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

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER

Friday 10th March – Friday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 130: 1-8

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER

This was the theme for the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in the Church all over the world in 2015/2016. As the church called each one of us to embrace God’s mercy and reconcile with Him, it equally called us to be like our Father in extending mercy and forgiveness to others.

The response to today’s psalm: “If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive?” reminds us that we live by God’s mercy and grace. None of us can truly boast before Him. We make a covenant with Him in Baptism and despite His faithfulness we stumble repeatedly and very often, fall so badly. Yet He does not mark our guilt. Do we have a right to mark the guilt of others then?

When we hear Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant who had his fellow servant thrown in prison because of a debt despite being forgiven a much bigger sum by their master, we may be quick to see how wicked that servant was. Before we criticize him too much, let us look at the mirror of our hearts and recognize all those who guilt we are “marking.” Lent offers us a time to seek mercy and to extend it to others. Let us not let this opportune moment pass us by.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your mercy; please help me to extend your love and forgiveness to others. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 524 – 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: “If you O Lord should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28; Ps 130: 1-8; Mt 5:20-26

AWAITING YOUR REQUEST

Thursday 9th March – Thursday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 7: 7-12

AWAITING YOUR REQUEST

If you had the privilege of growing in a Christian home, one of the first things you would have learnt as a child is how to pray. Whether you were taught to recite prayers or to use your own words, it all boiled down to talking to God and asking Him for your needs for the most part.

Indeed, prayer is a very vital part of our lives as Christians and many of us know that. We often remember to ask the Lord for our material needs and maybe the needs of our families and our society and this is in fact laudable. Our Lord reassures us in today’s reading that He awaits our request. He wants us to come to Him asking, seeking and knocking and he promises that we would never go back empty handed.

As we go through Lent, why not consciously make prayer a priority? Take a step further, make a habit of asking the Lord for help as you encounter challenging moments in day to day living. Take a moment to tell him about what bothers you and remember to offer a prayer of thanksgiving as you encounter the day’s success. God longs to hear your voice and awaits your requests.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the assurance that you will hear me when I call upon you. Please help me to always bear I mind that you are only a prayer away. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 490 – Is it enough to pray when you feel like praying?

No. Someone who prays only when he feels like it does not take God seriously and will leave off praying. Prayer thrives on faithfulness.

Hide a Treasure: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Esther 4:17; Psalm 138: 1-3,7-8; Mt 7:7-12

SOMETHING GREATER

Wednesday 8th March – Wednesday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Luke 11:29-32

SOMETHING GREATER

In our introduction to Economics back in High School, we were taught about various terms used in the subject, including choice, alternative forgone and scale of preference. We were made to realize that our human wants and needs are insatiable and since our resources are limited, it becomes very important to draw a scale of preference, so that we can make choices that are more important to us.

Beyond the field of economics, this principle is very helpful in our everyday living and decision making. It is helpful in prioritizing our time, treasure and talent. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus rebuked told the crowds that their generation was going to face a severe judgement and condemnation because they had failed to recognize Him. The Ninevites and the Queen of the South recognized the great men: Jonah and Solomon respectively and made radical decisions in response to them. Yet, Jesus country men had the Messiah, God himself present in their midst but they failed to take the opportunity of repentance He offered them.

Dear friends, you and I have been offered a wonderful heritage through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been giving the privilege of partaking in the divine nature through our Baptism. Do we recognize how great this privilege is? Many insatiable wants…riches, fame, pleasure etc that promise us short-lived happiness tend to crowd out the friendship that Jesus wants with us. During this season let us draw a scale of preference and choose to invest our time into prayer, Bible study, Mass, almsgiving and all other things that bring true and lasting joy.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you give me the opportunity of a new life repeatedly. Help me to recognize that you are greater than the passing pleasures the world offers me. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 89 – To whom does Jesus promise “the kingdom of God”?

God wills “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). The “kingdom of God” begins in those who allow themselves to be transformed by God’s love. In Jesus’ experience these are above all the poor and the lowly.

Hide a Treasure: “Beloved, I beg you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul” 1 Peter 2:11 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 51: 3-4,12-13,18-19; Lk 11:29-32