Tuesday, January 31, 2012


1st READING - 
2 Samuel 18:9-10, 14, 24-25, 30-19:3
P S A L M - 
Psalm 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R: Listen, Lord, and answer me.
Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.
Mark 5:21-43

Today’s First Reading presents to us the end of the rebellion mounted against the reign of King David. Absalom, David’s own son, was overcome by ambition and led a mutiny against his father, King David. He did not succeed and today’s reading narrates how he fell from the sword of Joab the Cushite, killed as he lay helpless, hanging by his hair stuck in the terebinth tree. Excited over Absalom’s death, the Cushite reported to King David, “Let my lord the King receive the good news!” A king usually rejoices at the news of a traitor’s end but the first thing David asked was, “Is young Absalom safe?” Discovering that he has been killed, David wept bitterly crying out, “My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you.” The reading ended with the words, “That day’s victory was turned into mourning.”

Today’s reading gives us once more an intimate look at David’s heart. Remember when King Saul was madly trying to kill the young David? David tried reasoning with Saul again and again, longing to win him over, even once purposely sparing Saul’s life when he had the chance to kill him (see 1 Samuel 24:4ff). David is a different kind of king. His goal is not only to win. His goal is to win over. He does not rejoice at the elimination of an enemy. His desire is the elimination of the enmity. That’s why he did not kill Saul when he had the chance and reason to do so. That’s why he mourned the death of the rebellious Absalom.

David truly is a king after God’s heart. The way of the world is to win. Its instrument is violence and uses power to eliminate and silence the enemy. It uses its fists to do the talking. That way the enemy is eliminated, but not the enmity, and so the cycle of violence continues.

The way of God’s kingdom is to win over by reason, dialogue and love. Winning over also “eliminates” the enemy because it resolves the enmity, and so the enemy is transformed into a friend.Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: In resolving your conflicts with others, do you try to win or to win over? Do you try to eliminate your enemy or the enmity?
Lord Jesus, Prince of peace, transform my heart after the pattern of Your own heart. Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2012


1st READING - 2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
P S A L M - Psalm 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R: Lord, rise up and save me.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people.
 Mark 5:1-20

Today’s Gospel narrates another instance of Jesus exorcising a man possessed by the devil. Jesus asks the name of the unclean spirit. In response, it said, “Legion is my name,” for they are many. Yes, the Bible affirms the existence of the devil.

Several years ago, a random survey of 1,500 respondents conducted by a famous Philippine college revealed a contradiction that 81 percent believed in heaven but only 42 percent believed in hell or the existence of the devil. Why the contradiction? It’s probably because we all want a God who rewards but not a God who “punishes.” We all want a God who gives blessings but not a God who calls us to task and responsibility.

The devil deceives by making himself unknown. If you do not believe in him, you will not do anything to put up a fight or any form of defense against him. Satan is then able to act with much more freedom.

Here are some facts about the reality of the devil from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

391. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”
392. This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign.
393. It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.”

Jesus asks the name of the unclean spirit because knowledge of the enemy is the first step to victory over that enemy. Let us know our enemy and its ways that we may always be on guard and victorious against its cunning. Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you aware of the entry points of the devil in your life?
“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Today's Gospel - January 29, 2012 with Reflection

1st READING - Deuteronomy 18:15-20 
P S A L M - Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
R: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
2ND READING - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light; on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.
Mark 1:21-28
21 Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. 22 The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. 23 In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; 24 he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” 26 The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. 27 All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” 28 His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

In today’s Gospel, we hear a declaration of the true identity of Jesus: “I know who you are — the holy One of God!” Biblical scholars call it an indirect theophany, i.e., a manifestation of the Divinity of Jesus by another other than God Himself. It is just ironic that such declaration came from an unclean spirit that possessed a man in the synagogue. In response to such declaration, Jesus rebuked the evil spirit sharply and commanded, “Be quiet! Come out of the man!” Jesus obviously was not flattered by the declaration.

In some other parts of the Gospels, Peter also made an indirect theophany when, in response to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” he declared in behalf of the Apostles, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus commended Peter for such declaration. It is worth noting that Jesus said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon…” while to the evil spirit Jesus said, “Be quiet!” Both Peter and the evil spirit made the same declaration. But the same declaration received a different response from Jesus. What accounts for the difference? The evil spirit simply made a declaration of fact. Peter made a declaration of faith. The devil cannot avoid the fact. Jesus is God. But it is simply a dry fact for the devil. Even if he does not want to, the devil has no choice but to acknowledge it. The devil may have even uttered it in fear.

For Peter, it was different. It was a declaration borne out of love, out of a personal relationship with Jesus.

Every Sunday, we go to church and profess and declare our faith in the living God. But we are not simply there to declare a fact. If we do that, our declaration will be no different from that of the devil. We need more than a declaration of fact. God does not need to be reminded of the fact of His divinity. He does not need a massage to the divine ego. He knows it from eternity. But God does long to hear a declaration of faith and love from His children.

So what is it for you — fact or faith?Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you cultivate a personal relationship with God in your prayer, study, and a life of righteousness?
“Lord, You have no need of our praise, but our desire to thank You is itself Your gift. Our prayer of praise adds nothing to Your greatness but makes us grow in Your grace. Amen!”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The best introduction to Aquinas ever written!

Sophia Institute Logo

Approaching Aquinas without a guide is daunting. It can easily become a frustrating and disorienting experience.  

Do you begin with his Commentary on the Ten Books of Nicomachean Ethics or his Commentary on Aristotle's Politics? How about Against the Errors of the Greeks to Pope Urban IV?

Perhaps just play it safe and start with the one you have some familiarity with, the Summa Theologica ... all five volumes.

Thomas Aquinas was prolific and his range of thought was astonishingly broad. At times elegant, precise, and easily grasped, just as often his subject required a dense and scholarly style assuming a level of expertise on the reader's part.

Like trying to climb Mt. Everest without a Sherpa, simply knowing where to start with Aquinas is vital if your journey is to be successful.   
Sophia Institute Press is excited to announce the publication of  Thomas Aquinas: Scholar, Poet, Mystic, Saint by Fr. A. G. Sertillanges. There is no better guide to help you make your ascent of Thomas Aquinas.

book cover  

One of the most widely recognized experts on Aquinas, Sertillanges knew that the key to understanding Thomas was not a total immersion into his all his works, but to instead begin with the man himself.    
St. Thomas Aquinas

Understanding the forces that compelled him to write, the method he used, and most crucially, the unifying spirit animating all his work is how one must begin with Aquinas. It is then that the beauty and lasting power of the Angelic Doctor is revealed.

As Sertillanges explains: "The circumstances that gave rise to Thomism are dead, its problems are dead, its method and vocabulary are dead ... but the doctrine is not .... His doctrine contains something whereby it can renew itself from age to age, while his personality, perfect type as he is of scholar, social benefactor, and saint, is a constant example."

Thomas' philosophical and theological concepts and arguments will forever have relevance. In clear bold strokes, Thomas Aquinas: Scholar, Poet, Mystic, Saint stands as one of the best introductions for those new to Aquinas and for those already well acquainted.


As to how to compare Aquinas with modern philosophies, Chesterton offers useful insight: 
"[T]he philosophy of St. Thomas stands founded on the universal common conviction that eggs are eggs. The Hegelian may say that an egg is really a hen, because it is a part of an endless process of Becoming ... the Pragmatist may believe that we get the best out of scrambled eggs by forgetting that they ever were eggs, and only remembering the scramble. But no pupil of St. Thomas needs to addle his brains in order adequately to addle his eggs; to put his head at any peculiar angle in looking at eggs, or squinting at eggs, or winking the other eye in order to see a new simplification of eggs."
When you order Thomas Aquinas: Scholar, Poet, Mystic, Saint you will also receive a beautiful Italian made St. Aquinas relic prayer card FREE (while supplies last).   

 St. Thomas Aquinas prayer card with relic

Read an excerpt from Thomas Aquinas.

It's almost over! Sophia's store-wide sale ends January 31st: at check out enter discount code newsite25.

 book cover  

by A. G. Sertillanges
160 pgs ppbk $18.95

At checkout enter code:
Sale ends 1/31/2012.
Cannot be combined with other discounts. 
Shipping not discounted.


Fine Catholic Books 

We always welcome contributions to our non-profit apostolate. If you would prefer not to use the PayPal button below, you can add a contribution directly to your shopping cart at our on-line store.

Click to donate through paypal or donate directly through our website: www. sophiainstitute.com  

Sophia Institute Press
is the publishing division of

The publishing division of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and of Holy Spirit College.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today's Gospel - January 25, 2012 with reflection

 Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

1st READING - Acts 22:3-16 (or Acts 9:1-22)

P S A L M -Psalm 117:1, 2
R: Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
Mark 16:15-18
15 Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. 18 They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 


Creative Passion

Once there was a religious skeptic who ridiculed people who take their faith seriously. He had a neighbor who was a very holy and prayerful woman. Every morning, he would hear her pray aloud her petitions to God. One time, he heard the woman pray for bread. So he decided to put bread at her door, knocked, and hid behind a tree. When the woman opened the door and saw the loaf of bread, she prayed aloud and said, “Thank you, Lord, for this answered prayer!” “You fool,” said the man, “don’t you know I was the one who put bread at your door? I answered your prayer, not God.” The woman calmly retorted, “No, God always answers my prayers, even if sometimes He had to use the devil to answer them.”
Today’s First Reading from Acts 22 is a first person account of St. Paul’s conversion, which we celebrate today. Paul himself said, “I persecuted this new way to the point of death. I arrested and imprisoned both men and women.” The same Paul who used to destroy Christ’s Church will be the same Paul who will build it up and make it flourish beyond Israel. 
More than the personal conversion of Paul, we celebrate today the fact of God’s grace working in and through unworthy instruments. Even after his conversion, Paul would often refer to himself as “the least of all the apostles.” He was a passionate man but his passion was misdirected and destructive. But God redirected his passion. From one who passionately persecuted and killed Christians, he became one who would be persecuted and killed for Christ. That is conversion. When one is converted, what is really changed is the heart of the inner person.
Friends, don’t fall into the temptation of thinking that you are not worth anything. You are worth something. On this feast of Paul’s conversion, let us make an inventory of how we have been using the gifts that God has given us. Let us lift them up to God and allow His grace to transform them into positive energies for good. Like Paul, be surprised at what God can do in and through you, to yourself and to others! Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTION: How are you using the gifts that God has given you?
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”

Monday, January 23, 2012


1st READING - 2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10
P S A L M - Psalm 89:20, 21-22, 25-26
R: My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
GOSPEL - Mark 3:22-30


David receives the crown of the nation of Judah and, seven years later, Israel as well. He unites the Jewish people once again. As their king, he expands the borders of the nation and creates a great military power feared in the region, triumphant against all enemies. It is under him that Israel reaches the zenith of its power, and it is to the Kingdom of David that future generations will look to for inspiration in times of hardship.

It is easy to live in the past and exult in the glories of days gone by, but this will not secure one’s future. In the same way we can dwell on the failures and defeats of the past, but this, too, will not secure the future. We must live in the present — both for the present and the future. If we do this, our legacy will be secure. The past glory of a nation will not ensure anything for the future. However, foundations of truth and righteousness laid today will make possible a future greatness.

Too often we forget that success is built on faithfulness to the fundamentals and, when it comes to our faith, this can be summed up in one idea: obedience to the will of God.

Jesus constantly affirms that this is the basis of His ministry – doing what the Father tells Him to do, obeying His will. Let us all seek to imitate Jesus and follow His example of submission and obedience. In this way we will contribute to the building of His Kingdom and thereby live fulfilled and holy lives. David was not perfect — he failed many times, but he always accepted the forgiveness God offered him and got back to work! Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you lose heart when you sin or when things do not go as you expect them? Do you give in to temptation and disappointment too easily?
Jesus, help me to focus my life on imitating Your obedience and so come to know the only path that will bring me fulfillment in my life.