2 Corinthians 8

Paul dedicates most of this chapter to generosity. He first comments on how even the poor give well beyond their possessions. Paul says in verse 3, “according to their means – indeed I can testify even beyond their means – and voluntarily…” He sees not wealth, but a disposition of the soul. As poor as they are, they want to give what they can: their very being to God and His works. It is a desire they have in their hearts, as expressed by how they voluntarily give and offer to do whatever God wants of them. In fact, they see it as a grace or “favor” (v4) to allow them to give either through money or through works.

Paul is using the example of the generosity of the poor to inspire those who do have money and time to give what they can. Paul is not commanding or trying to beat anybody down to give (8). He is begging on God’s behalf for them to have that same spirit of generosity. God desires a generous heart and a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). He reminds them how good God has been to them for a couple reasons. It reminds them of this model that Jesus Himself has shown, but he particularly wants to inspire them to give by reminding them of the benefits they have received from Jesus. How much Jesus was willing to become poor Himself so that we may rejoice in Him. Joy was the fruit of the generosity of Jesus. So joy is the fruit of giving. When we give, Jesus gives us a share in His joy (9). What God offers us is a snowball effect of His Joy. The more generosity we possess, the more joy we possess. If you suffer depression, give what you can.

Neither Paul nor God expects you to become poor in your giving (12-13). But Paul does suggest to give with resolve. Do not waver back and forth so that the gift does not have fruitfulness. Everybody likes to see the effect of their giving and should hope to see it. It may not be what we expect, but the bottom line is that good comes from giving. The joy of the fruitfulness of giving confirms the gift and solidifies the resolve. Yet when troubles come, this should not lead us into despair. We give according to God’s plan. Sometimes when we give, we do not see the fruit. Jesus did not see a single conversion when He died on the cross. In fact, they cast lots for His clothes and ridiculed Him while He was hanging on the cross. Sometimes we have to either wait to see the fruits of our generosity, or trust that Our Lord will bring it about in ways we will only see after this life. Even when it is fruitless in our direct actions, God can take our desires to do good for Him and turn it into grace for others. In this way, a cheerful giver always bears an abundant fruit because it is secure in Christ, who sees to it.

The grace that flows through giving can have its payback in a very positive way. When a person gives to those in need, the joy of those in need turns into grace for those who have given. The poor in wealth provide for those who are spiritually poor while those who give provide for material things. One provides for material needs while the other provides spiritual needs (15). We are all poor in one way or another, but we all can give to help each other get to our homeland in heaven.

Paul is thankful for all those who have a generous heart in its many forms. Through his thankfulness, Paul is able to appreciate all those around him and all their efforts to help not only Paul, but Titus and the communities. Gratitude is really the main inspiration to give. Paul naturally wants to give of himself even more because he sees the fruitfulness in their lives. Goodness begets goodness. In all of this snowball effect of goodness, purity of intention is being built up and God is made known to all. The goodness of God is revealed by the way they love one another (Jn 13:35). God has been so good to us. The world needs to see proof of this (24).

2020 Yolanda Garcia Nava Award Recipients

The Yolanda Garcia Nava award is given each year to honor Yolanda for her dedication not only spiritually, but for her hard work in and for the church and the Hispanic Community as well. The award is given to an individual or individuals who do good works in the church, and with and for the Hispanic Community.

Yolanda was a special person who was always willing to help and always set a great example, not only in her commitment to the church, but also as a role model in her faith.

Two awards were given out in 2020. The first award was given to Mary Ann Hasenour for her dedication and hard work in the music department, and learning to sing and play in Spanish.

The second award was given to Orlando Marin for his dedication and help in the church and with the prayer group. He helps with the disinfecting of the church and other jobs as needed.

Thank you for all you do for the Community.

9 Days for Life Novena

Join Catholics across the nation to pray for the end of abortion and all sins against life and human dignity. God made all humans in His image and likeness. No human being should be classified as lower than the rest of humanity. God loved all into being. We hope that one day we may be made whole again; that we may honor each other not despite our different walks of life, but rather through our differences, we may see the infinite God in each finite being. Every person reflects God and His goodness in a way never before, and will never be again. May God help us to see this great reality and rejoice in it!

Here is a link to the app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ninedaysoflife.android&hl=en_US&gl=US

For other ways to participate go to: 9daysforlife.com

SVDP St Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul

If you need a tax receipt for donations made to St Vincent de Paul during 2020, please contact Donna Nevenhoven at 815-235-3326 as soon as possible. Thank you.

I wish to thank all of those who remembered St Vincent de Paul during this holiday season. For the last quarter of 2020 we distributed $4,721.43 in assistance to members of the Freeport Community. Your continued support makes this possible. God bless you and have a Happy New Year.

Donna Nevenhoven, Treasurer

2 Corinthians 7

Paul encourages all to put aside all impurities in their lives in hopes to obtain the promises God gives to live in the Eternal Father’s heart: “…touch nothing unclean. I will welcome you and be a father to you and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Cor 6:17). Therefore, Paul says, “Since we have the promises, beloved, let us purify ourselves from every defilement…” (7:1). In the first letter. Paul has concerns for some very bad sins that some in the community are practicing. He sees the need for repentance. In the first letter, we would judge Paul as being harsh and condemning. Today, most people would have left a church that had such a preacher. We want to be told we are precious and God loves us no matter what. God may love us, but that does not mean we automatically get to heaven, or that everything we do is pleasing to God. God is not there to please us or entertain us. God is there to save us from ourselves. He gives us His way that we may have life.

So Paul is not so much concerned about the offense that some may take, as much as the offense the readers may have given to God (8). Many might despair easily about what seems to be harsh teachings of the Church. The Ten Commandments and the life of virtue is opposed to the life of vice that condemns us. As Catholics, we feel that everywhere we turn we are without hope; we sin all the time. Many in frustration leave because they do not understand the Bible or the Church. The morals set out by the Bible, God and the Church are there to lead the way to eternal life and all that is good. There is so much here, but let me focus back on what Paul is getting at. There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is where as Paul says, “sorrow for God’s sake produces repentance” (v10). The reason why Paul wrote so harshly was to produce a change in spirit to God. That is why the Church is always calling its members to repent. The guilt is not a permanent state; it calls a person to come ever closer to God, with the help of God.

This brings the other point, that without the mercy of God and His calling us to life, we have nothing but shame. This is where Paul says, “…worldly sorrow brings death” (v10). It is worldly and is merely of this world that does not promise life or happiness. It is shallow and leaves a person without hope. Some people feel they cannot change their habits, and this is the whole point of the Christian belief. We can’t, but He can! By God’s grace and our cooperation with His gifts, we can be healed of our sins. It is not by mere human effort as if to defend ourselves (v11). So many times we think we can save ourselves, or sometimes we convince ourselves we are working with God, but really have not surrendered to Him. We try things by our own strength only to fail miserably. But God is patient for us to learn. Most of us learn the hard way.  Many don’t learn at all.

Despair drives shame into sadness, whereas hope drives guilt, through repentance, into joy. Guilt has a purpose: to get us to heaven. Shame has its purpose: to keep us from heaven. The difference is what we choose to embrace. Even in a cancel culture that tries to manipulate a person into shame, because they do not believe in God or the hope He offers, you can still choose hope in God.

God’s ways are ways of goodness and healing for ourselves individually and for humanity as a whole. He sets out His ways that we may have hope and pursue goodness. But that is a decision each person has to make for themselves. God is always offering us hope. It all depends on what we are embracing: sin, death and shame, or purity, life and true joy. So, what are you embracing?

Walk for Life Rockford

JOIN US FOR ROCKFORD’S FIRST ANNUAL WALK FOR LIFE!

​If a woman thinks abortion is the only choice, it is not a choice at all. How can taking the life of a baby be a choice? Come and stand for these women and their babies under the threat of abortion.

There will be a group going to the Walk for Life in Rockford this year on Saturday, January 23. A carpool will meet at St Joseph church parking lot before we leave. Everything starts in Rockford at 10am, so leaving Freeport around 9am. See you there!

https://www.proliferockford.com/

The Follower of Jesus

Jesus calls us to come and follow Him. When we look at the child Jesus in this Christmas season, we see His innocence. Jesus is pure, simple and humble. God the all powerful one comes to reveal himself in such goodness. As Catholics, we strive to live our lives in that same life as humble, pure and innocence. God has called us all to this wonderful life. It brings so much grace to those who are willing. It means entering into a lifelong struggle of rejecting temptations from within and from without. It means living our life in service to God and His ways.

His ways are directly opposed to the ways of the world. God’s ways are always good for us. The ways of the world might seem fine at the time we do it, but regrets soon follow. The ways of the world promote selfishness, greed, laziness, pride, self-preservation, deceit, gossip, slander and self-will. The fruit of this worldliness is shame, disgrace, ignorance, loss of real joy, loss of peace, the building up of vice, more selfishness, violence, anger, unforgiveness and general disunity with the self, others and God. Such people walk around in a state of perpetual cloudiness as of why their lives are miserable, no matter what class they were cast in. It is a pitiable state to be in and some want to drag other into it. As the old saying goes, misery loves company.

Do not fall into his trap. But how do people get into such a trap? Many start using drugs. It can be medical drugs, alcohol, marijuana or even the other harder drugs. We as Catholics should not be going to any mind-altering drugs to avoid life or to be liked. With drugs come many other sins that can plague a lifetime in a very short span. It does not matter what drugs are legal, it is not something that is holy or conducive to purity of heart.

Another hook of the devil are sexual sins. All sins of this sort is mortal and automatically merits eternal damnation. It distorts our view of the human being so much, others are deprived of their dignity as persons, made in the image and likeness of God. It hinders our ability to love as God has called us to love. Love becomes replaced with lust and therefore emotionally makes the person into an object to be manipulated and used.

A third tripping block for many is the deep-seated desire to be liked. It sounds strange to hear this, but it is very true. So many people have succumbed to sin because a friend told them to. Peer pressure and the cancel culture are pre-eminent tools of the devil on those who have a disposition to want to be liked. A person with such a condition in the soul may be good of heart, but the devil knows how to push a person to manipulate them. Such a person must have a habit of saying no to what is bad and yes to what is good.

These are just a couple of tripping stones in the world today. I mention them because many have fallen over them. The world has accepted them as normal, but fail to ask if they are good, let alone be honest about it. There are a lot of things today that are normal, but are totally deprived of goodness. The world is opposed to God’s ways. How bad do you want the goodness of God? How hard are you willing to live in God’s goodness? Are you willing to oppose the world and live for Jesus?

ow hard are you willing to strive for it?  If you have already fallen, the grace of God is always here to help you, starting with confession. Jesus can purify your mind, heart and body. Unlike the world, Jesus is full of mercy. If you are tired enough of the Devil dancing on your head; try something new, eternally new in Jesus. So what is your new years resolution? Are you willing to stick this one out? Be resolved, God is with you.

2 Corinthians 6

Paul is undoubtedly the apostle and teacher, yet he still appeals as an equal. He refers to himself as a “fellow worker.” He is asking them to let the grace of God be with them always. If they or we choose not to accept God’s ways, then they and we would be denying the grace of God in their and our lives. The suffering of Jesus on the cross would be in vain for us.

Paul is pointing out the importance of the present. “Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation!” (v2) Paul says. But Paul is not just talking about a slogan, One Day at a Time. He is talking about how we are to live our lives. Each day, we are simply to give our lives to Jesus. Each day we must do His holy will in our lives. The salvation He offers us comes every day when we give ourselves to Him on a daily basis. There might be a day when we made our faith our own and have come to know Jesus and His love for us. The day when hopefully we responded and gave our “Yes” to Him. But that “Yes” should have been a one-day, one-time event. Every day we must get up and make the willed decision to follow Him. By following Him, Jesus saves us from our own desires and designs. Jesus saved us 2000 years ago when He died on the cross for us. That grace won for us becomes active in our lives when we are obedient to His will, thus saving us every day as we go through life. We look forward to the definitive salvation when we pass from this life and are judged kindly.

We do have to live our lives every day for Christ, but that does not happen if we do not take the time to think about what that means and still choose to follow Him. Everybody must come to a day to choose to follow Jesus. If you have not taken the time to do this, I invite you to do it now.

Paul goes on to avoid giving offense. The purpose of this is to be a stumbling block for those who would believe in God’s ways. It is not out of weakness that He avoids giving offense. He must live as Christ would have him live so that there would be no illusion of who Christ is. This means sacrifice. But with the sacrifice that he makes, joy comes. This sets up the paradox that Paul lists (4-10). God, in His goodness, rewards those who dedicate themselves to Him.

We get afraid and unsure about giving ourselves to God. Paul shares his experience of God’s goodness despite all the trials he goes through for serving God. The graces seem to outweigh the poverty, slander, lies, and even physical harm done to him. The graces he receives even give him more confidence and outright boldness to preach the truth and live it out daily. He has more joy now than before he converted. He is not just giving the men of Corinth his witness of how God is good. Paul is telling us now today that God is worthy of our trust. That God will give us the grace we need today to give our lives to Him. Are you willing to open your heart to Jesus?

Paul finishes with reminding them that God as He really is, is quite different than what any other religion teaches or what any other human supposes. God has nothing to do with that. God is God and He has revealed Himself in Jesus as a matter of fact. As Christians, and even more so as Catholics, we do not go to other sources to tell about God or the Bible. Going to other religions is going backwards and into sin and darkness. The experience of God’s grace is lost and the paradox described earlier is no more. It is only by God’s grace that we go and that we receive all that is good. Anything else is false, will lead us astray, and leave us empty and confused. We look to our Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father to bless us, guard us, and guide us always. For those who have decided to give themselves to Jesus, we look forward to the graces He will give us every day.