DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tuesday 1st March – Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Reflection: Joel 2:12-13 (Gospel Acclamation)

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tearing of clothes in the Jewish setting signified penance and a deep quest for God. Yet, outward acts alone do not show what a man is really made of. The true man is of the heart. In this season of Lent, there is a great tendency for us to put up an outward show of penitence. This in fact a good start in aiming for the real thing. What then is the real thing? The real thing is the inward transformation of the heart. Since creation, the state of man’s heart has always been of paramount importance to God. Hence, in Genesis 6:5-6, God lamented terribly when he saw the wickedness of man’s heart.

God desires that we not only attend the Stations of the Cross, Masses or Retreats this season, but that we check the depths of our hearts to ensure that there is no wickedness therein. During this season, we are called to fast and do abstinence. These too should not just be external acts, but should have a deep effect in our heart; they should tear our heart away from seeking earthly pleasures and turn it towards God. The reading of today explains it perfectly: “tear your hearts and not your clothes”, God says. (Joel 2:13). Beloved, let us use this season of lent to come to God wholeheartedly and he would surely shine his face upon us for He is gracious and merciful.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please give me the grace to come to you always with sincerity of heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2519: “The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like Him. Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbours”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. 1Samuel 16:7c GNB..

Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25: 4-9; Matthew 18:21-35

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

Saturday 22nd March – Saturday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the two sacraments of healing in the Church; it obtains pardon from God for the offense committed against Him and by the Priest’s sacramental absolution, God grants the penitent “pardon and peace”. In approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the first step is Interior Penance; recognition of guilt with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed. Next is a contrite heart; sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again. Then comes the confession of sins to the priest after a diligent self-examination. Lastly, the Satisfaction; is fulfilling the penance given by the priest in order to make amends for the sin.

The Prodigal Son’s process of conversion stems from a recognition of his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, his reflection on all he had lost, a sorrowful heart for what he had done, his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey home. Up to this point he had lived “outside “of himself; now in the language of the Gospel he “enters into himself”, that is, he begins to look inwards and see his true nature.

When he starts back, he finds that the father is out on the roadway ready to welcome him back. Forgiveness meets us more than halfway. The father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The Beautiful robe, the ring and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure, worthy and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of His Family, which is the Church.

Dear Friends, let us take time to reflect and identify areas of our life where we have strayed from God, let us be sorrowful for them and pray for the grace to fully complete our conversion process. Remember, no matter how bad your past might have been, you can always begin anew with God. Today God calls us to conversion; He calls us to journey home.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to remember always that my sins are not greater than your mercy. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1470 – Effects of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Jesus spoke up “healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous” Luke 5:31-32 CCB

Readings for today: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

A CONTRITE HEART

Wednesday, 5th February – Wednesday of week 4 of the year

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Matyr

Reflection: 2 Samuel 24: 2, 9-17

A CONTRITE HEART

Undoubtedly, King David stands out as the most divinely favoured of all the kings that reigned over Israel. Scripture describes him as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). To have enjoyed such intimacy and blessings from God, could it mean he was faultless in all his affairs? Certainly not! The taking of Israel’s census (today’s first reading), the account of his adultery with Bath-sheba and murder of Uriah her husband are major flaws in his kingship. However, his contrition stands him our when compared to a good number of us Christians of today. He never rationalized, excused or downplayed his sins. He was a man of contrite heart.

What is contrition? It is a sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again (CCC 1451). Contrition is a product of the activity of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Dear friends, how contrite are you for your sins? Do you rather excuse or downplay them? All unrighteousness is sin and injures the love of God. We cannot tap into the immense forgiving mercy of our Heavenly Father when we obstinately persist in our sins, neither can we receive His justification when we excuse or downplay them (Proverbs 28:13; 1John 1:9). We are not only to own up and confess our sins, we must forsake our sinful ways, avoid occasions of sin (2 Timothy 2:22) to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4; Galatians 2:20).

A contrite heart is better positioned for God’s blessing (Psalm 34: 18; Isaiah 66:2). As we grow in contrition, we must nevertheless guard against the negative extreme – Despondency. This is a hopeless sorrow for sin without recourse to God’s infinite mercy. It is the devil’s antic to keep us from obtaining the saving grace of God (Romans 5: 20).

PRAYER: Oh Lord! Help me grow in contrition. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 229 – What prepares a person for repentance?

The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. Then we are full of sorrow for our sins; we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help.

HIDE A TREASURE: “So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart” 2 Timothy 2:22 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 24: 2, 9 -17; Psalm 32: 1-2, 5-7; Mark 6: 1-6