Joseph’s Yes – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

St. Joseph

Luke 2:41-52

We frequently remember Mary for saying “yes” to God’s invitation. Joseph also said “yes” though none of his words are recorded in scripture. His life is his word. Joseph’s actions speak loudly.

Joseph was a righteous man. Quiet Joseph resolved to do the right thing, to dismiss Mary quietly, to save her from disgrace. Then God told Joseph to do something different, to take Mary as his wife and name their child Jesus.  Joseph listened and followed.

The righteous are attentive to listen, with a detachment and freedom to change their ideas—even, especially, of what they understand to be right—and being righteous means action, doing God’s will. Through the gospels, Jesus continually confronts those who cling tight to what they sense is right including who to eat with and how to worship.

When God spoke, Joseph listened and changed his plans. He took Mary as his wife. Later God told him to flee to Egypt with his family, and Joseph did. Further on, God told him to return to Galilee, and Joseph did. Read More

Hidden Presence – Br. Lain Wilson

Mark 12:28-34
Psalm 81:8-14
Hosea 14:1-9

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Jesus identifies who—and what—God is. He also offers up an indictment of all the alluring temptations in sight that lead us astray from a God who all too often remains hidden from us.

“O Israel, if you would but listen to me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not worship a foreign god” (Ps 81:8-9). This command is repeated throughout Scripture, and yet the pages of Scripture are filled with rebuke and lament for the failure to keep to this basic commandment.

This turning away, though, isn’t surprising, because our God is often hidden. In times of anxiety and uncertainty, we crave what is visible, tangible, assured. What people, institutions, processes, products do you turn to for assurance, for certainty? What are your idols today? Read More

We have seen his glory! – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Mark 9:2-9

What do we make of a story like this?  Jesus leads three of his closest friends up a high mountain and there he is transfigured before them!  His clothes become dazzling white, whiter than anyone on earth could bleach them!  Moses and Elijah, representing the law and the prophets, suddenly appear beside Jesus, speaking with him!  A cloud overshadows them all, and a voice booms out of the cloud, “This is my Son, the Beloved.  Listen to him!” No wonder the poor disciples are terrified!

What do we make of a story like this that describes a theophany so extraordinary, so spectacular, so dazzling, so supernatural, that it defies logic.  The whole experience lies so far beyond anything any of us has or ever will see or know, it is almost impossible to imagine.

For a few brief moments, the veil is lifted and the disciples see the radiant glory of God beaming from the person of Jesus.  And then it is over, as quickly as it began.

The remarkable incident described in today’s gospel reading calls to mind the earlier story of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9-11).  There, too, a voice from heaven rumbled out of the clouds, though this time the message was directed to Jesus himself: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  It was a message of love and affirmation, which confirmed his identity as God’s Beloved Son, and signaled the start of his mission. Read More

Divine Opia – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

John 1:43-57
Psalm 139:1-5,12-17

During my middle school and high school years, my parents imparted valuable social skills that they believed would benefit me as I transitioned into adulthood. My mother specifically emphasized etiquette. For instance, when invited to someone’s house for dinner, it’s customary to wait for the host to signal the start of the meal, often indicated by them picking up their silverware first. Additionally, it’s essential to be mindful not to comment on someone else’s food, especially if it’s something you don’t personally like.

On the other hand, my dad underscored the importance of staying informed about current events, just in case you might be engaged in conversation with an elder. He also highlighted the significance of a firm handshake and holding doors for others—even if they’re a few paces behind you. Most crucially, he emphasized making eye contact when speaking to others for better connection, perceived honesty, mutual understanding, and respect.

All of these have served me well, although I admit that maintaining eye contact in conversations is difficult for me. I had always wondered why eye contact proved challenging until I was diagnosed with a neuro-difference about six years ago. For people who have ADHD (like me) or are on the Autism spectrum, maintaining eye contact can prove disconcerting. Read More

King of Kings – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

Daniel 2:31-45

Remember Daniel in a lions’ den and in a furnace of fire? Before those awesome saves, Daniel did what no magician could do. King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 597 B.C.E. and marched thousands of Jews 900 miles to Babylon to live in exile. He had some young men from Israelite nobility brought to serve in the palace including Daniel and three friends given new names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream. He demanded wise men tell him both what he dreamed and what the dream meant. They replied: “No human can do that.” Enraged, the king commanded all the wise men be killed.[i]

Daniel said he would do what the king asked. Daniel went to his three friends and with them prayed for God’s mercy. Daniel had a vision that night which revealed the mystery. Daniel prayed thanking God.[ii] Then Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar both the dream and its interpretation. We heard that read tonight. There’s a large statue with layers of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay. A stone cut not by human hands strikes the statue which completely breaks apart and is swept away. What this means is that Nebuchadnezzar all subsequent kingdoms will all fall away when God makes an eternal kingdom. Read More

Mary’s Brain – Br. Lain Wilson

Luke 1:26-38

What if this story is all about Mary’s brain?

The beats of today’s Gospel reading are familiar to most of us. Here at the Monastery, we recount them in the Angelus, which we pray before Morning and Evening Prayer. “The angel of the Lord announced unto Mary . . .” pause, “and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

So much happens in that pause. And what if it’s all about Mary’s brain?

Of all the young women God could have chosen, God chose Mary. And what is the first thing we find out about her? That she hears the angel’s news, is perplexed, ponders over his words, and questions him. The first thing we find out about Mary is that she responds to God by using her own God-given faculties of reason and intelligence.

Byzantine writer Nicholas Mesarites provides a cognitive description of this episode: “The word comes to the hearing of the Virgin, and enters through it to the brain; the intelligence which is seated in the brain at once lays hold upon what comes to it, recognizes it by its perception, and then communicates to the heart itself what it had understood.”[1] This then leads Mary to question the angel to determine the truth of the angel’s words. Only after she verifies the truth does Mary gives her yes to the angel, and to God. Read More

Living in Wonder; Living in Love – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Thomas Traherne (1637-1674)

Job 12:7-13
John 3:1-8

Thomas Traherne, whom we commemorate today, was a mystic, a childlike mystic. If his own lifetime had overlapped with J. R. R. Tolkien, or C. S. Lewis, or George MacDonald, I think they would have been very good friends. However Traherne lived more than two centuries earlier than these other three, Traherne born in 1637. He was the son of a shoemaker, and he went on to earn three degrees at Oxford. His university days during the 1650s were the best of times and the worst of times. Best was the intellectual stimulation. However this was a time of civil war and of religious conflict, actually less religious conflict and more agnosticism, which was certainly true for Traherne. For him, life was without meaning; he was listless, full of dread, deeply lonely. In his journal, we read about one sad evening, his being alone in a field, when all things were dead quiet. He writes, “a certain want and horror fell upon me, beyond imagination.” Read More

Chosen to Share – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

St. Mary Magdalene

John 20:11-18

“I have seen the Lord.” Today we celebrate Mary Magdalene. After his resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary. Jesus first sent Mary to share the good news.

We know little of her story, but Jesus chose Mary. Jesus cast out from her seven demons. She experienced release and freedom, love and compassion. Mary traveled with and followed Jesus, witnessing his ministry. Receiving much, she kept coming, as she did even to the tomb.

Weeping, Mary did not recognize nor fear angels as most do. She did not recognize Jesus when he appeared. When Jesus called Mary by name, she turned and recognized him. It’s a brief and beautiful portrait. Hearing, turning, she was found again, seeing her Savior and friend. Jesus sent Mary to tell others the good news of what she saw and heard from Jesus.

Mary Magdalene is, especially for John, the prime example for us of being a Christian. First, Jesus chose Mary and healed her. She followed along and witnessed his teaching. Jesus continued to come, surprise, and reveal including amid deep grief. Jesus sent Mary to share what she knew, first to a small group of men huddled in fear. Mary was apostle to the apostles.

How did you come to know Jesus chose you? How have you experienced healing, divine compassion, and love? How is Jesus further being revealed now, showing up including in your need? Keep sharing the good news of how you see Jesus as did Blessed Mary Magdalene, whom we remember today.

Fish for People – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

Matthew 10:7-15

After years fishing with our father Zebedee, I was shocked and amazed to be following a rabbi. My brother and I know how to be on boats, to weave nets, and listen to the sea. Instead, we went from village to village witnessing Jesus teach and heal, living in community, and helping with crowd control.  We were up close traveling, eating, and talking with Jesus. We witnessed miracles. Scripture came alive. We changed by being with Jesus, and we saw each other change in our group. We received the good news and lived it. What a joy to see Jesus spread it.

Then Jesus sent us out to do the same. Like many invitations, I didn’t understand and pushed back first. Who was I to preach, heal, and cast out demons? Who were we as fishermen and ordinary folk to do the same stuff as Jesus?

But we did. We went out speaking in households and in the markets, to individuals and crowds. We found we indeed were given a voice and authority. We prayed for the sick, and they were healed. We prayed for the possessed, and demons left.

Jesus invites beyond our expectations, and Jesus enables. Jesus both gives power and teaches humility. We were sent out with little, indeed less than our usual. We found receptive people who hosted us in their homes and provided for us. We couldn’t serve on our own terms, in control with our own provisions. We had to rely on others. As Jesus had said, some places rejected us, and so we left.

Being chosen to follow Jesus is a shocking and amazing journey. What’s your experience? How has following Jesus surprised and changed you?

What is Jesus inviting? It’s ok if you don’t understand it now. Jesus will enable and reveal.

Jesus sent and empowered me to fish for people. [i]


[i] Matthew 4:19

Lord, Show Us the Father – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester,
Superior

Philip and James, Apostles

At one time in my life, I had a rector who referred to this feast as that of Pip and Jim. At first, I was a little confused. I thought I had misheard him. It took a few moments to sink in. At last, it clicked. Right. Philip and James, Pip and Jim. Got it. Since then, this day has always been Pip and Jim to me.

As much as I would like to spend the next several minutes waxing eloquently about St. James the Apostle, who is the Jim half of our apostolic duo, there is actually not much to say about him. One source sums up James in these words: The son of Alpheus is often but not certainly identified with the James whose mother stood by Christ on the Cross, and also with James ‘the brother of the Lord’ who saw the risen Christ and is often called the first bishop of Jerusalem. He is also sometimes identified with the author of the Epistle of James. If none of these identifications are correct, we know practically nothing about James the Less.[1]

If what we can say about James, is cloaked in uncertainty, then there’s not a whole heck of a lot to go on. We are not even sure why he is called the Less. Was it to distinguish him from James the Great, the son of Zebedee, or from James the Brother of the Lord? Was it because he was young, or short[2]? Again, there is not much we can say with any certainty about this James the Less. Read More