March 17, 2011

Friday, Day Nine of Lent, Ember Day


            The Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 95, Psalm 84, Ezekiel 34:1-16, Matthew 10:24-33, 37-42     
Evening - Psalm 77, Ezekiel 37:1-14, I Timothy 4

Matthew 10: 24-33, 37-42
 24The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?  26Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.  28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.  
 37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.  40He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.  41He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.  42And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.


            Commentary

We are often surprised at the world's reaction to the Gospel.  Knowing it is the way of life, of Heaven, and of God's love given to us, we are surprised that people reject it, and love darkness rather than light.  More surprising, however, is the tenacity with which we who claim to love and follow Christ still cling to our sins and resist the holy influences of the Word and Spirit of God.  Christ Himself, in today's reading from Matthew, calls us to a life-style of holiness and radical commitment to Him.  This requires a constant effort to find and expel sin in our lives and to replace it with Godliness.

            Devotional Thoughts

Self examination is the attempt to find our sins.  In this we are not content to look at actions alone. From them we move to our internal thoughts and habits. Habits are just the ways we respond to life.  They have become so ingrained in us that we do them without thinking. Habits can be good, or bad.  We can have a habit of laziness, or a habit of industry.  We may have a habit of not listening to others, of aggressive driving, or of unedifying mannerisms or speech.  Take time to examine your habits of life by the light of God's word. 

Today is the second of the Spring Ember Days when we pray for the ministers of Christ's Church and ask Him to call men into the ministry of the Gospel.  The Collect for The Ember Days is found on page 260 of the Prayer Book:

"O Almighty God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."