Wednesday, January 11, 2023

 


Acts, Chapter 13, Verse 43

After the congregation had dispersed, many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain FAITHFUL to the grace of God.

 

The refusal to believe frustrates Gods plan for his chosen people; however, no adverse judgment is made here concerning their ultimate destiny. Again, Luke, in the words of Paul, speaks of the priority of Israel in the plan for salvation.[1]

 

Justification by Faith[2]


 

Paul summarizes Jesus’ mission by beginning with John the Baptist and stresses the failure of the Jewish people to recognize him. Yet, by grace and an act of faith, through baptism Jews can find justification with God and salvation with Him by the second person in the trinity; the son of God and not through the law but by grace.

 

Justification: Process or One-Time Deal?[3]

Romans 5:1 is a favorite verse for Calvinists and those who hold to the doctrine commonly known as “once saved, always saved:” Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This text is believed to indicate that the justification of the believer in Christ at the point of faith is a one-time completed action. All sins are forgiven immediately past, present and future. The believer then has, or at least, can have, absolute assurance of his justification regardless of what may happen in the future. There is nothing that can separate the true believer from Christ—not even the gravest of sins. Similarly, with regard to salvation, Eph. 2:8-9 says:

For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast. For the Protestant, these texts seem plain. Ephesians 2 says the salvation of the believer is past—perfect tense, passive voice in Greek, to be more precise—which means a past completed action with present on-going results. It’s over! And if we examine again Romans 5:1, the verb to justify is in a simple past tense (Gr. Aorist tense). And this is in a context where St. Paul had just told these same Romans: For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Righteousness is a synonym for justice or justification. How does it get any clearer than that? Abraham was justified once and for all, the claim is made, when he believed. Not only is this proof of sola fide, says the Calvinist, but it is proof that justification is a completed transaction at the point the believer comes to Christ. The paradigm of the life of Abraham is believed to hold indisputable proof of the Reformed position.

THE CATHOLIC ANSWER: The Catholic Church actually agrees with the above, at least on a couple points. First, as baptized Catholics, we can agree that we have been justified and we have been saved. Thus, in one sense, our justification and salvation is in the past as a completed action. The initial grace of justification and salvation we receive in baptism is a done deal. And Catholics do not believe we were partially justified or partially saved at baptism. Catholics believe, as St. Peter said in I Peter 3:21, “Baptism… now saves you…” Ananias said to Saul of Tarsus, “Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” That means the new Christian has been “washed… sanctified… [and] justified” as I Cor. 6:11 clearly teaches. That much is a done deal; thus, it is entirely proper to say we “have been justified” and we “have been saved.” However, this is not the end of the story. Scripture reveals that it is precisely through this justification and salvation the new Christian experiences in baptism that he enters into a process of justification and salvation requiring his free cooperation with God’s grace. If we read the very next verses of our above-cited texts, we find the inspired writer himself telling us there is more to the story here. Romans 5:1-2 reads: Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. This text indicates that after having received the grace of justification we now have access to God’s grace by which we stand in Christ and we can then rejoice in the hope of sharing God’s glory. That word "hope" indicates that what we are hoping for we do not yet possess (see Romans 8:24). Ephesians 2:10 reads: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. There is no doubt that we must continue to work in Christ as Christians and it is also true that it is only by the grace of God we can continue to do so. But even more importantly, Scripture tells us this grace can be resisted. II Cor. 6:1 tells us: Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. St. Paul urged believers in Antioch—and all of us by allusion—“to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43). Indeed, in a text we will look at more closely in a moment, St. Paul warns Christians that they can “fall from Grace” in Galatians 5:4. This leads us to our next and most crucial point. The major part of the puzzle here that our Protestant friends are missing is that there are many biblical texts revealing both justification and salvation to have a future and contingent sense as well as these we have mentioned that show a past sense. In other words, justification and salvation also have a sense in which they are not complete in the lives of believers. Perhaps this is most plainly seen in Galatians 5:1-5. I mentioned verse four above. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness.

The Most Important Thing

When Catholics read of Abraham "justified by faith" in Romans 5, we believe it. But we don't end there. For when Catholics read of Abraham "justified by works" in James 2 we believe that as well. For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has taken all of Sacred Scripture into the core of her theology harmonizing all of the biblical texts. Thus, we can agree with our Protestant friends and say as Christians we have been (past tense) justified and saved through our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But we also agree with our Lord that there is another sense in which we are being saved and justified by cooperation with God's grace in our lives, and we hope to finally be saved and justified by our Lord on the last day: I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matt. 12:36-37).

All of this really comes down to faith without works is dead. Remember the last words of Mary in the bible “Do whatever He tells you.” All the singing and faith in the world must not drown out the love of God. Our faith if true; propels us to works of mercy and a sheer joy that celebrates life and defends life, liberty and happiness for ourselves and others.

Human Trafficking Awareness[4] 


Human Trafficking Awareness Day is dedicated to raising awareness of sexual slavery and human trafficking worldwide.  Today, there are between 21-30 million people enslaved in the world, more than at any time in human history. Every day, modern slavery can be recognized: children  become soldiers; young women are forced into prostitution and migrant workers exploited in the workforce. Human Trafficking Awareness Day seeks to end this slavery, return rights to individuals and make the world a safer place for all inhabitants. Human Trafficking Awareness Day started in 2007, when the U.S. Senate designated January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the hopes of raising awareness to combat human trafficking. It began as a U.S. initiative, and the United Nations has started to highlight this topic and work towards global awareness with days such as International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. 

Human Trafficking Awareness Facts & Quotes

 

·       The most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, accounting for 79% of human trafficking victims. These victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls.

·       According to UNICEF, 2 million children are estimated to be trafficking victims of sex trade each year. 20% of traffic victims are children.

·       The average age of a girl being forced into the US domestic sex slavery market is 13.

·       The average cost of a slave around the world is $90.

·       It is slavery in the modern age. Every year thousands of people, mainly women and children, are exploited by criminals who use them for forced labor or the sex trade. No country is immune. Almost all play a part, either as a source of trafficked people, transit point or destination. - United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. 

Human Trafficking Awareness Top Events and Things to Do

 

§  Talk to children about strangers and make sure they memorize important addresses and phone numbers.

§  Save 888-373-7888 to your phone.  This is number to the National Human Trafficking Resources Hotline.

§  Make a donation to an organization fighting human trafficking.

§  Learn the signs and indicators of human trafficking so that you can learn to recognize it and report it. US Homeland Security offers a training online free of charge.

·       Watch a movie about human trafficking. Our picks: Taken (2008), Trade (2007), Human Trafficking (2005), The Pink Room (2011), Nefarious (2011) and Lilya 4-ever (2002). 

Know the Signs[5] 

Recognizing indicators of human trafficking is key to identifying victims and helping them find assistance.

Look for someone who:

 

1.     Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes

2.     Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips

3.     Works excessively long and/or unusual hours

4.     Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work

5.     Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off

6.     Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work

7.     High security measures exist in work and/or living locations (e.g., opaque windows, boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

8.     Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid

9.     Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after mention of law enforcement

10.  Avoids eye contact

11.  Lacks health care

12.  Appears malnourished

13.  Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

14.  Has few or no personal possessions

15.  Is not in control of his/her own money, has no financial records or bank account

16.  Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)

17.  Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

18.  Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address

19.  Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in

20.  Loss of sense of time

21.  Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph

The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.

·       Do the St. Joseph Universal Man Plan.

·       Devotion to the 7 Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

III. THE LOVE OF HUSBAND AND WIFE

 

Conjugal fidelity

 

2364 The married couple forms "the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent." Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble. "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

 

2365 Fidelity expresses constancy in keeping one's given word. God is faithful. The Sacrament of Matrimony enables man and woman to enter into Christ's fidelity for his Church. Through conjugal chastity, they bear witness to this mystery before the world.

 

St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say to their wives: I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us. I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you. 

Daily Devotions

·       Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: End Sex Trafficking Slavery



·       Religion in the Home for Preschool: January

·       Carnival Time begins in Catholic Countries.

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Universal Man Plan

·       Have a hot toddy

·       Rosary



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