Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31, 2013: Pope Francis, The Visitation

Pope Francis: Long faces cannot proclaim Jesus


(Vatican Radio) The Holy Spirit is the "author" of Christian joy and to proclaim the Gospel we need to have joy in our hearts gifted us by the Spirit of God. There is a certain understanding of Christian life that is marked by sadness, but long faces cannot proclaim Jesus. Joy alone and praise of God are the only way to advance the Gospel. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

Pope Francis began by commenting on the daily readings. The first reading, from the prophet Zephaniah, contains the exclamation "Rejoice! Cries of joy, the Lord is in your midst. " The second, from the Gospel, tells the story of Elizabeth and her son that "rejoices" in the womb on hearing the words of Mary. The Pope noted, "it all speaks of joy, the joy that is celebration." Yet, he continues, "we Christians are not so accustomed to speak of joy, of happiness", "I think often we prefer to complain". Instead, it is "the Holy Spirit that gives us joy":

"It’s the Spirit that guides us: He is the author of joy, the Creator of joy. And this joy in the Holy Spirit gives us true Christian freedom. Without joy, we Christians cannot become free, we become slaves to our sorrows. The great Paul VI said that you cannot advance the Gospel with sad, hopeless, discouraged Christians. You cannot. A certain mournful behavior, no? Often Christians behave as if they were going to a funeral procession rather than to praise God, no? And this joy comes from praise, Mary’s praise, this praise that Zephaniah speaks of, Simeon and Anna’s praise: this praise of God! "

And how do we praise God? We praise Him by coming out of ourselves, we praise Him "freely, like the grace that He gives us is free," said Pope Francis. This pushes us to an examination of conscience on how to pray to God, said Pope Francis, who then turned to those present with a question:

"You here at Mass, do you give praise to God or do you only petition God and thank God? Do you praise God? '. This is something new, new in our new spiritual life. Giving praise to God, coming out of ourselves to give praise; spending a little bit of time giving praise. But ‘this Mass is so long!’ If you do not praise God, you will never know the gratuity of spending time praising God, the Mass is long. But if you go with this attitude of joy, of praise to God, that is beautiful! This is what eternity will be: giving praise to God! And that will not be boring: it will be beautiful! This joy makes us free. "

The model of this praise, and this joy, is once again the Mother of Jesus "The Church – recalled Pope Francis – calls her the" cause of our joy, "Cause Nostrae Letitiae. Why? Because she brings the greatest joy that is Jesus ":
"We need to pray to Our Lady, so that bringing Jesus give us the grace of joy, the joy of freedom. That it give us the grace to praise, to praise with a prayer of gratuitous praise, because He is worthy of praise, always. Pray to Our Lady and say to her what the Church says: Veni, Precelsa Domina, Maria, tu nos visita, Lady, thou who art so great, visit us and give us joy. "

www.news.va

May 31, 2013 Friday: The Visitation

The Visitation

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56



39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." 46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, 52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever." 56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the "eyes of faith". The word "blessed" [makarios in Greek] literally means "happiness" or "beatitude". It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life. There is a certain paradox for those "blessed" by the Lord. Mary was given the "blessedness" of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: "Without God's Son nothing could exist; without Mary's son, nothing could be redeemed." To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?

What is the significance of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary's womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfilment of God's promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth's heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God's indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more closely. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joys of heaven, and my love for You as my All."

Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30, 2013 Thursday: 8th Week in Ordinary Time C




Sitting on the side of the road, living only on handouts, Bartimaeus clearly longed to be able to see. He longed to be delivered from his life of hopeless begging, a life in which he was ignored and shushed every time he tried to get help. And that’s exactly what happened when he met Jesus—that and so much more! Bartimaeus’ healing led him to conversion. It propelled him to throw off his cloak, that hated symbol of his old life, and follow Jesus “on the way” (Mark 10:52).

What do you need Jesus to do so that you can experience a similar transformation? Maybe you need him to help you put more order into your life so that you are more faithful to prayer—so that you can see Jesus more clearly. Maybe you need him to remove the distractions that are pulling you in so many different directions—so that you can focus on his plan for your life. Or maybe you need him to set you free from anger, unforgiveness, or resentment—so that you can see him in your neighbors. What about a physical or spiritual healing? Whatever it is, cry out to Jesus. Keep on asking, just as Bartimaeus did.

In your prayer, today, imagine Jesus asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” Then pour out your heart to him. Believe and trust that he hears your every word. He is working right now to give you the deepest desires of your heart!

www.wau.org

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013: Pope Francis, Wednesday audience




Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Wednesday I stressed the deep connection between the Holy Spirit and the Church. Today I would like to start some reflections on the mystery of the Church, a mystery that we all live and of which we are part. I would like to do this, using some well-known phrases taken from the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
Today the first: the Church as Family of God

In recent months, more than once I have made reference to the parable of the prodigal son, or rather of the merciful father (cf. Lk 15:11-32). The youngest son leaves the house of his father, squanders everything, and decides to return because he realizes he made a mistake, though he no longer considers himself worthy of sonship. He thinks he might be welcomed back as a servant. Instead, the father runs to meet him, embraces him, gives him back his dignity as a son, and celebrates. This parable, like others in the Gospel, shows well the design of God for humanity.

What is this God’s plan? It is to make us all the one family of his children, in which each of you feels close to Him and feels loved by Him – feels, as in the Gospel parable, the warmth of being the family of God. In this great design, the Church finds its source. [The Church is] is not an organization founded by an agreement among [a group of] persons, but - as we were reminded many times by Pope Benedict XVI - is the work of God: it was born out of the plan of love, which realises itself progressively in history. The Church is born from the desire of God to call all people into communion with Him, to His friendship, and indeed, as His children, to partake of His own divine life. The very word “Church”, from the Greek ekklesia, means “convocation”.

God calls us, urges us to escape from individualism, [from] the tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and calls us – convokes us – to be a part of His family. This convocation has its origin in creation itself. God created us in order that we might live in a relationship of deep friendship with Him, and even when sin had broken this relationship with God, with others and with creation, God did not abandon us.
The whole history of salvation is the story of God seeking man, offer[ing] humanity His love, embracing mankind. He called Abraham to be the father of a multitude, chose the people of Israel to forge an alliance that embraces all nations, and sent, in the fullness of time, His Son, that His plan of love and salvation be realised in a new and everlasting covenant with humanity. When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus gathers around him a small community that receives His word, follows Him, shares His journey, becomes His family – and with this community, He prepares and builds His Church.

Whence, then, is the Church born? It is born from the supreme act of love on the Cross, from the pierced side of Jesus from which flow blood and water, a symbol of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. In the family of God, the Church, the lifeblood is the love of God that is realised in loving Him and others, loving all without distinction, without measure. The Church is a family that loves and is loved.
When does the Church manifest itself? We celebrated [the Church’s manifestation] two Sundays ago: the Church manifests itself when the gift of the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of the Apostles and pushes them to go out and start the journey to proclaim the Gospel, to spread the love of God.

Even today, some say, “Christ yes, the Church no,” like those who say, “I believe in God, but in priests, no.” They say, “Christ: yes. Church: no.” Nevertheless, it is the Church that brings us Christ and that brings us to God. The Church is the great family of God's children. Of course it also has the human aspects: in those who compose it, pastors and faithful, there are flaws, imperfections, sins – the Pope has his, as well: he has lots of them; but the beautiful thing is that, when we become aware that we are sinners, we find the mercy of God. God always forgives: do not forget this. God always forgives, and He receives us in His love of forgiveness and mercy. Some people say – this is beautiful – that sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity: the humiliation of realising [that one is a sinner] and that there is something [exceedingly] beautiful: the mercy of God. Let us think about this.
Let us ask ourselves today: how much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel myself a part of the family of the Church? What do I do to make the Church a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, [in which] everyone feels the mercy and love of God who renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that affects us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family: as the Church.

We ask the Lord, in a special way in this Year of the faith, that our communities, the whole Church be ever more true families that live and carry the warmth of God.

www.news.va

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 28, 2013 Tuesday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

Pope at Mass: Following Christ is not a career, it is the way of the Cross


(Vatican Radio) We should not reduce the proclamation of Jesus to being a mere cultural ‘gloss’ or ‘veneer’, it must go ‘straight to the heart’ and change us. Moreover, following Jesus ‘does not mean more power’, it is not a ‘career’ because His way is that of the Cross. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass Tuesday in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence.

What is our reward in following you? Pope Francis began with the question Peter puts to Jesus. A question, he said, which in the end concerns the life of every Christian. Jesus says that those who follow Him will have "many good things" but "with persecution." The path of the Lord, he continued, "is a road of humility, a road that ends in the Cross." That is why, he added, "there will always be difficulties," "persecution." There will always be, "because He travelled this road before" us. The Pope warned that "when a Christian has no difficulties in life – when everything is fine, everything is beautiful - something is wrong." It leads us to think that he or she is "a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness." The Pope noted this "is a temptation particular to Christians":

"Following Jesus, yes, but up to a certain point: following Jesus because of culture: I am a Christian, I have this culture ... But without the necessity of true discipleship of Jesus, the necessity to travel this His road. If you follow Jesus as a cultural proposal, then you are using this road to get higher up, to have more power. And the history of the Church is full of this, starting with some emperors and then many rulers and many people, no? And even some - I will not say a lot, but some - priests, bishops, no? Some say that there are many ... but they are those who think that following Jesus is a career. "

The Pope recalled that at one time, "in the literature of two centuries ago," it would sometimes be stated that someone "from the time he was a child wanted a career in the church." Here the Pope reiterated that "many Christians, tempted by the spirit of the world, think that following Jesus is good because it can become a career, they can get ahead." But this "is not the spirit". Instead it is Peter’s attitude when he speaks to Jesus about careers and Jesus answers: "Yes, I will give everything with persecution." "You cannot remove the Cross from the path of Jesus, it is always there." Yet, Pope Francis warned, this does not mean that Christians must hurt themselves. The Christian "follows Jesus out of love and when you follow Jesus out of love, the devil’s envy does many things." The "spirit of the world will not tolerate this, does not tolerate this witness":

"Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? 'Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others ...'. The spirit of the world never says that the Blessed Teresa spent, every day, many hours, in adoration ... Never! It reduces Christian activity to doing social good. As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity. The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and change us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution. "
Pope Francis said those who leave their home, their family to follow Jesus, receive a hundred times as much "already now in this age." A hundred times together with persecution. And this should not be forgotten:

"Following Jesus is just that: going with Him out of love, behind Him: on the same journey, the same path. And the spirit of the world will not tolerate this and what will make us suffer, but suffering as Jesus did. Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus in the way that He has revealed to us and that He has taught us. This is beautiful, because he never leaves us alone. Never! He is always with us. So be it".

www.news.va

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013 Monday: 8th Week Ordinary Time C

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”



What gives hope and satisfaction to our desire for happiness and security? A young man who had the best the world could offer – wealth and security – came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money could not buy him. The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for. He protested that he kept all the commandments; but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart. One thing kept him from giving himself whole-heartedly to God. While he lacked nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had. He placed his hope and security in what he possessed. So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed. Why did he go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. He sought happiness and security in what he possessed rather than in who he could love and serve and give himself in undivided devotion.
Why does Jesus tell his disciples to "sell all" for the treasure of his kingdom? Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. [See Jesus' parable about the treasure hidden in a field in Matthew 13:44.] Selling all that we have could mean many different things – letting go of attachments, friendships, influences, jobs, entertainments, styles of life – really anything that might stand in the way of our loving God first and foremost in our lives and giving him the best we can with our time, resources, gifts, and service.

Those who are generous towards God and towards their neighbor find that they cannot outgive God in his generosity towards us. God blesses us with the priceless treasures of his kingdom – freedom from fear and the griping power of sin, selfishness and pride which block his love and grace in our lives; freedom from loneliness, isolation and rejection which keep his children from living together in love, peace, and unity; and freedom from hopelessness, despair, and disillusionment which blind our vision of God's power to heal every hurt, bind every wound, and remove every blemish which mar the image of God within us. God offers us treasure which money cannot buy. He alone can truly satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true joy with Jesus?

Why does Jesus issue such a strong warning to the rich (as well as to the rest of us who desire to be rich)? Was he really against wealth? We know that Jesus was not opposed to wealth per se, nor was he opposed to the wealthy. He had many friends who were well-to-do, including some notorious tax collectors! One even became an apostle! Jesus' warning reiterated the teaching of the Old Testament wisdom: Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is perverse in his ways (Proverbs 28:6; see also Psalm 37:16). Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist (Proverbs 23:4). Jesus seems to say that it is nearly impossible for the rich to live as citizens of God's kingdom. The camel was regarded as the largest animal in Palestine. The "eye of the needle" could be interpreted quite literally or it could figuratively describe the narow and low gate of the city walls which was used by travellers when the larger public gate was locked after dark. A normal sized man had to "lower" himself to enter that gate. A camel would literally have to knell and crawl through it. Why is Jesus so cautious about wealth? Wealth can make us falsely independent. The church at Laodicea was warned about their attitude towards wealth and a false sense of security: "For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing" (Revelations 3:17). Wealth can also lead us into hurtful desires and selfishness (see 1 Timothy 6:9-10). Look at the lesson Jesus gave about the rich man and his sons who refused to aid the poor man Lazarus (see Luke 16:19ff). They also neglected to serve God. The scriptures give us a paradox: we lose what we keep and we gain what we give away. Generosity will be amply repaid, both in this life and in eternity (Proverbs 3:9-10, Luke 6:38). Jesus offers us an incomparable treasure which no money can buy and no thief can steal. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Material wealth will shackle us to this earth unless we guard our hearts and set our treasure on God and his everlasting kingdom. Where is your treasure?

"Lord Jesus, you have captured our hearts and opened to us the treasures of heaven. May you always be my treasure and delight and may nothing else keep me from giving you my all."

Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 26, 2013: The Most Holy Trinity




How many of you purchased a lottery ticket last weekend when the jackpot was $600 million. Suppose that you won that jackpot, what is the first thing you would do with the first payment? Someone half-jokingly asked me, “Father, can you say an extra prayer for me so that I can win the lottery? I’ll donate some of the money to your church.” We all heard about most of the lottery winners going broke very quickly. Why is that the fortune of winning lottery turns out to be misfortune for most of the lottery winners? We're reminded that winning the lottery will not solve our life problems in our marriage, with children, or with family. In fact many people's lives became notably worse after they got super rich, and they managed to lose their fortunes in no time. One lottery winner after his wife divorced him and whose grown children died after overdosing on drugs, said to the reporters in tears, “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.” What is it about the lottery that draws us, like moth attracted to a bug zapper? Perhaps, St. Augustine offers us an insight through his own experience.

“Late have I loved you, [God]. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you.”

Sometimes we may be so obsessed with God’s creation that we forget about God himself. Often we forget Jesus who made it possible for us to share in the life of the relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The truly happy persons are those who have a sense of God and of his presence in their lives. Financial security is something that can flee away from us in an instant. We sometimes forget that we already have inestimable riches. Heavenly Father created me out of profound love for me, Jesus died for me to redeem me, and Holy Spirit helps me live the fullness of Divine Life on this earth. How can we grow in personally knowing the Father and his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ?



The path was shown to me in an unexpected way, through Blessed Mother. In college I read the book, “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort. The author proposed that the quickest, the surest, and the shortest route to Jesus is through his Mother Mary. I was skeptical at first and wondered why we would give honor to Mary when we should be giving all the glory to Jesus? I realized that Blessed Mother responded to God's will with the total gift of Herself, body and soul, forever, from the Annunciation to the Cross and from the Cross to the Assumption. What if we could respond totally to God’s will just as Blessed Mother did? She can show us how to do this, if we allow her. St. Louis proposes that we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary in a solemn way--dedicating our body, our soul, our material and spiritual possessions to Jesus. In July, I’ll invite those who are interested as a parish to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary on the Feast of Assumption, August 15. But before consecrating ourselves, we need to consecrate our homes first. We need to dedicate our home to be a place of prayer and a place dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Who is the King or the Master of your home? It should be Jesus. And in a solemn way, you can make Jesus the centerpiece of your home by dedicating a place for a crucifix and having an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe near the crucifix. It will be a place dedicated to prayer and a reminder that Jesus is the centerpiece of our lives, and a reminder that Blessed Mother will always lead us to listen to Jesus and to do whatever Jesus tells us. Dedicating a special place in you home is called a home enthronement. If you are inspired to do so, at the end of the mass, we will have volunteers at the back of the church to take your name and address. We ask for a small donation of $5 for home a enthronement packet. Once you sign up, we’ll order the packets, and they will arrive in a few weeks. In the packet you’ll get a framable picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a prayer booklet. I hope that many of you will participate in dedicating your homes to Jesus Our King.

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24, 2013 Friday: 7th Week in Ordinary Time

The Pharisees approached him and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied,
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.He said to them,
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”
(Mk 10:1-12)



What is God's intention for our state in life, whether married or single? Jesus deals with the issue of divorce by taking his hearers back to the beginning of creation and to God's plan for the human race. In Genesis 2:23-24 we see God's intention and ideal that two people who marry should become so indissolubly one that they are one flesh. That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve. They were created for each other and for no one else. They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come.

Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal. Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands. Jesus, likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:11-12). Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God. Our lives are not our own – they belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19b,20; Romans 14:7-8). The Lord Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit gives the grace and the power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life. His grace and power bring freedom, discipline, and strength to live a life of love, joy, and holiness. Do you seek the Lord and his grace (his strength and power) in your state of life?

"Lord Jesus Christ, your call to holiness extends to all in every state of life. Sanctify our lives – as married couples and as singles – that we may live as men and women who are consecrated to you. Make us leaven in a society that disdains life-long marriage fidelity, chastity, and living single for the Lord".

Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23, 2013 Thursday: 7th week in Ordinary Time C

Avoiding evil and the near occasion of sin
Was Jesus’ exaggerating when he urged his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences (Mark 9:42-47? Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he or she in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?

Salt and fire
What does Jesus mean when he says "have salt in yourselves" (Mark 9:50)? Salt served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling. Salt was used as a symbol of fellowship and the sharing of a common meal with one's friends. The near-Eastern expression to betray the salt meant to betray one's Lord or Master or one's friends. Leonardo da Vinci in his painting of the Last Supper depicts Judas in the act of tipping over the salt shaker, thus symbolically indentifying himself as the betrayer of his Master the Lord Jesus.
Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves, and produces rich flavor for food, so the disciple of Christ must be salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve, and bring the flavor of God's kingdom of righteousness, peace, joy, and mercy. What did Jesus mean by the expression "salted with fire" and "salt becoming saltless"? Salt in the ancient world was often put in ovens to intensify the heat. When the salt was burned off and no longer useful it was thrown out on the foot path where it would easily get trodden upon (Matthew 5:13). Perhaps Jesus wanted to contrast useful salt and salt which lost its ability to prevent corruption to encourage his disciples to bring the rich flavor of Christ's love, holiness, and righteousness to a world dominated by greed, selfish ambition, and neglect for the weak, poor, and defenseless.

Paul the Apostle reminds us that we are called to be "the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life" (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ). The Lord Jesus wants the fragrance of his love and righteousness to permeate our lives, thoughts, speach, and actions. Do you allow the fragrance of Christ's love and truth to permeate your relationships and circle of influence, especially among your family, friends, and neighbors?
"Lord Jesus, fill me with the fragrance of your love and truth that I may radiate the joy and peace of the gospel wherever I go and with whomever I meet."

Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22, 2013 Wednesday: 7th Week of Ordinary Time

Do you rejoice in the good that others do? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. They were upset that someone who was not of their company was performing a good work in the name of Jesus. They even "forbade" the man "because he was not following us". Jesus' reply is filled with wisdom: "No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me." Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to shine more than us? Paul says that "love is not jealous... but rejoices in the right" (1 Corinthians 13:4,6). Envy and jealousy, its counterpart, are sinful because they lead us to sorrow over what should make us rejoice – namely, our neighbor's good. The reason we may grieve over our another's good is that somehow we see that good as lessening our own value or excellence. Envy forms when we believe that the other person's advantage or possession diminishes or brings disgrace on us. Envy is contrary to love. Both the object of love and the object of envy is our neighbor's good, but by contrary movements, since love rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it.

How can we overcome envy? With the love that God has put into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit purifies our heart and frees us from our disordered passions, such as envy, jealously, greed, and bitterness. God's love is a generous and selfless love which is wholly oriented towards our good. The love that God places in our hearts seeks the highest good of our neighbor. God's love purifies and frees us from all envy and jealousy – and it compels us to give generously, especially to those who lack what they need.

Every one in need has a claim on us because they are dear to God who created them in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God created us in love for love. We are most free and happy when we love as he loves. The love and charitable help we show to our neighbor also expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant mercy and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to those in need would not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Are you grateful for God’s mercy and kindness towards you and are you ready to show that same kindness and generosity towards your neighbor?

Gregory of Nyssa, an early church father (330-395 AD), comments on this passage: “God never asks his servants to do what is impossible. The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available. It is poured out like water upon all. God furnished to each person according to his will the ability to do something good. None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward’” (Mark 9:41). Ask the Lord Jesus to increase your generosity in doing good for others.

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the gospel to others. May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and freedom from sin and the corruption of evil."

Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

May 21, 2013 Tuesday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

Pope at Mass: True power, even in the Church, is in serving others

(Vatican Radio) For a Christian, true progress lies in humbling ourselves as Jesus did. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope also reiterated that true power is in service and that there is no room for power struggles within the Church. During the prayers of the faithful Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado tragedy.

In the readings of the day, the source of the Holy Father’s reflections, Jesus speaks of his passion. However his disciples, begin arguing about who is the greatest among them. Commenting on this ‘bitter episode’ the Pope noted: "The struggle for power in the Church nothing new", in fact "it began then with Jesus”. The Pope said: "In the Gospel of Jesus, the struggle for power in the Church must not exist" because true power, that which the Lord "by his example has taught us," is "the power of service".

"Real power is service. As He did, He who came not to be served but to serve, and His service was the service of the Cross. He humbled Himself unto death, even death on a cross for us, to serve us, to save us. And there is no other way in the Church to move forward. For the Christian, getting ahead, progress, means humbling oneself. If we do not learn this Christian rule, we will never, ever be able to understand Jesus’ true message on power. "
The Pope said that progress "means humbling ourselves", it means "always being of service” to others. In the Church, he added, "the greatest is the one who serves most, the one who is at the service of others." "This is the rule." Yet, noted Pope Francis, from the beginning until now there have been "power struggles in the Church," even "in our manner of speech":

"When a person is given a job, one that the eyes of the world is a superior role, they say: 'Ah, this woman has been promoted to president of that association, or this man was promoted ...'. This verb, to promote: yes, it is a nice verb and one we must use in the Church. Yes, He was promoted to the Cross, He was promoted to humiliation. That is true promotion [advancement], that which makes us seem more like Jesus! "

The Pope then recalled that St. Ignatius of Loyola who, in his Spiritual Exercises, asked the Crucified Lord for "the grace of humiliation." This, he reiterated, is "the true power of the service of the Church." This is the true path of Jesus, true and not worldly advancement:
"The path of the Lord is being in His service: as He carried out His service, we must follow Him, on the path of service. That is the real power in the Church. I would like today to pray for all of us, so that the Lord give us the grace to understand that: that real power in the Church is service. And also to understand the golden rule that He taught us by His example: for a Christian, progress, advancement, means being humble. We ask for this grace. "

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Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013 Monday: 7th Week of Ordinary Time




What kind of faith does the Lord expect of us, especially when we meet challenges and difficulties? Inevitably there will be times when each of us cause disappointment to others. In this gospel incident the disciples of Jesus brought disappointment to a pleading father because they failed to heal his epileptic son. Jesus' response seemed stern; but it was really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once both Jesus' dismay with the disciples' lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his anguished father. Jesus recognized the weakness of the father’s faith and at the same time challenged him to pray boldly with expectant faith: “All things are possible to him who believes!”
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) in his commentary on this passage reminds us that prayer and faith go together: “Where faith fails, prayer perishes. For who prays for that in which he does not believe? ..So then in order that we may pray, let us believe, and let us pray that this same faith by which we pray may not falter.” The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit that we may have the confidence and boldness we need to ask our heavenly Father for his help and grace. Do you trust in God’s love and care for you and pray with expectant faith that he will give you what you need?

When Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, the boy, at first, seemed to get worse rather than better as he went into a fit of convulsion. Peter Chrysologus (380-450 AD), a very gifted and inspiring teacher of God's Word (his second name literally means the "golden worded"), reflected on this incident recorded in Mark's Gospel:
“Though it was the boy who fell on the ground, it was the devil in him who was in anguish. The possessed boy was merely convulsed, while the usurping spirit was being convicted by the awesome judge. The captive was detained, but the captor was punished. Through the wrenching of the human body, the punishment of the devil was made manifest.”
God promises us freedom from oppression, especially the oppression of sinful habits and the work of the evil one who tries to rob us of faith, joy, and peace with God. The Lord invites us, as he did this boy’s father, to pray with expectant faith. Do you trust in God’s unfailing love and mercy?


The mighty works and signs which Jesus did demonstrate that the kingdom of God is present in him. These signs attest that the Father has sent him as the promised Messiah. They invite belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. The coming of God's kingdom means defeat of Satan's kingdom. Jesus' exorcisms anticipate his great victory over "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31). While Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and may cause grave injuries of a spiritual nature, and indirectly even of a physical nature, his power is nonetheless limited and permitted by divine providence (Romans 8:28). Jesus offers freedom from bondage to sin and Satan. There is no affliction he cannot deliver us from. Do you make full use of the protection and help he offers to those who seek him with faith and trust in his mercy?

Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 19, 2013: Feast of Pentecost




Have you ever seen persons filled with the Holy Spirit? What do they look like? My earliest encounter with what I perceived as people filled with Holy Spirit was when I was in middle school. I went with a friend to the Assembly of God church he attended. In the main worship space, a rock band was playing and the congregation was participating with their hands in the air in praise. In another room, was a group of men praying fervently over a man in a language I had never heard or understood. For a Catholic boy, it was quite unfamiliar worship style. As an adult Catholic, I encountered a very similar style of worship in a movement called Catholic Charismatic Renewal. After being acquainted with the movement, I received what’s called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was then that I received the gift of praying in a strange prayer language. More important gifts were the manifestation of Jesus’ love for me and a hunger for the Word of God. I remember feeling exuberant for many months after the Baptism of the Spirit. Someone described my experience not so much as another baptism but as a stirring of what’s already received.


We Catholics receive the Holy Spirit through Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. In Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and become God’s children and members of the body of Christ. In Confirmation we receive a new fullness of the Spirit and are empowered to serve the Church and bear witness to Jesus. Often we do not allow the Spirit we have received to be as active in us as He wants to be. To use an analogy, imagine a cold glass of milk. We all know how good and refreshing milk is.


Now imagine chocolate syrup poured into that glass of milk--it goes to the bottom of the glass until it is stirred. But when it is stirred up, it permeates the milk and transforms it into something new. That’s how it is with the Spirit. We can learn how to "stir up" the Spirit--and how to receive more of Him--from Jesus in the Gospels: "If anyone thirst, let him come to Me, let him drink who believes in Me. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of His heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now He said this about the Spirit which those who believed in Him were to receive" (John 7:37-39)


Do you experience in your life the gift and power of the Holy Spirit? I’m not asking you if you worship with your hands up, whether you speak in tongues or prophesy. Through the years, I have learned that the greatest manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is not so much the visible gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues and prophesying. St. Paul offered his thoughts, as recorded 1 Corinthians, about the most important manifestation of the Holy Spirit. He wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”


Many times couples choose that passage for their wedding mass because they believe it’s referring to a couple’s love for each other. However, a more accurate meaning of this passage is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in how we love. Patience, kindness, gentleness, and humility are the greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit. I used to envy those who have the gift of tongues, gift of prophesy, and gift of healing, but no longer. After seeing Mother Teresa and how she loved, I knew I wanted the Holy Spirit’s gift of patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, and compassion.


Do you thirst for God and for the abundant life he offers through the gift of his Spirit? The Lord Jesus offers each one of us the gift and power of his Holy Spirit. He wants to make our faith strong, give us hope that endures, and a love that never grows cold. He never refuses to give his Spirit to those who ask with expectant faith. Jesus instructed his disciples to ask confidently for the gift of the Spirit: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). Do you desire the Holy Spirit to stir you to greater love for Jesus and for neighbors? Then, can we sing together a short hymn to the Holy Spirit to ask him to be more active in our lives?

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us;Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. Melt us, mold us, fill us, use us. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.

May 18, 2013 Saturday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

Pope: Avoid the temptation to interfere


(Vatican Radio) The Christian must overcome the temptation to "interfere in the lives of others," was the exhortation of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope also stressed that talk and envy do so much harm to the Christian community.

"What is it to you?" Pope Francis begin his homily referring to a question Jesus posed to Peter when he had meddled in the life of the disciple John, "whom Jesus loved." Peter, the Pope pointed out, had "a dialogue of love" with the Lord, but then the dialogue "is diverted to another track," and he also suffers from a temptation: "to interfere in the lives of others." How do you say "vulgar," said the Pope, Peter becomes "nosy". Focus is therefore on two modes of this mix in the lives of others. First, the "comparison", "to compare oneself with others." When there is this comparison, Pope Francis said, "we end up in bitterness and even envy, but envy rusts the Christian community, "it brings much hurt," the "devil wants that." The second mode of this temptation, he added, is gossip. It begins "in an educated way," but then we end up “feeling bad”.

"We all chat in Church! As Christians we chat! The chatter is hurtful? We hurt one another. It is as if we want to put each other down.: instead of growing one makes the other feel small while I feel great. That will not do! It seems nice to chat ... I do not know why, but it looks nice. Like sweet of honey, right? You take one and then another, and another, and another, and in the end you have a stomach ache. And why ? The chatter is like that eh? It is 'sweet at first and it ruins you, it ruins your soul! Rumours are destructive in the Church, they are destructive ... It’s 'a little' like the spirit of Cain who killed his brother, his tongue; it kills his brother! "
On this road, the Holy Father said, "we become Christians of good manners and bad habits." But how do we do this ? Normally, Pope Francis noted, "we do three things":

"We supply misinformation: we tell only half that suits us and not the other half, the other half we do not say because it is not convenient for us. You smile at that ... Is that true or not? Did you see that thing? It goes on. The second is defamation: When a person truly has a flaw, it is big, they tell it, 'like a journalist' ... And the character of this person is ruined. And the third is the slander of saying things that are not true. It is like killing ones brother! All three - disinformation, defamation and slander - are sins! This is sin! It is to slap Jesus in the person of his children, his brothers. "

That is why Jesus does with us what he did with Peter when he says: "What is it to you? Follow me, "The Lord in this instance" points the way ":
"'This kind of talk will not do you any good, because it will just bring to the Church a spirit of destruction. Follow me! '. These are the beautiful words of Jesus, it is so clear, that he has so much love for us. As if to say: 'Don’t have fantasies, believing that salvation is in the comparisons with others or in gossip. Salvation is to go behind me '. Following Jesus! Today we ask the Lord Jesus to give us this grace not to ever get involved in the lives of others, not to become Christians of good manners and bad habits, it is to follow Jesus, to walk behind Jesus on his way. And this is enough. "

During his homily, Pope Francis also recalled an episode from the life of St. Therese who wondered why Jesus gave so much to one and not to another. The older sister then took a thimble and a glass and filled them with water and then asked Therese which of the two was more full. "But both are full," said the future saint. Jesus, the Pope said, does this with us", "he does not care if you're big, you're or small." What interests him is "if you are filled with the love of Jesus."

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Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013 Friday: Pope Francis, Morning Mass

Pope Francis: Peter's Encounter with Jesus that changes him


(Vatican Radio) The problem is not that we are sinners, but that we do not allow ourselves to be transformed by the encounter with Christ in love: this was the main focus of Pope Francis’ remarks at Mass on Friday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence in the Vatican, which was attended by employees of the Vatican Museums.

At the center of the homily was the day's Gospel reading, in which the Risen Jesus thrice asks Peter if Peter loves Him. “It is,” said Pope Francis, “a dialogue of love between the Lord and his disciple,” one that retraces the whole history of Peter’s meetings with Jesus, from Peter’s first calling and invitation to follow the Lord, to his receiving the name of Cephas – the Rock – and with the name, his peculiar mission, “which,” said Pope Francis, “was there, even if Peter understood nothing of it [at the time].” Then, when Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ and went on to reject the way of the Cross, and Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan!” and “Peter accepted this humiliation.” Peter often “believed himself to be a good fellow,” was “fiery” in the Garden of Gethsemane, and “took the sword” to defend Jesus, but then denied him three times – and when Jesus looked on him with that look, “so beautiful [it was],” said the Pope, that Peter weeps. “Jesus in these meetings is maturing Peter’s soul, Peter's heart,” helping Peter to grow in love. So Peter, when he heard Jesus three times ask him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” was ashamed, because he remembered the time when, three times, he said he did not know the Lord:

“Peter was saddened that, for a third time, Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?” This pain, this shame – a great man, this Peter – [and] a sinner, a sinner. The Lord makes him feel that he is a sinner – makes us all feel that we are sinners. The problem is not that we are sinners: the problem is not repenting of sin, not being ashamed of what we have done. That's the problem. And Peter has this shame, this humility, no? The sin, the sin of Peter, is a fact that, with a heart as great as the heart Peter had, brings him to a new encounter with Jesus: to the joy of forgiveness.”

The Lord did not abandon his promise, when said, “You are rock.” In the episode recounted in Friday’s Gospel, we saw Jesus saying, “Feed my sheep,” and the Lord “[gave] over His flock to a sinner.”:
“Peter was a sinner, but not corrupt, eh? Sinners, yes, everyone: corrupt, no. I once knew of a priest, a good parish pastor who worked well. He was appointed bishop, and he was ashamed because he did not feel worthy, he had a spiritual torment. And he went to the confessor. The confessor heard him and said, ‘But do not worry. If after the [mess Peter made of things], they made him Pope, then you go ahead! .’ The point is that this is how the Lord is. That’s the way He is. The Lord makes us mature with many meetings with Him, even with our weaknesses, when we recognize [them], with our sins.”

Pope Francis went on to say that Peter let himself be shaped by his many encounters with Jesus, and that this, he said, “is something we all need to do as well, for we are on the same road.” The Holy Father stressed that Peter is great, not because he is good, but because he has a nobility of heart, which brings him to tears, leads him to this pain, this shame - and also to take up his work of shepherding the flock”:

“Let us ask the Lord, today, that this example of the life of a man who continually meets with the Lord, and whom the Lord purifies, makes more mature through these meetings, might help us to us to move forward, seeking the Lord and meeting Him, allowing us [really] to encounter Him. More than this, it is important that we let ourselves encounter the Lord: He always seeks us, He is always near us. Many times, though, we look the other way because we do not want to talk with the Lord or allow ourselves to encounter the Lord. Meeting the Lord [is important], but more importantly, let us be met by the Lord: this is a grace. This is the grace that Peter teaches us. We ask this grace today. So be it.”

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 16, 2013 Thursday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

St Paul causes trouble


With our witness to the truth, Christians must cause discomfort in “our comfortable structures”, even to the point of ending up “in trouble” because we must be enlivened by “a healthy spiritual craziness” in all “existential outskirts”. Following the example of St Paul, who “fought one battle after another”, believers must not retreat “to a relaxed life”. Today there are “too many Christians sitting in the living room, those who are educated”, those who are “lukewarm”, people for whom “everything goes well”, but who do not have “apostolic ardour within themselves”. This was the strong call to the mission — not only in far off lands but in the city — that Pope Francis delivered on Thursday, 16 May, at the Mass in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The starting point of his reflection was taken from the Acts of the Apostles (22:30; 23:6-11) which tells of St Paul’s battles.

It is “Paul who causes discomfort”. Paul was a man, explained the Pontiff, “who through his teaching and his attitude caused great discomfort because he proclaimed Jesus Christ. And the message of Jesus Christ makes our comfortable structures, even those Christian ones, uncomfortable”.

The Pope also called on the Holy Spirit so that “he may give all of us apostolic fervour; may he also give us the grace to feel uncomfortable about certain aspects of the Church which are too relaxed; the grace to go forward to the existential outskirts. The Church is in great need of this! Not only in far away lands, in young Churches, to peoples who do not yet know Jesus Christ. But here in the city, right in the city, we need Jesus Christ’s message. We thus ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of apostolic zeal: Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we make others uncomfortable, blessed be the Lord. Let’s go, and like the Lords says to Paul: “take courage!”.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013 Wednesday: Pope Francis, Wednesday Audience

Audience: Do not be ‘part-time' Christians


(Vatican Radio) In preparation for the Feast of Pentecost and in the context of the Year of Faith catechesis on the Creed, Pope Francis dedicated his Wednesday audience to the action that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us, in guiding us to the Truth.
He said “In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism, steadily approaching the Sacraments. But at the same time let us ask ourselves what steps we are taking so that the faith directs our whole existence. Do not be a ‘part-time” Christian, at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain choices, be Christian at all times! The truth of Christ, that the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us, always and forever involves our daily lives. Let us invoke him more often, to guide us on the path of Christ's disciples”.

Ahead of the audience the Holy father released two white doves into the sky over St Peter’s Square, presented to him by pilgrims.

And in a moment of dialogue with the crowd, estimated at 100 thousand this Wednesday, Pope Francis asked them to pray to Holy Spirit every day. "Will you do it?" he asked, the crowd answered "yes". The Pope was not content however, and again said : "I can’t hear you!", to which the crowd shouted even louder “YES!”.

In his greetings in Italian, finally, Pope Francis announced a desire to visit Cagliari, Sardinia, and in particular the shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria "probably in September'. The Pope also explained that there is a link between the sanctuary and "his" Buenos Aires, due to the fact that the sailors who brought the founder of the city to Argentina were Sardinian and they wanted the city to be named after their Patron Saint, which from Bonaria became, over time, Buenos Aires.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s general audience catechesis Wednesday May 15, 2013:

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!
today I want to focus on the action that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in guiding the Church and each one of us to the Truth. Jesus says to his disciples: the Holy Spirit, “he will guide you to all truth" (Jn 16:13), he himself being "the Spirit of truth" (cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).We live in an age rather skeptical of truth. Benedict XVI has spoken many times of relativism, that is, the tendency to believe that nothing is definitive, and think that the truth is given by consent or by what we want. The question arises: does "the" truth really exist? What is "the" truth? Can we know it? Can we find it? Here I am reminded of the question of the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate when Jesus reveals the profound meaning of his mission: "What is truth?" (Jn 18,37.38). Pilate does not understand that "the" Truth is in front of him, he cannot see in Jesus the face of the truth, which is the face of God yet, Jesus is just that: the Truth, which, in the fullness of time, "became flesh" (Jn 1,1.14), came among us so that we may know it. You cannot grab the truth as if it were an object, you encounter it. It is not a possession, is an encounter with a Person.
But who helps us recognize that Jesus is "the" Word of truth, the only begotten Son of God the Father? St. Paul teaches that "no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3). It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen Christ, that helps us recognize the Truth. Jesus calls him the "Paraclete", meaning "the one who comes to our aid," who is by our side to support us in this journey of knowledge, and at the Last Supper, Jesus assures his disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them all things , reminding them of his words (cf. Jn 14:26).
What is then the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the Church to guide us to the truth? First of all, remind and imprint on the hearts of believers the words that Jesus said, and precisely through these words, God’s law - as the prophets of the Old Testament had announced - is inscribed in our hearts and becomes within us a principle of evaluation in our choices and of guidance in our daily actions, it becomes a principle of life. Ezekiel’s great prophecy is realized: "I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. …I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them"(36:25-27). Indeed, our actions are born from deep within: it is the heart that needs to be converted to God, and the Holy Spirit transforms it if we open ourselves to Him
The Holy Spirit, then, as Jesus promises, guides us "into all truth" (Jn 16:13) he leads us not only to an encounter with Jesus, the fullness of Truth, but guides us "into" the Truth, that is, he helps us enter into a deeper communion with Jesus himself, gifting us knowledge of the things of God. We cannot achieve this on our own strengths. If God does not enlightens us interiorly, our being Christians will be superficial. The Tradition of the Church affirms that the Spirit of truth acts in our hearts, provoking that "sense of faith" (sensus fidei), through which, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, the People of God, under the guidance of the Magisterium, adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life (cf. Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium, 12). Let's ask ourselves: are we open to the Holy Spirit, do I pray to him to enlighten me, to make me more sensitive to the things of God? And this is a prayer we need to pray every day, every day: Holy Spirit may my heart be open to the Word of God, may my heart be open to good, may my heart be open to the beauty of God, every day. But I would like to ask a question to all of you: How many of you pray every day to the Holy Spirit? Eh, a few of you I bet, eh! Well, a few, few, a few, but we realise this wish of Jesus, pray every day for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to Jesus
We think of Mary who "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Lk 2,19.51). The reception of the words and the truths of faith so that they become life, is realized and grows under the action of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, we must learn from Mary, reliving her "yes", her total availability to receive the Son of God in her life, and who from that moment was transformed. Through the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son come to dwell in us: do we live in God and of God, is our life really animated by God? How many things do I put before God?
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to let ourselves be imbued with the light of the Holy Spirit, so that He introduces us into the Truth of God, who is the only Lord of our lives. In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism, steadily approaching the Sacraments. But at the same time let us ask ourselves what steps we are taking so that the faith directs our whole existence. Do not be a ‘part-time” Christian, at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain choices, be Christian at all times! The truth of Christ, that the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us, always and forever involves our daily lives. Let us invoke him more often, to guide us on the path of Christ's disciples.

English summary:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, we have been considering the person and work of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls “the Spirit of Truth” (cf. Jn 16:13). In an age skeptical of truth, we believe not only that truth exists, but that it is found through faith in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus; he guides the whole Church into the fullness of truth. As the “Paraclete”, the Helper sent by the Risen Lord, he reminds us of Christ’s words and convinces us of their saving truth. As the source of our new life in Christ, he awakens in our hearts that supernatural “sense of the faith” by which we hold fast to God’s word, come to a deeper understanding of its meaning, and apply it in our daily lives. Let us ask ourselves: am I truly open, like the Virgin Mary, to the power of the Holy Spirit? Even now, with the Father and the Son, the Spirit dwells in our hearts. Let us ask him to guide us into all truth and to help us grow in friendship with Christ through daily prayer, reading of the Scriptures and the celebration of the sacraments.

May 15, 2013 Wednesday: 7th Week of Easter C




Do you know why God created you – what purpose and mission he has entrusted to you? Jesus' aim and mission was to glorify his heavenly Father. All he said and did gave glory to his Father. On the eve of his sacrifice on the cross and in the presence of his disciples, Jesus made his high priestly prayer: "Holy Father, keep them in your name that they may be one as we are one". Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples and for all who would believe in him. Jesus' prayer for his people is that we be united with God the Father in his Son and through his Holy Spirit and be joined together, in unity with all who are members of Christ's body.

What motivated Jesus to lay down his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world? It was love – love for his Father in heaven and love for each and everyone of us who are made in the image and likeness of God. Jesus was sent into the world by his Father for a purpose and that purpose was a mission of love to free us from slavery to sin, Satan, fear, death, and hopelessness. Jesus saw glory in the cross rather than shame. Obedience to his Father's will was his glory. Jesus kept his Father's word even when tempted to forgo the cross. Jesus did not rely on his own human resources and strength to accomplish his Father's will. He trusted in his Father to give him strength, courage, and perseverance in the face of opposition, trials, and temptation. We also must take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus wherever he may call us. He will give us the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to live as his disciples.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) wrote: "God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. Therefore, I will trust him. Whatever, wherever I am. I cannot be thrown away." Do you trust in God and in his call and purpose for your life?

Jesus prayed that his disciples would be sanctified and consecrated in God's truth and holiness. The scriptural word for consecration comes from the same Hebrew word which means holy or set apart for God. This word also means to be equiped with the qualities of mind and heart and character for such a task or service. Just as Jesus was called by the Father to serve in holiness and truth, so we, too, are called and equipped for the task of serving God in the world as his ambassadors. God's truth frees us from ignorance and the deception of sin. It reveals to us God's goodness, love, and wisdom. And it gives us a thirst for God's holiness. The Holy Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness. As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, he transforms us by his purifying fire and changes us into the likeness of Christ. Is your life consecrated toGod?

"Lord Jesus, take my life and make it wholly pleasing to you. Sanctify me in your truth and guide me by your Holy Spirit that I may follow you faithfully wherever you lead."

Don Schwager, www.dailysxripture.net

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 13, 2013 Monday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

Pope at Mass: The Holy Spirit and historical memory


(Vatican Radio) The Holy Spirit helps Christians remember the history of our faith and the gifts we have received from God. Without this grace, we risk slipping into idolatry. That was Pope Francis’ message at morning Mass on Monday.

Monday’s first reading from the answer that Acts of the Apostles described Paul’s exchange with a group of disciples in and their surprising statement: “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Pope Francis began his homily commenting on these words and the amazement they produced by in Paul.

But he noted, with a certain realism, that the lack of awareness manifested by the Christians two thousand years ago was something confined to the first ages of the faith. “The Holy Spirit,” he said, “is always somewhat ‘the unknown’ of the faith.”

“Even now, many Christians do not know who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit is. And you sometimes hear: ‘But I get on well enough with the Father and with Son, because I pray the Our Father to the Father, I have communion with the Son, but I do not know what to do with the Holy Spirit. . .' Or people say, ‘The Holy Spirit is the dove, the one that gives us the seven gifts.’ But in this way the poor Holy Spirit always comes last and finds no place in our lives.”

Pope Francis said that the Holy Spirit is “God active in us”, “God who helps us remember,” who “awakens our memory.” Jesus himself explains this to the Apostles before Pentecost: the Spirit that God will send in my name, “will remind you of everything I have said.”

The opposite, he said, would lead the Christian down a dangerous path:
"A Christian without memory is not a true Christian: he or she is a prisoner of circumstance, of the moment, a man or woman who has no history. He or she does have a history, but does not how to enter into history. It is the Spirit that teaches us how to enter into history. Historical memory ... When in the Letter to the Hebrews, the author says: ‘Remember your fathers in the faith’ – memory; ‘remember the early days of your faith, how you were courageous’ - memory. A memory of our life, of our history, a memory of the moment when we had the grace of meeting Jesus, the memory of all that Jesus has told us.”

“That memory that comes from the heart, that is a grace of the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis vigorously repeated. He said remembering, “also means remembering one’s own misery, that which makes us slaves, and together with them, the grace of God that redeems us from our miseries”:

“And when a little vanity creeps in, when someone believes themselves to be a winner of the ‘Nobel Prize for Holiness,” then memory is also good for us: ‘But ... remember where I took you from, the very least of the flock. You were behind, in the flock.’ Memory is a great grace, and when a Christian has no memory – this is a hard thing, but it's true - he is not a Christian, he is an idolater. Because he is before a God that has no road, that does not know how to move forward on the road. Our God is moving forward on the road with us, He is among us, He walks with us. He saves us. He makes history with us. Be mindful of all that, and life becomes more fruitful, with the grace of memory.”

Pope Francis concluded with an invitation to Christians to ask the grace of memory, so that they will never be a people that forgets the paths that have been taken, “that they will not forget the graces of their lives; that they will not forget the forgiveness of their sins; that they will not forget that they were slaves and the Lord has saved them.”

Mass was attended by Vatican Radio technicians and staff and employees from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, led by head of the Congregation, Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, with the secretary Msgr. Joseph Kalathiparambil, and the Undersecretary Father Gabriel Bentoglio, who concelebrated with the Pope.
After the Mass, Pope Francis wished Msgr Peter Wells, an Assessor for General Affairs at the Secretariat of State, a happy birthday thanking him for the all the good he has done in the service of the Church.
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 12, 2013: Ascension of Our Lord (C)

Do you have friends in high places? Do you know some important people whom you can ask for support or a favor in getting what you want or need? A few months ago when I was with a small group from Donaldsonville, we learned that we have friends in high places when we were trying to celebrate a private mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. There are some prominent altars within the basilica that are very popular for celebrating mass and therefore are very difficult to be assigned to. Examples are the altar nearest to the tomb of St. Peter, altar where the incorrupt by of John XXIII lay, and most recently, the altar where Blessed John Paul II's body lay. Our Italian guide took me to the sacristy to vest and receive our altar assignment. She spoke to the attendant, and I could tell that she knew him well. On the way out of the sacristy, our guide winked at me and said that we will be celebrating mass at the altar of Blessed John Paul II! When the rest of our group learned this news, they were ecstatic. I thanked Jesus and Blessed Mother, our friends in very high place of Heaven, for arranging this.

Do you ever think of Jesus as your personal friend in the highest place, that you could personally converse with Jesus or Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe? The mystery of the Ascension of Our Lord makes it possible.

For forty days after his resurrection Jesus appeared numerous times to his disciples to assure them that he had risen, and to prepare them for the task of carrying on the work which he began. He then ascended to Heaven to the right hand of the Father promising his disciples that he would send them the Holy Spirit who would anoint them with power, just as Jesus was anointed for his ministry at the River Jordan. While it was the end of Jesus' physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus' presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time. When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief. Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. But how does Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Heavenly Father affect our day-to-day life?

What if your friend in the high place knew of your daily challenges and difficulties? Would that friend be interested in helping you out? Certainly! Holy Spirit groans in us and inspires us to enter into a dialog with Jesus. Jesus fully knows our human weakness, our challenges, and sufferings. Perhaps you are thinking, "Jesus doesn't speak to me. Maybe he doesn't even like to talk to me. Maybe he speaks only to special people, holy or religious people." That questioning and perhaps doubting reveals something about you--that the Holy Spirit in you desires to talk to God. The reason anyone anywhere at any time has ever been moved to talk to God is because God, by His Holy Spirit, was drawing the person toward him. Jesus says as much when he tells his disciples that, "no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn 6:44) Did you know that God desires our dialogue of prayer with Him more than we do? But how do we enter into a dialogue with him?  One way is through sacred scriptures.

Many of us overlook that Jesus speaks to us through the Sacred Scriptures. Right on the shelf in our homes is a bible that we may not have opened up in a long while. When you read just a small passage, slowly and sit with it, you’ll be surprised how Jesus talks to us. We live in a fast food society where we don't take time to chew food to enjoy and savor the flavor. We hurry away to another thing. If we were eating a $50 steak at an upscale restaurant, we would take time wouldn't we? Likewise Jesus invites us to take up his precious words in the Scriptures, chew on them, and savor them. Our thirst and hunger in our souls will be filled if we take up the scriptures.
By Ascending to the right hand of Heavenly Father, we now have access to this Heavenly Throne. But do we take advantage of this daily? Be not afraid to talk to Jesus about your concerns, and be ready to listen to him talk lovingly to you.

May 11, 2013 Saturday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

Pope at Mass: true prayer takes us out of ourselves

(Vatican Radio) True prayer brings us out of ourselves: it opens us to the Father and to the neediest of our brothers and sisters. This was a central part of Pope Francis’ message to the faithful gathered for Mass on Saturday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence at the Vatican, with agents of the Vatican Gendarmerie and a group of Argentine journalists with their families in attendance.
The Pope's homily focused on the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus says, “[I]f you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you.” Discussing Jesus’ words, Pope Francis said, “There's something new here, something that changes: it is a novelty in prayer. The Father will give us everything, but always in the name of Jesus.” The Lord ascends to the Father, enters “the heavenly Sanctuary,” opens doors and leaves them open because “He Himself is the door,” and “intercedes for us,” as priest, even, “until the end of the world”:

He prays for us before the Father. I always liked that. Jesus, in His resurrection, had a beautiful body: the cuts of the scourging and the crown of thorns are gone, all of them. His bruises from the beatings are healed and gone. But He wanted always to keep His wounds [in His hands, His feet and His side], for those wounds are precisely His prayer of intercession to the Father. [It is as if Jesus were saying,] ‘But ... look,’ ... this person is asking you this thing in My name, look.’ This is the novelty that Jesus announces to us. He tells us this new thing: to trust in His passion, to trust in His victory over death, to trust in His wounds. He is the priest and this is the sacrifice: his wounds - and this gives us confidence, gives us courage to pray.”
The Pope noted the many times that we get bored in prayer, adding that prayer is not asking for this or that, but it is “the intercession of Jesus, who before the Father bares His wounds for the Father to see:

“Prayer to the Father in the name of Jesus brings us out of ourselves. The prayer that bores us is always within ourselves, as a thought that comes and goes. But true prayer is the turning out of ourselves [and] to the Father in the name of Jesus: [true prayer] is an exodus from ourselves.”

Pope Francis goes on to ask how we can “recognize the wounds of Jesus in heaven,” and, “where the school is,” at which one learns to recognize the wounds of Jesus, these wounds of priestly intercession? Pope Francs said that there there is another exodus out of ourselves, and toward the wounds of our brothers, our brothers and our sisters in need:

“If we are not able to move out of ourselves and toward our brother in need, to the sick, the ignorant, the poor, the exploited – if we are not able to accomplish this exodus from ourselves, and towards those wounds, we shall never learn that freedom, which carries us through that other exodus from ourselves, and toward the wounds of Jesus. There are two exits from ourselves: one to the wounds of Jesus, the other to the wounds of our brothers and sisters. And this is the way that Jesus wants [there to be] in our prayer.”

“This,” concluded Pope Francis, “is the new way to pray: with the confidence, the courage that allows us to know that Jesus is before the Father, showing the Father His wounds, but also with the humility of those who go to learn to recognize, to find the wounds of Jesus in his needy brothers and sisters,” who, “carry the cross and still have not won, as Jesus has.”

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Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013 Friday: Pope Francis, Daily Mass

Pope at Mass: Christian joy far from simple fun

(Vatican Radio) Christian joy is a pilgrim joy that we cannot keep ‘bottled up’ for ourselves, or we risk becoming a ‘melancholy’ and ‘nostalgic’ community. Moreover, Christian joy is far from simple fun. It is something deeper than fleeting happiness, because it is rooted in our certainty that Jesus Christ is with God and with us.

This is the lesson that Pope Francis drew from the Acts of the Apostles at Friday morning Mass as he described the disciples joy in the days between our Lord’s Ascension and Pentecost and what we can learn from them. Mass in the Santa Marta residence chapel was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Mérida, Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, and the abbot primate of the Benedictine monks Notker Wolf, and was attended by Vatican Radio staff accompanied by the Director General, Father Federico Lombardi.
 
"A Christian is a man and a woman of joy. Jesus teaches us this, the Church teaches us this, in a special way in this [liturgical]time. What is this joy? Is it having fun? No: it is not the same. Fun is good, eh? Having fun is good. But joy is more, it is something else. It is something that does not come from short term economic reasons, from momentary reasons : it is something deeper. It is a gift. Fun, if we want to have fun all the time, in the end becomes shallow, superficial, and also leads us to that state where we lack Christian wisdom, it makes us a little bit stupid, naive, no?, Everything is fun ... no. Joy is another thing. Joy is a gift from God. It fills us from within. It is like an anointing of the Spirit. And this joy is the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father”.

A man of joy, the Pope continued, is a confident man. Sure that "Jesus is with us, that Jesus is with the Father." He asked: Can we ‘bottle up’ this joy in order to always have it with us?
"No, because if we keep this joy to ourselves it will make us sick in the end, our hearts will grow old and wrinkled and our faces will no longer transmit that great joy only nostalgia, melancholy which is not healthy. Sometimes these melancholy Christians faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life. Joy cannot be held at heel: it must be let go. Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path. It is a virtue of the Great, of those Great ones who rise above the little things in life, above human pettiness, of those who will not allow themselves to be dragged into those little things within the community, within the Church: they always look to the horizon".

Joy is a "pilgrim," Pope Francis reiterated. "The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy." It is a virtue of the path, actually more than a virtue it is a gift:
"It is the gift that brings us to the virtue of magnanimity. The Christian is magnanimous, he or she cannot be timorous: the Christian is magnanimous. And magnanimity is the virtue of breath, the virtue of always going forward, but with a spirit full of the Holy Spirit. Joy is a grace that we ask of the Lord. These days in a special way, because the Church is invited, the Church invites us to ask for the joy and also desire: that which propels the Christian's life forward is desire. The greater your desire, the greater your joy will be. The Christian is a man, is a woman of desire: always desire more on the path of life. We ask the Lord for this grace, this gift of the Spirit: Christian joy. Far from sorrow, far from simple fun ... it is something else. It is a grace we must seek".

Pope Francis concluded that today the presence in Rome of Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria is a very good reason to be joyful: "Because he is a brother who comes to visit the Church of Rome to speak," and to walk “part of the path together”.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013: Pope Francis, Wednesday Audience

Pope Francis: God loves us as a father


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Dear brothers and sisters, good day.
The season of Easter that we are living with joy, guided by the liturgy of the Church, is par excellence the time of the Holy Spirit, given to us "not by measure" (cf. John 3:34) by the crucified and risen Jesus. This time of grace ends with the feast of Pentecost, when the Church relives the outpouring of the Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles gathered in prayer in the Upper Room.

But who is the Holy Spirit? In the Creed we profess with faith: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life." The first truth to which we adhere in the Creed is that the Holy Spirit is Kyrios, Lord. This means that He is truly God as are the Father and the Son, on our part object of the same act of worship and glorification that we direct to the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit, in fact, is the third Person of the Blessed Trinity; the Holy Spirit is the great gift of the Risen Christ who opens our minds and our hearts to faith in Jesus as the Son sent by the Father, and who leads us to friendship, to communion with God.

But I would like to focus on the fact that the Holy Spirit is the inexhaustible source of God's life in us. In all times and in all places man has yearned for a full and beautiful life, a just and good one, a life that is not threatened by death, but that can mature and grow to its fullest. Man is like a traveler who, crossing the deserts of life, has a thirst for living water, gushing and fresh, capable of quenching his deep desire for light, love, beauty and peace. We all feel this desire! And Jesus gives us this living water: it is the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and who Jesus pours into our hearts. Jesus tells us that "I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly" (John 10, 10).

Jesus promised the Samaritan woman that he would donate an eternally abundant ‘"living water” to all those who recognize him as the Son sent by the Father to save us (John 4: 5-26; 3:17). Jesus came to give us this' "living water" that is the Holy Spirit, so that our life may be guided by God, may be animated by God, may be nourished by God. When we say that a Christian is a spiritual man, this is what we mean: a Christian is a person who thinks and acts according to God, according to the Holy Spirit. And do we believe in God? Do we act according to God? Or do we let ourselves be guided by so many other things that are not God?

At this point we can ask ourselves: how can this water quench our deep thirst? We know that water is essential for life; without water we die; it quenches our thirst, it cleanses, it renders the earth fertile. In the Epistle to the Romans we find this sentence: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (5:5). The '"living water," the Holy Spirit, the Gift of the Risen One who comes to dwell in us, cleanses us, enlightens us, renews us, transforms us because rendering us partakers of the very life of God who is Love.

This is why the Apostle Paul says that the Christian's life is animated by the Spirit and by its fruits, which are "love, joy, peace, generosity, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22 -23). The Holy Spirit leads us to divine life as "children of the Only Son." In another passage from the Letter to the Romans, which we have mentioned several times, St. Paul sums it up in these words: "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. And you… have you received the Spirit who renders us adoptive children, and thanks to whom we cry out, "Abba! Father. “The Spirit itself, together with our own spirit, attests that we are children of God. And if we are His children, we are also His heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we take part in his suffering so we can participate in his glory "(8, 14-17).

This is the precious gift that the Holy Spirit brings into our hearts: the very life of God, the life of true children, a relationship of familiarity, freedom and trust in the love and mercy of God, which as an effect has also a new vision of others, near and far, seen always as brothers and sisters in Jesus to be respected and loved. The Holy Spirit teaches us to look with the eyes of Christ, to live life as Christ lived, to understand life as Christ did. That's why the living water that is the Holy Spirit quenches our lives because it tells us that we are loved by God as His children, that we can love God as his children, and that by his grace we can live as children of God, as did Jesus. And us? Do we listen to the Holy Spirit who tells us: God loves you? Do we really love God and others as Jesus did?

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