Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sept. 17, 2017: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Sept. 17, 2017: 24th Sunday A
On one Sunday morning mass at St. James Catholic Church in St. James, the pastor delivered a powerful message about the justice of God. He pointed out that justice is due to those who disrespect others. This fire-and-brimstone homily deeply touched a number of boys and their parents sitting in the congregation that morning. The pastor was directing his homily to a particular group of boys who disturbed the peace and disrespected private property the previous day.  He ended his homily with this command, “To the parents of these boys, I expect you to serve justice!!” What did these boys do to earn such displeasure from their parish priest? More on that later. 

When you hear someone say that justice needs to be served, what comes to mind? Perhaps, ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’? Our first reading from the Book of Sirach puts it this way, “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins?” Some of us would interpret this to mean that if we want God to forgive us our own sins then we must forgive our neighbor. So out of fear of God’s retribution, we should forgive. But is this the true meaning of forgiveness that Book of Sirach and the Gospel are trying to convey? Or, is it more accurate to say that we will never truly see how much patience and compassion God extends toward us because anger and vengeance blinds us and prevents us from being the light of Christ. 

Should we allow another person’s mood and attitude affect the way we live our lives? Should we allow someone who is not sorry about what they’ve done to us affect us to the degree that we can no longer enjoy the happiness and freedom given to us by Christ? How sad it is, then, for us to live a life trapped by unforgiveness and resentment while the offender is oblivious to our suffering. Our Lord gives us a way out of this madness. Just as Our Lord loves us where we are, we need to extend that same magnanimity to others. Holy Spirit gives us the ability to bear our trouble calmly without meanness and pettiness. 

Let’s go back to the fiery Sunday sermon. What did the boys do that upset the priest? Around 7AM Saturday morning, six boys in the neighborhood rode their bicycles to a wooded private property. They promptly began shooting squirrels on the trees. There were so many on the property that each boy went home with 6 to 8 squirrels. Many boys’ moms that night made the family dinner with the catch. The next morning during the homily at Sunday mass, the priest said, “This morning I want to talk about why a cemetery is sacred ground, a peaceful and prayerful place. Our faith teaches us that when someone passes, we place them in their final resting place with reverence, and they should remain there in peace, with the Lord. This is hallowed ground!  How dare any of you disrespect it by shooting shotguns while hiding behind church graves! To the parents of these boys, I expect you to serve justice!!” One boy’s mom leaned over to her son and asked, “Are those the squirrels we ate last night?” That Sunday, each boy got their justice accordingly from their parents. I wonder though, if the priest could have let go of his anger at being disturbed Saturday morning and could have been more merciful. What stuck with the boys from that Sunday morning homily 60 years ago was that God metes out justice to those who offend him. Was that the good news of Jesus Christ?

A sobering thought is that every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we ask our Heavenly Father, “Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are good at asking God for our offenses, but how well do we forgive the offense of others? When we cannot let go of our anger against the person who offended us, we are in effect saying, ‘God, I refuse to see your Son in this offender.’  At the very core of Jesus’ life and ministry is His deep awareness of His Father’s presence and love in all creation. 

We were never promised that our life as Christians was going to be a life of peace and comfort.  In this life we will have many joys, but we will also have trying times of illnesses, death, divorce, and disappointments from people offending us. What we are promised is that Our Lord will accompany us during difficult times.  At the heart of Jesus’ embrace of the Cross was His love for each of us, even in our sinfulness. At the heart of our Christian life, then, is our love for each other --- to bear patiently the wrongs of others, to hope that those who offend us will be touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the future, and that they will come to know how much God loves them. On this side of the earth, we live with the joy of knowing Heavenly Father’s love for us. It’s the same love that encouraged Our Lord’s life on earth even when he was misunderstood and persecuted.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Septet. 15, 2017: Our Lady of Sorrows

Sept. 15, 2017: Our Lady of Sorrows

Mater Dolorosa: Meditation on Mary’s Com-Passio Beneath the Cross

By Brian Kelly

In his great work, The Glories of Mary, Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787), devotes many pages to the Sorrowful Mother, especially as she “stood” beneath the Cross offering up her heart with the bloody sacrifice of her Son. The month of September is devoted to the Seven Sorrows of Mary and tomorrow, September 15, is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows. The seven dolors of Our Lady are 1) the Prophecy of Simeon 2) the Flight into Egypt 3) the Losing of the Child Jesus in the temple 4) the Meeting of Mother and Son on the Via Dolorosa 5) the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord 6) Our Lady Receiving the Body of Jesus Taken Down from the Cross and 7) the Burial. One of the more popular pamphlets on the Fourteen Stations of the Cross is the meditations of Saint Alphonsus. (Another moving source for meditations on the Stations is that of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice.) Along with Saint Alphonsus’ meditations verses from the medieval hymn, Stabat Mater (the Mother stood), are interspersed between each of the fourteen stations. This hymn was composed in honor of the Sorrowful Mother by a thirteenth century Franciscan theologian and poet, Jacoponi da Todi. A beautiful way to compassionate with Mary during this month would be to slowly recite the Stabat Mater daily. It will be recited liturgically as a Sequence for tomorrow’s Mass for Our Lady’s feast. That is where you can find the hymn in Latin and English if you have an old missal, like that of Father Lasance (page 969). The Council of Trent (1545-63) abolished all but four of the Sequences, which had accumulated into dozens in local churches over the centuries. Abolished, too, at the time, was the beautiful Stabat Mater. Thanks be to God it was restored to the Roman Missal by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727. Here is Saint Alphonsus from The Glories of Mary:

We have now to witness a new kind of martyrdom—a Mother condemned to see an innocent Son, and one whom she loves with the whole affection of her soul, cruelly tormented and put to death before her own eyes.

“There stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother.” Saint John believed that in these words he had said enough of Mary’s martyrdom. Consider her at the foot of the cross in the presence of her dying Son, and then see if there be sorrow like unto her sorrow.

Listen to the words in which Mary revealed to Saint Bridget the sorrowful state in which she saw her dying Son on the cross: “My dear Jesus was breathless, exhausted, and in His last agony on the cross; His eyes were sunk, half-closed, and lifeless; His lips hanging, and His mouth open; His cheeks hollow and drawn in; His face elongated; His nose sharp; His countenance sad: His head had fallen on His breast, His hair was black with blood, His stomach collapsed, His arms and legs stiff, and His whole body covered with wounds and blood.”

All these sufferings of Jesus were also those of Mary: “Every torture inflicted on the body of Jesus,” says Saint Jerome, “was a wound in the heart of the Mother.” “Whoever then was present on the Mount of Calvary,” says Saint John Chrysostom, “might see two altars, on which two great sacrifices were consummated; the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary.”

Nay, better still may we say with Saint Bonaventure, “there was but one altar-that of the cross of the Son, on which, together with this Divine Lamb, the victim, the Mother was also sacrificed;” therefore the Saint asks this Mother, “O Lady, where art thou? Near the cross? Nay, rather, thou art on the cross, crucified, sacrificing thyself with thy Son.” Saint Augustine assures us of the same thing: “The cross and nails of the Son were also those of His Mother; with Christ crucified the Mother was also crucified.” Yes; for, as Saint Bernard says, “Love inflicted on the heart of Mary the tortures caused by the nails in the body of Jesus.”

Mothers ordinarily fly from the presence of their dying children; but when a mother is obliged to witness such a scene, she procures all possible relief for her child; she arranges his bed, that he may be more at east; she administers refreshments to him; and thus the poor mother soothes her own grief. Ah, most afflicted of all Mothers! O Mary, thou hast to witness the agony of the dying Jesus; but thou canst administer Him no relief.

She would have clasped Him in her arms to give Him relief, or that at least He might there have expired; but she could not. “In vain,” says Saint Bernard, “did she extend her arms; they sank back empty on her breast.”

Our Blessed Lady herself said to St. Bridget, “I heard some say that my Son was a thief; others, that He was an impostor; others, that no one deserved death more than He did; and every word was a new sword of grief to my heart.”

But that which the most increased the sorrows which Mary endured through compassion for her Son, was hearing Him complain on the cross that even His Eternal Father had abandoned Him: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Words which the Divine Mother told the same Saint Bridget, could never, during her whole life, depart from her mind.

“All,” says Simon of Cassia, “who then saw this Mother silent, and not uttering a complaint in the midst of such great suffering, were filled with astonishment.”

“Christ,” says Lanspergius, “was pleased that she, the cooperatress in our redemption, and whom He had determined to give us for our Mother, should be there present; for it was at the foot of the cross that she was to bring us, her children, forth.” If any consolation entered that sea of bitterness, the heart of Mary, the only one was this, that she knew that by her sorrows she was leading us to eternal salvation, as Jesus Himself revealed to Saint Bridget: “My Mother Mary, on account of her compassion and love, was made the Mother of all in heaven and on earth.”

And indeed these were the last words with which Jesus bid her farewell before His death: this was His last recommendation, leaving us to her for her children in the person of Saint John: “Woman, behold thy son.”

http://catholicism.org/mater-dolorosa-meditation-on-marys-com-passio-beneath-the-cross.html


https://youtu.be/4US4PSZF278

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sept. 14, 2017: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Sept. 14, 2017: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Homily by Pope Francis (Sept. 14, 2014)

Today’s first reading speaks to us of the people’s journey through the desert. We can imagine them as they walked, led by Moses; they were families: fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, grandparents, men and women of all ages, accompanied by many children and those elderly who struggled to make the journey. This people reminds us of the Church as she makes her way across the desert of the contemporary world, the People of God composed, for the most part, of families.

This makes us think of families, our families, walking along the paths of life with all their day to day experiences. It is impossible to quantify the strength and depth of humanity contained in a family: mutual help, educational support, relationships developing as family members mature, the sharing of joys and difficulties. Families are the first place in which we are formed as persons and, at the same time, the “bricks” for the building up of society.

Let us return to the biblical story. At a certain point, “the people became impatient on the way” (Num 21:4). They are tired, water supplies are low and all they have for food is manna, which, although plentiful and sent by God, seems far too meagre in a time of crisis. And so they complain and protest against God and against Moses: “Why did you make us leave?...” (cf. Num. 21:5). They are tempted to turn back and abandon the journey.

Here our thoughts turn to married couples who “become impatient on the way” of conjugal and family life. The hardship of the journey causes them to experience interior weariness; they lose the flavour of matrimony and they cease to draw water from the well of the Sacrament. Daily life becomes burdensome, even “nauseating”.

During such moments of disorientation – the Bible says – the poisonous serpents come and bite the people, and many die. This causes the people to repent and to turn to Moses for forgiveness, asking him to beseech the Lord so that he will cast out the snakes. Moses prays to the Lord, and the Lord offers a remedy: a bronze serpent set on a pole; whoever looks at it will be saved from the deadly poison of the vipers.
What is the meaning of this symbol? God does not destroy the serpents, but rather offers an “antidote”: by means of the bronze serpent fashioned by Moses, God transmits his healing strength, his mercy, which is more potent than the Tempter’s poison.

As we have heard in the Gospel, Jesus identifies himself with this symbol: out of love the Father “has given” his only begotten Son so that men and women might have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:13-17). Such immense love of the Father spurs the Son to become man, to become a servant and to die for us upon a cross. Out of such love, the Father raises up his son, giving him dominion over the entire universe. This is expressed by Saint Paul in his hymn in the Letter to the Philippians (cf. 2:6-11). Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus crucified receives the mercy of God and finds healing from the deadly poison of sin.

The cure which God offers the people applies also, in a particular way, to spouses who “have become impatient on the way” and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment… To them too, God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them: if they entrust themselves to him, he will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of his grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path.


The love of Christ, which has blessed and sanctified the union of husband and wife, is able to sustain their love and to renew it when, humanly speaking, it becomes lost, wounded or worn out. The love of Christ can restore to spouses the joy of journeying together. This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man. Here we see the reciprocity of differences. The path is not always a smooth one, free of disagreements, otherwise it would not be human. It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life! Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not “fiction”! It is the Sacrament of the love of Christ and the Church, a love which finds its proof and guarantee in the Cross.

Sept. 13, 2017: St. John Chrysostom

Sept. 13, 2017: St. John Chrysostom

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

  "You must put that aside now…put aside your old self with its past deeds and put on a new man, one who grows in knowledge as he is formed anew in the image of his Creator."   Colossians 3:8, 9-10  

Today's Eucharistic readings address two opposite ways of life. St. Paul calls these two ways the "old self" and the "new self" (see Col 3:9-10). The old self is our life without Jesus, ruled by the world, the flesh, and the devil (see 1 Jn 2:16). This old self lives a lifestyle characterized by anger, malice, insults, lying, evil desires, lust (Col 3:5, 8-9), the desires for pleasure and the things of this world (Lk 6:24-26). The new self is shaped entirely by allowing Jesus to form our actions, thoughts, words, and lifestyle. When we live in the new self, we are set free from sin and set free for service, worship, and evangelization.

Those who live according to the new self are blessed; those who live under the old self have nothing to anticipate but woes (see Lk 6:20-26). In Baptism, our old self died with Christ, drowned in the waters of Baptism. Yet our lives after Baptism sometimes seem like a civil war (see Jas 4:1). We want to live a good and holy life for the Lord, yet we sin (see Rm 7:7-25).

The key is to daily live our Baptism. Each time you bless yourselves with holy water, that is, the water of Baptism, renew your baptismal vows. Tell yourself: "I am a baptized child of Almighty God! Lord Jesus, drown my old self with You in this holy water. Help me put on the pure, victorious garments of my new self that lives in You. May I live the new life of blessings and not the old life of woes."


www.presentationministries.com

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sept. 12, 2017: Holy Name of Mary

Sept. 12, 2017: Holy Name of Mary

“Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary … in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart … If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination.”  –St. Bernard

Pondering the Name of Mary
By Danielle M. Peters, S.T.D.

Mary’s Jewish Heritage
In accordance with Jewish custom, a girl’s name is officially given in synagogue when the father—at the next opportunity after his daughter’s birth—has the honor of reciting the blessings over the Torah (aliyah). This could happen theoretically on the actual birthday of the girl or, as it may have happened in the case of St. Joachim, four days after Mary was born. A boy’s name, on the other hand, is made known eight days after birth during the ritual circumcision (brit milah). The feast of the Holy Name of Mary therefore calls to mind Our Lady’s Jewish heritage (cf. Gal 4:4); the same holds true for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus which follows eight days after Christmas.

What’s in the Name?
We venerate the name of Mary because it belongs to her who is the Mother of God, the holiest of creatures, the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Mercy. Perhaps it is the Annunciation narrative which conveys best the all-embracing range of Mary’s name. Luke’s gospel is the first to tell us that “the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1:26-27). Annunciation to Mary-Salvador DalíFrom the perspective of her people and culture, she is a simple Jewish girl from Galilee. Her parents, family and friends know and call her by name and she is aware of their love and appreciation. She draws no attention in the streets of Nazareth. Like other girls her age, she is engaged. Her life’s course seems to be in harmony with the expectations of her people.

The rendering of the name Mary in Hebrew is Miryam and in Aramaic, the spoken language at Our Lady’s time, it is Maryam—its root, merur, signifies “bitterness.”  Throughout time, saints and scholars alike have produced a mixture of etymology and devotion, proposing an interesting array of meanings for Maryam: “bitter Sea,” “Myrrh of the Sea,” “Light Giver,” “Enlightened One.” Miryam is rendered as “Lady,” “Seal of the Lord,” and “Mother of the Lord.” It is not difficult to appreciate why these and various other interpretations of “Mary” have been emphasized and cherished throughout the ages.

Yet, St. Luke, reveals a second name by which Mary is known and addressed by God. In view of her election, the angel addresses her with “full of grace” (kécharitômenê; Lk 1:28) alluding to the privileges she received before she was born.[1] Saint John Paul II reminds us that “in the language of the Bible ‘grace’ means a special gift, which according to the New Testament has its source precisely in the Trinitarian life of God himself, God who is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8). …When we read that the messenger addresses Mary as ‘full of grace,’ the Gospel context…enables us to understand that among all the ‘spiritual blessings in Christ’ this is a special ‘blessing.’…In an entirely special and exceptional way Mary is united to Christ, and similarly she is eternally loved in this ‘beloved Son,’ this Son who is of one being with the Father, in whom is concentrated all the ‘glory of grace.’”[2]

Nomen est omen—The Name is a sign
By honoring these two most holy names of Our Lady we may also want to remember that God calls each one of us by two names. They stand for the very personal history, the unique meaning and mission of our life. Both names were given to us at baptism: the name our parents chose for us and the family name “Christian” signaling our membership in Christ; both indicate who we are and to whom we belong. As we ponder Mary’s name may also ponder our own name and ask ourselves:

What does my name mean to me?
Do I know myself called by God?
Do I strive to discover myself in the light of God’s calling for me?
Do I make efforts to listen when God calls me by my name?
And how do I respond?


http://sites.nd.edu/oblation/tag/holy-name-of-mary/

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sept. 10, 2017: 23rd Sunday A

Sept. 10, 2017: 23rd Sunday A

You are all familiar with the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.” As Florida government officials took to the airwaves the past few days to urge people in the pathway of Hurricane Irma to evacuate, TV news reporters were interviewing people who were defying the order and opting to ride out the storm. Some folks were enjoying a day on the beach just hours before the arrival of Category 4 hurricane to the dismay of TV viewers. The Florida Governor could not be more blunt, “I cannot stress this enough, LEAVE! Do not ignore evacuation orders. You can rebuild your home...but you cannot recreate your family...we can’t save you once the storm hits.” Would any of us make the same decision to defy common sense because we are over-confident and self-sufficient?

Just as it doesn’t make sense to disregard warnings about life threatening hurricanes, it doesn’t make sense to disregard warnings that our loved ones and friends give us about our habits, the way we live our lives, or relationships that we cling to that ultimately harm us. There is a saying, "Don't keep the friend who tells you what you want to hear, but keep the friend who tells you what you need to hear." How would we be still alive spiritually and emotionally if we did not have people who love us enough to tell us the truth and respect us enough to know that we can handle it?

If we love the person enough, we have to tell them the hard truth about sin and its effects. Our Lord reminds us of this in the First Reading. God reminded Ezekiel of his obligation as a prophet to call the people of Jerusalem to repent, otherwise the city would be destroyed and the people would die. If Ezekiel did not carry out this duty because of his fear, the people would still die, but Ezekiel was going to be responsible for their death. However, if Ezekiel called people to conversion, and they refused to repent and they died, his effort to help his people would have saved Ezekiel.

Can we recall those occasions when we knew a person was doing something wrong but we didn’t say anything because we were afraid or we didn’t want to hurt their feelings? Can we also recall those moments when someone took courageous steps to point out to us what we were doing wrong, but out of our pride and love of the sin we ignored their advice? We understand God as God of love. But He is also the God of truth and the God of justice. Jesus personified God’s love but he also said, ‘I am the truth.’ Truth and justice are not opposed to love; rather, they are part of love.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs us how to mend broken or injured relationships, especially when someone sins against us. He asks us to bring our issues directly to the person who harmed us in hopes that the person amends his ways. Feelings of personal injury should be brought out into the open and clearly stated. Instead of the open dialogue Jesus wants us to have with the person who injured us, often we make the mistake of bringing our complaint to someone other than the person who injured us. Worse, we tell many others about the injury, in person or on social media, harming his reputation. If we cannot settle it between ourselves, we should try to consult with a more experienced person, even consulting the Church or seeking the advice of priests or religious. What Jesus desires is reconciliation rather than holding grudges, because brooding in resentment separates us from Our Lord. In the end, if the person remains unchanged, do not lose hope. Pray for him for a change of heart. He is our brother in Christ.

When we are offended, are we willing to put aside our own grievance and injury in order to help our brother or sister’s wound? Our Lord desires to set us free from resentment, ill-will, and an unwillingness to forgive. A sobering thought is that at times we offend others, that we misjudge others, and that we take advantage of others. If we can come to recognize our own brokenness and lack of love toward others, then we will find it much easier to deal with the brokenness and lack of love in others. We are called to accept correction with patience, and to speak God’s truth to others in charity and love. Trust that the love of Christ both purifies and sets us free to do good to all - even those who cause us grief. We have the opportunity today to pray for those who cause us offense.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sept. 8, 2017: Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary

Sept. 8, 2017 Friday: Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary

THE BIRTH OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY 

The Catholic Church celebrates today the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on its traditional fixed date of September 8, nine months after the December 8 celebration of her Immaculate Conception as the child of Saints Joachim and Anne.

The circumstances of the Virgin Mary's infancy and early life are not directly recorded in the Bible, but other documents and traditions describing the circumstances of her birth are cited by some of the earliest Christian writers from the first centuries of the Church.

These accounts, although not considered authoritative in the same manner as the Bible, outline some of the Church's traditional beliefs about the birth of Mary.

The “Protoevangelium of James,” which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary's father Joachim as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Joachim was deeply grieved, along with his wife Anne, by their childlessness. “He called to mind Abraham,” the early Christian writing says, “that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac.”

Joachim and Anne began to devote themselves extensively and rigorously to prayer and fasting, initially wondering whether their inability to conceive a child might signify God's displeasure with them.

As it turned out, however, the couple were to be blessed even more abundantly than Abraham and Sarah, as an angel revealed to Anne when he appeared to her and prophesied that all generations would honor their future child: “The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.”

After Mary's birth, according to the Protoevangelium of James, Anne “made a sanctuary” in the infant girl's room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean” on account of the special holiness of the child. The same writing records that when she was one year old, her father “made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel.”

“And Joachim brought the child to the priests,” the account continues, “and they blessed her, saying: 'O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations' . . . And he brought her to the chief priests, and they blessed her, saying: 'O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever.'”

The protoevangelium goes on to describe how Mary's parents, along with the temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life, and enter a chaste marriage with the carpenter Joseph.

Saint Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an event of cosmic and historic significance, and an appropriate prelude to the birth of Jesus Christ. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley,” he said.

The fourth-century bishop, whose theology profoundly shaped the Western Church's understanding of sin and human nature, affirmed that “through her birth, the nature inherited from our first parents is changed."


http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=357

Sept. 7, 2017: 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Sept. 7, 2017: 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

 "They caught such a great number of fish that their nets were at the breaking point." —Luke 5:6 

Spiritual fruitfulness is based on obeying Jesus, especially when He commands us to do something beyond our human understanding. When we obey the Lord for no reason other than that He said so, we will see the glory of God (see Lk 5:5).

God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, as his ambassadors and he uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into his kingdom. Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will "catch people" for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the Gospel. Paul the Apostle says, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:15). 


-Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sept. 3, 2017: 22nd Sunday A

Sept. 3, 2017: 22nd Sunday A

Click to hear Audio Homily
Today’s Gospel is hard hitting and difficult for us to accept, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” It was too difficult for Peter to understand so he protested, which was promptly met with sharp rebuke from Jesus. Peter, like many of us only see a small part of the big picture due to our self-centeredness, and naturally the desire for things to go our own way. Hand in hand with the desire for things going our own way, we also desire comfort and ease. We, like Peter, fail to understand the deeper meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice which is an act of love for the benefit of all.

There is a wise quote from a modern saint which reveals the inner heart of Jesus’ message for today: “Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice, there is no love.” That quote was from St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest who volunteered to take the place of an inmate who was selected for starvation execution in Auschwitz in 1941. St. Kolbe also said that, “The Cross is the school of love, “ and “A single act of love makes the soul return to life.”

Sacrificial and nurturing love was lacking in our nation, as one news reporter observed, weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast. On the news at that time was the fate of a Confederate statue with people on opposing sides at each other’s throats over race, religion, immigration, and politics. But when a trillion gallons of water drowned neighborhoods and roads, no one cared about the color or creed of his or her rescuer. The reporter commented, “No one says, ‘Thanks for the rope, but I’d rather wait for someone more like me.’” The reporter wisely observed, “A lot of people in Texas and Louisiana lost everything, but they are rich with a new and priceless appreciation of their community...volunteer rescuers risked their lives--some even lost their lives--in service to their neighbors.” 

If you have watched any of the news coverage, then you have seen the stories of ordinary people with boats, rowing down the streets that have turned into rivers in order to rescue complete strangers. Neighbors were transporting children and the elderly alike, crossing dirty murky water to get others to safety. Even a priest got in his kayak and went to check on parishioners. Each of us has the freedom to choose--to choose to use our hands and feet as instruments of Jesus or use our hands and feet to cling to our small island of self-centeredness. When Jesus said ‘pick up your cross and follow me,’ I don’t think he meant that we would be persecuted in the same way he was persecuted. I think he meant that we are to embrace his great act of love and imitate his sacrificial love by being his hands and feet.

Jesus invites us to see the gap between his sacrificial love on the cross and our tendency to be part-time disciples. We think we are doing well if we can write “be Christian” somewhere on our calendar between all the other activities we feel are more important. Salvation comes not to those who call Jesus “Lord,” but to those who feed, clothe, and help strangers regardless of race, religion, and political persuasions. Our Lord’s parable of a Samaritan helping a Jew who was robbed, beaten, and left on the street stung the conscience of disciples of his time. Likewise on the TV news a few days ago, a human chain of strangers of various creed and nationality formed to save an elderly man in a sinking truck. That image stung our conscience and showed us what is possible when we choose to use our hands and feet for sacrificial love.

Right before our TV screen is an opportunity. Hurricane Harvey is not just a hashtag, a news story, or video to be consumed. It’s a challenge from Jesus to love. The flooding and devastation are so close to our hearts because we’ve been through them in our own communities. Our Lord is challenging us to ponder what it means to love our neighbor. How are we called to pray? How are we called to sacrifice? How are we called to give? Here are some practical things we can do: Intercede in prayer for people whose lives were devastated by the storm; offer your time to those who are collecting supplies or helping with the relief efforts; donate to Diocesan collections next week or other reputable organizations such as Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul of Galveston-Houston, Beaumont, and Lake Charles. This is a time of great need, and we as Christians must orient our lives in assisting the most vulnerable. Our Lord wants us to be his hands and feet through this opportunity. As Mother Teresa said, "In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we are like God."


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Aug. 27, 2017: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Aug. 27, 2017:  21st Sunday A

Click to hear Audio Homily
On the eve of Christmas, a reporter went out to the busy streets of New York City to ask a simple question, “Who is Jesus?” The streets were filled with people from all over the world, and the answers they gave varied wildly and were sometimes inaccurate: “A man from the 60’s” ;“The blond headed dude in pictures”; “A man from a story made up by someone”; “A man with good morals”; “An inspiring man”; and “A man whose story is blown out of proportion.” A Gallup Poll said that eight in ten Americans have consistently held the belief that Jesus Christ is God or the Son of God. Half of these folks say that Jesus was in fact God living among men, while most of the remainder believe that Jesus was divine only in the sense that he was a man who was uniquely called by God to reveal God's purpose in the world.

Does it matter whether we believe who Jesus truly is? Is it “practical” to believe in Jesus? Let’s look at Peter for an example. He and other disciples had been following Jesus for nearly three years. They had heard Jesus’ teaching and seen his miracles. The disciples had seen Jesus as a popular person, a great leader and wonderful teacher. They had grown in their understanding of him. Yet, it took them quite a while to realize who Jesus really was. This was demonstrated in today’s Gospel while in Caesarea-Philippi where Jesus turned to his disciples and asked what people were saying about him, “Who do people say that I am?” The general impression was that Jesus was one of the prophets or John the Baptist sent back from the dead. Evidently the people had not yet recognized him as the Messiah. Simon Peter then answered for all the disciples without hesitation that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. In response, Jesus confers on Peter the primacy and leadership in the church he was establishing. Jesus also tells Peter that he will be the foundation of his church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

As the informal poll in the streets of New York City demonstrates, despite technological advancement in communication, many people have not come to know  who Jesus is. We might think that because we are here celebrating mass that we know who Jesus is.  Yet, we baptized and confirmed Catholics would struggle giving an answer to the question --  and, believing it in our heart and living it in our lives. Look at me as an example: I was baptized and confirmed in the church, and if I had been asked during my late high school or early college years the question, “Who is Jesus,” I would have replied, “It’s that guy who is hanging on the cross; that’s what I’ve been taught. But personally, I don’t care who he is because he is irrelevant in my life.”  What kind of answer is that!?!

For many of us, Jesus is irrelevant and impractical, just as in the days when Jesus taught in the streets of Jerusalem. In fact, he may be inconvenient to us, affecting our schedule on weekends. In the distracted lives we live right now, we lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the Savior of the world, whose cross and resurrection has set us free. What does it mean to be free? I think we all know that with freedom comes responsibility - a responsibility to act.

Through the Catholic Church which Jesus established firmly on Peter,  each generation is challenged to know Jesus personally,  to convert hearts and minds to fulfill His mission.  Jesus invites us to discover him, serve him and love him as Lord, and he wants from each one of us a resounding single-hearted response. He offers an exclusive promise that through him and in him alone we will find salvation, and nothing is more practical than finding Jesus and believing in Jesus. When we know who Jesus is to us, we will live our lives very differently. Our head and heart knowledge of Jesus determines what or who we fall in love with and what seizes the imagination. It will decide what will get us out of bed in the morning, what we will do with our evenings, how we spend our weekends, what we read, whom we know, what breaks our hearts, and what amazes us with joy and gratitude.

When with every breath we take, we truly know that we are the hands and feet of Jesus responsible for completing His mission on Earth, only then have we the understood the question, “Who do you say that I am?”.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Aug. 24, 2017: St. Bartholomew, Apostle

Aug. 24, 2017: St. Bartholomew, Apostle

SEEING THE BEST

  "I saw you." —John 1:48, 50  
Nathanael (Bartholomew) had a negative attitude toward Jesus before he even met Him, simply because Jesus was from Nazareth (Jn 1:46). In contrast, Jesus had a positive attitude toward Nathanael even before Jesus met him. Jesus did not focus on Nathanael's sins; He called Nathanael "a true Israelite" in whom there was no guile (Jn 1:47). Nathanael responded to Jesus' affirmation of him by affirming Jesus as "the Son of God" and "the King of Israel" (Jn 1:49).

Jesus also "saw right through" Simon, as He "sees right through" each of us. He knew Simon would deny Him three times and commit other sins. However, Jesus also had a positive attitude toward Simon. He called this unstable, sinful person "Rock" ("Peter"). He promised to build His Church on Peter (Mt 16:18). Peter eventually responded by being the first leader of the Church and even a martyr.

Jesus had a positive attitude even toward Judas. He called Judas "friend" when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss (Mt 26:50). However, Judas did not respond favorably to Jesus. Rather, he committed suicide (Mt 27:5).

Right now, Jesus is looking beyond your sins. He is looking at you with love and mercy. Will you respond in faith and repentance?

www.presentationministries.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Aug. 23, 2017 Wednesday: 20th Week in Ordinary Time

Aug. 23, 2017 Wednesday: 20th Week in Ordinary Time

What can work and wages, welfare and the unemployed tell us about the kingdom of God? In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard we see the extraordinary generosity and compassion of God (Matthew 20:1-16). There is great tragedy in unemployment, the loss of work, and the inability to earn enough to live and support oneself or one's family. In Jesus' times laborers had to wait each day in the marketplace until someone hired them for a day's job. No work that day usually meant no food on the family table. The laborers who worked all day and received their payment complain that the master pays the late afternoon laborers the same wage. The master, undoubtedly, hired them in the late afternoon so they wouldn't go home payless and hungry.

God is generous and gives us work for his kingdom
God is generous in opening the doors of his kingdom to all who will enter, both those who have labored a life-time for him and those who come at the last hour. While the reward is the same, the motive for one's labor can make all the difference. Some work only for reward. They will only put in as much effort as they think they will get back. Others labor out of love and joy for the opportunity to work and to serve others. The Lord Jesus calls each one of us to serve God and his kingdom with joy and zeal and to serve our neighbor with a generous spirit as well.

Empowered to serve with a joyful and generous spirit
The Lord Jesus wants to fill each one of us with the power and strength of the Holy Spirit so we can bear great fruit for God's kingdom (the fruit of peace, joy, righteousness, and love) and also bring the fruit of his kingdom to our neighbor as well. We labor for the Lord to bring him praise, honor, and glory. And we labor for our neighbor for their welfare with the same spirit of loving-kindness and compassion which the Lord has shown to us.

Paul the Apostle reminds us, "Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not others, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward - you are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24). Do you perform your daily tasks and responsibilities with cheerfulness and diligence for the Lord's sake? And do you give generously to others, especially to those in need of your care and support?

"Lord Jesus,fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may serve you joyfully and serve my neighbor willingly with a generous heart, not looking for how much I can get, but rather looking for how much I can give."


-By Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Aug. 22, 2017: Queenship of Mary

Aug. 22, 2017: Queenship of Mary
This is the root of today’s feast: Mary is Queen because of her unique association to her Son, both during her earthly journey as well as in heavenly glory. The great saint of Syria, Ephrem of Syria, said regarding the queenship of Mary that it derives from her maternity: She is Mother of the Lord, of the King of kings (cf. Is 9:1-6), and she points to Jesus as our life, salvation and our hope. The Servant of God Paul VI recalled in his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus: “In the Virgin Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon Him. It was with a view to Christ that God the Father from all eternity chose her to be the all-holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else” (n. 25). 
But now we may ask ourselves: What does it mean that Mary is Queen? Is it merely a title along with others, the crown, an ornament like others? What does it mean? What is this queenship? As already noted, it is a consequence of her being united with her Son, of her being in heaven, i.e. in communion with God. She participates in God’s responsibilities over the world and in God’s love for the world. There is the commonly held idea that a king or queen should be person with power and riches. But this is not the kind of royalty proper to Jesus and Mary. Let us think of the Lord: The Lordship and Kingship of Christ is interwoven with humility, service and love: it is, above all else, to serve, to assist, to love. Let us recall that Jesus was proclaimed king on the Cross, with this inscription written by Pilate: “King of the Jews” (cf. Mark15:26). In that moment on the Cross it is revealed that He is king. And how is he king? By suffering with us, for us, by loving us to the end; it is in this way that he governs and creates truth, love and justice. Or let us also think of another moment: at the Last Supper, he bends down to wash the feet of his disciples. Therefore, the kingship of Jesus has nothing to do with that which belongs to the powerful of the earth. He is a king who serves his servants; he showed this throughout his life. And the same is true for Mary. She is quite ueen in God’s service to humanity. She is the queen of love, who lives out her gift of self to God in order to enter into His plan of salvation for man. To the angel she responds: Behold the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Luke 1:38), and in the Magnificat she sings: God has looked upon the lowliness of His handmaid (cf. Luke 1:48). She helps us. She is queen precisely by loving us, by helping us in every one of our needs; she is our sister, a humble handmaid.
Thus we have arrived at the point: How does Mary exercise this queenship of service and love? By watching over us, her children: the children who turn to her in prayer, to thank her and to ask her maternal protection and her heavenly help, perhaps after having lost their way, or weighed down by suffering and anguish on account of the sad and troubled events of life. In times of serenity or in the darkness of life we turn to Mary, entrusting ourselves to her continual intercession, so that from her Son we may obtain every grace and mercy necessary for our pilgrimage along the paths of the world. To Him who rules the world and holds the destinies of the universe in His hands we turn with confidence, through the Virgin Mary. For centuries she has been invoked as the Queen of heaven; eight times, after the prayer of the holy Rosary, she is implored in the Litany of Loreto as Queen of the Angels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, of all Saints and of Families. The rhythm of this ancient invocation, and daily prayers such as the Salve Regina, help us to understand that the Holy Virgin, as our Mother next to her Son Jesus in the glory of Heaven, is always with us, in the daily unfolding of our lives.
The title of Queen is therefore a title of trust, of joy and of love. And we know that what she holds in her hands for the fate of the world is good; she loves us, and she helps us in our difficulties.
Dear friends, devotion to Our Lady is an important element in our spiritual lives. In our prayer, let us not neglect to turn trustfully to her. Mary will not neglect to intercede for us next to her Son. In looking to her, let us imitate her faith, her complete availability to God’s plan of love, her generous welcoming of Jesus. Let us learn to live by Mary. Mary is the Queen of heaven who is close to God, but she is also the Mother who is close to each one of us, who loves us and who listens to our voice.
-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017: St. Pius X

August 21, 2017: St. Pius X

Where can you find true peace, security, and happiness?
A young man who had the best the world could offer - wealth, position, and security - came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money and possessions 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 wholeheartedly 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.
What do you treasure the most?
Why did he go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. 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 possibly 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 (Matthew 13:44). Selling all that we have could mean many different things - our friends, our job, our style of life, what we do with our free time.

Possessiveness and fear robs us of joy and abundant life
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. Those who are generous towards God and others find that they cannot outmatch God in generosity. God blesses us with innumerable spiritual goods - such as long-lasting peace, unspeakable joy, enduring love, abiding relationships and friendship that do not fade or fail - that far outweigh the fleeting joys of material possessions which fail to satisfy us beyond the present moment. God alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true and everlasting joy with Jesus?

"Lord Jesus, you alone can satisfy the deepest longing in my heart. No other treasure can compare with you. Keep me free from all discontentment, possessiveness, greed and selfishness, that I may have joy in knowing that you alone are my true Treasure and my Portion."

- By Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Aug. 20, 2017: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Tine A

Aug. 20, 2017: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Tine A

Click to hear Audio Homily
About 250 students, faculty, and staff gathered on the evening of August 13 for a prayer vigil at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, the parish church of the University of Virginia, as a response to the aftermath of the violent clash at the white supremacist rally. After the death of one person and injury of many others, students and faculty who attend St. Thomas Aquinas thought that in order to respond to this tragedy, they had to start with a prayer. Fr. Joseph Barranger, the pastor of St. Aquinas stated, “These terrible events show us how far we still are from the kingdom of God. So much work still needs to be done in advancing the kingdom through prayer, personal example and corporate witness in our parish that defends the unborn, the poor, the elderly, the infirm, those on the margins of society and all who are different from us.”

A few days later, the world witnessed yet another tragedy of hate in action as a van plowed through a busy tourist-filled street in Barcelona. The Spanish bishops condemned “every demonstration of terrorism” as “an intrinsically perverse practice, completely incompatible with a just, reasonable, and moral view of life. Terrorism not only gravely infringes on the right to life and liberty, but is also an example of the most terrible form of intolerance and totalitarianism.” We can’t imagine how the lives of the family of the injured and the dead are impacted by this heinous act of violence.

It’s difficult for many to bring up the issues of racism, terrorism or any oppression of people, most likely because we don’t want to get involved or be disliked for an opposing view. However, as Bishop Muench wrote: “ We cannot remain silent in the face of such blatant hatred, which denies the dignity of each human person created in the image and likeness of God, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, religion or way of life.”  I have heard the cry of many who have been discriminated against or mistreated because of their race. Not to diminish the evil or pain of the events in Charlottesville, I personally have felt the pain of racism for being an Asian in America -- and that is very difficult to overcome. We cannot know another person’s pain unless we too have walked in his shoes. When will we recognize that no matter the race, religion or station in life - whether, caucasian, african-american, asian, middle eastern, christian, jew, muslim, buddhist, homeless, employed, unemployed - that we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God?

How we wish that God’s words spoken through Prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled now, “Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.” During this week of sorrow, we cry out from the depths of our hearts, what the psalmist wrote, “May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation.”

What can we do while we see much divisiveness in America and elsewhere? One thing we need do is to ask God to give us the courage to be His presence in the world.  Individually, we do not have to solve the race issue or terrorist issue, but we can begin to turn the tide by starting with intentional acts of kindness toward our family members, friends, neighbor and strangers. Do our acts of kindness have to be extravagant? No! As Mother Teresa said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  When we are at a store, we could let someone ahead of us at the checkout line: when in traffic, maneuver through without getting angry and without cursing the fellow who cut us off.  When we are in a hurry to be somewhere, exercise patience with others and smile at strangers.

Our baptismal promises and the privilege of receiving our living Lord in the Eucharist demands that we live out our Christian life with courage. Therefore, we cannot afford to sit idly by and allow the darkness of racism and terrorism to rule the day. Each of us can cooperate with the grace of the Holy Spirit to find ways to allow respect and compassion to overcome hatred. We must remember that only love can overcome hate and fear. As we continue through this liturgy, let us ask Our Lord how we can be instrument of peace and mercy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Aug. 18, 2017 Friday: St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Aug. 18, 2017 Friday: St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Those with hard hearts 'do not know that the Word became flesh', the pontiff said

God’s compassion can change the rigid hearts of those who condemn others, Pope Francis said.

A person with a hardened “pagan heart does not allow the Spirit to enter” and often relies on his or her own strength and intellect rather than understanding God’s will through humility, the pope said May 2 in his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“They do not know that the Word became flesh, that the Word is a witness to obedience,” the pope said. “They do not know that God’s tenderness is able to take out a heart of stone and put in its place a heart of flesh.”

The Pope focused his homily on the day’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which recalled the martyrdom of St. Stephen, who was stoned to death after denouncing the scribes and elders “as stiff-necked people” that “always oppose the Holy Spirit.”

Unlike the disciples at Emmaus whose hearts were opened after being reproached by Jesus as “foolish,” the elders who stoned Stephen gave into their anger at being corrected. This, the pope said, is the tragedy of those “with closed hearts, hardened hearts.”

“This makes the church suffer very, very much: closed hearts, hearts of stone, hearts that do not want to be open, that do not want to listen, hearts that only know the language of condemnation,” the pope said.

“They know how to condemn, but they do not know how to say, ‘Explain this to me. Why do you say this? Why that? Can you explain it to me?’ No, they are closed. They know everything. They have no need for an explanation,” he said.

Those who stoned the church’s first martyr had “no space in their hearts for the Holy Spirit,” who allows Christians to look on others with the same tenderness God has “toward us, toward our sins, our weaknesses,” Pope Francis said.

“Let us enter into this dialogue and ask for the grace so that the Lord softens a bit the heart of these rigid ones, those people who are always closed in the law and condemn all those who are outside of that law,” he said.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/05/02/pope-francis-gods-tenderness-can-soften-the-hardest-hearts/

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Aug. 17, 2017 Thursday: 19th Week in Ordinary Time

Aug. 17, 2017 Thursday: 19th Week in Ordinary Time

No limit to granting forgiveness and pardon

Jesus makes it clear that there is no limit to giving and receiving forgiveness. He drove the lesson home with a parable about two very different kinds of debts. The first man owed an enormous sum of money - millions in our currency. In Jesus' time this amount was greater than the total revenue of a province - more than it would cost to ransom a king! The man who was forgiven such an incredible debt could not, however, bring himself to forgive his neighbor a very small debt which was about one-hundred-thousandth of his own debt.The contrast could not have been greater!

Jesus paid our ransom to set us free from the debt of sin

No offense our neighbor can do to us can compare with our own personal debt to God for offending him! We have been forgiven an enormous debt we could not repay on our own. That is why the Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who freely and willing gave up his life for our sake to ransom us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Paul the Apostle states, "you were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 7:23 ) and that price was Jesus' death on the cross. Through the shedding of his blood on the cross, Jesus not only brought forgiveness and pardon for our offenses, but release from our captivity to Satan and bondage to sin.

Set free from futile thinking and sinful living

The Lord Jesus sets us free from a futile mind and way of living in sin and spiritual darkness. "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers ...with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18). Christ "gave himself to redeem us from all iniquity" (Titus 2:14). Iniquity describes the futile ways of wrong thinking, sinful attitudes and wrong behavior, and disregarding or treating God's commandments lightly. We have been forgiven an enormous debt which we could never possibly repay. We owe God a debt of gratitude for the mercy and grace he has given us in his Son, Jesus Christ.

- by Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Aug. 16, 2017, Wednesday: 19th Week in Ordinary Time

Aug. 16, 2017, Wednesday: 19th Week in Ordinary Time

Set no obstacle in seeking to heal your brother's wound

When you are offended, are you willing to put aside your own grievance and injury in order to help your brother's wound? The Lord Jesus wants to set us free from resentment, ill-will, and an unwillingness to forgive. The love of Christ both purifies and sets us free to do good to all - even those who cause us grief. The call to accountability for what we have done and have failed to do is inevitable and we can't escape it, both in this life and at the day of judgment when the Lord Jesus will return. But while we have the opportunity today, we must not give up on praying for those who cause us offense. With God's help we must seek to make every effort to win them with the grace and power of God's healing love and wisdom. Do you tolerate broken relationships or do you seek to repair them as God gives you the opportunity to mend and restore what is broken?

"Lord Jesus, make me an instrument of your healing love and peace. Give me wisdom and courage to bring your healing love and saving truth to those in need of healing and restoration."

-Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net