Thanks!

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for allowing me to help bring the saint of the day and readings to you, but I will be closing things down. May you all be blessed and bless others through your lives. 

God bless!

Mr. Yarble 

Saint of the day 20150324

24 March


SAINT CATHARINE OF SWEDEN

Virgin

(1330 + 1381)

        St. CatharineE was daughter of Ulpho, Prince of Nericia in Sweden, and of St. Bridget. The love of God seemed almost to prevent in her the use of her reason. At seven years of age she was placed in the nunnery of Risburgh, and educated in piety under the care of the holy abbess of that house.

        Being very beautiful, she was, by her father, contracted in marriage to Egard, a young nobleman of great virtue; but the virgin persuaded him to join with her in making a mutual vow of perpetual chastity. By her discourser he became desirous only of heavenly graces, arid, to draw them down upon his soul more abundantly, he readily acquiesced in the proposal.

        The happy couple, having but one heart and one desire, by a holy emulation excited each other to prayer, mortification, and works of charity.

        After the death of her father, St. Catharine, out of devotion to the Passion of Christ and to the relics of the martyrs, accompanied her mother in her pilgrimages and practices of devotion and penance.

        After her mother’s death at Rome, in 1373, Catharine returned to Sweden, and died abbess of Vadzstena, or Vatzen, on the 24th of March in 1381.

        For the last twenty-five years of her life she every day purified her soul by a sacramental confession of her sins.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]




Other saints: Saint Macartan (- 506)

He was a convert from paganism and a companion of St Patrick, who made him bishop of Clogher in 454. He is the patron saint of the diocese.

You will see these texts in a more readable format and with a better layout (especially for verse) if you use the free Catholic Calendar app from Universalis.

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  • The official Grail translation of the Psalms.
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Readings 20150324

http://www.legrc.org/regnum_db/archivos_db/podcast-en/med240315.mp3


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

 

FOOD POISON?

  “The people complained against God and Moses…In punishment the Lord sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died.” —Numbers 21:5-6  

Hundreds and thousands of Israelites were repeatedly destroyed because of their sins (see 1 Cor 10:8-10Nm 25:1-9; 14:37). Their basic sin was idolatry, and a significant part of this sin was their craving for the food of slavery. They wanted meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic (Nm 11:4-5), grain, figs, grapes, and pomegranates (Nm 20:5). The Israelites were disgusted with the “wretched” food God gave them (Nm 21:5). They complained about the manna God miraculously gave them each day for free. 

Is an inordinate desire for food contributing to the sin of idolatry in your life? Ezekiel prophesied: “They shall not be allowed to satisfy their craving or fill their bellies, for this has been the occasion of their sin” (Ez 7:19). Paul spoke of people who “will end in disaster! Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame” (Phil 3:19). He was talking about “enemies of the cross” (Phil 3:18), “those who are set upon the things of this world” (Phil 3:19). Paul warned us to avoid the company of those who cause dissension and scandal through deception and flattery (Rm 16:17-18). “Such men serve, not Christ our Lord, but their own bellies” (Rm 16:18). “My little children, be on your guard against idols” (1 Jn 5:21), including the idol of food.

  Prayer: Father, as I fast this Lent, make me aware of temptations to gluttony and idolatry. Promise: “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above. You belong to this world — a world which cannot hold Me. That is why I said you would die in your sins. You will surely die in your sins unless you come to believe that I AM.” —Jn 8:23-24 Praise: After confessing his sexual sin, Andrew was able, by the grace of God, to sin no more (see Jn 8:11).    
  Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Do you know the healing power of the cross of Jesus Christ? When the people of Israel were afflicted with serpents in the wilderness because of their sin, God instructed Moses: “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8). The visible sign of the “fiery bronze serpent” being lifted up in the sight of the people reminded them of two important facts – sin leads to death and repentance leads to God’s mercy and healing. The lifting up of the bronze serpent on a wooden pole points to Jesus Christ being lifted up on the wooden cross at Calvary where he took our sins upon himself to make atonement to the Father on our behalf. The cross of Christ broke the curse of sin and death and won pardon, healing, and everlasting life for all who believe in Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world. 

Either for him or against him 
While many believed in Jesus and his message, many others, including the religious leaders, opposed him. Some openly mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief. It’s impossible to be indifferent to Jesus’ word and his judgments. We are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground or neutral parties. 

When Jesus spoke about “going away” he was referring to his return in glory to his Father in heaven. Jesus warned his opponents that if they continued to disobey God’s word and reject him, they would shut themselves off from God and  die in their sins. Jesus’ words echoed the prophetic warning given to Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 3:18 and 18:18) when God warned his people to heed his word before the time is too late. God gives us time to turn to him and to receive his grace and pardon, but that time is right now. 

To sin literally means to miss the mark or to be off target. The essence of sin is that it diverts us from God and from our true purpose in life – to know the source of all truth and beauty which is God himself and to be united with God in everlasting joy. When Adam and Eve yielded to their first sin of disobedience, they literally tried to hide themselves from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8-10). That is what sin does; it separates us from the One who is not only “all-seeing” and “ever present”, but who is also “all loving” and “merciful” and eager to receive us. When God calls you to turn your gaze and attention towards him, do you try to hide yourself from his presence with other distractions and excuses that keep you from seeking him and listening to his voice? 

The proof of God’s love for us 
Jesus went on to explain to people that if they could not recognize his voice when they heard his word, they would have the opportunity to recognize him when he is “lifted up” on the cross. Jesus pointed to the atoning sacrifice of his life on the cross as the true source of healing and victory over sin and reconciliation with God. The sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the cross is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us. 

God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

To fail to recognize who Jesus is and where he came from is to remain in darkness – the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. But if we look to Jesus and listen to his word of life and truth, then we will find the way to lasting peace and joy with God. The Lord Jesus invites each one of us to accept him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Our time here in this present world is very limited and short, but how we live it today has consequences not only for the present moment but for our eternal destiny as well. Which direction is your life headed in right now?

“Lord Jesus, you came to set us free from sin, doubt, fear, and ignorance. Your word brings life, truth, and healing to mind, heart, soul, and body. Let your healing love free me from the blindness of sin and disbelief and from the destructive force of evil and wrongdoing. May I always find peace, joy, and strength in knowing your merciful love, truth, and goddness.”

Saint of the day 20150323

23 March


SAINT TURIBIUS of MONGROVEJO 

Archbishop of Lima 

(1538-1606)

        Turibius Alphonsus Mongrovejo, whose feast the Church honors on April 27th, was born on the 6th of November, 1538, at Mayorga in the kingdom of Leon in Spain. Brought up in a pious family where devotion was hereditary, his youth was a model to all who knew him. All his leisure was given to devotion or to works of charity. His austerities were great, and he frequently made long pilgrimages on foot.

        The fame of Turibius as a master of canon and civil law soon reached the ears of King Philip II., who made him judge at Granada. About that time the see of Lima, in Peru, fell vacant, and among those proposed Philip found no one who seemed better endowed than our Saint with all the qualities that were required at that city, where much was to be done for religion. He sent to Rome the name of the holy judge, and the Sovereign Pontiff confirmed his choice. Turibius in vain sought to avoid the honor. The Pope, in reply, directed him to prepare to receive Holy Orders and be consecrated. Yielding at last by direction of his confessor, he was ordained priest and consecrated.

        He arrived at Lima in 1587, and entered on his duties. All was soon edification and order in his episcopal city. A model of all virtue himself, he confessed daily and prepared for Mass by long meditation. St. Turibius then began a visitation of his vast diocese, which he traversed three times, his first visitation lasting seven years and his second four. He held provincial councils, framing decrees of such wisdom that his regulations were adopted in many countries. Almost his entire revenues were bestowed on his creditors, as he styled the poor.

        While discharging with zeal his duties he was seized with a fatal illness during his third visitation, and died on the 23d of March, 1606, at Santa, exclaiming, as he received the sacred Viaticum: “I rejoiced in the things that were said to me: ‘We shall go into the house of the Lord.'”

        The proofs of his holy life and of the favors granted through his intercession induced Pope Innocent XI to beatify him, and he was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in the year 1726.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]




St Turibius of Mongrovejo (1538 – 1606)

He was born in Spain in about 1538 and studied law at the university of Salamanca. He was named bishop of Lima in 1580 and sailed to America. Full of apostolic zeal, he traversed his gigantic diocese three times, generally on foot, baptizing, teaching and confirming the natives. He assembled many synods and councils to make the Church strong, organised, and above all holy; and he strongly defended the rights of the natives, who were Spanish citizens according to the law but who were nevertheless being oppressed by the colonists and the provincial governors. He died in Lima on 23 March 1606. See the articles in WIkipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

You will see these texts in a more readable format and with a better layout (especially for verse) if you use the free Catholic Calendar app from Universalis.

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Catholic Calendar is free.


You may also be interested in the full Universalis app.

  • The official Grail translation of the Psalms.
  • The readings at Mass are in both the Jerusalem Bible/Grail and the NAB translations.
  • The “Mass Today” page contains the exact liturgy for today all in one place, both the Order of Mass and the prayers, antiphons and readings.
  • A perpetual liturgical calendar covering all years.
  • Local liturgical calendars for over 20 countries and dioceses.
  • A choice of views: either scrolling like a web page or page-turning like an e-book.
  • Access to all texts for all dates, past, present and future. 
  • Complete independence from the Internet. Everything is stored within the application itself.

AppStore link

Universalis costs £9.99 / $13.99 / €12.99 from the App Store.

Alternatively you can pay nothing to start with and then subscribe for £0.69 / $0.99 / €0.89 per month. To do this, get the free Catholic Calendar app and press the “Try or buy” button in the calendar.


Readings 20150323

http://www.legrc.org/regnum_db/archivos_db/podcast-en/med230315.mp3


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

When accusations are brought against you, how do you respond and where do you turn for help? The Book of Daniel tells the story of Susanna, a godly woman who loved God and his word. She was unjustly accused of adultery by two elder judges who had tried to seduce her. Since adultery was a serious offense punishable by stoning to death, the law of Moses required at least two witnesses, rather than one, to convict a person. Susanna knew she had no hope of clearing her good reputation and escaping death apart from God’s merciful intervention. Daniel tells us that she looked up to heaven and cried out to the Lord for his help (Daniel 13:35). The two elders who wanted to sin with her had done just the opposite – they hid themselves from God’s sight and they kept their secret sin hidden from the people as well. They brought false charges against her in revenge for her refusal to sin with them. God in his mercy heard the plea of Susanna and he punished the two elders for giving false witness.

Unjust accusations against Jesus 
The Gospel accounts frequently describe how Jesus had to face unjust accusations made by the Pharisees, the ruling elders of Israel. They were upset with Jesus’ teaching and they wanted to discredit him in any way they could. They wanted to not only silence him, but to get rid of him because of his claim to speak with God’s authority. When a moral dilemma or difficult legal question arose, it was typical for the Jews to take the matter to a rabbi for a decision. The scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. John writes that they wanted to “test” Jesus on the issue of retribution so ” they might have some charge to bring against him” (John 8:6).

Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God’s ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life. It was one of the three gravest sins punishable by death. If Jesus said the woman must be pardoned, he would be accused of breaking the law of Moses. If  he said the woman must be stoned, he would lose his reputation for being the merciful friend of sinners.

Jesus then does something quite unexpected – he begins to write in the sand. The word for “writing” which is used here in the Gospel text has a literal meaning “to write down a record against someone” (for another example see Job 13:26). Perhaps Jesus was writing down a list of the sins of the accusers standing before him. Jesus now turns the challenge towards his accusers. In effect he says: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. The Lord leaves the matter to their own consciences.

Pardon, restoration, and new life 
When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, he both expresses mercy and he strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn, Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice – either to go back to her former way of sin and death or to reach out to God’s offer of forgiveness, restoration, and new life in his kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God’s grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is – unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Do you know the joy of repentance and a clean conscience?

“God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, that you are on our side against all that stunts life, and that our resentment against you was groundless. So we come to you, asking you to forgive our past ignorance, and wanting to know more and more of you and your forgiving love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Saint Augustine)


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

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CULTURE OF DEATH

  “The Lord heard her prayer. As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud.” —Daniel 13:44-46  

Susanna was “a very beautiful and God-fearing woman” (Dn 13:2). “Her pious parents had trained their daughter according to the law of Moses” (Dn 13:3). Susanna was happily married to Joakim, a very rich man who was the most respected of all the Jews in Babylon (Dn 13:4). Susanna was blessed with children in her marriage (Dn 13:30). Susanna was a very holy, beautiful woman, a beloved daughter, faithful wife, and devoted mother. 

Then two wicked judges tried to force her to commit adultery with them by threatening to falsely accuse her of adultery and condemn her to death, if she did not give in to them. Susanna, however, chose to remain pure, faithful, and holy, even though she would lose her life, good reputation, marriage, and family (Dn 13:23). This was not the first evil act these judges had committed. They had subverted justice by “passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty” (Dn 13:53). They had also sexually abused several other women (Dn 13:57). 

The Lord saved Susanna’s life and reputation. He saved Susanna’s husband, parents, and children from being disgraced and traumatized. He stopped the judges’ subversion of justice and sexual abuse, which had gone on for years. The Lord transformed a perverted society by stirring up “the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel” (Dn 13:45). 

We also need the Holy Spirit to be stirred up in us (see 2 Tm 1:6-7) and transform our culture of death into a civilization of life and love. Come, Holy Spirit this Lent, Easter, and Pentecost!

  Prayer: Holy Spirit, cry out in my heart “Abba” (“Father”) (Gal 4:6).Promise: “Nor do I condemn you. You may go. But from now on, avoid this sin.” —Jn 8:11 Praise: St. Toribio baptized and confirmed nearly a million people as bishop of Peru.    
  Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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

Saint of the day 20150321

21 March


SAINT BENEDETTA CAMBIAGIO FRASSINELLO 

(1791 – 1858)

        Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello was born on 2 October 1791 in Langasco (Genoa) Italy; she died on 21 March 1858 in Ronco Scrivia in Liguria. She was wife, religious and foundress. She let the Holy Spirit guide her through married life to the work of education and religious consecration. She founded a school for the formation of young women and also a religious congregation, and did both with the generous collaboration of her husband. This is unique in the annals of Christian sanctity. Benedetta was a pioneer in her determination to give a high quality education to young women, for the formation of families for a “new Christian society” and for promoting the right of women to a complete education.

Call to marriage, then to religious life

        From her parents Benedetta received a Christian formation that rooted in her the life of faith. Her family settled in Pavia when she was a girl. When she was 20 years old, Benedetta had a mystical experience that gave her a profound desire for a life of prayer and penance, and of consecration to God. However, in obedience to the wishes of her parents, in 1816, she married Giovanni Frassinello and lived married life for two years. In 1818, moved by the example of his saintly wife, Giovanni agreed that the two should live chastely, “as brother and sister” and take care of Benedetta’s younger sister, Maria, who was dying from intestinal cancer. They began to live a supernatural parenthood quite unique in the history of the Church.

Congregation founded by wife, who is supported by her husband

        Following Maria’s death in 1825, Giovanni entered the Somaschi Fathers founded by St Jerome Emiliani, and Benedetta devoted herself completely to God in the Ursuline Congregation of Capriolo. A year later she was forced to leave because of ill health, and returned to Pavia where she was miraculously cured by St Jerome Emiliani. Once she regained her health, with the Bishop’s approval, she dedicated herself to the education of young girls. Benedetta needed help in handling such a responsibility, but her own father refused to help her. Bishop Tosi of Pavia asked Giovanni to leave the Somaschi novitiate and help Benedettain her apostolic work. Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the hands of the bishop, and then began their common work to promote the human and Christian formation of poor and abandoned girls of the city. Their educational work was of great benefit to Pavia. Benedetta became the first woman to be involved in this kind of work. The Austrian government recognized her as a “Promoter of Public Education”.

        She was helped by young women volunteers to whom she gave a rule of life that later received ecclesiastical approval. Along with instruction, she joined formation in catechesis and in useful skills like cooking and sewing, aiming to transform her students into “models of Christian life” and so assure the formation of families.

Benedictine Sisters of Providence

        Benedetta’s work was considered pioneering for those days and was opposed by a few persons in power and by the misunderstanding of clerics. In 1838 she turned over the institution to the Bishop of Pavia. Together with Giovanni and five companions, she moved to Ronco Scrivia in the Genoa region. There they opened a school for girls that was a refinement on what they had done in Pavia.

        Eventually, Benedetta founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence. In her rule she stressed the education of young girls. She instilled the spirit of unlimited confidence and abandonment to Providence and of love of God through poverty and charity. The Congregation grew quickly since it performed a needed service. Benedetta was able to guide the development of the Congregation until her death. On 21 March 1858 she died in Ronco Scrivia.

        Her example is that of supernatural maternity plus courage and fidelity in discerning and living God’s will.

        Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil. They are at the service of young people, the poor, the sick and the elderly. The foundress also opened a house of the order in Voghera. Forty years after the death of Benedetta, the bishop separated this house from the rest of the Order. The name was changed to the Benedictines of Divine Providence who honour the memory of the Foundress.

        She was canonized by John Paul II on May 19, 2002.

– Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana




Other saints: Saint Enda (- 530)

He founded a monastery on the pagan island of Aran Mor in Galway Bay, which remained a centre for sanctity and learning for the next 300 years. See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

You will see these texts in a more readable format and with a better layout (especially for verse) if you use the free Catholic Calendar app from Universalis.

AppStore link

Catholic Calendar is free.


You may also be interested in the full Universalis app.

  • The official Grail translation of the Psalms.
  • The readings at Mass are in both the Jerusalem Bible/Grail and the NAB translations.
  • The “Mass Today” page contains the exact liturgy for today all in one place, both the Order of Mass and the prayers, antiphons and readings.
  • A perpetual liturgical calendar covering all years.
  • Local liturgical calendars for over 20 countries and dioceses.
  • A choice of views: either scrolling like a web page or page-turning like an e-book.
  • Access to all texts for all dates, past, present and future. 
  • Complete independence from the Internet. Everything is stored within the application itself.

AppStore link

Universalis costs £9.99 / $13.99 / €12.99 from the App Store.

Alternatively you can pay nothing to start with and then subscribe for £0.69 / $0.99 / €0.89 per month. To do this, get the free Catholic Calendar app and press the “Try or buy” button in the calendar.


Readings 20150321

http://www.legrc.org/regnum_db/archivos_db/podcast-en/med210315.mp3


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

 

CROSS-WORD PUZZLES

  “No man ever spoke like that before.” —John 7:46  

“The crowd was sharply divided over Him.” —John 7:43

The temple guards “forgot” to arrest Jesus, so impressed were they by His words. However, the Pharisees were unimpressed; they said the guards and the crowds that listened to Jesus had been taken in (Jn 7:46ff). 

This was not the first time Jesus received such contradictory reactions to His words. At His hometown of Nazareth, “they marveled at the appealing discourse which came from His lips” (Lk 4:22). Nevertheless, a few minutes later, “the whole audience in the synagogue was filled with indignation. They rose up and expelled Him from the town” (Lk 4:28-29). 

Jesus “was teaching in the temple area from day to day. The chief priests and scribes meanwhile were looking for a way to destroy Him, as were the leaders of the people, but they had no idea how to achieve it, for indeed the entire populace was listening to Him and hanging on His words” (Lk 19:47-48). Jesus’ words were so powerfully popular and convicting that He was protected for years from those who were antagonized by His words. 

Jesus said: “I gave them Your word, and the world has hated them for it” (Jn 17:14). Jesus is “an obstacle and a stumbling stone. Those who stumble and fall are the disbelievers in God’s word” (1 Pt 2:8). We will either hate Jesus, His Word, and those who proclaim His Word (see Jn 15:18, 20), or we will find His words to be the joy and the happiness of our hearts (Jer 15:16). 

Let the Holy Spirit wield God’s Word (see Eph 6:17) to crucify your flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24). Otherwise, you will continue to crucify Jesus (Heb 6:6). Submit to God’s Word with joy.

  Prayer: Father, I accept Your grace to conform my life to Your Word.Promise: “A Shield before me is God, Who saves the upright of heart.” —Ps 7:11 Praise: Jim left his Bible at work. He was so upset that he made the long drive back to work that night so he could have his Bible.    
  Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 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) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

When resistance and opposition to God’s word rears its head how do you respond? With fear and doubt? Or with faith and courage? The prophet Jeremiah was opposed by his own people because the words he spoke in God’s name did not sit right with them. They plotted to silence him and to “cut him off from the land of the living” (Jeremiah 11:19).  Jeremiah responded with meekness and prophetic insight “like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:18). 

No one can be indifferent for long when confronted with Jesus and his claim to be the Messiah and Savior of the world. Jesus’ message and the miraculous signs he performed caused division for many in Israel. Some believed he was a prophet, some the Messiah, and some believed he was neither. The reaction of the armed officers was bewildered amazement. They went to arrest him and returned empty-handed because they never heard anyone speak as he did. The reaction of the chief priests and Pharisees was contempt. The reaction of Nicodemus was timid. His heart told him to defend Jesus, but his head told him not to take the risk.

Who is Jesus for you? And are you ready to give him your full allegiance? There will often come a time when we have to take a stand for the Lord Jesus and for the truth of the Gospel – the good news of God’s kingdom and the free gift of salvation which Jesus came to bring us. To stand for Jesus and his kingdom may provoke mockery and opposition. It may even entail suffering and hardship – such as the loss of job, reputation, or life.The Lord Jesus richly rewards those who suffer for his name’s sake. 

There are fundamentally only two choices that determine the course of our lives and the final destiny that awaits us: the choice to live for God’s kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness or the pursuit of the world’s kingdom which stands in opposition to God’s authority and commandments. We can choose to obey God’s word and believe in his promise of blessing or we can choose to follow the voice of those who promise success and happiness apart from God’s truth and laws. The costly grace and freedom – which the Lord Jesus offers to those who embrace the cross for his sake – leads to joy and blessing in this life as well as the promise of eternal happiness with God. Cheap grace – which tries to bypass the cross for the sake of being my own master and the ruler of my own destiny – leads to emptiness and endless futility. Who do you choose to be the master and ruler of your life and destiny?

“Lord Jesus, your Gospel brings joy and freedom. May I be loyal to you always, even though it produce a cross on earth, that I may share in your crown of victory for all eternity”.