Dear God, open a door for my message, so that I may proclaim the mystery of Christ. I pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Colossians 4:3-4

R4C

R4C
Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You. ~ Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You. ~ Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You.
Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Who shall enter the kingdom of heaven?


What's the best security against disaster and destruction? 
In the ancient world a strong city, an impregnable fortress, and a secure house were built on solid rock because they could withstand the forces of nature and foe alike. Isaiah speaks of God as an "everlasting rock" (Isaiah 26:4). He is the rock of refuge and deliverance (Psalm 18:2) and the rock in whom there is no wrong (Psalm 92:15). Scripture warns that destruction will surely come to those who place their security in something other than God and his kingdom. Jesus' parables invite us to stake our lives on the coming of his kingdom or face the consequences of being unprepared when the day of testing and destruction will surely come.

When Jesus told the story of the builders he likely had the following proverb in mind: "When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever" (Proverbs 10:25). What's the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is - with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).

There is only one way in which a person's sincerity can be proved, and that is by one's practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you? Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you injury or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, one's neighbour and oneself. His or her word can be counted on. If you heed God's word and live according to it then you need not fear when storms assail you. God will be your rock and your refuge. Is your life built upon the sure "rock" of Jesus Christ and do you listen to his word as if your life depended on it?

Lord Jesus, you are my Rock and my Refuge. Help me to conform my life according to your word that I may stand firm in times of trouble and find hope in your promises.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East



This is the Lord - we have waited for him


What can satisfy the deepest hunger and longing of the human heart? 
Isaiah prophesied that God would provide a heavenly banquet for all peoples and would destroy death once and for all (Isaiah 25:6-8). Jesus came to fulfill that promise. Jesus' miracles are both a sign of God’s kingdom and a demonstration of God's power. They also show the magnitude of God’s mercy.

When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed: Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? The Israelites were confronted with the same dilemma when they fled Egypt and found themselves in a barren wilderness. Like the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover.

In the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we see a sign and a symbol of what God always does. God knows our needs and he cares. When God gives, he gives in abundance. The gospel account records that the leftovers from the miraculous meal was more than seven times the amount they began with. Seven is a symbol of completion and wholeness. When God gives, he gives until we are satisfied. When God works for his people he gives abundantly - more than we could deserve and more than we need. He nourishes us with his life-giving word and with the bread of heaven. In the kingdom of heaven God will feast us at his banquet table. Are you satisfied with God's provision for you? And do you long with expectant hope for the coming of his kingdom in all its fullness?

Lord Jesus, you alone can satisfy the longing and hunger in our hearts. May I thirst for your kingdom and find joy in your presence. Give me the true bread of heaven and nourish me with your life-giving word.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

Friday, 25 November 2016

When have you last visited Jesus?



source: FB

What did you gain by regularly praying to God?


“Once a man was asked, 
‘What did you gain by regularly praying to God?’ 
The man replied, ‘Nothing… 
but let me tell you what I lost: 
Anger, ego, greed, depression, insecurity, and fear of death.’ Sometimes, the answer to our prayers is not gaining 
but losing, which ultimately is the gain.”

Never judge people who have little to nothing


“Surprises are everywhere in life. And they usually come from misjudging people for being less than they appear.” ~ Brownell Landrum, Repercussions: DUET stories Volume IV - Adult Version

“We CAN learn how to stop judging and begin to accept and receive people where they are. Instead of judging them, we must become LIKE them to WIN them.” ~ Sandra M. Michelle, I'm Not Drunk I'm Praying: Dealing With Critical Spirits in the Church.

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~ Sri Chinmoy

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”  ~ Joseph Smith

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ~ Matthew7:1-5



source:FB

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Son of man is coming with great glory


Do you believe that the world as we know it is going to end just as Jesus foretold? 
Jesus' prophetic description of the destruction of the holy city Jerusalem, the destruction of the world, and the day of  , was not new to the people of Israel. The prophets had foretold these events many centuries before. Behold the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it (; see also Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18).


Indifference and rejection of the Gospel lead to destruction
Jesus warns of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem as a consequence of the rejection of the Gospel. According to the historian Josephus, over a million inhabitants died when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem with its temple in 70 A.D. Jerusalem's vengeance resulted from her indifference to the visitation of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 19:44).

Jesus also speaks about the judgment at the end of the world. Only spiritual blindness can keep us from recognizing the obvious signs of approaching disaster which awaits the day of judgment for those who refuse to heed God's word of grace and salvation. Jesus was completely honest. He told his disciples what it would cost to follow him. And he promised that he would never leave them alone, even in their time of tribulation. The saints and martyrs who underwent torment and death made their prisons a temple of praise and their scaffolds a throne to the glory of God. They knew the saving presence of Jesus Christ with them in all circumstances. Jesus offers us safety in the face of earth's threats. Not a hair of your head will perish (Luke 21:18). The disciple who walks with Christ may lose their body but not their soul.

We hope for what is to come - full redemption of our bodies and a new heavens and earth 
The greatest gift which no one can take from us and which we can be most thankful for is our redemption through the precious blood of Jesus, which was shed on the cross for our sins, and our adoption through Christ as children of God our heavenly Father. Jesus Christ has redeemed us from slavery to sin, from fear of death, and from final destruction. We can be eternally thankful because our hope is anchored in heaven and in the promise that Jesus will return to fully establish his reign of peace and righteousness. The Lord Jesus will raise our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body which is no longer subject to illness, death and corruption.

Jesus speaks of his second coming as a known fact, a for certain event which we can confidently expect to take place in the Lord's time of choosing. This coming will be marked by signs that all will recognize - signs which will strike terror and grief in those who are unprepared and wonder and joy in those who are ready to meet the Lord. When the Lord Jesus returns he will fully establish his kingdom of justice and righteousness and he will vindicate all who have been faithful to him. His judgment is a sign of hope for those who have placed their trust in him. Do you hope in God and in the promise of Christ to return again to create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1)?

Lord Jesus, fill me with gratitude for the gift of redemption and increase my hope and longing for your return again in glory. May that day bring joy to my heart rather than sorrow. Help me to serve you faithfully and to make the best use of my time now in the light of your coming again.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 

hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Not a hair of your head will perish


If the Gospel message is good news, then why do so many people treat Christians with contempt and hostility for their beliefs and practices? 
Jesus warns his followers that they will be confronted with wickedness, false teaching, persecution, as well as the temptation to renounce their faith when it is put to the test.

restore life, gives life, 
Satan destroys and kills - God restores and gives life
The real enemy of the Gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - is Satan (also called Lucifer), the powerful leader of the fallen angels who rebelled against God and who were cast out of heaven. Satan opposes God and all who follow his rule of peace and righteousness (moral goodness) on the earth. Jesus calls Satan a "murderer" who turns brother against brother and the "father of lies" who twists the truth and speaks falsehood (John 8:44). Satan not only opposes God's rule, he seeks to destroy all who would obey God. Satan will use any means possible to turn people away from God. He tempts people through envy, deception, hatred, and fear to provoke hostility towards those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is Jesus' response to hostility and persecution? Love, forbearance, and forgiveness. Only love - the love which is rooted in God's great compassion and faithfulness - can overcome prejudice, hatred, and envy. God's love purifies our heart and mind of all that would divide and tear people apart. Knowing God as our compassionate Father and loving God's word of truth and righteousness (moral goodness) is essential for overcoming evil. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear those who would oppose us or treat us harshly for following the Lord Jesus. He promises to give us supernatural strength, wisdom, and courage as we take a stand for our faith and witness to the truth and love of Christ.

The Gospel is good news for the whole world because it is God's eternal word of truth, love, pardon, and salvation (being set free from sin and evil) through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus has won the victory for us through his atoning death on the cross for our sins and his rising from the grave - his resurrection power that brings abundant life and restoration for us. That is why the Gospel has power to set people free from sin, fear and death, and bring peace, pardon, and new life.

Endurance never gives up hope in God
Jesus tells his disciples that if they endure to the end they will gain their lives - they will inherit abundant life and lasting happiness with God. Endurance is an essential strength which God gives to those who put their trust in him. Endurance is the patience which never gives up hope, never yields to despair or hatred. Patience is long-suffering because it looks beyond the present difficulties and trials and sees the reward which comes to those who persevere with hope and trust in God. That is why godly endurance is more than human effort. It is first and foremost a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to bear up under any trial or temptation.

Endurance is linked with godly hope - the supernatural assurance that we will see God face to face and inherit all the promises he has made. Jesus is our supreme model and pioneer who endured the cross for our sake (Hebrews 12:2). "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus willingly shed his blood for us - to win for us pardon and peace with God. Our joy and privilege is to take up our cross each day to follow the Lord Jesus.

True martyrs live and die as witnesses of Christ and the Gospel of peace 
The word "martyr" in the New Testament Greek means "witness". The Book of Revelation says that "Jesus was the faithful witness ...who freed us from our sins by his blood" (Revelation 1:5). Tertullian, a second century lawyer who converted when he saw Christians singing as they went out to die by the hands of their persecutors, exclaimed: "The blood of the martyrs is seed." Their blood is the seed of new Christians, the seed of the church.

The third century bishop, Cyprian said: "When persecution comes, God's soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army to think of peace and to decline battle, for we see that the Lord has taken first place in the conflict." True martyrs live and die as witnesses of the Gospel. They overcome their enemies through persevering hope and courage, undying love and forbearance, kindness, goodness, and compassion.

God may call some of us to be martyrs who shed their blood for bearing witness to Jesus Christ. But for most of us, our call is to be 'dry' martyrs who bear testimony to the joy and power of the Gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord Jesus.

We do not need to fear our adversaries 
What will attract others to the truth and power of the Gospel? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. God will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you ready to lay down your life for Christ and to bear witness to the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

Lord Jesus Christ, by your atoning death on the cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joyful hope, courage, and boldness to witness the truth of your love for sinners and your victory over the powers of sin, Satan, and death.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Holy Water ~ Catholic


Holy water is water mix salt that has been sacramentally blessed by a priest or higher religious of the Church (they are God-ordained and God-appointed shepherd of God's flock) and whoever uses it with faith in God invokes God's blessing, healing and protection. There are also natural holy water like from spring like the water of Lourdes (25 February 1858, the Virgin Mary asked St.Bernadette "Go drink at the spring and wash yourself there."), which became known and famousdue to the miracles link it. In the Catholic faith, God heals through the natural elements and the sacraments, with the help of the Virgin Mary and the prayer of the Christians.

Holy water is used during baptism, spiritual cleansing, healing, blessing, healing and a sacramental for protection against evil. Normally before Mass, Catholics on entry to the church, dip their fingertips into the water and make the Sign of the Cross to bless themselves which serve as a reminder of their baptism. In some Churhes, the ceremony of sprinkling the faithful with holy water takes place during every holy Mass. Christians especially Catholics do not believe the water is in any way magical, but the power comes from the blessing, not the water itself.

Holy water is composed of two elements, water and salt. A priest or higher religious of the Church converts both into a mediation of divine grace, the evil spirits are exorcised so that the water may be efficacious in warding off their evil influence, and it is consecrated so that it may become a mediator of divine grace. The Church gives the priest unlimited power and authority to consecrate or bless physical things for use in the Kingdom of God and in invoking the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence in those items ie holy water for the use of the faithful, and Catholics should take holy water to their homes and keep it for use.

In Numbers 5:17, the scripture say the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. 
In Ezekiel 36:25-29, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.
In Ephesians 5:25-27 show the purifying effects of water, husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In John 7:37-39, Jesus speaks of Living Water available to those who believe in Him. The water symbolized the Holy Spirit. Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as[a] the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Salt is used both literally and figuratively throughout the Old and New Testaments as a purifying agent, cleansing the unclean and driving out evil spirits. In 2 Kings 2:21-22, Elisha purified the water with salt, Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.
Demons, and evil spirits who roam the earth seeking to destroy mankind are afraid of water because they had been destroyed by it once as in Matthew 8:28-32, and when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters.

The priest, wearing a purple stole, blesses the holy water in the following manner: 

Our help in the Name of the Lord, 
Who made heaven and earth. 

[The Priest exorcises the salt]. 
I exorcise thee, creature of salt, by the living God, by the true God, by the holy God, by that God who ordered thee to be put by Eliseus the prophet into the water, that the barrenness of the water might be healed; that thou mayest become exorcised salt for the salvation of those that believe; and that thou mayest be for the healing of soul and body to all those receiving thee, and that there may be banished from the place in which thou hast been sprinkled every kind of hallucination and wickedness, or wile of devilish deceit, and every unclean spirit, adjured in the name of Him who will come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire. Amen. 

LET US PRAY. 
O Almighty and eternal God, we humbly implore Thine infinite mercy, that this creature of salt which Thou hast bestowed for the use of mankind may be blessed and sanctified through Thy mercy, that it may make for health of mind and body to all who partake of it; and that what ever is touched or sprinkled with it may be freed from all uncleanness, and from the assaults of the evil spirit. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee for ever and ever. Amen. 

[He then exorcises the water.] 
I exorcise thee, creature of water, in the Name of God the Father Almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His Son our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, that thou mayest be made exorcised water for the banishment of every power of the enemy, and that thou mayest be able to uproot and cast out that enemy himself, together with his rebel angels: by the power of the same Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who will come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire. Amen. 

LET US PRAY. 
O God, who for the salvation of mankind has appointed water to be the foundation of Thy greatest Sacraments, graciously hear our prayers, and fill this element, which has in manifold ways been purified, with Thy power and blessing  so that this creature of Thine, for use in Thy mysteries, may be endowed with divine grace to drive away devils and to cast out diseases; that whatever in the houses or possessions of the faithful may be sprinkled by this water may be freed from everything unclean and delivered from what is hurtful. Let no spirit of pestilence or baleful breath abide therein; let all the snares of the enemy who lieth in wait be driven forth; and let everything that threatens the safety or peace of the dwellers therein be banished by the sprinkling of this water; so that the health which they seek by calling upon Thy holy Name may be guarded from all assault. Through Our Lord….. 

[The Priest puts blessed salt thrice into the water crosswise, Saying:] 
Let salt and water mingle together in the name of the Father  and of the Son , and of the HolySpirit. Amen. 

The Lord be with you. 
And with thy spirit. 

LET US PRAY. 
O God, the giver of invincible strength, and King of irresistible power, ever wonderful in triumph, who holdest in check the power of the enemy, who overcomest the fury of raging enemies, who by Thy might gainest the victory over all their guile; we humbly pray and beseech Thee, O Lord, to look upon this Thy creation of salt and water, to bless it in Thy mercy and hallow it with the dew of Thy loving kindness: that wherever it be sprinkled and Thy holy Name shall be invoked in prayer, every assault of the unclean spirit may be baffled, all fear of the venomous serpent cast out, and the presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere vouchsafed to us who entreat Thy mercy. Through Our Lord . . . in the unity of the same Holy Spirit …. 

These are the sublime prayers and ceremonies with which the Priest in obedience to the holy Church blesses the holy water for the pious use of the faithful.

“From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. The also flee from the cross, but return; so holy water must have great value. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation...... She believed that when blessing yourself with holy water. you say 'By this holy water and by thy Precious Blood wash away all my sins, O Lord.' " 
~ St.Theresa of Avila

All the people hung upon his words


Why did Jesus drive out the money changers in the temple at Jerusalem? 
Was he upset with their greediness? This is the only incident in the Gospels where we see Jesus using physical force. Jesus went to Jerusalem, knowing he would meet certain death on the cross, but victory as well for our sake. His act of judgment in the temple is meant to be a prophetic sign and warning to the people that God takes our worship very seriously. 

Jesus honors the Father's house of prayer by cleansing it of unholy practices 
In this incident we see Jesus' startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. The money changers took advantage of the poor and forced them to pay many times more than was right - in the house of God no less! Their robbery of the poor was not only dishonoring to God but unjust toward their neighbor.

The people were hungry for the word of God
In justification for his audacious action Jesus quotes from the prophets Isaiah (Isaiah 56:7) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:11). His act of judgment aims to purify the worship of God's people and to discipline their erring ways. Despite the objections of the religious leaders, no doubt because Jesus was usurping their authority in the house of God, the people who listened to Jesus teaching daily in the temple regarded him with great awe and respect. Luke tells us that "they hung upon Jesus' words"(Luke 19:48) . How hungry are you for God's word?

The Lord wants to share his holiness with us
If we approach God's word with a humble attentive heart and with a willingness to be taught by the Lord, then we are in a good place to allow God's word to change and transform us in the likeness of Christ. The Lord wants to teach us his ways so that we may grow in holiness. The Lord both instructs and disciplines us in love to lead us from the error of our sinful ways to his truth and justice. "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). The Lord calls us to be a holy people who worship him with reverence and gratitude for his great mercy and kindness towards us. Do you allow God's word to transform you in his way of love and holiness?

Lord Jesus, you open wide the door of your house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship you in spirit and truth. Help me to draw near to you with gratitude and joy for your great mercy. May I always revere your word and give you acceptable praise and worship.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

I Love you, O Most Holy Mother of God, you are my Mother too ....


source: FB, Father Corapi Catholic Channel

Know the time of your visitation


What enables us to live in peace and harmony with our families, neighbors, local communities, and the wider community of peoples and nations? 
The Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to reconcile us with God and to unite us with one another in a bond of peace and mutual love. 

Jesus' earthly ministry centers and culminates in Jerusalem, which Scripture describes as the holy city, the throne of the Lord (Jeremiah 3:17);and the place which God chose for his name to dwell there (1 Kings 11:13; 2 Kings 21:4; 2 Kings 23:27); and the holy mountain upon which God has set his king (Psalm 2:6). Jerusalem derives its name from the word "salem" which mean "peace". The temple in Jerusalem was a constant reminder to the people of God's presence with them. 

Tears of mourning and sorrow over sin and refusal to believe in God 
When Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the multitude of homes surrounding the holy temple, he wept over it because it inhabitants did not "know the things that make for peace" (Luke 19:42). As he poured out his heart to the Father in heaven, Jesus shed tears of sorrow, grief, and mourning for his people. He knew that he would soon pour out his blood for the people of Jerusalem and for the whole world as well. 

Why does Jesus weep and lament over the city of Jerusalem? Throughout its history, many of the rulers and inhabitants - because of their pride and unbelief - had rejected the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Now they refuse to listen to Jesus who comes as their Messiah - whom God has anointed to be their Savior and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). 

Jesus is our only hope - the only one who can save us and the world 
Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was a gracious visitation of God's anointed Son and King to his holy city. Jerusalem's lack of faith and rejection of the Messiah, however, leads to its eventual downfall and destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. Jesus' lamentation and prophecy echoes the lamentation of Jeremiah who prophesied the first destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Jeremiah's prayer of lamentation offered a prophetic word of hope, deliverance, and restoration:

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies are new every morning ...For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men" (Lamentations 3:21-22, 31-32).

Jesus is the hope of the world because he is the only one who can truly reconcile us with God and with one another. Through his death and resurrection Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility and division by reconciling us with God. He gives us his Holy Spirit both to purify us and restore us as a holy people of God. Through Jesus Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God has visited his people in the past and he continues to visit us through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. Do you recognize God's gracious visitation of healing and restoration today?

God judges, pardons, heals, and restores us to new life 
When God visits his people he comes to establish peace and justice by rooting out our enemies - the world (which stands in opposition to God), the flesh (our own sinful cravings and inordinate desires), and the devil (who is Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning - John 8:44) who enslave us to fear and pride, rebellion and hatred, envy and covetousness, strife and violence, and every form of evil and wrong-doing. That is why God both judges and purifies his people - to lead us from our sinful ways to his way of justice, peace, love, and holiness. God actively works among his people to teach us his ways and to save us from the destruction of our own pride and sin and from Satan's snares and lies. 

Are God's judgments unjust or unloving? Scripture tells us that "when God's judgments are revealed in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9). To pronounce judgment on sin is much less harsh than what will happen if those who sin are not warned to repent. The Lord in his mercy gives us grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a moment, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you accept the grace to turn away from sin and to walk in God's way of peace and holiness? 

Lord Jesus, you have visited and redeemed your people. May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways and conform my life more fully to your will.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

They did not want me to reign over them


How does God establish his kingdom here on the earth? 
The Jews in Jesus' time had a heightened sense that the Messiah would appear soon to usher in the kingdom of God's justice, love, and peace on the earth (Isaiah 11:1-9). Jesus, in fact, spoke in messianic terms of the coming reign of God. Perhaps his entry into Jerusalem would bring about such a change and overthrow of Roman domination. 


Parable of the talents 
Jesus speaks to their longing for a new kingdom in the parable of a nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom. The parable reveals something important about how God works his plan and purpose with the human race. The parable speaks first of the king's trust in his subjects. While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best. While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the Master's workers would be industrious and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them. The master rewards those who are industrious and faithful and he punishes those who sit by idly and who do nothing with his money.

The essence of the parable seems to lie in the servants' conception of responsibility. Each servant entrusted with the master's money was faithful up to a certain point. The servant who buried the master's money was irresponsible. One can bury seeds in the ground and expect them to become productive because they obey natural laws. Coins, however, do not obey natural laws. They obey economic laws and become productive in circulation. The master expected his servants to be productive in the use of his money.

The Lord rewards those who faithfully use their gifts and talents for doing good by giving them more 
What do coins and the law of economics have to do with the kingdom of God? The Lord entrusts the subjects of his kingdom with gifts and graces and he gives his subjects the freedom to use them as they think best. With each gift and talent, God gives sufficient means (grace and wisdom) for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it's not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have.

There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you seek to serve God with the gifts, talents, and graces he has given to you?

The Lord Jesus offers us a kingdom of justice, love, and peace and he calls us to live as citizens of this kingdom where he rules as Lord and Master. Through his atoning death on the cross and through his resurrection victory, Jesus frees us from a kingdom of darkness where sin and Satan reign. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the Lord gives us freedom to live as his servants and to lay down our lives in loving service of our neighbors (Galatians 5:1,13).

The Lord expects us to be good stewards of the gifts and graces he gives us
The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and graces and he gives us freedom to use them as we think best. With each gift and talent, the Lord gives sufficient grace and strength for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it's not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you trust in God's grace to make good use of the gifts and talents he has given you?


Lord Jesus, be the ruler of my heart and mind and the master of my home and goods. Fill me with a generous and wise spirit that I may use the gifts, talents, time, and resources you give me for your glory and your kingdom.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

GOD will COMPLETE His plan for your life


In the day when I cried out, 
You answered me, 
and made me bold with strength in my soul…
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, 
YOU WILL REVIVE ME; 
You will stretch out Your hand 
against the wrath of my enemies, 
and Your right hand will save me. 
THE LORD WILL PERFECT 
THAT WHICH CONCERNS ME… 

Psalm 138:3, 7-8

Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception

The Blessed Virgin herself designed the Medal of the Immaculate Conception - popularly known as the Miraculous Medal! No wonder, then, that it wins such extraordinary graces for those who wear it and pray for Mary's intercession and help.

The First Apparition
The story begins on the night of July 18-19, 1830. A child (perhaps her guardian angel) awakened Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré, a novice in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and summoned her to the chapel. There she met with the Virgin Mary and spoke with her for several hours. During the conversation, Mary said to her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.”

The Second Apparition
Mary gave her this mission in a vision during evening meditation on November 27, 1830. She saw Mary standing on what seemed to be half a globe and holding a golden globe in her hands as if offering it to heaven. On the globe was the word “France,” and our Lady explained that the globe represented the whole world, but especially France. The times were difficult in France, especially for the poor who were unemployed and often refugees from the many wars of the time. France was first to experience many of those troubles which ultimately reached other parts of the world and are even present today. Streaming from rings on Mary's fingers as she held the globe were many rays of light. Mary explained that the rays symbolize the graces she obtains for those who ask for them. However, some of the gems on the rings were dark, and Mary explained that the rays and graces were available but did not come because no one had asked for them 

The Third Apparition and the Miraculous Medal
The vision then changed to show our Lady standing on a globe with her arms now outstretched and with the dazzling rays of light still streaming from her fingers. Framing the figure was an inscription: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

The Meaning of the Front Side of the Miraculous Medal
Mary is standing upon a globe, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her foot. She stands upon the globe, as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crush the serpent to proclaim Satan and all his followers are helpless before her (Gn 3:15). The year of 1830 on the Miraculous Medal is the year the Blessed Mother gave the design of the Miraculous Medal to Saint Catherine Labouré. The reference to Mary conceived without sin supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary—not to be confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, and referring to Mary's sinlessness, “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28)—that was proclaimed 24 years later in 1854.

The vision turned and showed the design of the reverse side of the medal. Twelve stars encircled a large "M" from which arose a cross. Below are two hearts with flames arising from them. Thorns encircle one heart and a sword pierces the other.

The Meaning of the Back Side of the Miraculous Medal
The twelve stars can refer to the Apostles, who represent the entire Church as it surrounds Mary. They also recall the vision of Saint John, writer of the Book of Revelation (12:1), in which “a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” The cross can symbolize Christ and our redemption, with the bar under the cross a sign of the earth. The “M” stands for Mary, and the interleaving of her initial and the cross shows Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and our world. In this, we see Mary’s part in our salvation and her role as mother of the Church. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for us. (See also Lk 2:35).

Then Mary spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.” Catherine explained the entire series of apparitions to her confessor, and she worked through him to carry out Mary’s instructions. She did not reveal that she received the Medal until soon before her death 46 years later.

With approval of the Church, the first Medals were made in 1832 and were distributed in Paris. Almost immediately the blessings that Mary had promised began to shower down on those who wore her Medal. The devotion spread like wildfire. Marvels of grace and health, peace and prosperity, followed in its wake. Before long people were calling it the “Miraculous” Medal. In 1836, a canonical inquiry undertaken at Paris declared the apparitions to be genuine.

There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a “good-luck charm”. Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results. “The weak things of this earth hath God chosen to confound the strong.”

When our Blessed Mother gave the design of the medal to Saint Catherine Labouré she said, “Now it must be given to the whole world and to every person.”



Prayer to Saint Catherine Labouré

Saint Catherine Labouré, you were the chosen confidant of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She revealed to you her desire that her children wear the Miraculous Medal as a mark of their love for her and in honor of her Immaculate Conception.

Intercede for us, that we may follow our heavenly mother's desires. Ask that we may receive those special graces which flow from her motherly hands like rays of light. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully



What would you do if Jesus knocked on your door and said, "I must stay at your home today"? 

Would you be excited or embarrassed? Jesus often "dropped-in" at unexpected times and he often visited the "uninvited" - the poor, the lame, and even public sinners like Zacchaeus, the tax collector! Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts, no doubt because they over-charged people and accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. 

Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was much hated by all the people. Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? Zacchaeus needed God's merciful love and forgiveness. In his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus' testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine.


Faith welcomes Christ in our heart and home

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) urges us to climb the sycamore tree like Zacchaeus that we might see Jesus and embrace his cross for our lives:

Zacchaeus climbed away from the crowd and saw Jesus without the crowd getting in his way. The crowd laughs at the lowly, to people walking the way of humility, who leave the wrongs they suffer in God’s hands and do not insist on getting back at their enemies. The crowd laughs at the lowly and says, 'You helpless, miserable clod, you cannot even stick up for yourself and get back what is your own.' The crowd gets in the way and prevents Jesus from being seen. The crowd boasts and crows when it is able to get back what it owns. It blocks the sight of the one who said as he hung on the cross, 'Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing... He ignored the crowd that was getting in his way. He instead climbed a sycamore tree, a tree of 'silly fruit.' As the apostle says, 'We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block indeed to the Jews, [now notice the sycamore] but folly to the Gentiles.' Finally, the wise people of this world laugh at us about the cross of Christ and say, '“What sort of minds do you people have, who worship a crucified God?' What sort of minds do we have? They are certainly not your kind of mind. 'The wisdom of this world is folly with God.' No, we do not have your kind of mind. You call our minds foolish. Say what you like, but for our part, let us climb the sycamore tree and see Jesus. The reason you cannot see Jesus is that you are ashamed to climb the sycamore tree. 

Let Zacchaeus grasp the sycamore tree, and let the humble person climb the cross. That is little enough, merely to climb it. We must not be ashamed of the cross of Christ, but we must fix it on our foreheads, where the seat of shame is. Above where all our blushes show is the place we must firmly fix that for which we should never blush. As for you, I rather think you make fun of the sycamore, and yet that is what has enabled me to see Jesus. You make fun of the sycamore, because you are just a person, but 'the foolishness of God is wiser than men.'[Sermon 174.3.]

The Lord Jesus is always ready to make his home with each one of us. Do you make room for him in your heart and in every area of your life?


Lord Jesus, come and stay with me. Fill my life with your peace, my home with your presence, and my heart with your praise. Help me to show kindness, mercy, and goodness to all, even to those who cause me ill-will or harm.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 

hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe ~ 20 November 2016

Today is the last Sunday of the current liturgical year and we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. It is a Holy Day of Obligation and the colour for this solemnity is white, The Church hails our Lord and Savior as King of all creation, the King of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ's Kingship. Jesus Christ is the greatest of all kings, King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. Christ is the King of the Universe, and that our Lord commands the respect and praise of all peoples. God is the source of all life and love, and in return, He rightfully deserves our respect, obedience and love. Pope Benedict XVI said, "Jesus is so intrinsically king that the title King has actually become his name. The King is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself…."

This year the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe also marks the closing of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy (8 December 2015, feast of the immaculate Conception - 20 November 2016, feast of Christ the King) which follows the closing of the Holy Doors in the basilicas of Rome and in the dioceses of the world on 13 November 2016.

The following Sunday, 27 November 2016 we will be begin the season of Advent and new the liturgical year. (details for Cycles - Lectionary for Mass as below)

* Sunday Cycle (Year A), 27 November, 2016 to 26 November, 2017 

** Weekday Cycle (Cycle I), 10 January, 2017 to 28 February, 2017 and 5 June, 2017 to 2 December, 2017

Jesus, King of the Universe, 
may I allow you always to reign in my soul!
Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth, 
pray for us!

Are we letting Jesus be our King? We belong to Christ, the truth and therefore listen to His voice and follow in His ways. Jesus is our only authority when it comes to directing our lives. Long Live Christ the King!


Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Reading 1
2 Samual 5:1-3
In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:

“Here we are, your bone and your flesh. 
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. 
And the LORD said to you,
‘You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.’” 
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.


Responsorial Psalm 
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.


Reading 2
Colossians 1:12-20
Brothers and sisters:

Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. 
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.


Alleluia
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Gospel
Luke 23:35-43
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,

“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” 
Even the soldiers jeered at him. 
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”