READINGS for 2007-08-27
“Which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” – Matthew 23:19
I have long ago consecrated to God all the talents that He has given me. “All for Your glory, Lord.”
It may not count as much to others – you know, sitting here by the computer, pounding the keys, stringing words into lines, lines into paragraphs, paragraphs into stories. But God has a way of affirming me in what I am doing. Strangers send e-mails and friends send text messages — to say that this or that article I wrote touched them, eased their sorrow, uplifted them, gave them hope. An interviewee in one of my articles even said that an ex-member of their community returned after reading a testimony that I wrote. The gift of writing thus becomes even more sacred because the Giver uses it to bless other people. Tess VA.
What is the one gift that God has given you to bless His people?
Lord, I offer You this gift – use it for Your glory!
1 Thessalonians 1:2-5, 8-10
We live in a time when there is all sorts of idolatry around to tempt us. Even something as simple and common as modern technology can easily become an idol for us. One of the key things that an idol does is that it distracts us from the responsibility of offering worshipand praise to God. In this it is easy to see how modern technology consumes us and thus takes the place of God in our lives. Let us ensure that we are not distracted from our primary purpose of giving praise and thanks to God at all times.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly 3 calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, 4 knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. 8 In every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.
P S A L M
Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
R: The Lord takes delight in his people.
1 Sing to the LORD a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. 2 Let Israel be glad in their maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their king. (R) 3 Let them praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. 4 For the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory. (R) 5 Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy upon their couches; 6 let the high praises of God be in their throats. 9 This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia! (R)
G O S P E L
Today we celebrate the life of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. Here is a woman who persevered in faith for more than 30 years praying for the salvation of her brilliant son. The Church rejoices with her and her success in that Augustine became arguably the greatest theologian that the Church has ever had. She did not waver in her commitment to her faith and the Lord worked the miracle of conversion that she sought. Let us follow her example of perseverance even when it seems our cause may be hopeless.
13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.  14 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ 17 Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ 19 You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; 21 one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; 22 one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”
think: Let us ensure that we are not distracted from our primary purpose of giving praise and thanks to God at all times.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Ezekiel 15-18
WHAT IS THE PLACE OF THE LAW IN OUR FAITH?
Throughout Christian history there has been a struggle to understand the relationship between the Law of God and the Spirit of God. Perhaps it is more correct to situate the struggle in the living out of the tension between the two; however, for today’s reflection this dispute need not worry us. Let us examine the tension as it stands and how we live it in our own situations.
The Church is at the same time institutional and charismatic; one aspect without the other is destined to failure as the two need each other in order to survive. The charismatic dimension of our spirituality will run amok if there are no rules or authority to train it in the right direction; similarly the institutional Church will become moribund and ultimately die if it is not constantly being challenged to renew itself by the Spirit of God.
Jesus upbraids the Pharisees for their insistence on making obedience to the law the absolute essence of faith. They had little or no room for allowing the Spirit of God to work in their lives. This is a danger for us even today if we insist on allowing only those expressions of faith that will not challenge the status quo. I am not advocating expressions of faith that are unorthodox, though I do want to challenge us to be open to new expressions and experiences of our faith that may not find too many precedents in our recent Church history. It is only with this sort of openness to the Spirit of God will He be able to use us to renew His Church and find the suitable expressions of the Gospel that will successfully take the Good News to the ends of the earth.
Jesus Himself tells us parables about new wine and new wineskins. It is up to us to be open to becoming the new wine of which He spoke. This will entail struggle as we seek to explain and justify ourselves to some authorities, but if God is behind what we are doing then we can be sure that He will be working with us to protect the work He has begun in us. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Am I the sort of person who is always content to accept the status quo and not be a part of ‘rocking the boat’ in search of something new in our experience of God? What about stepping out of the boat just this once and seeking something new in my faith walk?
Holy Spirit, You are the Spirit of life and You are always calling me deeper into yourself. Open my heart to the new things God wants to do in me and help me to surrender to them.
St. John, bishop, pray for us.
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