Daily Devotion for February 21, 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.
Rachmaninoff Vespers, 3 - Blessed is the Man (Psalm 1): “Blessed be the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Morning Prayer (George Washington)
O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I, your unworthy creation and servant, once more approach your presence. Though not worthy to appear before you, because of the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against your divine majesty; yet I pray you, for the sake of him in whom you are well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to let me give you thanks and praise for your many and varied mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest and repose of the past night, for food, clothing, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of your dear son's bitter passion.
And O kind Father, continue your mercy and favor to me this day, and always; give resolution to all my lawful undertakings; let me have all my directions from your Holy Spirit; and success from your bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of your light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding your blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform your will in all things, and effectively resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Preserve and defend our rulers in church and state. Bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick. Let your blessings guide me and all of us, this day and forever, through Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray.
[Let us close our eyes for a minute and meditate on performing God’s will in all things.]
Prayer of St. Jerome
Lord, thou hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path; grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching, that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Resolve
I bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.
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.
“The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.”
~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Matthew 20:17-19 (ESV)
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection for the Third Time
And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Notes on the Scripture
How hard the people witnessing Jesus' miracles — even the twelve apostles — found it to accept his teachings. None of them fully appreciated Christ's nature until he was ascended and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Take, for example, his entry to Jerusalem, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday. He rode a young donkey which, among other things, fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 1:8 — “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!”
John (but not Matthew) informs us, “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” (John 12:12-16; compare this to Matthew 21:1-11)
They just didn't get it. They were shocked when Jesus' tomb was found empty and they did not believe he had risen. (Mark 16:11) Thomas famously would not believe his own eyes and ears; he simply could not believe the resurrected Jesus was standing in front of him, until he put his finger in Christ's wound.
This helps us to understand why we, ourselves, sometimes find it so difficult to conform ourselves to Christ's commandments. Both our nature and our experience fight our spirit throughout our lives.
It seems to be this last problem that plagued the disciples. They appear to have disentangled themselves from the world successfully, and they seem sober-minded and focused. But they sometimes seem downright doltish. In today's Scripture, they seem to finally begin to accept, grudgingly, that Jesus will die in Jerusalem; and yet, they still do not really believe he will be resurrected, even after they have seen him repeatedly raise others from the dead.
The concept of entanglement is itself perplexing. Why do we, in our most productive years, insist on spending our time and energy pursuing a goal that will leave us unsatisfied? C. S. Lewis tells us, in his sermon the The Weight of Glory, that God put something within us that cannot be found in earthly life. Trying to find real fulfillment in the world is neither possible nor advisable. And yet, almost everyone seems to spend his most productive years doing exactly that.
But the apostles' big hurdle, and something we all understand, is that once we learn something, trying to learn that it is not true can be nearly impossible, even if we are presented with insurmountable evidence. But you can teach an old dog new tricks, if the dog has a willing attitude; and this is an attitude that any Christian should keep until the day he dies. Openness, a sense of wonderment, and a constant hunger for growth prevent us from ever becoming stale and self-satisfied in our faith.