Rembrandt‘s ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ (1635) captures the scene of fear. (National Gallery, London)
Reading: MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it;
TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;
PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Then by order of Belshazzar they clothed Daniel in purple, with a gold collar about his neck, and proclaimed him third in the government of the kingdom. The same night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain: (Daniel 5:26-30)
Observation: I was struck this morning by how it would feel to have Daniel reading these words to me. Since I am not a king like Belshazzar, I hope my judgment is not so quick but I know that God could very easily be saying, “Mene, Tekel and Peres” to me. The truth is that I know that God has numbered my days, as he has numbered all of our days and if I was measured up right now, I would be found wanting. Also, Jesus promised that as long as we are his followers, our families will be divided up against us. So, as much as it was a prophecy for King Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, it could just as easily be written of me today.
Personification: Goodness In order to display the fruit of goodness in my life, I must work in conjunction with the will of God. The only good that exists in this world is from the good that comes from the one who is all good and deserving of all my love. I will, with the help of his grace, sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. This part of my reflection today comes from a prayer I have said a few times before, the Act of Contrition. (see prayer below)
Prayer: O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The foundation stone – upon which the temple did stand…
Reading: “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6)
Observation: The prophecy must have been hard to hear for those people that centered their lives around worshipping God in the temple of Jerusalem. As much as hearing it was hard for them, I should react in great amazement at the fact that it has turned out exactly as Jesus predicted. More than the Old Testament Bible prophecy that many scholars say could be related to many different things throughout history, this prophecy was exactly related to what will happen to the building that they were standing in front of.
Personification: Peace I will work today and for the rest of my life to display the fruit of peace that comes from knowing that God is in control of everything, including me. If I am truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, then my actions are not under my own control, they are under the control of the Father. I pray the Our Father prayer, as Jesus taught us, to show my sincere hope that His will is done in my life and not my own.
Prayer: Our Father, Who is in heaven,
Holy is Your Name;
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(note from website that I copied the prayer from this morning)
The Our Father is based on these passages from the Bible:
Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
The prophet Daniel from the Sistine Chapel…Artist…Michelangelo…
Reading: Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days. Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men who eat from the royal table, and treat your servants according to what you see.” He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days; after ten days they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate from the royal table. (Daniel 1:12-15)
Observation: This morning I am hearing from this first reading that I actually listened to first at our Communion service at the chapel today. Since I did not get a chance to journal before I left this morning, but it was nice to actually hear the reading this morning for a change rather than reading it for myself. It was on hearing the Lector this morning say that Daniel and his companions only needed vegetables that I felt like they were showing what an example of faith looks like, as it relates to what kind of food you put in your body.
Personification: Self-Control I will take this reading this morning as a wake up call to what types of things that I choose to put in my body. It will take the fruit of self-control and the grace of God to choose to eat what I know is right versus what I know I would really enjoy to eat. Moderation is the key here, so that I don’t make everyone around me feel guilty for eating whatever they want.
Prayer: Lord, help me to control my appetite for the desires of my eyes, and give me the grace necessary to only eat those things that I know are providing for the building up of the temple that God created in me. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20: 34-38)
Observation: This was Jesus’ response to a question from the Sadducees about marriage in the next life. I am hearing this morning that the Word of God is telling me to not be so sensitive about what others tell me about their faith. Someone had noted in a picture that my wife did of an incredible young man that passed on to the next life at the end of last summer, that the wings she put on him are not accurate, since we don’t literally get wings we go to heaven. It made me feel wierd every time I showed the picture to anyone, as if I was teaching something about our faith incorrectly. However, this Gospel reading today shows that Jesus used this reference of being like angels, to explain those that are deemed worthy of the coming age.
Personification: Long-suffering (Positive Attitude) I will work on my ability to deal with other people today while displaying the fruit of long-suffering or positive attitude. As always, it will take the grace of God to be able to deal with some people that come at me as if nothing I ever do is right. I know that I must be willing to listen to everyone, but I need God’s grace to understand that it is not the will of God for me to be constantly second guessing the decisions that I make in order to be overly sensitive to opinions that aren’t even rooted in the Word of God.
Prayer: Lord, please give me the strength to stay positive about the decisions that I make in direct response to the will of God, and help me to not second guess your directions. I ask this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: Then Jesus entered the temple area 11 and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’” (Luke 19:45-46)
Observation: I found it interesting this morning that I was focusing on the fact that Jesus went to the temple area to proclaim his authority first. Before he did anything else, he declared his authority by going to the temple. If you look up the scripture notes from the first verse, it notes that Malachi had predicted that Jesus would go to the temple to proclaim his authority. For me, it shows how even the Lord would need to go to church in order to show that he was sent by God. The same can be true for us, it is only by going to church that we not only hear the Word of God and when we are disposed to so, receive the Body and Blood of Christ into our own bodies in the Eucharist, we also proclaim the authority that is passed to us by the Lord’s resurrection.
Personification: Faith/Fidelity I want to be able to display the fruit of faith and fidelity to our Lord and Saviour by going to him in Communion whenever it is possible. To be the personification of the fruit of faith and fidelity today, I will need the grace of God as well as the direction of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the goal of being faithful to the call of being in communion with my brothers and sisters in the Lord at our Communion Service today and then Mass tomorrow morning at St Mary’s.
Prayer: Lord, give me the grace to be faithful to your church in receiving Communion today and daily for the rest of my life. I do not mean this as a vow, but rather a request to be truly given the grace necessary to make this possible. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Why is it so hard to see Jesus weeping, but easy to visualize his laughter?
Reading: As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)
Observation: To me, this morning’s Gospel is talking specifically to all of the followers of Jesus, not just Jerusalem. Personally, I can see Jesus crying over me, because I don’t understand what it takes for peace in my life. I know that the Word of God is revealing it to me everyday, yet I still try and rationalize and justify my own actions because of what other people’s expectations are or because of my lack of internal fortitude to follow the will of God completely. I don’t want to see the world destroyed like Jerusalem was, so for my part, I will try and follow his example and try and bring peace through love to the part of the world that this little worthless sinner can effect.
Personification: Peace Jesus revealed to us how to bring peace to the earth. I am feeling called in a special way this morning to be displaying the fruit of peace to everyone that I meet today and for the rest of my life on earth. I take solace in the fact that once I have passed on to the Father, if I am allowed to stay in His presence, he will have made me a perfect instrument of His peace.
Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love
Where there is injury . . . pardon
Where there is doubt . . . faith
Where there is despair . . . hope
Where there is darkness . . . light
Where there is sadness . . . joy
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled . . . as to console
To be understood . . . as to understand,
To be loved . . . as to love
For it is in giving . . . that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ (Luke 19:14)
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'” (Luke 19:27)
Observation: One of the youth asked me on last Sunday night about the type of action that would merit being placed in hell. My answer was the rejection of Jesus after he has been revealed to you would be the type of action that to my mind would merit spending eternity in hell. It sounds a little ridiculous for Jesus to be telling a story about those who did not want him as king, to a group of people that definitely wanted him to be king. Hindsight being 20/20, it is important to note that at least one of them had their own ideas about what kind of king they expected him to be and therefore it may not be so ridiculous that he was telling his follower this parable. It is also possible that some of them were asking the same question that this young man was asking me the other night. What does it take to spend eternity in hell?
Personification: Love (Charity) I think today more than any other day, I want to display the fruit of love/charity to everyone that I meet. It will take the grace of God for me to live in the moment and always ask for his grace to be able to love and show charity to the people that come into my life today and for the rest of my life.
Prayer: Lord, please grant me the grace necessary to see everyone I meet today for the potential that you have given them and not necessarily for what they are displaying to me. As an unworthy servant of you, I want to be able to be humble enough, so that your will can work through me and show through me. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.