Daily Devotion for April 8, 2013
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.
Prayer of St. Edmund
O Lord, into your hands and into the hands of your holy angels, this day I entrust my soul, my relatives, my benefactors, my friends and enemies, and all who confess your holy name.
O Lord, by the merits and prayers of your son, Jesus Christ, keep me today from all evil and unruly desires, from all sins and temptations of the devil, from a sudden and unprovided death, and from the pains of hell. Enlighten my heart with the grace of your Holy Spirit. Grant that I may ever be obedient to your commandments. Let me never be separated from you, O God, who lives and reigns forever, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer for Humility
Heavenly Father, who sent your Son to ride on an ass and to work as a simple carpenter: if you so humbled yourself to save me, how can I puff myself up with pride above others? Let me follow Christ's example, never to inflate myself with pride of status, of opinion, or of any of the gifts you have bestowed upon me.
Give me the grace to realize my ignorance, admit my mistakes, recognize my needs. Let me welcome good advice and sound rebuke, without defensiveness. Grant me always to praise rather than criticize, sympathize rather than discourage, build rather than destroy, and when I am angry at the ignorance of another, to recall my own ignorance and remember that we are all your beloved children. Let my hope and glory be ever in you, and not in my own vanity. This I ask in Christ's sake,
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
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.
"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."
Exodus 19:7-9 (ESV)
Israel Accepts God’s Covenant
So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
Notes on the Scripture
This is a short passage, but with many implications. Throughout Exodus, God represents Himself visibly in two forms: fire and cloud (or fire within cloud). These are not "God". There is not a human-looking being, no old man with a grey beard, standing inside the cloud; the cloud is not there to hide God. It is, rather, a visible metaphor for our inability to see God with human eyes. God is there, but we cannot see Him.
The metaphor represents not only a spiritual truth, but also, a physical truth about our universe. The universe appears to astrophysicists like a great sphere, and this is how they conceive and describe it. But they cannot see outside it; in fact, they cannot see anything even close to the edge, because the limits of "reality" are obscured by energy that hides whatever is on the other side.
But God can make Himself known to us. He chooses the most elemental form with which to make his covenant with the Hebrews, for He wants them to separate their knowledge of Him from their previous religious training, where a "god" was a statue or a physical phenomenon. He wants them to understand He is irreducible; He cannot be made into a package (and we will see more of this in the Second Commandment).
That said, the first paragraph in the passage contains the direct significance: the Hebrews "sign the contract." Of course, this is an oral contract, but they give their formal and binding assent. We think of the major covenants of the Bible as one-sided — God tells us what it is and we obey — but the Hebrews' assent to this great covenant adds a dimension of free will.
Every human being can deny God; the consequences might be frightful, but we have the option. Of course, God is holding all the cards here, for the Hebrews are stuck in the middle of a desert, with hostile bandits at large; but they still have the option to leave, and perhaps they could live. Remember, Moses had left Egypt and found a life among the Midianites (and actually, came to Sinai while grazing livestock).