A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 12:32-48
"Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." The Gospel of the Lord
+Prayer Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may be holy, draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love what is holy Amen
"Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." Do you hear the Word? "Do not be afraid"..."your Father is pleased", He is pleased.... "to give you the kingdom." These words are so powerful they stop me. Think back when you were afraid as a child, what did fear 'do to you?" I can recall one strong sentiment in moments of genuine fear; " paralysis." Fear seemed to affect my speech, my actions, reactions and my ability to use simple logic and reasoning, In other words, I wasn't "myself." The Lord wants us fully 'ourself.' I remember one night, I had a bad asthma attack and my Dad came into my room late at night, on his night-shift duty (he was a police officer). He stooped down and with his bushy eyebrows, looked hard into my face and kissed me and said tenderly; "Don't be afraid honey, I'm taking you in." In my 5 yr old mind, I had no idea what it meant to be "taken in", all I knew was, Dad was the gift in the moment. Anything he said to me, anything he did with me, was the best. I trusted him totally. Fear can 'arrest' our hearts, to the point of 'paralysis,' Jesus came to set prisoners free, make the blind see and the deaf hear and lame walk. Our Father in heaven does not want us lame, unable to move, living a life of 'paralysis'. He is both the giver of the gift and the gift. "Do not be afraid any longer your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." Do you believe his spoken word to you? Do you believe these words: "your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." This is a very tender dialogue, and a humbling one too; to call a group of grown men who are rough around the edges, a "little flock." Using the diminutive to describe them, is both a term of endearment and a reality check for them. Why did Jesus speak these words right after telling us not to be afraid? Perhaps because to receive anything further even if He tells us it is the greatest gift we could ever receive, we need to Trust the giver. How can one receive anything, if one is suspicious of the giver and therefore, suspicious of the gift. The temptation is to toss it aside. It reminds me a quote from St. John Chrysostom that was just in the Divine Office this past week, it is very beautiful: "For those who are loved enter fearlessly the heart of the Beloved (the one who loves them tenderly) " Do you believe in the Father's Mercy and Love? Do you believe His spoken Word to you? Do you walk with the Lord right now, in fear? or in peace? Where in your life, do you feel His Providence cannot reach?
Lord increase our faith and teach us to pray, for to pray is to love you, and I want to love you. Amen
(The following piece is being added this time, because it is simply beautiful and the fruit of prayer of one of our Diocesan priests, he just shared this with me. With his permission and with the understanding I keep his confidence, I share this with you, it is such a beautiful image of the Father)
"An image came to me in prayer while I thought I was being distracted... apparently not my mind jumped to the very vivid memories I have of sitting on Dad’s lap as a kid while he told me stories. I remember curling up, squeezing against him, and laying my head on his chest. I loved pressing my ear into him as hard as I could and listening to the beating of his heart so steady and strong. What I loved most of all, though, was his deep voice and the way it resonated in his chest. I could have sat there for hours curled against Dad; warm, cozy, listening to his heartbeat and, most of all, his voice. When he would stop speaking I always found myself wanting more. I didn’t want him to stop because the resonance of his voice was my favorite part. I would press my ear harder into his chest hoping to hear more. When he was done, I’d still just sit and listen to his heart beating steadily. Then it dawned on me that this is precisely what I do in prayer and, in a particular way, in adoration. I sit like a kid on the lap of my Heavenly Father while He speaks to me. I curl up, squeeze against Him, and lay my head on His chest just like John at the Last Supper. As I sit in adoration or spend time in prayer I am pressing my ear into Him as hard as I can and listening to the beating of His heart so steady and strong. What I love most of all, though, is His voice with limitless depth and the way it resonates when He speaks to me. Sometimes, just like Dad, He tells me stories in the form of parables. Other times He speaks more directly to me by guiding my prayer. When He seems to stop speaking, I find myself wanting more. I don’t want Him to stop because the resonance of His voice is my favorite part. I press my ear harder into Him and hope to hear more. When He seems to be done, I can still sit and listen to His heart beating steadily. This is the steadiness of simply being in His presence. It’s funny, I never realized that Dad taught me how to pray. I knew I had learned so much of what I know and believe from him but I didn’t think that included my prayer life. Even if it was an indirect form of teaching, I learned how to approach and be in the presence of my Heavenly Father from being in the presence of my earthly father. I’ve come to understand the Father’s love for me through my understanding of my earthly father’s love for me."