Christianity is a love relationship

Today’s Readings:

Genesis 1:20 — 2:4a
Ps 8: (2ab)4-9
Mark 7:1-13
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

The key message in today’s Readings is Word of God or Commandments of God can not be manipulated or mixed with human traditions or teachings. Human traditions are supporting functions of the Main function which is the Word of God. The Word of God or spirit of truth is a living spirit. The living spirit of love can be manifested only in love . If we try to live this spirit by Science ,human intelligence, Knowledge, power, prosperity, feel good attitude, passion, descipline, Professionalism the purpose of the Word of God is not lived but bargained or adjusted as per the human standard where there is no love as the main function but Worldly precepts act as main function and love is only a puppet or names sake.

These traditions have not stopped from Judaism but increased in Christianity. Some preachers give Word of God as mantras to chat, Christianity is not chanting way of life but following Christ in person. If we hv to meditate the Word of God and claim the promises then how do we walk with our Master. The Word of God is Spirit of God portrayed in human script , when we meditate and claim the Word of God , the Word of God becomes active and starts walking with us on its virtues or direction, if we do not walk in that direction but only go on claiming or meditating the Word of God it is foolishness . It is like a person reading the direction of the map or signs of the traffic but not following them.If we follow then only we can reach our destination of Holiness.

Man was created in the image of God. God’s image is divine or holy . Man is designed in Holiness , when we lose our image of holiness , the word of God cleanses us from the Worldly image and brings in to our original image. Word of God is an application which shows the truth of our life. When apply this Word of God in our life in action , the Holy Spirit in his gifts and fruits empowers us and beatified us in holiness.

We see Protestants busy in claiming the Word of God and Catholics following the Church traditions, in both the Holy Spirit is missing, We must claim and Walk , traditions give us essence which we must follow but just obligations can not hatch the egg.

Prayer: Lord make us worthy to the promises of Christ. Amen.

† Saint of the Day †(January 23)

✠ St. Marianne Cope ✠

Religious Sister:

Born: Maria Anna Barbara Koob
January 23, 1838
Heppenheim, Grand Duchy of Hesse

Died: August 9, 1918 (Aged 80)
Kalaupapa, Hawaiʻi

Resting place:
Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu, Hawaii

Venerated in:
Roman Catholic Church
(Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities)
Episcopal Church

Beatified: May 14, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI

Canonized: October 21, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI

Major shrine:
Saint Marianne Cope Shrine & Museum
601 N. Townsend St.
Syracuse, New York, U.S.

Feast: January 23

Patronage: Lepers, Outcasts, Those with HIV/AIDS, Hawaiʻi.

Marianne Cope, also known as Saint Marianne of Molokaʻi, was a German-born American religious sister who was a member of the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York, and administrator of its St. Joseph’s Hospital in the city. Known also for her charitable works, in 1883 she relocated with six other sisters to Hawaiʻi to care for persons suffering Hansen’s Disease on the island of Molokaʻi and aid in developing the medical infrastructure in Hawaiʻi. Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope did not contract the disease.

Today’s saint was a model female Franciscan who emulated Saint Francis’ heroic example of personally caring for those outcasts of all outcasts—lepers. Saints are not born, of course; they are made. And Saint Marianne Cope came from a specific time, place, and family. She could have developed her abundant talents in many directions and used them for many purposes, but she re-directed what God loaned her to serve and honour Him, His Church, and mankind. The Church, the Franciscans, and Hawaii were the arenas in which this elite spiritual athlete exercised her skills. She was asked for much and gave even more. She became a great, great woman.

Marianne Cope was born in Germany and was brought to New York state by her parents when she was still a baby. She was the oldest of ten children. Her parents lived, struggled, and worked for their kids. She saw generosity in action at home every day. She quit school after eighth grade to work in a factory to financially support her ailing father, her mother, and her many siblings. The challenges inherent to migration, a new culture, illness, a large family, and poverty turned Marianne into a serious, mature woman when she was just a teen. She fulfilled her long-delayed desire to enter religious life in 1862. Once professed, she moved quickly into leadership positions. She taught in German-speaking Catholic grade schools, became a school principal, and was elected by her fellow Franciscans to positions of governance in her Order. She opened the first hospitals in her region of central New York, dedicating herself and her Order to the time-honoured religious vocation of caring for the sick, regardless of their ability to pay for medical services. She was eventually elected Superior General. In her early forties, she was already a woman of wide experience: serious, administratively gifted, spiritually grounded, and of great human virtues. But this was all preparation. She now began the second, great act of her drama. She went to Hawaii.

In 1883 she received a letter from the Bishop of Honolulu begging her, as Superior General, to send sisters to care for lepers in Hawaii. He had written to various other religious Orders without success. Sister Marianne was elated. She responded like the prophet Isaiah, saying, “Here I am, send me” (Is 6:8). She not only sent six sisters, but she also sent herself! She planned to one day return to New York but never did. For the next thirty-five years, Sister Marianne Cope became a type of recluse in remote Hawaii, giving herself completely to the will of God.

Sister Marianne and her fellow Franciscans managed one hospital, founded another, opened a home for the daughters of lepers, and, after a few years of proving themselves, opened a home for women and girls on the virtually inaccessible island of Molokai. Here her life coincided with the final months of Saint Damien de Veuster. Sister Marianne nursed the future saint in his dying days, assuring him that she and her sisters would continue his work among the lepers. After Father Damien died, the Franciscans, in addition to caring for the leprous girls, now cared for the boys as well. A male Congregation eventually relieved them of this apostolate.

Sister Marianne Cope lived the last thirty years of her life on Molokai until her death in 1918. She was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and canonized by him in 2012. She loved the Holy Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, and the Church. And because she loved God first, she loved those whom God loves, her brothers and sisters in Christ. She sacrificed for them, left home and family for them, put her health at risk for them, and became a saint through them.

Saint Marianne Cope, help us to be as generous as you were in serving those on the margins, those who need our help, and those who have no one else to assist them. You were a model Franciscan in dying to self. Help us to likewise die so that we might likewise live.

† Saint of the Day †(January 21)

✠ St. Agnes of Rome ✠

Virgin and Martyr:

Born: 291 AD
Rome, Italy

Died: 304 AD
Rome, Italy

Venerated in:
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Anglican Communion

Canonized: Pre-congregation

Major shrine:
Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura and the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, both in Rome

Feast: January 21

Betrothed Couples; Chastity and Virgins; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; gardeners; Girl Guides; The Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; The City of Fresno.

Saint Agnes of Rome is a virgin martyr, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism. She is one of seven women who, along with the Blessed Virgin, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Agnes is also shown with a martyr’s palm. She is the patron saint of chastity and virgins, as well as gardeners.

St. Ambrose speaks with great admiration of St. Agnes, who was martyred at the tender age of 12. In his work, On Virgins, he wrote: “This is a new kind of martyrdom! One not yet of fit age for punishment, but already ripe for victory. One unready for combat, but able to win the crown. One who has not yet reached the age of judgment but who has mastered virtue…

“Joyfully she advances with unhesitating step to the place of punishment, her head not adorned with plaited hair, but with Christ. All weep; she alone is without a tear. All wonder that she is so ready to deliver her life, which she has not yet enjoyed, but which now she gives up as though she had lived it fully. All are astounded that she stands forth as God’s witness although at her age she could not yet decide about herself!

“And so it came about that what she said regarding God was believed, although what she said about a man would not be accepted. For that which is beyond nature is from the Author of nature.

“She stands, she prays, she bends down her neck. You can see the executioner tremble, as though he himself has been condemned. His right hand is shaking, his face grows pale. He fears the peril of another, while the maiden fears not for her own danger.

“You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of chastity and religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom.”

St. Ambrose’s commentary on St. Agnes has a literary value that is both profound and very beautiful because it is all composed of contrasts. Through the use of these contrasts, St. Ambrose shows the points he wants to emphasize.

First, there is the contrast between her age and martyrdom. She is too young to be condemned to death because at such a young age no one can deserve such a punishment. And yet she is already ripe for the victory. The one who is not mature in years is nonetheless ripe to win the victory. It is glory. The immaturity of the years and maturity of the virtue.

The second contrast: She is unready for combat but ripe for the crown. A young girl at that time did not have any conditions to fight, yet she won the highest of all the laurels, which is the crown of martyrdom.

The third contrast: She is so young that she is still under the guardianship of others. The law does not consider her capable of governing herself. All present admired her because she was a witness of the Godhead, even though she was still a minor who could not be a witness of anything in a court of human law. Her word would not have any value in a normal process of law, yet she has impressed everyone with her defence of Our Lord.

In addition to this, there are contrasts that one can find in actual martyrdom. She advances joyfully, with unhesitating steps, to the place from which all people naturally flee.

Another contrast: her adornment is not artificially plaited tresses but rather Jesus Christ because He is the true adornment, the real beauty of the soul who consecrates itself to Him.

Another contrast: she is not crowned with flower wreaths like the other young Roman girls of her time, but with purity. That purity in her is splendorous and makes a kind of halo around her head.

There are still other contrasts. All are weeping to see a young girl who will be killed. But she is not. It is a glorious contrast because she is thirsting for Heaven, and not for earth. Along those lines, everyone is astonished that she can so easily give up a life that has hardly begun. Yet she sacrifices this life as if she had already lived and enjoyed it fully.

And what is the reason for all these contrasts? It is because St. Ambrose is trying to emphasize that there is something absurd in her martyrdom. For it would be natural for her to do the very opposite of what she is doing. The reason that she acts as she does with a strength that is beyond nature is that such strength can only come from the Author of nature itself. What is beyond nature is what is more than merely natural. What is more, than nature here is the One who is its author. God revealed Himself in the sanctity of St. Agnes and in the miracle of her death.

She goes forward and bends her head. She sees the executioner trembling as if he were the one who was condemned. But she – the condemned one – is calm and steady.

His right hand is shaking, his face pale. He fears the peril of another, while the maiden fears not for her own danger. The executioner trembles with fear to use the tools of punishment. But she has no fear of the executioner.

You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of chastity and religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom.

This is the magnificent commentary of St. Ambrose on St. Agnes.

Feast Day of Holy Family

† Feast of the Day †
(December 26, 2021)

✠ The Feast of the Holy Family ✠

Liturgical Color: White

Type of Holiday: Feast Day; Holy Day of Obligation (if on a Sunday)

Time of Year: The Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day; If both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30

Duration: One Day

Celebrates/Symbolizes: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Alternate Names: Holy Family Sunday

Feast day on this (2020) year: December 27

The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph. The subject became popular in art in the early 16th-century, but the veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun in the 17th century by Saint François de Laval, the first bishop of New France, who founded a confraternity.

The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church (since 1921) and some Anglican Churches in honour of Jesus, his mother, and his legal father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

The Feast is held on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day; If both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30th.

The Gospels speak little of the life of the Holy Family in the years before Jesus’ public ministry.

Matthew and Luke narrate the episodes from this period of Christ’s life, namely his Circumcision and later Presentation, the flight to Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the Finding in the Temple. Joseph and Mary were apparently observant Jews, as Luke narrates that they brought Jesus with them on the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem with other Jewish families.

The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honour of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, his mother the Virgin Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the canonical Gospels. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple. Various non-canonical works, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, try to fill in the blanks. However, even though these apocryphal works may contain some truth derived from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus. While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.

Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, but one that naturally grows out of a love for Jesus and his family. Devotion to the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century, and several religious congregations have been founded under this title. The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. On October 26, 1921, the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar. Until then it had been celebrated regionally (see History below). Popes before and including Benedict XV (especially Leo XIII) promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of God in the Catholic Church). If both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on December 30th. If the feast falls on the 30th, attendance is not obligatory. Up until 1969, the Holy Family feast was kept on the first Sunday after the Epiphany. It was transferred to its current date in 1969.

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the “domestic church” or the “church in miniature.” St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a “family church,” and in doing so, this sanctifies the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the centre of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit.

St. Paul provides advice on family life in Colossians 3:12-21: Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit and to evaluate our own family life. In what ways may it be improved? What would Jesus, Mary, and Joseph do? Finally, we can use this feast to ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own cultures, neighbourhoods, and communities.

Feast Day of Holy Innocents.

† Feast of the Day †
(December 28)

✠ The Holy Innocents ✠

Feast: December 28

In the New Testament, the Massacre of the Innocents is the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew in which Herod the Great, king of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Most modern biographers of Herod, and probably a majority of biblical scholars, dismiss Matthew’s story as an invention. The Church has claimed the children murdered in Jesus’s stead as the first Christian martyrs, and their feast – Holy Innocents Day – is celebrated on 28 December.

Biographical selection:
A summary from Dom Guéranger: We have in Blessed Stephen the fulfilment of his desire to be a martyr with the act of martyrdom; in St. John, we find the desire, but not the act of martyrdom; in the Blessed Innocents – the children Herod killed with the intent to kill the Messiah – we have the act of martyrdom, but not the desire.

Indeed, St. Stephen wanted to be a martyr and became one. St. John desired the same but was not. The Blessed Innocents did not desire to be martyrs but were.

Is there reason to believe that those children were true martyrs? Where is the merit to obtain the crown of martyrdom? To this doubt, I answer: Would the goodness of Christ be defeated by the cruelty of Herod? Could that impious king order those innocents killed, and Christ not crown those who died because of Him?

Stephen was a martyr before the eyes of men who witnessed his passion which he voluntarily embraced to the point of praying for his persecutors. Thus he showed that he was more sensitive to the crime they were committing than to his own wounds.

John was a martyr before the eyes of the Angels because those spiritual creatures saw the disposition of his soul.

Certainly, those children were Thy martyrs, O God, but neither men nor Angels could see their merit, which was before Thy eyes alone. The favour of Thy grace stood in place of their merit. We who have been baptized by water should be all the more ready to honour those little ones who were baptized in their own blood and therefore linked to all the mysteries of the Divine Infancy.

Dom Guéranger has two beautiful thoughts to justify the Holy Innocents being venerated as saints without having personal merit. The first is that it is an act of pure goodness of God. That is since they did not desire to be martyrs, like St. Stephen and St. John – whose feasts the Church places respectively on the 26th and 27th of December, just after Christmas – how could they merit such an honour? He answers: By an act of the overflowing goodness of God.

The second thought is that we should consider them martyrs by the baptism of blood. In anticipation of the infinite merits of His Redemption, Our Lord would have granted those children the same status as those who died after being baptized, after the Sacrament was instituted by Our Lord. This would be an exception to the rule, and the Holy Innocents should be considered martyrs by the baptism of blood.

I don’t know all the details of the theological discussion on this topic, but I highly respect the opinion of Dom Guéranger. I believe he helps to explain why Holy Mother Church considers them Holy Innocents who are enjoying the beatific vision.

This feast day of the Holy Innocents also includes all those children who died soon after being baptized and are in Heaven. Then, we have a legion of innocents who are in Heaven and continuously pray for us. We understand that the population of Heaven increases daily with the great number of children who die in this condition. The thrones of the angels who followed Satan in his rebellion are being taken by these children.

But our epoch is so revolutionary and evil that many children cannot be baptized before they die. First, because of the general paganization of customs, whereby many parents do not care about the spiritual benefit of their children and let them die without being baptized. Second, we have the monstrous practice of abortion that takes the lives of children still in the womb of their mothers, or immediately after the child is removed from it. Neither the mother nor the surgeon is concerned about baptizing the child in those few moments he is still alive. It is another reason for us to fight against the Revolution and against abortion.

If we were to have a canonized person in our families, we would be strong devotees of that saint. This is understandable. Now then, in almost all our families we have some children, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, cousins or other relatives, who died soon after being baptized. They are in Heaven and are able to see God face-to-face and to perfectly understand our needs. So, when we are in difficulties, we should remember those children and ask their intercession. They are the natural patron saints of the families to whom they belonged. It is very advantageous and worthwhile to pray to them and ask them to protect us.

This is my suggestion on this feast day of the Holy Innocents.

Beginning of Birth Pain: Beginning of the end of Age.

Mathew 24 : Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

We may wonder why this pandemic followed by War in past Couples of years. As I was reflecting upon these events I remembered Mathew Chapter 24 , where Jesus predicted the signs of the end of Age. If we reflect upon this chapter almost all the signs are matching with the reality of today. Does that mean that the end of the World has Come? We are not sure of the end of the Age but one thing is sure that all these are the beginning of birth pains. When the birth pains start , they start much ahead of the delivery and these pains are the beginning and are mild but as the child birth is getting closer and closer the pain increases to the greater altitude.

There are three Spiritual things we must note of the signs i.e. Persecutions of the Faithful, preaching of the Gospel to the Whole World as testimony to all nations, False Prophets and False Messiahs. God is faithful and does not want a single soul to go in the hand of Satan. The Gospel of Good News comes by default to every soul as a saving power of God. It is for people to accept or deny the Gospel of love. On the judgement day the books of the living will be opened and there will be claiming of souls. Satan will claim his followers in this World and the people who lived the Gospel of love will be given eternal life. Many will try to defend themselves that they were ignorant or did not get the opportunity to believe in the Gospel , to counter this claim the Gospel must reach each and every person as a testimony. Every denial of the act of love is recorded in this Testimony and read aloud during the judgement Day.

Persecutions are the spiritual warfare which must happen when the Gospel of love is preached to the end of the Earth. The Evil in the World will be disturbed and become Violent and attack God’s people to take revenge, these are called persecutions of the faithful. We see the persecutions of the Early Christians , they were so severe that they could not show their identity as Christians. When the end of time comes these persecutions will be much more than of the Early Christians because the Goodnews is preached all over the World.

False Prophets and False Messiahs are already visible in our times. There are many people who claim themselves as Gods are false Messiahs. False Prophets are all those leaders who preach the Gospel and do not practice it.They are Wolves in Sheep clothes. Their main aim is Money, Success, selfishness and power. When the persecutions will come at the behest of the Gospel , these false Prophets will run away leaving God’s People in the hands of the Persecutors in order to save their life.

Who will be saved? The people who will remain firm in their faith till the end will be saved and will meet the Lord. What is firm in faith means to a faithful. If we have a trusting relationship with our Lord in all circumstances we will be saved ….rest everything will fall in line.

Saint of the Day : St.Stephen

† Saint of the Day †
(December 26)

✠ St. Stephen ✠

Deacon and Protomartyr:

Born: AD 5

Died: AD 34
Jerusalem, Judaea, Roman Empire

Venerated in:
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Assyrian Church of the East
Anglican Communion

Feast: December 25

Altar Servers; Acoma Indian Pueblo; Casket makers; Cetona, Italy; Deacons; Headaches; Horses; Kessel, Belgium; Masons; Owensboro, Kentucky; Passau, Germany; Serbia; Republic of Srpska; Prato, Italy

Saint Stephen traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity, was according to the Acts of the Apostles a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy, at his trial, he made a long speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was then stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who would later become a follower of Jesus and known as Paul the Apostle.

Biographical selection:
“Now Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

“Now there arose some of that which is called a synagogue, of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of Alexandrians, and those of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke ….

“Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to Heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of the man standing at the right hand of God.

“And they, crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord rushed violently upon him. And casting him out of the city, they stoned him and the witness laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.

“And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

“And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord” (Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59).

The text is so beautiful that almost every phrase deserves a commentary. The scene develops in successive steps, each one with its own character.

The first step presents St. Stephen as doing wonderful things. The imponderables of the language of Scriptures transmit the picture of a virginal man, and then the text adds that he was full of grace and strength. To describe St. Stephen, the Holy Ghost utilized the same expression – “full of grace” – that the Archangel Gabriel used to greet Our Lady, which is a great honour for St. Stephen. He was a man with the plenitude of strength, and also the plenitude of virtue and grace that acted in him.

In the second step, we learn about the people to whom he was preaching. He was working his miracles in the midst of those apostate Jews. Jerusalem was a convergence point for Jews from many parts of the world. This is why Scriptures specifies the different synagogues of peoples – the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and so on. Witnessing the miracles of St. Stephen, these people hated him and began to resort to chicaneries and sophisms in order to embarrass him.

In the third step, we see his disputation with the Jews. He responded so well to his adversaries that the polemic begun by the Jews backfired on them. They became confused and dumbfounded. Prior to this, they could not support his miracles, and after he argued, they could not support his superb argumentation. Their hatred increased to the degree St. Stephen manifested the admirable aspects of his soul.

In the fourth step, that hatred increased and the people who opposed St. Stephen began to gnash their teeth in fury. What was the object of that hatred? It was good, in and of itself. They hated the good because the good is good, and not for any other reason. A person who does not understand reality would say: “No, they didn’t like him because he made this or that small error when he was explaining his topic, or he lacked the skill to address a particular matter.” Such a person has an erroneous interpretation of reality.

Those Jews understood perfectly what St. Stephen was saying and doing. They saw that those things were marvellous, and they hated those things because they were good. The nature of evil is such that it attacks well because it is good. This is the perfidy of evil. This is the essence of its iniquity. The more good and truth manifest themselves, the more the sons of darkness hate them.

Those were the same people who had preferred Barrabas to Our Lord and had called for His death. This is the iniquity of evil and the malice of sin. This malice is different from that of a person who commits a sin. This kind of malice comes from one who has rejected the good and loves the evil that he does.

In the fifth step, after closing the polemic, St. Stephen raised his eyes to Heaven and gave testimony to the divinity of Our Lord, Whom he was seeing in a vision. He spoke in a way that left no room for doubt that he was speaking the truth. His words reflected the Holy Ghost Who was filling his soul. He was experiencing a mystical ecstasy, and this supernatural reality was made apparent to those around him.

Someone could object that it would have been more prudent and efficacious for St. Stephen to have fled the challenge. He would have lived longer and perhaps converted those men. The answer is that St. Stephen was filled with the Holy Ghost when he responded as he did. Therefore, he acted correctly.

Also at the beginning of the disputation, it was not certain that the mob would murder him. If those people had corresponded to grace, they would have converted. He acted as he did to convert them. He showed them ever greater wonders. He was trying to touch those souls and conquer them for the good. But they refused all those graces. As the episode reached its apex, they made the decision to stone him. He used the perfect method of apostolate: he tried to illuminate their intelligence and move their hearts.

The sixth step is murder. Those present pretended to be shocked by the supposed blasphemous words of St. Stephen and covered their ears. At the same time, they decided to kill him. They left their mantles next to a man called Saul, who would be the future St. Paul according to many interpreters, and went to stone the Saint.

Like the second Lamb of God, he stood alone, looking up toward Heaven, blood pouring from his wounds, but serene and saying the prayer: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” You can imagine the impression this made on the spectators.

Then, as the stones continued to hit him, he fell onto his knees and asked Our Lord to forgive those criminals. Finally, “he fell asleep in the Lord.” Everything was finished. His body was covered with blood and wounds, but on his face was a tranquil expression. He had entered into the sleep of the just. His martyrdom was consummated, and his soul flew to Heaven. We see a scene truly worthy of being the first martyrdom of the Church, described with the inspired language of Scriptures.

Committed Christians of love.

Thursday of the 4th week of Advent
December 22, 2022

Today’s Readings:

1 Samuel 1:24-281 Samuel 2:1, 4-7, 8abcd
Luke 1:46-56
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

I see many people follow Jesus, some have even given their life for the Lord in theory but in practical they do not live in the love of God but live in double standard. For the World they are committed people of God but in reality they are Wolves in Sheep clothes. Their life is full of selfishness and love for this World. Some people are lukewarm , sometimes they follow the Lord and other times they are with the Worldly ways. This is the reason these kind of people are not anointed and no mission has been assigned by the Lord. They assign their own missions and exalt themselves as God’s servants, these are false Prophets and false Virgins of our times. Their work is full of Worldly prosperity and Show off and there is no charity or Evangelisation.

If we look at today’s Readings we have two Biblical figures i.e. Samuel and Mother Mary.Samuel was born to Hannah after her heartfelt prayers and Mother Mary was born to Jochim and Anne in their old age. Both the children were dedicated to the Temple in their childhood. The vow of Chastity as Virgin even existed in the old testament and among the Jews. Holiness and a dedicated life of love is the original plan of God. Many Spiritualities emerged in the medieval which embraced the vow of Chastity, poverty and prayer . This was not limited to the religious orders but even the lay people lived in imitation of Christ. The dedicated people have always made a difference in the Plan of Salvation.

We need dedicated and committed people to change the World in the modern World. Prophet Samuel was a great Prophet who anointed King Saul and King David. Mother Mary became Mother of the Saviour and Redeemer in this World. When men and Women of God commit themselves to the love of God, God assigns them a mission and anoints them with power and Grace. When man takes one step towards God, God comes forward with a thousand steps.

When we commit our life to the Lord, the anointing or commissioning is automatic , it empowers us and directs us. This is the Spirit of God who leads in our Spiritual journey, this is called the pilgrim church who walks towards Jerusalem to meet our Lord. Church is not a Worldly institution but the spiritual body of Christ. Providence , protection and direction must be sought from the Spirit of God. The Church teachings and Canon Law is inspired by the Spirit of God but implementation of these teachings and Law must be done in love and not as an obligation or Law and order.

As we approach the birth day of our Lord, we must realise why Jesus was born in the World and why we are born in this World. If we have a genuine reflection of these questions then we are not far from our mission.

Prayer: Lord Make us your committed and dedicated followers in love , charity and discipline. Amen.

Saint of the Day December- 22

† Saint of the Day †
(December 22)

✠ Blessed Jacopone da Todi ✠

Franciscan Friar/ Lay Brother:

Born: 1230 AD
Todi, Umbria, Papal States

Died: December 25, 1306
Collazzone, Umbria, Papal States

Major shrine:
Church of San Fortunato, Todi, Perugia, Italy

Fra Jacopone da Todi was an Italian Franciscan friar from Umbria in the 13th century. He wrote several Laudi (songs in praise of the Lord) in the local vernacular. He was an early pioneer in Italian theatre, being one of the earliest scholars who dramatised Gospel subjects.

About the year 1230, a son was born to the noble family of the Benedetti at Todi in northern Italy. He received the name of Giacomo (Jacomo) or James in baptism. As a young man, he devoted himself to the study of law and soon became a very capable and celebrated lawyer. At the same time, Blessed Jacopone of Todi was very proud, vain, and worldly-minded. His young wife Vanna, on the other hand, was humble, devout, and generous. She regretted the worldly disposition of her husband and endeavoured to make amends before God for many of his failings.

One day in 1268, yielding to the wish of her husband, she attended a public tournament that was being held at Todi. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the stand-in which she and many other noblewomen were seated, collapsed, and she was fatally injured. When her clothes were removed, it was seen that she wore about her waist a penitential girdle. James was deeply shaken at the sight. It was surely for me, he thought to himself, that she was doing such penance.

On the spot, Blessed Jacopone of Todi resolved to abandon the vanities of the world, to live in extreme poverty, and for Christ’s sake to become a fool. He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Third Order. Clothed in rags, he went about the streets of the city, an object of derision to the children and horror to the adults, laughed at and mocked as a fool and despised as a penitent by many who had once admired him as a learned and prominent man. In derision he was given the name of Jacopone, that is, “Crazy Jim.” He rejoiced in the name so much that he never wanted to be called otherwise.

After ten years of such humiliation, Blessed Jacopone of Todi asked to be admitted into the Order of Friars Minor. The repute of his folly, however, had gone ahead of him to the convent, and so he met with difficulties. He then composed a beautiful poem, which is still extant, on the vanity of the world, and its merit opened the way for his admission into the order in 1278. From that time forward he lived an unusually rigorous life, striving hard to achieve perfection in every virtue. Out of humility, he declined to be ordained a priest, yet he accomplished much good by his thoughtful and tender hymns, which he wrote in the vernacular.

Is it possible for a good and holy man to find himself suddenly on the wrong side in a conflict? That is what happened to Brother Jacopone in his old age. Having become a leader of the Spirituals, those friars who sought to imitate the poverty of St. Francis in a very strict manner, Jacopone also became associated with the two Colonna cardinals, Jacopo and Pietro, who were regarded as protectors of the Spirituals. These cardinals were also friends of Pope St Celestine V, who ruled the Church during the latter half of 1294 and then resigned. Unfortunately, the Colonna cardinals rebelled against Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII, and questioned the validity of his election. Jacopone, who was undoubtedly in good faith, was with the Colonna cardinals when their fortress at Palestrina fell in September 1298; and so, at the age of sixty-eight, he was excommunicated and thrown into prison. Although Jacopone now realized he had made a mistake and begged Boniface VIII for absolution, it was only five years later, in October 1303, that Boniface’s successor, Benedict XI, absolved him and released him from his dungeon.

Jacopone had borne the hardships of his imprisonment in the spirit of penance; and he now spent the last three years of his life among his brethren, a more spiritual man than before. It was probably at this time that he wrote that masterpiece of Latin hymnology, the Stabat Mater. During those last years, Blessed Jacopone of Todi did not cease to weep.

“I weep,” he said, “because Love is not loved.”

On Christmas eve, 1306, while he and some of his brethren were in the Poor Clare convent at Collazzone, Jacopone knew that his last hour had come; and, like St Francis, he welcomed Sister death with song. His friend, Blessed John of La Verna, miraculously appeared on the scene and administered the last sacraments to him. Then Jacopone sang one of his favourite poems:

“Jesus, In Thee is all our trust, high hope of every heart.”

When Blessed Jacopone of Todi had finished his song, he closed his eyes; and, it is claimed, he died from an excess of love for the Infant Jesus, just as the priest who was celebrating the midnight Mass intoned the Gloria in Excelsis Deo; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill!”

From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone was venerated as a saint; and in popular devotion, he has been called Blessed Jacopone through the centuries. In 1596 his remains were enclosed in a magnificent tomb and placed in the Church of San Fortunato at Todi. At different times, for instance, in 1868-1869, attempts were made to have his cause of beatification introduced in Rome; but thus far his veneration as Blessed has not been officially approved.

Daily Readings – December 21

Daily Readings: December -21

Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Canisius, priest and doctor of the Church

Lectionary: 694

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Pastors, #719-724, or the Common of Doctors of the Church, #725-730.

Reading 1

2 Tm 4:1-5

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but,
following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 40:2 and 4, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

R.    (8a and 9a)  Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.


Mt 5:16

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.


Mt 5:13-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”