Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Great Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord.

"The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  (Luke 3 : 15 - 16).

Sunday 9th January 2022 is the great feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

"I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.” (Mark 1: 8).

John the Baptizer bore witness to Jesus as the expected Messiah who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1: 8). Who is the Holy Spirit and why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit the ultimate Christian experience?

#1. The Holy Spirit is the Big Gift. The Free Gift.

#2. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of joy and consolations.  A rich experience of joy and consolations await us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit.

#3. "The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth." (1 John 5: 6).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who leads us to all the truth about the person and work of Jesus the Christ.

The Baptism of Jesus launches His mission. Our Baptism with the Holy Spirit should similarly launch our mission. This is because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Mission and the Mission is Evangelization. The Church exists for only one purpose: to evangelize. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to accomplish this Mission.

Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit? Yes. At your Baptism. The grace of the Holy Spirit we received at Baptism was strengthened or confirmed in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

What if you say: I have been baptized and confirmed but I don't experience the joy and consolations of the Holy Spirit. Why? There could be two reasons:

#1. Activate the Holy Spirit in you. Like a new credit card, you need to activate it before you can start to use it. How do you activate the Holy Spirit?
Ask with expectant faith for the Holy Spirit to come to you and become active in you.
You can make a 9 Day Novena to increase your desire and preparation. There are many websites on the internet with Holy Spirit Novena templates.

#2. The second reason why you may not experience the promised joy, peace and comforts of the Holy Spirit is Sin. Any unconfessed sin will block the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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Friday, January 07, 2022

Jesus must increase and I must decrease.

John the Baptist said: “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3: 22.... 30).

Saturday 8th January 2022, last day in the Season of Christmas. The first Saturday in January. We honor the Holy Mother of God whom the Church honors on Saturdays from ancient times.

"He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease." (John 3: 30).

In the fullness of time, Jesus left Nazareth and after part hiking and part walking, He got to the River Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist. Later John was asked about Jesus:  “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” (John 3: 20). Then John uttered these thought provoking words:
"He must increase; I must decrease."  John is saying: Jesus is the Messiah. I am only the messenger. He is the Word of God. I am only the Voice. No hint of jealousy from John. Compare this attitude to what we know of clerical jealousy in the Church. John knew that the Bridegroom is the star and therefore deserves the place of honor.

Where must Jesus increase in your life? Where must you decrease? In your home, parish, workplace? Do you struggle with pride and envy? We have a perfect answer in the first Reading:
"We have this confidence in him, [God] that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours." (1 John 5: 14 - 15).

"He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease." (John 3: 30). Discern your destiny and your gifts. Embrace your place in the Church and in the world. Glorify God with your time, talent and treasure. Strive for peace and serenity in 2022.

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Thursday, January 06, 2022

The Feast of St Raymond Penyafort.

"It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately." (Luke 5: 12 - 13).

Friday 7th January 2022, in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St Raymond Penyafort (1175 - 1275). Spanish Dominican Priest. Raymond was very erudite and he advanced the knowledge of Canon Law. St Raymond was a contemporary of the great St Thomas Aquinas also a Dominican priest. He studied Arabic in order to study the Koran so that he could evangelize the Moslems. St Raymond Penyafort did a great deal to secure the freedom of Christians during the Crusade. He died at the age of 100.

The man full of leprosy healed by Jesus in the Gospel of today most certainly heard about the miracles of Jesus. He believed that Jesus could heal him if he could get to Jesus.  One day, he was lucky and got very close to Jesus. Excuse me. This is not luck but providence. There is no Luck or Chance in the Bible. The man fell prostrate, pleaded with Jesus, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  The leper's boldness and confidence melted the heart of Jesus.  "'It is my will that you be healed.'  Then He said, "Be made clean."  And the leprosy left the man immediately." The leper became instantly healed of the most dreaded disease at that time.

Consider how the leper won the heart of Jesus:

#1. He prostrated himself. Posture of adoration.
#2. He said to Jesus: "If you wish.." This could mean: I want to be healed badly but I respect your sovereignty.
#3. "You can make me clean." I know all things are possible for God.

Note the action of Jesus. He touched the leper, followed by these comforting words: “I do will it. Be made clean.”

What can we learn from this? Whatever problem we may have, whether it is equivalent of being "full of leprosy," approach Jesus with confidence and expectant faith. Jesus is the King of mercy. Jesus delights in mercy. The healing of the leper is a testimony to us to encourage us to have full trust and confidence in Jesus.

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday, 7th January 2022.

 First Friday in January, 2022.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month. In the 1st  month of the year, January 2022, we look at Promise #1.

#1.  "I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life."
What is your state of life?
A.  Married
B.  Single
C.  Divorced
D.  Widow
E.   Adolescent

The needs of married couples are different from the needs of single people. The needs of every state in life is different.

Jesus promises us in the First Promise (1 of 12) sufficient grace to cope with whatever happens. Each state of life has its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  The promises of Jesus covers: health, family, job, money, food, possessions and future.

Pray for faith to appropriate the graces and gifts promised by Jesus for January 2022.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus every First Friday.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Sacred Heart devotional items and prayer requests, click the link below:

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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

St André Bessette pray for us.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4: 18 - 19).

Thursday 6th January 2022, in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St André Bessette, popularly known as Brother André. (1845 - 1937). Canadian. Religious Brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Miracle worker when alive. More miracles now from Heaven. What is the contribution of Brother André to the building up of the mystical Body of Christ?
#1.  St André Bessette had a great devotion to St Joseph, the holy Spouse of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He helped in the revival of the cult of St Joseph.
#2. His special commitment to the afflicted and the poor could not be unconnected with the torrents of the miracles his ministry unleashed while he was alive and even more when he is in Heaven. Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. He pays back so to speak His favored saints by granting many miracles through their intercessions.

When Jesus quoted our key Scripture for today in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4: 18 – 19), he stressed the note of present fulfillment: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  What the prophet foretold centuries ago is now happening TODAY! NOW! Not tomorrow or next year but NOW!

God chose to be generous and magnanimous to his people “in the year of favor.” The gift of “the Spirit of the Lord” is for the benefit of the marginalized.

When Jesus searched the scriptures for an understanding of his mission, he found the answer in Isaiah 61: 1 – 2. He appropriated the scripture and applied it to Himself.

The Spirit of the Lord is also upon you and upon me. This happened at the moment of our Baptism. What has the Spirit anointed us for? To know this, we discern and pray.

Today, we see the afflicted everywhere: home, church, street and workplace and also in the media. Everywhere people are crying for relief and hope, totally unaware that the answer is in Jesus Christ. The message of Jesus Christ will set free the captives, prisoners of fear and materialism, those bound by depression and hopelessness.

Jesus opened the eyes of the blind. His message continues today to open eyes blinded by ignorance, lust and selfishness. The true oppressed of today are not merely the materially poor but even more so the spiritually poor. The materially rich cannot overcome the world because they lack the faith to do so. "Those who pour libations to the gods of this world multiply their sorrows... The gods of this world only take advantage of all who love them." (Cf Psalm 16: 2)

St André Bessette pray for us.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2022

The Feast of St John Neumann, Bishop.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love." (1 John 4: 18)

"Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" (Mark 6: 50)

Wednesday 5th January 2022, in the Season of Christmas is the feast of a great missionary priest, Bishop, Church planter, pioneer in the Catholic Schools system in USA. His name is St John Neumann (1811 - 1860). Born in Bohemia. Became a Redemptorist priest. Became Bishop of Philadelphia.  Worn out by his labors, John died at the age of 49.

Notice that fear is addressed in the first Reading and the Gospel.

Faith in the promises of the word of God has helped me manage fears in my life. So many people are fearful today because of the disruptive effects of the Pandemics which threaten everything we took for granted, viz:  Family, Job, Money, Health, Possessions and Future.

Trusting the promises of God which cannot fail has helped me to deal with most fears in my life. In these dire days, trusting these promises is helping me keep my head above water every day.

Here are a few of the Scriptures that help me to fight fear:

#1 Deuteronomy 31:  8
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

#2  Psalm 27:1
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

#3  Isaiah 41:10
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

#4. "And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NLT).

#5. "Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Luke 8: 50; Mark 5: 36).

#6. "If God is for me, who can be against me?" (Romans 8: 31).

And here is word of wisdom and courage from a Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church:
"Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices."  (St Teresa of Avila)

"This morning, before Lauds, the Father spoke to me for the first time : Faith in My fatherhood will be the path of healing for many, who, like you, were kept from growing up in freedom and joy beneath the gaze of their father. I want to banish fear from your life. I want you to feel loved and surrounded by My presence as Father—a presence that supports you, that will not hold you back from becoming the man that I have always wanted you to be; a presence that will allow you, in turn, to become a father, a father in My image, a father as My Jesus was fully a father in the midst of His disciples. They discovered My fatherhood in His countenance.  They sensed it in drawing close to His Heart, they saw it at work in the signs of mercy and of power that He worked in My Name." (IN SINU JESU Sunday, October 28, 2007).

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Monday, January 03, 2022

The Feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton Religious and Founder.

"Then, [Jesus] taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men." (Mark 6: 34.... 44).

Tuesday 4th January 2022, in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 - 1821). American. Wife, mother, religious, educator and founder of the Sisters of Charity of St Joseph.

After her wealthy husband died, St Elizabeth Ann Seton accomplished the task of establishing her five children. She embraced the evangelical vows of chastity, obedience and poverty until her death at the age of 46.
Mother Seton as she was popularly known founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph whose mission was to educate the poor and orphans, especially in native American communities. This became the foundation of the American parochial school system. She is the first native born American to be canonized saint.
St Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of educators and widows.

Our Scripture for today proclaims: "They all ate and were satisfied." (Mark 6: 42). What does this mean? This points to the immense generosity of God.  Jesus fed 5000 men and there were 12 baskets of leftover. Remember the story of the manna in the desert where a whole nation ate of the heavenly food for years. Both the manna and today's incident of the Multiplication of loaves point to the Eucharist. The Eucharist today is a daily food. Food for our journey to Heaven. Day after day, millions are fed all over the world. "They all ate and were satisfied." (Mark 6: 42).

The Multiplication of Loaves is such an important incident that it appears in all four Gospels.

St Elizabeth Ann Seton pray for us.

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Sunday, January 02, 2022

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2: 10-11).

Monday 3rd January, 2022 in the Season of Christmas is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
Jesus is the name given to our Redeemer before He was born. The name Jeshua in Hebrew means God Saves!  It is a name that is so appropriate for Jesus because He saves everyone who puts his faith in Him.

Even before the Gospels were written, the Name of Jesus has been revered and venerated. In fact, the power of the Name of Jesus is one of the four pillars of Apostolic Witness. Others are:
#1 The Death of Jesus.
#2 The Resurrection of Jesus.
#3 The Witness of Sacred Scriptures to these events.

Is there any wonder that this hymn from Philippians below is the earliest liturgical hymn recorded? This hymn is a historical testament that Liturgy (the Mass) precedes the written Gospels.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 10 - 11).

Demons fear the Name of Jesus. Use it often as an armor of protection. The Jesus Prayer, "Jesus have mercy on me" is a full prayer. Use it when you need a quick prayer.

According to St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, "The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, and nourishes pure affections.... This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul."

St Bernardine of Siena who wrote a good deal on the power of the name of Jesus teaches:
"The Name of God is awesome; in it is found the ardor of the flame which consumes, the wrath which chastises, the weight which crushes; but all these things have been tempered in the wellspring of mercy by Jesus Christ Who was smitten with love for us in the womb of the Virgin Mary."

If you say the Rosary every day, you mention the name of Jesus at least 60 times a day.
The name of Jesus is the sweetest sound in every language.

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

Jesus, I Trust in You.

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