Readings 20150130

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

What can mustard seeds teach us about the kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God’s kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Just as a seed has no power to change itself until it is planted in the ground, so we cannot change our lives to be like God until God gives us the power of his Holy Spirit.
The Lord of the Universe is ever ready to transform us by the power of his Spirit. Are you ready to let God change you by his life-giving Word and Spirit? The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to the Lord Jesus and allow his word to take root in us, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Paul the Apostle says, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Do you believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit?

Peter Chrysologous (400-450 AD), an early church father, explained how the ” tree of the cross” spreads its branches throughout the world and grew into a worldwide community of faith offering its fruit to the whole world:

It is up to us to sow this mustard seed in our minds and let it grow within us into a great tree of understanding reaching up to heaven and elevating all our faculties; then it will spread out branches of knowledge, the pungent savor of its fruit will make our mouths burn, its fiery kernel will kindle a blaze within us inflaming our hearts, and the taste of it will dispel our unenlightened repugnance. Yes, it is true: a mustard seed is indeed an image of the kingdom of God. Christ is the kingdom of heaven. Sown like a mustard seed in the garden of the virgin’s womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world. Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has produced seasoning enough for the flavoring and preservation of every living creature with which it comes in contact. As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it is crushed they are exceedingly evident. So it was with Christ; he chose to have his body crushed, because he would not have his power concealed….
Christ became all things in order to restore all of us in himself. The man Christ received the mustard seed which represents the kingdom of God; as man he received it, though as God he had always possessed it. He sowed it in his garden, that is in his bride, the Church. The Church is a garden extending over the whole world, tilled by the plough of the gospel, fenced in by stakes of doctrine and discipline, cleared of every harmful weed by the labor of the apostles, fragrant and lovely with perennial flowers: virgins’ lilies and martyrs’ roses set amid the pleasant verdure of all who bear witness to Christ and the tender plants of all who have faith in him. Such then is the mustard seed which Christ sowed in his garden. When he promised a kingdom to the patriarchs, the seed took root in them; with the prophets it sprang up; with the apostles it grew tall; in the Church it became a great tree putting forth innumerable branches laden with gifts. And now you too must take the wings of the psalmist’s dove, gleaming gold in the rays of divine sunlight, and fly to rest for ever among those sturdy, fruitful branches. No snares are set to trap you there; fly off, then, with confidence and dwell securely in its shelter. (SERMON 98)

Do you allow the seed of God’s word to take deep root in your life and transform you into a fruit-bearing disciple of Jesus Christ?
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and transform me into the Christ-like holiness you desire. Increase my zeal for your kingdom and instill in me a holy desire to live for your greater glory.”

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

“[You] joyfully assented to the confiscation of your goods, knowing that you had better and more permanent possessions.” —Hebrews 10:34
Imagine that somebody not only steals your stuff, but confiscates it, that is, he legally “steals” your possessions by a power squeeze and then openly and blatantly keeps it for himself. In our modern society, people would expect you to go to court and sue the confiscator to get back your possessions. If that was not possible, society would expect you to try to exact revenge by whatever means possible. Instead, you publicly rejoice and praise God, saying: “Thank You, Jesus! I didn’t need all that stuff anyway. It was holding me back from a deeper relationship with You. Praise You, Lord! Alleluia!” It’s not hard to imagine the incredulous reactions from those who can’t understand what it means that Jesus is your King Who promises to supply all that you need (Mt 6:24-34; Phil 4:19).

Our possessions can end up possessing us (see Mt 19:21-22). Therefore Jesus bluntly tells us: “None of you can be My disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions” (Lk 14:33). St. Paul obeyed this teaching and proclaimed: “Those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ. I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For His sake I have forfeited everything; I have accounted all else rubbish so that Christ may be my Wealth” (Phil 3:7-8).

Each day, lose your life for Jesus’ sake (Lk 9:24). Detach yourself from your possessions and the things of the world. Less of the world equals more of Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, the only possession I want is You (1 Jn 5:12; 2 Jn 9). Promise: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will grant you your heart’s requests.” —Ps 37:4 Praise: Nine years after his vasectomy, Ralph repented, joined a small Christian community, and had his vasectomy reversed. (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, 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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