Wednesday, December 26, 2018

⛪ Because of My Name


The Incarnation Invites Us to Compassion

We need to show compassion for those in need during this season and year-round. We miss the point of the Incarnation if we feel that feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless are activities for this season only. Educational theorist John Dewey said, "All education is about making connections." We can never exhaust the connections that the Incarnation invites. Francis recognized this by linking this feast to extra generosity for humans in need, for oxen, asses, and even the lowly larks. The Incarnation of Jesus is a testament to God's universal love and compassion. It becomes a constant reminder of a biblical saying that Pope Paul VI made popular: "Peace is a work of justice." Be as committed to justice for everyone as you are to peace for everyone.

—from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi



"In a world gone astray from God there is no peace, but it also lacks charity, which is true and perfect love... Nothing is more beautiful than love. Indeed, faith and hope will end when we die, whereas love, that is, charity, will last for eternity."
— Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Meditation of the Day
"We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ, by his incarnation, his death and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange: in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly, so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely. God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving, with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness, and inexhaustible patience that belong to the divine love. It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that, by virtue of God's grace working in us (if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments), the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day making them capable of loving as God loves."
— Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 67-8
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

Verse of the Day

"Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name."

1 Peter 4:16


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Saint Stephen
(d. c. 36 )

"As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Greek-speaking Christians complained about the Hebrew-speaking Christians, saying that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, 'It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit…" (Acts 6:1-5).

Acts of the Apostles says that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power, who worked great wonders among the people. Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen, but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.

In his speech, Stephen recalled God's guidance through Israel's history, as well as Israel's idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit. "…you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors" (Acts 7:51b).

Stephen's speech brought anger from the crowd. "But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' …They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. …As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' …'Lord, do not hold this sin against them'" (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b).

Stephen died as Jesus did: falsely accused, brought to unjust condemnation because he spoke the truth fearlessly. He died with his eyes trustfully fixed on God, and with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips. A "happy" death is one that finds us in the same spirit, whether our dying is as quiet as Joseph's or as violent as Stephen's: dying with courage, total trust and forgiving love.
Saint Stephen is the Patron Saint of:



Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr

Reading 1 Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.
Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen,
Cyrenians, and Alexandrians,
and people from Cilicia and Asia,
came forward and debated with Stephen,
but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But he, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven
and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and he said,
"Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God."
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,
and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 31:3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17
R. (6) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name's sake you will lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Alleluia Ps 118:26a, 27a
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD:
the LORD is God and has given us light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved."


Meditation: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Saint Stephen, The First Martyr (Feast)

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit.(Acts 7:55)

Going from yesterday's celebration of Christmas to today's feast of St. Stephen can seem like a bit of spiritual whiplash. In one day's time, we go from angels' sweet singing to a mob's enraged shouting. We witness a peaceful birth, and then a violent death. We hail Israel's newborn king, and then we see many of Israel's religious leaders turn on this king's ambassador and kill him. It could lead us to wonder: did Jesus' birth make any difference at all?

We can answer that with a big yes and a small no.

No, because a tragic history is repeating itself. Not so long before this incident, Jesus stood before the same court Stephen now faces, similarly charged with blasphemy. Both of them became victims in a long line of prophets murdered by their own people.

But here's the Yes: everything about Stephen tells us that Jesus accomplished his mission of reconciling us to God and filling us with the Holy Spirit.

Even though his earthly life ended so abruptly and violently, Stephen is an early success story in this grand plan of salvation. "Filled with faith and the Holy Spirit," he became a remarkable reflection of his Master (Acts 6:5; 7:55). Like Jesus, he worked "great wonders and signs" (6:8). He had deep insight into God's plan, and he presented that prophetic message with courage and conviction. Stephen looked a grisly death in the eye with calm serenity, his heart fixed on heavenly realities. And his last words—of surrender and forgiveness—could hardly be more Christlike (7:59-60).

Stephen the Superhero? Not at all! Stephen was one of us, an ordinary mortal—but one transformed by the Spirit of Jesus living in him.

That same Holy Spirit lives in your heart. He is there to help you to be "conformed to the image" of Jesus (Romans 8:29). So turn to the Spirit in prayer today. Ask him to help you, as he helped Stephen, to live the life of joy, peace, and conviction that Stephen lived. Nothing could be greater than knowing Jesus as deeply as Stephen did!

"Holy Spirit, give me a heart like Stephen's—a heart of courage, trust, and forgiveness."

Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17
Matthew 10:17-22


2 cents :
"...they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke." And so, they rejected the message. They rejected the person. They not only rejected, but hated to the point of murder. In our day in age, are things that much difference? If we say anything against homosexuality, we are the ones hated, rejected, and even hated. It was like that for many decades for speaking for the unborn, for speaking against abortion, for speaking against murder of the innocent. Why the rejection? Truth hurts. Our Lord was born when the truth had been lost in what should've been the Holy Temple of the Holy Spirit. Is it any different today? Is your temple Holy? Is it of the Holy Spirit? St. Stephen spoke with the Holy Spirit, and how? Because he was like Mary, Blessed Mother, full of grace and of the Holy Spirit. As if a prophet, as if Jesus still alive!


Let us pray: " Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness." These are prayers on all of our lips, right? To be freed from our enemies? They say our Lord lived and spoke in Psalms. He must've prayed this one. How or why was He not delivered from the clutches of His persecutors or enemies? Simple. In obedience He faced His enemies. He did not run. It was time to face the evil world, face to face. And it was time to not lift a finger. For His mere breath would now save us from total destruction and from going into an oblivion of eternal darkness. Last night I prayed in my head "I pray for eternity, for God's eternal goodness, I pray for it to be an eternal light, and I give life to this prayer".

In the Holy Gospel, our Lord Jesus said: "When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak... for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans." Often, I hear people say "I couldn't do what you are doing. I couldn't be a teacher". I always reply, "all you got to do is say yes and let the Holy Spirit handle the rest". So long as we show up. Mary had no clue how to raise the Son of God. Her life was just a yes. This my dear friend, is holiness. An eternal yes. Giving life to eternity. Indeed, the only Son of God had been prophesied in the temple: "Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary: "Behold, this Child is appointed to cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against". Our Lord would be a contradictory sign as stated in some Bible translations "a sign which shall be contradicted". To the world, the Church is contradictory. It preaches abstinence and purity. But do we follow? The Holy Church teaches Sacraments, yet do we follow? Not faithfully. What else is contradictory? Every single commandment. Every single word our Lord speaks. Beginning with the greatest of commandment "Love God with all your heart, strength, mind, soul, and your neighbor as yourself". People don't believe this. They believe other things supersede this law. What "other" laws supersede? Man made laws. Yet the devil points out our Church saying we are a "man-made religion". Always pointing the fingers. Today, we celebrate life. Not just yesterday. Every day we are to recall the birth of our Lord. And how?

God comes to us in mysterious ways. Always.
His birth is a mystery, not fully comprehended.
His death is a mystery, not fully understood.
His life has been a mystery, never fully recognized.
All things contradictory to the human experience, of what we'd call "normal".

And this is good. Holiness is not normal it seems, although we are all capable to be holy and good. Holy, in our term, is not perfect. But what is Holy, is Holy. And this can not be taken away from you Martha, you worry wart you! Almost everyone I speak with in faith is dealing with some type of worry. Jesus said to His disciples today: "do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say." Forget your prepared speeches. Forget your plans. Whence the Holy Spirit pervades and emanates from within your life of Holiness and Grace, Jesus is there, He speaks, all so scripture would be fulfilled "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.". We are fulfilling the prophesies of the NEW Testament. To this day the church suffers much persecution throughout the world, yet Jesus says to us " But take heart! I have overcome the world."
For this He was born. For you to "take heart".

Has Christmas changed your life? For many, it was an anticipation for gifts. Material gifts. Not many for spiritual gifts. Yet, the spiritual gift still awaits. The Holy Spirit. My house just got full of a bunch more "junk". Things we use for a little while and then discard, like kids with new toys. This is the world's happiness; fleeting, temporary at best. But the joy of the Lord lasts forever.
Remember my prayer? I give life to eternity, and my desire is for God for eternity. Why? Because this is to take heart. Grace is availed in the Holy Sacraments. Our African priest leaves back home as usual for like a month, and it seems like 2 or 3 months when he leaves. Why? We don't have daily Mass. My daily life is altered without the altar. Father goes, Mass goes. What do you mean? I mean we need more priests. Evil has done a hell of a job getting rid of priests and still more are being taken down by sin. I had pondered the thought, as a youth to be a priest. I was always an altar boy, always, somewhat active.

So what happened? I entered the "adult" world. Grew out of it. I hate the "adult" world now, where there is not room for a child of God.
Rightly so, he who loves this life will lose it. He who loses his life for His sake, gains life....eternal.
So I live now a life of traveling back in time, to that point to where there was an inkling of a mere thought, a temptation from God, to be a Holy Priest. Just like Jesus.

The world suffers violence brought about by perversion. All things ungodly, all things unholy. All things contradictory.
I write to you, with a mere hope, that you will change the world by your conversion. That you will be the living and eternal hope. That you will be the love of God. That you will be that faithful child you are destined to be....

St. Stephen Pray for us!

Here's a thought for the day:
The world is not looking at you, it is looking for Jesus


Your Bro. In Christ

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