Readings 20150128

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Why did Jesus speak to people in parables? Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus used simple word-pictures, called parables, to help people understand who God is and what his kingdom or reign is like. Jesus used images and characters taken from everyday life to create a miniature play or drama to illustrate his message. This was Jesus’ most common way of teaching. His stories appealed to the young and old, poor and rich, and to the learned and unlearned as well. Over a third of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain parables told by Jesus.
Cyril of Alexandria (150-215 AD ), an early church teacher, described the purpose of Jesus’ parables:

Parables are word pictures not of visible things, but rather of things of the mind and the spirit. That which cannot be seen with the eyes of the body, a parable will reveal to the eyes of the mind, informing the subtlety of the intellect by means of things perceivable by the senses, and as it were tangible. (COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.5.4)
Parable of the sower
What does the parable about seeds and roots say to us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3).
Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn’t want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.
Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God’s word.
Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God’s word?

Secrets of the kingdom
Why does Jesus say that the secrets of the kingdom of God will be revealed to some while others will not be able to recognize nor understand the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11-12)? Origen (185-254 AD), an early church Bible scholar, comments on why Jesus makes a distinction between those who are ready to hear and understand his message with those who are not ready to hear nor understand:

Sometimes it does not turn out to be an advantage for one to be healed quickly or superficially, especially if the disease by this means becomes even more shut up in the internal organs where it rages more fiercely. Therefore God, who perceives secret things and who knows all things before they come to be, in his great goodness delays the healing of such persons and defers the remedy to a later time. If I may speak paradoxically, God heals them by not healing them, lest a premature recovery of health should render them incurable. This pertains to those whom our Lord and Savior addressed as ‘those outside,’ whose hearts and reins he searches out. Jesus covered up the deeper mysteries of the faith in veiled speech to those who were not yet ready to receive his teaching in straightforward terms. The Lord wanted to prevent the unready from being too speedily converted and only cosmetically healed. If the forgiveness of their sins were too easily obtained, they would soon fall again into the same disorder of sin which they imagined could be cured without any difficulty. (ON FIRST PRINCIPLES 3.1.7)
The Lord Jesus will give us perceiving eyes and listening ears to understand the message of his kingdom if we approach him with faith and humility and the readiness to be taught. The proud cannot see nor hear the truth of God’s kingdom because they trust in their own opinion and perception of what is true or real. They have shut their minds to supernatural truth of God and his word. Do you approach God’s word with trust and humility or with doubtful pride and skepticism?
“Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it”.

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
ARE YOU SLUGGISH OR CURIOUS?

“You do not understand this parable? How then are you going to understand other figures like it?” —Mark 4:13
Jesus wants us to take ownership of our understanding of our faith. He wants us to ask questions as did the apostles (see Mk 4:10), to study, to probe deeply and persistently until we understand the meaning. Jesus tells parables so we might have the chance to ponder the Word, nourish it, and make it grow.

When asked why He only taught the crowds in parables, Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:10 (see Mk 4:12). Jesus knows that the hearts of people in the crowd, while interested in His teaching, are by nature “sluggish,” their ears “dull,” and their eyes closed (see Is 6:10). A parable resembles a riddle. It is designed to make its hearers think, ponder, and reflect until either the meaning of the parable is understood or the hearers dismiss it from their minds. Those who hear the parable will need to ask questions of those more advanced in their faith in order to better understand the meaning.

The hearers of the parable have a choice if they do not understand it. They can be like the rocky ground (Mk 4:16), dismiss the parable, and thus miss out on a chance to grow in faith. In so doing, their hearts become ever more sluggish to the Lord’s message, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 6:10. On the other hand, the hearers can be good soil which receives the Word, studies it, learns it, and bears a rich harvest (Mk 4:20).

Jesus is teaching you in parables. Will you sluggishly dismiss them, or will you seek and find their meaning?

Prayer: Jesus, make me docile to Your teaching and zealous to understand it, live by it, and spread it. Promise: “Their sins and their transgressions I will remember no more.” —Heb 10:17 Praise: St. Thomas was blessed with a superior intelligence. He spent his entire life in the ministry of the Word of God. “How different the man who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High!” (Sir 39:1) (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

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Saint of the day 20150128

28 January

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS
Priest and Doctor of the Church
(c. 1225-1274)

St. Thomas was born of noble parents at Aquino in Italy, in 1226. At the age of nineteen he received the Dominican habit at Naples, where he was studying.

Seized by his brothers on his way to Paris, he suffered a two years’ captivity in their castle of Rocca-Secca; but neither the caresses of his mother and sisters, nor the threats and stratagems of his brothers, could shake him in his vocation. While St. Thomas was in confinement at Rocca-Secca, his brothers endeavored to entrap him into sin, but the attempt only ended in the triumph of his purity. Snatching from the hearth a burning brand, the Saint drove from his chamber the wretched creature whom they had there concealed. Then marking a cross upon the wall, he knelt down to pray, and forthwith, being rapt in ecstasy, an angel girded him with a cord, in token of the gift of perpetual chastity which God had given him. The pain caused by the girdle was so sharp that St. Thomas uttered a piercing cry, which brought his guards into the room. But he never told this grace to any one save only to Father Raynald, his confessor, a little while before his death. Hence originated the Confraternity of the “Angelic Warfare,” for the preservation of the virtue of chastity.

Having at length escaped, St. Thomas went to Cologne to study under Blessed Albert the Great, and after that to Paris, where for many years he taught philosophy and theology. The Church has ever venerated his numerous writings as a treasure-house of sacred doctrine; while in naming him the Angelic Doctor she has indicated that his science is more divine than human. The rarest gifts of intellect were combined in him with the tenderest piety. Prayer, he said, had taught him more than study.

His singular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament shines forth in the Office and hymns for Corpus Christi, which he composed. To the words miraculously uttered by a crucifix at Naples, “Well hast thou written concerning Me, Thomas. What shall I give thee as a reward?” he replied, “Naught save Thyself, O Lord.”

He died at Fossa-Nuova, 1274, on his way to the General Council of Lyons, to which Pope Gregory X. had summoned him.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

St Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274)
He was born of a noble family in southern Italy, and was educated by the Benedictines. In the normal course of events he would have joined that order and taken up a position suitable to his rank; but he decided to become a Dominican instead. His family were so scandalised by this disreputable plan that they kidnapped him and kept him prisoner for over a year; but he was more obstinate than they were, and he had his way at last.
He studied in Paris and in Cologne under the great philosopher St Albert the Great. It was a time of great philosophical ferment. The writings of Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of the ancient world, had been newly rediscovered, and were becoming available to people in the West for the first time in a thousand years. Many feared that Aristotelianism was flatly contradictory to Christianity, and the teaching of Aristotle was banned in many universities at this time – the fact that Aristotle’s works were coming to the West from mostly Muslim sources did nothing to help matters.
Into this chaos Thomas brought simple, straightforward sense. Truth cannot contradict truth: if Aristotle (the great, infallible pagan philosopher) appears to contradict Christianity (which we know by faith to be true), then either Aristotle is wrong or the contradiction is in fact illusory. And so Thomas studied, and taught, and argued, and eventually the simple, common-sense philosophy that he worked out brought an end to the controversy. Out of his work came many writings on philosophy and theology, including the Summa Theologiae, a standard textbook for many centuries and still an irreplaceable resource today. Out of his depth of learning came, also, the dazzling poetry of the liturgy for Corpus Christi. And out of his sanctity came the day when, celebrating Mass, he had a vision that, he said, made all his writings seem like so much straw; and he wrote no more.
Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to inspire us, like St Thomas, to love God with our minds as well as our hearts; and if we come across a fact or a teaching that seems to us to contradict our faith, let us not reject it but investigate it: for the truth that it contains can never contradict the truth that is God.
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Readings 20150127

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Why did Jesus, on this occasion, seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives was unquestionable. Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.
What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity. God offers us the greatest of relationships – union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (1 John 4:8,16).
God’s love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, and unstoppable. We may choose to separate ourselves from him, but nothing will make him ignore us, leave us, or treat us unkindly. He will pursue us, love us, and call us to return to him no matter what might stand in the way. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us – to be united with him and to share in his love and unity of persons (1 John 3:1). God is a trinity of persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and a community of love. That is why Jesus challenged his followers and even his own earthly relatives to recognize that God is the true source of all relationships. God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love.

Jesus is God’s love incarnate – God’s love made visible in human flesh (1 John 4:9-10). That is why Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and the shepherd who seeks out the sheep who have strayed and lost their way. God is like the father who yearns for his prodigal son to return home and then throws a great party for his son when he has a change of heart and comes back (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that we become the adopted children of God – his own sons and daughters. That is why Jesus told his disciples that they would have many new friends and family relationships in his kingdom. Whoever does the will of God is a friend of God and a member of his family – his sons and daughters who have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ.

An early Christian martyr once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints” – namely those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and adopted as sons and daughters of God. Those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ and who live as his disciples enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all of our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God first and to his kingdom of righteousness and peace. Do you want to grow in love and friendship? Allow God’s Holy Spirit to transform your heart, mind, and will to enable you to love freely and generously as he loves.

“Heavenly Father, you are the source of all true friendship and love. In all my relationships, may your love be my constant guide for choosing what is good and for rejecting what is contrary to your will.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
FAMILY TRANSPLANT

“Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me.” —Mark 3:35
Jesus said that He came for division, to divide a family three against two (Lk 12:52). He meant that some family members would receive Him while others would reject Him, at least for a time. For those who love Jesus, love their families, and yet have been rejected within their families because of their love for Jesus, there is great pain.

Yet Jesus offers the greatest consolation amidst this pain: by doing the will of God, we are adopted and transplanted into the family of God (Mk 3:35). We become a brother or sister of Jesus, a son or daughter of God the Father, united in love through the Holy Spirit. Praise be to the Holy Trinity forever! Our family meal is now the Mass, as we gather with the rest of our family at the table of the Lord and receive the Holy Eucharist.

In the meantime, continue to love your biological family and pray for them. Your love and prayers may not seem to be having any impact. It might even seem to you that your love and prayers are making the situation worse. Keep persevering anyway. Day by day, the Lord is working behind the scenes (Mk 4:26ff) to unite your family in Him. Jesus is the stumbling Stone that smashes a family apart (Mt 21:44) and the Cornerstone upon Which the family is restored (Mt 21:42; Ps 118:22).

Prayer: “I have come to do Your will, O God” (Heb 10:7). Promise: “By this ‘will,’ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” —Heb 10:10 Praise: St. Angela was a creative visionary. Not only was she the first to found a teaching order of women in the Church, but she also founded the Church’s first secular institute. (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

Saint of the day 20150127

27 January

SAINT ANGELA MERICI
VIRGIN
(C. 1470-1540)

St. Angela Merici was born at Desenzano, near Brescia, about 1470. Her parents had died when she was ten and she had gone to live with an uncle. When her uncle died, she returned to her hometown and began to notice how little education the girls had; so Angela saw her task as the formation of Christian women.

In 1535 she founded the institute of the Ursulines, who were devoted to the education of poor girls as Christians, and to the missions. It was the first group of women religious to work outside the cloister and the first teaching order of women.

She died in 1540.

St Angela Merici (1470 – 1540)
She was born in Desenziano, in Lombardy, in about 1470. She became a Franciscan tertiary and set up a school to instruct girls in Christanity and good works. In 1535 she founded the Ursulines, an order of nuns devoted to giving a Christian education to girls from poor families. She died in 1540. See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia and Wikipedia.
Other saints: Blessed Edward Oldcorne (1561-1606)
Edward Oldcorne was born in the City of York in 1561, the son of a bricklayer. He studied abroad from 1581, first at Rheims, then at the Venerable English College, Rome, where he was ordained in 1587. While in Rome, he joined the Society of Jesus. Once back in England, he worked in Worcestershire for eighteen years with great success in reconciling men and women to the Church. At the time of the Gunpowder Plot he was captured at Hindlip House on 27 January 1606, taken to London and racked. His trial for treason took place at Worcester, where he was executed on 7 April 1606 on Red Hill He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929; his memorial is kept on the day of his capture.
B
You will see these texts in a more readable format and with a better layout (especially for verse) if you use the free Catholic Calendar app from Universalis.

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The official Grail translation of the Psalms.
The readings at Mass are in both the Jerusalem Bible/Grail and the NAB translations.
The “Mass Today” page contains the exact liturgy for today all in one place, both the Order of Mass and the prayers, antiphons and readings.
A perpetual liturgical calendar covering all years.
Local liturgical calendars for over 20 countries and dioceses.
A choice of views: either scrolling like a web page or page-turning like an e-book.
Access to all texts for all dates, past, present and future.
Complete independence from the Internet. Everything is stored within the application itself.
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Readings 20150126

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

BELIEVING IS SEEING

“Promote their knowledge of the truth as our religion embodies it.” —Titus 1:1
No matter how well or poorly I teach the Scriptures through this booklet, you can almost immediately at least double the insights you receive from reading the Scriptures for the daily Mass by deciding to share anything you receive. If you put any light you receive on the lampstand (Mk 4:21), you will receive more light. “In the measure you give you shall receive, and more besides” (Mk 4:24). Understanding the Bible is not so much a matter of intelligence, but of sharing.

To share the good news credibly though, we must live the Good News. Understanding the Bible is basically a matter of obeying it. Some people maintain they need to understand something before obeying it. With the Bible, however, we must obey it before we ever truly and deeply understand it. For example, we don’t understand how Jesus is present in Holy Communion merely because we have read the Bible. The Bible doesn’t explain this in detail. However, when we obey the Bible by doing the Last Supper in memory of Jesus (1 Cor 11:24-25), devoting ourselves “to the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42), and sharing our faith in Jesus present in the Eucharist, then we receive amazing insights. We see the light and understand what the Bible means. Believing, living, and sharing is seeing.

Prayer: Father, give me a deep faith in You by which I can understand You much more deeply. Promise: “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God bestowed when my hands were laid on you. The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly Spirit, but rather One that makes us strong, loving, and wise.” —2 Tm 1:6-7 Praise: St. Titus was a powerful evangelistic missionary team member. Through Titus’ encouragement, God gave St. Paul the strength and reinforcement to evangelize Macedonia (see 2 Cor 7:5-7).
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
When danger lurks what kind of protection do you seek? Jesus came to free us from the greatest danger of all – the corrupting force of evil which destroys us from within and makes us slaves to sin and Satan (John 8:34). Evil is not an impersonal force that just happens. It has a name and a face and it seeks to master every heart and soul on the face of the earth (1 Peter 5:8-9). Scripture identifies the Evil One by many names, ‘Satan’, ‘Beelzebul – the prince of demons’, the ‘Devil’, the ‘Deceiver’, the ‘Father of Lies’, and ‘Lucifier’, the fallen angel who broke rank with God and established his own army and kingdom in opposition to God.
The Lord Jesus frees us from Satan’s power
Jesus declared that he came to overthrow the power of Satan and his kingdom (John 12:31). Jesus’ numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the work of evil spirits. Jesus himself encountered personal opposition and battle with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1). He overcame the Evil One through his obedience to the will of his Father.

Some of the Jewish leaders reacted vehemently to Jesus’ healings and exorcisms and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could Jesus get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan’s influence and control? They assumed that he had to be in league with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God. Jesus asserts that no kingdom divided against itself can survive for long. We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. Cyril of Alexandria, a 5th century church father explains the force of Jesus’ argument:

Kingdoms are established by the fidelity of subjects and the obedience of those under the royal scepter. Houses are established when those who belong to them in no way whatsoever thwart one another but, on the contrary, agree in will and deed. I suppose it would establish the kingdom too of Beelzebub, had he determined to abstain from everything contrary to himself. How then does Satan cast out Satan? It follows then that devils do not depart from people on their own accord but retire unwillingly. “Satan,” he says, “does not fight with himself.” He does not rebuke his own servants. He does not permit himself to injure his own armor bearers. On the contrary, he helps his kingdom. “It remains for you to understand that I crush Satan by divine power.” [Commentary on Luke, Homily 80]
Jesus asserted his authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God. God’s power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God’s kingdom has come.
Being clothed in God’s strength
What kind of spiritual danger or harm should we avoid at all costs? Jesus used the illustration of a strong man whose house and possessions were kept secure. How could such a person be overtaken and robbed of his goods except by someone who is stronger than himself? Satan, who is our foe and the arch-enemy of God, is stronger than us. Unless we are clothed in God’s strength, we cannot withstand Satan with our own human strength. What does Satan wish to take from us – our faith and confidence in God and our readiness to follow God’s commandments. Satan is a rebel and a liar. Satan can only have power or dominion over us if we listen to his lies and succumb to his will which is contrary to the will of God. Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties in this world. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or opposed to it.
There are ultimately only two kingdoms in opposition to one another – the kingdom of God’s light and truth and the kingdom of darkness and deception under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God’s word, we open the door to the power of sin and Satan’s influence in our lives. If we want to live in true freedom from the power of sin and Satan, then our “house” – our mind and heart and whatever we allow to control our appetites and desires – must be occupied and ruled by Jesus Christ where he is enthroned as Lord and Savior. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to God and to his Word?

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
What is the unforgivable sin which Jesus warns us to avoid? Jesus knows that his disciples will be tested and he assures them that the Holy Spirit will give them whatever grace and help they need in their time of adversity. He warns them, however, that it’s possible to spurn the grace of God and to fall into apostasy (giving up the faith) out of cowardice or disbelief. Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit reprehensible? Blasphemy consists in uttering against God, inwardly or outwardly, words of hatred, reproach, or defiance. It’s contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. Jesus speaks of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit as the unforgivable sin.
Jesus spoke about this sin immediately after the scribes and Pharisees had attributed his miracles to the work of the devil instead of to God. A sin can only be unforgivable if repentance is impossible. If people repeatedly closes their eyes to God, shuts their ears to his voice, and reject his word, they bring themselves to a point where they can no longer recognize God when he can be seen and heard. They become spiritually blind-sighted and speak of “evil as good and good as evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

The Holy Spirit heals and transforms us
To fear such a state of sin and spiritual blindness, however, signals that one is not dead to God and is conscious of the need for God’s grace, mercy, and help. There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who refuses to acknowledge and confess their sins and to ask God for forgiveness, spurns God’s generous offer of mercy, pardon, grace, and healing. Through their own stubborn pride and willfulness, they reject God, refuse his grace and help to turn away from sin, and reject the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to heal and restore them to wholeness. God always gives sufficient grace and help to all who humbly call upon him. Giving up on God and refusing to turn away from sin and disbelief results from pride and the loss of hope in God.

What is the basis of our hope and confidence in God? Through Jesus’ death on the cross and his victory over the grave when he rose again on the third day, Satan has been defeated and death has been overcome. We now share in Christ’s victory over sin and Satan and receive adoption as God’s sons and daughters. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord enables us to live a new life of love and freedom from slavery to sin. The Lord Jesus is our refuge and strength because he makes his home with us (John 15:4) and gives us the power and help of the Holy Spirit. Do you take refuge in the Lord and allow him to be the Ruler of your life?

“Lord Jesus, you are my hope and salvation. Be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship.”

Saint of the day 20150126

26 January

SAINTS TIMOTHY AND TITUS
Bishops and Disciples of St. Paul
(1st century)

St. Timothy was a convert of St. Paul. He was born at Lystra in Asia Minor. His mother was a Jewess, but his father was a pagan; and though Timothy had read the Scriptures from his childhood, he had not been circumcised as a Jew. On the arrival of St. Paul at Lystra the youthful Timothy, with his mother and grandmother, eagerly embraced the faith.

Seven years later, when the Apostle again visited the country, the boy had grown into manhood, while his good heart, his austerities and zeal had won the esteem of all around him; and holy men were prophesying great things of the fervent youth. St. Paul at once saw his fitness for the work of an evangelist. Timothy was forthwith ordained, and from that time became the constant and much-beloved fellow-worker of the Apostle.

In company with St. Paul he visited the cities of Asia Minor and Greece-at one time hastening on in front as a trusted messenger, at another lingering behind to confirm in the faith some recently founded church. Finally, he was made the first Bishop of Ephesus; and here he received the two epistles which bear his name, the first written from Macedonia and the second from Rome, in which St. Paul from his prison gives vent to his longing desire to see his “dearly beloved son,” if possible, once more before his death. St. Timothy himself not many years after the death of St. Paul, won his martyr’s crown at Ephesus. As a child Timothy delighted in reading the sacred books, and to his last hour he would remember the parting words of his spiritual father, “Attende lectioni-Apply thyself to reading.”

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St. Titus was a convert from heathenism, a disciple of St. Paul, one of the chosen companions of the Apostles in his journey to the Council of Jerusalem, and his fellow-laborers in many apostolic missions.

From the Second Epistle which St. Paul sent by the hand of Titus to the Corinthians we gain an insight into his character and understand the, strong affection which his master bore him. Titus had been commissioned to carry out a twofold office needing much firmness, discretion, and charity. He was to be the bearer of a severe rebuke to the Corinthians, who were giving scandal and were wavering in their faith; and at the same time he was to put their charity to a further test by calling upon them for abundant alms for the church at Jerusalem. St. Paul meanwhile was anxiously awaiting the result. At Troas he writes, “I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus, my brother.” He set sail to Macedonia. Here at last Titus brought the good news. His success had been complete. He reported the sorrow, the zeal, the generosity of the Christians, till the Apostle could not contain his joy, and sent back to them his faithful messenger with the letter of comfort from which we have quoted. Titus was finally left as a bishop in Crete, and here he, in turn, received the epistle which bears his name, and here at last he died in peace.

The mission of Titus to Corinth shows us how well the disciple caught the spirit of his master. He knew how to be firm and to inspire respect. The Corinthians, we are told, “received him with fear and trembling.” He was patient and painstaking. St. Paul “gave thanks to God, Who had put such carefulness for them in the heart of Titus.” And these gifts were enhanced by a quickness to detect and call out all that was good in others, and by a joyousness which overflowed upon the spirit of St. Paul himself, who “abundantly rejoiced in the joy of Titus.”

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

God our Father,

you gave your saints Timothy and Titus

the courage and wisdom of the apostoles:

may their prayers help us to live holy lives

and lead us to heaven, our home.

Saints Timothy and Titus
Timothy and Titus were converted to Christianity by St Paul, and became his companions and helpers. Paul entrusted Timothy with the care of the Christians in Ephesus, and sent Titus to Crete to look after the Christians there. He wrote them the so-called “pastoral” epistles, giving advice for pastors and people alike.
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