All posts by Marisia Adams

Dec 13th & Catalytic Converters

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Why did thousands come out to hear John the Baptist preach? And what was so unusual about his message? When John the Baptist appeared on the public scene and began to prophesy the whole nation of Israel took notice. It had been many hundreds of years since a prophet had spoken out and performed signs in the land of Israel. John broke the long silence with the sudden announcement that the Messiah (God’s Anointed One) was about to appear. God had long ago promised his people through the patriarchs of the old covenant (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and through the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, etc.) and rulers of Israel (Moses, David), that he would send them a Redeemer who would save them from their sins, free them from oppression, fill them with the joy of his presence (Zephaniah 3:17), and bring them his everlasting kingdom of peace and righteousness.

John brought ‘good news’ to the people
The people recognized that John was an extraordinary man of God and a true prophet who spoke in God’s name. They came out to hear the “good news” (Luke 3:18) which he preached to them. And they willingly submitted to his baptism of repentance at the River Jordan where he preached. John’s task was to wake people up from spiritual sleep and indifference, and to turn them back to hear God’s voice and obey his commandments. John wanted the people to be in a good place to receive the Messiah and follow him.

Luke mentions two groups in particular who came to John for spiritual renewal – tax collectors and Jewish soldiers who belonged to the Roman peace-keeping force. Both groups were regarded as being spiritually unfit and unclean by the Jewish authorities and were treated as outcasts. John welcomed them with open arms along with all the multitude of people who came to hear the “good news” and be baptized in the cleansing waters of the River Jordan.

John’s message of repentance 
John’s message of renewal and repentance was very practical. He told the people three things: First, every follower of God must share what they possess (their personal goods and resources) with their neighbors, especially with those who lacked the basic necessities of life. John recognized that this was a key duty for every individual and an outward expression of the great commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18).

Second, John pointed out the sacred duty to give each and every person what is their due and to not take from them what rightfully belongs to them. God commands that each person be treated with respect and that honor be given where honor is due. John told the tax collectors that they must not coerce people to pay more tax money than what was rightfully due. (Tax collectors often made handsome profits for themselves by overcharging other people.) John instructed soldiers to not abuse their authority or power to compel people to give or do things for them beyond what was rightful and their due. (It was not uncommon for soldiers to abuse their position to force people to carry their heavy equipment for them or to rob them of their goods.) John did not tell them to leave their profession, but to be good, honest, and respectful soldiers.

And thirdly, John exhorted his listeners to be content with what they had and to avoid coveting (wrongfully desiring or acquiring) what belonged to others. John basically called the people to turn back to God and to walk in his way of love and righteousness.

The word of God has power to transform us
Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed it has power to awaken faith in people who will listen and turn to God. God, in turn, is always ready to open our eyes to the spiritual reality of his kingdom and to the power and action of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into the likeness of Christ. Do you believe that God’s word is “good news” for you? And do you allow his word to take root and grow in you, and bring you the fruit of joy, freedom, and new life in the Holy Spirit?

John’s message of “good news” aroused in many people a new hope and joyful expectation that this was now the decisive moment for God’s Anointed One (the long-expected Messiah and Savior of Israel) to come with power, justice, and judgment to establish his reign of peace and righteousness. Many wondered aloud if John himself might be the promised Messiah, the one who would deliver them from oppression.

John’s response was loud and clear – he was only the herald’s voice who prepares the way for the Messiah’s coming. When John compared his position with the Messiah, John humbly stated that he considered himself lower than the lowest slave. His task was simply to awaken the interest of his people for God’s word, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive the Messiah when he came. With John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to the human race of the “divine likeness,” prefiguring what would be achieved through and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
John’s baptism was for repentance – turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God’s word. John said that the Messiah would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy. 4:24), his righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16).

John expanded this image with the illustration of the process of separating wheat from chaff. A winnowing fan or shovel was used for tossing the wheat in the air. The heavier kernels of wheat fell to the ground, while the lighter chaff was carried off by the wind. The chaff was then collected and used for fuel (see Isaiah 21:10).

The fire of the Holy Spirit
In the New Testament, the image of fire is also used of the Holy Spirit who comes to cleanse us from sin and make us holy (Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies us of sin and it inspires in us a reverent fear of God and of his word. And it increases our desire for holiness and for the joy of meeting the Lord when he comes again.

Do you want to be on fire for God and for the return of the Lord Jesus when he comes in his glory? Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit results in a new birth and entry into God’s kingdom as his beloved sons and daughters (John 3:5). Jesus is ready to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God’s light and truth. The word of God has power to change and transform our lives that we may be lights pointing others to Jesus Christ, the true light of the world (John 8:12).  Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you point others to Jesus Christ in the way you speak and live?

“Lord Jesus, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your gospel and to point others to the light of Christ.”

 

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

CATALYTIC CONVERTERS

“Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!” —Philippians 4:4

Paul made one of the greatest proclamations in history when he commanded the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!” On Paul’s initial mission to the Philippians, he and Silas were beaten, stripped, scourged, thrown in jail, and had their feet tied to a stake (Acts 16:22-24). Under these terrible conditions, Paul and Silas decided to rejoice and sing praises to the Lord (Acts 16:25). This joyful praise was catalytic. It was followed by an earthquake, which resulted in freedom from chains and prison (Acts 16:26). Next, the jailer and his family were converted to Christ (Acts 16:33). At Philippi, Paul personally experienced the power of praise and joy. So he knew what he was talking about when he commanded: “Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!”

Paul came to realize that he had joy not in spite of sufferings but rather by means of sufferings. Sufferings are not incompatible with joy; instead, they are even necessary to rejoice always. Paul proclaimed: “Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you” (Col 1:24). We rejoice in the measure that we share Christ’s sufferings (1 Pt 4:13). Therefore, it is impossible to rejoice in the Lord always unless we suffer with Christ.

Joy is catalytic. It sets off a chain-reaction of miracles leading to salvation. Redemptive suffering is a catalyst of catalysts. It leads to joy.

Prayer: Father, on this Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, reveal to me the mysteries of joy. Promise: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel!” —Zep 3:14 Praise: Praise You, Jesus, Emmanuel, “God-with-us” (see Mt 1:23). Alleluia!
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 12th & When Mary Visits

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

God gives signs to show what he is about to do. John the Baptist is one such sign, who pointed to Jesus and prepared the way for his coming. John fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets: to be fingers pointing to Jesus Christ. John is the last and greatest prophet of the old kingdom, the old covenant. The Jews expected that when the Messiah would come, Elijah would appear to announce his presence. John fills the role of Elijah and prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ by preaching a baptism of repentance and renewal.

As watchful servants, we, too must prepare for the Lord’s coming again by turning away from sin and from everything that would keep us from pursuing his will. Are you eager to do God’s will and are you prepared to meet the Lord Jesus when he returns in glory?

“Lord Jesus, stir my zeal for your righteousness and for your kingdom. Free me from complacency and from compromising with the ways of sin and worldliness that I may be wholeheartedly devoted to you and to your kingdom.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

WHEN MARY VISITS

“Mary set out, proceeding in haste into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.” —Luke 1:39-40

When Mary visited Elizabeth, both Elizabeth and her baby were filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:41). Then Mary proclaimed the greatness of the Lord (Lk 1:46) and announced a spiritual revolution in which the mighty would be deposed and replaced with the lowly (Lk 1:52).

When Mary visited the area now called Mexico City, eight million people were converted to Jesus in seven years. This launched a spiritual revolution which put an end to the demonic human sacrifice of thousands of children.

Jesus may be sending His mother to visit us now. If we accept Mary as our mother on Jesus’ terms, we will have a new Pentecost (see Acts 1:14). This will result in the conversion of millions and in a spiritual revolution that will put an end to the surgical and chemical abortions of many millions of children each year.

Instead of rejecting Jesus and His mother, let us make room for them in our lives (see Lk 2:7). In this way, we will have hope, abundant and eternal life, and a true Christmas. Who are we that the mother of our Lord should come to us? (see Lk 1:43)

Prayer: Father, make me as open to Your mother as was Elizabeth. Promise: “See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord.” —Zec 2:14 Praise: Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke to one obedient man. Now half the Catholic Church’s living members are in the New World.
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 11th & The Star Of Obedience

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Do you seek God’s way of peace and wisdom for your life? The prophets remind us that God’s kingdom is available to those who are teachable and receptive to the word of God. Through their obedience to God’s word and commandments, they receive not only wisdom and peace for themselves, but they, in turn become a blessing to their children and their offspring as well. Jesus warns the generation of his day to heed God’s word before it is too late. He compares proud teachers and vain scholars with stubborn playmates who refuse to follow wise counsel and instruction.

Jesus parable about a group of disappointed musicians and their stubborn friends who refuse to sing or dance at the appropriate occasion challenge us to examine whether we are selective to only hear and do what we want to hear. The young music players in Jesus’ parable react with great dismay because they cannot get anyone to follow their instruction. They complain that if they play their music at weddings, no one will join in their festive song and dance; and if they play mournful tunes and songs at funerals, no one will join in at all. This parable echoes the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:4 – “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Are you in tune with the message of God’s kingdom? And do you heed God’s word of wisdom and truth as if your life depended on it?

Spiritual indifference and deaf ears can block God’s word for us
Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is a proclamation of good news that produces great joy and hope for those who listen and obey – but it is also a warning of bad consequences and disaster for those who refuse to accept God’s gracious invitation. Why did the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus meet with resistance and deaf ears? It was out of jealously and spiritual blindness that the scribes and Pharisees attributed John the Baptist’s austerities to the devil and they attributed Jesus’ table fellowship as evidence for pretending to be the Messiah. They succeeded in frustrating God’s plan for their lives because they had closed their hearts to the message of  John the Baptist and now they close their ears to Jesus, God’s anointed Son sent to redeem us from bondage to sin and death.

What can make us spiritually dull and slow to hear God’s voice? Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regards to the things of heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the good news of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s sight. Is you life in tune with Jesus’ message of hope and salvation? And do you know the joy and blessing of believing and obeying God’s word?

“Lord Jesus, open my ears to hear the good news of your kingdom and set my heart free to love and serve you joyfully. May nothing keep me from following you wholeheartedly.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

THE STAR OF OBEDIENCE

“If you would hearken to My commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea.” —Isaiah 48:18

Christmas, like life, is a matter of obedience. If we obey the Lord’s commands, we will become prosperous, vindicated, blessed, and assured this Christmas (Is 48:18-19). However, we are often like rebellious, disobedient children who want to give orders rather than take them (Mt 11:16-17). We must repent of this self-willed, disobedient attitude or we will deprive ourselves of Christmas and even of Christ.

At the first Christmas, the Lord gave His commands to Mary and Joseph through His angel (Lk 1:26Mt 1:20) and the government (Lk 2:1). He commanded the wise men through a star and the Bible (Mt 2:2-6). He commanded the shepherds through a choir of angels (Lk 2:11-12). The few who obeyed were present at the first Christmas. Yet a world of innkeepers had no room in their hearts even for the Messiah (Lk 2:7). It is the same today. The real Christmas, the personal encounter with Christ, is for those who believe in the Lord enough to obey Him. Only those who follow the star of obedience will make their way to the manger and find the Christ-Child.

Prayer: Lord, if I don’t die to self, I’ll miss out on Christmas again and I’ll never love You. I repent. Promise: “I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.” —Is 48:17 Praise: Pope St. Damasus I promoted the martyrs as a means to fight heresy and schism.
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 10th & In The “I” Of The Storm

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God? Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born. Who can top that as a compliment? But in the same breath Jesus says that the least in the kingdom of God is even greater than John! That sounds like a contradiction, right? Unless you understand that what Jesus was about to accomplish for our sake would supersede all that the prophets had done and foreseen.

“Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel”
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed to the forsaken and dispersed people of Israel some 700 years before the birth of Christ that “your Redeemer – the Holy One of Israel” would come to restore his people and to make all things new (Isaiah 41:14ff). When the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel did appear John the Baptist announced his arrival. He fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets – to be fingers pointing to Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed Son and Messiah. John proclaimed Jesus’ mission at the Jordan River when he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). John saw from a distance what Jesus would accomplish through his death on the cross – our redemption from bondage to sin and death and our adoption as sons and daughters of God and citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

The spirit of Elijah is sent in advance through John’s words
John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who point the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus the Messiah. Jesus confirms that John has fulfilled the promise that Elijah would return to herald the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). Jesus declares that John is nothing less that the great herald whose privilege it was to announce the coming of the Redeemer – the Holy One of Israel.

Jesus equates the coming of the kingdom of heaven with violence (Matthew 11:12). John himself suffered violence for announcing that the kingdom of God was near. He was thrown into prison and then beheaded. Since John’s martyrdom to the present times the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and persecution at the hands of violent men. The blood of the martyrs throughout the ages bear witness to this fact. The martyrs witness to the truth – the truth and love of Jesus Christ who shed his blood to redeem us from slavery to sin and Satan and the fear of death. The Lord Jesus gives us the power of his Holy Spirit to overcome fear with faith, despair with hope, and every form of hatred, violence, jealousy, and prejudice with love and charity towards all – even those who seek to destroy and kill.

We proclaim the joy of the Gospel of Christ even in the midst of suffering and violence
God may call some of us to be martyrs for our faith in Jesus Christ. But for most of us our call is to be drymartyrs who bear testimony to the joy of the Gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord Jesus. What attracts others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. He will fill us with the power of his Holy Spirit and give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you eager to witness to the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

“Lord Jesus, by your cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joy and confidence and make me a bold witness of your saving truth that others may know the joy and freedom of the Gospel of your kingdom of peace and righteousness.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

IN THE “I” OF THE STORM

“I am the Lord, your God, Who grasp your right hand.” —Isaiah 41:13

As long as the great I AM is Lord of your life, you have no reason to fear the storms of life (Is 41:13-14). Even if you feel as weak and worthless as a worm or maggot, the great I AM can make you so powerful that you will crush mountains (Is 41:14-15). If you submit your “I” to the I AM, He will open up rivers and springs in the desert to remove your afflictions and provide for your needs (Is 41:17-18). The desert of the “I,” ego, and self will be transformed into the life-giving forest of the I AM (see Is 41:19) — if we die to “I” to live for Him (Lk 9:23).

The main problem in life is that many of us try to solve our problems ourselves. Without Jesus, the great I AM (Jn 8:24, 28, 58), we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not” (Prv 3:5). “Rely not on your wealth; say not: ‘I have the power.’ Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart” (Sir 5:1-2). “Commit to the Lord your way; trust in Him, and He will act” (Ps 37:5). The worst mistake you can make is to try to “do it yourself.” The best thing you can do is to “let it be done” to you according to God’s Word (Lk 1:38). The “I’s have it,” that is, the problems. The I AM alone has the answers. Die to “I”; live for the I AM.

Prayer: Father, not my will but Yours be done (Mt 26:39). Promise: “I solemnly assure you, history has not known a man born of woman greater than John the Baptizer. Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he.” —Mt 11:11 Praise: William and Ann let God back in their troubled marriage. Jesus increased their love and joy, and gave them the grace to overcome their troubles.
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 9th & Resting With The Yoke On

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

What kind of yoke does the Lord Jesus have in mind for each one of us? And how can it be good for us? The Jewish people used the image of a yoke to express their submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus  says his yoke is “easy”. The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well for labor. We are commanded to put on the “sweet yoke of Jesus” and to live the “heavenly way of life and happiness”. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, our will with his will, our heart with his heart.

Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says his “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus’ presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?

In the Advent season we celebrate the coming of the Messiah King who ushers in the reign of God. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would establish God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Those who put their trust in God and in the coming of his kingdom receive the blessings of that kingdom – peace with God and strength for living his way of love, truth, and holiness (Isaiah 40). Jesus fulfills all the Messianic hopes and promises of God’s kingdom. That is why he taught his disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.

Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and disobedience. Only the Lord Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a yoke of glory, freedom, and joy with him. The yoke which the Lord Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of power and freedom to live in love, peace, and joy as God’s sons and daughters. Do you trust in God’s love and truth and submit to his will for your life?

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the sweet yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

RESTING WITH THE YOKE ON

“Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me.” —Matthew 11:29

Because God doesn’t grow weary (Is 40:28), and because we belong to God (Rm 14:7-8) and abide in God (Jn 15:4), His Word assures us that we won’t grow weary when we do His will (Is 40:29). God gives us strength as we bear the burden we are meant to bear, which is His yoke (Mt 11:29). The strength we need, and the rest we need, comes as we do His will.

Jesus came to remove the oppressive yoke of our sins, which burdens and weighs us down. He replaces that sinful yoke with His yoke, what He terms “My burden” (Mt 11:30). Jesus shares the yoke with us (and does most of the work) and even calls our burden “His” burden. Thus we “find rest” in bearing the burdens of this yoke by coming to Jesus, Who is right beside us in the other loop of the yoke. We can’t physically distance ourselves from Him, since He is yoked right next to us. However, most married couples can appreciate that someone can be right next to you, yet a million miles away. Therefore, we find rest by coming to Jesus, Who is right next to us, with humility, gratitude, and our full attention.

We have a choice to make in bearing Jesus’ yoke. We can regard it as a cross to bear and “say, ‘What a burden!’ ” (Mal 1:13) In this mindset, we might be following Jesus, but complaining and grumbling like the Israelites in the desert (see Nm 14:2ff). Alternatively, we can come to Jesus (Mt 11:28), accept His strength and help, and willingly go wherever He takes us. If we do this, we will find rest _ right in the midst of bearing His burden.

Prayer: Father, may I always “strive to enter into [Your] rest” (Heb 4:11) and thus find Your strength. Promise: “He pardons all your iniquities, He heals all your ills.” —Ps 103:3 Praise: St. Juan Diego’s humble obedience conquered the New World more than all the conquistadors combined.   (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 8th & Mary Changes The Menu

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Do you want to live a grace-filled life? The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as “full of grace”. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary’s obedience to this singular grace of God. “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race… The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith” (from Adv. haeres 3.22.4, by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, 130-200 AD).

Faith is the key that unlock’s the power of God’s kingdom in our lives
What is the key that can unlock the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately experienced the consequence of their action – separation from the God who loved them. God in his mercy promised them a Redeemer who would pay the price for their sin and the sin of the world. We see the marvelous unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly.

God gives us the grace to say “yes” to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the grace, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?

“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and to your plan for my life.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

MARY CHANGES THE MENU

“The woman whom You put here with me — she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” —Genesis 3:12

Adam and Eve stood at the foot of the tree in the middle of the garden of Eden (see Gn 2:9; 3:3, 6). They were deciding whether or not to eat its fruit. The lying serpent persuaded them to go ahead and eat (Gn 3:1-5). Eve, the first woman, took the fruit, ate it, and gave Adam the forbidden fruit to eat. They ate the fruit of rebellion and disobedience. Thus the original sin was committed.

Mary is the new Eve. In her obedience, she fully reverses what the first Eve had sowed in her disobedience. The truthful Immaculate Virgin Mother still stands at the foot of the tree in the middle of the garden of Calvary (Jn 19:25, 41), the “tree” of the cross (Gal 3:13). One of the things Mary reverses is our eating patterns at the foot of the tree. Like the first Eve, Mary also is persuading us to eat of this tree’s fruit (Gn 3:1-5), the flesh of her Son Jesus, the Holy Eucharist (Jn 6:55ff).

Many people have been stuffing themselves with the things of the world (see Prv 13:19) for years. Some refuse to go along with the world’s diet and center their lives around the Mass, devoting themselves to partaking of the Bread of Life. Still others are deciding today whether or not to eat the fruit of sinful worldly pleasure.

Decide today to eat as Mary leads. Allow Mary to fully reverse Eve’s curse in your life. Receive the Holy Eucharist.

Prayer: Immaculate Mary, I accept your advice to do whatever Jesus tells me (Jn 2:5). “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Promise: “God chose us in Him before the world began, to be holy and blameless in His sight, to be full of love.” —Eph 1:4 Praise: Horace, once a non-Christian, came to know Jesus as Lord because of an interest in the prophetic messages given at Marian apparitions.   (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 7th & 70 X 7

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Is there anything in your life that keeps you from receiving the blessings of God’s kingdom? The prophets foretold that when the Messiah came to usher in God’s kingdom the blind would see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus not only brought physical healing, but healing of mind, heart, and soul as well. Jesus came to bring us the abundant life of God’s kingdom (John 10:10). But that new life and transformation can be stifled by unbelief, indifference, and sinful pride. Sin cripples us far more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and it holds us in eternal bondage. There is only one solution and that is the healing, cleansing power of Jesus’ forgiveness.

Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is ever ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus’ healing power?

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

70 X 7

“Who is this Man Who utters blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” —Luke 5:21

Jesus always has forgiveness on His mind. The roof literally falls in, but Jesus responds: “My friend, your sins are forgiven you” (Lk 5:20). A man lies before Him paralyzed and Jesus says: “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Lk 5:24). The apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray and Jesus replies: “Forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us” (Mt 6:12). Even while hanging on the cross, among His last words Jesus kept saying: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).

“You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tm 1:15). “I tell you, there will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent” (Lk 15:7). Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). He is preoccupied with the forgiveness of sin.

If we ask Jesus about our Christmas presents, He’ll offer to forgive our sins. If we complain about our troubles, He’ll call us to Confession. If we blame our spouse for something, Jesus will talk to us about the plank in our own eye (Mt 7:3). When Jesus thinks of Christmas, He thinks of the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Go to Confession. Give Jesus the Christmas present of your repentance.

Prayer: Jesus, baptize me in repentance. Send the Spirit to search my heart. May I repent on the deepest level. Promise: “They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.” —Is 35:10 Praise: St. Ambrose brought St. Augustine to God, who eventually brought countless others to the Lord.
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 6th & Highway Construction

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Do you recognize the voice of the Lord speaking to you when you listen to the word of God in Scripture? Luke the evangelist tells us that the “word of God came to John in the wilderness” (Luke 3:2). Who was John the Baptist and what is the significance of the word which he received and delivered to the people of his day? Luke tells us that John was the son of Zechariah, a priest who served in the temple at Jerusalem. John stood at a pivotal juncture in the history of God’s dealing with his people. He bridged the Old and New Testaments, also known as the Old and New Covenants which God made with his people.

John was filled and led by the Spirit
John’s prophetic calling and mission preceded his conception and birth. The angel had announced to Zechariah that his barren wife will conceive a son, and “you shall call his name John,” and “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:13,15).  When John received his name shortly after birth, his father prophesied that he would be “called the prophet of the Most High who will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76). John was called to be a prophet, a spokesman for God.

In dramatic fashion Luke tells us when John appeared on the world scene. Luke lists a few of the key reigning rulers in John’s era, including Tiberius Caesar of Rome (Luke 3:1). These rulers pale in reference to the man who now stood at the door of a new era of grace and salvation for the world. John’s mission was to prepare the way for God’s Anointed King who would come to establish God’s rule above all other kings and authorities. Luke emphasizes the universal call of the Gospel to all peoples without distinction. He quotes from the prophet Isaiah that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Isaiah 40:5; 52:10).

John was a servant of God’s Word
How did John prepare for the coming of the Anointed (Messiah) King and Savior of the world? Luke tells us that “the word of God came to John” when he was dwelling in the wilderness of Judea (Luke 3:2). John was called from an early age to devote himself to prayer and to the word of God. John not only took the Scriptures to heart, he molded his life according to them, and made himself a servant of the Word of God. John was led by the Spirit into a barren and lonely place away from the noise and distractions of everyday life. There God taught John in the solitude of the desert and prepared him for a prophetic ministry that would turn the hearts of his people to receive their long-awaited Messiah.

In the ancient world when a king decided to tour his kingdom, he first sent his courier ahead to prepare the way. John is the courier and great herald of the Messiah King who proclaims to all the peoples that the impending reign of God is now very close at hand. Isaiah had long ago prophesied the role of the Forerunner of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). John undoubtedly took this word to heart as he searched the Scriptures and reflected on the word of God in the wilderness. When John began his public ministry he traveled throughout the region of Judea and preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3).

Do you allow God’s Word to transform your life?
How can we, like John the Baptist, prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus Christ – today and everyday and when he comes again to bring us fully into his everlasting kingdom? John the Baptist tells us that the first step is conversion and repentance (Matthew 3:2; Luke 3:7). Conversion involves receiving God’s word into our heart and mind and allowing his Word to change our attitudes and wrong ways of thinking and judging. Repentance is the deliberate turning away from sin (wrong-doing) and turning to God to receive his pardon, healing, and strength to do what is good and reject what is wrong.

John saw from a distance what Jesus the Messiah would accomplish through his death and resurrection – pardon for our sins, healing and restoration, and eternal life for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Are you hungry for the Word of God and do you allow God’s word to transform the way you think, speak, and live your life?

“Lord Jesus, you are the Word of God and the Savior of the world. Help me to receive your Word with expectant faith, and to live it with confident hope, and to proclaim it joyfully with love and boldness to all I meet.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION

“Make ready the way of the Lord, clear Him a straight path.” —Luke 3:4

Before Christ’s Christmas coming and His Second Coming, we need to make a highway in the desert. We need this highway so we can return to the Lord from the exile of sin and so the Lord can return to take us from our exile on earth (see 1 Pt 2:11) to our heavenly home. This desert highway is both for us (Bar 5:7) and the Lord to use (Lk 3:4). We are to use the highway first to get out of the exile of sin. Then Jesus will come on it to take us home from our exile on earth.

We construct and travel this highway by repentance — deep repentance, “a baptism of repentance” (Lk 3:3). By repentance, we fill in the emptiness of sin’s “death valley” and level mountains of pride and inflated egos (Lk 3:5). As we confess our sins, the Lord makes straight (Lk 3:5) our winding excuses, rationalizations, unrealistic denials, and self-deceptions. The rough, jagged, cutting, harmful edges of our selfish attitudes are made smooth through repentance, forgiveness, Confession, and reconciliation (Lk 3:5).

Make and drive the highway of repentance into Christmas and heaven.

Prayer: Father, keep me on the holy highway (Is 35:8). Promise: “My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the very day of Christ.” —Phil 1:9-10 Praise: Praise You, Jesus, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). All glory and honor to You!
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 5th & No Man Is An Island

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net 

Who doesn’t want a life of good health, peace, and well-being? Isaiah foretold that God’s kingdom would overcome sorrow and adversity and bring true peace and prosperity to God’s people. Jesus understood his mission to bring the kingdom in all its fulness to us. The core of the Gospel message is quite simple: the kingdom or reign of God is imminent!

The kingdom of God is imminent
What is the kingdom of God? It’s the power of God at work in that society of men and women who trust in God and who honor him as their King and Lord.  In the Lord’s prayer we dare to ask God to reign fully in our lives and in our world: “May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 5:10 ). Jesus’ preaching of God’s kingdom was accompanied by signs and wonders. People were healed not only spiritually, but physically as well. Do you believe in the power of God’s kingdom for your life? Let his word transform your mind and heart that he may reign supreme in every area of your life.

Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry on the works which he did – to speak God’s word and to bring his healing power to the weary and oppressed. Jesus said to his disciples: Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8).What they had received from Jesus (all free of charge) they must now pass on to others without expecting any kind of payment or reward. They must show by their attitude that their first interest is God, not material gain.

The kingdom of heaven comes to those who receive Christ with faith
Jesus’ words are just as relevant today. The kingdom of heaven is available to those who are ready to receive it. We cannot buyheaven; but if we accept the love and mercy of Jesus we already possess heaven in our hearts! The Lord brings his kingdom or heavenly reign to those who receive him with faith and obedience. When the Lord returns in his glory he will fully restore his kingdom of everlasting peace and justice. Do you pray and watch with confident hope for God’s kingdom to come in all its fullness?

“Lord Jesus, rouse my spirit from complacency and stir my faith to see you act today. Give me boldness to live and proclaim the message of the kingdom of heaven and to be a prophetic sign of that kingdom to this generation.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

Jesus said, ” ‘Beg the Harvest Master to send out laborers to gather His harvest.’ Then He summoned His twelve disciples.” —Matthew 9:38—10:1

The Lord promised His people happiness, sustenance, guidance, abundance, light, and healing (see Is 30:19ff). Centuries later, Jesus looked at crowds of people, and “His heart was moved with pity. They were lying prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). Are God’s promises true? If so, why aren’t we seeing them fulfilled?

God usually plans it so that we need help to receive His promises. We need laborers for the harvest (Mt 9:37). We need twelve disciples (Mt 10:1), that is, a small community of Christians, to cure our sicknesses and diseases and to expel unclean spirits (Mt 10:1). We need people and a community to call us to faith in Jesus and total commitment to His kingdom (see Mt 10:7). “How can they believe unless they have heard of Him? And how can they hear unless there is someone to preach?” (Rm 10:14)

Be a laborer in the harvest. Other people need you. Don’t be reluctant to ask others to help you grow close to the Lord. You need others. Try to join or form a small Christian community. You need a community of Christians. As Jesus invested His life in twelve disciples, so should we. Then we will “cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the leprous, expel demons” (Mt 10:8). We will see God’s promises fulfilled.

Prayer: Father, may I see every one of Your promises fulfilled and help others do the same. Promise: “The gift you have received, give as a gift.” —Mt 10:8 Praise:John and Susan prayed in faith and people in the community were healed.
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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

Dec 4th & Building Blocks

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, 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 mercyliterally means “sorrowful at heart”. But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another person’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another person’s misfortune and suffering as if it were their own.

God shows mercy to those who recognize their need for his forgiveness and healing
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 transforms those who put their hope and trust in him
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) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

 

BUILDING BLOCKS

“When He got to the house, the blind men caught up with Him. Jesus said to them, ‘Are you confident I can do this?’ ” —Matthew 9:28

Are you confident that in “a very little while” (Is 29:17), at this Christmas, the Lord will do even more than we ever asked or imagined? (Eph 3:20) He promises “the eyes of the blind shall see”; “the deaf shall hear the words of a book” (Is 29:18) — and this is only the beginning. Honestly, many of us would have to admit that we do believe, yet need God’s help with our lack of faith (Mk 9:24). This is one of the main purposes of Advent. All depends on faith, including Christmas (Rm 4:16).

Christ has a glorious Christmas ready for us, but we don’t have the faith to claim it. We need time to build our faith. We need Advent. We must repent and hear the Word of the Lord. We must change from “doubting Thomas” to one of those wise men and women who take God at His Word and receive their glorious inheritance.

Is your faith stronger on this sixth day of Advent than it was a week ago? It should be. Will your faith be even stronger tomorrow? It will be, if God has His way. Let the Lord build your faith this Advent so you can build His kingdom this Christmas and New Year.

Prayer: Father, for starters, give me faith to move mountains, mustard-seed faith (Mt 17:20). Promise: “Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.” —Is 29:24 Praise: St. John of Damascus blessed the Church with his writings defending the Faith.
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, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015.
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