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Daily Devotion for October 4, 2013

<i>Prudence</i>,  glazed terracotta, ca. 1470, by the extraordinary Andrea della Robbia,
Prudence, glazed terracotta, ca. 1470, by the extraordinary Andrea della Robbia, who revolutionized vitreous enamel. Eve (with Adam’s face behind her own) appears to be having second thoughts.



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lessons and scripture

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.


There simply is nothing more haunting and beautiful than this Quando Corpus Morietur from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Performed here by Margaret Marshall, Soprano and Lucia Valentini Terrani, Contralto, with Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony.

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.


For God’s Holy Church

Father of mercy, your love embraces everyone, and through the Resurrection of your Son you call me and all the members of your church into your wonderful light. Dispel our darkness and make us a people with one heart and one voice, forever singing your praise, in Jesus, the Christ, our Lord.


Blessing of Mark

O Sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, and your love unto us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.


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.

Matthew 9:15, fast and fasting, bridegroom.

Psalm 69:16-18 (NIV)

Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.

Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.

Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 9:14-17 (ESV)

The Question of Fasting [1]

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast [often], but your disciples do not fast?”

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Notes on the Scripture

Two notes on the text/translation itself: First, it is not clear whether Jesus and his disciples did not fast at all, or whether they simply did not follow the extensive schedule of fasts decreed by Jewish ritual. We do know, however, that Jesus himself underwent an extraordinary starvation fast at the beginning of his ministry, from our reading of Matthew 4.

Secondly, “wedding guests” is a paraphrase or “dynamic equivalent” of the original Greek, rather than a literal correct translation. (This is done fairly often in Bibles, when an ancient term would make no sense to a modern reader.) The actual term, “children of the bridechamber”, refers to Jewish marriage customs of the time.

Instead of a honeymoon in Jamaica or Hawaii, a newly married couple in ancient Israel would stay at home for a week. During this time, their good friends and family would visit frequently, bringing gifts; it was a rolling party of joyful celebration, during which the couple would be treated royally — in fact, they were addressed as “king” and “queen”. The people who visited them were called “children of the bridechamber”.

Jesus knew he was only on earth for a short time. He knew that, soon enough, the day would come when his disciples would mourn; even after his resurrection, they would miss his physical presence. (In this regard, see John 14:25-27, when Christ promises that the Father will send a Spirit to comfort the disciples after he has ascended.)

It is right and good to celebrate when times are happy; we do not mourn simply because we will die some day. The nature of physical life is ephemeralEphemeral: Lasting for only a short time; transitory; short-lived.. Should we be like the grim Greek philosopher Epictetus, who said, “When you are kissing your child, say to yourself, ‘One day you will die.’”?

Christ gives us a lesson in life as well as religion. We are to take our lives, filled though they may be with trouble and affliction, as a time of joy. For we live in hope of eternal life; and we are especially grateful to have a period on earth, to help and serve others and to live and spread God's word, that we might save ourselves and others.

We have said that Matthew 9 concentrates on the beginnings of opposition to Christ, and today's passage hardly needs explanation in that regard. In the first two section, he was accused of blasphemy and immorality. Here, he and his disciples are accused of impiety.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Proverbs 4:18-19: The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

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