OUR IDENTITY WITH CHRIST

Tuesday 23rd September – Memorial of St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Reflection: Luke 8:19-21

OUR IDENTITY WITH CHRIST

 The parable of the sower in the same chapter of our reading gives a clearer picture of what Christ is telling us today. “The seed that fell on the good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and persist until they bear fruit” (Luke 8:15). Jesus plants His words in our hearts each time we hear the gospel and at the time of harvest, He will come back to take with him, those who are his own: those who bear fruits of obedience. No other standard would be used to separate the good from the evil.

Beloved in Christ, Jesus’ response in our reading today; “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and obey it” is directed to all of us. Our identity with Christ is not because we were born in Catholic or Christian homes but because we obey and follow Jesus. Christ is calling you and me to identify with him by becoming a bearer of His word, living to please him and trusting in his grace to obey faithfully till the end of our lives on earth.

Obeying God would seem foolish to human senses at times just like in the case of our Father Abraham who was told to kill his son Isaac and our Mother Mary who was told that she would bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us hold on when such moments come in our lives. Let us remember that the word was made flesh. (John 1:14). It was so because nothing is impossible for our God to do. Therefore, if you have heard God’s word today, harden not your heart but believe and never be ashamed to identity with Christ in all you do today. Go therefore and bear fruit of love, kindness, peace and self-sacrifice. If you identity with Christ, he would identity with you in all you do.

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, help me never be ashamed to speak your word today and wherever I find myself, may I bear good fruits of righteousness and holiness. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 201 – What is the significance of receiving a name in Baptism?

Through the name that we receive in Baptism God tells us: “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is 43:1).

In Baptism a person is not dissolved into an anonymous divinity, but rather is affirmed precisely in his individuality. To be baptized by a name signifies that God knows me, he says Yes to me and accepts me forever in my unrepeatable uniqueness.

HIDE A TREASURE: “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and obey it” Luke 8:21 GNB

Readings for Today: Proverbs 21: 1-6, 10-13; Psalm 119: 1, 27, 30, 34-35, 44; Luke 8:19-21

DON’T DELAY

Monday 22nd September – Monday of week 25 of the year

Reflection: Proverbs 3: 27-34

DON’T DELAY

Beloved in Christ, our greatest treasure in life is the offering of ourselves to be used by God to bless and redeem others. Everything about us including our possessions can witness daily for Jesus. Asides from the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us which can minister healing, intercession and other charismatic gifts, our treasures: money, food, time, love etc. can be a medium of healing.

A hungry person in need of food can be ministered to by offering him food to meet is need, nothing is achieved by praying for providence for this person when we have the capacity to do that. Our hands must be wide open to give and to receive more from God. The light of Christ (Luke 8:16) in us must be active in showing others the way to the riches of Christ who supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19). Every day of our lives, God desires us to be sensitive and not to delay any kind gesture to our neighbour. Let us be merciful by attending to the needs of others in their time of need. Just as St. Paul says in his letter; I am not trying to relieve others by putting a burden on you; but since you have plenty at this time, it is only fair that you should help those who are in need. Then when you are in need and they have plenty, they will help you. In this way both are treated equally (2 Corinthians 8:13-14).

Delaying our treasure to help others in turn delays God’s blessings for us (Proverbs 21:13). Let us be ready each day to help the needy with the good things we possess. Nobody would be in need if all can give or share cheerfully. All would be catered for and nobody would have to waste resources.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to give myself away and to be detached from my possessions so that you can use me to bless others. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 302 – How does one act justly?

One acts justly by always making sure to give to God and to one’s neighbor what is due to them.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard” Proverbs 21:13 GNB

Readings for Today: Proverbs 3:27-34, Psalm 15: 2-5, Luke 8:16-18

IS GOD TOO GENEROUS?

Sunday 21st September – 25th Sunday of the year

Reflection: Matthew 20: 1-16

IS GOD TOO GENEROUS?

Whether or not we recognise it, God is indeed generous to us all. The gift of life and our needs that are met daily are nothing but an indication of His great love and generosity towards us. Each time we are privileged to look upon an image of the crucifix, we are reminded of how generous God is with His mercy – so much as to come down in human form and undergo the humiliation, punishment and death in our place.

As we grow in our faith, we must be careful so as not to become envious of God’s generosity as He extends His hands of love to others, people whom we have condemned because of the sinful lifestyles and habits they may have engaged in. God’s compassion is great. We must bear in mind that we are who we are only by His grace and we must rejoice when we see others respond to this same mercy and grace we have ourselves responded to.

Jesus asked the early hirelings in today’s reading, “Why are you envious because I am generous?” None of us deserves God’s mercy; none of us has a right to it. His generosity to us is only a privilege. Let us ask God for mercy for the times we have passed judgement on others and grumbled at the seemingly great blessings He has given others.

As we do this, we open ourselves to be beneficiaries of God’s great generosity.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for your great generosity towards me. Please help me to extend your mercy and generosity to others.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 280 – What reasons do Christians give for human dignity?

Every person, from the first moment of his life in the womb, has an inviolable dignity, because from all eternity God willed, loved, created, and redeemed that person and destined him for eternal happiness.

   HIDE A TREASURE: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:18 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Isaiah 55: 6-9; Psalm 145: 2-3, 8-9, 17-18; Philippians 1: 20-24, 27; Matthew 20: 1-16

TAKE THE WORD TO YOURSELF

Saturday 20th September – Memorial of SS Andrew Taegon (Priest) & Paul Hasang, and their companions, Martyrs

Reflection: Luke 8: 4-15

TAKE THE WORD TO YOURSELF

“This is people who with a noble and generous heart who have heard the word and take it to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance” Luke 8:15. We are indeed privileged to listen to or study the word of God. The extent to which this privilege becomes gainful to us as Christians depends on our receptivity to this word. In the parable of the sower Jesus gives us an insight to the possible end points of the word of God sown in our hearts, each depending on the state of heart of the listener. For the word of God to bear fruit in us, Christ says that we must take it to ourselves.

It is very easy for us to study or hear God’s word and think of it only at the level of a “story”, a “parable” or just some pious teaching given to some people several centuries ago. In actual fact,  we can get so caught up in finding the faults of various biblical characters that we fail to apply these words to ourselves. On the other hand, we can think of our brother, neighbour or friend to whom we think the teaching applies to the extent that we forget ourselves completely.

Today dear friend, Jesus is reminding you and I that God’s word will be effective in us only when we take it to heart and apply it to ourselves. Is the word of God convicting you of some sinful patterns in your life? Is it challenging you to persevere your journey of faith? Is it reminding you of the blessings God has in store for you as you faithfully seek to please Him?

Take the word to yourself so that it will bear the fruit for which God has sent it (Isaiah 55: 10-11)

PRAYER: Thank you Father for the gift of your word. Please help me to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit and He seeks to help me apply the word to myself. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 19 – What role does Sacred Scripture play in the Church?

The Church draws her life and strength from Sacred Scripture.

Besides the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, there is nothing that the Church honors more reverently than Christ’s presence in Sacred Scripture. At Holy Mass we receive the Gospel standing, because in the human words we hear, God himself speaks to us.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Welcome the word which has been planted in you and has the power to save you” James 1:21 CCB

Readings for Today: 1 Corinthians 15: 35-37, 42-49; Psalm 56: 10-14; Luke 8: 4-15

AND MY JOY SHALL BE FULL

Friday 19th September – Friday of week 24 of the year

Reflection: Psalm 17: 1, 6-8, 15

AND MY JOY SHALL BE FULL

Our glory, our crown, the strength of our faith, our anchor and sure hope is laid in Christ. This hope is that beyond the horizon of life on earth, our lives shall be transformed into that blessed life, when we shall be like Christ, and we shall see God as he really is! This is the hope (and what a sure hope) of every believer. This is our earnest longing, to be with Christ. Yet, before that hope is realized in us, two great obstacles must be crossed: we must pass through earthly life, and then, we must pass through death, before our life can be immortally transformed fully into the life of God.

In the Gospel reading of today, we see those who “journeyed” with Christ, and who spent their lives and their means on the daily needs of Christ and His apostles. They did so, out of love and commitment to Christ, knowing their reward will be great at the end. Yet, the Church in Corinth doubted the reality of that reward, in doubting the resurrection of the dead. Hence St Paul had to explain to them in today’s first reading that Christ’s resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life and is itself the backbone of our faith, without which our Christian faith is in vain. For indeed, at death, it seems all is vain, all seems is lost.

But, this is our faith; that death is not the end of the journey, that beyond the horizon, Christ eagerly awaits us, to transform our mortal bodies into His glorious body. Beloved, this hope is worth working for, it is worth hoping for and it is worth dying for. For, in the end, when that Glory appears, our hearts shall be full…

In the very end, only one thing matters: To be with God! Desire it, Desire it, and Desire it!!!

PRAYER: Lord, in your mercy, preserve us for your glory. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 158 – What is heaven?

Heaven is the endless moment of love. Nothing more separates us from God, whom our soul loves and has sought our whole life long. Together with all the angels and saints we will be able to rejoice forever in and with God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” 1 Corinthians 15: 19 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 Corinthians 15: 12-20; Psalm17: 1, 6-8, 15; Luke 8:1-3

SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Thursday 18th September – Thursday of week 24 of the year

Reflection: Luke 7: 36-50

SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The inclination to self righteousness is one we must guard against as we grow in our journey of faith. Many Christians today have unknowingly given room to this vice thus, making themselves displeasing to God. Self righteousness has its root in pride. As Christians who are sincerely striving to live holy and righteous lives, we can easily look down upon those who do not seem to be living good lives and judge them. When we do this, even without speaking out, God is already aware just as Jesus knew Simon the Pharisee’s thoughts in today’s reading.

Self righteousness results when we fail to acknowledge that the quest for holiness is itself a function of God’s grace in our lives. When we think of ourselves as righteous, we fail to recognise God’s mercy over us and we will easily condemn others whom we see as “sinners”. In today’s reading, Jesus made Simon realise that religious pride and self righteousness makes us overlook even the glory and honour that is due to God as well as the bounty of His mercy towards all people.

Beloved, as we daily strive to study Scripture, pray regularly, receive Communion and live to please God, let us bear in mind that it is His mercy alone that keeps us going. As we realise this, rather than condemning those living in sin, we would readily and lovingly pray that they too would experience the mercy God has shown us. Remember, God sees the heart.

PRAYER: Lord, I thank You for your great mercy upon me. Please deliver me from pride and self righteousness and grant me the grace to share this message of mercy with others. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 982 – There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.” Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; Psalm 118: 1-2, 15-17, 28; Luke 7: 36-50

WHAT IS YOUR AMBITION?

Wednesday 17th September – Wednesday of week 24 of the year

Reflection: 1 Corinthians 12: 31- 13:13

WHAT IS YOUR AMBITION?

We have expectations and aspirations for each day. These may be in line with an ongoing effort to fulfil or realise a set of goals, or it may altogether be the start of a new pursuit. Whichever way it is, man must necessarily hope for something; otherwise he begins to die. He dies not primarily from the dissolution of his mortal frame but from the void of meaning to life. Hope gives meaning to life; it summons our inner endowment to task. He who has nothing to hope for has nothing to live for! Since we live by hope, we are necessarily ambitious beings.

Although the pursuit of our ambitions and dreams gives drive to life, their achievement does not automatically grant fulfilment. Too many have sought and achieved fame, wealth, career, prestige, power etc., yet died unfulfilled. It was all vanity (Ecclesiastes 2: 3-11).

Fulfilment in life demands a higher requirement. It demands that our dreams and aspirations be born out of and nurtured in love. This is a lesson we can learn from today’s reading. Until the love of God and neighbour becomes the propelling force behind our ambitions, they will not give us fulfilment. Love purifies our motive, moderates the excesses of the human heart and grants us an indomitable will to overcome life’s challenges.

Beloved, what is your ambition in life? Does it reflect a willingness to honour God and positively impact the society or is it purely selfish and self-seeking? Let us not perpetuate the mistakes of many whom after living for themselves found nothing but emptiness in life. If love governs our ambitions in life, we will find fulfilment accompanying.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please unite my heart with yours that my life pursuits will be motivated by love. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 468 – What should a person yearn for most?

The ultimate and greatest longing of a person can only be for God. To see him, our Creator, Lord, and Redeemer, is unending blessedness.

HIDE A TREASURE: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” Proverbs 14:12 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1 Corinthians 12: 31- 13:13; Psalm 33: 2-5, 12, 22; Luke 7: 31-35