Alla Regina dei Cuori

Santa Madre di Dio, Regina dei nostri cuori,
concedici di camminare sulla via della fede,
versa il Tuo candore di grazia e di luce,
di santità e di purezza su l’umanità.
Fa’ scendere copiosa, amabilissima Madre nostra,
sul deserto del mondo, la celeste rugiada
della tua salvifica grazia.
La tua luce, Madre misericordiosa,
si diffonda benigna sul mondo,
contaminato ormai da ogni male e
illumini sempre più i nostri cuori
pietrificati, sii dolcissima Madre,
come aurora che sorge nella densa
oscurità dei nostri giorni.
Pur nel gelo che avvolge il mondo,
donaci pietosissima Madre nostra,
una grande fiducia e nuovi giorni
di melodiosa pace e di salvezza.
Amen.

Cerca la gioia del Signore, esaudirà i desideri del tuo cuore.

Giobbe 8:19

Ecco la gioia del suo destino
e dalla terra altri rispuntano.

Giob 8:19 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Giobbe 8:21

Colmerà di nuovo la tua bocca di sorriso
e le tue labbra di gioia.

Giob 8:21 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Giobbe 20:5

il trionfo degli empi è breve
e la gioia del perverso è d’un istante?

Giob 20:5 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Giobbe 29:13

La benedizione del morente scendeva su di me
e al cuore della vedova infondevo la gioia.

Giob 29:13 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Giobbe 35:10

ma non si dice: «Dov’è quel Dio che mi ha
creato,
che concede nella notte canti di gioia;

Giob 35:10 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 4:8

Hai messo più gioia nel mio cuore
di quando abbondano vino e frumento.

Sal 4:8 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 15:11

Mi indicherai il sentiero della vita,
gioia piena nella tua presenza,
dolcezza senza fine alla tua destra.

Sal 15:11 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 17:50

Per questo, Signore, ti loderò tra i popoli
e canterò inni di gioia al tuo nome.

Sal 17:50 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 20:7

lo fai oggetto di benedizione per sempre,
lo inondi di gioia dinanzi al tuo volto.

Sal 20:7 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 26:6

E ora rialzo la testa
sui nemici che mi circondano;
immolerò nella sua casa sacrifici d’esultanza,
inni di gioia canterò al Signore.

Sal 26:6 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 29:6

perché la sua collera dura un istante,
la sua bontà per tutta la vita.
Alla sera sopraggiunge il pianto
e al mattino, ecco la gioia.

Sal 29:6 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 29:12

Hai mutato il mio lamento in danza,
la mia veste di sacco in abito di gioia,

Sal 29:12 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 30:8

Esulterò di gioia per la tua grazia,
perché hai guardato alla mia miseria,
hai conosciuto le mie angosce;

Sal 30:8 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 34:9

Io invece esulterò nel Signore
per la gioia della sua salvezza.

Sal 34:9 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 36:4

Cerca la gioia del Signore,
esaudirà i desideri del tuo cuore.

Sal 36:4 in tutte le versioni Mostra capitolo

Salmi 41:5

Questo io ricordo, e il mio cuore si strugge:
attraverso la folla avanzavo tra i primi
fino alla casa di Dio,
in mezzo ai canti di gioia
di una moltitudine in festa.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Revelation 1:19  “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.

1 Corinthians 13:12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Hebrews 2:8  YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

2 Peter 1:19  So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Jude 1:17,18  But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, • that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”

1 Timothy 4:1  But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

1 John 2:18  Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

Romans 13:12  The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

 

La vocazione di sant’Antonio

Dalla «Vita di sant’Antonio» scritta da sant’Atanasio, vescovo

(Capp. 2-4; PG 26,842-846)
La vocazione di sant’Antonio

    Dopo la morte dei genitori, lasciato solo con la sorella ancor molto piccola, Antonio, all’età di diciotto o vent’anni, si prese cura della casa e della sorella. Non erano ancora trascorsi sei mesi dalla morte dei genitori, quando un giorno, mentre si recava, com’era sua abitudine, alla celebrazione eucaristica, andava riflettendo sulla ragione che aveva indotto gli apostoli a seguire il Salvatore, dopo aver abbandonato ogni cosa. Richiamava alla mente quegli uomini, di cui si parla negli Atti degli Apostoli, che, venduti i loro beni, ne portarono il ricavato ai piedi degli apostoli, perché venissero distribuiti ai poveri. Pensava inoltre quali e quanti erano i beni che essi speravano di conseguire in cielo.
    Meditando su queste cose entrò in chiesa, proprio mentre si leggeva il vangelo e sentì che il Signore aveva detto a quel ricco: «Se vuoi essere perfetto, va’, vendi quello che possiedi, dallo ai poveri, poi vieni e seguimi e avrai un tesoro nei cieli» (Mt 19,21).
    Allora Antonio, come se il racconto della vita dei santi gli fosse stato presentato dalla Provvidenza e quelle parole fossero state lette proprio per lui, uscì subito dalla chiesa, diede in dono agli abitanti del paese le proprietà che aveva ereditato dalla sua famiglia – possedeva infatti trecento campi molto fertili e ameni – perché non fossero motivo di affanno per sé e per la sorella. Vendette anche tutti i beni mobili e distribuì ai poveri la forte somma di denaro. Partecipando un’altra volta all’assemblea liturgica, sentì le parole che il Signore dice nel vangelo: «Non vi angustiate per il domani» (Mt 6,34). Non potendo resistere più a lungo, uscì di nuovo e donò anche ciò che gli era ancora rimasto. Affidò la sorella alle vergini consacrate a Dio e poi egli stesso si dedicò nei pressi della sua casa alla vita ascetica, e cominciò a condurre con fortezza una vita aspra, senza nulla concedere a se stesso.
    Egli lavorava con le proprie mani: infatti aveva sentito proclamare: «Chi non vuol lavorare, neppure mangi» (2 Ts 3,10). Con una parte del denaro guadagnato comperava il pane per sé, mentre il resto lo donava ai poveri.
    Trascorreva molto tempo in preghiera, poiché aveva imparato che bisognava ritirarsi e pregare continuamente (cfr. 1 Ts 5,17). Era così attento alla lettura, che non gli sfuggiva nulla di quanto era scritto, ma conservava nell’animo ogni cosa al punto che la memoria finì per sostituire i libri. Tutti gli abitanti del paese e gli uomini giusti, della cui bontà si valeva, scorgendo un tale uomo lo chiamavano amico di Dio e alcuni lo amavano come un figlio, altri come un fratello.

RESPONSORIO        Cfr. Mt 19,21; Lc 14,33

 Se vuoi essere perfetto, va’, vendi quello che possiedi e dallo ai poveri; *vieni e seguimi, e avrai un tesoro nel cielo.
 Dice il Signore: Chi non rinunzia a tutti i suoi averi, non può essere mio discepolo,
 vieni e seguimi, e avrai un tesoro nel cielo.

Friday (January 18): “We never saw anything like this!”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Friday (January 18): “We never saw anything like this!”

Scripture: Mark 2:1-12

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Meditation: Do you know the healing power of forgiveness and compassion? Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt.

Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and spirit. Is there any area in your life that cripples you from walking in the freedom of Christ’s transforming love and forgiveness?

Bishop Ambrose of Milan (339-397 AD), an early church father, explains how the healing of the paralytic points not only to Christ’s power to heal the whole person, but also to raise the body to everlasting life as well:

But the Lord, wanting to save sinners, shows himself to be God both by his knowledge of secrets and by the wonder of his actions. He adds, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” In this passage he shows the full likeness of the resurrection. Alongside of healing the wounds of body and mind, he also forgives the sins of the spirit, removes the weakness of the flesh, and thus heals the whole person. It is a great thing to forgive people’s sins – who can forgive sins, but God alone? For God also forgives through those to whom he has given the power of forgiveness. Yet it is far more divine to give resurrection to bodies, since the Lord himself is the resurrection. (excerpt from EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.12–13.5)

Do you believe in the healing transforming power of Christ’s forgiveness and merciful love? Ask him to set you free and transform your mind and heart to be like his heart.

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.”

Psalm 89:2,15-19

1 I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever. 
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance, 
16 who exult in your name all the day, and extol your righteousness. 
17 For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. 
18 For our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Reverse your relation with sickness, by Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD)

“Take up your bed. Carry the very mat that once carried you. Change places, so that what was the proof of your sickness may now give testimony to your soundness. Your bed of pain becomes the sign of healing, its very weight the measure of the strength that has been restored to you.” (excerpt from HOMILY 50.6)

[Peter Chrysologus was a renowned preacher and bishop of Ravena in the 5th century] 

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Thursday (January 17): The Lord Jesus can make me clean

Daily Reading and Meditation

Thursday (January 17): The Lord Jesus can make me clean

Scripture: Mark 1:40-45

40 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Meditation: Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”

Psalm 44: 10-11, 14-15, 25-26

10 You have made us turn back from the foe; and our enemies have gotten spoil. 
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter, and have scattered us among the nations. 
14 You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. 
15 All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face, 
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our body cleaves to the ground. 
26 Rise up, come to our help! Deliver us for the sake of your steadfast love! 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Why did Jesus touch the leper, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

“And why did [Jesus] touch him, since the law forbade the touching of a leper? He touched him to show that ‘all things are clean to the clean’ (Titus 1:15). Because the filth that is in one person does not adhere to others, nor does external uncleanness defile the clean of heart. So he touches him in his untouchability, that he might instruct us in humility; that he might teach us that we should despise no one, or abhor them, or regard them as pitiable, because of some wound of their body or some blemish for which they might be called to render an account… So, stretching forth his hand to touch, the leprosy immediately departs. The hand of the Lord is found to have touched not a leper, but a body made clean! Let us consider here, beloved, if there be anyone here that has the taint of leprosy in his soul, or the contamination of guilt in his heart? If he has, instantly adoring God, let him say: ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.'” (excerpt from FRAGMENTS ON MATTHEW 2.2–3)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Il battesimo di Gesù

Dai «Discorsi» di san Gregorio Nazianzeno, vescovo

(Disc. 39 per il Battesimo del Signore, 14-16. 20; PG 36, 350-351. 354. 358-359)
Il battesimo di Gesù

    Cristo nel Battesimo si fa luce, entriamo anche noi nel suo splendore; Cristo riceve il battesimo, inabissiamoci con lui per poter con lui salire alla gloria.
    Giovanni dà il battesimo, Gesù si accosta a lui, forse per santificare colui dal quale viene battezzato nell’acqua, ma anche di certo per seppellire totalmente nelle acque il vecchio uomo. Santifica il Giordano prima di santificare noi e lo santifica per noi. E poiché era spirito e carne santifica nello Spirito e nell’acqua.
    Il Battista non accetta la richiesta, ma Gesù insiste.
    Sono io che devo ricevere da te il battesimo (cfr. Mt 3, 14), così dice la lucerna al sole, la voce alla Parola, l’amico allo Sposo, colui che è il più grande tra i nati di donna a colui che è il primogenito di ogni creatura, colui che nel ventre della madre sussultò di gioia a colui che, ancora nascosto nel grembo materno, ricevette la sua adorazione, colui che precorreva e che avrebbe ancora precorso, a colui che era già apparso e sarebbe nuovamente apparso a suo tempo.
    «Io devo ricevere il battesimo da te» e, aggiungi pure, «in nome tuo». Sapeva infatti che avrebbe ricevuto il battesimo del martirio o che, come Pietro, sarebbe stato lavato non solo ai piedi.
    Gesù sale dalle acque e porta con sé in alto tutto intero il cosmo. Vede scindersi e aprirsi i cieli, quei cieli che Adamo aveva chiuso per sé e per tutta la sua discendenza, quei cieli preclusi e sbarrati come il paradiso lo era per la spada fiammeggiate»
    E lo Spirito testimonia la divinità del Cristo: si presenta simbolicamente sopra Colui che gli è del tutto uguale. Una voce proviene dalle profondità dei cieli, da quelle stesse profondità dalle quali proveniva Chi in quel momento riceveva la testimonianza.
    Lo Spirito appare visibilmente come colomba e, in questo modo, onora anche il corpo divinizzato e quindi Dio. Non va dimenticato che molto tempo prima era stata pure una colomba quella che aveva annunziato la fine del diluvio.
    Onoriamo dunque in questo giorno il battesimo di Cristo, e celebriamo come è giusto questa festa.
    Purificatevi totalmente e progredite in questa purezza. Dio di nessuna cosa tanto si rallegra, come della conversione e della salvezza dell’uomo. Per l’uomo, infatti, sono state pronunziate tutte le parole divine e per lui sono stati compiuti i misteri della rivelazione.
    Tutto è stato fatto perché voi diveniate come altrettanti soli cioè forza vitale per gli altri uomini. Siate luci perfette dinanzi a quella luce immensa. Sarete inondati del suo splendore soprannaturale. Giungerà a voi, limpidissima e diretta, la luce della Trinità, della quale finora non avete ricevuto che un solo raggio, proveniente dal Dio unico, attraverso Cristo Gesù nostro Signore, al quale vadano gloria e potenza nei secoli dei secoli. Amen.

RESPONSORIO        

 Oggi si aprono i cieli, si fanno dolci le acque del mare; esulta la terra, le colline fremono di gioia: * Cristo è battezzato nel Giordano da Giovanni.
 Che hai, o mare, per fuggire? e tu, Giordano, per tornare indietro?
 Cristo è battezzato nel Giordano da Giovanni.

Monday (January 14): “The kingdom of God is at hand”

Daily Reading & Meditation

  Monday (January 14): “The kingdom of God is at hand”

Scripture: Mark 1:14-20

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

Meditation:What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force. God sent his prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah. After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit he begins his ministry of preaching the Gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

God rules over all
What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority. The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and his rule is over all (Psalm 103:19). His kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor (Psalm 145:11-13). 

In the Book of Daniel we are told that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14,18,22,27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King”. God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his gospel message.

As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began his in Galilee, his home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls disciples to believe in the gospel – the good news he has come to deliver. What is the good news which Jesus delivers? It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God – Ephesians 6:15), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23 ), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (he rewards those who seek him – Ephesians 3:6)), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).

Two conditions for the kingdom – repent and believe
How do we enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do to in order to receive the kingdom of God: repent and believe. When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of his kingdom. He gives us grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31). That is why repentance is the first step. 

Repentance means to change – to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of his love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love and truth. 

To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with himself. He is our Father and he wants us to live as his sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him. Do you believe that the gospel -the good news of Jesus – has power to free you from bondage to sin and fear?

Like fishermen – we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of Christ
When Jesus preached the gospel message he called others to follow as his disciples and he gave them a mission – “to catch people for the kingdom of God.” What kind of disciples did he choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work:  he chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, 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 individuals, 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 think we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for his glory?

Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel. Paul the Apostles says, But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15). Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel and do you pray for your neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love?

“Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.”

Psalm 116:12-19

12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me? 
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid.  You have loosed my bonds. 
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, 
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Common people on an uncommon mission, by Eusebius of Caesarea (260/263-340 AD)

“Reflect on the nature and grandeur of the one Almighty God who could associate himself with the poor of the lowly fisherman’s class. To use them to carry out God’s mission baffles all rationality. For having conceived the intention, which no one ever before had done, of spreading his own commands and teachings to all nations, and of revealing himself as the teacher of the religion of the one Almighty God to all humanity, he thought good to use the most unsophisticated and common people as ministers of his own design. Maybe God just wanted to work in the most unlikely way. For how could inarticulate folk be made able to teach, even if they were appointed teachers to only one person, much less to a multitude? How should those who were themselves without education instruct the nations?… When he had thus called them as his followers, he breathed into them his divine power, and filled them with strength and courage. As God himself he spoke God’s true word to them in his own way, enabling them to do great wonders, and made them pursuers of rational and thinking souls, by empowering them to come after him, saying: ‘Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people’ (Mark 1:17, Matthew 4:19). With this empowerment God sent them forth to be workers and teachers of holiness to all the nations, declaring them heralds of his own teaching.” (excerpt from PROOF OF THE GOSPEL 3.7)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Sunday (January 13): “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire”

Daily Reading & Meditation

  Sunday (January 13): “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire”

Scripture: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Meditation: Do you want to be on fire for God? John the Baptist said that the Messiah would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy 4:24), his righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin and evil (Isaiah 66:15-16). Fire can also be a sign of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies and cleanses us, and burns within us a passionate love, holy desire, and reverent fear (respect and awe) of God and his word.

Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
Jesus came to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy and truth of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God’s light and truth. His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be burning lights pointing others to Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you want the Lord’s power, grace, and love to burn brightly in your life? Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit.

John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism? In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?

Jesus’ baptism – beginning of a new creation
The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.

Heaven will open for those who bow before the Lord
How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), an early church father tells us: “Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.” Do you want to see your life transformed in the likeness of Christ? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. 

The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew and refashion us in his likeness through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit – and he anoints us for mission as ambassadors of his kingdom of righteousness (moral goodness), peace, and joy (Romans 14:17). We are called to be the “light” and salt” of his kingdom that radiate the beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us (Matthew 5:13,15-16). The Lord Jesus wants his love and truth to shine through us that many others may may find new life, freedom, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and with the fire of your love and goodness. May I always find joy and delight in seeking to please you in doing your will just as you have delighted in the joy of pleasing your Father and doing his will.”

Psalm 29:1-4,9-10

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy array. 
3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, upon many waters. 
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 
9 The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare; and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The divine – human reconciliation, attributed to Hippolytus, 170-236 A.D.

“Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have lost if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John and declined baptism? For the heavens had been shut before this. The region above was inaccessible. We might descend to the lower parts, but not ascend to the upper. So it happened not only that the Lord was being baptized – he also was making new the old creation. He was bringing the alienated under the scepter of adoption (Romans 8:15). For straightway ‘the heavens were opened to him.’ A reconciliation took place between the visible and the invisible. The celestial orders were filled with joy, the diseases of earth were healed, secret things made known, those at enmity restored to amity. For you have heard the word of the Evangelist, saying, ‘The heavens were opened to him,’ on account of three wonders [appearance of the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together at the baptism]. At the baptism of Christ the Bridegroom, it was fitting that the heavenly chamber should open its glorious gates. So when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice spread everywhere, it was fitting that ‘the gates of heaven should be lifted up.'” (excerpt from THE DISCOURSE ON THE HOLY THEOPHANY 6)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Accogli la mia lode, Padre

Ti benedico o Padre, all’inizio di questo nuovo giorno.
Accogli la mia lode e il mio grazie per il dono della vita e della fede.
Con la forza del tuo Spirito guida i miei progetti e le mie azioni:
fa che siano secondo la tua volontà.
Liberami dallo scoraggiamento davanti alle difficoltà e da ogni male.
Rendimi attento alle esigenze degli altri.
Proteggi con il tuo amore la mia famiglia.
Così sia.