Saturday, October 21, 2017

Never give to Caesar what belongs to God.

“Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)

Caesar represents earthly powers and governments. Christ says that we must recognize the rights of earthly powers and governments. Scripture teaches that God installs governments. All power comes from God.  (Cf Romans 13: 1).  We are not only to obey them but we are urged to pray for them. (Cf 1 Timothy 2: 1 - 2).

What belongs to Caesar?
Work: Monday to Saturday.
taxes, civil obedience, etc.

We offer to God what is properly His. This includes:
Obedience, Worship, Prayer, Love.

Is there a conflict? When Caesar wants what belongs to God, the Christian must say no. We must obey God rather than man, St. Peter said.  (Acts 5: 29).  Jesus Christ foreseeing the conflict urges his follower not to fear the person who can destroy the body and can do nothing more. The person to fear is God, who can destroy body and soul in hell.  (Matthew 10: 28).

The martyrs of the Church never tried to deprive Caesar of what belongs to him. It was always Caesar who keeps what belongs to him and wants to deprive the creator of what belongs to Him.

Consider something that belongs to God that is very dear to His Heart.
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."  (Exodus 20: 28).

This is what the Church teaches on keeping holy the Lord's Day.

"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

The charity of truth seeks holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work."  (CCC 2185).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Only in God can I hope against hope.

"He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations, according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be."  (Romans 4: 17 - 18).

What does it mean to hope against hope? Have you ever hoped against hope? Yes I have. A couple of times  I was in a situation where no hope or remedy could be expected. Even in such dire situation, in rear sight, I saw a tiny flicker of hope.
Hope like faith and love are theological virtues.  They are supernatural gifts.  Direct gifts of God Himself. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who builds." (Psalm 127: 1).

How can we believe that God will give us the gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity? Because when we believe and become reconciled to God, God gave us the Holy Spirit to live inside us.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of these supernatural gifts.

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  (Romans 5: 5 NKJV).

The nature of God is to keep His promises come what may.  And "The Lord remembers his covenant for ever."Psalm 105: 8).

"May your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect : Saturday of 28th Week).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Divine Providence is the sweetest Doctrine of our Faith.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?  Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.  Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows."  (Luke 12: 6 - 7).

It amazes me every day I think of this truth of our faith:  Our God micro manages our lives. This is called Divine Providence, the sweetest doctrine of our Faith. God did not create and dump us to get on with life.  Not at all. He provides step-by-step directions and moment by moment protection. The Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church treat the Doctrine of Divine Providence with such lavish joy.  Here is what the Church teaches today about Divine Providence:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church :

321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.

322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf.Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (I Peter  5:7; cf. Psalm 55:23).

323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.

324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You are not qualified. Try again next year.

"For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law." (Romans 3: 28 NABRE).

"For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law."  (Romans 3: 28 NIV).

"So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law." (Romans 3: 28 NLT).

For clarity, 3 versions of the key Scripture for today are presented.

Scripture teaches that the just man lives by faith. (Cf Romans 1:17, Hebrews 10: 38, Habakkuk 2: 4).
It means that it is through faith that we appropriate all the promised blessings of God.  We are justified before God by faith in Jesus the Christ.  Another word for justification is qualification. Consider this scenario:

You submit an application for a "job" with God. You are filled with misgivings because you know you are just not qualified. God reviews your application.  He is about to toss it out when He notices where you wrote in the footnote: "I also believe in Jesus Christ."  He smiles and says "That is the only thing I am looking for."

You are now qualified and can ask for any favors.
Our sins disqualify our relationship with God.  We are made righteous  through faith in the death of Jesus the Christ on the cross.  His death paid the debt of Sin.
If you think this is amazingly too simplistic to be true, you are not alone. But believe the Bible, believe the Church: No Justification, No Salvation. No favors.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are still very few.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings of peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation!"  (Isaiah 52: 7).

Such beautiful feet are those of St Luke the Evangelist whose feast we celebrate today. St Luke wrote:    “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."  (Luke 10: 2).  The Master of the harvest, God the Father sent Luke to preach the word and author the Gospel according to St Luke. A few words on the profile of St Luke is in order here.

According to Tradition, St Luke is a Gentile physician. When he heard the Good News, he abandoned his medical practice and attached himself to St Paul as his traveling companion. He demonstrated a thorough research and an eye to detail in his subjects.  He showed a preferential option for the poor, women and sinners. Without St Luke, our knowledge of the life and work of Jesus Christ would be poorer.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few."  (Luke 10: 2).  It was so in the beginning. It is still so today.
So many people in our communities no longer consider themselves members of any Church and live lives far removed from the Gospel of Christ. How do we reach these people? This is the challenge for you and me. Whatever answer you have, consider Prayer as the first tool.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The word of God is living and effective.

 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes."  (Romans 1: 16).

The consequence of St Paul not being ashamed of the Good News is that St Paul evangelized or shared the Gospel day and night, season and out of season. (Acts 4: 2, 1 Thessalonians 2: 9).  Paul advised Timothy and us to follow his example (2 Timothy 4: 2).

Are you ashamed of sharing the Gospel?  How enthusiastic are you in sharing it at home, school, work and everywhere?

"But whoever denies me before people I, too, will deny before my Father in heaven."  (Matthew 10: 33).

The Bible has more to say about people who refuse to acknowledge God and give Him honor and glory:

"For although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.  While claiming to be wise, they became fools  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes."  (Romans 1: 21 - 23).

Lord Jesus, save us from this fate by all means.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

We remember and honor a holy Virgin of Jesus Christ.

"How beautiful you are, O Virgin of Christ, who were worthy to receive the Lord's crown 👑, the crown of perpetual virginity."  (Entrance Antiphon, feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque. Monday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time).

Why should a young, beautiful and sane woman abandon the joys and romance of marriage and motherhood to become one of the Virgins of Jesus Christ?
Because of something more:

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."  (Matthew 19: 29).

The Church rejoices with St Margaret Mary, Virgin and Visionary on the occasion of her feast day.

"Pour out on us, we pray, O Lord, the spirit with which You so remarkably endowed St Margaret Mary, so that we may come to know that love of Christ which surpasses all understanding and be utterly filled with Your fullness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."  (Collect, Feast of St Margaret Mary).