Daily Devotion for September 23, 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 to Have Inner Peace in the Coming Day
Heavenly God, may I have peace within, this day;
May I trust God that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
May I not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May I use those gifts that I have received, and pass on the love that has been given to me.
May I be confident knowing I am a child of God.
Let this presence settle into my bones, and allow my soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. This I pray in Christ's name,
(~ St. Therese of Lisieux)
Prayer of Clement of Rome
You, Lord, through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world. You, Lord, created the earth. You are faithful throughout all generations, righteous in your judgments, marvelous in strength and majesty, wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists, good in all that is observed and faithful to those who trust in you, merciful and compassionate; forgive me my sins and my injustices, my transgressions and my shortcomings.
Do not take into account every sin of your servant, but cleanse me with the cleansing of your truth, and direct my steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and purity of heart, and to do what is good and pleasing in your sight and in the sight of my rulers. Yes, Lord, let your face shine upon all your servants in peace for our good, that we may be sheltered by your mighty hand and delivered from every sin by your uplifted arm; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly.
Give harmony and peace to me and to all who dwell on the earth, just as you did to our fathers when they reverently called upon you in faith and trust, that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and give harmony and peace to our rulers and governors on earth.
God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and Spirit of God amidst us, direct our way unto you. Make us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not even know what causes them to stumble.
Matthew 8:1-4 (ESV)
Jesus Heals a Leper
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Notes on the Scripture
Leprosy is rare today; humanity has built up “herd immunity” to it, as it has to bubonic plague. But it was a terrible disease. The victim becomes covered in ulcers that seep and give off a foul smell; the eyebrows fall out, the voice becomes hoarse — no need to give all the symptoms. It is awful and, after about nine years of progressive mental and physical decline, the victim dies.
If the symptoms are terrible, the isolation was (historically) even worse, for to have leprosy was to become utterly outcast. A Jew could not touch a leper, could not walk within six feet of a leper, could not even allow a leper to look through an open door into his house. People with leprosy were forbidden to enter walled towns or synagogues. They were relegated to foul colonies, clothed in rags, filthy, lucky if they had enough food, water, and any sort of roof over their head. Employment was out of the question. It was forbidden even to greet them.
So, pause for a minute, and consider the full implication of the verse: “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.”
This is the first instance we see of Jesus breaking the letter of the law of Moses, to fulfill its spirit, its meaning. Matthew has given us a long three chapters filled with nothing but the words of Christ. Now, in Chapter 8, we move on to see the actions of Christ. There are really two miracles here. First, of course, the leper is healed. Secondly, Jesus flouts the law to touch the most unclean thing in Judaism; but, of course, it is not a “thing”, but a man. It is you and I.
We might feel a little less sense of Christ's personal danger than the danger to an ordinary man, for He does not fear to actually contract the disease; but we must remember that He will be despised, mocked, whipped and crucified for his actions. Would He have risked contracting leprosy, to save us? Yes, without doubt.
The man knelt before Him and then requested to be healed. He did exactly what a person would do today; he essentially prayed to a living God, in faith and reverence. Jesus then instructed the man to go to a rabbi and follow the law, a fairly complicated ritual for one who has been cured of leprosy. He shows us His commitment to the law of Moses in deed, as He had just done in His words. Christ very clearly saw His ministry as part of a single exposition of God to humanity. He kept a direct link to Judaism; He would change it radically, but the new covenant was nevertheless a modification, not the establishment of a new religion.