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Readings 20141205

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Are there any blind-spots in your life that keep you from recognizing God’s power and mercy? When two blind men heard that Jesus was passing their way, they followed him and begged for his mercy. The word mercy literally means “sorrowful at heart”. But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another’s misfortune and suffering as if it were their own. When two blind men approached Jesus, he questioned their earnestness. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus put them to the test, not to rebuff them, but to strengthen their faith and trust in God’s mercy. He touched their eyes, both to identify with their affliction and to awaken faith in them. Their faith grew as they responded to his word with confident hope. Jesus restored their sight – both physically and spiritually to the reality of God’s kingdom. Faith opens the way for us to see the power of God’s kingdom and to experience his healing presence in our lives.

In Jesus we see the fulness of God’s mercy and the power of his kingdom – power to save from death and destruction, to forgive sins and lift the burden of guilt, and to heal infirmities and release the oppressed. Jesus never refused to bring God’s mercy to those who earnestly sought it. How can we seek and obtain God’s mercy? God gives mercy to the lowly in heart – to those who recognize their need for God and for his forgiveness and healing power.

God wants to change and transform our lives to set us free to live as his sons and daughters and citizens of his kingdom. Faith is key to this transformation. How can we grow in faith? Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience – an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in the confident expectation that he will fulfill his promises to us and bring us into the fulness of his kingdom – a kingdom of  righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Do you know the peace and joy of God’s kingdom? “Lord Jesus, help me to draw near to you with faith and trust in your saving power and mercy. Free me from doubt and unbelief that I may approach you confidently and pray boldly with expectant faith. Let your kingdom come and may your will be done in me.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

THE SIGHT OF CHRISTMAS  

Jesus “touched their eyes and said, ‘Because of your faith it shall be done to you’; and they recovered their sight.” —Matthew 9:29-30  

The Church prepares us for Christ’s Christmas coming by proclaiming Jesus healing the blind (see also Is 29:18; 35:5). This applies not only to the physically blind, but especially to the spiritually blind, who have been blinded by the darkness of sin (see 1 Jn 2:11) and “the god of the present age” (see 2 Cor 4:4). The cause of spiritual blindness is sin, and we are freed from spiritual blindness by repentance. When we sin, it is as if we take a knife and stab our eyes with it (see Is 29:9). When we repent and go to Confession, it is like having an operation in which our sight is restored.

The physically blind will be able to see Christ this Christmas through the eyes of faith, but the spiritually blind cannot have a true Christmas because they cannot see the Christ of Christmas. Spiritual blindness is an especially pathetic condition not only because we are blinded to Christ and Christmas, but because we are even blinded to our blindness. Only through an intervention by Jesus our Savior can we see our blindness and ask for help. Call out to Jesus: “I want to see” (Mk 10:51). Jesus will heal us and give us the Christmas present that makes it possible for us to have Christmas.  

Prayer: Father, may I see Jesus present in Holy Communion so that I will desire to receive Him in Mass daily. Promise: “Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding.” —Is 29:24 Praise: Max, though physically blind and fearful, accepted Jesus as his Savior on his deathbed.   (For a related teaching, order our tape Spiritual Blindness on audio AV 65-1 or video V-65.)   

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 20141205

05 December
SAINT SABASAbbot(439-532)        

St. Sabas, one of the most renowned patriarchs of the monks of Palestine, was born in the year 439, near Cæsarea. In order to settle a dispute which had arisen between some of his relatives in regard to the administration of his estate, while still young he forsook the world and entered a monastery, wherein he became a model of fervor.        

When Sabas had been ten years in this monastery, being eighteen years old, he went to Jerusalem to visit the holy places, and attached himself to a monastery then under control of St. Euthymius; but on the death of the holy abbot our Saint sought the wilderness, where he chose his dwelling in a cave on the top of a high mountain, at the bottom of which ran the brook Cedron.        

After he had lived here five years, several came to him, desiring to serve God under his direction. He was at first unwilling to consent, but finally founded a new monastery of persons all desirous to devote themselves to praise and serve Goa without interruption.        

His great sanctity becoming known, he was ordained priest, at the age of fifty-three, by the patriarch of Jerusalem, and made Superior-General of all the anchorites of Palestine.        

He lived to be ninety-four, and died on the 5th of December, 532. Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]

Other saints: St John Almond (c.1565-1612)John Almond (or Lathom or Molyneux) was born at Allerton near Liverpool of Catholic parents about 1565 and went to school at Much Woolton. After studying at Reims he went to the English College in Rome, where in due course he was ordained priest. In 1602 he returned to England as a secular priest and ministered to Catholics there. He was arrested briefly in 1608, and then again in 1612. In November of that year, seven priests had escaped from prison, and this may have sharpened the zeal of those who interrogated him. He displayed to the last great skill in argument; the account of his death describes him as “a reprover of sin, a good example to follow, of an ingenious and acute understanding, sharp and apprehensive in his conceits and answers, yet complete with modesty, full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.” He refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance in the form in which it was offered him, but offered to swear that he bore in his heart “so much allegiance to King James as he, or any Christian king, could expect by the law of nature, or the positive law of the true Church, be it which it will, ours or yours.” He was committed to Newgate and within a few months was brought to trial as a seminary priest. Having been duly convicted he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 5 December 1612 at Tyburn, London.

Other saints: Saint Birinus Saint Birinus was sent to England as a missionary by Pope Honorius I about the year 634; on his way, he was consecrated bishop in Genoa. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them and baptised their King and a good number of his followers during his fifteen years’ apostolate. He died about 650 and the main Church of the West Saxons which he had established at Dorchester-on-Thames was later moved to Winchester, as were the relics of Saint Birinus.