Readings 20141031

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

How do you approach the commandment to observe the sabbath as a day of rest to honor the Lord? The Pharisees were convinced that Jesus was a reckless Sabbath-breaker. The Gospels record seven incidents in which Jesus healed people on the Sabbath – the seventh day of the week set apart for rest and the worship of God. You would think Jesus’ miracles on the Sabbath day of rest would draw admiration and gratitude from all. Unfortunately, each incident seemed to incite increasing hostility from the religious leaders who held an interpretation that went beyond God’s intention for the Sabbath day of rest. They were certain that Jesus was a dangerous and irreligious man, a Sabbath-breaker, who must be stopped at all costs! Why did the Pharisees invite Jesus to dinner on the Sabbath, after he had already repeatedly broken their Sabbath regulations? Luke, a physician and keen observer of the human condition, notes the disposition of the Pharisees as they bring Jesus into their table fellowship. Body language often communicates more truthfully than words. Luke says the scribes and Pharisees were watching Jesus, no doubt with great suspicion. They wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God’s law and find some way to discredit him. Jesus’ attention and affection quickly turned to a person who had a physical ailment called dropsy. How did such a pitiable person get into this dinner party? In the hot arid climate of Palestine, homes were open and people freely dropped in without much fuss or attention. For the religious minded it was considered uncharitable to exclude beggars. And if a rabbi came to dinner, it would be expected for him to speak a few words. So, famous rabbis obviously drew crowds of bystanders wherever they went. God’s work of love and mercy never rests Jesus already knew that his hosts wanted to catch him in the act of breaking their Sabbath rituals. So when Jesus gave his defense for healing on the Sabbath, they treated him with cold silence. They were ensnared in their own legalism and could not understand or see the purpose of God in allowing a work of healing to take precedence over rest. Why did God give the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath and enjoined his people to refrain from work on that day? The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his works, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. It was not, however, intended to put a stop to love of God and love of neighbor. The law of love supercedes the law of rest! Jesus shows the fallacy of the Pharisees’ legalism by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to heal. God’s word has power to heal and to set us free from ignorance, error, intolerance, and prejudice. Do you honor the Lord’s Day with appropriate rest and worship of God, and do you treat your neighbor with love and mercy in all situations? “Lord Jesus, may I always honor you, both  in my work and in my rest, and in the way I treat my neighbor. Fill me with your love and keep me free from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek to please you and to bring good to my neighbor as well.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com   FINISHING SCHOOL   “He Who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion.” —Philippians 1:6   Hours before His death, Jesus Himself prayed to His Father: “I have given You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave Me to do” (Jn 17:4). At His death, Jesus “said, ‘Now it is finished.’ Then He bowed His head, and delivered over His spirit” (Jn 19:30). Paul, having the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), stated in the last years of his life: “I put no value on my life if only I can finish my race and complete the service to which I have been assigned by the Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:24). Paul proclaimed: “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the preaching task might be completed” (2 Tm 4:17). Before his death, Paul also proclaimed: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). Paul assured the church of Philippi: “I am sure of this much: that He Who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). The Lord has called us to make our lives beautiful temples of the Spirit to His glory (see 1 Pt 2:5). Our concern is that we may not “complete the work” (Lk 14:29). Then all who see our lives will not give glory to God; rather, they will jeer at us and say: “They began to build what they could not finish” (see Lk 14:30). However, because we have been baptized into Christ and have the mind of Christ, we can confidently say: “The Lord will complete what He has done for me” (Ps 138:8).  
Prayer: Father, may I cross Your finish line. Promise: “He took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way.” —Lk 14:4 Praise: Charles prays, studies the church’s teachings (especially the Bible), and reads the lives of the saints to help increase his faith.   (For a related teaching, order our tape Am I Going to Heaven? on audio AV 54-3 or video V-54.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  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

#Readings 20151030

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

When your security is threatened and danger strikes do you flee or stand your ground? When King Herod, the ruler of Galilee, heard that thousands of people were coming to Jesus, he decided it was time to eliminate this threat to his influence and power. That is why some of the Pharisees warned Jesus to flee from the wrath of Herod. Jesus, in turn, warned them that they were in greater spiritual danger of losing both soul and body if they refused to listen to God and to his messengers the prophets. Like John the Baptist and all the prophets who preceded him, Jesus posed a threat to the ruling authorities of his day.
Do not fear those who oppose God Jesus went so far as to call Herod a fox. What did he mean by such an expression? The fox was regarded as the slyest of all animals and one of the most destructive as well. Any farmer will tell you how difficult it is to get rid of foxes who under the cover of night steal and destroy. The fox became a symbol of what was worthless,  insignificant, and destructive. It takes great courage to stand up and openly oppose a tyrant. Jesus knew that he would suffer the same fate as the prophets who came before him. He not only willingly exposed himself to such danger, but he prayed for his persecutors and for those who rejected the prophets who spoke in God’s name. Do you pray for your enemies and for those who oppose the gospel today?
Jesus came to set people free from sin and to give them new life Jesus contrasts his desire for Jerusalem – the holy city and temple of God – with Jerusalem’s lack of desire for him as their long-expected Messiah. Jesus compares his longing for Jerusalem with a mother hen gathering her chicks under her protective wings. Psalm 91 speaks of God’s protection in such terms: He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge (Psalm 91:4). Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that he would meet certain betrayal, rejection, and death on a cross. His death on the cross, however, brought about victory and salvation, not only for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all – both Jew and Gentile – who would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Open the door of your heart to the Lord Jesus Jesus’ prophecy is a two-edged sword, pointing to his victory over sin and death and foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the dire consequences for all who would reject him and his saving message. While the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple was determined – it was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D. – there remained for its inhabitants a narrow open door leading to deliverance. Jesus says: I am the door; whoever enters by me will be saved (John 10:9).
The Lord Jesus opens the way for each of us to have direct access to God who adopts us as his children and who makes his home with us. Do you make room for the Lord in your life? The Lord is knocking at the door of your heart (Revelations 3:20) and he wishes to enter into a close personal relationship with you. Receive him who is the giver of expectant faith, unwavering hope, and undying love. And long for the true home which God has prepared for you in his heavenly city, Jerusalem (Revelations 21:2-4).
“Lord Jesus, I place all my trust and hope in you. Come make your home with me and take possession of my heart and will that I may wholly desire what is pleasing to you. Fill my heart with love and mercy for others that I may boldly witness to the truth and joy of the gospel through word and example, both to those who accept it and to those who oppose it.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

ARMED AND DANGEROUS  
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.” —Ephesians 6:17  
Life is a wrestling match against demons (Eph 6:12). Our offensive weapon in this battle is the Holy Spirit working through His Word and in prayer (Eph 6:17-18).
To defeat the devil, we need to do what Jesus did when He was tempted (Mt 4:4, 7, 10) — we must wield the sword of God’s Word (see Rv 1:16) in the power of the Spirit. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rm 10:17, our transl.). Therefore, the Word of God is the basis for faith. Moreover, we must grow strong in our “holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). Both proclaiming God’s Word in the Spirit and praying in the Spirit strengthens our faith. By such faith, we conquer the world (1 Jn 5:5) and claim Jesus’ victory over Satan, the prince of the world. The Spirit gives us the gift of faith (1 Cor 12:9) and the fruit of faith (Gal 5:22). Moreover, faith is how we move mountains (Mt 17:20) and destroy the strongholds of the evil one (2 Cor 10:4).
Consequently, Satan repeatedly tempts us to sin and thereby stifle the Spirit (1 Thes 5:19). This is his attempt to disarm us. We must resist his temptations and thus live the life in the Spirit, the life of faith and victory.   Prayer: Father, may I be armed and Satan disarmed (Lk 11:22), and not vice versa.
Promise: “Pray that I may have courage to proclaim it as I ought.” —Eph 6:20
Praise: Jim’s wife felt her parish was dead and wanted to leave the Catholic Church. Jim refused to allow her to leave. Years later, the two are major leaders in several Catholic ministries.   (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Spiritual Warfare.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  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

Readings 20141029

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

What does the image of a door say to us about the kingdom of God? Jesus’ story about the door being shut to those who come too late suggests they had offended their host and deserved to be excluded. It was customary for teachers in Jesus’ time to close the door on tardy students and not allow them back for a whole week in order to teach them a lesson in discipline and faithfulness.
Who will be invited to enter God’s kingdom? Jesus told this story in response to the question of who will make it to heaven – to God’s kingdom of everlasting peace and eternal life. Many rabbis held that all Israel would be saved and gain entry into God’s kingdom, except for a few blatant sinners who excluded themselves! After all, they were specially chosen by God when he established a covenant relationship with them.
Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one’s membership as a people who have entered into a covenant relationship with God does not automatically mean entry into the everlasting kingdom of God. Second, Jesus asserts that many from the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations would enter God’s kingdom. God’s invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus is the door to the kingdom of heaven But Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door. What did Jesus mean by this expression? The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved (John 10:9). God sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God grace (favor and blessing) and mercy (pardon for our sins). Through Jesus’ victory on the cross he has freed us from slavery to sin and hurtful desires and addictions, and he has made us sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom. We are free now to choose which kingdom we will serve – the kingdom of truth and light ruled by God’s wisdom or the kingdom of falsehood and darkness ruled by Satan and the world system or society of people who are opposed to God and his laws.
Following the Lord requires effort and commitment on our part If we want to enter God’s kingdom and receive our full inheritance which is stored up for us in heaven, then we must follow the Lord Jesus in his way of the cross through a willing renunciation of our own will for his will – our own life for his life – our own way for his way. Why did Jesus say we must strive to enter his kingdom of righteousness and peace? The word strive can also be translated as agony. To enter the kingdom of God we must struggle against every force or power of opposition – even the temptation to remain indifferent, apathetic, or compromising in our faith and personal trust in Jesus, our hope in holding firm to the promises of Jesus, and our uncompromising love for God above all else (the “love that has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Spirit which has been given to us” – Romans 5:5).
The Lord is with us to strengthen us in our trials and struggles The good news is that we do not struggle alone. God is with us and his grace is sufficient! As we strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27) Jesus assures us of complete victory! Do you trust in God’s grace and help, especially in times of testing and temptation?
“Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your guiding presence and mercy towards me. Through the gift of your Spirit fill me with courage and persevering faith to trust you in all things and every circumstance I find myself in. Give me the strength to cling to your promises when the world around me begins to shake or crumble. And when my love and zeal begin to waver, fan it into a flame of consuming love and dedication for you who are my All.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

The Lord of the worksand the works of the Lord   “Let all Your works give You thanks, O Lord.” —Psalm 145:10   When the Bible uses the word “slaves,” it usually corresponds to our word “employees.” Thus, we may find five commandments for employees in today’s first reading. “Obey your human masters with the reverence, the awe, and the sincerity you owe to Christ” (Eph 6:5). This applies not only to the good and reasonable bosses, “but even those who are harsh” (1 Pt 2:18). This is not possible naturally, but is a “work of grace” (1 Pt 2:19). “Do not render service for appearance only and to please men” (Eph 6:6). Paul said: “If I were trying to win man’s approval, I would surely not be serving Christ!” (Gal 1:10) “Do God’s will with your whole heart as slaves of Christ” (Eph 6:6). Because we love Jesus with our whole heart (see Mt 22:37), we work with our whole heart. “Give your service willingly”(Eph 6:7). “Everyone must give according to what he has inwardly decided; not sadly, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Do “it for the Lord rather than men” (Eph 6:7). The Bible tells us Who to work for, how to work, how not to work, and how to relate to our bosses. If we work accordingly, not “for perishable food but for food that remains unto life eternal” (Jn 6:27), we will receive an inheritance from the Lord as our reward (Col 3:24). Work for love of the Lord.  

Prayer: Father, may I put in a good day’s work for You each day.
Promise: “Try to come in through the narrow door.” —Lk 13:24
Praise: Starting her day with Mass helps Carol work cheerfully and zealously.   (For more on this subject, order our leaflet, Job Performance for Jesus.)   
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  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

#Readings 20141028

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SON   “You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Capstone.” —Ephesians 2:20  
As this is written, the Catholic Church is maligned in many arenas. Our leaders are scorned in the media and hammered by the general public. Dissent from within the Church also plagues our leaders. Failures of Church leaders are trumpeted from every public forum, while their virtuous acts receive little notice. This is not much different from the time of Jesus. The apostles were “men of no standing” (Acts 4:13). They were “a spectacle to the universe,” “fools on Christ’s account,” “the world’s refuse, the scum of all” (1 Cor 4:9, 10, 13). Throughout history, Church leaders have had their failings. Many apologists note that the fact the Catholic Church still exists is proof that God leads the Church, for no institution with our failings and weaknesses could stand if God was not holding it up (cf Acts 5:38-39). Therefore, rejoice that you, a living stone for Jesus (1 Pt 2:5), are called to be “fitted” into the Church (Eph 2:21). Rejoice that you are resting upon the shoulders of the apostles and the bishops, the successors of the apostles. Because there are many great leaders in the Church, when a leader fails and leaves a hole in the structure upon which we are built, we will not crumble, for we are built into the Church “in” Jesus (Eph 2:22). Jesus has prepared a place for you in His Church (see Jn 14:2). “Go out now and take your place” (Acts 5:20).  
Prayer: Father, I pray “first of all” for “those in authority” in the Church (1 Tm 2:1-2). May I submit faithfully to them “that they may fulfill their task with joy, not with sorrow” (Heb 13:17). Promise: “You are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.” —Eph 2:19
Praise: Sts. Simon and Jude submitted to their Lord and were given authority over nations and demons.   (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 October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  
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

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

What is God’s call on your life? When Jesus embarked on his mission he chose twelve men to be his friends and apostles. In the choice of the twelve, we see a characteristic feature of God’s work: Jesus chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, who had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these men, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not shrug back because we think that we have little or nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Is there anything holding you back from giving yourself unreservedly to God?
Wherever Jesus went the people came to him because they had heard all the things he did. They were hungry for God and desired healing from their afflictions. In faith they pressed upon Jesus to touch him. As they did so power came from Jesus and they were healed. Even demons trembled in the presence of Jesus and left at his rebuke. Jesus offers freedom from the power of sin and oppression to all who seek him with expectant faith. When you hear God’s word and consider all that Jesus did, how do you respond? With doubt or with expectant faith? With skepticism or with confident trust? Ask the Lord to increase your faith in his saving power and grace. “Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Inflame my heart with a burning love for you and with an expectant faith in your saving power. Take my life and all that I have as an offering of love for you, who are my All.”

#Readings 20141027

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Is there anything that keeps you bound up or oppressed? Infirmity, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, can befall us for a variety of reasons and God can use it for some purpose that we do not understand. When Jesus encountered an elderly woman who was spent of her strength and unable to stand upright, he gave her words of faith and freedom and he restored her to health. She must have suffered much, both physically and spiritually for eighteen years, since Jesus remarked that Satan had bound her. How can Satan do this? The Scriptures indicate that Satan can act in the world with malice and can cause injuries of a spiritual nature, and indirectly even of a physical nature. Satan’s power, however, is not infinite. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s kingdom or reign in our lives. Jesus wants to set free us from oppression Jesus demonstrates the power and authority of God’s kingdom in releasing people who are oppressed by physical and emotional sickness, by personal weakness and sin, and by the harassment of the evil one in their lives. It took only one word from Jesus to release this woman instantly of her infirmity. Do you believe in the power of Jesus to release you from affliction and oppression?

The Jewish leaders were indignant that Jesus would perform such a miraculous work on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. They were so caught up in their ritual observance of the Sabbath that they lost sight of God’s mercy and goodness. Jesus healed on the Sabbath because God does not rest from showing his mercy and love, ever. God’s word has power to change us, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Is there anything that keeps you bound up or that weighs you down? Let the Lord speak his word to you and give you freedom. “Lord Jesus, you grant freedom to those who seek you. Give me freedom to walk in your way of love and to praise and worship you always. Show me how I can bring your mercy and healing love to those in need around me.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

“NO PROBLEM” OR “KNOW PROBLEM”?   “There was a woman there who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit which drained her strength.” —Luke 13:11   The American church may be the woman in today’s gospel: possessed, drained, and stooped for eighteen years. In the Catholic community, we have been drained of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, drained of almost a whole generation of young people, and drained of faith because we have compromised with our secularized and materialistic culture. As is customary in situations of bondage, we have denied the problem and thereby prolonged it. Instead of admitting something’s seriously wrong, we use euphemisms, such as “merger,” “restructuring,” and “transition” in place of “close-down,” “salvaging,” and “deterioration.” There is something inside us that resents being set free (Lk 13:14), since we know that freedom implies giving up our sinful ways, and we clutch sin, “holding on for dear death.” We are in an adulterous relationship with the world. “Make no mistake about this: no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person — in effect an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments” (Eph 5:5-6). We must admit we have a problem. The devil has entered through our disobedience, and we must repent of our sins. Jesus wants to release us from our shackles, if we only admit we need Him (Lk 13:16).  
Prayer: Father, I repent of refusing to admit my need to repent.
Promise: “As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you; your holiness forbids this.” —Eph 5:3
Praise: Katrina was addicted to alcohol and drugs for many years. Jesus set her free. She now has a job and freely gives praise to Jesus on the bus ride to work.  
(For a related teaching, order our book, Living in Reality, or on audio AV 38-1, AV 38-3, AV 39-1, AV 39-3 or on video starting with V-38.)    Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  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

#Readings 20141026

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

What is the purpose of God’s law and commandments?

The Pharisees prided themselves in the knowledge of the law of Moses and the ritual requirements of the law.
They made it a life-time practice to study the 613 precepts of the Torah – the books of the Old Testament containing the Law of Moses – along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries on the law. The religious authorities tested Jesus to see if he correctly understood the law as they did. Jesus startled them with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. God’s love rules all Jesus summarized the whole of the law in two great commandments found in Deuteronomy  6:5 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” – and Leviticus 19:18 –  “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. God’s love directs all that he does – His love is holy, just, and pure because it seeks only what is good, beneficial, and life-giving – rather than what is destructive, evil, or deadly. That is why he commands us to love – to accept and to give only what is good, lovely, just, and pure and to reject whatever is contrary.

God puts us first in his thoughts God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us (1 John 3:1, 4:7-8, 16). God puts us first in his thoughts and concerns – do we put him first in our thoughts? God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and our love for him is a response to his exceeding goodness and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God’s love, truth, and goodness, the more we love what he loves and reject whatever is hateful and contrary to his will. God commands us to love him first above all else – his love orients and directs our thoughts, intentions, and actions to what is wholly good and pleasing to him. He wants us to love him personally, wholeheartedly, and without any reservation or compromise.

The nature of love – giving to others for their sake What is the nature of love? Love is the gift of giving oneself for the good of others – it is wholly other oriented and directed to the welfare and benefit of others. Love which is rooted in pleasing myself is self-centered and possessive – it is a selfish love that takes from others rather than gives to others. It is a stunted and disordered love which leads to many hurtful and sinful desires – such as jealousy, greed, envy, and lust. The root of all sin is disordered love and pride which is fundamentally putting myself above God and my neighbor – it is loving and serving self rather than God and neighbor. True love, which is wholly directed and oriented to what is good rather than evil, is rooted in God’s truth and righteousness (moral goodness).

How God loves us God loves us wholly, completely, and perfectly for our sake – there is no limit, no holding back, no compromising on his part. His love is not subject to changing moods or circumstances. When God gives, he gives generously, abundantly, freely, and without setting conditions to the gift of his love.  His love does not waver, but is firm, consistent, and constant. He loves us in our weakness – in our fallen and sinful condition. That is why the Father sent his only begotten Son to redeem us from slavery to sin and its disordered cravings, desires, passions, and addictions. God the Father always seeks us out to draw us to his throne of mercy and help. God the Father corrects and disciplines us in love to free us from the error of our wrong ways of thinking and choosing what is harmful and wrong rather than choosing what is good and wholesome for us. Do you freely accept God’s love and do you willingly choose to obey his commandments?

We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given How can we possibly love God above all else and obey his commandments willingly and joyfully, and how can we love our neighbor and willing lay down our life for their sake? Paul the Apostle tells us that “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given to those who open their heart to God and who freely accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Love grows with faith and hope What makes our love for God and his commands grow in us? Faith in God and hope in his promises strengthens us in the love of God. They are essential for a good relationship with God, for being united with him. The more we know of God the more we love him and the more we love him the greater we believe and hope in his promises. The Lord Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new freedom to love as he loves. Paul the Apostle writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free… only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh [sinful inclinations], but through love be servants of one another” (Galatians 5:1,13). Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart? 

“Lord Jesus, your love surpasses all. Flood my heart with your love and increase my faith and hope in your promises. Help me to give myself in generous service to others as you have so generously given yourself to me.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com  

LOVE LOVE   “I love You, O Lord.” —Psalm 18:2   God is Love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). Because He is Love, we are in the image of Love, for we were created in His image (Gn 1:27). Because He is Love, our sins against Him are very serious — so serious that the nature of all human beings was wounded due to the first sin. Because He is Love, God gave us the opportunity to become new creations (see Jn 3:3, 5; Gal 6:15) by giving us His Son (Jn 3:16). Because God is Love, He became a human being to die on the cross and rise from the dead for our salvation. Love became flesh (see Jn 1:14). Love had nails driven into Him and thorns pressed into Him. Love became a bloody mess, brutally rejected and gasping for breath. Love was buried; Love rose; and Love is enthroned in heaven forever. Because Love first loved us, we love Love (1 Jn 4:19). By His grace, we love Love with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Lk 10:27; Mt 22:37). We love Love by loving ourselves, our neighbors (Mt 22:37-39), and even our enemies (Mt 5:44). We live in Love (Jn 15:10). Love LOVE.  
#Prayer: Lord and Love, may I live in You and You in me (1 Jn 4:16). Promise: “You turned to God from idols, to serve Him Who is the living and true God and to await from heaven the Son He raised from the dead — Jesus, Who delivers us from the wrath to come.” —1 Thes 1:9-10
Praise: Praise Jesus, our risen Lord and Love! He has taken “His seat at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs” (Heb 1:3-4). Alleluia!   (For a related teaching, order our tape on Divine Love on audio AV 52-3 or video V-52.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014.  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