IT IS WORTH THE COST

Tuesday 18th August: Tuesday of week 20 of the year

IT IS WORTH THE COST

Matthew 19:23-30

Anyone who consistently makes the “easy alternative” a way of life would possibly never leave a positive imprint in the sand of time. History celebrates success and times have shown us that only few out of the multitude demonstrate the needed sacrifice and courage to pay the demands of excellence. Life is about choices and there is a cost to every decision we make. By our choices, we are either growing in virtues or losing them; and it is the virtues that we exhibit that truly set us out as follower of Christ (Matt. 7:20; Matt. 5:20).

From yesterday’s reflection, we were counselled on the need to give God first place in our hearts; to resist the seductive lure of the worldly attractions that compete with the love of God in our hearts. In today’s gospel reading which is a continuation of yesterday’s, our Blessed Saviour gives consolation to all who have made a total commitment to Him – “…everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life”( Matt. 19:29).

Dearest in Christ, our call as followers of Christ is one that comes with its costs. To truly be Christians, we cannot but embrace the life of self-denial and sacrifice. Discipleship of Christ comes with some choices that ordinarily run contrary to the natural inclination of the fallen man. What are those things that you are tightly holding unto that are preventing you from freely and fully serving the Lord? As the Holy Spirit daily impels us to a deeper union with the Lord, are we embracing His demands or fleeing from them? No cost is too high to make heaven as there is a greater cost to pay for anyone who loses out (Matt. 16:26)!

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to daily say yes to your will, to forsake all that displeases you as I am called to a deeper intimacy with you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 618– The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”…He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him],” for Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.

Hide a treasure: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? Matthew 16: 26 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Judges 6: 11-24; Psalm 84: 9, 11-14; Matthew 19: 23-30

THE SNARE OF IDOLS

Monday 17th August – Monday of week 20 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 19: 16-22

THE SNARE OF IDOLS

Idol worship undoubtedly is a sin well condemned in the Scripture. In fact, the first and second of The Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God emphasize the need to acknowledge and worship only one God (Exodus 20: 1-6; Deuteronomy 5: 6-10). Time after time, the Israelites were guilty of idolatry and were punished for it. A case in point is the first reading of today (Judges 2:11-19). Beyond the worship of graven images and the likes, idolatry in its broader sense means divinising anything other than God i.e. the ascription of worship, honour, allegiance and love only due to God to anything or persons other than God.   
In the light of our modern age, many of us, especially Christians can openly vouch that we do not have graven images we worship. However, taking a closer look at our way of life, can we be truly said to be free of the sin and snare of idolatry? Today, the worship of gods like “Sango”, “Oya”, “Ogun,” (traditional gods in Yoruba land) etc is being replaced by the worship of material things, fame, money, pleasure, etc.

Dearest in Christ, is anything competing for or displacing the love of God in your heart? Do you readily compromise your faith for bodily pleasure or material gain? God has carved our hearts solely for His worship and He daily welcomes us to serve Him in liberty and love. To substitute His love with that money or other transient gains of this earth portends grave danger to our soul.

Today’s gospel reading presents the account of the man looking for the ultimate good – Eternal life. Though he has many good works to his credit, he however was lacking in something very fundamental – dependence on God.  His love and attachment to wordily treasures exceeded his love and quest for God; hence, he left Christ sorrowfully. Beloved in Christ, this is a warning to us Christians, especially youths of this age. God is not interested in partial commitment to Him; He desires absolute allegiance to Him.  We cannot both serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). Our hearts must be daily guided against the seductive lure of idols to gain eternal life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I acknowledge you as the King and owner of my life, please help root out of me all that compete for Your Lordship in me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 352 What is the meaning of the commandment, “I am the Lord, your God” (Ex 20:2)?

Because the Almighty has revealed himself to us as our God and Lord, we must not place anything above him or consider anything more important or give any other thing or person priority over him. To know God and to serve and worship him has absolute priority in our life.

The commandment to love God is the most important of all commandments and the key to all the others. That is why it stands at the beginning of the Ten Commandments.

Hide a treasure: “… you shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mt 12:30 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Judges 2:11-19; Psalm 106:34-37.39-40.43-44; Matthew 19:16-22

LIVING FOREVER

Sunday 16th August – 20th Sunday of the year

Reflection: John 6: 51-58

LIVING FOREVER

The fear of death is the greatest human fear and the root of most other fears. Despite the ups and downs of life, nobody really wants to die. Except in rare situations when people have lost all hope and resort to suicide, the general tendency is to hang on to life – to survive at whatever cost. Yet, the physical death all humans are destined to undergo is not really the most fearful thing. There’s a more fearful death – spiritual death which is an eternal separation from God, the source of all life.

We can choose to avert spiritual death both in this world and in the next through our obedience to Jesus’ words: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:51). At our baptism, the seed of eternal life, life in union with God is sown in us. Yet, this life can be threatened and even snuffed out by sin and many people who are well and healthy physically are truly spiritually dead; a state that renders our physical life of no value.

Beloved, in the Eucharist, Jesus offers us his very life. He gives us a medicine for sin, an antidote for death, and food for immortality. Do you appreciate this free gift that guarantees your living forever? Do you instead abandon the Eucharistic table around which the Christ summons us each day and prefer to chase after churches that promise you wealth and victory in the absence of the Body and blood of our Blessed Lord? Or have you separated yourself from the Eucharist because of sin? Today, our Lord reminds us: “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.” (Jn 6:53). Embracing Jesus’ call ensures that we are always in a state of grace and hence gives us victory over sin. Embrace that call today and have the assurance of eternal life.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the gift of the Eucharist. Please help me to embrace this gift of eternal life you offer me and be strengthened to live the holy life to which you call me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH:  CCC 1393 – Holy Communion separates us from sin, the body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is “given up for us”, and the blood we drink “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins.

HIDE A TREASURE: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” John 6: 56

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 9: 1-6; Psalm 34: 2-3, 10-15; Eph 5: 15-20; John 6: 51-58

DO YOU BELIEVE?

Saturday 15th August – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reflection: Luke 1: 39 – 56

DO YOU BELIEVE?

Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled” Lk 1:45

The exchange between our Blessed Mother and her cousin Elizabeth as described in today’s gospel reading always amazesamazes me. How did Elizabeth know about Mary’s encounter with the angel? How did she know that Mary had conceived within her the Saviour of the world? Indeed Mary had not had time to share her experience with Elizabeth before this meeting however, the answer is not farfetched – Elizabeth’s answer was by the working of the Holy Spirit. “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry…”(Lk 1:41).

Bearing in mind that Elizabeth’s utterance was inspired, let us reflect on her words: “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Every feast day of our Blessed Mother celebrates her faith in a special way. It was this deep faith, trust and confidence in God that made Mary accept the angel’s words even though she did not understand how they will be fulfilled and the implications on her own life.

Beloved, do you believe that God’s promises concerning your life will be fulfilled? Do you believe the words of Scripture that God sends to you each day? Dear friend, Mary was a young person like you when she consented to God’s plan for her life. Today, learn from her how to trust God with your life and your future. As we celebrate our Blessed Mother’s assumption today, make a commitment to live a life of faith and purity so that at the end of your earthly pilgrimage you too may behold God as He really is.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I surrender my life and future to you. Please help me to trust wholeheartedly in your promises and to be faithful to my Christian call. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 147 Why does Mary have such a preeminent place in the communion of saints?

Mary is the Mother of God. She was united with Jesus on earth as no other human being was or could be—in an intimacy that does not cease in heaven. Mary is the Queen of Heaven, and in her motherhood she is quite close to us. Because she committed herself, body and soul, to a divine yet dangerous undertaking, Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven. Anyone who lives and believes as Mary did will get to heaven.

HIDE A TREASURE: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Apocalypse 11:19.12: 1-6.10; Ps 45:10-12.16; 1Cor 15:20-26; Lk 1:39-56

RECOGNISING GOD’S HAND

Friday 14th August – Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe, Priest & Martyr

Reflection: Joshua 24: 1-13

RECOGNISING GOD’S HAND

Our day to day life presents us with pleasant and unpleasant circumstances alike. Some seasons of our lives bring us joy and fulfilment while others can leave us disillusioned and frustrated. Yet, we have the tendency to take the glory for the pleasant seasons and blame other people, our environment or even God for the unpleasant ones.

As Joshua neared the end of his time as leader of Israel, he reminded them in today’s first reading of the wondrous works God had worked amongst them and their fathers over the years. Why did he remind them of these? He did this because the people had a habit of forgetting all God’s miraculous works each time they encountered difficulty. This forgetfulness led them to complain against God and their leaders several times during their exodus – before the crossing of the Red Sea, when they were thirsty, when they craved for meat, at the verge of entering the Promised Land etc.

Dear friend, we are often just as guilty as the Israelites, failing to recognize God’s hand at work in our lives and forgetting so quickly the many ways He cares for us, provides for us and saves us from evil. As long as we attribute our successes to ourselves, we will be unable to trust God with our lives. On the contrary, when we recognize His mighty deeds around us, we will grow in faith and true commitment to God. Thank God today for the many blessings you have received from Him and trust Him to take care of the difficult situations you encounter.

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the many blessings you have showered on me. Please help me to recognize your hand at work in my life and trust you in difficult situations. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 488Why should we thank God?

Everything that we are and have comes from God. Paul says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). Being grateful to God, the giver of all good things makes you happy.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Bless the Lord oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits” Psalm 103:2 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joshua 24: 1-13; Psalm 135: 1-3.16-18.21-24; Matthew 19: 3-12

FINDING PEACE IN FORGIVENESS

Thursday 13th August – Thursday of week 19 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 18:21- 19:1

FINDING PEACE IN FORGIVENESS

One major determinant of peaceful co-existence is ‘forgiveness’. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus indicates what we wish ourselves each time we pray the “Lord’s Prayer”: that when we do not forgive others, we can never receive forgiveness from God in heaven. Where there is no forgiveness, there can never be peace. Little wonder there is a multiplication of chaos, anarchy, and terrorism among other vices in our families, Churches, local communities and the world at large today. These vices are  consequences of unforgiveness.

Beloved, to forgive may be difficult but it is a divine injunction which invokes God’s grace upon us. We can change the world by our personal resolution to do as God has directed us, bearing in mind the extent to which Christ suffered in order to bring us forgiveness. Indeed, more than anything else, Christ’s command to forgive is itself an invitation to share in the life of our Heavenly Father who constantly forgives us.

Is there someone you have sworn never to forgive or have anything to do with because of something bad he did to you? Reflect on Jesus’ words in today’s reading: “…and that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart” (Mt 18:35). Make up your mind today to forgive every hurt that comes your way. One practical way to achieve this is to readily forgive even before you are hurt. Though it may be difficult we can count on God’s grace. He will definitely help us.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please forgive me all my sins and give me the grace as I resolve to make peace with all men by compassionately forgiving those who hurt me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 24 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Forgive your neighbour the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray” Sirach 28:2 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joshua 3: 7-11, 13-17; Psalm 114: 1-6; Matthew 18: 21-19:1

BE AT PEACE WITH ALL MEN

Wednesday 12th August – Wednesday of week 19 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 18:15-20

BE AT PEACE WITH ALL MEN

In the process of interacting with other human beings, there is bound to be disagreement at one point or the other. However, continuous peaceful co-existence must always be found amidst children of God. Disagreements must not be allowed to linger; they should be resolved as quickly as possible. The duty to ensure peaceful co-existence amongst us lies on everyone – both the offending party and the one who is offended.

Contrary to the worldly view that the offending party should be the first to seek reconciliation, Christ has placed a higher responsibility on us His disciples. In today’s gospel reading, He asks us to take the lead in restoring peace even when we have been hurt by others and to be willing to go the extra mile in ensuring reconciliation if the offender remains stubborn. When necessary, we are to involve other brethren in a bid to ensure reconciliation.

Dear friend, we are called to seek peace with all men. Take some moments to examine yourself today. Is there anyone around you whom you are not at peace with? Is there anyone who has hurt you so much and you find it difficult to forgive? To be at peace with God, we must necessarily be at peace with our brothers and sisters. Today, make conscious efforts to seek reconciliation and ask for the grace to be an agent of peace wherever you find yourself.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I ask that you make me an agent of peace wherever I go that I may be called a true child of God. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 233– What sins must be confessed?

Under normal circumstances, all serious sins that one remembers after making a thorough examination of conscience and that have not yet been confessed can be forgiven only in individual sacramental confession.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back” Matthew 18:15 GNB

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 66:1-5, 16-17; Matthew 18:15-20