Saturday, January 23, 2021

At last, the appointed time is here.

"After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:  “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1: 14-15).

Sunday 24th January 2021, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time is designated the Sunday of the Word of God. Why is the 3rd Sunday in January set aside as the Sunday of the Word of God? The Word of God is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children. Most of the problems in life is because most people are ignorant of this truth.

Pope Francis set aside the 3rd Sunday in January to celebrate, study and disseminate the Word of God.

In our key Scripture for this Sunday, Jesus launched His preaching ministry with this Word of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
In the plan of God for our salvation, there are two periods:
#1. Time of prophecy. (Old Testament).
#2. Time of fulfillment. (New Testament).

Jesus says that all the promises predicted by all the prophets are being fulfilled now. How do you know these promises? How do you claim your own promises?

One night in 1986, I was sleepless in a hotel room. I was extremely anxious about a work problem with my company. The problem could end my career. In the restless anxiety, I picked up a Gideon Bible on the night table. It opened to Exodus 14: 13 - 14:
"But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

I read the above Word of God and it produced this remarkable effect on me: peace, joy and calmness. This was followed by hope that God will resolve the problem because He has spoken.  Although I had no experience with the power of the Word of God, I believed the message. The problem was resolved completely. My co-workers and friends asked: "What happened?"
To fix this miracle in my mind, I resolved to read the Word of God every single day of my life from that point. Ten years after the date, the Lord gave me the Daily Bible Verse ministry.

The promises of the Word of God are for all of us. What a tragedy that many ignore this treasure either through ignorance, apathy or laziness.

The light of this world is Jesus Christ. If you do not want to live in darkness, resolve today to read His Word every day and watch what will happen to you. You will grow in peace, wisdom and understanding. You will come to know Jesus better. "Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ." (St Jerome).

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Friday, January 22, 2021

This man is insane.

"He [Jesus] came home. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3: 20 - 21).

Saturday, 23rd January 2021, in the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time.

First let us consider the background to today's Gospel. Jesus is home in Capernaum. He has a room and board here. Simon Peter and brother Andrew also live here.
Where is Mary and the relatives of Jesus? They live in Nazareth, 30 miles away. The report they received of the activities of Jesus was so concerning that they decided to make the very long trip to confront Jesus.
For Jesus, constant preaching, teaching and healing was just the normal routine for the the Son of Man who had no time to stand and stare or eat. He was also training His seminarians to show them what ministry after seminary would look like.

The message for us here is not that Master and disciples have no time to eat but the cutting criticism from family and foe: "He is insane."
If you are super sensitive to criticism, forget ministry and look for a profession where you will be applauded always. Remember that Jesus says that He does not look for or care for the applause of human beings. Why? He knows who He is and that is enough that His Father and the Holy Spirit affirm Him.
Followers of Jesus should be inspired by this great truth. The praise of human beings are worthless. They sing your hosanna today and the next day shout from the top of their lungs "Crucify him. Crucify him."  Only God is worthy of trust.

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Feast of St Vincent the Deacon.

"Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him." (Mark 3: 13 - 19).

Friday 22nd January 2021, in the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Vincent the Deacon. (+ 304). Spanish. Vincent tried to shield his Bishop in the fierce persecution of Emperor Diocletian but in vain. St Vincent the Deacon underwent one of the severest tortures in the history of martyrdom.

January 22nd in all of the dioceses of United States of America is dedicated to prayers and penance for all the sinful acts of abortion. As one who had stood outside Abortion Clinics in Houston, Texas, recited countless Rosaries for Prolife causes, as one who had attended hours and hours of meetings and prayers for the Cause, I have arrived at a painful but liberating conclusion about Abortion and Prolife movement in America. I put it in question:

Is Abortion a Satanic Trojan Horse in the Body of the Church in America designed by Satan to confuse and divide the Church so that to it is ineffective in the urgent work of Evangelization.
Read the sorry and embarrassing news today. (Thursday January 21st). Some Bishops are attacking other Bishops in the public arena all because of Abortion. Yet we sing Ubi Caritas (Where there is love, God is there). Is God still in the Church in America where fraternal charity is sacrificed on the altar of the so-called Prolife Cause?

Conclusion: I believe that
abortion is a demonic stronghold that God will unravel at His own time and way. God wants the glory of dismantling abortion to be His rather than the activists. Some Catholics believe that they can eliminate abortion in a better and faster way than God.

God delivered Israel from Egypt after 430 years. Not because God is weak and did not care but because NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL THE FULLNESS OF TIME. (Cf Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 3: 11).
God's ways and will are mysterious. (Cf Isaiah 55: 8 - 9).

If correct thought is the key to correct action, our thoughts on this issue need to come under the scrutiny of Scripture and total Magisterium.

Not in a President, Congress, Stock Market, Dollar. Not marching up and down in futile activism.

"It pleased God to remove my barrenness in His own time and way." (Sarah, wife of Abraham).
Not because God is weak but because the Almighty had set a time for the miracle.

Part of our key Scripture for today reads:
"He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons."

Those who are chosen, called and anointed have a precise marching order by Jesus:
#1. Abide with Me in the Eucharist, Adoration and Prayer. I need you more as a friend and companion than an activist. Remember that I am God. I don't need your help to unravel the demonic petulance of Abortion in the fullness of time.

#2. When you remain with Me long enough, you will learn to act like Me. My Spirit will start producing His fruits in you:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.

Lord Jesus, grant us the spirit of unity, peace and love.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Jesus is always willing and able to save us from all human catastrophes.

"Therefore, he [Jesus] is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7: 25).

Thursday 21st January 2021, in the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Agnes (+ 304). Virgin and Martyr. Agnes who made a private vow of chastity to Jesus Christ resisted the attempt to force her into marriage. She was martyred at the age of 13. St Agnes is the patron saint of young girls and purity.

Two  things to note about our key Scripture for today:
#1. Jesus as our Eternal High Priest lives to make constant intercession for those whom He calls "My sisters and My brothers."
We know that at the heart of Worship is Sacrifice. At the heart of Sacrifice is Praise and Thanksgiving. As our Eternal High Priest, Jesus encourages His brothers and sisters to join Him in the ministry of Intercession.

#2. Jesus is always able to save those who are in need of mercy and approach the throne of grace with confident boldness through Jesus. Jesus is always willing and able to save us from sin, sickness, bankruptcy, war, etc.

We are continually in need of mercy. Jesus sees us through His lens of mercy. When we approach the throne of grace, we should approach not through our strength but through our weaknesses because this is how God sees us and thus moved to show us mercy.

As co-intercessors with Jesus, our behavior should be:
Ask for mercy.
Be merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

John the Divine teaches that "God first loved us and sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and we have known and put our faith in God’s love towards us." (1 John 4: 10).

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Is it good to take your son to the hospital on Sunday?

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Mark 3: 4).

Wednesday 20th January 2021, in the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time is also the feast of: 1.Pope St Fabian (+ 250). Italian. Fabian divided the diocese of Rome into seven diaconates. This facilitated aid to the poor. He suffered martyrdom under Emperor Decius.
2. St Sebastian (+ 288). Italian from Milan. Officer in the Imperial Guard under Emperor Diocletian. Martyred when he converted to Christianity.
3. Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi (1903 - 1964). Nigerian. Trappist monk and priest. Beatified in Nigeria by Pope St John Paul II in 1998.
Why do we honor the saints? Jesus is glorified when we honor His saints. Their intercession is powerful.

In our key Scripture yesterday Monday, Jesus silenced His adversaries by teaching authoritatively: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2: 27 - 28).

We have today another Sabbath controversy. Here we see Jesus on the offensive: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Mark 3: 4). We know the answer to Jesus question from yesterday Scripture. The adversaries did not answer the question. They knew the answer but they had ill-will and hardness of heart.

The man with the withered hand represents all of us. What the Pharisees miss is that the great day of healing is the Sabbath, Lord's Day / Sunday and the Healer is still the same: Jesus Christ healing His ailing sisters and brothers through His word and through the Eucharist.

Is it good to increase the minimum wage or is it unlawful to so?
Is it good to give some relief to illegal immigrants or it unlawful to do so?
We all can be Pharisees and Herodians in what we consider good and bad.

Jesus speaks to us every day through the Scriptures proclaimed in the Sacred Liturgy. Same Scripture, same Liturgy all over the world. This is the type of reform that Pope St Fabian initiated.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

The Sunday Rest is one of God's best gift to man.

“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2: 27 - 28).

Tuesday 19th January 2021, in the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time.

The Sabbath in our key Scripture for today is the Day of the Lord or Sunday. With the Resurrection of Jesus on a Sunday, Sunday replaced the Sabbath as the day of Rest and Worship for the Church. What is God's intention for the Sunday Rest? God gave us the Sunday Rest for our spiritual, mental and physical rest. The Sunday Rest is therefore made for the benefit of mankind.

The third Commandment instructs us to keep holy the Sabbath Day (Lord’s Day/Sunday). This one day out of 7 days in the week, we must set aside to worship God, to get to know God through the Scriptures and to grow in spiritual maturity. As we do this, we grow in the truth that the Sunday Rest is indeed a rehearsal for the promised eternal rest. In eternity, there will be no work.

To correct the distortions by Pharisees on God's plan for the Sabbath, Jesus says that as Messiah, He has the authority to decide how the Sabbath should be observed.

Rejoice in God's generous provision of the Sunday Rest and use it to grow in spiritual and human maturity.

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

A time for feasting and a time for fasting.

“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?" (Mark 2: 19).

Monday 18th January 2021, in the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time. This is the week of prayer for Christian Unity (January 18 to 25th).

Our key Scripture for today is on the subject of fasting in Christian life. Jesus our Way, Truth and Life teaches by words and example that there is a time for feasting and a time for fasting. Is there a time for fasting in your Christian walk?

From the beginning of Christianity, fasting is one of the cornerstones of Christian spirituality. Others are prayer and almsgiving.  We are reminded of this especially in the holy seasons of Lent and Advent. Fridays in Ordinary Time are highly recommended as days of abstinence.

What can we fast from?
Food, meat, wine, television, news, movies.

"Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Mark 2: 18).
There is a time for feasting and a time for fasting, Jesus replied and continued: My disciples will fast at the right time. New wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. (Cf Mark 2: 22).

Oh that you will listen to the Lord today. Harden not your hearts.

Fasting helps us to develop a deeper spiritual life. But do you know the best fasting?
Embrace God's gracious and mysterious will in everything, always and everywhere. This is the secret of holiness.  You will be able to discern the will of God which is our Summum Bonum (our greatest and most perfect gift) Cf Romans 12: 2.

If you are in Christ through faith, the Holy Spirit makes you a new creation. The old wine is thrown away. You are filled with the new wine of the Holy Spirit. (Cf 2 Corinthians 5: 17).

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