Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 13

Morning

I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me. Song 7:10

I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. II Tim. 1:12

I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:3839

Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost. John 17:12

The LORD taketh pleasure in his people. Psa. 149:4

My delights were with the sons of men. Prov. 8:31

His great love wherewith he loved us. Eph. 2:4

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. I Cor. 6:20

Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. Rom. 14:8

Evening

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord. Isa. 34:16

Ye shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. Deut. 11:18

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Josh. 1:8

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Psa. 37:31

By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Psa. 17:4

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psa. 119:11

We have … a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. II Pet. 1:19

That we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Rom. 15:4

Peace or the Sword?

July 13, 2020
Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Henry—Optional Memorial

Jesus said to his Apostles: “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

Hmmm…was this a typo?  Did Jesus really say this?  This is one of those passages that can leave us a bit baffled and confused.  But Jesus does this all the time so we shouldn’t be surprised.  So what does Jesus mean?  Does He really want to bring the “sword” and division rather than peace?

It’s important when reading this passage that we read it in light of everything else Jesus has ever written.  We must read it in light of all His teachings on love and mercy, forgiveness and unity, etc.  But with that said, what was Jesus talking about in this passage?

In large part, He was speaking about one of the effects of the Truth.  The Truth of the Gospel has the power to deeply unite us to God when we fully accept it as the Word of Truth.  But another effect is that it divides us from those who refuse to be united to God in the Truth.  We are not intending this and we ought not do so by our own will or intention, but it must be understood that by immersing ourselves in the Truth, we are also putting ourselves at odds with everyone who may be at odds with God and His Truth.

Our culture today wants to preach what we call “relativism.”  This is an idea that what is good and true for me may not be good and true for you but that, in spite of all having different “truths,” we can still all be one happy family.  But that’s not the Truth!

The Truth (with a capital “T”) is that God has established what is right and what is wrong.  He has set His moral law over all of humanity and this cannot be undone.  He has also set forth the truths of our faith and those cannot be undone.  And that law is as true for me as it is for you or anyone else.

This passage above offers us the sobering reality that by rejecting all forms of relativism and by holding onto Truth, we also run the risk of division, even with those in our families.  This is sad and this hurts.  Jesus offers this passage especially to strengthen us when this happens.  If division happens as a result of our sin, shame on us.  If it happens as a result of the Truth (as offered in mercy), then we should accept it as a result of the Gospel.  Jesus was rejected and we should not be surprised if that happens to us, too.

Reflect, today, upon how fully you are ready and willing to accept the full Truth of the Gospel no matter the consequences.  The full Truth will set you free and will also, at times, reveal the division present between you and those who have rejected God.  You must pray for unity in Christ, but not be willing to compromise so as to bring about a false unity.  

Lord, give me the wisdom and courage I need to accept all You have revealed.  Help me to love You above all things and to accept whatever the consequences are of me following You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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I Have Not Come to Bring Peace, but a Sword

GOSPEL READING: Matthew 10:34 – 11:1

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matthew 11) 1 And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Meditation: Why does Jesus describe his mission and the coming of God’s kingdom in terms of conflict, division, and war? Jesus told his disciples that he did not “come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). The “sword” which Jesus speaks of here is not a physical weapon that cuts people down, but a spiritual weapon that cuts through the inner core of our being to expose the corruption of sinful thoughts and intentions as well as the lies and deception of Satan and his kingdom of darkness.

Sword of the Spirit
Scripture describes God’s word as a sharp two-edged sword that “pierces to the division of soul and spirit… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, Revelations 19:15). Scripture also describes “God’s word” as the “sword of the Spirit” which has power to destroy every spiritual stronghold that keep people in bondage to sin, deception, and Satan (Ephesians 6:17). Jesus came to rescue us from slavery to sin and to set us free to live as citizens of God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

Spiritual warfare
Jesus’ mission was an act of war against the spiritual forces who oppose the kingdom of God and his rule over the earth. That is why Jesus identified Satan as the ruler of this world whom he will cast out (John 12:31). The battle Jesus had in mind was not an earthly conflict between individuals and nations, but a spiritual warfare between the forces of Satan and the armies of heaven. Jesus came to wage war against the spiritual powers of this present world that turn the minds and hearts of people away from God and his kingdom of joy, peace, and goodness.

Kingdom of light versus kingdom of darkness
The Scriptures make clear that there are ultimately only two kingdoms or powers and that they stand in opposition to one another – God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness. John the Apostle contrasts these two opposing kingdoms in the starkest of terms: We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The Scriptures describe the “world” as that society of people who are opposed to God and his kingdom of righteousness, truth, and goodness. Jesus came to overthrow Satan’s power and to set us free from everything that would hold us back from knowing, loving, and serving God who has loved each one of us with boundless mercy, compassion, and goodness.

God must take first place in our lives
Jesus told his disciples that if they followed him it would be costly because they must put God’s kingdom first and obey his word. Whenever a great call is given it inevitably causes division between those who accept and reject it. When Jesus remarked that division would cut very close to home his listeners likely recalled the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6). The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or any other thing above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than that owed to spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do.

The just reward
True love for God compels us to express charity towards our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not go unrewarded. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Jesus sets before his disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the will of God which leads to everlasting life, peace, and joy with God. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)?

Lord, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has conceived the things you have prepared for those who love you. Set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that we may love you in and above all things and so receive the rewards you have promised us through Christ our Lord. (from A Christian’s Prayer Book)

Psalm 124:1-8

1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, let Israel now say —
2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!
7 We have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: How peace requires a sword, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)

“What sort of peace is it that Jesus asks them to pronounce upon entering each house? And what kind of peace is it of which the angels sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace’? And if Jesus came not to bring peace, why did all the prophets publish peace as good news? Because this more than anything is peace: when the disease is removed. This is peace: when the cancer is cut away. Only with such radical surgery is it possible for heaven to be reunited to earth. Only in this way does the physician preserve the healthy tissue of the body. The incurable part must be amputated. Only in this way does the military commander preserve the peace: by cutting off those in rebellion. Thus it was also in the case of the tower of Babel, that their evil peace was ended by their good discord. Peace therefore was accomplished. (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 35.1)

Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 12

Morning

My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exo. 33:14

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. The LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deut. 31:68

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the LORD thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest. Josh. 1:9

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Prov. 3:6

He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Heb. 13:56

Our sufficiency is of God. II Cor. 3:5

Lead us not into temptation. Matt. 6:13

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Jer. 10:23

My times are in thy hand. Psa. 31:15

Evening

Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Heb. 10:24

How forcible are right words! Job 6:25

I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. II Pet. 3:1

They that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD and that thought upon his name. Mal. 3:16

If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. Matt. 18:19

The LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. Gen. 2:18

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Ecc. 4:910

Let … no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. Rom. 14:13

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Gal. 6:21

The Divine Attraction

July 12, 2020
Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A
Readings for Today

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.  Matthew 13:1-2

This is not a common experience.  It is clear that people were in such awe of our Lord that they were drawn to Him with a holy and divine attraction.  The crowds were mesmerized by Jesus and they hung on His every word.  They were so drawn to Him that they crowded along the shore to listen as Jesus spoke from the boat.

This Gospel story should pose a question to you on a personal level.  Are you drawn to Jesus in a similar way?  There are many things we find ourselves drawn to.  It may be some hobby, or a personal interest, perhaps it’s your job or some other aspect of your life.  But what about our Lord and His holy Word?  How drawn to Him are you?

Ideally, we should discover within our hearts a burning desire to be with Jesus, to know Him, love Him and encounter His mercy more fully in our lives.  There should be a tug on our hearts that is placed there by Jesus Himself.  This tug becomes a divine attraction that becomes the central motivation for our lives.  From this attraction we respond to Him, listen to Him and give our lives more fully to Him.  This is a grace given to those who are open and are ready and willing to hear and respond.

Reflect, today, upon the merciful Heart of our Lord calling you to turn to Him with all the powers of your soul.  Allow Him to draw you in and respond by giving your time and attention to Him.  From there, He will lead you where He desires you to go.

Lord, my life is Yours.  Please draw me into Your most merciful Heart.  Help me to be mesmerized by Your splendor and goodness.  I give to You all the powers of my soul, dear Lord.  Please take me and lead me according to Your most holy will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Why Do You Speak to Them in Parables?

GOSPEL READING: Matthew 13:1-23

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

Closed eyes and dull hearts
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Jesus’ explanation of the parable
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Meditation: What is the best and easiest way to help people understand God’s kingdom? Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus very frequently used parables – short stories and images taken from everyday life – to convey hidden truths about the kingdom of God. Like a skillful artist, Jesus sketched memorable pictures with short and simple words. A good image can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday illustrations of life and nature to point to another order of reality – hidden, yet visible to those who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”. Jesus communicated with vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than any abstract presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered (Matthew 13:44).

What can the parable about seeds and roots teach us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The Scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3)

How do you listen to God’s word?
Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn’t want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.

Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God’s word. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God’s word?

The refusal to believe and understand
Jesus told his disciples that not everyone would understand his parables. Did Jesus mean to say that he was deliberately confusing or hiding the meaning of his stories from his listeners? Very likely not. Jesus was speaking from experience. He was aware that some who heard his parables refused to understand them. It was not that they could not intellectually understand them, but rather, their hearts were closed to what Jesus was saying. They had already made up their minds to not believe. God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom – that which is hidden to the spiritually blind – to those who hunger for God and humbly submit to his truth.

What can makes us ineffective or unresponsive to God’s word? Preoccupation with other things can distract us from what is truly important and worthwhile. And letting our hearts and minds be consumed with material things can easily weigh us down and draw us away from the heavenly treasure that lasts for eternity. God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart which is docile and ready to hear what God has to say.

How God’s word takes root in us
The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach them with the conviction that we already know the answer, then we, too, may look but not see, listen but not understand. God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. Do you submit to God’s word with trust and obedience?

One lesson from this parable is clear: the harvest is sure to come. While some seed will fall by the wayside and some fall on shallow ground and never come to maturity, and some be choked to death by the thorns; nonetheless a harvest will come. The seed that falls on good soil, on the heart that is receptive, will reap abundant fruit. God is always ready to speak to each of us and to give us understanding of his word. Are you hungry for his word? And do you allow anything to keep you from submitting to God’s word with joy and trusting obedience?

Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it

Psalm 65:9-13

9 You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provid their grain, for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty; the tracks of your chariot drip with fatness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness drip, the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The shallow and rootless mind, by Clement of Alexandria, 150-215 A.D.

“Let us look, as from a broader perspective, at what it means to be on the road. In a way, every road is hardened and foolish on account of the fact that it lies beneath everyone’s feet. No kind of seed finds there enough depth of soil for a covering. Instead, it lies on the surface and is ready to be snatched up by the birds that come by. Therefore those who have in themselves a mind hardened and, as it were, packed tight do not receive the divine seed but become a well-trodden way for the unclean spirits. These are what is here meant by ‘the birds of the heaven'” But ‘heaven’ we understand to mean this air, in which the spirits of wickedness move about, by whom, again, the good seed is snatched up and destroyed. Then what are those upon the rock? They are those people who do not take much care of the faith they have in themselves. They have not set their minds to understand the touchstone of the mystery [of being united with Christ]. The reverence these people have toward God is shallow and rootless. It is in times of ease and fair weather that they practice Christianity, when it involves none of the painful trials of winter. They will not preserve their faith in this way, if in times of tumultuous persecution their soul is not prepared for the struggle. (excerpt from FRAGMENT 168)

Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 11

Morning

I am with thee to save thee. Jer. 15:20

Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee. And all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. Isa. 49:24-26

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isa. 41:10

We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Heb. 4:15

In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Heb. 2:18

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. Psa. 37:2324

Evening

He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Psa. 107:9

Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. I Pet. 2:3

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory. Psa. 63:12

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psa. 84:2

Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. Phil. 1:23

I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Psa. 17:15

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Rev. 7:1617

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. Psa. 36:8

My people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD. Jer. 31:14

Our Hidden Life

July 11, 2020
Saturday of the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Benedict, Abbot—Memorial

“Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.”  Matthew 10:26b

This is either a very consoling thought, or very frightening depending upon what you may have “concealed” or what you hold “secret” within your heart.  What is there, in the depth of your conscience?  What is hiding that only God sees for now?  There are two extremes into which people can fall in this regard, and many places between the extremes.

The first extreme is that person who lives a phony public persona but secretly lives a very different life.  These are those who fall into the sin of hypocrisy, or are what we may call “two-faced.”  This is a frightening situation to be in.  It’s frightening because those living this sort of life are never truly at peace.  They are completely caught up in what others think and what their public image looks like.  Interiorly, they are filled with much sorrow, anxiety and fear.  This person struggles greatly with any and every form of true humility, honesty and integrity.

But with that said, there is also another form of person who lives a hidden life.  This is the hidden life of the saint! Take, for example, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She was seen as a fornicator early in her life and this “public image” of her was never corrected in this world.  How else would she have gotten pregnant with Jesus? many thought.  But the truth was that her soul was the most beautiful, pure and holy creation God ever made.  And now, the beauty of her interior life is manifest before the angels and saints and will be made manifest for all eternity!

The promise of the Scripture above is that everything within our heart and conscience will be made manifest for all eternity.  Therefore, those living truly holy, humble and sincere lives of virtue now will be seen in this light for eternity.  Those living hidden dark lives will have those lives visible for eternity in some way in accord with God’s mercy and justice.

Again, this will most likely be either consoling or frightening, depending upon our hearts.  But what we should take from this, more than anything, is the importance of striving for a truly holy and pure heart here and now.  It doesn’t matter if no one sees your holiness, only God needs to see it.  The goal is to allow God to form a beautiful interior life for you and to allow Him to make your soul beautiful to Him.

Reflect, today, on how well you do this.  How well do you daily allow God to treat your heart and conscience as His possession, making it a place of true beauty that gives His heart, and yours, much delight.

Lord, please come and make my heart Your dwelling place.  Make my soul pleasing to You in every way.  May Your glory be made manifest there and may You allow this glory to be made manifest for all eternity.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Fear him who can destroy soul and body in hell

Daily Reading & Meditation

 Saturday (July 11):  Fear him who can destroy soul and body in hell
Scripture:  Matthew 10:24-33

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Meditation: What does fear have to do with the kingdom of God? Fear is a powerful force. It can lead us to panic and flight or it can spur us to faith and action. The fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing one’s life. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. O fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:4,9,11)

Godly fear – reverence for God
What is godly fear? It is reverence for the One who made us in love and who sustains us in mercy and kindness. The greatest injury or loss which we can experience is not physical but spiritual – the loss of one’s soul to the power of hell (Matthew 10:28). A healthy fear (godly respect) and reverence for God leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom, and right judgment and it frees us from the tyranny of sinful pride, cowardice – especially in the face of evil, and spiritual deception. Do you trust in God’s grace and mercy and do you obey his word?

When Jesus proclaimed the kingdom (reign) of God he met opposition and hostility. Many religious leaders opposed Jesus because they refused to believe that he was the Messiah (God’s Anointed One) and that his authority and power came from God. They claimed his power came from Beelzebul – the prince of demons who is also called Satan or the devil. Jesus demonstrated the power of God’s kingdom through his numerous signs and miracles and his power to set people free from Satan’s harm and deception.

Choosing for God’s kingdom
There are fundamentally only two kingdoms in opposition to one another – God’s kingdom of light – his truth and righteousness (moral goodness) and Satan’s kingdom of darkness – his power to deceive and tempt people to rebel and do what is wrong and evil. And there are no neutral parties – we are either for God’s kingdom or against it. We either choose for Jesus and the kingdom he brings – God’s rule of peace and righteousness, or we choose for the kingdom of this world which opposes God’s truth and righteousness. That is why Jesus told his disciples that they must expect the same treatment of opposition and hostility if they accept him as their Lord (Messiah) and Master (Teacher).

There is both a warning and a privilege in Jesus’ statement. Just as Jesus had to carry his cross to suffer and die for us, so every disciple of Christ must bear his or her own cross of suffering for Christ and not try to evade it. To suffer for the Christian faith is to share in the work of Jesus Christ. As one Christian hymn states: Lift high the Cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod. The Holy Spirit gives us supernatural power, freedom, and grace to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. Do you trust in God who gives us the strength and perseverance we need to follow his will and to embrace our cross each day for Jesus’ sake?

“Lord Jesus, it is my joy and privilege to be your disciple. Give me strength and courage to bear any hardship and suffering which may come my way in serving you and obeying your will. May I witness to others the joy of the Gospel – the good news of your kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness.”

Psalm 105:1-7

1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works!
3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
4 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wonderful works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Do not bewail death – but sin, by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)

“The gospel is life. Impiety and infidelity are the death of the soul. So then, if the soul can die, how then is it yet immortal? Because there is always a dimension of life in the soul that can never be extinguished. And how does it die? Not in ceasing to be life but by losing its proper life. For the soul is both life to something else, and it has it own proper life. Consider the order of the creatures. The soul is the life of the body. God is the life of the soul. As the life that is the soul is present with the body, that the body may not die, so the life of the soul (God) ought to be with the soul that it may not die.”

“How does the body die? By the departure of the soul. I say, by the departure of the soul the body dies, and it lies there as a mere carcass, what was a little before a lively, not a contemptible, object. There are in it still its several members, the eyes and ears. But these are merely the windows of the house; its inhabitant is gone. Those who bewail the dead cry in vain at the windows of the house. There is no one there within it to hear… Why is the body dead? Because the soul, its life, is gone. But at what point is the soul itself dead? When God, its life, has forsaken it… This then we can know and hold for certain: the body is dead without the soul, and the soul is dead without God. Every one without God has a dead soul. You who bewail the dead rather should bewail sin. Bewail ungodliness. Bewail disbelief.” (excerpt from SERMON 65.5-7)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite:  copyright (c) 2020 Servants of the Word, source:  dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org, author Don Schwager

 

Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 10

Morning

The disciple is not above his master. Matt. 10:24

Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. John 13:13

It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. Matt. 10:25

If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. John 15:20

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world John 17:14.

Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Heb. 12:34

Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb. 12:12

Forasmuch … as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. I Pet. 4:1

Evening

My son, give me thine heart. Prov. 23:26

O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Deut. 5:29

Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Acts 8:21

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom. 8:78

They … first gave their own selves to the Lord. II Cor. 8:5

In every work that [Hezekiah] began … to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered. II Chron. 31:21

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Prov. 4:23

Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord. Col. 3:23

As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Eph. 6:67

I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Psa. 119:32