Thursday, January 25, 2024

†.." They WIll Speak New.. . ..


Today's Feast

The Conversion of St. Paul of Tarsus

St. Paul the Apostle, originally named Saul, was an intelligent and zealous Jewish scholar and Pharisee who fiercely persecuted the first Christian converts among the Jews. While on his way to Damascus with permission to arrest Christians, he received a vision of the resurrected Christ. Jesus rebuked him for his actions and struck him blind, and through this encounter St. Paul was converted. God then used St. Paul and his zeal to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially to the Gentiles. St. Paul was martyred in Rome in the year 65 A.D. The feast day of St. Paul's conversion is celebrated on January 25.
See More About Today's Feast


†Quote of the Day

"We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus."
–St. Paul

Today's Meditation

"In seeing the witness of St. Paul, we need to remind ourselves that each of us is invited to encounter Jesus of Nazareth and that each of us is given an invitation to accept Him as Lord and Messiah. Jesus chooses us and offers us the powerful opportunity to enter into a loving relationship with Him (cf. Jn 15:16). We are offered His friendship, even as He manifests His friendship to us…The Lord asks us the pressing question: "Who do you say that I am?" The answer to this essential question is the determining factor of where the Lord's invitation will go in our lives, and whether the door of faith will continue to be opened to us."
—Father Jeffrey Kirby, STL, p.16

An Excerpt From
Lord Teach Us to Pray

Daily Verse

"Now as [Saul who is also called Paul] journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
–Acts 9:3-6


Saint Dwynwen

St. Dwynwen (5th c.) was a princess from Anglesey in Wales, the beautiful and virtuous daughter of King Brychan Brycheiniog. According to legend she fell in love with a young man, yet refused to marry him due to her piety and desire for the religious life. She prayed that her desire for marriage would be removed, and that God would give happiness to all lovers. Dwynwen became consecrated to God as a nun and set up a convent on Llanddwyn Island, and her church and its 'holy well' became a pilgrimage shrine from the Middle Ages down to today, especially for lovers. St. Dwynwen is the patron saint of lovers, and in Wales her feast is the equivalent of St. Valentine's Day. Dwynwen translated means 'she who leads a blessed life', and her feast day is January 25.


Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

Lectionary: 519
Reading 1

Acts 22:3-16

Paul addressed the people in these words:
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

"On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
I replied, 'Who are you, sir?'
And he said to me,
'I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.'
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, 'What shall I do, sir?'
The Lord answered me, 'Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.'
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

"A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
'Saul, my brother, regain your sight.'
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
'The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.'"


Acts 9:1-22

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
He said, "Who are you, sir?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias."
He answered, "Here I am, Lord."
The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight."
But Ananias replied,
"Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name."
But the Lord said to him,
"Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name."
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
"Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
All who heard him were astounded and said,
"Is not this the man who in Jerusalem
ravaged those who call upon this name,
and came here expressly to take them back in chains
to the chief priests?"
But Saul grew all the stronger
and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus,
proving that this is the Christ.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 117:1bc, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


See Jn 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
To go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Mk 16:15-18

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."


Daily Meditation: Acts 22:3-16

Paul addressed the people in these words. (Acts 22:3)

Did you know that today's first reading is one of three accounts of Paul's conversion in the Book of Acts? The first, in Acts 9:1-22, describes the event itself. The other two are speeches in which Paul is sharing his conversion story. One is in today's reading from Acts 22, and the other is a few chapters later in Acts 26.

Each of these readings is a little different. That's because Paul was telling his story to different audiences. He highlighted some details and omitted others, depending on who was listening to him. In today's first reading, he is speaking to a Jewish crowd that wanted to seize him because they thought he had rejected the Mosaic law. So he stresses his devout Jewish heritage and training (Acts 22:3-5). In Acts 26, Paul is addressing a Gentile court. So he stresses the "heavenly vision" he has received—something a Gentile might identify with—and even uses a Greek proverb about "kicking against the goad" to express the futility of fighting the divine will (26:14, 19).

As you share your own story of God's work in your life, follow Paul's example and consider who is listening to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what they need to hear. Remember Paul's words: "I have become all things to all, to save at least some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). Your elderly neighbor might need to hear how the Lord comforted you in a time of loneliness. A coworker with young kids might appreciate hearing how God blessed your efforts to pray during busy seasons of life. A friend at church might be heartened to hear about your experience of God's presence during Eucharistic Adoration.

Every day you will encounter many different situations and different people. That means you will have multiple opportunities to speak about the Lord! So today on the feast of his conversion, allow St. Paul, the master evangelist, to teach you how to share the good news of Jesus with everyone you meet.

"Lord, give me St. Paul's wisdom to speak about your work in my life to anyone who will listen."

Psalm 117:1-2
Mark 16:15-18


click to hear 2cents

Reflections with Brother Adrian:
Audio English


In the Gospel today we heard:
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned......"
end of Gospel verse.
. . .

From Bishop Barron:
"Friends, today in our Gospel, Jesus commissions the Apostles to evangelize all people: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature."
To evangelize is to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. When this kerygma, this Paschal Mystery, is not at the heart of the project, Christian evangelization effectively disappears, devolving into a summons to bland religiosity or generic spirituality. When Jesus crucified and risen is not proclaimed, a beige and unthreatening Catholicism emerges, a thought system that is, at best, an echo of the environing culture.
Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, said that the Church has taken its own dynamite and placed it in hermetically sealed containers and sat on the lid. In a similar vein, Protestant theologian Stanley Hauerwas commented that the problem with Christianity is not that it is socially conservative or politically liberal, but that "it is just too damned dull"!
For both Maurin and Hauerwas, what leads to this attenuation is a refusal to preach the dangerous and unnerving news concerning Jesus risen from the dead. " end quote Bishop Barron.

In continuation on that thread of Bishop Barron's reflection, I can attest as an evangelist, that it is true. The faith often is presented as dull. And society loves to be stirred up, that's why the world offers all sorts of thrills, entertainment, drugs, sex, foods, everything to keep giving you little highs to numb your interior pains and anxieties and depression. What if I told you that most people in the world are anxious or depressed? And to satisfy or cope, people dive into temptations, and temptations let in demonic spirits and demonic spirits are entrenched in a soul in a life of sin. And what if I told you that the devil loves people that are neutral? Those are probably his favorite treat! Neutral people, I am sad to report, the Lord abhors. He'd rather have a sincere atheist than a false person in the pew. So what do we do? Especially if I'm that false person in the pew! Lord Help Me! Right?

Take heart my child, the church is a place for sinners, and it is here to help us convert from one person into another.

St. Paul wasn't named Paul. Today we recall the moment of Paul's conversion, when he was actually born and raised as "Saul". Even our Lord called him by that name. But that named changed afterwards. The actor in the movie "The Passion of the Christ" Jim Caviezel said in a conference about the movie he was in about St. Luke, and he said something I will never forget when he spoke about St. Paul. He said that the name Saul means "the greater one" and that his new name Paul means "the lessor one".

And this is an eye opening reflection because we are being called to a conversion, of not becoming more, but of becoming less.

So that our Lord can be more in us, if we become less for Him.
Remember all the Scriptures when our Lord calls us to be unprofitable servants? Right? He's always talking about a yoke and slavery, and this means to be humble servants. Want some prime examples? Think of our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph. Think of how much they were mentioned in the bible, which was very little, but their actions, their lives have had the greatest of impact on us all until today.

So let me reiterate what was said: neutral is not good.

The book of Revelation, the final book in the bible has our Lord saying that He will vomit anyone out who is neutral and lukewarm.
And remember, our conversion, is to become less, not more than others. I can attest to this, that the biggest loser is me in ministry. If I make an ultreya gathering, I have to coordinate the whole thing, setup the whole thing and clean up after the whole thing. The same thing with our family festival, I set up all the meetings, I am there slaving away, taking the heat from everyone and all the problems and afterwards, I am the last one on site cleaning up, most often alone, into the middle of the night, picking up trash in the parking lot for the next day Sunday Mass to be clear. I spend more money and time and sweat and tears than anyone else. Just last night spent more money on new bumper cars! It was a huge hassle, coordinating, getting people to go for me because I had to teach RCIA youth, money problems, scheduling issues. What a hassle! And only 2 out of 8 cars are working right now! LOL.
Am I stupid? Who does this kind of nonsense? There's no money. There's lots of headaches and heartaches.

Only a fool would do such stupid things.
But guess what? God loves suffering...for Him. He loves suffering servants. Even your physical and mental pains can be offered to Him. And guess what? He heals them! We all want something for nothing but we all know that's not how things are to work.

Therefore, let us offer Him EVERYTHING.
Less of me, more of Him.

Let us pray today:
Lord, I want to empty myself of myself. I am too worried about myself, my job, my family, my health, even my faith! Help me focus less on me, and more on You, my true joy, my true love, my friend, and my Savior! I love You but I need You to help me Love You even more.
St. Paul, pray for our conversion!


Click for Audio

Random Bible Verse 1
Romans 12:21

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


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