Readings 20150105

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

Do you know the joy and freedom of the good news (Gospel) of the kingdom of God? John the Baptist’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the good news of God’s kingdom of salvation cannot be silenced. As soon as John had finished his testimony Jesus began his in Galilee. Galilee was at the crossroads of the world and much traffic passed through this little region. It had been assigned to the tribes of Asher, Naptali and Zebulum when the Israelites first came into the land (see Joshua 9). For a long time it had been under Gentile occupation (non-Jewish nations).
Jesus brings the light and truth of salvation to the world
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the good news of salvation would reach Jews and Gentiles in the “land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (Isaiah 9:1). Jesus begins the proclamation of the Gospel here to fulfill the word of God. The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus who brings the light and truth of the Gospel to the world.

The “good news” brings peace, hope, truth, promise, immortality, and salvation
Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls his hearers to believe in the good news he has come to deliver. What is the good news which Jesus brings? It is the good news of peace – the Lord comes to reconcile and restore us to friendship with God. The good news of hope – the Lord comes to dwell with us and to give us a home with him in his heavenly kingdom. The good news of truth – the Lord Jesus sets us free from the lies and deception of Satan and opens our mind to understand the truth and revelation of God’s word (John 8:32). The good news of promise – Jesus fulfills the promise of God to reward those who seek him with the treasure of heaven. The good news of immortality – Jesus overcomes sin and death for us in order to raise our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body which will never die again. And the good news of salvation – the Lord Jesus delivers us from every fear, every sin, and every obstacle that would keep us from entering his everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
The Gospel is the power and the wisdom of God – both power to change and transform our lives and wisdom to show us how to live as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit the Lord makes it possible for us to receive his word with faith and to act upon it with trust and obedience.

The Gospel demands a response of faith and obedience to God’s gift of salvation
In announcing the good news, Jesus makes two demands: repent and believe! Repentance requires a change of course – a turning away from sin and disobedience and a turning towards the Lord with faith and submission to his word of truth and righteousness (right living according to God’s truth and moral goodness). The Holy Spirit gives us a repentant heart, a true sorrow and hatred for sin and its bad consequences (the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23), and a firm resolution to avoid whatever would lead us into sin. The Holy Spirit gives us grace to see our sin for what it is – rebellion and a rejection of the love of God. God’s grace helps us to turn away from all that would keep us from his love.
Faith or belief is an entirely free gift which God makes to us. Believing is only possible by grace and the help of the Holy Spirit who moves the heart and converts it to God. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the mind and makes it possible for us to accept and to grow in our understanding of the truth. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we can know God personally and the truth he reveals to us through his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior is to accept God’s revelation of his Son as the eternal Word of God and the Redeemer who delivers us from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. God the Father made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to atone for our sins and to bring us back to himself.
Do you want to grow in the knowledge of God’s love and truth? Ask the Holy Spirit to renew in you the gift of faith, the love of wisdom, and the heart of a disciple who desires to follow the Lord Jesus and his will for your life.
“Lord Jesus, your ways are life and light! Let your word penetrate my heart and transform my mind that I may see your power and glory. Help me to choose your ways and to do what is pleasing to you.”

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

“Ask of Me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession.” —Psalm 2:8
“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it” (Ps 118:24). The Lord will express His love for us in amazing ways today:

Today, “a people living in darkness” will see “a great light” (Mt 4:16).
Today, “on those who inhabit a land overshadowed by death, light” will arise (Mt 4:16).
Today, Jesus will cure “the people of every disease and illness” (Mt 4:23).
Today, “those afflicted with various diseases and racked with pain: the possessed, the lunatics, the paralyzed” will be cured by Jesus (Mt 4:24).
Although we join the wise men this Christmas season in giving everything to Jesus, we will never outgive God. Today, Jesus gives us Christmas presents that only He can give. Do you believe this? Will you open your presents, all of them, including the ones so great you don’t understand them? “Reform your lives” (Mt 4:17) and accept God’s love today.

Prayer: Father, give me expectant, repentant, and crucified faith. Promise: “For there is One greater in you than there is in the world.” —1 Jn 4:4 Praise: In his eight years as Bishop of Philadelphia, St. John Neumann increased the attendance at diocesan Catholic Schools twenty-fold. (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 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

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