FAN INTO A FLAME

Monday 26th January – Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops

Reflection: 2 Timothy 1: 1-8

FAN INTO A FLAME

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of SS Timothy and Titus who were both Bishops in the early Christian Church. Though Timothy’s father was Greek, his mother, Eunice was Jewish and she and his grandmother, Lois had a deep faith in Christ which she passed on to her son, Timothy.

Many of us young Catholics were baptised as infants, thus becoming Christians before we knew anything at all and we have been taught by our parents and elders the way of righteousness. Are we holding on to this teaching and growing in holiness like Timothy did? Today, St Paul tells Timothy to fan into a flame the gift of God he had received when hand were laid on him. At our confirmation, the sacrament that completed our Christian initiation, the Bishop laid his hand on us, invoking on us the fullness of God’s Spirit. Are we fanning this gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence into a flame? Are we open to His promptings?

Beloved, our Christian faith can be likened to hot coals which would make a fire when fanned but become cold and useless if left alone. Fanning our faith into a flame implies that we respond to the grace of God in us. It is achieved through daily communion with God in prayers, taking time to prayerfully study His word and frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. As we open our hearts to God in these ways, He strengthens our faith, allowing the seed of faith planted in us to blossom; he teaches us the demands of our Christian calling and gives us the grace to live it out to the full. Only then can we effectively pass on our faith to our progeny like Lois and Eunice did.

PRAYER: Dear Father, I thank you for the gift of faith and for your Spirit and dwells in my heart. Please help me to be sensitive and obedient to His leading always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 205 – What happens in Confirmation?

In Confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For this reason I remind you to fan into a flame the gift of God you have received through the laying on of my hands” 2 Timothy 1:6 CCB

Readings for Today: 2 Timothy 1: 1-8; Psalm 96: 1-3, 7-10; Mark 3: 22-30

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THE WAYS OF THE LORD


Sunday 11th January – Feast of Baptism of the Lord

Reflection: Isaiah 55:1-11

THE WAYS OF THE LORD

“Your ways are not my ways, it is the Lord who speaks…”
The present state of the world around us provides a good illustration as to what God says through His prophet Isaiah. We live in a generation where wrongdoing has become a “norm” and “acceptable” in the society. It is amidst this that the Lord reminds us that His ways are as far from ours as the heavens are from the earth. This realisation should lead us to sincerely seek God and live according to His precepts, rather than bending to the dictates and demands of the society and the world around us. If we live according to God’s ways then we become recipients of the blessings reserved for those who come to Him.

Hence, amidst the voices of the world, that of our heavenly Father stands out: “come to the water all you who are thirsty; buy corn without money and eat. Why spend…your wages on what fails to satisfy?” Are we ready to heed God’s call? Are we ready to stop seeking happiness, satisfaction and peace from this passing world and look to God for true satisfaction? The Lord assures us of waters of joy for all who thirst and long for happiness in Him. He asks for our complete attention in order to hear and understand what He tells us at all times. He reminds us that there is no need to worry because all shall be well with us.

As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, we are reminded of our own baptism. At baptism, we are born anew as children of God. Let us open ourselves to the Holy Spirit who dwells in us so that He may guide us always in the pathway of holiness and peace.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the knowledge of your ways that I may work in them Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 197 – Why does the Church adhere to the practice of infant Baptism?
From antiquity the Church has practiced infant Baptism. There is one reason for this: before we decide on God, God has decided on us. Baptism is therefore a grace, an undeserved gift of God, who accepts us unconditionally. Believing parents who want what is best for their child want Baptism also, in which the child is freed from the influence of original sin and the power of death. 

HIDE A TREASURE: “You were buried with Christ in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Isaiah 55:1-11; Psalm 28: 1-4, 9-10; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

Thursday, 30th January – Thursday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: Mark 4: 21-25

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

In a country like Nigeria where power outages are still part of our everyday life, we would be able to appreciate the concept of light and darkness and I bet we all will agree with St John’s gospel that darkness cannot overcome light (John 1:5). No matter how dark a room is, the light of a single candle cannot be hidden by the darkness.

At our baptism, our admission into God’s family, we all were given lighted candles, signifying that we are given Christ, the light of the world who calls as His disciples to be light of the world too. A light always shows the way, giving illumination and direction to a dark path. Hence, you and I are called to be light even in the darkness of this world. As young people, we come face to face daily with worldly ways of doing things from the media, internet, friends, colleagues etc. The world upholds its own sinful standards in several issues such as fornication, lies, fraud, exam malpractice etc. We must not blend to the standards of this world because love for the world is enmity with God (1John 1:15).

Dear friend, Christ reminds us today that a lamp brought into the house cannot be put under a bed. Instead it is put on a stand so its light is seen everywhere in the house. Do not be afraid of standing out for Christ(Philippians 2:14). Do not be afraid of being the lone voice speaking the truth or being the only one in your class not engaging in sexual immorality. Each day, spend time with Christ studying His word and in prayers. Avail yourself of the privilege of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist as He is the strength for our journey of faith.

 Remember you are called by Jesus through your baptism to stand out and shine the light of truth and righteousness and someday, you will be called to account for how well you obeyed this call.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the privilege of belonging to the family of God through my baptism. Please grant me the grace and the courage to shine as a light in this fallen world. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 11 – Why do we hand on the faith?

We hand on the faith because Jesus commands us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

No genuine Christian leaves the transmission of the faith exclusively to specialists (teachers, pastors, missionaries). We are Christ for others. This means that every genuine Christian would like God to come to other people, too. He says to himself, “The Lord needs me! I have been baptized and confirmed and am responsible for helping the people around me to learn about God and ‘to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4b).” Mother Teresa used a good comparison: “Often you can see power lines running alongside the street. Unless current is flowing through them, there is no light. The power line is you and I! The current is God! We have the power to allow the current to flow through us and thus to generate the light of the world: JESUS—or to refuse to be used and, thus, allow the darkness to spread.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” Matthew 5:16 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 7: 18-19, 24-29; Psalm 132: 1-5, 11-14; Mark 4: 21-25

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

Sunday, 12th January – Feast Of the Baptism of the Lord

Reflection: Matthew 3: 13-17

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 common 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 42: 1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29; Acts 10: 34-38; Matthew 3: 13-17