SHARING JESUS’ INTEREST

Monday 21st September – Feast of St Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist

Reflection: Matthew 9: 9-13

SHARING JESUS’ INTEREST

“The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” ( 2 Peter 3: 8-9).

It is the loving desire of the Almighty God that none of us should perish. Though He abhors sin, He nevertheless constantly seeks the conversion of sinners. However, this is not done at the expense of our free will: “He who created you without your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation” – St. Augustine.

Dearest in Christ, the salvation of all is very paramount to our Lord. Today’s gospel reading calls us to examine our response to the conversion of unbelievers around us. Are we like the Pharisees who were so wrapped up in religious pomposity and self-righteousness that they would not attend to the needy souls around them but would rather seek discourage those who seek out these souls?  “Be separated from them” (2 Corinthians 6: 14-17) is what some erroneously quote to justify their uncharitable disposition to folks outside the fold. This is an ungodly disposition that does not in any way portray the way of Christ. Our separation should rather be to holiness and righteousness; love and truthfulness. It must never breed pride, hatred or prejudice in us. By the totality of our way of life, we are called to live by godly virtues.

Beloved in Christ, irrespective of your mission or apostolate within the church, let us heed the counsel of St. Paul in today’s first reading (Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13) to be better Christians. Though, none of us is perfect, we nevertheless must daily strive to evangelize both within and outside the church. The more we labour for the salvation of others, the better we ourselves are united to Christ.

PRAYER: Father, I give you my soul; please keep it for I cannot keep it outside of you. I give you my heart, please enflame it that it may burn for the conversion of souls for you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 588- … Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others,” Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.

HIDE A TREASURE: “ And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like stars for ever and ever ( Daniel 12: 3 RSV-CE)

Today’s readings: Ephesians 4: 1-7, 11-13; Psalm 19:2-5; Matthew 9: 9-13

VIRTUOUS LIVING

Sunday 20th September – 25th Sunday of the year

VIRTUOUS LIVING

Wisdom 2: 12, 17-20

The theme of persecution is one that has been a part of our Christian faith right from its inception and though the form in which this occurs may have evolved through the centuries, it is still very much with us. This is because; the truth and beauty radiated by true Christian living remains a constant threat to those who have no use for God. Hence our Lord told His apostles, “…if they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20).

Today’s first reading gives us a picture of what goes on amongst the godless. They find the character of the virtuous man as an opposition to their way of life and threaten to test his endurance and bring him down. As a young Christians, on what side of the divide do you find yourself? Is your life different in any way from non-Christians around you? Does your Catholic faith radiate through a life of love, patience and gentility? Is your faith in God manifested through the choices you make? Or on the other hand, do you join in worldly way of life of those around you – in exam malpractice, lying, cheating, immorality etc?

Beloved, we are called to a life of holiness as baptized Catholic Christians. We must not allow ourselves to be conformed to the standards of this world (Roman 12:2) and as we see other striving towards holiness, let us be sources of encouragement for them rather than stumbling blocks. In striving to live out your call each day, be conscious of the persecutions that may arise and ask for the grace to deal with them in a way that honours God.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for the gift of my faith. Please help me to live it out in sincerity each day and be strengthened by your grace in moments of persecution and trials. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1696 – The way of Christ “leads to life”; a contrary way “leads to destruction.” The gospel parable of the two ways remains ever present in the catechesis of the Church; it shows the importance of moral decisions for our salvation: “There are two ways, the one of life, the other of death; but between the two, there is a great difference.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54:3-8; James 3: 16- 4:3; Matthew 9:30-37

FINISHING STRONG

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

Reflection: 1 Timothy 6: 13-16

FINISHING STRONG

“Thank God for this beautiful day” exclaimed Ifeoma as she yawned tiredly. It was her matriculation to start studying her dream course after three years of battling with the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and the university admission process. As she retired to bed she reflected on the words of the Vice Chancellor. After congratulating the new students on their admission, he had reminded them that they were beginning a journey, aimed at acquiring knowledge and graduating with excellent grades and their joy will be full only if they persevered in their studies and achieved this goal at graduation.

The words of the vice chancellor hold true not only for students but also for us all as Christians. Through our baptism, God has transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col 1:13); and our journey of faith has begun. We have become children of God and heirs to His kingdom. Yet, it is only if we strive to live out our call to holiness each day and persevere in it till the very end that we receive the final reward of our faith.

Let us take St Paul’s admonishment to Timothy in today’s first reading to be obedient to all that he had been told with no faults or failures, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ as our own. Our Christian profession will be of no benefit to us if we begin our journey of faith well but allow ourselves to drift away, distracted by the lure of the world around us. We must aim at finishing strong. We must endure to the end so that we can be saved (Matt 24:13). Let us approach our Lord in the Sacrament of Penance each time we fall and receive His ever abounding strength for the journey at the table of the Eucharist.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of my faith. Please help me to persevere in living it out sincerely till the very end. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1023 – Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live forever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:14 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: 1 Timothy 6:13-16; Psalm100:1-5; Luke18: 4-15

FLEE AVARICE

Friday 18th September- Friday of week 25 of the year

FLEE AVARICE

1 Tim 6:2-12

A popular Yoruba adage says “when money is not at home; let no one take any decision”. Indeed, money gives answers to so many things however; there are still remains a lot that money cannot provide – salvation, peace of mind, good success, good health, journey mercies, joy etc. All these are blessings from God which money cannot buy.

It is however disheartening that people do not realise that even money is a gift from God, thus they seek money as the world gives not as the Father gives and the love for money has led so many into evils that one can never imagine. It is more disheartening that the minds of many youth have been corrupt in the search for money(1 Tim 6:10); many youth no longer want to work hard but prefer to engage in armed robbery, stealing, kidnapping, drug dealing, prostitution, assassination, money rituals, cultism, human trafficking and many such evils in their pursuit of money.

Beloved, St Paul reminds us today that we brought nothing into the world and we are taking nothing back (1 Tim 6:7). A realisation of this truth should help us to appreciate the gift of money and use it rightly. Do not be desperate in search for money but work hard and be content with whatever God blesses you with. Remember the words of the very wealthy king, Solomon: “vanity upon vanity; all is vanity” (Ecc 1:2).

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, give me the grace of divine satisfaction that I may not lose my soul as I search for money and earthly pleasure. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 285What is eternal happiness?

Eternal happiness is seeing God and being taken up into God’s happiness. In God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit there is unending life, joy and communion… God would like us to decide in favor of our happiness; we should choose God freely, love him above all things, do good and avoid evil insofar as we are able.

HIDE A TREASURE: “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:9 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: 1 Timothy 6:2-12; Psalm 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18,19-20; Luke 8:1-3

THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION

Wednesday 16th September- Memorial of SS Cornelius, PP& Cyprian, B.M.

THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION

Luke 7:31-35

When a stranger offers you something, you think twice before accepting because you need be certain it won’t have any negative effect on you. If then you choose to reject it, then you are convinced that it is not safe and would sometimes find flimsy excuses not to accept it. This is different from when a friend offers you something to eat. There are however times when a stranger’s hand of help is just the perfect thing we need.

This is the case in our reading today when the Pharisees rejected Christ’s message. The choice to either accept or reject the true message of Christ lies in our hands. It is a decision that we have to make consciously to determine the salvation of our soul. What are the excuses we give today especially in professing the dictates of our faith? What contends with the truth we have come to know in our walk with Christ? The scripture says: “How, then, shall we escape if we pay no attention to such a great salvation? The Lord himself first announced this salvation, and those who heard him proved to us that it is true”. (Heb. 2:3).

Beloved in Christ, the Kingdom of God would only be established in our lives when we accept the free gift of salvation and work earnestly to preserve and cherish it with our last breath. Freedom in Christ Jesus which he lavished on us comes with responsibility and service to keep the flame of faith alive. Believing in the Gospel would turn into a great salvation when we use what we believe as a standard which guides our daily existence. Let us today ask God to grant the grace to hold on to the truth we have heard so that we would not be carried away by the enticing but evil gift of Satan.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to always reference you that I may accept your gift of salvation to me. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 199Is baptism in fact the only way to salvation?

For all those who have received the Gospel and have heard that Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Baptism is the only way to God and salvation. At the same time, however, it is true that Christ died for all mankind. Therefore all men who have had no opportunity to learn about Christ and the faith but seek God sincerely and live according to their conscience also find salvation.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him”. Col.2:6 GNB

Today’s readings: 1 Tim 3:14-16; Ps 111:1b-6; Luke 7:31-35

TAKE YOUR PART IN SUFFERING

Tuesday 15th September – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows    

Reflection: Luke 2:33-35

TAKE YOUR PART IN SUFFERING

Mary our Mother is a model of faith and a woman set apart by God for a special mission. Though full of grace, she was fully human and shared in the sufferings of her Son, thus playing her own role in our redemption. She was privileged to carry the incarnate word in her womb, yet she had to endure the agony of seeing her son suffer grievously and die shamefully despite his innocence.

The Prophecy of Simeon in today’s gospel reading sheds light on some of the recent happenings in today’s world; a world that often stands in opposition to the truth. Christ has truly become a sign of contradiction not only in the ancient Jewish world but even today. Our Mother Mary is also a part of this sign for by her cooperation with her destined path with her words; “be it done to me according to your words”, she embraced both the joys and suffering of her calling. What then do you have to say about your Christian life? Is it all easy? Certainly not! St Paul tells us: “Take your part in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus.”(2 Timothy 2:3). Opposition and ordeals will come to us but we must learn from our Mother to be patient in difficult times. We must find the true consolation that comes from the Holy Spirit who possessed Mary and lavished her with infinite grace.

For every cross we have to carry for the sake of Christ, there is a much greater grace available for us to withstand its effect. Let us therefore not be ignorant of our part of the suffering for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of others. Instead, let us be encouraged by our victory which our Lord Jesus has already won through the shedding of his blood on the cross.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life and the grace to hold on to you in all things. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us to God that his word may abide in us just as it found a fertile ground in you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 117- How could the Holy Spirit work in, with and through Mary?

Mary was totally responsive and open to God. Thus, she was able to become the “Mother of God” through the working of the Holy Spirit –and as Christ’s Mother to become also the Mother of Christians, indeed, the Mother of all mankind… Strenghtened by the Holy Spirit, she went with Jesus through thick and thin, even to the foot of the Cross. There Jesus gave her to us as our Mother.

HIDE A TREASURE: “My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ’s nature is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19 GNB

Today’s readings: 1 Tim 3:1-13; Ps 110:1-3, 5-6; Luke 2:33-35

DIG DEEP!

Saturday 12th September – Saturday of week 23 of the year

DIG DEEP!

Luke 6: 43-49

The root of a plant serves two major functions: it anchors the plant to the ground, thus giving it the stability it requires as well as receives nourishment from the soil to help the plant grow. The tap root which many huge trees possess is known to grow very deep into the soil hence their survival through various seasons of the year and indeed for several centuries. The anchorage a tap root gives to a tree can be likened to that which the foundation gives to a house. The stronger the foundation, the stronger the superstructure of the building.

Jesus likens those who hear and act on His words to a man who builds his house on rock (Lk 6:47-48). We all hear Jesus’ words on a daily basis. Indeed we have become so familiar with Jesus’ teaching and parables that we know the stories by heart. Yet, such deep knowledge is of no use if we do not act on it. It is through our conscious efforts to live out what we learn from Scriptures that our faith will grow and stand the test of time.

While the foolish man chose the easy way out, the wise man who built his house on rock had to dig deep. Digging dip must have required his commitment, determination, self denial and time. In the same way, as young Christians, Christ calls us to dig deep – to put in all our effort, self-denial and determination in living out His words. As we do this, we will have a store of goodness in our hearts that reflects in our words and action. As we make our efforts to live out our Christian faith fully, let us ask Him for the grace to strengthen us in our moments of temptation and weakness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of your word. Please help me hear your words and act on them always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2706 – To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. it is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

HIDE A TREASURE: “But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget, but put it into practice – you will be blessed by God in what you do” James 1:25 GNB

Today’s Readings: 1Timothy 1: 15-17; Psalm 113: 1-7; Luke 6: 43-49