REPAYING GOOD FOR EVIL

Friday, 24th January – Friday of week 2 of the year

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Reflection: 1 Samuel 24: 3-21

REPAYING GOOD FOR EVIL

We live in a highly individualistic world, a world in which men seek their own personal gain at all times. Our world is indeed full of selfishness, pride, unforgiveness and revenge and all these vices are at the root of the many wars, mass killings and man-made disasters that have befalling our world over the centuries.

However, as Christians, Jesus calls us to a very different way of living; one that takes us above selfishness and leads us to share the great love and mercy God has shown us to others. An insight into our calling is seen in the first reading of today. We reflected on the evil of jealousy yesterday and we see its effect in today’s reading as King Saul is after David to take his life and David is forced to run into hiding with his men. Despite the great wickedness King Saul has exhibited towards David, the latter refused to take the life of his pursuer even when he had an easy opportunity to do so. Instead he spared the life of the king and later called out to the king to make him realize he had nothing against him. He left the vengeance to God, not to himself.

Dear young friends, Christ calls us each day to live a life of love, to repay good for evil, a blessing for a curse and to feed our enemy if he is hungry (Romans 12: 14, 17-21). God calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). This call is not an easy one but is possible for us as long as we yield to the Holy Spirit whom God has given us at our baptism. The Holy Spirit within us will help us to be perfect even as our Heavenly Father is perfect. All we need to do is to ask for His grace and obey His leading in sincerity of heart.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the great love and mercy you offer me each day despite my sinfulness. Please help me to joyfully extend this love to others, especially those who do not seek my good. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 395 – What is peace?

Peace is the consequence of justice and the sign of love put into action. Where there is peace, “every creature can come to rest in good order” (Thomas Aquinas). Earthly peace is the image of the peace of Christ, who reconciled heaven and earth.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do not be overcome by evil; but overcome evil with good” Romans 12: 21 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1 Samuel 24: 3-21; Psalm 56: 1-11; Mark 3:13-19

BEWARE OF JEALOUSY

Thursday, 23rd January – Thursday of week 2 of the year

Reflection: 1 Samuel 18: 6-9, 19: 1-7

BEWARE OF JEALOUSY

Dear friends, as we continue our reading about David, we are confronted with a surprising reaction to the victory God won through him for Israel. At the time David killed Goliath, Saul was king over Israel. One would expect that as king, Saul would be the happiest person in the nation since God had miraculously led them to defeat the Philistines who had been making war with them for a while.

Unfortunately, although Saul was initially happy with this victory but his happiness turned sour when he heard the women sing; “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” From that point on, Saul grew jealous of David and though he knew God’s hand was upon David, he sought to kill him by all means. Dear friends, before we are quick to condemn King Saul, let us look into our own lives. Are there ways we have allowed the evil spirit of jealousy to envelope us and control our behavior and actions towards others?

As young people, we desire all the good things of life. We desire beauty, fame, the best clothes and accessories, the latest electronic gadgets etc. In as much as we desire these good things, we must not allow ourselves to become envious of our friends or colleagues who have them when we do not. Envy is a capital sin which opens the door to more grievous sins and shuts a person up from God’s blessings. A tiny wave of jealousy rising in the heart of a man can eventually lead to slander, murder, theft etc. Friends, rejoice with others in successes and achievements and God will open the door of blessings unto you.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for your forgiveness for the times I have been jealous of other people’s blessings, talents and successes. Please remove every seed of jealousy in my heart and fill me with the love that comes from you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 318 – What are vices?

Vices are negative habits that deaden and dull the conscience, incline a person to evil, and habitually prepare him for sin.

Human vices are found in connection with the capital sins of pride, avarice, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth (or acedia, spiritual boredom).

HIDE A TREASURE: “So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander” 1 Peter 2:1 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1Samuel 18: 6-9, 19: 1-7; Psalm 56: 2-3, 9-14; Mark 3: 7-12

I CAN DO ALL THINGS!

Wednesday, 22nd January – Wednesday of week 2

Reflection: 1 Samuel 17:32-37, 40-51

I CAN DO ALL THINGS!

Today’s reading recounts the story of how David, while in his youth and inexperienced in battle killed the Goliath, the philistine giant that threatened the Israelite army. Noteworthy in the account of this event is David’s unwavering reliance on God. The only reason he stood before the giant without fear was that he trusted that God would give the Philistine into his hands (2 Samuel 17:37, 45-46).

Dear young friend, are there challenges that beset you for which no way out seems feasible? Are there difficulties you face each day at school, work, home etc? David gives us an insight into how these problems can be solved. When we are faced with challenges or difficulties that seem overwhelming, we must look up to God to find the required grace, strength and direction. “Nothing is impossible for the one who believes”, Christ tells us.

Like David, you and I can find courage and direction if we trust absolutely in God and ask for His help as we face the challenges of life, we will find out that the seemingly impossible situation will give way as Christ strengthens us to do all things (Philippians 4:13).

PRAYER: My heavenly Father, please help me to trust in you wholeheartedly especially when faced with the challenges of life. May I find strength and courage in you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 219 – How often must a Catholic Christian participate in the celebration of the Eucharist?

A Catholic Christian is obliged to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. Anyone who is really seeking Jesus’ friendship responds as often as possible to Jesus’ personal invitation to the feast.

HIDE A TREASURE

“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1 Samuel 17:32-37, 40-51; Psalm 144:1-2, 9-10; Mark 3: 1-6

GOD DOES NOT SEE AS MAN SEES

Tuesday, 21st January – Tuesday of week 2 of the year

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Reflection: 1 Samuel 16: 1-13

GOD DOES NOT SEE AS MAN SEES

For us to have a flourishing Christian life, our hearts must daily resound with the above truth. The lessons taught to Samuel in the choice of a new king for Israel from among the sons of Jesse remain vital in our modern age as Christians.

As youths, we are in a crucial phase of life; it is both a formative and developmental phase for us. Alongside these, life will oblige us to make some critical choices. Some of the decisions are so fundamental that they can erode the gains of our formative and developmental years if wrongly made. One of these choices is that of a life partner, for as many as are called to the vocation of marriage. As Samuel was deceived in his mind by Eliab’s appearance, so are we also susceptible to error when we priamarily make factors like appearance, money, educational qualifications, family status and tribe the sole determining factors in the choice of a life partner.

“Man looks at the appearances but the Lord looks at the heart” (1Samuel 16:7). If man has not perfectly known himself, how much can he then claim to know his neighbor? (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 14:12; 1 Corinthians 13:9). Much as we should have desirable attributes for our future spouses, we must humbly submit them to God in prayer (Psalm 37:5) counting on His promise that: “No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).

As we seek and pray for the right partner, let us also prepare ourselves and pray towards being the right partner too.

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for your wonderful plans for me. Please help me to cooperate with you for their fulfillment. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 507 – What happens if you find that prayer does not help?

Prayer does not seek superficial success but rather the will of God and intimacy with him. God’s apparent silence is itself an invitation to take a step farther—in total devotion, boundless faith, and endless expectation. Anyone who prays must allow God the complete freedom to speak whenever he wants, to grant whatever he wants, and to give himself however he wants.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than you ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55: 8-9 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1Samuel 16: 1-13; Psalm 89: 20-28; Mark 2: 23-28

BECOMING A BETTER YOU

Monday, 20th January – Monday of week 2 of the year

Memorial of Blessed Cyprian Tansi

Reflection: Philippians 2: 1-11

BECOMING A BETTER YOU

Of what value is a man’s life when it seeks no progression in goodness? You and I cannot remain the same persons of yesteryears. If our human bodies respond to progression in years; and the count of years situate us in varying situations, environments and relationships, the fullness of our human persons cannot but respond to these dynamics. Depending on the choice(s) we make, we are either progressing in goodness (ie perfection) or regressing in it. Time will never permit us to remain static.

If we have the benefit of communual life, differ from each other in our talents and abilities and have been enriched with different experiences; should we not seek profit from these? The first reading of today (Philippians 2:1-11) answers in the affirmative. There is something good to learn from EVERY ONE we come across in life. No one is so “bad” without some degree of goodness in him and even in an obvious display of folly, a humble, loving and retrospective mind will still find something to learn. But we fail in this often due to our subtle pride and hypocrisy.

We make ourselves standards by which we judge others just because we fare better than them in some respect. This is why the secret pornography lover publicly condemns a fornicator. Much as no vice should be encouraged or glorified, we must guard against a “holier than thou” attitude in our approach to helping one another (Luke 18: 9-14; Matthew 7:1). Humility helps us see our own weak spots and appreciate the good in others.

The available resources and opportunities seem inadequate to meet our needs and desires. Hence, as we look out for legitimate means of meeting our needs, we are cautioned against unhealthy rivalry with our neighbours. Our Christian hearts must be large enough to accommodate the interests of others. Let us be assured that our loving Father will take care of our interests beyond our widest imagination as we seek the good of others.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I rededicate my life to you. Please help me be the best you have created me to be. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 34 – What should you do once you have come to know God?

Once you have come to know God, you must put him in the first place in your life. And with that a new life begins. You should be able to recognize Christians by the fact that they love even their enemies.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” Matthew 5:16 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Philippians 2: 1-11; Isaiah 12: 2-6; Matthew 13: 31, 44- 45

LIGHT OF THE NATIONS

 

Sunday, 19th January – Second Sunday of the year

 

Reflection: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6

LIGHT OF THE NATIONS

Can you imagine what our world would look like if the sun fails to rise? It It would mean a sustained global darkness. This cannot but unsettle mankind! Little wonder in the order of creation, God in His infinite wisdom created light before man (Genesis 1: 1-4, 26-27). The light of creation is itself a reflection of the True light, the Eternal Light in whose image man was created (Psalm 36:9). It is only God, the Eternal Light that truly illuminates; for this brightness penetrates beyond the eye it reaches deeper into the spirit and soul of man.

We must have light in order to reflect light. For us to be godly, God must be enthroned in our hearts. By His enthronement, He frees us from the inordinate love of self and other entrapment of sin. He ushers us into genuine freedom; the kind that makes our hearts resonate with the psalmist: “Here I am Lord! I come to do your will.” When we make a choice of God’s will and commit ourselves to doing it we become light in this fallen world. This light must necessarily challenge our human complacency (Matthew 5:14-16) for it is the kind that glorifies God. It reflects godliness in action and inaction. It fine tunes all aspects of our human life, ranging from spirituality to interpersonal relationships and our dedication to duty. It sometimes attracts opposition because it mystifies the fallen world (2Timothy 3:8, John 1:5). However, it is a pathway to assured victory. It is a dynamic way of evangelization.

Dear friends, if today there is still much darkness in the world, it calls you and I who answer the name “Christian” to reexamine our individual and cooperate ways of life. How bright is the light of Christ shining through me? Does my Christian identity promote or defame the name of Christ? We must be unsettled by the prevailing darkness in our world. To whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12: 47-48; Revelation 22:12)

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Light of glory, please brighten me up that my life may better honour and glorify you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 331Why is there nevertheless injustice among men?

All men have the same dignity, but not all of them meet with the same living conditions. In cases where injustice is man-made, it contradicts the Gospel. In cases where men have been endowed by God with different gifts and talents, God is asking us to rely on one another: in charity one should make up for what the other lacks.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:16

Readings for today: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; Psalm 40: 1-10; 1Corinthians 1: 1-3; John 1:29-34

GOD LOVES SINNERS BUT HATES SIN

Saturday, 18th January – Saturday of week 1 of the year

Reflection: Mark 2:13-17

GOD LOVES SINNERS BUT HATES SIN

As Christians, we must never forget what Salvation is all about. Many have wrongly perceived it to be merely a separation of the just from the unjust, a message of hope only to the saints. Beloved, this view is totally wrong because Christ came to earth for the redemption of those that are lost. This mission of His is expressed in action when he spoke to the people in the synagogue after his temptation in the wilderness. (Luke 4:18-19).

Jesus plainly displayed his love for sinners in the Gospel reading of today for us to have a better understanding of his love. God’s love is so great that nothing can hinder His mercy and compassion. The psalmist exclaims “ As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who honour him, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us” (Ps 103:11-13). Therefore, sin has been done away with by the virtue of Christ’s reign. The more we love God, the more we are able to stay clear from any attachment to sin. Every sick nature of sin in our lives needs Jesus, our doctor and healer. To enjoy the fullness of life promised by Christ in (John 10:10), we as Christians have to do away with whatever dwells in us that God has not created or willed. This a lifelong challenge. A war to be fought with God’s word dwelling in our hearts. “I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps119:11).

Dear friends, are you experiencing some tough attachment to a particular sin? Please go through the following:

1. Free yourself from condemnation (Romans 8:31). Declare freedom to your spirit and acknowledge God’s power to save you.

2. Tell God to heal you and persist in calling upon him. (Jer. 17:14)

3. Welcome God into your heart as Levi did in our reading today.

4. Go to confession frequently.

God loves us but hates any sinful nature in us. Be sure to make that love perfect by rejecting all forms of evil inclinations and press on unto God’s grace.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, heal me from all stains of sin and clothe me with your righteousness and power.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 67 – What is Sin?

At the core of sin is a rejection of God and a refusal to accept his love. This is manifested in a disregard for his commandments.

HIDE A TREASURE

“I rebuke and punish all whom I love. Be earnest, then, and turn from your sins.” Revelation 3:19 GNB

Readings for Today: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1, Psalm 21:2-7, Mark 2:13-17