BECOMING A BETTER YOU

Monday 20th January – Memorial of Blessed Cyprian Tansi

Reflection: Philippians 2: 1-11

BECOMING A BETTER YOU

Of what value is a man’s life when it seeks no progression in goodness? You and I cannot remain the same persons of yesteryears. If our human bodies respond to progression in years; and the count of years situate us in varying situations, environments and relationships, the fullness of our human persons cannot but respond to these dynamics. Depending on the choice(s) we make, we are either progressing in goodness (ie perfection) or regressing in it. Time will never permit us to remain static.

If we have the benefit of communual life, differ from each other in our talents and abilities and have been enriched with different experiences; should we not seek profit from these? The first reading of today (Philippians 2:1-11) answers in the affirmative. There is something good to learn from EVERY ONE we come across in life. No one is so “bad” without some degree of goodness in him and even in an obvious display of folly, a humble, loving and retrospective mind will still find something to learn. But we fail in this often due to our subtle pride and hypocrisy.

We make ourselves standards by which we judge others just because we fare better than them in some respect. This is why the secret pornography lover publicly condemns a fornicator. Much as no vice should be encouraged or glorified, we must guard against a “holier than thou” attitude in our approach to helping one another (Luke 18: 9-14; Matthew 7:1). Humility helps us see our own weak spots and appreciate the good in others.

The available resources and opportunities seem inadequate to meet our needs and desires. Hence, as we look out for legitimate means of meeting our needs, we are cautioned against unhealthy rivalry with our neighbours. Our Christian hearts must be large enough to accommodate the interests of others. Let us be assured that our loving Father will take care of our interests beyond our widest imagination as we seek the good of others.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I rededicate my life to you. Please help me be the best you have created me to be. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 34 – What should you do once you have come to know God?

Once you have come to know God, you must put him in the first place in your life. And with that a new life begins. You should be able to recognize Christians by the fact that they love even their enemies.

 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do all things without  grumbling or questioning that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and pervesrse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world” Philippians 2:14-15 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Philippians 2: 1-11; Isaiah 12: 2-6 (Canticle); Matthew 13: 44-46

GOD’S PLAN NEVER FAILS

 

Tuesday 19th January – Tuesday of Week 2 of the Year

Reflection: 1 Samuel 16:1-3

GOD’S PLAN NEVER FAILS

God’s word to the Prophet Samuel in our reading today is apt for the ministry of the Church and Gods plan for the salvation of souls. The gate of hades would not prevail over the Church of Christ because that is God’s plan for redemption. This is not limited or determined by any human standard or the norm of the society in which we find ourselves. An example is the resignation of Emeritus Pope Benedict whose action was criticized by man but eventually lead to a deeper understanding of what the Church stands for. Elijah was replaced by Elisha, Moses by Joshua etc. God would not waste any time to see that his plan continues to be established.

Beloved in Christ, God’s action for prompt replacement of King Saul should jeer us up on our faithfulness and commitment to God. We must offer our best for God and live in accordance with His precepts. God cannot change and so His plans cannot fail. The little he entrusts to us must be cherished and used for his glory. Let us draw our mind back to the parable of the three servant who were given gold coins with respect to their ability (Matt. 25:14-30). The servant who was not fruitful with his gold coins was denied of his coins and this was credited to the faithful servant. This should intimate us that whatever we have comes from God and we are a privileged treasurer of God’s gift. The good news is that we all are in God’s plan which can never fails but we must strive to remain in it. Anything that will hinder us from surrendering our plans to God for his will to manifest should be parted with. This could be our friends, our blood relations or even, our self-ambitions.

God is looking for reliable servants who would take on courage and withstand the devils tricks by depending on him. Our faith must be deeply rooted in Christ and not on any Priest or Pastor. Faithful is he who has called you to embrace his plan for our benefit and for his glory.

 

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I do not want to be a cast away. I surrender my plans to your will. Use me as you please and perfect your plans in my life. Amen

YOUCAT 137: Why is the Church called apostolic?

The Church is called apostolic because she was founded by the apostles, holds fast to their tradition, and is governed by their successors.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If we are not faithful, he remains faithful, because he cannot be false to himself” 2 Tim 2:13 (GNB)

Readings of Today: 1 Sam. 16:1-3; Ps89:20, 21-22, 27-28; Mark 2:23-28

DISOBEDIENCE BRINGS REJECTION

Monday 18th January – Monday of Week 2 of the Year

Reflection: 1 Samuel 15:16-23

DISOBEDIENCE BRINGS REJECTION

Because you rejected the Lord’s command, He has rejected you as King” 1 Sam 16:23

Today’s reflections has more eternal consequences than we may have imagined. It is something which affects our daily lives as Christians who are eager to please God. God trains us his beloved children to wholeheartedly follow his dictates, to trust his designs and judgment. This he puts to us by giving us his word in every situation we find ourselves. How great would it be if we never consider our senses and intuition when obeying God. Disobedience brings rejection, Obedience aligns our sacrifice to God’s will. (Is 1:19)

Today’s first reading shows us an example of a “partial” obedience to God’s command. King Saul and his men wanted to apply human wisdom to compliment God’s commands but didn’t know that it was out of place. This made Saul to be rejected as King by God (1Samuel 15:23b). Sometimes, our good intentions towards a plan can be opposed to God’s will and purpose. The Scriptures says that His ways are not ours and what seems to be Gods foolishness is wiser than human wisdom. (1 Cor 1:25). Therefore, our love for God must be unison with obedience to his commands. We must pray for grace to follow this part of self-denial and total surrender his word.

As we continue our journey in this year of Mercy, let us be conscious of our deeds and actions and humbly ask God to lead us and make us walk in his love. Let us not forget that it is our love for God that gives us an unconditional obedience to his commands as Christ tells us: “if you love me you would obey my commandments” (John 14:15). This love is what St. Paul gives as the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 13:3). Beloved, rejection by God while on earth can still meet with God’s mercy by our reconciling with him but we must be ready always for the last day so that we do not hear the words: “I never knew you, Get away from me, you wicked people” (Matt. 7:23b).

 PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to know what pleases you and grant prompt obedience without any reservation to your commands. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 67 – What is sin?

At the core of sin is a rejection of God and the refusal to accept his love. This is manifested in a disregard for his commandments.

HIDE A TREASURE: “It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him”. 1 Samuel 15:22b GNB

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 15:16-23; Psalm 50:8-9, 16c-17, 21&23; Mark 2:18-22

YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO GOD

Saturday 16th January – Saturday of week 1 of the year

Reflection: Mark 2:13-17

YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO GOD

There are certain times in our lives, when we get overwhelmed by our poor state of spirituality  or seeming inability to overcome our sinful nature and we tend to write ourselves off, considering ourselves unworthy of God’s love and mercy. More than anything else, these moments can cause us to stay away from our loving Father. When we feel this way, let us be encouraged by Jesus’ words and actions in today’s gospel reading.

Our Lord reminds us that He is much more than interested in us just as we are. He wants to spend time with us, dine with us and reassure of His love and mercy. At the same time, He wants to extend that wonderful and constant invitation to us: “come, follow me”

How deeply steeped in sin are you? Open the door of your heart for the master who is Jesus Christ to come in. He came to make you whole again and to save you, confess all your burdens and sins to Christ because He can transform you only if you allow him. You mean a lot more to God than you can ever imagine. No matter what your past has been, come back to him because he loves you.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to come back to you and always realize that I am important to you and to try my best to always please you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 428: Whoever is called “to teach Christ” must first seek “the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ”; he must suffer “the loss of all things…” in order to gain Christ and be found in him” and to know him and the power of his resurrection, and to share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [he] may attain the resurrection from the dead”.

HIDE A TREASURE: Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick, I have come not to call respectable people but outcasts”. Mark 2:17 GNB

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1; Psalm 21:2-3,4-5,6-7; Mark 2:13-17

TRUSTING GOD’S REIGN

Friday 15th January – Friday of week 1 of the year                                             

Reflection: 1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22               

TRUSTING GOD’S REIGN

“We want a king, so that we in our turn can be like the other nations.” This was the request of the Israelites today as they rejected God declaring: “our (new) king shall rule us and be our leader and fight our battles.” Most times we ourselves utter these words and reject the living God, we choose other gods – money, self-indulgence, pride, etc. to rule in us and lead us – because we are in darkness and our eyes have been blinded  (2 Cor. 4:3-4) from seeing the light of the gospel in Christ Jesus (John 1:4-5).

The consequences of such acts of rejection or of not seeing what God is doing are contained in the first reading of today (1 Samuel 8:10-22). Let us pray today like St. Paul that ‘may the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our minds, so that we can see what hope His call holds for us’ and so we may exclaim just like the Jews that we have never seen anything like this and declare like the Psalmist: “O Lord, who are the glory of my strength, by your favour our might is exalted.” Amen

PRAYER: Open the eyes of my heart, oh Lord, let me see and know You more. Amen. (Ephesians 1:17-20)

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 277: God shows forth his almighty power by converting us from our sins and restoring us to his friendship by grace. “God, you show your almighty power above all in your mercy and forgiveness…”

HIDE A TREASURE: “For He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight, the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He sets forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time”. Ephesians 1:9-10a RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 8: 4-7, 10-22; Psalm 89: 16-19; Mk 2: 1-12

TAKE YOUR STAND!

Thursday 14th January – Thursday of week 1 of the year                                          

Reflection: 1 Samuel 4:1-11

TAKE YOUR STAND!                     

‘One with God is majority’; the reverse was the case today with the Israelites who despite their possession of the glorious Ark of  the Covenant, the symbol of God’s very presence in their midst, still lost thirty-four thousand soldiers in their battle with the Philistines. When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable, even though the Ark of God was in the tent of the Hebrews, God was not on their side because they had failed to acknowledge Him and live according to His commands. They had failed to acknowledge God’s power and reign over them and only remembered Him in the moment of battle.

We have a lesson to learn both from the Israelite and Philistine army. We are often very much like the Hebrews, neglecting our call to holiness in everyday life and only remembering to call on God as a solution to our troubled situation. God teaches us through today’s readings that what He seeks from us in a personal relationship, through thick or thin. We cannot expect to stray away from Him and wallow in sin and still think He will fight our battles for us.

The Philistine army today had heard of the great deeds of God and acknowledged His power and might. However, they still took courage, and amidst fright and trembling, rose up to their fears and summoned their very last courage – even though their feet were shaking at the shouting in the Hebrew’s camp – to fight against all odds against the Israelites. This decision granted them a flawless victory over their enemies. Why not you? When trials and temptations roll in and challenges and tribulation take their course, will you still stand?

Let your relationship with God be one of an intimate friendship and a constant desire to live according to His will. Only then would you be assured of His blessings and victory in all your endeavours.

PRAYER: Lord, let my faith in You never waver but let it grow stronger day unto day. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2090: “…Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and of incurring punishment.”   

HIDE A TREASURE: “The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of need…” Psalm 46:1-2 RSV-CE

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 4: 1-11; Psalm 44: 10-15, 24-25; Mk 1: 40-45

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

Sunday 10th January – Feast Of the Baptism of the Lord

Reflection: Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

This is a question you and I must have encountered sometime in our lives. It is not unusual for us to meet with individuals who are ready to share their faith with us and begin with the question: Are you born again? However, as popular as this question is, it is one that most Catholics avoid because they are not sure of the answer to give.

 

What does it really mean to be “born again”? The phrase “born again” was used by Christ as He spoke with Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to Him by night (John 3:3). Christ did not leave us in the dark as to the meaning of this expression. At the request of Nicodemus, Jesus explained further: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). Hence, contrary to what is commonly preached by those who put this question to you, being born again is not limited to accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour. It goes a step further to mean being baptized.

Baptism is the rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit which Christ talks about and which is manifest in the gospel reading of today as we see the Holy Spirit descending on Christ and hear the voice of God affirming Christ’s sonship at His baptism. Baptism is the sacrament that opens the way to the Christian life, cleansing us from original and actual sins and making us children of God and members of Christ’s body, the Church. Hence, if you have been baptized whether as an infant or adult, you have renounced the devil and professed your belief in God and the salvation He has won for you through His son, Jesus Christ and you are born again.

The challenge for you and I is to live in the new life of Christ. We must each day, renew our commitment to Christ, draw closer to Him in His word and in prayers and receive the strength from the Eucharist and the sacrament of confession so as to live the new life He has called us to live. (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for granting me new life in you at my baptism. Please give me the grace to allow this new life to take root in me and help me to nourish my faith so that my life will bear fruits of this rebirth. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 194 – What is Baptism?

Baptism is the way out of the kingdom of death into life, the gateway to the Church, and the beginning of a lasting communion with God.

…Baptism unites us with Jesus Christ, incorporates us into his redemptive death on the Cross, thereby freeing us from the power of Original Sin and all personal sins, and causes us to rise with him to a life without end. Since Baptism is a covenant with God, the individual must say Yes to it. In the baptism of children, the parents confess the Faith on behalf of the children.

 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” 2Corinthians 5:17 RSV-CE

 

Readings for today: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11; Psalm 104: 1-4, 24-30; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22