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Daily Devotion for May 13, 2022


<i>Jonah and the Whale</i> by Albert Herbert ca. 1987.
Jonah and the Whale, by Albert Herbert, ca. 1987.
Herbert was a British post-modernist who adopted an untutored style. Jonah was a favorite of his, the subject of dozens of very different treatments.

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.

Verdi’s beautiful, lush Ave Maria (from Otello) is not often performed. Sung here by Sonya Yoncheva, at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.




Prayer for the Work of This Day

Almighty God, thank you for the work my hand may find this day. May I find gladness in all its toil and difficulty, its pleasure and success, and even in its failure and sorrow. I would look always away from myself, and behold the glory and the need of the world, that I may have the will and the strength to bring the gift of gladness to others; that with them I stand to bear the burden and heat of the day and offer you my work, as well as I may accomplish it, in your praise.

Amen.

Prayer for the Rich and Famous

Heavenly Father, I pray especially today for those who have great wealth, for those who hold great power; for the rich, the famous, the beautiful, the talented, the intelligent: for all who have been given an unusual abundance of earthly gifts and enjoy the accolades of their fellow man. Guide them in the use of their gifts, O Lord, but especially, have mercy on them, for with great blessings come great temptation to pride.

Guardian angel by Murillo

I pray especially for those who are so blinded by earthly gifts that they deny Your name, or if they believe, are blinded to their sin by their earthly glory and cannot find their way to the light. Grant them the blessing of your Holy Spirit, and lead them to salvation. Let me always forgive them when their pride or privilege irritates my own pride; give me understanding and not judgment; lead me to love them as you have taught us to love all men. For judgment is yours alone, and they deserve your mercy no less than I.

In Christ’s name, I pray,

Amen.

Meditation

“Never dwell on the tomorrow; remember, that it is God’s and not ours.”

~ E. B. Pusey


Dedication

Holy God, I pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit for the rest of this day. Let me go forth, walking with your Spirit in my heart, that I may be filled with the joy and energy and praise for your entire creation, thankful in the many gifts you have given me, and showing forth your light in my every word and deed. This I pray in Christ’s name,

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>Madonna and Child</i> by Carlo Crivelli, ca. 1480.
Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli, ca. 1480.

Psalm 34:15-18 (NKJV)

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.


Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 16:1-4 (ESV)

The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

nd the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.


Notes on the Scripture

The word “sign” sometimes has a narrow and special significance in the New Testament, or in literature commenting on the life of Christ; but it is also used in a more general sense — just think of the expression, “it’s a sign from God,” to understand the general meaning. The distinction between the two meanings is subtle and must be gleaned from the context.

God talks to Amos on a wall
God speaks to Amos

In its more general sense, sign has a number of synonyms, such as “miracle”, “wonder”, or “work”. It is a generic term for an unnatural occurrence, intentionally created by God, to convey a message of divine intention to humanity. Usually signs are generated solely by God’s will; almost never will God give a sign at the request of a person. There are occasional exceptions, though; one that comes immediately to mind is Gideon, who asked God for signs and was given them, repeatedly. (Judges 6)

Christ, in particular, refused to prove his divinity by performing tricks on request, especially requests from the skeptical. He did not use miracles to attract followers. (Non-believers would often witness these, however, and broadcast them as miracles.) But he did use signs — and this is the narrow usage mentioned above — as teaching tools or rewards for those who believed in him, to help develop their faith, perhaps, to guide them in their gradual realization of everything that He was and stood for. The Gospel of John, in particular, focuses on Christ’s miracles as signs.

Moreover, He would fairly often perform a miraculous healing on request; but notice, these were never requests for him to prove his divinity. They were pleas from men and women of faith, who believed He could and would heal them or a loved one desperately ill.

Illuminated capital “S” showing Jonah.
An 11th century illuminated “S”
showing Jonah.

In today’s reading, the inimical Pharisees are joined by the even more inimical Sadducees, who would have come from Jerusalem to investigate a potential religious crime. Remember, the Sadducees and Pharisees were themselves deadly enemies, and their joint demand of Jesus was a case of politics making strange bedfellows.

Not only do they ask Christ to perform a miracle simply to prove his divinity; they challenge him to do so. This behavior will continue without end; when Christ was hanging on the cross, mockers challenged him to save himself by his divine power. (One could say that such challenges continue to this very day.)

The meaning of the “sign of Jonah” metaphor should be clear to Christians, for Jesus will (like Jonah) have his body swallowed by death for three days and then return. It is, Christ says, the one sign meant for all mankind, believer and unbeliever alike. But here is the essential truth of miracles as signs: even if an unbeliever witnesses a great miracle, he will still not believe, but will find some sort of rationalization to reject it. Thus, more than one sign is superfluous.

Those who profess belief in Christ often become confused about this, and it leads to ridiculous results, as with the Shroud of Turin, or someone finding an image of Jesus — as if anyone knows what He looked like — in a pumpkin or grilled cheese sandwich. Paul lambastes such expectations in 1 Corinthians 1. More specifically, though, Christ himself tells us that we should expect one and only one miracle, as sufficient to prove his divinity and his power for all time: the Resurrection.



endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.



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Mike(Eagle, Wisconsin, US)says...

Today's image of Madonna and the Christ child is stunningly colorful and beautiful.

Daily Quiz

Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for May 13, 2022 were:
Norman Daniels (12)
randall martin (12)
Pam Carpenter (11)
CHARLES CLOWES (11)
Gary Swart (11)
Tom Kraft (11)
Visitor Burke (11)
Felix Trim (11)

Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Keith Langley (9 out of 9)
Pam Carpenter (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
Greg Flippin (9 out of 9)
randall martin (9 out of 9)

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