Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
-St. John of Damascus (676-749)
Friday, April 22, 2011
Now we have found the compassion of God which appeared lost to you when we were considering God's holiness and man's sin; we have found it, I say, so great and so consistent with his holiness, as to be incomparably above anything that can be conceived. For what compassion can excel these words of the Father, addressed to the sinner doomed to eternal torments and having noway of escape: "Take my only begotten Son and make him an offering for yourself;" or these words of the Son: "Take me, and ransom your souls." For these are the voices they utter, when inviting and leading us to faith in the Gospel. Or can anything be more just than for him to remit all debt since he has earned a reward greater than all debt, if given with the love which he deserves.-St. Anselm of Canterbury(1033-1109) from his Cur Deus Homo
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Lord Jesus Christ, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, I bless and thank you for the sorrowful beginning of your most bitter Passion, for your extreme sadness of soul, and for the anguish and dread you felt in your weak human nature, which you willingly assumed for our sake. When the hour of your betrayal was at hand you were filled with sadness and fear.You were not ashamed to express that sadness openly in the presence of the apostles, saying: My soul is sorrowful unto death. O wondrous dispensation of God! Lord of power, who shortly before had fortified your disciples for the combat, now you appear as one enfeebled, totally devoid of strength and courage.You generously uttered that statement in order to comfort us, who are weak and cowardly, lest one of us, being severely tempted, despair of forgiveness and salvation. For if someone were to feel less than cheerful in bearing his suffering or in experiencing certain weaknesses of his flesh, then he can repeat in his fear and sadness what we read that you yourself had said: Nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.I ask you, most loving Jesus, my only hope in every difficulty and trial, to permit me to enter with a compassionate heart into the sorrowful beginnings of your most blessed Passion, and from there to rise little by little to the contemplation of its more bitter elements, so that in following you in every step of your sorrows I may find a healing remedy for my soul.Grant me, for the glory of your name, the patience to suffer whatever trials may come my way, and that, when faced with many afflictions, I may never yield to despair but wholly resign myself to the good pleasure of your eternal will.-Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) from On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
. . . Has it ever bothered you that sometimes in the Old Testament when one man sins, many get swept away in the punishment God brings? For example, when David sinned by taking a census of the people (2 Samuel 24:10), “There died of the people from Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men” (2 Samuel 24:15). Another example is when Achan kept some of the booty from Jericho and his whole family was stoned (Joshua 7:25). Maybe my experience in reading Luke 22 is a clue to the divine justice in this.
An analogy came to my mind. The hearts of humanity are like a molten mantle beneath the surface of the whole earth. The molten lava beneath the earth is the universal wickedness of the human heart—the rebellion against God and the selfishness toward people. Here and there a volcano of rebellion bursts forth which God sees fit to judge immediately. He may do so by causing the scorching, destructive lava to flow not only down the mountain which erupted but also across the valleys which did not erupt but which have the same molten lava of sin beneath the surface.
The reason I confess the sin of beating Jesus even though I wasn’t there is that the same lava of rebellion is in my own heart. I have seen enough of it to know. So even though it does not burst forth in such a volcanic atrocity as the crucifixion it is still deserving of judgment. If God had chosen to rain the lava of their evil back on their own heads and some of it consumed even me, I would not be able to fault God’s justice. . .
. . . And I believe from Romans 8:28 that, even though the lava of recompense overtakes me at a distance from the volcano, there is mercy in it. I do not deserve to escape, for I know my own heart. But I trust Christ, and so I know the judgment will be turned to joy. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. For precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
-John Piper, from his Holy Week reflection here.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want 'free-will' to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavor after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversaries, and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my 'free-will' (for one devil is stronger than all men, and on these terms no man could be saved); but because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success, and to beat my fists at the air. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work I had done, there would still be a nagging doubt as to whether it pleased God, or whether He required something more. The experience of all who seek righteousness by works proves that; and I learned it well enough myself over a period of many years, to my great hurt. But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working and running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. 'No one,' He says, 'shall pluck them out of my hand, because my Father which gave them me is greater than all' (John 10.28-29). Thus it is that, if not all, yet some, indeed many, are saved; whereas, by the power of 'free-will' none at all could be saved, but every one of us would perish.- Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will