The Good News of Jesus Christ is precisely that things have changed and that they are going to change even more. He came to a world that was stuck, to a people that could not find a way out of their sinfulness, to announce that there was another way. Better yet, he came not simply to announce this path and carry us there as passive recipients of grace, but empowered his followers to bring about the kingdom of which he spoke. The kingdom of God is at hand. It is not simply a far distant reality, but something that is inbreaking here and now, something that can be felt and brought about by those who live in communion with him.
In the way we love one another, work for justice, and offer sacrifice—doing as Jesus did—we can actually make a difference in our world because it is in these moments that Christ dwells in us and the Holy Spirit is sent forth from us. What is it that we always pray? "Send down your Spirit and renew the face of the earth!" If we want to follow after Jesus, we must let go of our cynicism and bleak outlook on the world, and instead believe with all our hearts that Christ is in control of this mission. We must look beyond what is not yet redeemed and open our eyes to the overflowing torrent that is God's love in our world, transforming and renewing the face of the earth. We must realize it is through us, those whom Jesus has called as his disciples, that this work is being accomplished.
—from the book Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Casey Cole, OFM
†Saint Quote "I know now that true charity consists in bearing all of our neighbors' defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues." — St. Therese of Lisieux
† MEDITATION OF THE DAY "The life of prayer calls for continuous battles. It is the most important and the longest effort in a life dedicated to God. This effort has been given a beautiful name: it is called the guard of the heart. The human heart is a city; it was meant to be a stronghold. Sin surrendered it. Henceforth it is an open city, the walls of which have to be built up again. The enemy never ceases to do all he can to prevent this. He does this with his accustomed cleverness and strength, with stratagem and fury ... he succeeds all along the line to distract us and entice us away from the divine presence. We must always be starting again. These continual recoveries, this endless beginning again, tires and disheartens us far more than the actual fighting. We would much prefer a real battle, fierce and decisive. But God, as a rule, thinks otherwise. He would rather we were in a constant state of war." — Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 57 AN EXCERPT FROM The Prayer of the Presence of God
† VERSE OF THE DAY "But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me." Micah 7:7
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ST. RAYMOND OF PENAFORT
St. Raymond of Penafort (1175–1275) was born in Spain to the noble family of Aragon. As a child he received an excellent education and displayed a great love for the Blessed Mother. After studying and teaching philosophy and law he entered the Order of Preachers. He preached the Crusades and encouraged the faithful to defend their civilization from foreign threats. To aid his preaching, Raymond requested that his fellow Dominican, St. Thomas Aquinas, write his epic Summa Contra Gentiles for the conversion of non-Catholics, especially Muslims. It is said that at least 10,000 Muslims were converted to the Catholic faith as a result of Raymond's evangelistic labors. Together with King James of Aragon and St. Peter Nolasco he founded the Order of Our Lady of Ransom (Mercedarians), a group that worked to free Christians enslaved by the Moors. Known for his great mind and great sanctity, St. Raymond was the Pope's personal confessor and close adviser. As a trained lawyer, he was also chosen to compile the Church's legal documents into one source of canon law which was then used for centuries. He also wrote a manual of moral theology for confessors. St. Raymond is famous for the miracle of sailing from the island of Majorca to Barcelona using his cape for a raft, in protest of the King of Aragon's refusal to dismiss his mistress. St. Raymond of Penafort is the patron of lawyers and canon lawyers. His feast day is
Thursday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 215 Reading I
1 Jn 4:19–5:4
Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17
R. (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you. O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son; He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment. R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you. From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight. May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him. R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you. May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness. R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
Daily Meditation: 1 John 4:19–5:4
Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:21)
Obeying God is so simple. You just have to love.
Obeying God is so difficult. You always have to love.
Clearly, the love John is talking about is more than an emotion. It's a decision. No matter how angry, fearful, or hurt you are feeling, you can always choose to act in a way that seeks to promote the good of the person in front of you. You can always choose to value their welfare above what might be easier or more pleasing for you.
Loving someone means going out of your way to greet a stranger and being willing to learn from someone whose experiences are very different from your own. It means readily forgiving someone instead of trying to make them feel guilty. It means celebrating someone's achievement and applauding their effort, even if it takes the spotlight off of you and your accomplishments.
Of course, that's a very tall order. We know how hard it can be to discern the most loving thing to do in the messy circumstances of daily life. We've all experienced love that misses the mark and winds up harming ourselves or someone else. None of us love perfectly.
But don't lose heart! John gives us an essential key to loving: "We love God because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). All love originates from God himself. Remember times when your heart was lifted by going to Mass or seeing a beautiful sunrise. Or when a dear friend called out of the blue and boosted your spirits. These are all signs of God's love reaching out to you. As you make his love the foundation of your life, your ability to extend that love to the people around you grows—especially when you recall that God loves each of them in the very same way that he loves you.
God himself is the source of all love. And you have that source to draw from dwelling within you—the Holy Spirit. So be encouraged: loving is up to you. But it's not all up to you!
"Jesus, thank you for loving me. Help me to answer your call to share your love with the people around me."
Psalm 72:1-2, 14-15, 17 Luke 4:14-22
Time and time again, God chooses people like Peter. He doesn't call the equipped; he equips the called. God chooses people who don't have the perfect background and preparation. He calls people who have a heart open to him and a willingness to do his will. — Dr. Tim Gray from Peter: Keys to Following Jesus
my2cents: "If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."
I had at one time, an anti-catholic family member. Eventually he divorced out of the family. I remember one time we were talking during the divorce alone in a truck and the topic turned on love, and I remember him saying "I do love you (bro)" and I said " you can't just say it, everything you've done has said otherwise". I spoke at a funeral vigil a couple weeks ago and said "How can a mute person show someone he loves them?" What if you couldn't speak? What if you couldn't understand their language? They say that Love is a universal language. They say God is love. They say that Catholic means universal. That means we are of God and are meant to express Him in the world.
We pray: "From fraud and violence he shall redeem them, and precious shall their blood be in his sight. May they be prayed for continually; day by day shall they bless him. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.May his name be blessed forever". Bless God, our Lord, our Father. How? How can we bless Him? To know the answer is to know Heaven. Amazingly, you will learn when you teach. Last night we taught 1st Communion teens online, and the book said that in Mass, we offer ourselves to God. We don't get offered to, we don't get pleased, we don't go to get entertained or a feeling of high, or a feeling of fulness, NO! We go to empty ourselves, our pocketbooks, our hearts, our sins, our hearts of love for Him.
On that tone as the Body of Christ, we heard in the Holy Gospel: "He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."
He proclaims a year acceptable to the Lord. It is our message for the year of life He gives us: Bring glad tidings to the poor. Glad tidings? Strange language, right? It means the Good News, and the world needs it, because turn on the news and all you see is bad news, and why? Sensation sells, and lately, all across media, where it used to be sex sells, now it is stupid sells. People don't know what to make up, and so they make up silly stories, tired of fake stories, now they are just silly stories, things that are distractions, not creative, just out of touch with hardiness, lots of fluff and no real sustenance. Here, I propose to you the Good News, not always cheerful, but news of true joy, news of hope, and for that we go to the next issuance from our Lord. Proclaim liberty to captives. How can I proclaim liberty to captives? I remember in prison retreats, we'd speak about freedom. And they knew what freedom meant. Not physically free, but spiritually free. I could see one man leading another, with a smile on his face, the glow of the light of the Lord, because He knew our Lord was his hope, and salvation. It makes for admiration. Do I pray for their release from prison now? No. I pray that this true joy NEVER leaves his heart. I used to tell them that the free world wouldn't offer more opportunities, but more challenges, and temptations, as the evil waits with all the lures back to incarceration....of the soul. Give sight to the blind. And so this message gives hope. This message is illuminating. Can we really give sight to the blind? I don't really remember ever praying over my blind friend in a nursing home, for him to recover his sight. I don't ever remember him really asking for it himself. We spoke about how he went blind, which happened when a shotgun went off accidentally and struck him in the face as a child. At one point he could see, but now...he sees differently. He sees with the heart. Seeing to him...is knowing. Give knowing of Love to the blind who cannot see, that is to know, God, true Love. Let the captives free. And our Lord comes to set captives free. It is fitting to read about a saint today that was all about setting captives free. Literally, ransoming captives. Have you ever given a ransom? Did you ever pay for someone's freedom? Christ asks us to. How can I? Have I ever? I'm thinking about giving a heavy ransom for a family. Lately, and nobody knows this, but, I know someone, who was engaged and they had a baby boy, and before they could get married, the future wife left him, for a woman in a homosexual choice. He was devastated, now, basically homeless, and doing his best to make it, and to take care of his boy when he gets him. I'm trying to come up with a ransom for these prisoners. For her to come back...even to the Catholic faith. For him, to fight for the family. For the boy, to have a future salvation. What ransom will I do? To me, a ransom becomes a bribe. And why not? Our Lord said to make friends with dishonest wealth, right? Am I talking nonsense?
Let me tell you where I'm coming from. I've done this with another family, devastated by divorce. The parents wouldn't talk anymore, devastated by drugs, alcohol, and sex (adultery), it seemed hopeless and completely over, and this all happening before my eyes as I prayed always for the lost husband. I grew tired of fasting and praying (for years), so what did I do? Give up? LOL. Yeah right, after all that effort? I figured I had laid tons of seeds (of hope). I knew I had to wait now for GOD's time. I knew one way or another he'd return. Do I want a violent adulterer to return to the family? Of course not. Nobody loves the sin. But God loves the person. I won't say sinner, because that would imply to love the sin somehow. God don't love sin, but the person. This man was hitting all time lows, and was constantly asking me for money. Here we go with the ransom. Was I enabling him now? I pushed hard every time he asked for money. I pushed all the buttons for him to realize what got him there. But I provided bread. One time he sent me a pic of what he supposedly used the money for, a table full of groceries. Bread. Eventually he asked for over two thousand dollars owed in car payments for their only family car. Boy that was a tough pill, but I would do it again in the name of God, in the name of Love, and I would never let him leave without him praying with me and me holding my hands over him for the Holy Spirit to come. Bribes? LOL. Ransom? Sure, why not? Keep them coming back for more....prayer. God ransomed us with so much more. He gave His entire life for that soul. How little I've given in comparison. Today, that man speaks with his family now. Spent Christmas with them together. Is it over? No. It is just the beginning. My love, Christ is that beginning. Christ is sacrifice. It is going to take something, to make something happen.
My Lord, I want to give my life to you. How it hurts little by little. Give me the grace to Love you back so much!
from your brother in Christ our Lord, adrian
Random online bible verse: 2 Corinthians 1:21–22 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.1
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