READINGS for 2008-01-27
THE START OF SOMETHiNg big
When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee… – Matthew 4:12
I poured out my energy in presenting our business to a roomful of people. Despite my passion, that night was futile. Nobody was interested to join us. I was disappointed and my wife and I went home feeling discouraged.
That uneventful meeting in Laguna turned out to be one of the best learning experiences in our lives. Today, we continue to conduct meetings all over the Philippines and abroad. For the past three years, we’ve been growing by more than 100 percent in business volume but, more importantly, in our faith walk with the Lord.
The Lord must have felt the same way in today’s Gospel. After dealing with the devil after a long fast, He hears of His cousin’s death and withdraws to Galilee. From a human perspective, it was a time to literally get away and deal with the exhaustion and sadness of these events. This He did but, in the latter portion of the reading, it marked the beginning of His ministry of proclaiming God’s kingdom and recruiting the future leaders of His Church. Difficult times are never fun. They happen for a reason. Consequently, it can be the start of something big. Ariel Driz
Do I go through hard times with the eyes of faith? Am I convinced that He has a plan?
Lord Jesus, I pray for a trusting heart to see Your plan when I am faced with challenges and disappointments. Amen.
There comes a time in each of our lives when we get caught up in some sort of darkness – hopefully it is not too serious – and likewise, there is a time when we realize our mistakes. This is the critical moment of conversion. It is here that our faith will be made or broken. Will we repent and get out of the darkness or are we going to choose to remain captive to it? The choice is ours. Let us pray that we have the grace to choose well.
Isaiah 8: 23–9:3
23 First he degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the district of the Gentiles. Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. 9: 1 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. 2 You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils. 3 For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
P S A L M
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14 ( 1a)
R: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? (R) 4 One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek, to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple. (R) 13 I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. (R)
Factions tend to destroy the unity of the Spirit of God. Having said that, it is important not to see this as denying the need people have for smaller groupings in which to share their lives more intimately. The factions we spoke of initially are those directed towards creating enmity between people and promoting individual interests over and above the interest of the entire community. Humility is always a key to the good health of any community.
Corinthians 1: 10- 13, 17
10 I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. 12 I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Kephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.
G O S P E L
There comes a time in the life of any community when leadership has to be passed on to the next generation. We see that process here. John’s ministry is complete and it is time for Jesus to come to the fore and fulfill His destiny as prophet and preacher. John has been faithful to the will of God and he knows it. In John’s Gospel, he even tells his disciples that it is time for Jesus to “increase” and for him to fade out of the picture. Let us pray for all leaders in the Church that they will be as humble as John when it comes to their turn to hand over the reigns of leadership to another.
12 When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, 16 the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” 17 From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 18 As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. 19 He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. 23 He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
think: Will we repent and get out of the darkness or are we going to choose to remain captive to it? The choice is ours.
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Acts 1-4
My weekly time with God
THANK YOU LIST
Things to be grateful for from the past week
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Most important word God told me this week
on division and unity in the ChurCh
It saddens me to realize that human nature has changed very little throughout the centuries. And when it has, it is often been a change for the worse rather than for the better.
The Christians in Corinth, who were converted and baptized by St. Paul himself, were forming divisions and factions. Pride had entered the community. Some Christians looked down on their leaders. Others were fans of Apollos of Alexandria who was more eloquent than Paul. Others coming from abroad looked down on both groups because St. Peter himself had instructed them. St. Paul found this a very dangerous development, because human pride and weakness was spreading again among those who had “died with Christ and risen to new life with Him,” and had been “clothed with Christ” in baptism.
What happened in Corinth is happening today in many parishes, parish organizations and charismatic communities. Pride continues to destroy all efforts for unity. This reminds us about the horrible divisions that split the Church of Christ into countless churches, denominations and sects, even though Jesus had prayed during the Last Supper “that all may be one.” These divisions are a scandal to the followers of Christ and an obstacle to the conversion of non-Christians. As one spiritual writer put it, “The Roman soldiers nailed His [Jesus’] human body to the cross. We, His professed lovers and followers, have torn His mystical body apart. We have been more cruel to Him than the ignorant pagan soldiers.”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated every year from January 18 to 25; but our prayer for unity has to go on throughout the year. We must work to overcome all division and disunity among us wherever we are. This will surely have an effect on the healing of division among the churches. Fr. Rudy Horst
Did I contribute to divisions through my words, attitude and bias? How can I contribute to unity among the people I deal with in daily life?
Lord, You desired that all may be one. Too often have I contributed to divisions due to my pride. Forgive me, Lord, and help me to become more involved in fostering unity among the people around me, especially in the religious organizations where I am a part of.
St. Angela Merici, virgin, pray for us.
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