FEAR NOT

Friday 16th October Friday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Luke 12:1-7

FEAR NOT

What does leaven have to do with hypocrisy?  To the Jews leaven was a sign of evil.  It was a piece of dough from left-over bread which fermented. Fermentation was associated with putrefaction.  Why did Jesus warn his disciples to avoid the ways of the Pharisees? The Pharisees were good at looking religious while harboring evil intentions. The word hypocrite means actor, someone who pretends what he is not. But who can be good, but God alone? Hypocrisy thrives on making a good appearance and masking what we don’t want others to see.  The good news is that God’s light both exposes the darkness of evil and sin and overcomes hatred with love, pride with humility, and pretense with integrity and truthfulness. God gives grace to the humble and contrite of heart to enable us to overcome the leaven of insincerity and hypocrisy in our lives.

What does fear have to do with the kingdom of God? Fear is a powerful force. It can lead us to flight or panic or it can spur us to faith and action. The fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing one’s life. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. ..O fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:4.9.11) What is godly fear? It is reverence for the One who made us in love and who sustains us in mercy and kindness.  The greatest injury or loss which we can experience is not physical but spiritual — the loss of one’s soul to the power of hell.  A healthy fear of God leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom and right judgment and it frees us from the tyranny of sinful pride, cowardice; especially in the face of evil and spiritual deception.  Do you trust in God’s grace and mercy and submit to his word?

PRAYER: Lord, your perfect love casts out fear.  Give me a passion for your word and for your righteousness and a resolute hatred for sin.  Help me to cast aside anything which would hinder full union with you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1831: The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Romans 4:1-8; Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11; Luke 12:1-7

UPHOLD THE WORD OF GOD

Thursday 15th October – Memorial of St. Theresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor

Reflection: Luke 11:47-54

UPHOLD THE WORD OF GOD

Do you honor those who speak the wisdom of God and do you heed their message?  God’s Wisdom is personified in the voice of the prophets, a voice that always brought rejection and martyrdom because they spoke for God. Jesus chastised the religious leaders of his day for being double-minded and for demanding from others standards which they refused to satisfy.  They professed admiration for the prophets by building their tombs while at the same time they opposed their message and closed their ears to the word of God.

What does Jesus mean when he says they have taken away the key of knowledge? The lawyers and scribes held the “office of the keys” since they were the official interpreters of the scriptures.  They not only shut themselves to heaven; they also hindered others from understanding God’s word.  Through pride and envy, they rejected not only the prophets of old, but God’s final prophet, Jesus.  Jesus is the “key of David” (see Isaiah 22:22; Rev. 3:7) who opens heaven to those who accept him as Lord and Savior. He is the “Wisdom of God” and source of everlasting life. Only the humble of heart, those who submit to God and acknowledge their dependence on him can receive this wisdom. God is ever ready to speak his word to us and to give us wisdom and understanding. Beloved, we are called today to listen to the word of God and abide by it, unlike the scribes in the gospel reading we should not look for every possible way to conquer the truth rather we should uphold it. Ask yourself today‘Do you hunger for the wisdom which comes from above?’

PRAYER:“Govern all by your wisdom, O Lord, so that my soul may always be serving you as you will, and not as I may choose.  Do not punish me, I beseech you, by granting that which I wish or ask, if it offends your love, which would always live in me.  Let me die to myself that so I may serve you; let me live to you, who in yourself are the true life. “(Prayer of St. Theresa of Avila)

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 777 – The word “Church means “convocation.” It designates the assembly of those whom God’s word “convokes,” i.e. gathers together to form the people of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Rom 3:21-30; Ps 130: 1-6; Lk 11:47-54

PRACTICE YOUR FAITH

Wednesday 14th October Wednesday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Luke 11:42-46

PRACTICE YOUR FAITH

Why does Jesus single out the teachers and lawyers for some rather strong words of rebuke?  Jesus was angry with the religious leaders because they failed to listen to God’s word and they misled the people they were supposed to guide in the ways of justice and truth. The scribes devoted their lives to the study of the Law of God and regarded themselves as legal experts in it.  They divided the Ten Commandments and precepts into thousands of tiny rules and regulations. They were leading people to Pharisaism rather than to God.

Jesus used the example of tithing to show how far they had missed the mark. God had commanded a tithe of the first fruits of one’s labor as an expression of thanksgiving and honor for his providential care for his people (Deut. 14:22; Lev. 27:30).  The scribes, however, went to extreme lengths to tithe on insignificant things (such as tiny plants) with great mathematical accuracy.  They were very attentive to minute matters of little importance, but they neglected to care for the needy and the weak which was of greater importance.  Jesus admonished them because their hearts were not right.  They were filled with pride and contempt for others. They put unnecessary burdens on others while neglecting to show charity, especially to the weak and the poor.  They meticulously went through the correct motions of conventional religion while forgetting the realities.

What was the point of Jesus’ lesson? The essence of God’s commandments is love — love of God and love of neighbor. Do you allow the love of God to transform your mind and heart? And are you willing to carry your neighbor’s burden? God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us.Love is sacrificial; it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. Let us then concentrate on the greatest commandment which is love rather than make lives unbearable for those around us in the name of being religious and principled.

PRAYER: Lord, inflame my heart with your love that I may always pursue what matters most — love of God and love of neighbor.  Give me wisdom and courage to act with justice, kindness, and mercy in all that I do and say. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2063:  The lord prescribed love towards God and taught justice towards neighbour, so that man would be neither unjust, nor unworthy of God. Thus, through the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), God prepared man to become his friend and to live in harmony with his neighbor…. the words of the Decalogue remain likewise for us Christians.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these”. Mark 12:31 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Rom 2:1-11; Ps 62: 2-3, 6-9; Lk 11:42-46

SEEING GOD IN CREATION

Tuesday 13th October – Tuesday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Romans 1: 16-25

SEEING GOD IN CREATION

The perception that science is absolutely contrary to faith in God has spread over the years and anyone who picks interest in digging deep into science is perceived as a potential ‘lost soul’ by even ‘Christians’. If God created all things and He is the source of all wisdom; how can science; which he created and established be separated from its creator?

In St Paul’s letter to the Romans; He made it clear that the invisible hands of God is revealed in creation to be perceived by human minds, yet many blessed with the wisdom to dig up these secrets have used blind logic to dishonor God. They hide the truth in their impiety and pride. The order and beauty and rhythm man discovers as he studies creation more intently clearly reveals the presence of a supernatural being that holds all things in place and indeed, man is without excuse.

We might never be able to provide all the answers to the seemingly “logical arguments” against the existence of God. Yet how can science explain completely the bond between mother and child? What in art can express completely the beauty of a star-studded sky? What logic can explain love; even as we know it? Beloved, let the beauty we see in creation and in the events around us remind us of and draw us closer to our heavenly Father who alone has all the answers we seek.

PRAYER: God of all creation, teach me the wisdom that is in obedience to your word. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 23 – Is there a contradiction between faith and science?

There is not one truth of faith that is in competition with another truth of science. There is only one truth, to which both faith and scientific reason refer. God intended reason, with which we can recognize the rational structures of the world, just as he intended faith. That is why the Christian faith demands and promotes the (natural) sciences. Faith exists so that we might know things that are not apparent to reason yet are real above and beyond reason. Faith reminds science that it is supposed to serve creation and not set itself up in place of God. Science must respect human dignity instead of violating it.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” Psalm 19:1 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Romans 1: 16-25; Psalm 19: 2-3. 4-5; Luke 11: 37-41

CALLED TO BE SAINTS

Monday 12th October – Monday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Romans 1: 1-7

CALLED TO BE SAINTS

Despite the widespread acceptance of the Christian faith, there seems to be a scarcity of saints. Fewer Catholics sincerely strive to imitate Christ in our own days compared to the first few centuries when the faith was just taking root and Christians were greatly persecuted. “Sainthood” has gradually been viewed as a title reserved for a selected few who are monks or nuns and are preserved from the evils of this world. Yet, this is not Christ’s intention. Saints are ordinary people who lived in extraordinary ways because they have opened themselves to the transforming power of the gospel

St. Paul reminds us today that we all are called to be saints. Through our baptism, we have become a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set aside for God (1 Pet 2:9). Our Christian faith does not provide us with a world free from temptations; rather it assures us that as Christ overcame the world; we too can by God’s grace. The temptations exist to give us opportunities to grow in holiness.

Dear friend, we are called to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We cannot afford to live like every other person. Let us embrace our call to be saints of the twenty-first century and avail ourselves of the opportunities the Church offers us to grow in holiness.

PRAYER: Holy Father, purify me and preserve me to live in holiness daily. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 132 – Why is the Church holy?

Whenever we allow ourselves to be touched by the Triune God, we grow in love and become holy and whole. The saints are lovers not because they are able to love so well, but because God has touched them. They pass on the love they have received from God to other people in their own, often original way. Once God takes them home, they also sanctify the Church, because they “spend their heaven” supporting us on our path to holiness.

HIDE A TREASURE: “So he who gives and those who receive holiness are one. He himself is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters,” Hebrews 2: 11 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Romans 1: 1-7; Psalm 98: 1-4; Luke 11: 29-32

WHAT IS YOUR IDOL?

Sunday 11th October – Sunday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Mark 10: 17-30

WHAT IS YOUR IDOL?

Given our African setting, it is easy to point an accusing finger or raise a brow at anyone who has a carved image under some tree which he prays to, pours libation or recites incantations. Yet, if we are not careful, we may be just as guilty of idolatry as such a person is. The Church teaches us that idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It consists in divinizing what is not God (CCC 2133).

The young man who met Jesus in today’s gospel reading was sincerely interested in inheriting eternal life. St Mark’s record that he “ran up” to meet Jesus shows us that he was eager to meet Jesus and know what he would say. This eagerness was confirmed by his admission that he had made efforts to keep all the commandments since his youth. Unfortunately, despite his zeal and earnest desire for eternal life, Jesus’ answer saddened him. The sacrifice it required was too much for him because his was attached to his wealth; it had become his idol.

Dear friend, what would you hold back at the expense of your salvation? What is it that the gospel message will touch in your life and leave you sad? That is your idol. Identify and destroy it now before it destroys you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may nothing separate me from your love. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 358 – why does the Old Testament forbid images of God, and why do we Christians no longer keep that commandment?

In order to protect the mystery of God and to set the people of Israel apart from the idolatrous practices of the pagans, the First Commandment said, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image” (Ex 20:4). However, since God himself acquired a human face in Jesus Christ, the prohibition against images was repealed in Christianity; in the Eastern Church, icons are even considered as sacred.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you’re your heart be also” Matthew 6:20-21 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Wisdom 7: 7-11; Psalm 90: 12-17; Hebrews 4: 12-13; Mark 10: 17-30

KEEPING WHAT YOU HEAR

Saturday 10th October – Saturday of week 27 of the year

Reflection: Luke 11: 27-28

KEEPING WHAT YOU HEAR

Each time we are confronted with the truth, it has an effect on us; we may acknowledge it, ignore it or oppose it. If we claim to acknowledge it without a concurrent effort to apply it to our lives, then we have actually ignored it. In the same way, each time we hear God’s word, we are confronted with the truth and are invited to model our lives on it. Hence, Jesus answers the woman in today’s gospel reading: “Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).

Each time we are confronted with God’s word, the parable of the sower plays out again (Luke 8: 4-15). What kind of soil are you? Do you allow the devil to steal the word from your heart or the cares of this world to choke it out? Do you allow the word to grow deep roots in you or is your faith superficial? The good soil are those who hear the word of God, hold it fast in an honest and good heart and bring forth fruit with patience (Lk 8:15).

As you hear God’s word each day, ask yourself, “in what way does this word apply to me?” “What message is God directing at me today?” Jesus’ response to the woman shows that his mother was not blessed just because of the physical contact he had with her. Rather, she was blessed because she heard God’s word and kept it. Dear friend, make a commitment to keeping what you hear and you will experience the blessings the Lord has in store for you.

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the gift of your word. Please help me to accept it with faith and joyfully live it out 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: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joel 4:12-21; Psalm 97: 1-6, 11-12; Luke 11: 27-28