Saturday, October 15, 2005

St Paul

"Go and preach to all nations: baptize them and teach them all I have commanded you"(Matthew 28: 19-20).

Paul pondered the meaning of these words for his life. He understood the specific demands of Christ in calling him to be an apostle of the gentiles and responded fully to its pressures.

Paul's autobiography in his letter to the Galatians reveals the depth of his commitment.

"But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood"(Galatians 1:15-16).

PAUL: The Man
Paul, a child of Jewish parents was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus. He became a tentmaker by profession and studied under Gamaliel. Paul opposed vehemently the young Christian movement and persecuted the Christians. On his way to Damascus to arrest the Christians, he encountered Christ Jesus. This incident marked his conversion. After this event, Paul traveled to Jerusalem where he met the apostles. From there, he began his missionary journeys. He traveled to Europe and Asia Minor. He was the apostle of the gentiles and was responsible for the conversion of thousands of people. Paul wrote fourteen of the New Testament letters. Paul and Peter were arrested in Rome under the persecution of Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded while Peter was crucified upside down.

Sean Kelly & Rosemary Rogers in their book: SAINTS PRESERVE US! describses Paul humorously thus: "He was a convert and, like many converts, 'more Catholic than the pope.' In Paul's case, the pope was Saint Peter, with whom he frequently disagreed. Paul was God's own CEO, a motivator, an organizer, a hands-on manager, a tireless leader-by-example, a Take-Charge Guy with his eye on the Big Picture. He bought into a tiny Hebrew cult, and personally transformed it into a Multi-National, the biggest and richest in the world."

Fulton Sheen wrote in Treasure in Clay on the conversion of St Paul: "It is hard for you to kick against the goad.' In other words, 'It's no use trying to resist my grace. For a long time I have had great things in store for you. Try no longer to be a rebel. I have marked you out to be a great apostle. It is hard. I have struck you down as a rebel, but I will raise you up as a chosen vessel unto me." Paul is the patron saint of public relations and tentmakers and his feast day is June 29.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Patience is Power

"I waited, I waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry"(Psalm 40: 1)

A few years ago, I learned how long it takes a tree to bear fruit. The occasion was when I helped my son plant a mango seed to commemorate his first communion. This young mango seedling faced many challenges to its survival in its early years. Storms, strong winds, too much rain, insects threatened its existence. But it survived. One beautiful day exactly 1350 days after it was planted, it yielded its fruit, a beautiful greenish yellow mango fruit.

St James recommends to us the patience of the farmer when he wrote: "Think of the farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too must be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord's coming will be soon" (James 5: 7-8). The farmer trusts the seed to yield fruit at the right time. Jesus compares the word of God to a seed. When a seed is planted in a fertile soil, it must bear fruit in due season.

A caption I saw somewhere proclaims: "To be a man is not a day's job." Human beings face much the same challenge as any seed in order to realize their full potentials. Patience is the key to success. The psalmist urges us: "Wait quietly for the Lord, be patient till he comes."(Psalm 37:7). Learning to wait is the most difficult lesson but it is also the most beneficial. He who can wait is powerful and can achieve his dreams. Therefore: "Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).

My favorite scripture on patience:

"Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. (Habakkuk 2: 2-4)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Simple King

" Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.(Luke 2:11)NJB

The story of the birth of Jesus reveals the simple surroundings in which the King of glory was born. "Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger because there was no room for them in the living-space." (Luke 2: 6-7)

When Mary and Joseph arrived at the small inn at Bethlehem to seek for a room, they were unable to obtain one. Why? Was it because the inn had no spare room or that the couple could not afford the tariff? Whatever the reason, Mary and Joseph proceeded to look for an alternative accommodation and could find one in a nearby stable.

Mary must have pondered the unfathomable mind of God, who allowed His only begotten Son to be born in a stable. The handmaid of the Lord submitted herself to God's disposal of events. Jesus started His life in very simple surroundings and He grew up to love simplicity. From His birth to His death, He possessed very little. Jesus learned simplicity from His mother. The first people to visit Jesus in the stable were simple shepherds.

Leo Xlll wrote in his Encyclical, Fidentem Piumque of September 20, 1896: "No one can fail to be sweetly affected when considering who....presented to the shepherds, to the kings and to Simeon."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

St Louis-Marie de Monfort

"The Lord has sworn an oath and he will not retract; you are a priest forever, in the line of Melchisedech" (Psalm 110:4)

Louis de Monfort was born on the 31st of January 1673 in Monfort in France. Louis was educated in the Jesuit College at Rennes and was ordained a priest in 1700. His great contribution was in fostering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy Rosary.

In 1715, he founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. Among his books which are still in print are: TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN; SECRET OF THE ROSARY Louis de Monfort made the Rosary one of the most popular Catholic devotions throughout the world. Catholics everywhere are indebted to him for articulating the incredible powers of this simple devotion: The Holy Rosary. His feast is on the 28th of April.

Monday, October 10, 2005

St Vincent de Paul

"Come you whom my Father has blessed....For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me" (Matthew 25: 34-36)

St Vincent de Paul was born in 1580. As a priest, he devoted his life to the care of the poor and the sick in Paris. Vincent founded the Congregation of the Missions, the Sisters of Charity, orphanages, and hospitals.

The Lord opened the hearts of wealthy women to support his work. A charity bearing his name, St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in his name in Paris in 1833 and this society is active in most countries of the world today. St Vincent de Paul died in 1660 and his feast day is September 27. St Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of charitable societies and hospital workers.

What I love about this saint is his absolute trust in God’s providence. He learned this secret after many years in the ministry.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Money! Money! Money!

"Keep your lives free from love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never leave you, I will never abandon you'" (Hebrews 13:5).

Are you anxious about money? Most of us are since money seems to provide all our needs. In order that our needs do not control our lives, we must learn that God made plans for every aspect of our lives. He has plans for our family, job, health, food, money, etc. These plans were long-established before we were born; they are trustworthy and excellent. God has a detailed financial plan for every individual. If we understand and accept His plans for providing us with money, we shall have peace and enjoy whatever money we happen to have. The message of Hebrews 13:5 could provide the key for understanding God's plan for us. God is telling us in the text:

  • Have no anxiety whatsoever about money.

  • Whatever you have at any material time, be content with it. It could be large or a small, let that not worry you.

  • God promises: I will always support you and be your sufficiency and you will never be embarrassed by money. You will always have what you need.
Because God has made the above promise and we know that He is faithful, we are bold and confident as we say: 'The Lord is our helper in all financial needs. Why should we be afraid? Nobody can threaten us or embarrass us about money.' The message is very clear: Do not worry about money. Trust in God at all times to supply. "The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need." (Psalm 23:1) Jesus is indeed our good Shepherd. At all times, he leads us beside restful waters and refreshes our soul. Even though we walk in the dark valley of financial uncertainty, we fear no evil because he promises to be at our side to encourage us.

In order to enjoy true and constant financial security, we must learn like St. Paul how to live in humble circumstances and how to live in abundance. Armed with this secret, we can say like Paul, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Philippians 4: 13)

The key to appropriating God's promises about money is to understand and obey God's word to us about money. In one word, it is trust – making God’s love for us the foundation of our life. Each promise of God in the scriptures has individual application. God has a specific message for every person about money. Discover what God is saying to you about money.

Recommended book: The Richest Man in Babylon