The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What is the connection between Bethlehem and Calvary – the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and his passion and death on a cross? The very reason the Son of God took on flesh and became a man for our sake was to redeem us from slavery to sin and death and to give us new life as the adopted children of God. The way to glory in the kingdom of God is through the cross. If we want to share in Jesus’ glory, then we, too, must take up our cross each day and follow in his footsteps.
Jesus never hesitated to tell his disciples what they might expect if they followed him. Here Jesus says to his disciples: This is my task for you at its grimmest and worst; do you accept it? This is not the world’s way of offering a job. After the defeat at Dunkirk during World War II, Churchill offered his country “blood, toil, sweat, and tears.” Suffering for the name of Christ is not the message we prefer to hear when the Lord commissions us in his service. Nonetheless, our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of the Master who laid down his life for us. The Lord gives us sufficient grace to follow him and to bear our cross with courage and hope. Do you know the joy and victory of the cross of Jesus Christ?
“Lord Jesus, your coming in the flesh to ransom us from slavery to sin gives us cause for great rejoicing even in the midst of trials and pain. Help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships, adversities, and persecution which come my way in serving you. Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink back from doing your will”.
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
“You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to give witness before them.” Matthew 10:18
Christmas is a special opportunity to witness for Jesus. Because St. Stephen was the first witness to give up His life for Jesus the faithful Witness (Rv 1:5), it is appropriate that he is the first of the Christmas saints. Witnessing is not just saying good things about Jesus. Witnessing is communicating a personal experience of Jesus. St. Stephen was a witness not just because he spoke about Jesus, but because he saw Jesus at the Father’s right hand and proclaimed this to the crowd (see Acts 7:56). Witnesses for Jesus share not just what they have received from other human beings in conversation or instruction. Rather, their witness is based on their personal experience of revelation from Christ (Gal 1:12).
Moreover, witnessing is not just communicating a personal experience of Jesus. Witnessing is in the context of a trial. This may not be a legal trial but any situation where people have decided to cross-examine Jesus again and to pronounce judgment on His followers. These courts are set up at work, in politics, social events, entertainment, mass media, and even church. When we proclaim our personal experience of Jesus in a legal court or in a “kangaroo court,” we are witnesses for Jesus in the true sense of the word. Then the Holy Spirit will put words in our mouths (Mt 10:20). We will be persecuted and possibly even martyred. Then Sauls will become Pauls, and Christmas will be truly the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Prayer: Father, may my simple, persistent witness shake the social fabric in which I’m involved. Promise: “As Stephen was being stoned he could be heard praying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ ” Acts 7:59 Praise: St. Stephen witnessed to a young unbeliever about the lordship of Jesus, the resurrection, and forgiveness of enemies (see Acts 7:56, 59, 60). This unbeliever, Saul, was eventually converted and personally led many thousands of people to 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 December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 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