WHO DO PEOPLE SAY YOU ARE?

Sunday 24th August – 21st Sunday of the year

Reflection: Matthew 16:13-20

WHO DO PEOPLE SAY YOU ARE?

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. Man exists because God created him in love, and through love God continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. Being in the image and likeness of God, the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. Thus, man stands as the glory of God.

As Christ asked his disciples; let us ask ourselves, “who do people say we are?” Let us examine ourselves: By the way we live, behave, talk and respond to issues, can people say I am a Child of God?  Dear friends, this is a call to sober reflection for us.

God our Father wants us to reflect His image within us by the way we act, talk and respond to situations around us. Today let us pray for the grace to be a true reflection of God and to be His ambassador.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be your witness wherever I find myself. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 356 – IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

Man is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake,” and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life.

HIDE A TREASURE: So you, too, must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Do not allow sin any control over your mortal bodies. Romans 6:11-12 CCB

Readings for Today: Isaiah 22:19-23, Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8, Romans11:33-36, Matthew 16:13-20

HIS HELP IS NEAR

Saturday 23rd August – Saturday of week 20 of the year

Reflection: Psalm 85: 8 -14

HIS HELP IS NEAR

We often think of God as so far away in Heaven; disconnected from us His creatures and simply desiring us to obey His commands without much interest in our day to day affairs. This however is not the case. God is a Father who is involved in the everyday affairs of you and I his children. More often times than not, it is we who do not invite Him into our affairs, our day to day activities.

Dear friend, God is not just interested in you; He is very much interested in helping you. The help He stretches out to you each day is much closer than you think and that is what today’s Psalm reminds us.

Simply make it your ambition to fear God; to please Him in all you do and you will find that in difficult moments His help will be manifested just as His word promises. His help is near to those who fear Him. (Psalm 85:9).

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for your great love for me. Please help me to trust in your help every moment of my life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 470 – What prompts a person to pray?

We pray because we are full of an infinite longing and God has created us men for himself: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (St. Augustine). But we pray also because we need to; Mother Teresa says, “Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on him, twenty-four hours a day.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”  Psalm 46:1 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Ezekiel 43: 1-7; Psalm 85: 8-14; Matthew 23: 1-12

YOU KNOW, OH LORD!

Friday 22nd August – Memorial of our Lady, Mother and Queen

Reflection: Ezekiel 37: 1-14

YOU KNOW, OH LORD!

The story of Ezekiel and the dry bones is one we are familiar with. It’s a message of hope, a message of restoration, a story that reveals that there is nothing beyond the power of our almighty Father. As we find hope and strength in this passage, let us look to the prophet Ezekiel as an example of faith.

I am certain if God had asked me the same question he asked Ezekiel, my answer would be very different. Considering the situation at hand: “…they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37: 2) I would have answered in the negative because my human knowledge and senses would tell me that it is impossible for such “very dry” bones to live again. But what did the prophet answer? “You know, oh Lord” (vs 3).

How often have we written ourselves off or written people around us off because of their constant failures and seemingly irredeemable situation? Have we written our country Nigeria off as a nation that has no hope for improvement considering the present situations that plague our nation? Have we given up on certain prayers because our human senses tell us there is no way out? Dear friends, like the prophet rather than give up let us turn to God and say: “You know oh Lord” it is God who knows all things. He is a God that can transform a situation in a way that beats the human mind.

As we look at dry bones in various areas of our lives, communities and families, let us hand them over to God with complete hope and trust that He can raise an exceedingly great army from those dry bones.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please forgive me for the times I have lost faith in you and spoken negatively about people or situations around me. Please strengthen my faith in you that I may remember always that it is you who have the final say. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2657 – The Holy Spirit who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ’s return teaches us to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us…

HIDE A TREASURE: “With God nothing is impossible” Luke 1: 38 CCB

Readings for today: Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 107: 2-9; Matthew 22: 34-40

CHOOSE TO BE CHOSEN

Thursday 21st August – Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

Reflection: Matthew 22: 1-14

CHOOSE TO BE CHOSEN

“Many are called, but few are chosen”. This last verse of our Gospel reading is a very popular maxim used. We certainly would have heard it said so many times and in a variety of situations that we may have lost touch as to its origin. Christ is the origin of those words and He used them just after giving a parable about a King and the banquet he threw for his son’s wedding.

We can easily find fault in those initial invitees and wonder why they took such beautiful invitation for granted. You and I can tell ourselves that we would not throw away such golden opportunity if we were in their shoes. But is this really true? Is it not possible that we’re just in their shoes and behaving as they did too? The parable was used to show the Jews how their refusal to be faithful to their covenant with God would result in the gentiles being called to the banquet of salvation in their place.

However, we can look at it with respect to our faith as Catholic Christians. We are privileged to belong to the Church established by Christ himself and led by the successor to St Peter. All historical records reveal this. But are we living up to the demands of our call as Catholics? Are we grateful for the Eucharist and the other sacraments, the Mass, our communal prayer and Bible study shown by the liturgy of hours? Are we making the best use of these beautiful gifts and striving towards a life of love and holiness to which we are called? The few that are chosen make the choice to be chosen.

Beloved, we are the most privileged of all men as Catholic Christians. Let us live up to our call; let us make a choice to be among few that are chosen.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for the gift of my faith. Please help me to embrace my faith more fully and receive the grace to live it out. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 89 – To whom does Jesus promise “the kingdom of God”?

God wills “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). The “kingdom of God” begins in those who allow themselves to be transformed by God’s love. In Jesus’ experience these are above all the poor and the lowly.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Ezekiel 36: 23 – 28; Psalm 51: 12 – 15, 18-19; Matthew 22: 1-14

THE GIFT OF GOD’S MERCY

Wednesday 20th August – Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the church.

Reflection: Matthew 20:1-6

THE GIFT OF GOD’S MERCY

The mercy of God is a necessity for you and I. By divine mercy, our sins are forgiven and we are empowered to lead a good Christian life. It is the same mercy that makes us partakers of divine life that God continually extends to people who are yet to receive Him as we see in today’s Gospel reading. This must gladden our hearts and spur us to constantly proclaim the Gospel to our neighbours who are still outside the fold of Christ; reminding them that God patiently awaits their home coming no matter how much they may have strayed. It is the mercy of God that keeps the wicked alive in hope of his repentance before death (Luke 15:1-10).

We cannot fully comprehend the depth of God’s mercy. It is profound. Let us continually plead this mercy for the home coming of our fellow brothers and sister who are not living in harmony with their God. When we sin, let us not give in to despair as God seeks to restore us out of His mercy.

As Christians we must perpetually plead for God’s mercy as none of us can be justified by good works alone (Galatians 2:16). Though, we are unworthy, Christ paid it all on the cross of Calvary. When we live under God’s mercy, we will enjoy certain graces that are beyond human understanding.

PRAYER: Father, I ask through your son Jesus Christ that your abundant mercy may always abound in my life. Amen.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7 RSV-CE

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT49 – Does God guide the world and my life?

Yes, but in a mysterious way; God guides everything along paths that only he knows, leading it to its perfection. At no point in time does something that he has created fall out of his hands.

Readings for today: Ezekiel 34:1-11; Psalm 23:1- 6; Matthew 20:1-16.

 

THE EVIL OF PRIDE

Tuesday 19th August – Tuesday of week 20 of the year

Reflection: Ezekiel 28:1-10

THE EVIL OF PRIDE

Our God is so generous in that He gives us numerous gifts such as wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, understanding, helps keep in remembrance the principal source of all our blessings. Beloved, pride is an affront on God and diminishes His grace riches, beauty, might, strength and many other good things. For these, we must continually thank Him. An attitude of praise over our lives (Job 40:12; Proverbs 16:5).

Both God and man abhor pride. As God sets his face against the proud, so does the proud man not enjoy the goodwill of his neighbours. Pride isolates him, makes him a stinking stagnant pool! Dear friend, let us examine our lives and identify areas where we have allowed pride to take root, no matter how subtly it may manifest. We must do away with pride if we are to enjoy the fullness of God’s blessings. We must put on the garment of humility.

Humility is the virtue that opens us up to greater blessings. It makes us welcoming to our neighbours and by extension grant us peace of mind.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, please root out of me all traces of pride and grant me a humble heart. Amen.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Who made you superior to others? Didn’t God give you everything you have? Well, then, how can you boast, as if what you have were not a gift?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 GNB

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).

Readings for today: Ezekiel 28:1-10; Psalm 32:26-30, 35, 36; Matthew 19:23-30

 

THE SACRIFICE FOR PERFECTION

Monday 18th August – Monday of week 20 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 19:16-22

THE SACRIFICE FOR PERFECTION

In today’s gospel reading Christ calls us to a state of perfection which demands total renunciation of ourselves. In order to attain this state, there is need for us to be totally detached from all our earthly gains and readily embrace God’s commands at all times. Regardless of how rich we may be, we must recognise that we are custodians of God’s blessings and must always be willing to share with the needy around us. Today, many Christians attach too much importance to worldly gains at the expense of their heavenly pursuit just like the young man in today’s Gospel reading.

When we deny our neighbours in need the opportunity of benefiting from God’s goodness to us, we are clearly saying to God that we cannot be trusted with the fleeting riches of this world (Luke 16:11). Invariably, there is limit to what God can commit to our trust. Inability to share is the root cause of persistent lack in some Christian’s life. It is in giving that we receive (Luke 6:38); it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life (Luke 9:23; John 12: 24-25). The more we walk in love, the better we grow in perfection. Sincere love is indeed sacrificial (1 John 3:16-18).

Let us examine ourselves today! Are we making loving sacrifices that make for perfection? Are we holding too tightly to earthly treasures that we are forgoing that of heaven? Today, the Lord is asking you and I to reconsider our priorities, to be more generous with the goods of this world. As we wholeheartedly dedicate our entire lives and all that we have to God, we will each day grow in perfection and the attainment of heaven will be our ultimate reward.

PRAYER: Heavenly father, I pray today that I may have the wisdom to create the right attitude towards the wealth and riches you have given me; that these earthly gains will not constitute a hindrance my quest for heaven. Amen.

HIDE A TREASURE: Respect your father and your mother; and love your neighbour as you love yourself. Matthew 19:19 GNB

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 62- Are we all supposed to become “saints”?

Yes. The purpose of our life is to be united with God in love and to correspond entirely to God’s wishes. We should allow God “to live his life in us” (Mother Teresa). That is what it means to be holy: a “saint”.

Readings for today: Ezekiel 24:15-24; Deuteronomy 32:18-21; Matthew 19:16-22