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St Paul, Apostle

It was Saint Paul more than anyone else who showed what man is and how great is the nobility of our nature, as well as what capacity for virtue this human animal has. Every day he advanced in stature, every day he fought with ever-renewed keenness against the dangers threatening him; he showed this when he said: ‘I forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.’ When he was expecting to die he summoned others to share his joy, saying, ‘You also should be glad and rejoice with me.’ Again he actually leaped with joy at the dangers and insults and every dishonour which pressed on him, as he wrote to the Corinthians, ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions.’ He called these the weapons of righteousness, showing that from them the greatest benefits are reaped.

Therefore he was always undefeated by his enemies. Everywhere he was beaten, insulted, and reviled. He treated it all as though it were a triumphant procession setting up trophies of victory everywhere on earth, glorying in them, giving thanks to God, saying, ‘Thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us to triumph.’ So he sought dishonour and insults in his preaching of the gospel more readily than we seek honours. He sought death more than we seek life, and poverty more than we seek riches; and he looked for work to do more than others look for rest. It was not simply that he looked for more, he looked for much more.

There was one thing, and one thing only that he feared and shunned, and that was to give offence to God. Just as there was one thing he longed for, to please God.

He was rich with the love of Christ which was the greatest of all things to him. While he had this, he reckoned himself the most blessed of men. Without it he had no wish to be numbered among princes and rulers and powers. Possessing love he wished to be among the lowliest of men, among those being chastised, rather than without love to be among the loftiest and honoured. There was one torment for him, to fall away from this love. That for him was hell, that was damnation. That was the sum of all evils.

Even so to find this love was joy. This to him was life, it was the whole world, his angel, things present, things to come, the kingdom and the promise. This was the sum of all blessings. Anything else which was not concerned with this he regarded neither as painful nor as pleasant. Things visible he considered of no more worth than withered grass. Tyrants or peoples breathing fury seemed to him like gnats. Death, torture, and a thousand torments he thought of as child’s play, provided only he could endure something for Christ’s sake

A reading from a homily by St John Chrysostom Hom 2 on St Paul.

It says in the Bible Alive for 25 January: ‘At the very heart of everything that Paul wrote and did was his lucid and clear understanding of what happened to him on the road to Damascus’. Everyone has this moment of conversion when we were going one way and we turned and went another. Why? It says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1428 that it is a movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first. It happened to me. It happens to you. That moment should be nurtured, remembered, and dwelt on often as Paul could not be separated from that moment he met Jesus.

Indonesia – Good News

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has turned into “a promising oasis of religious and priestly vocations,” Father Luigi Galvani, pioneer of the Camillian mission of Flores told Agenzia Fides. “In fact, the continuous opening of new religious communities and seminaries is the clear testimony of this favourable moment.”

“In Maumere, on the island of Flores, one is impressed to see the largest philosophical and theological Seminary of the Catholic Church in the world, led by Divine Word Missionaries, with more than a thousand seminarians,” Fr. Luigi marveled.

“If in the past decades Indonesia had been a destination country of evangelization, now it is giving back this gift to the nations with the sending of its missionaries” – the Camillian further specified. “In fact, several dozen Indonesian missionaries from various religious institutes, with the Verbites (Divine Word Missionaries are also known as Verbites in different parts of the world) in the front row, reach other countries of the world each year to carry out pastoral and missionary service.”

Centre far left Fr P Erik is missioned to Ireland. All are missioned.

We are very proud of the diversity of our missionaries and the wonderful service our Indonesian priests, brothers and sisters perform in the more than 80 countries where we are present!

A Very Happy New Year

Today the dawn broke on another year. We look out on it as it stretches ahead of us, full of hope, and we pray and ask for grace. As we are all too aware, the passage of time is relentless and unstoppable. The young urge time to go faster that they may grow up more quickly and do all the things they want to do. The more mature among us simply do not know where the years have gone. Time is a mystery, for sure. However, there is one thing that we know for certain about time and that is that

when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (and daughters).”

Time itself changed forever when, in the fullness of time, Jesus was born to the young virgin, Mary of Nazareth, in the small town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. Time itself became charged with the very presence of God in a new and special way.

We owe Mary, our Mother in Faith, a debt of gratitutde we can never truly repay. For with her embrace of God’s plan, with her ‘Yes’, with her co-operation and docility to God’s will, the plan of God’s salvation could begin. Today, lift up your voice in praise and thanksgiving to God the Father for Mary, for through the fruit of her womb we receive our dignity as children of God and are privileged to have the Spirit of God living in our hearts. Mary’s obedience overthrow Eve’s disobedience and opened the way for Jesus’ obedience to overthrow the disobedience of Adam and therefore Satan’s hold over the human race.

Cling to this truth today; hold on to it, bring it to mind and pray over it because the whole gospel message hinges on it. We do not know what the New Year holds; we cannot know what it will bring. What we can know is that we face whatever comes as the beloved children of a gracious and merciful heavenly Father, who was willing to sacrifice his own beloved Son so that no one single person on this earth would perish.

Everything comes from love, all is ordained for our salvation, God does nothing without this goal in mind.’ (St Catherine of Siena).

Taken from Bible Live for 1st January 2020 www.alivepublishing.co.uk