Posted by: RAM | October 21, 2015

Thursday (October 22): “I have come to set the earth on fire.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Holy Rosary

Memorial of Saint Pope John Paul II
Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 475

65 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Romans 6:19-23
Psalms 1:1-4, 6:   Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102215.cfm

Reflection: Do you want to be on fire for God? Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. What kind of fire did Jesus have in mind here?

The fire of God’s purifying love and cleansing word
The image of fire in biblical times was often associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as God’s revelation to Moses through the burning bush in the wilderness which was not consumed by the flames (Exodus 3:2). God assured the Hebrew people of his continual presence, guidance, and protection for them through the wilderness for forty years with the pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:21-22). The prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven to reveal God’s presence and power and to purify the people of false idols (1 Kings 18:36-39). The image of fire was also used as a sign of God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13) and holiness (Deuteronomy 4:24), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), and his righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9) and holy wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16).

Fire is also a sign and symbol of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11-12 and Luke 3:16-17). When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples at Pentecost “tongues of fire” appeared above their heads (Acts 2:3). We can see from both the Old and New Testament Scriptures that God’s fire purifies and cleanses to make us clean (sins washed away) and holy (fit to offer him acceptable praise and worship), and it inspires a reverent fear (awe in God’s presence) and respect (obeying and giving God his due) for God and for his holy word.

Loyalty unites – division separates
Why did Jesus link fire from heaven with costly division on the earth? Did he expect his followers to take his statement of “father against son and son against father” and “mother against daughter and daughter against mother” literally? Or was he intentionally using a figure of speech to emphasize the choice and cost of following him above all else? Jesus used a typical Hebrew hyperbole (a figure of speech which uses strong language and exaggeration for emphasis) to drive home an important lesson. We often do the same when we want to emphasize something very strongly. Jesus’ hyperbole, however, did contain a real warning that the Gospel message does have serious consequences for our lives.

When Jesus spoke about division within families he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household(Micah 7:6). The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ – the Son of God and Savior of the world – a loyalty that takes precedence over every other relationship. The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship (or anything else) above God is a form of idolatry.

Who do you love first and foremost?
Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)?

The Gospel message is good news for those who seek pardon, peace, and the abundant life which God offers us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus offers true freedom to those who believe in him – freedom from slavery to sin, Satan, and the oppressive forces of hatred and evil that can destroy body, mind, and spirit. Do you listen to the voice of your Savior and trust in his word? Commit your ways to him, obey his word, and you will find true peace, joy, and happiness in the Lord your God.

“Lord Jesus, may the fire of your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit that I may always seek to please you and do your will.”  http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/oct22.htm www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2015 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. John Paul II, Patron of World Youth Day (1920-2005)

“Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.

Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin.

Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong!

He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later.

Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations.

He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria.

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope.

“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, Redeemer of the Human Race. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.”

His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that.

One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.

In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people.

In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1949&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 Follow tweets by @TheOneKin  @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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