READINGS for 2006-02-26
LOVE IN THE MIDST OF DOUBT
So I am going to allure her, lead her once more into the desert, where I can speak to her tenderly. ? Hosea 2:16
In spite of all my years in renewal, my relationship with the Lord could never be described as steady or constant. Rather, it has been a rocky, tempestuous relationship. There are seasons where I am strong in faith, a happy worker in His Field. Then there are the times where I languish in despair and doubt, indulging in self-pity because He didn?t answer my prayers or He didn?t answer them to my liking. It is during these times that this verse above happens. The Great Lover goes about wooing His petulant child (me). Not because I deserve it or because of sheer luck. He makes this happen for the simple truth ? because He loves me. In His Eyes, I am worth luring to the desert and rekindling the fervor of my love as before. And as these cycles happen year after year, He persists. He pursues, never tiring, never ceasing. Because He loves.Tisha L.
Lord, strengthen my faith with your Love.
The language of love ? does it not thrill your heart just to hear it? ???I will lure her into the desert ? I will betroth you to myself forever.? The Lord says that He is going to seduce Israel by leading her into a place where there is nothing left for her but to totally entrust herself to His love. This is a perfect description of the sinner eventually realizing that he or she is trapped in bondage to sin and that the only way out is to throw one?s self at the mercy of God. This is what repentance and conversion is all about.
16 So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. 17 From there I will give her the vineyards she had, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. She shall respond there as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt. 21 I will espouse you to me forever. I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy. 22 I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.
P S A L M
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
R: The Lord is kind and merciful.
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; (R) 3 he pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. 4 He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion, (R) 8 Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. 10 Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes. (R) 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. (R)
Paul is sure that the witness of his life and that of his companions will be sufficient to commend the Good News he has for the Corinthian people. Paul takes the opportunity to play around with the understanding of a letter of commendation and basically says that if one carried a written letter perhaps it is only because his or her life?s witness was lacking in one way or another! The witness of his life is one based on the Spirit of God and not in any written letter of the law. Words are well enough when they will suffice. A living witness, however, will speak much louder and be far more effective.
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, 3 shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us. Rather, our qualification comes from God, 6 who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
G O S P E L
Once again, the Pharisees trip themselves up with a misdirected focus upon the law. It is very unfortunate when the law becomes the focus as this means that rules and regulations begin to take over love. When I truly obey the law of God written in the commandments and also upon my heart, I do so out of love for God and my neighbor. When I obey because I ought or have to do so, I do so out of fear of the consequences. Which of these two options speaks most powerfully to you?
18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him and objected, ?Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?? 19 Jesus answered them, ?Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 ?But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. 22 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.?
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READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Joshua 10-14
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GETTING TO KNOW THE SAINTS
The association of St. Valentine with pink hearts, boxes of chocolates, and the exchange of romantic fancies has no intrinsic source in the character or life of the saint. The origin of ?St. Valentine?s Day? ? a day beloved of greeting card companies ? is not entirely clear, but it seems to have taken root in England, a cold country where the signs of spring are eagerly anticipated. As far back as Chaucer it was commonly observed that birds began to pair and mate around the feast of St. Valentine, that is, from the middle of February.
In any case, the Valentine whose name is oddly commemorated was apparently a Christian priest in Rome who assisted martyrs during the persecution under Emperor Claudius II. He was eventually arrested and sent before the prefect of Rome. When he refused to renounce his faith, he was beaten and beheaded. Thus, by offering his heart, he proved himself a true devotee of the God of Love.
?Come with me into the wilderness and I will speak to your heart,? the Lord invites us through the Prophet Hosea today.
The wilderness is a place of silence. When it is silent, we can hear better. If we wish to hear the Lord speak to us, let us go into the wilderness with Him. Wilderness is silence.
The wilderness is a place of solitude. When we are alone, we can refocus ourselves on the values we truly hold hear to our hearts. If we wish to re-orient our selves so as to keep ourselves rooted in the Lord and His values, let us go into the wilderness with Him. The wilderness is a place of prayer. When we pray, we are in Lord?s presence. If we wish to experience the Lord more deeply, let us go with Him into the wilderness.
Wilderness is not so much a place we arrive at as it is a condition we enter into. It is when we are silent, when we are most alone but not necessarily lonely, when we are absorbed in prayer.
Wilderness is not out in the desert. It is right inside our hearts. It is not where no water runs. It is where rivers of living water flow. Wilderness is the silence that gives depth to our character, the solitude that tames our spirit, and the prayer that attunes us to God.
?Come into the wilderness and I will speak to your heart.? Do we hear His call? Do we dare take His hand and allow Him to lead us into the wilderness? Or does His call fall on deaf ears? Why are we afraid of the wilderness? Fr. Bobby T.
You, O Lord, are my Shepherd. Through verdant pastures You give me rest but in the scorching wilderness You grant me strength. Beside restful waters You lead me to refresh my soul but through the arid land You journey with me to speak to my heart. Only goodness and kindness follow me in green pastures and in threatening wilderness. In Your own house shall I dwell forever and ever. Amen.
St. Mechtilde, virgin, pray for us.
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