At our church staff meeting today, we looked at this reading from Matthew 11:25-30:
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Continue reading →
For about the past year, God has been giving me verses from psalms to memorize in Hebrew. I can’t really explain why. But the meaning of the verse that He gives me is slightly different than what’s literally written.The latest of these is Psalm 79:9: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.” When I read the psalm today, I knew it was the verse I was supposed to memorize so I started working on the Hebrew and saying it as a real prayer to Him, and then He asked me one of those pointed questions He always asks: Do you really care about the glory of my name?
The gospel reading at my Monday mass was Luke 7:1-10, the story of the centurion whose servant is healed by Jesus without setting foot in his house. A line that the centurion says has become a key part of the weekly Eucharistic liturgy: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” There is something essential about that posture of humility for us to be able to encounter Christ authentically and receive the transformation that He wants to instill in us. I worry sometimes that Christians like me define ourselves so much against the overemphasis on human wickedness in fundamentalist Christianity that we end up having a blithe presumptuousness about Jesus’ grace in our lives which turns our prayer and worship life into a farce.
Today’s Monday Merton comes from chapter 10, “Sincerity,” of No Man Is An Island. What Merton means by sincerity is being a person who lives and speaks in a way that is truthful. He opens his chapter with a single sentence that blows my mind: “We make ourselves real by telling the truth” (188). There are so many dimensions to which that is true. In a lot of ways, that is the central problem that Christianity resolves. Jesus makes it possible to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). When we live in the world of masks in which we hide our inadequacies and embarrassments from each other, there’s nothing real to any of it. Even our smiles have more to do with making sure that we’re fitting in with other people than expressing genuine contentment. Continue reading →
The Daily Office reading for yesterday was the opening of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. A single word appears 9 times in verses 3-7: παρακλησις, which can be translated as encouragement, comfort, or consolation. You may recall that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the παράκλητος (cognates as Paraclete) his speech to the disciples in John 14:16. In that context, the word is translated as intercessor or advocate in addition to comforter. So I thought it would be interesting to spend some time meditating on the meaning of παρακλησις as I find myself in a place of needing it right now. Continue reading →
I’m pre-loading my Monday Mertons for the next two weeks in my insomnia before leaving on a trip to the Dominican Republic. So I don’t have enough mental energy to analyze the quotes I’m going to share, but they’re gems nonetheless. This first set of quotes is from chapter 6, “Asceticism and Sacrifice,” in No Man Is An Island. Continue reading →
The chapter for Monday Merton this week is very apropos. We just started a blogger’s collective called the despised ones, based on 1 Corinthians 1:28, “He has chosen the despised ones and those who are not to bring to nothing the things that are.” So here is what Thomas Merton has to say in “The Word of the Cross,” chapter 5 of his No Man Is An Island.
I came across the Biblical context of the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian perfection in yesterday’s Daily Office reading. It’s Hebrews 6:1-2: “Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teachings about Christ and not laying again the foundation: repentance from works of death and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”