TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Sunday 19th March – Sunday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Exodus 17: 3-7

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Considering that we have the benefit of hindsight, we often perceive the Israelites as a stubborn and unbelieving people during their exodus from Egypt to the promised land. It is very easy for us to read through the stories of their unbelief and repeated complaints against God and Moses and judge them. Yet, rather than judge them, they give us an insight into what we ourselves are very likely to do or may even be currently doing.

Journeying through the desert was certainly no fun for the Israelites they had to keep trekking under the hot scourging sun, had only a single type of food for nourishment and obviously missed the pleasures of a settled life. We too may encounter desert experiences in our lives. There may be times when everything seems to be tough, basic needs are lacking and it feels that God has abandoned us. These moments, just like it was for Israel are times when the Lord may be leading us to a deeper level of trust in Him.

In moments of dire difficulty, it is easy to forget about whatever God may be doing and focus solely on the extreme suffering or discomfort we are going through. God reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Rather than complain against God, let us turn to the Lord in prayer and in trust…He knows our needs and knows just how to supply them. We can make a discipline of abstaining from complaining as we go through Lent. Are you trusting the Lord through your desert experience?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to resist the temptation to complain. May I turn to you in trust in life’s most difficult situations. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 515 – Where do we get the confidence to call God “Father”?

We can be so bold as to address God as Father because Jesus has called us to a close relationship with himself and made us children of God. In communion with him, “who is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18), we are privileged to cry, “Abba, Father!”

Hide a Treasure: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 RSV-CE

GOD CAN USE YOUR ENEMY

Friday 17th March – Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent (Feast of St Patrick)

Reflection: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28

 GOD CAN USE YOUR ENEMY

The enemies of our progress in life come through diverse ways such as a weakness in us, our family background, a person who wishes our downfall, unpleasant situations etc. Many have abandoned the course of destiny because they couldn’t see beyond the present. They see others moving fast in their own tracts and because of the limitations they experience, they neglect their own path to progress.

God alone knows our future and the best pathway for us. In today’s reading, God used Reuben and Judah to carve out his plan for their brother Joseph. Our God who controls the heart of kings used them to accomplish his work in Joseph’s life despite their evil plans. When they spoke, none of the other brothers could interrogate them because God was speaking through them. Many instances have gone by in our lives when the worst circumstances turned out to be a glorious story. Can we recall them? Do we ever remember the wonders of the Lord just as the psalmist says today (Psalm 105:5-6)?

Beloved, in the dry pits of life’s challenges, Jesus is there for you to draw you up again. Nothing can stop His plan for our lives when we simply trust and obey him. The Scripture assures us that all things works together for good, for those that love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Let us therefore be courageous in our dealings with others today – even those who seek our downfall. Let us surrender all to Jesus who can turn the worst situations into a perfect story.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I surrender my life to you today. Strengthen me in the face of persecution and guide me in the path of peace and fulfilment. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 51 If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why does he not prevent evil?

“God allows evil only so as to make something better result from it” (St. Thomas Aquinas). Evil in the world is an obscure and painful mystery. Even the Crucified asked his Father, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Much about it is incomprehensible. One thing, though, we know for sure: God is 100 percent good…

HIDE A TREASURE: “When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends” Proverbs 16:7 GNB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Psalm 105: 16-21; Matthew 21:33-46

 

WHERE IS YOUR SOURCE?

Thursday 16th March – Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Jeremiah 17:5-10

WHERE IS YOUR SOURCE?

It is that time of the year we all look forward to – the trees have become green with leaves again and the flowers are beginning to blossom, the dark cold days are gradually giving way to an earlier sunrise and later sunset…spring is here! In the tropical regions of the world where there is the dry harmattan season and the rainy season, the trees are noticed to be dry during harmattan and blossom as the rains start. Yet, there is an exception…tress planted by a river. Trees planted by a river have their roots constantly nourished and do not dry and that is exactly what awaits us if we have God as our source

In our everyday lives, there are ups and downs, times of plenty and times of scarcity, much like the seasons of the year. It is a normal human response for us to get agitated when times of scarcity come upon us. But our Lord assures us that we need not worry if only we make Him our source of life and nourishment. If we trust in the Lord to take care of us and supply our needs, then do not have to fret through the droughts and heat of life.

Lent gives us a wonderful opportunity to reassess ourselves. Where is my trust and confidence? Do I rely on my wisdom, intelligence or strength to sustain me or do I rely on the Most High God from whom all good things come?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I trust in you. Help me to cast all my cares on you for you are the source of my life and wellbeing. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 522 – What does it mean to say, “Give us this day our daily bread”?

The petition about our daily bread makes us people who await everything from the goodness of our heavenly Father, including the material and spiritual goods that are vitally necessary. No Christian can pronounce this petition without thinking about his real responsibility for those in the world who lack the basic necessities of life.

Hide a Treasure: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jer 17:5-10; Ps 1:1-6; Luke 16:19-31

SEEKING ASSURANCE

Wednesday 15th March – Wednesday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 20:17-28

SEEKING ASSURANCE

Jesus’ apostles had left their trades and their means of livelihood to follow Christ. James and John had been out on the sea of Galilee fishing with their father, Zebedee when Christ called them. They left their nets, their boats and their father and followed the Lord. Certainly, their families would have worried about whether their decision was worth. Little wonder their mother came to request of our Lord that her sons be given seats at his left and right in his kingdom. She wanted an assurance that the sacrifice had sons her made was really worth it.

We all often find ourselves in the same situation. We have decided to follow Jesus, a decision that has changed our entire outlook on life. Our discipleship calls us live a holy life amidst an increasingly immoral and permissive world. There are times we give up the “easy path” and choose the more difficult out of our commitment to Christ. We fight with the urge to swim along with the tide and engage in worldly pleasure and self-satisfaction but Christ calls us to deny ourselves, carry our crosses daily and follow him.

We do not know the end of the journey and like James, John and their mother, we often wish God can give us an assurance that all our sacrifice is worth it. Christ doesn’t often tell us what the end will be, he simply asks us to follow him step by step in complete trust and confidence. He didn’t assure James and John of what the end will be but He certainly took care of them through all their suffering for His name. He will take care of you too and He assures you of eternal joy and eternal life if you persevere till the end.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I follow with complete trust and confidence. Help me to find strength in the assurance that your plans for me are the best. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 281 – Why do we yearn for happiness?

God has placed in our hearts such an infinite desire for happiness that nothing can satisfy it but God himself. All earthly fulfillment gives us only a foretaste of eternal happiness. Above and beyond that, we should be drawn to God.

Hide a Treasure: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

Today’s Readings: Jer 18:18-20; Psalm 31: 5-6,14-16; Mt 20:17-28

LEARN TO DO GOOD!

Tuesday 14th March – Tuesday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Isaiah 1: 10, 16 -20

LEARN TO DO GOOD!

While in secondary school I could attend Mass only on Sundays but I loved the Mass and longed for the opportunity to go every single day. Hence, as soon as I left for University, I found myself gladly waking up very early to begin my day with the Mass. This beautiful practice went on until my 4th year on campus when I was saddled with many responsibilities and decided to go to Mass 3 times a week rather than every day. Before long, the 3 year old practice became a burden and I had to struggle to get up early and meet up with the Mass. It took almost 3 more years with prayers and encouragement from my spiritual director to overcome this struggle and attend Masses everyday again.

This experience opened my eyes to how easy it is to lose virtue and acquire vice. Indeed doing good is learned. it doesn’t just happen. It takes conscious effort on our part as Christians to rise above our human selfishness and comfort zone to do good. God tells us today “Cease to do evil; learn to do good” (Is 1:16). In what areas of your life are you struggling to do what is right? Are you making conscious efforts to do what is right? Let this season of Lent be a time for you to rise above every limitation and strive with God’s help to learn to do good.

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the ways in which you have failed to do what is right and respond to God’s call to repentance. Ask Him for the grace to live a life of goodness – a life that seeks the good of others and pleases God. He is ever ready to help us!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please strengthen me in my quest for holiness. Help me to learn to do what is good always and never look back.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 279 – Why do we need faith and the sacraments in order to live a good, upright life?

If we were to rely only on ourselves and our own strength, we would not get far in our attempts to be good…When God gives us his strength; we call this “grace”. Especially in the sacred signs that we call the Sacraments, God gives us the ability actually to do the good that we want to do.

HIDE A TREASURE: “To Him who by the power a work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 1: 10, 16 -20; Psalm 50: 8-9, 16-17, 21-23; Matthew 23: 1-12

A GENEROUS HEART

Monday 13th March – Monday of the 2nd week of lent

Reflection: Luke 6:36-38

A GENEROUS HEART

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be measure you get back” Luke 6:38

It is often said that givers never lack and the hand that gives is always on top. A generous heart is not only reflected in extending hands of generosity to the needy, poor or less-privileged; but also in the readiness to pray for others. When we see our brethren living below the expectation of their call as Christians, we should not criticize or point accusing fingers at them. Such moments give us the opportunity to be generous with our kind words and prayers. We should be ready to encourage those who are discouraged or spiritually weak, especially by praying for them and for the conversion of sinners.

Our generosity attracts God’s blessing when it is done, not out of compulsion, but with a willing and loving heart (2 Cor 9:6-8). He who gives sparingly will receive sparingly and he who gives bountifully will receive bountifully. It is the measure we give that we will receive. For God loves a cheerful giver. As we choose to pray for others rather than criticizing them, God will raise people to pray for us too. Let your preoccupation this season of Lent be to pray, fast and to give alms; and may God accept your offering of love.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I thank you for giving me your very self through your death on the cross and in the Eucharist. Please grant me a generous heart so I can be like you. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 449 – What significance do the poor have for Christians?

Love for the poor must be in every age the distinguishing mark of Christians. The poor deserve not just a few alms; they have a claim to justice. For Christians there is a special obligation to share their goods. Our example in love for the poor is Christ.

Hide a Treasure: “You should each give, then as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty, for God loves the one who gives gladly” 2 Corinthians 9:7 GNB

Today’s Readings: Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 79: 8-13; Luke 6:36-38

HANDLING ENEMIES

Saturday 11th March – Saturday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 5:43-48

HANDLING ENEMIES

So much seems to have changed in the thinking and practice of Christians today. More than ever before, we are at a time when many Christians are increasingly more focused on their “enemies”, the devil and the powers of darkness much more than our Almighty Father.

How do we handle our enemies? The commonest answer today is to pray for their death or destruction. Yet, our Lord tells us something entirely different in today’s gospel reading. He calls us to extend a hand of love and prayer to our enemies and persecutors. Love in this sense does not mean having some nice emotions towards them. It simply refers to wishing their good and offering a hand of help to even our enemies when we are in the position to.

We cannot claim to be true disciples but act in direct contrast to our Lord’s words… that is disobedience. Indeed, there is so much evil in our world today, so much wickedness and shedding of innocent blood. Let us lift our voice to the Lord in prayer for these enemies and trust that He would act as it pleases Him. When faced with spiritual warfare, let us take up the armour of God: shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, belt of truth, our feet fitted with the readiness to proclaim the gospel of peace and perseverance in prayer (Eph 6:14-18).

Prayer: Lord, in a world full of hatred and revenge, help me to love like you did, even your enemies. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 487 – Why should we petition God for other people?

As Abraham intervened by his prayer for the inhabitants of Sodom, as Jesus prayed for his disciples, and as the early Christian community looked “not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4), so too Christians always pray for everyone—for people who are dear to their hearts, for people who are not close to them, and even for their enemies.

Hide a Treasure: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Deut 26:16-19; Ps 119:1-8; Mt 5:43-48