In today’s Gospel reading Jesus said that he had not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them. In other words, Jesus said that he had come to teach the true spirit of the Law and the Prophets. He went on to say, “not one letter, not one stroke of a letter would pass from the law until all is accomplished.”
Until all is accomplished. How are we to understand that? I think in saying that Jesus was referring to a time when the full spirit of the Law would be established.
When we look, for example, at the situation that presently exists in this country and in other parts of the world, I am afraid that the full spirit of the law still needs to be established in most parts of this world. Continue reading
What do you usually think about as we begin the season of Lent? Discipline? Penitence? Fasting?
Lent is usually thought of as a season of discipline. The other three words, Austerity, Penitence, Fasting, are important for the full development of Discipline. It is more than any one of those. Lent is a season for Spiritual Formation. Lent is a time for us to let the Holy Spirit form in each of us the image both of a child of God and of a good servant of God.
The 1st lesson read today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah gives some contrasts between wrong ideas about fasting and positive ways in which we can use fasting as a way of doing something good for those who are in need. Continue reading
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
Jn 15:1, 6-16
Today we remember Saint Matthias, who was chosen to take the place that Judas Iscariot had held among the Twelve Apostles. Peter pointed out to the other Apostles that the hole left in The Twelve by the betrayal of Jesus by Judas needed to be filled in. By the rules of the time the choice had to be by the casting of lots. (Cf. Acts 1:15-18)
Luke wrote in the Book of Acts that the lot had fallen to Matthias. (v.26)
We don’t know much about Matthias. The stipulation was that it be one of the wider group of disciples who had been with Jesus from the time of his baptism by John, and that it be one who had witnessed the Resurrection.(Cf. Acts 1:21-22) Continue reading
(Also cf. Mt. 15:21-28)s
Today’s Gospel reading is the story of Jesus and a woman whose little daughter was afflicted with an unclean spirit. The woman was a Gentile of Syrophoenician origin. This story occurs in only two of the Gospels, the Gospel According to Mark, which we heard this morning, and that of Matthew.
I have been praying with these two versions of that story for several weeks, since I was asked to preach on this lesson.
There are several small differences between the two versions; differences in how those who recorded this event saw it. I think that these differences are of far less importance than the final result. Continue reading
Saint Aelred, whose feast we keep today, was born in 1109 in Northumbria, England, and became a Cistercian Monk in 1133.
In August of 1991 members of the North American Congregation of the SSJE made a three week visit to the U.K. to places significant in the life of our Society. After a week of retreat on Iona we made a short visit to the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey before going on to Durham Cathedral. Traveling east through the outskirts of Edinburgh we proceeded westward across England following the course of Hadrian’s Wall. At a point where we could just see York Minster at a distance, shrouded with scaffolding, we turned north onto a smaller road through wooded hills heading for Rievaulx. When we descended into the valley we came to the ruins of the abbey, high walls and no roof. It was hard to imagine what the Abbey Church must have looked like with windows and a roof. Nevertheless, it was thrilling to see the beautiful valley where Aelred had lived and prayed. After our visit to Durham we went on to other significant places before returning to Oxford and then the USA. Continue reading
1 John 2:18-21
On this last day of the current year we can look back over the year now coming to an end. We can repent of our failures, and we give thanks for our blessings.
As we look forward to the New Year about to begin we can expect challenges. We should look with courage and hope, and we give thanks for rewards.
The first reading tells us knowledge of the truth will protect us from the antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Continue reading
Last week I had been thinking ahead about today’s sermon. One night I dreamed that I was working on this sermon. In that dream I was told that I would find the message that I should preach at the end of the Gospel reading, and that it would be about light, or enlightenment. The next day I read through the Gospel for today and found that the last verse of today’s Gospel could be seen as an example of the enlightening of the 3 Disciples with Jesus, Peter, James, and John.
They had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit and brought to understand that John the Baptist fulfilled the promised appearance of Elijah to come again. (v. 10-13) Continue reading
3rd John (1-4) 5-8
Today’s First Reading gives us a brief glimpse at life in the second generation of the Early Church. If we look back to the beginning of this Letter, (3rd John) we can see that it is unique among the Epistles of the New Testament. It is a letter written by an Elder (perhaps John) in charge of a congregation of Christians, presumably in Asia Minor, probably early in the second generation of the spread of the Church.
This letter is unique because it is not addressed to churches in that region, as most of the Epistles were. It was addressed to an individual, whose name was Gaius. Continue reading
When I read over this lesson I could feel that it was a farewell address. Paul was giving advice and encouragement for the time when he could no longer be with the people of Ephesus. It was a prayer for spiritual strength; for courage and perseverance. (Vv. 16-17)
At the beginning of this 3rd chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus he referred to himself as a prisoner for Christ Jesus.
After a series of trials before several tribunals Paul had appealed to the Emperor. He was on his way to Rome by way of churches he had founded. (Cf. Acts 25:10-12) He did not want the concern that these people of Ephesus had for him to hinder the growth of their faith in God. Having said this, look at the main thrust of today’s Epistle reading. Continue reading
Today we remember Edmund James Peck, a missionary to the Inuit in Canada for 40 years in the northern Arctic. His mission service began in the later part of the 19th Century and continued until he retired to Toronto in 1921. He died in 1924.
We are told that early in his ministry to the Inuit people he got the feeling that they did not really understand what he was trying to do. One day he overheard a group of the Inuit talking about him. “Oh, him, he came down from heaven to save the Inuit.” He knew that he had not come down from heaven. But from that time on he tried his best to make the last part of what he had heard come true. He had come to bring the message of Jesus’ saving love to the Inuit people. He tried to make it true. I think he did. Continue reading
In today’s Gospel Lesson we get a glimpse of Jesus preparing his disciples to go out on mission.
As I read about it in the Bible I see Jesus gathering his disciples around him in an open place, probably on a hillside, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. There he warned them of the dangers and difficulties they would encounter. He warned them that they would be hated by all those in the Religious Establishment because of his name. Continue reading
The 1st story in today’s Gospel was the Centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. It is an example of faith which I think should be familiar to most of you.
But now I want to share some thoughts about the importance of faith which came to me as I was reading a book about a very different kind of setting. That book is The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel J. Brown. It is the story of nine students at the University of Washington, Seattle, preparing for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Continue reading
In the summer of 1991 the members of the North American Congregation of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist made a pilgrimage to Great Britain to mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of our Society. We began the pilgrimage in Oxford, where the Society was founded in 1866, and proceeded to Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland with a long monastic history. The boundary in Iona between heaven and earth is considered very thin. We spent a week on Iona in retreat. From there we returned to Oxford for a final week of conversations and services. Continue reading
As we draw near the Feast of Pentecost it is a time for us to think deeply about the gifts of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost and what they mean for us as members of the Church.
Jesus in his discourse at the Last Supper promised that an Advocate would be given the disciples. He did not say much then. We know that in those words he was giving his disciples the promise of the Holy Spirit. Through their words it is given to us. Continue reading
“The word of God continued to advance and gain adherents.” (Acts 12:24) With these words the Apostles began to look westward to take the Gospel message into the rest of the world. (Cf. Acts 13:1)
Up to this point the spread of the Gospel had been limited to Judea and Israel. Antioch was a stepping stone for taking the Gospel message on into Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. As we all know, at least most of us do, the Gospel message continued to spread into the world. First it spread around the Mediterranean Sea, then into Northern Europe, primarily there through the missionary work of Christian monks. Continue reading
The time was several days after Jesus’ second appearance to his disciples in that upper room in Jerusalem. The Place was somewhere on the Western Shore of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of Jesus’ disciples were gathered there, waiting to see what would happen next.
Peter said to the others, “I’m going fishing”. It was only natural that he should think of doing what he had done before Jesus called him. Continue reading
In today’s Gospel Reading there is an incident that is unique. Jesus did something that no one before him had done. He put two commandments together, now known as “The Summary of the Law.” We heard this near the beginning of our Eucharist this morning, just before the Confession. This incident is also unique because both the scribe and Jesus dealt throughout the whole event in a friendly way.
A scribe had heard some Sadducees disputing with Jesus. He felt that Jesus had answered them well. He approached Jesus to ask him this question: “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus replied with the familiar words, “The Lord our God is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mk. 12:30/Deut. 6:5) Jesus then added to that, “The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Continue reading
2 Esdras 2:42-48
Fabian was a young layman from a distant part of Italy visiting Rome in the year 236 (A.D.) when the election of a new Pope was being held. In those days elections were held in the public square, and all Church members who were present could participate.
It should not be surprising, especially in a country like Italy, and a city like Rome, that when Fabian saw the crowd assembled he joined it to see what was going on. Continue reading
The Gospel Reading for today’s Eucharist is very brief. It seems to have little connection with that which precedes or follows it. But let’s see what it can tell us.
Today’s Gospel begins with the wistful remark, “To what will I compare this generation?” Then it is followed by an enigmatic reference to children playing the game in the marketplace, “weddings and funerals”. “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” (v. 17) In this we can see the ambiguous nature of the crowd Jesus had been speaking with. Continue reading
Since about the age of 9 I have been an avid reader of mystery stories, good ones, not the lurid ones. I believe that over the years that habit has helped me to become more sensitive to the Mystical Literature of the Bible.
Today’s first reading from the Wisdom of Solomon certainly fits into that category. I believe that the meaning of most mystical literature can be seen more clearly by contemplation rather than by reason.
I have been praying with today’s first lesson to see it more clearly as prayer ever since I first read it over, earlier this month. Continue reading