CHRIST: THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Sunday 19th July – 16th Sunday of the year

CHRIST: THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Mark 6: 30-34

He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length” Mk 6:34

The image of sheep needing a shepherd to guide them is one that very well describes us as young Christians. We are vulnerable and therefore need to be constantly guided and mentored. Just as Jesus was eager to teach the crowd in today’s gospel reading, so also does He earnestly desire to teach us.

He is the good shepherd who never abandons us even in the most inconvenient moment; the good shepherd who willingly lays down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:11). As loving as a good shepherd is, he has no power to protect the sheep that strays. Even though he makes effort to find the lost sheep, as long as the sheep is yet to be found, it remains an easy prey to wild animals. Hence, in our youthful exuberance and desire to be independent, let us not leave Christ’s covering. He guides us through our families, the Church, our teachers and other superiors. Let us not turn deaf ears to them as they try to guide us aright.

Dear friends, the crowd in today’s reading sought after Christ and got His attention and teaching as a reward. Are you willing to seek after Christ too? Are you willing to studying His word, to spend time with Him in prayer and to be united with Him in the Eucharist? Seek after Him beloved and you will receive all the direction and care the good shepherd has for you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for your constant care and direction. Please help me not to remove myself from your protection that I may not be prey to the evil ones. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 471Why is Abraham a model of prayer?

Abraham listened to God. He was willing to set out for wherever God commanded and to do what God willed. By his listening and his readiness to make a new start, he is a model for our prayer.

HIDE A TREASURE: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” John 10: 27 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 23: 1-6; Psalm 23: 1-6; Ephesians 3: 13-18; Mark 6: 30-34

A CRUSHED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK

Saturday 18th July – Saturday of week 15 of the year

A CRUSHED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK

Reflection: Matthew 12: 14-21

What do you think of the Lord’s mercy? How great do you consider His faithfulness? Perhaps you compare the Lord’s faithfulness to that of fellow men around you. Surely the human mind cannot fully grasp the depth of the Lord’s love and mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5). His mercy is great and it endures forever (Psalm 108:4; Psalm: 136:4). The best of human virtues is nothing to be compared with His.

At some critical times in our spiritual journey, we need to be reminded of the above truth. When we fall into grave sin; when we battle with spiritual dryness and weariness of soul; when it appears the light of our faith is getting dimmer and we are lacking the strength to carry on, let us be reminded of the INESTIMABLE love of God for us. He loves you personally as if you are His only creature. He treasures and seek after every missing sheep of His flock (Matthew 18:12-14). He revives every weary soul that trusts in his Divine mercy.

Dearest in Christ, are you weak and down cast? Are you lacking the spiritual strength to carry on? Please hold unto Jesus! Never give up on His love for you. Never allow the magnitude of your sins or trials to cloud your vision of His mercy. He who is capable of giving life to dry bones seeks to restore you (Ezekiel 37:1-14). You know of David, Samson and Peter; all these had their spiritual low points and dryness but God in His infinite mercy restored them.
Through the dark nights of our souls, let us implore the mercy of God; let us approach the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist for rejuvenation; let us humble our soul with fasting and read His scriptural promises to Him in prayer. Let us seek our Blessed Mother’s intercession with that of other saints of God.  If we do these in faith and hope, we see the amazing power of the Lord’s revival.

PRAYER: You are my hope and refuge dear Lord, please revive my dropping spirit. 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, endless expectation.
Often we say: I have prayed, but it did not help at all. Maybe we are not praying intensely enough. The saintly Curé of Ars once asked a brother priest who was complaining about his lack of success, “You have prayed, you have sighed… but have you fasted, too? Have you kept vigil?”

HIDE A TREASURE: “In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!” Psalm 31:1 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Exodus 12: 37-42; Psalm 136: 1, 10-15, 23-24; Matthew 12: 14-21

HALLOWING THE LORD’S DAY

Friday 17th July – Friday of week 15 of the year

HALLOWING THE LORD’S DAY

Matthew 12: 1-8

The third of the Ten Commandments forbids the Israelites from working on the Sabbath day; it should be kept as an obligatory day of rest and worship in honour of the Lord (Exodus 20: 8-10). Our Lord Jesus Christ healed the sick on the Sabbath and at different times, was accused by the Pharisees of violation the Sabbath (Mark 3: 1-6; Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14: 1-8; John 5: 1-18). Today’s Gospel reading presents one of such instances. Our Blessed Saviour made it clear that He did not come to abolish the law and the Prophets but to fulfil them (Matthew 5: 7). The laws and the covenant of the Old Testament actually prefigure the new covenant in Christ Jesus (John 5: 39-40). Jesus gives the law it authentic and authoritative interpretation.

The Church recognizes The Lord’s day (Sunday) and not Sabbath (Saturday) as the obligatory day of rest and worship because it was on Sunday ( i.e. First day of the week) that the Lord resurrected from the dead ( John 20:20-23). The Sabbath which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ (CCC 2190). This is not a third century introduction by the Catholic church as some have alleged, there are scriptural evidences (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Col. 2: 16-17) and documentations by the  early church fathers (Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Tertullian etc.) attesting to this.

Beloved in Christ, having seen the basis of Sunday being celebrated as the Lord’s Day, may we ask ourselves if we truly hollow the Lord’s Day? Do we set it aside as a special day of worship and rest or we allow the servitude of work, the love of money and pleasures of life to prevent us from observing this obligatory responsibility. The Church urges us to give special attention to the corporal works of mercy and the care of our families and relatives on this day (CCC 2185, 2186). For those on essential duty (eg nurses), let us make it an avenue of special service that brings honour to God and blesses our fellow men (Col. 3:23).

PRAYER: Please help me to live for your honour oh Lord! Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2181– The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason…Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruit of your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine” Proverbs 3:9 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Exodus11:10-12:14; Psalm 116: 12-13, 15-18; Matthew 12: 1-8

YOU CAN COUNT ON HIS WORD

Thursday 16th July – Our lady of Mount Carmel (opt. Mem)

YOU CAN COUNT ON HIS WORD

Psalms 130:5 (Gospel Acclamation)

Christian, why are you worried? Beloved in Christ what is troubling your mind? Are you looking at the lost benefits or wasted opportunities? Perhaps the present looks bleak and the future is not assuring. Trust in the Lord!

There is an open call to all from our blessed saviour in today’s Gospel: “come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The first reading shows us the Lord coming to the rescue of a people that called on Him in their oppressed and distressed state. He was liberating them from slavery to usher them into a prosperous land promised to their forefather Abraham (Genesis 15: 18-20; Joshua 1:4). This affirms the words of the Psalmist today: “He is mindful of his covenant for ever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generation, the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac” (Psalm 105: 8-9).

Dearest in Christ, you and I have been called to rest in the assurance of God’s promises (Psalm 18:30; Isaiah 55:11). He is not man, that he should lie (Number 23:19) and with him there is no hopeless situation (Jeremiah 32: 27) or impossibility. This is the way of faith. This was the path trod by our patriarchs in faith and they were not disappointed. However, to rest in the promises of God, we must be aware of these promises. Ignorance of the word of God is ignorance of God. Scriptural study and meditation are necessary for the development of our faith and deeper experience of the power of God.
PRAYER: I count on your promises to me dear Lord. Please sustain me by the power of your word and be glorified in my life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 16 What is the right way to read the Bible?

The right way to read Sacred Scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is God’s Word and contains God’s essential communication to us.
The Bible is like a long letter written by God to each one of us. For this reason I should accept the Sacred Scriptures with great love and reverence. First of all, it is important really to read God’s letter, in other words, not to pick out details while paying no attention to the whole message. Then I must interpret the whole message with a view to its heart and mystery: Jesus Christ, of whom the whole Bible speaks, even the Old Testament. Therefore I should read the Sacred Scriptures in the faith that gave rise to them, the same living faith of the Church. 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” Proverbs 30: 5 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Exodus 3: 13-20; Psalm 105: 1, 5, 8-9, 24-27; Matthew 11: 28-30

PREPARED FOR A MISSION


Wednesday 15th July – Memorial of St Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor

PREPARED FOR A MISSION

Exodus 3: 1-6, 9-12

None of us is here on earth by accident; we are all creatures of purpose (Jeremiah 1: 5; Isaiah 49:1). No matter the circumstances of our birth or difficulty surrounding our lives we can take consolation in the abiding truth that the Almighty God willed our being. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 13-16), created to show forth the praise of God on earth (1 Peter 2: 9). Despite the good purpose of God for us all, we however cannot fully attain this except we walk with Him in absolute dependence – this demands great humility, faith and obedience.

We can readily see the above play out in the life of Moses. Baby Moses had it rough, Pharaoh was after the life of Hebrew male babies born around His birth (Exodus 1: 15-22). His mother had to hide him for three months ( Exodus 2:1) before God in His amazing plan eventually had him to be raised by the daughter of the very Pharaoh who was after His life ( Exodus 2: 3-10). Having received the best education of his time (Act 7: 22) and raised on royal privileges, Moses considered himself fit and ready to liberate his people. In defence of a Hebrew, he murdered an Egyptian (Exodus 2: 11-15). This made him a fugitive for the next forty years (Acts 7: 23-30). Having lost His royal privileges, he had to live with and work for his father in-law. I consider this a pruning time for Moses during which God worked on him to refine him for his primary assignment in life. He was so pruned that the scripture later referred to him as the meekest man on earth (Number 12:3)!

Beloved in Christ, take a look at the heroes of our faith (Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Elijah, Peter etc.), you see the trend of God working on each of them to refine them for his glorious use. Dear friend, what is the circumstance of your birth or background? Are you going through the pruning process and it appears God is cutting off you all forms of support other than Himself? Are there habits or character flaws God is correcting in you through the situations He has been taking you through lately? Let us fully yield ourselves to Him. Until we die to self, we cannot truly live for God (John 12: 24-26). He gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud (James 4:6).

PRAYER: Father, I acknowledge my nothingness without you. Please prune me; cut away from me all that you do not want in me. Help me to cooperate with your grace that I may live out your primary purpose for my life.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2847 – The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted, and consenting to temptation.

HIDE A TREASURE: “My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation” Sirach 2:1 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Exodus 3: 1-6, 9-12; Psalm 103:1-4, 6-7; Matthew 11:25-27

GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE

Tuesday, 14th July- St. Camillus De Lellis, P. (Opt. Mem)

GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE

Exodus 2:1-15

Do you truly believe that God has a plan for your life? Indeed He does and his plans are perfect for you. Look, the bible says in Jeremiah 1:5 “I chose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet”. The same goes to the life of Moses in today’s reading. The Lord chose him for a special purpose even before he was born, no wonder he was protected from death despite the decree that all male Israelites born at that time in Egypt be thrown into the Nile.

It is the same purpose that God has for each and every one called by His holy name that despite the evils in the world, the children of God shall always triumph though the journey may be tough. Whatever God says over our lives will surely come to pass, however, consider a little part of Moses’ journey of life as we read today; have you seen that the journey was neither pleasant nor easy but notwithstanding Moses stood on the Lord side.

The same goes to us young Christians. In our journey of faith things may not be easy just like they were for Moses but let us believe that as long as we are on the Lord’s side we shall definitely triumph because the Lord knows us personally and we shall not be swept away by the storms of life.

PRAYER: Father Lord, I hold on to you in good and odd times, shield me at all times and let your will be established in my life. Amen.

Hide a treasure: “Save me from sinking in the mud; keep me safe from my enemies, safe from the deep water.” Psalm 69:14 GNB

Today’s Readings: Exodus 2:1-15; Psalm 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34; Matthew 11:20-24

DO YOU LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL THINGS?

Monday, 13th July- Monday of week 15 of the year

DO YOU LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL THINGS?

Matthew 10:34- 11:1

“Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it”(Mt 10:39).
Loving God above all things including our own lives does require a whole lot from us. It means glorifying him in love and thanksgiving, for this is the great commandment given to us in Deuteronomy 6:5 that we are to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength. This does not in any way come easy, having to stand against our personal desires and a world that offers us fame and money first in place of God. It should be noted however, that all these would only lead us to nothing but pain, disappointments, sufferings and death of our souls. In the gospel reading of today, Jesus Christ himself puts it to us that the level at which we put God is the level at which he would put us at the end of time. As Christians, we should always put Jesus in the first strata of our lives, so we would also be elevated on the last day. “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Such a man shall die the second death of eternal damnation where there will be gnashing of teeth.

Dear beloved, ask yourself today; what has taken the place of God in my life? What worries me more than loving God? Is it academics, finances, good health, family issues etc.? All these are temporal; only eternal happiness is permanent and that should be our goal. Seek God, carry your cross joyfully and all the good things you desire on earth shall be given to you. Remember, seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things shall be added unto you.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, everything I count as profitable, I give them up today for the sake of thy kingdom and salvation of my soul. Help me to love you above all. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT468What 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: “Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:8 GNB

Today’s Readings: Exodus 1:8-14,22; Psalm 124:1-3,4-6,7-8; Matthew 10:34-11:1