Posted by: RAM | January 18, 2017

Thursday (January 19): “You are the Son of God.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 314

First Reading: Hebrews 7:25–8:6
Psalms 40:7-10, 17:  Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Gospel: Mark 3:7-12
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011917.cfm

Reflection:  Is there anything holding you back from giving yourself to God without fear or reservation? Jesus offered freedom to everyone who sought him out. Wherever Jesus went the people came to him because they had heard about all the wonderful deeds and miracles which he performed. They were hungry for God and desired healing from their afflictions. In faith they pressed upon Jesus to touch him. As they did so power came from Jesus and they were healed. Do you seek to lay hold of Jesus’ presence in your life that he may touch and heal you?

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) remarked:
“It is by faith that we touch Jesus. And far better to touch him by faith than to touch or handle him with the hands only and not by faith. It was no great thing to merely touch him manually. Even his oppressors doubtless touched him when they apprehended him, bound him, and crucified him, but by their ill-motivated touch they lost precisely what they were laying hold of. O worldwide church! It is by touching him faithfully that your ‘faith has made you whole’ (Isaiah 1:10-18; Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; Mark 10:52; Luke 8:48; John 20:29).” (excerpt from SERMONS, ON EASTER 148)

Why did Jesus perform so many countless miracles and signs during his earthly ministry? Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD) wrote that these signs and miracles showed that Jesus was truly God – the eternal Word who was made flesh for our salvation:

[Jesus] performed very many wonderful miracles, rebuking demons, delivering from incurable diseases whoever drew near to him, and displaying his own most divine power. He did these works so that both the Jews, who had run together to him, and those from the country of the Greeks might know that Christ was not some ordinary man of those in our degree but, on the contrary, God. He honored these chosen disciples with the dignity of the apostolate. He was the Word that was made man but retained nevertheless his own glory. “For power went forth from him and healed all.” Christ did not borrow strength from some other person, but being himself God by nature, even though he had become flesh, he healed them all, by the demonstration of power over the sick. (COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 25)

Why did the demons tremble in the presence of Jesus (Mark 3:11)? They recognized that his power and authority came from heaven and not from earth. But while they confessed Christ and trembled in his presence, they did not respond in love.

When you read God’s word and consider all that Jesus said and did, how do you respond? With indifference, hesitation, or skepticism, or with expectant faith, love, and willing obedience? Ask the Lord Jesus to draw you to himself with increasing faith, fervent love, and eager readiness to do his will.

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Inflame my heart with a burning love for you and with an expectant faith in your saving power. Set me free from all that hinders me from drawing closer to you.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan19.htm

Saint of the Day: St Fillan
Fillan, son of Feriach and St. Kentigerna, was also known as Foelan.  He became a monk in his youth and accompanied his mother from Ireland to Scotland where he lived as a hermit near St. Andrew’s monastery for many years, and then was elected abbot.  He later resigned and resumed his eremitical life at Glendochart, Pertchire, where he built a church and was reknowned for his miracles.  Various legends attribute the most extravagant miracles to him, such as the one in which his prayers caused a wolf that had killed the ox he was using to drag materials to the church he was building, to take the ox’s place.  Fillan died on January 19. His feast day is January 19. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=581

More Saints of the Day:
St. Absadah
St. Arcontius
St. Arsenius
St. Bassian
St. Beshada (Abshadius, Psote)
St. Canute IV
St. Catellus of Castellamore
St. Contentius
St. Fillan
St. Firminus
St. Germanicus of Smyrna
St. Germanicus of Smyrna
St. Henry
St. Henry of Uppsala
St. Henry of Sweden
St. Henry of Uppsala
St. Macarius the Great of Alexandria
Bl. Nathalan
St. Paul, Gerontius and Companions
St. Pontian
St. Pontianus
St. Remigius
St. Tomasso da Cori
St. Wulfstan

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 313

First Reading: Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17
Psalms 110:1-4:  You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Gospel: Mark 3:1-6
Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011817.cfm

Reflection:  What is God’s intention for the commandment, keep holy the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12)? The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God’s law. In a few penetrating words Luke records that Jesus knew their thoughts. They were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God. They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God. Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life.

Christians have traditionally celebrated Sunday as the Lord’s Day, to commemorate God’s work of redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation he accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection. Taking “our sabbath rest” is a way of expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us. Such “rest” however does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor. If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow to love of neighbor as well. Do you honor the Lord in the way you celebrate Sunday, the Lord’s Day and in the way you treat you neighbor?

“Lord Jesus, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan18.htm

Saint of the Day: St Volusian (d.496)
Bishop of Tours, France. A senator at Tours, he was initially married, supposedly to a most unpleasant wife. Named bishop of the city in 488, he was forced to leave the see in 496 by the Arian Visigoths, and went to Spain. He died perhaps in Toulouse, or in Spain, possibly as a martyr.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=23

More Saints of the Day:
St. Ammonius
St. Archelais and Companions
St. Bastmus
St. Day
St. Deicola
St. Fazzio
St. Jaime Hilario Barbel
St. Leobard
St. Liberata
St. Margaret of Hungary
Bl. Marie de la Dive du Verdier
Bl. Monique Pichery
St. Moseus & Ammonius
St. Ulfrid
Bl. Victoire Gusteau
St. Vincenza Mary Lopez y Vicuna
St. Volusian

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot
Lectionary: 312

First Reading: Hebrews 6:10-20
Psalms 111:1-2, 4-5, 9-10:  The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
Gospel: Mark 2:23-28
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011717.cfm

Reflection:  What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom.

When David and his men were fleeing for their lives, they sought food from Ahimelech the priest (1 Samuel 21:1-6). The only bread he had was the holy bread offered in the Temple. None but the priests were allowed to eat it. In their hunger, David and his men ate of this bread. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God. It was intended for good and not for evil. Withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need was not part of God’s intention that we rest from unnecessary labor. Do you honor the Lord in the way you treat your neighbor and celebrate the Lord’s Day?

“Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord’s Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan17.htm

Saint of the Day: St Anthony the Abbot
Two Greek philosophers ventured out into the Egyptian desert to the mountain where Anthony lived. When they got there, Anthony asked them why they had come to talk to such a foolish man? He had reason to say that — they saw before them a man who wore a skin, who refused to bathe, who lived on bread and water. They were Greek, the world’s most admired civilization, and Anthony was Egyptian, a member of a conquered nation. They were philosophers, educated in languages and rhetoric. Anthony had not even attended school as a boy and he needed an interpreter to speak to them. In their eyes, he would have seemed very foolish.

But the Greek philosophers had heard the stories of Anthony. They had heard how disciples came from all over to learn from him, how his intercession had brought about miraculous healings, how his words comforted the suffering. They assured him that they had come to him because he was a wise man.

Anthony guessed what they wanted. They lived by words and arguments. They wanted to hear his words and his arguments on the truth of Christianity and the value of ascetism. But he refused to play their game. He told them that if they truly thought him wise, “If you think me wise, become what I am, for we ought to imitate the good. Had I gone to you, I should have imitated you, but, since you have come to me, become what I am, for I am a Christian.”

Anthony’s whole life was not one of observing, but of becoming. When his parents died when he was eighteen or twenty he inherited their three hundred acres of land and the responsibility for a young sister. One day in church, he heard read Matthew 19:21: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Not content to sit still and meditate and reflect on Jesus’ words he walked out the door of the church right away and gave away all his property except what he and his sister needed to live on. On hearing Matthew 6:34, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today,” he gave away everything else, entrusted his sister to a convent, and went outside the village to live a life of praying, fasting, and manual labor. It wasn’t enough to listen to words, he had to become what Jesus said.

Every time he heard of a holy person he would travel to see that person. But he wasn’t looking for words of wisdom, he was looking to become. So if he admired a person’s constancy in prayer or courtesy or patience, he would imitate it. Then he would return home.

Anthony went on to tell the Greek philosophers that their arguments would never be as strong as faith. He pointed out that all rhetoric, all arguments, no matter how complex, how well-founded, were created by human beings. But faith was created by God. If they wanted to follow the greatest ideal, they should follow their faith.

Anthony knew how difficult this was. Throughout his life he argued and literally wrestled with the devil. His first temptations to leave his ascetic life were arguments we would find hard to resist — anxiety about his sister, longings for his relatives, thoughts of how he could have used his property for good purposes, desire for power and money. When Anthony was able to resist him, the devil then tried flattery, telling Anthony how powerful Anthony was to beat him. Anthony relied on Jesus’ name to rid himself of the devil. It wasn’t the last time, though. One time, his bout with the devil left him so beaten, his friends thought he was dead and carried him to church. Anthony had a hard time accepting this. After one particular difficult struggle, he saw a light appearing in the tomb he lived in. Knowing it was God, Anthony called out, “Where were you when I needed you?” God answered, “I was here. I was watching your struggle. Because you didn’t give in, I will stay with you and protect you forever.”

With that kind of assurance and approval from God, many people would have settled in, content with where they were. But Anthony’s reaction was to get up and look for the next challenge — moving out into the desert.

Anthony always told those who came to visit him that the key to the ascetic life was perseverance, not to think proudly, “We’ve lived an ascetic life for a long time” but treat each day as if it were the beginning. To many, perseverance is simply not giving up, hanging in there. But to Anthony perseverance meant waking up each day with the same zeal as the first day. It wasn’t enough that he had given up all his property one day. What was he going to do the next day?

Once he had survived close to town, he moved into the tombs a little farther away. After that he moved out into the desert. No one had braved the desert before. He lived sealed in a room for twenty years, while his friends provided bread. People came to talk to him, to be healed by him, but he refused to come out. Finally they broke the door down. Anthony emerged, not angry, but calm. Some who spoke to him were healed physically, many were comforted by his words, and others stayed to learn from him. Those who stayed formed what we think of as the first monastic community, though it is not what we would think of religious life today. All the monks lived separately, coming together only for worship and to hear Anthony speak.

But after awhile, too many people were coming to seek Anthony out. He became afraid that he would get too proud or that people would worship him instead of God. So he took off in the middle of the night, thinking to go to a different part of Egypt where he was unknown. Then he heard a voice telling him that the only way to be alone was to go into the desert. He found some Saracens who took him deep into the desert to a mountain oasis. They fed him until his friends found him again.

Anthony died when he was one hundred and five years old. A life of solitude, fasting, and manual labor in the service of God had left him a healthy, vigorous man until very late in life. And he never stopped challenging himself to go one step beyond in his faith.

Saint Athanasius, who knew Anthony and wrote his biography, said, “Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God.” We may wonder nowadays at what we can learn from someone who lived in the desert, wore skins, ate bread, and slept on the ground. We may wonder how we can become him. We can become Anthony by living his life of radical faith and complete commitment to God.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=23

More Saints of the Day:
St. Achillas
St. Achillas
St. Anthony the Abbot
Bl. Gonzalo de Amarante
Bl. Gregory Khomyshyn
St. Julian Sabas the Elder
St. Mildgytha
St. Nennius
St. Pior
St. Sulpicius

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 15, 2017

Monday (January 16): “Fasting or feasting?”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 311

First Reading: Hebrews 5:1-10
Psalms 110:1-4:  You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Gospel: Mark 2:18-22
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011617.cfm

Reflection:  Which comes first, fasting or feasting? The disciples of John the Baptist were upset with Jesus’ disciples because they did not fast. Fasting was one of the three most important religious duties, along with prayer and almsgiving. Jesus gave a simple explanation. There’s a time for fasting and a time for feasting (or celebrating). To walk as a disciple with Jesus is to experience a whole new joy of relationship akin to the joy of the wedding party in celebrating with the groom and bride their wedding bliss. But there also comes a time when the Lord’s disciples must bear the cross of affliction and purification. For the disciple there is both a time for rejoicing in the Lord’s presence and celebrating his goodness and a time for seeking the Lord with humility and fasting and for mourning over sin. Do you take joy in the Lord’s presence with you and do you express sorrow and contrition for your sins?

Jesus goes on to warn his disciples about the problem of the “closed mind” that refuses to learn new things. Jesus used an image familiar to his audience – new and old wine skins. In Jesus’ times, wine was stored in wine skins, not bottles. New wine poured into skins was still fermenting. The gases exerted gave pressure. New wine skins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they were hard. What did Jesus mean by this comparison? Are we to reject the old in place of the new? Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old as well as the new.

Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old (Matthew 13:52). How impoverished we would be if we only had the Old Testament or the New Testament, rather than both. The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new work of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like new wine skins – open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer and fasting that I may turn away from sin and wilfulness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan16.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Fursey (d. 650)
Irish monastic founder, the brother of Sts. Foillan and Ulan, praised by St. Bede. Fursey was born on the island of Inisguia en Lough Carri, Ire­land, as a noble. He founded Rathmat Abbey, now probably Killursa. In 630 Fursey and his friends went to East Anglia, England, where he founded a monastery near Ugremouth on land donated by King Sigebert. In his later years, Fursey went to France to build a monastery at Lagny, near Paris, France. He was buried in Picardy. St. Bede and others wrote about Fursey’s intense ecstasies.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=3491

More Saints of the Day:
St. Dunchaid O’Braoin
St. Fursey
St. Fusca and Marura
St. Henry of Cocket
St. Honoratus of Aries
St. Honoratus
St. James of Tarentaise
St. Liberata
St. Melas
St. Titian of Oderzo
St. Triverius
St. Valerius

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Feast of the Sto. Niño
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 64

First Reading: Isaiah 9:1-6
Psalms 97:  The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18
Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.  ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

Reflection:  “The feast of the Santo Niño gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves whether or not we are growing in our spiritual life. Jesus presents a child as a model, a standard by which we can measure ourselves to nd out if we are advancing in virtue and grace…”
– Fr. Felipe Fruto Ll. Ramirez, SJ

Saint of the Day: St. Paul the Hermit, Patron of San Pablo City, Philippines (229-342)
Also known as Paul the First Hermit and Paul of Thebes, an Egyptian hermit and friend of St. Jerome. Born in Lower The baid, Egypt, he was left an orphan at about the age of fifteen and hid during the persecution of the Church under Emperor Traj anus Decius. At the age of twenty two he went to the desert to circumvent a planned effort by his brother in law to report him to authorities as a Christian and thereby gain control of his property. Paul soon found that the eremitical life was much to his personal taste, and so remained in a desert cave for the rest of his reportedly very long life. His contemplative existence was disturbed by St. Anthony, who visited the aged Paul. Anthony also buried Paul, supposedly wrapping him in a cloak that had been given to Anthony by St. Athanasius. According to legend, two lions assisted Anthony in digging the grave. While there is little doubt that Paul lived, the only source for details on his life are found in the Vita Pauli written by St. Jerome and preserved in both Latin and Greek versions.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5280

More Saints of the Day:
St. Arnold Jansen
St. Beauch (Bagug)
St. Blaithmaic
St. Bonitus
St. Ceolwulf of Northumbria
St. Emebert
St. Ephysius
St. Eugyppius
Bl. Frances de Capillas
St. Francisco Fernandez de Capillas
St. Francis Ferdinand de Capillas
St. Ita
St. John Calabytes
St. Liewellyn & Gwrnerth
St. Lleudadd
St. Macarius the Great
St. Malard
St. Maura & Britta
St. Maximus of Nola
St. Nina
St. Paul the Hermit
Bl. Peter of Castelnau
St. Sawl
St. Secundina
St. Tarsicia
St. Teath

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 14, 2017

Sunday (January 15): “Behold the Lamb of God!”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 64

First Reading: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-10:  Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Gospel: John 1:29-34
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011517.cfm

Reflection:  John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus’ mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites in Egypt from slavery and death. The Lord Jesus freely offered up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood which he poured out for us on the cross cleanses, heals, and frees us from our slavery to sin, and from the “wages of sin which is death” (Romans 6:23) and the “destruction of both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

John points to Jesus’ saving mission – to offer up his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins
It is significant that John was the son of Zachariah, a priest of Israel who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). John recognized that Jesus was the perfect unblemished lamb offered by the Father in heaven as the one and only sacrifice that could cancel the debt of sin, and free us from death and the destruction of body and soul in hell.

The Holy Spirit reveals who Jesus truly is – the Son of God and Savior of the world
When John says he did not know Jesus (John 1:31,33) he was referring to the hidden reality of Jesus’ divinity. But the Holy Spirit in that hour revealed to John Jesus’ true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the living God? The Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us his Spirit as our helper and guide who opens our hearts and minds to receive and comprehend the great mystery and plan of God – to unite all things in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10).

Do you want to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ? Ask the Lord to pour his Holy Spirit upon you to deepen your faith, hope, and love for God and for the plan he has for your life.

“Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit and let me grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Let your Spirit be aflame in my heart that I may know and love you more fervently and strive to do your will in all things.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan15.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Paul the Hermit, Patron of San Pablo City, Philippines (229-342)
Also known as Paul the First Hermit and Paul of Thebes, an Egyptian hermit and friend of St. Jerome. Born in Lower The baid, Egypt, he was left an orphan at about the age of fifteen and hid during the persecution of the Church under Emperor Traj anus Decius. At the age of twenty two he went to the desert to circumvent a planned effort by his brother in law to report him to authorities as a Christian and thereby gain control of his property. Paul soon found that the eremitical life was much to his personal taste, and so remained in a desert cave for the rest of his reportedly very long life. His contemplative existence was disturbed by St. Anthony, who visited the aged Paul. Anthony also buried Paul, supposedly wrapping him in a cloak that had been given to Anthony by St. Athanasius. According to legend, two lions assisted Anthony in digging the grave. While there is little doubt that Paul lived, the only source for details on his life are found in the Vita Pauli written by St. Jerome and preserved in both Latin and Greek versions.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5280

More Saints of the Day:
St. Arnold Jansen
St. Beauch (Bagug)
St. Blaithmaic
St. Bonitus
St. Ceolwulf of Northumbria
St. Emebert
St. Ephysius
St. Eugyppius
Bl. Frances de Capillas
St. Francisco Fernandez de Capillas
St. Francis Ferdinand de Capillas
St. Ita
St. John Calabytes
St. Liewellyn & Gwrnerth
St. Lleudadd
St. Macarius the Great
St. Malard
St. Maura & Britta
St. Maximus of Nola
St. Nina
St. Paul the Hermit
Bl. Peter of Castelnau
St. Sawl
St. Secundina
St. Tarsicia
St. Teath

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 310

First Reading: Hebrews 4:12-16
Psalms 19:8-10, 15:  Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Gospel: Mark 2:13-17
Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011417.cfm

Reflection:  What draws us to the throne of God’s mercy and grace? Mark tells us that many people were drawn to Jesus, including the unwanted and the unlovable, such as the lame, the blind, and the lepers, as well as the homeless such as widows and orphans. But public sinners, like the town prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors, were also drawn to Jesus. In calling Levi, who was also named Matthew (see Matthew 9:9) to be one of his disciples, Jesus picked one of the unlikeliest of men – a tax collector who by profession was despised by the people.

Why did the religious leaders find fault with Jesus for making friends with sinners and tax collectors like Levi? The orthodox Jews had a habit of dividing everyone into two groups – those who rigidly kept the law of Moses and its minute regulations and those who did not. They latter were treated like second class citizens. The orthodox scrupulously avoided their company, refused to do business with them, refused to give or receive anything from them, refused to intermarry, and avoided any form of entertainment with them, including table fellowship. Jesus’ association with sinners shocked the sensibilities of these orthodox Jews.

When the Pharisees challenged his unorthodox behavior in eating with public sinners, Jesus’ defense was quite simple. A doctor doesn’t need to visit healthy people; instead he goes to those who are sick.  Jesus likewise sought out those in the greatest need. A true physician seeks healing of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Jesus came as the divine physician and good shepherd to care for his people and to restore them to wholeness of life.The orthodox Jews were so preoccupied with their own practice of religion that they neglected to help the very people who needed care. Their religion was selfish because they didn’t want to have anything to do with people not like themselves.

Jesus stated his mission in unequivocal terms: I came  not to call the righteous, but to call sinners. Ironically the orthodox were as needy as those they despised.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Lord fills us with his grace and mercy. And he wants us, in turn,  to seek the good of our neighbors, including the unlikeable and the trouble-maker by showing them the same kindness and mercy which we have received. Do you thank the Lord for the great kindness and mercy he has shown to you?

“Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you: Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.” (Prayer of Augustine, 4th century) http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan14.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Felix of Nola
Felix was the son of Hermias, a Syrian who had been a Roman soldier. He was born on his father’s estate at Nola near Naples, Italy. On the death of his father, Felix distributed his inheritance to the poor, was ordained by Bishop St. Maximus of Nola, and became his assistant. When Maximus fled to the desert at the beginning of Decius’ persecution of the Christians in 250, Felix was seized in his stead and imprisoned. He was reputedly released from prison by an angel, who directed him to the ailing Maximus, whom he brought back to Nola. Even after Decius’ death in 251, Felix was a hunted man but kept well hidden until the persecution ended. When Maximus died, the people unanimously selected Felix as their Bishop, but he declined the honor in favor of Quintus, a senior priest. Felix spent the rest of his life on a small piece of land sharing what he had with the poor, and died there on January 14. His tomb soon became famous for the miracles reported there, and when St. Paulinus became bishop of Nola almost a century later (410), he wrote about his predecessor, the source of our information about him, adding legendary material that had grown up about Felix in the intervening century. His feast day is January 14th.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=639

More Saints of the Day:
St. Barbasymas
St. Dacius
St. Deusdedit
St. Euphrasius
St. Felix
St. Felix of Nola
St. Fulgentius of Cartagena
St. Macrina the Elder
Martyrs of Mount Sinai
Martyrs of Raithu
Bl. Peter Donders
St. Sava

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 309

First Reading: Hebrews 4:1-5, 11
Psalms 78:3, 4, 6-8:  Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011317.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the healing power of forgiveness and compassion? Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt.

Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and spirit. Is there any area in your life that cripples you from walking in the freedom of Christ’s transforming love and forgiveness?

Bishop Ambrose of Milan (339-397 AD), an early church father, explains how the healing of the paralytic points not only to Christ’s power to heal the whole person, but also to raise the body to everlasting life as well:

But the Lord, wanting to save sinners, shows himself to be God both by his knowledge of secrets and by the wonder of his actions. He adds, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” In this passage he shows the full likeness of the resurrection. Alongside of healing the wounds of body and mind, he also forgives the sins of the spirit, removes the weakness of the flesh, and thus heals the whole person. It is a great thing to forgive people’s sins – who can forgive sins, but God alone? For God also forgives through those to whom he has given the power of forgiveness. Yet it is far more divine to give resurrection to bodies, since the Lord himself is the resurrection. (excerpt from EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.12–13.5)

Do you believe in the healing transforming power of Christ’s forgiveness and merciful love? Ask him to set you free and transform your mind and heart to be like his heart.

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan13.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Hilary of Poitiers, Patron against snake bites (d.368)
“They didn’t know who they were.” This is how Hilary summed up the problem with the Arian heretics of the fourth century.

Hilary, on the other hand, knew very well who he was — a child of a loving God who had inherited eternal life through belief in the Son of God. He hadn’t been raised as a Christian but he had felt a wonder at the gift of life and a desire to find out the meaning of that gift. He first discarded the approach of many people who around him, who believed the purpose of life was only to satisfy desires. He knew he wasn’t a beast grazing in a pasture. The philosophers agreed with him. Human beings should rise above desires and live a life of virtue, they said. But Hilary could see in his own heart that humans were meant for even more than living a good life.

If he didn’t lead a virtuous life, he would suffer from guilt and be unhappy. His soul seemed to cry out that wasn’t enough to justify the enormous gift of life. So Hilary went looking for the giftgiver. He was told many things about the divine — many that we still hear today: that there were many Gods, that God didn’t exist but all creation was the result of random acts of nature, that God existed but didn’t really care for his creation, that God was in creatures or images. One look in his own soul told him these images of the divine were wrong. God had to be one because no creation could be as great as God. God had to be concerned with God’s creation — otherwise why create it?

At that point, Hilary tells us, he “chanced upon” the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. When he read the verse where God tells Moses “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14), Hilary said, “I was frankly amazed at such a clear definition of God, which expressed the incomprehensible knowledge of the divine nature in words most suited to human intelligence.” In the Psalms and the Prophets he found descriptions of God’s power, concern, and beauty. For example in Psalm 139, “Where shall I go from your spirit?”, he found confirmation that God was everywhere and omnipotent.

But still he was troubled. He knew the giftgiver now, but what was he, the recipient of the gift? Was he just created for the moment to disappear at death? It only made sense to him that God’s purpose in creation should be “that what did not exist began to exist, not that what had begun to exist would cease to exist.” Then he found the Gospels and read John’s words including “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…” (John 1:1-2). From John he learned of the Son of God and how Jesus had been sent to bring eternal life to those who believed. Finally his soul was at rest. “No longer did it look upon the life of this body as troublesome or wearisome, but believed it to be what the alphabet is to children… namely, as the patient endurance of the present trials of life in order to gain a blissful eternity.” He had found who he was in discovering God and God’s Son Jesus Christ.

After becoming a Christian, he was elected bishop of Poitiers in what is now France by the laity and clergy. He was already married with one daughter named Apra.

Not everyone at that time had the same idea of who they were. The Arians did not believe in the divinity of Christ and the Arians had a lot of power including the support of the emperor Constantius. This resulted in many persecutions. When Hilary refused to support their condemnation of Saint Athanasius he was exiled from Poitiers to the East in 356. The Arians couldn’t have had a worse plan — for themselves.

Hilary really had known very little of the whole Arian controversy before he was banished. Perhaps he supported Athanasius simply because he didn’t like their methods. But being exiled from his home and his duties gave him plenty of time to study and write. He learned everything he could about what the Arians said and what the orthodox Christians answered and then he began to write. “Although in exile we shall speak through these books, and the word of God, which cannot be bound, shall move about in freedom.” The writings of his that still exist include On the Trinity, a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, and a commentary on the Psalms. He tells us about the Trinity, “For one to attempt to speak of God in terms more precise than he himself has used: — to undertake such a thing is to embark upon the boundless, to dare the incomprehensible. He fixed the names of His nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whatever is sought over and above this is beyond the meaning of words, beyond the limits of perception, beyond the embrace of understanding.”

After three years the emperor kicked him back to Poitiers, because, we are told by Sulpicius Severus, the emperor was tired of having to deal with the troublemaker, “a sower of discord an a disturber of the Orient.” But no one told Hilary he had to go straight back to his home and so he took a leisurely route through Greece and Italy, preaching against the Arians as he went.

In the East he had also heard the hymns used by Arians and orthodox Christians as propaganda. These hymns were not based on Scripture as Western hymns but full of beliefs about God. Back at home, Hilary started writing hymns of propaganda himself to spread the faith. His hymns are the first in the West with a known writer.

Some of use may wonder at all the trouble over what may seem only words to us now. But Hilary wasn’t not fighting a war of words, but a battle for the eternal life of the souls who might hear the Arians and stop believing in the Son of God, their hope of salvation.

The death of Constantius in 361 ended the persecution of the orthodox Christians. Hilary died in 367 or 368 and was proclaimed a doctor of the Church in 1851.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=55

More Saints of the Day:
St. Agrecius
St. Andrew of Trier
St. Berno of Cluny
St. Elian
St. Elian ap Erbin
St. Enogatus
St. Erbin of Dumnonia
St. Glaphyra
St. Gumesindus
St. Hermylus
St. Hilary of Poitiers
St. Kentigern Mungo
St. Leontius of Caesarea
St. Viventius
Bl. Yvette

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 11, 2017

Thursday (January 12): “Be made clean.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 308

First Reading: Hebrews 3:7-14
Psalms 95:6-11:  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Gospel: Mark 1:40-45
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011217.cfm

Reflection:  Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan12.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Marguerite Bourgeoys
Marguerite had survived many threats in the twenty-six years she had been in wilderness of Canada. She had lived through Iroquois attacks, a fire that destroyed her small village, plagues on the ships that she took back and forth to France, but nothing threatened her dreams and hopes more than what her own bishop said to her in 1679. He told her that she had to join her Congregation of Notre Dame with its teaching sisters to a cloistered religious order of Ursulines. This was not the first time she’d heard this command. Whether from a misplaced desire to protect her Sisters or from discomfort in dealing with an active religious order of women, bishops had long wanted to fit her into the usual mold of cloistered orders.

But Marguerite had overcome many challenges to get to this day and was not deterred. In her own native France, she had belonged to a sodality of women who cared for the sick.

The stories of hardships and dangers in Montreal that made other people shiver had awakened a call from God in her to serve the Native Americans and settlers who endured this adversity. She met with the governor of what was then called Ville Marie and convinced him she was the person he was looking for to help start a school for the children of Montreal.

When she arrived in Ville Marie, as it was called then, she found that few children survived to school age. She helped the remarkable Jeanne Mance, who ran the hospital, to change this tragedy. When she finally had children to teach, she had to set to up school in a stable.

So she was not ready to surrender to the bishop. There was too much at stake. She reminded him that the Ursulines because they were cloistered could not go out and teach, as her Sisters had done. The poor and uneducated would not and could not travel to a Quebec cloister over miles of frontier at the risk of their lives.

But her Sisters were more than willing to live in huts in order to fulfill their call from God. She had set up schools all over the territory, not just for children. When the king, in well-meaning ignorance, had sent untrained orphans over to be colonists she had set up a school for the women to teach them how to survive and thrive in Canada.

How could they do the work for God that they had done so well in a cloister?

The bishop replied, “I cannot doubt, Mother Bourgeoys, that you will succeed in moving heaven and earth as you have moved me!” The Congregation remained an active teaching order, one of the very first of its kind for women. Their rule had to go through one more attempt at turning them into a cloister but Marguerite lived to see the triumph when their Rule was made official in 1698. She was canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1373

More Saints of the Day:
St. Aelred of Rievaulx
St. Anthony Mary Pucci
St. Arcadius
St. Bartholomew Alvarez
St. Benedict Biscop
St. Caesaria
Ephesus Martyrs
Bl. John Gaspard Cratz
St. John of Ravenna
St. Margaret Bourgeoys
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys
St. Martina
St. Martin of Leon
Martyrs of Ephesus
Bl. Pierre-Francois Jamet
St. Salvius
St. Satyrus
St. Tatiana
St. Tatiana of Rome
St. Tigrius & Eutropius
St. Victorian
St. Victorian of Asan
Bl. Vincent de Cunha
St. Zoticus
Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 307

First Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
Psalms 105:1-4, 6-9:  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011117.cfm

Reflection:  Who do you take your troubles to? Jesus’ disciples freely brought their troubles to him because they found him ready and able to deal with any difficulty, affliction, or sickness which they encountered. When Simon brought Jesus to his home, his mother-in-law was instantly healed because Jesus heard Simon’s prayer. Jerome, an early church bible scholar and translator (c. 347-420), reflects on this passage:

“Can you imagine Jesus standing before your bed and you continue sleeping? It is absurd that you would remain in bed in his presence. Where is Jesus? He is already here offering himself to us. ‘In the middle,’ he says, ‘among you he stands, whom you do not recognize’ (Cf. John 1:26) ‘The kingdom of God is in your midst’ (Mark 1:15). Faith beholds Jesus among us. If we are unable to seize his hand, let us prostrate ourselves at his feet. If we are unable to reach his head, let us wash his feet with our tears. Our repentance is the perfume of the Savior. See how costly is the compassion of the Savior.”

Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and healer in your personal life, family, and community? Approach the Lord with expectant faith. God’s healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from. Do you take your troubles to him with expectant faith that he will help you?

“Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver from harm. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan11.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
Abbot and founder. Born at Garissus, Cappadocia (modern Turkey), in 423, he undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and after meeting with the famed St. Simeon Stylites, he entered a monastery. Later, he was named the head of a church between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but departed to live as a hermit near the Dead Sea. As he attracted a large number of followers, Theodosius established a monastery which was divided among the various nationalities of the monks (Greek, Armenian, etc.), each with their own church. Appointed by the patriarch of Jerusalem to the post of visitor to all the cenobitical communities of Palestine, he used his influence as cenobiarch to oppose the spread of the heretical doctrines of Eutychianism, displaying such zeal in his preaching that Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491-518), who was sympathetic to the Eutychians, exiled him. Recalled by Emperor Justin soon after Anastasius’ death, Theodosius spent his last years in poor health.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=529

More Saints of the Day:
St. Alexander
St. Alexander
St. Anastasius X
St. Boadin
St. Brandan
St. Ethenea and Fidelmia
St. Francisca Salesia Aviat
St. Honorata
St. Hyginius
St. Hyginus, Pope
St. Leucius of Brindisi
St. Palaemon
St. Paldo, Tato, and Taso
St. Paulinus of Aquileia
St. Paulinus of Aquileia
St. Paulinus of Aquileia
St. Peter, Severus and Leucius
St. Salvius
St. Theodosius
St. Theodosius of Antioch
St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
St. Vitalis of Gaza
Bl. William Carter

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 9, 2017

Tuesday (January 10): Jesus taught with authority

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 306

First Reading: Hebrews 2:5-12
Psalms 8:2, 5-9:  The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011017.cfm

Reflection:  Do you believe that God’s word has power to set you free and to transform your life? When Jesus taught he spoke with authority. He spoke the word of God as no one had spoken it before. When the Rabbis taught they supported their statements with quotes from other authorities. The prophets spoke with delegated authority – “Thus says the Lord.” When Jesus spoke he needed no authorities to back his statements. He was authority incarnate – the Word of God made flesh. When he spoke, God spoke. When he commanded even the demons obeyed.

Faith works through love and abounds in hope
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) remarked that “faith is mighty, but without love it profits nothing. The devils confessed Christ, but lacking charity it availed nothing. They said, ‘What have we to do with you’ (Mark 1:24)? They confessed a sort of faith, but without love. Hence they were devils.”

Faith is powerful, but without love it profits nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Scripture tells us that true faith works through love (Galatians 5:6) and abounds in hope (Romans 15:13). Our faith is made perfect in love because love orients us to the supreme good which is God himself as well as the good of our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26,27).

Hope anchors our faith in the promises of God and purifies our desires for the things which will last for eternity. That is why the word of Christ has power to set us free from all that would keep us bound up in sin, deception, and despair. Bede the venerable abbot of an English monastery (672-735) contrasted the power and authority of Jesus’ word with the word of the devil:  “The devil, because he had deceived Eve with his tongue, is punished by the tongue, that he might not speak” [Homilies on the Gospels 1.8].

Faith must be nourished with the Word of God
Faith is both a free gift of God and the free assent of our will to the whole truth that God has revealed. To live, grow, and persevere in the faith to the end, we must nourish it with the word of God. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds that we may grow in his truth and in the knowledge of his great love for each of us. If we approach God’s word with trust and submission, and with an eagerness to do what the Lord desires for us, then we are in a much better position to learn what God wants to teach us through his word. Are you eager to be taught by the Lord and to conform your mind, heart, attitude, and intentions according to his word of truth, goodness, and love?

“Lord Jesus, your word is power and life. May I never doubt your love and mercy, and the power of your word that sets us free, and brings healing and restoration to body, mind, heart, and spirit.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan10.htm

Saint of the Day: St. William of Bourges (1155-1209)
William Berruyer, of the illustrious family of the ancient counts of Nevers, was educated by Peter the hermit, archdeacon of Soissons, his uncle by the mother’s side. He learned from his infancy to despise the folly and emptiness of the riches and grandeur of the world, to abhor its pleasures, and to tremble at its dangers. His only delight was in exercises of piety and in his studies, in which he employed his whole time with indefatigable application. He was made canon, first of Soissons, and afterwards of Paris: but he soon took the resolution of abandoning all commerce with the world; and retired into the solitude of Grandmont, where he lived with great regularity in that austere order, till seeing its peace disturbed by a contest which arose between the fathers and lay-brothers, he passed into the Cistercian, then in wonderful odour of sanctity. He took the habit in the abbey of Pontigny, and shining as a perfect model of monastic perfection, was after some time chosen prior of that house, and afterwards abbot, first of Fountaine-Jean, in the diocess of Sens, (a filiation of Pontigny, founded in 1124, by Peter de Courtenay, son of king Lewis the Fat,) and some time after, of Chaalis, near Senlis, a much more numerous monastery, also a filiation of Pontigny, built by Lewis the Fat in 1136, a little before his death. St. William always reputed himself the last among his brethren. The universal mortification of his senses and passions, laid in him the foundation of an admirable purity of heart, and an extraordinary gift of prayer; in which he received great heavenly lights, and tasted of the sweets which God has reserved for those to whom he is pleased to communicate himself. The sweetness and cheerfulness of his countenance testified the uninterrupted joy and peace that overflowed his soul, and made virtue appear with the most engaging charms in the midst of austerities.

On the death of Henry de Sully, archbishop of Bourges, the clergy of that church requested his brother Eudo, bishop of Paris, to come and assist them in the election of a pastor. Desirous to choose some abbot of the Cistercian Order, then renowned for holy men, they put on the altar the names of three, written on as many billets. This manner of election by lots would have been superstitious, and a tempting of God, had it been done, relying on a miracle without the warrant of divine inspiration. But it deserved not this censure, when all the persons proposed seemed equally worthy and fit, as the choice was only recommended to God, and left to this issue by following the rules of his ordinary providence, and imploring his light, without rashness, or a neglect of the usual means of scrutiny; prudence might sometimes even recommend such a method, in order to terminate a debate when the candidates seemed equally qualified. God, in such cases, is said sometimes to have miraculously interposed.

Eudo, accordingly, having written three billets, laid them on the altar; and having made his prayer, drew first the name of the abbot William, on whom, at the same time, the majority of the votes of the clergy had made the election fall, the 23rd of November, 1200. This news overwhelmed William with grief. He never would have acquiesced, had he not received a double command in virtue of obedience, from the Pope, and from his general, the abbot of Citeaux. He left his dear solitude with many tears, and was received at Bourges as one sent by heaven, and soon after was consecrated. In this new dignity his first care was to conform both his exterior and interior to the most perfect rules of sanctity; being very sensible that a man’s first task is to honour God perfectly in his own soul. He redoubled all his austerities, saying, it was now incumbent on him to do penance for others, as well as for himself. He always wore a hair-shirt under his religious habit, and never added, nor diminished, any thing in his clothes either winter or summer. He never ate any flesh-meat, though he had it at his table for strangers. His attention to feed his flock was no less remarkable, especially in assisting the poor both spiritually and corporally, saying, that he was chiefly sent for them. He was most mild to penitent sinners; but inflexible towards the impenitent, though he refused to have recourse to the civil power against them, the usual remedy of that age. Many such he at last reclaimed by his sweetness and charity.

Certain great men abusing his lenity, usurped the rights of his church; but the saint strenuously defended them even against the king himself, notwithstanding his threats to confiscate his lands. By humility and resolution he overcame several contradictions of his chapter and other clergy. By his zeal he converted many of the Albigenses, contemporary heretics, and was preparing himself for a mission among them, at the time he was seized with his last illness. He would, notwithstanding, preach a farewell sermon to his people, which increased his fever to such a degree, that he was obliged to set aside his journey, and take to his bed. Drawing near his end, he received first extreme-unction, according to the discipline of that age; 1 then, in order to receive the viaticum, he rose out of bed, fell on his knees melting in tears, and prayed long prostrate with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross. The night following, perceiving his last hour approach, he desired to anticipate the nocturns, which are said at midnight; but having made the sign of the cross on his lips and breast, was able to pronounce no more than the two first words.

Then, according to a sign made by him, he was laid on ashes in the hair-cloth which he always privately wore. In this posture he soon after expired, a little past midnight, on the morning of the 10th of January, in 1209. His body was interred in his cathedral; and being honoured by many miracles, was taken up in 1217; and in the year following he was canonized by Pope Honorius III. His relics were kept with great veneration till 1562, when they were burnt, and scattered in the winds by the Huguenots, on occasion of their plundering the cathedral of Bourges, as Baillet and Bollandus mention. A bone of his arm is shown with veneration at Chaalis, whither it had been sent soon after the saint’s body was taken up; and a rib is preserved in the church of the college of Navarre, at Paris, on which the canons of St. Bourges bestowed it in 1399. 2 His festival is kept in that church with great solemnity, and by a great concourse of devout persons; St. William being regarded in several parts of France as one of the patrons of the nation, though his name is not mentioned in the Roman Martyrology. The celebrated Countess Maud, his niece, out of veneration for his memory, bestowed certain lands in the Nivernois, on the church of Bourges. 3 B. Philip Berruyer, a nephew of St. William, was archbishop of Bourges from the year 1236 to 1260, in which he died in the odour of sanctity. Nangi ascribes to him many miracles, and other historians bear testimony to his eminent virtue.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=588

More Saints of the Day:
St. Agatho
Bl. Anna of the Angels Monteagudo
St. Dermot
St. John Camillus the Good
St. Marcian
St. Nicanor
St. Peter Orseolo
St. Peter Urseolus
St. Petronius
St. Saethryth
St. Thomian
St. William of Bourges

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
The Baptism of the Lord 
Feast of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo
Lectionary: 21

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalms 29:1-4, 3, 9-10:  The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010917.cfm

Reflection:  Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism at the River Jordan? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3).  In this humble submission of Jesus we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 42:1-4). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God? .

Jesus’ baptism – beginning of a new creation
The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.

Heaven will open for those who bow before the Lord
How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), an early church father tells us:

“Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.”

Do you want to see your life transformed in the likeness of Christ? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well.

The Holy Spirit transforms us in the likeness of Jesus
The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew and refashion us in his likeness through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit – and he anoints us for mission as ambassadors of his kingdom of righteousness (moral goodness), peace, and joy (Romans 14:17). We are called to be the “light” and salt” of his kingdom that radiate the beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us (Matthew 5:13,15-16). The Lord Jesus wants his love and truth to shine through us that many others may may find new life, freedom, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and with the fire of your love and goodness. May I always find joy and delight in seeking to please you in doing your will just as you have delighted in the joy of pleasing your Father and doing his will.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan9.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Adrian, Abbot
Born in Africa, Adrian became abbot of the monastery at Nerida, near Naples. He declined an appointment as archbishop of Canterbury, but accompanied St. Theodore to England when the latter was appointed Archbishop. Theodore appointed him Abbot of SS. Peter and Paul Monastery (later changed to St. Augustine’s) in Canterbury, and during his thirty-nine years’ abbacy, the monastery became renowned as a center of learning. He died on January 9 in Canterbury, and his tomb soon became famous for the miracles wrought there.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=254

More Saints of the Day:
St. Abhor (Amba Hor)
St. Adrian, Abbot
St. Basilissa
St. Brithwald
St. Epicharis
St. Foellan
St. Honorius
St. Julian and Basilissa
St. Marciana of Mauretania
St. Maurontus
St. Paschasia
Bl. Tommaso Reggio
St. Vitalicus
St. Waningus

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
The Epiphany of the Lord
Lectionary: 20

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13:  The Lord takes delight in his people.
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010817.cfm

Reflection:  If Jesus truly is who he claims to be, the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world, then why is he not recognized by everyone who hears his word and sees his works? John the Evangelist states that when Jesus came into the world the world knew him not and his own people received him not(John 1:10-11). Jesus was born in obscurity. Only the lowly shepherds recognized him at his birth. Some wise men also found their way to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn King of Israel. These men were not Israelites, but foreigners. They likely had read and discussed the Messianic prophecies and were anxious to see when this Messianic King would appear. God led them by means of an extraordinary star across the desert to the little town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

John Chrysostom (347-407), in his homily on this passage from Matthew 2, explains the significance of the star of Bethlehem:

“Note how fitting was the order of events: the wise men saw the star, were received by the Jews and their king; they heard prophecy to explain what had appeared; the angel instructed them; and then they journeyed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by the guidance of the star. From all this we learn that this was not an ordinary star, for no other star has this capacity to guide, not merely to move but to beckon, to “go before them,” drawing and guiding them along their way. The star remained after bringing them to the place, in order that the child might also be seen. For there is nothing conspicuous about the place. The inn was ordinary. The mother was not celebrated or notable. The star was needed to manifest and illumine the lowly place, until they had reached their destination at the manger.” [The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 7:3]

In their thirst for knowledge of God, the wise men from the East willingly left everything, their home and country, in pursuit of that quest. In their diligent search they were led to the source of true knowledge – to Jesus Christ, the Light and Wisdom of God. When they found the newborn King they humbly worshiped him and gave him gifts fitting for a king.

The Lord of the universe who revealed the star of Bethlehem to the Gentiles of the East so they could come and worship Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and King of Kings (Revelations 19:16), gives each one of us the same light of revelation to recognize and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. It is through the help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and opens the eyes of the mind, that we are able to understand, accept, and believe the truth which God has revealed to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. In faith, the human will and intellect cooperate with grace. “Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace” (Thomas Aquinas).

To know and to encounter Jesus Christ is to know God personally. In the encounter of the wise men with Jesus we see the plan of God to give his only Son as King and Savior, not just for the Jewish people but for all the nations as well. The Lord Jesus came that both Jew and Gentile might find true and lasting peace with God.  Let us pray today that Jew and Gentile alike will find the Lord and Savior on their journey of life. Do you bring the light of Jesus Christ to those you meet through the witness of your life and testimony?

“Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for bringing salvation to all the nations. May the gospel of salvation be proclaimed to every nation today and to every person on the face of the earth.  Help me to be a good witness of the joy of the gospel to all I meet.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan8.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Thorfinn
In the year 1285, there died in the Cistercian monastery at TerDoest, near Bruges, a Norwegian bishop named Thorfinn. He had never attracted particular attention and was soon forgotten. But over fifty years later, in the course of some building operations, his tomb in the Church was opened and it was reported that the remains gave out a strong and pleasing spell. The Abbot made inquiries and found that one of his monks, and aged man named Walter de Muda, remembered Bishop Thorfinn staying in there monastery and the impression he had made of gentle goodness combined with strength. Father Walter had in fact, written a poem about him after his death and hung it up over his tomb. It was then found that the parchment was still there, none the worse for the passage of time. This was taken as a direction from on high that the Bishop’s memory was to be perpetuated, and Father Walter was instructed to write down his recollections of him. For all that, there is little enough known about St. Thorfinn. He was a Trondhjem man and perhaps was a Canon of the Cathedral of Nidaros, since there was such a one named Thorfinn among those who witnessed the agreement of Tonsborg in 1277. This was an agreement between King Magnus VI and the Archbishop of Nidaros confirming certain privileges of the clergy, the freedom of episcopal elections and similar matters. Some years later, King Eric repudiated this agreement, and a fierce dispute between Church and state ensued. Eventually the King outlawed the Archbishop, John, and his two chief supporters, Bishop Andrew of Oslow and Bishop Thorfinn of Hamar. Bishop Thorfinn, after many hardships, including shipwreck, made his way to the Abbey of TerDoest in Flanders, which had a number of contacts with the Norwegian Church. It is possible that he had been there before, and there is some reason to suppose he was himself a Cistercian of the Abbey of Tautra, near Nidaros. After a visit to Rome he went to TerDoest, in bad health. Indeed, though probably still a youngish man, he saw death approaching and so made his will; he had little to leave, but what there was, he divided between his mother, his brothers and sisters, and certain monasteries, churches and charities in his dioceses. He died shortly after on January 8, 1285. After his recall to the memory of man as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this notice, miracles were reported at his tomb and St. Thorfinn was venerated by the Cistercians and around Bruges. In our own day, his memory has been revived among the few Catholics of Norway, and his feast is observed in his episcopal city of Hamar. The tradition of Thorfinn’s holiness ultimately rests on the poem of Walter de Muda, where he appeared as a kind, patient, generous man, whose mild exterior covered a firm will against whatever he esteemed to be evil and ungodly. His feast day is January 8th.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=18

More Saints of the Day:
St. Albert of Cashel
St. Apollinaris
St. Athelm
St. Atticus of Constantinople
St. Carterius
St. Ergnad
St. Erhard of Regensburg
St. Eugenian
St. Frodobert
St. Frodobert
St. Garibaldus
St. Gudula
St. Lucian of Beauvais
St. Maximus of Pavia
St. Pega
St. Severinus
St. Severinus of Noricum
St. Theophilus & Helladius
St. Thorfinn
St. Wulsin

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Saturday before Epiphany
Lectionary: 210

First Reading: 1 John 5:14-21
Psalms 149:1-6, 9:  The Lord takes delight in his people.
Gospel: John 2:1-11
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although the servers who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010717.cfm

Reflection:  John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, tells us that Jesus did many signs in the presence of his disciples. John recorded seven of these signs to strengthen our belief that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name’ (John 20:30-31). Jesus’ first sign took place at a wedding reception in the town of Cana, which was very close to Nazareth in Galilee where Jesus grew up. What does this sign tell us about about Jesus? And what is its significance for us?

From skepticism to belief
John locates his account of Jesus’ first sign by telling us that it occurred on the third day (John 2:1-2). What is the significance of the third day? This is three days after skeptical Nathaniel’s first encounter with Jesus. Philip had encouraged Nathaniel to “come and see” for himself who this Jesus was. When Nathaniel met Jesus, Jesus did something out of the ordinary. He revealed something personal about Nathaniel that only Nathaniel would have known. And then Jesus made a claim: ‘You shall see greater things than these.’ And he said to Nathaniel, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man”  (John 1:50-51). Jesus in so many words told Nathaniel, ‘“You don’t just have to believe my words, what I am saying here. I am going to perform signs that will back up the truth of what I’m saying and prove that I am who I claim to be.’ If someone makes that kind of claim to you, you are going to closely watch whatever he does to see if he can make good on the claim. You want to find out if he is genuine or just an imposter or maybe deluded and crazy.

Turning failure into blessing
Three days later Jesus takes his disciples to a wedding reception and there he does something quite out of the ordinary, right in the middle of the celebration – and during a very embarrassing moment for the bride and groom. When Jesus’ mother presses Jesus to do something about the situation, Jesus seems to put her off. But she knows her son very well and understands that Jesus will handle the situation that way he thinks best.

Why did the wedding party run out of wine in the middle of the feast? Perhaps Jesus contributed to this embarrassing failure by bringing a group of his disciples to the feast at the last minute. But Jesus had a purpose in turning a wedding feast fiasco into a blessing beyond reckoning. He wanted to bless a newly-wed couple and all those at the wedding banquet as well. Everyone received in abundance the best of wine. John describes Jesus’ first public miracle as a sign. It is more than simply a demonstration of his power to change nature. It is a sign of what he has come to do – to transform the lives of all who will believe in him.

Bridegroom of the new Israel
Why did Jesus pick an ordinary wedding feast in a little out-of-the-way town to perform his first sign and to launch his public ministry? A wedding feast in nearly every culture is a very big event, often the biggest celebration that people experience, because it brings families, neighbors, and sometimes the whole town together. For many people it is the happiest and most memorable occasion in their life.
,
For the people of Israel, the wedding feast had a special spiritual significance as well. It came to symbolize God’s special relationship and covenant with the people of Israel. The Old Testament describes God as the Bridegroom of Israel and presents his covenant relationship with the people of God as a spiritual marriage (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:16, 19-20). One of the most powerful images of heaven is the wedding banquet (Revelations 19:7-9). The Bible ends with the invitation to this marriage feast. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come'” (Revelations 21:17).

So when Jesus chooses a wedding feast for his first sign, he is giving us a hint about something that will become more explicit when John the Baptist describes Jesus as the betrothed bridegroom of his people (John 3:29). In the other Gospels Jesus also alludes to his role as the bridegroom of the new people of Israel (see Mark 2:18-20; Matthew 9:14-15; Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25:6) when he invites both Jews and Gentiles to share in his heavenly banquet at the end of the age (Luke 13:29).

Changing water into wine 
What is so special about Jesus changing water into wine? Any good winemaker knows how to take a watery substance such as grape juice and turn it into wine. First you wait for the grapes to grow and mature. Then you pick the choicest grapes for the best wine you want to make. You crush the grapes into a mush. Then you add some water, yeast, and sugar. You allow this mixture to ferment over a period of several weeks. During that time you skim off the solid material until you are left with pure liquid – wine. Wine must be slightly aged to be drinkable – white wine must sit for half a year, and red wine for a full year. Some of the most famous wines are aged for many years.

Jesus didn’t turn the water into a fruity grape juice, or into ordinary table wine. He instantly produced the finest and most expensive of wines – a fine vintage wine that would normally take years to age. He didn’t produce just enough wine to satisfy the embarrassed bride and groom and guests. He produced 120 gallons! Abundance indeed. The instantaneous turning of water into wine shows Jesus’ supernatural power to transform natural things – what is physical and material – into something of a higher order. He has the same power which God possesses – to create, transform, and change creation itself.

The gift of abundant life
If Jesus can change water into wine for an embarrassed wedding couple, how much more can he change us through the transforming power of his Holy Spirit. John tells us that ‘all who received him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:12,13). Jesus gives us abundant life. This sign at Cana points to his power not simply to improve the quality of our lives but to change and transform us to be like him – people of joy, peace, and love who do not fear death, but who know and experience even now the taste of eternal life – the life of God’s kingdom. He gives us everything we need to live as his disciples – as sons and daughters of God.Jesus blessed a nameless couple in Cana, not only with his presence, but with his power. He will bless us as well, not only with his presence, but with his healing love and life-changing power.

Let go of pride and fear
What might hold us back from allowing Jesus to change and transform us? Perhaps you feel that your faith is weak, or that you are unworthy to receive God’s favor and gifts. Perhaps you struggle with anxiety or despair because your life feels hopelessly out of control. Jesus knows our struggles and weaknesses better than we do. And that doesn’t stop him from offering us freedom and transformation through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit.

Paul the Apostle reminds us that God chooses to work in and through fragile and cracked vessels, such as us, to reveal the power of his glory and love. ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us’ (2 Corinthians 4:7).

If there is anything holding you back from trusting in Jesus, let it go – give it to Jesus. Let go of fear – fear of losing your life. Let go of pride – wanting to always be in control and get things to go your way. And let go of unbelief – the stubborn refusal to accept Jesus on his own terms and to deny that he has the words of eternal life. Be like Nathaniel and choose to follow the master – to the wedding banquet and beyond, to even greater things.

“Heavenly Father, you have revealed your glory in our Lord Jesus Christ. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may bring you glory in all that I do and say.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan7.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Raymond of Pennafort, Patron of Canonists
St. Raymond of Pennafort, Patron Saint of Canonists (Feast day – January 7) Born in Spain, St. Raymond was a relative of the King of Aragon. From childhood he had a tender love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. He finished his studies at an early age, and became a famous teacher. He then gave up all his honors and entered the Order of the Dominicans. St. Raymond was very humble and very close to God. He did much penance and was so good and kind that he won many sinners to God. With King James of Aragon and St. Peter Nolasco he founded the Order of Our Lady of Ransom. The brave religious of this Order devoted themselves to saving poor Christians captured by the Moors.

Once he went with King James to the Island of Majorca to preach about Jesus. King James was a man of great qualities, but he let himself be ruled by passions. There on the Island, too, he was giving bad example. The Saint commanded him to send the woman away. The King said he would, but he did not keep his promise. So St. Raymond decided to leave the Island. The King declared he would punish any ship captain who brought the Saint back to Barcelona. Putting all his trust in God, Saint Raymond spread his cloak upon the water, tied up one corner of it to a stick for a sail, made the Sign of the Cross, stepped onto the cloak, and sailed along for six hours until he reached Barcelona. This miracle moved the King. He was sorry for what he had done, and he became a true follower of St. Raymond. St. Raymond was one hundred years old at the time of his death.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=18

More Saints of the Day:
St. Aidric
St. Anastasius XVIII
St. Brannock
St. Canute Lavard
St. Clerus
St. Crispin
St. Cronan Beg
Bl. Edward Waterson
St. Emilian
St. Felix & Januarius
St. Julian of Cagliari
St. Kentigerna
St. Lucian of Antioch
St. Nicetas of Remesiana
St. Raymond of Pennafort
St. Reinold
St. Theodore of Egypt
St. Tillo
St. Valentine

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 5, 2017

Friday (January 6): “You are my beloved Son.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Christmas Weekday
Lectionary: 209

First Reading: 1 John 5:5-13
Psalms 147:12-15, 19-20:  Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Gospel: Mark 1:7-11
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010617.cfm

Reflection:  Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3) – of which Jesus had no need. However, in this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?

The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan River. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.

How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus, a seventh century Church father tells us:

“Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.”

Do you want to see your life transformed by the love and power of Jesus Christ? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel of peace, mercy, and righteousness? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew us in his Holy Spirit and to anoint us for mission. We are called to be “light” and “salt” to those around us. The Lord wants his love and truth to shine through us that others may see the goodness and truth of God’s message of salvation. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with the joy of the Gospel. May I find joy in seeking to please you just as you found joy in seeking to please your Father.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan6.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Andre Bessette
When Alfred Bessette came to the Holy Cross Brothers in 1870, he carried with him a note from his pastor saying, “I am sending you a saint.” The Brothers found that difficult to believe. Chronic stomach pains had made it impossible for Alfred to hold a job very long and since he was a boy he had wandered from shop to shop, farm to farm, in his native Canada and in the United States, staying only until his employers found out how little work he could do. The Holy Cross Brothers were teachers and, at 25, Alfred still did not know how to read and write. It seemed as if Alfred approached the religious order out of desperation, not vocation.

Alfred was desperate, but he was also prayerful and deeply devoted to God and Saint Joseph. He may have had no place left to go, but he believed that was because this was the place he felt he should have been all along.

The Holy Cross Brothers took him into the novitiate but soon found out what others had learned — as hard as Alfred, now Brother Andre, wanted to work, he simply wasn’t strong enough. They asked him to leave the order, but Andre, out of desperation again, appealed to a visiting bishop who promised him that Andre would stay and take his vows.

After his vows, Brother Andre was sent to Notre Dame College in Montreal (a school for boys age seven to twelve) as a porter. There his responsibilities were to answer the door, to welcome guests, find the people they were visiting, wake up those in the school, and deliver mail. Brother Andre joked later, “At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for forty years.”

In 1904, he surprised the Archbishop of Montreal if he could, by requesting permission to, build a chapel to Saint Joseph on the mountain near the college. The Archbishop refused to go into debt and would only give permission for Brother Andre to build what he had money for. What money did Brother Andre have? Nickels he had collected as donations for Saint Joseph from haircuts he gave the boys. Nickels and dimes from a small dish he had kept in a picnic shelter on top of the mountain near a statue of St. Joseph with a sign “Donations for St. Joseph.” He had collected this change for years but he still had only a few hundred dollars. Who would start a chapel now with so little funding?

Andre took his few hundred dollars and built what he could … a small wood shelter only fifteen feet by eighteen feet. He kept collecting money and went back three years later to request more building. The wary Archbishop asked him, “Are you having visions of Saint Joseph telling you to build a church for him?”

Brother Andre reassured him. “I have only my great devotion to St. Joseph to guide me.”

The Archbishop granted him permission to keep building as long as he didn’t go into debt. He started by adding a roof so that all the people who were coming to hear Mass at the shrine wouldn’t have to stand out in the rain and the wind. Then came walls, heating, a paved road up the mountain, a shelter for pilgrims, and finally a place where Brother Andre and others could live and take care of the shrine — and the pilgrims who came – full-time. Through kindness, caring, and devotion, Brother Andre helped many souls experience healing and renewal on the mountaintop. There were even cases of physical healing. But for everything, Brother Andre thanked St. Joseph.

Despite financial troubles, Brother Andre never lost faith or devotion. He had started to build a basilica on the mountain but the Depression had interfered. At ninety-years old he told his co-workers to place a statue of St. Joseph in the unfinished, unroofed basilica. He was so ill he had to be carried up the mountain to see the statue in its new home. Brother Andre died soon after on January 6, and didn’t live to see the work on the basilica completed. But in Brother Andre’s mind it never would be completed because he always saw more ways to express his devotion and to heal others. As long as he lived, the man who had trouble keeping work for himself, would never have stopped working for God.

On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree recognizing a second miracle at Blessed André’s intercession and on October 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Blessed Andre.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=18

More Saints of the Day:
St. Anastasius VIII
St. Andre Bessette
St. Diman
St. Edeyrn
St. Eigrad
St. Erminold
St. Erminold
St. Hywyn
St. John de Ribera
St. Macra
St. Melanie
St. Melanius
St. Peter of Canterbury
St. Schotin
St. Wiltrudis

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 4, 2017

Thursday (January 5): “Come and see”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
Lectionary: 208

First Reading: 1 John 3:11-21
Psalms 100:1-5:  Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Gospel: John 1:43-51
Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip.
And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.
Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010517.cfm

Reflection:  How can we know with certainty that Jesus is truly who he claims to be – the Son of God and Savior of the world? Philip was eager to tell his friend Nathaniel (who is also known as Bartholomew in Matthew 10:3 and Luke 6:14) about his decision to be a disciple of Jesus. Philip tried to convince his friend that Jesus was the Messiah, whom Moses and the prophets had foretold would come. Nathanial was very skeptical because he didn’t think it was possible for the Messiah to come from Nazareth, a town in Galilee. Nathaniel not only disliked the town of Nazareth, he despised its residents as unworthy Jews. “How could anything good come from such a place?”

Nazareth was at the crossroads of the ancient world where people from different cultures and religions would pass through. Perhaps Nathaniel thought  its religious teachers were not orthodox enough in their understanding and interpretation of the law of Moses. Besides, how could the Messiah come from Galilee when the prophets said he would come from Bethlehem of Judaea? Aren’t we all a bit like Nathaniel? We are skeptical when someone tries to convince us of the truth until we can comprehend it for ourselves.

A skeptical but earnest search for God’s truth
So what kind of proof did Philip offer to Nathanael? Rather than argue with his friend, Philip took the wiser strategy of inviting Nathanael  to “come and see” for himself who this Jesus claimed to be. Clever arguments rarely win people to the Gospel – but an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ can change one’s life forever. When people are receptive to the word of Christ and when they see his love in action, the Lord Jesus himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit, touches their hearts and opens their minds to recognize that he truly is the Son of God who reveals the Father’s love and truth to us.

When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Jesus did something which only God could do! He opened Nathanael’s heart and his innermost thoughts and desires to God’s revelation. Jesus called Nathanael a true “Israelite in whom there is no guile.” God had chosen Jacob, who was given the name Israel, over his twin brother Essau, because Jacob was a man of faith, without guile or cunning like Essau (Genesis 25:27).  Nathanael, like Jacob, hungered for God and believed in God’s promises. Nathanael knew the Scriptures. He had read the law and the prophets. And like Jacob he was waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people Israel. Nathanael was an earnest seeker of God. He not only sought to grow in understanding of God’s word, but he sought an intimate personal relationship with God as well. That is why he was willing to meet Jesus, to see if perhaps this miracle worker from Galilee might be the long-awaited Messiah and Savior.

God’s word brings blessing and refreshment for those who receive it
What is the significance of Jesus’ revelation of seeing Nathanael “under the fig tree”? For the people of Israel, the fig tree was a symbol of God’s peace and blessing (1 Kings 4:24b-25, Micah 4:4). It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool refreshing place to retreat, pray, and reflect on God’s word. Rabbis often gathered their disciples under the shade of the fig tree to teach them the wisdom and revelation of God’s word in the Scriptures. The rabbis had an expression for comparing the fig tree to being nourished with God’s word in Scripture, “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit.”

Jesus offers the greatest gift possible – peace and friendship with God
It is very likely that Nathanael had been thinking about God’s word  while sitting  “under his fig tree” and reflecting on God’s promise to send a Messiah King who would free his people from sin and oppression and usher in God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace for the whole world. Perhaps Nathanael dozed off for a midday nap and dreamt of God’s kingdom like Jacob had dreamt when God gave him a vision of a great ladder which united earth with heaven (see Genesis 28:12-17). Through the gift of revelation Nathanael recognized that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the everlasting “Son of God and King of Israel” (John 1:49).  The Lord Jesus offered Nathanael the greatest gift of all – the gift of friendship with God and the offer of free access to God’s throne in heaven.

Jesus promises that we will dwell with the living God
What does Jesus mean when he says “you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man”? One of the most remarkable revelations recorded in the Bible is the dream of Jacob (Genesis 28:12-17). God had opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with the living God. In Jacob’s dream God revealed his angelic host and showed him the very throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and his descendants would dwell with the living God.

Jesus, the Son of God, unites earth and heaven in himself 
Jesus’ response to Nathanael’s new faith in accepting Jesus as the Messiah is the promise that Jesus himself will open the way for free access to the very throne of God in heaven. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Jacob and his descendants – he is the way to the Father in heaven and the true “ladder (or stairway) which unites earth with heaven.” In Jesus’ incarnation, the divine Son of God taking on human flesh for our sake, we see the union of heaven and earth – God making his dwelling with us and bringing us into the heavenly reality of his kingdom through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus gives us free access to God’s presence
Jesus’ death on the cross, where he defeated sin and won new life for us through his resurrection, opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his adopted sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each one of us to “ascend to heaven” and to bring “heaven to earth” in the daily circumstances of our lives. God’s kingdom is present in those who seek him and who strive to do his will. Through the gift of faith God opens a door for each one of us to the heavenly reality of his kingdom. Do you see with the “eyes of faith” what the Lord Jesus has done for us?

“Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for each one of us. As you personally revealed yourself to your beloved patriarchs and apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may recognize your presence with me and know the power of your kingdom at work in my life. May I always find joy and peace in your presence and never lose sight of your everlasting kingdom.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan5.htm

Saint of the Day: St. John Neumann (1811-1860)
This American saint was born in Bohemia in 1811. He was looking forward to being ordained in 1835 when the bishop decided there would be no more ordinations. It is difficult for us to imagine now, but Bohemia was overstocked with priests. John wrote to bishops all over Europe but the story was the same everywhere no one wanted any more priests. John was sure he was called to be a priest but all the doors to follow that vocation seemed to close in his face.

But John didn’t give up. He had learned English by working in a factory with English-speaking workers so he wrote to the bishops in America. Finally, the bishop in New York agreed to ordain him. In order to follow God’s call to the priesthood John would have to leave his home forever and travel across the ocean to a new and rugged land.

In New York, John was one of 36 priests for 200,000 Catholics. John’s parish in western New York stretched from Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania. His church had no steeple or floor but that didn’t matter because John spent most of his time traveling from village to village, climbing mountains to visit the sick, staying in garrets and taverns to teach, and celebrating the Mass at kitchen tables.

Because of the work and the isolation of his parish, John longed for community and so joined the Redemptorists, a congregation of priests and brothers dedicated to helping the poor and most abandoned.

John was appointed bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. As bishop, he was the first to organize a diocesan Catholic school system. A founder of Catholic education in this country, he increased the number of Catholic schools in his diocese from two to 100.

John never lost his love and concern for the people — something that may have bothered the elite of Philadelphia. On one visit to a rural parish, the parish priest picked him up in a manure wagon. Seated on a plank stretched over the wagon’s contents, John joked, “Have you ever seen such an entourage for a bishop!”

The ability to learn languages that had brought him to America led him to learn Spanish, French, Italian, and Dutch so he could hear confessions in at least six languages. When Irish immigration started, he learned Gaelic so well that one Irish woman remarked, “Isn’t it grand that we have an Irish bishop!”

Once on a visit to Germany, he came back to the house he was staying in soaked by rain. When his host suggested he change his shoes, John remarked, “The only way I could change my shoes is by putting the left one on the right foot and the right one on the left foot. This is the only pair I own.”

John died on January 5, 1860 at the age of 48.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=70

More Saints of the Day:
St. Apollinaris Syncletica
St. Cera
St. Charles of Sezze
St. Convoyon
St. Emiliana
St. Gaudentius
St. Genoveva Torres Morales
St. Gerlac
Bl. Jacques Ledoyen
St. John Nepomucene Neumann
St. John Neumann
St. Lomer
Bl. Marcelina Darowska
Martyrs of Egypt
St. Paula
St. Roger
St. Syncletica
St. Syncletica of Alexandria
St. Talida

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious
Lectionary: 207

First Reading: 1 John 3:7-10
Psalms 98:1, 7-9:  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Gospel: John 1:35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher),
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010417.cfm

Reflection:  Who is Jesus for you? John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus’ mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites from their oppression in Egypt and from the plague of death. The Lord Jesus freely offered up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood which he poured out for us on the cross cleanses, heals, and frees us from our slavery to sin, and from the “wages of sin which is death” (Romans 6:23) and the “destruction of both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

It is significant that John was the son of the priest, Zachariah, who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). In Jesus John saw the true and only sacrifice which could deliver us from bondage to sin, death, and the powers of hell. How did John know the true identity of Jesus, as the Son of God and Savior of the world (John 1:29)? The Holy Spirit revealed to John Jesus’ true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the living God? The Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us freely of his Spirit that we may comprehend – with enlightened minds and eyes of faith – the great mystery and plan of God to unite all things in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

“What do you seek?” 
John in his characteristic humility was eager to point beyond himself to the Christ (means Anointed One and Messiah). He did not hesitate to direct his own disciples to the Lord Jesus. When two of John’s disciples began to seek Jesus out, Jesus took the initiative to invite them into his company. He did not wait for them to get his attention. Instead he met them halfway. He asked them one of the most fundamental questions of life: “What are you looking for?” Jesus asks each one of us the same question:”What are you searching for? Do you know the meaning and purpose for your life?” Only God, the Father and Author of life, can answer that question and make our purpose fully known to us. That is why the Lord Jesus invites each one of us to draw near to himself. He wants us to know him personally – to know what he came to do for us and what he wants to offer us.

“Come and see” 
“Come and see” is the Lord’s invitation for each one of us to discover the joy of friendship and communion with the One who made us in love for love. Saint Augustine of Hippo reminds us that it is God, our Creator and Redeemer, who seeks us out, even when we are not looking for him: “If you hadn’t been called by God, what could you have done to turn back? Didn’t the very One who called you when you were opposed to Him make it possible for you to turn back?” It is God who initiates and who draws us to himself. Without his mercy and help we could not find him on our own.

When we find something of great value it’s natural to want to share the good news of our discovery with our family, friends, and neighbors. When Andrew met Jesus and discovered that he was truly the Messiah, he immediately went to his brother Simon and told him the good news. Andrew brought his brother to meet Jesus so he could “come and see” for himself. When Jesus saw Simon approaching he immediately reached out to Simon in the same way he had done for Andrew earlier. Jesus looked at Simon and revealed that he knew who Simon was and where he came from even before Simon had set his eyes on Jesus. Jesus gave Simon a new name which signified that God had a personal call and mission for him. Jesus gave Simon the name “Cephas” which is the Aramaic word for “rock”. Cephas is translated as Peter (Petros in Greek and Petrus in Latin) which also literally means “rock”.

To call someone a “rock” was one of the greatest compliments in the ancient world. The rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: “I have discovered a rock to found the world upon.” Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was – the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God. The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith to know the Lord Jesus personally, power to live the gospel faithfully, and courage to witness the truth and joy of the Gospel to others. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to draw us to himself. Do you seek to grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Let your Spirit be aflame in my heart that I may joyfully seek to do your will in all things.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan4.htm

Saint of the Day: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Convert, wife, mother, widow, teacher, religious─Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton did it all. Yet, in many ways, she was an ordinary woman of her time who lived life in an extraordinary way. She has certainly had a powerful influence on women Religious and on the Catholic school system in the United States.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=120

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | January 2, 2017

Tuesday (January 3): “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name

Christmas Weekday

Lectionary: 206

First Reading: 1 John 2:29-3:6
Psalms 98:1, 3CD-4, 5-6:  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Gospel: John 1:29-34
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010317.cfm

Reflection:  John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus’ mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb(Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites in Egypt from slavery and death. The Lord Jesus freely offered up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood which he poured out for us on the cross cleanses, heals, and frees us from our slavery to sin, and from the “wages of sin which is death” (Romans 6:23) and the “destruction of both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

John points to Jesus’ saving mission – to offer up his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins
It is significant that John was the son of Zachariah, a priest of Israel who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). John recognized that Jesus was the perfect unblemished lamb offered by the Father in heaven as the one and only sacrifice that could cancel the debt of sin, and free us from death and the destruction of body and soul in hell.

The Holy Spirit reveals who Jesus truly is – the Son of God and Savior of the world
When John says he did not know Jesus (John 1:31,33) he was referring to the hidden reality of Jesus’ divinity. But the Holy Spirit in that hour revealed to John Jesus’ true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the living God? The Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us his Spirit as our helper and guide who opens our hearts and minds to receive and comprehend the great mystery and plan of God – to unite all things in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10).

Do you want to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ? Ask the Lord to pour his Holy Spirit upon you to deepen your faith, hope, and love for God and for the plan he has for your life.

“Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit and let me grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Let your Spirit be aflame in my heart that I may know and love you more fervently and strive to do your will in all things.”  http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan3.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Genevieve, Patron of Paris (422-512)
St. Genevieve was a fair and courageous peasant girl who was born around 422 in Nanterre, France, to a man named Severus and a woman named Gerontia.

When Genevieve was only seven-years-old, St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre visited Nanterre on his way to Britain. While he was there, many people flocked to receive his blessing. The young Genevieve stood amid a crowd which had gathered around the man of God who singled her out and foretold her future sanctity. At her request, the holy Bishop led her to a church, accompanied by all the faithful, and consecrated her to God as a virgin.

The next day, Germanus asked Genevieve if she had remembered the promise she made to God. She did and proclaimed she would always fulfill it faithfully. He presented her with a cross engraved brass medal to always wear around her neck, as a reminder of the consecration she made of herself to God. He ordered her to never wear any other bracelets, necklaces or jewelry, to avoid falling into vanity.

Encouraged by Germanus, Genevieve dedicated her life to prayer, practices of devotion and a acts of penance. When she was only 15-years-old, she met with the Bishop of Paris and asked to become a nun. From this moment, she also began praying continuously and fasting, eating only twice a week, as a sign of her complete dedication to the Lord.

Following the death of her parents, Genevieve went on to live with her grandmother in Paris and traveled, sharing the faith, performing acts of charity, praying for the sick and prophesying. Her dedicated Christian way of life was filled with the signs of the Holy Spirit working through her.

The signs of the working of the Holy Spirit accompanying this holy young woman included miracles and spiritually inspired predictions. She frequently had visions of heavenly angels and saints. However, when she shared those visions and experiences of the Lord, people began to turn against her. They called her a hypocrite and accused her of being a false visionary. In fact, they were determined to drown her in a lake of fire. However, the Bishop Germanus intervened and silenced those who were accusing her of false statements, and persecuting her.

Genevieve was appointed by the Bishop to look after the welfare of the consecrated virgins. She did so faithfully and helped to lead them into a greater degree of holiness as they grew closer to the Lord Jesus.

Genevieve had a great influence over Childeric, the King of Gaul who overtook Paris. During a time when Paris suffered with great famine, Genevieve traveled by boat to Troyes and brought back several boats full of corn. Although he was a pagan, Childeric respected her and spared the lives of several prisoners on her behalf.

She also had an effect on King Clovis. He listened to her advice and under her request, he granted freedom to several of his prisoners.

When Attila and his army of Huns came upon Paris, the Parisian Christians were prepared to run, but Genevieve spoke to them and convinced them to stay within their homes, fast and pray to the Lord. She assured them they would have the protection of Heaven. Her prediction came true as Attila suddenly changed his path and turned away from Paris.

Genevieve died at 89-years-old on January 3, 512.

Shortly after she was buried, the people built a small church over her tomb, asking for the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul. Although her tomb remains there and can still be seen today, it is empty.

Her relics were encased by St. Eligius in a handmade gold and silver shrine around 630. Over the years, the Normans destroyed the church several times. Once it was rebuilt around 856, St. Genevieve’s relics were returned and miracles began happening, making this church famous all throughout France.

Paris experienced proof of Genevieve’s intercession on many occasions. The most famous occurrence was the miracle of Des Ardens, or the burning fever. In 1129, a violent fever swept through the city, and doctors couldn’t stop the people from dying. The shrine of Genevieve was carried in a procession to the cathedral, and during the ceremony, those who touched her shrine were healed by the power of the Lord. Throughout the whole town, no one else became sick, all the ill recovered and only three people died.

Pope Innocent visited the city the following year and asked that an annual festival be held in commemoration of the miracle every year on November 26. His goal, as is always the case with such practices, was to keep their faith alive by reminding the faithful that the Lord always works in the lives of those who pray and draw close to Him.

St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris. She is depicted dressed in a long flowing gown with a mantle covering her shoulders and is often shown with a loaf of bread, representing her generosity toward those in need. Her feast day is celebrated on January 3.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=120

More Saints of the Day
St. Bertilia
St. Blitmund
St. Cyrinus
St. Daniel of Padua
St. Finlugh
St. Fintan
St. Florentius of Vienne
St. Genevieve
St. Narses
St. Theopemptus and Theonas
St. Wenog
St. Zosimus & Athanasius

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
Lectionary: 205

First Reading: 1 John 2:22-28
Psalms 98:1-4:  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Gospel: 
John 1:19-28
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/010217.cfm

Reflection:  Do you recognize the presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? John the Baptist did such a great job of stirring the peoples’ expectation of the Messiah’s arrival, that many thought he might be the Messiah himself, or at least the great prophet Elijah who was expected to reappear at the Messiah’s coming (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15). John had no mistaken identity. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah King.

John points to the Redeemer who comes to save us from sin and death
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 saw from a distance what the Messiah came to accomplish – our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize your identity as an adopted child of God and a citizen of God’s heavenly kingdom?

John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his prophetic 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 testimony of your witness and example?

The Lord reveals his presence to us through the Holy Spirit
Luke tells us that when the presence of the Lord Jesus was revealed to Mary (Luke 1:35), and to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), and to John the Baptist in the womb of his mother (Luke 1:15,41), and to Zechariah, John’s father (Luke 2:67) – they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the presence of the Lord Jesus who comes to dwell within us. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with the Holy Spirit and to renew in you the gifts of faith, hope, and love, and the boldness and courage to point others to the presence and power of the Lord Jesus.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel that I may eagerly point others to you as John did through his life and testimony.”  http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan2.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Basil the great, Patron of hospital administrators (d. 379)
St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens, where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. A little later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law. Eventually he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus which he directed for five years. He wrote a famous monastic rule which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was ordained and, in 370, made bishop of Caesaria. In this post until his death in 379, he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity. This earned for him the title of “Great” during his life and Doctor of the Church after his death. Basil was one of the giants of the early Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82 was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. His feast day is January 2.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=261

More Saints of the Day
St. Adalard of Corbie
St. Adelard
St. Argeus
St. Artaxus
St. Aspasius
St. Basil the Great
St. Blidulf
St. Caspar del Bufalo
St. Gregory Nazianzus
Bl. Guillaume Repin
Bl. Marie-Anne Vaillot
St. Martinian
St. Munchin
Bl. Odilia Baumgarten
St. Seraphim of Sarov

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | December 31, 2016

Sunday (January 1): “He was named Jesus”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
Lectionary: 18

First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
Psalms 67:2-3, 5-6, 8:  May God bless us in his mercy.
Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010117.cfm

Reflection:  What’s the significance of a name? For the Jewish people the giving of a name had great importance. When a name was given it represented what that person should be in the future. An unknown name meant that someone could not be completely known. To not acknowledge someone’s name meant both denial of the person, destruction of their personality, and change in their destiny. A person’s name expressed the reality of his or her being at its deepest level. A Jewish male child was named at the time of circumcision, eight days after birth. This rite was instituted by God as an outward sign to single out those who belonged to the chosen people (Genesis 17:10-12). It was a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his posterity.

Jesus – the eternal Son of God who was born of a woman to become our Savior
In fulfilment of this precept, Mary’s newborn child is given the name Jesus on the eighth day according to the Jewish custom. Joseph and Mary gave the name Jesus because that is the name given by God’s messenger before Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:31, Matthew 1:21). This name signifies Jesus’ identity and his mission. The literal Hebrew means the Lord saves. Since God alone can forgive sins and free us from death, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son became a man to offer up his life as the atoning sacrifice to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The son that Mary bore is both God and man – the “Word who was God” (John 1:1) and who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). That is why Mary is not only called the mother of the Christ (the Greek word for Messiah in Hebrew) but also the mother of God or Theotokos in Greek which literally means “God bearer.”

Jesus – the name above every other name
In the birth and naming of this child we see the wondrous design and plan of God in giving us a Savior who would bring us grace (the gift of God’s favor), mercy, and freedom from the power of sin and the fear of death. The name Jesus signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son who became man for our salvation. Peter the Apostle exclaimed that there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved (Acts 2:12). In the name of Jesus demons flee, cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised. His name is exalted far above every other name (Philippians 2:9-11).

The name Jesus is at the heart of all Christian prayer. It is through and in Jesus that we pray to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians have died with one word on their lips, the name of Jesus. Do you exalt the name of Jesus and pray with confidence in his name?

“Lord Jesus Christ, I exalt your name above every other name. For in you I have pardon, mercy, grace and victory over sin and death. You humbled yourself for my sake and for the sake of all sinners by sharing in our humanity and by dying on the cross. Help me to always praise your holy name and to live for your greater glory.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan1.htm

Saint of the Day: Mary the Blessed Virgin
Mary, also known as St. Mary the Virgin, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, Mary Mother of God or the Virgin Mary is believed by many to be the greatest of all Christian saints. The Virgin Mother “was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men.”

Mary is venerated with a special cult, called by St. Thomas Aquinas, hyperdulia, as the holiest of all creatures. The main events of her life are celebrated as liturgical feasts of the universal Church.

Mary’s life and role in the history of salvation is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, while the events of her life are recorded in the New Testament. Traditionally, she was declared the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Born in Jerusalem, Mary was presented in the Temple and took a vow of virginity. Living in Nazareth, Mary was visited by the archangel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would become the Mother of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

She became betrothed to St. Joseph and went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was bearing St. John the Baptist. Acknowledged by Elizabeth as the Mother of God, Mary intoned the Magnificat.

When Emperor Augustus declared a census throughout the vast Roman Empire, Mary and St. Joseph went to Bethlehem, his city of lineage, as he belonged to the House of David. There Mary gave birth to Jesus and was visited by the Three Kings.

Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, where St. Simeon rejoiced and Mary received word of sorrows to come later. Warned to flee, St. Joseph and Mary went to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. They remained in Egypt until King Herod died and then returned to Nazareth.

Nothing is known of Mary’s life during the next years except for a visit to the Temple of Jerusalem, at which time Mary and Joseph sought the young Jesus, who was in the Temple with the learned elders.

The first recorded miracle of Jesus was performed at a wedding in Cana, and Mary was instrumental in calling Christ’s attention to the need. Mary was present at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there she was given into John the Apostle’s care. She was also with the disciples in the days before the Pentecost, and it is believed that she was present at the resurrection and Ascension.

No scriptural reference concerns Mary’s last years on earth. According to tradition, she went to Ephesus, where she experienced her “dormition.” Another tradition states that she remained in Jerusalem. The belief that Mary’s body was assumed into heaven is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church.

Pope Pius XII declared this belief Catholic dogma in 1950. The four Catholic dogmas are: Mother of God, Perpetual virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. The feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15. The Assumption was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. According to Pope Pius XII, the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception – that Mary, as the Mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was free of original sin at the moment of her conception. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8. The birthday of Mary is an old feast in the Church, celebrated on September 8, since the seventh century.

Other feasts that commemorate events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary are listed in the Appendices. Pope Pius XII dedicated the entire human race to Mary in 1944. The Church has long taught that Mary is truly the Mother of God .

The Blessed Virgin Mary may be taken as a patroness of any good activity, for she is often cited as the patroness of all humanity. Mary is also associated with protecting many occupations and locations.

St. Paul observed that “God sent His Son, born of a woman,” expressing the union of the human and the divine in Christ. As Christ possesses two natures, human and divine, Mary was the Mother of God in his human nature.

This special role of Mary in salvation history is clearly shown in the Gospel where she is seen constantly at her son’s side during his soteriological mission. Because of this role, exemplified by her acceptance of Christ into her womb, her offering of him to God at the Temple, her urging him to perform his first miracle, and her standing at the foot of the Cross at Calvary Mary was joined fully in the sacrifice by Christ of himself.

Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: “To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated him – insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ.”

Mary is entitled to the title of Queen because, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in a 1946 radio speech, “Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election.”

Mary possesses a unique relationship with all three Persons of the Trinity, thereby giving her a claim to the title of Queenship. She was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son; God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his virginal spouse for the Incarnation of the Son; and God the Son chose her to be his mother, the means of incarnating into the world for the purposes of the redemption of humanity.

This Queen is also our Mother. While she is not our Mother in the physical sense, she is called a spiritual mother, for she conceives, gives birth, and nurtures the spiritual lives of grace for each person. As Mediatrix of All Graces, she is ever present at the side of each person, giving nourishment and hope, from the moment of spiritual birth at Baptism to the moment of death.

In art, Mary is traditionall portrayed in blue. Her other attributes are a blue mantle, crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, roses, and/or woman with child.

Hundreds of thousands of pieces of Marian artwork and sculptures have been created over the years from the best and most brilliant artists, like Michelangelo and Botticell, to simple peasant artists. Some of the most early examples of veneration of Mary is documented in the Catacombs of Rome. Catacomb paintings show Mary the Blessed Virgin with her son.

The confidence that each person should have in Mary was expressed by Pope Pius IX in the encyclical Ubipriinum : “The foundation of all our confidence. . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4967

More Saints of the Day
St. Almachius
St. Basil
Bl. Berka Zdislava
St. Clarus
St. Concordius
St. Connat
St. Cuan
St. Elvan & Mydwyn
St. Euphrosyne
St. Fanchea
St. Fulgentius of Ruspe
St. Fulgentius of Ruspe
St. Giuseppe Maria Tommasi
Bl. Jean-Baptiste Lego

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 204

First Reading: 1 John 2:18-21
Psalms 96:1-2, 11-13:  Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Gospel: John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

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.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/123116.cfm

Reflection:  Why does John the Evangelist begin his Gospel account with a description of the Word of God and the creation of the universe and humankind? How might the beginning of John’s Gospel be linked with the beginning of the first book of Genesis (John 1:1-3 and Genesis 1:1-3)? The “word of God” was a common expression among the Jews. God’s word in the Old Testament Scriptures is an active, creative, and dynamic word. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Psalm 33:6). “He sends forth his commands to the earth; his word runs swiftly” (Psalm 147:15). “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29)?

The eternal Word leaped down from heaven
The writer of the (deutero-canonical) Book of Wisdom addresses God as the one who “made all things by your word” (Wisdom 9:1). God’s word is also equated with his wisdom. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Proverbs 3:19). The Book of Wisdom describes “wisdom” as God’s eternal, creative, and illuminating power. Both “word” and “wisdom” are seen as one and the same. “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command” (deutero-canonical Book of Wisdom 18:14-16).

Truly man and truly God
John describes Jesus as God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving Word that has come to earth in human form. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus is the wisdom and power of God which created the world and sustains it who assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God. “What he was, he remained, and what he was not he assumed” (from an early church antiphon for morning prayer). Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother. From the time of the Apostles the Christian faith has insisted on the incarnation of God’s Son “who has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2)
.
Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great early church fathers (330-395 AD) wrote:

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again.  We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.  Are these things minor or insignificant?  Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?

Christians never cease proclaiming anew the wonder of the Incarnation. The Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. The Son of God …worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved.  Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin (Gaudium et Spes).

We become partakers of Christ’s divine nature
If we are going to behold the glory of God we will do it through Jesus Christ. Jesus became the partaker of our humanity so we could be partakers of his divinity (2 Peter 1:4). God’s purpose for us, even from the beginning of his creation, is that we would be fully united with him. When Jesus comes God is made known as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his sons and daughters. Do you thank the Father for sending his only begotten Son to redeem you and to share with you his glory?

“Almighty God and Father of light, your eternal Word leaped down from heaven in the silent watches of the night. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec31.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Sylvester
St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Two years later he succeeded St. Melchiades as Bishop of Rome. In the same year, he sent four legates to represent him at the great Council of the Western Church, held at Aries. He confirmed it’s decision and imparted them to the Church.

The Council of Nice was assembled during his reign, in the year 325, but not being able to assist at it in person, on account of his great age, he sent his legates, who headed the list of subscribers to its decrees, preceding the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=381

More Saints of the Day
St. Barbatian
St. Columba of Sens
St. Donata
St. Hermes
St. Melania
St. Offa
Sts. Sabinian & Potentian
St. Sylvester
St. Zoticus

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

First Reading: Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14
Psalms 128:1-5:  Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.
href=”http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/123016.cfm”>http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/123016.cfm

Reflection:  Like all godly Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary raised the child Jesus in the reverence and wisdom of the Lord. Joseph was given a unique task as the guardian and protector of Mary and of Jesus. What can we learn from the example and witness of Joseph? Joseph is a man of God, a man of  unquestioning obedience and willing service. He is a man of prayer and a man of God’s word. Through faith he recognized the hand of God in the mystery of the Incarnation – the Son of God taking on flesh as the son of the virgin Mary.

Joseph is a man of action, diligent in the care of his family and ready to do the Lord’s bidding. Joseph fearlessly set aside his own plans when God called him to “take to the road” and to leave his familiar surroundings – his home, friends and relatives, and the security of his livelihood in order to pursue a hidden mission God entrusted to him as the guardian of the newborn King.

God has a plan for each one of us. With the plan God gives grace and the assurance of his guiding hand and care. Do you trust your heavenly Father for his plan for your life? Are you willing to sacrifice your own plans for the sake of God’s plan? Are you willing to give God unquestioning service and to pursue whatever mission he gives you?

“Lord Jesus, make me a faithful servant of your word and guardian of your truth. Help me to obey you willingly, like Joseph and Mary, with unquestioning trust and with joyful hope.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec30.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Anysia (284-304)
Martyr of Greece. She was a wealthy woman of Salonika, in Thessaly, who used her personal funds to aid the poor. A soldier accosted her in the street and tried to drag her to a pagan sacrifice. Anysia resisted and was killed when the soldier attacked her with his sword. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1480

More Saints of the Day
St. Anysia
St. Anysius
St. Egwin of Evesham
St. Eugene
Bl. John Alcober
St. Liberius of Ravenna
St. Mansuetus
St. Raynerius
St. Sabinus

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 202

First Reading: 1 John 2:3-11
Psalms 96:1-6:  Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Gospel: Luke 2:22-35
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122916.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the favor of the Lord? After Jesus’ birth, Mary fulfills the Jewish rite of purification after childbirth. Since she could not afford the customary offering of a lamb, she gives instead two pigeons as an offering of the poor. This rite, along with circumcision and the redemption of the first-born point to the fact that children are gifts from God. Jesus was born in an ordinary home where there were no luxuries. Like all godly parents, Mary and Joseph raised their son in the fear and wisdom of God. He, in turn, was obedient to them and grew in wisdom and grace. The Lord’s favor is with those who listen to his word with trust and obedience. Do you know the joy of submission to God? And do you seek to pass on the faith and to help the young grow in wisdom and maturity?

The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Savior of the world 
What is the significance of Simeon’s encounter with the baby Jesus and his mother in the temple? Simeon was a just and devout man who was very much in tune with the Holy Spirit. He believed that the Lord would return to his temple and renew his chosen people. The Holy Spirit also revealed to him that the Messiah and King of Israel would also bring salvation to the Gentile nations. When Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized this humble child of Bethlehem as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he prophesied that Jesus was to be “a revealing light to the Gentiles”. The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to those who are receptive and eager to receive him.  Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with you?

The ‘new temple’ of God’s presence in the world
Jesus is the new temple (John 1:14; 2:19-22). In the Old Testament God manifested his presence in the “pillar of cloud” by day and the “pillar of fire” by night as he led them through the wilderness. God’s glory visibly came to dwell over the ark and the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38). When the first temple was built in Jerusalem God’s glory came to rest there (1 Kings 8). After the first temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God’s glory leave it (Ezekiel 10). But God promised one day to fill it with even greater glory (Haggai 2:1-9; Zechariah 8-9). That promise is fulfilled when the “King of Glory” himself comes to his temple (Psalm 24:7-10; Malachi 3:1).  Through Jesus’ coming in the flesh and through his saving death, resurrection, and ascension we are made living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Ask the Lord to renew your faith in the indwelling presence of his Spirit within you. And give him thanks and praise for coming to make his home with you.

Mary receives both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow
Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for his sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord.  Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away.  Do you know the peace and joy of a life surrendered to God with faith and trust?

Our hope is anchored in God’s everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy
What do you hope for? The hope which God places in our heart is the desire for the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life and happiness with our heavenly Father. The Lord Jesus has won for us a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit gives hope to all who place their trust in the promises of God. God never fails because his promises are true and he is faithful. The hope which God places within us through the gift of the Spirit enables us to persevere with confident trust in God even in the face of trails, setbacks, and challenges that may come our way.

Is there anything holding you back from giving God your unqualified trust and submission to his will for your life? Allow the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his peace, joy, and love. And offer to God everything you have and desire – your life, family, friends, health, honor, wealth, and future. If you seek his kingdom first he will give you everything you need to know, love, and serve him now and enjoy him forever.

“Lord Jesus, you are my hope and my life. May I never cease to place all my trust in you. Fill me with the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit that I may boldly point others to your saving presence and words of everlasting life.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec29.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Aileran (d. 664)
Monk, biographer, and scholar-also called Sapiens the Wise. Aileran was one of the most distinguished professors at the school of Clonard in Ireland. St. Finian welcomed Aileran to Clonard. In 650, Aileran became rector of Clonard, and was recognized as a classical scholar and a master of Latin and Greek. He wrote The Fourth Life of St. Patrick, a Latin-Irish Litany and The Lives of St. Brigid and St. Fechin of Fore. His last work was a treatise on the genealogy of Christ according to St. Matthew. A fragment of another of Aileran’s works has survived: A Short Moral Explanation of the Sacred Names. Scholarly institutions across Europe read this work aloud annually. Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on December 29, 664 is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1198

More Saints of the Day
St. Aileran
St. Albert of Gambron
St. Callistus, Felix & Boniface
St. Dominic
St. Ebrulf
St. Ebrulf
St. Thomas Becket
St. Trophimus of Arles
Bl. William Howard

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Lectionary: 698

First Reading: 1 John 1:5–2:2
Psalms 124:2-5, 7-8:  Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122816.cfm

Reflection:  Who can explain suffering, especially the suffering of innocent children? Herod’s massacre of children who gave their lives for a person and a truth they did not know seemed so useless and unjust. What a scandal and stumbling block for those who can’t recognize God’s redeeming love. Why couldn’t God prevent this slaughter? Suffering is indeed a mystery. No explanation seems to satisfy our human craving to understand.

First martyrs for Christ
These innocent children who died on Christ’s behalf are the first martyrs for Christ. Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all who chose to follow Jesus Christ. There is no crown without the cross. It was through Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, and death on a cross, that our salvation was won. His death won life – eternal life for us. And his blood which was shed for our sake obtained pardon and reconciliation with our heavenly Father.

Suffering can take many forms – illness, disease, handicap, physical pain and emotional trauma, slander, abuse, poverty, and injustice. Paul the Apostle states: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose (Romans 8:28)? Jesus exclaimed that those who weep, who are reviled and persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed (Matthew 5:10-12). The word blessed [makarios in the Greek] literally means happiness or beatitude. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life.

Supernatural joy in the face of suffering
There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

The Lord gives each of us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way. Do you know the joy of a life fully given over to God with faith and trust?

“Lord Jesus, you gave your life for my sake, to redeem me from slavery to sin and death. Help me to carry my cross with joy that I may willingly do your will and not shrink back out of fear or cowardice when trouble besets me.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec28.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Anthony the Hermit
Anthony was born about circa 468 at Valeria in Lower Pannonia. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was first entrusted to the care of St. Severinus. After the death of Severinus, an uncle, Bishop Constantius of Lorsch in Bavaria took charge of his upbringing. While in Bavaria, Anthony became a monk. He returned to Italy in 488 and joined the cleric Marius and his companions as a hermit at Lake Como. However, he gained so many disciples that he was forced to flee. Anthony then went to Lerins in Gaul and became a monk there. However, he lived only two years at Lerins before his death, renowned for his miracles and spirituality.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=228

More Saints of the Day
St. Anthony the Hermit
St. Caesarius
St. Castor
St. Domnio
St. Eutychius & Domitian
St. Romulus and Conindrus
St. Troadius

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist
Lectionary: 697

First Reading: 1 John 1:1-4
Psalms 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12:  Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Gospel: John 20:1-8
On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122716.cfm

Reflection:  What was it like for those who encountered the only begotten Son of God in human form? John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, wrote his Gospel as an eye-witness of the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1,14), and who died and rose for our salvation. John was the first apostle to reach the tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning. Like the other disciples, he was not ready to see an empty tomb and to hear the angel’s message, Why do you seek the living among the dead (Luke 24:5)?

What did John see in the tomb that led him to believe in the resurrection of Jesus? It was certainly not a dead body. The dead body of Jesus would have dis-proven the resurrection and made his death a tragic conclusion to a glorious career as a great teacher and miracle worker. When John saw the empty tomb he must have recalled Jesus’ prophecy that he would rise again after three days. Through the gift of faith John realized that no tomb on earth could contain the Lord and giver of life.

John in his first epistle testifies: What we have seen, heard, and touched we proclaim as the word of life which existed “from the beginning” (1 John 1:1-4). John bears witness to what has existed from all eternity. This “Word of Life” is Jesus the Word Incarnate, but also Jesus as the word announced by the prophets and Jesus the word now preached throughout the Christian churches for all ages to come. One thing is certain, if Jesus had not risen from the dead and appeared to his disciples, we would never have heard of him. Nothing else could have changed sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and courage.

The reality of the resurrection is the central fact of the Christian faith. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord gives us “eyes of faith” to know him and the power of his resurrection. The greatest joy we can have is to encounter the living Jesus Christ and to know him personally as our Savior and Lord.

“Lord Jesus Christ, you have triumphed over the grave and you have won new life for us. Give me the eyes of faith to see you in your glory. Help me to draw near to you and to grow in the knowledge of your great love and power.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec27.htm

Saint of the Day: St. John the Apostle, Patron of love, loyalty, friendships, and authors (d: 6-100)
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

St. John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee and Salome, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. John was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He is considered the same person as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos and the Beloved Disciple. John’s older brother was St. James the Great, another one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. Jesus referred to the brothers as “Boanerges,” meaning “sons of thunder.” John is believed to be the longest living apostle and the only not to die a martyr’s death.

John, along with Peter and James, were the only witnesses of the raising of Daughter of Jairus, and the closest witnesses to the Agony in Gethsemane. John was the one who reported to Jesus they had “‘forbidden’ a non-disciple from casting out demons in Jesus’ name.” This prompted Jesus to state, “he who is not against us is on our side.”

John and Peter were the only two apostles sent by Jesus to make preparations for the final Passover meal, the Last Supper. During the meal, St. John sat next to Jesus, leaning on him rather than lying along the couches.

John was the only one of the Twelve Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother.

After the Assumption of Mary, John went to Ephesus, according to Church tradition. He later became banished by the Roman authorities to the Greek Island of Patmos; this is where he allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation. It is said John was banished in the late 1st century, during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering no injuries. It is also said that all those who witnessed the miracle in the Colosseum were converted to Christianity. Emperor Domitian was known for his persecution of Christians.

John is known as the author of the Gospel of John and four other books in the New Testament – the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. The authorship of the Gospel is credited to the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” and John 21:24 claims the Gospel of John is based on the “Beloved Disciple’s” testimony. However, the true authorship has been debated on since 200. In his Eclesiastical History, Eusebius states the First Epistle of John and the Gospel of John are agreed upon as John’s. Eusebius continues to state the second and third epistles of John are not John the Apostle’s.

In the Gospel of John, the phrase “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” or “the Beloved Disciple” is used five times, but is not used in any other New Testament accounts of Jesus.

St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The “beloved disciple” died in Ephesus after AD 98, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.

St. John is the patron saint of love, loyalty, friendships, and authors. He is often depicted in art as the author of the Gospel with an eagle, symbolizing “the height he rose to in his gospel.” In other icons, he is shown looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel to his disciple.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that St. John was given the promise of immortality from Jesus. It also teaches that in 1829, John was also resurrected, along with Peter and James, and “restored the priesthood authority with Apolistic succession to earth,” according to the Doctrine and Covenants 27:12.

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist’s feast day is celebrated on December 27. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=228

More Saints of the Day
St. Fabiola
St. John the Apostle
St. John the Evangelist
St. Maximus
St. Nicarete
St. Theodore and Theophanes

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
Lectionary: 696

First Reading: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Psalms 31:3-4, 6, 8, 17:  Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Gospel: Matthew 10:17-22
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122616.cfm

Reflection:  What is the connection between Bethlehem and Calvary – the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and his passion and death on a cross? The very reason the Son of God took on flesh and became a man for our sake was to redeem us from slavery to sin and death and to give us new life as the adopted children of God. The way to glory in the kingdom of God is through the cross. If we want to share in Jesus’ glory, then we, too, must take up our cross each day and follow in his footsteps.

Jesus never hesitated to tell his disciples what they might expect if they followed him. Here Jesus says to his disciples: This is my task for you at its grimmest and worst; do you accept it? This is not the world’s way of offering a job. After the defeat at Dunkirk during World War II, Churchill offered his country “blood, toil, sweat, and tears.” Suffering for the name of Christ is not the message we prefer to hear when the Lord commissions us in his service. Nonetheless, our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of the Master who laid down his life for us. The Lord gives us sufficient grace to follow him and to bear our cross with courage and hope. Do you know the joy and victory of the cross of Jesus Christ?

“Lord Jesus, your coming in the flesh to ransom us from slavery to sin gives us cause for great rejoicing even in the midst of trials and pain. Help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships, adversities, and persecution which come my way in serving you. Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink back from doing your will”. http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec26.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Stephen, Patron of Deacons, altar Servers, bricklayers, casket makers, & Stonemasons (d: 34)
Saint Stephen was one of the first ordained deacons of the Church. He was also the first Christian martyr. The Greek word from which we derive the English word martyr literally means witness. In that sense, every Christian is called to bear witness to Jesus Christ, in both their words and their actions. Not all are asked to shed their blood.

Those who do shed their blood for the faith are the greatest of witnesses. They have been especially honored since the very beginning of Christianity. Stephen was so conformed to Jesus in his holy life that his martyrdom was both a natural and supernatural sign of his love for the Lord. It also inspired the early believers as they faced the first round of brutal persecution.

His behavior, even forgiving those who were taking his life while he was being stoned to death, was a beautiful reflection of how conformed he truly was to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is recorded in Chapter 7 of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 7:54-60), which immediately follows the Gospels in the New Testament.

The 6th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles contains an account of the choice of the first seven deacons of the Church. As the Apostles worked to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ as his elders, some of the Greek-speaking widows were being neglected in their practical needs. The Twelve decided to ordain seven deacons to oversee their care. In doing so, the deacons extended the pastoral care of the Apostles, the first Bishops of the early Church, enabling them to attend more to teaching.

Of the seven ordained, Stephen was the oldest and given the title of “archdeacon,” the chief among them. Little is known about him before this account. Like most of the early Christian leaders, he was Jewish, but may have come came from among the Greek speaking or Hellenistic believers, the ones feeling slighted in the distribution of alms.

Great preaching and miracles were attributed to Stephen. The Bible records that Stephen “full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” Stephen s popularity created enemies among some Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen. They debated with him, to generate evidence against him in furtherance of their persecution of the early Church.

They accused him of blasphemy, of speaking against God and Moses. The charges inflamed the local populace which demanded he be tried and punished. When Stephen was put on trial, several false witnesses were brought forward by the Sanhedrin to testify that he was guilty of blasphemy. He was charged with predicting that Jesus would destroy the Temple and for preaching against Mosaic law.

Stephen was filled with wisdom from heaven. He responded by detailing the history of Israel and outlining the blessings God had bestowed upon his chosen people. He also explained how disobedient Israel had become, despite the goodness and mercy of the Lord. Stephen explained that Jesus had come to fulfil the law of Moses, not destroy it. He quoted extensively from the Hebrew scriptures to prove his case.

Finally, he admonished the Sanhedrin, saying, “You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Upright One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. In spite of being given the Law through angels, you have not kept it.” (Acts 7:51-53)

As Stephen concluded his defense, he looked up and saw a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He said, “Look, I can see heaven thrown open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” That vision was taken as the final proof of blasphemy to the Jews who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah or Son of God. For them, Jesus could not possibly be beside the Father in Heaven. The crowd rushed upon Stephen and carried him outside of the city to stone him to death.

As Stephen was being brutally stoned, he spoke his last words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Words which echoed the very words of Jesus on the Cross. Following those words, Stephen died, in the Lord.

Watching the trial and execution was a Rabbi named Saul of Tarsus, a virulent persecutor of the early Church. Shortly thereafter, that Rabbi would himself encounter the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus and be dramatically converted. His encounter is recorded in the 9th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He took the name Paul as a sign of his new life in Jesus Christ and went on to become the great apostle to the Gentiles.

Stephen was buried by Christians, but the location of his tomb is not specified in the New Testament and may have been forgotten for a time. In 415 a Christian priest claimed he had a vision of the tomb and located Stephen s remains. A name inside the tomb confirmed the find.

St. Stephen is often depicted with stones, a Gospel Book, a miniature church and a martyr’s palm frond. He is the patron saint of Altar Servers, bricklayers, casket makers and deacons and his feast day is celebrated on December 26. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=137

More Saints of the Day
St. Abadiu
St. Amaethlu
St. Archelaus
St. Pope Dionysius
St. Marinus
St. Neol Chabanel
St. Stephen
St. Tathal
St. Theodore the Sacrist
St. Vincentia Maria Lopez Y Vicuna
St. Zeno
St. Zosimus
St. Zosimus

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

The Nativity Of The Lord (Christmas)
During the Day
Lectionary: 16

First Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalms 98:1-6:  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Second Reading: Hebrews 1:1-6
Gospel: John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
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.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.Top of Form
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122516.cfm

Reflection:  Why does John the Evangelist begin his Gospel account with a description of the Word of God and the creation of the universe and humankind? How might the beginning of John’s Gospel be linked with the beginning of the first book of Genesis (John 1:1-3 and Genesis 1:1-3)? The “word of God” was a common expression among the Jews. God’s word in the Old Testament is an active, creative, and dynamic word. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Psalm 33:6). “He sends forth his commands to the earth; his word runs swiftly” (Psalm 147:15). “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29)? The writer of the Book of Wisdom addresses God as the one who “made all things by your word” (Wisdom 9:1).

The eternal Word leaped down from heaven
God’s word is also equated with his wisdom. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Proverbs 3:19).The Book of Wisdom describes “wisdom” as God’s eternal, creative, and illuminating power. Both “word” and “wisdom” are seen as one and the same. “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command” (Book of Wisdom 18:14-16).

Truly man and truly God
John describes Jesus as God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving word that has come to earth in human form. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus is the wisdom and power of God which created the world and sustains it who assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God. “What he was, he remained, and what he was not he assumed” (from an early church antiphon for morning prayer). Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother. From the time of the Apostles the Christian faith has insisted on the incarnation of God’s Son “who has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2)
.
Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great early church fathers (330-395 AD) wrote: Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again.  We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.  Are these things minor or insignificant?  Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?

Christians never cease proclaiming anew the wonder of the Incarnation. The Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. The Son of God …worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved.  Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin (Gaudium et Spes).

We become partakers of Christ’s divine nature
If we are going to behold the glory of God we will do it through Jesus Christ. Jesus became the partaker of our humanity so we could be partakers of his divinity (2 Peter 1:4). God’s purpose for us, even from the beginning of his creation, is that we would be fully united with Him. When Jesus comes God is made known as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his sons and daughters. Do you thank the Father for sending his only begotten Son to redeem you and to share with you his glory?

“Almighty God and Father of light, your eternal Word leaped down from heaven in the silent watches of the night. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec25b.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Eugenia
There definitely was a Roman martyr named Eugenia but the rest of her story is a romantic fictitious legend. According to it she was the daughter of Duke Philip of Alexandria, governor of Egypt during the reign of Emporer Valerian. She fled her father’s house dressed in men’s clothing and was baptized by Helenus, bishop of Heliopolis, who sent her to an abbey of which she later became abbot. Accused of adultery by a woman she had cured of a sickness and whose advances she had resisted, she was hailed before a judge to answer the charges; the judge was her father. Exonerated when she revealed she was a woman and his daughter, she converted him to Christianity (he later became a bishop and was beheaded for his faith). Eugenia converted many others, including her mother, Claudia, and suffered martyrdom by sword for her faith in Rome, where she had gone with her mother. Her feast day is December 25th. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=629

More Saints of the Day
St. Adalsindis
St. Alburga
St. Anastasia III
St. Eugenia
Bl. Michael Nakashima

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

The Nativity Of The Lord (Christmas)
Mass at Dawn
Lectionary: 15

First Reading: Isaiah 62:11-12
Psalm 97:1, 6, 11-12:   A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.
Second Reading: Titus 3:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:15-20
When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122516-dawn.cfm

Reflection:  Have you read the news today – the “good news” of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and son of Mary who was born for us and for our salvation. The word gospel literally means good news! Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would descend from David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:1-2; Micah 5:2-4).

The first to hear the good news of the savior’s birth were not the rulers and religious leaders of Israel who were robed in riches and power. The angels first came to  those who were humble and ready to receive the newborn king who was born in poverty and was now lying in a manger made for animals. Just as God had chosen and anointed David, a lowly shepherd of Bethlehem to become the shepherd king of Israel, so Jesus, likewise chose the path of humility and lowliness in coming to Israel as the good shepherd king who would lay down his life for their sake and salvation. After the angels had sung their hymn of glory in the presence of the shepherds, the shepherds made haste to adore the newborn king and sing their hymn of glory as well.

Many of the early church fathers have written hymns and homilies in praise of the Incarnation. John the Monk, an 8th century writer, in his Hymn of the Nativity, sings of the great exchange in the mystery and wonder of the Incarnation – God becoming man in order to bring man to heaven:

Heaven and earth are united today, for Christ is born! Today God has come upon earth, and humankind gone up to heaven. Today, for the sake of humankind, the invisible one is seen in the flesh. Therefore let us glorify him and cry aloud: glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace bestowed by your coming, Savior: glory to you! Today in Bethlehem, I hear the angels: glory to God in the highest! Glory to him whose good pleasure it was that there be peace on earth! The Virgin is now more spacious than the heavens. Light has shone on those in darkness, exalting the lowly who sing like the angels: Glory to God in the highest! Beholding him [Adam] who was in God’s image and likeness fallen through transgression, Jesus bowed the heavens and came down, without change taking up his dwelling in a virgin womb, that he might refashion Adam fallen in corruption, and crying out: glory to your epiphany, my Savior and my God! [Stichera (hymn) of the Nativity of the Lord]

Why was it necessary for the Word of God to become flesh? We needed a savior who could reconcile us with God. Throughout the ages Christians have professed the ancient Nicene Creed: “He became man for our sake and for the sake of our salvation.” The eternal Word became flesh for us so he could offer his life as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world through the shedding of his blood on the cross. The Word became flesh to show us the infinite love and tender mercy of God for us sinners.

In the feast of Christmas we celebrate present realities – Jesus Christ our redeemer who reigns in heaven and who also lives and reigns in our hearts through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit. And we commemorate past events – the birth of the newborn Messiah King and his manifestation to Israel and to the gentile nations. We thank and bless God for the way in which he has saved us from the power of sin and the curse of death and destruction by sending his son to ransom us and give us pardon and abundant life through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the birthday of our King and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God wants to fill our hearts anew with joy and gratitude for the greatest gift he could possibly give us – his beloved Son Jesus. What can we give thanks for in this great feast of the Incarnation? We can praise and thank God our Father for the fact that the Son of God freely and joyfully assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus came to release the captives from slavery to sin and to open the gates of paradise once again. This day the Holy Spirit invites us to make haste – as the shepherds of Bethlehem did – to adore Jesus our King and Messiah. The Lord Jesus Christ  is our eternal good shepherd who guides and cares for us unceasingly and who gives us abundant everlasting life and union with the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This day the whole community of heaven joins with all believers of good will on earth in a jubilant song of praise for the good news proclaimed by the angels on Christmas eve: Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).

The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (see Romans 5:2-5). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which no pain nor sorrow can diminish, and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of your salvation in Jesus Christ?

“Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, your glory breaks on the world. As we celebrate his first coming, give us a foretaste of the joy that you will grant us when the fulness of his glory has filled the earth.” http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2016/dec25.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Adele
St. Adele, Widow. A daughter of King Dagobert II of Germany, St. Adele became a nun upon the death of her husband, making provisions for her son, the future father of St. Gregory of Utrecht. She founded a convent at Palatiolum near Trier and became its first Abbess, ruling with holiness, prudence, and compassion. St. Adele seems to have been among the disciples of St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, and a letter in his correspondence is addressed to her. After a devout life filled with good works and communion with God, she passed on to her heavenly reward in 730. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=467

More Saints of the Day
St. Adela
St. Adele
St. Caranus
St. Delphinus
St. Emiliana
St. Euthymius
St. Irmina
St. Lucian
St. Tarsilla
St. Venerandus

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Advent – Mass in the Morning
Lectionary: 200
Ninth Day of Misa de Aguinaldo
Christmas Eve

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.
Gospel: Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122416.cfm

Reflection:  Does the proclamation of the Gospel fill you with joy and hope? When the Lord comes to redeem us he fills us with his Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and hope in the promises of God.

John the Baptist was born shortly before Mary delivered her son, Jesus. When John was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Jewish rite, his father Zechariah was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and with great joy. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he spoke out a prophetic word and hymn of blessing for the work of redemption which God was about to accomplish in Christ. He foresaw the fulfillment of God’s promise to David and his descendants that David’s dynasty would endure forever through the coming of the Messianic King (2 Samuel 7:16). This King would establish peace and security for his people.  We often think of peace as the absence of trouble. The peace which the Messiah brings cancels the debt of sin and restores our broken relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit gave Zechariah a vision for his own son as a prophet and forerunner who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Every devout Jew longed for the day when the Messiah would come. Now Zechariah knows beyond a doubt that that day is very near. Like Zechariah, the Holy Spirit wants to give us vision, joy, and confidence in the knowledge of God’s merciful love, protection, and care which he offers us through his Son Jesus Christ. Like the Baptist, we too are called to prepare the way that leads to Christ. Life is a journey and we are either moving towards the Lord or away from the Lord. The Lord comes to visit us each day with his  life-giving Word and Spirit. Those who hunger for the Lord will not be disappointed.  He will draw them to himself and show them his love and mercy.

In sending the Messiah God has made a gracious visit to his people to redeem them. This was the mission for which Jesus Christ was sent into the world – to redeem those sold for sin and sold under sin. In the feast of the Incarnation we celebrate the gracious gift of God in sending his only begotten Son to redeem us. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may inspire us and fill us with joy and boldness to proclaim the message of the Lord’s visitation and redemption.

“Lord Jesus, you have been gracious and merciful towards your people. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may bear witness to the joy of the Gospel to those around me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec24.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Adele
St. Adele, Widow. A daughter of King Dagobert II of Germany, St. Adele became a nun upon the death of her husband, making provisions for her son, the future father of St. Gregory of Utrecht. She founded a convent at Palatiolum near Trier and became its first Abbess, ruling with holiness, prudence, and compassion. St. Adele seems to have been among the disciples of St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, and a letter in his correspondence is addressed to her. After a devout life filled with good works and communion with God, she passed on to her heavenly reward in 730. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=467

More Saints of the Day
St. Adela
St. Adele
St. Caranus
St. Delphinus
St. Emiliana
St. Euthymius
St. Irmina
St. Lucian
St. Tarsilla
St. Venerandus

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 198
Seventh Day of Misa de Aguinaldo
Three Days Before Christmas

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
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/122216.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

Saint of the Day: St. Chaeromon (d.250)
Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was instituted by Emperor Trajanus Decius, Chaeromon Was quite elderly. He and several companions fled into the Arabian desert and were never seen again. The bishop and his companions are listed as martyrs. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2657

More Saints of the Day
St. Amaswinthus
St. Chaeromon
St. Demetrius
St. Flavian
St. Hunger
St. Zeno

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 197
Sixth Day of Misa de Aguinaldo
Four Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Song of Solomon 2:8-14
Psalms 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21:  Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45
Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122116.cfm

Reflection:  Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the “eyes of faith”. The word “blessed” [makarios in Greek] literally means “happiness” or “beatitude”. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life.

God gives us supernatural joy with hope in his promises
There is a certain paradox for those “blessed” by the Lord. Mary was given the “blessedness” of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: “Without God’s Son nothing could exist; without Mary’s son, nothing could be redeemed.”  To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises.

Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?

They were filled with the Holy Spirit
What is the significance of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary’s womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth’s heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born.

The Lord wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit
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. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God’s indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec21.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)
In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a simple errand in our day, was a dangerous assignment in the sixteenth century. The first envoy who tried to carry the decrees through territory of hostile Protestants and vicious thieves was robbed of the precious documents. Rome needed someone courageous but also someone above suspicion. They chose Peter Canisius. At 43 he was a well-known Jesuit who had founded colleges that even Protestants respected. They gave him a cover as official “visitor” of Jesuit foundations. But Peter couldn’t hide the decrees like our modern fictional spies with their microfilmed messages in collar buttons or cans of shaving cream. Peter traveled from Rome and crisscrossed Germany successfully loaded down with the Tridentine tomes — 250 pages each — not to mention the three sacks of books he took along for his own university!

Why did the Vatican choose Peter Canisius for this delicate task?

Born in Holland in 1521, Peter had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent, and reformed the German universities from heresy. Called to Vienna to reform their university, he couldn’t win the people with preaching or fancy words spoken in his German accent. He won their hearts by ministering to the sick and dying during a plague. The people, the king, and the pope all wanted to make Peter bishop of Vienna, but Peter declined vigorously and administered the diocese for a year.

For many years during the Reformation, Peter saw the students in his universities swayed by the flashy speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. Peter was not alone in wishing for a Catholic catechism that would present true Catholic beliefs undistorted by fanatics. Finally King Ferdinand himself ordered Peter and his companions to write a catechism. This hot potato got tossed from person to person until Peter and his friend Lejay were assigned to write it. Lejay was obviously the logical choice, being a better writer than Peter. So Peter relaxed and sat back to offer any help he could. When Father Lejay died, King Ferdinand would wait no longer. Peter said of writing: “I have never learned to be elegant as a writer, but I cannot remain dumb on that account.” The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom — including faith, hope, and charity — and justice — avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.

Because of the success and the need, Peter quickly produced two more versions: a Shorter Catechism for middle school students which concentrated on helping this age group choose good over evil by concentrating on a different virtue each day of the week; and a Shortest Catechism for young children which included prayers for morning and evening, for mealtimes, and so forth to get them used to praying.

As intent as Peter was on keeping people true to the Catholic faith, he followed the Jesuit policy that harsh words should not be used, that those listening would see an example of charity in the way Catholics acted and preached. However, his companions were not always as willing. He showed great patience and insight with one man, Father Couvillon. Couvillon was so sharp and hostile that he was alienating his companions and students. Anyone who confronted him became the subject of abuse. It became obvious that Couvillon suffered from emotional illness. But Peter did not let that knowledge blind him to the fact that Couvillon was still a brilliant and talented man. Instead of asking Couvillon to resign he begged him to stay on as a teacher and then appointed him as his secretary. Peter thought that Couvillon needed to worry less about himself and pray more and work harder. He didn’t coddle him but gave Couvillon blunt advice about his pride. Coming from Peter this seemed to help Couvillon. Peter consulted Couvillon often on business of the Province and asked him to translate Jesuit letters from India. Thanks to Peter , even though Couvillon continued to suffer depression for years, he also accomplished much good.

Peter died in December 21, 1597. He is known as the Second Apostle of Germany and was named a Doctor of the Church. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=93

More Saints of the Day
Bl. Adrian
St. Anastasius XII
St. Andrew Dung Lac
St. Glycerius
St. Honoratus of Toulouse
St. John & Festus
St. John Vincent
St. Peter Canisius
Bl. Peter Friedhofen
St. Severinus
St. Themistoeles

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 196
Fifth Day of Misa de Aguinaldo
Five Days Before Christmas

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/122016.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

Saint of the Day: St. Dominic of Silos, Patron of against rabies; against rabid dogs; against insects; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds (1000-1073)
Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, Navarre, Spain, circa 1000, he entered the Benedictines at San Millan de Ia Cogolla. King Garcia III of Navarre challenged him when he became abbot of the monastery, and Dominic refused to surrender part of the Benedictine lands to the crown. For this he was exiled, going to King Ferdinand I of Castile and Leon, who made him abbot of St. Sebastian Abbey at Silos, now called St. Dominic’s. Dominic reformed the abbey, built the cloisters in Romanesque style, and started a scriptorium that became famous throughout the region. One of the most beloved saints in Spain, Dominic also rescued Christian slaves from the Moors. Dominic’s shrine is noted for its place in the birth of Dominic de Guzman, the founder of the Order of Preachers. Dominic de Guzman’s mother begged for a child there. Dominic was also noted for miracles of healing. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2938

More Saints of the Day
St. Ammon
St. Dominic of Brescia
St. Dominic of Silos
St. Julius
St. Liberatus & Bajulus
Bl. Peter de la Cadireta
St. Peter Thi
St. Philogonius
St. Ursicinus
St. Ursicinus
St. Zephyrinus

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Monday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 195
Fourth Day of Misa de Aguinaldo
Six Days Before Christmas

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/121916.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

Saint of the Day: St. Anastasius
Pope Anastasius I was among the first to condemn the works of Origen. Elected to the papacy in 399, Anastasius was a Roman by birth, and little is known of his early life. In 400, he arranged a council to consider the writings of Origen, after receiving a letter from Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria expressing strong doubt about Origen’s fidelity to Christian teaching. The council condemned Origen’s work as heterodox, and Rufinus of Aquiliea wrote to the pope to defend his translation of Origen’s First Principles, which St. Jerome had attacked. Anastasius upheld the council’s decision. He also urged the church in North Africa to continue its struggle against Donatism. He died in 401 and was buried in the cemetary of Pontian. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=825

More Saints of the Day
St. Anastasius I
St. Augustine Moi
St. Bernard Valeara
St. Darius
St. Dominic Uy
St. Fausta
Bl. Francis Man
St. Francis Xavier Mau
St. Manirus
St. Meuris & Thea
St. Nemesius
St. Nemesius of Alexandria
St. Ribert
St. Thomas De & Companions

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 10

Third Day of Misa de Aguinaldo

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalms 24:1-6: Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

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 conceive 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.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121816.cfm

Reflection:  Do you hold on to the promises of God at all times, especially when you are faced with uncertainty or adversity? The prophet Isaiah spoke words of hope in a hopeless situation for Israel. When Ahaz, the apostate 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). Like the prophet Isaiah 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

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. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=812

More Saints of the Day
St. Adjutor
St. Auxentius
St. Bodagisil
St. Desideratus
St. Flannan
St. Gatian
St. Moses
St. Paul My
St. Peter Truat
St. Quintus
St. Rufus
St. Rufus and Zosimus
St. Samthan
St. Theotimus & Basilian
St. Victurus
St. Winebald

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Saturday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 193

Second Day of Misa de Aguinaldo

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/121716.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/dec16.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Olympias
Olympias born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family. She was orphaned when a child and was given over to the care of Theodosia by her uncle, the prefect Procopius. She married Nebridius, also a prefect, was widowed soon after, refused several offers of marriage, and had her fortune put in trust until she was thirty by Emperor Theodosius when she also refused his choice for a husband. When he restored her estate in 391, she was consecrated deaconess and with several other ladies founded a community. She was so lavish in her almsgiving that her good friend St. John Chrysostom remonstrated with her and when he became Patriarch of Constantinople in 398, he took her under his direction. She established a hospital and an orphanage, gave shelter to the expelled monks of Nitria, and was a firm supporter of Chrysostom when he was expelled in 404 from Constantinople and refused to accept the usurper Arsacius as Patriarch. She was fined by the prefect, Optatus, for refusing to accept Arsacius, and Arsacius’ successor, Atticus, disbanded her community and ended her charitable works. She spent the last years of her life beset by illness and persecution but comforted by Chrysostom from his place of exile. She died in exile in Nicomedia on July 25, less than a year after the death of Chrysostom. Her feast day is December 17th. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=797

More Saints of the Day
St. Begga
St. Briarch
St. Eigil of Fulda
St. Florian
St. John of Martha
St. Jose Manyanet y Vives
St. Maxentiolus
St. Olympias
St. Tydecho
St. Wivina

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Friday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 191

First Day of Misa de Aguinaldo

First Reading: Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8
Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 7-8: O God, let all the nations praise you!
Gospel: John 5:33-36
Jesus said to the Jews:
“You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept testimony from a human being,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
John was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121616.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the joy of the Gospel – the good news that the Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to set us free from the kingdom of darkness, death, and Satan? Jesus’ opponents refused to accept his authority to speak and act in the name of God. And they refused to believe that he was sent from the Father in heaven. They demanded evidence for his claim to be the Anointed Messiah and divine Son of the eternal Father. Jesus answered their charges with the supporting evidence of witnesses. The law of Moses had laid down the principle that the unsupported evidence of one person shall not prevail against a man for any charge of wrongdoing (see Deuteronomy 17:6). At least two or three witnesses were needed.

John was a burning and shining lamp
Jesus began his defense by citing John the Baptist as his witness, since John publicly pointed to Jesus as the Messiah and had repeatedly borne witness to him (see John 1:19, 20, 26, 29, 35, 36). Jesus called John a burning and shining lamp that illuminated the minds and hearts of those who were ready to hear the prophetic message he spoke in God’s name. A lamp cannot light itself – it must be lit from a borrowed source. The function of a lamp is to illumine the darkness and to guide people. John pointed to the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true source of light which comes from God. Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind and to free people from the blindness of sin, deception, and ignorance. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world – he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Jesus’ mighty signs witness to the coming of God’s kingdom in his person
Jesus asserted that a second and greater witness to his claim to be the Messiah were the mighty signs and miracles which he performed. He cites his own miraculous works, not to point to himself but to point to the power of God the Father working in and through him. He cited God the Father as his supreme witness.

Jesus also asserted that the word of God in the Old Testament Scriptures, including the first five books of Moses, pointed to him as the promised Messiah and  Savior. The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was that they did not fully believe what Moses had written. They desired the praise of their own people and since they were so focused on themselves, they became blind-sighted to God and to the truth of his word. They were so preoccupied with their own position as authorities and interpreters of the law that they became hardened and unable to understand the word of God. Their pride made them deaf to God’s voice.

God reveals his light and truth to the humble of heart
Scripture tells us that God reveals himself to the lowly of heart, to those who trust not in themselves but in God alone (Matthew 11:25-27,29 and Luke 10:21-22). The lowly of heart listen to God’s word with an eagerness to learn and to obey. The Lord Jesus reveals to us the very mind and heart of God. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he opens our ears so that we may hear his voice and he fills our hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of God. Do you believe that God’s word has power to set you free from the blindness of sin and deception? If you believe in his word you will know the truth and the truth will make you free to walk in his way of love and righteousness (John 8:32).

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may listen to your word attentively, obey it fully, and live it joyfully.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec16.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Ado of Vienne (d. 875)
An archbishop and scholar, Ado was born in Sens and educated at the Benedictine abbey of Ferrieres. Abbot Lupus Servatus, an outstanding humanist of the time, trained Ado, and was impressed with the obvious holiness of the young man. A noble by birth, Ado renounced his inheritance and became a Benedictine, in time assigned to the monastery of Prum, near Trier, Germany. Ado’s holiness made him enemies, and he was forced to leave Prum. He went to Rome on a pilgrimage and remained there for two years. He then went to Ravenna, where he found an old copy of the Roman Martyrology. Using this, Ado wrote a new version, published in 858. In Lyons, Ado was welcomed by St. Remigius, the archbishop. He served as a pastor in Lyons until 860, when he became the archbishop of Vienne, appointed by Pope Nicholas I. Ado reformed the clergy in Vienne and wrote the lives of St. Desiderius and St. Theuderis. He also opposed the actions of Lothair II, the king of Lorraine, who tried to set aside his lawful wife to marry his mistress. Lothair bribed officials to get a divorce from his queen, Theutberga, but was undone when Ado went to Rome and denounced the plot to the pope. Ado remained in Vienne until his death in 875. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1139

More Saints of the Day
St. Adelaide
St. Ado of Vienne
St. Albina
St. Beoc
Bl. Clemente Marchisio
St. Nicholas Chrysoberges
Bl. Raynald de Bar
St. Valentine

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Thursday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 190

10 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10
Psalms 30:2, 4-6, 11-13: I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Gospel: Luke 7:24-30
When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.
“What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine garments?
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces.
Then what did you go out to see?
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121516.cfm

Reflection:  Why did a vast multitude of people, including many tax collectors, submit to John’s baptism of repentance? They recognized that God has given John a prophetic ministry of reconciliation with God. They received John’s prophetic message as good news of God’s gift of pardon and salvation for them. God was offering new life and restoration to all who would prepare their hearts to receive the promised Messiah and his kingdom of peace and righteousness.

The promise of full restoration and peace with God
Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before the coming of the Messiah that God would not forget his bride, the people of Israel, who endured testing and exile because of their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them (Isaiah 54:5-8). God promised to restore them because of his steadfast love and covenant of peace which he made with them. Now through the ministry of John the Baptist, we see the beginning of this restoration as John announces the coming of the promised Messiah.

John was greater than all the prophets
When Jesus began his public ministry he praised John the Baptist as one who superseded all the prophets of the Old Covenant. John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3). He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God’s Anointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born of woman. What an amazing compliment for a righteous man who had spent most of his life praying in the wilderness before he began to publicly announce the coming of the Messiah. Why did Jesus seem to contradict his compliment of John, with the astounding statement that the least in the kingdom of God would be even greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28)? Jesus came to give his people and the whole world something which John the Baptist could not accomplish on his own.

The voice is John – the word is Christ
What John announced – Jesus fulfilled. John preached a baptism for repentance – turning away from sin and obeying God’s word. And he pointed his disciples to Jesus and proclaimed that he was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to set people free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Through his atoning death on the cross and his rising in glory on the third day, Jesus won for all who would believe in him – full pardon, reconciliation, and adoption as the beloved sons and daughters of the living God.

John announced that the Lord Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). The Lord Jesus fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and with his purifying fire so that we may shine brightly with the radiance of his transforming love and holiness. And he gives us the courage and boldness to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to those around us. Ask the Lord Jesus to set you on fire with his transforming love and holiness.
“Lord Jesus, set my heart on fire with burning love for You and for your kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. May I always radiate you love and mercy and point others to the joy and truth of the Gospel.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec15.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Mary Di Rosa (d. 1885)
Saint Mary (Paula) Di Rosa December 15 The pounding on the barricaded door of the military hospital sent every heart thudding in terror. In the middle of the war in Brescia (Italy) in 1848, the wounded, sick, and those who cared for them knew what that pounding meant. The shouts from beyond the door came from soldiers, not obeying any command but their inner desire to destroy and plunder. Who could do anything to stop them? The only people here were some Sisters, the Handmaids of Charity, who devoted themselves to helping the sick. The doctors had not even wanted them there. The doctors wanted medical people who were secular and military, not nuns. And in the face of this new danger they were even more useless! Worse than useless — because that Paula (as she was known) di Rosa was actually moving to open the door!

When the door swung wide, the soldiers saw their way blocked with a great crucifix held by Paula di Rosa and two candles held by two of the six sisters who stood by her. Suddenly their frenzy to destroy disappeared, and full of shame before this display of courage and faith, they slunk back into the shadows.

Throughout her life, Paula di Rosa was never afraid to open the door on a new opportunity to serve God, especially when she was unsure of what lay beyond. People who didn’t know her well must have thought she was too frail and delicate for these ventures, but she came armed not only with her faith but boundless energy, intelligence, and hunger to serve.

Born in 1813, she had tackled enormous projects from the time she was seventeen, arranging retreats and special missions for her parish and setting up a women’s guild. Because of all she accomplished, when she was only twenty-four she was asked to be supervisor of a workhouse for poor girls. After two years, she became concerned because there was no place for the girls to go at the end of the day. Night held special dangers for these girls and Paula wanted to give them a safe place to stay. The trustees refused to provide that place. For Paula the choice was easy — she once said that she could never go to bed with a clear conscience if she had missed the chance to do some good. So she quit the workhouse to set up a boardinghouse for poor girls while helping her brother with a school for the deaf.

At 27 she stood before another door. She was appointed superior of the Handmaids of Charity, a religious society whose purpose was to dedicate all their time and attention to the suffering in hospitals. With her friends Gabriela Bornati and Monsignor Pinzoni, she won the respect of those who thought of these “handmaids” as intruders.

Then in 1848, her whole life seemed to fall apart. First she lost Gabriela and then Monsignor Pinzoni died, leaving her without the support and friendship she had come to depend on. War started in Europe and her homeland was invaded. Facing that kind of grief and turmoil, many others would have crawled into bed and pulled the covers over their head. But Paula had always seen opportunity in everything that came her way. War meant that many would be wounded and displaced by the war so she and her sisters went to work at a military hospital and even went out to the battlefield to give spiritual and physical comfort to the wounded and dying.

She died in 1855, going through the final door, unafraid and joyful to be joining her Lord forever. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=444

More Saints of the Day
St. Adalbero
St. Faustinus
St. Florentius
St. Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa
St. Mary Di Rosa
St. Maximinus
St. Paul of Latros
St. Urbitius
St. Valerian of Abbenza
St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Tuesday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 188

12 Days Before Christmas

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/121316.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/dec13.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Lucy, Patron of Blindness
Lucy’s history has been lost and all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life during the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.

Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy’s bravery, legends began to crop up. The one that has passed the test of time tells the story of a young Christian woman who vowed to live her life in service of Christ. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a pagan and Lucy knew her mother could not be swayed by a young girl’s vow, so she devised a plan to convince her mother that Christ was the better partner for life.

After several prayers at the tomb of Saint Agatha, Lucy saw the saint in a dream. St. Agatha told Lucy her mother’s illness would be cured through faith, which Lucy used to persuade her mother to give the dowry money to the poor and allow her to commit her life to God.

While Lucy and her mother were grateful to God, the rejected bridegroom was deeply angered and betrayed Lucy’s faith to the governor Paschasius. The governor attempted to force her into defilement at a brothel, but the guards who came to take her away were unable to move her, even after hitching her to a team of oxen.

The guards heaped bundles of wood around her but it wouldn’t burn so they finally resorted to their swords, and Lucy met her death.

Though details of her life remain unknown, it is widely known that during her lifetime Christians were persecuted for their faith. They were forced to endure horrific torture and often met painful ends during Diocletian’s reign. Though the details surrounding her death remain only as legends, it is all modern-day Christians can rely on.

Lucy’s legend did not end with her death. According to later accounts, Lucy warned Paschasius he would be punished. When the governor heard this he ordered the guards to gouge out her eyes; however, in another telling, it was Lucy who removed her eyes in an attempt to discourage a persistent suitor who greatly admired them.

When her body was being prepared for burial, they discovered her eyes had been restored.

Sigebert (1030-1112), a monk of Gembloux, wrote sermo de Sancta Lucia, in which he described Lucy’s body as remaining undisturbed in Sicily for 400 years until Faroald II, Duke of Spoleto, seized the island and transferred Lucy’s remains to Abruzzo, Italy. It was later removed by Emperor Otho I in 972 to Metz and left in the church of St. Vincent. There is much confusion about what happened to her body after its stay at St. Vincent’s, but it is believed that several pieces of her body can be found in Rome, Naples, Verona, Lisbon, Milan, Germany, France and Sweden.

In 1981, thieves stole all but her head but police were able to recover them on her feast day.

Lucy, whose name can mean “light” or “lucid,” is the patron saint of the blind. She is often seen with the emblem of eyes on a cup or plate. In paintings, she is often depicted with a golden plate holding her eyes and often holds a palm branch, which is a symbol of victory over evil. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=75

More Saints of the Day
St. Autbert
St. Einhildis & Roswinda
St. Elizabeth Rose
St. Jodoc
St. Lucy

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Second Patroness of the Philippines, Patron of the Unborn
Monday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 690A

13 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Zechariah 2:14-17
Judith 13:18-19: You are the highest honor of our race.
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/121216.cfm

Reflection:  Do you want to live a grace-filled life? The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as “full of grace”. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary’s obedience to this singular grace of God. “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race… The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith” (from Adv. haeres 3.22.4, by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, 130-200 AD).

Faith is the key that unlock’s the power of God’s kingdom in our lives
What is the key that can unlock the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately experienced the consequence of their action – separation from the God who loved them. God in his mercy promised them a Redeemer who would pay the price for their sin and the sin of the world. We see the marvelous unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. 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.

God gives us the grace to say “yes” to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the grace, 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 to your plan for my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec12.htm

Saint of the Day: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron of All Americas, Second Patroness of the Philippines, Patron of the Unborn
An elder Mexican man makes his way to Mass in the early morning twilight of December 9, 1531. He is a peasant, a simple farmer and laborer, and he has no education. Born under Aztec rule, he is a convert to Catholicism, and each step he takes this morning is a step into history.

The morning quiet is broken by a strange music that he will later describe as the beautiful sound of birds. Diverting his path to investigate the sound, Juan Diego comes face to face with a radiant apparition of the Virgin Mary.

Juan Diego is 57 years old. He has just encountered the Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill, the site of a former Aztec Temple. His wife has died two years earlier, and he lives with his elder uncle, scratching his living from the earth as a humble peasant farmer. Why should this unlearned, man be chosen by Our Lady to carry a message to the Bishop? Perhaps because she would find none other as humble as Juan Diego.

Juan Diego is dazzled by the incredible beauty and miraculous nature of Our Lady’s appearance. She appears as a native princess to him, and her words sound more beautiful than the sweetest music ever made.

Our Lady calms the startled traveler, and assures him of who she is. She instructs Juan Diego to visit his bishop and ask that a temple be built on the site of her appearance, so that she will have a place to hear petitions and to heal the suffering of the Mexican people. “Now go and put forth your best effort,” Our Lady instructs.

Visibly shaken, Juan Diego approaches the Bishop who is initially very skeptical of his account. What did this peasant truly want? Does he merely seek attention? Notoriety? Money? Or is he possessed by demons? Has Juan Diego been tricked by the Devil?

The Bishop patiently listens to Juan Diego’s accounts and dismisses him. The humble farmer has failed.

Juan Diego begins to doubt himself. He returns to Tepeyac Hill where he hopes for some conformation of what he’s experienced. Indeed, Our Lady does not disappoint, for she appears again, as radiant as before. Juan Diego tells Our Lady what she already knows, that the Bishop did not believe him. She instructs him to return the next morning and ask again.

The Bishop is beside himself. Why did this peasant insist on telling this story? How could he know if the peasant was lying or perhaps insane? At their second meeting, the Bishop asks for a sign. Juan Diego makes a promise he won’t keep, saying he will return the very next morning with a sign from Our Lady.

But that evening, Juan Diego returns home to find his uncle, Juan Bernadino, who is 68 years old, and suddenly, terribly ill. The illness is known to the people there and it brings a burning fever so hot, it’s almost always fatal. Juan Diego cannot leave his uncle’s bedside to keep his pledge to the Bishop. He spends two days with his uncle, trying to save him. When it becomes apparent his uncle is about to die, he leaves to find a priest who can prepare him for death.

Frightened and saddened, Juan Diego sets off in a great hurry, time is running out, and Juan Diego is afraid his uncle will die without a last confession. On the road, in his way, Our Lady appears for a third time. Upset and afraid, Juan explains himself. Our Lady replies, “Am I not your mother? … Are you not in the crossing of my arms?” she asks.

Shamed by the admonishment, but emboldened by Our Lady’s presence, Juan Diego asks for the sign he promised to the Bishop. He knows he is wrong to doubt Our Lady. Juan Diego is instructed to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill where he will find flowers. He is to pick the flowers there, which are unlike any he has seen before, and he is to keep them hidden in his tilma until he reaches the Bishop.

Juan Diego is skeptical again. It’s December, what flowers could grow on the summit of the hill in this cold?

Nevertheless, he obeys and atop the hill he finds a great number of flowering roses which he picks and hastily gathers into his cloak.

For the third time, Juan Diego is ushered in to see the Bishop. The skeptical cleric has waited for two days to see what sign Our Lady has for him. Juan opens his tilma, letting the roses cascade to the floor. But more than the roses, both men are astonished to see what is painted on his humble tilma – an exquisite image of Our Lady.

In the image, she stands as she appeared, a native princess with high cheekbones. Her head is bowed and her hands are folded in prayer to God. On her blue cloak, the stars are arranged as they appeared in the morning darkness at the hour of her first apparition.

Under her feet, is a great crescent moon, a symbol of the old Aztec religion. The message is clear, she is more powerful than the Aztec gods, yet she herself is not God.

At the same time Our Lady is appearing to Juan Diego, and directing him to cut the flowers on Tepeyac Hill, she also appears to his uncle, Juan Bernadino who believes he is about to die. As soon as she appears, the fever stops and Juan Bernadino feels well again. She tells Juan Bernadino, she wants to be known as “Santa Maria, de Guadalupe.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe did not appear again, for her mission was complete. The temple was built and remains there today, in what is now a suburb of Mexico City. Juan Diego’s tilma, woven from cactus fibers, with a shelf-life of just 30 years at best, remains miraculously preserved.

The symbolism of Our Lady’s dress is obvious to over eight million Native Mexicans, whom all speak different languages. She is brighter than the sun, more powerful than any Aztec god, yet she is not a god herself, and she prays to one greater than her. Her gown is adorned with stars in the correct position as in the night sky, and the gold fringe of her cloak mirrors the surrounding countryside. Millions of natives will convert at the news of what has happened. Millions more will make pilgrimages over the next five centuries to see the miraculous tilma, and to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. Great miracles continue to occur, even today.

On October 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII, decreed Our Lady of Guadalupe to be “Patroness of all the Americas.” Her feast day is December 12, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation in Mexico.

Our Lady of Guadalupe had this to say to Juan Diego:

“Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.” http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=456

More Saints of the Day
St. Abra
St. Agatha
St. Alexander
St. Ammonaria
St. Colman of Glendalough
St. Columba of Terryglass
St. Corentin
St. Corentius
St. Edburga
St. Finian of Clonard
Our Lady of Guadalupe
St. Hermogenes
St. Maxentius
Bl. Thomas Holland
St. Vicelin

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Gaudete Sunday – Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 7

14 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10
Psalms 146:6-10: Lord, come and save us.
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121116.cfm

Reflection:  Why did Jesus praise John the Baptist as the greatest person born of a woman and then in the same breath say that those who enter God’s kingdom will be greater than John (Matthew 11:11)?  John is the last and greatest of the prophets of the old covenant. He fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets – to be fingers pointing to Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed Son and Messiah. John prepared the way for the Messiah and he pointed others to Jesus the Messiah at the River Jordan when he exclaimed, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29)

John saw from a distant what Jesus would accomplish through his death on the cross – our redemption from bondage to sin and death and our adoption as sons and daughters of God and citizens of the kingdom of heaven. When King Herod tried to silence John by throwing him into prison, John sent his disciples to Jesus after John had heard the reports about Jesus performing signs and wonders and speaking to people about the coming of God’s kingdom. John wanted his disciples to hear and see firsthand what Jesus was doing to bring the kingdom of God to those who were receptive and ready to receive his message.

Jesus the Messiah performs the signs of God’s kingdom power
Jesus confirmed for John that the miracles and healings which he performed were in direct fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies announced by Isaiah some 700 years previously. Isaiah had prophesied that when the Messiah would come to save his people he would “open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, the lame would leap, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy” (Isaiah 35:5). Jesus’ miracles are a demonstration of the power of God’s kingdom at work in the midst of his people. When God acts to save his people he turns their sorrow and weeping into joy and singing, and their fear and weakness into strength and hope.

The greatness of John’s life and witness of the Messiah
When Jesus had answered the disciples of John, he in turn asked them a question.”Why did you go out in the wilderness to see John the Baptist?” “Did you go because you were hungry for the word of the Lord?” Jesus said that John was more than a spokesman for God. John was the faithful witness and friend of the bridegroom who pointed others to the coming of the Messiah in their midst. Jesus contrasted John with the image of a reed shaken by the wind. Unlike a reed which is weak and spineless and can be easily crushed or bruised, John stood as a pillar of strength and truth in the face of opposition and persecution. No demonic force could weaken or crush John in his unswerving trust in God and his word.

Jesus offers us abundant life and joy to be his witnesses
Jesus knew that what the Father in heaven had sent him to accomplish for our sake would supersede all that the prophets had done and foreseen in the past. Jesus’ atoning death on the cross cancels the debt of our sins and sets us free to live as citizens of his kingdom. He gives us pardon, healing, and abundant life through his Holy Spirit, and the promise of unending joy with him in his everlasting kingdom.

John the Baptist paid the ultimate sacrifice of his life for speaking God’s word and preparing the way for Jesus the Lord and Savior of the world. The Lord Jesus offers us the same assurance of faith and the strength to stand against every force that would try to rob us of our conviction and courage to live and proclaim the good news (the Gospel) of God’s kingdom. Do you know the joy, strength, and power which Jesus gives to every one who puts their trust in him and the power of the Holy Spirit? Ask the Lord Jesus to increase your faith and hope in his promises for you.

“Lord Jesus, strengthen my trust in your word and my hope in the saving power of your kingdom. Free me from everything that would hold me back from pursuing your kingdom and your will for my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec11.htm

Saint of the Day: Pope Saint Damasus I (306-384)
All lovers of Scripture have reason to celebrate this day. Damasus was the pope who commissioned Saint Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin, the Vulgate version of the Bible.

Damasus was a sixty-year-old deacon when he was elected bishop of Rome in 366. His reign was marked by violence from the start when another group decided to elect a different pope. Both sides tried to enforce their selections through violence. Though the physical fighting stopped, Damasus had to struggle with these opponents throughout his years as pope.

Damasus may not have won this battle directly, but he won the war by initiating works that outlasted all his opponents. Not only did he commission the Vulgate translation but he also changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin. He worked hard to preserve and restore the catacombs, the graves of the martyrs, and relics.

Damasus was a writer — but he didn’t author many-volumed treatises as other Christian writers did. Damasus liked to write epigrams in verse: short sayings that capture the essence of what needed to be said. He wrote many epigrams on martyrs and saints. And he wrote one about himself that shows his humility and the respect he had for the martyrs. In a Roman cemetery is the papal crypt he built. All that is left of him there, however, is this: ” I, Damasus, wished to be buried here, but I feared to offend the ashes of these holy ones.” Instead, when he died in 384, he was buried with his mother and sister.

From the Decree of Damasus (attributed to Damasus): http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=41

More Saints of the Day
St. Acepsius
St. Barsabas
St. Cian
St. Damasus
Pope Saint Damasus I
St. Daniel the Stylite
St. Eutychius
St. Fidweten
Bl. Martin of Saint Nicholas
Bl. Melchior of Saint Augustine
St. Pens
St. Sabinus
St. Sabinus
St. Trason
St. Victoricus, Fuscian, and Gentian

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | December 9, 2016

Saturday (December 10): “Elijah must first come”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Saturday of the Second Week in Advent
Lectionary: 186

15 Days Before Christmas

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/121016.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/dec10.htm

Saint of the Day: Pope Saint Gregory III
He was just standing there, not doing anything special. As a Syrian priest he must have felt a little out of place among the Roman people mourning that day for the dead Pope. As a good preacher, he must have wanted to speak to the funeral procession about Christ’s promise of resurrection. As a learned man, he must have wondered who would follow the holy Saint Gregory II as Pope and where he would take the Church. As a holy man, he must have been praying for Gregory II and for all the people around him to find their place after death in God’s arms. But he was just one of the crowd.

Not to God. And not to the people who recognized the well-known holy man in their midst.  Right in the middle of the funeral procession they singled him out. They swept him away and clamored for him to be named the next bishop of Rome. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, without his even lifting a finger, his whole life changed and he could no longer just stand there and do nothing.

After he was proclaimed Pope Gregory III, Emperor Leo III attacked the veneration of holy images. Because Leo III thought the honor paid to Jesus, Mary, and the saints by keeping statues and icons was idolatry, he condemned them and wanted them destroyed. Gregory III didn’t just stand there but immediately sent a letter to Leo III. He couldn’t get the letter through because the priest-messenger was afraid to deliver it. So instead, Gregory called a synod that approved strong measures against anyone who would try to destroy images of Jesus, Mary, or the saints.

Gregory took his stand and Leo III apparently thought the only way to move him was through physical force. So Leo sent ships to kidnap Gregory and bring him to Constantinople. Many people in Rome must have tried to get Gregory to move — but he just stood there. And once again God intervened. A storm destroyed Leo’s ships. The only thing Leo could do was capture some of the papal lands.

So Leo got a few acres of land and we kept our wonderful reminders of the love of God, the protection of Jesus, the prayers of Mary, and the examples of the saints. All because Gregory knew when to take a stand — and when to stand there and let God work.

Gregory III was Pope from 731-741. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=53

More Saints of the Day
St. Carpophorus & Abundius
St. Deusdedit
St. Edmund Genings
St. Eulalia of Merida
St. Eustace White
St. Florentius of Carracedo
St. Gemellus
Pope Saint Gregory III
St. Guitmarus
St. Hildemar
Bl. John Mason
St. Julia of Merida
St. Lucerius
Bl. Marcantonio Durando
St. Mennas
St. Mercurius
St. Peter Duong
Bl. Peter Tecelano
St. Polydore Plasden
Bl. Sebastian Montanol
St. Thomas of Farfa Abbey
Bl. Thomas Somers

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

St. Juan Diego, Hermit
Friday of the Second Week in Advent
Lectionary: 185

16 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 48:17-19
Psalms 1:1-4, 6: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19
Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120916.cfm

Reflection:  Do you seek God’s way of peace and wisdom for your life? The prophets remind us that God’s kingdom is available to those who are teachable and receptive to the word of God. Through their obedience to God’s word and commandments, they receive not only wisdom and peace for themselves, but they, in turn become a blessing to their children and their offspring as well. Jesus warns the generation of his day to heed God’s word before it is too late. He compares proud teachers and vain scholars with stubborn playmates who refuse to follow wise counsel and instruction.

Jesus parable about a group of disappointed musicians and their stubborn friends who refuse to sing or dance at the appropriate occasion challenge us to examine whether we are selective to only hear and do what we want to hear. The young music players in Jesus’ parable react with great dismay because they cannot get anyone to follow their instruction. They complain that if they play their music at weddings, no one will join in their festive song and dance; and if they play mournful tunes and songs at funerals, no one will join in at all. This parable echoes the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:4 – “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Are you in tune with the message of God’s kingdom? And do you heed God’s word of wisdom and truth as if your life depended on it?

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 listen and obey – but it is also a warning of bad consequences and disaster for those who refuse to accept God’s gracious invitation. 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.

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 things of heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the good news of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s sight. Is you life in tune with Jesus’ message of hope and salvation? And do you know the joy and blessing of believing and obeying God’s word?

“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 wholeheartedly.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec9.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Juan Diego, Patron of Indigenous people (1474- 1548)
Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474 as Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native to Mexico. He became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas.

Following the early death of his father, Juan Diego was taken to live with his uncle. From the age of three, he was raised in line with the Aztec pagan religion, but always showed signs of having a mystical sense of life.

He was recognized for his religious fervor, his respectful and gracious attitude toward the Virgin Mary and his Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, and his undying love for his ill uncle.

When a group of 12 Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico in 1524, he and his wife, Maria Lucia, converted to Catholicism and were among the first to be baptized in the region. Juan Diego was very committed to his new life and would walk long distances to receive religious instruction at the Franciscan mission station at Tlatelolco.

On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was in a hurry to make it to Mass and celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. However, he was stopped by the beautiful sight of a radiant woman who introduced herself, in his native tongue, as the “ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God.”

Mary told Juan Diego she was the mother of all those who lived in his land and asked him to make a request to the local bishop. She wanted them to build a chapel in her honor there on Tepeyac Hill, which was the site of a former pagan temple.

When Juan Diego approached Bishop Juan de Zumarraga telling of what happened, he was presented with doubts and was told to give the Bishop time to reflect on the news.

Later, the same day, Juan Diego encountered the Virgin Mary a second time and told her he failed in granting her request. He tried to explain to her he was not an important person, and therefore not the one for the task, but she instead he was the man she wanted.

Juan Diego returned to the Bishop the next day and repeated his request, but now the Bishop asked for proof or a sign the apparition was real and truly of heaven.

Juan Diego went straight to Tepeyac and, once again, encountered the Virgin Mary. After explaining to her what the Bishop asked, she agreed and told him she’d provide him with proof on the next day, December 11.

However, on the next day, Juan Diego’s uncle became very sick and he was obligated to stay and care for him. Juan Diego set out the next to find a priest for his uncle. He was determined to get there quickly and didn’t want to face the Virgin Mary with shame for missing the previous day’s meeting.

But the Virgin Mary intercepted him and asked what was wrong. He explained his situation and promised to return after he found his uncle a priest.

She looked at him and asked “No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?” (Am I not here, I who am your mother?) She promised him his uncle would be cured and asked him to climb to the hill and collect the flowers growing there. He obeyed and found many flowers blooming in December on the rocky land. He filled his tilma (cloak) with flowers and returned to Mary.

The Virgin Mary arranged the flowers within his cloak and told him this would be the sign he is to present to the bishop. Once Juan Diego found the bishop, he opened his cloak and the bishop was presented with a miraculous imprinted image of the Virgin Mary on the flower-filled cloak.

The next day, Juan Diego found his uncle fully healed from his illness. His uncle explained he, too, saw the Virgin Mary. She also instructed him on her desires to have a church built on Tepeyac Hill, but she also told him she wanted to be known with the title of Guadalupe.

News of Juan Diego’s miracle quickly spread, and he became very well-known. However, Juan Diego always remained a humble man.

The bishop first kept Juan Diego’s imprinted cloak in his private chapel, but then placed it on public display in the church built on Tepeyac Hill the next year.

The first miracle surrounding the cloak occurred during the procession to Tepeyac Hill when a participant was shot in the throat by an arrow shot in celebration. After being placed in front of the miraculous image of Mary, the man was healed.

Juan Diego moved into a little hermitage on Tepeyac Hill, and lived a solidarity life of prayer and work. He remained there until his death on December 9, 1548, 17 years after the first apparition.

News of Our Lady’s apparitions caused a wave of nearly 3,000 Indians a day to convert to the Christian faith. Details of Juan Diego’s experience and Mary’s words moved them deeply.

During the revolutions in Mexico, at the beginning of the 20th century, nonbelievers attempted to destroy the Image with an explosion. The altar?s marble steps, the flower-holders, and the basilica windows were all very damaged, but the pane of glass protecting the Image was not even cracked.

Juan Diego’s imprinted cloak has remained perfectly preserved from 1531 to present time. The “Basilica of Guadalupe” on Tepeyac Hill has become one of the world’s most-visited Catholic shrines.

St. Juan Diego was beatified on May 6, 1990 by Pope John Paul II and canonized on July 31, 2002. His feast day is celebrated on December 9 and he is the patron saint of Indigenous people. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=73

More Saints of the Day
St. Balda
St. Budoc
St. Cyprian
St. Ethelgiva
St. Gorgonia
St. Juan Diego
St. Julian of Apamea
St. Leocadia
Martyrs of Samosata
Martyrs of Saragossa
St. Peter
St. Peter Fourier
St. Proculus of Verona
St. Restitutus
St. Valeria of Limoges

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Thursday of the Second Week in Advent
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 689

17 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalms 98:1-4: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
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/120816.cfm

Reflection:  Do you want to live a grace-filled life? The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as “full of grace”. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary’s obedience to this singular grace of God. “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race… The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith” (from Adv. haeres 3.22.4, by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, 130-200 AD).

Faith is the key that unlocks the power of God’s kingdom in our lives
What is the key that can unlock the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately experienced the consequence of their action – separation from the God who loved them. God in his mercy promised them a Redeemer who would pay the price for their sin and the sin of the world. We see the marvelous unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. 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.

God gives us the grace to say “yes” to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the grace, 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 to your plan for my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec8.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Romaric (d. 653)
In the account of St Amatus of Remiremont it is related how he brought about the conversion to God of a Merovingian nobleman named Romaric, who became a monk at Luxeuil; and how they afterwards went together to the estate of Romaric at Habendum in the Vosges, and established the monastery which was later known as Remiremont (Romarici Mons). The father of Romaric had lost his life and his lands at the hands of Queen Brunehilda, and his young son became a homeless wanderer; but at the time of his meeting St Amatus, Romaric was a person of distinction at the court of Clotaire II, with considerable property and a number of serfs. These he enfranchised, and it is said that when he was tonsured at Luxeuil several of these newly freed men presented themselves to the abbot for the same purpose. Remiremont was founded in 620 and St Amatus was its first abbot, but his duties soon devolved upon St Romaric, who at the time of his death had governed for thirty years. Among the early recruits was the friend of Romaric, St Arnulfus of Metz, who about 629 came to end his days in a nearby hermitage. Shortly before his death St Romaric was disturbed by the news that Grimoald, the son of another old friend, Bd Pepin of Landen, was plotting to exclude the young prince Dagobert from the Austrasian throne. The aged abbot made his way to Metz, where he remonstrated with Grimoald and warned the nobles who supported him. They heard him quietly, treated him with courtesy, and sent him back to his monastery. Three days later St Romaric died. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=760

More Saints of the Day
St. Eucharius
St. Macarius
St. Patapios Of Thebes
St. Patapius
St. Romaric

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Wednesday of the Second Week in Advent
Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 183

18 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31
Psalms 103:1-4, 8, 10: O bless the Lord, my soul!
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120716.cfm

Reflection:  What kind of yoke does the Lord Jesus have in mind for each one of us? And how can it be good for us? The Jewish people used the image of a yoke to express their submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus  says his yoke is “easy”. The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well for labor. We are commanded to put on the “sweet yoke of Jesus” and to live the “heavenly way of life and happiness”. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, our will with his will, our heart with his heart.

Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says his “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus’ presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?

In the Advent season we celebrate the coming of the Messiah King who ushers in the reign of God. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would establish God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Those who put their trust in God and in the coming of his kingdom receive the blessings of that kingdom – peace with God and strength for living his way of love, truth, and holiness (Isaiah 40). Jesus fulfills all the Messianic hopes and promises of God’s kingdom. That is why he taught his disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.

Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and disobedience. Only the Lord Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a yoke of glory, freedom, and joy with him. The yoke which the Lord Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of power and freedom to live in love, peace, and joy as God’s sons and daughters. Do you trust in God’s love and truth and submit to his will for your life?

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the sweet yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec7.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy. She was born at Albisola Marina, Liguria, Italy, in 1811, and was baptized Benedetta. At sixteen she became a Franciscan tertiary, and in 1837, she and three companions, Pauline Barla, Angela, and Domenica Pessio, found a community in Savona. The congregation was devoted to charitable works, hospitals, and educating poor young women. In 1840, Maria Giuseppe, also called Josepha, was made superior. By the time she died on December 7, 1888, she had made sixty-eight foundations. She was canonized in 1949. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4482

More Saints of the Day
St. Anianas
St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
Martyrs of Africa
St. Polycarp and Theodore
St. Servus
St. Victor of Piacenza

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Tuesday of the Second Week in Advent
Lectionary: 182

19 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalms 96:1-3, 10-13:  The Lord our God comes with power.
Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14
Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120616.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know what it’s like to lose your bearings and to be hopelessly adrift in a sea of uncertainty? To be alone, lost, and disoriented without a sense of direction is one of the worst fears we can encounter. What we would give to have a guide who would show us the way to safety and security, the way to home and family. Scripture comforts us with the assurance that God will not rest until we find our way home to him. The Scriptures use the image of a shepherd who cares for his sheep to describe what God is like. God promised that he would personally shepherd his people and lead them to safety (Isaiah 40:11). That is why God sent his only begotten son as the Messiah King who would not only restore peace and righteousness to the land, but who would also shepherd and care for his people with love and compassion. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11).

What can we learn from the lesson of Jesus’ parable about a lost sheep? This parable gives us a glimpse of the heart of a true shepherd, and the joy of a community reunited with its lost members. Shepherds not only had to watch over their sheep by day and by night; they also had to protect them from wolves and lions who preyed upon them, and from dangerous terrain and storms. Shepherds often had large flocks, sometimes numbering in the hundreds or thousands. It was common to inspect and count the sheep at the end of the day. You can imagine the surprise and grief of the shepherd who discovers that one of his sheep is missing! Does he wait until the next day to go looking for it? Or does he ask a neighboring shepherd if he might have seen the stray sheep? No, he goes immediately in search of this lost sheep. Delay for even one night could mean disaster leading to death. Sheep by nature are very social creatures. An isolated sheep can quickly become bewildered, disoriented, and even neurotic. Easy prey for wolves and lions!

The shepherd’s grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold. The shepherd searches until what he has lost is found. His persistence pays off. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out time and time again.  How easy to forget and be distracted with other matters while the lost become prey for devouring wolves of the soul. The Apostle Peter reminds us that the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that we be saved and restored to friendship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God. God is on a rescue mission today to save us from the destructive forces of sin and evil. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, watches over every step we take. Do you listen to his voice and heed his wise counsel? Do you follow the path he has set for you – a path that leads to life rather than death?

“Lord Jesus, nothing escapes your watchful gaze and care. May I always walk in the light of your truth and never stray from your loving presence.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec6.htm

Saint of the Day:St. Nicholas, Patron of Bakers and Pawnbrokers
The great veneration with which St. Nicholas has been honored for many ages and the number of altars and churches all over the world that are dedicated in his memory are testimonials to his wonderful holiness and the glory he enjoys with God. As an episcopal see, and his childhood church falling vacant, the holy Nicholas was chosen bishop, and in that station became famous by his extraordinary piety and zeal and by his many astonishing miracles. The Greek histories of his life agree he suffered an imprisonment of the faith and made a glorious confession in the latter part of the persecution raised by Dioletian, and that he was present at the Council of Nicaea and there condemned Arianism. It is said that St. Nicholas died in Myra, and was buried in his cathedral.

St. Nicholas’ episcopate at Myra during the fourth century is really all that appears indubitable authentic, according to Alban Butler, an English Roman Catholic priest from the 1700s. This is not for lack of material, beginning with the life attributed to the monk who died in 847 as St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the universal popularity of the saint for so many centuries requires that some account of the legends surrounding his life should be given.

St. Nicholas, also known as “Nikolaos of Myra,” was a fourth century saint and Greek bishop of Myra. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor in the Roman Empire as an only child to Christian parents. Nicholas would take nourishment only once on Wednesdays and Fridays, and that in the evening according to the canons. “He was exceedingly well brought up by his parents and trod piously in their footsteps. The child, watched over by the church, enlightened his mind and encouraged his thirst for sincere and true religion.” Both of his parents tragically died during an epidemic when he was a young man, leaving him well off, but to be raised by his uncle – the Bishop of Patara. Nicholas was determined to devote his inheritance to works of charity, and his uncle mentored him as a reader and later ordained him as a presbyter (priest).

An opportunity soon arose for St. Nicholas and his inheritance. A citizen of Patara had lost all his money, and needed to support his three daughters who could not find husbands because of their poverty; so the wretched man was going to give them over to prostitution. Nicholas became informed of this, and thus took a bag of gold and threw it into an open window of the man’s house in the night. Here was a dowry for the eldest girl and she was soon duly married. At intervals Nicholas did the same for the second and the third; at the last time the father was on the watch, recognized his benefactor and overwhelmed Nicholas with his gratitude. It would appear that the three purses represented in pictures, came to be mistaken for the heads of three children and so they gave rise to the absurdstory of the children, resuscitated by the saint, who had been killed by an innkeeper and pickled in a brine-tub.

Coming to the city of Myra when the clergy and people of the province were in session to elect a new bishop, St. Nicholas was indicated by God as the man they should choose. This was during the time of persecutions in the beginning of the fourth century and “as he [Nicholas] was the chief priest of the Christians of this town and preached the truths of faith with a holy liberty, the divine Nicholas was seized by the magistrates, tortured, then chained and thrown into prison with many other Christians. But when the great and religious Constatine, chosen by God, assumed the imperial diadem of the Romans, the prisoners were released from their bonds and with them the illustrious Nicholas, who when he was set at liberty returned to Myra.”

St. Methodius asserts that “thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas the metropolis of Myra alone was untouched by the filth of the Arian heresy, which it firmly rejected as death-dealing poison,” but says nothing of his presence at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

According to other traditions St. Nicholas was not only there during the Council of Nicaea in 325, but so far forgot himself as to give the heresiarch Arius a slap in the face. The conciliar fathers deprived him of his episcopal insignia and committed him to prison; but our Lord and His Mother appeared there and restored to him both his liberty and his office.

As against Arianism so against paganism, St. Nicholas was tireless and often took strong measures: among other temples he destroyed was that of Artemis, the principal in the district, and the evil spirits fled howling before him. He was the guardian of his people as well in temporal affairs. The governor Eustathius had taken a bribe to condemn to death three innocent men. At the time fixed for their execution Nicholas came to the place, stayed the hands of the executioner, and released the prisoners. Then he turned to Eustathiujs and did not cease to reproach him until he admitted his crime and expressed his penitence.

St. Nicholas’ presence was found in a separate occasion involving three imperial officers simply on their way to duty in Phrygia. When the men were back again in Constantinople, the jealousy of the prefect Ablavius caused them to be imprisoned on false charges and an order for their death was procured from the Emperor Constantine. When the officers heard this they remembered the example they had witnessed of the powerful love of justice of the Bishop of Myra and they prayed to God that through his merits and by his instrumentality they might yet be saved. That night St. Nicholas appeared in a dream to Constatine, and told him with threats to release the three innocent men, and Ablavius experienced the same thing. In the morning the Emporor and the prefect compared notes, and the condemned men were sent for and questioned. When he heard they had called on the name of the Nicholas of Myra who appeared to him, Constatine set them free and sent them to the bishop with a letter asking him not to threaten him any more, but to pray for the peace of the world. For a long time, this has been the most famous miracle of St. Nicholas, and at the time of St. Methodius was the only thing generally known about him.

The accounts are unanimous that St. Nicholas died and was buried in his episcopal city of Myra, and by the time of Justinian, there was a basilica built in his honor at Constantinople.

An anonymous Greek wrote in the tenth century that, “the West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, in the country and the town, in the villages, in the isles, in the furthest parts of the earth, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. Images of him are set up, panegyrics preached and festivals celebrated. All Christians, young and old, men and women, boys and girls, reverence his memory and call upon his protection. And his favors, which know no limit of time and continue from age to age, are poured out over all the earth; the Scythians know them, as do the Indians and the barbarians, the Africans as well as the Italians.” When Myra and its great shrine finally passed into the hands of the Saracens, several Italian cities saw this as an opportunity to acquire the relics of St. Nicholas for themselves. There was great competition for them between Venice and Bari.

Bari won and the relics were carried off under the noses of the lawful Greek custodians and their Mohammedan masters. On May 9, 1087 St. Nicholas’ relics safetly landed in Bari, a not inappropriate home seeing that Apulia in those days still had large Greek colonies. A new church was built to shelter the relics and the pope, Bd. Urban II, was present at their enshrining.

Devotion to St. Nicholas has been present in the West long before his relics were brought to Italy, but this happening greatly increased his veneration among the people, and miracles were as freely attributed to his intercession in Europe as they had been in Asia.

At Myra “the venerable body of the bishop, embalmed as it was in the good ointments of virtue exuded a sweet smelling myrrh, which kept it from corruption and proved a health giving remedy against sickness to the glory o f him who had glorified Jesus Christ, our true God.” The translation of the relics did not interrupt this phenomenon, and the “manna of St. Nicholas” is said to flow to this day. It was one of the great attractions that drew pilgrims to his tomb from all parts of Europe.

The image of St. Nicholas is, more often than any other, found on Byzantine seals. In the later middle ages nearly four hundred churches were dedicated in his honor in England alone, and he is said to have been represented by Christian artists more frequently than any saint, except our Lady.

St. Nicholas is celebrated as the patron saint of several classes of people, especially, in the East, of sailors and in the West of children. The first of these patronage is most likely due to the legend that during his lifetime, he appeared to storm tossed mariners who invoked his aid off the coast of Lycia and brought them safely to port. Sailors in the Aegean and Ionian seas, following a common Eastern custom, had their “star of St. Nicholas” and wished one another a good voyage in the phrase “May St. Nicholas hold the tiller.”

The legend of the “three children” is credited to his patronage of children and various observances, ecclesiastical and secular, connected there with; such were the boy bishop and especially in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the giving of presents in his name at Christmas time.

This custom in England is not a survival from Catholic times. It was popularized in America by the Dutch Protestants of New Amsterdam who converted the popish saint into a Nordic magician (Santa Claus = Sint Klaes = Saint Nicholas) and was introduced into this country by Bret Harte. It is not the only “good old English custom” which, however good, is not “old English,” at any rate in its present form. The deliverance of the three imperial officers naturally caused St. Nicholas to be invoked by and on behalf of prisoners and captives, and many miracles of his intervention are recorded in the middle ages.

Curiously enough, the greatest popularity of St. Nicholas is found neither in the eastern Mediterranean nor north-western Europe, great as that was, but in Russia. With St. Andrew the Apostle, he is patron of the nation, and the Russian Orthodox Church even observes the feast of his translation; so many Russian pilgrims came to Bari before the revolution that their government supported a church, hospital and hospice there.

He is also the patron saint of Greece, Apulia, Sicily and Loraine, and of many cities and dioceses (including Galway) and churches innumerable. At Rome the basilica of St. Nicholas in the Jail of Tully (in Carcere) was founded between the end of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh centuries. He is named in the preparation of the Byzantine Mass. St. Nicholas became recognized as a saint long before the Roman Catholic Church began the regular canonizing procedures in the late 10th century. Therefore, he does not have a specific date of canonization, rather records of him exist in a gradual spread until his stories became widley known and celebrated. St. Nicholas’ feast day is December 6. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=371

More Saints of the Day
St. Abraham of Kratia
Bl. Adolph Kolping
St. Asella
St. Dionysia
St. Majoricus
St. Nicholas
St. Peter Pascual
St. Polychronius

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChitoMaynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Monday of the Second Week in Advent
Lectionary: 181

20 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalms 85:9-14:  Our God will come to save us!
Gospel: Luke 5:17-26
One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120516.cfm

Reflection:  Is there anything in your life that keeps you from receiving the blessings of God’s kingdom? The prophets foretold that when the Messiah came to usher in God’s kingdom the blind would see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus not only brought physical healing, but healing of mind, heart, and soul as well. Jesus came to bring us the abundant life of God’s kingdom (John 10:10). But that new life and transformation can be stifled by unbelief, indifference, and sinful pride. Sin cripples us far more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and it holds us in eternal bondage. There is only one solution and that is the healing, cleansing power of Jesus’ forgiveness.

Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is ever ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus’ healing power?

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec5.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Sabas (439-532)
Sabas was born at Mutalaska, Cappadocia, near Caesarea. He was the son of an army officer there who when assigned to Alexandria, left him in the care of an uncle. Mistreated by his uncle’s wife, Sabas ran away to another uncle, though he was only eight. When the two uncles became involved in a lawsuit over his estate, he again ran away, this time to a monastery near Mutalaska. In time the uncles were reconciled and wanted him to marry, but he remained in the monastery. In 456, he went to Jerusalem and there entered a monastery under St. Theoctistus. When he was thirty, he became a hermit under the guidance of St. Euthymius, and after Euthymius’ death, spent four years alone in the desert near Jericho. Despite his desire for solitude, he attracted disciples, organized them into a laura in 483, and when his one hundred fifty monks asked for a priest and despite his opposition to monks being ordained, he was obliged to accept ordination by Patriarch Sallust of Jerusalem in 491. He attracted disciples from Egypt and Armenia, allowed them a liturgy in their own tongue, and built several hospitals and another monastery near Jericho. He was appointed archimandrite of all hermits in Palestine who lived in separate cells, but his custom of going off by himself during Lent caused dissension in the monastery, and sixty of his monks left to revive a ruined monastery at Thecuna. He bore them no illwill and aided them with food and supplies. In 511, he was one of a delegation of abbots sent to Emperor Anastasius I, a supporter of Eutychianism, which Sabas opposed, to plead with the Emperor to mitigate his persecution of orthodox bishops and religious. They were unsuccessful. Sabas supported Elias of Jerusalem when the Emperor exiled him, was a strong supporter of theological orthodoxy, and persuaded many to return to orthodoxy. He was a vigorous opponent of Origenism and monophysitism. In 531, when he was ninety-one, he again went to Constantinople, this time to plead with Emperor Justinian to suppress a Samaritan revolt and protect the people of Jerusalem from further harassment by the Samritans. He fell ill soon after his return to his laura from this trip and died on December 5 at Laura Mar Saba, after naming his successor. Sabas is one of the most notable figures of early monasticism and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism. The laura he founded in the desolate, wild country between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, named Mar Saba after him, was often called the Great Laura for its preeminence and produced many great saints. It is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church and is one of the three or four oldest monasteries in the world. His feast day is December 5th. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=758

More Saints of the Day
St. Anastasius
St. Basilissa
St. Bassus
St. Cawrdaf
St. Crispina
St. Dalmatius of Pavia
St. Firminus
St. Galagnus
St. Gerald
St. Gerbold
St. John Almond
St. John the Wonder-Worker
St. Julius
St. Nicholas Tavigli
St. Pelinus
Bl. Philip Rinaldi
St. Sabas

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 4

21 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17:  Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Second Reading: Romans 15:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120416.cfm

Reflection:  What kind of Messiah did God promise to send to his people and how would he bring God’s kingdom to them? The prophet Isaiah foresaw the day when God would raise up a Messianic King long after King David’s throne had been overthrown and vacant for centuries. God promised that he would raise up a new king from the stump of Jesse, the father of King David (Isaiah 11:1). This messianic king would rule forever because the Spirit of God would rest upon him and remain with him (Isaiah 11:2).

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah 
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be equipped with the gifts of the Spirit – with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2 – for an explanation of the gifts see this helpful article). This king would establish the kingdom of God, not by force of human will and military power, but by offering his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Through his death on the cross, Jesus, the true Messiah King, would defeat Satan, overcome death, and win pardon and reconciliation for sinners. God’s plan of redemption included not only the Jewish people but all the nations of the earth as well. Through his death and resurrection Jesus makes us citizens of heaven and friends of God. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in joyful hope and confident expectation that he will come again to fully establish his kingdom of righteousness and peace.

John the Baptist’s prophecy of the Messiah
Why did John the Baptist prophesy that the Messiah would come and “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11)? Fire in biblical times was often associated with God’s presence and with his action in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy 4:24), righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16). Fire was also used as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence (Matthew 3:11). When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, tongues of fire appeared over the heads of the apostles and disciples of Jesus (Acts 2:3). The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies and cleanses us of sin, and it inspires a reverent fear of God and of his word in us. Do you want to be on fire for God and for the return of the Lord Jesus when he comes again in his glory?

John pointed others to the coming of Christ and his kingdom
John the Baptist’s life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of his kingdom. Who is John the Baptist and what is the significance of his message for our lives? Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth John lept in her womb as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). Like the prophets of the Old Testament, John devoted his entire life to prayer and the word of God. He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he was tested and grew in the word of God. John’s clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (see Kings 1:8). The Holy Spirit prepared John for the mission entrusted to him as forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ – the Word of God who became man for our salvation (John 1:1,14). John pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world by offering his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sin of the world (John 1:29).

John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came. Are you eager to hear God’s word and to be changed by it through the power of the Holy Spirit?

A new era of God’s restoration begins 
Jesus tells us that John the Baptist was more than a prophet (Luke 7:26). John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3). He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God’s Anointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. With John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to the human race of the “divine likeness”, prefiguring what would be achieved with and in the Lord Jesus.

John’s baptism was for repentance – turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God’s word. Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit results in a new birth and entry into God’s kingdom as his beloved sons and daughters (John 3:5). The Lord Jesus gives us the fire of his Spirit so that we may radiate the joy and truth of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God’s light and truth. His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be lights pointing others to Christ. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you point others to Christ in the way you live, work, and speak?

“Lord, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your Gospel and to point others to Jesus Christ.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec4.htm

Saint of the Day: St. John of Damascus (645-749)
Saint John Damascene has the double honor of being the last but one of the fathers of the Eastern Church, and the greatest of her poets. It is surprising, however, how little that is authentic is known of his life. The account of him by John of Jerusalem, written some two hundred years after his death, contains an admixture of legendary matter, and it is not easy to say where truth ends and fiction begins.

The ancestors of John, according to his biographer, when Damascus fell into the hands of the Arabs, had alone remained faithful to Christianity. They commanded the respect of the conqueror, and were employed in judicial offices of trust and dignity, to administer, no doubt, the Christian law to the Christian subjects of the Sultan. His father, besides this honorable rank, had amassed great wealth; all this he devoted to the redemption of Christian slaves on whom he bestowed their freedom. John was the reward of these pious actions. John was baptized immediately on his birth, probably by Peter II, bishop of Damascus, afterwards a sufferer for the Faith. The father was anxious to keep his son aloof from the savage habits of war and piracy, to which the youths of Damascus were addicted, and to devote him to the pursuit of knowledge. The Saracen pirates of the seashore neighboring to Damascus, swept the Mediterranean, and brought in Christian captives from all quarters. A monk named Cosmas had the misfortune to fall into the hands of these freebooters. He was set apart for death, when his executioners, Christian slaves no doubt, fell at his feet and entreated his intercession with the Redeemer. The Saracens enquired of Cosmas who he was. He replied that he had not the dignity of a priest; he was a simple monk, and burst into tears. The father of John was standing by, and expressed his surprise at this exhibition of timidity. Cosmas answered, “It is not for the loss of my life, but of my learning, that I weep.” Then he recounted his attainments, and the father of John, thinking he would make a valuable tutor for his son, begged or bought his life of the Saracen governor; gave him his freedom, and placed his son under his tuition. The pupil in time exhausted all the acquirements of his teacher. The monk then obtained his dismissal, and retired to the monastery of S. Sabas, where he would have closed his days in peace, had he not been compelled to take on himself the bishopric of Majuma, the port of Gaza.

The attainments of the young John of Damascus commanded the veneration of the Saracens; he was compelled reluctantly to accept an office of higher trust and dignity than that held by his father. As the Iconoclastic controversy became more violent, John of Damascus entered the field against the Emperor of the East, and wrote the first of his three treatises on the Veneration due to Images. This was probably composed immediately after the decree of Leo the Isaurian against images, in 730.

Before he wrote the second, he was apparently ordained priest, for he speaks as one having authority and commission. The third treatise is a recapitulation of the arguments used in the other two. These three treatises were disseminated with the utmost activity throughout Christianity.

The biographer of John relates a story which is disproved not only by its exceeding improbability, but also by being opposed to the chronology of his history. It is one of those legends of which the East is so fertile, and cannot be traced, even in allusion, to any document earlier than the biography written two hundred years later. Leo the Isaurian, having obtained, through his emissaries, one of John’s circular epistles in his own handwriting — so runs the tale — caused a letter to be forged, containing a proposal from John of Damascus to betray his native city to the Christians. The emperor, with specious magnanimity, sent this letter to the Sultan. The indignant Mahommedan ordered the guilty hand of Johnto be cut off. John entreated that the hand might be restored to him, knelt before the image of the Virgin, prayed, fell asleep, and woke with his hand as before. John, convinced by this miracle, that he was under the special protection of our Lady, resolved to devote himself wholly to a life of prayer and praise, and retired to the monastery of Saint Sabas.

That the Sultan should have contented himself with cutting off the hand of one of his magistrates for an act of high treason is in itself improbable, but it is rendered more improbable by the fact that it has been proved by Father Lequien, the learned editor of his works, that Saint John Damascene was already a monk at Saint Sabas before the breaking out of the Iconoclastic dispute.

In 743, the Khalif Ahlid II persecuted the Christians. He cut off the tongue of Peter, metropolitan of Damascus, and banished him to Arabia Felix. Peter, bishop of Majuma, suffered decapitation at the same time, and Saint John of Damascus wrote an eulogium on his memory. Another legend is as follows: it is probably not as apocryphal as that of the severed hand: — The abbot sent Saint John in the meanest and most beggarly attire to sell baskets in the marketplace of Damascus, where he had been accustomed to appear in the dignity of office, and to vend his poor ware at exorbitant prices. Nor did the harshness of the abbot end there. A man had lost his brother, and broken-hearted at his bereaval, besought Saint John to compose him a sweet hymn that might be sung at this brother’s funeral, and which at the same time would soothe his own sorrow. John asked leave of the abbot, and was curtly refused permission. But when he saw the distress of the mourner he yielded, and sang him a beautiful lament. The abbot was passing at the time, and heard the voice of his disciple raised in song. Highly incensed, he expelled him from the monastery, and only re- admitted him on condition of his daily cleaning the filth from all the cells of his brethren. An opportune vision rebuked the abbot for thus wasting the splendid talents of his inmate. John was allowed to devote himself to religious poetry, which became the heritage of the Eastern Church, and to theological arguments in defense of the doctrines of the Church, and refutation of all heresies. His three great hymns or “canons,” are those on Easter, the Ascension, and Satin Thomas’s Sunday. Probably also many of the Idiomela an Stichera which are scattered about the office- books under the title of “John” and “John the Hermit” are his. His eloquent defense of images has deservedly procured him the title of “The Doctor of Christian Art.” The date of his death cannot be fixed with any certainty; but it lies between 754 and before 787. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=66

More Saints of the Day
St. Abbo
St. Agricola
St. Attalia
St. Birinus
St. Cassian of Tangier
Bl. Edward Coleman
St. Eloque
St. Ethernan
St. Francis Xavier
Bl. Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer
St. Lucius
St. Mirocles

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Saturday of the First Week in Advent
Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Lectionary: 180

22 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalms 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6:  Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 9:35B-10:1, 5A, 6-8
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
AThe harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120316.cfm

Reflection:  Who doesn’t want a life of good health, peace, and well-being? Isaiah foretold that God’s kingdom would overcome sorrow and adversity and bring true peace and prosperity to God’s people. Jesus understood his mission to bring the kingdom in all its fulness to us. The core of the Gospel message is quite simple: the kingdom or reign of God is imminent!

The kingdom of God is imminent
What is the kingdom of God? It’s the power of God at work in that society of men and women who trust in God and who honor him as their King and Lord.  In the Lord’s prayer we dare to ask God to reign fully in our lives and in our world: “May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 5:10 ). Jesus’ preaching of God’s kingdom was accompanied by signs and wonders. People were healed not only spiritually, but physically as well. Do you believe in the power of God’s kingdom for your life? Let his word transform your mind and heart that he may reign supreme in every area of your life.

Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry on the works which he did – to speak God’s word and to bring his healing power to the weary and oppressed. Jesus said to his disciples: Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). What they had received from Jesus (all free of charge) they must now pass on to others without expecting any kind of payment or reward. They must show by their attitude that their first interest is God, not material gain.

The kingdom of heaven comes to those who receive Christ with faith
Jesus’ words are just as relevant today. The kingdom of heaven is available to those who are ready to receive it. We cannot buy heaven; but if we accept the love and mercy of Jesus we already possess heaven in our hearts! The Lord brings his kingdom or heavenly reign to those who receive him with faith and obedience. When the Lord returns in his glory he will fully restore his kingdom of everlasting peace and justice. Do you pray and watch with confident hope for God’s kingdom to come in all its fullness?

“Lord Jesus, rouse my spirit from complacency and stir my faith to see you act today. Give me boldness to live and proclaim the message of the kingdom of heaven and to be a prophetic sign of that kingdom to this generation.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec3.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Catholic missions; African missions; Goa, India; China; missionaries (1506-1552)
St. Francis Xavier was a Navarrese-Basque Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre on April 7, 1506. His father was a privy counselor and finance minister to King John III of Navarre. He was the youngest in his family and resided in a castle which still partially stands today and is in the possession of the Jesuit order.

As the young Francis grew, he was surrounded by war. Navarre was the target of a campaign by King Ferdinand of Aragon and Castile, and the kingdom was eventually conquered.

When the war stopped and Francis came of age, he was sent to study at the University of Paris. While there he roomed with his friend, Peter Favre. The pair met and were heavily influenced by Ignatius of Loyola, who encouraged Francis to become a priest.

In 1530, Francis Xavier earned his master’s degree, and went on to teach philosophy at the University of Paris.

On August 15, 1534, Francis Xavier along with Peter Favre, and several other friends, made vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The men planned to travel to the Holy Land to convert non-believers. Francis Xavier started his study of theology that same year and was ordained on June 24, 1537.

Pope Paul III approved the formation of their order in 1540, which became The Society of Jesus. The order is more popularly became known as the Jesuits.

While Francis Xavier was becoming a priest, Portugal was colonizing India. The Portuguese settlers in India and elsewhere were losing their faith and Christian values. To restore these values, the King of Portugal asked the Pope to send missionaries to the region.

Pope Paul III asked the new order to take the mission, particularly since they could not undertake their preferred mission to the Holy Land due to warfare there. Ignatius ultimately decided to send Francis.

Francis Xavier left for India in 1541, on his thirty-fifth birthday. As he departed he was informed that the pope appointed him to be the Papal Nuncio in the East. A Papal Nuncio is a diplomat who takes up permanent residence in another country to formally represent the Church there. He arrived in the region and colony of Goa, India on May 6, 1542.

Although Goa had churches and even a bishop in the Portuguese colony, there were few people to preach and minister to the Portuguese, especially outside the walls of the city.

A major problem Francis quickly recognized was the nature of the people and their intentions. Many sailors and settlers were former prisoners who had been recruited from Portuguese jails or were fleeing mistakes they made back home. None of them came to spread or live virtuous lives. Instead they came to escape Portugal, find adventure, or to make fortunes. Still, they settled and made families.

Xavier ministered first to the sick and the children. Then he learned about the native people of the Pearl Fishery Coast, which had been baptized a decade earlier, but were never taught their faith. Xavier began ministering to them. He spent three years among them, but was often embarrassed by the conduct of his Portuguese countrymen who were already Catholic, but frequently misbehaved.

Xavier built 40 churches for the people of the Pearl Fishery Coast. Xavier encountered difficulty in his mission because he usually worked to convert the people first, instead of their leaders.

Xavier eventually decided to travel to Malacca and the Maluku Islands to evangelize the people there. He spent about two years in the region, and while in Malacca, a Japanese man named Anjiro caught up with him. Anjiro was accused of murder in Japan but had managed to flee. Learning about Xavier, he decided to find Xavier and tell him about Japan, which he did. Xavier converted Anjiro to Christianity, making him the first Japanese convert to Christianity.

Xavier returned to Goa for about a year to attend to his official responsibilities, but he was very interested in visiting Japan. In 1549, he finally departed for the country, arriving in July of that year.

The local daimyo warmly received Xavier, but forbade his subjects from converting to Christianity. In addition to the legal obstacle, Xavier found language to be a barrier. The Japanese language was different than any other he had previously encountered.

Xavier was surprised to find that his poverty was a barrier to his communication. Poverty was not respected in feudal Japan as it was in Europe, so Xavier was compelled to change his strategy. On one occasion, when meeting with a local prince, Xavier arranged to be finely dressed and for his fellow missionaries to wait on him. He had gifts from India delivered to him. The charade had the desired effect and improved his reputation.

Despite his efforts, the Japanese were not easily converted. Most held fast to their traditional Buddhist or Shinto beliefs. The Japanese also found the concept of hell as a place of eternal torment to be difficult to accept.

Some traditionalists, including priests from the native religions, grew hostile toward Xavier and Christianity. Xavier established a few congregations, but the religion was suppressed from spreading by the nobility to grew to mistrust the outsiders and their faith. Eventually, Christianity became the subject of great persecution, forcing many to go underground with their belief.

Xavier finished his work in Japan for the time and decided to return to India with a stop in Goa. During his voyage, he was petitioned to meet with the Chinese emperor and argue for the release of several Portuguese prisoners as a representative of their government. Xavier decided to make the trip to China, but first felt the need to return to his headquarters in Goa.

He departed India for the last time in April, 1552 and stopped in Malacca to obtain official documents attesting to his status as a representative of the Portuguese king. However, the harbor in Malacca was now controlled by Alvaro da Gama, the Captain of Malaca and the son of Vasco da Gama.

Da Gama was not friendly to Xavier who refused to recognize his official status as Papal Nuncio. He confiscated the gifts Xavier intended for the Chinese emperor and staffed his ship with a new crew, loyal to himself.

Xavier’s ship reached China in August, stopping at an island off the Chinese coast. From there, Xavier was on his own. He managed to find a man to agree to take him to China for a large fee, but while he was waiting for his boat to arrive became ill with a fever. Xavier died on December 3, 1552.

Xavier was buried on the island until February 1553 when his body was removed and taken to Malacca where it was buried at a church for a month. Then one of Xavier?s companions moved his body to his own residence for the rest of the year. In December, his body was moved to Goa. Xavier remains buried in a silver casket enclosed in a glass case.

Several of his bones have been removed. His right arm, used to bless converts, is on display in Rome. Another arm bone is kept on Coloane island, in Macau, which today is part of China.

Xavier was beatified by Pope Paul V on Oct. 25, 1619, and canonized by Gregory XV on March 12, 1622 at the same ceremony as Ignatius of Loyola. He is the patron of Catholic missions and his feast day is on December 3. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=423

More Saints of the Day
St. Abbo
St. Agricola
St. Attalia
St. Birinus
St. Cassian of Tangier
Bl. Edward Coleman
St. Eloque
St. Ethernan
St. Francis Xavier
Bl. Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer
St. Lucius
St. Mirocles

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Posted by: RAM | December 1, 2016

Friday (December 2): “Do you believe?”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Friday of the First Week in Advent
Lectionary: 179

23 Days Before Christmas

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/120216.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 person’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another person’s misfortune and suffering as if it were their own.

God shows mercy to those who recognize their need for his forgiveness and healing
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 fullness 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 transforms those who put their hope and trust in him
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 fullness 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/dec2.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Bibiana
St. Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr (Feast day – December 2nd) Other than the name, nothing is known for certain about this saint. However, we have the following account from a later tradition.

In the year 363, Julian the Apostate made Apronianus Governor of Rome. St. Bibiana suffered in the persecution started by him. She was the daughter of Christians, Flavian, a Roman knight, and Dafrosa, his wife. Flavian was tortured and sent into exile, where he died of his wounds. Dafrosa was beheaded, and their two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, were stripped of their possessions and left to suffer poverty. However, they remained in their house, spending their time in fasting and prayer.

Apronianus, seeing that hunger and want had no effect upon them, summoned them. Demetria, after confessing her Faith, fell dead at the feet of the tyrant. St. Bibiana was reserved for greater sufferings. She was placed in the hands of a wicked woman called Rufina, who in vain endeavored to seduce her. She used blows as well as persuasion, but the Christian virgin remained faithful.

Enraged at the constancy of this saintly virgin, Apronianus ordered her to be tied to a pillar and beaten with scourges, laden with lead plummets, until she expired. The saint endured the torments with joy, and died under the blows inflicted by the hands of the executioner. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=168

More Saints of the Day
St. Bibiana
St. Chromatius
St. Eusebius
St. Evasius
Bl. Ivan Sleziuk
St. Lupus of Verona
Bl. Maria Angela Astorch
St. Pontian

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Thursday of the First Week in Advent
Lectionary: 178

24 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalms 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120116.cfm

Reflection:  What’s the best security against disaster and destruction? In the ancient world a strong city, an impregnable fortress, and a secure house were built on solid rock because they could withstand the forces of nature and foe alike. Isaiah speaks of God as an “everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:4). He is the rock of refuge and deliverance (Psalm 18:2) and the rock in whom there is no wrong (Psalm 92:15). Scripture warns that destruction will surely come to those who place their security in something other than God and his kingdom. Jesus’ parables invite us to stake our lives on the coming of his kingdom or face the consequences of being unprepared when the day of testing and destruction will surely come.

When Jesus told the story of the builders he likely had the following proverb in mind: “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever” (Proverbs 10:25). What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is – with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).

There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you?  Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you injury or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, one’s neighbor and oneself.  His or her word can be counted on. If you heed God’s word and live according to it then you need not fear when storms assail you. God will be your rock and your refuge. Is your life built upon the sure “rock” of Jesus Christ and do you listen to his word as if your life depended on it?

“Lord Jesus, you are my Rock and my Refuge. Help me to conform my life according to your word that I may stand firm in times of trouble and find hope in your promises.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec1.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Eligius, Patron of Metalworkers (b. 590)
Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born around 590 near Limoges in France. He became an extremely skillful metalsmith and was appointed master of the mint under King Clotaire II of Paris. Eligius developed a close friendship with the King and his reputation as an outstanding metalsmith became widespread. With his fame came fortune. Eligius was very generous to the poor, ransomed many slaves, and built several churches and a monastery at Solignac. He also erected a major convent in Paris with property he received from Clotaire’s son, King Dagobert I. In 629, Eligius was appointed Dagobert’s first counselor. Later, on a mission for Dagobert, he persuaded the Breton King Judicael, to accept the authority of Dagobert. Eligius later fulfilled his desire to serve God as a priest, after being ordained in 640. Then he was made bishop of Noyon and Tournai. His apostolic zeal led him to preach in Flanders, especially Antwerp, Ghent, and Courtai where he made many converts. Eligius died on December 1, around 660, at Noyon. He is the patron of metalworkers and his feast day is December 1. The use of one’s talents and wealth for the welfare of humanity is a very true reflection of the image of God. In the case of St. Eligius, he was so well liked that he attracted many to Christ. His example should encourage us to be generous in spirit and kind and happy in demeanor. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=109

More Saints of the Day
St. Agericus
St. Alexander Briant
St. Ananias
St. Ansanus
Bl. Anwarite Nangapeta
St. Candres
St. Castritian
Bl. Charles de Foucauld
St. Constantian
St. Diodorus & Marianus
St. Edmund Campion
St. Edmund Campion
St. Edmund Campion
Bl. Edward Campion
St. Eligius
St. Evasius
St. Grwst
Bl. John Beche
St. Leontius of Fréjus
St. Lucius
St. Natalia of Nicomedia
St. Olympiades
Bl. Richard Langley
St. Ursicinus of Brescia

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

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