messiah” and “false prophet” who shall deceive the world and fill us all with lies, just might make use of this decoy, and rather than disguise himself with light, disguise the true Christ with darkness, with this false accusation of blasphemy of calling the true Christ an “Anti-,” which shall surely besmirch the good name of any such name-caller, with that mark of deception, that mark of the beast.  “…For it is not of God, but of man.”  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God” (John 8:44-47, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “And what I do I will continue to do, in order to end this pretext of those who seek a pretext for being regarded as we are in the mission of which they boast. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened. If anyone says to you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. So if they say to you, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not go out there; if they say, ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the tribulation of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:22-31, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it” (Revelation 12:9, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb’s but spoke like a dragon. It wielded all the authority of the first beast in its sight and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. It performed great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform in the sight of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who had been wounded by the sword and revived. It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast’s image, so that the beast’s image could speak and [could] have anyone who did not worship it put to death. It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name. Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Revelation 13:11-18, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “The beast was caught and with it the false prophet who had performed in its sight the signs by which he led astray those who had accepted the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped its image. The two were thrown alive into the fiery pool burning with sulfur. The rest were killed by the sword that came out of the mouth of the one riding the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (Revelation 19:20-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Saturday 2/22/20

Title: “The Mercy of Righteous Anger: Justified

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day, and all the fresh breaths of new encounters with You within them, that in the bondage of this life, and the exile of this body, are the consolation of the Spirit and just a foretaste of the coming rest, that is eternal salvation in You.

Please my Lords, help us to grow in strength and wisdom, in knowledge of things holy and things true, so that in this way we may better know Thee and be more like You, as through these actions we ourselves become transformed into that which we love—let it only be You, my God.

 

“The Mercy of Righteous Anger: Justified

There is a nature to the supreme Godhead, to the holy Father God in His trinitarian truth with the Son and the Spirit, all as one.  This divine nature, it is love, but it is more than that too.  True, it is sacrificial, Paschal love, “greater love man cannot have than this, that he lay down his life for the brethren,” but it is also the whole gamut of the divine nature of goodness and perfection in God that flows forth from this love.  It is not just love, for many presuppose they have love, but then love things like money, and inequity, and earthly esteem at the sake of other intrinsic goods, and will commit great wrongs in the name of this falsely termed “love,” which if it loves that which is evil, is not love at all.  But the love of the Godhead, it is love in all its trueness, in justice and beauty, in all that is good, in all that is morally sound, all that is right.  And it is this love, this love in truth flowing from a will inclined towards God’s perfect Paschal love, in being willing to go the whole nine yards and suffer the cross just to prove it, to show it and share it with all—it is this love, that God wills to bestow upon man, upon His children, that “suffers all things, bears all things, endures all things, and believes all things,” of the goodness in God’s nature.

It is precisely because God wants the best of this perfect love for us that we are subject to what could be termed, “the penalty” of righteous anger, which when it stems from God, is rather than anger at all, more rightly called a form of mercy, for it is holy, it seeks the justice that is good, and it flows forth from love and the desire that we too be good.  This penalty of God’s “righteous anger,” which is enkindled against wrongdoers who subject the innocent to various forms of harm, inequity, and injustice, is played out over the course of due time, and if it is not visited upon the oppressor and wrongdoer over the course of this life in a strict and clear and explicitly delivered temporal punishment—as merely the consequences of one’s unjust or illegal actions, then it surely will be delivered in the life to come, through a cleansing in purgatory to remove the soul of small, lingering, unatoned for sins that render that soul unjust and unconformable to the nature of God, or for souls wholly unrepentant and unwilling to amend in honesty—in hell, for all eternity.

It may seem like these are harsh terms, but are they really?  If a soul is in a state of permanent incompatibility with the nature of God, with His goodness and perfect love that honors the innocent, rights all wrongs, and desires to embody that justice that all good souls desire to stand up for—if a soul is proven to be permanently incompatible with this holiness of the divine nature of God, then that soul has rejected God at His deepest and most fundamental core essence, and so has chosen for itself to be left out of the divine heritage of heaven, and is thus by the only other alternative, bound to hell, by its own doing.  Goodness desires justice and innocence, not to commit wrongs and get away with them, and it recoils at the idea of being made to be unjust by receiving anything unfairly, at the expense of another.  Good souls know this and wish not only to receive God’s mercy, which He wills for us to accept, and died for us to prove, but also to receive His justice—that is to be made just, just like Him.

We not only receive the healing He offers to all for the sake of our eternal salvation, but we heed the condition that follows closely after it, “Your faith has healed you, sin no more.”  We desire God’s mercy, and His justice, for we all, at heart, who love Him for His goodness, desire to be like that justice He in His goodness wills to uphold, and to uphold it in love and in innocence, as we atone for our sins, for to be just, in our honesty as mercy, is to be like Him.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Authorized King James Version).
  3. “Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more’” (John 8:10-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The others at table said to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ But he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:47-50, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Sunday 2/23/20

Title: “A Meditation on the Passion

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day, with all the joys and struggles it contains, that like Your grace poured out on the cross, spill over into our lives and those around us, and this day and each to come.

Please my Lords, please help us to clean and purify our hearts and desires, to conform our hopes and goals to Your ideals and virtues, so that in grasping after the same perfection in God, we may attain that conformity by the gift of free will and grace, for such is the will of the Father, that we attain what we seek when we reach after Him.

 

“A Meditation on the Passion

By these wounds we are healed.  By His stripes He obtained for us absolution for sin for all, to be delivered individually in each particular soul, and by His death on the cross we are saved, as He serves that sentence for us, carrying us after death through death, into the life to come.  Poured out from the soul was His life from the cross, for us and by Him, as we can account by our deeds for the death, but not for the life.

He served the punishment decreed by the terms, entering into His passion freely for a foretaste of His scars.  He bore our transgressions, and was numbered among the transgressors, as we beheld in Him the beam in our own eye, the envy of a destiny for glory.  He washed us freely with water, mingled with His blood, as it sprung forth from His side like a well, like a Rock of Horeb, to save the thirsty Israelites.  “I thirst, I thirst,” I share that same fate, as the Paschal Lamb on the cross is broken neither in His bones nor in Spirit, but He lays down His life gently as Bread is broken for us.

A spear is thrust that pierces all pure hearts with Him, to reveal the thoughts of many as He hangs on the cross.  The Temple curtain is torn and graves are rent asunder, as a token of this as we rent out hearts and not only our garments.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from Spirit to Spirit, and from heaven through hell.  On the third day He is risen, not yet reaching the Father in truth, with a resurrected body arisen with His eternal Creator soul.  He dwells among man in this body that rose, that shows us how we shall be in the resurrection of the dead.  “Blessed are those who believed, without needing to see,” He declares to disciples as they draw their hands to His wounds.

The nails that were driven through the palms of His hands, bear their imprints as scars in this resurrection from the dead.  We see that it is Jesus, the Messiah to come, and we think upon Mother Jerusalem now transformed forever.  With palms outstretched, the fronds of palm trees, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” is sung upon the lips and mouths of babes.  Sweeter words were never spoken, until the alabaster box spills open, and a liniment of nard oil is poured over the Savior’s head.  The sweetness of Mary, the consolation of a singer’s Psalms may bear, and truth as hard as nails, it holds us, pinned down to the olive branch we must bear.

Anointed and escorted, by the ensconcement of faith, all wounds expose their secrets in this deposit of faith.  The head of John the Baptist, severed ear to ear, bears the Light like a silver platter, in a service for all to hear.  This testimony of bearing witness, it bears its mark like a scar, like those nail wounds in Jesus’s hands and feet, showing what has been, or what shall be, like placeholders set in the dark.  The final day of reckoning, the marriage supper of the Lamb, shall connect these pieces, to each his turn, as we exit the abyss of outer darkness, of death, to enter like a new heaven and a new earth, dryshod, that eternal promised land.

 

Monday 2/24/20

Title: “The Perfection of Metaphor Over and Above Theory: Why a Single Theory of God’s Mystery Would Fail to Incorporate the Ways of God”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for the accompaniment of Your presence within it, within me, my soul, and within the grace and beauty of Your own mysterious ways, as we seek this day to draw ever closer to You in love in carrying though Your will to fulfillment and completion ever after.

Please my Lords, help us this day to allow it to unfold around You in salvific grace, as we peel not open the petals of a flower blossom before it is ready to bloom, but we water its roots, cultivate the soil, and allow for plenty of sunlight.  In this way too, we open our hearts to You by cultivating the good soil of the soul, and providing conditions conducive to healthy growth, so that our hearts may open naturally of their own accord, in perfect harmony with You in the fullness of time, and the integration of the holiness of Your Spirit.

 

“The Perfection of Metaphor Over and Above Theory: Why a Single Theory of God’s Mystery Would Fail to Incorporate the Ways of God”

For My thoughts are higher than your thoughts, and My ways are higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9, New American Bible Revised Edition).  In pulling together all that we know of the LORD, we find it sufficient to describe our experience of His grace through metaphor, as through the analogy of wisdom, as our experience lends to the poetic mystery of expressing that which is beyond reach in a depth of richness of illustrations, of allusions and descriptive terms.  Such is the case for all who know God through contemplation, that is, through prayerful insight gleaned as the fruit of one’s own personal relationship and communion with God, and not through a strictly scientific inquiry, as through method and thought that demonstrates at its best what is the absence of the experience of faith.

Metaphor in this case, in describing a loving mutual relationship with our Creator God, is superior to a concisely expressed theory or formula, because as neatly as those summations may tie it all up, the pith of the pithy, the contents of wisdom within the rind, is the purest essence of the Word Himself, and to try to confine any spiritual or human being to within the confines of a formulaic theory, is to negate His Manhood, His Personhood, and His dignity as a free being.  “Now, let me give you my theory of you…” as if a person can be reduced from their higher essence to the cold, hard math of a single thought or phrase, we certainly would like to contain the contents of infinity, eternity, to within human grasp, would we not?  But is this striving not the de-deification of God, and the dehumanization of Jesus, the God made Man, Word made flesh, so as to subordinate these higher beings and higher concepts to within our grasp, and control?

Is it not rather, more perfect, to let God be God and to express His mystery in the language of love and the terms of a living and active relationship, rather than to try to reduce Him to a finite theorem or algebraic logical proof, as if He were a fact and not also a Person, a past tense and not a present, something beneath us and not above, and something we could explain in such perfect terms that He is, as it were, “all figured out,” and so our need for Him is over as we subject Him to the all-conquering logic of the human mind.

The desire to reduce God to a theory, to sum Him all up, is to refuse Him the opportunity to continue with us in a mutual exchange, a living relationship and a loving communion, or communication and communing, of give and take, and to thereby eliminate Him from the equation entirely, to eliminate our need for Him entirely, as for Him we shall find the expression and play for Him His part.  See—we don’t need God, for we have this theorem instead, whereby we reduce His dignity, His loving divinity mingled with humanity, down to something dehumanized, so that He is no longer alive and living, but just a cold, hard, calculated fact.  Men do seem to think after the fashion of their own hearts, but to take from God His humanness in His godliness, is to miss the truest essence of God, in both God, and man.

 

Bible Passage:

  1. “Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near.
    Let the wicked forsake their way,
    and sinners their thoughts;
    Let them turn to the Lord to find mercy;
    to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
    For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:6-9, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Tuesday 2/25/20

Title: “In the Cloud, in the Cloud, the Glory of Unknowing”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day and for the immeasurable peace of consolation in You, brought about in Spirit by prayer and wrought in actuality by deed, on this path we have chosen as we choose You.

Please my Lords, in this new day of new grace, please let Thy light absorb us as Thy will be done, so that in the mercy of this immersion, in the soul and in You, we may become as that which we love, as You look upon us with the gaze of Your loving eyes, which pulls us into You—ever more deeply, You in me as I am in You—in love.

 

“In the Cloud, in the Cloud, the Glory of Unknowing”

As the dark water washes over me the electricity seethes brilliantly in the cloud.  The dark, pulsating light of an electrical energy charge brings all the magnetized energy to the surface of these thin layers, of vapor, of mist, of water, and of flesh.  In the cloud, in the cloud… in the dark cloud lit from within.

In the cloud of unknowing and the cloud of glory transpires the fire and the Spirit that is the token of faith and fidelity—God’s presence within.  “For if You go with us not, then how shall they know that we are Your people and You our God?” “The Lord answered: I myself will go along, to give you rest. Moses replied, ‘If you are not going yourself, do not make us go up from here. For how can it be known that I and your people have found favor with you, except by your going with us?” (Exodus 33:14-16a, New American Bible Revised Edition).  The burning crimson flashes within the dark air lend to the tone of solemnity in this progression, this procession.

Stomping troops and stamping seals, this march, this brigade, trumps and tramples through the deserts and plains, rocks and hills, on into the mist, on into the abyss of the unknown.  As the clouds hang low in the sky, suspended just over the dew-covered grass, a small troop of these brigands collects flakes of meal that look like white frost, delicately perched and prickling atop the damp blades of grass.  These white flakes, these wafers, fill the deep reservoirs of these scavengers’ pockets, as they tote their fill back on into the tent.  Blue fringe sways gently from the backs of hunched workers, as this meal is pounded down into flour, for which to shape out into cakes of doughy soft bread.  The hoarfrost melts nimbly, and crumbles into a phantom of ash, as the sun rises acutely over the glaze of dew over the grass.

Brushing my fingertips over the flowers peeking out from the ends of the blades, I walk through the fields with my arms outstretched, letting the breeze run through me as the tall grasses graze across my hands.  The touch of the dry stalks beckons the rainfall from the clouds overhead, as somewhere afar the flower of the wheat is plucked, and the grain is eaten straight from the plant.

Troops and troops upon stomping ground do sound, the horns of their victory as these lamps are reeled in like harpoons.  As the cover of night lends its welcome shadow to earth’s creatures, jugs of opaque pottery shield like scabbards, like sheaths and sheaves, the torches of fresh new light.  Burning like glistening blades atop double-edged metaphors, the strike of this shielded manna betrays no one to no one.  The sky dances with the gleam of steadily circulating lightning bugs, as the air carries the charge of this electric energy, and the weight of the world.

From Moses, to David, to Gideon and Joshua on back again, the blazing triumph of ages covers new ground with new footing.  In the cloud, in the cloud, in the cloud of unknowing, “In the cloud I shall appear,” like lightning, like the sun from the east to the west.  Hanging over the noonday sky, for two days it lingers, before faith marches on into freedom, on into the abyss.  In the cloud, in the cloud, I shall remain always here waiting, until the day when God’s children, to Me, shall return.  The second is coming, like a thief in the night, as the Second Coming makes its way round the bend, like a sun caught in reverse, at the end of the ‘verse.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “The Lord preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light. Thus they could travel both day and night. Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night ever left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:21-22, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “The Lord answered: I myself will go along, to give you rest. Moses replied, ‘If you are not going yourself, do not make us go up from here. For how can it be known that I and your people have found favor with you, except by your going with us? Then we, your people and I, will be singled out from every other people on the surface of the earth.’ The Lord said to Moses: This request, too, which you have made, I will carry out, because you have found favor with me and you are my intimate friend” (Exodus 33:14-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp, and when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, ‘What is this?’ for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, ‘It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat’” (Exodus 16:13-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “At that time Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat?” (Matthew 12:1-4 New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and provided them all with horns and with empty jars and torches inside the jars. ‘Watch me and follow my lead,’ he told them. ‘I shall go to the edge of the camp, and as I do, you must do also. When I and those with me blow horns, you too must blow horns all around the camp and cry out, “For the Lord and for Gideon!”’ So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after the posting of the guards. They blew the horns and broke the jars they were holding. When the three companies had blown their horns and broken their jars, they took the torches in their left hands, and in their right the horns they had been blowing, and cried out, ‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’ They all remained standing in place around the camp, while the whole camp began to run and shout and flee” (Judges 7:16-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand’” (Luke 21:25-28, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Matthew 24:27-28, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  8. “While they fled before Israel along the descent of Beth-horon, the Lord hurled great stones from the heavens above them all the way to Azekah, killing many. More died from these hailstones than the Israelites killed with the sword. It was then, when the Lord delivered up the Amorites to the Israelites, that Joshua prayed to the Lord, and said in the presence of Israel:

Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
Moon, in the valley of Aijalon!
The sun stood still,
the moon stayed,
while the nation took vengeance on its foes.

This is recorded in the Book of Jashar. The sun halted halfway across the heavens; not for an entire day did it press on. Never before or since was there a day like this, when the Lord obeyed the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. Then Joshua and all Israel returned to the camp at Gilgal” (Joshua 10:11-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Wednesday 2/26/20

Title: “Regard the Beam in Thine Own Eye: To See Through Rose-Colored Glasses

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for the gifts of Thy Spirit within, as we proceed in obedience, in trust and meekness, in docility, strength, and holiness, to discover You at work within our own lives, and to participate ourselves in this calling, the calling to be true children of God in the Spirit of adoption, and the calling of the Good Shepherd to take root in Thy fold.

Please my Lords, help us in hope and in grace to stay near to Thee this day, and help us in dust and in ashes to find our own spirits in penitence within, and our consolation in You as true joy itself.

 

“Regard the Beam in Thine Own Eye: To See Through Rose-Colored Glasses

“Why dost thou regard the mote, the splinter, in your neighbor’s eye, but regard not the beam in your own eye?”  We tend to engage in an outward focus upon the world.  We tend to look at the things that affect us more than upon how we may have an effect, or upon how we ought to respond with grace to the things that stir up disharmony within us.  Some are farther along than others in the path to spiritual maturity, however, and some are not quite as selfish, or self-focused in their outlook.  “How does this impact me, how am I affected, what should you do to be more considerate of me, etc.,” are all thoughts and thought modes, or tendencies, characteristic of a somewhat juvenile sense of spiritual maturity.  In contrast, “What can I contribute, what can I do to help improve the situation, what am I missing here to better understand these circumstances, and how can I act in grace to provide, rather than in selfishness to take,” are all characteristics that mark a maturity in outlook, the progression from a self-obtaining mindset to a self-giving, a self-emptying mindset.  Eventually, this crucial transformation must take place, if anyone is to cross the threshold from spiritual immaturity and adolescence, to spiritual adulthood and spiritual maturity in embodying God’s lessons.

This common saying of Christ, “Behold the beam in thine own eye,” may be most frequently used for someone in a state of spiritual immaturity, who may be focused upon “changing the world,” making the world a better place, and loving thy neighbor—but through offering an armload of corrections and criticisms of what others ought to do to change, without first taking that critical step inward to improve upon one’s own soul, and to perfect first one’s own state of virtuosity and orientation towards God and away from self, before then contributing these gifts of inner harmony outward, as the true fruit of that unity with the divine nature of God within.  We perfect ourselves, our souls, that is with self-discipline, action, meditation, and prayer, and then the fruits of our practices naturally spill over into our lives and the lives of those around us as the natural results of our way of life, of our contemplation proven with action, and the natural results and holiness and the effects of the cause set about within us, as we instigate an interior change.

As the fruit of these spiritual labors spills forth on into our lives, “Behold the beam in thine own eye,” may merge with the saying, “We shall see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him.”  Rather than see all the flaws within ourselves—the things that we really need to change—projected onto our neighbors, we shall regard that Christ within us as within our neighbor we see the same—through the compassion with which we view him.  As the loving kindness of our gaze settles on Christ and His Spirit more so than on us, resulting in a God-centered orientation rather than a focus upon self, and so too a Christ-centered orientation rather than a focus upon our neighbor or friend, then our outlook shall be mature and well-advanced, beyond the beam of spiritual immaturity.  And so too, it follows that the thing that we behold in our neighbor that is really in us, shall not be a beam at all but the Spirit of Holiness (within us all), as what we project out onto our neighbors and the world, are not just the sins we need to correct within ourselves, but the things within ourselves that are virtuous, and truly good to see.  “Regard the beam in thine own eye”… “We shall see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him.”  It may be that this is the meaning of the expression, to “see the world through rose-colored glasses,” for we see through the Spirit of Holiness, and not a beam of sin obscuring that holiness within.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5, Authorized King James Version).
  3. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3, Authorized King James Version).

 

Thursday 2/27/20

Title: “The Aluminum Baseball Bat and the Hagiography of Heaven”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the grace and penitence, prayers and contrition, humility and courage, and hope infused with joy, through which we aim our hearts towards You, and earnestly find You as we seek You.

Please my Lords, in this new morning of an awakening in You, let the sun shine ever upon us as it lives in the hope of our minds, and let Thy Spirit dawn ever upon us, as this hope is realized in the actuality of Thy truth in our hearts.

 

“The Aluminum Baseball Bat and the Hagiography of Heaven”

Divine Mercy.  I take in a deep breath as I flip through the pages butterflied out before me, splayed like the joints and hocks of a lamb upon some sort of ancient bronze altar.  The smell of lilies fills the air.  I turn one page after the other, in this large leather-bound book, and take in the words and images set before my eyes.  The air is thick like perfume with that dense, musty, aromatic fog of a day rich with humidity and impoverished of breeze, and the damp air hangs densely and thickly overhead and in my midst.

I’m paging through a thin volume of an old weather-beaten copy of an illustrated version of The Lives of Saints, or some various formulation of that title, and my eyes settle on a painted image of St. Catherine of Alexandria.  As I read the caption to see what she’s holding, the words make their way into my mind that saints who are martyrs are most often depicted carrying the instrument of their death—that is, the weapon, or whatever it was, that was used to torture or kill them.  In this picture she holds a wheel, but I keep my mind reined back from wondering what a wheel would do, as I notice in her other hand the sword of her beheading.

Through the eyes of this child, of another time and place, the platter held out by St. Lucy, of her plucked-out eyes upon a dish, seems to add a sense of frivolity and fancy to the idea of temporal suffering, or torture and execution.  St. Lucy seems to have taken it well, with her eyes truly fixed on the Kingdom as she makes light of her affliction, in light of the good things to come.  How easily they take it, even singing to their deaths, as these martyrs endure the greatest tortures and sufferings already bound, like their hands behind their backs, to their graves.  A few pages later, a line of Apostles gives way to St. Bartholomew, who proudly displays his bounty for the Kingdom as his own skin, that was peeled from his body as he was skinned alive.  Then St. Lawrence chimes in, as I read his caption, that he was burned on a grill, not unlike that huge brazen altar, and even joked with his tormentors, “Turn me over boys, this side’s done!”

How were they able to take it, they themselves will explain, as they’ve left volume after volume, of compiled books like these, or letters in their own hand, of the words of encouragement that they find for themselves and then send off to other churches being afflicted, like St. Ignatius of Antioch, or St. Polycarp, or a long line of bishops.  We read through their histories, their hagiographies and their sayings, and pore over their pictures, as their heads hang down as their crosses are raised up.  “I will exalt the lowly and humble those of high esteem, and there are many who are first who shall be last as the last shall be first.”

I think back to all the years of ancient history that contain the untold stories of saints like these, the numerous names matched with dates and manner of death, but which tell not in their own words and minds of the lives they led, and the lives they deemed worthy to sacrifice for a place in the Kingdom to come.  “They proceeded joyfully, glad that they were considered worthy to suffer persecution for the name of Jesus, for the Kingdom to come.”  “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41, Authorized King James Version).

As I leaf through a few more pages of this dense, thick, silky paper, bound in a book with heavy silken thread, and as I near to the end, my mind drifts off and wanders, as I study this image of a woman wielding an aluminum baseball bat, that instrument with which, she was beaten over the head.  Some people truly are better off dead, I muse, but not in the way most people would think.  And I let my thoughts trail off, in contemplation of the Kingdom of heaven, following closely after my lead-foot, my lead-pencil, and my heart that is led.

 

Bible Passage:

“So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.’ They were persuaded by him. After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus” (Acts 5:38-42, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Friday 2/28/20

Title: “A Tale of Three Cities, as Souls not Bound to the Kingdom of God: An Illustration of Sin as a Type of Privation in Three Case Studies

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day and for all the blessings of Your presence within it and our cooperation with you, that lend so majestically to the sense of wonder and awe we may derive from creation, and the sense of oneness within it all that we have through our interconnectedness to You first of all, in being true to Your will.

Please my Lords, in this new day of new opportunity, in the breath of life that is but an exhale into the abyss, let us live rightly and rightly-ordered, under You and Your grace, and let us live lovingly and lovingly-made, under the sky of Your eternal mystery, and infinitely encompassing expanse.

 

“A Tale of Three Cities, as Souls not Bound to the Kingdom of God: An Illustration of Sin as a Type of Privation in Three Case Studies

He looks at the world and he sees what he doesn’t have.  She looks at her friends and she sees what she isn’t.  He acts upon his environment, and he embodies what’s not there.  These are three different people, with three different lives, but all of them suffering from a problem with the same root cause, and that is privation.  In the first case we have a man, well-adjusted and well-to-do, who succeeds well enough in this world and for himself he’s made a name—he’s carved out his niche in his job and has a place in his home.  This one, however, when he looks out at the world, sees all the things he could have, the material goods he has not yet earned, and all the things he doesn’t have, but in him find a place to instill their want.  This man suffers greed, for as he looks out beyond into the reaches beyond his own place, he has not first gratitude for what he does have, and that place of want within him, filled in solidly with knowledge and love of the Lord.  I want to give, and not to have.

This next case is of a woman who looks to those around her.  She looks and sees her friends and neighbors and all that they are.  She sees in them what in herself is lacking, and she feels envy, wishing for herself what she sees in those around.  This one suffers at the well-doing of others because she is lacking in brotherly love, that is, the love for her neighbor that starts off with God, and rejoices at their well-doing for she knows that she is loved too.  This envy from which she suffers, is a privation within her, and is caused by the absence of love, for if she instilled joy within herself, for the good things seen in others, she would rejoice in their goodness and happiness, and experience that joy with them, rather than sin in envy in wishing to rob them of it, so that she in her privation, might seem to be more.  Let us rejoice at the accomplishments of others as we love our neighbor, as we strive to increase love, and not to take love away.

The third case is a man who knows not the things he is missing.  This man has no one above him and has found some below.  He has no God in his heart and cares not of love, but only for obtaining power and watching things bend under his control.  This man finds hard times, and yet he has an upper hand, as with high-handed rule and without a conscience, he takes out on others what was not there for himself.  This man has a privation of hatred and commits a sin of wrath, and he punishes without justice most who get caught in his path.  This man embodies his privation, that is, what was not there, and he becomes the evil of his privation as he commits a heinous crime and takes life.  Let us seek to provide what’s not there and not to embody the evil brought about by having a virtue that’s missing.  I want to help others to be, and not inflict upon them “not to be.”

There is another option, that this third case could have become, and that is to embody what’s not there, in providing God’s missing love.  That love that he needed, surely anyone can become, if only he makes the choice to be it, with choice number one.  With each choice comes a new privation, or the opportunity to fill one in, as one chooses right over wrong, to give virtue victory over sin.

 

Saturday 2/29/20

Title: “The Necessity of the Cross and the Spirit of Prediction”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the blessings to be found in the experience of faith, as we live out our calling and live into fruition, the mysteries imminent and transcendent in the soul here and now.

Please my Lords, help us to rely more upon You and Your guidance and Word, to make our way through the world and to navigate these choppy waters, so that in the smoothness of the certitude and infallibility of Thy decree, we may trust in Thee and in Thy Spirit, as Thy Law writ both without and within.

 

“The Necessity of the Cross and the Spirit of Prediction”

I wish to speak to the necessity of the cross.  The cross, that is, in this case, the crucifixion of Jesus, was and is and always shall be a necessity, not in the supreme plan of God’s design, but in the loving plan of God’s design that made room and accommodations for people, for mankind to enter into this design, of his own good will and free volition.  The necessity of the cross is a true necessity indeed, not for God, to be sure, but for man.  As God holds up to man a mirror of the results of his fallen nature, when life is lived apart from God and outside His compassionate will, this is what is raised up, it is the God that you murdered, as we all of mankind bear the burden of an imperfect will.  This is what we see as our consequences when we look in the soul, God’s own mirror, held up to us and for us like a body hanging upon the cross.  This is the end result of mankind’s human nature, if we follow after our own ways, as good as they may seem to be, rather than following after God’s own heart.

Here, this is yours, He implores us, this is for you, as we behold in irony a spectacle oddly reflecting, the sacrifice of a firstborn to a god, yet this is God’s own SonThis is for you, as if God offering to man, this is an offering for sin, as by your sin He died for you.  This is to appease your demands and placate your fallacies, as you misguide and misinterpret the meaning of My love for you.  This is not just My Son, but I am Him, and in Him.  This is Me and My best, My firstborn given up for you.

This is the necessity of the cross, brought into life by prediction, as it came into fruition as man began to plot his own course.  It is not necessary to Me, but it is necessary to us, if you are to be willing participants in My plan and design.  For in your foolishness you severed Me, not realizing that I’m the true vine and you are but an offshoot, and I can’t bear to watch you do this to yourself, as you wither in sin and decay.  I hold up to you a true mirror, of My Son on the cross.  This is your sin and My victory, in a most ironic display.  For we shall rise who bear witness, to “I AM WHO I AM,” but to those carrying the spear and the nails, rather than the cross, comes this warning to onlookers, so that they might know God.

In love and in suffering, in mercy and in triumph, history is written by the victors as this is inscribed overhead, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” and this writing is true though in mockery it may have been meant.  For it needs be that God, if He lives as a man, dies in innocence to prove to us His rising from the dead, so that we may fear death no longer, and no longer sin against Him, as He reveals to us His heart, stabbed through and dead.  He cannot be raised without first perishing, of necessity this seems to me, and this is His greatest victory, as He cleaves to Me.  The cross truly is a necessity, if you are to be led in truth back to Me, not for Me, but for you, as centuries upon centuries of prophecy, waiting expectantly for this Son of Man, shall not go unfulfilled merely because it is tragic to see.

 

Sunday 3/1/20

Title: “The Experience of the Soul, the Sacred Garden Within”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the fresh grace of new hope in Your presence.  Please, my Lords, as we strive to maintain our place in You, and to keep You within Your own special place in us, help us to keep that space of Yours ready and waiting for You and clean and perfected, by keeping out and far from us all of the other extraneous hope and desires and loves and joys, apart from You, to which You would cede Your place within us, the primacy of Your Spirit in our soul, if we so by our own free will happened to choose them over You.

 

“The Experience of the Soul, the Sacred Garden Within”

He must become greater, I must become less.  As that magical space within the soul, the seat of Word and Wisdom wherein all mysteries may be contained in like an infinite vessel occupying a seemingly finite space—in the marvel and mystery of life deeply recollected within the soul, all faculties of this being into its spiritual core, and that core into God—somehow a threshold is crossed and this becomes what it means to be born again from above.

This experience of the soul, of being deeply caught up in prayer to the neglect of the world—to the abnegation of self and to the renunciation of all self-seeking endeavors—by this seemingly simple process, though immensely difficult to employ—that place within where God should be, is occupied by God and not by man.

This is an experience of the soul, because it is not a direct experience of the world, as through body and flesh, but it is a spiritual experience within, that is carried out into the world, as this experience of prayer and of God continues as we go on with our day.  This state of being connected, is a divine union within, as God’s presence is ever sought and intuited, and never far from the mind.  The farthest He falls from us, is to our peripheral vision at best, and so in all things we live first in Him, before experiencing the rest.  We experience the world from within our soul, and through the eyes of our God, seeing in Him all things, and all things first through Him.  We place Him ever before us, wheresoever we go, for this is not merely a fact contained within us, but it is a way of life.

This is our secret, to seeing an infinite marvel and mystery through our gaze, for it is not through our own eyes we are looking, but through Him and through His.  This is an experience of God, caught up in deep union within, as this fact is inseparable from us, just as we are now inseparable from the Way.

So as this experience carries on, in His will and His Way, we take care to maintain it, like a path or a garden within.  We cultivate the edges, so that well-defined they may be, and we may never cross over into wrongdoing, for far be it from Thee!  We water the flowers and plant seeds in their place, as nourished with the true Word in Scripture and Tradition, with the true vine in a lattice they intertwine.  We keep all the weeds uprooted, and pluck them out one by one, and the thorns and thistle of earthly affections we cast out with all unclean desires as one.  We clear out the open space for sunshine, and allow it to sink in, and take up its space within us, as it is the Son we seek, and not our own.  That which we seek is granted to us, and so pure as it is, in the absence of any competing desires it shines all the more brilliantly within.

This is our sacred garden of the soul’s experience within, as we tend to the mind frame of our garden, allowing only goodly things in.  A tall sycamore, a mustard tree, a plane tree, a fig, an olive tree with an olive branch, stretched out in the breath of clear wind.  The breeze rustles the leaves on the branches and the feathers of the dove, as white wisps of plumes blush slowly, landing transparently, upon the red rose petals of love.

We clear out our desires and wishes, to make this sacred space, and carve out a niche for God within us, with all things that are good.  The virtues populate our minds like peoples, and the flowers glow in glittery specks in the breeze, as the dew drops shine madly, radiating prayer upon the Son’s knees.  Ripples reach out to the expanses of the home we have made for God, as this heavenly entrenchment of the heart is a Kingdom, in the soul, in the cloud, in the purest love of the Spirit, in and for the true God.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “He came to Jesus at night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit’” (John 3:2-8, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “He proposed another parable to them. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the “birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches”’” (Matthew 13:31-32, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Happy the one who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding!
    Her profit is better than profit in silver,
    and better than gold is her revenue;
    She is more precious than corals,
    and no treasure of yours can compare with her.
    Long life is in her right hand,
    in her left are riches and honor;
    Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace;
    She is a tree of life to those who grasp her,
    and those who hold her fast are happy.
    The Lord by wisdom founded the earth,
    established the heavens by understanding;
    By his knowledge the depths are split,
    and the clouds drop down dew” (Proverbs 3:13-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “Blessed is the man who does not walk
    in the counsel of the wicked,
    Nor stand in the way of sinners,
    nor sit in company with scoffers.
    Rather, the law of the Lord is his joy;
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
    He is like a tree
    planted near streams of water,
    that yields its fruit in season;
    Its leaves never wither;
    whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “‘From the mouth of the Most High I came forth,
    and covered the earth like a mist.
    In the heights of heaven I dwelt,
    and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.
    The vault of heaven I compassed alone,
    and walked through the deep abyss.
    Over waves of the sea, over all the land,
    over every people and nation I held sway.
    Among all these I sought a resting place.
    In whose inheritance should I abide?

‘Like a cedar in Lebanon I grew tall,
like a cypress on Mount Hermon;
I grew tall like a palm tree in Engedi,
like rosebushes in Jericho;
Like a fair olive tree in the field,
like a plane tree beside water I grew tall.
Like cinnamon and fragrant cane,
like precious myrrh I gave forth perfume;
Like galbanum and onycha and mastic,
like the odor of incense in the holy tent.

‘I spread out my branches like a terebinth,
my branches so glorious and so graceful.
I bud forth delights like a vine;
my blossoms are glorious and rich fruit.
Come to me, all who desire me,
and be filled with my fruits.
You will remember me as sweeter than honey,
better to have than the honeycomb.
Those who eat of me will hunger still,
those who drink of me will thirst for more.
Whoever obeys me will not be put to shame,
and those who serve me will never go astray’” (Sirach 24: 3-7, 13-22, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Monday 3/2/20

Title: “Lenten Luxuries: The Austerities that Take Us from Losses to Gains”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the wonder of Your presence, as we strive this day to find joy in the simple things, and to simplify down to pure love the complexity of Your marvelous divine nature.

Please my Lords, help us this day to remain in You and abide in love, as You too remain in me as I provide for You a place in my heart, to be acknowledged, to be ever grateful for, and to be ever strived towards, as that greatest truth and Thy Word within.

 

“Lenten Luxuries: The Austerities that Take Us from Losses to Gains”

One lash.  Then two, then three.  Four lashes, then five, six, seven.  On the eighth He is on the ground, but quickly pulled back up again and leaned against the pillar.  I imagine Samson, asking the guards to allow him to lean against a pillar, and I have in my heart a foreshadowing of what is to come, after this scourging.  One sip, then two, then three, I inhale slowly, as I taste my coffee and then allow it to cool.  There are so many ways to practice the penitence behind the spirit of Lent, and in giving something up, an omission of something good and yet not purely God-related, coffee has not been by choice, though a choice has been made.  Four sips, then five, then six, and on the seventh I set it down.  On the eighth beat, I no longer count on coffee, but on something else from deep within me, welling up inside.

This is the purpose of penance, of penitence, of contrition, of abstinence and ascetic discipline.  The less I rely upon external comforts to fill that gap within me, to enliven that hope that lets my Spirit live, to fill the void, so to speak, that makes it feel like there is another goodness, hovering over the abyss of my soul—the less I rely upon material comforts, bodily indulgences, or pleasures of the flesh to find my consolation, the more my Spirit is strengthened within, as God Himself provides that needed remedy, that hovering hope, that spiritual consolation, and that sense of a presence within.

If you’ve never gone without, you wouldn’t know.  If you’ve never suffered loss, intentionally, through Lent, or otherwise, you would never guess.  If you’ve never sought to have God be your portion and supply your fill, you’d have no idea.  If you’ve never given up that sense of being satisfied, of getting and having what you should and experiencing no need, then how could God ever truly provide for you, be your God in your distress or unrest, and truly and actually fill your need?  In a sense, all material gains are but a loss in the end, for there is some delight or satisfaction in them that is not derived directly from God Himself.  It is true, to be sure, that these things, these goods, may truly be good if they are used properly, and ordered rightly in the desires and appetitive passions of the heart.  But it is also true, to be sure, that they are lesser goods than God Himself, and if the desire for them, or the attainment of them, were to go unfilled, God, the greatest good, would fill that need Himself, and overwhelm the heart with otherworldly riches, in the spiritual goods of joy and wisdom, in the consolation and supreme acuteness of our awareness, of His presence overflowing from within.

In giving up, is actually attaining, if the Spirit is sought with all earnestness from within.  And each loss is to be counted as a gain, if the gain is to be in our Lord, as it truly can be.  From the depths of this wellspring, of this heart and this soul, wells up so much more motivation and energy than any cup of coffee could ever provide, but if this gaping wound, this passion, is always filled and stuffed and stifled with material comforts, with business and mundane thoughts as I go about my day, then how is that energy and holy motivation—more like rocket fuel than a cannister of caffeine, to be sure—how is God’s love in this overwhelming passion ever to burst through?  We quench not the Spirit, and snuff not out the soul, but kindle it onward by leaving that spark of desire ever burning, that God Himself and only God shall fill.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “[But] whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity. Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress” (Philippians 4:10-14, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:3-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-22, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Tuesday 3/3/20

Title: “Listen! A Word on Discernment to Hear.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the little absences of the little lesser lights in my desires, that make the one true Light of Your holiness and presence shine all the brighter for it.  Please my Lords, in this exchange of life for life, from glory to glory, let not the veil of this tabernacle, of the heart and of the Scriptures, occlude our understanding or stop up the flow of our souls, as our inclusion in You is by faith first, as then all things are granted to us in wisdom within, as we seek You and Your Kingdom first.

 

Listen! A Word on Discernment to Hear.”

Please sir, listen!  Please sir, you have to listen!  Please, you have to listen to us!  Please, listen…!  So many things demand our attention today, that we hear the cry and call to listen—as if the matter is truly imperative, and a matter of life and death—from so many of the voices and pulls among us.  Listen here, listen to this, listen now, and listen urgently!  The call to listen is one that could hardly be missed nowadays, but is it a call that truly demands our direct attention, is it a cry like that of the traveler in the Good Samaritan, where it may truly be a matter of life and death, or is this cry to listen more so just a call that someone wishes their voice to be heard, regardless of the relevance of the information, or the lack of pressing urgency to the issue, or even the importance of the matter at all.  “Please, you have to listen to me!  Here’s your change,” says the cashier as he hands me the bills.  “Please, you have to listen to me, listen!  Those shoes look really nice on you,” says the friend with a mouthful of words.

The issue with listening today, I would argue, is that there are so many things to listen to, and rarely if ever do any of us choose the right ones.  “Please, you have to listen to me,” insists the boy who cries wolf, as the wolf in sheep’s clothing makes the same request, and an entire herd of would-be sheep go off and follow after the hireling shepherd, following him right off a cliff, in so many ways.

In so many words, the urgency that we listen, that we learn to listen, and not just to speak, is a very real one, if it is indeed a skill that has not yet been learned, in all a person’s pressing urgencies to be heard, regardless of the importance, or lack thereof, of what they have to say.  But this too, is it not part of the problem, that we are urged to listen so forcefully, to many messages that perhaps we ought not to listen to, and are bombarded with so many words and ideas, as we are implored to listen, that maybe we really ought not to hear, as we would be better off without that detraction of useless chatter, or gossip, clouding our minds and feigning importance in our lives?  How many words have we listened to, to the exclusion of those of the Good Shepherd, as we hear but one voice at a time, and we do always hear something, with the TV droning on, turned on to some news channel, glowing in the distance, and yet we rarely if ever choose to hear the true Shepherd first, so that He may lead us rightly, to hear what we ought to and to drown out, or distance ourselves from, that which we shouldn’t.

What do you listen to, what do you hear?  Is it God, or is it mindless chatter, that is just chirped out like music to fill in the gap?  What do we hear when we shut it all off, do we hear the things we really ought to attend to to draw closer to God?  For if we tend less to the boy who cried wolf, we may tend more to the needy traveler, like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, as with eyes and ears fixed first on God, our discernment of what’s really important, is made crystal clear, as through Him we see first.  Can we shut off all those unimportant messages droning on in the background, to then perhaps hear the real voice of the Good Shepherd and intuit His call?  For if we never learn to hear first, what’s truly important, we’ll never learn to get past the hirelings and fakers, and so truly hear.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “‘Although I am a resident alien among you, sell me from your holdings a burial place, that I may bury my deceased wife.’ The Hittites answered Abraham: ‘Please, sir, listen to us! You are a mighty leader among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial sites. None of us would deny you his burial ground for the burial of your dead.’ ‘Please, sir, listen to me! I give you both the field and the cave in it; in the presence of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead!’ But Abraham, after bowing low before the people of the land, addressed Ephron in the hearing of these men: ‘If only you would please listen to me! I will pay you the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.’ Ephron replied to Abraham, ‘Please, sir, listen to me! A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver—what is that between you and me? Bury your dead!’ After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan. Thus the field with its cave was transferred from the Hittites to Abraham as a burial place” (Genesis 23:4-6, 11-15, 19-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9-13, Authorized King James Version).
  3. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’ And he replied: Go and say to this people:

Listen carefully, but do not understand!
Look intently, but do not perceive!
Make the heart of this people sluggish,
dull their ears and close their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
and their heart understand,
and they turn and be healed” (Isaiah 6:8-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “The disciples approached him and said, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He said to them in reply, ‘Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because “they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

“You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart and be converted,
and I heal them”’” (Matthew 13:10-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Wednesday 3/4/20

Title: “The Library of the Full Canon, and the Sea that Shall Not Part”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the fresh struggles entailed in striving after a life of grace, to give not in to weakness, but to conquer through it in Your strength, and to bend not in submission to the world, but to Thy will only so that it may be done—for if it is not done in and through us, then our souls shan’t share in the Kingdom at all.  All power and glory to You.

Please my Lords, help us to better know Thee in Thy Word and Thy Scripture, for truly they are You and nourish us as rightly as the Host, at the altar of Communion in this our meeting place of heavenly exchange, within the binding of heaven and that of Your very own Good Book.

 

“The Library of the Full Canon, and the Sea that Shall Not Part”

Navigating the choppy waters of choppy sentences and a lack of fluidity to the punctuation, this vessel nevertheless breezes through the mist and the musk of a dank and dusty old hardbound copy of some ancient tale, woeful in its recounting and numerous in its editions, lining like décor the open space of these shelves.  Wall to wall, the shelves of this library, this nook, house a small collection of novels and novelettes, and pintsized paginated volumes.  Ornamental or instrumental, the pages lining this library, all tucked into their spines and residing within the bounds of clean binding, they each tell their own story, be it written and read, or merely written and then tucked away in handsome red.

One book in three translations, five volumes of one book, one shelf of one author, and a shelf of well-known names.  A shelf of songs and hymnals, a shelf of classic literature one would miss, a shelf of titles one would gloss over, and a section themed by topic, shelf by shelf.  This collection of novels and books, of stories and tales, and thoughts and essays, and letters and poems—it goes on in treatise after treatise, bearing names of those who are dead, and just a few who are still living, as recommended from the lips of one well-read.

This paginated pageantry, one large story it does tell, as taken part and piecemeal, though value it may convey, the whole story would sink to sentimentality, with too much lost along the way.  To take the songs without the stories, would be to take the heroes without the foes, or to take the “good parts” without the “hard sayings,” would be to catch the ending but to miss the climactic crescendo and its drop, and to miss the point entirely, in catching half a phrase but not the presupposition that came first.

There are so many ways to describe this, to see this library only in part, that all amount to what it means to know only a verse or two within this universe.  A whole wide world is captured, though of heaven it is but a glimpse; it’s like to take the Gospels without the Letters, or the New Testament without the Old—is to take the lyrics without the music, the stems without the petals, the rain without the wetness, or the planet without its people, all within this divine testimony, laid out for us, verse by verse.

Reciting this Scripture like in its own recital, the recitation of Revelation, revives the lost and weary traveler, and nourishes all hungering, lonely souls.  The true nourishment of the body, when it’s is united with its Spirit, soul, and mind, is “each word to proceed form the mouth of the Father,” as when we hold His thought within us, He holds us too in kind.  To take a part without the whole, is to take an arm without a leg, and to deny the unity of the whole canon, is to sever the body from its overarching Head.

The heart that is in the middle, binding front to end, it stitches us in with it, as in each page we immerse ourselves like sinking lead.  We bleed our hearts into these words and pages, as we receive that Body and Blood from One above, and we take Him in like an orphan, as with Him we populate our mind.  This library is a token, and a collection that is not to be parted, as to part with any song or section, it would lose the fullness of meaning mulled over for centuries, this peaceful ocean of the eternal Father, since the time that first Red Sea did part.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?” Then I will declare to them solemnly, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers”’” (Matthew 7:21-23, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “He said in reply, ‘It is written:

“One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Thursday 3/5/20

Title: “A Meditation on the Balancing of Dualities”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the care of grace and compassionate love with which You nurture and fill my heart, desiring that all find the blessings of love in Thee, and that all find the joys in loving with no respect of an exchange or return, but freely and in perfect charity, in this the perfection of love that is You.

Please my Lords, help us to grow and prosper in spiritual gifts this new day, and to delight in the higher wisdom of contemplation in You, rather than in the lower ways of worldliness or things of temporal concern, so that our lives may be rightly directed to heaven above and the Kingdom within, and our souls may be rightly ordered, always placing You first.

 

“A Meditation on the Balancing of Dualities”

In the days of affliction, hold fast to joys past, and in the days of prosperity, hold fast to those passing afflictions.  There is this constant striving within for a balancing of dualities, a contrasting of forces, a harmonizing of forces and a holding together of oppositions, that must always take place within the soul for its true center to emerge.  Only once this contrast of conflicting, oppositional energies is brought into the light and revealed, as like black and white, or red and blue, can that line of unity, of division, of a tension and being held taut, be rightly discerned with precision, that is the Peacemaker of competing forces within, and that is the emergence of our God.  This line of discernment, this rule or measure within the soul, is the soul’s own true center and eye of awakening, of the heart, where by it we can judge all things discerningly, with justice, with prudence, and see all things as they are, for we bear that division, or that point of harmony and coming together, to be more precise, but that point of tension and the line of opposition—that we bear within.

Like in a game of tug of war, with the rope held taut on both sides, we keep that tension of both sides within us, like dropping four anchors always within us, to the four corners of our state.  We allow these dualities to ground us, as when the sides of the rope are pulled taut, then the line marking center may rise up and appear with all clarity, for us to rightly intuit the way.  In this way we strive towards that happy medium, that center of temperance and moderation and modulation of joy, so that when doing well we stay levelheaded, keeping sight of that tension of affliction at the other end.  So too in affliction we stay grounded, balancing out our pain, with the hope and memories of joy, that would be utterly forgotten if we were not to hold this tension within.

We keep ourselves balanced in our center, balancing one set of competing forces or two, as “the flesh does contend with the Spirit,” but we use this opposition too to better hold on.  Rappelling off of bodily desires of the lust of the eyes, back into the soul, we note our desires as they show up in material form, and we then restrain and ricochet ourselves from them, back into the soul, using this duality and tension to create force and energy within us, so that the Spirit we may know.  We know in this way the Spirit, by turning down the desires of the flesh, the envy of the eyes, or the seeking of the mind of things to be attained for the body here and now.  We turn down the one side, after pulling it straight up, and follow the line, the rope of tension back into the Spirit, and determine our true center between these two extreme poles.

In a harmony of body and mind, and a working together of flesh and Spirit with Spirit always leading first, we harmonize by using these tensions, of competing forces or conflicting energies at play, and we hold at once both body and soul within us, joy and sadness, pleasure and pain.  And once knowing the two sides and the range of their extremes, we tread with careful caution and courage the middle ground of prudence and just judgment, knowing always in moderation do things flow freely.  And in keeping sight of this tension, do the forces reveal themselves to complement through that Peacemaker, rather than to conflict within, as all things are made whole and complete in their fullness of being, as they are retrieved and brought forth to be reconciled by our Maker, by that indwelling strength and held tension, of One God in Three.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Consider the work of God. Who can make straight what God has made crooked? On a good day enjoy good things, and on an evil day consider: Both the one and the other God has made, so that no one may find the least fault with him” (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “A time of affliction brings forgetfulness of past delights;
    at the end of life one’s deeds are revealed.
    Call none happy before death,
    for how they end, they are known” (Sirach 11:27-28, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Fearing that we would run aground on a rocky coast, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come” (Acts 27:29, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another” (Galatians 5:16-25, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown” (Revelation 3:10-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Friday 3/6/20

Title: “A Vision: The Kintsugi Collection on the Wall of the Collector”

(See piece from Monday 2/17/20, “The Ancient Japanese Art of… The Love of the LORD Shines Through”)

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day of Thy peace and glory, in the actions undertaken for the welfare of the Kingdom, in the words spoken for the salvation of the soul, and in the unity of heart and mind, body and Spirit, sought after for the adherence of this soul entirely to You.

Please my Lords, in this morning of Thy grace, please allow us to seek Thee more readily, to adhere to You more clearly, to find You more precisely, and to maintain union with You more steadily, all within the bound of Your endless mercy, this life on into the next, for evermore.

 

“A Vision: The Kintsugi Collection on the Wall of the Collector”

Bleeding forth from the brokenness, the Light shines through.  I behold a wall of shelves, lined with vases from left to right.  There are several with a myriad of thick gold veins running through them, looking like streams and tributaries, either a waterway or a circulatory system, patterning the delicate glass or porcelain.  Paper thin bone china, perfect and unbroken and immaculate, peppers the array of patched-up and pieced back together pieces of kintsugi, while the most broken pieces appear almost entirely gold—through and through—with their veins painted in networks of powdered gold mixed with glue to repair the cracks.

One tidy and trim, neatly sculpted and elegantly adorned vase, with a low base and high handles, displays the pristine painting of an ancient Eastern master, with the sparsity of design drawing attention to the fine lines of the cherry blossom branches displayed, adding an aspect of elusive rarity to the adornment.  Several pieces over, a thick blue porcelain reveals hardly any of its opaque blue finish, for the fine networking of cracks within it runs so thoroughly through it that it might as well be solid gold, but for a few flakes of porcelain to act as mortar for this building up of a solid gold structure.

The variety to the pieces on display only adds to the overall interest in the collection, rather than detracts from it, and with at least a thin vein of gold rippling through almost every piece, the display displays this continuity of care from its collector, as each vessel firmly confirms its own origin and roots, with the tiny hallmark stamped underneath the base, confirming many suspected masters and revealing a few surprises to quite a few.

These pieces of pottery, this collection, these objets d’art on display, they form a cohesive whole and an interior unity, that is not broken even when one piece has not even a single golden vein of repair to show.  But each piece in this collection, somehow bears the mark of its collector, its redactor, as this collection itself, is a Master’s work of art.

I squint in closer to behold something lurking beneath this vision, that the meaning itself of this vision, means to display, and that is that these vessels of pottery, these vases, aren’t pieces of artwork at all, but people, and souls, that display their Creator’s art.  From the Far East or New West, Oriental or glass, perfect and pristine, or run through with shining holes, these pieces, these people, they hold together in glory, both in themselves and in each other, finding unity and repair in their God.

Not a single piece from this Maker is turned down from the collection, as these shelves stream down like a cascade of water, from up above, but each piece like a dew drop, a single token from the stream of eternal glory, it holds its own in its integrity, as an individual amidst the waterfall of glass.  Like crystals, like pearls, like solid gold, like a gateway, this is the building up of the Kingdom, as a collection from within.  The Kingdom is within you, as we each bear our own glory, and bear up in the scars, in the cracks, the God that shines through.  This is the Kingdom, that is coming, as we rush forth to make it, and as we build up this Church, this Body, some say that even before it was begun, the Light and smile of the Creator could be seen, to be peeking though.  All glory be to God.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Arise and go down to the potter’s house; there you will hear my word. I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel. Whenever the vessel of clay he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making another vessel of whatever sort he pleased. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?—oracle of the Lord. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. At one moment I may decree concerning a nation or kingdom that I will uproot and tear down and destroy it; but if that nation against whom I have decreed turns from its evil, then I will have a change of heart regarding the evil which I have decreed. At another moment, I may decree concerning a nation or kingdom that I will build up and plant it; but if that nation does what is evil in my eyes, refusing to obey my voice, then I will have a change of heart regarding the good with which I planned to bless it. And now, tell this to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am fashioning evil against you and making a plan. Return, all of you, from your evil way; reform your ways and your deeds. But they will say, ‘No use! We will follow our own devices; each one of us will behave according to the stubbornness of our evil hearts!’” (Jeremiah 18:1-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Thus said the Lord: Go, buy a potter’s earthenware flask. Take along some of the elders of the people and some of the priests, and go out toward the Valley of Ben-hinnom, at the entrance of the Potsherd Gate; there proclaim the words which I will speak to you: And you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who went with you, and say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Thus will I smash this people and this city, as one smashes a clay pot so that it cannot be repaired. And Topheth shall be its burial place, for there will be no other place for burial. Thus I will do to this place and to its inhabitants—oracle of the Lord; I will make this city like Topheth. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Topheth, all the houses upon whose roofs they burnt incense to the whole host of heaven and poured out libations to other gods. When Jeremiah returned from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, he stood in the court of the house of the Lord and said to all the people: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I will bring upon this city all the evil I have spoken against it, because they have become stubborn and have not obeyed my words” (Jeremiah 19:1-2, 10-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “The one who sat on the throne said, ‘[Behold, I make all things new.’ Then he said, ‘Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me, ‘They are accomplished. I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son. But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’

He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, [the names] of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The one who spoke to me held a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city was square, its length the same as [also] its width. He measured the city with the rod and found it fifteen hundred miles in length and width and height. He also measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits according to the standard unit of measurement the angel used. The wall was constructed of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone; the first course of stones was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh hyacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and to it the kings of the earth will bring their treasure. During the day its gates will never be shut, and there will be no night there. The treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there, but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:5-8, 10-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Saturday 3/7/20

Title: “The Sin of Adam and the Community of Sin: An Exegesis on the Fruit and Original Sin”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day and for all the pain and hardship involved in enduring to the end, for it is this very endurance wrought through labor that bursts forth as the fruit of virtuous patience, which is always the hallmark of truest divine love.

Please my Lords, in this new day of new struggles to bring from them and with them new blessings, please grant us the uniformity of mind and unity of Spirit to seek You first, to see You in all things, and to intuit Your hand at work beneath all circumstances, for You always work for our good and the better, though our circumstances may contain the bad for the worse.  All praise to You Who turns all workings to good for those who trust in You with love, Amen.

 

“The Sin of Adam and the Community of Sin: An Exegesis on the Fruit and Original Sin”

The fruit was good to eat, pleasing to the eyes, and good for wisdom.  These three things characterize the fruit from the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden.  Faith, hope, and charity, these three things characterize the divine attributes of God, of which man is made to be an image.  In the image and likeness of his Creator.  When the first sin of Adam did take place, was it from the depths of his heart to attain that forbidden fruit?  Was it from the depths of his hunger to eat it, because he saw that it was good to eat?  Was it from his thirst and desire for wisdom, to have knowledge of good and evil, and to be like gods?  Was it indeed any of these attributes of the fruit that first caused Adam to sin?  No.  Adam sinned not because the fruit was “good to eat, pleasing to the eyes, or good for knowledge of good and evil,” but because he was handed the fruit by Eve and in that way asked to eat.  Adam sinned, in essence, because his wife said to and he didn’t have the spine to object.

It is not shocking here that this lack of courage or integrity is in the nature of man, but what is striking, is that the nature of his sin, had nothing at all to do with the fruit.  It had to do with his woman, his wife, “that which came from him,” and his community.  Adam heeded his wife who was lesser, over his Maker Who was greater, Greatness itself, to be sure.  In further examining this case of sin, not only does it come to light that Adam sinned not for the fruit, but for the wife, but so too does it become evident, that this “two flesh joined as one,” demonstrates two sides to man’s unified human nature—his weakness, embodied by Eve who was so thoughtless of her Maker and so easily tricked, and man, who as the stronger half had the means by which to know better, but who in his lack of individual integrity, the love of God and charity from that “root within,” gave in to the weakness instead of standing up to and for his own.  This giving in of the strength of man to the weakness in human nature, can best be defined as community sin—that is, the means whereby Adam was led to sin by his woman, though Eve was led to sin by evil forces apart from man.

This culmination of this duo, found in original sin, embodies what they had and what was missing, as in their weakness of communication, of effective confrontation for the combatting of sin, the spine that should have been shared by these two flesh joined, slithers away into the darkness, on his belly in the dust.  Adam and Eve, however, stand firm, for they are not disembodied demons, but real people with real souls, with real choices to make.  These choices have consequences, and the moral of the story, is just to point out what in this imperfect union first led man to sin.  The demon got through to the weakness of his nature, and then at the community level, was Adam drawn into sin.  He made his own choice, without a backbone to speak up for God’s will, and so gave in to Eve, necessitating the dawning of a new Son.  This Adam, this Eve, this earth now populated with grace, how far have we strayed from this original breach?  Have we entered back into the arms of justice and uprightness, or do we find our spines too, slithering off into the dust?

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden”?’ The woman answered the snake: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, “You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.”’ But the snake said to the woman: ‘You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (Genesis 3:1-7, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.

God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Mark 4:13-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’”(Matthew 26:40-41, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Sunday 3/8/20

Title: “A Fable: The Flock of the Good Shepherd and the Lion Amongst Wolves”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day and for all the fresh blessings of hope and heartache, of tolerance and tribulation, of struggle and sanctity, and of devotion and desire, through which and in which we find You anew each day.

Please my Lords, help us to maintain peace in You as we remain in You, never forsaking our souls or sacrificing our principles, but always embracing the cross and the struggle to build them stronger in You.

 

“A Fable: The Flock of the Good Shepherd and the Lion Amongst Wolves”

There was once a colony, a flock of sheep, in the care of a shepherd who took it upon himself to shepherd them.  He did this freely and out of the goodness of his heart, and they loved and respected him for it.  Then a time came when their leader, their shepherd, died, and none was inclined to take his place.  The sheep were scattered, to an extent, although some stayed together in various sized groups.  There came other flocks and other sorts of animals into the scattered colony of sheep, and some of the stronger animals picked off their lambs.  This intermixing continued and it went on for years, until the flock, the colony, was so diverse with species so various, that there were wolves and sheep together in one herd.

In the midst of this collection, of species this array, there rose up one or two not quite like the rest, and these wolves in sheep’s clothing, blending in with the herd, began to lead them in ways unruly and gained favor with quite a few.  They led them into danger, so that on their carcasses they could feed, at the claws of another and so incur not disfavor for this loss of blood.  They curried favor with the masses, and feasted on not a few, all the while taking credit for their safety, when it was wrath they should have incurred.  And yet these handsome wolves in sheep’s clothing, they were yet adored by most, for they were strong when lambs were weak, and they could procure sheepskin, or sheep’s meat, at short notice, and never were any questions asked about where these provisions came from.

Over time the sheep began to wonder, and over more time they knew, that they were all like sitting ducks with these wolves who took over them, in the hides of their dead brethren as if no one knew.  These wolves who slithered into the fold, to eat it from the inside out, they had grown careless in their trespasses, and encroached upon the towns of bordering folds.  They dipped into these pockets, that were not theirs, to try to regain the esteem of their own flock, while evading the bordering towns, with their shepherds and their sheep.  Eventually these wolves and these sheep, the disparity became too great, and they were no longer fooling anyone, and the lambswool grew sparse, both upon their backs, and so too, over their eyes.

As the wolves misled these sheep, though fully outfitted as if of their kind, the numbers of the sheep dwindled so low, that the eyebrows of the neighboring flocks were raised.  Now in this colony of species, mixing at will according to their ways, there were not a few other lions, who ignobility did disdain.  These noble creatures with claws like a wolf, and yet a constitution like an ox, they set about their own affairs of setting misjudgments of wrongs to right.  For what is a wolf to a lion, or a criminal to a king?  And what is a shepherd to his sheep, if not the provision of freedom from sin?  As these few lions infiltrated the land, they easily took down those wolves, for when the sheepfold grew thin, the hand of God was dealt, to recompense and reuptake, to absorb into their jaws, this excess of the wolves, as nature itself in homeostasis, in this, God’s natural law, takes care of her own and tends to the one true flock.

 

Monday 3/9/20

Title: “The New Noah’s Ark and the Vessel of Blood”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the fresh hope of renewed belief in You and Your promises, for the dawn after the dark, the blossom after the budding, the unveiling after the patient anticipation, and the growth of progress after the hardship of struggle.

Please my Lords, help us this day to renew our grace in You at each footfall and at each turn, as at each turn of the corner we turn deeper into You, and at each step into life, we step more solidly into our faith, in hope and charity into the life to come.

 

“The New Noah’s Ark and the Vessel of Blood”

The blood rushes silently to my head, and the drain of tension is felt interiorly, somewhere else.  My heart clenches and releases in time to my fists, and the knuckles bleed through white from the grip of these hands.  These hands, this body, this soul.  This heart and mind, these thoughts, this blood.  This fast, hot rush of blood streaming into my ears and out of pores unknown and unrealized.  My heart fills ups with raw emotion like an airbag on a steering wheel, and as I grip more tightly that emotion, that blood, comes bleeding forth, from this heart, this soul, this lump, caught in my throat.

This passion, it grips me, like two hands behind, and what has come over me, overshadows me, is not yet entirely clear.  To me, this motion, this fluid, it is one and the same essence in being, as the heart’s actions pour forth from its being that which is one of its kind.  Wisdom is justified by her children, her actions, as they reveal from whence they came, and this being is made up of an accumulation of choices, of actions, that are not really any different from the soul from which they came.

This line of division, between being and doing, is not so much a division of essence as it is the form that this essence takes.  Just as transfigured on Mt. Tabor, that is our one and the same Jesus, so too a being in motion, in action, is the same as these vibrations it makes.  As the earth quakes and rumbles, and volcanic ash is kicked up from the earth, the molten lava, the magma, the heat that this body contains, it is the passion within it that is issued out from its source.  As the rumbling of the heart growls and digs in its hands, the eruption of this mountain, this mind, bears witness to what was hidden inside.

As the actions that proceed forth, proceed in much the same way, as a liquid waterfall entrenching thirsty ground, this magma quenches in much the same way.  This primal magma of being, the purest flame kindled from a spark, it tumbles out of a broken earth, a broken vessel, the liquid filling this broken heart.  Both hands on the wheel, and full speed ahead, as the air breathing life into this vessel, is as dense as molten lead.  The blood is boiling and hot, kindled far beyond a mere flame, and the transfiguration of being to action is like an explosion, of bursting life into the eternal flame.  That flame that sparks wisdom, and holy motivation is fire, and it is the fire of divine charity, of love, that rolls through the sky like lightning, like thunder.

This love sets the world on fire, these hearts aflame, as the flood that now saves us, brings us to life as if rain.  This downpour of divine mercy, this shower of grace, this torrential current of an updraft, has left something else in its place.  New seeds of new wisdom, and new sparks of life, as the ark of a second Noah brings a severed branch back to life.  Thick with milky oil, this sap and lifeblood of this heart, it quenches the dead souls, the drowned spirits, that had not their own heart.  This outpour, this torrent, of crystal clean life, it sets that new heart within us, and breathes us back to life.  The passion that pours forth, from this volcano, this airbag, it resuscitates like a new pulse the drowned and needy, to give mercy one last chance.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch of the ark that he had made, and he released a raven. It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth. Then he released a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. But the dove could find no place to perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water over all the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark. He waited yet seven days more and again released the dove from the ark. In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had diminished on the earth. He waited yet another seven days and then released the dove; but this time it did not come back” (Genesis 8:6-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them. You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your impurities. I will summon the grain and make it plentiful; I will not send famine against you. I will increase the fruit on your trees and the crops in your fields so that you no longer endure reproach from the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil behavior and your deeds that were not good; you will loathe yourselves for your sins and your abominations” (Ezekiel 36:25-31, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 1Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire’” (Matthew 3:7-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?” Then I will declare to them solemnly, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.”

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined’” (Matthew 7:21-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “‘To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, “He is possessed by a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is vindicated by her works’” (Matthew 11:16-19, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “He summoned the crowd and said to them, ‘Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.’ Then his disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?’ He said in reply, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.’ Then Peter said to him in reply, ‘Explain [this] parable to us.’ He said to them, ‘Are even you still without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile’” (Matthew 18:10-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.’ He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’ When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, ‘My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!’ Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again” (Matthew 26:37-44, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “‘For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, “He is possessed by a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is vindicated by all her children’” (Luke 7:33-35, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:49-53, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not undergo the test.’ After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.’ [And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.] When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test’” (Luke 22:39-46, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, for they could not bear to hear the command: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, ‘I am terrified and trembling.’ No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

See that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, ‘I will once more shake not only earth but heaven.’ That phrase, ‘once more,’ points to [the] removal of shaken, created things, so that what is unshaken may remain. Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:18-29, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Tuesday 3/10/20

Title: “The Unity of the Spirit and the Holiness of the Ballet Corps: Where Being Wrong is Actually Right, and What It Tells Us About Life in the Body of Christ.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the grace of Your strength in my weakness, that shines through in this act of cooperation with You, and as a direct result of mutual trust born in faith.

Please my Lords, help us this day to stay true to the Spirit of holiness within, deviating not from Thy path and the Way, and let us too grow ever more immersed within You, entwined like prayered fingers through unquestioning and perfect, deferential and reverential, love for You.

 

“The Unity of the Spirit and the Holiness of the Ballet Corps: Where Being Wrong is Actually Right, and What It Tells Us About Life in the Body of Christ.”

The unity of Spirit works in mysterious ways.  The unity of Spirit is not just the unity of man working in cooperation with his fellow man, but it is the unity of man working in cooperation with his environment, his own internal atmosphere, elements of the situation outside of him, and also his fellow man, in harmony with the will of the Creator.  This unity of the Holy Spirit is united in holiness, and not just in unity, or in comradery of man if apart from the will of God.

In orchestrating a ballet, when the dancers perform on stage, this unity can be pivotal, and it is one of the only examples of an instance where, if one or part of the corps of dancers deviates from the music or the choreography, it is correct for all the dancers to stay in tune and in synchrony to that mistake, to preserve the unity of the body of dancers over and above correctness to the dance, for the benefit of the visual provided to the audience and the cohesiveness of the whole of the scene.  The is one of the only instances where it is correct to follow a mistake, rather than to correct it, and in this instance, following the others and being wrong, is actually right.  They may, however, get an earful of a rebuke later, from the mouth of the choreographer who might be watching from the audience.

This one instance, however, where truest unity is preserved by unity of man and embracing a mistake, is rather an exception to the rule rather than an example of it.  Were this instance to be duplicated in real life, outside the circumstances of a ballet corps on stage, an entire herd of sheep might be led off a cliff, to preserve that unity of man, or an entire congregation or community of people, might be led to all partake of that one same mistake, and that one same sin, rather than correct the mistake, stay true to unity in holiness over and above unity in fellowship with man, and to choose, by way of this example, to stay true to the music or the original choreography, representative of the will of God, instead of following the mistakes of fellow man to preserve unity among mankind.

This example of an exception to the rule offers an important illustration of the point, in that unity with the will of the Creator, and unity with the holiness of God—which would in a real life instance be much the same as following the music or the choreographer instead of someone else participating in the dance—is that unity which is to be preserved.  Unity with mankind, if seen through to its plummet and downfall in sin, is hardly a virtue if it is a unity preserved outside the bounds of holiness, or apart from God, His will, and therein His Holy Spirit.

Most people today would take this preservation of unity among man at the expense of unity with the Holy Spirit, with the true steps and the count of the music, as the rule rather than the exception to it, and so it is worth noting what a proper exception would be, and to note too that this ought not to be a norm where morals are concerned, and not just steps to a dance.

As one member of the ballet corps of the Body of Christ, His Church, steps off tune to the dance by the act of sin, and all the dancers follow to remain in unity to that dancer rather than the sound of the melody, the holiness within, then the whole group has erred in preserving its unity, and has forsaken its holiness, rather than preserved it, as would be the case if this really were a dance.  But an important distinction is here made, between unity of man, and unity in the Spirit, and if the will of God and the overall cohesiveness in tune to the music, is left out of the group—then it is not unity at all, in terms of religion, but a fellowship bound for purgation, to be first of all dissolved, in order to then, with holiness, attain true unity of the Spirit.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna” (Matthew 5:27-30, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another’” (Mark 9:42-50, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Wednesday 3/11/20

Title: “The Law of Balance and the Laws of Nature. A Swift Rebuke to Bad Science: When the Razor Cuts the Soft Science from the Hard, and SSRIs Receive Their Due Recompense in ‘Prozac Poop-Out.’”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the blessings of Thy peace and grace that come along with striving steadily after Your Way and Your teachings, as we strive to conform ourselves more and more to Your standards to be like You, and to conform ourselves less and less to the world, to better imitate You.

Please my Lords, help us this day to find that small quiet space within, to reside in the stillness of the soul and to linger in the solitude and seclusion, of that deep rest within the heart.

 

“The Law of Balance and the Laws of Nature. A Swift Rebuke to Bad Science: When the Razor Cuts the Soft Science from the Hard, and SSRIs Receive Their Due Recompense in ‘Prozac Poop-Out.’”

The stillness overcomes me.  The humble shall be raised, and the exalted shall be brought low.  This is the way of nature, the way of the natural world, the way of natural law, and the way too, of divine law as revealed within.  For every time there is a season, for mourning, for joy, for work, for rest.  As the truth of this settles, within that center of all equilibrium within my heart, I embrace the truth and let it dwell within me, rather than shrinking from it as if in anticipation of pain.  For then I shall be brought deeper into it for having resisted it, right?  As these little sayings accumulate, about the lofty being lowered and the lowly being raised, a deeper interior principle at play in this wisdom begins to make itself known.

This is a very basic and fundamental principle of balance, of justice, that shall not be forsaken nor be ignored.  For just like poor Job, we must take the good with the bad and the bad with the good, for the LORD and His creation rains down affliction on both the just and the unjust, the upright and the wicked.

But this natural principle, of balance, whether it be handed on by God or the natural order of creation, this much remains true—that just as much as we seek to sidestep or circumvent that lot which is due us, as our fair share of apportioned life, is just the extent to which we shall receive more so that portion, as through the effort to resist it, refuse it, that backlash with which it hits us when we finally receive our due, will be all the greater and seem all the more extreme, because of our clinging to one side of life while rejecting what would be balanced and fair.

This is taking life on man’s terms, and not according to the decree of God, wherein man tries to define for himself what is good and what should be, leaving the effect of the natural order of things and God’s will for him, both equally shrugged off in the dust.  This process by which, man tries to play God, is no less than man dictating for himself how he should feel and what he should receive, as if his passive and subjective experience—as if a mere spectator of life, just there to be entertained—were the be-all and end-all, the pinnacle and the point of life itself, as he bends the world around him to bow down to his supposed needs.

This is man playing God, by refusing the hand he was dealt, and seeking to get his fill and his satisfaction of all of life’s pleasures and goods, rather than to contribute, to participate, and to give something to the lot, in order to transform his soul wherein he finds himself, rather than refusing the natural order of his lot.  As he rejects the bad and seeks only the good, refusing the struggles of life—pain, sadness, affliction, ill-health, loss, and all such tribulations that are fair play in this world—as he rejects the bad that is due him and seeks only the good, he has rejected the hand of God in his dealings in accepting not the struggles of this world.

He has refused the law of fairness, of balance, and it may have led him to sin, in his heart and in his mind, to justify and rationalize, the decisions he has made.  “I don’t deserve to be so unhappy, so I’ll just refuse it and do this…” meanwhile in doing so he has reversed the law of nature, that humbles the exalted and raises up the lowly, and so now more exalted than ever, in his thoughts and in his mind, through his sins and his actions, he shall learn this law that is divine.

He shall suffer the consequences of trying to avoid a due fall, and shall fall harder than ever into the only pit that can accommodate the undue height of his climb.  The law of justice is very real, and very intended, by the will of God, and he who refuses justice for his actions, refuses heaven, and refuses God.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Then Job arose and tore his cloak and cut off his hair. He fell to the ground and worshiped. He said:

‘Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord!’

In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Haughtiness brings humiliation,
    but the humble of spirit acquire honor” (Proverbs 29:23, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “There is an appointed time for everything,
    and a time for every affair under the heavens.
    A time to give birth, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
    A time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to tear down, and a time to build.
     A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
    A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
    a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
    A time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
    A time to rend, and a time to sew;
    a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
    A time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “So all shall be abased,
    each one brought low.
    Do not pardon them!

The eyes of human pride shall be lowered,
the arrogance of mortals shall be abased,
and the Lord alone will be exalted, on that day.

For the Lord of hosts will have his day
against all that is proud and arrogant,
against all that is high, and it will be brought low.

Against all the lofty mountains
and all the high hills,
Against every lofty tower
and every fortified wall,
Against all the ships of Tarshish
and all stately vessels.
Then human pride shall be abased,
the arrogance of mortals brought low,
And the Lord alone will be exalted on that day” (Isaiah 2:9, 11-12, 14-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Trust in the Lord forever!
    For the Lord is an eternal Rock.

He humbles those who dwell on high,
the lofty city he brings down,
Brings it down to the ground,
levels it to the dust.

The feet of the needy trample on it—
the feet of the poor.

Dead they are, they cannot live,
shades that cannot rise;
Indeed, you have punished and destroyed them,
and wiped out all memory of them.
You have increased the nation, Lord,
you have increased the nation, have added to your glory,
you have extended far all the boundaries of the land.

Go, my people, enter your chambers,
and close the doors behind you;
Hide yourselves for a brief moment,
until the wrath is past.
See, the Lord goes forth from his place,
to punish the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants;
The earth will reveal the blood shed upon it,
and no longer conceal the slain” (Isaiah 26:4-6, 14-15, 20-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “‘As for you, do not be called “Rabbi.” You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called “Master”; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted’” (Matthew 23:8-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “And Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
     my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
 His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever’” (Luke 1:46-55, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me! Please put up with me.For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere [and pure] commitment to Christ. For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough. For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these ‘superapostles.’ Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I plundered other churches by accepting from them in order to minister to you. And when I was with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. By the truth of Christ in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!” (2 Corinthians 11:1-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says:

‘God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.’

So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you” (James 4:6-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for:

‘God opposes the proud
but bestows favor on the humble.’

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Thursday 3/12/20

Title: “The Opening Act of the Magician’s Assistant: An Homage to John the Baptist, the Greatest Among Men”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day and for all the kindness and compassion sown in this heart, to be born in patience, with tolerance and perseverance, and a cooperation of efforts, both from below and above.

Please my Lords, help us this new day, to grow with steadfast faith in You in all the ways that You wish, and to increase the capacity of our hearts within us, to increase and strengthen our portion of Your Spirit and Your gifts.

 

“The Opening Act of the Magicians Assistant: An Homage to John the Baptist, the Greatest Among Men”

The Spirit of Elijah shall come before the Lord’s glory, to turn the hearts of the sons back to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers back to their sons, lest they should all perish from not repenting.  Like a trailblazer and forerunner, setting the stage for a brand-new type of glory, this mysterious figure of John the Baptist can only be seen in a glimpse as he disappears around the bend.  Girt about the loins with animal skin, locusts and honey were his meat, as with a baptism of water he sets the world on fire as he sets the stage.  For the star of the show is the voice of the Bridegroom, which the groomsman and best man, is only too happy to hear, even if it means the silencing of his own voice, his own echo, as it is but a reflection of the true Light, in the most drastic of ways in a severance most severe.

This trailblazer and forerunner, set to go before the Lord, is the prophet of the Most High and of men born from women of this world, there is none greater than John.  “The graciousness of God,” and God’s grace in man is he, as the Spirit of the Lord fills him from the womb and he receives his own name from on high.  This surely is that Spirit of Elijah, spoken of in Malachi, who shall precede the Lord in His day of glory, His Day of Judgment and the coming wrath.

Who taught you vipers to flee the wrath to come?  Bring with you therefore, fruits worthy of repentance!  John rebukes the crowd, as all regard him as a prophet and none too soon, for this life shall swiftly leave him as he endures until the end.

Give me the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter, says Salome, at the insistence of her mom, and King Herod shan’t refuse her as he makes sport of himself over the young girl’s dance.  The head is presented as the body is deposed, and John receives one better as he goes to join the Godhead above.  For it is more expedient that one man should die, …for the sins of the many, is the wisdom of the day, as the high priest Caiaphas gets his turn with the prophet’s tongue.

This John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb, and this Spirit of Elijah, is to part the sea for the Christ as he strikes it with his mantle.  This shadowy figure, this harbinger, he forges a path for the Lord, as if to set the stage for the Magician as an opening act not to be ignored.  With all the bells and whistles, we pull out all the stops, and this Magician’s assistant gets tragically sawn in half, only to most miraculously be somehow restored.

Like the raising of Lazarus, or the parting of the Red Sea, like the invading army’s trumpet blast and cry, like the Annunciation of an angel, or the labor pains before birth, here comes in the Spirit of Elijah John the Baptist, like Samson a Nazarite from birth.  This prophet like Samuel, like Nathan, like Moses, or says Christ, “Like Me,” this prophet precedes the true Christ clothed in new life from on high.  Reborn from above, and fashioned penitentially as man, in the whirlwind of a tempest, the chariot of fire rages through the earth; “I have come to set the world on fire, and how I wish it were already burning,” says Christ, as the flames of the cloud preceding that old Tabernacle of Moses reach high into the night.

I have come to set the world on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing with purest heavenly heat, as the baptism is no longer with water but with fire, as the Spirit of God ushers in His glory, and sets the stage for the main act.  In an instant, in a wink, in the twinkling of an eye, in a blink, we shall all be changed, as the Magician takes the floor.  His winnowing fan is in his hand, and He will clear the threshing floor, and gather in His wheat.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Now I am sending my messenger—
    he will prepare the way before me;
    And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple;
    The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—
    see, he is coming! says the Lord of hosts.
    But who can endure the day of his coming?
    Who can stand firm when he appears?
    For he will be like a refiner’s fire,
    like fullers’ lye.
    He will sit refining and purifying silver,
    and he will purify the Levites,
    Refining them like gold or silver,
    that they may bring offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

Remember the law of Moses my servant,
whom I charged at Horeb
With statutes and ordinances
for all Israel.
Now I am sending to you
Elijah the prophet,
Before the day of the Lord comes,
the great and terrible day;
He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons,
and the heart of sons to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with utter destruction” (Malachi 3:1-3, 22-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea [and] saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:

‘A voice of one crying out in the desert,
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”’

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire’” (Matthew 3:1-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, ‘What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.”

Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Matthew 11:7-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Now Herod had arrested John, bound [him], and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given,  and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:3-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, ‘No. He will be called John.’ But they answered her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has this name.’ So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, ‘What, then, will this child be?’ For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God
by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.’

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Luke 2:59-67, 76-80, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens to him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease’” (John 3:28-31, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, ‘What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing,nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.’ He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him” (John 11:47-53, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “’I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:49-50, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Friday 3/13/20

Title: “A Story. The Phantom’s Flight of the Last Day

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new morning and all the fresh rainfall of Your strength in blessings, to help us endure through the struggle of the day ahead.  Please my Lords, help us this day to persevere in good will through all of our actions, cleansing our heart with our motives to find You always as love, shining within.

 

“A Story. The Phantom’s Flight of the Last Day

You!  I shudder and shiver as a chill runs down my spine, and the soul-cringing, bone-crushing rush of fear mixed with adrenaline rushes to my head with the beating thud! of my heart.  You!  The word takes shape in my mind as it forms itself around my lips, and I echo it back silently to myself.  You, me; You are, I am; I am, he is… all the possibilities of twisting around this phrasing and wording and sphere of relational descriptors circle my head with the rush of cortisone, with adrenaline.  I step forward nonetheless, and take my place as I am called.

You!  No name, just the nameless, faceless call of an immediate proximity—You.  I shrug off my reservations as my inhibitions fall to the ground, and I pluck up my courage for a plunge into the abyss.  The You has now rearranged itself in the lodging of my mind, and has transformed itself into Me as the information sinks in.  The relational qualities of such close connections entailed by the term summon up a certain fondness within me, as I am spoken to directly by another, and not in first person or third.  So rarely does fate occasion a chance for this closeness of encounters, but as it makes itself present, and prescient, I AM there.

Like a plunge out of an aircraft, or a dive into the sea, or a nosedive encompassing both instances, is what this call, this cry, of You means to me.  I don’t know if I fail or they, but like scenery, like curtains, like a canopy ill-hung, it all releases and falls apart around me as it sinks gracelessly into the fire of the Son.

You! is that accusatory tone, meaning either him or me, but the effect of that blame forms around a person, whomsoever it should be.  Like soldiers all lined up mid-flight, to jump from the helicopter or aircraft, a line in this sentence, You, You, You… slowly dissolves with each word.  The accusatory tone, is either from them or from me, but as each seedling takes flight, through the air, in the breeze, it settles on the object of its accusation only in truth, giving each man a parachute or the free rein to fall free.

As if in the scales of justice or a polygraph, each man stakes his claim, and like an infant to its mother or a dog to its master, each cry of accusation only adheres to God’s truth in Three.  Only Three in heaven bear witness, and three on earth, and as some try to justify themselves by adhering not to the truth, that parachute that saves them, is ripped away, torn off clean.  And others who accuse themselves, receive a jolt in mid-air, as that parachute opens, and breathes into them, that salvation of God’s care.

That word You! is uttered, both in thanks and in hate, as each traveler chooses his own lot, in flight to his fate.  Like a lineup of suspects, where the guilty party is called out, You! is that word that keeps sounding, as they all fall out.  You, You, You! a long line of liars confess, and in the deceit of their confession, they receive not that parachute vest.  You, You, You! echoes again fondly, the saving praise from victims in the next line, as they all give humble recognition to their Maker for His breath of the divine.

The updraft it saves them, and wafts like an aroma of sweet incense, as a fragrance fitting to the LORD of praise from saved souls.  This divebomb, this nosedive, this freefall, this grace, each becomes the works of the jumper, as each takes his place.  Fall from the sky, to see who is caught up in the faith, or take your place at the bottom if in you truth has no place.  This is the Phantom’s flight, of the Last Day.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.’ Jacob then asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ He answered, ‘Why do you ask for my name?’ With that, he blessed him” (Genesis 32:29-30, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ God answered: I will be with you; and this will be your sign that I have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will serve God at this mountain. ‘But,’ said Moses to God, ‘if I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what do I tell them?’ God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.

God spoke further to Moses: This is what you will say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.

This is my name forever;
this is my title for all generations” (Exodus 3:11-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Exodus 3:14-15, Authorized King James Version).
  2. “‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”  Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Then they will answer and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” He will answer them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life’” (Matthew 25:31-46, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify,the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:3-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:3-12, Authorized King James Version).
  5. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the odor of the knowledge of him in every place. For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the latter an odor of death that leads to death, to the former an odor of life that leads to life. Who is qualified for this? For we are not like the many who trade on the word of God; but as out of sincerity, indeed as from God and in the presence of God, we speak in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “So be imitators of God, as beloved children,and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “As a sweet-smelling oblation I will accept you, when I bring you from among the nations and gather you out of the lands over which you were scattered; and through you I will manifest my holiness in the sight of the nations” (Ezekiel 20:41, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Saturday 3/14/20

Title: “The Light of the Body is in the Eye: A Word to the Wise About What it Means to ‘Go with Your Gut’”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the blessings of your kindness as I let the truth dutifully sink in, so that my spirit may be humbled and raised, but only in Your truth and the glory that is You.

Please my Lords, help us this day to take in more fully the terrain of Your abyss, as the faith born in the soul is the faith that ties us to the Kingdom, rather than allowing us to be cast into outer darkness, for our lack of strength to endure and believe.

 

“The Light of the Body is in the Eye: A Word to the Wise About What it Means to ‘Go with Your Gut’”

The light of the body is in the eye, and if thine eye be dark, how great is that darkness, but if thine eye be light, how great is the Light!  This saying can be said of the inner vision, the eye of the soul, the eye of the heart, or the desires of the mind, as it describes the effect of darkness, or desires that, rightly put are evil, or in any way less than God at least, within the heart.  In singleness of vision and purity of soul, with the love of God truly espoused and clung to in all its cleanness through an embracing of the phrase “Only for God”—only for the glory of God, the love of God, for Christ, and for God’s greater glory—through this perfection of purity of intention, of motive, and indeed, correspondingly in grace, of modality, how great is that Light indeed!

For the saying, “The lamp of the body,” or the light of the body, “is in the eye,” is not a collection of words incidentally chosen, but it is a true token of wisdom and a gift to the sages in an exhortation to cleanse and purify the eye of the soul, by tending to the desires that we cling to in our hearts and allow to take harbor in our minds.  This eye of the heart, the inner eye, the mind’s eye, the eye of “the inner man” and the eye of the soul, is that with which we aim and direct our motivations here on earth.

This is the line of command and direction for the soul through the will, and as we set our hearts aright, using this aim and this guidance, of goodly and God-driven desires—for spiritual things and Him, but always Him above His wisdom—as we steer our hearts through the vision of the eye, through our capacity for desire and love and hate, through this, by our will, intellect and memory in harmony move right along.  If, however, we cleanse not first our hearts, and purify our eye, then we shall sink to the earth and the realm of worldly satisfactions in man.

“I am not of the world.  The world hates you (as spiritual creatures), because you are not her own, but if you were of the world (as a worldly beast), it would love you, as she loves her own.  I will not that you should be taken out of the world, but that you should be free from the evil within the world.”

This popular expression, of “follow your heart,” has evolved over the years as through centuries this eye of the sages, has become less and less clean.  From “follow your heart” and “follow your conscience,” now “go with your gut,” would be its culmination in the sins of man, as when man swallows his heart and consumes his own soul, finding his delight and desire in the satisfaction of appetitive pleasures, this eye sinks down to the belly, like the flow in an obstructed chakra line, as it has regressed, and become retarded in a sense, as it is now worse off than before.

As you “go with your gut,” you might consider spewing out your swallowed soul, and putting your eye in your head and your heart in your chest, back where they belong, rather than in your belly, to correct the wrong.  If you follow your gut, then your strongest desire and pull, is in the satisfaction of appetitive pleasure you get from food.

If you go with your gut, and you keep the eye of the soul, your heart, in your gut, then this is a good indication that when you “go with your gut,” you will be just as likely to be led astray, into food, into bodily pleasure, or into sin, as you would be led into following the heed of your intuition, which wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit it ought to convey, when rightly placed.

If you eye is in your head, the crown of your mind, then you follow after spiritual pleasures and wisdom, as you find your delight in God.  So “go with your gut” if that’s the pit to where your soul has fallen, until you once again get it aloft through the heart and the cleansing of the mind.  The eye is the lamp of the body, and if thine eye be Light, how great is the Light!  How great is the glory of God, indeed!  All praise be to Him.  Amen.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:19-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “He summoned the crowd and said to them, ‘Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.’ Then his disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?’ He said in reply, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.’ Then Peter said to him in reply, ‘Explain [this] parable to us.’ He said to them, ‘Are even you still without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile’” (Matthew 15:10-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “‘If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, “No slave is greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me also hates my Father. If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, “They hated me without cause”’” (John 15:18-25, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:11-19, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

 I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another” (Galatians 5:13-26, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Sunday 3/15/20

Title: “A Parable from Ezekiel”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the peace and sharing, pain and heartache, and devotion with self-discipline, that are rightly ordered for grace in the workings of this life.  Please my Lords, help us this day to become even more immersed in You, in love and friendship, and in the faith that is lived out in truth and mutual trust.

 

“A Parable from Ezekiel”

There was once a man. He was a good man at that, listening to the advice of others, making his way to a high station in life, doing well for his family, and respected at his work.  He lived an ostensibly righteous life and prided himself on being a man of letters, a man of wisdom.  He was wise in his own eyes.  This man, like many before him, like Solomon to start, had a fancy for foreign women, from a non-Israelite tribe, and a young ruddy ewe lamb caught his eye in a manner unpleasing to the LORD.  In the sight of his students, his collogues-to-be, in the sight of a class, this man took for his own that ruddy ewe lamb and passed her on to the boys.  This man went from good, then from bad to worse, and just as if the good turn from his ways to do evil, he shall surely die, even if he covers it up to make sure no one knows.  But they surely do know, and if he repents not, then he shall surely be damned.

So too there is a story of a man who was hardly a man, not a good man, but the worst of men, and a scoundrel, wanton in many ways of the flesh.  This man known for his exploits, and wishing to be known carnally to more, he would plunder and pillage and take advantage of nearby women, as he would brag at his conquests and the undue measures used to subdue them he would take.  This is a recreational sex offender, preying on the fairer sex for sport, to brag and to boast, and to satisfy his unconquered lust.  But this man of the worst of man, something happens to his heart, and one day he repents of his crimes, of his misdeeds, and confesses on tape.  This man has his reason, and his reasons to be sure, but this man is to be behind bars for the things in his past.

But this dangerous criminal, preying upon women for sex, it shall be more tolerable for him than the Sodom and Gomorrah of the first man on the day of wrath.  For this man has found favor with God, for turning from his evil ways, and accepting responsibility for his actions, in whatever form those consequences may take.  This man has averted God’s wrath by taking upon himself justice, and in shouldering the burden of his cross to bear, he has found mercy, and will not perish in the coming wrath.

For the day of the LORD is as swift as a thief in the night, and merely intending to right a wrong or to repent and accept justice for in the past being wicked, is surely not enough to avert the penetrating stare of the LORD.  There will come a time when your heart too, shall be pierced, be stabbed open, to reveal the truths of many, and in whatever state you find yourself, is the state in which you will be judged.

So this first man seems a good man, though he will surely perish, for owning not up to his actions and shouldering their consequences in kind.  And this second man appears horrid, and maybe truly he was, but he has converted from evil and changed his ways, and so in the coming judgment he shall not die.

And so this is the Parable of the Rapist and the Redeemed, or the Professor and the Criminal, for which is which only God can truly tell.  But what remains true and sure at the last leg, the last stand, is that they shall all receive justice or mercy, or both if they take the stand.  Or like cowards they fall, like fallen angels they flee, at the coming wrath of the LORD and His angels, who shall set captives free.  For freedom in truth, is freedom from sin and oppressors like these, as they are in their hearts and in truth, and not in the lies they profess to man.  Mazel tov, Professor Sorensen, Ursinus College faculty, 2009.  The End!

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “The Lord sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him, he said: ‘Tell me how you judge this case: In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. Of what little he had she ate; from his own cup she drank; in his bosom she slept; she was like a daughter to him. Now, a visitor came to the rich man, but he spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him: he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’ David grew very angry with that man and said to Nathan: ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves death! He shall make fourfold restitution for the lamb because he has done this and was unsparing.’ Then Nathan said to David: ‘You are the man!

‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel. I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. Why have you despised the Lord and done what is evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; his wife you took as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives before your very eyes, and will give them to your neighbor: he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have acted in secret, but I will do this in the presence of all Israel, in the presence of the sun itself’” (2 Samuel 12:1-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “But if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die! None of the crimes he has committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the justice he has shown. Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked—oracle of the Lord God? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?

And if the just turn from justice and do evil, like all the abominations the wicked do, can they do this evil and still live? None of the justice they did shall be remembered, because they acted treacherously and committed these sins; because of this, they shall die. You say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair? Are not your ways unfair? When the just turn away from justice to do evil and die, on account of the evil they did they must die. But if the wicked turn from the wickedness they did and do what is right and just, they save their lives; since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die. But the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Is it my way that is not fair, house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not fair?

 Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, all of you according to your ways—oracle of the Lord God. Turn, turn back from all your crimes, that they may not be a cause of sin for you ever again. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel? For I find no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies—oracle of the Lord God. Turn back and live!” (Ezekiel 18:21-32, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “As for you, son of man, say to your people: The justice of the just will not save them on the day they sin; the wickedness of the wicked will not bring about their downfall on the day they turn from their wickedness. No, the just cannot save their lives on the day they sin. Even though I say to the just that they shall surely live, if they, relying on their justice, do wrong, none of their just deeds shall be remembered; because of the wrong they have done, they shall die. And though I say to the wicked that they shall die, if they turn away from sin and do what is just and right— returning pledges, restoring stolen goods, walking by statutes that bring life, doing nothing wrong—they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the sins they committed shall be remembered against them. If they do what is right and just, they shall surely live.

Your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair!’ But it is their way that is not fair. When the just turn away from justice and do wrong, they shall die for it. When the wicked turn away from wickedness and do what is right and just, because of this they shall live. But still you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair!’ I will judge each of you according to your ways, house of Israel” (Ezekiel 33:12-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum:

“Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.”

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you’” (Matthew 11:20-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed’” (Luke 2:33-35, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Monday 3/16/20

Title: “Joseph and His Dreams”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day and for all the fresh strides of progress to be made with what lies ahead, as we lay our foundation first in You, and then proceed forth in hope.  Please my Lords, in the new gift that is this new day, please help us to use it wisely and to remain in Your grace, by holding fast to the love that is true, and by clinging steadfastly to the faith that is in You.

 

“Joseph and His Dreams”

What do you think about dreams? the doctor asks lightly, with the patient reclining upon the couch.  Dreams…dreams, dreams, dreams.  Dreams are the best of things and the worst of things—things realized and yet unattended, and things unrealized forcing their way to the surface, of this titanic iceberg, this subconscious.  One row after another of the memories cascade out, like the seats filling a stadium packed in like an arena, all circled around the main attraction and center stage spectacle to come.  They roll off the tongue in unison as if in uniform, and a Freudian slip here and there only bear witness to the passage of truth through time, the passage of truth through these lips, the passage of truth through this Rubicon, through this iceberg.

How do you feel about dreams!  The words dance through my head like sequin-clad acrobats and animals at a circus, like the intertwining of many splendid colors in one long single weave of a tunic.  A long robe, of many colors, not fit for a boy, or hardly a man even, but for royalty indeed, the least likely of which being this youngest of sons.  A long tunic, made of one single weave, of many colors indeed intertwined in a beauteous web.

“Come, let us dispose of him among these passing Ishmaelites.”  His brothers all partake of the dance, this parade, this charade, of characters who all herein reveal their true colors.  This many-splendored spectacle, of love at first glance, meets its sideshow stepchild status in the envious glare of these sons.  Eleven lowly spirits, sink not to their graves, for in sinking so low in their actions, one twelfth is sent yet to save.

In a voyage to Africa, to Egypt, as a slave, is not this brother saved to fulfill some higher purpose or plan?  What do you think of dreams?  Of dreams….  Of having dreams, of having aspirations, of hopes and plans.  Of finding a higher calling, a purpose, here upon God’s good earth.  These dreams lived out, are what I think of indeed, though not to skirt the issue and withhold notice of those dreams, those visions to come.  The seven cattle, the single stalk, with seven ears of grain, the famine, the harvest, the abundance from prudent planning and foresight….  What do you think of dreams that prophesy, like a Spirit poured out upon the apostles in the Book of Acts, and like a gift to sons and daughters who are bastard stepchildren no more?  “You have meant it unto me fore evil, but God has meant it unto me for good,” retorts Joseph, to the treachery of his siblings, who conspired to kill him, to sell him, and to make merry on the profits.  A fine prophet indeed, this dreamer of dreams, even as his coat is torn apart at its invisible seams.

A single tunic, a robe, woven without seam, to unite these disparate nations from their dissolute ways.  One tunic, one body, recovered out of the ditch, bursting forth from the cistern, flowing with the living water that it lacked.  Truly drowned in the depths, in a metaphor of many ways, until like an iceberg we discover through this passage, its tip and its peak.  This journey, this sojourn, of the Pilgrim Church, do all arrive upon this truth like a Titanic, like a nightmare to come.  What have you done with poor Joseph, and what was truly in your heart and your mind, as you bring me back his bloody tunic, as in my soul its many colors unwind?

The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long ornamented tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his brothers, they hated him so much that they could not say a kind word to him.

They saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.  They said to one another: ‘Here comes that dreamer!  Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We will see then what comes of his dreams.

So when Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the long ornamented tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm, and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: ‘What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood?  Come, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.’ His brothers agreed.

Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

They took Joseph’s tunic, and after slaughtering a goat, dipped the tunic in its blood. Then they sent someone to bring the long ornamented tunic to their father, with the message: ‘We found this. See whether it is your son’s tunic or not.’  He recognized it and exclaimed: ‘My son’s tunic! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph has been torn to pieces!’ Then Jacob tore his garments, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned his son many days. Though his sons and daughters tried to console him, he refused all consolation, saying, ‘No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.’ Thus did his father weep for him” (Genesis 37:3-4, 18-20, 23-28, 31-35, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Pharaoh then said to Joseph: ‘I had a dream but there was no one to interpret it. But I hear it said of you, “If he hears a dream he can interpret it.”’ ‘It is not I,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God who will respond for the well-being of Pharaoh.’

Joseph said to Pharaoh: ‘Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has made known to Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Things are just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.

That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been confirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about” (Genesis 41:15-16, 25, 28, 32, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought, ‘Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us and now most certainly will pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!’ So they sent to Joseph and said: ‘Before your father died, he gave us these instructions: “Thus you shall say to Joseph: Please forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers, who treated you harmfully.” So now please forgive the crime that we, the servants of the God of your father, committed.’ When they said this to him, Joseph broke into tears. Then his brothers also proceeded to fling themselves down before him and said, ‘We are your slaves!’ But Joseph replied to them: ‘Do not fear. Can I take the place of God? Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people. So now, do not fear. I will provide for you and for your children.’ By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them” (Genesis 50:15-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, “Give me a drink”’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ [The woman] said to him, ‘Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water’” (John 4:10-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,’ in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]:

‘They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.’

This is what the soldiers did” (John 19:23-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says,
‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit
upon all flesh.
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions,
your old men shall dream dreams.
Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids
I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days,
and they shall prophesy.
And I will work wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below:
blood, fire, and a cloud of smoke.
The sun shall be turned to darkness,
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the great and splendid day of the Lord,
and it shall be that everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord’” (Acts 2:16-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Tuesday 3/17/20

Title: “A Line is Drawn, and the Bait is Hung in the Balance”

(A Continuation on the meditations from Thursday 3/5/20, “A Meditation on the Balancing of Dualities,” and Wednesday 2/12/20 “A Delicate Balance: Finding that Inner Tension in the Balancing of Dualities as a Necessary Requirement in the Soul’s Search for God.”)

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the grace of Your communion and presence as we wait for You with patience, in our life and our prayers.  Please my Lords, help us this day to find power in the present, solace in the solitude, mystery in the imagination, and responses to prayerful thoughts, as we dwell with You and abide in love.

 

“A Line is Drawn, and the Bait is Hung in the Balance”

A line is drawn, and the bait hangs in the balance.  Whoever is not with me is against me; whoever is not against us is with us.  I come not to bring peace, but division; blessed are the peacemakers; have peace between yourselves.  Give justice to the widow; give mercy to the sinners.  The greatest shall be the least and the least the greatest; the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  Forgive your brother, love your enemy; repay all your trespasses, lest your opponent hand you over to the judge and you shall be thrown into the prison, where you shall not depart till you have repaid every last cent.  Heaven rejoices more over one sinner converted than in the ninety-nine who never went astray; what think ye—I came only for the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel.  This man dines with publicans and sinners; woe to the scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites and blind guides….

There is a fabulous juxtaposition here of the wide array of the teachings to be found in the Bible, in the Gospels, which seem to embrace a stance for every occasion and to encompass the whole scope of positions to be had in navigating that rocky ground of sound moral teachings, as which one is to be chosen is always a shifting between these extremes due to the variability of the circumstances at play.  Jesus promises division, then urges us to keep peace; He states that if we are not for Him then we are against Him, but then says that if we are not against Him we are for Him.  Is He herein contradicting Himself?  Far from it.  This collection of sayings does not demonstrate “a duplicity of mind” to be found as a fault in the fickle or faithless, who have not honesty to stick to their principles with that “truth in themselves.”  Rather, in this great variety and multiplicity of sayings, Jesus provides a maxim for every occasion, which only serves to highlight this perhaps greater overriding principle, of finding a balance between the extremes, and finding virtue as the path of moderation between two carefully regulated sides of an equation—as if like the scales of justice, hanging in the balance.

For if we always strove to pursue peace, and never spoke out for justice, would not that lead to the folly of the subordination of truth?  And yet if we always upheld justice, without a mind for the preservation of peace, would this not lead to the disharmony of discord that leads to mistrust among peoples?  And if we always claimed that whoever is not against us is for us, would not we lose some of our strongest proponents in urging them not to speak up for their cause?  And if we always claimed that whoever is not for us is against us, would we not then fall into the mistake of making ourselves aggressors, against peaceful people who maybe are ignorant of our ways?

For the duality expressed in the sayings of Jesus, express not duality of mind, but the variety of wisdom, that must be called upon to suit the circumstances of life and the great variability therein to be found.  And this higher order principle, of avoiding radical extremes and maintaining a delicate balance—carefully navigating the poles holding together a viewpoint—this principle is truly what is best expressed in Jesus’s wide range of maxims, as His teachings shall not fall short, but may in this way adhere to any circumstance for which they are called.

So keeping virtue in mind as the orientation and goal, the method used to get there is always to balance two sides of this spectrum, containing two extremes.  As the path is straight and narrow that leads to heaven, as the middle path of moderation that must be carefully discerned, this path may change with the landscape, and the factors at play, as it shifts with the circumstances, although it always holds fast to God’s truth.  But that true path is always no less discernable due to the variability of the environment of man, and as he holds close these two extremes, of complementary virtues on both sides, the path is made straight even through the wilderness, as the Truth itself, does not change.

 

Bible Passages:

A.

  1. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 9:30-31, American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Jesus replied, ‘Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward” (Mark 9:39-41, American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Then John said in reply, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you’” (Luke 9:49-50, American Bible Revised Edition).

B.

  1. “’Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set

a man “against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
     and one’s enemies will be those of his household”’” (Matthew 10:34-36, American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9, American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another” (Mark 9:49-50, American Bible Revised Edition).

C.

  1. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matthew 19:29-30, American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? [Or] am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last’” (Matthew 20:13-16, New American Bible Revised Edition).

D.

  1. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word. You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God’” (John 8:42-47, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived” (1 John 2:4-6, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Wednesday 3/18/20

Title: “Just for a Season: The Temptation in the Wilderness, What Side are You On?

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day of interior discovery, and for all the truths of the soul to be found in deeper contemplation of You.  Please my Lords, as we travel deeper within the soul to establish a deeper connection and union with You, please grant that this may lead us to better appreciate Your timeless majesty in all wonder and awe, and inspire us too to better and more conscientiously spend our limited time here on earth.

 

“Just for a Season: The Temptation in the Wilderness, What Side are You On?

It is a good sign, to be tempted, because it lets you know what side you’re on.  A house divided against itself cannot stand, and so we know that if we are not being tempted against our better natures, and resisting that which we deem to be bad, then it must be because we stand within that house of evil temptation, and so there is nothing more by which to tempt us, for we are already on their side.  It is a good sign, to be tempted, because it lets us know now which side we’re on—that it’s good—and so too it allows us to prove our membership on the side of God and of good, by refusing and resisting temptation, to confirm our stance on the solid ground of the faith.

Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil.  When the temptation was over, the devil left Him—for a season.  The devil left Him—for a season.  Only for a season he left?  Yes, for this is the very hallmark of goodness, to strive for it very nearly without rest.  Be it in the wilderness, or Jerusalem, or any city of man, it is in trial and temptation that we become more like men, like the fullness of our inherent persons, in all the goodness that God intends us to be.  Like a coming of age, or a rite of passage, like a sacrament this first confirmation, is established with peace, and then our foothold in God’s House is further deepened and strengthened, with each test to ensue.  It is in being continually tested, in the trial of our faith, with only a small passage of time, a season, to provide rest to the soul in-between, that the soul knows it’s well on its way in its journey and homeward bound to heaven, and fully well established on the side of good, for God would not put upon us what our souls could not take.

So we are continually striving for virtue, for perfection, with hardly a break, as just like Jesus, the devil only leaves us for a season, so that we may build up our spiritual reserves of goodness once again.  But to endure the temptation, is surely in the words of St. Paul, “that great race,” nay the marathon, wherein we train like athletes, to strive most mightily in grace.  It is these tests and temptations that save us, in teaching us how we are saved, and strengthen us in Spirit through persevering, and deepening our resolve to stay on God’s side.  It is in this act of resistance, and upholding the good, that we are catapulted, are skyrocketed, into heroic feats of virtue that give glory to God.  And as we serve Christ and love Him, and work in harmonious cooperation to merit the glory of sharing in His winning of the crown of the race, we cling close in adoration to our struggles, our crosses, that train us to bear, uphold, and withstand, with such strength in His grace.

For where love is, there God is too, and where we uphold the side of good in the face of evil, there Christ is within us and alongside us, fighting for us for what is good.  For when we confirm ourselves in love, and then embrace in faith and fidelity our endeavoring in the task, of forsaking it not, then there Christ is, there is goodness, for we have sided with Him.  So when we bear the cross for goodness, for righteousness’ sake, we know that it is really Jesus Who bears it within us, for goodness is both His curse and His gift.  So as we bear this burden, this yoke, that is easy and light, it is lighter for the lifting of God’s arm within us, to help us forebear in His sight.  All goodness is due to God, and so in Him do we strive, by goodness, for goodness, for love, until that season comes once again.  For God, for love, for the unity of this House, in which we are all on the same team.  Amen.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself; how, then, will his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:25-32, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.

Jesus said to him in reply, ‘It also says, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”’ When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time” (Luke 4:1-2, 12-13, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.’ They were persuaded by him. After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus” (Acts 5:38-42, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons:

‘My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.’

Endure your trials as ‘discipline’; God treats you as sons. For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.  Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not [then] submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness. At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed” (Hebrews 12:1-13, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.

‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:19-25, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Thursday 3/19/20

Title: “An Exegesis from John: My Food is To Do the Will of the One Who Sent Me

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the grace of Your accompaniment that helps us so speedily along this long and winding road, that is the rocky terrain of tribulation as we make our way by You in this world.  Please my Lords, as we make straight our paths and keep straight our ways, even in the most turbulent of times, please grant that we may grow closer in our communion and grateful cooperative efforts, inspired as we are to draw closer into You all the more for the trouble we find in the world—for in You we find peace.

 

Title: “An Exegesis from John: My Food is To Do the Will of the One Who Sent Me

I have food that you do not know of.  My food is to do the will of the Father, and not to stop until I finish His work (John 4:34).  What drives you, what feeds you?  What motivates you, what sustains you?  Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word to come forth out of the mouth of the Father (Matt 4:4).  My food is to do the will of the one who sent me… (John 4:34).  Jesus herein makes it known what He considers to be food, and what exactly it is that fuels and sustains Him.  The nourishment of His heavenly Body, the Eucharistic Host, is a source of food, in Jesus’s formulation of food, and at the Last Supper, in the Bread of Life Discourse, that He compares His own flesh and blood to bread, to the manna that came down from heaven by God in the wilderness, and the manna that was food for angels, He did this in the context of already having made known to His disciples what His food was.

I have food that you do not know of (John 4:32).  Did He have secret provisions?  Is someone bringing food to Him in private, his disciples must have wondered.  But no, that was not the case, not exactly.  My food is to do the will of the one who sent me… (John 4:34).  Well is this not a most profound statement from the lips of the Incarnation Himself?  That it is not in taking in that He is nourished and fed, but it is through action, through love, through work and the giving out of Himself that He deems to be feeding Him like bread.  This is His food, to do the will of God.  This is His will for us, to break bread and consume Him as the Host.  This is our daily bread, to do the will of the Father, in perfect communion with God.

He is in me and I am in Him, and we are one.  I wish that all of you may be in me as I am in Him, so that our oneness may be complete (John 17:20-23)Not that Jesus needed from us any further means of completion, being the Mediator of the fullness of God in the fullness of man, to man, from the start.  But Jesus was sent here, from “the one who sent me” (John 4:34), with a mission in mind—as is always the case with one who “is sent,” and with a job to do.  The work of Jesus is the source of His fulfillment, and because it is God’s will that He performs as His task and His work, its completion bears fruit for the reaping of souls, good grain for the harvest, as it is brought into fruition this saying, “one shall sow and another shall reap” (John 4:37), in this dynamic that is the cooperation of God and Christ manifested, as their relationship is mediated and conveyed to man through this analogy of the harvest.

Like the rain that comes down to water the earth, my word shall not come back to me empty, but shall come back to me fulfilled, as the grain springs up from the rain to bring forth good fruit (Isa 55:10-11).  The accomplishment of God’s will: herein is the design of life’s plan.  This is God’s plan for man, and man’s way to God.  For truly this food shall suffice, when no other will do, and surely this partnership, this relationship, of what one shall reap another shall sow (John 4:37), is based upon perfect trust when it is God Who sows and man who reaps, most diligently to bring the good fruit of glory in arms overflowing back to the Father.  The glory of God is the good fruit of the harvest, and the triumph of man is to partake of this mission, this work, and in Christ the Lord Jesus, to bear good fruit.  For by no other name shall every knee bend (Phil 2:9-10), and yet the bruised reed not break (Isa 42:3), but by the name Lord Jesus, until we know Him with the ripe fruit of the Spirit, in the full glory of His full stature, in the coming Eschaton.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Here is my servant whom I uphold,
    my chosen one with whom I am pleased.
    Upon him I have put my spirit;
    he shall bring forth justice to the nations.
    He will not cry out, nor shout,
    nor make his voice heard in the street.
     A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.
    He will faithfully bring forth justice.
    He will not grow dim or be bruised
    until he establishes justice on the earth;
    the coastlands will wait for his teaching” (Isaiah 42:1-4, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Yet just as from the heavens
    the rain and snow come down
    And do not return there
    till they have watered the earth,
    making it fertile and fruitful,
    Giving seed to the one who sows
    and bread to the one who eats,
     So shall my word be
    that goes forth from my mouth;
    It shall not return to me empty,
    but shall do what pleases me,
    achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, ‘What are you looking for?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’ The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?’ They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’  So the disciples said to one another, ‘Could someone have brought him something to eat?’  Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.  Do you not say, “In four months the harvest will be here”? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that “One sows and another reaps.”  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work’” (John 4:27-36, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.’ So they said to him, ‘What can we do to accomplish the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.’ So they said to him, ‘What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

“He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”’

So Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’

So they said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,  because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day” (John 6:27-40, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.’ Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, ‘Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

‘I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, “I am going away and I will come back to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.  And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go” (John 14:10-11, 15-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “‘I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them’” (John 17:20-26, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
    Rather, he emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    coming in human likeness;
    and found human in appearance,
        he humbled himself,
    becoming obedient to death,
    even death on a cross.
    Because of this, God greatly exalted him
    and bestowed on him the name
    that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
         and every tongue confess that
    Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Friday 3/20/20

Title: “The Lynching: On the Linchpin of Free Choice and the Determination of Man”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day, and for all the good fruit and blessings of cooperative efforts to work in kind with Your grace, and in mutual trust in Your love.  Please my Lords, let us do Thy will today with reflection and ease, with struggle and skill, with tension and repose, so that we may better know You in so doing, and draw more deeply into You in showing each other as one how much we care.

 

The Lynching: On the Linchpin of Free Choice and the Determination of Man”

In a cryptic glance from my stance to yours, we struggle to undo the fetters.

It is a funny thing, free choice.  And who can say that he does not choose freely, despite not taking the time to know and reflect that he has free choice, this free will.  I don’t often reflect upon the fact of my ten fingers and ten toes, but this no less affects my ability to use them with ability and ease, than does a failure to reflect upon one’s free choice affect his ability to choose an option freely.  Mitigating factors aside, this is how it goes, this is how it is all played out.

The bands dig into my skin, around my wrists, around my neck.  There is no telling where this may go.

Free choice is not only a God-given gift, but it is a fact of life and a component essential to basic human dignity.  Free choice and free will, and the means by which to actively choose what is chosen.  These are the ingredients for a life that can be lived with meaning.  These are the factors that can lead one to question it all, and seek after grace.  “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Cor 12:8-9).

The gag is tied tightly over my mouth and not a word can escape.  A blindfold ensues as my life folds in over itself.

Free choice is no less free for a lack of awareness in choosing it, whatsoever it may be that one goes on to choose.  And free choice is no less consequential for not considering first the consequences of what is chosen, though when they are finally considered, it may frequently lead to yet more poor choices, to avoid the repercussions of one’s acts.

To say that one never chooses God, between God and some other choice, as a relevant fact and decision and path in life, is merely to embrace the lack of reflectiveness in one’s awareness, and just because this may be how it is for you, does not mean that this is how it should be.  When you choose to choose God, in the many options around you, you set to work sifting through virtue and vice and perfection on the path; when you discern between God and His absence, in the wheat and the chaff, of these many choices and options with which we are presented in life, you always have the option, to choose to choose God.  I choose you.

To choose is a choice, whether you know that you’ve chosen or not, and a failure—of culpable ignorance—to come to the awareness of when you’re choosing and when you’re not, by no means means that you then have not chosen, your ignorance it just blinds you, to a fact like God, clear as day.

For each choice you have chosen, it is a step on your path, that either leads you into God or out of God, whether you choose to recognize this or not.

I have the warm sticky sensation of blood dripping down my cheek.  I can feel the floor beneath me as I am dragged somewhere by the crowd, though where I do not know.  Their voices are yelling, as they chant….

It is the responsibility of the chooser, to investigate all the facts and to weigh all the options, to have all the information at his disposal to make a fully-informed choice.  One should suspend judgment, until he has all the relevant information, for the decision he should make.  When one has free will, the freedom to choose, he has too the responsibility to find out what is chosen, before making his choice.  And this one thing truly knowable, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is this faultless choice of God, as He is chosen by faith with the supernatural certitude, that is impervious to doubt.  One can certainly choose God, and one can and one will, keep making this choice to find oneself well advanced along the path into His arms.

We choose God intentionally, and choose also to forsake self, so don’t tell us this choice can’t be chosen or relevant in this life.  We choose to find God, in “seeking the Kingdom first” (Matt 6:33), and then find ourselves in the process, because we sought to lose our life and not to save it.  We seek and we find God, as we sacrifice the claim to our own self, and this is how we are His and in Him, for we have forsaken for Him our own selves.  “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’” (Matt 16:24-25).

And those beating, pummeling fists drain the last ounce of the lifeblood that speaks, to what a true offering is.

Well, this speaks too, this pen upon paper, this tongue in a mouth, these fingers upon a keyboard, in a voice that will ring out.  “Make straight a path in the wilderness” (Isa 40:3), and “Bring with you good fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt 3:8).  Confess, confess, and admit what you’ve done.  Confess, confess, and admit to the harm.  Absolution follows swiftly upon the current pouring forth from truthful lips.

As she is dragged out through the courtyard, like a puppet she is draped, and hung by the neck like a lynching, like a linchpin, from the branches of a tree, that weeps like a willow through the oaken stature of faith.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “A voice proclaims:
    In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!
    Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
    Every valley shall be lifted up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
    The rugged land shall be a plain,
    the rough country, a broad valley.
    Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together;
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire’” (Matthew 3:7-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom’” (Matthew 16:24-28, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matthew 19:29-30, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  8. “Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, ‘I am terrified and trembling.’ No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:21-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Saturday 3/21/20

Title: “Don’t Be Fooled by These ‘I Feel Statements’: On Intuition and Reason at the Instigation of the Holy Spirit

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day and for all the love and compassion which You use to reconcile in all virtues and pains, through truth and honesty, in a heart held open to You.  Please my Lords, help us this day to try to reconcile in more quickly past injustices, hurts, wrongs, and pains, into Your loving arms of openness in honesty, to continue to tread that middle ground of the upright.

 

“Don’t Be Fooled by These ‘I Feel’ Statements: On Intuition and Reason at the Instigation of the Holy Spirit

“Don’t be fooled by her ‘I feel statements,’ because a long and thoughtful reason-based argument, backed up with data and evidence, is sure to follow.”  In the sound logic and well-thought-out discourse streaming heartily after just another run-of-the-mill “I feel statements” to begin it, it becomes quite clear that this is not an “I feel statement” at all, but a long and wordy discourse, verbose with explanatory power.  This sort of “I feel statement,” is not the product of this post-modern age, where all primacy is given to individual sentiments and feelings, individuality and uniqueness, and a disregard for universal truth.  But rather, these sorts of “I feel statements,” are not evidence at all of feelings, but of rationally grounded thoughts.  And yet, it follows that they are valid feelings, in the way that they originate from the heart.

They do not express emotions, but well-reasoned logic grounded in sound moral values and empathic concern, and so these feelings are not at all expressive of the passions so characteristic of the primordial baseness of man, sunk when he is, to his lowest evolutionary level like a chimpanzee or a primate, an ape.  No, these thoughts voiced as feelings, are of a whole different sort, for they are intuitions more than feelings, and yet these thoughts do come first from the heart.  They are well-ordered and organized, and expressed truly from the soul, through the articulation of the intellect, in an eloquence befitting both the subject and the soul.

So these “feel statements” are of a new sort, and not to do with this age, that denies truth in objectivity, which is irrationality at its full human height.  So this mind of man, that expresses “I feel statements” as thoughts, let’s delve into it further, to see what we find.  Well, this is what is there, it is a two-fold order to fully human thoughts, that led first by the Spirit of holiness and of truth, are both intuitive and rational, and lacking the arrogance upon which they would trip.

In this two-fold division, complementing the unity of heart and mind, there first exists the power of insight and intuition, where by the understanding and grace of the Spirit, it works to attain its first grasp.  “I feel…”.  Then supported by reason, as this faculty is full, God’s gift of understanding in the Spirit is accompanied every step of the way by man’s reason, and the capacity of the intellect.  In this way faith spurs on reason, as reason elaborates, edifies, and builds up, and goes on to new conclusions and fresh outlooks in this process of creative thinking—bolstered by sound logic—at work.

And so the appearance of this, “I feel statement,” to lead the way, coming from this mouth open to the Spirit, ushers always in good truth and good rationality, in the voice of reason coming from true wisdom, God’s Word itself.  So, “in the unity of heart and mind,” intuition and reason work very much like this, so that we remain true to our hearts, close to our souls, open to the newness of fresh perspectives, and supported complementarily always by the sound groundedness and logic of intellectual reasoning.  So this “I feel statement,” with a veritable “I think…” expression to follow, is a sure sign of the Spirit at work in this heart and mind, as it is the soul that feels this out as it intuits, guided by the Spirit in understanding, and in the sureness of a most cerebral knowledge, to all truth.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “‘I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-15, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “[Now] this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us” (1 John 3:19-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:4-6, 13-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Sunday 3/22/20

Title: “Into the Pit: Of Punishment or Persecution. On the ‘Pit Stop’ of Life

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the signs and graces as evidences and tokens of Your influence in my life, as I respond in turn, in kind, with acts of appreciation directed towards You.  Please my Lords, help us this day to continue to allow Your grace to overflow into all aspects of this life, so that bursting with energy and fueled by holy impulse, we may bear good fruit for the Kingdom in all our endeavors.

 

“Into the Pit: Of Punishment or Persecution. On the ‘Pit Stop’ of Life

It seems like there’s always someone going into the pit.  Joseph goes into the pit, the cistern, Daniel goes into the pit, the lion’s den, Jeremiah too is disposed of in the pit, and even evildoers too find their way there, as is the devil too, in Revelation 20, cast into the pit, along with his accomplices of sorts (Rev 19:20).  So what is this pit, this snare, this trap or this punishment, of which we all must be aware, whether we are good souls or bad?  For the Lord showers down rain upon the just and the unjust alike (Matt 5:45), but if needs be you must suffer, see to it that it is for righteousness’s sake and not for evildoing (1 Pet 3:17).  For what grace is there in suffering justly, for wrongdoing?  But if you suffer for well-doing, wrongly, then this is pleasing to the Lord, and you have grace in His sight (1 Pet 2:19-20).

So as we all take this “pit stop” on the road of life, whether it be truly a pit stop, or the final destination of the eternally damned, it has less to do with the fact of suffering, and everything to do with our actions in the midst of it, and what our actions were leading up to it.  Like Daniel, do we suffer persecution for refusing to forsake the ways of our God?  Or like Jeremiah, do our attackers lie in wait, ready to ambush us lest we speak another word against them?  Were they really so foolish as it says in Wisdom 2,

“Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us; he opposes our actions, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the righteous and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him in the end. For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With violence and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him. These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, And they did not know the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense for holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward. For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it” (Wis 2:12-24).

The Suffering Servant in Isaiah, also had to “set his face like flint” (Isa 50:7), against such provokers and evildoers, but as Jesus Himself also said,

“‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.” Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town,  so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matt 23:29-36).

And as Jesus also said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4).

So as we pore over all these cases, of good men being cast into the pit, so to speak, what is it about these men that brings them favor in the Lord’s sight?  They suffer not for doing wrong themselves, and deserving such punishment, but they suffer due to the sins and misdeeds of others.  These are “faultless lambs,” so to speak, in so many shades of white or grey.  These men, suffering in this pit, they have not severed themselves off from the grace of God through wrongdoing on their part, as only the actions of each solitary individual, can cut him or herself off from the “sufficient grace” (2 Cor 12:9) of God.  As Jesus said,

“It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one. But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile” (Matt 15:11, 18-20).

And so as we take a moment to reflect upon these few good men, in this one monumental  pit, we come to see what it is about their cases that makes it tolerable, to be thrust so into such a calamitous situation—it is the grace of God within them—and we see too what leads others to “make shipwreck of themselves in the faith” (1 Tim 1:19), when they are similarly tested, and yet bear evil fruits as evidence of sin—it is the lack of the grace of God within them.  This grace, sufficient and strong, as “my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9; cf. Phil 4:13), this grace sustains them, and even turns the pit that is punishment and due justice to others, into a victory and a rite of passage, a claim of conquering and of strength in the Lord, and trust in God, to these like Daniel, Joseph, Jeremiah, and the rest, who suffer for good-doing and not for committing harm.

And so whether this pit be a pit stop, or your destination in life, it is worth saying, that just as no man can sever himself from the grace of God but that man himself, through his actions and deeds, so too correspondingly, no man can reestablish that grace and repair that burnt bridge, but that man himself, and even in the pit of punishment—as opposed to the pit of persecution—even in the pit of punishment, if he goes into it before permanent death, if he repents and turns his face to the Lord, in seeking out His truth and justice, in justice and mercy, that truth he shall get.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “So when Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the long ornamented tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it” (Genesis 37:23-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “The Lord God has given me
    a well-trained tongue,
    That I might know how to answer the weary
    a word that will waken them.
    Morning after morning
    he wakens my ear to hear as disciples do;
    The Lord God opened my ear;
    I did not refuse,
    did not turn away.
    I gave my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who tore out my beard;
    My face I did not hide
    from insults and spitting.

The Lord God is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He who declares my innocence is near.
Who will oppose me?
Let us appear together.
Who will dispute my right?
Let them confront me.
See, the Lord God is my help;
who will declare me guilty?
See, they will all wear out like a garment,
consumed by moths” (Isaiah 50:4-9, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “‘Come,’ they said, ‘let us devise a plot against Jeremiah, for instruction will not perish from the priests, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. Come, let us destroy him by his own tongue. Let us pay careful attention to his every word.’

Pay attention to me, O Lord,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak on their behalf,
to turn your wrath away from them.
So now, give their children to famine,
deliver them to the power of the sword.
Let their wives be childless and widows;
let their husbands die of pestilence,
their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
May cries be heard from their homes,
when suddenly you send plunderers against them.
For they have dug a pit to capture me,
they have hidden snares for my feet;
But you, Lord, know
all their planning for my death.
Do not forgive their crime,
and their sin do not blot out from your sight!
Let them stumble before you,
in the time of your anger act against them” (Jeremiah 18:18-23, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Then the princes said to the king, ‘This man ought to be put to death. He is weakening the resolve of the soldiers left in this city and of all the people, by saying such things to them; he is not seeking the welfare of our people, but their ruin.’ King Zedekiah answered: ‘He is in your hands,’ for the king could do nothing with them. And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, in the court of the guard, letting him down by rope. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud” (Jeremiah 38:4-6, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Even after Daniel heard that this law had been signed, he continued his custom of going home to kneel in prayer and give thanks to his God in the upper chamber three times a day, with the windows open toward Jerusalem. So these men stormed in and found Daniel praying and pleading before his God. Then they went to remind the king about the prohibition: ‘Did you not sign a decree, O king, that for thirty days, whoever makes a petition to anyone, divine or human, except to you, O king, shall be cast into a den of lions?’ The king answered them, ‘The decree is absolute, irrevocable under the law of the Medes and Persians.’ To this they replied, ‘Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, has paid no attention to you, O king, or to the prohibition you signed; three times a day he offers his prayer.’ The king was deeply grieved at this news and he made up his mind to save Daniel; he worked till sunset to rescue him. But these men pressed the king. ‘Keep in mind, O king,’ they said, ‘that under the law of the Medes and Persians every royal prohibition or decree is irrevocable.’ So the king ordered Daniel to be brought and cast into the lions’ den. To Daniel he said, ‘Your God, whom you serve so constantly, must save you.’ To forestall any tampering, the king sealed with his own ring and the rings of the lords the stone that had been brought to block the opening of the den” (Daniel 6:11-18, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us;
    he opposes our actions,
    Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
    and charges us with violations of our training.
    He professes to have knowledge of God
    and styles himself a child of the Lord.
    To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
    merely to see him is a hardship for us,
    Because his life is not like that of others,
    and different are his ways.
    He judges us debased;
    he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
    He calls blest the destiny of the righteous
    and boasts that God is his Father.

Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him in the end.
For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With violence and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
And they did not know the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense for holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
For God formed us to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made us.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who are allied with him experience it” (Wisdom 2:12-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “He summoned the crowd and said to them, ‘Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.’ Then his disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?’ He said in reply, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.’ Then Peter said to him in reply, ‘Explain [this] parable to us.’ He said to them, ‘Are even you still without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile” (Matthew 15:10-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.” Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:29-26, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.’ So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:3-6, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it’” (Acts 7:51-53, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  6. “Then I saw an angel standing on the sun. He cried out [in] a loud voice to all the birds flying high overhead, ‘Come here. Gather for God’s great feast,to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of military officers, and the flesh of warriors, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of all, free and slave, small and great.’ Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to fight against the one riding the horse and against his army. The beast was caught and with it the false prophet who had performed in its sight the signs by which he led astray those who had accepted the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped its image. The two were thrown alive into the fiery pool burning with sulfur.  The rest were killed by the sword that came out of the mouth of the one riding the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (Revelation 19:17-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  7. “Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time.

Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over these; they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for [the] thousand years.

When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. They invaded the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them.  I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire” (Revelation 20, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, 9but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “I entrust this charge to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophetic words once spoken about you. Through them may you fight a good fight by having faith and a good conscience. Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.

‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:19-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Monday 3/23/20

Title: “Spiritual Inertia”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the pain, suffering, strength, and grace, which borne rightly in Your presence, all work together so effectively to lead to our greater spiritual progress throughout the day.  Please my Lords, in this new morning of awakening within, please grant that we may stay always within Your sight, and behold ourselves and the world always through Your loving eyes.

 

“Spiritual Inertia”

Spiritual inertia.  There is a pace that I call spiritual inertia, that must be rounded out and tempered down to its source of life within the soul to be most thoroughly utilized and most properly understood.  This spiritual inertia, it is the pace and the regulation, the speed as well as the moderation, of the Spirit over the body, the will over its actions, the better judgment over its actual choices, and all of the soul’s faculties, intellect, will, and memory, all working in perfect harmony and well-ordered unity as one.  In order for this harmonious balance and “well-ordered unity” to occur, a matter of prioritization must first take place.  There must be established a hierarchy within the soul, so that what I mean when I say “well-ordered” is in actuality “rightly-ordered,” with the Spirit taking precedence over the demands of the body, the reason and rationality of the intellect taking superiority over the urges and impulses of the will, and the desire for God’s will and the Kingdom, first and foremost, and the salvation of souls, taking priority and precedence over self-will and selfish pleasures, or self-inclined desires, so that all things are working uniformly under God.

As we always place this precept before us and “seek ye first the Kingdom” (Matt 6:33), we then set our hearts and minds aright in honoring the greatest commandment, to love the LORD thy God, with all thy heart, mind, strength, and soul (Matt 22:36-38; cf. Deut 6:5).  With this priority in place, and this hierarchy arranged thus so in this fashion, the ideal for perfect living is then set out, and we, for our part, do our best to uphold this ideal and to actually live up to it.  For even as St. Paul had said, there is a law within us, and the things that I would do I find that I won’t, and the things I rather wouldn’t do I find that I do! (Rom 7:15, 19, 21-24).  St. Paul was hardly alone in observing this predicament of a soul encased in flesh, a righteous mind in the midst of a carnal world and body, ripe with its appetites, lusts, desires, and non-spiritual drives and pleasures.

And so it is of the utmost importance that all these drives and inclinations, impulses and urges, instincts and desires, be brought into uniformity and harmony through that mind, body, and soul connection, with the Spirit of holiness dictating the direction and recommending the speed.  So when these carnal or bodily impulses are not brought fully under the control of the Spirit, they can be tempted through suggestions by other sources apart from God, and so be brought into disharmony and discord with that Spirit within us.  Thus St. Paul famously says, “For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want” (Gal 5:17), as if there were a war of members (Rom 7:23) within us, which indeed there is—if this first rule of priority is not always given to God.

So all stemming forth from this, in a “rightly-ordered soul,” the prioritization of the LORD that takes place within the mind’s eye, it has this wonderful energy of that first commandment realized, and the true love of God, His agapē, rushes forth in the soul.  This spiritual drive and impulse, that runs through this Spirit straight from Him, is the purest of motivations and the cleanest of burning energies, as it is for God and from God, in perfect reciprocity.  And so the second commandment then takes shape, with our shared interest in the salvation of souls, as the excess of that energy overpours and runs off, into endeavors benefitting our fellow man.  And in this way this energy, of the purest burning fuel, this love of God it powers us wildly, sublimely, all within perfect time and control.  And so the pace of this momentum, becomes very important to regulate and control, as we take heed to bridle in this “spiritual inertia,” to carry us cleanly on through to salvation, all throughout this one day.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Authorized King James Version).
  2. “All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Matthew 6:32-34, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking, Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:34-40, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  4. “Did the good, then, become death for me? Of course not! Sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin, worked death in me through the good, so that sin might become sinful beyond measure through the commandment. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin” (Romans 7:13-25, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another” (Galatians 5:16-26, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Tuesday 3/24/20

Title: “The Hideaway”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day, and for all the truth and honesty, gentleness and candor, and wisdom mixed with sound reproach, with which You feed and fuel on in solid teachings Thy servants and the faithful.  Please my Lords, help us this day to learn better of Thee through Thy Word and Thy sayings, in the Scriptures foretelling of Thee alongside Thine own words, as we delve deeply into this book, the Bible, of which our own lives, in communion with You, are the next chapter to come.

 

“The Hideaway”

The hideaway.  It seems like Jesus was always hiding Himself away, or going off on His own to pray, all throughout the Gospels.  This tendency of His, to recede back into His own and to steal away for time apart, only serves to highlight the importance of prayer in His life, and insofar as we are to live in imitation of Him, it speaks to us as to what we ought to seek to do of our own accord, even in the midst of many faithful, who in unity, “were all with one accord” (Acts 2:1, cf. v. 46).  So as we search out perhaps a hidden importance in His ministry, in this constantly “hiding himself away,” we can come to many sound conclusions all with an allegorical approach.

But to begin with the literal, He surely needed His rest and His peace, as all good work ought to be first grounded in contemplation.  As it was said by St. Thomas Aquinas, “The contemplative life is, absolutely speaking, more perfect than the active life, because the latter is taken up with bodily actions: yet that form of active life in which a man, by preaching and teaching, delivers to others the fruits of his contemplation, is more perfect than the life that stops at contemplation, because such a life is built on an abundance of contemplation, and consequently such was the life chosen by Christ” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, Q. 40, A. 1, Ad 2).  The truly contemplative life, necessarily overflows into good fruits in the active life, as if it is truly contemplative and rooted in Christ, it cannot help but to flow forth with the good fruits that bear witness to this in the good works of an active life.

Just as all good works flow forth from God, and all good activity is grounded first in contemplation, it surely follows that Jesus too practiced this prayerful contemplation in seeking time apart from the rest, and I daresay even began this tradition of doing so to establish a union and unity with the Father, through that Spirit of holiness shared by them within.

But insofar as an allegory is concerned, in this concept of being hidden away, I daresay He did so not to literally hide in cowardice or fear, as He faced His own death and crucifixion through the will of the Father, as boldly and brazenly as the brazen serpent of Moses, held up as a standard, and offering healing and mercy to countless believers, on into the next age and for ages to come.  And even when the crowd in Luke 4:20-30, sought to kill Him, and cast Him off the cliff, He disappeared to their vengeance, and walked right past them in their midst.  So Jesus does not need to run and hide Himself away for protection, but for purposes other than these, and it is more so to renew His sense of prayerful completeness in oneness with the Father, as only in contemplation can one establish such unity and groundedness.

But taking this as an allegory a step further, as a metaphor for the soul’s silent retreat, we read in Psalm 91 of, “the secret place of the most High,” as a secret hiding place “under the shadow of the Almighty,” and the “refuge” of the psalmist.  This secret place is the shelter of the soul, as it is recalled into God, and without taking time out to intentionally do this, it cannot otherwise in collaboration with Him be done.  We take time apart, to be within (Luke 17:21), with our God, as God speaks most directly to us, in the secret place of the soul, through the heart.  Surely He speaks to us through His creation, and His creatures and sons, as all God’s daughters and children can speak His Word in truth and Spirit (John 4:23-24) as long as they maintain union with Him as one.  But to hear God directly from God, from His Spirit within to one’s own soul, is the most direct and purest form of heavenly communication, of prayer, known to man under the Son.

And so this habit of hiding away of Jesus, is a metaphor for this, for the hiding away of our souls from, like His disciples, other creatures, to find our soul’s peace in God.  In this Trinitarian unity, God in Father, Spirit, and Son, we can all find this place and this calling, of a refuge for our soul, in the soul, and not in the world but apart from it—in prayer with God.

This is just a taste of the eternal, as back to the temporal we must return, to bear forth the holy fruit of contemplation to share with the disciples, as they then share with more disciples, in their turn.  But this “secret place of the most High” (Ps 91:1), is the crux of this whole dynamic and dance, as a true partnership and relationship, needs true and heartfelt communication with God, communion with the Trinity, as the holiness of its truth and final stance.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
    shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:1-4, Authorized King James Version).

  1. “And he said, ‘Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.’ When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away” (Luke 4:24-30, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, “Look, here it is,” or, “There it is.” For behold, the kingdom of God is among you’” (Luke 17:20-21, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  3. “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21, Authorized King James Version).
  4. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth’” (John 4:23-24, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  5. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:1-2, 44-47, Authorized King James Version).

 

Wednesday3/25/20

Title: “The Bell Tower’s Last Stand, One Ring Till Midnight: A Story of Curfew, and of Salvation.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new morning and for all the blessings of this day ahead to be unraveled in the mystery of Your divine, unfolding presence, as I grasp tightly to You and cling close to faith.  Please my Lords, as this day unwinds itself to the sweet melody of Your love, let us travel deeper into prayer and more steadfastly into the aim of our hope, as in truth and justice, mercy is there.

 

“The Bell Tower’s Last Stand, One Ring Till Midnight: A Story of Curfew, and of Salvation.”

Beloved.  Beloved.  What a word.  It echoes silently in my ears as I cleanse my eyes and clear my throat.  “Beloved,” I begin, and then stop short as something else takes over in my head and in my heart.  The words trail off as my lips continue to move, as I recite the rest of the passage without missing a beat, but the rest of me has gone somewhere else entirely, as my mind floats off the page, and my awareness slowly drifts away from the podium.

“Beloved…” the word rings in my ears and I slowly open my eyes to find myself transported somewhere else.  “Beloved,” I hear the word again, only this time it is not myself who speaks it, but someone else in the room, somewhere near me, as I struggle to find out where I am.  All things coincide here in perfect time and just exactly to the beat, and without missing a beat, my heart skips over itself in doubling over to double time, and then back to half time, at a slower pace.  Thud-ump!  Thud-ump!  Thud-ump!  In this new location the echo rings out just as clearly as the metaphorical bell that soon shivers out its chime, and withering, shivering, at the intensity of its sound, shivers too are sent up my spine, and then back down reverberating in an unseen reflection of that silhouetted bell tower.  This bell rings not at the hour, nor at the Angelus, nor at any other time common to man but one, and that time being common to all man, down to the very last.

The bell rings five minutes before midnight.  I unwrap my letter from its carefully shrouded envelope as I lift it from the folds of my dress.  The time is near, very near indeed.  I shudder to think what this has started, and rush forth with the flow of my blood to my ears as I reach desperately, intensely, stoically and focused, at how it must end.  This is the last hour, the final call, and I am nearing the end.  For me it is that end that I have sought so much and struggled so desperately to attain, taking care not to cut a corner or miss a step in employing the means to that ends, to arrive at this final step.

The rustling of heavy brocade adorns my stride as it has adorned as curtains the gilded windowsill overlooking the terrace.  The bell soon stops ringing, as one chime becomes five, six, seven…then on to twelve, to mark the hour that no man knows but God.  I half expect to hear thirteen, but then I am shuttled forward to a dead stop as the train lurches forward with the pulling of its gears, and the pounding of its breaks.  A latch hangs off, half undone, as the train door swings open, just like that terrace window had done, years ago.  The top latch on my left shoe hangs open too, as the buckle holding in my ankle and my heel snaps off, and the clink of the tiny bits of metal feels cool and startling against my skin.  My Achilles’ heel feels it, as I slide off the tiny stairway and scurry off into the street.  Dark and soot-covered cobblestone bears witness to this coal-burning fueled town, and I make my way hastily, steadily in tune to the beat.  The heartbeat seems absent, with the pounding of my soles upon the ground under my feet, and as I near that starkly silhouetted bell tower, all my hope rushes forth as one.

The survivor enters the bell tower, to save this one last glance, and looks not up from her footsteps as she streams like steam, like feathers, like a rushing current of wind up the steps.  She storms up like screaming, like a fireball in windchimes, and bursts open the doorway wielding that letter from her pocket.  She hands it, thrusts it, into the hands of the guard, before budging on in her way, and she places just two fingers under my chin as she lifts up my head towards her face.  “This one is going home,” she decrees, as she saves me from dead, and the guard whistles in agreement, as he stamps off my papers of pardon, of exoneration, just seconds before the undertaker has come, to claim unrightfully my head.  This woman she saves me, and in a duchess’s garb she pulls me up, as in these slave’s clothes and dirty face, no one would know, not a soul would ever guess, who this man was, but a King to his God.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. “Then the Lord God said to the snake:

Because you have done this,
cursed are you
among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
while you strike at their heel.

To the woman he said:

I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.

To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,

Cursed is the ground because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
and you shall eat the grass of the field.
 By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

The man gave his wife the name ‘Eve,’ because she was the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:14-20, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In [those] days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be [also] at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matthew 24:36-44, New American Bible Revised Edition).
  2. “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’ And the angel said to her in reply, ‘The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.’  Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,  where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,  cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:26-45, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance” (2 Timothy 4:3-8, New American Bible Revised Edition).

  1. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1 John 4:7-12, New American Bible Revised Edition).

 

Thursday 3/26/20

Title: “A Montage of Metaphors: To Bear Good Fruit

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and all these new fruits of fresh inspiration, just ready to be plucked off and utilized for our peace and prosperity, like the strings on a harp plucking out the notes to a song.  Please my Lords, let Your melody and grace carry us on into the day, and let our work bear good fruit for the Kingdom as we are likewise, carried on into the life to come.  Amen.

 

“A Montage of Metaphors: To Bear Good Fruit

To bear good fruit.  To bear good fruit necessarily involves a bit of self-emptying (Phil 2:7).  It involves hard work, some struggle, some unforeseen disasters, accompanied of course by heroic responses—for it is good fruit—it involves too plenty of good soil (Matt 13:8) in the field of good hearts and good souls (John 4:35-36), and it involves the reaping and harvesting of this fruit, this wheat, this grain, and the clearing out of the field, of our storehouses, these souls, what we have produced from our resources, of good seed and hard labor (Ps 126:5-6).

The bearing of good fruit requires land and workers (Matt 9:37-38), to be sure, and the abundance of offspring from these labors (Matt 11:19; Luke 7:35), of fruit from this planting, and tilling, and work, is dished out both to us and from us, with the measure that we mete (Luke 6:38).  As we take one measure of seed for planting, we triple it from good use, not wasting any time on Thy seed, and bring back thirty, sixty, a hundred times our original worth (Matt 13:8), by using it rightly under the influence of grace from above (John 3:3, 7).

And just as with the good servants, who invest the money entrusted to them (Matt 25:14-30), more shall be given to them, while that deceitful, cowardly servant, who hid his money in a hole in the ground, the Lord shall say to him, “…‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter?  Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?  Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten” (Matt 25:26-28).  For to those who have, more shall be given, and from those who have not, even that which they do have shall be taken from them (Matt 13:12; 25:29).

For these seeds that we have, to be planted likewise, as if born from above, “of water and Spirit” (John 3:5), these seeds shall bear witness not to the seeds—for we know in this metaphor that God’s Word is good—but to the workers, as a failure to produce good fruit from good seed means that it is the heart and the soil that is all wrong.  And so like that barren fig tree (Luke 13:6-9), this land shall be fertilized, and the laborers given one last chance to produce good fruits—in honesty and diligence—before these withered trees (Mark 11:12-13, 20-25) are uprooted, to give room for proven good ones.

“Bring with you therefore fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt 3:8), and confessions of truth from true lips, if you have not an abundance of good fruits to show for your work.  For God does not plant in vain and your confessions shall be heard, and this is a necessary first step of clearing out the weeds from the soil, so that it may produce honest stock.  For seeds grow after their kind (Matt 7:16-20; 1 John 3:7-10), and yours might have tares (Matt 13:24-30) mingled in with them, as the Father of truth and witness does never give birth to lies.

So if from lying lips does your flattery come, like bribery sent off as prayers to a God as an appeal, let the deeds and actions correspond in kind to those words, for a confession from the lips, does sanctify (Rom 10:9-10), based upon the presupposition of honesty in those words.  But when the words do not match actions, we correspondingly reprove, and the lying soul lying behind a deceitful tongue and a frivolous heart and a thankless soul, is neither justified nor sanctified (Rom 10:4-10), and of honor he has none.

But the good fruits “meet for repentance” (Matt 3:8), of this they do share, in the stockhouses of truth and honesty, of which in due time of witness they shall bear.  So as “the father of lies” has his children (John 8:39-41, 44), and his testimony of falsehood they do report, so too “the Father of lights” (James 1:16-18) has His sheep, the true fold, and upon the lips of these children there is no guile, no deceit (Isa 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22), as our words match our actions, and this is how in honesty we bear, the good fruits of honesty, and uprightness in all good works (2 Tim 3:16-17).

“Come to me all ye who are burdened and heavy laden, for my yoke is easy and by burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).  And God’s burden is light when in openness and honesty we bear it, for in truth as God’s witness, God Himself is there with us, to share in compassion, that load.  That heavy load, of honest work, and good fruit for the Kingdom.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. Psalm 126:5-6 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Those who sow in tears
will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves.

  1. Isaiah 53:9 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

He was given a grave among the wicked,
a burial place with evildoers,
Though he had done no wrong,
nor was deceit found in his mouth.

  1. Matthew 3:7-12 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

  1. Matthew 3:7-12 (Authorized King James Version):

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:  and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:  whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

  1. Matthew 7:15-20 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.

  1. Matthew 9:37-38 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

  1. Matthew 11:18-19, 28-30 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

  1. Matthew 11:28-30 (Authorized King James Version):

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

  1. Matthew 13:3-9, 12 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.  When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.  The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’  He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.  Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

  1. Matthew 25:14-30 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’  [Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’  Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter;  so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’  His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?  Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

  1. Mark 11:12-14, 20-25 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs.  And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”  Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God.  Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.  When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”

  1. Luke 6:37-45 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” And he told them a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?  No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

  1. Luke 7:33-35 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

  1. Luke 13:6-9 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. [So] cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.”

  1. John 3:1-8 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”  Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.  What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’  The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

  1. John 4:34-38 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.  Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.  For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

  1. John 8:39-47 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this.  You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, “We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me.  Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me?  Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.”

  1. Romans 10:4, 8-10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

For Christ is the end of the law for the justification of everyone who has faith.

But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we preach), for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

  1. Philippians 2:6-8 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
     Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
     he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.

  1. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it,  and that from infancy you have known [the] sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

  1. James 1:16-18 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

  1. 1 Peter 2:22 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

  1. 1 John 3:7-10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God. In this way, the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother.

 

Friday 3/27/20

Title: “The Self-Emptying Vessel: Try this Death-Defying Trick”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the love not lost through these daily practices and prayerful little constant reminders, of Your love for us, which keeps us ever rooted in faith, as You indeed help us maintain our hope in You.  Please my Lords, help us this day to keep our eyes fixed in holiness upon Your Son, so that in all things, both spiritual and mundane, we can hold our hearts up to You in heaven, and though our bodies may work, our Spirits shall sing.

 

“The Self-Emptying Vessel: Try this Death-Defying Trick”

The act of self-emptying, mentioned in Philippians 2:7 and commonly known in describing Jesus’s self-emptying as “kenosis,” is a practice that we can all partake in, as we clean out our hearts, cleanse our minds, purify our mindset, and enlighten our eyes (Ps 19:9).  As we place our hearts in heaven (Matt 6:21), in placing our desires first and foremost for God (Ps 16:8), we seek first the Kingdom (Matt 6:33), and then we build up and find it (Matt 7:7; 7:24-27), in constructing our lives in congruence with Ruach Elohim.  And as we cater to this Holy Spirit, crowning like a monument the temple of our souls (1 Cor 3:9, 16-17; 6:19-20), the lines fall upon us in pleasant places (Ps 16:6), as the territory marking out God’s will for us in our lives becomes very evident (Matt 7:21), and in Him and for Him our lives, our souls, we build.

We build up in virtue, and never in mere vanity inflate, as it has been said by François Fénelon, “‘Knowledge puffs up.’  Only ‘love builds up.”  And as we guard closely these Spirits, these shelters, of an internal retreat, we find that our God is there residing with us and in us (Isa 6:14), just as He had in the house (Ps 24:4), the Temple built by Solomon, and in the Tabernacle before him (2 Samuel 7:1-7, 10-17).

And so these lives that we fill with God, we do so first by an act of self-emptying, of sacrifice tangible in some way, evidenced by what we are giving up.  And in this letting go of attachments, this Spirit of detachment it finds us, and clings close to us as we of our own selves cling to nothing apart from the hope in our God.  Hope saves us… (Rom 8:24-25).  But in this act of self-emptying, it is in repeating it that we thereby maintain, this perpetual state of emptiness, like a beautiful garden that maintains its loveliness for the work of the gardener and his men.  And we constantly self-empty, seeking the cross and not ourselves (Matt 16:24-26), and in this way we find Jesus, in that Spirit within our souls.  These roots we plant in Him, like a branch grafted upon His vine (John 15:1-10), His tree, they help us to bear good fruit and to witness, that He’s living within us and loving within us, through Father, Son, and Spirit, all three.

But these hearts that we lift up to the Father in heaven, it is in these that this self-emptying finds its release, as in keeping them open, these vessels become more like valves, like portals, than mere vessels as vases of metaphorical pottery (Jer 18:1-12).  And as these vessels do remain open, they pump out just like the human anatomical heart, all the love, Paschal blood, and agapē, that we keep not for ourselves, but pump out.

So it is in this crucial act of openness, that this cleansing, this emptying occurs, as these potter’s vessels (Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27) and urns become heart valves and channels, sweeping breath and blood through us just like that Selfsame Spirit, sweeping over the abyss (Gen 1:2).  And as we let that clot of self-seeking pass through us, an obstructed view focused on self, the bottoms to these vases flip open, and we begin to live as we ought.  And God pours His Spirit into us as He makes us these new hearts (Ezek 36:26-27), as we then pour it out just like He did in turn, to spread the gift that is received only in giving, as the love that is loving itself as an action, and not seeking to gain it in our turn, as a return.  It is in this constant giving and emptying that we find our release, our peace (John 14:27), as that Spirit it swiftly slides right through us, to insert its breath in our place.

And as we hold our place vacant, as a placeholder kept for a King, our God, our God fills up with smoke the lofty throne of the golden mercy seat (Exo 40:34-38), kept burnished (Mal 3:2-3; Rev:1:15) by keeping those laws and the faith intact within us, in our hearts open to Him.  And in upholding what He says and His commands (John 14:15-21, 23), in this way we uphold God Himself, as our God rules our hearts and our Kingdoms, in keeping nothing back for ourselves.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. Genesis 1:1-2 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth— and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—

  1. Genesis 1:1-2 (Authorized King James Version):

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

  1. Exodus 40:34-38 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  Moses could not enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  Whenever the cloud rose from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on their journey.  But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward.  The cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire in the cloud at night, in the sight of the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey.

  1. 2 Samuel 7:1-7, 10-17 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

 After the king had taken up residence in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies on every side, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent!” Nathan answered the king, “Whatever is in your heart, go and do, for the Lord is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell David my servant, Thus says the Lord: Is it you who would build me a house to dwell in? I have never dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up from Egypt to this day, but I have been going about in a tent or a tabernacle. As long as I have wandered about among the Israelites, did I ever say a word to any of the judges whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?

I will assign a place for my people Israel and I will plant them in it to dwell there; they will never again be disturbed, nor shall the wicked ever again oppress them, as they did at the beginning, and from the day when I appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you:  when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.  I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments; but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.  Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever.  In accordance with all these words and this whole vision Nathan spoke to David.

  1. Psalm 2:6-11 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“I myself have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord,
he said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask it of me,
and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
and, as your possession, the ends of the earth.

With an iron rod you will shepherd them,
like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them.”
And now, kings, give heed;
take warning, judges on earth.
Serve the Lord with fear;
exult with trembling,
Accept correction
lest he become angry and you perish along the way
when his anger suddenly blazes up.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him!

  1. Psalm 16:5-8 (Authorized King James Version):

The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:
thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel:
my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
 I have set the Lord always before me:
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

  1. Psalm 19:8-10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eye.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The statutes of the Lord are true,
all of them just;

  1. Psalm 27:4-5 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
 For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.

  1. Isaiah 6:14-16 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.  Curds and honey he will eat so that he may learn to reject evil and choose good;  for before the child learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of those two kings whom you dread shall be deserted.

  1. Jeremiah 18:1-12 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord:  Arise and go down to the potter’s house; there you will hear my word.  I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel.  Whenever the vessel of clay he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making another vessel of whatever sort he pleased. Then the word of the Lord came to me:  Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?—oracle of the Lord. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. At one moment I may decree concerning a nation or kingdom that I will uproot and tear down and destroy it;  but if that nation against whom I have decreed turns from its evil, then I will have a change of heart regarding the evil which I have decreed.  At another moment, I may decree concerning a nation or kingdom that I will build up and plant it;  but if that nation does what is evil in my eyes, refusing to obey my voice, then I will have a change of heart regarding the good with which I planned to bless it.

And now, tell this to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am fashioning evil against you and making a plan. Return, all of you, from your evil way; reform your ways and your deeds.  But they will say, “No use! We will follow our own devices; each one of us will behave according to the stubbornness of our evil hearts!”

  1. Ezekiel 36:25-28 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them. You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.  

  1. Malachi 3:1-3

Now I am sending my messenger—
he will prepare the way before me;
And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple;
The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—
see, he is coming! says the Lord of hosts.
But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand firm when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire,
like fullers’ lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the Levites,
Refining them like gold or silver,
that they may bring offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

  1. Matthew 6:19-23, 31-34 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

  1. Matthew 7:7-8, 21-27 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.  And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

  1. Matthew 16:24-28 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

  1. John 14:15-27 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.  Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.  The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

  1. John 15:1-10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

  1. Romans 8:24-25 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:8-9 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,  the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.  But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.  Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

  1. Philippians 2:6-8 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
     Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
     he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.

  1. Revelation 1:12-16 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest.  The hair of his head was as white as white wool or as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame. His feet were like polished brass refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing water. In his right hand he held seven stars. A sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest.

  1. Revelation 2:26-29 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

“‘“To the victor, who keeps to my ways until the end,
I will give authority over the nations.
He will rule them with an iron rod.
Like clay vessels will they be smashed,

just as I received authority from my Father. And to him I will give the morning star.

‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

 

Saturday 3/28/20

Title: “Ezekiel’s Vision: A Metaphor for the Act of Continual Christian Conversion. A Conceptual Model of Faith.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the blessings of Your presence that await us as this day unfolds, as around each corner of life’s surprises we continue to turn, deeper into You—always to You.  Please my Lords, help us this day to continue to persevere in growth and spiritual maturity, and to place our life in Your hands as we entrust ourselves to You, enjoying by faith the hand of Your providence, as we for our part, work with the utmost diligence to see, understand, and fulfill Your will.

 

“Ezekiel’s Vision: A Metaphor for the Act of Continual Christian Conversion. A Conceptual Model of Faith.”

Around the corner—always turning.  This is one crucial component to the Christian life—the act of turning, or that is, of conversion.  What it means to turn, is to make progress, to change, to become something better, and to improve.  As we cease to turn, we cease to change, and with the lack of movement, upward and forward momentum, and progress, comes the stagnant waters of complacency, which become like cesspools harboring attachments, fixations, internally-originating setbacks, and imperfections, if we let this lack of progress and initiative remain.  The continual act of conversion, of constant progress and change, can be made as an analogy to be represented by Ezekiel’s Vision, of the chariot and throne of the living God.

The description of this image, offered at least twice (Ezek 1:5-25; 10:4-22; Dan 10:4-9; Rev 4:6-8), in this case describes the figure of God in a chariot atop four creatures, who each have four faces, and so when they turn, they do not swivel from an axis in their place, but rather stay stationary, and use each of their four faces for each of the four directions to which they may turn.  These creatures are of God and under God, like some sort of angels or seraphim, cherubim to be sure, with the upward movement of those coals burning within them.  But the most striking thing about this description, is that “full of eyes” (Ezek 1:18; 10:12; Rev 4:6, 8), and “all-seeing” though they may be, they keep turning and seeing as one, without turning individually (Ezek 1:9, 12, 17; 10:11), navigating around the current path of their circumstances.

Just because one has already turned to God does not mean that one cannot turn into Him further, and indeed one ought to be doing just that if one is on the true path to perfection.  One must always be turning into God, as if turning around a corner, and into the unseen that lies beyond, through faith, as we then most miraculously—correspondingly—then turn into truer selves more like God, as if suddenly making use of a face, another person within us, that we didn’t know we had.  It is in this perpetual motion of turning, of conversion into YHWH, that we become who we are meant to be under His plan, as according to the will of God, our truest selves are Christ, as the Lord Christ Jesus was sent for just this purpose, to be the life, the best life possible, within us, that through Him we may live and may have (John 10:10, 28; 11:25; 14:6; 17:3; Rom 5:21; Phil 1:21; Heb 7:25; 1 Pet 5:10; 1 John 5:11-13).  Our truest selves are Jesus, according to popular Christian thought.  And as we turn more and more to God in the midst of our struggles, we become by that very doing, more and more like God, and in this way, we become other Christs in our heart.

So this vision of Ezekiel, with the four creatures with four faces (Ezek 1:5-12; 10:10-14) holding up like a chariot, like cherubim, their God, we in our continual act of Christian conversion, shall become more like these angelic creatures, with a new face lifted up to each turn.  For, what for man is impossible, is possible with God (Matt 19:26; Luke 1:37; cf. Gen 18:14), and as we continually turn to God, and into God, both correspondingly at the same time, we shall discover that we too have these other three faces, that see for us in directions which we cannot see on our own.  But we trust in the Trinity, and so these three other sides and faces emerge, to help us ground our perspective and trust in their foresight, and hindsight, as we live in this way, in cooperation with our God.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. Genesis 18:1-3, 10-15 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

1 [a]The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir,[b] if it please you, do not go on past your servant.

10 One of them[e] said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her menstrual periods. 12 So Sarah laughed[f] to herself and said, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?” 13 But the Lord said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really bear a child, old as I am?’ 14 Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes, you did.”

  1. Ezekiel 1:4-28 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

As I watched, a great stormwind came from the North,[c] a large cloud with flashing fire, a bright glow all around it, and something like polished metal gleamed at the center of the fire. From within it figures in the likeness of four living creatures[d] appeared. This is what they looked like: They were in human form, but each had four faces and four wings, and their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass. Human hands were under their wings, and the wings of one touched those of another. Their faces and their wings looked out on all their four sides; they did not turn when they moved, but each went straight ahead.

10 [e]Their faces were like this: each of the four had a human face, and on the right the face of a lion, and on the left, the face of an ox, and each had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above. On each one, two wings touched one another, and the other two wings covered the body. 12 Each went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they went; they did not change direction when they moved. 13 [f]And the appearance of the living creatures seemed like burning coals of fire. Something indeed like torches moved back and forth among the living creatures. The fire gleamed intensely, and from it lightning flashed. 14 The creatures darting back and forth flashed like lightning

15 [g]As I looked at the living creatures, I saw wheels on the ground, one alongside each of the four living creatures. 16 The wheels and their construction sparkled like yellow topaz, and all four of them looked the same: their construction seemed as though one wheel was inside the other. 17 When they moved, they went in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. 18 The four of them had rims, high and fearsome—eyes filled the four rims all around. 19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved with them; and when the living creatures were raised from the ground, the wheels also were raised. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they went. And they were raised up together with the living creatures, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 Wherever the living creatures moved, the wheels moved; when they stood still, the wheels stood still. When they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up with them. For the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 [h]Above the heads of the living creatures was a likeness of the firmament; it was awesome, stretching upwards like shining crystal over their heads. 23 Beneath the firmament their wings stretched out toward one another; each had two wings covering the body. 24 Then I heard the sound of their wings, like the roaring of mighty waters, like the voice of the Almighty. When they moved, the sound of the tumult was like the din of an army. And when they stood still, they lowered their wings. 25 While they stood with their wings lowered, a voice came from above the firmament over their heads.

26 Above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne that looked like sapphire; and upon this likeness of a throne was seated, up above, a figure that looked like a human being.[i] 27 And I saw something like polished metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed on all sides, from what looked like the waist up; and from what looked like the waist down, I saw something like the appearance of fire and brilliant light surrounding him. 28 Just like the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day so was the appearance of brilliance that surrounded him. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speak.

  1. Ezekiel 10:10-22 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

10 And the appearance of the four all seemed alike, as though one wheel were inside the other. 11 When they moved, they went in any of the four directions without veering as they moved; in whatever direction the first cherub faced, the others followed without veering as they went. 12 Their entire bodies—backs, hands, and wings—and wheels were covered with eyes all around like the four wheels. 13 I heard the wheels called “wheelwork.” 14 Each living creature had four faces: the first a cherub, the second a human being, the third a lion, the fourth an eagle. 15 [b]When the cherubim rose up, they were indeed the living creatures I had seen by the river Chebar. 16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels went beside them; when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise from the earth, even then the wheels did not leave their sides. 17 When they stood still, the wheels stood still; when they rose up, the wheels rose up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them. 18 Then the glory of the Lord left the threshold of the temple and took its place upon the cherubim. 19 The cherubim lifted their wings and rose up from the earth before my eyes as they departed with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the entrance of the eastern gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them. 20 [c]These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar. Now I knew they were cherubim. 21 Each of them had four faces and four wings, and something like human hands under their wings. 22 Their faces looked just like the faces I had seen by the river Chebar; and each one went straight ahead.

  1. Daniel 10:4-9 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month[c] I was on the bank of the great river, the Tigris. As I looked up, I saw a man[d] dressed in linen with a belt of fine gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face shone like lightning, his eyes were like fiery torches, his arms and feet looked like burnished bronze, and the sound of his voice was like the roar of a multitude. I alone, Daniel, saw the vision; but great fear seized those who were with me; they fled and hid themselves, although they did not see the vision. So I was left alone to see this great vision. No strength remained in me; I turned the color of death and was powerless. When I heard the sound of his voice, I fell face forward unconscious.

  1. Matthew 19:23-29 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

23 [q]Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 [r]When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” 28 [s]Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. 30 [t]But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

  1. Luke 1:34-38 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”[l] 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived[m] a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

  1. John 10:10-1, 28-30 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,[m] and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. 30 [n]The Father and I are one.”

  1. John 11:25-26 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

  1. John 14:6-7 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth[e] and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.[f] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

  1. John 17:3-5 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

3 [d]Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

  1. Hebrews 7:25 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

25 [q]Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.

  1. Romans 5:21 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  1. 1 Peter 5:10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

10 The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.

  1. Philippians 1:20-26 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

20 My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. 22 If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. 23 I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. 24 Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. 25 And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound on account of me when I come to you again.

  1. 1 John 5:11-13 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.

13 I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

  1. Revelation 4:1-8 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

After this I had a vision of an open door[b] to heaven, and I heard the trumpetlike voice that had spoken to me before, saying, “Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards.” 2 [c]At once I was caught up in spirit. A throne was there in heaven, and on the throne sat one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian. Around the throne was a halo as brilliant as an emerald. Surrounding the throne I saw twenty-four other thrones on which twenty-four elders[d] sat, dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder.[e] Seven flaming torches burned in front of the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. In front of the throne was something that resembled a sea of glass like crystal.

In the center and around the throne, there were four living creatures covered with eyes in front and in back. The first creature resembled a lion, the second was like a calf, the third had a face like that of a human being, and the fourth looked like an eagle[g] in flight. The four living creatures, each of them with six wings,[h] were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and who is, and who is to come.”

 

Sunday 3/29/20

Title: “Of Angels and Demons: A Fun Little Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse. Also Included: A Crash Course on the Book of Revelation.

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the sweet little blessings of these sweet little reminders of You and Your providential love, as we remain in contemplation and remain awake, seeing with the eyes and ears of the soul all that abounds within Your grace.  Please my Lords, help us to remain this day in a prayerful awareness that is yet unspecific and non-particular, in our experiencing of You, so that we may welcome in all that is You to within our minds, as we linger and stay within the bounds of the soul.

 

“Of Angels and Demons: A Fun Little Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse.  Also Included: A Crash Course on the Book of Revelation.

The LORD is my shield and buckler, in times of famine and unrest, I shall not be afraid.  The LORD is my strength and my stay, in the winds of hellfire and the plagues of pestilence, I shall not be afraid.  The LORD is my armor and my soul, in the flurry of hailstones or arrows, I shall not fear.  From beneath the burning rubble of a small corner of ash and debris, the waste and wreckage of a past assault still burns brightly in the mist.  Cool steam rises like smoke, as with smoke it mingles above the burning coals of this blackly-lit village, in the dead of night.  The siren’s call is that long and tediously drawn-out warning to be on alert, from an enemy attack even in the midst of this wreckage, this wasteland, of total demolition in my wake.  Singed bits of paper dance lowly across the sky, as before my eyes the preponderance of kindling from the newspaper plant makes known of these burning, floating blossoms, its wide array.

Good News, Good News, I think to myself, as I allow another series of Psalms to intermingle and take up that space left open between my ears.  In my right hand is a fitted glove, to match the one in my left, and bound to my thighs with cords—bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altarpiece—are a bowie knife, a flare gun, and a small cluster of grenades, resembling a bunch of ripe grapes.  There is a long cool baton hanging from my hip, that I retrieved from a rescuer as he died with praise of love for his mother on his lips.  This stealthy little outfit is kept to back up the machete in my right hand, looking like a homemade shiv from some escaped prison inmate.  As well it may be, I think, hell if I know.

The sky is black and gray as the profusion of dust and smoke hits my eyes, clouding over the ground burning red and orange in veins of half-lit fires and fully-enflamed, smoldering coals.  An explosion on my left, to the rear, and another follows quickly straight ahead—nor shall I fear the destruction that wasteth at noonday—as my partner screams shrilly, mutedly, to rasp out—Incoming—twelve o’clock, just in the nick of time for me to jump to the side and cover my head.  I let the soundwaves of the explosion ripple through the air as I feel them through the ground, for just an instant or two before he yanks my arm up to lift me to my feet.  There now, he smirks, patting the dust off my shoulders as a cloud of it then emerges in agitation from my hair.  We proceed in silence, if you can call it that, because all that goes unspoken is heard like a fire alarm between us, the silence is so denseThis tension, you could cut it with a knife, I think, as suddenly up ahead of us, a whole team of tiny black uniformed soldiers storm around a building we know to be housing the dead.

As these small black streams of soot are pried off of us as we rush forward in the wind, with the strength of all of God’s angels we set forth to our task.  The knife left in my waistband, hidden from sight, finds its way into a window sill as I pry out one pane of glass at a time from the low-set windows.  We storm through this open shelter sifting and gathering up souls, as the army of darkness steadies in for its last stand.  We storm though the windows like yelling streams of fire, and the black demons like coals, they coat the outer feathers of wings upon my back, as in an outburst of strength like a brute I rip through them, and they hold be down and back as I fling them like flies, like locusts, off my partner’s back.  We make our way to the entrance of the storm cellar before they let loose the undead, and my partner and I stare wordlessly into each other’s eyes, OK this is it, one last time before we know the latch must be undone.

What is let loose, is only a matter of time, and so as we get ready to flip the latch and step back, awaiting an onslaught of the bloodthirsty living dead, we hold in our arms our weapons wielded high overhead.  I’m going to bring down such raging fury upon these unclean souls, that never before will the like of this zombie massacre have been witnessed on this earth.  My partner gives me one last kiss, as forcefully as he speaks, and then as the first living dead rushes out with his eyes in his mouth and claws in his hands, I bring my machete crashing down upon him, with the force of all my strength.  One, then two, then three more rush out as we ready our stance, and I wipe the sweat from my brow in frenetic anticipation, of our victory over this one last dance.  Let’s clean house, he says, as he soars into them sword in hand, and this shapes up to be a beautiful day, for victory in the LORD.  And the coal burns brightly into the night.  The End.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. Genesis 19:15-26 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

15 As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “Come on! Take your wife with you and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 When he hesitated, the men, because of the Lord’s compassion for him, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. 17 As soon as they had brought them outside, they said: “Flee for your life! Do not look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Flee to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.” 18 “Oh, no, my lords!” Lot replied to them. 19 “You have already shown favor to your servant, doing me the great kindness of saving my life. But I cannot flee to the hills, or the disaster will overtake and kill me. 20 Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It is only a small place.[f] Let me flee there—is it not a small place?—to save my life.” 21 “Well, then,” he replied, “I grant you this favor too. I will not overthrow the town you have mentioned. 22 Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” That is why the town is called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot arrived in Zoar, 24 and the Lord rained down sulfur upon Sodom and Gomorrah, fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 He overthrew[g] those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

  1. Joshua 5:13-15 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

13 [d]While Joshua was near Jericho, he raised his eyes and saw one who stood facing him, drawn sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you one of us or one of our enemies?” 14 He replied, “Neither. I am the commander[e] of the army of the Lord: now I have come.” Then Joshua fell down to the ground in worship, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The commander of the army of the Lord replied to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

  1. Joshua 6:20-27 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

20 As the horns blew, the people began to shout. When they heard the sound of the horn, they raised a tremendous shout. The wall collapsed,[b] and the people attacked the city straight ahead and took it. 21 They observed the ban by putting to the sword all living creatures in the city: men and women, young and old, as well as oxen, sheep and donkeys.

22 To the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out the woman with all her family, as you swore to her you would do.” 23 The spies entered and brought out Rahab, with her father, mother, brothers, and all her family; her entire family they led forth and placed outside the camp of Israel. 24 The city itself they burned with all that was in it; but the silver, gold, and articles of bronze and iron they placed in the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 [c]Because Rahab the prostitute had hidden the messengers whom Joshua had sent to reconnoiter Jericho, Joshua let her live, along with her father’s house and all her family, who dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.

26 On that occasion Joshua imposed the oath: Cursed before the Lord be the man who attempts to rebuild this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn will he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son will he set up its gates.[d]

27 Thus the Lord was with Joshua so that his fame spread throughout the land.

  1. Psalm 18:16-19 (Authorized King James Version):

16 He sent from above, he took me,
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from them which hated me:
for they were too strong for me.
18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity:
but the Lord was my stay.
19 He brought me forth also into a large place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

  1. Psalm 23:4 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.

  1. Psalm 28:6-7 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

6 [c]Blessed be the Lord,
who has heard the sound of my pleading.
The Lord is my strength and my shield,
in whom my heart trusts.
I am helped, so my heart rejoices;
with my song I praise him.

  1. Psalm 91:2-13 (Authorized King James Version):

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side,
and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold
and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge,
even the most High, thy habitation;
10 there shall no evil befall thee,
neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee,
to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands,
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

  1. Psalm 118:10-28 (Authorized King James Version):

10 All nations compassed me about:
but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.
11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about:
but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
12 They compassed me about like bees;
they are quenched as the fire of thorns:
for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall:
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song,
and is become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous:
the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted:
the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord hath chastened me sore:
but he hath not given me over unto death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness:
I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
20 this gate of the Lord,
into which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me,
and art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders refused
is become the head stone of the corner.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord:
O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light:
bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee:
thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

  1. Ezekiel 9:3-7 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then the glory of the God of Israel moved off the cherub and went up to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen with the scribe’s case at his waist, and the Lord said to him:[a] Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it. To the others he said in my hearing: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not let your eyes spare; do not take pity. Old and young, male and female, women and children—wipe them out! But do not touch anyone marked with the X. Begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. Defile the temple, he said to them, fill its courts with the slain. Then go out and strike in the city.

  1. Revelation 6:12-17 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

12 [k]Then I watched while he broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth[l] and the whole moon became like blood. 13 The stars in the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs[m] shaken loose from the tree in a strong wind. 14 Then the sky was divided[n] like a torn scroll curling up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place. 15 The kings of the earth, the nobles,[o] the military officers, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid themselves in caves and among mountain crags. 16 They cried out to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of their[p] wrath has come and who can withstand it?”

  1. Revelation 7:1-3 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth,[b] holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on land or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel come up from the East,[c] holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

  1. Revelation 8:1-5 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

When he broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven[b] for about half an hour. And I saw that the seven angels who stood before God were given seven trumpets.

Another angel came and stood at the altar,[c] holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

  1. Revelation 9:1-11 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star[b] that had fallen from the sky to the earth. It was given the key for the passage to the abyss. It opened the passage to the abyss, and smoke came up out of the passage like smoke from a huge furnace. The sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the passage. Locusts came out of the smoke onto the land, and they were given the same power as scorpions[c] of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or any tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not allowed to kill them but only to torment them for five months;[d] the torment they inflicted was like that of a scorpion when it stings a person. During that time these people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die but death will escape them.

7 [e]The appearance of the locusts was like that of horses ready for battle. On their heads they wore what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, and they had hair like women’s hair. Their teeth were like lions’ teeth, and they had chests like iron breastplates. The sound of their wings was like the sound of many horse-drawn chariots racing into battle. 10 They had tails like scorpions, with stingers; with their tails they had power to harm people for five months. 11 They had as their king the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon[f] and in Greek Apollyon.

  1. Revelation 10:5-7 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and earth and sea[d] and all that is in them, “There shall be no more delay. At the time when you hear the seventh angel blow his trumpet, the mysterious plan of God[e] shall be fulfilled, as he promised to his servants the prophets.”

  1. Revelation 11:3-13, 19 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

I will commission my two witnesses[c] to prophesy for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands[d] that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 [e]If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and devours their enemies. In this way, anyone wanting to harm them is sure to be slain. They have the power to close up the sky so that no rain can fall during the time of their prophesying. They also have power to turn water into blood and to afflict the earth with any plague as often as they wish.When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss[f] will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city,[g] which has the symbolic names “Sodom” and “Egypt,” where indeed their Lord was crucified. 9 [h]Those from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation will gaze on their corpses for three and a half days, and they will not allow their corpses to be buried. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and be glad and exchange gifts because these two prophets tormented the inhabitants of the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them. When they stood on their feet, great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on. 13 At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell in ruins. Seven thousand people[i] were killed during the earthquake; the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.

  1. Revelation 14:6-7, 17-20 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with everlasting good news[f] to announce to those who dwell on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for his time has come to sit in judgment. Worship him who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of water.”

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven who also had a sharp sickle. 18 Then another angel [came] from the altar,[l] [who] was in charge of the fire, and cried out in a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth’s vines, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage. He threw it into the great wine press of God’s fury. 20 The wine press was trodden outside the city and blood poured out of the wine press to the height of a horse’s bridle for two hundred miles.[m]

  1. Revelation 16:17-21 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” 18 Then there were lightning flashes, rumblings, and peals of thunder, and a great earthquake. It was such a violent earthquake that there has never been one like it since the human race began on earth. 19 The great city[i] was split into three parts, and the gentile cities fell. But God remembered great Babylon, giving it the cup filled with the wine of his fury and wrath. 20 [j]Every island fled, and mountains disappeared. 21 Large hailstones like huge weights came down from the sky on people, and they blasphemed God for the plague of hail because this plague was so severe.

  1. Revelation 19:11-21 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

11 [g]Then I saw the heavens opened, and there was a white horse; its rider was [called] “Faithful and True.” He judges and wages war in righteousness. 12 His eyes were [like] a fiery flame, and on his head were many diadems. He had a name[h] inscribed that no one knows except himself. 13 He wore a cloak that had been dipped in[i] blood, and his name was called the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven followed him, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white linen. 15 Out of his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he himself will tread out in the wine press[j] the wine of the fury and wrath of God the almighty. 16 He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

17 [k]Then I saw an angel standing on the sun. He cried out [in] a loud voice to all the birds flying high overhead, “Come here. Gather for God’s great feast, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of military officers, and the flesh of warriors, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of all, free and slave, small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to fight against the one riding the horse and against his army. 20 The beast was caught and with it the false prophet[l] who had performed in its sight the signs by which he led astray those who had accepted the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped its image. The two were thrown alive into the fiery pool burning with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed by the sword that came out of the mouth of the one riding the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

  1. Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

1 [a]Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss[b] and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan,[c] and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time.

7 [f]When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog,[g] to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. They invaded the breadth of the earth[h] and surrounded the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

 

Monday 3/30/20

Title: “Spiritual Training. A Fanciful Adventure Story, with its Moral Hidden in Good Morale.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the blessings, great and small, in this world and this life, through which You make Your presence known, and which serve as reminders and as stepping stones, leading me back into Your truest and most purely communicated spiritual territory, that of the soul, deep within the human heart.  Please my Lords, help us this day to bring grace and gratitude into all that we do, as the provisions of good seed for sowing, to ensure that we reap good fruits of positive efforts in our labors, when the time for the harvest finally comes.

 

Spiritual Training. A Fanciful Adventure Story, with its Moral Hidden in Good Morale.”

The angel lifts her wings high overhead as she stretches her shoulders back behind her, forming a high arch to her back as her breastplate is lifted up to the sky (1 Thess 5:8).  The tumult and terror of a band of angry demons pull her down from behind, like a swarm of bees or a host of leeches, and she struggles to break through their bonds, as like cords and fetters, chains and weights, dragging her down from behind her, they hamper and attack.  This battle is not over, and the force of God is one that cannot be overcome, if one maintains hope in His mystery in the face of all fear, hatred, and terror (Eph 6:10-17).

The turbulence of this disastrous flight summons to mind visions of Vikings and Valkyries, and angels in the battlefield swooping down to protect weary soldiers on the last leg of their journey, so that they do not fall in battle.  A huge armor plating covers the shins of both legs, as she ricochets the shadowy night creatures off them with the force of iron-wrought, ropey, wiry muscles, winding down her legs.  This is spiritual weight training, and heavy lifting for the firm of heart (James 5:8).

This strength resistance training for the soul, is that of perseverance through affliction, maintaining a sense of harmony through discord, a sense of perspective while in the deepest, darkest hole, and a sense of hope when forsaken, when all seems completely and utterly lost.  It is in precisely these situations that hope works best, for then it is truly hope, as it is rightly placed in God and not in the world, as we cooperate with Him and His grace by putting in our own best efforts ourselves also.  In this moment of turbulence and tribulation, of spiritual affliction or worldly persecution, of inward suffering or an outward struggle, this is the moment, the time and the space, to grow strong from the battle and form a fortress out of the heart.  The Spirit of God lives in us, and as we make ourselves its home it makes itself known (John 14:16-17), and at that very last hour when only an act of God would do, that is precisely what we get, and no more, no less, as we become conquerors in the Spirit over what temptation would have us otherwise do (Rom 8:37).

And as we become seasoned veterans of this battle, waging war inside, we gain the gift of extra help, in the form of heavier burdens, harder challenges, steeper climbs, and tougher fights, more difficulty all in all, truly like heavier weights upon our backs to complement larger spiritual muscles and heart-strength, to help us grow stronger and remain strong, as steadfast in faith, surefooted in hope, and diligent in God’s will, both in discerning it and in following it through (1 Thess 5:14).  For we want to be the ones to say, “It is completed, I have done all that you have asked,” as we like King David in his youth come bearing the head and prize of the conquered Philistine to our Lord and Master, our King, God, and Maker (Ezek 9:11; cf. John 14:15; 1 Sam 17:55-58).

These weights, like barbells, like shackles, with a ball and chain, they do not detain us though they slow us down, so that we may grow stronger through them, and able as a result to carry that much more weight, in the struggles we bear through courage and fortitude, in the deepest places in our hearts.  And so these demons, they tackle her, trying to overpower her to the ground, but our angel she triumphs, not in her own strength or power, but strictly by virtue of her hope placed in God (2 Cor 12:9-10; Phil 4:13).  For where your heart is, there your treasure is also (Matt 6:21; cf. 1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22), and as we live in the eternal houses of our souls with our only treasure as the LORD, we do find Him in all things, in the way He means to be found.

And so God conquers for these last gaspers, in the Holy Ghost, and He conquers best when we are near dead on the ground, so like Gideon or David, and miniscule in our own right or by our army’s size (Judg 7:2; 1 Sam 17:37, 47), the triumph is just that much more glorious, to the LORD fighting valiantly, unseen, by our side (1 Cor 15:57-58).  And in the words of St. Athanasius, as he had said when St. Anthony of the Desert complained, why did you not help me sooner, to contend with these spirits, these beasts?  And God said, because you were doing such a good job handling them on your own; “‘Where were you?  Why did you not appear at the beginning to stop my pains?’  And a voice came to him: ‘Antony, I was right here, but I waited to see you in action.  And now, because you held out and did not surrender, I will ever be your helper and I will make you renowned everywhere.’  Hearing this, he arose and prayed; and he was so strengthened that he felt his body more vigorous than before” (St. Athanasius, The Life of Saint Anthony, 29).  And so we take the compliment with our heart and our courage, and our new strength in the release.

 

Bibliography:

St. Athanasius. The Life of Saint Anthony. Translated by Robert T. Meyer. Mansfield Centre: Martino Publishing, 2013.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. Judges 7:2-4 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

The Lord said to Gideon: You have too many soldiers with you for me to deliver Midian into their power, lest Israel vaunt itself against me and say, “My own power saved me.”[a] So announce in the hearing of the soldiers, “If anyone is afraid or fearful, let him leave! Let him depart from Mount Gilead!”[b] Twenty-two thousand of the soldiers left, but ten thousand remained. The Lord said to Gideon: There are still too many soldiers. Lead them down to the water and I will test them for you there. If I tell you that a certain man is to go with you, he must go with you. But no one is to go if I tell you he must not.

  1. 1 Samuel 13:13-14 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

13 Samuel replied to Saul: “You have acted foolishly! Had you kept the command the Lord your God gave you, the Lord would now establish your kingship in Israel forever; 14 but now your kingship shall not endure. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart[e] to appoint as ruler over his people because you did not observe what the Lord commanded you.”

  1. 1 Samuel 17:37, 40-51, 54-58 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

37 David continued: “The same Lord who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “Go! the Lord will be with you.”

40 Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag. With his sling in hand, he approached the Philistine.

41 [d]With his shield-bearer marching before him, the Philistine advanced closer and closer to David. 42 When he sized David up and saw that he was youthful, ruddy, and handsome in appearance, he began to deride him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?” Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods 44 and said to him, “Come here to me, and I will feed your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” 45 David answered him: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have insulted. 46 Today the Lord shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will feed your dead body and the dead bodies of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God. 47 All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle belongs to the Lord, who shall deliver you into our hands.”

48 The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters, while David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell on his face to the ground. 50 Thus David triumphed over the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine dead, and did it without a sword in his hand. 51 Then David ran and stood over him; with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath he killed him, and cut off his head.

54 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he kept Goliath’s armor in his own tent.[e]

55 As Saul watched David go out to meet the Philistine, he asked his general Abner, “Abner, whose son is that young man?” Abner replied, “On your life, O king, I have no idea.” 56 And the king said, “Find out whose son the lad is.” 57 So when David returned from slaying the Philistine, Abner escorted him into Saul’s presence. David was still holding the Philistine’s head. 58 Saul then asked him, “Whose son are you, young man?” David replied, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

  1. Ezekiel 9:11 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

11 Just then the man dressed in linen with the scribe’s case at his waist made his report: “I have done as you commanded!”

  1. Matthew 6:19-23 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

19 [m]“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

  1. Acts 13:22

22 Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’

  1. Romans 8:31-39 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

31 [h]What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. 34 Who will condemn? It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things,[i] nor future things, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth,[j] nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  1. John 14:15-17

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate[h] to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth,[i] which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

51 [y]Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.

54 [z]And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin,[aa] and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (New American Bible Revised Edition):
    Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,[c] a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times[d] I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, 9 [e]but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,[f] in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 10 Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.[g]
  2. Ephesians 6:10-17 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

10 [a]Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. 14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  1. Philippians 4:10-14

10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity. 11 Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. 12 I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. 13 I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. 14 Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 14-15 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation.

14 We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.

  1. James 5:7-11 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

7 [c]Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.[d] You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. 10 Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because “the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

 

Tuesday 3/31/20

Title: “The Angel’s Game: St. Augustine’s Reason for Evil, and Hunting for Sport”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the love and compassion You send down in tenderness and mercy upon what is pleasing to You in truth and justice.  Please my Lords, help us this day to remain in the truth, as you remain in me, and to participate in Your divine grace as it rushes forth from that truth held deep inside, as our God within.

 

“The Angel’s Game: St. Augustine’s Reason for Evil, and Hunting for Sport”

Divebombing from overhead, she swoops down over the swarm of black, flying, buzzing, little pests.  Hovering for just a moment over them, she then freefalls for just an instant over a few set slightly apart from the swarm, and then plucks them right out of the sky, before hurling headfirst straight through the air, down into a field below.  Just seconds before impact, the momentum of her nosedive coincides with the updraft of wind under her spread-out wings, and the air catches her, as she is then hurled back up into the sky, from whence she came.  One would almost think it’s a game to observe, this angel, this eagle, this falcon, this bird caught up in the air like a prayer as a whole section of the earth begins to pray.  From Lauds to Matins, the earth turns, and as some take shelter, others take in fruit from the harvest, for the time is nigh.

Centuries ahead or eons ago—in the flux of time’s eternal core it is hard to tell which way it flows—a similar scene is repeated or echoed like a reverberation, to be played out in both directions from the present, in the way that the ripple of eternity from its center moves out.  Expanding wings draw fearsomely near overhead, as a small cluster of demons, ripe for the picking, travel along in their swarm, and an angel overhead bearing whiteness in her wings skyrockets down in a nosedive straight for the cluster of fresh meat.  This is truly a terrifying sight to see from below (St. Augustine, The City of God, 299).  “He was clad in…and locusts were his meat…. He was a lamp and a lantern…” (Matt 3:4; John 5:35).  She plucks out of the sky this small little storm of black demons, and tackling them outright she then rolls into them, tumbling through the air like a massive snowball while crushing them within her curled-around wings.  Like some sort of python or constrictor, some ancient falcon or bird, this archangel is sent line a cannonball through the air from a self-propelled explosion, fueled from within.  “What is the reason for evil,” St. Augustine’s words trail off in my mind, as his pondering, meandering, prayerful line of thought finds harmony and resonance in my own ripple effect within (St. Augustine, The City of God, 385-89).  The beating of her wings, her massive, strong wings, sends pulsating currents through the air, as just to stand near them when in motion, the air proceeding from them alone could knock any man down, and so I shudder to think what those limbs themselves, those appendages could inflict.  A few more beats of those mighty totems like antlers, protruding from the blades of her shoulders, the scapula upon her back, and all the foliage within hearing distance is laid low to the ground and swept clean—with just the force of the wind from those beating wings.

In midair she rolls and tumbles, into her prey, into her prayer as she prays, and swoops up those miniscule, dark, little demons into her clutch as she then rolls over and around them, squeezing them until they break.  Tasking quite right toasted over flames these demons, these locusts are her meat, as she dances and rip-roars above them, preying as fiercely as she is sweet.  With the onset of Compline, the time is indeed nigh, as this angel, this dancer, concludes her sky-ridden game, and turns in for the night.  As St. Augustine wondered, what is the source of this beast, that we know as evil…and she licks her lips at the free food, won like a prize from her game, gleaned like fruit from a tree.  As St. Augustine too had wondered, if to them it is just a game, this war of angels and demons, as they play for sport for the winning team (St. Augustine, The City of God, 360).  Like shooting fish in a bucket, if Home plays its cards too close, and so we branch out in ripples, and like eternity, we’re infinite, in this grasping after goodness and conquering evil in these demons, both for goodness, and for sportThe End.

 

Bibliography:

St. Augustine, The City of God. Translated by Marcus Dods. New York: Random House, Inc, 2000.

 

Bible Passages:

  1. Job 40:19 (Brenton Septuagint Translation):

This is the chief of the creation of the Lord; made to be played with by his angels.

  1. Psalm 104:26 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

26 There ships ply their course
and Leviathan,[e] whom you formed to play with.

  1. Matthew 3:1-6 (Authorized King James Version):

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judæa, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

  1. John 5:31-40 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

31 “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. 32 But there is another[l] who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. 33 You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. 34 I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp,[m] and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. 37 Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. 39 You search[n] the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. 40 But you do not want to come to me to have life.

Wednesday 4/1/20

Title: “A Cautionary Tale for Those Who Walk in Darkness, and the Fire Lit by the Spirit of Lent. A Prayer After the Fashion of Isaiah 50.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the fresh growth in faith and renewed hope in You, that allow us both to flourish in this world and in our souls, to bear good fruit in the Kingdom to come.  Please my Lords, help us to continue to place our trust in You, our Spirit in love, and our faith in truth, so that all things may work together for good, for those who love You (Rom 8:28).

 

“A Cautionary Tale for Those Who Walk in Darkness, and the Fire Lit by the Spirit of Lent. A Prayer After the Fashion of Isaiah 50.”

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to answer the weary a word that will waken them.  Morning after morning he wakens my ear to hear as disciples do; The Lord GOD opened my ear; I did not refuse, did not turn away (Isa 50:4-5).

Each morning, day by day, we pray the LORD to open our ear, the ear for the Spirit and the ear of the soul, the ear for His music, and the ability to listen as He would with grace.  Every morning, day by day, we pray this to the LORD, please O LORD hear me (Ps 27:7), but first allow me to hear You.

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who tore out my beard; My face I did not hide from insults and spitting (Isa 50:6).

Each morning, day by day, we pray this to the LORD, like David, just to live in the house of the LORD forever (Ps 27:4).  See, I have come to do your will (Ps 40:7-9; Heb 10:8-10)For sacrifices and relinquishments only go halfway, in the journey of our hearts to our true home, in heaven, and to the grasping upon of You.  And so as we give up, we add in, those things that those fillers were replacing, and our true spiritual food and nourishment we partake of, in this prayer up to You.

The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; Therefore I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.  He who declares my innocence is near.  Who will oppose me?  Let us appear together (Isa 50:7-8a).

As I try to justify myself, it is thereby that I am admonished, and so each morning, each day, day by day, I declare, the LORD is my victory and justice, and in Him do I seek mercy and righteousness, as He has set a path before me in which the upright shall stand tall, though the corrupt may stumble (Prov 4:18-19; 11:5-6; Hosea 14:10).  I place my hope in the LORD and not in vindication by man, for the LORD knows me inside and out, as no man in honesty can.  The LORD is my Savior, in Him do I put my trust, and I walk upright upon the path of scorn, for He knows my innocence, and I have put my faith in Him.  I know Thou art my Savior, for You save me time and again, as each day, day by day, we renew our love in these promises, that in You never go unfulfilled.

Who will dispute my right?  Let them confront me.  See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will declare me guilty?  See, they will all wear out like a garment, consumed by moths.  Who among you fears the LORD, heeds his servant’s voice?  Whoever walk in darkness, without any light, Yet trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon their God! (Isa 50:8b-10).

As you backbite one another (Rom 1:30), with the hatred and malice with which the scorners took to my back, see to it that ye be not consumed one by another (Gal 5:15), deriving your satisfaction from the cruelty you inflict.  For where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matt 6:21), and as you find pleasure in the evil deeds of your hands, the unkind words of your lips, and the torment of those you push down and oppress, so will be your lot in heaven, as it was in this way that you had my back, O brethren, and as you did it to the least of these in the innocent, just so, unjustly, you did it to me (Matt 25:41-46).  I gave my back to those who beat me (Isa 50:6), and they yet did it once again, learning not from the reproof of my Risen witness, but suborning themselves with perjury, like the evil elders under the mastic tree (Dan 13:48-59).

All you who kindle flames and set flares alight, Walk by the light of your own fire and the flames you have burnt!  This is your fate from my hand: you shall lie down in a place of torment (Isa 50:11).

For the LORD is my justice, and I am not my own (1 Cor 6:19), and the LORD’s hands they guide me and feed me, showing me the good way to follow Him home.  And the flames you have kindled, of sacrificial victims upon the fire of your lies, with these flames and this kindling, you shall learn recompense, as I declare my innocence through my clean soul, and conscience set aright in the LORD.  So I take the “better part” (Luke 10:41-42) as you fare for the worse, and twenty shekels of silver (Gen 37:28; cf. Matt 26:15) are tossed at your feet, like harlots of Babylon (Rev 17:1-2), as for his garment you cast lots (Matt 27:35; Ps 22:19; cf. Gen 37:31-35).  So as you conceal the hatred harbored in your heart (Lev 19:17-18; Matt 18:15-18), and deny the LORD His justice as you snuff out the true flame, the Light (John 8:12-14, 21-24, 31-34, 39-47; 11:9-10; 12:35-36; 1 John 1:5-6), so does it deny you (Matt 7:21-23; Matt 10:32-33), as you shall go into your graves as a place of torment (Isa 50:11), for you flocked like blind guides (Matt 15:14; Matt 23:23-24) to false prophets (Matt 7:15-20; Rev 13:11-18; 19:20), to keep up the deceit that you knew wasn’t’ right.  Keep it up, that kindling you bear, for you shall bear your own cross and your own tombstone, seeing that through your deceit, it is none of mine.

Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers’ (Matt 7:23).  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 37:28-36

28 Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver[f] to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. 29 When Reuben went back to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not in it, he tore his garments,[g] 30 and returning to his brothers, he exclaimed: “The boy is gone! And I—where can I turn?” 31 They took Joseph’s tunic, and after slaughtering a goat, dipped the tunic in its blood. 32 Then they sent someone to bring the long ornamented tunic to their father, with the message: “We found this. See whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” 33 He recognized it and exclaimed: “My son’s tunic! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph has been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned his son many days. 35 Though his sons and daughters tried to console him, he refused all consolation, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”[h] Thus did his father weep for him.

36 The Midianites, meanwhile, sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and his chief steward.

  1. Leviticus 19:17-18

17 [f]You shall not hate any of your kindred in your heart. Reprove your neighbor openly so that you do not incur sin because of that person. 18 Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

  1. Psalm 22:16-20

16 As dry as a potsherd is my throat;
my tongue cleaves to my palate;
you lay me in the dust of death.[e]
17 Dogs surround me;
a pack of evildoers closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and my feet
18     I can count all my bones.
They stare at me and gloat;
19     they divide my garments among them;
for my clothing they cast lots.
20 But you, Lord, do not stay far off;
my strength, come quickly to help me.

  1. Psalm 27:4-14

One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high
above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.

Hear my voice, Lord, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;[c]
your face, Lord, do I seek!

Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
10 Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me in.

11 Lord, show me your way;
lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;
malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
13 I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.[d]
14 Wait for the Lord, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

  1. Psalm 40:7-9

7 [c]Sacrifice and offering you do not want;
you opened my ears.
Holocaust and sin-offering you do not request;
    so I said, “See; I come
with an inscribed scroll written upon me.
I delight to do your will, my God;
your law is in my inner being!”

  1. Proverbs 4:10-27

10 Hear, my son, and receive my words,
and the years of your life shall be many.
11 On the way of wisdom I direct you,
I lead you on straight paths.
12 When you walk, your step will not be impeded,
and should you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold fast to instruction, never let it go;
keep it, for it is your life.
14 [d]The path of the wicked do not enter,
nor walk in the way of the evil;
15 Shun it, do not cross it,
turn aside from it, pass on.
16 For they cannot rest unless they have done evil;
if they do not trip anyone they lose sleep.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the just is like shining light,
that grows in brilliance till perfect day.[e]
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
they do not know on what they stumble.

20 My son, to my words be attentive,
to my sayings incline your ear;

21 Let them not slip from your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
bringing health to one’s whole being.
23 With all vigilance guard your heart,
for in it are the sources of life.
24 [g]Dishonest mouth put away from you,
deceitful lips put far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead
and your gaze be focused forward.
26 Survey the path for your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
27 Turn neither to right nor to left,
keep your foot far from evil.

  1. Proverbs 11:5-9

The justice of the honest makes their way straight,
but by their wickedness the wicked fall.[d]
The justice of the upright saves them,
but the faithless are caught in their own intrigue.
When a person dies, hope is destroyed;
expectation pinned on wealth is destroyed.[e]
The just are rescued from a tight spot,
but the wicked fall into it instead.
By a word the impious ruin their neighbors,
but through their knowledge the just are rescued.[f]

  1. Isaiah 50:4-11

4 [c]The Lord God has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to answer the weary
a word that will waken them.
Morning after morning
he wakens my ear to hear as disciples do;
The Lord God opened my ear;
I did not refuse,
did not turn away.[d]
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who tore out my beard;[e]
My face I did not hide
from insults and spitting.

The Lord God is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He who declares my innocence is near.
Who will oppose me?
Let us appear together.
Who will dispute my right?
Let them confront me.
See, the Lord God is my help;
who will declare me guilty?
See, they will all wear out like a garment,
consumed by moths.
10 Who among you fears the Lord,[f]
heeds his servant’s voice?
Whoever walk in darkness,
without any light,
Yet trust in the name of the Lord
and rely upon their God!
11 All you who kindle flames
and set flares alight,
Walk by the light of your own fire
and by the flares you have burnt!
This is your fate from my hand:
you shall lie down in a place of torment.

  1. Daniel 13:19-59

19 As soon as the maids had left, the two old men got up and ran to her. 20 “Look,” they said, “the garden doors are shut, no one can see us, and we want you. So give in to our desire, and lie with us. 21 If you refuse, we will testify against you that a young man was here with you and that is why you sent your maids away.”

22 “I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned. “If I yield, it will be my death; if I refuse, I cannot escape your power. 23 Yet it is better for me not to do it and to fall into your power than to sin before the Lord.” 24 Then Susanna screamed, and the two old men also shouted at her, 25 as one of them ran to open the garden gates. 26 When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden, they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her. 27 At the accusations of the old men, the servants felt very much ashamed, for never had any such thing been said about Susanna.

28 When the people came to her husband Joakim the next day, the two wicked old men also came, full of lawless intent to put Susanna to death. 29 Before the people they ordered: “Send for Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, the wife of Joakim.” When she was sent for, 30 she came with her parents, children and all her relatives. 31 Susanna, very delicate and beautiful, 32 was veiled; but those transgressors of the law ordered that she be exposed so as to sate themselves with her beauty. 33 All her companions and the onlookers were weeping.

34 In the midst of the people the two old men rose up and laid their hands on her head. 35 As she wept she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly. 36 The old men said, “As we were walking in the garden alone, this woman entered with two servant girls, shut the garden gates and sent the servant girls away. 37 A young man, who was hidden there, came and lay with her. 38 When we, in a corner of the garden, saw this lawlessness, we ran toward them. 39 We saw them lying together, but the man we could not hold, because he was stronger than we; he opened the gates and ran off. 40 Then we seized this one and asked who the young man was, 41 but she refused to tell us. We testify to this.” The assembly believed them, since they were elders and judges of the people, and they condemned her to death.

42 But Susanna cried aloud: “Eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: 43 you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things for which these men have condemned me.”

44 The Lord heard her prayer. 45 As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, 46 and he cried aloud: “I am innocent of this woman’s blood.” 47 All the people turned and asked him, “What are you saying?” 48 He stood in their midst and said, “Are you such fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without investigation and without clear evidence? 49 Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her.”

52 After they were separated from each other, he called one of them and said: “How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: 53 passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, ‘The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’ 54 Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together.” 55 “Under a mastic tree,”[b] he answered. “Your fine lie has cost you your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God has already received the sentence from God and shall split you in two.” 56 Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. “Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,” Daniel said to him, “beauty has seduced you, lust has perverted your heart. 57 This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your lawlessness. 58 Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together.” 59 “Under an oak,” he said. “Your fine lie has cost you also your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to destroy you both.”

  1. Hosea 14:10

10 [d]Who is wise enough to understand these things?
Who is intelligent enough to know them?
Straight are the paths of the Lord,
the just walk in them,
but sinners stumble in them.

  1. Matthew 6:19-23

19 [m]“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

  1. Matthew 7:15-23

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So by their fruits you will know them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,[j] but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.[k] Depart from me, you evildoers.’

  1. Matthew 10:26-33

26 “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.[m] 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. 30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 [n]Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

  1. Matthew 15:14-19

14 Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” 15 Then Peter[g] said to him in reply, “Explain [this] parable to us.” 16 He said to them, “Are even you still without understanding? 17 Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. 19 [h]For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

  1. Matthew 18:15-20

15 “If your brother[l] sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. 16 [m]If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.[n] If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 [o]Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 [p]Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 20 [q]For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

  1. Matthew 23:23-24

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes[l] of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others. 24 [m]Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

  1. Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations[o] will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous[p] will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 [q]Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 [r]Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  1. Matthew 26:14-16

14 Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,[g] went to the chief priests 15 [h]and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, 16 and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

  1. Matthew 27:33-37

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), 34 they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.[t] But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink. 35 After they had crucified him, they divided his garments[u] by casting lots; 36 then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And they placed over his head the written charge[v] against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

  1. Luke 10:38-42

38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. 39 [n]She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” 41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 [o]There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

  1. John 8:12-14, 21-24, 31-34, 39-47

12 Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified.” 14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified,[g] because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

21 He said to them again, “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin.[k] Where I am going you cannot come.” 22 [l]So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. 24 That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM,[m] you will die in your sins.”

31 Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him,[p] “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.[q] How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.

39 [t]They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, “We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.”
21. John 11:9-10

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”[c]

  1. John 12:35-38

35 Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”

After he had said this, Jesus left and hid from them. 37 [t]Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him, 38 [u]in order that the word which Isaiah the prophet spoke might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed our preaching,
to whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?”

  1. Romans 1:24-32

24 Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts[o] for the mutual degradation of their bodies. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. 29 They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips 30 and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. 31 They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

  1. Romans 8:28-30

28 [e]We know that all things work for good for those who love God,[f] who are called according to his purpose. 29 [g]For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple[i] of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

  1. Galatians 5:13-15, 19-26

13 For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve[k] one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[l] 15 But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

19 [n]Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, 21 occasions of envy,[o] drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. 26 Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.

  1. Hebrews 10:8-10

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings,[d] you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

  1. 1 John 1:5-10
    Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light,[b] and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,[c] and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
  2. Revelation 13:11-18

11 Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb’s but spoke like a dragon. 12 It wielded all the authority of the first beast in its sight and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. 13 It performed great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. 14 It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform in the sight of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who had been wounded by the sword and revived. 15 It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast’s image, so that the beast’s image could speak and [could] have anyone who did not worship it put to death. 16 It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, 17 so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name.

18 [h]Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.

  1. Revelation 17:1-8

1 [a]Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot[b] who lives near the many waters. 2 [c]The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast[d] that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns. The woman was wearing purple and scarlet and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a gold cup that was filled with the abominable and sordid deeds of her harlotry. On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” 6 [e]I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.

When I saw her I was greatly amazed. The angel said to me, “Why are you amazed? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 [g]The beast that you saw existed once but now exists no longer. It will come up from the abyss and is headed for destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world shall be amazed when they see the beast, because it existed once but exists no longer, and yet it will come again.

  1. Revelation 19:20-21

20 The beast was caught and with it the false prophet[l] who had performed in its sight the signs by which he led astray those who had accepted the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped its image. The two were thrown alive into the fiery pool burning with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed by the sword that came out of the mouth of the one riding the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

 

Thursday 4/2/20

Title: “Isaiah’s Vision and the Garden of Eden at High Noon”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the beauty of the world seen from within Your midst.  Please help us to remain in Thee and in love and to partake most directly in Your grace, and not to leave Your abiding presence behind as we flee after the beauty we perceive to be coming from the world, and not from remaining in You, and the love that absorbs us fully as we reside in the Spirit.

 

“Isaiah’s Vision and the Garden of Eden at High Noon”

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.  As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.  In the time of their judgment they shall shine and dart about as sparks through stubble; They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever.  Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: (Wis 3:5-9a).

The long winding stream of glistening white shines upon her back (Rev 22:1-2).  These little channels and rivulets of gleaming and glistening white ripples map out the strangest shape of a winding, blooming, blossoming tree upon her back.  I cannot help but touch (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-3), as I place my finger upon her and trace it in a line down her back, dragging the tip of my finger across the scar that shines forth beneath this, some artist’s original work.  The tree that now appears over her scars, as a figment of my imagination or an interpretation more in line with truth, but for the figure those lines trace out on her and the shape it casts over her kneeled over body, grows within my judgment and grows before my eyes, as she suddenly reaches up to the sky and arches her back skyward, stretching out her arms.  The tree of life (Gen 2:9; 3:24), the tree of scars, upon the back of my beloved in all its glistening glory, white winding branches and trunk all glowing a dazzling, otherworldly white in the noonday sun.  These are not the mark of my chastisements, and more than forty lashes fluttering down in a wink, in a bedroomy-eyed butterfly kiss, could not keep up with the score taken out upon the threshold of this flesh, this form (2 Cor 11:24).

In the image and likeness (Gen 1:27) of itself, kneeling over a pool of cool water radiating gently in the stillness, something comes over me, and the idyllic scene of pastoral meadows and pacificity is suddenly transformed from some mythical setup for Narcissus among the dryads and water nymphs, to a cool, dark, blazing red scene, with highlights in the charcoal fires burning intermittently and interspersed, among the clusters of irises that had been upon the ground.  The whole scene becomes black as coal (Matt 24:29-31; Rev 6:12-13), and the red streams and rivulets burn brilliantly in deeply saturated hyper-pigments of color, such as before have never been seen, and as these crumbly, crackling, cracking veins of burning hot lava flow out from the hot magma pool before me (Rev 20:14-15), all seems to crumble away and then not disappear, in a sort of ephemeral state of lingering, transparent permanence.  The veins pulsating blue upon white skin radiate to the rhythm of these seething lines of molten lava, flowing like water, like love, from the pool for a bath (Rev 21:9-11; 22:1-2), but the landscape behind it has given way to darkness, and all that lights this burning, fuel-infused land is the red-hot fire from these coals, and the pool within which it all is so deeply entrenched.

This is how it used to be, I wonder to myself at the contrast, and once again I am looking over that kneeled body, with the scars upon her back, like tree branches, or roots or lashes, burning red against the white (Isa 1:18-20; 1 Pet 2:24) as they come to life as a burning bush (Exo 30:2-4), a flaming tree (Gen 3:24).

These two lands are one land, both one and the same, and it is the mindset that changes, against the shifting sand of the scenery (Matt 8:10-12).  One mark then two, then of a demarcation three and four, as these scars bear their own witness like photographic evidence, like a polaroid, of the polar opposite contrast in starkness, of life and death (Deut 30:15, 19; Sir 15:14-17), of fruit or rottenness, as the wretched of life go about singing their noontime melodies while this runaway slave they had caught dangles hanging upon the tree.  Lynched by a noose as novel as the artist’s configuring on her back out of those scars of this tree, she hangs from it and sways, as if music drags her beneath me.  Observing this melody in time to the breeze of fresh wind (Gen 3:8), I walk around this mastic, this oak tree (Dan 13:55, 59), as I wince and then wink (Acts 17:31-31).

A good time for a walk, and high time for me (Gen 3:8), to keep moving down this thought trail that her mind, my map, has marked out for me.  The noonday Son it does quiver, with a quill in its lip, as the sky turns black and the moon blood-red in mourning (Matt 24:29-31; Rev 6:12-13), but after all, it is Lent.  And so in the high noon I wither, thinking how it used to be, before that lotus blossom it comes up to kiss me and flower, from its water bed beneath the sea.  Like Venus rising from her clam shell, is this image to me, and I usher it in like a new age (Isa 11:1-10; 65:17-18, 24-25; Rev 21:1-4), a dawning, into my silhouette times three.  One mark then two, then three demarcations then four, and I relive the whip of those lashings and the sound of that cord as it stretches like rope, hanging from upon that tree (1 Pet 2:24).  Breathing new life into lifelessness, my feet sprout up veridically green, and this new life is all verdant and vertical (Isa 11:1, 10), as one rod is enjoined in my hands (Ezek 37:15-17, 22), to become with me one and free (John 10:30; 14:20-21, 23; 17:20-26).  The End.

 

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 1:27

27 God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female[f] he created them.

  1. Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,[f] and placed there the man whom he had formed. 9 [g]Out of the ground the Lord God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. 16 The Lord God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden 17 except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.

  1. Genesis 3:1-13, 21-24

Now the snake was the most cunning[a] of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know[b] good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day,[c] the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? 12 The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” 13 The Lord God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”

21 The Lord God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever? 23 The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24 He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.

  1. Exodus 3:1-6

1 [a]Meanwhile Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock beyond the wilderness, he came to the mountain of God, Horeb.[b] There the angel of the Lord[c] appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. So Moses decided, “I must turn aside to look at this remarkable sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called out to him from the bush: Moses! Moses! He answered, “Here I am.” God said: Do not come near! Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father,[d] he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

  1. Deuteronomy 30:15-20

15 See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the Lord, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the Lord swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.

  1. Isaiah 1:18-20

18 Come now, let us set things right,[k]
says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.
19 If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
20 But if you refuse and resist,
you shall be eaten by the sword:
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!

  1. Isaiah 11:1-10

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump[c] of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
2 [d]The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
    and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
6 [e]Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
together their young shall lie down;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the viper’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,
as water covers the sea

10     On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the peoples—
Him the nations will seek out;
his dwelling shall be glorious.

  1. Isaiah 65:3-7, 17-18, 24-25

A people who provoke me
continually to my face,
Offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on bricks,
Sitting in tombs
and spending the night in caves,
Eating the flesh of pigs,
with broth of unclean meat in their dishes;
Crying out, “Hold back,
do not come near me, lest I render you holy!”[b]
These things are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all the day.
See, it stands written before me;
I will not remain quiet until I have repaid in full
Your crimes and the crimes of your ancestors as well,
says the Lord.
Since they burned incense on the mountains,
and insulted me on the hills,
I will at once pour out in full measure
their recompense into their laps.

17 [f]See, I am creating new heavens
and a new earth;
The former things shall not be remembered
nor come to mind.
18 Instead, shout for joy and be glad forever
in what I am creating.
Indeed, I am creating Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;

24 Before they call, I will answer;
while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25 [g]The wolf and the lamb shall pasture together,
and the lion shall eat hay like the ox—
but the serpent’s food shall be dust.
None shall harm or destroy
on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

  1. Ezekiel 37:15-28

15 [c]Thus the word of the Lord came to me: 16 As for you, son of man, take one stick and write on it, “Judah and those Israelites associated with it.” Then take another stick and write on it: “Joseph, Ephraim’s stick, and the whole house of Israel associated with it.” 17 Join the two sticks together so they become one stick in your hand. 18 When your people ask you, “Will you not tell us what you mean by all this?” 19 answer them: Thus says the Lord God: I will take the stick of Joseph, now in Ephraim’s hand, and the tribes of Israel associated with it, and join to it the stick of Judah, making them one stick; they shall become one in my hand. 20 The sticks on which you write, you must hold in your hand in their sight. 21 Say to them: Thus says the Lord God: I will soon take the Israelites from among the nations to which they have gone and gather them from all around to bring them back to their land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one king for them all. They shall never again be two nations, never again be divided into two kingdoms.

23 No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their apostasy through which they sinned. I will cleanse them so that they will be my people, and I will be their God. 24 David my servant shall be king over them; they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my ordinances, observe my statutes, and keep them. 25 They shall live on the land I gave to Jacob my servant, the land where their ancestors lived; they shall live on it always, they, their children, and their children’s children, with David my servant as their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them. I will multiply them and put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations shall know that I, the Lord, make Israel holy, by putting my sanctuary among them forever.

  1. Daniel 13:52-59

52 After they were separated from each other, he called one of them and said: “How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: 53 passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, ‘The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’ 54 Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together.” 55 “Under a mastic tree,”[b] he answered. “Your fine lie has cost you your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God has already received the sentence from God and shall split you in two.” 56 Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. “Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,” Daniel said to him, “beauty has seduced you, lust has perverted your heart. 57 This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your lawlessness. 58 Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together.” 59 “Under an oak,” he said. “Your fine lie has cost you also your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to destroy you both.”

  1. Wisdom 3:5-9

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings[c] he took them to himself.
In the time of their judgment[d] they shall shine
and dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with the elect.

  1. Sirach 15:14-17

14 God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
loyalty is doing the will of God.
16 Set before you are fire and water;
to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.
17 Before everyone are life and death,
whichever they choose will be given them.

  1. Matthew 8:8-13

The centurion said in reply,[f] “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel[g] have I found such faith. 11 I say to you,[h] many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, 12 but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.

  1. Matthew 24:29-31

29 [p]“Immediately after the tribulation of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30 And then the sign of the Son of Man[q] will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels[r] with a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

  1. John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,[m] and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. 30 [n]The Father and I are one.”

  1. John 14:20-24

20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” 22 Judas, not the Iscariot,[k] said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

  1. John 17:20-26

20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am[g] they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. 26 I made known to them your name and I will make it known,[h] that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

  1. Acts 17:30-31(Authorized King James Version)

30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:23-29

23 [q]Are they ministers of Christ? (I am talking like an insane person.) I am still more,[r] with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, far worse beatings, and numerous brushes with death. 24 Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; 26 on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. 28 And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant?

  1. 1 Peter 2:21-25 (Authorized King James Version)

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

  1. Revelation 6:12-17

12 [k]Then I watched while he broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth[l] and the whole moon became like blood. 13 The stars in the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs[m] shaken loose from the tree in a strong wind. 14 Then the sky was divided[n] like a torn scroll curling up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place. 15 The kings of the earth, the nobles,[o] the military officers, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid themselves in caves and among mountain crags. 16 They cried out to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of their[p] wrath has come and who can withstand it?”

  1. Revelation 20:11-15

11 Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. 12 I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life.[j] The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. 13 The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades[k] gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.[l]) 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire.

  1. Revelation 21:1-4, 9-27

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.[b] I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,[c] coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people[d] and God himself will always be with them [as their God].[e] He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”[k] 10 He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, [the names] of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. 13 There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles[l] of the Lamb.

15 [m]The one who spoke to me held a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city was square, its length the same as [also] its width. He measured the city with the rod and found it fifteen hundred miles[n] in length and width and height. 17 He also measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits[o] according to the standard unit of measurement the angel used. 18 [p]The wall was constructed of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone; the first course of stones was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh hyacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.

22 [q]I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. 23 [r]The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light,[s] and to it the kings of the earth will bring their treasure. 25 During the day its gates will never be shut, and there will be no night there. 26 The treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there, 27 but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

  1. Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water,[a] sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life[b] that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will look upon his face,[c] and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.

 

Friday 4/3/20

Title: “A Note Against Prejudice, and the Impartiality of God: Hidden Evils in the Backlash of Positive Preference in Social Causes

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new morning, and for all the hard work and labor, care and consolation, and struggles and strength that thus mark our days.  Please my Lords, help us to continue on in faith and perseverance, in distress tolerance and patient endurance, and in gratitude and humble candor, as we hold fast to Your truth and enlargen our hearts in our lives of faith, as vessels of self-emptying stewards of Your Spirit pouring out Your love.

 

“A Note Against Prejudice, and the Impartiality of God: Hidden Evils in the Backlash of Positive Preference in Social Causes

The thing about particulars, about preferences and predilections, is that although they may color our characters with a certain personality and distinctiveness, so too do they distort it from its purity and mar it with a tint of imperfection through that very distinctiveness, that comes by way of some sort of personal distinction.  That need to be separate or other or in some other way set apart through individuality and uniqueness, through some special quality or consideration, it is just that sort of particularity that then becomes a partiality—either inwardly towards oneself, or outwardly, for or against a particular group, on the basis of overt and observable features.

Some may tout their preferences and particularities as a sign of uniqueness, an emblem of their specialness, or just an indication of their calling in life, but when these preferences bypass particular occupations to encompass a whole perspective or worldview not solely rooted in faith, however noble our particular stances may seem in their call for attention, they at this point become prejudices and the hallmark of partiality (Deut 1:16-17; 10:17; 16:19; 2 Chronicles 19:7, 9; Prov 24:23; Mal 2:9; Luke 20:21; Acts 10:34-35; Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; 1 Tim 5:21; James 2:1, 9; 1 Pet 1:17), however just their calling to these particular causes may seem.

It is a stance grounded on a particular instance of a good set against another good, that gives root to racism, sexism, elitism, and bigotry in all its array of various forms, and most often these stances and mindsets, or prejudices and worldviews, take not on their true names—of bigotry, stereotyping, prejudice, and partiality that works in a way subversive to justice—but they take on names that cast their stance in a positive light, as working towards group unity and positive progress—but just for only one particular group.  Proponents of one particular cause to the exclusion of another, only reinforce the attitude of partiality, uniqueness, and special treatment that brought bigotry into play in the world in the first place, as putting women over men in the guise of freethinking “feminism,” is just another shackle to the bondage of narrowmindedness that parades in the guise of social cause and the need for justice.  The way to justice is never through injustice to be sure, and the backlash from a male-dominated world that leads to a “feminist,” or female chauvinist outlook, is just as much an error as male chauvinism, albeit in the other direction.

But in the bigger picture the effect of clinging to narrow mindsets like this, is that these preferences towards certain groups are just as destructive as preferences against certain groups—they just phrase it in a positive light so that they are more likely to get away with it, without someone calling them out on this veritable prejudice, and the discrimination that inevitable proceeds from it.

But the effect on the soul of holding inordinate attachments in preferences like this, is one of imperfection and marring, as it is indeed a clear partiality, that colors the judgment against what is just, and clouds the reason against impartial logic not bound to the passions or fueled by the motivation to get even against someone, even if it is by lifting one group inordinately up rather than pushing another down.  A preference or a partiality, even if it is for someone and not against someone, is indeed an imperfection, and it sullies and defiles the soul, and detrimentally impacts the purity of one’s heart (2 Chronicles 19:7, 9; 1 Tim 5:22; 1 Pet 1:22).  For it says in the Scriptures, the LORD expresses no partiality, nor respect for persons (Deut 10:17; 2 Chron 19:7; Luke 20:21; Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; 1 Pet 1:17), and we are called to be holy and perfect, even as God is perfect (Lev 19:2; Matt 5:48; 1 Pet 1:16).  And so as we cleanse our mindset and clean our consciences, the preference for or against a particular group, as set apart from or against another equally good group—is a habit of sin which we must let go of and move beyond, to take hold of that clarity of perfection that is of God.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Leviticus 19:1-2

The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.[a]

  1. Deuteronomy 1:16-18

16 I charged your judges at that time, “Listen to complaints among your relatives, and administer true justice to both parties even if one of them is a resident alien. 17 In rendering judgment, do not consider who a person is; give ear to the lowly and to the great alike, fearing no one, for the judgment is God’s. Any case that is too difficult for you bring to me and I will hear it.” 18 Thus I charged you, at that time, with all the things you were to do.

  1. Deuteronomy 10:16-22

16 Circumcise therefore the foreskins of your hearts,[b] and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing. 19 So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt. 20 The Lord, your God, shall you fear, and him shall you serve; to him hold fast and by his name shall you swear. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you those great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. 22 Seventy strong your ancestors went down to Egypt, and now the Lord, your God, has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

  1. Deuteronomy 16:18-20

18 In all the communities which the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes to administer true justice for the people. 19 You must not distort justice: you shall not show partiality; you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes even of the wise and twists the words even of the just. 20 Justice, justice alone shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you.

  1. 2 Chronicles 19:7-11

And now, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Act carefully, for with the Lord, our God, there is no injustice, no partiality, no bribe-taking.” In Jerusalem also, Jehoshaphat appointed some Levites and priests and some of the family heads of Israel for the Lord’s judgment and the disputes of those who dwell in Jerusalem. He gave them this command: “Thus you shall act: in the fear of the Lord, with fidelity and with an undivided heart. 10 And in every dispute that comes to you from your kin living in their cities, whether it concerns bloodguilt or questions of law, command, statutes, or ordinances, warn them lest they incur guilt before the Lord and his wrath come upon you and your kin. Do that and you shall not incur guilt. 11 See now, Amariah is chief priest over you for everything that pertains to the Lord, and Zebadiah, son of Ishmael, is leader of the house of Judah in all that pertains to the king; and the Levites will be your officials. Take firm action, and the Lord will be with the good.”

  1. Proverbs 24:23-26

23 These also are Words of the Wise:
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24 Whoever says to the guilty party, “You are innocent,”
will be cursed by nations, scorned by peoples;
25 But those who render just verdicts will fare well,
and on them will come the blessing of prosperity.
26 An honest reply—
a kiss on the lips.[i]

  1. Malachi 2:9

I, therefore, have made you contemptible
and base before all the people,
For you do not keep my ways,
but show partiality in your instruction.

  1. Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors[ab] do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?[ac] 48 So be perfect,[ad] just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

  1. Luke 20:20-26

20 [d]They watched him closely and sent agents pretending to be righteous who were to trap him in speech, in order to hand him over to the authority and power of the governor. 21 They posed this question to him, “Teacher, we know that what you say and teach is correct, and you show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it lawful for us to pay tribute to Caesar or not?”[e] 23 Recognizing their craftiness he said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius;[f] whose image and name does it bear?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” 25 So he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 26 They were unable to trap him by something he might say before the people, and so amazed were they at his reply that they fell silent.

  1. Acts 10:34-43

34 Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,[m] “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. 35 Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. 36 [n]You know the word [that] he sent to the Israelites[o] as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, 37 what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth[p] with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses[q] of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and [in] Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. 40 This man God raised [on] the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.[r] 43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

  1. Romans 2:1-11

1 [a]Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.[b] For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things. We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true. Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance? By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works:[c] eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. 10 But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. 11 [d]There is no partiality with God.

  1. Galatians 2:6

But from those who were reputed to be important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those of repute made me add nothing.

  1. Ephesians 6:9

Masters, act in the same way toward them, and stop bullying, knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven and that with him there is no partiality.

  1. Colossians 3:23-25

23 Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, 24 knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will receive recompense for the wrong he committed, and there is no partiality.

  1. 1 Timothy 5:21-22

21 I charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to keep these rules without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism. 22 Do not lay hands too readily on anyone, and do not share in another’s sins. Keep yourself pure.

  1. James 2:1-13

My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor[c] in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? However, if you fulfill the royal[d] law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not kill.” Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.[e] 13 For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

  1. 1 Peter 1:14-22

14 Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance[h] 15 but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, 16 for it is written, “Be holy because I [am] holy.

17 Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, 18 realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold 19 but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.[i] 20 He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, 21 who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.

 

Saturday 4/4/20

Title: “The ‘Shipwreck’ of Faith: ‘Charity Covers a Multitude of Sins’” (1 Tim 1:19; 1 Pet 4:8).

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day, and for all the blessings of peace and grace and holy magnanimity that You pour into my lap, as both the fruit of good labor and the seed by which we may be sure to grow more, in the image and likeness of You, as we do obey out of love Thy commands.  Please my Lords, help us this day to grow in strength out of weakness, in fruitfulness out of work, in love out of devotion, and more closely conformed to You, and not to this world (Rom 12:2), in the endeavors of our mind and the desires of our soul, clinging fast to You in our heart.

 

“The ‘Shipwreck’ of Faith: ‘Charity Covers a Multitude of Sins’” (1 Tim 1:19; 1 Pet 4:8).

Of all the misused and misapplied Bible passages that people have, with unforthcoming intentions, extracted for their own purposes and their own use—that is to say, not as according to the will of God—this one is the most overused and the most misapplied, to distort the meaning of the gospel and the context for true charity.  Just as St. Peter had said of people in his time, those of dishonest intent who have not truth in their hearts (John 8:43-45; 1 John 1:6; 2:4), had found a way to misinterpret St. Paul’s texts, just as always on down through the years they had found ways to misinterpret the Holy Scriptures (2 Pet 3:15-17), for their own evil motives and none of God’s.  For St. Paul’s sayings are not hard to understand if you seek in them the truth in charity, but those hoping to find something else, like excuses for sin, will surely have a hard time understanding their purity, for that’s something they mean not to find.

But this one saying above all, like the one virtue above all contained within it (1 Cor 13:13), “charity covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8), this one is the most misused in my experience, but for the context in which it is placed.  Rather than to be used for a motive to keep up that characteristic self-giving Christian love and good works, and so too a reminder of our own human nature, and proclivity to sin in our hearts, it is used instead as a way to exonerate one from the guilt of sin, and as a reminder that a multitude of sins are ok as long as you cover them up with love and good works.  This surely can happen, if those sins are first confessed, but without confession and proper atonement, charity cannot possibly cover those sins, as if it is like the cover of deceit and of darkness, as those sins then unexposed to the Light, become a part of the foundation of evil that takes root in our hearts.  “Sin all you want, just cover it up as deceit does with love, or alms or good deeds, and you get a pat on the back,” this saying is misused to imply, as they then forget to go to confession to first rid themselves of those sins, to start fresh from a clean slate, to then build up upon Christ, the one true foundation (1 Cor 3:11).

But misused in this context, and as a way to deny and conceal one’s guilt for misdeeds in this way, charity itself, the one most perfect theological virtue, becomes the sin of deceit, and the concealment of sins, against God as it is committed in these crimes.  So taking a misunderstanding of charity, to mean collusion with darkness and deceit, and a way to make excuses for oneself rather than to receive justice, justification, and pardon through Christ—through confession, contrition, and actual repentance for those sins or misdeeds—this then lays the foundation for sin and yet more misdeeds, for it gives one yet another excuse to do them yet again.

Your faith has healed you, sin no more (Mark 5:33-34, Luke 7:49-50; John 8:11; 1 John 2:1), is a powerful injunction from Christ and His will for us, not “cover up your sins with dishonesty and concealment, and then just call it love.”  For love is born of truth and honesty, and not the concealment that is collusion with darkness and sin, and it is only in being brought to the Light and confessed in words, in truth (1 John 3:18-19), that the dark places of the heart become Light (John 1:1-5; 1 John 1:5-10), and a place where Christ can then take root.  It is only the things that go covered up, as secrets concealed, that give root and sure footing for new sins, rather than a Light shining in the darkness (John 1:5), where that harm of sin may be healed.

And so “charity covers a multitude of sins,” is a good saying for a criminal, as he hides the tools of his crime, and then goes and gives alms to charity and love to his brothers, before sitting down to a family brunch.  Your hands are unclean, my brother, and no amount of washing will do, just as no amount of good deeds or charity, can cover up the sins that go unconfessed within you.  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Mark 5:33-34

33 The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

  1. Luke 7:47-50

47 So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.[m] But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

  1. John 1:1-5

In the beginning[b] was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
3 [c]All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
5 [d]the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

  1. John 8:10-11, 39-47

10 Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”]

39 [t]They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, “We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.”

  1. Romans 12:1-2

1 [b]I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:10-23

10 [f]According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day[g] will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved,[h] but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written:

“He catches the wise in their own ruses,”

20 and again:

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”

21 [j]So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, 22 Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, 23 and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:13

13 [e]So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  1. 1 Timothy 1:18-20

18 I entrust this charge to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophetic words once spoken about you.[j] Through them may you fight a good fight 19 by having faith and a good conscience. Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, 20 among them Hymenaeus[k] and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

  1. 1 Peter 4:7-11

The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.[d] Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 11 Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

  1. 2 Peter 3:14-18

14 Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. 15 And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, 16 speaking of these things[l] as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

17 Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. 18 But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. [Amen.]

  1. 1 John 1:5-10

Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light,[b] and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,[c] and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

  1. 1 John 2:1-6

My children,[a] I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. The way we may be sure[b] that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived.

  1. 1 John 3:11-24

11 [e]For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, 12 unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother. Why did he slaughter him? Because his own works were evil, and those of his brother righteous. 13 Do not be amazed, [then,] brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. 16 The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? 18 Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

19 [Now] this is how we shall know that we[g] belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him 20 in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. 21 Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God 22 and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. 24 Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.

 

Sunday 4/5/20, Palm Sunday

Title: “The Living Sacrament, A Song of Palm Sunday”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this wonderful new day and for all the branches of new growth as we reach our arms out to You as if a tree out to the sun, as we bud with the virtues that show grace and improvement, as we are empowered from our very roots with the desire for You, and the mentality of a growth mindset to get us there.  Please my Lords, help us today to seek You more thoroughly, in the little ways and big, and in new and as yet undiscovered aspects of all that we do.  For whenever we set our heart and minds upon You, there You are.

 

“The Living Sacrament, A Song of Palm Sunday”

The palm braids itself quickly amid the crowd of nimble fingers, intertwining it within itself, under itself, and then over again.  Braiding palm fronds into crosses as these fingers ply and bend, the arching of my knuckles over the springy green leaves gives way to my flattened palms, before in a tight grip they interrupt their own movement to make way for prayer (Matt 21:8-10).  The fingertips point, and then arch back, before interlacing within themselves in a fist, and then gently release and then flatten, fingers pointing outwards again.

They then take up those fronds like crochet hooks, as they are reeled in like a catchy tune, to the Psalmist hidden in the cantor as God has them all at the end of His line.  This orchestration all maneuvers, like the line at the end of His hook (2 Kings 19:28; Isa 37:29), as He reels us back into Himself as His Church, pulling us out of and apart from the world, even if only for this one eternal moment of Mass.

We all gather and assemble, so quietly single file, as we fold in from palms like these open fingers, one by one intertwining with the others, and then filling the gap.  The prayer in these hands, this clenched fist held up in hope, it speaks volumes in body language that is a church unto itself.  The choir folds in with the ripples beneath it, and as the pews fill up one by one, praying hands and palms enter two by two (Gen 7:9).  To erect the steeple, we sing “Lift High the Cross,” and the procession it continues, as like the Red Sea an aisle forms in the midst of us, as the pew seats part ways.  Lift high the cross, and come bearing your own steeple, and take in the harmony that accords itself in God’s Spirit as one (Acts 2:1-4, 42, 44-47).

Lift high the cross, and lift high your palms, and accept the blessing that comes to those grafted as one onto the Lord (John 15:1-10).  Lift high your palm branches, and sing out as living stones (Ezek 36:26-27; Matt 3:9; Luke 19:40; 1 Peter 2:4-10), for no child of Adam can keep these, Abraham’s decedents by faith, from singing out perfected praise (Ps 118:26-27; Luke 19:40, Matt 21:9, 15-16), in a humbly humming melody and tune.  As one in the pew among many folded hands, the palm fronds take up their knitting again as if together as one in the womb (Ps 139:13).  These fingers interlacing over palm fronds braided in over themselves, we are all God’s members, His hands, His fingers (1 Cor 12:12-27) in this Church.

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, we bend like bamboo, pliant to the Lord, and in docility to His Spirit as we sway in tune like so many well-pruned branches of verdant green leaves.  Lush and sap-filled, to the marrow under the bark, the pith of this pitch, echoes far into the arching beams overhead.  A vaulted ceiling encasing a vaulted Host, and yet even a vault on the Holy Tabernacle can’t keep those of Your Spirit apart from the Host.  Like a lockbox, a coffer, we vault through these ceilings our hearts as if with poles (Ezek 36:26-27; Luke 5:19), and find our Savior and Sacrament on Sunday, in the remembrance of the heart without delay.  Do this in memory of me (Luke 22:19-20), You echo, within the caverns this memorial of You, and Your living stones the Church (1 Cor 3:9-17; 6:15-20; Eph 2:19-21; 1 Tim 3:15) take to fanning to flame (2 Tim 1:6) with these palm fronds, the Holy Spirit within us, poured out in memory of You (Luke 22:19-20).

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 7:6-12

Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came upon the earth. Together with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, Noah went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. Of the clean animals and the unclean, of the birds, and of everything that crawls on the ground, two by two, male and female came to Noah into the ark, just as God had commanded him. 10 When the seven days were over, the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month: on that day

All the fountains of the great abyss[a] burst forth,
and the floodgates of the sky were opened.

12 For forty days and forty nights heavy rain poured down on the earth.

  1. 2 Kings 19:28-31

28 Because you rage against me,
and your smugness has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
And make you leave by the way you came.

29 “This shall be a sign for you:
This year you shall eat the aftergrowth,
next year, what grows of itself;
But in the third year, sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit!
30 The remaining survivors of the house of Judah
shall again strike root below
and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.

  1. Psalm 118:19-27

19 Open the gates of righteousness;
I will enter and thank the Lord.
20 This is the Lord’s own gate,
through it the righteous enter.
21 I thank you for you answered me;
you have been my savior.
22 [b]The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.
25 Lord, grant salvation![c]
Lord, grant good fortune!

26 Blessed is he
who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27     The Lord is God and has enlightened us.
Join in procession with leafy branches
up to the horns of the altar.

  1. Psalm 139:13-14

13 You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.

  1. Isaiah 28:16-19

16 Therefore, thus says the Lord God:
See, I am laying a stone in Zion,[h]
a stone that has been tested,
A precious cornerstone as a sure foundation;
whoever puts faith in it will not waver.
17 I will make judgment a measuring line,
and justice a level.—[i]
Hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters shall flood the hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death shall be canceled
and your pact with Sheol shall not stand.
When the raging flood passes through,
you shall be beaten down by it.
19 Whenever it passes, it shall seize you;
morning after morning it shall pass,
by day and by night.
Sheer terror
to impart the message!

  1. Isaiah 37:26-32

26 Have you not heard?
A long time ago I prepared it,
from days of old I planned it,
Now I have brought it about:
You are here to reduce
fortified cities to heaps of ruins,
27 Their people powerless,
dismayed and distraught,
They are plants of the field,
green growth,
thatch on the rooftops,
Grain scorched by the east wind.
28 I know when you stand or sit,
when you come or go,
and how you rage against me.
29 Because you rage against me
and your smugness has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
And make you leave by the way you came.
30 This shall be a sign[f] for you:
This year you shall eat the aftergrowth,
next year, what grows of itself;
But in the third year, sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit!
31 The remaining survivors of the house of Judah
shall again strike root below
and bear fruit above.
32 For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.

  1. Ezekiel 36:26-27

26 I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them.

  1. Matthew 3:7-12

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees[g] coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.[h] 12 [i]His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

  1. Matthew 21:6-11

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. 7 [e]They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 [f]The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying:

“Hosanna[g] to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”

10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken[h] and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet,[i] from Nazareth in Galilee.”

12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.[k] 13 And he said to them, “It is written:

‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’[l]
but you are making it a den of thieves.”

14 The blind and the lame[m] approached him in the temple area, and he cured them. 15 When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things[n] he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant 16 [o]and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; and have you never read the text, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth praise’?” 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany, and there he spent the night.

  1. Matthew 21:16-17 (Authorized King James Version)

16 and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? 17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

  1. Luke 5:17-26

17 [e]One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees[f] and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. 18 And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set [him] in his presence. 19 But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles[g] into the middle in front of Jesus. 20 When he saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”[h] 21 Then the scribes[i] and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” 22 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 [j]But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” 25 He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. 26 Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

  1. Luke 19:35-48

35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed:

“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord.[g]
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest.”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”[h] 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

41 As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 [j]For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. 44 They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

45 Then Jesus entered the temple area[k] and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’” 47 And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, 48 but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

  1. Luke 22:14-20

14 When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover[e] with you before I suffer, 16 for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup,[f] gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you [that] from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 [g]Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

  1. John 15:1-10

1 [a]“I am the true vine,[b] and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes[c] so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 [d]Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

  1. Acts 2:1-4, 42-47

1 [a]When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,[b] and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,[c] which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,[d] as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:9-17

For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 [f]According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day[g] will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved,[h] but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute?[g] Of course not! 16 [Or] do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.[h] 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple[i] of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

  1. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

12 As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

14 Now the body is not a single part, but many. 15 If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. 16 Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” 22 Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, 23 and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, 24 whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. 26 If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

  1. Ephesians 2:19-21

19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.[j] 21 Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; 22 in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

  1. 1 Timothy 3:15

15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

  1. 2 Timothy 1:6-8

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God[e] that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,[f] nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.

  1. 1 Peter 2:4-10

Come to him, a living stone,[c] rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built[d] into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,
a cornerstone, chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”

Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith:

“The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone that will make people stumble,
and a rock that will make them fall.”

They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.

9 [e]But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

10 Once you were “no people”
but now you are God’s people;
you “had not received mercy”
but now you have received mercy.

 

Monday 4/6/20

Title: “The Remnant is Judah: An Apocalyptic Maelstrom”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the bliss and anguish, quietude and depth of feeling, empathy and self-restraint, and solitude and reflection for deeper communion with You, in which we find ourselves more widely awakened to Your truth in reason, faith, and sound understanding than before.  Please my Lords, help us this day, to be stouthearted in You, to keep firm and not stony our hearts through our courage in You, and to hold our tongue with our cross to listen with Your ear.

 

“The Remnant is Judah: An Apocalyptic Maelstrom”

The roots of the tree.  The roots of the tree grow listless and tired.  The branches shooting out overhead mirror their languid extension, and find length in the tiniest of twigs that snap in the breeze.  A cool summer sun glows brightly overhead, billowing darkly in the clouds as it radiates in pupils of glory.  Brushing the clouds out of its way and dusting leaves from the variegated surface of exposed roots on the ground, the wind like a Spirit sends a mound of fresh clippings into a disheveled heap on the ground.  As if to say, “There, I did it,” the lesser-known son from some lesser-known parable (Matt 21:28-32) rakes in the debris, before brushing off the dust from his hands from a hard day’s work, and dusting off his feet (Matt 10:14-15; Luke 9:5) in scorn at the brother who neglected to appear.  A broken promise bears more shame than one never made, and so to the fattened calf of good conscience (Luke 15:23, 27) this formerly ignoble one returns, just like that better-known son, from that better-known parable (Luke 15:11-32).

The infamy of the dark, cool moonlight rests its eyes on a shuttered window, and a shudder runs down my spine as I recall that red thread, that red rope (Josh 2:17-21).  My watchband unloosens itself as invisible fingers fly at its clasp, and it is set on the nightstand like a light on a lampstand—and not under a bushel basket (Matt 5:14-16)—announcing this is time.  From a dresser top nearby comes a tousle and a clatter, as a tiny ornamental trinket box falls to the ground with a small crash.  Winged Liberty Head dimes all bear a univocal resemblance (Matt 22:19-22), as the woman with ten silver drachmas (Luke 15:8-10) falls to her knees.  One, two, five, she gathers in the tinkling coins of silver two at a time, as the one that has gone missing avails itself to her eyesight only when she puts in overtime.

Keeping my fingers closed over the last of the drachmas, I notice that the nighttime has lowered its shade, and that red cord it flutters, tied to the window like a toe-tag, bearing its mortuary label, “This one is yet alive.”  The spies that had infiltrated the city, and found refuge, in this home, leave it therefore left standing, amid the rubble and debris (Josh 2:17-21; Heb 11:30-31).  The son from that first parable (Matt 21:28-32), washes his hands in the reflection of his tree, as the roots flow from the ground upward, to branches that mirror them back down.  Somewhere in a paradoxical instant, Pilate brushes his teeth, as he knows not what this day has in store for him (Matt 27:24-25), and the blood for someone’s hands (Matt 27:3-5) that awaits.

The red string, that cord, it flutters in the distance, as Judas makes his own home in a tree (Matt 27:3-5), and a prescient warning from Jesus (Matt 26:24-25) turns him into a millstone (Matt 18:6-7), though no one but God can say for sure, if this was how for him it should be.

Back in the square of the city, amid the noontime rush, I catch sight of a pigeon, feeling out its way upon reptile feet (Gen 3:14), along a grimy sidewalk.  A flurry of white doves descends (Matt 3:16-17; John 1:32-34; Acts 2:1-4), as the pages of a book come undone, and this pigeon has something quite peculiar within the grasp of its bill (Gen 8:10-11).  It pecks at something, and chirps as it sends in into the air, and then clips at it back into its beak as it snatches it up again.  I peer in closely, to get a better look, and what is this but the red thread of Rahab (Josh 2:18, 21), clasped by that pigeon on the ground.  Soon a small army of pigeons, red-eyed and storming the gritty, grimy ground, parades in after this one carrier pigeon, bearing the red thread in its mouth.  They swarm the sidewalks, as they swarm the trees, and this offspring of Jericho, surviving, brings the dead in prayer to their knees (Matt 27:50-54).

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down, the children chant as they play in the backyard nearby, and I can’t help but look away, from the lot that Lot’s wife was frozen by (Gen 19:15-17, 24-26; Isa 10:20-22; 11:1-2, 10-11).  Sometimes it’s not the things one says that one most regrets, but the things that one doesn’t say.  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 3:14-15

14 Then the Lord God said to the snake:

Because you have done this,
cursed are you
among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.[d]
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
while you strike at their heel.

  1. Genesis 8:6-12

At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch of the ark that he had made, 7 [b]and he released a raven. It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth. Then he released a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. But the dove could find no place to perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water over all the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark. 10 He waited yet seven days more and again released the dove from the ark. 11 In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had diminished on the earth. 12 He waited yet another seven days and then released the dove; but this time it did not come back.

  1. Genesis 19:15-26

15 As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “Come on! Take your wife with you and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 When he hesitated, the men, because of the Lord’s compassion for him, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. 17 As soon as they had brought them outside, they said: “Flee for your life! Do not look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Flee to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.” 18 “Oh, no, my lords!” Lot replied to them. 19 “You have already shown favor to your servant, doing me the great kindness of saving my life. But I cannot flee to the hills, or the disaster will overtake and kill me. 20 Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It is only a small place.[f] Let me flee there—is it not a small place?—to save my life.” 21 “Well, then,” he replied, “I grant you this favor too. I will not overthrow the town you have mentioned. 22 Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” That is why the town is called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot arrived in Zoar, 24 and the Lord rained down sulfur upon Sodom and Gomorrah, fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 He overthrew[g] those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

  1. Joshua 2:1, 12-21

Then Joshua, son of Nun, secretly sent out two spies from Shittim, saying, “Go, reconnoiter the land and Jericho.” When the two reached Jericho, they went into the house of a prostitute named Rahab, where they lodged.

12 Now then, swear to me by the Lord that, since I am showing kindness to you, you in turn will show kindness to my family. Give me a reliable sign 13 that you will allow my father and mother, brothers and sisters, and my whole family to live, and that you will deliver us from death.” 14 “We pledge our lives for yours,” they answered her. “If you do not betray our mission, we will be faithful in showing kindness to you when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 Then she let them down through the window with a rope; for she lived in a house built into the city wall.[c] 16 “Go up into the hill country,” she said, “that your pursuers may not come upon you. Hide there for three days, until they return; then you may go on your way.” 17 They answered her, “We are free of this oath that you made us take, unless, 18 when we come into the land, you tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you are letting us down. Gather your father and mother, your brothers, and all your family into your house. 19 Should any of them pass outside the doors of your house, their blood will be on their own heads, and we will be guiltless. But if anyone in your house is harmed, their blood will be on our heads. 20 If, however, you betray our mission, we will be free of the oath you have made us take.” 21 “Let it be as you say,” she replied, and sent them away. When they were gone, she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

  1. Isaiah 10:20-22

20     On that day
The remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no more lean upon the one who struck them;
But they will lean upon the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
21 A remnant will return,[g] the remnant of Jacob,
to the mighty God.
22 Though your people, O Israel,
were like the sand of the sea,
Only a remnant of them will return;
their destruction is decreed,
as overflowing justice demands.

  1. Isaiah 11:1-2, 10-11

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump[c] of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
2 [d]The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,

10     On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the peoples—
Him the nations will seek out;
his dwelling shall be glorious.
11     On that day,
The Lord shall again take it in hand
to reclaim the remnant of his people
that is left from Assyria and Egypt,
Pathros, Ethiopia, and Elam,
Shinar, Hamath, and the isles of the sea.

  1. Matthew 3:16-17

16 [l]After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. 17 And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son,[m] with whom I am well pleased.”

  1. Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.[l] 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

  1. Matthew 10:12-15

12 As you enter a house, wish it peace. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.[f] 14 [g]Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. 15 Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

  1. Matthew 18:6-9

“Whoever causes one of these little ones[e] who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 [f]Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! If your hand or foot causes you to sin,[g] cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna.

  1. Matthew 21:28-32

28 “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. 30 The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 31 [x]Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. 32 [y]When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.

  1. Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees[i] went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. 16 They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians,[j] saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. 17 [k]Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” 18 Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 19 [l]Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. 20 He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” 21 They replied, “Caesar’s.”[m] At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away.

  1. Matthew 26:20-25

20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”[k] 22 Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” 23 He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. 24 [l]The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” 25 [m]Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”

  1. Matthew 27:3-10, 22-26, 50-54

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver[c] to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” 5 [d]Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, “It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.” After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet,[e] “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by some of the Israelites, 10 and they paid it out for the potter’s field just as the Lord had commanded me.

22 [l]Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Messiah?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!” 24 [m]When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” 25 And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged,[n] he handed him over to be crucified.

50 [ad]But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.[ae] The earth quaked, rocks were split, 52 tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 [af]The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

  1. Luke 9:4-5

Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet[c] in testimony against them.”

  1. Luke 15:8-10, 21-28

“Or what woman having ten coins[b] and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ 10 In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. 25 Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 27 The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.

  1. John 1:29-34

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,[u] who takes away the sin of the world. 30 [v]He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ 31 I did not know him,[w] but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” 32 John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove[x] from the sky and remain upon him. 33 I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’ 34 [y]Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

  1. Acts 2:1-4

1 [a]When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,[b] and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,[c] which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,[d] as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

  1. Romans 9:27-29

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the Israelites were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant will be saved; 28 for decisively and quickly will the Lord execute sentence upon the earth.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted:

“Unless the Lord of hosts had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom
and have been made like Gomorrah.”

  1. Hebrews 11:27-31

27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s fury, for he persevered as if seeing the one who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. 29 By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after being encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient, for she had received the spies in peace.

 

Tuesday 4/7/20

Title: “A Fine Line, Between Self-Control and a Sin Against Justice”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day and for all the care and compassion, love and kindness, and gentleness and docility that go hand in hand with a strictness in rigorous discipline upon oneself, temperance and moderation in all one’s actions, and self-regulation and restraint, that provide the control and mastery necessary to learn true patience, and thus bring forth good fruit of the Spirit to all we meet.  Please my Lords, help us this day to remain self-regulated with discipline and self-control, by the love of Christ that constrains us (2 Cor 5:14), and to be just as patient with ourselves in our striving for self-mastery as we are with others, treating ourselves not worse or better, but the same.

 

“A Fine Line, Between Self-Control and a Sin Against Justice”

There is a fine line between self-control and discipline in one’s life—which surely is a necessary life skill to learn for anyone looking to advance in the spiritual life, and an indispensable tool of the trade—but there is a difference and a fine line between self-control which breeds patience and love and compassionate empathy for others (Gal 5:22-23; 2 Tim 1:7), and that sort of self-discipline that is a denial of justice through the denial of self.

Self-abnegation, whether a practice of asceticism, a religious austerity, or a penance of Lent, is a wonderful skill to learn, as it gives way from humility to make more room for God (John 3:30).  But when the denial of self (Matt 10:37-39; 16:24-28) surpasses minor daily acts and deeds, and denies one the basic human rights (Gal 5:13) due any living, breathing individual, that austerity is no longer just a self-mortification and renouncing of interest in self (that is to say, selfishness over God-centeredness),  but it is so too a denial of God-given justice and the freedom and liberty to live as He would will us to.

God chooses life for us just as we would choose it for our brothers and ourselves (Deut 30:15-20; Sir 15:14-17), and bearing suffering patiently, as in St. Peter’s First Epistle, “for righteousness’ sake” (1 Pet 3:14-17), brings favor in the sight of God—for if needs be one suffer, “it is better to do it for righteousness’ sake than for wrongdoing” (1 Pet 3:17; cf. Dan 13:22-23), for then we have a recompense for wrongdoing in order (1 Pet 2:19-20) rather than a heavenly reward, from Him who sees the hearts and minds of all (1 Pet 3:12).

That being said, it is not God’s will that injustice should be perpetrated, so that we suffer for righteousness and not through our own guilt, at the malicious hands of another (Matt 18:14; 2 Pet 3:9; Gal 5:10, 12).  So back to my main point, there is a fine line, between self-control and bearing patiently the sins of another—particularly when they are committed against oneself—and sinning against justice by not speaking up, and clinging close to that virtue of righteousness that while bearing mercy, recognizes that each man deserves his due.

For mercy is only mercy if it first understands “What is justice,” to echo that Pilate asking Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), and when in the interest of mercy—as if the ends could ever justify the means—justice and truth are both denied unrightly, this is neither mercy nor justice, but the cloak of lies and deceit that with the devil at the Last Judgment will both receive their own due (Rev 22:12-13).

And so in the interest of self-control, it is important not to control oneself too tightly, for one must speak out against bullies (Eph 6:8-9) and against criminals, and those who harm the innocent of all sorts, for to learn self-control without justice, is to allow God’s grace to be hidden under a bushel basket (Matt 5:15), and to deny the truth is to deny God, as God is truth to be sure.  And so at the Last Day we shall confess truth, as we had confessed it all this life long, and in confessing You, my Lord, we shall join You in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).  But those who have denied truth, they have denied You, my Lord (Gal 5:7-8), and there shall come a day when You shall say to them—“Whoever confesses me, him I shall confess to my Father, and whoever denies me, him I shall also deny in the presence of the Father” (Matt 10:32-33).  “Depart from me you evildoers,” you confess not truth, and “I know thee not” (Matt 7:23).  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Deuteronomy 30:15-20

15 See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the Lord, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the Lord swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.

  1. Daniel 13:22-27

22 “I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned. “If I yield, it will be my death; if I refuse, I cannot escape your power. 23 Yet it is better for me not to do it and to fall into your power than to sin before the Lord.” 24 Then Susanna screamed, and the two old men also shouted at her, 25 as one of them ran to open the garden gates. 26 When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden, they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her. 27 At the accusations of the old men, the servants felt very much ashamed, for never had any such thing been said about Susanna.

  1. Sirach 15:14-17

14 God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
loyalty is doing the will of God.
16 Set before you are fire and water;
to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.
17 Before everyone are life and death,
whichever they choose will be given them.

  1. Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.[l] 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

  1. Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,[j] but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.[k] Depart from me, you evildoers.’

  1. Matthew 10:26-33, 37-39

26 “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.[m] 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. 30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 [n]Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up his cross[o] and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39 [p]Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

  1. Matthew 16:24-28

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,[t] take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.[u] 26 What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 27 [v]For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. 28 [w]Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

  1. Matthew 18:10-14

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,[i] for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. [11 ][j] 12 What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? 13 And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. 14 In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.

  1. John 3:27-30

27 John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man,[n] who stands and listens to him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. 30 He must increase; I must decrease.”

  1. John 18:28-40

28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.[m] It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring [against] this man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone,”[n] 32 [o]in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. 33 So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” 37 So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.[p] For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.[q] Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!”[r] Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:12-17 (Authorized King James Version)

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

  1. Galatians 5:7-26

You were running well;[f] who hindered you from following [the] truth? That enticement does not come from the one who called you.[g] A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. 10 I am confident of you in the Lord that you will not take a different view, and that the one who is troubling you will bear the condemnation, whoever he may be. 11 As for me, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision,[h] why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 Would that those who are upsetting you might also castrate themselves!

13 For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve[k] one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[l] 15 But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

16 I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.[m] 17 For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. 18 But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 [n]Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, 21 occasions of envy,[o] drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. 26 Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.

  1. Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not human beings, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. Masters, act in the same way toward them, and stop bullying, knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven and that with him there is no partiality.

  1. 2 Timothy 1:7

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.

  1. 1 Peter 2:19-25

19 For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. 20 But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered[j] for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps:

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

  1. 1 Peter 3:12-17

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears turned to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.”

13 Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

  1. 2 Peter 3:8-10

8 [f]But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years[g] and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,[h] and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.

  1. Revelation 19:9-10

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed[e] are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.” 10 I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t! I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers who bear witness to Jesus. Worship God. Witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

  1. Revelation 22:12

12 “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

 

Wednesday 4/8/20

Title: “A Fine Lie: The Cost of a Head”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the personal struggles, quiet strengths, outward endurances, and consolations in You when our own efforts fail us.  Please my Lords, help us this day to continue on in patient endurance, in the faith, hope, and charity that shows that we proceed bearing good fruit in You, and in the heartfelt honesty that makes no compromises when fidelity to the Truth and Your honor, my God, is at hand.

 

“A Fine Lie: The Cost of a Head”

Contemplating the mysteries of Your sacred truth, I am reminded of the testimony of the two evil elders as Daniel questions them, only to return their false witness with this swift rebuke: “Your fine lie has cost you your head…” (Dan 13:55, 59).  Poor Susanna had laid her claim in the Lord and in truth (Dan 13:23), and so she was saved as the Lord’s Spirit working here in Daniel (Dan 13:45), works in mysterious ways.  This life truly is incarnational, as both human and divine, when it is lived in the grace of God, and to echo Ecclesiastes, there is nothing better under the sun than to walk in the ways of the LORD and to keep His commandments (Eccles 12:13-14).  Micah too echoes, all that is expected of us in this life is to walk humbly with the LORD, in keeping His statutes (Mic 6:8).  This life of holiness seems painfully simple, tediously mundane, lacking excitement and intrigue, but nothing could be further from the truth, as the drama played out in the soul as it lives its life in uprightness, in God, is far more exhilarating and heart-wrenching than any scandalous pleasures the human heart in sin could ever entertain.

Flashing back to dear Salome, daughter of Herodias, wife of Herod, that head on a silver platter (Matt 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29) wreaks havoc on my mind, as all too many times this is the cost, of, in the words of Daniel, that “fine lie” (Dan 13:55, 59), as even John the Baptist in this way is laid to rest.  The greatest among men indeed (Matt 11:11), and no servant is above his master (John 13:16-18; 15:20-25), and that one is Jesus Christ (Luke 18:19).

But the cost of that fine lie, that almost got poor Susanna killed and cost John the Baptist his head, when will it redound upon that original liar and fake, as in John 8 Jesus had said, the devil from the beginning was a liar and a murderer, and his own offspring surely do take after him (John 8:44).  For we all have free choice and free will in this life, and just living under God’s golden sun, on God’s green earth, does not make you His own, if you all the while are not striving to discern and then do what is just and right.

And so as dear Salome, daughter of scandal dances in, with the soup of the day, dear Susanna, daughter of God proceeds out, as the liars lose their heads.  But what is this injustice upon John, if not a give and a take, as he suffers the fate not of a child, but of a prophet and a martyr before the first martyr’s claim is staked (Acts 7:51-60).  To die for a just man, or for one who is good (Romans 5:7-8), is a difficult thing to fathom apart from “that one who alone is good” (Luke 18:19).  And so in the name of God and for God, incarnationally do these great men go to their graves, while the “fine lie” of the sinners, paves the straight road crooked and unjust (Isa 40:3; John 1:23).  What lie was it, that our little Salome did tell?  It was the presumption that that life was hers for the taking, though from her mother this family heirloom of sin was brought forth.  And so as in the Kingdom of heaven, we bring forth treasures both old and new (Matt 13:52), here we bring forth the Herod family’s fine lie on a silver platter, with the sparkling intensity of Susanna’s moral virginity, in that one and the same Spirit who had filled John and Daniel both, as that one of God, comes shining through.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13 [h]The last word, when all is heard: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this concerns all humankind; 14 because God will bring to judgment every work, with all its hidden qualities, whether good or bad.

  1. Isaiah 40:3-5

    A voice proclaims:[d]
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

  1. Daniel 13:22-27, 42-59

22 “I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned. “If I yield, it will be my death; if I refuse, I cannot escape your power. 23 Yet it is better for me not to do it and to fall into your power than to sin before the Lord.” 24 Then Susanna screamed, and the two old men also shouted at her, 25 as one of them ran to open the garden gates. 26 When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden, they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her. 27 At the accusations of the old men, the servants felt very much ashamed, for never had any such thing been said about Susanna.

42 But Susanna cried aloud: “Eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: 43 you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things for which these men have condemned me.”

44 The Lord heard her prayer. 45 As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, 46 and he cried aloud: “I am innocent of this woman’s blood.” 47 All the people turned and asked him, “What are you saying?” 48 He stood in their midst and said, “Are you such fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without investigation and without clear evidence? 49 Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her.”

50 Then all the people returned in haste. To Daniel the elders said, “Come, sit with us and inform us, since God has given you the prestige of old age.” 51 But he replied, “Separate these two far from one another, and I will examine them.”

52 After they were separated from each other, he called one of them and said: “How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: 53 passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, ‘The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’ 54 Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together.” 55 “Under a mastic tree,”[b] he answered. “Your fine lie has cost you your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God has already received the sentence from God and shall split you in two.” 56 Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. “Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,” Daniel said to him, “beauty has seduced you, lust has perverted your heart. 57 This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your lawlessness. 58 Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together.” 59 “Under an oak,” he said. “Your fine lie has cost you also your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to destroy you both.”

  1. Micah 6:6-16

6 [c]With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow before God most high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
[d] Shall I give my firstborn for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 [e]You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the Lord requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
9 [f]The Lord cries aloud to the city
(It is prudent to fear your name!):
Hear, O tribe and city assembly,
10 Am I to bear criminal hoarding
and the accursed short ephah?[g]
11 Shall I acquit crooked scales,
bags of false weights?
12 You whose wealthy are full of violence,
whose inhabitants speak falsehood
with deceitful tongues in their mouths!
13 I have begun to strike you
with devastation because of your sins.
14 You shall eat, without being satisfied,
food that will leave you empty;
What you acquire, you cannot save;
what you do save, I will deliver up to the sword.
15 You shall sow, yet not reap,
tread out the olive, yet pour no oil,
crush the grapes, yet drink no wine.
16 You have kept the decrees of Omri,
and all the works of the house of Ahab,
and you have walked in their counsels;
Therefore I will deliver you up to ruin,
and your citizens to derision;
and you shall bear the reproach of the nations.

  1. Matthew 11:11-15

11 Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.[h] 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,[i] and the violent are taking it by force. 13 All the prophets and the law[j] prophesied up to the time of John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. 15 Whoever has ears ought to hear.

  1. Matthew 13:51-53

51 “Do you understand[y] all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 [z]And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” 53 When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

  1. Matthew 14:3-12

Now Herod had arrested John, bound [him], and put him in prison on account of Herodias,[c] the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, 10 and he had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

  1. Mark 6:17-29

17 Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. 18 John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias[m] harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 20 Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. 21 She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” 23 He even swore [many things] to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 26 The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. 27 So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. 28 He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

  1. Luke 18-23

18 An official asked him this question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.’” 21 And he replied, “All of these I have observed from my youth.” 22 [e]When Jesus heard this he said to him, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.

  1. John 1:22-28

22 So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” 23 He said:

“I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert,
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’

as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 Some Pharisees[r] were also sent. 25 They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water;[s] but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, 27 the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,[t] where John was baptizing.

  1. John 8:39-47

39 [t]They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, “We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.”

  1. John 13:16-20

16 Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger[g] greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. 18 I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. 20 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

  1. John 15:20-25

20 Remember the word I spoke to you,[h] ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,[i] because they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken[j] to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But in order that the word written in their law[k] might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’

  1. Acts 7:51-60

51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. 52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. 53 You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.”

54 When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,[c] 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,[d] and rushed upon him together. 58 They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”[e] 60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.

  1. Romans 5:6-11

For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.[c] But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. 10 Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

 

Thursday 4/9/20, Holy Thursday

Title: “Divine Mercy ‘Distancing’”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the grace and magnanimity, penance and solitude, joy and laughter, and harmonious balance to all things, in a life lived by goodness for its soul to rest in You.  Please my Lords, help us this day to remain in Your love no matter what our circumstances, and to accept the bad with the good while we ourselves make the effort, to infuse our lot with good, through our efforts exerted with You in it.

“Divine Mercy ‘Distancing’”

There are a lot.  There are a great many things calling out for attention, and the preponderance of these cries, these calls for mercy for victims, brings my eyes from downcast to skyward, as I lift my heart up to You.  Crestfallen as my gaze falls back down again, my heart remains yet lifted up in hope, as my eyes catch sight of that crest hidden among the pictures lining the wall.  A heart pierced straight through, burning with Your love, as enflamed by the Scriptures and the Holy Word of Your decree.  One line at a time, in the unfolding of centuries, millennia take shape in transparency, as if on their original parchment.  The Holy Writ, the Word, the raison d’être, it transports and transforms us, as blazing red as it is read.  In the quiet hours of the night, its effects they do linger, and the soul it is nourished by this species, next to which there is none.

Beside myself as my heart is enflamed within me, like those travelers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30-32), my understanding is opened to the Scriptures with this key (Luke 24:25-27).  If You are the door (John 10:7, 9), I will be Your hinge, squeaking and cracking in the early hours to wait for the soul that has come home to Thee (Prov 8:34).  Like the legend on a map, this key, this golden, brass compass rose, is this legend in real life, the incarnate Word in the Holy Trinity.  And as my soul waits beside itself, for this coming home at once, the heart rest is found only in stages, in phases, like the fanning out of a deck of cards, in the unfolding of time.

These words they sustain us, a sort of Eucharistic Writ, is this holiness to us who have tried it, and found You waiting there.  The Shepherd cries and His sheep hear Him (John 10:14-16, 25-28), and when He is struck (Zech 13:7; Matt 26:31-32) we shall not depart, for You are already given to be with us always, that Man who lingers in our heart.

This is my body, given up for you, this is my blood, poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20)And this is my heart, broken apart for you, Jesus seemingly winks through the glossy image on the Divine Mercy prayer card propped upright and erect.  This is the Resurrection, for one dormant, lying in wait, and as you choose life everlasting (Deut 30:15, 19; Sir 15:15-17), you too are called to follow after me (John 21:19, 22).  I set before you two choices (Deut 30:15, 19; Sir 15:16-17), and I choose the life Jesus won, giving Him that life in its all, but willingly accepting the suffering that leads to its rest.

Here, if I take the water, will you accept what is left?  Would you do it for Me, as the fire burns and blisters my soul (Sir 15:16).  I would do it for You, but no one else my Lord, as redemptive suffering finds a home in my heart in memory of Your Crucifixion.  I would do it for You, for You first did it for me, just as I will love You with the love, with which You first loved (1 John 4:10, 19).  This life it is given as a sacrifice, an offering, as Divine Mercy bleeds forth only from the heart that being pierced (Luke 2:34-35), knows pain.  The mercy of the soul, that is Jesus living within, and as I place You as that mercy, accepting the side of fire to balance out this lot, Your mercy pours forth in all things, as we suffer together, and now I know You in all things, as I say with all truth, fullness, and honesty, I am never alone.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Deuteronomy 30:15-20

15 See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the Lord, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the Lord swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.

  1. Proverbs 8:1, 12-23, 29-36

Does not Wisdom call,
and Understanding raise her voice?

12 I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and useful knowledge I have.
13 [The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil;]
Pride, arrogance, the evil way,
and the perverse mouth I hate.
14 Mine are counsel and advice;
Mine is strength; I am understanding.[d]
15 By me kings reign,
and rulers enact justice;

16 By me princes govern,
and nobles, all the judges of the earth.
17 Those who love me I also love,
and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
wealth that endures, and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold,
and my yield than choice silver.
20 On the way of righteousness I walk,
along the paths of justice,
21 Granting wealth to those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.

22 [e]“The Lord begot me, the beginning of his works,
the forerunner of his deeds of long ago;

23 From of old I was formed,[f]
at the first, before the earth.

29 When he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
When he fixed the foundations of earth,
30     then was I beside him as artisan;[h]
I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
31 Playing over the whole of his earth,
having my delight with human beings.
32 [i]Now, children, listen to me;
happy are they who keep my ways.
33 Listen to instruction and grow wise,
do not reject it!
34 Happy the one who listens to me,
attending daily at my gates,
keeping watch at my doorposts;
35 For whoever finds me finds life,
and wins favor from the Lord;

36 But those who pass me by do violence to themselves;
all who hate me love death.”

  1. Zechariah 13:7

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the one who is my associate
—oracle of the Lord of hosts.
Strike the shepherd
that the sheep may be scattered;[e]
I will turn my hand against the little ones.

  1. Sirach 15:14-17

14 God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
loyalty is doing the will of God.
16 Set before you are fire and water;
to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.
17 Before everyone are life and death,
whichever they choose will be given them.

  1. Matthew 26:26-28, 31-35

26 [n]While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”[o] 27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks,[p] and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,[s] for it is written:

‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’;

32 but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.” 34 [t]Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And all the disciples spoke likewise.

  1. Luke 1:33-35

33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted 35 (and you yourself a sword will pierce)[k] so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

  1. Luke 22:19-20

19 [g]Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

  1. Luke 24:13-35

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles[f] from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 [g]but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer[h] these things and enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” 33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

  1. John 10:7-18, 25-30

7 [e]So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 [f]All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. 13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep[g] that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.[h] This command I have received from my Father.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you[l] and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,[m] and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. 30 [n]The Father and I are one.”

  1. John 21:19, 22

19 He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

22 Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?[l] What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

  1. 1 John 4:7-12, 16-19

7 [c]Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

16 We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 17 In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

 

Friday 4/10/20, Good Friday

Title: “A Taste of Desert Spirituality: The Hermit Crab Shell

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the joy and reproach, pain and personal struggle, interior growth and triumph, and Your presence within me in all things, as we work this day to strengthen our holiness in Your name.  Please my Lords, help us to grow closer in connectedness and in solidarity, in professing the same values and beliefs, and in making good on them by living them out with our actions, through Your grace that dwells within.

 

“A Taste of Desert Spirituality: The Hermit Crab Shell

Professing solidarity in one and the Selfsame Lord, our Creator God, we proceed in the Spirit of Lord Jesus in seeking all things just, all things true, and all things unequaled and unparalleled by anything less than the truth and glory that is Him alone—of Him and given to us, by His grace and good will in holy magnanimity.  This much we know to be true, God is good, God is great, and this much we know to be true also, that in Him there is no deceit, nor shadow from the variableness of changing (James 1:17; 1 John 1:5).  His word is good and His word it stands, as solidly as the cross as a symbol of His life, death, and resurrection.  And so in proceeding forward we take into account what we do know, leaving aside all the rest, and we do profess our faith in this confession, of a three-fold prayer in order to glorify God.

Living each day as if it is the first and the last, an echo of Revelation seeps through as we contemplate the “Alpha and Omega” (Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13), and in this lifestyle of a pseudo-Desert Spirituality, we lay hold of what is unseen by renouncing our claim to everything else that is (Matt 19:21).  And so in our hearts we fashion this hermitage, in the spirit of detachment for the sake of better things to be sure (1 Pet 1:4), and so as we let go of our own lives (Matt 16:24-26) we see it not as a sacrifice, but as a moving on and moving forward, like a hermit crab from the beach as it exchanges its shell.

In that brief period of transition—of an “in-between”—we feel the discomfort of a homelessness as we move through our faith—as we move from faith to faith and “from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18), in this journey through hope to the heaven beyond all fathoming of despair.  Into the unknown, the thoughtlessness—the weightlessness of the sheer depth of thoughtfulness as we take the plunge—it overcomes us as we move through the enormity of the vast depth—the abyss (Gen 1:2; 15:12)—of our hearts.

This temporary refuge, of the heart within, it is a cave and a cavern, like that carved out by Elijah on Mt Carmel (1 Kings 19:9-13).  And this desert we seek, it is the land of worldly pleasures, a sure wasteland to us, who take our delight in our God.  And as we forage and plunder, this treasure stockpile in heaven (Matt 6:19-21; 19:21; 1 Pet 1:3-5), we set our thoughts adrift in the breeze like the cool wind through our sails.  For this journey, it is within, the mind frame of Christ-consciousness as we do seek Him, and as God overtakes us we lose ourselves in the beauty and truth of Him (Matt 16:24-26).  For He is our horizon, and nothing less would even do as a comparison, and so we lose all care and worries (Luke 2:48-50; 10:41-42) as we seek not what isn’t there.

Truth, justice, and mercy, are in the depths of God’s compassion, and in truth as truth we find Him, because without Him nothing else at all is there.  And so with this as our foundation, our true life found and forged in heaven above, from within it transforms us, laying our old world to waste.  “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5), He echoes, from Revelation again, as the fruit of all pondering (Luke 2:19, 51), that always in newness lives each day over again.  This is a foretaste of heaven from the eternal soul lived in in truth.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 1:1-3

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth— 2 [b]and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—

Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.

  1. Genesis 15:12

12 As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great, dark dread descended upon him.

  1. 1 Kings 19

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done—that he had murdered all the prophets by the sword. Jezebel then sent a messenger to Elijah and said, “May the gods do thus to me and more, if by this time tomorrow I have not done with your life what was done to each of them.” Elijah was afraid and fled for his life, going to Beer-sheba of Judah. He left his servant there and went a day’s journey into the wilderness, until he came to a solitary broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death: “Enough, Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” He lay down and fell asleep under the solitary broom tree, but suddenly a messenger[b] touched him and said, “Get up and eat!” He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the Lord came back a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the Lord came to him: Why are you here, Elijah? 10 He answered: “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” 11 Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord;[c] the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.

13 When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah? 14 He replied, “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” 15 [e]The Lord said to him: Go back! Take the desert road to Damascus. When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram. 16 You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you. 17 Anyone who escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill. Anyone who escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 But I will spare seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bent to Baal, every mouth that has not kissed him.

19 [f]Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak on him. 20 Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back! What have I done to you?” 21 Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to the people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah to serve him.

  1. Matthew 6:19-21

19 [m]“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

  1. Matthew 16:24-28

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,[t] take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.[u] 26 What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 27 [v]For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. 28 [w]Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

  1. Matthew 19:21

21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,[p] go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

  1. Luke 2:15-20, 46-52

15 When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. 19 And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.

46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47 and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[m] 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

  1. Luke 10:38-42

38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. 39 [n]She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” 41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 [o]There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

12 Therefore, since we have such hope,[i] we act very boldly 13 and not like Moses,[j] who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not look intently at the cessation of what was fading. 14 Rather, their thoughts were rendered dull, for to this present day[k] the same veil remains unlifted when they read the old covenant, because through Christ it is taken away. 15 To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,[l] and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 [m]All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

  1. James 1:16-18

16 [h]Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers: 17 all good giving and every perfect gift[i] is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. 18 He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

  1. 1 Peter 1:3-9

3 [c]Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. 6 [d]In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

  1. 1 John 1:5-10

Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light,[b] and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,[c] and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

  1. Revelation 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”[f] says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

  1. Revelation 21:5-8

The one who sat on the throne[f] said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, “They are accomplished.[g] I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor[h] will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son. But as for cowards,[i] the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

  1. Revelation 22:12-13

12 “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

 

Saturday 4/11/20, Holy Saturday

Title: “A Christmas Carol in Springtime, and the Ghost of Easter Past: The Sacramental Life that Keeps on Living

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the pain and anguish, horror and disbelief, prudence and suspension of judgment, and faith in the fortitude we’ve forged in our spirits along the way, that all lead us back to You, with a greater reverence and respect for Your grace, greater joy and a renewed sense of gratitude, and greater solidarity and steadfastness in true love, as its origins are You, and it is directed at You as its aim, my God.

 

A Christmas Carol in Springtime, and the Ghost of Easter Past: The Sacramental Life that Keeps on Living

The prudential judgment of the rough equivalent of an archangel’s wingspan hangs in the balance as we gaze up upon the cliff.  Those three crosses at Calvary, with one line set against the horizon and tilting up to Jesus’s right (Luke 23:33-43).  My left, His right, I think to myself, as I recall the blood streaming down His proper right side (Ezek 47:1; John 19:34).  My left, His right, I think again, reversing the image in my mind as if it is first beheld in a mirror, and then in real life.  The three crosses in the distance, one in the middle expansive enough for all three, and one on each side, one going up, one going down.

“Going up?” the elevator attendant asks gleefully, and I can’t help but think to myself, I sure hope so, as I answer him, just “Yes.” (Matt 5:37).  The double meaning seems to come out of nowhere, as I flash back to this scene nowhere near Easter or Lent, buried in the past.  This is a one-way ticket, I think to myself at the reflection, but that’s how it always is for me—all or nothing, devotion in everything, because nothing’s not an option.  (“Oh!”)  But as this last grimace lingers on my face, as I reflect on how a life lived sacramentally is actually lived, these little appearances of the Gospel in everything make their way into my lot as common occurrences, par for the course.

That sense of deferential reverence seeps in deep beneath the skin, and beneath the sheets that like Lazarus (John 11:38-44), bind this sleeping pilgrim a temporary prisoner.  Unravelling like a mummy, as I teeter-totter off the side of the bed, the morning it starts with a wide awake awakening, as this sacramental understanding imbibes itself, so deeply is it embedded.  It passes right over the symbol to that which is symbolized, bypassing the reminder, like a sacramental, a statue, to Him who the image is of, for this understanding is already awake.

Moving through the hallway, like wind at my feet, I feel the cool, dark morning, and the solemnity it has become.  The somber character and the solemn note, and like a single key struck on a black and white piano at dawn, it resonates through my soul, my whole being, like something that is terribly wrong.  That one key it is struck again, and the whole house shutters at its sound, and it goes on echoing until like thunder, like lightning, it keeps making its sound—that terrible, palpable, pulsing note from “The Tell-Tale Heart.”  Once at first, and then twice more in succession, and this large and empty house feels it, that solemn note and nothing else.  Then like a “Tempest” of Beethoven, the quickness of Mozart seeps through, and that single dark note, it is heard in its song singing all the way through (Matt 19:24).

This song, it’s phantasmic, as it haunts thoroughly this house (Matt 27:50-56; Luke 23:44-49), and this blessing, it becomes me, as death’s knot on a loom that suddenly broke (Acts 2:24; 1 Cor 15:22).  Out pours all the lonely, single, solitary chords, each little note it is a letter in a line, a syllable in a word, a beat in a tempo, and a single moment from a whole opus, as sheets and sheets of this music, like Lazarus from his tomb, come storming through.  Like sheets from a sheaf of paper unsheathed (Matt 26:52; Heb 5:12-13), and then caught in the wind, this specter of Christ is no mere spectacle (Luke 23:48; 24:36-43), as He enlivens death itself in His body, as His is Risen again (1 Cor 15:26).  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Ezekiel 47:1-9

Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and there! I saw water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east. The water flowed out toward the right side of the temple to the south of the altar.He brought me by way of the north gate and around the outside to the outer gate facing east; there I saw water trickling from the southern side. When he continued eastward with a measuring cord in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and had me wade through the water; it was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and once more had me wade through the water; it was up to the knees. He measured another thousand cubits and had me wade through the water; it was up to my waist. Once more he measured off a thousand cubits. Now it was a river I could not wade across. The water had risen so high, I would have to swim—a river that was impassable. Then he asked me, “Do you see this, son of man?” He brought me to the bank of the river and had me sit down. As I was returning, I saw along the bank of the river a great many trees on each side. He said to me, “This water flows out into the eastern district, runs down into the Arabah and empties into the polluted waters of the sea[b] to freshen them. Wherever it flows, the river teems with every kind of living creature; fish will abound. Where these waters flow they refresh; everything lives where the river goes.

  1. Matthew 5:33-37

33 [v]“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all;[w] not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 [x]Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.

  1. Matthew 19:16-30

16 Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”[l] 17 He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.[m] If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 [n]He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; 19 honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 [o]The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,[p] go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 [q]Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 [r]When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” 28 [s]Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. 30 [t]But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

  1. Matthew 26:51-56

51 And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” 55 [ac]At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me. 56 But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

  1. Matthew 27:50-56

50 [ad]But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.[ae] The earth quaked, rocks were split, 52 tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 [af]The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” 55 There were many women there, looking on from a distance,[ag] who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

  1. Luke 23:33-49

33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”][e] They divided his garments by casting lots. 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 [f]Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

44 [g]It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon 45 because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. 46 Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last. 47 The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent[h] beyond doubt.” 48 When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; 49 but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

  1. Luke 24:36-43

36 [i]While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 [j]Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them.

  1. John 11:38-44

38 So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father,[h] I thank you for hearing me. 42 I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice,[i] “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

  1. John 19:31-37

31 Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34 [o]but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows[p] that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believe. 36 For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled:

“Not a bone of it will be broken.”

37 And again another passage says:

“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”

  1. Acts 2:24-32

24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says of him:

‘I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
26 Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
27 because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day. 30 But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits[h] of those who have fallen asleep. 21 [i]For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, 23 but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; 24 then comes the end,[j] when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 [k]The last enemy to be destroyed is death, 27 [l]for “he subjected everything under his feet.” But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him. 28 When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

  1. Hebrews 5:12-13

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

 

Sunday 4/12/20, Easter Sunday

Title: “‘Ubi Caritas,’ in these Wounds: In this Melody, Born to Bear

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the abundance of blessings on this Easter Sunday, as we celebrate this day as we look to You, with joy and gratitude, for “He is risen” (Matt 28:6).  Please my Lords, let us always enjoy the memory of Your grace, as it becomes the home and birthplace of all hope that is rightly placed in You, as we partake of the glory that is Yours and given to us freely by love and with our joyful cooperation—for from God alone come all good things (James 1:17).

 

“‘Ubi Caritas,” in these Wounds: In this Melody, Born to Bear

The wounds.  They bleed and vacillate and pulsate and puss.  The wounds….  But then, all at once, that mystery of the ninth hour (Matt 27:45-46), this outpouring of mercy in a crescendo of a last chance, it dances around the entry like the tip of a feather tickling raw flesh, and then… “It is done” (John 19:30; cf. Rev 21:6).  And he gave up the ghost (Matt 27:50).  This instant replay of eternity captured in a single moment is caught live every Divine Mercy Sunday.  Also, every day at 3:00, to commemorate the Passion of the Lord.  Also, every day at Mass.  Also, every time the memory of the heart brings this recollection in fondness to bear witness, that we are blessed.

So, all the time.  All the time, is the answer to the question, how often should we pray? (1 Thess 5:17).  How frequently should we be recollected into the Lord, as if swallowed back up into the wellspring of mercy pouring out through those wounds.  At each moment, of each hour, of each day, so that no time does pass outside our brief glimpse and experience of eternity through this, Christ’s sharing of His love for us.

And as we make our way into the procession, we make our beds too each morning, for our earthly bodies are still caught up in time and space, though our hearts be with the Lord (Matt 6:21; cf. 1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22).  But as we make our beds, we make too our eternal resting place in heaven, for our actions on earth are never divorced from the higher, truer, purer and more extreme reality, that we perceive beyond this earthly and physical refuge, this sojourn among time and space; for as our heart yearns in purity of earnestness for God—God alone even (Matt 6:22)—so we are there with Him in the mystery of faith, that conquers both incarnationally humanity, and time and space (Rom 8:37-39).

The  melody of “Ubi Caritas” dances strangely like the tip of a feather across raw skin, upon the lapse of memory we have for those wounds, as recollected into God, He causes like the offspring of Joseph a “Manasseh,” a ceasing to remember (Gen 41:51) and a forgetfulness, of the harms done to us as we wonder where we can place that melody in our hearts, as if trying to remember the name of a song.  Where have it heard that before…?

The grace of God occupies and fills in our memory, this faculty of the soul, in its entirety, corresponding proportionally to our trust in Him, with hope—with a forgetfulness born of most merciful forgiveness that is called hope—divine and free.  This hope it lingers, like that feather dancing in our hearts just beneath the surface, as it resides in the occupying of “things unseen” (Heb 11:1; Rom 8:24-25).  Hope though our faith, and love in our mercy, as these three remain (1 Cor 13:13).  Just like the song, with the melody we can’t forget, these three remain—faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).  For as the lines of “Ubi Caritas” proclaim, “Where love is, God is also,” and as in all things we bear love, in all wounds we bear God.  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 41:50-52

50 Before the famine years set in, Joseph became the father of two sons, borne to him by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh,[f] meaning, “God has made me forget entirely my troubles and my father’s house”; 52 and the second he named Ephraim,[g] meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

  1. 1 Samuel 13:14

14 but now your kingship shall not endure. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart[e] to appoint as ruler over his people because you did not observe what the Lord commanded you.”

  1. Matthew 6:19-23

19 [m]“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

  1. Matthew 6:22-23 (Authorized King James Version)

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

  1. Matthew 27:45-56

45 [aa]From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?[ab] which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 [ac]Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This one is calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 [ad]But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.[ae] The earth quaked, rocks were split, 52 tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 [af]The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” 55 There were many women there, looking on from a distance,[ag] who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

  1. Matthew 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,[b] Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 [c]And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. 6 [d]He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce[e] this to his disciples. 9 [f]And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

  1. John 19:30

28 After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled,[l] Jesus said, “I thirst.” 29 There was a vessel filled with common wine.[m] So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. 30 [n]When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

  1. Acts 13:22-23

22 Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’ 23 From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.

  1. Romans 8:24-25, 37-39

24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

37 No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things,[i] nor future things, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth,[j] nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:13

13 [e]So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22

14 We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. 16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 19 [c]Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 Test everything; retain what is good. 22 Refrain from every kind of evil.

  1. Hebrews 11:1-7

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence[b] of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,[c] so that what is visible came into being through the invisible. 4 [d]By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and “he was found no more because God had taken him.” Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God. 6 [e]But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household. Through this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

  1. James 1:16-18

16 [h]Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers: 17 all good giving and every perfect gift[i] is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. 18 He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

  1. Revelation 21:5-7

The one who sat on the throne[f] said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, “They are accomplished.[g] I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor[h] will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son.

 

Monday 4/13/20

Title: “A Children’s Story. The Lonely Hermit Crab and the New Creation in Christ” (1 Cor 5:17)

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the consolations that may come from You as we find our peace not in this world, but in Your Spirit (John 14:27; 16:33).  Please my Lords, help us this day to continue on in steadfast endurance, holding fast to the faith that is true, and everything that is good, and right, and just (Phil 4:8-9), for it is our hold upon You.

 

“A Children’s Story. The Lonely Hermit Crab and the New Creation in Christ” (1 Cor 5:17)

As the darkness of another new morning dawns upon the seashell-lined little cote, the homeward-bound hermit sets his sail in the breeze.  This is the tale of the lonely hermit crab.

This one lonely little hermit crab, with his life on the beach, although he is alone, he is not lost, and although he knows that there are other hermit crabs out there, he does not look for friends.  This one, single, lonely, little hermit crab, knows where he’s going, and he does it without being part of a group.

He combs the beach in the morning, and arrives home at high noon, and scuttles and scurries up to his hermit crab cottage, bordered with shells and white sand.  This little cave he has dug, is a cottage to him, and his true home is his own shell, like a home he can walk in.

There are other beach creatures, who not all live alike.  There are seagulls that gather, and scavenge, and cry.  There are the ghost crabs, the night travelers, who come out for food after dark.  There are the horseshoe crabs and jellyfish, who surface when they have become lost, and a kindly beach-farer gently tosses them back into the sea.  There are starfish and sand crabs, and ells and fish, and schools and schools of fish, and pods of bottlenose dolphins.

These are our beach company, and they live not alike, and so just as the seagulls live not like the pods of bottlenose dolphins, neither does the hermit crab live like the schools of fish.

And so our one little hermit crab, neither lost nor lonely, he finds his place in the beach life, when not all lives are the same.  And so he heeds not the cries of angry seagulls, or the ghost crabs at night, for those lives are proper to those creatures, but not to this hermit crab as his.

So this hermit crab as he goes forth, in his shell as his true home, he comes across many shells, some better than his, but too small, some broken and full of holes, some in strange shapes and colors, and some looking quite a lot like his.  But when the time comes for a new shell, as he grows and grows and grows, he knows when he outgrows this shell, a new one will appear that is just right.

And so one day when he finds that his shell, seems to pinch a bit at his heels, he gathers up his homestead all upon his own back, and he turns up the shoreline, to find his new home.

And he comes across a gorgeous shell, sparkling white and pristine, and it seems much much too big, he thinks, but I’ll just try it on anyway.  So he goes to inspect the opening, of that dazzling white shell, and finds in it another hermit crab, who bids him well!

“What are you looking for?” asks the other hermit crab, “Does my lovely home appeal to you?”  Why yes, thinks the little hermit crab, and answers as much.  Taken aback in surprise the little hermit crab is not yet frightened, for this beautiful shell and this new hermit crab are a delight that he welcomes.

“Well, you are in luck,” says the new hermit crab, beaming a crustacean smile brightly, “for I have outgrown my old shell, and so from it I must depart!  You can have my old shell, I see yours has grown too small, and so I am here to give you this new shell, for the new creature you are to become.”  And so the new hermit crab climbs out of her dazzling white shell, sparkling bright and pristine, and in an instant she is gone, vanishing like a ghost crab in the night.

So this lonely little hermit crab—who is not lonely, no not one bit—he climbs into his new hermit crab shell, that is a new home to him.  As he rolls it over like a stone, and departs with it from within, he glistens with new light, under the same sun where he had been.  That big beautiful hermit crab, I wonder where she has gone, and then he thinks of her as his angel, from his hermit crab God.

All creatures are blessed as God’s creatures in this, God’s new creation in Christ.

The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Leviticus 11:9-12, 41-47

Of the various creatures that live in the water, you may eat the following: whatever in the seas or in river waters that has both fins and scales you may eat. 10 But of the creatures that swarm in the water or of animals that otherwise live in the water, whether in the sea or in the rivers, all those that lack either fins or scales are loathsome for you, 11 and shall always be loathsome to you. Their meat you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall loathe. 12 Every water creature that lacks fins or scales is loathsome for you.

41 All the creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten. 42 Whether it crawls on its belly, goes on all fours, or has many legs—any creature that swarms on the earth—you shall not eat them; they are loathsome. 43 Do not make yourselves loathsome by any swarming creature nor defile yourselves with them and so become unclean by them. 44 For I, the Lord, am your God. You shall make and keep yourselves holy,[f] because I am holy. You shall not make yourselves unclean, then, by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. 45 Since I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt that I might be your God, you shall be holy, because I am holy.

46 This is the instruction for land animals, birds, and all the creatures that move about in the water, as well as any animal that swarms on the ground, 47 that you may distinguish between the clean and the unclean, and between creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.

  1. Matthew 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,[b] Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 [c]And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. 6 [d]He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce[e] this to his disciples. 9 [f]And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

  1. John 13:18-20

18 I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. 20 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

  1. John 14:15-28

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate[h] to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth,[i] which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.[j] 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” 22 Judas, not the Iscariot,[k] said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

25 “I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. 27 Peace[l] I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 [m]You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.

  1. John 15:26-27

26 “When the Advocate comes whom I will send[l] you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. 27 And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

  1. John 16:25-33

25 [f]“I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. 26 On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. 27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” 29 His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. 30 Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.”[g] 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? 32 Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered[h] to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

  1. John 17:3

3 [d]Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

  1. John 19:16-18

16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, 17 and carrying the cross himself[g] he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.

  1. Acts 10:9-17, 28-29

9 [f]The next day, while they were on their way and nearing the city, Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime.[g] 10 He was hungry and wished to eat, and while they were making preparations he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all the earth’s four-legged animals and reptiles and the birds of the sky. 13 A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” 16 This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into the sky.

17 [h]While Peter was in doubt about the meaning of the vision he had seen, the men sent by Cornelius asked for Simon’s house and arrived at the entrance.

28 and said to them, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with, or visit, a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not call any person profane or unclean.[j] 29 And that is why I came without objection when sent for. May I ask, then, why you summoned me?”

  1. 2 Corinthians 5

For we know that if our earthly dwelling,[a] a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. 2 [b]For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation if indeed, when we have taken it off,[c] we shall not be found naked. For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed[d] but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.

6 [f]So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. 10 For we must all appear[g] before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

11 [h]Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we are clearly apparent to God, and I hope we are also apparent to your consciousness. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you an opportunity to boast of us, so that you may have something to say to those who boast of external appearance rather than of the heart. 13 For if we are out of our minds,[i] it is for God; if we are rational, it is for you. 14 [j]For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. 15 He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 Consequently,[k] from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. 17 So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 [l]And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 [m]For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him

  1. Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.[f] Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

Tuesday 4/14/20

Title: “The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back: A Just Injunction”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the profusion of grace and good intentions, motivation and good actions, and holiness in thought and real merit in You, as we work together this day to see to it that we do all the things that we can do.  Please my Lords, help us to grow stronger in unity and more devout in faith, through the steadfastness of our actions by which we carry it out as living and alive in You.

 

“The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back: A Just Injunction”

You know, it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into heaven (Matt 19:24).  “Yes Lord, we know.”  The sound of slurping, foaming, bubbling chocolate milk bubbles becomes apparent as I lower my menu and gaze over the top of it at the small child across from me.  Anyone who wishes to be great, must become like one of these little ones… (Matt 18:1-5).  The small child I spy in my sight is making bubbles in his chocolate milk, with a long and outrageously-convoluted, brightly-colored plastic crazy straw, that looks like it was made specifically for that task.

The sound of the silence is stark and noticeable as a sound of its own as he stops, and then after a moment, once I again take to perusing my menu, he starts again, making that gurgling, frothy, bubbling sound as he blows bubbles with his absurdly-convoluted and obscenely-colored crazy straw, in his large glass of chocolate milk.  That’s a tall order, I think to myself, reminiscing over the meaning of “one of these little ones” (Matt 18:3-4, 6, 10; 19:13-15) and how it is quickly lost, which is about as quickly as a child’s genuine innocence in this day and age.  As if to illustrate my point for me (Matt 18:2-3), as I lower my menu again to give the child “the look,” he stops immediately, but then starts again just as quickly as soon as I shift my gaze.  Ah well, I think to myself, considering nostalgically what is really at stake.

What is really at stake here, in the way we raise our children, the way we conduct ourselves in public, and the way we conduct ourselves in private, if there is a discrepancy to be seen, and what does this say to those around us, not only those who see only our “good sides,” but those who see both, when we take off our fake plastic smiles with our fake plastic masks, and reveal the horrible truth of how far extends perfect etiquette, and good manners and politeness, in the pure civility that is a put-on put up for man, and not love put forth in truth?

As long as the neighbors don’t see—as long as you behave yourself in public—it’s fine as long as you don’t tell anyone—just make sure no one’s watching first—what are all these allowances we give, as license to do what is illicit, what would be evil, if there were someone there to spy out our mistakes?  These mixed messages we impart—do as I say not as I do, or worse yet, do as I do even, but just don’t say it, don’t let anyone else see you, and deny it if you get caught—these messages of our culture that we pass down implicitly without knowing it, they leave behind as our heritage an inheritance for our children of hypocrisy, false appearances valued over genuine truth and sincerity, and an instilled notion that empty politeness and false kindness—false when it is put up as a sweet, saccharine front just to make us look good, no matter how good or evil we actually are—are all that matters.

These fake smiles and fake kindness, with an impure civility that comes like a bitter dose of medicine from an ingratiating sycophant—these are the true values of our society, of this post-modern culture, when we do whatever we please as long as no one’s looking and take it as license to sin behind closed doors, while in the epitome of Pharisaic hypocrisy (Matt 6:1-6) we just cover it all up to go out, putting  on the mask of falsehood, to cover up the true beast (Rev 13:1, 3-8, 12-18).

So as I return again to this little one, slurping up his milk through a straw and blowing bubbles just as he would so please, I wonder to myself if he is doing it only when I avert my eyes just to tease me, as a playful child would, or if this is a child in-training in the ways of his culture, bound to at-long-length grow up to just conceal his illicit actions, rather than ceasing them completely, when he gets the look—that look—from an observer, that should bring him to his knees.

Behind closed doors, in the privacy of one’s “inner chambers” (Matt 6:6), is where one ought to pray for mercy and be brought down low to his knees.  The privacy of the home ought to be, where we are closest to God and not furthest from Him, else we only evidence to ourselves that we see ourselves only in the eyes of man (Eph 6:5-7), and have not given ourselves over at all to our God, in beholding our lives and our true selves through the eyes that are His (Matt 6:4, 6).

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Matthew 6:1-8

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites[b] do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 7 [c]In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.[d] Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  1. Matthew 18:1-14

At that time the disciples[b] approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,[c] you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 [d]And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones[e] who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 [f]Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! If your hand or foot causes you to sin,[g] cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna.

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,[i] for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. [11 ][j] 12 What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? 13 And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. 14 In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.

  1. Matthew 19:13-30

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

16 Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”[l] 17 He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.[m] If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 [n]He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; 19 honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 [o]The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,[p] go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 [q]Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 [r]When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” 28 [s]Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. 30 [t]But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

  1. Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not human beings, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. Masters, act in the same way toward them, and stop bullying, knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven and that with him there is no partiality.

  1. Revelation 13

Then I saw a beast come out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads; on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads blasphemous name[s]. The beast I saw was like a leopard, but it had feet like a bear’s, and its mouth was like the mouth of a lion.[b] To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority. I saw that one of its heads seemed to have been mortally wounded, but this mortal wound was healed.[c] Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast. They worshiped the dragon because it gave its authority to the beast; they also worshiped the beast[d] and said, “Who can compare with the beast or who can fight against it?”

5 [e]The beast was given a mouth uttering proud boasts and blasphemies, and it was given authority to act for forty-two months.[f] It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling and those who dwell in heaven. It was also allowed to wage war against the holy ones and conquer them, and it was granted authority over every tribe, people, tongue, and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, all whose names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life, which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.

Whoever has ears ought to hear these words.
10 Anyone destined for captivity goes into captivity.
Anyone destined to be slain by the sword shall be slain by the sword.

Such is the faithful endurance of the holy ones.

11 Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb’s but spoke like a dragon. 12 It wielded all the authority of the first beast in its sight and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. 13 It performed great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. 14 It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform in the sight of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who had been wounded by the sword and revived. 15 It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast’s image, so that the beast’s image could speak and [could] have anyone who did not worship it put to death. 16 It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, 17 so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name.

18 [h]Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.

 

Wednesday 4/15/20

Title: “On Holding On”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for all the proliferation of grace and good spirit, industry and thankfulness, humility and kindness, and love that brings forth the true respect befitting the dignity of the human person, that we find in our wake this morning.  Please my Lords, allow us to remain true to the grace that is Yours, and to hold fast to the light within, so that we are always led in the wisdom of Your Spirit, on to brighter and better things.

 

“On Holding On”

Why are you holding onto me Mary, for I have not yet ascended to the Father? (John 20:17).  Hold on to what thou hast, that no one may take your crown (Rev 3:11).  Once I have been glorified, I will send down my Spirit (John 7:39; 16:7, 13-15).  As we contemplate the mystery of “holding on,” considering carefully when it is advised and when it is warned against, we look to the difference between these two instances, in the Gospel of John and in the Book of Revelation, to try and discern what the advantage of “holding on” should be.

We see Mary Magdalene hold on, and Jesus commands her immediately, “Don’t hold on to me, I have not yet ascended” (John 20:17), and so this clinging is forbidden when He is in His physical form.  But to the angel of Philadelphia, this advice is given, to hold on to what he has, and to receive his crown (Rev 3:11).  Is not the difference between these two cases, clearly an illustration of the concept of faith, when we are urged in our hearts to cling fast to His teachings, to cleave unto the Lord, to hold fast to faith, and to listen and hear instruction, so that in following it, like a law or a command, or a covenant or a promise, it is held and intact and kept by both parties as true? (Deut 11:22; 13:5, 18-19; Josh 23:8; Prov 4:20-21; 22:17-18; Heb 10:23).

In this holding on, we cling inwardly to the rock of our faith (1 Cor 10:4), to Jesus our Lord and His teachings, and what His Church expresses to be true (Rev 3:13).  But if this clinging is to a thing, object, or person, and not spiritually by belief and action to these ways (Deut 13:18; John 20:17), then it is not faith but attachment, and the Spirit finds no opportunity to be used.  For by faith works the Spirit, in the charity and love of God (Gal 5:6), for our betterment and advancement as we cling morally to the things that are above (Isa 55:8-9; John 3:3, 5-8).

And this is how we are born from above (John 3:3, 5-8) and live out our baptism, making good on God’s word, by fulfilling our end of His new covenant (Luke 22:20), and obeying His commands of love (John 14:15).  A higher order than the old covenant, and more difficult to fulfill, for they must be carried out, these laws and teachings, in the Spirit, so that by God’s grace His will in these ways is done, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isa 55:8-9).

So as we think back to all the injunctions, to hold fast to faith, we are reminded of Jesus’s rebuke to His disciples, in His praise of the centurion (Matt 8:5-13).  For He says of the centurion, seeking for his servant to be healed, “Such great faith has not been found in all of Israel” (Matt 8:10), and He was greatly in awe.  “Your word is my command,” the centurion seems to say, as it travels down the line, till the blessing rests on his servant and revives him from near the grave.  “Such great faith as this, is not seen in all of Israel,” He says to His brethren, Israel’s own tribe, and He tells us of faith and what it does, to move mountains and besides (Matt 17:20).  “There are many sons of Abraham,” He says, “who shall come to the Kingdom and then be cast into outer darkness” (Matt 8:11-12), for they have not that faith to cling to within themselves (Mark 4:17).

For within each man is his soul and God’s Spirit, if he will but see and decide, to be a testimony of grace to the Good Word, with His teaching upheld like a fortress on all sides.  There is no weakness in faith, but rather it is a towering beacon of hope, for it puts forth the things that are true in the Spirit, so that by God they shine forth.  The ways of faith may be beyond understanding, but then again, maybe not, for reason enlightened by faith as the wisdom beheld in God’s Spirit, can make all things accessible to true believers (Prov 3:5), and just as with God all things are possible (Luke 1:37; Matt 17:20), the Spirit of God can make all things understandable, and make all things new (Rev 21:5).

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Deuteronomy 11:22-25

22 For if you are careful to observe this entire commandment I am giving you, loving the Lord, your God, following his ways exactly, and holding fast to him, 23 the Lord will dispossess all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place where you set foot shall be yours: from the wilderness and the Lebanon, from the Euphrates River to the Western Sea,[e] shall be your territory. 25 None shall stand up against you; the Lord, your God, will spread the fear and dread of you through any land where you set foot, as he promised you.

  1. Deuteronomy 13:5, 18-19

The Lord, your God, shall you follow, and him shall you fear; his commandments shall you observe, and to his voice shall you listen; him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast.

18 You shall not hold on to anything that is under the ban; then the Lord will turn from his burning anger and show you mercy, and in showing you mercy multiply you as he swore to your ancestors, 19 because you have listened to the voice of the Lord, your God, keeping all his commandments, which I give you today, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, your God.

  1. Joshua 23:8

but you must hold fast to the Lord, your God, as you have done up to this day.

  1. Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;

  1. Proverbs 4:20-21

20 My son, to my words be attentive,
to my sayings incline your ear;
21 Let them not slip from your sight,
keep them within your heart;

  1. Proverbs 22:17-18

17     The Words of the Wise:[k]
Incline your ear, and hear my words,
and let your mind attend to my teaching;
18 For it will be well if you hold them within you,
if they all are ready on your lips.

  1. Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

  1. Matthew 8:5-13

When he entered Capernaum,[e] a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply,[f] “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel[g] have I found such faith. 11 I say to you,[h] many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, 12 but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.

  1. Matthew 17:20

20 [q]He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

  1. Mark 4:16-17

16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. 17 But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

  1. Luke 1:37

37 for nothing will be impossible for God.

  1. Luke 22:19-20

19 [g]Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

  1. John 3:1-15

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.[b] He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born[c] from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind[d] blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? 11 Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up[e] the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 [f]so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

  1. John 7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as scripture says:

‘Rivers of living water[n] will flow from within him.’”

39 He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet,[o] because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

  1. John 14:15-17

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate[h] to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth,[i] which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.

  1. John 16:7-15

But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 [d]And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; 11 condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

12 “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 13 [e]But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

  1. John 20:11-18

11 But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. 13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”[i] which means Teacher. 17 Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,[j] for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.

  1. 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

1 [a]I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,[b] and the rock was the Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.

  1. Galatians 5:6

For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

  1. Hebrews 10:23-24

23 Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. 24 We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.

  1. Revelation 3:8-13

“‘“I know your works (behold, I have left an open door[f] before you, which no one can close). You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the assembly of Satan who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying, behold I will make them come and fall prostrate at your feet, and they will realize that I love you. 10 Because you have kept my message of endurance,[g] I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. 11 I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.

12 “‘“The victor I will make into a pillar[h] in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again. On him I will inscribe the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, as well as my new name.

13 “‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  1. Revelation 21:5-7

The one who sat on the throne[f] said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, “They are accomplished.[g] I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor[h] will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son.

 

Thursday 4/16/20

Title: “A Poem. The Three Nails”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for the great abundance of love and prosperity, peace and hard work, candor with compassion, and the patient, honest kindness that is the hallmark of grace.  Please my Lords, help me this day to keep my ear open and my heart close to You, treasuring not the things of this world, but using them only insomuch as they enable good work for the Kingdom, and then help us focus back within ourselves and our souls to draw closer to You.

 

“A Poem. The Three Nails”

One by one the three nails are driven.

One by one and not two by two, (1)

And these three nails are driven

Into the cross leaving exposed the head. (2)

 

The head of each nail looks similar, foreign,

As it rushes upon lengthwise

Its ordinary gouge in clean wood.

The nails are driven, by human hands.

The nails are driven, into human hands.

 

These nails look like tent fasteners,

Or stakes in the ground,

And another set of nails is driven,

Into white flesh as I clench my fists.

 

These nails they are solid, and sturdy for ground.

These nails can lay down a solid structure for the canopy of a tabernacle.

These nails, they do hold me, pinned down into place, (3)

As I rush upon the scene gliding, as upon ice sliding into place.

 

These nails…

These nails!

How mightily they hold me upright and aloft,

And raised up to high heavens

From the humblest of beginnings.

From the beginning it was not so…. (4)

I delighted in man as the earth turned,

And played at the doorstep of Wisdom

From the foundation of the world. (5)

 

These nails, this foundation, this firmament held on high,

As these nail heads like starfire, burn holes into a canvas of clean flesh.

 

Clothed in this holy tabernacle, (6)

And uprightly pinned to the ground,

That wood fixture behind me melts into my mouth.

 

It speaks for me, its line has gone out to the ends of the earth,

And there is no sound nor language, though its message is heard. (7)

 

A universal and complete,

Nod to the impermanence of mortal man,

Is reconstructed and rebuilt,

With a three-day-long ordeal. (8)

 

The Resurrection stands now,

In place of a finite ordering of days,

As into the infinity of the Godhead

Go these souls immortally driven,

 

Driven like nails, hammered into place,

And driven like impelled, by God’s

Holy Spirit.

Driven like inertia, like momentum, like fuel,

And driven like a destiny,

To a determination pre-ordained. (9)

 

One by one, and not two by two,

These nails find that there are three of them,

And not four or five.

One by one, counting, one, two, three,

These nails driven into human flesh sink deeply,

In fact all the way through

This God’s hide.

 

These nails there are three of them,

Count them all, one, two, three,

And these solid metal fixtures

In this wooden firmament,

This castle, this fortress,

This man,

They betoken His placement (10)

Above us, and in us.

 

With these three fixtures they fasten,

The Holy Godhead and Christ risen.

A Trinity piercing straight through Him.

 

One of us, and one of Him,

One God all in all, (11)

Not two by two, but one by one,

Count them, one, two, three nail heads

Driven, straight through

The soul.

 

The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 7:9-10

two by two, male and female came to Noah into the ark, just as God had commanded him. 10 When the seven days were over, the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

  1. Colossians 2:9-10 (Authorized King James Version)

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

  1. Acts 2:24

24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.

  1. Matthew 18:8-9

He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you,[g] whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

  1. Proverbs 8:1, 22-24, 27-34

Does not Wisdom call,
and Understanding raise her voice?

22 [e]“The Lord begot me, the beginning of his works,
the forerunner of his deeds of long ago;
23 From of old I was formed,[f]
at the first, before the earth.
24 [g]When there were no deeps I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;

27 When he established the heavens, there was I,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
28 When he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the springs of the deep;

29 When he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
When he fixed the foundations of earth,
30     then was I beside him as artisan;[h]
I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
31 Playing over the whole of his earth,
having my delight with human beings.

32 [i]Now, children, listen to me;
happy are they who keep my ways.
33 Listen to instruction and grow wise,
do not reject it!
34 Happy the one who listens to me,
attending daily at my gates,
keeping watch at my doorposts;

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

For we know that if our earthly dwelling,[a] a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. 2 [b]For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation if indeed, when we have taken it off,[c] we shall not be found naked. For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed[d] but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.

  1. Psalm 19:2-7

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.
Day unto day pours forth speech;
night unto night whispers knowledge.
4 [b]There is no speech, no words;
their voice is not heard;
A report goes forth through all the earth,
their messages, to the ends of the world.
He has pitched in them a tent for the sun;

    it comes forth like a bridegroom from his canopy,
and like a hero joyfully runs its course.
From one end of the heavens it comes forth;
its course runs through to the other;
nothing escapes its heat.

Psalm 19:1-6 (Authorized King James Version)

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven,
and his circuit unto the ends of it:
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

  1. John 2:19-22

19 Jesus answered and said to them,[o] “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,[p] and you will raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

  1. Hebrews 7:17; 8:1-2

17 For it is testified:

“You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.”

The main point of what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary[b] and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.

  1. Hebrews 2:5-9

For it was not to angels that he subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. Instead, someone has testified somewhere:

“What is man that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you crowned him with glory and honor,
    subjecting all things under his feet.”

In “subjecting” all things [to him], he left nothing not “subject to him.” Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he suffered death, he who “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:28

28 When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

 

Friday 4/17/20

Title: “The City of Man”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the grace in intuition, insight in perspicuity, clarity of conscience, and honesty in articulation, that help us as one to get through the struggles of this day.  Please my Lords, help us this day to remain true to our instincts with our hearts set on You, and to stay on course despite both the little bumps and the big hurdles, for we know that we are in for the long haul to the Kingdom, and so must not get sidetracked into the “city of men.”

 

“The City of Man”

He wakes up in the morning, pours himself a cup of coffee and turns on the news.  He lets his clouded mind adjust to the sparse daylight seeping in the corners of his blinds as the dawning sun peeks up around the horizon little by little, slowly casting pale pink light onto the somnolent earth.

Across town, in the same city, the dawn heralds in a hustle and bustle of busy bodies as a swarm of working women ready the baking supplies on the sheets and prepare trays of fresh bread for the day.  Into the oven, out of the oven, and the freezer holds its store, of frozen bread dough piled in each afternoon, to be taken out in the morning and baked into loaves.

Far across town, in a distant corner of yet the same city, a girl unfolds her bedcovers as she slides out of her comforter, and winds down the hallway and staircase to an empty, shallow kitchen to prepare for school.

Years ahead of time for the readiness of “good news” (Eph 6:15), the incomplete adherence of the local news station to a description of this sort, sends an early riser off into the corners of his own mind.  A polite disjunction with the hardship of worldly ways becomes him, as he quakes with the quiver of stone-cut oatmeal and reflects at the image on the store-bought box brand.  Arising from his station in life, he gathers up his stationary as in his mind he is still.  He retreats into the inner chamber, the corner of his bedroom to be sure (Matt 6:6), and retires to his sacred space near a closet, as if built after the most secret places of his heart.

He reflects after this manner, in which the holy tabernacle was laid out (Exo 25:8-9), and rehearsing like a responsorial psalm, he maps out what will be the result.  Reflecting on St. Luke, and the two women at the mill (Luke 17:30-37), and the man who leaves his house that he again shall not enter, he perceives a lone detachment setting into his heart.  Making a quiet place to reflect, is only half of the work, and the true task at hand, is to get the work done.  As the instances of comparison shift their way through his head, he is beside himself with compassion, for half the work is now done.

These instances, these comparisons, of those of man and those of God—one will be taken, one will be left—suddenly seem to bear new light to his brain, as the shadow they had cast is now gone.  Two women at a mill, or two men in a field, he is caught back up in the Spirit (Rev 1:10) in Luke, as this thought runs its course, and one is taken and one is left.  These words suddenly inspire new meaning in him while he silently reflects.  Which city am I, that of man or that of God?  And the quiet title of a beloved volume of St. Augustine’s glistens dogeared and homebound on his book shelf.  I’d break my back like his broken spine, he thinks of this good book espousing the Holy Writ, just to know that I was living the right way, and right on track.  Suddenly it comes to him, like a white stone bearing a name (Rev 2:17), that he must be a part of this heavenly Kingdom, as his God implores him to do just the same.  I am him and he is me, this man says, as he looks up as if at a dove (Luke 3:22), and this Jesus dawns in the heart of this man, born as he is, from above (John 3:3, 5-8).

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Exodus 25:1-9

The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the Israelites: Let them receive contributions for me. From each you shall receive the contribution that their hearts prompt them to give me. These are the contributions you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and bronze; violet, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; rams’ skins dyed red, and tahash[a] skins; acacia wood; oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; onyx stones and other gems for mounting on the ephod and the breastpiece. They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you regarding the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of its furnishings, so you are to make it.

  1. Matthew 6:5-8

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 7 [c]In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.[d] Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  1. Luke 3:21-22

21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,[j] heaven was opened 22 [k]and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

  1. Luke 17:30-37

30 So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, a person who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise a person in the field must not return to what was left behind. 32 Remember the wife of Lot. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. 34 I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. 35 And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” [36 ][h] 37 They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”

  1. John 3:1-15

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.[b] He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born[c] from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind[d] blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? 11 Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up[e] the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 [f]so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

  1. Ephesians 6:10-17

10 [a]Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. 14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  1. Revelation 1:10-16

10 I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day[i] and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, 11 which said, “Write on a scroll[j] what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 12 [k]Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man,[l] wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest. 14 The hair of his head was as white as white wool or as snow,[m] and his eyes were like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like polished brass refined in a furnace,[n] and his voice was like the sound of rushing water. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars.[o] A sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest.

  1. Revelation 2:17

17 “‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna;[o] I shall also give a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it.”

 

Saturday 4/18/20

Title: “The Branding”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the vast array of sound devotions at our disposal, so that we may glorify You though our actions, rather than let our actions take us apart from You and just further into the world.  Please my Lords, help us to show our faithfulness to You no matter what the cost, and to uphold in moral uprightness Your holy will, which becomes the piety in our hearts.

 

“The Branding”

The brand.  Somewhere between the injunctions in Leviticus not to eat certain kinds of foods (Lev 19:26), and not to wear certain kinds of tonsures (Lev 19:27), it is written not to be branded, as with the tattoo of a slave (Lev 19:28), and not to bear marks of the dead on our bodies in the forms of tattoos representing their graves.  This is the brand, the tattoo, that is an instance of being branded, as if a slave with the name of the master or owner, to mark his own property.

The brandWhat’s in a name, echo Romeo and Juliet off each other somewhere, and I think, an awful lot, to myself as I reflect upon what a name implies.  In the Old Testament of the Bible the Hebrew names all mean something, from Moses’s son (Exo 2:21-22) to Israel (Gen 32:29), from the names of places and monuments, from Yahweh-nissi (Exo 17:15) to Peniel (Gen 32:31), to the mount where Abraham almost made his sacrifice, Yahweh-yireh (Gen 22:14) —for on the mountain the Lord shall see.  Without further ado there is too the name of our God, which revealed first to Moses speaks volumes by merely stating “I AM” (Exo 3:14; cf. John 8:58; 19:5-8).  This is the nature of God, the nature of being, encompassing all that is and not just something of the past or without essence.

And so as we linger on meaning in going over all these names, we reflect that not only do these words as names carry meaning, but also on the effectiveness of these messages, that these names convey.  For so too of all the angels, their names describe what they are: Gabriel, strength of God; Michael, who is like God?; Raphael, God heals; and Uriel, light of God, and the list may go on.  With these names taken as harbingers, of what in that person may come, a name is a very powerful thing indeed, as we allow them to become the fullness of their own, hopefully finding their way through freedom and faith, back to the true liberty that is life in God.  Jesus saves, becomes redundant even, as His root name Joshua (Deut 1:38) means God saves, and as we invoke His name as His message, the message and the messenger are one (John 10:30; 17:20-22).

For when the Word of God is at stake, a name is a very powerful thing indeed, usually bearing some token of resemblance to the person, who carries it on in word and deed.  But there are some sad cases, unfortunate ones indeed, of a poor soul who has failed to live up to his calling, with a name like Justice, Temperance, or Charity, and has fallen short and missed the mark, if this was a true calling indeed.

For surely it is worse, yes?, to have failed to live up to a most marvelous name, than to have failed to fulfill the definition of a name most unfortunate, perhaps mislabeled when misnamed, red herring though it may be?  For surely to fail to live up to a bad name, as if by slander an offense, is not a failing at all but a virtue, as its polar opposite could hardly be an offense.  So in trying to think of an example of such a sad case, not a one comes to mind, although I’m sure every Christian tongue would confess in the name of peace and justice, that to name a child Antichrist (2 Thess 2:3, 6, 8-12; Matt 24:24; Rev 13:11-17, 19:20) would constitute such an offense.  An offense if a misnomer, just to state my case and be clear, for if that is a truth fulfilled and lived up to, then definitionally, no slander did occur.

But this is just an example of what can happen when names are used as a form of abuse: they can ruin reputations, tear down friendships, and burn bridges and souls, for all instances of name-calling are as unholy as that name, as only from the lips of the evil one, comes such abuse.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Genesis 22:13-14

13 Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.[c] 14 Abraham named that place Yahweh-yireh;[d] hence people today say, “On the mountain the Lord will provide.”

Genesis 22:14 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

14 And he called the name of that place, The Lord seeth. Whereupon even to this day it is said: In the mountain the Lord will see.

  1. Genesis 32:28-31

28 “What is your name?” the man asked. He answered, “Jacob.” 29 Then the man said, “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel,[e] because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” 30 Jacob then asked him, “Please tell me your name.” He answered, “Why do you ask for my name?” With that, he blessed him. 31 Jacob named the place Peniel,[f] “because I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.”

  1. Exodus 2:21-22

21 Moses agreed to stay with him, and the man gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22 She conceived and bore a son, whom he named Gershom;[i] for he said, “I am a stranger residing in a foreign land.”

  1. Exodus 3:13-15

13 “But,” said Moses to God, “if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses: I am who I am.[h] Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.

15 God spoke further to Moses: This is what you will say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.

This is my name forever;
this is my title for all generations.

  1. Exodus 17:14-16

14 Then the Lord said to Moses: Write this down in a book as something to be remembered, and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. 15 Moses built an altar there, which he named Yahweh-nissi;[c] 16 for he said, “Take up the banner of the Lord![d] The Lord has a war against Amalek through the ages.”

  1. Leviticus 19:26-37

26 Do not eat anything with the blood still in it. Do not recite charms or practice soothsaying.[i] 27 Do not clip your hair at the temples, nor spoil the edges of your beard. 28 Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves.[j] I am the Lord.

29 You shall not degrade your daughter by making a prostitute of her; otherwise the land will prostitute itself and become full of lewdness. 30 Keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

31 Do not turn to ghosts or consult spirits, by which you will be defiled. I, the Lord, am your God.

32 Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the old, and fear your God. I am the Lord.

33 When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one. 34 You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God.

35 Do not act dishonestly in using measures of length or weight or capacity. 36 You shall have a true scale and true weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin.[k] I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 Be careful, then, to observe all my statutes and decrees. I am the Lord.

  1. Deuteronomy 1:37-40

37 The Lord was angered against me also on your account, and said, You shall not enter there either, 38 but Joshua, son of Nun, your attendant, shall enter. Encourage him, for he is the one who is to give Israel its possession. 39 Your little ones, who you said would become plunder, and your children, who as yet do not know good from evil—they shall enter there; to them I will give it, and they shall take possession of it. 40 But as for yourselves: turn back and proceed into the wilderness on the Red Sea road.

  1. Matthew 24:24-28

24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. 26 So if they say to you, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not go out there; if they say, ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.[o] 27 For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

  1. John 8:56-59

56 Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it[w] and was glad. 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”[x] 58 [y]Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

  1. John 10:28-30

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,[m] and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. 30 [n]The Father and I are one.”

  1. John 17:20-26

20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am[g] they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. 26 I made known to them your name and I will make it known,[h] that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

  1. John 19:4-9

Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”[d] He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 [e]This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.”

  1. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12

Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed,[c] the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God,[d] claiming that he is a god— do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining,[e] that he may be revealed in his time. 7 [f]For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, 10 and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. 11 Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, 12 that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.

  1. Revelation 13:11-17

11 Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb’s but spoke like a dragon. 12 It wielded all the authority of the first beast in its sight and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. 13 It performed great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. 14 It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform in the sight of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who had been wounded by the sword and revived. 15 It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast’s image, so that the beast’s image could speak and [could] have anyone who did not worship it put to death. 16 It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, 17 so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name.

  1. Revelation 19:20-21

20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

 

Sunday 4/19/20

Title: “A Private Conversion: What It Means to Be Sent

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the peace and happiness, joy and struggles, and hardships and their overcoming, through which we triumph in You whether or not we are at peace in the world.  Please my Lords, help us this new day to express anew our continued patience in devotion, through perseverance in the midst of difficulty and spiritual strength in the midst of our human weakness, so that we can repeat with the Apostle, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:17).

 

“A Private Conversion: What It Means to Be Sent

On being sent.  What does it mean to have an encounter with Christ?  With God or with Jesus, or with divine life as expressed through the Mass or in the Bible?  What does it mean, to have close and intimate contact with the Creator, and knowledge of Him and His will for us?  Each and every time we find evidence of such an example, it means “being sent,” thus the “sending off” at the end of Mass.  But when this contact is made, something fundamental constitutively changes us, so that in then being sent we are different, and not the same as before.

As we look to this passage in the Gospel of Matthew, we see the women, the Marys, encounter an angel (Matt 28:5-7), in the tomb where Jesus had been.  Immediately the good news is proclaimed to them, and then they are sent forth, to go tell the disciples that “He is risen,” and all they have seen (Matt 28:7).  Indeed this occurrence echoes like a reverberation, of the Word of God’s own word, as Jesus told the disciples to go out and baptize and proclaim the Kingdom, teaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21-23; cf. Matt 10:5-7; Luke 10:8-9).  It seems like this is a fundamental, a necessary and intrinsic element, to any encounter with the divine, that one is then sent forth to spread the teaching, and to convey the message God intended for humankind.

But not all are simply and immediately just “sent” (Matt 10:5-7; Luke 10:8-9), which indeed is the root word of what Apostle means.  But first, before any fruitful preaching or hopeful conversions—away from despair and hopelessness and the offspring of sin, to the love of Christ and the hope of God, through the gift of His Spirit that dwells within us—before this radical acceptance through faith and successful teaching or preaching and conversion can take place, this one crucial aspect must in fact happen.  For as Jesus said, echoed by St. Paul, “Unless a seed first fall and die, it cannot bear fruit, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24; cf. 1 Cor 15:36-38).  This one crucial aspect is a necessary factor in a chain of events leading to the successful occurrence, of this “being sent,” and “preaching the Kingdom of heaven to all nations” (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21-23).  So what is that crucial event?  It is the encounter!  In order to then be sent, one must first encounter God through Christ in our hearts and in our Mass, so that the message to then be conveyed is not just a true one, but His.

For truth is beauty, and to be sure all truth is God’s, but the truth of the message that He wishes to be conveyed—this specific truth is the truth of the gospel and the good news of His Son—that is, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, saving us all from death.  And so this crucial event, of an encounter with Jesus or an encounter with God the Father—how does it take place?  For surely many have encountered Him and not been fundamentally changed, that is, converted at the root of it, grasping to Him in all things and in their soul.  But as it has been said by St. Jerome, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” and as Jesus Himself rebuked unbelievers, “You err because you know not the Scriptures” (Matt 22:29), as if to say, you know not God.  We know God through His words, His ideas, and His actions in our life, but first of all we know Him through His self-revelation, from reading the Bible, the whole story of His life.  This encounter occurs, first and foremost, within the human heart, as we know Him, in truth, in Testament, and in Spirit, in our own heart and soul.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Matthew 10:5-7

Jesus sent out these twelve[d] after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

  1. Matthew 22:23-33

23 On that day Sadducees approached him, saying that there is no resurrection.[o] They put this question to him, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies[p] without children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died and, having no descendants, left his wife to his brother. 26 The same happened with the second and the third, through all seven. 27 Finally the woman died. 28 Now at the resurrection, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had been married to her.” 29 [q]Jesus said to them in reply, “You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. 31 And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you[r] by God, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

  1. Matthew 28:1-10, 18-20

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,[b] Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 [c]And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. 6 [d]He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce[e] this to his disciples. 9 [f]And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

18 [k]Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore,[l] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.[m] And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

  1. Mark 16:14-18

14 [But] later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. 15 He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. 18 They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

  1. Luke 10:8-12

Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ 10 Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 11 ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. 12 I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

  1. Luke 24:44-49

44 He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 [k]And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father[l] upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

  1. John 12:24-26

24 [o]Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life[p] loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

  1. John 20:19-23

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples[l] were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.[m] The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 [n][Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 [o]And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 [p]Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:35-44

35 [q]But someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?”

36 [r]You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind; 38 but God gives it a body as he chooses, and to each of the seeds its own body. 39 [s]Not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for human beings, another kind of flesh for animals, another kind of flesh for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the brightness of the heavenly is one kind and that of the earthly another. 41 The brightness of the sun is one kind, the brightness of the moon another, and the brightness of the stars another. For star differs from star in brightness.

42 [t]So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. 43 It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

  1. Philippians 4:11-13

11 Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. 12 I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. 13 I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.

Philippians 4:13 (New King James Version)

13 I can do all things through [a]Christ who strengthens me.

 

Monday 4/20/20

Title: “A Children’s Story. The Shaky Sandcastle”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this beautiful new day, and for the peace and gladness that fill our hearts when we let all things go over to You, after doing all that we could and the best we can in all ways.  Please my Lords, in the rest of the soul that is the repose of a clean conscience, please allow that we may gather our souls and ourselves in peaceful continuity into You, having first lost ourselves to gain our true lives in Christ as eternal, to be lived out in the soul that confesses in deed and in truth, to You.

 

“A Children’s Story. The Shaky Sandcastle”

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a tiny, shaky, little castle.  This land was called, “the Jersey Shore,” and this tiny, shaky, little castle was a sandcastle that a child had made on the beach.  On that day, that this castle was built, little David gathered up his bright plastic buckets and his bright plastic shovel, and packed all his beach toys and towels into the family car, to go play on the beach in the waves and the sand.

Now little David, or “Davey” as his family lovingly called him, was quite the master builder with his buckets and sand.  And as his mom and dad looked on, at his older siblings playing in the ocean, little Davey stayed on the shore and in the shallows to play in the sand.  For little David was the youngest, with seven older siblings, and they all dwarfed David by comparison, for he was just five.

So little five-year-old David, with his buckets and his sand, he gathers the sand into each of the buckets—wet sand, to be sure—and he dumps out the contents of each bucket, making sand towers on the sea shore.  Now, he lines them all up, and builds a wall of defense, and connects all the towers together with four walls to build a true castle in this sand.  And when David finishes his building, his sculpting with a spatula his mom gave him for just this—he stands back to assess the view of his castle, and his day in the sun.

The youngest of his older brothers is nine, and still towers over Dave, but they still all come running over, to see what he has made!  “Why, it’s a castle!” says his mother, “Well, look what you have built!”  And his dad gives him a pat on the back as he tells David, “When the tide comes in, this will all melt.”  David looks surprised for a moment, as if he hadn’t given that a thought, and without noticing the look on David’s face, his father continues, “Let’s get a good photo of it while we can.  Go stand with your brothers behind the sand castle!  Good job, my boy!”  David, both pleased and disappointed, could hardly disobey, but goes to stand with his seven brothers behind his sandcastle, standing golden and sparkling in the sun.  “Click!”  The camera goes off and shutters with the distant rumbling wavs, and their roaring it quakes him to his insides, as he dare not go out too far, into that eternally stretching sea.

So as David turns and turns, running and jumping in the shallows and the sun, he stretches out his arms to heaven, to make of him what he has won.  He has won a shaky sandcastle, glistening above the tide, and a day at the beach with his whole family, before they leave to go home and cool off back inside.  And so David wonders at his sandcastle, and the waters rushing up now that it is done, and he thinks of his heaven as like this sandcastle, except in God’s heart, the tide will never come.

All things bring glory to God that are held in the heart in closeness to Him, and no work is in vain if it is done in the soul along with the body, in the essence of faith.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. 1 Samuel 13:13-14

13 Samuel replied to Saul: “You have acted foolishly! Had you kept the command the Lord your God gave you, the Lord would now establish your kingship in Israel forever; 14 but now your kingship shall not endure. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart[e] to appoint as ruler over his people because you did not observe what the Lord commanded you.”

  1. 1 Samuel 16:4-13

Samuel did as the Lord had commanded him. When he entered Bethlehem, the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and asked, “Is your visit peaceful, O seer?” He replied: “Yes! I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. So purify yourselves and celebrate with me today.” He also had Jesse and his sons purify themselves and invited them to the sacrifice. As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the anointed is here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart. Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel, who said, “The Lord has not chosen him.” Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 10 In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any one of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he arrives here.” 12 Jesse had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth with beautiful eyes, and good looking. The Lord said: There—anoint him, for this is the one! 13 Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David. Then Samuel set out for Ramah.

  1. 2 Samuel 7:1-17

After the king had taken up residence in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies on every side, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent!” Nathan answered the king, “Whatever is in your heart, go and do, for the Lord is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell David my servant, Thus says the Lord: Is it you who would build me a house to dwell in? I have never dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up from Egypt to this day, but I have been going about in a tent or a tabernacle. As long as I have wandered about among the Israelites, did I ever say a word to any of the judges whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?

Now then, speak thus to my servant David, Thus says the Lord of hosts:[a] I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to become ruler over my people Israel. I was with you wherever you went, and I cut down all your enemies before you. And I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth. 10 I will assign a place for my people Israel and I will plant them in it to dwell there; they will never again be disturbed, nor shall the wicked ever again oppress them, as they did at the beginning, 11 and from the day when I appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you: 12 when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He it is[b] who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments; 15 but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever.[c] 17 In accordance with all these words and this whole vision Nathan spoke to David.

  1. 2 Samuel 11:7-16

Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man!

“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel. I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. Why have you despised the Lord and done what is evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; his wife you took as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives before your very eyes, and will give them to your neighbor: he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.[c] 12 You have acted in secret, but I will do this in the presence of all Israel, in the presence of the sun itself.”

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the Lord has removed your sin. You shall not die, 14 but since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.” 15 Then Nathan returned to his house.

The Lord struck the child that the wife of Uriah had borne to David, and it became desperately ill. 16 David pleaded with God on behalf of the child. He kept a total fast, and spent the night lying on the ground clothed in sackcloth.

  1. Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord build the house,
they labor in vain who build.
Unless the Lord guard the city,
in vain does the guard keep watch.
It is vain for you to rise early
and put off your rest at night,
To eat bread earned by hard toil—
all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.

Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.
He will never be shamed
for he will destroy his foes at the gate.

  1. Isaiah 49:1-5

Hear me, coastlands,
listen, distant peoples.
Before birth the Lord called me,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.[b]
He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword,
concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
He said to me, You are my servant,
in you, Israel,[c] I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the Lord,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the Lord has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is now my strength!

  1. Matthew 6:19-23

19 [m]“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be

  1. Matthew 7:24-27

24 [l]“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. 26 And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

  1. Acts 13:22-23

22 Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’ 23 From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:8-23

The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 [f]According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day[g] will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved,[h] but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written:

“He catches the wise in their own ruses,”

20 and again:

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”

21 [j]So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, 22 Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, 23 and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

  1. Hebrews 11:1-3

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence[b] of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,[c] so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.

  1. Revelation 21:9-27

One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”[k] 10 He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, [the names] of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. 13 There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles[l] of the Lamb.

15 [m]The one who spoke to me held a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city was square, its length the same as [also] its width. He measured the city with the rod and found it fifteen hundred miles[n] in length and width and height. 17 He also measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits[o] according to the standard unit of measurement the angel used. 18 [p]The wall was constructed of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone; the first course of stones was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh hyacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.

22 [q]I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. 23 [r]The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light,[s] and to it the kings of the earth will bring their treasure. 25 During the day its gates will never be shut, and there will be no night there. 26 The treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there, 27 but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

Tuesday 4/21/20

Title: “Mass Hysteria: A Method to the Madness. On Typology and the Fullness of the Meaning of Morality in God.”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for the instruments of peace among us, in those around us and in the methods we use to get through each day.  Please my Lords, allow us this day as a chance to express our love to You, through our words and in our actions, and in the carrying out of Your will, and in accomplishing all things within our own space that we perceive to have been set before us by Your divine hand.

 

Mass Hysteria: A Method to the Madness. On Typology and the Fullness of the Meaning of Morality in God.”

One thing that becomes abundantly clear in the Liturgy of the Mass and in the Sacred Scriptures—the Old and New Testaments combined—is that what stands as a type in mystery is only a foreshadowing and prefiguration, of what will be made more clear.  The symbolism of the Old Testament is made known in the New, the prefigurations held in a shroud of mystery attain their full meaning in the New, and through the key to Scripture that is the life of Jesus Christ, the “veil is taken away from over our hearts” (2 Cor 3:14-17), as we understand the Old only in the light of the New.  All good things of God and spiritual wisdom are given to those who seek Him earnestly, in truth, in goodness, and in Spirit, with one’s heart in the right place, and as some aspects of the Old Testament seem as sheer madness to some, that may just be the lingering opacity of that “veil over their hearts” (2 Cor 3:15) in their perceptions, as a darkness obscuring and obstructing the true Light that would otherwise shine through.

For it could be said truly, that a lack of understanding of these rites and rituals of Catholic Liturgy, mirrors first a misunderstanding at a more fundamental level.  And so too, as the Old Testament wisdom comes to its fullness in the New, without a thorough understanding of the basics, one may never successfully grasp hold of the moral absolutes contained and expressed in the New.

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the old covenant to the new, and from the old sacrifice to the new sacrifice at the altar of Catholic Mass—this collection of a transformation, a transfiguration of realities—are all found to be overarching the reality of the heart to be found as true.  What I mean to say is, before “tangential,” or moral truths, can be thoroughly accepted as like the buds and flower and fruit of a tree, the very root of that tree must first be planted within the heart, so that from this divine love called charity, first engrafted and enmeshed within us, from there may then sprout the understanding of divine life, that for some seems to come so easily as truth.

What I mean to say, is in reference to the acceptance of particular moral values and truths, which must be accepted and adhered to by all faithful Catholics if they are to be considered faithful and in full communion with the Church indeed.  For this may make more sense—that the Spirit of God is indwelling, and planted within us like a seed, to come bursting into life and full flourishing, as we water and nurture and nourish it with God’s written Word, the Eucharist at Mass, and a life lived uprightly in good actions, thoughts, prayers, words, and deeds.

But if this root and this center, is not truly cultivated as the start, then those “tangential” leaves and flowers are seen as side issues, because one has missed completely, of those teachings espoused by Jesus, the heart.  Each and every specific teaching, or condemnation or moral norm, proceeds directly as if in sequence, from this one golden root, God’s own heart.  And if one proceeds not from this center, then one will not sprout those same leaves, and will not bear the same fruit on those branches, that is from the Holy Spirit indeed.

So if one deviates and dissents, from particular Catholic moral norms, the real issue is actually underlying that surface issue, and lies deep within the heart.  To trust God, is to trust in what is for most, the unknown and the unseen, and this is a tough hurdle to jump for all of us, until we finally take that one final leap.  We always shall find ourselves afterward, resting as if transplanted and engrafted anew, in God’s own heart in heaven, and in this Kingdom of His Church on earth, while in Him we are strengthened and grow to be true.  The faithful always reside in the Word of God as the final word, as expressed in His revelation, and in the Spirit of His holy and universal Church, that He has made known to us to be true.  The End.

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Matthew 7:15-23

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So by their fruits you will know them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,[j] but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.[k] Depart from me, you evildoers.

  1. Luke 13:6-9

And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. [So] cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

  1. Romans 15:12-13

12 And again Isaiah says:

“The root of Jesse shall come,
raised up to rule the Gentiles;
in him shall the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

7 [f]Now if the ministry of death,[g] carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more[h] will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory. 10 Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory in this respect because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope,[i] we act very boldly 13 and not like Moses,[j] who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not look intently at the cessation of what was fading. 14 Rather, their thoughts were rendered dull, for to this present day[k] the same veil remains unlifted when they read the old covenant, because through Christ it is taken away. 15 To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,[l] and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 [m]All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

  1. Revelation 5:5

One of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David,[c] has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.”

  1. Revelation 22:16

16 “I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David,[j] the bright morning star.”

 

Wednesday 4/22/20

Title: “The Rest of the Unprepared: Armageddon, the Final Parousia”

(Introductory Prayer:)

Dear YHWH and Jesus,

Thank You for this lovely new day, and for all the love and sweetness, pain and sadness, solace after discontent, and progress after distress, through which difficulties and successes, and heartaches, failures, and achievements, You see fit to bless us and strengthen us in all ways, to be spiritually prepared for Your coming and enlightened to the truth of Your holy Word.  Please my Lords, as we gather our energies today to draw ourselves closer into contemplation with You, please allow that we may better intuit your will at once, and work to fashion ourselves and our souls, from the inside out, to a better conformity with Your lead in our union this day.

 

“The Rest of the Unprepared: Armageddon, the Final Parousia”

The rest of the unprepared.  What is to be expected of the Parousia?  What is to become of those who are unprepared?  These are deep questions for anyone of the Christian faith, as we are all equally expectant in the equality of our belief of Your coming in glory on the Last Day (2 Tim 3:1-10; 2 Pet 3:3-7).  For this is a fundamental tenet of all Christian formulas of faith and education—that we are to expect Your Second Coming, or the Parousia, if you will, as Your coming in glory for judgment at the end of days.

And so in this eschatological concern over the salvation of souls, it does us good to contemplate and pore over, with all the absorbent retention of a sponge (1 Tim 4:11-16), these passages and verses of Scripture, and teachings of the Church Fathers in Tradition, that speak of Your will and intention for Your coming at the end of days.  For an apocalyptic preamble many a sacred writer has espoused, for Your coming is truly imminent as You are both imminent and transcendent, and Your coming shall be always near, as we are to expect You “like a thief in the night” (Matt 24:42-44; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 16:15).

As You Yourself said, we are to prepare ourselves like the vestal virgins (Matt 25:1-13), with our lanterns always burning, lest we be caught off guard by the bridegroom’s arrival, and be left out of the assembly and the marriage supper that is the Kingdom of God.  But how indeed shall we remain vigilant and on guard, is it merely by knowing to expect You and doing as our faith says we should—with prayer and penance, and fasting and thanksgiving, and almsgiving and the charity that is love, and Scripture reading and love of neighbor and of God?  Is it with tender compassion for the oppressed, with championing the meek and the weak, and encouraging all to be hopeful?  Is it with works of mercy fueled on by Your “tender mercies” (Ps 40:11-12), such that we are always giving and never in want or “wanting” (Ps 23:1)?

How is it that we are to “gird ourselves” (Exo 12:11; Eph 6:14), as if on that night of Passover, prepared in the “readiness of the gospel” (Eph 6:15) for all good works (2 Tim 3:14-17), always ready to give anyone an answer for the reason for our hope (1 Pet 3:15), and always ready to give the explanation, edification, encouragement, refutation of error, thanksgiving, and exultation of Your glory that comes from knowing You intimately, in our hearts and in Your own written self-disclosure, that is, the Holy Bible (Phil 4:4-9; Col 3:16-17; 1 Thess 5:11, 14-22; 1 Tim 4:11-16; 2 Tim 3:14-17; Heb 3:12-13; 10:24-25; 2 Pet 3:11-13)?

And how is it that we shall expect You—is it in the same way that all the saints, and Church Fathers, and Doctors of the Church, and proponents of the faith have expected You, all through the centuries since Your Incarnation, and all through the years, though Your arrival in glory—though always imminent—still has yet to be revealed?  And so it goes to show as we go on to say, with all the holy expectation of Your glory that can be embodied with this virtue of religious hope, that we live our lives in an entire lifestyle of expecting, always living out Your calling, and always perched, primely and pliantly awaiting Your call.

And so it goes to show, that when You are called both transcendent and imminent, and when Your coming was first in the flesh, and next in Your glory, that we who await You in Your glory shall strive to attain that glory that is You, through which like a brightly illumined mirror (1 Cor 13:12) showing clearly the image of Your full human and divine visage and form, we shall behold You in glory, passing from “glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18), as if from the old to the new.

And so the Second Coming shall come with Your arrival like a thief in the night, for the instantaneous immediacy of Your lightning-quick self-revelation in all suddenness, shall overwhelm us and overtake us till we are just as quick to reply, “Why my Lord, it is You who have been here all along, and it is I who have had yet to arrive!”

 

Bible Passages (New American Bible Revised Edition, unless otherwise noted):

  1. Exodus 12:11-13

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn in the land, human being and beast alike, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the Lord! 13 But for you the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thereby, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.

  1. Psalm 23:1-3

The Lord is my shepherd;[b]
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
    he restores my soul.

  1. Psalm 40:11-12

11 I do not conceal your righteousness
within my heart;
I speak of your loyalty and your salvation.
I do not hide your mercy or faithfulness from a great assembly.
12 Lord, may you not withhold
your compassion from me;
May your mercy and your faithfulness
continually protect me.

  1. Matthew 24:36-51

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[v] but the Father alone. 37 [w]For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 In [those] days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. 39 They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be [also] at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 [x]Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. 42 [y]Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 43 Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. 44 So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

45 “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?[aa] 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. 47 Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 48 [ab]But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, 50 the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour 51 and will punish him severely[ac] and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

  1. Matthew 25:1-13

“Then[b] the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 [c]Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. 11 [d]Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ 12 But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Therefore, stay awake,[e] for you know neither the day nor the hour.

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

8 [d]Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. 12 At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. 13 [e]So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:18

18 [m]All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

  1. Ephesians 6:10-17

10 [a]Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. 14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

  1. Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice[d] in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness[e] should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.[f] Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

  1. Colossians 3:16-17

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 14-25

Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light[a] and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him.[b] 11 Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

14 We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. 16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this i