The Word of the Day (Thurs. Jan. 20)

The word of the day is “doer.”  What does it mean to be a “doer of the Word?  The Feast of the Nativity is over.  The shepherds have returned to their flocks. The Wise Men have started their journey home by another way. And we have taken down our Christmas ornaments.  But has our visit to the manger had any lasting effect on us?  Or are our bright Christmas memories fading as we pick up where we left off.  From today’s reading of James 1:19-27, we can learn how our hearing of the Word of Christ’s coming among us can have enduring a transforming meaning for us. The apostle writes, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and…

The Difference Between Trial and Temptation (Wed. Jan. 19)

The word for today is “trials.”  Today in our reading of James 1:1-18, we begin our study of the New Testament book of James.  Two themes serve as bookends for this opening passage:  trials and temptations.  The apostle asserts that when we endure trials patiently, they are constructive. He writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” (vs.2).  Yet, when we give in to temptations, they are destructive.  The apostle writes, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires…[and] when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin… and brings forth death” (vs. 14-15). The Divine Gift of Wisdom To distinguish between trials and temptations takes wisdom. Wisdom is…

Against a Casual Attitude Toward Sacred Things (Tues. Jan. 18)

The word for today is “refuse.”  In today’s reading of Hebrews 12:25-26, 13:22-25, we hear that we should not disregard the Word of the Lord when He proclaims it to us.  The apostle writes, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks…” (vs. 25). To understand this warning, we must explain the preceding verses.  Beginning with Chapter 12:18, the apostle contrasts Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Law with Mt. Zion, the city of the living God” (vs.22).   This heavenly city is the meeting place of angels and the assembly of those whose names are “registered in heaven.”  Thus, it is the company of the righteous who are “firstborn,” firstborn in the sense that they are first in the line of inheritance of the…

Faith Tested and Proven (Mon. Jan. 17)

The word of  the day is “tested.”  In today’s reading of Hebrews 11:17-23, 27-31, the apostle recalls the faith of those who endured numerous and unspeakable trials “by faith.”  The apostle begins, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son…” (vs. 17). How Faith Empowered and Inspired Consider what faith empowered and inspired the people of God to do: offered up his only son, blessed Esau and Jacob, blessed the sons of Joseph, gave instructions for his burial in the holy land, hid the baby Moses from being slain, left the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace and Egypt and chose to suffer with the people, sprinkled…

Watchfulness: The Virtue on Which All Others Depend (Sun. Jan. 16)

The word of the day is “watch.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 16:13-24, Paul writes “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (OSB vs. 13).  Note that the apostle begins this closing of his letter to his flock in Corinth with the word, “watch” (OSB vs. 13).  This order of thought teaches us that watching is the one thing on which all the other virtues depend.  If we are sleeping, unaware, and unconscious, then we cannot respond to or react to anything.  Thus, all the other virtues that Paul lists depend on our wakefulness.  We cannot “stand fast in the faith.” We cannot “be brave.”  Nor can we “be strong” unless we are on guard in…

The Power of Imitation for Good or for Ill (Sat. Jan. 15)

The word of the day is “imitate.”  Most often if we want to know something we look it up.  We used to consult a book or encyclopedia.  But nowadays we will probably ask “Siri,” search on Google or YouTube, or consult our friends on face book.  But how do we find out how to live the Christian life?  Of course, we can read our Bibles, hear sermons, or study both ancient and modern sources.  But how do we apply their teachings, guidelines, commands, counsels, and directions?  Today’s reading suggests that the best thing to do is to find an example that will show us how to put the words of instruction into practice. Thus in today’s reading, the apostle begins…

A Better and Heavenly Country (Fri. Jan. 14)

The word of the day is “country.”  As we begin the new year, hardly anyone of us would like to go back to the difficulties of the past year.  We wish for a better time ahead despite the current challenges our society faces.  Our passage of Hebrews 11:8, 11-16 also writes about hope.  But it is not a hope for a better life here on earth.  t is the longing for celestial world far above the struggles of this life.  Thus, the apostle writes about those who have spent their entire lives in the expectation of a greater kingdom.  He says, “but now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called…

Hang Onto the Shield of Faith (Thurs. Jan. 13)

The word of the day is “confidence.”  In times of trial, what do we need to endure?  Our reading of Hebrews 10:35-11:17 answers, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence which has a great reward” (vs. 35). The Greek word that is translated as “confidence” is derived from the term for outspoken speech. From this, we get the thought of “boldness” (Strong’s #3954, 194).  Such assurance will see us through the ordeals that we face until we receive the reward of our determination. Do Not Cast Away Our Shield By all means, the apostle teaches that we must never “cast away” our confidence.  The author may have been thinking of the shield that soldiers in Greece and Rome carried into…

The End of Sacrifices for Sin (Wed. Jan. 12)

The word of the day is “sacrifice.”  In today’s reading of Hebrews 10:1-18, the apostle announces the end of sacrifices for sin.  He writes, “For by one offering He [Christ] has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (vs. 14).  Consequently there is no longer a need for any more offerings for sin.  All that is necessary for our redemption has been fulfilled. A One-Time Offering The apostle argues at length that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were ineffective because they had to be repeated again and again (vs. 11).  But Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “once and for all” (10).  The proof of its efficacy was that Christ “sat down at the right hand of God” after He had finished His mission…

The Mediator of a New Covenant (Tues. Jan. 11)

The word of the day is “mediator.”  In our reading from Hebrews 9:8-10; 15-23, the apostle explains how Jesus Christ established the new covenant that promises our eternal inheritance.  Paul writes, “He is the Mediator of the new covenant by means of death….  That those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (vs. 15). St. John Chrysostom explains, “A mediator is not lord of the thing of which he is mediator, but the thing belongs to one person, and the mediator is another: for instance, the mediator of a marriage is not the bridegroom, but one who aids him who is about to be married” (NpFp1: 13). But what are the parties to the mediation of…