Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Today’s text

From a biblical commentary by Saint Ephrem (deacon, 306-373)

About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments. He has kept these things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savor; it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations await him eagerly.


Just so, yearning, not satisfaction, remains the larger part of our lives.

We are always oriented and drawn to something more, hoping that the goodness we have known is but a part, a sample of what will be. We also yearn that the injustice and suffering, which is part of every time and every life, will pass away like a bad dream in the dawning light of our Lord’s eternal morning.

St. Paul counseled that it is a holy and good thing to be content with what the possessions and wealth one has. But contentment with what we have known and experienced of Christ is a sickness unto death. It invites a sleepy lethargy, pathetic apathy, depression and timidity.

To be content with what we know and feel of Christ turns us from the grace he is eager to share. We no longer meet each day, no, each new moment and encounter with the hope that the face of the person before us may turn transparent to that Love who seeks our hearts. It deadens the mind to the possibility that we might glimpse signs of the kingdom of God’s peace breaking into our daily routines, stirring our hearts to gratitude for the One who is ever at hand, always near.

To be content with such fragments of Christ’s reign, as we now experience on earth, turns us from the plight of the poor and those who suffer injustice. It makes us content with the status quo so that we become a friend of death, no longer challenging the powers and injustices that feed poverty and starvation while protecting the rich, not to mention our comfortable lifestyles.

The suffering of this age and every death we see should stir us to pray, ‘Come Lord Jesus,’ moving also to watch and not lose heart. For Christ promises to come, and we should be eager for his appearance. We have seen and felt the pains he has promised to erase, when he comes to make all things new and wipe every tear from our eyes.

We are eager for his appearance not only because of our own and the world’s pains, but because we have seen the graciousness of his love in our brother, Jesus.

We have witnessed his coming in a thousand ways and places, a thousand days and faces where the One who is Love shows his beauty and awakens the same gracious loveliness within our hearts that it may flow from our hands and our words.

All this should well move us to be eager for Christ’s every appearance, looking for him in all the places of our lives. For he who is … is pleased to come to you.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today’s text

From a sermon by Saint Bernard (abbot, 1090-1153)

Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength. If you keep the world of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son and the Father will come to you.


Come to us, O Lord and set us free from bondage to our fears and sorrows, our selfish sins and worried souls, anxious for the future. Come to us and remove every impediment that prevents our entry into the heaven of your nearness, the presence that sets our hearts to soar.

There are three comings of our Lord, Saint Bernard tells us. Two are visible, one is not. The first is the appearance of a child in Mary’s arms, come to win our hearts with the humble courtesy of God. Our Lord comes not to overwhelm but to awaken love in us. The Immortal and Incomprehensible One puts all that aside to touch our flesh with divine gentleness.

In the final appearance, our Lord will come in glory to lift every valley and make low every mountain, to raise up the downtrodden and judge the proud and indifferent, and make all things new. All will reflect God’s glory, and we shall see it. Not like now, when we see … but so dimly, as if through dirty lenses, and so occasionally as if God’s glory was not visible in all God has made.

These two comings of God are visible, but in between is a silent and hidden appearance as God comes to our souls and lives there, seeping through the pores of our being to reveal the Love that God is, however obscured by our faults and failings.

This coming of our Lord is a path, a way that we walk. Each day is an invitation to enter again the goodness of the One who is all goodness, to taste the Love of the One who is all Love, to witness the beauty of the One is all beauty. Each morning is an invitation to draw the breath of earth into our lungs and know every breath as the hunger of God to give us life as a holy and irreplaceable gift.

So I come again, O Lord, to the start of the day. I come seeking to hear and be blessed by your word, hungry to see, no, to feel the Love that is the boundless source of every love and all life, so that you may live and have greater place in me.

I have no idea how this happens. I cannot describe the way it occurs. I only know that when I listen to you, when I read the words you speak through prophets and saints and in the stories how you came to us in the gentle flesh of Jesus, when I do this I find a life of gentleness and grace that takes larger place in me.

And in this I know you, and I know that although I keep your word … it is you who are keeping me.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today’s text

From a pastoral letter by Saint Charles Borromeo (bishop, 1538-1584)

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts.


It has taken years to know the longing in my heart as a longing that is not my own.

I hear the words and songs of the Advent season. Isaiah, in particular, moves me. He speaks of deep and universal longings for a world made whole and for souls healed by the restoring love the One who is Love and most lovable of all.

The prophet writes that the Lord shall judge among the nations, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. One nation will no longer raise the sword against their neighbors, nor shall they learn war again (Isaiah 2:4-5).

The words stir the heart, awakening longing to be the peace God brings, so that every interaction of my life becomes a moment for offering the peace and gentleness of God in Christ to every soul I meet, whether on the phone, in the coffee shop, at the hospital bed.

I hunger for my whole bearing to be peace, the peace of God, the peace of heaven, the peace that fills the heart when one knows all is well, all is wrapped in the embrace of God, the Father.

Peace comes in quietness when the rush of the daily world fades, and we can hear the voice our heart. We feel our wounds, our hunger for healing, listening also to the longings that reside within us for a life beyond the life we are living, a life more beautiful and good, more graced and gracing, a life in which we are ruled more by joy and hope than disappointment and criticism.

Such longing is stirred when we hear the words of those, like the prophet Isaiah, whose souls have heard the Voice of the Eternal One in their own heart … and spoken what they have heard.

But we miss the point if we think the longings within us for peace, for love, for rising to a new kind of life are our own creation. They are the presence of God, the reality of Christ again taking on flesh within our flesh to make us the peace of God, the blessing of God, the presence of God in our time and place, wherever we are.

For God is not pleased to take on human flesh only once, in a manger, the child of peasants, in a time far distant from our own. Christ is born a million times and more in every heart where inner longing becomes words of peace and acts of mercy in a world that needs this most of all.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today’s text

From On the Contemplation of God by William of Saint Thierry (monk and abbot, 1075?--1153)

O Lord, salvation is your gift and your blessing is upon your people; what else is your salvation but receiving from you the gift of loving you or being loved by you?


It is the gift of loving that I find most freeing, dear Friend. But I cannot separate this gift from the gift of knowing your boundless love. These are one gift, not two, two experiences of the same reality.

There are moments in which I feel the world loved, totally, fully, completely--and me in and with it. Creation shines more beautiful and graced than any words can say, as I feel Your immensity embracing me and all that is.

Immediately, my soul flies open. A river of grace breaks loose in my heart, and my greatest joy is pouring that love into another life, onto another soul.

A flood of generosity fills me and flows from my smile, bursting free from a Source so deep in my soul that it is no longer my own soul, but yours. It flows in abundance from a dark and hidden place I cannot see, the place where my heart and your divine heart are one and the same.

This is salvation.

This word seldom crosses my lips, even in sermons. It’s so worn and weak it awakens no great thoughts or deep emotions in common conversation. I avoid it because it has no meaning for so many, no connection with felt experience.

But the experience of knowing great love and loving greatly, about this I cannot say enough. I crave this experience, for when I am in the midst of knowing the immensity of your love I become the Love you are. I am most human, most alive,

That is why I cling to certain stories of your ministry, Jesus. A leper kneels at your feet and says, “If you want to, you can make me whole.”

“I want to,” you say, as you reach to touch him.

And seeing this I fall in love with the Love you are. Love fills me again, freeing me every prejudgment and negative thought I have, thoughts about myself and even about those who hurt or dismiss me. Such thoughts cannot exist in the presence of Love.

The experience is fleeting, of course, but while it lasts I am free to be the person that hides so deeply within. I am free from wounds, anger and hatreds. I become your generosity, Holy One, knowing the Love you are in the Love that flows from my eyes, my face, my hands, my arms, my smile, my words.

And I know what salvation is: knowing You, knowing you as Love within my own heart and mind. It brings a sudden transformation into the image of God that I am, the image of the One who loves and always will.

This is salvation. One day I will enter its fullness. For now, I will allow whatever beauty and grace I know to awaken in me you, who are Love.

And I will look again and again into the face of Jesus, whose words and touch reveal your divine heart. He comes bearing a salvation we can feel in our flesh, a salvation that reveals who I am … and who You are.

Pr. David L. Miller