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

LOOK INWARDS!

Monday 23rd March – Monday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: John 8: 1-11

LOOK INWARDS!

Does it not surprise you that the greatest opposition Jesus had during his earthly ministry was from the Jewish religious leaders? They were not spared either as Christ openly criticized them. Though they claimed strict observance of the Law of Moses, their pride, outward display of righteousness, hypocrisy and lack of love and mercy had blinded them from understanding the love and mercy of God.

Are we much different from the Pharisees? Don’t we who claim to be good Christians and Catholics look down with disdain on other young people around us who do not live upright lives? Are we not quick to pass judgment on our peers who engage in sexual immorality, drug abuse, exam malpractice, lying, stealing etc? Christ tells us in today’s reading to look inwards. While he does not condone or make excuses for sin, He loves the sinner deeply and is interested not in passing judgment but in arousing repentance.

Dear friend, you are whatever you are because God has shown you mercy. The Psalmist says: “If you oh Lord should mark our guilt; Lord, who will stand?” (Psalm 130: 2). Look into your life and see the areas in which you too need transformation and as you see those who live in sin, extend the mercy God has shown you to them by praying for their conversion and seek loving ways to evangelize them. Through this you will not only please God, but experience the grace of ongoing conversion too.

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for the many times I have passed judgment on others. Help me to seek your mercy more and more and extend this mercy to others. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FATH: 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…desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do not judge and you will not be judged” Matthew 7:1 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Daniel 13: 41 -62; Psalm 23: 1-6; John 8: 1-11

WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH


Sunday 22nd March – 5th Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Hebrews 5:7-9

WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Words are effective means of communication anytime any day. We can even say that they are the best means of communication. When you speak, people hear you through the sound you make and the same happens in prayer. When we pray, God hears us. Yes! He does hear us, but sometimes we assume that coining so many words or using beautiful intellectual or emotional language when praying would make God hear us quicker. This is not the true dear friend. Beyond the words we utter during prayer, we must also pay the most attention to our inner disposition. That is, the level of humility and devotion that accompany the words we utter.

In today’s first reading, we are told that Jesus made “loud cries unto God” in His life on earth and was heart because He was humble and devoted. Humility in prayer appeals to God’s heart because “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Pride makes us think that God’s blessings are a reward for our self-righteousness. Only in humility do we see our true selves, weak, fallen and in need of mercy and grace. Beloved, let your words in prayer be accompanied by great humility and submission like those of Christ and God will hear you for He is faithful and merciful. 

PRAYER: Dear Father, save my soul from sinking in the mud of sin. Help me to come to You in humility and trust always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2611: “The prayer of faith consists not only in saying ‘Lord, Lord,’ but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father, Jesus calls His disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do all these in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads.” Ephesians 6:18a GNB

Today’s Readings: Jer 31:31-34; Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15; Heb 5:7-9; Jn.12:20-33

GIVE A FAIR HEARING

Saturday 21st March – Saturday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: John 7: 40-52

GIVE A FAIR HEARING

In the determination of legal matters before the court of law, of paramount importance is the need to ensure the fair hearing of the concerned parties in order to arrive at a fair trial. Fair hearing, at least, demands that parties involved have opportunity to present evidence to support their case and discover what evidence exists against them before an impartial tribunal.

If our judicial system, guided by civil law seeks to ensure fair evaluation of matters brought before it, should not we Christians, guided by a more sublime precept operate at a higher pedestal? However, can we say this is truly the case with us? Do we not prejudge others without giving opportunity to hear them out?

Beloved in Christ, let us heed the counsel of Nicodemus in today’s gospel reading (John 7:50-51); let us guide our hearts against the entanglements of prejudice, pride, anger and jealousy which easily prevents us from a fair and objective appraisal of situations. It is the same measure that we give to others that we get in return; if we are unfair in our dealings with others, we must not be surprised if we get similar or worse treatment in return.

Let us protect the valuable relationships God has blessed us with; let us be fair in our assessment of situations and the people around us.

PRAYER: Oh Lord! Give me a heart that is loving and pure, free of prejudice and pride that I may be fair in my dealings with 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. …Justice is concerned with equity and longs to see people get that to which they are entitled. We must allow justice to govern our relations with God also and give him what is his: our love and worship.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” Luke 6:38b

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 11: 18-20; Psalm 7: 2-3, 9-12; John 7: 40-52

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT

Friday 20th March – Friday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT

“We know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”Jn 7:27

The Jews failed to recognize the divinity of Jesus because they thought they knew Him too well. “Isn’t He the carpenter’s son? Isn’t Mary his mother and aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? Aren’t all his sisters living here (Matthew 13:55-56)? They expected the Christ to come in a majestic way and not in a way that touched their neighborhood, entered into close dealings with them, or lifted the hammers in a trade shop around them. Thus, their familiarity with Christ blinded them from knowing His true identity.

Dear friends, are we not also guilty of this same contempt bred by familiarity? Do we still recognize Christ in the Holy Eucharist and receive Him with reverence or have we lost the significance of what we receive and just receive it as a routine? Do we still recognize that the Church as a sacred place where we should comport ourselves or do we treat the Church as we like? Do we still recognize Christ in the person of our Priests and Religious and do we treat them as such or have we lost focus of who they are out of our familiarity with them?

Do we realize our duty of serving God in our groups in Church and places of work or have we lost focus by seeking for human approval and praise? Do we still hear God’s voice in the words of the Bible or has it become a mere historical book for us? Do we realize the recompense of God for a good and holy life or are we blinded in the pleasure of sin? Do we realize that we talk to God in prayers and as such He deserves all our attention or do we consciously give in to distractions? How often do we recite prayers without thinking of their meanings? Do we still give due respect to our parents and elders as we ought to or have we lost focus of this out of familiarity?

Beloved in Christ, today offers you an opportunity to reflect on how well you are living for God. He desires that true worshippers worship Him, not merely as a routine but in spirit and in truth

PRAYER: Lord enlighten my heart with your light that as I grow in you, I may never lose focus of who you are to me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 218 – What is the right way to honor the Lord present in the bread and wine?

Because God is truly present in the consecrated species of bread and wine, we must preserve the sacred gifts with the greatest reverence and worship our Lord and Redeemer in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Reverence the Lord with all your being and respect the priests.” Sirach 7:29 CCB

Today’s Readings: Wisdom 2:1, 12-22, Psalm 34:16-23, John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

DO NOT ABANDON HOPE

Thursday 19th March – Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reflection: 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16

DO NOT ABANDON HOPE

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin and foster father of Jesus. The genealogy of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 1:1-17, shows that St. Joseph was of the line of King David whom the Lord promised in today’s first reading: ”Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever”. This promise was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, as the prophet Isaiah said, “He will reign on David’s throne and over all his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forever” (Isaiah 9:6).  Though it took hundreds of years, God was faithful to His promise just as He was to our father Abraham.

Dear friends, our God can do much more than we can ask or imagine and He’s more willing to help us than we want to be helped. Though some of God’s promises may seem delayed from our perspective, we must not abandon hope. Though the tunnel may seem very dark and long, there will surely be light at its end; though our tears may persist all the night, we shall surely rejoice at dawn. Beloved in Christ, God’s delays are never His denials; He alone knows the best time is for us. Our Hope in God should lead us to understand that there is nothing impossible for God who is more than able to fulfill His promises.

Let us remember our fathers in the faith; has there been anyone who trusted the Lord and being confounded? Not one! Then, we too can be sure that our hope in God can never fail us. So keep hope alive.

PRAYER: Lord, increase my faith in you and give me the grace to know that in all things you always work for my good. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 308 – What is hope?

Hope is the power by which we firmly and constantly long for what we were placed on earth to do: to praise God and to serve him; and for our true happiness, which is finding our fulfillment in God; and for our final home: in God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “This is a vision for an appointed time; it will not fail but will be fulfilled in due time. If it delays, wait for it, for it will come and will not be deferred.” Habakkuk 2:3 CCB

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16, Psalm 89: 2-5, 27, 29, Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22, Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU

Wednesday 18th March – Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent

Reflection: Isaiah 49:8-15

I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU

“Many are the troubles of the just, but the Lord delivers them from all.” Ps 34:19

As Christians, we must be prepared for trials and challenges which are largely products of our daily life. In choosing God, we have put ourselves against the world (James 4:4). Thus, we face lots of challenges because our ways are different from those of the world.

In deciding not to cheat or tell lies, we have to make do with the little we can earn honestly. In deciding to be faithful, we have to let go of the pleasures unfaithfulness brings. In deciding not to cut corners, we have to wait patiently to get things done the right way. In forgiving others, we bear the pain of their misdeeds and let go of the pleasure of revenge. These constitute some of the numerous crosses we bear as Christians. Sometimes our crosses may seem so heavy, our path very rough, and God’s promises of help, very far away. Such moments may make us wonder if God has forsaken us. But can God forsake His own people?

Dear friend, do you find yourself at such a crossroad? Do your trials and challenges seem insurmountable? God assures you today that even if a woman forgets her baby, He will never forget you. Rest in the assurance that God is only a prayer away. Have no fear, stay calm, the challenges and troubles you see today you shall see no more. For the Lord will fight for you and all you have to do is keep still and trust Him.

PRAYER: Lord I put all my hope and trust in you, do not let me be put to shame. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 493 – What are the characteristics of Christian prayer?

Christian prayer is prayer in the attitude of faith, hope, and charity. It is persevering and resigns itself to the will of God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Courage! Don’t be afraid. It is me” Matthew 14:27 CCB

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 49:8-15, Psalm 145: 8-9, 13-14, 17-18, John 5:17-30