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INTERCESSIONS ON THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL

INTERCESSIONS ON THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL (25th January):

Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, sends the word of light into a world of darkness to enlighten, to transform, to heal, and to save. With grateful joy, we pray:

R. In your light we see light.

Lord Jesus Christ, you turned Saint Paul’s zeal for the way of his ancestors into zeal for you, who are the Way and the Truth:
– open the minds of all people of good will to receive your transforming word. (R.)

Lord Jesus Christ, you called Saint Paul out of darkness into marvellous light:
– enlighten all those who hate and persecute. (R.)

Lord Jesus Christ, you sent St Paul to preach the good news to unbelievers:
– send missionaries from among us to the unconvinced, the indifferent, the unchurched. (R.)

Lord Jesus Christ, you commissioned St Paul to bring new life to Jew and Gentile, man and woman, slave and free:
– speak the word of life and love to all who dwell apart from you and are hostile to one another. (R.)

(Personal intentions)

Our Father…

Great God of glory, you called Saint Paul to preach the Gospel to all nations. By the power of the Gospel he preached, draw all peoples to yourself, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“ONCE ‘SAVED’, ALWAYS SAVED” IS NOT BIBLICAL

OUR BELOVED LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE SOLE REDEEMER OF SINFUL MANKIND, BUT DOES OUR LIFESTYLE QUALIFY US FOR HIS SAVING WORK?

Col. 3:5: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; [and more instructions what we have to do in order to qualify for Christ’s saving work] … the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (v. 6)…put off all these, anger…malice…filthy communication (v.8) … Lie not to one another (v. 9)…put on charity (v. 14)…he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done” (v.25) (King James Version). Jesus says, “You are my friends if you keep my commandments” (e.g. Jn 14:21).

Do we always live our life as those lines from the Bible tell us to? Do we even always follow the Commandments? Which human can say that they are once and for all free from continuing to sin, in spite of all good resolutions? Sometimes we don’t even notice sin, or we aren’t really sorry for our misdeeds and failings! Therefore Heaven for me and you as a definite guaranteed destination is not fixed, but a lifelong, ongoing process. Of course our dearly beloved Lord Jesus Christ did the Redeeming Work for all mankind, primarily through His obedience to the Father’s Will, but whether we QUALIFY for it by obedience to His Will (as what ruined it all was Adam’s disobedience of wanting to be like God and disobedience) is what matters.

This is not a process that ‘happens to us once we accept Jesus as Saviour’, but an ACTIVE process on our part as the Bible text explicitly states. Faith is not something to boast with, because it is a GRACE from God – it is rather something to be very thankful for. To have the chance to be saved, the Bible says that apart from faith, we need hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of them is charity (1 Cor 13:13).

We do not qualify as Jesus’ friends if we do not “do what He says” in order to count as “His friends”.

The way is narrow, we have to actively work on ourselves with the help of His grace to be able to reduce our sin, because the Holy Spirit, whom some people claim will make them “Christ-like against their own free will” does, contrary to fancy rather wishful thinking, NOT override our free will to sin or to trivialise sin. The Holy Spirit doesn’t sin and doesn’t tolerate sin, and yet “born-again believers” sin, obviously, several times a day, day in day out, year in year out, without significant improvement – this is the proof that their theory doesn’t work.

Every baptised Christian is born again, because “Unless a man is born again through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). But that doesn’t mean we can sit back. After all, we are on earth to help bring the kingdom about, to renounce selfishness and instead bring good fruit. That’s what all of us will be judged upon after our earthly pilgrimage is completed.

As the Bible text says, we need to make an active effort to stamp out our sin and the occasions of sin (a great part of this by our free will) in order to qualify for Jesus’ Redemptive Work. We know what He has to say about unfruitful branches. Our Lord said Heaven doesn’t happen automatically to everyone who called Him “Lord, Lord”. That is why He spent three years instructing us what we need to avoid and do ACTIVELY and also told us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive [for starters we are not saved if we don’t forgive and meekly and humbly tuck away every wrong done to us, however small or big], don’t lead us into temptation, deliver us from evil” – if you had a guaranteed ticket to heaven, He wouldn’t impress that you have to pray these lines regularly.

The Apostles, in order to be Jesus’ friends and to qualify, gave up everything material, lived only spiritual, and then Paul still said that he is not sure, even when he tries to bring his body under subjection by fasting and foregoing other pleasures and vanities, ‘not that I who have preached to others will end up being thrown in the flames” (1 Cor 9:23-27; Phil 3:12-15; etc.).

Thanks be to God for the Sacraments of the Church, outward signs of inward grace, ordained by Jesus Christ, by which grace is given to our souls.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING II (GALATIANS 1:11-19)

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it but it came to me as a revelation from Christ Jesus. You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically.

But one day God called me out of his great love, he who had chosen me from my mother’s womb; and he was pleased to reveal in me his Son, that I might make him known among the pagan nations. Then I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there I returned again to Damascus. Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (ACTS 28:16-20, 30-31)

PAUL STAYED IN ROME, PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

On arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.

After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.”

Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (ACTS 25:13-21)

A DEAD MAN CALLED JESUS WHOM PAUL ALLEGED TO BE ALIVE.

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king, “There is a man here,” he said, “whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in.

When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgment of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (ACTS 18:23-28)

APOLLOS DEMONSTRATED FROM THE SCRIPTURES THAT JESUS WAS THE CHRIST.

Paul came down to Antioch where he spent a short time before continuing his journey through the Galatian country and then through Phrygia, encouraging all the followers.

An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, though he had been given instructions in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they took an interest in him and gave him further instructions about the Way.

When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (ACTS 18:9-18)

I HAVE MANY PEOPLE ON MY SIDE IN THIS CITY.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.” So Paul stayed at Corinth preaching the word of God among them for eighteen months.

But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. “We accuse this man,” they said, “of persuading people to worship God in a way that breaks the Law.” Before Paul could open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “Listen, you Jews. If this were a misdemeanour or a crime, I would not hesitate to attend to you; but if it is only quibbles about words and names, and about your own Law, then you must deal with it yourselves – I have no intention of making legal decisions about things like that.”

Then he sent them out of the court, and at once they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue president, and beat him in front of the court house. Gallio refused to take any notice at all.

After staying on for some time, Paul took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut off, because of a vow he had made.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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