WHO IS YOUR REFUGE?

Friday 27th March – Friday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 18: 2-7

WHO IS YOUR REFUGE?

What image comes readily to your mind when you think of David? Perhaps you picture a shepherd boy killing a giant, or the eight son of Jesse who is totally forgotten in the fields when his father is asked to present his sons for one of them to be anointed or maybe you think of a powerful king who destroyed all his enemies in battle…these images and much more come to mind as you think of the man after God’s heart.

Yet, one image that may not readily come to mind is that of a young man, scared to death and on the run for his life because King Saul seeks to kill him. It is precisely this image of David that inspired today’s psalm – one of appreciation to God who was his refuge and fortress, his only help in distress. We would all love to be comfortable and have no troubles whatsoever but this is not the reality. Life is filled with moments of peace and serenity alternating with difficult and trying moments.

Where do you turn to in those trying moments? Do you depend on yourself or on fellow men? Do you find yourself heaping complaints on God or do you turn to him in a prayer of trust and confidence? King David sought refuge in God and was not disappointed. Like our Lord did in the garden of Gethsemane, cry to God with faith in your moment of agony and you will not be disappointed. He will strengthen you in difficult times and give you a heart of joy and thanksgiving at the end. Indeed each trial will strengthen your faith just as it did for David.

PRAYER: Lord, You are my refuge and strength. Please help me to find peace in you in trying times. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 476 – How did Jesus pray as he was facing his death?

When face to face with death, Jesus experienced the utmost depths of human fear. Yet he found the strength even in that hour to trust his heavenly Father: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will [be done]” (Mk 14:36).

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

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 20: 10 -13; Psalm 18: 2-7; John 10: 31-42

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DO YOU KNOW HIM?

Thursday 26th March – Thursday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: John 8: 51-59

DO YOU KNOW HIM?

Do you know the President of your country? Your response is certainly “Yes! I do”. Let’s take another question: Do you know your mother? Sure, you certainly know your mother! But, I am certain that you know your mother in a different way; you know her character, likes and dislikes,  favourite food, clothing, movie, music etc. This is because you have lived with her and so know her in an intimate way. Though you know your country’s president, you probably just know his name, maybe his background and nothing more because you have no personal relationship with Him. You simply know about him rather than know him.

Many of us claim to know God. We would be just as offended as the Jews in today’s reading if someone says we don’t know God like Jesus told the Jews: “my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, “He is our God” although you do not know Him…” (John 8: 54-55). But did they really know God? If they did, would they not have recognized and accepted the Christ just as Simeon and Hannah recognized the Baby Jesus in the temple?

Dear friend, God desires that you and I know Him. We are not merely His creatures; we are His beloved children through our Baptism. He created us to know Him, love Him, serve Him in this world and be with Him eternally. We can only love and serve God truly when we know Him. Do you seek to know God? He is always ready to reveal Himself to you through Scriptures, in prayer, in every day events, in the Eucharist…but are you willing to spend time with Him? God is ever calling you to Himself, make a decision this season to spend more time with God and you will truly come to know Him.

PRAYER: Lord, I desire to know you! Please help me to develop an intimate friendship with you by responding to your call to be alone with you and may I grow in my knowledge and love for you through this. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 7 – Why did God have to show himself in order for us to be able to know what he is like?

Man can know by reason that God exists, but not what God is really like. Yet because God would very much like to be known, he has revealed himself.

HIDE A TREASURE: “I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me” John 10:14 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Genesis 17: 3-9; Psalm 105: 4-9; John 8: 51-59

TRUSTING GOD’S PLAN

Wednesday 25th March – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Reflection: Luke 1: 26-38

TRUSTING GOD’S PLAN

Three young plants, “A”, “B” and “C” shared their ambitions with one another. “A” started, “I want to be a very strong tree and made into a chest to store the finest jewels in the world”. “B” said, “I want to be a tall and strong tree and be built into mighty ships that would carry great kings” while “C” said: “I desire to be a very tall tree; so tall that everyone would look up to me.” These trees grew to maturity and were felled. “A” was made into a feeding trough for animals and “B” into a small boat for use by the local villagers while “C” was felled and forgotten at a street corner. All three were unhappy because they had not attained their ambitions.

One cold evening, a man and woman needed a place to have their baby and as there was no room in the inn, they had to make do with a manger in Bethlehem. Only when “A” saw shepherds coming to see the child did he realize that He held within him, the Son of God. Several years later, there was a mighty storm while “B” was out on the sea, then suddenly a man in the boat rose and rebuked the storm; then he realized whom he was carrying – the King of kings. About 3 years later, “C” was still lying at the street corner in Jerusalem when someone picked him up because of his height and made into a cross for a man called Jesus to carry to his death at Golgotha. Indeed the whole world was going to look up to Him for redemption and salvation till the end of time.

Did these young plants attain their deepest desires? Sure, they did in the most marvelous way! Like “A”, “B” and “C”, we may not understand the path God is leading but we can trust Him with our lives. He has a much more beautiful plan for you than you can ever imagine. Our Blessed Mother said yes to God without knowing what the future held and today, the Church celebrates her “Yes” because it has brought redemption to mankind. Today, surrender your plans, hopes and aspirations to God and trust His beautiful plan for your life.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the assurance that you have great plans for me. Please help me to submit to you each day with faith and trust. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 84 – Was Mary only an instrument of God?

Mary was more than a merely passive instrument of God. The Incarnation of God took place through her active consent as well.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” Luke 1:38 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Psalm 40:7-11; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38

MAKE A FIERY SERPENT

Tuesday 24th March – Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: Numbers 21: 4-9

MAKE A FIERY SERPENT

Catholics are often accused of disobeying God’s commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything …you shall not bow to them or serve them…” (Ex 20:4-5). Was God’s simply prohibiting the carving of images used in worship? Why did He ask Moses to make a bronze serpent for the Israelites to look up to for healing in today’s reading and to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Cherubim over the mercy seat? He not only gave the instruction but the very details of how these images used in worship should be made (Exodus 25: 1-22)! Was God confused or contradicting Himself? Certainly not!

God’s commandment was not a prohibition of images used in worship. Rather, it is a prohibition of idolatry. Just as the bronze serpent and the Ark of the Covenant were not to be worshipped but were symbols to arouse faith in the Israelites so are the images such as the crucifix, the statues of our Blessed Mother and the Saints etc. that we have in our Churches. These images are not to be worshipped but serve to arouse faith in God as we put our minds on whom or what they symbolize. You and I would never be able to imagine and appreciate Christ’s crucifixion had we not seen images of the crucifix.

Beloved, let the images you see truly stir faith in you. Let the crucifix increase your love and commitment to Christ who suffered for you; let our Blessed Mother’s statue remind you to always say “yes” to God and “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5); let the statues of the Saints remind you of your own call to holiness. As you do this do not be afraid to explain and defend your beautiful faith in love and gentility.

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for the gift of my faith; please help me to draw close to you through the symbols and images I find around me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2132 – The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” The honour paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Numbers 21: 4-9; Psalm 102: 2-3, 16-21; John 8: 21-30