Daily Devotion for October 15, 2021
This fantasy, reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch, shows a comparatively tame scene of St. Anthony and a local woman, on the right, creating a tempestuous struggle within his mind, on the left.
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.
The sublime Ave, Ave, Verum Corpus by Mozart. Sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
(Note: Composers frequently repeat, omit, or put phrases out of order.)
Ave, verum corpus
Cujus latus perforatum
O Iesu dulcis,
Make Me Your Servant
O Lord, we come this morning
Knee-bowed and body-bent
Before Thy throne of grace.
O Lord—this morning—
Bow our hearts beneath our knees,
And our knees in some lonesome valley.
We come this morning—
Like empty pitchers to a full fountain,
With no merits of our own.
And now, O Lord, this child of God,
Who breaks the bread of life this morning—
Shadow me in the hollow of Thy hand,
And keep me out of the gunshot of the devil.
Take me, Lord—this morning—
Wash me with hyssop inside and out,
Hang me up and drain me dry of sin.
Pin my ear to the wisdom-post,
And make my words sledge hammers of truth—
Beating on the iron heart of sin.
Lord God, this morning—
Put my eye to the telescope of eternity,
And let me look upon the paper walls of time.
Lord, turpentine my imagination,
Put perpetual motion in my arms,
Fill me full of the dynamite of Thy power,
Anoint me all over with the oil of Thy salvation,
And set my tongue on fire.
Epitaph of Winifred Holtby
God give me work
Till my life shall end
Till my work is done.
“Trouble always comes whenever we begin to take credit for any of the gifts of the Spirit, be they gifts of prayer, tongues, prophecy, art, science. . . . Modern medicine suffers, despite all its advances, because it has almost completely forgotten that healing is a gift as well as a science.”
~ Madeleine L'Engle
Oh Lord as I face creation
Let me see with eyes made clear
By Your promise of salvation,
Never to return to fear.
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 25:1-10 (ESV)
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)
Sermon on the Mount - Lust in Your Heart
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ”
Notes on the Scripture
As we discussed previously, this section of Matthew is informed by Jesus’ frightening statement, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” He actually has not abolished the law of Moses; He is making it tougher. So tough, in fact, that people will eventually realize that compliance with it is impossible.
The specific illustration of feeding sexual lust by intentionally looking at another person hits a stronger chord with men than women, simply because of human biology. But women can draw their own analogies; and also, it applies to men in situations other than sexual lust. Who has not gone out of their way to tease themselves with temptation? We do it on purpose; we feed our own desire to sin.
Where we purposefully form a sinful desire, even if we restrain ourselves, a sin is committed. Emphasis on inner sinfulness and the necessity of reforming our hearts, rather than simply our actions (as the scribes and Pharisees did), is the key to Christ’s early teachings.
One important problem in interpreting these verses is solved by the excellent English Standard Version’s translation, “who looks at a woman with lustful intent.” Less accurate translations, with more ambiguous phrasing such as “lust in our hearts”, can be misleading. To sin, we must do something on purpose. We do not sin by an inadvertent stimulation of desire.
So a man who buys a Playboy magazine, or goes to a strip club, or goes to a pool hoping to ogle women in their bikinis, transgresses Christ’s teaching. But simply seeing an attractive person and feeling an automatic pang of sexual longing does not. The difference is between seeing and looking. God gave us our sex drive, just as He gave us our hunger for food and our desire to clothe ourselves. If we are overweight and trying to diet, we shouldn’t go to a bakery to smell the cupcakes!
If we extend the lesson to other sins by analogy — as I believe is intended — we see that we sin more often than we might realize. Do we read through a clothing catalogue because we need new clothes, or do we browse it in order to inflame our covetousness and vanity? When we get a big check, or if we have a good investment, do we go look at it as a matter of prudence, or do we seek to stroke our avarice? And pride is the worst, for everyone I have ever met spends enormous time “feeding their ego.” Why is that award hanging on my wall?
This is the lesson Christ brings to us in today’s Scripture: We sin more than we think, because our sin is in our heart. Luckily, He wants us to see our sin, not to judge us or make us judge ourselves, but to forgive us and allow us to know our forgiveness.