Daily Devotion for April 11, 2014
Here, Giotto represents the mystic marriage of St. Francis with Poverty. Hope and Love are the bridesmaids, angels are the witnesses, and Christ himself blesses the union. The bride’s garments are patched, ragged and torn by brambles, children throw stones at her and mock her, and St. Francis looks with love upon his bride.
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.
Song of Praise (based on Psalm 8)
O Lord my God, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, who am I that you are mindful of me, who are any of us that you should guide and protect us?
Yet you have made us in your image, a little lower than the angels, and crowned us with glory and honor we do not deserve. You have given us dominion over the works of your hands and put the earth beneath our feet; you have given us dominion over the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea. O Lord my God, I praise you for your gifts to me. How majestic is your name in all the earth!
For Strength of Faith
Heavenly Father, every life has its trials, and I have my share. Help me to see the challenges of life as opportunities to test my sincere and single-minded faith and to grow, and endure, and persist despite obstacles in my path. For people who have it easy in life develop no strength. As you have told us, the flower of wealth and fame is short-lived, for the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers it, and its petals fall, and its beauty is gone.
Give me confidence and strength in my faith, Lord, for the reward you give to your faithful is true joy and will never fade, but will remain when all flesh has been corrupted and all the things of earth have faded. Let me hold strong and steadfast through every trial and every temptation. All praise and glory to you, mighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Make your home with me today and every day of my life; be with me in all I do.
Finally, may I go forth filled with the joy and confidence of your Spirit; and may everything I do this day, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
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.
God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the devil — for the devil is cold — let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance.
~ (St.) Seraphim of Sarov, Russian monk and mystic (@ 1800)
Matthew 25:34-46 (ESV)
The Final Judgment 
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Notes on the Scripture
The doctrine of “justification by faith” does not absolve us from the obligation to do Christ's work in this world. Anyone who thinks it does needs to read this passage until it sinks in. Let us each ask ourselves this question: How much time did I spend during the past week feeding people who were starving? Clothing people who were “naked”? Visiting the sick? Visiting people in prison?
And are we to think that when we visit a sick relative or friend in the hospital, this will satisfy Christ? If so, we need to turn our Bible back 20 chapters and refresh our memories:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Helping and visiting sick and troubled friends is surely a good and Christian thing, but Christ expects more from us, for even the “tax collectors” do that. Doing charity work is a pain in the neck, and there is little (or no) earthly recompense for it. But Christ loves it when we help the needful stranger, especially when it is personal. And we are assured, that when we put ourselves out to give service to the unfortunate, it is Christ Himself we are serving, for He has told us exactly that.