St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Bible: Acts of the Apostles #12

As Paul and Timothy were singing and praying in the jail, there came an earthquake that jarred the doors and chains loose (Acts 16:26). The guard was about to kill himself when Paul told him not to. Sounds like a strange thing on two accounts: first, why would a guard try killing himself; and second, Paul was comforting the guard.
I will start with the second issue, Paul comforting the guard. It illustrates for us Paul’s love for the guard. He is being detained for evil purposes. But this does not hinder Paul’s concern for the well-being of the guard. This leads us to the next issue.
On the first issue, Roman guards were killed if they found their captors gone. It would be a disgrace to them and their families if anybody got loose. It would be a torturous death at that. So many would kill themselves rather than go through that. It actually became more honorable to kill yourself. This man was as good as dead. But then he asks, “What must I do to be saved?” (verse30).
Notice Paul’s response. Paul says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The first thing we need to do is believe in the Lord Jesus.
So the first thing the Apostles need to do is preach the Gospel message. Without the Gospel message, we would never know what to believe. Notice also that they do not give them a bible, but rather speak the words to them that Jesus himself taught and did. Because of their preaching, they want to be baptized (v33). Such a great interaction comes here. They are baptized. The guard and his whole household.
Now imagine this: the guard was going to kill himself. He was as good as dead. Paul brings him back to his house alive. How grateful the whole household must have been. That guard was probably the sole means of making money. That one life affected many other people. Before the baptism, they washed Paul and Silas’ wounds. They feel the need to make things right. They are willing to accept the responsibility for what has happened to them. Then Paul baptizes them. Since the whole household was baptized, it is traditionally assumed that babies were baptized with them. All the people in the house accept Jesus in their lives that day by virtue of their baptism.
Only after the baptism do they celebrate. Why? It seems that they would have accepted Jesus in their lives before they were baptized. What makes them feel the need to be baptized? We see this constantly in the Acts of the Apostles. Only after the baptism is there any mention of “joy” and “newfound faith” (v34). Something very real has happened. Only after the baptism do we find the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the theological virtues. They are changed from within. True and lasting happiness enters into their lives.
The overview of this baptism is that they preach to them and then they get baptized. The preaching must happen first because the preaching explains why you would want to be baptized. It is the faith that inspires a person to want to be baptized, so the faith leads to baptism. Baptism makes you Children of God and the offering of eternal life gives hope, even in suffering.
So are Paul and Silas released from jail? No. Paul goes and baptizes the whole household of the guard who beat them, and Paul does not assume that he will be released. He knows that if he is gone, the guard would still be killed. Paul loves the guard and his household and does not want them to perish. He voluntarily goes back to the jail.

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Vocation Corner: Jesus Knows the Next Step

It amazes me that just about every time Jesus appeared to His followers after His Resurrection they did not recognize Him.  Even after spending so much time learning from Him and following Him, they still could not tell who He was when He came to them.  I believe that at least part of the explanation for this is that they were becoming too focused on themselves after the death of Jesus.  After He died, we can certainly imagine that they must have been very scared and unsure about how to move forward in their lives.  It was at this point that they put it upon themselves to find the next right step, rather than placing their trust in the plan of Jesus.  In fact, they did this so to such an extent that even when Jesus Himself appeared to them, they could not recognize that it was Him and that He had everything in control.  It is easy to fall into the same trap in our own lives, especially when it comes to discerning a vocation.  Trying to find your vocation can be a difficult and stressful thing at times.  However, the last thing we ever want to do is take the matter into our own hands and feel like we have to be the ones to figure everything out.  Jesus already has the plan!  All we have to do is trust in Him.  Rather than getting too turned in on ourselves, we need to surrender everything, especially our whole future, to Jesus and simply be calm while He makes Himself known to us.  We do not want to miss the Will of Jesus in our lives.  Be calm, trust in Him, and always be open to recognizing Him no matter what circumstances you are facing in your life.  ​

– Fr. Bobby Gonnella

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Domingo de Pascua ciclo B 2018

Los discípulos entendieron la Escritura y se dieron cuenta de que aquel Jesús crucificado había vencido la muerte. Por eso hoy los discípulos del siglo XXI podemos también decir que Jesús nos ha dado nueva vida. Porque El es El Viviente que nos vivifica. Jesucristo ha roto las cadenas de la muerte. No hay que temer, no hay que temer nunca más. Es cierto, es verdad….Señor Jesús has resucitado, ya no tengo miedo porque Tú eres mi luz y mi salvación.  Continue reading

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Bible: Acts of the Apostles 9

Chapter 14 shows how hard it can be when you bring Christ to others. There were people who constantly told lies about Paul and Barnabas that conditioned people not to believe. They became violent against them. Paul heals a crippled man by the power of Jesus. The people think that they are gods. They start to offer sacrifices for them. Paul and Barnabas tear their garments and tell the people not to do this, but they would not listen. Instead, a group of people from Iconium (the previous town) that did not believe in what they preached came to town (Lystra), and the people believed those who opposed Paul and Barnabas. What a strange turn of events. Paul heals a man and they think he is a god. Paul then tries to correct them. They don’t listen to Paul, but those who lie about him and end up stoning him think he is dead. Continue reading

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THe Power of Christ Crucified

“Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.” -John 12:31-33

Think of it: a graphic image of a man tortured to death: bled dry, bruised, contorted, abused, hideously mistreated. Imagine such an image on the walls of homes, in schoolrooms, at crossroads, in courtrooms, worn about the neck, and venerated in places of worship. Such is the figure of the crucified Savior throughout traditional Europe and Latin America—whether Catholic, Orthodox, or even Lutheran. Countless millions of men, women, and children will describe this image as beautiful, as moving, as attractive. Continue reading

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Domingo de Ramos ciclo B 2018

Entra montado en un pollino y el pueblo llano le aclama como Mesías y alfombra el suelo con sus mantos y con ramas cortadas en el campo. La escena la conocemos bien los cristianos y seguramente muchos de nosotros hemos participado ya en muchas procesiones, este Domingo de Ramos, llevando nuestro ramo de olivo o de palmera en la mano. Es bueno que reflexiones ahora nosotros sobre la actitud del pueblo llano. ¿Qué veían en Jesús de Nazaret las personas que lo aclamaban? Seguramente, a un profeta que venía a liberarles. Liberarles, ¿de qué? Pues de lo que les tenía atados y esclavizados: de la enfermedad, del hambre, del pecado, de la opresión de los gobernantes, tanto judíos como romanos. Y, ¿cómo iba a liberarles? Entraba sin ejército, sin armas, en actitud pacífica y conciliadora. Les iba a liberar, sin duda, con el poder de Dios; iba a ser Dios mismo el que, de forma milagrosa, los liberara, a través de este profeta. Por eso aclamaban, entusiasmados: “bendito el que viene en nombre del Señor”. Continue reading