Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Friday of the First Week of Advent
20 Days Before Christmas
40 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120514.cfm

Reflection:  Are there any blind-spots in your life that keep you from recognizing God’s power and mercy? When two blind men heard that Jesus was passing their way, they followed him and begged for his mercy. The word mercy literally means “sorrowful at heart”. But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another’s misfortune and suffering as if it were their own. When two blind men approached Jesus, he questioned their earnestness. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus put them to the test, not to rebuff them, but to strengthen their faith and trust in God’s mercy. He touched their eyes, both to identify with their affliction and to awaken faith in them. Their faith grew as they responded to his word with confident hope. Jesus restored their sight – both physically and spiritually to the reality of God’s kingdom. Faith opens the way for us to see the power of God’s kingdom and to experience his healing presence in our lives.

In Jesus we see the fulness of God’s mercy and the power of his kingdom – power to save from death and destruction, to forgive sins and lift the burden of guilt, and to heal infirmities and release the oppressed. Jesus never refused to bring God’s mercy to those who earnestly sought it. How can we seek and obtain God’s mercy? God gives mercy to the lowly in heart – to those who recognize their need for God and for his forgiveness and healing power.

God wants to change and transform our lives to set us free to live as his sons and daughters and citizens of his kingdom. Faith is key to this transformation. How can we grow in faith? Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience – an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in the confident expectation that he will fulfill his promises to us and bring us into the fulness of his kingdom – a kingdom of  righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Do you know the peace and joy of God’s kingdom?

“Lord Jesus, help me to draw near to you with faith and trust in your saving power and mercy. Free me from doubt and unbelief that I may approach you confidently and pray boldly with expectant faith. Let your kingdom come and may your will be done in me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec5.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Sabas (b. 439)

Born in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), Sabas is one of the most highly regarded patriarchs among the monks of Palestine, and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.

After an unhappy childhood in which he was abused and ran away several times, Sabas finally sought refuge in a monastery. While family members tried to persuade him to return home, the young boy felt drawn to monastic life. Although the youngest monk in the house, he excelled in virtue.

At age 18 he traveled to Jerusalem, seeking to learn more about living in solitude. Soon he asked to be accepted as a disciple of a well-known local solitary, though initially he was regarded as too young to live completely as a hermit. Initially, Sabas lived in a monastery, where he worked during the day and spent much of the night in prayer. At the age of 30 he was given permission to spend five days each week in a nearby remote cave, engaging in prayer and manual labor in the form of weaving baskets. Following the death of his mentor, St. Euthymius, Sabas moved farther into the desert near Jericho. There he lived for several years in a cave near the brook Cedron. A rope was his means of access. Wild herbs among the rocks were his food. Occasionally men brought him other food and items, while he had to go a distance for his water.

Some of these men came to him desiring to join him in his solitude. At first he refused. But not long after relenting, his followers swelled to more than 150, all of them living in individual huts grouped around a church, called a laura.

The bishop persuaded a reluctant Sabas, then in his early 50s, to prepare for the priesthood so that he could better serve his monastic community in leadership. While functioning as abbot among a large community of monks, he felt ever called to live the life of a hermit. Throughout each year–consistently in Lent–he left his monks for long periods of time, often to their distress. A group of 60 men left the monastery, settling at a nearby ruined facility. When Sabas learned of the difficulties they were facing, he generously gave them supplies and assisted in the repair of their church.

Over the years Sabas traveled throughout Palestine, preaching the true faith and successfully bringing back many to the Church. At the age of 91, in response to a plea from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sabas undertook a journey to Constantinople in conjunction with the Samaritan revolt and its violent repression. He fell ill and soon after his return, died at the monastery at Mar Saba. Today the monastery is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and St. Sabas is regarded as one of the most noteworthy figures of early monasticism. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1220&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Holy Souls
Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
50 Days Before Christmas
70 Days Before the Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Philippians 3:3-8
Psalms 105:2-7: Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110614.cfm

Reflection:  Do you ever feel resentful or get upset when someone else gets treated better than you think they deserve? The scribes and Pharisees took great offense at Jesus because he went out of his way to meet with sinners and he treated them like they were his friends. The Pharisees had strict regulations about how they were to keep away from sinners, lest they incur ritual defilement. They were not to entrust money to sinners or have any business dealings with them, nor trust them with a secret, nor entrust orphans to their care, nor accompany them on a journey, nor give their daughter in marriage to any of their sons, nor invite them as guests or be their guests.

Do you judge others with mercy or disdain – with kindness or harshness?
The Pharisees were shocked when they saw Jesus freely meeting with sinners and even going to their homes to eat with them. Many sinners and outcasts of society were drawn to Jesus to hear him speak about the mercy of God and the offer of new life and friendship in the kingdom of God. When the Pharisees began to question Jesus’ motive and practice of associating with sinners and outcasts, Jesus responded by giving them two parables about a lost sheep and a lost coin to challenge their way of judging sinners and shunning contact with them.

Finding and restoring what has been lost
What is the point of Jesus’ story about a lost sheep and a lost coin? In Jesus’ time shepherds normally counted their sheep at the end of the day to make sure all were accounted for. Since sheep by their very nature are very social, an isolated sheep can quickly become bewildered and even neurotic. The shepherd’s grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold.

The housewife who lost a coin faced something of an economic disaster, since the value of the coin would be equivalent to her husband’s daily wage. What would she say to her husband when he returned home from work? They were poor and would suffer greatly because of the loss. Her grief and anxiety turn to joy when she finds the coin.

Bringing the lost to the community of faith
Both the shepherd and the housewife “search until what they have lost is found.” Their persistence pays off. They both instinctively share their joy with the whole community. The poor are particularly good at sharing in one another’s sorrows and joys. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out and not merely mourned for. God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that all be saved and restored to fellowship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God.  Seekers of the lost are much needed today. Do you persistently pray and seek after those you know who have lost their way to God?

“Lord Jesus, let your light dispel the darkness that what is lost may be found and restored. Let your light shine through me that others may see your truth and love and find hope and peace in you. May I never doubt your love nor take for granted the mercy you have shown to me. Fill me with your transforming love that I may be merciful as you are merciful.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/nov6.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Leonard (d. 559) , Patron of political prisoners, imprisoned people, prisoners of war, and captives, women in labour, as well as horses

According to unreliable sources, he was a Frank courtier who was converted by St. Remigius, refused the offer of a See from his godfather, King Clovis I, and became a monk at Micy. He lived as a hermit at Limoges and was rewarded by the king with all the land he could ride around on a donkey in a day for his prayers, which were believed to have brought the Queen through a difficult delivery safely. He founded Noblac monastery on the land so granted him, and it grew into the town of Saint-Leonard. He remained there evangelizing the surrounding area until his death. He is invoked by women in labor and by prisoners of war because of the legend that Clovis promised to release every captive Leonard visited. His feast day is November 6.

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Holy Souls

Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
51 Days Before Christmas
71 Days Before the Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Philippians 2:12-18
Psalms 27:1-14: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Gospel: Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110514.cfm

Reflection:  Why does Jesus say we must ‘hate’ our families and even ourselves? The expression ‘to hate’ often meant to ‘prefer less’. Jesus used strong language to make clear that nothing should take precedence or first place over God. God our heavenly Father created us in his image and likeness to be his sons and daughters. He has put us first in his love and concern for our welfare. Our love for him is a response to his exceeding love for us. True love is costly because it is willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the beloved. God sacrificed his Son for our sake and for our salvation. God proved his love for us by sending his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who offered up his life for us as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The cost of discipleship
Jesus willingly embraced the cross, not only out of obedience to his Father’s will, but out of a merciful love for each one of us in order to set us free from sin, Satan, and death. Jesus knew that the cross was the Father’s way for him to achieve victory and glory for our sake. He counted the cost and said ‘yes’ to his Father’s will. We, too, must ‘count the cost’ and be ready to follow the Lord Jesus in the way of the cross if we want to share in his glory and victory.

What is the ‘way of the cross’ for you and me? It means that when my will crosses with God’s will, then his will must be done. The way of the cross involves sacrifice, the sacrifice of laying down my life each and every day for Jesus’ sake. What makes such sacrifice possible and “sweet” for us is the love of God poured out for us in the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). We can never give more than God. He always gives us more than we can expect or imagine. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love of God?

The wise plan ahead to avert failure and shame
What do the twin parables of the tower builder and a ruler on a war campaign have in common? Both men risk serious loss if they don’t carefully plan ahead. In a shame and honor culture people want at all costs to avoid being mocked by their community for failing to complete a task which they have begun in earnest. This double parable echoes the instruction of Proverbs: “By wisdom a house is built” and “by wise guidance you can wage a war” to ensure victory (Proverbs 24:3-6).

In Jesus’ time every landowner who could afford it walled in his orchard as a protection from intruders who might steal or destroy his produce. A tower was usually built in a corner of the wall and a guard posted especially during harvest time when thieves would likely try to make off with the goods. Starting a building-project, like a watchtower, and leaving it unfinished because of poor planning would invite the scorn of the whole village. Likewise a king who decided to wage a war against an opponent who was much stronger, would be considered foolish if he did not come up with a plan that had a decent chance of success. Counting the cost and investing wisely are necessary conditions for making a good return.

We must count the cost if we want to invest in God’s kingdom
Jesus tells his would-be disciples that they, too, must count the cost if they want to succeed as his disciples. Jesus assures success for those willing to pay the price. All it cost is everything we have – the entirety of our lives and all we possess! What does Jesus have to offer that’s worth giving up everything else? More than we can imagine! Jesus offers the gift of an abundant joy-filled life and the promise of everlasting peace and happiness with God for ever. (See the parable of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-45).

It’s natural to ask what will it require or cost before a commitment to invest in something of great value. Jesus was utterly honest and spared no words to tell his disciples that it would cost them dearly to follow after him and to invest in his heavenly kingdom. There can be no room for compromise or concession with God and his kingdom. We either give our lives over to him entirely or we keep them for ourselves. Paul the Apostle says, “We are not our own. We were bought with a price” ( 1 Corinthians 6:19b,20). That price is the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed for us upon the cross to redeem us from slavery to sin and death.

Who do you love first – above all else?
The love of God compels us to choose who or what will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or any possession above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine what they love first and foremost. Jesus’ way to glory and power is opposite the world’s way of glory, power, and success. The choice is ours, but the Lord does not leave us alone if we choose to follow him. Does the love of Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (see 2 Corinthians 5)?

“Lord Jesus, may your love transform me that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. May you always be first in my thoughts and intentions, and in my words and actions.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/nov5.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Elizabeth
Not much information is known about Elizabeth, but she has the distinction of being one of the first to know about Mary’s great blessing as the Mother of God.

Zachary was a priest in Jerusalem whose wife, Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, was beyond child-bearing age. He was told by an angel in a vision that they would have a son and should name him John. When he doubted this, he was struck dumb. Elizabeth was visited by Mary, at which time Mary spoke the hymn of praise now known at the Magnificat, and after John’s birth, Zachary’s speech was restored. This is all that is known of Elizabeth and Zachary, and is found in the New Testament in Luke, Chapter 1. An unvarifiable tradition has Zachary murdered in the Temple when he refused to tell Herod where his son John was to be found. Their feast day is November 5th. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=344

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Holy Souls
Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop
Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
52 Days Before Christmas
72 Days Before the Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
Psalms 22:26-32:   I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
Gospel: Luke 14:15-24

One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.’” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110414.cfm

Reflection:  What does it mean to “eat bread in the kingdom of heaven”? In the ancient world the most notable sign of favor and intimate friendship was the invitation to “share bread” at the dinner table. Who you ate with showed who you valued and trusted as your friends. A great banquet would involve a lavish meal of several courses and a large company of notable guests and friends. One of the most beautiful images of heaven in the scriptures is the royal wedding celebration and banquet given by the King for his son and  friends. We, in fact, have been invited to the most important banquet of all! The last book in the Bible ends with an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb and his Bride, the church:The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! (Revelations 22:17). The ‘Lamb of God’ is the Lord Jesus Christ and his bride is the people he has redeemed by his own precious blood which was shed upon the cross for our salvation.

Making light of  the Lord’s gracious invitation to feast at his table
Jesus’ “banquet parable” must have startled his audience. If a great lord or king invited his friends to a banquet, why would the guests turn down his invitation? A great banquet would take many days to prepare. And personal invitations would be sent out well in advance to the guests, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for the upcoming event. How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King’s request because they put their own interests above his.

Excuses that hold us back from pursuing the things of God
Jesus probes the reasons why people make excuses to God’s great invitation to “eat bread” with him at his banquet table. The first excuse allows the claims of one’s personal business or work to take precedence over God’s claim. Do you allow any task or endeavor to absorb you so much that it keeps you from the thought of God? The second excuse allows our possessions to come before God. Do you allow the media and other diversions to crowd out time for God in daily prayer and worship? The third excuse puts home and family ahead of God. God never meant for our home and relationships to be used selfishly. We serve God best when we invite him into our work, our homes, and our personal lives and when we share our possessions with others.

An invitation of undeserved grace and favor
The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation. The “poor, maimed, blind, and lame” represent the outcasts of society – those who can make no claim on the King. There is even ample room at the feast of God for outsiders from the highways and hedges – the Gentiles who were not members of the chosen people, the Jews. This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness! But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. Grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.

God’s grace is free and costly
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who died for his faith under the Nazi persecution of Jews and Christians, contrasted cheap graceand costly grace: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the Gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

God lavishes his grace upon each one of us to draw us closer to himself and he invites each of us to his banquet that we may share more deeply in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

“Lord Jesus, you withhold no good thing from us and you lavish us with the treasures of heaven. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to lay aside anything that might hinder me from doing your will.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/nov4.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Charles Borromeo,  Patron of learning and the arts (1538-1584)

The name of St. Charles Borromeo is associated with reform. He lived during the time of the Protestant Reformation, and had a hand in the reform of the whole Church during the final years of the Council of Trent (1545-63).

Although he belonged to Milanese nobility and was related to the powerful Medici family, he desired to devote himself to the Church. When his uncle, Cardinal de Medici, was elected pope in 1559 as Pius IV, he made Charles cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan while he was still a layman and a young student. Because of his intellectual qualities he was entrusted with several important offices connected with the Vatican and later appointed secretary of state with responsibility for the papal states. The untimely death of his elder brother brought Charles to a definite decision to be ordained a priest, despite relatives’ insistence that he marry. Soon after he was ordained a priest at the age of 25, he was consecrated bishop of Milan.

Because of his work at the Council of Trent, he was not allowed to take up residence in Milan until the Council was over. Charles had encouraged the pope to renew the Council in 1562 after it had been suspended for 10 years. Working behind the scenes, St. Charles deserves the credit for keeping the Council in session when at several points it was on the verge of breaking up. He took upon himself the task of the entire correspondence during the final phase.

Eventually Charles was allowed to devote his time to the Archdiocese of Milan, where the religious and moral picture was far from bright. The reform needed in every phase of Catholic life among both clergy and laity was initiated at a provincial council of all the bishops under him. Specific regulations were drawn up for bishops and other clergy: If the people were to be converted to a better life, he had to be the first to give a good example and renew their apostolic spirit.

Charles took the initiative in giving good example. He allotted most of his income to charity, forbade himself all luxury and imposed severe penances upon himself. He sacrificed wealth, high honors, esteem and influence to become poor. During the plague and famine of 1576, he tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily. To do this he borrowed large sums of money that required years to repay. Whereas the civil authorities fled at the height of the plague, he stayed in the city, where he ministered to the sick and the dying, helping those in want.

Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect his health. He died at the age of 46. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1189&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Holy Rosary
Saturday Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary
62 Days Before Christmas
82 Days Before the Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines
 

First Reading: Ephesians 4:7-16
Psalms 122:1-5:  Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
He said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them–
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102514.cfm

Reflection:  What can a calamity, such as a political blood-bath or a natural disaster, teach us about God’s kingdom and the consequences of bad choices and sinful actions? Jesus used two such occasions to address the issue of sin and judgment with his Jewish audience. Pilate, who was the Roman governor of Jerusalem at the time, ordered his troops to slaughter a group of Galileans who had come up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice in the Temple. We do not know what these Galileans did to incite Pilate’s wrath, nor why Pilate chose to attack them in the holiest of places for the Jews, in their temple at Jerusalem. For the Jews, this was political barbarity and sacrilige at its worst! The second incident which Jesus addressed was a natural disaster, a tower in Jerusalem which unexpectedly collasped, killing 18 people. The Jews often associated such calamities and disasters as a consequence of sin. Scripture does warn that sin can result in calamity! Though the righteous fall seven times, and rise again; the wicked are overthrown by calamity (Proverbs 24:16).

The time for repentance and forgiveness is right now!
The real danger and calamity which Jesus points out is that an unexpected disaster or a sudden death does not give us time to repent of our sins and to prepare ourselves to meet the Judge of heaven and earth. The Book of Job reminds us that misfortune and calamity can befall both the righteous and the unrighteous alike. Jesus gives a clear warning – take responsibility for your actions and moral choices and put sin to death today before it can destroy your heart, mind, soul, and body as well. Unrepentant sin is like a cancer which corrupts us from within. If it is not eliminated through repentance – asking God for forgiveness and for his healing grace, it leads to a spiritual death which is far worse than physical destruction.

The sign of the barren fig tree
Jesus’ parable of the barren fig trees illustrated his warning about the consequences of allowing sin and corruption to take root in our hearts and minds. Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the people of Palestine. A fig tree normally matured within three years, producing plentiful fruit. If it failed, it was cut down to make room for more healthy trees. A decaying fig tree and its bad fruit came to symbolize for the Jews the consequence of spiritual corruption caused by evil deeds and unrepentant sin. The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel’s unresponsiveness to the word of God. The prophets depicted the desolation and calamity of Israel, due to her unfaithfulness to God, as a languishing fig tree (see Joel 1:7,12; Habbakuk 3:17; and Jeremiah 8:13). Jeremiah likened good and evil rulers and members of Israel with figs that were good for eating and figs that were rotten and useless (Jeremiah 24:2-8). Jesus’ parable depicts the patience of God, but it also contains a warning that we should not presume upon patience and mercy. God’s judgment will come – sooner or later – in due course.

Why God judges
Why does God judge his people? He judges to purify and cleanse us of all sin that we might grow in his holiness and righteousness. And he disciplines us for our own good, to inspire a godly fear and reverence for him and his word. God is patient, but for those who persistently and stubbornly rebel against him and refuse to repent, there is the consequence that they will lose their soul to hell. Are God’s judgments unjust or unloving? When God’s judgments are revealed in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9). To pronounce God’s judgment on sin is much less harsh than what will happen if those who sin are not warned to repent.

Don’t tolerate sin
God, in his mercy, gives us time to get right with him, but that time is now. We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden and unexpected death leaves one no time to prepare to settle one’s accounts when he or she must stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepentant sin will result in bad fruit and eventual destruction. The Lord in his mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you hunger for the Lord’s righteousness and holiness?

“Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you that I may grow in righteousness and holiness. May I not squander the grace of the present moment to say “yes” to you and to your will and plan for my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/oct25.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão (1739-1822)

God’s plan in a person’s life often takes unexpected turns which become life-giving through cooperation with God’s grace.

Born in Guarantingueta near São Paulo (Brazil), Antônio attended the Jesuit seminary in Belem but later decided to become a Franciscan friar. Invested in 1760, he made final profession the following year and was ordained in 1762.

In São Paulo, he served as preacher, confessor and porter. Within a few years he was appointed confessor to the Recollects of St. Teresa, a group of nuns in that city. He and Sister Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit founded a new community of sisters under the patronage of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence. Sister Helena Maria’s premature death the next year left Father Antônio responsible for the new congregation, especially for building a convent and church adequate for their growing numbers.

He served as novice master for the friars in Macacu and as guardian of St. Francis Friary in São Paulo. He founded St. Clare Friary in Sorocaba. With the permission of his provincial and the bishop, he spent his last days at the Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz, the convent of the sisters’ congregation he had helped establish.

He was beatified in Rome on October 25, 1998, and canonized in 2007. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1179&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Posted by: RAM | October 6, 2014

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Holy Rosary
Tuesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
80 Days Before Christmas
100 Days Before the Visit of Pope Francis
 

First Reading: Galatians 1:13-24
Psalms 139:1-15:  Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
 

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100714.cfm

Reflection: Does the peace of Christ reign in your home and in your personal life? Jesus loved to visit the home of Martha and Mary and enjoyed their gracious hospitality. In this brief encounter we see two very different temperaments in Martha and Mary. Martha loved to serve, but in her anxious manner of waiting on Jesus, she caused unrest. Mary, in her simple and trusting manner, waited on Jesus by sitting attentively at his feet. She instinctively knew that what the Lord and Teacher most wanted at that moment was her attentive presence.

Give your concerns and pre-occupations to the Lord
Anxiety and preoccupation keep us from listening and from giving the Lord our undivided attention. The Lord bids us to give him our concerns and anxieties because he is trustworthy and able to meet any need we have. His grace frees us from needless concerns and preoccupation. Do you seek the Lord attentively? And does the Lord find a welcomed and honored place in your home?

Always welcome the Lord into your home and heart
The Lord Jesus desires that we make a place for him, not only in our hearts, but in our homes and in the daily circumstances of our lives as well. We honor the Lord when we offer to him everything we have and everything we do. After all, everything we have is an outright gift from God (1 Chronicles 29:14). Paul the Apostle urges us to give God glory in everything: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

When you sit, eat, sleep and when you entertain your friends and guests, remember that the Lord Jesus is also the guest of your home. Scripture tells us that when Abraham opened his home and welcomed three unknown travelers, he welcomed the Lord who blessed him favorably for his gracious hospitality (Genesis 18:1-10; Hebrews 13:2). The Lord wants us to bring him glory in the way we treat others and use the gifts he has graciously given to us. God, in turn, blesses us with his gracious presence and fills us with joy.

“Lord Jesus, to be in your presence is life and joy for me. Free me from needless concerns and preoccupations that I may give you my undivided love and attention.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/oct7.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Feast of the Day: Our Lady of the Rosary

St. Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

The development of the rosary has a long history. First, a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving the rosary to St. Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of St. Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “the apostle of the rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century the rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 mysteries (joyful, sorrowful and glorious). In 2002, Pope John Paul II added five Mysteries of Light to this devotion. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1161&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Our Lady of Sorrows
The Sacred Stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi (Feast)
Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
99 Days Before Christmas 

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Psalms 33:2-22:  Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Gospel: Luke 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091714.cfm

Reflection: What do childrens’ games have to do with the kingdom of God? Games are the favorite pastime of children who play until their energy is spent. The more interaction the merrier the game. The children in Jesus’ parable react with disappointment because they cannot convince others to join in their musical play. They complain that when they make merry music such as played at weddings, no one dances or sings along – and when they play mournful tunes for sad occasions such as  funerals, it is the same dead response. This refrain echoes the words of Ecclesiastes 3:4, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. Both joyful and sad occasions – such as the birth of a child and the homecoming of a hero or the loss of a loved one or the destruction of a community or nation – demand a response. To show indifference, lack of support, or disdain is unfitting and unkind.

Spiritual indifference and deaf ears can block God’s word for us
Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is a proclamation of good news that produces great joy and hope for those who will listen – but it is also a warning of disaster for those who refuse to accept God’s gracious offer. Why did the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus meet with resistance and deaf ears? It was out of jealously and spiritual blindness that the scribes and Pharisees attributed John the Baptist’s austerities to the devil and they attributed Jesus’ table fellowship as evidence for pretending to be the Messiah. They succeeded in frustrating God’s plan for their lives because they had closed their hearts to the message of  John the Baptist and now they close their ears to Jesus, God’s anointed son sent to redeem us from bondage to sin and death.

Those who hunger for God will be satisfied
What can make us spiritually dull and slow to hear God’s voice? Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regards to the message of God’s kingdom. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the good news of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart who are hungry for God can find true joy and happiness. Do you listen to God’s word with expectant faith and the willingness to trust and obey?

“Lord Jesus, open my ears to hear the good news of your kingdom and set my heart free to love and serve you joyfully. May nothing keep me from following you with all my heart, mind, and strength.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/sep17.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)

When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain.

His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V.

Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that “he had not his equal for learning.” While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, “The walls won’t catch cold.”

Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church.

The last major controversy of Bellarmine’s life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible.

Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1141&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day  

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Seventh day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
3 Days Before Christmas
23 Days Before the First Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Psalms 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8: My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122214.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the mercy and favor of the Lord? Those who hunger for the Lord will not be disappointed. The Lord himself will fill them with the fruits of his peace, joy, and righteousness. We see God’s boundless love manifested in the promise of a Redeemer. As the events leading to the birth of our Savior unfold we see all the prophecies, promises and prayers of the Old Testament being fulfilled because “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son” (John 3:16).

The Gospel of Luke reveals the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s life. When Elizabeth and Mary greeted one another they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to give a Savior. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us.

Mary accepted her mission with uncompromising faith and obedience. She acted with unwavering trust and faith because she believed that God would fulfill the word he had spoken. Her great hymn of praise echoes the song of Hannah (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10) and proclaims the favor of the Lord: God exalts the lowly and he fills the hungry with good things. Hannah like Mary had been without child and God in a marvelous way gave her a son, named Samuel, whom she dedicated at an early age to the service of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:24ff.)  Mary, too, would lose her son to a servant ministry that would take him to the cross. Christmas is a time for renewing our faith and hope in God and in his promises and for deepening our love for God and for neighbor. Do you seek the Lord Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit so that you may be renewed in faith, hope, and love?

“Lord Jesus, help me to earnestly seek you with humility and confidence. Increase my faith in your promises, strengthen within me the hope of heaven and eternal life, and set my heart on fire with burning love for you and for your kingdom. May I always praise and magnify your great mercy and glory.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec22.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Blessed Jacopone da Todi (d. 1306)

Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna.

His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life.

He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or “Crazy Jim,” by his former associates. The name became dear to him.

After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular.

Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping “because Love is not loved.” During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, Stabat Mater.

On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed “Sister Death” with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1237&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sixth day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
4 Days Before Christmas
24 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Psalms 89:2-5, 27, 29: For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122114.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the steadfast love of the Lord? God’s love endures forever because he is a covenant-making God who keeps his promises (Psalm 89:2-4). God showed special favor to David when he anointed him to be king of Israel. After David had established peace in the land and wanted to build a house for God, God reassured him that he would build David a house, not made of stone but of flesh, that would last forever (2 Samuel 7:12,16). This royal house would be no ordinary dynasty because God himself promised to raise up an heir to David’s house, another “man after God’s own heart” – a Savior and King who would bring healing, pardon, and lasting peace for his people.

A new era of grace and salvation begins with the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus
We begin to see the fulfillment of this prophecy and the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah King. The new era of salvation begins with the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favor with God (Luke 1:28). As Eve was the mother of all humanity doomed to sin, now Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam who will father a new humanity by his grace (Romans 5:12-21).

This child to be conceived in her womb is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. He will be “great” and “Son of the Most Hig” and “King” and his name shall be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31-32), which means “the Lord saves.” “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The angel repeats to Mary, the daughter of the house of David, the promise made to King David: “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33).

Mary believed God’s word and gave her unqualified “yes” to God’s will
How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, “how shall this be, since I have no husband” is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. Mary is the “mother of God” because God becomes incarnate when he takes on flesh in her womb. Jesus, whom the Father sent from heaven, is true God and true man.

God gives us the grace to say “yes” to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
When we pray the ancient Nicene Creed (325 AD) we state our confession of faith in this great mystery: “For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the help, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?

“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and plan for my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec21.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

The energetic life of Peter Canisius should demolish any stereotypes we may have of the life of a saint as dull or routine. Peter lived his 76 years at a pace which must be considered heroic, even in our time of rapid change. A man blessed with many talents, Peter is an excellent example of the scriptural man who develops his talents for the sake of the Lord’s work.

He was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. His was such a key role that he has often been called the “second apostle of Germany” in that his life parallels the earlier work of Boniface (June 5).

Although Peter once accused himself of idleness in his youth, he could not have been idle too long, for at the age of 19 he received a master’s degree from the university at Cologne. Soon afterwards he met Peter Faber, the first disciple of Ignatius Loyola (July 31), who influenced Peter so much that he joined the recently formed Society of Jesus.

At this early age Peter had already taken up a practice he continued throughout his life—a process of study, reflection, prayer and writing. After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Leo the Great. Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or prisoners, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most people fully occupied.

In 1547 Peter attended several sessions of the Council of Trent, whose decrees he was later assigned to implement. After a brief teaching assignment at the Jesuit college at Messina, Peter was entrusted with the mission to Germany—from that point on his life’s work. He taught in several universities and was instrumental in establishing many colleges and seminaries. He wrote a catechism that explained the Catholic faith in a way which common people could understand—a great need of that age.

Renowned as a popular preacher, Peter packed churches with those eager to hear his eloquent proclamation of the gospel. He had great diplomatic ability, often serving as a reconciler between disputing factions. In his letters (filling eight volumes) one finds words of wisdom and counsel to people in all walks of life. At times he wrote unprecedented letters of criticism to leaders of the Church—yet always in the context of a loving, sympathetic concern.

At 70 Peter suffered a paralytic seizure, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in his hometown (Nijmegen, Netherlands) on December 21, 1597. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1236&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Fifth day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
5 Days Before Christmas
25 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalms 24:1-6: Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month,
the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122014.cfm

Reflection:  How does God reveal his favor to us? In the psalms we pray, “Lord, show me a sign of your favor” (Psalm 86:17). In the Old Testament God performed many signs and miracles to demonstrate his love and mercy for his people, such as their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the miraculous crossing of the Red sea on dry land (Psalm 78:43-53). When Ahaz, king of Judah and heir to the throne of David (735 B.C.) was surrounded by forces that threatened to destroy him and his people, God offered him a sign to reassure him that God would not abandon the promise he made to David and his descendants. King Ahaz, however, had lost hope in God and refused to ask for a sign of favor. God, nonetheless, gave a sign to assure his people that he would indeed give them a Savior who would rule with peace and righteousness (Isaiah 7:11ff).

The new era of salvation begins with the conception and birth of Jesus
We see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah King. The new era of salvation begins with the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favor with God (Luke 1:28).

His kingdom will have no end
As Eve was the mother of all humanity doomed to sin, now Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam who will father a new humanity by his grace (Romans 5:12-21). This child to be conceived in her womb is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. He will be “great” and “Son of the Most High” and “King” and his name shall be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31-32), which means “the Lord saves.” “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The angel repeats to Mary, the daughter of the house of David, the promise made to King David: “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33).

Mary is a true hearer of the Word of God
How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, “how shall this be, since I have no husband” is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust.

Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. Mary is the “mother of God” because God becomes incarnate when he takes on flesh in her womb.  When we pray the Nicene Creed we state our confession of faith in this great mystery: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man”.

If we say “yes” to God we can live a grace-filled life
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the help, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?

“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified ‘yes’ to your will and plan for my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec20.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Dominic of Silos, Patron against rabies; against rabid dogs; against insects; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds (c. 1000-1073)

 It’s not the founder of the Dominicans we honor today, but there’s a poignant story that connects both Dominics.

Our saint today, Dominic of Silos, was born in Spain around the year 1000 into a peasant family. As a young boy he spent time in the fields, where he welcomed the solitude. He became a Benedictine priest and served in numerous leadership positions. Following a dispute with the king over property, Dominic and two other monks were exiled. They established a new monastery in what at first seemed an unpromising location. Under Dominic’s leadership, however, it became one of the most famous houses in Spain. Many healings were reported there.

About 100 years after Dominic’s death, a young woman made a pilgrimage to his tomb. There Dominic of Silos appeared to her and assured her that she would bear another son. The woman was Joan of Aza, and the son she bore grew up to be the “other” Dominic—the one who founded the Dominicans.

For many years thereafter, the staff used by St. Dominic of Silos was brought to the royal palace whenever a queen of Spain was in labor. That practice ended in 1931. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1885&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Friday of the Third Week of Advent

Fourth day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
6 Days Before Christmas
26 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
Psalms 71:3-6, 16-17: My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Gospel: Luke 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121914.cfm

Reflection:  Do you believe that God will fulfill all his promises just as he said? Advent is a time to renew our hope and confidence in God’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with his people. In preparing the way for a Savior, we see the wondrous miracle of two barren couples who conceive and bear sons – Samson in the Old Testament (Judges 13) and John the Baptist in the New Testament (Luke 1:5ff) – who are called by God to bring hope and deliverance at a time of spiritual darkness and difficulty for the people of God.

A blessing beyond expectations
Zechariah was a godly man who was tuned to God’s voice. He was born into a priestly family and it was his privilege to be chosen to enter the inner court of the temple to offer sacrifice to God.  Luke records that the people wondered at Zechariah’s delay and were amazed that he was speechless when he withdrew from the inner sanctuary. They rightly perceived that he had a special encounter with God. God’s angelic messenger greeted Zechariah with a blessing beyond his expectations.

“Your prayer is heard! You will have a son! And his mission will be great for all of Israel.”

Now that seemed like a lot for Zechariah to take in all at once. Could God really do a miracle for his barren wife, Elizabeth?  The angel somewhat wisely put Zechariah in his place before God’s mighty action.  He became speechless until the day the infant was dedicated to the Lord and given the name, John. When God draws us into his presence, he wants us to be still and quiet before him so we can listen to his voice as he speaks to our hearts and reveals his mind to us.  Do you listen attentively to the Lord and do you ponder his word in your heart with trust and confidence?

The Lord is gracious
In the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist, the angel explains to Zechariah the role his son is to play in preparing the way for the Messiah. John will be great in the sight of God. He will live as a Nazarite (see Numbers 6) – a person set apart for the Lord. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even within his mother’s womb. And he shall be sent to the people of God, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers and children to God and one another, by turning the “disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” The name John means “the Lord is gracious”. When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith “alive” to his promises. Do you pray that “the hearts of parents and children may be turned to God and one another”?

“Lord Jesus, you bring hope and restoration to your people. Restore and strengthen Christian family life today. Help me to love and serve my family. May your love rule in all my relationships and remove any barriers to peace and harmony.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec19.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Blessed Pope Urban V (1310-1370)

In 1362, the man elected pope declined the office. When the cardinals could not find another person among them for that important office, they turned to a relative stranger: the holy person we honor today.

The new Pope Urban V proved a wise choice. A Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, he was deeply spiritual and brilliant. He lived simply and modestly, which did not always earn him friends among clergymen who had become used to comfort and privilege. Still, he pressed for reform and saw to the restoration of churches and monasteries. Except for a brief period he spent most of his eight years as pope living away from Rome at Avignon, seat of the papacy from 1309 until shortly after his death.

He came close but was not able to achieve one of his biggest goals—reuniting the Eastern and Western churches.

As pope, Urban continued to follow the Benedictine Rule. Shortly before his death in 1370 he asked to be moved from the papal palace to the nearby home of his brother so he could say goodbye to the ordinary people he had so often helped. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1896&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Third day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
7 Days Before Christmas
27 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-8
Psalms 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121814.cfm

Reflection:  Do you hold on to the promises of God at all times, especially when you are faced with uncertainty or adversity? The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke words of hope in a hopeless situation for Israel. The Davidic dynasty was corrupt and unfit for a Messianic King. Apostates like King Ahaz (2 Kings 16) and weaklings like Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38) occupied the throne of David. How could God be faithful to his promise to raise up a righteous King who would rule forever over the house of David? The prophets trusted that God could somehow “raise up a righteous shoot” from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 2:11).  Like the prophets we are called “in hope to believe against hope” (Romans 4:18) that God can and will fulfill all his promises.

Mary was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit
Mary had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God and to the faith of her family and Joseph, the man she chose to marry. She was asked to assume a burden of tremendous responsibility. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature. That required faith and trust in God and in his promises. Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God’s promises.

Joseph believed the angel’s message “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit
Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary when he discovered that she was pregnant. To all appearances she had broken their solemn pledge to be faithful and chaste to one another. Joseph, no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah.

A model of faith for us
Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Are you ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? God has not left us alone, but has brought us his only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful hearts and let us renew our faith and hope in God and in his redeeming work.

“Lord Jesus, you came to save us from sin and the power of death. May I always rejoice in your salvation and trust in your divine plan for my life.”  http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec18.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Rufus
Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) who were brought to Rome with St. Ignatius of Antioch during the reign of Emperor Trajan. They were condemned to death for their Christianity and thrown to wild beasts in the arena two days before the martyrdom of Ignatius. Feast Day December 18.

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Second day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
8 Days Before Christmas
28 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Psalms 72:1-4, 7-8, 17: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121714.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know who your ancestors were, where they came from, and what they passed on from their generation to the next? Genealogies are very important. They give us our roots and help us to understand our heritage. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus traces his lineage from Abraham, the father of God’s chosen people, through the line of David, King of Israel. Jesus the Messiah is the direct descent of Abraham and David, and the rightful heir to David’s throne. God in his mercy fulfilled his promises to Abraham and to David that he would send a Savior and a King to rule over the house of Israel and to deliver them from their enemies.

The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises 
When Jacob blessed his sons he foretold that Judah would receive the promise of royalty which we see fulfilled in David (Genesis 49:10). We can also see in this blessing a foreshadowing of God’s fulfillment in raising up his anointed King, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. He is the hope not only for the people of the Old Covenant but for all nations as well. He is the Savior of the world who redeems us from slavery to sin and Satan and makes us citizens of the kingdom of God. In him we receive adoption into a royal priesthood and holy nation as sons and daughters of the living God (see 1 Peter 1:9). Do you recognize your spiritual genealogy and do you accept God as your Father and Jesus as the sovereign King and Lord of your life?

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Messiah and Savior of the world, the hope of Israel and the hope of the nations. Be the ruler of my heart and the king of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your wise rule and care.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec17.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Lazarus

Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, the brother of Martha and Mary, was the one of whom the Jews said, “See how much he loved him.” In their sight Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead.

Legends abound about the life of Lazarus after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is supposed to have left a written account of what he saw in the next world before he was called back to life. Some say he followed Peter into Syria. Another story is that despite being put into a leaking boat by the Jews at Jaffa, he, his sisters and others landed safely in Cyprus. There he died peacefully after serving as bishop for 30 years.

A church was built in his honor in Constantinople and some of his reputed relics were transferred there in 890. A Western legend has the oarless boat arriving in Gaul. There he was bishop of Marseilles, was martyred after making a number of converts and was buried in a cave. His relics were transferred to the new cathedral in Autun in 1146.

It is certain there was early devotion to the saint. Around the year 390, the pilgrim lady Etheria talks of the procession that took place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday at the tomb where Lazarus had been raised from the dead. In the West, Passion Sunday was called Dominica de Lazaro, and Augustine tells us that in Africa the Gospel of the raising of Lazarus was read at the office of Palm Sunday. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1232&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

First day of the Aguinaldo Masses (Simbang Gabi)
9 Days Before Christmas
29 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Psalms 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-19, 23: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121614.cfm

Reflection:  What kind of future are you preparing for? Jesus encourages us to think – to think about the consequences of our choices, especially the choices and decisions that will count not just for now but for eternity as well. The choices we make now will affect and shape our future, both our future on earth as well as in the life of the age to come.

Repaying a debt of gratitude and showing respect where it is due
Jesus tells a simple story of two imperfect sons to illustrate the way of God’s kingdom. The father amply provided for his sons food, lodging, and everything they needed. Everything the father had belonged to them as well. The father also rewarded his sons with excellent work in his own vineyard.  He expected them to show him gratitude, loyalty, and honor by doing their fair share of the daily work.

Converting both heart and will to do what is good and pleasing to God
The “rebellious” son told his father to his face that he would not work for him. But afterwards he changed his mind and did what his father commanded him. The “good” son said he would work for his father, but didn’t follow through. He sought his own pleasure, contrary to his father’s will. Now who was really the good son?  Both sons disobeyed their father – but one repented and then did what the father told him. Jesus makes his point clear – Good intentions are not enough.  And promises don’t count unless they are performed.

A transformed heart filled with gratitude and respect
God wants to change our hearts so that we will show by our speech and by our actions that we respect his will and do it. God offers each one of us the greatest treasure possible – indestructable peace, joy, and friendship with him in his everlasting kingdom. We can lose that treasure if we refuse the grace – the free gift of God’s blessing and strength – which the Lord Jesus has won for us through his victory on the cross. The Lord Jesus fills us with the gift of the Holy Spirit who works in and through us for the glory of God. Do you seek to please God and respect his will and loving plan for your life? Allow the Holy Spirit to to fill your heart with the peace, joy, and righteousness of  God’s kingdom (Romans 14:17).

“Lord Jesus, change my heart that I may only desire that which is pleasing to you. Help me to respect your will and give me the strength, joy and perseverance to carry it out wholeheartedly.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec16.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Blessed Honoratus Kozminski (1825-1916)

He was born in Biala Podlaska (Siedlce, Poland) and studied architecture at the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw. When Wenceslaus was almost 16, his father died. Suspected of participating in a rebellious conspiracy, the young man was imprisoned from April 1846 until the following March. In 1848 he received the Capuchin habit and a new name. Four years later he was ordained. In 1855 he helped Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska establish the Felician Sisters.

In 180 Honoratus served as guardian in a Warsaw friary. He dedicated his energies to preaching, to giving spiritual direction, and to hearing confessions. He worked tirelessly with the Secular Franciscan Order.

The failed 1864 revolt against Czar Alexander III led to the suppression of all religious orders in Poland. The Capuchins were expelled from Warsaw and forced to live in Zakroczym, where Honoratus continued his ministry, and began founding 26 male and female religious congregations, whose members took vows but wore no religious habit and did not live in community. They operated much as today’s secular institutes do. Seventeen of these groups still exist as religious congregations.

The writings of Father Honoratus are extensive: 42 volumes of sermons, 21 volumes of letters as well as 52 printed works on ascetical theology, Marian devotion, historical writings, pastoral writings–not counting his many writings for the religious congregations he founded.

In 1906, various bishops sought the reorganization of these groups under their authority; Honoratus defended their independence but was removed from their direction in 1908. He promptly urged the members of these congregations to obey the Church’s decisions regarding their future.

He “always walked with God,” said a contemporary. In 1895 he was appointed Commissary General of the Capuchins in Poland. Three years earlier, he had come to Nowe Miasto, where he died and was buried. He was beatified in 1988. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1231&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Monday of the Third Week of Advent

10 Days Before Christmas
30 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Psalms 25:4-9: Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area,
the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him
as he was teaching and said,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me,
then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
Where was John’s baptism from?
Was it of heavenly or of human origin?”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd,
for they all regard John as a prophet.”
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
He himself said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121514.cfm.cfm

Reflection:  Are you willing to take a stand for the truth, even when it might cost you personally because of opposition or disapproval from others? When we fear the disapproval or rejection of our friends we are tempted to be evasive and to bluff our way to avoid confrontation or trouble. Jesus told his disciples that the truth would make them free – free to think and act according to what they know is right, honest, and good, rather than yield to deception, lies, and evil (John 8:32).

Yielding to the Spirit of truth rather than falsehood
When the Israelites began to enter the promised land, after their wilderness sojourn of forty years, they met stiff resistance and opposition from the people around them. Balak, one of the local rulers in Canaan, employed the services of Balaam, a prophet of Baal, to put a curse upon the Israelites. Balak wanted to scare the Israelites away through fear and ill omen. Balaam, however, prophesied blessing and protection to the Israelites rather than cursing and destruction. He yielded to the Spirit of truth rather than to the spirit of falsehood. He spoke the word of God contrary to the words which King Balak wanted him to speak. Balaam even prophesied that a star would one day announce the coming of the Messiah King from the house of Jacob. This king would destroy all the enemies of God’s people and establish a kingdom of peace (Numbers 24:17).

When the prophet John the Baptist began to preach a message of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the religious leaders and rulers in Palestine resisted his word and persecuted him as well. Jesus met resistance, opposition, and fierce hostility from the religious rulers as well. Why did the religious leaders oppose Jesus and reject his claim to divine authority? Their view of religion did not match with God’s word because their hearts were set on personal gain rather than truth and submission to God’s plan and design for their lives.

They openly questioned Jesus to discredit his claim to be the Messiah. If Jesus says his authority is divine they will charge him with blasphemy. If he has done this on his own authority they might well arrest him as a mad zealot before he could do more damage. Jesus, seeing through their trap, poses a question to them and makes their answer a condition for his answer. Did they accept the work of John the Baptist as divine or human? If they accepted John’s work as divine, they would be compelled to accept Jesus as the Messiah. They dodged the question because they were unwilling to face the truth. They did not accept the Baptist and they would not accept Jesus as their Messiah.

There can be no compromise with Jesus’ authority – he is Truth incarnate
The coming of God’s kingdom or reign on the earth inevitably leads to conflict – a conflict of allegiance to God’s will or my will, God’s justice or the world’s way of playing fair, God’s standard of absolute moral truth or truth relative to what I want to believe is good and useful for the time being. How do you respond to Jesus’ claim to be not only the Messiah, but the source of everlasting life and truth as well? Do you submit to his word and stake your life on the coming of his kingdom? Jesus promises that those who seek to live according to God’s truth will find true joy, freedom, and happiness both now and forever.

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let your light shine in my heart and in my mind that I may grow in understanding the truth of your word and find joy and freedom in living according to it.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec15.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Blessed Mary Frances Schervier (1819-1876)

This woman who once wanted to become a Trappistine nun was instead led by God to establish a community of sisters who care for the sick and aged in the United States and throughout the world.

Born into a distinguished family in Aachen (then ruled by Prussia but formerly Aix-la-Chapelle, France), Frances ran the household after her mother’s death and established a reputation for generosity to the poor. In 1844 she became a Secular Franciscan. The next year she and four companions established a religious community devoted to caring for the poor. In 1851 the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis (a variant of the original name) were approved by the local bishop; the community soon spread. The first U.S. foundation was made in 1858.

Mother Frances visited the United States in 1863 and helped her sisters nurse soldiers wounded in the Civil War. She visited the United States again in 1868. When Philip Hoever was establishing the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, she encouraged him.

When Mother Frances died, there were 2,500 members of her community worldwide. They are still engaged in operating hospitals and homes for the aged. Mother Mary Frances was beatified in 1974. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1230&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Third Sunday of Advent

11 Days Before Christmas
31 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Psalm Luke 1:46-50, 53-54: My soul rejoices in my God.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’

as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121414.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the favor of the Lord? Every 50 years the people of Israel were commanded to celebrate a Year of Jubilee – a year of favor by the Lord (Leviticus 25:10-12). God did not want his people to forget all the blessings and favors he had shown them over the years. Isaiah prophesied in a year of Jubilee that God would send his anointed one to bring his people back from their time of exile (Isaiah 61). The anointed one would bring good news (the same word as “gospel”) – news of freedom for those who were oppressed by sin, darkness, despair, and brokenness (Isaiah 61:1-2).

When John the Baptist announced the imminent coming of God’s anointed one, the Messiah, the religious leaders questioned his authority to speak so boldly in God’s name. They asked him bluntly, “Who are you?” and “What do you say about yourself?” They wanted to know if he was really sent by God. Did he claim to be the Messiah or one of the great prophets who was expected to return and announce the Messiah’s arrival (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15)? John had no doubt and no mistaken identity about his call and mission. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to get ready for the arrival of the greatest Ruler of all, God’s anointed King and Messiah.

John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29). John saw from a distance what the Messiah would come to accomplish – our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize who you are in Christ? The Lord Jesus has come to restore us to friendship with God and he has made us citizens of heaven – his everlasting kingdom of peace and justice.

John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, the true Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Jesus Christ by the example and witness of your life?

“Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec14.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. John of the Cross (1541-1591)

John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Jesus and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1229&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Saturday in the Second Week of Advent
Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
12 Days Before Christmas
32 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Psalms 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19:   Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Gospel: Matthew 17:9, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121314.cfm

Reflection:  God gives signs to show what he is about to do. John the Baptist is one such sign, who pointed to Jesus and prepared the way for his coming. John fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets: to be fingers pointing to Jesus Christ. John is the last and greatest prophet of the old kingdom, the old covenant. The Jews expected that when the Messiah would come, Elijah would appear to announce his presence. John fills the role of Elijah and prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ by preaching a baptism of repentance and renewal.

As watchful servants, we, too must prepare for the Lord’s coming again by turning away from sin and from everything that would keep us from pursuing his will. Are you eager to do God’s will and are you prepared to meet the Lord Jesus when he returns in glory?

“Lord Jesus, stir my zeal for your righteousness and for your kingdom. Free me from complacency and from compromising with the ways of sin and worldliness that I may be wholeheartedly devoted to you and to your kingdom.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec13.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Lucy, Patron of Blindness (d. 304)

Every little girl named Lucy must bite her tongue in disappointment when she first tries to find out what there is to know about her patron saint. The older books will have a lengthy paragraph detailing a small number of traditions. Newer books will have a lengthy paragraph showing that there is little basis in history for these traditions. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian and she was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304. But it is also true that her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.

One can easily imagine what a young Christian woman had to contend with in pagan Sicily in the year 300. If you have trouble imagining, just glance at today’s pleasure-at-all-costs world and the barriers it presents against leading a good Christian life.

Her friends must have wondered aloud about this hero of Lucy’s, an obscure itinerant preacher in a far-off captive nation that had been destroyed more than 200 years before. Once a carpenter, he had been crucified by the Roman soldiers after his own people turned him over to the Roman authorities. Lucy believed with her whole soul that this man had risen from the dead. Heaven had put a stamp on all he said and did. To give witness to her faith she had made a vow of virginity.

What a hubbub this caused among her pagan friends! The kindlier ones just thought her a little strange. To be pure before marriage was an ancient Roman ideal, rarely found but not to be condemned. To exclude marriage altogether, however, was too much. She must have something sinister to hide, the tongues wagged.

Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God. She is the patroness of eyesight. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1228&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

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