Gallantly, ceaselessly, quietly, man must fight for inner liberty to remain independent of the enslavement of the material world.

― Abraham Joshua Heschel

Scripture: Genesis 47.29-30

[Israel said,] “Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.”

Reflection: Risks of Faith
By Steven Dilla

“Imagine, challenges Kierkegaard, “a mighty spirit who promised to a certain people his protection, but upon the condition that they should make their appearance at a definite place where it was dangerous to go.” And here, in just a sentence, we have the story that repeats with every father of the faith. And also the story of our own faith. The philosopher continues:

Suppose that these folks waited to make their appearance, and instead went home to their living rooms and talked to one another in enthusiastic terms about how this spirit had promised them his potent protection. No one would be able to harm them. Is not this ridiculous?

So it is with today’s Christianity. Christ taught something perfectly definite by believing; to believe is to venture out as decisively as it is possible, breaking with everything one naturally loves. But to him who believes, assistance against all danger is also promised.

But today we play at believing, play at being Christians. We remain at home in the old grooves of finitude–and then we go and twaddle with one another, or let the preachers twaddle to us, about all the promises that are found in Christ. Is this not ridiculous?

Israel never saw the promised land. John the Baptist was seized by anxiety when Christ did not usher in the Kingdom of God during his lifetime. “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment,” the book of Hebrews records. “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.”

How we long to experience the fullness of God now. How we overlook the “great cloud of witnesses” who walked in faith before us.

Kierkegaard prays:

Preserve me, Lord, from the deceit of thinking that by being prudent and looking after my own interests I am necessarily using my talents aright. He who takes risks for your sake may appear to lose, but he is accepted by you. He who risks nothing appears to gain by his prudence, but he is rejected by you. But let me not think that by avoiding risk I am better than the other. Grant me to see that this is an illusion, and save me from such a snare.

Prayer: The Request for Presence

Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. — Psalm 90:14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Reading
Genesis 47 (Listen – 5:03)
Luke 1:1-38 (Listen – 9:26)