Moving Past the Past

Lectio: John 19:23-24 – “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.  So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing, they cast lots.”

Contemplation: “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.”

Meditation: Those condemned to crucifixion were assigned to a four-member Roman execution squad. The squad’s job included stripping the prisoner of all clothing, leaving him to hang on the cross in nakedness, which the Jews regarded as a wanton shame. The crucified and naked prisoner would be unprotected from the natural elements, socially humiliated and dishonored. The message of the crucifixion was direct and straightforward. That is, crucifixion and death is the destiny of every enemy of the Roman Empire. 

The execution squad would then pillage and divide the prisoner’s private property, such as clothing and other personal effects, for their use or as trophies. John records that when the soldiers get to Jesus’ seamless tunic, they decide not to tear it up and divide it, but instead, to keep it intact and throw lots for it, the winner takes all. 

Today I imagine the long-retired and aged centurion that won Jesus’ tunic on a gamble going over to his chest of war trophies one afternoon and pulling out the seamless robe. As he holds the garment in his hands, he vividly remembers the Friday of Jesus’ crucifixion. He visualizes the flogging, Jesus’ arduous walk to Golgatha, the crucifixion, Jesus’s loved ones and followers standing helplessly near the cross, the tender words of Jesus to his mother, the piercing and flow of water and blood from Jesus’ side, the darkness, and the removal of the body from the cross. 

I wonder if the centurion ever felt sorrow for what he had done to Jesus and others he helped crucify during his time on the execution squads? I wonder if the Spirit ever penetrated his conscience and convicted him of his sin, leading him to seek forgiveness from God? I wonder if he was ever able to move past yesterday’s pain, step out of his darkness, and into Christ’s light, truth, life, and way?   

Today I meditate and pray for people that have suffered from heinous acts of injustice, violence, and dehumanization at the hands of others, and that can’t move past yesterday’s pain. I also meditate and pray for people that tortuously relive the devastating consequences of their past actions and that are in desperate need of God’s forgiveness but do not know how to seek or find it.   

Prayer: I pray for the grace to not harm and point people to God’s healing and forgiveness.

Consolation

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.” The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, human nature, and about our relationship with Christ and others. I end the meditation with a prayer for God’s grace. 

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Lectio: Luke 23:27-31 – A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Contemplation: “among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him.”

Meditation: Jesus sees and stops to talk to a group of women along the road to Golgatha. Some interpreters say that Jesus is selflessly consoling the women in their pain. At the same time, he receives their love and cares for him. Other interpreters say that Jesus chastises the group of women because they are professional mourners making a disingenuous commotion like the ones at Jarius’ home (Mt. 9:18-26; Mk. 5:22-43, Lk. 8:41-56).

As a pastor, I’ve stood by many women in harrowing pain over the loss of a loved one. I approach this morning’s meditation with respect and empathy for the sorrow and pain the women in today’s scripture demonstrate. The women are not named. But, they symbolize all the mothers and women that weep and wail for their loved ones that suffer and die every day from disease, infections, accidents, suicide, violence, and malnutrition. Jesus sees all women in all times and places who weep and wail for those they love and can no longer see or hold. He visits and becomes present to them, consoling and healing their pain and suffering through means of grace such as scripture, prayer, worship, sharing in the sacraments, and Christian community. Jesus is also present when steps for justice are taken to remedy the perpetuation of needless and wrongful disease and death.

Prayer: Today, I ask for the grace to console the suffering and dying.

Bearing

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.” The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, human nature, and about our relationship with Christ and others. I end the meditation with a prayer for God’s grace. 

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Contemplation: John 19:17 (RSV) – … and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol’gotha.

Contemplation: “bearing his own cross …”

Meditation: The verb “bearing” – Gk., βασταζω (bastazo) – means more than just the lifting or carrying of a heavy object such as a heavy wooden beam. “Bearing” as used in the context of John’s gospel and his account of the Passion of Christ has a metaphoric meaning that points to something more profound. When John says that Jesus bore the cross, it means Jesus lay down his life for others. It means that Jesus submitted himself to the sentence of crucifixion and all the suffering and torture that came with it with God’s peace and without complaint for the sake of the world. Jesus accepts crucifixion, not with despair, but with selfless love for others. By bearing, suffering, and enduring the cross, Jesus saves the world from darkness, falsehood, sin, and death. In his falling into the earth and dying, his life will bear much fruit. John says the fruit of Jesus’s life and ministry are those who believe that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, and thus have life in his name (20:31).

The verb “bear” is an essential term for John. He uses the verb 27 times, more than any other writer in the Old and New Testaments. In John’s gospel, Jesus “bears” several things. He “bears” witness to the light, witness to the inner thoughts of humanity, to what he has seen and heard in heaven, to himself, that the Father has sent him, to what the scriptures say about him, to the works of God, and he bears witness to the truth. God “bears” witness to Jesus. The Holy Spirit “bears” witness to Jesus. Jesus “bears” fruit and his disciples will “bear” much fruit and give witness to the world that they belong to him if they remain in him. When Jesus is consoling his disciples and telling them that he was going back to his Father who sent him, he stops and says to his disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot “bear” (support, endure, suffer) them now.

Today I meditate on all the people in the world that with love lay down their lives for others and bear their cross with freedom, authenticity, with joy, a desire to help others arrive at their dreams, and with complete inner peace.

Prayer: Today, I pray for the grace and peace to lay down my life with freedom, authenticity, joy, and a desire to see the best dreams of others achieved.

Unbroken

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.” The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, human nature, and about our relationship with Christ and others. I end the meditation with a prayer for God’s grace. 

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Lectio: Matthew 27:27-30  (NRSV) – Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.

Contemplation: “The governor’s soldiers … gathered the whole cohort around him.”

Meditation: A Roman legion was composed of about 5,550 men, all professional soldiers who signed on for terms lasting 25 years. Each legion consisted of ten cohorts. Nine of the ten cohorts contained about 500 men each, in addition to 120 horse riders that acted as scouts and dispatch leaders. The leading cohort of a legion included 800 men.  

Matthew says that the “whole cohort” gathered around Jesus after he was condemned to crucifixion by Pilate and brought to the governor’s courtyard. I can imagine Jesus, a Jew, surrounded by five-hundred heavily trained, uniformed, armed, highly-coordinated, and battle-tested Roman soldiers. A couple of Roman soldiers would have been enough to instill fear in anyone, but 500, plus a few dozen horsemen? 

Ordered by legitimate authorities, the hardened 500 soldiers waste no time in going to work, physically and psychologically torturing Jesus as they focus all their destructive behaviors on him alone. They physically and psychologically torture Jesus by stripping him, mocking him, and by inflicting pain by pressing thorns into his head with blows from a stick. The soldiers strip Jesus of his clothes to create a power differential, inducing an immediate shame and creating an environment where the fear and reality of sexual assault is always present. There is no supportive community for Jesus now; he is completely isolated and alone except for God and the Holy Spirit that strengthened him in his moment of trial. I can imagine the raucous and callous laughter rising from the cohort as they wait to take their turn at Jesus, each one trying to outdo the other, while they deliberately and systematically try to break him down by degrading and dismantling Jesus’ identity and humanity.

Today I meditate on the unbreakable strength of Jesus to endure torture, hostility, shame, degradation, powerlessness, violence, and dehumanization from his captors.  I meditate on all sufferings of the violated and tortured all over the world and the hardships experienced by refugees and asylum seekers fleeing their homeland because of persecution or human rights violations in search of a safer, better life. I meditate on how Jesus shares in and is present with them in their experience. 

Prayer: Today, I pray for the grace to know the unbreakable strength of Jesus more intimately. I also pray for the grace to care for the unbroken migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers fleeing their homelands because of persecution and human rights violations in search of a safe and better life.

Stop the Flogging

Lectio: Mark 15:15 – Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged and handed him over to be crucified.

Contemplation: “He had Jesus flogged …”

Meditation: The Romans maintained order over the populations they conquered through acts of state terror. Strangling, stoning, burning, burning with oil, flogging, and crucifixion was common and randomly practiced to instill fear in and deter rebellion by their subjects.

Flogging was part of the crucifixion process meant to publically humiliate and dehumanize a person in addition to extending their torturous pain and suffering. The instrument used to flog Jesus would have been a whip of leather strips, fastened with hooks, and iron balls very capable of tearing the skin off the ribs. The brutality imposed on Jesus through flogging and crucifixion would show the power of the Roman Empire to dispatch of threats to any person or group thinking about or acting to disrupt society.

Today I meditate on how Jesus shares in the dehumanizing and brutal experience of all people throughout the world living in fear, flogged by never-ending and vicious cycles of violence, intimidation, and repression.

Prayer: I pray for the grace to help stop violent, intimidating, and repressive floggings against humanity, near and far.

Whistle-blowers: Frumps, Foes, or Friends?

Lectio: Matthew 27:19-25  (NRSV) 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” 24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Contemplation: “his wife sent word to him”

Meditation: The name of Pilate’s wife is not mentioned; she is anonymous. But she plays a significant role as the events unfold in the Praetorium. She has not slept much the night before the day of Jesus’ trial because a dream about the injustice and suffering to come for Jesus stirred up her pathos. She sorrows and sympathizes with Jesus in his suffering in both her dream and now in his actual presence. The lucidity of her dream and the emotional pathos it evoked in her was not just a dream, she now sees it playing out in real life in the judgment hall, or Praetorium. She is one with Jesus, sharing in the intensity of his suffering and sorrows. Her moral conscious leads her to intervene and say something to Pontius Pilate, her husband, who can rectify the wrong by stopping the injustice taking place.

I can imagine that she hears a commotion outside her window in the early morning of Jesus’ trial. She goes out to see what the disturbance in the judgment hall is all about and takes notice of the agitated crowd, Barabbas, her husband, and Jesus, the one she dreamt about, standing by Pilate. She perceives the direction the mass is pushing her husband to judge, and she understands what the consequences of his decision will mean for Jesus. She decides to intervene to stop Pilate from condemning Jesus and sends a messenger to him with a warning: “Let there be nothing between you and the innocent man Jesus, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 

Pilate heeds no attention to his wife’s plea. The frenzied crowd has believed the false accusations against Jesus. They distance themselves from him to signal that they are not supporting Jesus or his seditious teachings and intentions. Their cries for Jesus’ “Crucifixion” are a show of loyalty to the Empire. Pilate succumbs to the pressure from the crowd, dissembling their allegiance to the Empire, and gives them what they want, a judgment against Jesus for subversive teachings against the Empire punishable by death by crucifixion.  

Today I meditate on all the people with the moral courage to act on conscious, risk their reputations and careers while intervening to stop the miscarriage of justice and suffering. I meditate on how people with the courage to stand up to social pressure to say something is wrong are often considered alarmists and disloyal. Those that speak up against something that is unacceptable pay a high price. They are often ignored, dismissed, threatened, retaliated against, disparaged, denigrated, shunned, seen as a frump, and even vilified. I meditate on all the people who are standing up for Christ, sharing in his sufferings, defending his life and message, but who are ignored.

Prayer: Today I pray for the grace to have the moral courage of Pilate’s wife to resist social pressure and speak up for Christ and when something is wrong and the humility to listen to and act upon the warnings of those that send messages to notify me that things are heading in the wrong direction.  

Release or Crucifixion?

Lectio: Luke 23:13-23  (NRSV) 13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” 18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” 19 (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” 23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed.

Contemplation: “Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” (23:20,21)

Meditation: The accusations against Jesus that were brought before Pilate alleged that Jesus was forbidding Israel to pay taxes to the emporer Tiberias and the he was claiming to be the Messiah, the true King (23:1). Tax assessments and collections fell under the jurisdiction of Provincial governers and various local magistrates. The allegations against Jesus were that his teachings on non-payment of taxes to the Emporer undermined Pilate’s emperial mandate and authority to collect taxes from the people in the province on behalf of the Roman republic. 

After investigating the allegations, Pilate does not find enough evidence to convict Jesus of the charges (23:14). On the charges of “Perversion of the people with seditionist teachings that insurrect the established order,” both Pilate and Herod find Jesus, the defendant, “Not guilty!”

Pilate’s declaration of the innocence of Jesus and his ruling of acquittal is immediately met with crowd disapproval and hostility. A dispute ensues between Pilate and the crowd about the penalty that Jesus should pay. The threatened leaders want Jesus dead. They are savvy to target and isolate Pilate. They ramp up the pressure on Pilate to live up the rules of the Empire. Pilate’s decision adversely activates the people. They loudly protest to signal to Pilate the strength of their opinion and to clarify more precisely what they want. They want Pilate to change his decision from “flogging” to the death penalty for Jesus by crucifixion. Their voices prevail and Pilate succumbs to their demands (23:23).

Today I meditate on the depths of the sorrow and grief Jesus experiences as the value of his good and innocent life becomes the object of the heated debate for the fate of his life. I meditate on what he observes about the inward corruption of the goodness of human nature as expressed through the clash and amping up of the political tactics of Pilate versus the political tactics of chief priests, the leaders and the people. I meditate on how the debate about Jesus was at some point not about Jesus, it was about which side would win to accomplish their personal and political objectives. I meditate on how Jesus identifies with so many vulnerable people in our world that stand in anxious wait and are ultimately crucified by debate outcomes and decisions.

Prayer: Today I pray for the grace to remember that Jesus stands with the vulnerable people that leaders debate and decide for resulting in either life or death, release or crucifixion. 

The Power of Public Opinion

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.”  The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, what it says about human nature, what it says about our relationship with Christ and others, and what I sense God is calling me to do, refrain from doing, or be mindful of as I seek to follow Christ “by his side.” 

Lectio: Matthew 27:15-18  (NRSV)15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called JesusBarabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, JesusBarabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.

Contemplation: “anyone they wanted”

Meditation: Reinhold Niebuhr in his book, Moral Man and Immoral Society, wrote: “All social cooperation on a larger scale than the most intimate social group requires a measure of coercion.” By that he meant that moral people are more likely to act immorally as members of a group than as individuals.

Individuals in the crowd that requested the release of Barabbas over Jesus must have personally and morally disagreed with the choice, but they could not escape the powerful influence of the crowd herd moving in favor of releasing Barabbas instead of Jesus. Like a brushfire buffeted by strong winds, the public opinion of Jesus that just a few short days ago during Palm Sunday was exuberant, now quickly turns against him. His favorability dramatically drops in general popularity overnight. The leaders that wanted Jesus killed must have had a good messaging strategy to turn the crowd against him in such a short time. 

Today, I meditate on the powerful influence of popular public opinion on an individual and society. Influencers and analysts are always presenting public opinion, brushfire, tracking, quota-sampling, and straw polling results that measure the public’s perceptions, attitudes, and opinions of public figures and issues. Polling results are analyzed by pollsters that interpret their implication. The pollsters develop messaging strategies to affect people’s understandings of the issues. Authorative experts are strategically brought in to push people toward favoring the desired political, economic, and social outcome of a party or organization. Public opinion polls and the way they are interpreted and messaged weild a great influence on the direction of a community, a nation, and the world. Sometimes, societies are coerced by public opinion polls and strategic messaging that lead to immoral actions and disasterous consequences. 

Prayer: Today I pray for the grace to self-differentiate.

The Anatomy of Collusion

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.” The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, what it says about human nature, what it says about our relationship with Christ and others, and what I sense God is calling me to do, refrain from doing, or be mindful of as I seek to follow Christ “by his side.”

Lectio: Luke 23:1212 “That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.”

Contemplation: “Herod and Pilate became friends …”

Meditation: Pilate and Herod, once enemies, are now brought together in a common cause. That is, to dispense with Jesus and the threat he poses by his growing popularity with the people they both seek to suppress. 

Luke, the gospel writer, mentions Pilate earlier in his account, describing him as a brutal and ruthless man that had massacred Galileans to instill fear in and suppress the people of Judea which he goverened (13:1). 

Herod Antipas, is mentioned several times in Luke’s account. Herod is first introduced in the gospel after he shut John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, in prison, eventually executing him. Herod executed John because John rebuked him for taking Herodias, his brother’s wife. Luke then gives the detail about Herod’s perplexion and paranoia about Jesus’ rising popularity in the region of Galilee, Herod’s territory. Herod calls for Jesus to see him, but Jesus insultingly shuns his invitation (9:9). From that point on, Herod’s perplexion turns into the desire to kill Jesus (13:31). 

Luke does not mention why Pilate and Herod were enemies. Perhaps their emnification stemmed from the fact that Pilate executed Galileans from Herod’s territory without permission. Maybe when Herod sent Jesus, a Galilean, to Herod Antipas the King over the region of Galilee, Pilate acknowledged Herod’s authority and stoked his hurt ego.  When Luke writes, “Herod was exceedingly pleased to see Jesus.” Perhaps Herod was pleased because he felt his authority over the Galileans was respected by Pilate, and because he finally had Jesus in his grips. Whatever the case, the two brutal leaders both now have Jesus, the populist leader of the people they both seek to suppress, bound and served up to them by his own people. It could not have been easier for Herod and Pilate had they tried. Their broken relationship is repaired by their gestures of mutual respect for each other, Herod satisfies his personal vendetta against Jesus, and Pilate achieves his political agenda to sustain his power with intimidation and suppression of the Judeans he governs by quelling Jesus’, their leader and their hope. 

Today I meditate on how people in power easily and reprehensibly conspire and collude together to achieve their own personal and political gains and goals even when their abusive actions bring about harm and tragedy to others.   

Prayer: Today I pray for the grace to ensure that my collaborative alliances seek the greater good and do no harm, especially to the vulnerable and the weak.

Royal Laws on Trial


Lectio: Luke 12:8-12 (NRSV) 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. 9 He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. 12 That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.


Contemplatio: “Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him.”


Meditatio: The full authorative force of the whole justice system is unified against Jesus of Nazarath from Galilee. Pilate the governor of Judea, Herod the King of Galilee, the local judges, and the military soldiers are now aligned, in growing agreement, and marshalled to eradicate Jesus along with his infectous ideas and teachings. By treating Jesus with contempt and mockery, they are in effect attacking not only Jesus the human, but Jesus’ royal laws, divine ideas, and teachings which they fear because they threaten their worlds. It’s only a matter of time before their hateful thoughts founded upon their deep-seated fears, turn into deadly action that drives Jesus to his death by crucifixion.


Today I meditate on how the royal teachings and ideas of Jesus are both threatening and threatened, how they are held in contempt and mocked, but never eradicated. According to Jesus, as portrayed in Luke’s gospel, it’s always right to care for and lift up the poor. Its always right to set free those that are oppressed. It’s always right to share our bread with the hungry. It’s always right to resist the unclean spirits of evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves. It’s always right to do to others what we would have them do to us. It’s always right to lend of what we have to others. It’s always right to extend forgiveness when we have been offended. It’s always right to first be self-aware of our faults before pointing out the faults of others. It’s always right to be an agent of healing, reconciliation, and inclusion. It’s always right to persist in seeking and attaining provision for the dispossessed. It’s always right to hold that every life is sacred and worthy of God’s love and redemption. It’s always right to put the welfare of people above laws. It’s always right to start thinking about the kind of world we are creating and leaving behind from the vantage point of the children that will receive it. It’s always right to care for the well-being of people that are left half-dead by life, even when their own decisions led them down the dangerous road that led them there. It’s always right to live our lives oriented toward a vision of a world Jesus lived for and invites us to partake in.


Oratio: Today I pray for the grace to live more fully into the threatening yet beautiful royal laws and vision of a world Jesus Christ lived and invites us to live with him, in him, and for him.