Day 15 – January 15

Today’s Readings:

Genesis 29-30
Matthew 10:21-42
Psalm 15

“…he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus offers us the Cross as a measure of discipleship. If we lived in the time of Jesus and heard him speak these words, the reality of the cross would be all too real. The streets were lined with them, at the order of Varus, a Roman general at the time of Jesus, who approved the crucifixion of thousand Jews, and placed the crosses by the wayside along the roads to Galilee.

In Jesus’ time, there was no escape from encountering crosses. The same is true for our time; the cross today may not prominently line the streets of your city, but they are there in subtle ways, coming into our lives through unpleasant encounters, physical pain and suffering, misunderstanding, or loss of a loved one. On the Christian road of the Cross, we are called embrace each moment with the attitude of Christ: “Not my will but thine be done!”

Then, embrace the cross in this hour, and carry it with Jesus.

May God bless you!

 

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Day 178 – June 27

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 5-6
Acts 8:26-40
Job 22

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel…” – 2 Chronicles 6:26-27

Notation: in the audio, King David is mentioned as the one praying for the people; it is in fact his son, King Solomon, in the dedication of the temple.

May God bless you.

Day 176 – June 25

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 1-2
Acts 7:44-60
Job 20

When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. – Acts 7:58

Today we witness the first recorded martyrdom in the Church, and the reality of the life of the Christian faithful. Stephen is brought to trial because he makes the Jews uncomfortable in their living the Law. Stephen’s authentic living of faith and his bold proclamation of Jesus is too much for them, and they find reason to kill him. Here, at Stephen’s death, another man enters the picture. Saul, a zealous Jew, is to rise to be one of the great persecutors of the Christians, until He is confronted with Jesus.

Stephen’s death was senseless, and so seems to suffering of Job. Again we see God working his tapestry from the underside, the picture of His masterpiece hidden in the confusion of our daily life. Let us offer our lives like Stephen, trusting that God will use our small sacrifice to the benefit of His masterwork.

May God bless you.

Day 174 – June 23

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 25-26
Acts 7:1-21
Job 18

“Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God.” – Job 18:21

These words from Job are an accusal that would apply to two innocent, both Job and Stephen (from the Acts 7). Both men seem to be on trial for their faith that is misunderstood by their fellow believers. We’ve looked at Job before at how we only see the surface of his situation, God has allowed this calamity to befall his favorite son among men, and how Job is judged a sinner because of the devestation in his personal life. Then we have Stephen, a follower of Jesus, one of the seven deacons chosen in the early organization of the Church. Stephen was brought up against charges of blasphemy, probably due to jealousy, and brought false witnesses against him.

Two men, both condemned by their own people. The first due to misreading of the mystery of suffering judge their friend a sinner; the second propped up for a fall because his righteousness made others look ridiculous in their religiosity. And how do these two men respond? They cling to God come what may.

Many times we see opportunities to defend faith, and shy away because we don’t want to get entangled or lose friendships over a discrepancy of faith. Let us learn to choose when it is necessary to speak, and when it is prudent to refrain, not for our own sake, but for the good of the soul before us. May our Lord help us to know the difference.

May God bless you.

Day 172 – June 21

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 21-22
Acts 5:22-42
Job 16

…calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. – Acts 5:40-42

Suffering. No one likes discomfort, let alone to be in pain. In today’s reading from Job, we hear of his turmoil, not understanding why this devastation befell him. He has thoroughly examined his conscience, and in his heart he can find no reason for the punishments he is enduring. Yet, he holds on to the hope he will be vindicated by God.

From the Book of Acts, we find the disciples of Jesus rejoicing in their suffering, that “they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Here, we find two examples where people are enduring pain of some sort, both having done nothing evil to deserve their current condition. We know people in our lives who live this reality and when approached with the question of ‘why bad things happen to good people?’ we are at a loss to make sense of it all. It is one of the great mysteries facing humanity as we contemplate the attribute of God.

Does God bring calamity? In Job’s case we are privy to see the background to what is happening. We see God so confident in his creation – Job – that he allows Satan to have his way. God is confident that through Job’s suffering Satan will be put to shame and God will be glorified. But if we look at it from Job’s perspective, it would be reasonable that he would begin to doubt God’s goodness. Job’s saving grace is a thread of hope that he holds on to. Despite his current condition, he finds the strength to trust in God’s wisdom, knowing in humility he doesn’t see as God sees.

What do we say when we meet the Jobs in our lives? Those in a state of questioning must come to find the answers on their own, but we can help them immensely by journeying with them, supporting them in their uncertainty. And pray. The story of Job is not finished, and when it is, all will be revealed. And the same for those we love who find themselves or someone dear to them in a similar state. Our stories are not over, and God is working through our misery, knowing full well through His entering into our human story giving us the sign of the Cross. Yes, God understands fully our suffering, and takes it upon Himself to help us carry the burden until all is revealed in Eternity.

May God bless you.