WEDNESDAY THE EIGHTEENTH OF JULY, 2018
* Bartolomé de las Casas *
Almighty and everlasting God, who hates nothing that you have made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
You messengers of Christ, his sovereign voice obey;
arise and follow where he leads and peace attend your way.
The master whom you serve, will needful strength bestow;
depending on his promised aid, with sacred courage go.
Mountains shall sink to plains and hell in vain oppose;
the cause is God’s and must prevail, in spite of all his foes.
Go, spread a saviour’s name and tell his matchless grace,
to the most guilty and depraved of Adam’s numerous race.
( Bourne Hall Draper a.k.a. Mrs Vokes, 1775-1843 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Bartolomé de las Casas, fighter for justice
Today Saint Laika’s remembers Bartolomé de Las Casas, a Spanish Dominican priest, who was a fierce advocate for justice and an end to the enslavement of native peoples in North and Central America.
Bartolomé de Las Casas was born in Seville, Spain, in 1474. In 1502 he went to Cuba and for his military services there was given an estate that included the services of the Indians living on it. In about 1513 he was ordained priest (probably the first ordination in the Americas) and in 1514 he renounced all claim on his Indian serfs.
During the following seven years he made several voyages to Spain to find support for a series of new towns in which Spaniard and Indian would live together in peace and equality. In 1523 he became a Dominican friar and disappeared for a time from public controversy.
In 1540 he returned to Spain and was a force behind the passage in 1542 of laws prohibiting Indian slavery and safeguarding the rights of the Indians. He was made Bishop of Chiapas in Guatemala and returned to the Americas in 1544 to implement the new laws. However, he met considerable resistance and in 1547 he returned to Spain, where he devoted the rest of his life to speaking and writing on behalf of the Indians.
Bartolomé de las Casas is widely admired as an early pioneer of social justice, He died in Madrid on the seventeenth of July, 1566, and is remembered as a national hero in Cuba and Nicaragua.
Scripture. In the book of "Isaiah," chapter fifty-eight, verses six and seven, we read:
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
... for peace in the world.
... for an end to the oppression and exploitation of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
... for an end to slavery in whatever form it takes.
... that the life of Nelson Mandela may continue to be an example of graciousness to all; that people around the world may be brought together in his name to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity. DETAILS
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis:
I find a good many people have been bothered by our Lord’s words, "Be ye perfect."
Some people seem to think this means, "Unless you are perfect, I will not help you," and, as we cannot be perfect, then if he meant that, our position is hopeless.
But I do not think he did mean that. I think he meant, "The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less."
Let me explain. When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother; at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie, if you gave them an inch they took an ell.
Now, if I may put it that way, our Lord is like the dentists. If you give him an inch, he will take an ell. Dozens of people go to him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, he will cure it all right: but he will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call him in, he will give you the full treatment.
He warned people to "count the cost" before becoming Christians.
"Make no mistake," he says, "if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in my hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push me away. But if you do not push me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect, until my Father can say without reservation that he is well pleased with you, as he said he was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less."
And yet (this is the other and equally important side of it) this helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty. As a great Christian writer, George MacDonald, pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son.
In the same way, he said, "God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy."
On the one hand, God’s demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall he will pick you up again. And he knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realise from the outset that the goal towards which he is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. And it is very important to realise that. If we do not, then we are very likely to start pulling back and resisting him after a certain point.
Eternal God, we give you thanks for the witness of Bartolomé de las Casas, whose deep love for your people caused him to refuse absolution to those who would not free their Indian slaves. Help us, inspired by his example, to work and pray for the freeing of all enslaved people of our world, for the sake of Jesus Christ our redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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