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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Daily Devotion for October 6, 2014


<i>The Idolatry of King Solomon</i> by Giovanni Venanzi di Pesaro, ca. 1680.
The Idolatry of King Solomon by Giovanni Venanzi di Pesaro, ca. 1680.

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord's Prayer

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.

Amen.



To Be With God Today

Oh Father God who made me, open my eyes that I may see your hand in all of your works this day and most especially in those you have made in your image. Oh Lord Christ, open my heart that I may see your holy presence surrounding me; blanket me in an impenetrable luminous cloud of godly love. Oh Holy Spirit, let me hear your voice like the uninterrupted roar of a great waterfall that cannot be silenced and cannot be stopped and cannot be overcome by any temptation of flesh.

Draw my heart back to your love the instant I begin to hate. If I am proud, drown my pride in your glory. Teach me to be careful in nothing when it comes to you, Holy God, and let me know and shine forth the truth: that all things are possible in Your Son, Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

For Effort

The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me the grace to labor for.

Amen.

Prayer to Treat Others with Courage and Grace

Lord, this day and forever, may I have the courage never to be afraid of anyone. May I have the generosity to bear ill-feeling toward no-one. Lead me to live in such a way as to treat others in the same way as I would like to be treated. Inspire me never to be violent in thought, word or action, and lead me to conquer evil with goodness.

Amen.

Meditation

[The conquest of evil by love.]


Benediction

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


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.



<i>Adam and Eve</i> by Luther Cranach, the Elder, ca. 1520.
Adam and Eve by Luther Cranach, the Elder, ca. 1520. Cranach did at least ten drafts of this wonderful Renaissance portrayal. It misstates Eve's wickedness and Adam's innocence, to the point of misogyny, but does so rather wonderfully. Look at the full-size painting, and notice Eve's sinister smile and Adam's puzzlement. The serpent looks at Eve as if they are in cahoots. Also, Eve’s left hand on the tree adopts an ancient Rosicrucian symbol for “as above, so below”: the left hand raised to receive spiritual understanding, and the right hand lowered to transmit spiritual understanding into worldly action.

Blue Latin Cross

Tobit 9, 10:1-7 (MB)

Raphael Goes to Rages

On the first morning of the feast, Tobias spoke to Raphael (whom he thought to be a man) and said, “Brother Azarias, I am hardly worthy to be your servant, much less request your service. But I implore you, take two camels and go to Rages to find Gabael. Give him the handwritten note my father sent with me so that he will turn over my father's money to you; and ask him to come to the wedding celebration. For my father counts the days, and if I am gone much longer, he will begin to grieve. I cannot leave, because I swore to Raguel to remain for fourteen days.”

So Raphael took two camels and, with four servants, and journeyed to Rages, a city of the Medes. There he found Gabael and told him all that had happened. When Gabael had heard him out, and seen the note, he brought out bags of coin, sealed up, and turned them over to Raphael. And early the next morning he joined Raphael to travel to the house of Gabael.

When they arrived, Tobias was reclining at the table but jumped up when he saw Raguel; and they kissed each other. Gabael, for his part, wept to see his cousin's son, and said:

“May the God of Israel bless you, for you are the son of a man who is noble and just, fearing God, ever ready to give alms. And may He bless your wife and parents. And may you see your sons, and the sons of your sons, even to the third and fourth generation. And may they be blessed by the God of Israel, who reigns forever and ever.”

In the meantime, Tobit had counted every day, and began to worry. “Have they been detained,” he wondered; “Perhaps Gabael is dead, and nobody will give him the money.”

Anna was even more worried. “My son is dead,” she wailed. “Woe, woe to me, O my son. Why did we send you to journey far away, you, the light of our eyes, the staff of our old age, the solace of our life, the hope of our posterity? You were everything to us and we should never have let you depart.”

They argued every day. Tobit thought Tobias was delayed. But Anna would scold him and wail, “Stop trying to deceive me; my son is dead.” And she would go to watch the road, refusing to eat.


Notes on the Scripture

T

hese verses are straightforward narrative. Tobias does all he can to shorten his journey and thus minimize his parents' worry. He sends Raphael to Rages, to get the money, so that when the fourteen days of the wedding feast are ended, he can go straight back home. But Tobit and Edna have no idea that he has been married; they only know he has not returned.

The reactions of Tobit and Edna show keen insight into human psychology. People tend to make predictions based, in part, on a need to affirm their preconceptions, even if they have little factual basis. (And in fact, even in the face of contrary evidence, people can refuse to change their mind if the truth conflicts with their self-protection mechanism; in psychological terminology, this is a type of “cognitive dissonance”.)

Tobit, who was responsible for sending Tobias after the money, has a vested psychological interest in his plan's success; he therefore predicts reasons that would result in Tobias' delay. Edna, who didn't want him to go, believes Tobias is late because he has been killed, because she has argued all along that the journey was too dangerous. Their reactions are based entirely on their arguments; they have no facts.

We also get an insight into the life of a faithful religious cadre living in a hostile pagan society. In Solomon's Empire, being a faithful Hebrew worshipper of Yahweh was the norm. But from the day Solomon died until the days of Tobit, believing in God increasingly put believers at odds with the world. The degree to which God's saints might live and worship in peace and harmony with society has varied greatly from place to place and time to time ever since. Today, Christians in the West certainly face a less friendly environment than when I was a child.

Solomon might thus be seen, in retrospect, as another Adam; it was his sin that doomed the old covenant. (1 Kings 11:11-12) We might even extend the analogy to the root of his sin, for it involved both his foreign wives, who led him into sin, and his love of wisdom. Solomon's wisdom is legendary; he is often called the wisest man who ever lived. Yet his wisdom was inadequate to save either Solomon himself or the nation he ruled. Looking back to Adam, the inadequacy of wisdom as a vehicle of righteousness before God is even more pronounced. Remember what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate, that led to their expulsion from Eden:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was . . . desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. (Gen. 3:6)

God calls us to Him by our obedience; if we try to find Him by reliance on wisdom, we fail; it is, in essence, the original sin, repeated by Solomon.

Obedience and faith are so closely tied that they are nearly synonymous, as regards as the proper attitude of humanity towards God; and this is what we see in Tobit. Think of Noah. Like Tobit, he lived in a time where there was no express covenant of God; in Noah's case, before Abraham (and long before Moses). But Noah lived with faith and hope even after the fall of Adam, and was delivered, just as Tobit and Gabael live after the fall of Jerusalem, fearing God and never ceasing to trust that He will deliver them.



endless knot

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“The Promise of Heaven”

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Matthew 28:20-22: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.


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