Daily Devotion for January 15, 2014
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.
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.
There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
Prayer of St. Patrick
Lord, be with me and all who love you, this day:
Within us to purify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.
In Christ's name we pray,
[Let us close our eyes for a minute and meditate on the Holy Spirit being within us, to purify us.]
Prayer to Grow Closer to God
Dear Lord, I am trying to do better and better each day; I am trying to walk with you and do your will, but sometimes it seems like I am slipping backwards no matter how hard I try. And I get confused sometimes; even if I want to do the right thing, I don't always know what it is.
So this is my prayer, heavenly Lord, for your help in straightening out my mind and straightening out my life. Lead me, Lord, and let your Holy Spirit guide me. Even if the correction is painful, help me to keep my mind open to your truth. Let me do your will in my every action, and know your will, that I might do it. Help me not be deceived by false assertions or glib intelligence, by those who would excuse or promote sinful actions, by those who simply do not know; and above all, help me not to deceive myself. Guide me away from excuses and rationalizations when I have sinned, but into your holy truth, that I might know my sin, and correct what I can, and ask forgiveness for what I cannot. By the grace and mercy of holy Christ, I ask this,
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions today, and always.
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 4:1-3, 8 (NKJV)
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood?
But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The Lord will hear when I call to Him.
* * *
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
John 1:32-34 (ESV)
The Holy Spirit Descends on Christ
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Notes on the Scripture
As we saw in the Christmas verses, the parents of John the Baptist knew that he was to be a special person. Elizabeth, his mother, was visited by an angel who announced the pregnancy to her and informed her of the child's special purpose. In today's scripture, we learn that John himself has some sort of first-hand knowledge; God has spoken to him. This revelation is not described in the Bible, but John says that he has received instructions and knowledge from God first-hand. It is, indeed, the only way he could know about his mission.
Although John has baptized many people with water by now, his mission is not simply to baptize Jews in a river. It is the means by which God has promised to reveal the identity of his son, the Christ. So when John baptizes Jesus and actually sees the Holy Spirit descend upon him, he knows that Jesus is the Christ for whom he has been waiting.
The passage doesn't say that the Holy Spirit took the actual form of a dove; there is a difference of opinion about this, although most of the iconography shows a white dove just above Jesus' head. It is certainly possible, from this passage, that a soft white ball of light descended, for instance, and a dove was the closest John could come to describing what it looked like. Or, it could have taken the actual form of a dove. It doesn't make any difference.
The choice of a dove to describe the Holy Spirit, however, is important no matter whether it is literal or figurative. When Julius Caesar was vying for political power, he was empowered by the appearance of an eagle. It is the greatest and most powerful bird of prey, and it was the very symbol of military might carried on Roman standards. A dove, by contrast, is the most peaceful of birds. It is preyed upon by falcons and eagles. It harms nobody. Its song is a soft and comforting cooing sound. It is beautiful, a symbol of love throughout the ages, and represents peace.
So the dove presages the great surprise that will characterize Jesus' life and ministry. The savior of the Jews does not come with a sword to kill the enemies of Israel, but carrying a cross that he will be killed upon, to defeat the real enemy of all humanity. He will not come on the wings of an eagle, fierce and mighty, but on the wings of a dove, vulnerable and loving. He will not bring death; he will defeat death.