Daily Devotion for September 23, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
We don't often have instrumental music, but this is terribly touching even without words, especially given its connection to the Titanic.
Prayer for the Morning
Today is the day you made, O God. My heart rejoices in this day and the opportunities it holds for me to experience more of Your loving presence.
I open my spirit to You, and I give thanks for Your life that fills every cell of my body and life. I open my eyes to You, and I give thanks for Your light that warms and brightens my day. I open my heart to You, and I give thanks for Your life that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace. I open my soul to You, and I give thanks for Your presence in my life and in the lives of the people I hold dear.
Thank You, God, for all that You are and for the blessings that fill every moment of every day. Through Christ I pray.
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word that we may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 103:1-5, 20-22
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Luke 4:1-8 (ESV)
The Temptation of Jesus
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days.
And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
and him only shall you serve.”
Notes on the Scripture
We live in a world that is lukewarm, tepid, our lives filled with complacency. Catholics and some others once abstained from meat on Fridays, as a symbolic fast to celebrate the day Christ died. (It was the big day of the week for fish markets. Everyone who knew what was what would go to the fish market on Thursday or Friday, because that was when they would get fresh fish, preparing for the Friday onslaught.) And today, we might give up some food for Lent, which is 40 days long in celebration of Christ's temptation. And most of us give up something that we are probably better off not having: alcohol and sugar — recreational food — are common.
But fasting in the Bible means eating nothing whatsoever, or else very little. It is often done as a penitential measure, but not always. Here, Christ does it to show his scorn for the world. He does it as a sign, that God is more important to him than food.
He is not trying to lose weight or improve his health. He is resisting temptation, for the pure sake of resisting temptation. We must eat, eventually, to live; but we must have God to live, also.
Satan telling Christ to turn stone to bread is full of irony. Christ's reply shows that his power does not lie in his dominion of the material; although he would later perform miracles, he has not come to perform magic tricks, empty of meaning. And the miracle here is that he will use his power to resist his very powerful urge to eat, to show his devotion.
The devil then ups the ante. He has, he tells Christ, been given authority over all the world, but he will give the world to Christ if he will worship him. But Christ will not give up his devotion for all the money and power on earth. Quite a statement.
There was a time when Christians would similarly give up everything to show their devotion. Many died, giving up the thing men value most, rather than renounce their faith. Many others gave up all worldly possessions. Francis of Assisi, the son of a rich Italian family, famously gave up his inheritance to live in poverty.
Christianity is not a "guilt trip"; we are not expected to feel bad because there is more we could do in service of our faith. But it is a good idea to read this passage, to read about people like John the Baptist, or Francis of Assisi, or Benedict of Nursia, and to try to hear what we are called to do in our devotion.