Monday, October 31, 2016

prayer diary Monday 31 Oct 2016

'And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.' 
Luke 14. 14

Reflection 
Look beyond your own family, circle, or community in your generous acts. Remember the needs of those who not only cannot pay you back in some way, but may never even know who you are. Those who do so will not go unrewarded.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Zacchaeus, the wicked wee man

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Most of us, I think, tend to regard the figure of Zacchaeus, whom we hear about today in our reading from St Luke's Gospel*, with a certain degree of affection and sympathy. We think of it as a cute story about a man who is so short that he has to climb a tree to see over the heads of the others in the crowds who have gathered to see Jesus. There is even a sweet little song about it, 'Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he', that I'm sure we all have heard. So I think it important to remind ourselves that when the story begins Zacchaeus is a villain, a really nasty piece of work. He may be someone on the margins of society; but unlike the poor, the leper, or the stranger he is not some kind of an innocent victim; he has placed himself outside the Pale because of the choices he has made.

He is, we must remember, a tax-collector and not just any tax-collector but a chief tax-collector. St Matthew was a tax-collector also, but of a very lowly kind, one who personally manned a booth in the street. Zacchaeus is very much higher up the food-chain, directing the tax collection of the entire city, perhaps even the region. He would have had many men working for him, all employed in trying to squeeze money out of their fellow-Jews so as to enrich the Roman invaders – and themselves. Worse, Zacchaeus is corrupt and has grown rich from his corruption. He has thrived on exploiting the misery not only of his fellow man but his brothers in faith, working hand in glove with a hated enemy. It is no wonder that they hate him; for he has piled misery upon misery in their lives. When they declare him a 'sinner' they do not mean he is a sinner in the sense that all men are sinners, but rather that he is someone wilfully engaged in serious and public sin.

But when Jesus is passing through Jericho, the city where Zacchaeus lives, on his way to Jerusalem, the place where he will suffer and die, the tax-collector hears of it and wants to see him. This should not surprise us; Jesus was by this time famous as a great teacher and worker of wonders. Many wanted to see him; even the wicked King Herod, who had beheaded St John the Baptist for warning him against the evils he practised, wished to see him. But Zacchaeus, as we all know, had a problem. He was short; he could not see over the heads of the others in the crowd. So he climbs a tree. And then something startling happens. The man he wished to see stops and speaks to him.

St Luke does not tell us how it is that our Lord knows Zacchaeus' name. There is no suggestion in the Bible that they have ever met before; indeed, the fact that Zacchaeus goes such great lengths to catch a glimpse of him, and behaves in quite an undignified way for a man of his wealth and power in order to do so, is indicative of the fact that they had never laid eyes on each other before. And in those days before newspapers, television, or the internet, the idea that Jesus would have recognised him from some image that had been published somewhere is unlikely – especially in a culture that rather frowned on
images.

So I tend to think that the fact that Jesus knew his name was something miraculous – and perhaps more important a miracle than it might seem at first sight. He knows his name; he knows that he lives in the city and is not one of the many who is simply passing through; and he knows that he can afford to entertain at short notice a great number of guests. He seems to have looked into the heart of the man in the tree – and know what is needed to heal the soul of this wicked man. And the result is that something happens within the heart of that man. He is happy to welcome Jesus into his home – and not, we may be sure, because his vanity is appealed to by having an exotic wandering preacher come to eat with him. Later events make that clear. Because when others grumble that Jesus has chosen to dine with this sinner, the response of
Zacchaeus shows that he has profoundly changed. He will give half of what he has to the poor; and those he has cheated will be repaid four times over. Jesus' words and actions have touched his soul; and Zacchaeus has responded with repentance and reparation – by being sorry for what he has done wrong and doing what he can to make amends. And he has thereby, as our Lord declares, found salvation.
It is important to note, I think, that Zacchaeus does not deny that he is a sinner; or in any way try to excuse his past actions. And neither does Christ try to suggest that he is not a sinner; indeed, his comments following the tax-collector's repentance and reparation, that he had come to seek out the lost and that salvation has come to Zacchaeus' house as a result of his actions, rather acknowledge that the man's life was previously grievously sinful.

This is important, I think, because there is an increasing tendency in modern life to equate welcoming the sinner with welcoming the sin, with saying that if the Church is to be truly open then it must stop talking about sin or calling people to repentance. And this is demonstrably untrue. The Church is indeed called to welcome all – and sinners, indeed, have a right to be welcomed; for if they are not welcomed within God's House, where will there learn what they need for their salvation? But the story of Zacchaeus reminds us that while all must be welcomed in, all must be also taught of their need for repentance; and repentance is required for salvation.


This, as I draw to an end, we must realise should be a source of great joy for us. For all, as we surely know and I have already reminded you, are sinners. But God loves us so much that, in spite of our sinfulness, he sent his only Son, that Salvation might be open to all he welcomes into his house. All have fallen; but God is there to help us up again. My prayer is that all will take his hand – to the greater glory of the one who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. 


St Luke, Chapter 19
1* He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7* And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8* And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." 9* And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 29 Oct 2016

When you are invited (to a banquet) go & sit at the lowest place. 
Luke 14. 10

Reflection 
Christ calls his people to humility. Do not seek honour, glory, or power. Remember that these are but vain things of this world. The only thing that matters is that at the last you are called to the higher place which is in heaven.

Friday, October 28, 2016

prayer diary Friday 28 Oct 2016

If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. 
John 16.18

Reflection 
Christ's truth is the same yesterday, today, & tomorrow. And we as his followers must accept with the joy the pain that sometimes comes with proclaiming that truth.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 27 Oct 2016

Today, tomorrow, & the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem. 
Luke 13. 33

Reflection 
Christ knew his ministry would end in his death, yet he taught boldly. Can not we, who face far lesser sanctions, at least not attempt to do our poor best to be true to his word and to pass on his teaching faithfully?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 26 Oct 2016

Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many will try to enter, I tell you, and will not be able. 
Luke 13. 24

Reflection 
There is more to attaining eternal life than mere desire. You must strive for it. Therefore purify yourself of all that does not reflect the Gospel life; what you leave behind is as nothing to what you will gain at the last.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 25 Oct 2016

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed … that someone took and sowed … it grew & became a tree & the birds of the air made nests in its branches. 
Luke 13.18-19

Reflection 
Have faith; the generation that sows the seed may not be the one that sees the tree, but the grow it will. Do not think that there is no point to the labour you do in the vineyard because you do not see growth. Simply labour faithfully. And trust that the kingdom of God is near.

Monday, October 24, 2016

prayer diary Monday 24 Oct 2016

Blessed are you when people hate you … on account of the Son of Man … for surely your reward is great in heaven. 
Luke 6. 22-23

Reflection 
Think of the unnamed, uncounted thousands who have been faithful to Christ until the last. Some were martyred; many more lived quiet, unnoticed lives of faith. All are now saints.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

God, be merciful to me a sinner

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Gospel reading today is that of the parable of the publican and the Pharisee.* And just as he did for last week's Gospel, where St Luke very explicitly told us what was the Lord's intention in telling the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge was that we should pray always and never lose heart – he also tells us the purpose this week, to warn those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others against their behaviour – in other words a call to humility. It is a parable of particular significance, given that the prayer of the publican, which is praised by Jesus and thereby commended by him to us as an example and model of prayer, forms the basis of what is known in Orthodox spirituality of the Jesus Prayer – with the words 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner' being repeated slowly and reverently – a form of prayer whose value is being increasingly recognised and adopted by other Christian traditions. This makes it of great importance to consider this parable with great care.

First let us look at the Pharisee. Look at how our Lord describes the manner in which he prays: 'The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.' I think that phrase bears repeating: 'The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.' He is not truly praying to God, but praying with himself. Some more modern translations render it that he prayed alone, but that he prayed with himself is the more literal and more accurate – to say that he prayed alone risks giving the impression that he had simply picked some quiet place alone in the temple for his time of worship; but the fact that we are told that the publican or tax-collector, with whom his behaviour is contrasted, stands far off, makes it clear that the Pharisee has not chosen some quiet spot, but suggests instead that he has taken a position of great prominence within the Temple – the man who thinks himself righteous wants all the sinners present to see him at prayer. The more literal translation, by saying he prays with himself, therefore helps to make it clear that what is going on here is not really worship at all.

In fact, as what comes after shows, it is really a form of self-glorification; for the Pharisee begins by thanking God that he is not like other men – other men are sinners; he is not. They are given over to all manner of ways in which they break God's laws; but he keeps the law. In his own mind he is apparently a man apart from all others – the lone righteous man in a world of sinners … and grievous sinners at that. But just in case God has somehow missed what a good man he is, he takes the trouble to list off for him how good he is, how exacting he is in keeping to the law. God, we may be assured, is not impressed with the manner in which this man commends himself to him, nor with the wonderful opinion he has of himself; and we may be assured of this because Christ is not impressed – and Christ is God.

What a contrast the behaviour of the tax-collector is. He stands far off – he does not think himself good enough to go further into the sacred precincts of the Temple, symbolically showing that he knows that he is not worthy to draw too close to the presence of the Almighty. He can not bring himself even to lift up his eyes to heaven – again showing his understanding of how unworthy he is. And his prayer is simple and honest. He is a sinner – he does not try to pretend otherwise or excuse his actions in any way. And he knows that he has but one hope for salvation – not his own actions, but the mercy of God. And because of his humility, because he understands that he is a sinner in need of God's mercy, he is the one who goes home that day justified. There is great irony in the prayer of the Pharisee: he thanks God that he is not like the publican; but the truth is that he should be begging God that he is more like him, that he would be better able to follow his example.

We should not, it should be clarified, turn the example of the tax-collector on its head and think that it is OK to sin merrily and wilfully, thinking that all we need to do after is to wink at God and say 'sorry about that' thinking that all is now well even as we plan to continue in the sins we have just asked mercy for begin some new one. The behaviour of the tax-collector makes it clear that he is grieved by his sins, that he is truly sorry for them, and that he wants not only God's pardon for having committed them, but his strength so that he might do better in the future. The prayer 'Lord, have mercy on me a sinner' is of little worth if it is not said with the understanding that not only is the person saying it a sinner in need of God's mercy but that they also wish to do their best to no longer be a sinner. Perhaps that is why the prayer is so widely used, as I said in beginning, in Orthodox spirituality. Indeed, perhaps our Orthodox brethren have found a way of combining the messages behind last week's parable about persistence in prayer and the dangers of pride and the need for humility. And that is in the frequent repetition of these words given us by our Lord himself.


The publican found his road to salvation through the humble uttering of these words, words that he did not merely say, but took deeply into his heart. Perhaps we also may use them to find our path to God and eternal life. Why would we not if we pray them with equal humility and sincerity of heart? They were, after all, given to us and commended to us by God himself. Amen.  

*Luke 18: 9-14 (RSV) He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 22 Oct 2016

'If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.' 
Luke 13.9

Reflection 
The time you have now is all the time there is to bear fruit. There is no guarantee of next year, next week, or even tomorrow. The Lord of the Harvest has done all that is needed for you to be fruitful; it is up to you to respond.

Friday, October 21, 2016

prayer diary Friday 21 Oct 2016 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'You know how to interpret the appearance of sea and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?' 
Luke 12. 56

Reflection 
When Christ spoke these words, it was to wonder at those who failed to understand who he was and what it meant for the world. If he were here today, would he have any reason to speak any differently of us?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 20 Oct 2016

'I came to bring fire to the earth & how I wish it were already kindled.' 
Luke 12. 49

Reflection 
There is more to being a Christian than being 'nice.' We are called not only to challenge ourselves but those around us also. Not from a desire to control or interfere, but from a sense of true Christian love, which means you are willing to risk offending someone for the sake of winning their soul for heaven. Something that is more important that being thought 'nice.'

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 19 Oct 2016

'Whoever does the will of God is my brother & sister & mother.' 
Mark 3.35

Reflection 
The Way that Christ calls us to is always arduous. How can it not be? His challenge was to deny ourselves, take up our cross, & follow him. But difficult though that sometimes seems, the rewards are infinitely greater. And he is with us to support us always.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 18 Oct 2016 St Luke

'... and say to them: the kingdom of God has come near to you.' 
Luke 10. 9

Reflection 
Let us give thanks this day for the work of the evangelist St Luke. Through his inspired words we walk with Christ, Hear his words, and are witnesses of His life, death, and resurrection.

Monday, October 17, 2016

prayer diary Monday 17 Oct 2016

'You fool; this night your life is being demanded of you.' 
Luke 12. 20

Reflection 
We truly do not now the day nor the hour. The time to repent and lead the life Christ calls you to is now. Do not delay, thinking you will do it at some vague time in the future; because slender is the thread that separates us from this life and the next.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

pray always and never lose heart

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is interesting to note that ever before he recounts today's parable, St Luke tells us the purpose of it. Our Lord tells it to remind his disciples of their need to pray always and not to lose heart. And he uses a curious, and indeed in many ways rather amusing parable to do so, that of the unjust judge.

Then as now there was a perception that public officials were not always to be trusted; and that a bribe could make sure that a person got what the wanted even if the law wasn't on their side. And that wealthy and powerful people would always get a more sympathetic hearing from those in charge than the poor or those on the margins. And a widow in ancient times tended to be a pretty powerless person. So what are the chances that this judge who, as he says himself, fears neither God nor man, will give her the justice she seeks? Indeed, the Greek here would be better described as vengeance – so possibly someone much higher up the pecking order of society is the one who has done her wrong, and serious wrong. A judge as unjust as this would in the normal course of events give this poor woman short shrift indeed. But this widow is not one to accept things as they are. She decides to be persistent. She will continually demand her justice until it is given to her.

And as a result the judge decides he must give her justice, not because it is the right thing to do, but because of her persistence, because it is in his own best interest. Most English versions render his reasoning as because he fears she will wear him out; the original Greek is better put that he worries that she will give him a slap in the face. So Jesus presents us with the rather humourous image of the judge being fearful that he will be given a thump by a little old lady!

And the point that Christ is making is clear. If a corrupt human judge will give justice in the face of persistence, how much more may we expect that God will be just to those who persist in their prayers? But that does not mean that we are to think of prayer as a way of getting whatever we want. Just as a good parent will not give their child something that is bad for them – or, indeed, something that it is not in the best interest of the whole family that they should have – neither will God give us something that does conform with his will … God will not give us something that is evil … and neither will the answer he gives us always be one that we can easily understand. This is important; for just as a few weeks ago when our Gospel spoke about faith being able to achieve the seemingly impossible, we had to note that the failure to gain what we desired did not necessarily imply a lack of faith; so to when we pray and we do not gain the precise thing it is that we prayed for, or our prayers are not answered in the exact manner that we hoped for, it does not necessarily mean that we have failed to be persistent enough.

We may think of many examples from Sacred Scripture where the person who prayed did not get what they wanted. Moses did not want to be the one to lead the Chosen People out of Egypt; and he argued strenuously with God that He should choose another. But, as we all know, God did not. Many other prophets told God that they were not the ones to be his messenger; and yet there were the ones that God spoke to his people through. You may recall how Jonah first ran from God, trying to avoid doing what God required of him; and then even after he asked God's pardon and went to Nineveh as God desired to call the people of that city to repent of their evil ways, he still camped outside the city hoping that they would not repent so that they would be destroyed – something that did not happen. 

In the New Testament, when St Paul journeyed to Damascus we may well imagine that he was praying for the success of his mission, which was to root out Christians in that city, arrest them, and bring them to trial and death. God did not grant his request – which is something that does not surprise us, but no doubt came as a great surprise to St Paul at the time … particularly given his own great persistence in attempting to destroy this new Church of Christ's followers. And then there are the prayers of Christ himself when he endured his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest. He prayed for many hours, asking the Father to take this cup from him – the cup of his suffering and death. And that was not to be. But note how our Lord phrased his petition. He said to the Father if it was possible; and he also said not my will but thine be done … echoing the words of his blessed Mother, who said in response to the message of an angel 'be it done unto me according to thy word' … and his own words in the prayer he taught his disciples 'thy will be done.'


Prayer is not about telling God what to do. Sometimes, quite reasonably, we will be upset by the answer our prayers receive. We do not win the lottery, things do not go the way we want in our lives, a loved one is not cured of some dread disease. And Christ tells us to pray always and not lose heart. That is because prayer will help us to have faith in God, to trust in his will, to be sure that all will be for the best even if we do not always understand. Prayer will help us live with the fact that even though we do not always know why things must be as they are in this life, we trust we will understand in the next. Our Gospel reading ends with some other words from Christ – his question as to whether when he comes again will he find faith on earth? Prayer will help us to be among those who are found to be faithful when he comes again – which is why he calls us to pray always and never lose heart. Amen.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 15 October 2016

'But he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.' 
Luke 12. 8

Reflection
Some claim faith is a private thing. But how can it be so? Proclaim your faith boldly to the world and thus you may not only save the souls of others but your very own.

Friday, October 14, 2016

prayer diary Friday 14 October 2016 Day of Discipline and Self-Denial

'I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.' 
Luke 12. 4

Reflection
No one in this life can truly harm you. Stay steadfast in the faith despite all they threaten and the victory is yours at the last.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 13 October 2016

The scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard, and to provoke him to speak of many things, lying in wait for him, to catch at something he might say. 
Luke 11.53, 54

Reflection
Men of the world hate men of faith and seek to destroy them. Ultimately their efforts are futile, for the only damage they can do is to themselves.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 12 October 2016

'Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places.' 
Luke 11. 43

Reflection
Some wear a mask of piety before the world to earn the respect of men. But it is only for the humble desire to serve God that we will be given the true reward.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 11 October 2016 (St Philip the Deacon)

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. 
Luke 10. 1

Reflection 
Jesus sent St Philip out into the world to proclaim the Good News. He sends us also, to serve both him and our fellow man.

Monday, October 10, 2016

prayer diary Monday 10 October 2016

When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, 'This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.' 
Luke 11. 29

Reflection
Many then and now reject Christ. But it is not because he is not evidence enough; it is that those who will not believe refuse to accept the evidence they are given.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

the clensing of the lepers: gratitude is good for the soul

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our gospel today concerns the healing of the ten lepers. And, as you are aware, while all ten are healed only one returns to thank Jesus. And our Lord says to that leper, who was a Samaritan, something that I have always considered to be rather curious. He tells him his faith has made him well. Why does he say that when all ten have been cured of their leprosy – including the nine who do not return, who give no praise to God for what has been done to them? We shall return to that point again towards the end. But first, some other thoughts.

First, let us consider that well known saying when it comes to biblical interpretation that the miracle stories are parables in action. Miracles are always examples of God's power; and in the Gospels they therefore act to show Jesus' divinity. But the evangelists had many more miracles to choose from than they could include in their writings, otherwise the Gospels would have been impossibly long – remember, this was before the printing press when all documents had to be hand-written, as did all copies of them. So the evangelists had to be selective. And more often than not they chose incidents that worked at many levels: at the literal level of providing the proof that Jesus was indeed who he said he was, the Son of God; and at the didactic or teaching level, providing an opportunity for those present at the time and those present through the proclamation of the Gospel message to learn about how it is that God wishes his children to behave and live their lives.

So, when considered as a parable, what does this passage seek to teach us? The obvious answer is that we should be grateful for what God does for us. And I think we would all be shocked at the level of ingratitude shown by the nine lepers who do not return. They have been cured of a serious disease – not what we would today call leprosy, but serious enough all the same – one that keeps them apart from their fellow man and makes them ritually unclean to take part in the religious observances of their faith; and yet they have not come back to either thank Jesus or give public praise to God for the mercy shown to them.

We of course would never behave in such a manner. We would behave as the single leper who returns did, the Samaritan, who comes back and throws himself at the feet of Christ, thanking him and praising God. Or would we? Are we really grateful for all God does for us; or do we take it for granted, only giving him thanks and praise when something remarkable happens, such as ourselves or a close loved one surviving a close brush with death? And even then, do we give thanks only in the moment … gratitude being left in the past with the danger that has gone by?

And even if we do not forget those great moments when we have felt particularly God's protection, is it right that gratitude should be limited to such as those? What of giving thanks to God for all the day to day blessings in our lives? God has given us the precious gift of life – do we thank him for that? And having given us that, he gives us what we need to sustain that life – food, the air we breathe, the world around us – do we thank him for that? And if we do, how often is that gratitude be expressed and in what way? With a brief moment of thanks at the end of the day, almost an afterthought between our favourite programme on the television in the evening and closing our eyes in sleep as our heads hit the pillows?

And how sincere is that gratitude? It is easy to say the words 'thank you' with our lips; but much more meaningful to show it in the way we lead our lives. Just as St James told us there was no point in telling a brother that you wished him warm and well fed if you would take no action to meet those needs; so there is little point in telling God that you are grateful for his blessings if by your life you show him that you are not. For Christ told us that those who loved God would keep his commandments. Is it possible to be truly grateful to a person even as you act as someone who despises them? I think not.


That makes showing true gratitude to God for all the blessing he bestows a matter of great importance – a matter of our our eternal salvation. Something, I think, that our Lord refers to in our Gospel reading today. You will recall that I said that I would return at the end to Jesus' mysterious reference to how the faith of the Samaritan had made him well – a faith he displayed by returning to thank and praise God – which sounds strange because those who did not return were also cured – and in fact when Jesus said it to the Samaritan he had already been cured of his disease. But we have these words in translation and in the original language of the New Testament the words for 'made well' can have another meaning – it can also mean 'saved' … so what Jesus says here can also be interpreted as saying 'your faith has saved you.' Which in context makes sense; his body has been made well, as has those of all the lepers, by the healing power of Christ; but after that it is his soul that has been saved … his faith in God, as shown in his praise and thanks for his healing, has brought him into God's kingdom … the place I pray that the faith of you all, shown in the love for God you display in your lives, will bring you all. Amen.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 8 October 2016

But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" 
Luke 11. 22
Reflection
Christ declared that those who are obedient to God's word are blessed. We should be eager then for ever greater obedience, striving ever harder to obtain the blessings promised by the Son.

Friday, October 7, 2016

prayer diary Friday 7 October 2016 Day of Discipline and Self-Denial

But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.' 
Luke 11.17

Reflection
And yet there is schism in the Church, even though our Lord prayed that we should be one. This wound on the body of Christ should be as a wound on our own hearts.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

prayer diary Thursday 6 October 2016

'And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.' 
Luke 11. 9,

Reflection
Christ himself promised that our prayers would be answered. However, the Christian asks only that which is in accord with the will of God.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 5 October 2016

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 
Luke 11. 1

Reflection
The desire to pray is natural. And like all natural talents, it can be cultivated and improved. Do not be afraid to ask those with greater experience for advice.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

prayer diary Tuesday 4 October 2016

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." 
Luke 10. 41,42

Reflection 
Love of God comes before all else. The time you spend in prayer, in adoration of your Lord and Saviour, is not only not wasted, it is the most necessary of all.

Monday, October 3, 2016

prayer diary Monday 3 October 2016

Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." 
Luke 10. 36,37

Reflection
We show our love of God through our care for our neighbour. Those who claim to care but do nothing display an empty religion.