Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
13 Days Before the First Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

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/010215.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://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jan2.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saints of the Day: St. Gregory Nazianzen (329-390)

After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.

When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.

His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.” http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1249&calendar=1

St. Basil the Great (d. 379), Patron of hospital administrators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Saints of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Saints of the Day

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Holy Souls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Saints of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: RAM | October 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feast of the Day: Our Lady of the Rosary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Saint Joseph

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 233

First Reading: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28
Psalms 105:16-21:  Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030615.cfm

Reflection:  Do you ever feel cut off or separated from God? Joseph was violently rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. His betrayal and suffering, however, resulted in redemption and reconciliation for his brothers. “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:19-20). Joseph prefigures Jesus who was betrayed by one of his own disciples and put to death on the cross for our redemption. Jesus came to reconcile us with an all-just and all-merciful God. His parables point to the mission he came to accomplish – to bring us the kingdom of God.

Parable of the vineyard
What is the message of the parable of the vineyard? Jesus’ story about an absentee landlord and his not-so-good tenants would have made sense to his audience. The hills of Galilee were lined with numerous vineyards, and it was quite common for the owners to let out their estates to tenants. Many did it for the sole purpose of collecting rent.Why did Jesus’ story about wicked tenants cause offense to the scribes and Pharisees? It contained both a prophetic message and a warning. Isaiah had spoken of the house of Israel as “the vineyard of the Lord” (Isaiah 5:7). Jesus’ listeners would have likely understood this parable as referring to God’s dealing with a stubborn and rebellious people.

This parable speaks to us today as well. It richly conveys some important truths about God and the way he deals with his people. First, it tells us of God’s generosity and trust. The vineyard is well equipped with everything the tenants need. The owner went away and left the vineyard in the hands of the tenants. God, likewise trusts us enough to give us freedom to run life as we choose. This parable also tells us of God’s patience and justice. Not once, but many times he forgives the tenants their debts. But while the tenants take advantage of the owner’s patience, his judgment and justice prevail in the end.

Gift of the kingdom
Jesus foretold both his death on the cross and his ultimate triumph. He knew he would be rejected and be killed, but he also knew that would not be the end. After rejection would come glory – the glory of his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven. The Lord blesses his people today with the gift of his kingdom. And he promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him (see John 15:1-11). He entrusts his gifts and grace to each of us and he gives us work to do in his vineyard – the body of Christ. He promises that our labor will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). We can expect trials and even persecution. But in the end we will see triumph. Do you serve the Lord Jesus with joyful hope and confidence in his victory and gift of abundant life?

“Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us – for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. O most merciful redeemer, friend, and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, for your own sake.” (Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester, 13th century) http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/mar6.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Colette (1380-1447)
Colette was the daughter of a carpenter named DeBoilet at Corby Abbey in Picardy, France. She was born on January 13, christened Nicolette, and called Colette. Orphaned at seventeen, she distributed her inheritance to the poor. She became a Franciscan tertiary, and lived at Corby as a solitary. She soon became well known for her holiness and spiritual wisdom, but left her cell in 1406 in response to a dream directing her to reform the Poor Clares. She received the Poor Clares habit from Peter de Luna, whom the French recognized as Pope under the name of Benedict XIII, with orders to reform the Order and appointing her Superior of all convents she reformed. Despite great opposition, she persisted in her efforts. She founded seventeen convents with the reformed rule and reformed several older convents. She was reknowned for her sanctity, ecstacies, and visions of the Passion, and prophesied her own death in her convent at Ghent, Belgium. A branch of the Poor Clares is still known as the Collettines. She was canonized in 1807. Her feast day is March 6th. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=268

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Saint Joseph

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 233

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalms 1:1-4, 6:  Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child,
remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing
who might wish to go from our side to yours
or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him
to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.’” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030515.cfm

Reflection:  What sustains you when trials and affliction come your way? The prophet Jeremiah tells us that whoever relies on God will not be disappointed or be in want when everything around them dries up or disappears (Jeremiah 17:7-8). God will not only be their consolation, but their inexhaustible source of hope and joy as well.

Jesus’ parable about the afflictions of the poor man Lazarus brings home a similar point. In this story Jesus paints a dramatic scene of contrasts – riches and poverty, heaven and hell, compassion and indifference, inclusion and exclusion. We also see an abrupt and dramatic reversal of fortune. Lazarus was not only poor, but sick and unable to fend for himself.  He was “laid” at the gates of the rich man’s house. The dogs which licked his sores probably also stole the little bread he got for himself. Dogs in the ancient world symbolized contempt. Enduring the torment of these savage dogs only added to the poor man’s miseries and sufferings. The rich man treated the beggar with contempt and indifference, until he found his fortunes reversed at the end of his life! In God’s economy, those who hold on possessively to what they have, lose it all in the end, while those who share generously receive back many times more than they gave way.

The name Lazarus means God is my help. Despite a life of misfortune and suffering, Lazarus did not lose hope in God. His eyes were set on a treasure stored up for him in heaven. The rich man, however, could not see beyond his material wealth and possessions. He not only had every thing he needed, he selfishly spent all he had on himself. He was too absorbed in what he possessed to notice the needs of those around him. He lost sight of God and  the treasure of heaven because he was preoccupied with seeking happiness in material things. He served wealth rather than God. In the end the rich man became a beggar!

Do you know the joy and freedom of possessing God as your true and lasting treasure? Those who put their hope and security in heaven will not be disappointed (see Hebrews 6:19).

“Lord Jesus, you are my joy and my treasure. Make me rich in the things of heaven and give me a generous heart  that I may freely share with others the spiritual and material treasures you have given to me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/mar5.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. John Joseph of the Cross, Patron of Ischia (1654-1734)

Self-denial is never an end in itself but is only a help toward greater charity—as the life of St. John Joseph shows.

John Joseph was very ascetic even as a young man. At 16 he joined the Franciscans in Naples; he was the first Italian to follow the reform movement of St. Peter Alcantara. John Joseph’s reputation for holiness prompted his superiors to put him in charge of establishing a new friary even before he was ordained.

Obedience moved John Joseph to accept appointments as novice master, guardian and, finally, provincial. His years of mortification enabled him to offer these services to the friars with great charity. As guardian he was not above working in the kitchen or carrying the wood and water needed by the friars.

When his term as provincial expired, John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification, two concerns contrary to the spirit of the dawning Age of Enlightenment. John Joseph was canonized in 1839. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1313&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Saint Joseph

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 232

First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Psalms 31:5-6, 14-16:  Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
href=”http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030415.cfm”>http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030415.cfm

Reflection:  Who or what takes first place in your life? You and what you want to do with your life or God and what he desires for you? When personal goals and ambitions are at odds with God’s will, whose will prevails? The prophet Jeremiah spoke a word that was at odds with what the people wanted. The word which Jeremiah spoke was not his personal opinion but the divinely inspired word which God commanded him to speak. Jeremiah met stiff opposition and even threats to his life for speaking God’s word. Jeremiah pleaded with God when others plotted to not only silence him but to destroy him as well. Jesus also met stiff opposition from those who opposed his authority to speak and act in God’s name. Jesus prophesied that he would be rejected by the religious authorities in Jerusalem and be condemned to death by crucifixion – the most painful and humiliating death the Romans had devised for enemies who opposed their authority.

Jesus called himself the “Son of Man” (Matthew 20:17) – a prophetic title for the Messiah which came from the Book of Daniel. Daniel was given a prophetic vision of a “Son of Man” who is given great authority and power to rule over the earth on behalf of God. But if Jesus is the Messiah and “Son of Man” prophesied by Daniel, why must he be rejected and killed? Did not God promise that his Anointed One would deliver his people from their oppression and establish a kingdom of peace and justice? The prophet Isaiah had foretold that it was God’s will that the “Suffering Servant” who is “God’s Chosen One” (Isaiah 42:1) must first make atonement for sins through his suffering and death (Isaiah 53:5-12) and then be raised to establish justice on the earth (Isaiah 42:4). Jesus paid the price for our redemption with his own blood. Jesus’ life did not end with death on the cross – he triumphed over the grave when he rose victorious on the third day. If we want to share in the Lord’s victory over sin and death then we will need to follow his way of the cross by renouncing my will for his will, and my way for his way of self-sacrificing love and holiness.

Seeking privilege and power
Right after Jesus had prophesied his impending death on the cross, the mother of James and John brought her sons before Jesus privately for a special request. She asked on their behalf for Jesus to grant them a special status among the disciples, namely to be placed in the highest position of privilege and power. Rulers placed their second-in-command at their right and left side. James and John were asking Jesus to place them above their fellow disciples.

Don’t we often do the same? We want to get ahead and get the best position where we can be served first. Jesus responds by telling James and John that they do not understand what they are really asking for. The only way one can advance in God’s kingdom is by submitting one’s whole life in faith and obedience to God. Jesus surrendered his will to the will of his Father – he willingly chose the Father’s path to glory – a path that would lead to suffering and death, redemption and new life.

When the other ten disciples heard what James and John had done, they were very resentful and angry. How unfair for James and John to seek first place for themselves. Jesus called the twelve together and showed them the true and rightful purpose for seeking power and position – to serve the good of others with love and righteousness. Authority without love, a love that is oriented towards the good of others, easily becomes self-serving and brutish.

Jesus does the unthinkable – he reverses the order and values of the world’s way of thinking. If you want to be great then become a servant for others. If you want to be first, then became a slave rather than a master. How shocking and contradictory these words must have rang in the disciples ears and in our own ears as well! Power and position are tools that can be used to serve and advance one’s own interests or to serve the interests of others. In the ancient world servants and slaves had no personal choice – they were compelled to serve the interests of their masters and do whatever they were commanded.

Freedom and servanthood
The model of servanthood which Jesus presents to his disciples is based on personal choice and freedom – the decision to put others first in my care and concern and the freedom to serve them with love and compassion rather than with fear or desire for reward. That is why the Apostle Paul summed up Jesus’ teaching on freedom and love with the exhortation, “For freedom Christ has set us free… only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh [for indulging in sinful and selfish desires], but through love be servants of one another” (Galatians 5:1,13). Jesus, the Lord and Master, sets himself as the example. He told his disciples that he “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). True servanthood is neither demeaning nor oppressive because its motivating force is love rather than pride or fear.

The Lord Jesus summed up his mission by telling his disciples that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). The shedding of his blood on the cross was the payment for our sins – a ransom that sets us free from slavery to wrong and hurtful desires and addictions. Jesus laid down his life for us. This death to self is the key that sets us free to offer our lives as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and love for the Lord and for the people he calls us to serve.

Can you drink my cup?
The Lord Jesus asks each of us the same question he asked of James and John,  “Can you drink the cup that I am to drink”? The cup he had in mind was a cup of sacrificial service and death to self – even death on a cross. What kind of cup might the Lord Jesus have in mind for each one of us who are his followers? For some disciples such a cup will entail physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom – the readiness to die for one’s faith in Christ. But for many followers of Jesus Christ, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations. A disciple must be ready to lay down his or her life in martyrdom for Christ and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required as well.

An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression “to serve is to reign with Christ”. We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service of one another as Jesus did for our sake. Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?

“Lord Jesus, make me a servant of love for your kingdom, that I may seek to serve rather than be served. Inflame my heart with your love that I may give generously and serve others joyfully for your sake.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/mar4.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Casimir, Patron of Poland and Lithuania (1458-1483)

Casimir, born of kings and in line (third among 13 children) to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning by a great teacher, John Dlugosz. Even his critics could not say that his conscientious objection indicated softness. Even as a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy.

When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir’s father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. Casimir obeyed his father, as many young men over the centuries have obeyed their government. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the “enemy”; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home.

His father was irked at the failure of his plans, and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. The lad made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day, and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter.

He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father’s absence. He died of lung trouble at 23 while visiting Lithuania, of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1312&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Saint Joseph

St. Katharine Drexel, Virgin (Optional Memorial)
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 231

First Reading: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Psalms 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23:  To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030315.cfm
Reflection:  Who doesn’t desire the praise and respect of others? We want others to see us at our best with all of our strengths and achievements – rather than at our worst with all of our faults and shortcomings. God sees us as we truly are – sinners and beggars always in need of his mercy, help, and guidance.

The prophet Isaiah warned both the rulers and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to humbly listen and submit to God’s teaching so they couldlearn to do good and to cease from evil (Isaiah 110,17). Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees, the teachers and rulers of Israel, to teach and serve their people with humility and sincerity rather than with pride and self-promotion. They went to great lengths to draw attention to their religious status and practices. In a way they wanted to be good models of observant Jews. “See how well we observe all the ritual rules and regulations of our religion!” In their misguided zeal for religion they sought recognition and honor for themselves rather than for God. They made the practice of their faith a burden rather than a joy for the people they were supposed to serve.

True respect for God inclines us to humble ourselves and to submit to his wisdom and guidance. We cannot be taught by God unless we first learn to listen to his word and then obey his instruction.

One Father and Teacher
Was Jesus against calling anyone a rabbi, the Jewish title for a teacher of God’s word (Matthew 23:7-8), or a father? The law of Moses in Scripture specifically instructed all fathers to be teachers and instructors for their children to help them understand and obey God’s instructions (Deuteronomy 6:7)? Why did Jesus rebuke the scribes and Pharisees, the religious authorities of the Jewish people, in the presence of his disciples? Jesus wanted to warn both his own disciples and the religious leaders about the temptation to seek honors and titles that draw attention to ourselves in place of God and his word. Pride tempts us to put ourselves first above others.

The Scriptures give ample warning about the danger of self-seeking pride: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall(Proverbs 16:18). God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:24).

Origen (185-254 AD), an early Christian teacher and bible scholar, reminds those who teach and lead to remember that they are first and foremost “disciples” and “servants” who sit at the feet of their Master and Teacher the Lord Jesus Christ:

“You have one teacher, and you are all brothers to each other…Whoever ministers with the divine word does not put himself forward to be called teacher, for he knows that when he performs well it is Christ who is within him. He should only call himself servant according to the command of Christ, saying, Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all.”

True humility
Respect for God and for his ways inclines us to humility and to simplicity of heart – the willing readiness to seek the one true good who is God himself. What is the nature of true humility and why should we embrace it as essential for our lives? We can easily mistake humility as something demeaning or harmful to our sense of well-being and feeling good about ourselves. True humility is not feeling bad about yourself, or having a low opinion of yourself, or thinking of yourself as inferior to all others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, whereas a low self-opinion tends to focus our attention on ourselves. Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Viewing ourselves honestly, with sober judgment, means seeing ourselves the way God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4).

A humble person makes a realistic assessment of oneself without illusion or pretense to be something one is not. A truly humble person regards oneself neither smaller nor larger than one truly is. True humility frees us to be ourselves as God regards us and to avoid falling into despair and pride. A humble person does not want to wear a mask or put on a facade in order to look good to others. Such a person is not swayed by accidentals, such as fame, reputation, success, or failure. Do you know the joy of Christ-like humility and simplicity of heart?

Humility is the queen or foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to see and judge correctly, the way God sees. Humility helps us to be teachable so we can acquire true knowledge, wisdom, and an honest view of reality. It directs our energy, zeal, and will to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves. Humility frees us to love and serve others willingly and selflessly, for their own sake, rather than for our own. Paul the Apostle gives us the greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and… who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Do you want to be a servant as Jesus loved and served others? The Lord Jesus gives us his heart – the heart of a servant who seeks the good of others and puts their interests first in his care and concern for them.

“Lord Jesus, you became a servant for my sake to set me free from the tyranny of selfish pride and self-concern. Teach me to be humble as you are humble and to love others generously with selfless service and kindness.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/mar3.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955)

If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that.

She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn.

She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.

Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions.

She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!”

After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.

Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.

At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1311&calendar=1

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Saint Joseph

Monday of the Second Week in Lent
Lectionary: 230

First Reading: Daniel 9:4-10
Psalms 79:8-9, 11, 13 Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Gospel: Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
href=”http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030215.cfm”>http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030215.cfm

Reflection:  Do you pray for God’s mercy and pardon for yourself and for those you know who need his mercy? Do you promptly forgive those who wrong you, or do you allow resentment and ill-will to grow in your heart? Daniel was ‘shamefaced’ before God because he recognized that many of God’s people had been unfaithful to God’s commands and to his covenant with them (see Daniel 9:4-10). He acknowledged the sins and failings of his own people, and he pleaded with God for compassion and pardon.

When we are confronted with our own sins and personal failings we experience guilt and shame. This can often either lead us to cast off pride and make-belief or it can lead us to lose our inhibitions and fall into more shameless deeds! If we are utterly honest and humble before God, we will admit our own sins and ask for his mercy and forgiveness. The Lord gives help and strength to those who choose to do what is right and to turn away from whatever would lead them into hurtful and sinful desires. Do you know the joy and freedom of heartfelt repentance, forgiveness, and a clean conscience?

Do not judge
Why does Jesus tell his followers to “not judge lest they be judged”? Jesus knew the human heart all too well. We judge too quickly or unfairly with mixed motives, impure hearts, and prejudiced minds. The heart must be cleansed first in order to discern right judgment with grace and mercy rather than with vengeance.

Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD), a wise early Christian teacher and writer, comments on Jesus’ exhortation to not condemn:

Do not judge, that is, unjustly, so that you may not be judged, with regard to injustice. With the judgment that you judge shall you be judged. This is like the phrase “Forgive, and it will be forgiven you.” For once someone has judged in accordance with justice, he should forgive in accordance with grace, so that when he himself is judged in accordance with justice, he may be worthy of forgiveness through grace. Alternatively, it was on account of the judges, those who seek vengeance for themselves, that he said, “Do not condemn.” That is, do not seek vengeance for yourselves. Or, do not judge from appearances and opinion and then condemn, but admonish and advise.(COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 6.18B.)

Grace and mercy
What makes true disciples of Jesus Christ different from those who do not know the Lord Jesus and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with forebearance, mercy, and loving-kindness. God shows his goodness to the unjust as well as to the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God always seeks what is best for each one of us and he teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and unkind towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.

How can we possibly love those who cause us grief, harm, or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who trust in his love and who seek his wisdom and help. The Lord is ready to work in and through us by his Holy Spirit, both to purify our minds and hearts and to help us do what is right, good, and loving in all circumstances. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5) God’s love conquers all, even our hurts, injuries, fears, and prejudices. Only the cross of Jesus Christ and his victory over sin can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment, and give us the courage to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Such love and grace has power to heal, restore, and transform us into the image of Christ. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom, pardon, and joy. Transform my heart with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, or make me bitter towards anyone.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/mar2.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Agnes of Bohemia (1205-1282)

Agnes had no children of her own but was certainly life-giving for all who knew her.

Agnes was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia. At the age of three, she was betrothed to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later. As she grew up, she decided she wanted to enter the religious life.

After declining marriages to King Henry VII of Germany and Henry III of England, Agnes was faced with a proposal from Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. She appealed to Pope Gregory IX for help. The pope was persuasive; Frederick magnanimously said that he could not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.

After Agnes built a hospital for the poor and a residence for the friars, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare monastery in Prague. In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery. St. Clare sent five sisters from San Damiano to join them, and wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty of her vocation and her duties as abbess.

Agnes became known for prayer, obedience and mortification. Papal pressure forced her to accept her election as abbess; nevertheless, the title she preferred was “senior sister.” Her position did not prevent her from cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes of lepers. The sisters found her kind but very strict regarding the observance of poverty; she declined her royal brother’s offer to set up an endowment for the monastery.

Devotion to Agnes arose soon after her death on March 6, 1282. She was canonized in 1989. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1310&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the St. Joseph

Second Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 26

First Reading: Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Psalms 116:10, 15-19:   I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
Second Reading: Romans 8:31-34
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030115.cfm

Reflection:  What can blind us or keep us from recognizing God’s glory in our lives? Sin and unbelief for sure! Faith enables us to see what is hidden or unseen to the naked eye. Through the eyes of faith Abraham recognized God and God’s call on his life. He saw from afar not only what God intended for him, but for his descendants as well – an everlasting covenant of friendship and peace with the living God. Abraham is the father of faith because he put his hope in the promises of God. Faith makes us taste in advance the light of God’s glory when we shall see him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).

The Lord Jesus reveals his glory in fulfilling his Father’s will
Are you prepared to see God’s glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus’ face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3).

When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (see Exodus 34:29). Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles – Peter, James, and John.

What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem – his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his son because he obeyed. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8).

The Lord wants to share his glory with each of us
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory – he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory: follow me – obey my words – take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the blessings of my Father’s kingdom – your name will be written in heaven.

Jesus succeeded in his mission because he went to Calvary so that Paradise would be restored to us once again. He embraced the cross to obtain the crown of glory that awaits each one of us, if we will follow in his footsteps.

Origen (185-254 AD), an early church bible scholar and writer, shows us how the transfiguration can change our lives:

“When he is transfigured, his face also shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, and are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the sons of day, and walk honestly as in the day. Being manifest, he will shine unto them not simply as the sun, but as demonstrated to be the sun of righteousness.”

Stay awake spiritually – Don’t miss God’s glory and action 
Luke’s Gospel account tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God’s glory and action because we are asleep spiritually?  There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the “unexamined life” can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ.  Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.

Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence?

“Lord Jesus, keep me always alert and awake to you, to your word, your action, and your daily presence in my life. Let me see your glory.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/mar1.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. David of Wales (d. 589?)

David is the patron saint of Wales and perhaps the most famous of British saints. Ironically, we have little reliable information about him.

It is known that he became a priest, engaged in missionary work and founded many monasteries, including his principal abbey in southwestern Wales. Many stories and legends sprang up about David and his Welsh monks. Their austerity was extreme. They worked in silence without the help of animals to till the soil. Their food was limited to bread, vegetables and water.

In about the year 550, David attended a synod where his eloquence impressed his fellow monks to such a degree that he was elected primate of the region. The episcopal see was moved to Mynyw, where he had his monastery (now called St. David’s). He ruled his diocese until he had reached a very old age. His last words to his monks and subjects were: “Be joyful, brothers and sisters. Keep your faith, and do the little things that you have seen and heard with me.”

St. David is pictured standing on a mound with a dove on his shoulder. The legend is that once while he was preaching a dove descended to his shoulder and the earth rose to lift him high above the people so that he could be heard. Over 50 churches in South Wales were dedicated to him in pre-Reformation days. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1309&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

 

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Passion of Our Lord

Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 229

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Psalms 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8:  Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
href=”http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022815.cfm”>http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022815.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the love that conquers every fear, sin, and selfish desire? God renews his love for us each and every day. His love has the power to free us from every form of evil – selfishness, greed, anger, hatred, jealously and envy. In Jesus’ teaching on the law he does something quite remarkable and unheard of. He transforms the old law of justice and mercy with grace (favor) and loving-kindness.

Grace and loving-kindness
God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate or cause ill-will. Our love for others, including those who are ungrateful or selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.

How can we possibly love as God loves and overcome evil with good? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

Perfect - made whole
Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48)? Jesus’ command seems to parallel two passages from the Old Testament Scriptures. The first is where God instructed Abraham to “be perfect” or “blameless” before God (Genesis 17:1). The original meaning of “perfect” in Hebrew and the Aramaic dialect is “completeness” or “wholeness” – “not lacking in what is essential.”

The second passage that seems to parallel Jesus’ expression, “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” is the command that God gave to Moses and the people of Israel to “be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44,45; 19:2). God made each of us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27). That is why he calls us to grow in maturity and wholeness so we can truly be like him – a people who love as he loves and who choose to do what is good and to reject what is evil and contrary to his will (Ephesians 4:13-16).

God knows our sinfulness and weaknesses better than we do – and he assures us of his love, mercy, and help. That is why he freely gives us his power, strength, and gifts so that we may not lack anything we need to do his will and to live as his sons and daughters (2 Peter 1:3). Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Ask the Holy Spirit to purify and transform you in the image of the Father that you may walk in the joy and freedom of the Gospel.

“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart ablaze with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/feb28.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Oswald (d. 992)

The last acts in the life of today’s saint make for an amazing story. In truth, they merely underscore the holiness he exhibited throughout his life.

Born into a military family in 10th-century England, Oswald was a nephew of the archbishop of Canterbury, who raised him and played a crucial role in his early education. Oswald continued his studies abroad in France, where he became a Benedictine monk.

Following his appointment as bishop of Worcester, and later as archbishop of York, he founded monasteries and introduced many reforms. He supported—and improved—scholarship at the abbeys he established, inviting leading thinkers in such fields as mathematics and astronomy to share their learnings.

He was widely known for his sanctity, especially his love for the poor. The final winter of his life was spent at the cathedral in Worcester that he so loved. At the start of Lent in February of the year 992, he resumed his usual practice of washing the feet of 12 poor men each day. On Leap Year Day, February 29, he died after kissing the feet of the 12th man and giving a blessing.

The news of Oswald’s death brought an outpouring of grief throughout the city. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1921&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Passion of Our Lord

Friday of the First Week in Lent
Lectionary: 228

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Psalms 130:1-8If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
href=”http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022715.cfm”>http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022715.cfm

Reflection:  Why were the religious leaders so upset with Jesus that they wanted to kill him? They charged him with blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God and he made himself equal with God. The law of Moses laid down the death penalty for such a crime: “He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him” (Leviticus 24:16).  As they were picking up stones to hurl at Jesus, he met their attack with three arguments. The many good works that he did, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and feeding the hungry, demonstrated that his power and marvelous deeds obviously came from God.

Jesus then defended his right to call himself the Son of God with a quote from Psalm 82:6 (“I say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”). Jesus argued that if Scripture can speak like that of humans, why should he not speak of himself like that? Jesus then made two claims: He was consecrated by the Father for a special task and he was sent into the world to carry out his Father’s mission (John 10:36). The scriptural understanding of consecration is to make holy for God – to be given over as a free-will offering and sacrifice for God.

Jesus made himself a sin-offering for us, to ransom us from condemnation and slavery to sin. He spoke of his Father consecrating him for this mission of salvation (John 10:36). Jesus challenged his opponents to accept his works if they could not accept his words. One can argue with words, but deeds are beyond argument. Jesus is the perfect teacher in that he does not base his claims on what he says but on what he does. The word of God is life and power to those who believe. Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And he anoints us with his power to live the gospel with joy and to be his witnesses in the world.  Are you a doer of God’s word, or a forgetful hearer only?

“Write upon my heart, O Lord, the lessons of your holy word, and grant that I may be a doer of your word, and not a forgetful hearer only.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/feb27.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862 )

Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.

His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1304&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Passion of Our Lord

Friday of the First Week in Lent
Lectionary: 228

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Psalms 130:1-8If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022715.cfm

Reflection:  Why were the religious leaders so upset with Jesus that they wanted to kill him? They charged him with blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God and he made himself equal with God. The law of Moses laid down the death penalty for such a crime: “He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him” (Leviticus 24:16).  As they were picking up stones to hurl at Jesus, he met their attack with three arguments. The many good works that he did, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and feeding the hungry, demonstrated that his power and marvelous deeds obviously came from God.

Jesus then defended his right to call himself the Son of God with a quote from Psalm 82:6 (“I say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”). Jesus argued that if Scripture can speak like that of humans, why should he not speak of himself like that? Jesus then made two claims: He was consecrated by the Father for a special task and he was sent into the world to carry out his Father’s mission (John 10:36). The scriptural understanding of consecration is to make holy for God – to be given over as a free-will offering and sacrifice for God.

Jesus made himself a sin-offering for us, to ransom us from condemnation and slavery to sin. He spoke of his Father consecrating him for this mission of salvation (John 10:36). Jesus challenged his opponents to accept his works if they could not accept his words. One can argue with words, but deeds are beyond argument. Jesus is the perfect teacher in that he does not base his claims on what he says but on what he does. The word of God is life and power to those who believe. Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And he anoints us with his power to live the gospel with joy and to be his witnesses in the world.  Are you a doer of God’s word, or a forgetful hearer only?

“Write upon my heart, O Lord, the lessons of your holy word, and grant that I may be a doer of your word, and not a forgetful hearer only.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/feb27.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862 )

Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.

His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1304&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

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

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Passion of Our Lord

Thursday of the First Week in Lent
Lectionary: 227

First Reading: Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Psalms 138:1-3, 7-8:  I give thee thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing thy praise
Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
href=”http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022615.cfm”>http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022615.cfm

Reflection:  Do you expect God to hear your prayers? Esther’s prayer on behalf of her people is a model for us. She prayed for help according to God’s promise to be faithful to his people. God wants us to remember his promises and to count on his help when we pray.

Jesus wanted to raise the expectations of his disciples when he taught them how to pray. Jesus’ parable of the father feeding his son illustrates the unthinkable! How could a loving father refuse to give his son what is good; or worse, to give him what is harmful? In conclusion Jesus makes a startling claim: How much more will the heavenly Father give to those who ask!

Our heavenly Father graciously gives beyond our expectations. Jesus taught his disciples to pray with confidence because the Heavenly Father in his goodness always answers prayers. That is why we can boldly pray: Give us this day our daily bread.

Those who know God and trust in God’s love, pray with great boldness. Listen to what John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), a gifted preacher and bishop of Constantinople, had to say about the power of prayer:

“Prayer is an all-efficient panoply [i.e. ‘a full suit of armor’ or ‘splendid array’], a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch’s power… I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit, the offspring of a soul converted – this is the prayer which mounts to heaven… The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good.”

Prayer flows from the love of God; and the personal love we show to our neighbor is fueled by the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus concludes his discourse on prayer with the reminder that we must treat our neighbor in the same way we wish to be treated by God and by others. We must not just avoid doing harm to our neighbor, we must actively seek his or her welfare. In doing so, we fulfill the the scriptural teaching from the “law and the prophets”, namely what God requires of us – loving God with all that we have and are and loving our neighbor as ourselves. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to change our hearts and transform our lives in Jesus’ way of love and merciful kindness towards all. Do you thirst for holiness and for the fire of God’s love?

“Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am – a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out towards others.”  (Prayer attributed to Clement XI of Rome, 1721)

http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/feb26.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Porphyry of Gaza (353-421)

We go far back in history today to learn a bit about a saint whose name is not familiar to most of us in the West but who is celebrated by the Greek and other Eastern churches.

Born near Greece in the mid-4th century, Porphry is most known for his generosity to the poor and for his ascetic lifestyle. Deserts and caves were his home for a time. At age 40, living in Jerusalem, Porphyry was ordained a priest.

If the accounts we have are correct, he was elected bishop of Gaza—without his knowledge and against his will. He was, in effect, kidnapped (with the help of a neighboring bishop, by the way) and forcibly consecrated bishop by the members of the small Christian community there. No sooner had Porphyry been consecrated bishop than he was accused by the local pagans of causing a drought. When rains came shortly afterward, the pagans gave credit to Porphyry and the Christian population and tensions subsided for a time.

For the next 13 years, Porphyry worked tirelessly for his people, instructed them and made many converts, though pagan opposition continued throughout his life. He died in the year 421. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1891&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

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

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