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

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

Thursday 28th January – Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor

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 lit candles, signifying that we were 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 on 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

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

INVESTING OUR STRENGTH

Wednesday 30th December – 6th day within the octave of Christmas

Reflection: 1 John 2:12-17

INVESTING OUR STRENGTH

Dear friends, many parts of the Holy Scriptures emphasize the purpose of youthfulness and describe it as a stage of decision to choose life and denounce the temptations of the devil. This phase in which we are requires right counsel to stand firm in faith as it is a time when the battle against sin is at its peak as well as the formation of character. It is a phase in which we love to choose mentors, people whose pathways we can follow to newer facets and discoveries in life. Nevertheless, all our aspirations must necessarily lead us back to God (Ecclesiastes 11:9). All our questions about life can only get right answers when we sincerely make efforts to search for truth. This is the true essence of our strength which St John makes reference to in our reading today: I am writing to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the evil one. (1 John 2:14b).

As the year 2015 passes away, we are called to evaluate what have achieved with our youthful strength this past year. How have we tailored our talents and treasures to earn us eternal treasures? Beloved, the greatest treasure we can ever have is Christ dwelling in us, His word fuelling our hearts with the grace and power to defeat the evil one. This is the most important investment of this phase of our lives. Let us take heed of our flaws and fight the good fight faith. Never be discouraged to take up your cross and follow Christ. You can do all things through him who strengthens you. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:17). Press on, beloved!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I am sorry for the misuse of your grace upon my life. I ask for renewed strength as I wait on you today. Help me to use my strength to know you more. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 34What 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: “…I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”. Philippians 3:8 GNB

Readings for Today: 1 John 2:12-17; Psalm 96:7-10, Luke 2:36-40

LOOK FORWARD

Wednesday 30th September – Memorial of St Jerome, Priest & Doctor

Reflection: Luke 9: 57-62

LOOK FORWARD

No one who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 62b

Old habits they say, die hard; however, through the power of Christ at work in us we can overcome all ungodly tendencies that hitherto characterise our way of life. Conversion to Christ could be an instantaneous event; however, the work of transformation takes a life time. Having answered the call of Christ to be His followers; it is required of us to give Him unalloyed fidelity. Though the waves of temptation and opposition rage against us, our faith must never succumb to these if we are to earn the crown of glory.

Beloved, today’s gospel reading calls you and I to examine how forthrightly we are following Christ. Through our baptism we have renounced Satan and all his empty promises; we embrace the way of holiness and righteousness. Friend, do you still involve yourself in ungodly acts that run contrary to your baptismal vows? No one can serve two masters says our Lord (Luke 16: 13); we cannot partly serve God and partly serve the devil; Christianity demands hundred per cent commitment.

Let us this day renew our commitment to follow Christ, let us lay aside every weight and sins that easily beset us; looking up to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrew 12 :1-3); . No gain of this world is comparable to the ultimate reward that awaits us in heaven if we remain committed to Christ till the end.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, having come to know you, please help me to serve you with a steadfast heart. Detach me from all that offends your love; help me to make heaven at the end of my earthly sojourn. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 226 – But we have Baptism, which reconciles us with God; why then do we need a special sacrament of Reconciliation?

Baptism does snatch us from the power of sin and death and brings us into the new life of the children of God, but it does not free us from human weakness and the inclination to sin. That is why we need a place where we can be reconciled with God again and again. That place is confession.

It does not seem like a modern thing to go to confession; it can be difficult and may cost a great deal of effort at first. But it is one of the greatest graces that we can receive again and again in our life—it truly renews the soul, completely unburdens it… Someone who has gone to confession turns a clean, new page in the book of his life

HIDE A TREASURE: “No one who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 62b RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Nehemiah 2:1-8; Psalm 137: 1-6; Luke 9:57-62

BEYOND FAMILY TIES

Tuesday 22nd September – Tuesday of week 25 of the year

Luke 8: 19-21

BEYOND FAMILY TIES

Today’s gospel reading has something to teach us on proper conduct in our relationships. Have you ever being tempted to violate your conscience in a bid to satisfy the desires of your relatives? I certainly believe you would have at one point or the other find yourself in such a tight situation. In today’s gospel reading, our Divine master teaches us the right way to handle such – our commitment to please the Lord must always rank above any other tie. Inability to rightly handle this is a major cause of nepotism even among Christians.

By virtue of our baptism, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God ((Colossians 1:16, 2:12; Galatians 4:4-6) and are members of one family with our Lord Jesus Christ. However, beyond our baptismal entry into the family of God, Christ is telling you and I that what truly gives legitimacy to our relatedness to Him is our openness to hear and obey His word (John 10:27). No matter how long we have been baptised or how regularly we frequent the sacraments, if these do not translate into godly living we cannot say we belong to Him.

Some readily sight today’s gospel in their bid to downplay the role of Mother Mary in the life of the Church. However, the fundamental question to ask ourselves is “how well did Mary cooperate with the will of God in her life?” By her fiat she completely acceded to the will of God to become the mother of God (Luke 1:26-38) even though it was beyond her understanding. She accepted God’s will at the risk of rejection and public ridicule. She shared in her son’s sorrow and stood by him till His crucifixion at Golgotha. Mary’s motherhood of the Church (Luke 19: 26-27; Luke 1:48) was not merely earned by her giving birth to Christ, much more than that, she was a woman of deep faith who freely and fully committed herself to doing the will of God.

PRAYER: Please teach me Lord to hold you foremost in my heart. Guide me on how best to handle the relationships you have blessed me with in a manner that brings honour to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 148 – Can Mary really help us?

Yes. Since the beginning of the Church, experience has taught that Mary helps. Millions of Christians testify to it. Being the Mother of Jesus, Mary is also our Mother. Good mothers always stand up for their children. Certainly this Mother does. While still on earth she interceded with Jesus for others; for example, she protected a bride and groom in Cana from embarrassment. In the Upper Room on Pentecost she prayed in the midst of the disciples. Because her love for us never ceases, we can be sure that she will plead for us in the two most important moments of our life: “now and at the hour of our death”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Am I seeking the favour of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 RSV-CE

Today’s reading: Ezra 6: 7-8.12.14-20; Psalm 122: 1-5; Luke 8: 19-21

LIVING AS DISCIPLES

Wednesday 9th September – Wednesday of week 23 of the year

LIVING AS DISCIPLES

Colossians 3: 1-11

The popular and well respected Indian non-violence activist, Mahatma Ghandi was once quoted as saying, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Indeed, Ghandi’s observation is not contrary to what many other people have truthfully expressed. Why has Christ become so different from the people ‘like-Christ’? What went wrong with our Christianity? This question can only be answered when we go back to the beginning. ‘What is Christianity? ’.

Rather than being just a religion with Ten Commandments and lengthy doctrines, Christianity is living the true life of Christ. Christ’s disciples were called Christians because they were found to live like the Christ they proclaimed. Jesus lived in truth, love, and perfect obedience to God’s will and that is the life to which He has called us. St Paul reminds us in today’s reading: “…you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

In baptism, you have died to your old self and risen with Christ to a new life. This new life is a life of love – true sacrificial love. Take time to examine yourself today. Does your Christian faith make you less judgemental, slanderous, quarrelsome etc and more loving and tolerant of others? Christianity is a journey towards knowing God as He truly is. Each day gives us a new opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ and truly live as His disciples. Let the opportunity today offers you not be wasted.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, teach me to live as you lived. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 348“Teacher, what…must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16)?

Jesus says, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). Then he adds, “and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Christianity is more than a correct life and keeping the commandments. Being a Christian is a living relationship to Jesus. A Christian unites himself deeply and personally with the Lord and with him sets out on the way that leads to true life.

HIDE A TREASURE: “He replied, who are my mother and my brethren? And looking around on those who sat there he said, “Here are my mother and my brethren!. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3: 33-35 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Colossians 3: 1-11; Psalm 145: 2-3.10-13; Luke 6: 20-26

IT IS WORTH THE COST

Tuesday 18th August: Tuesday of week 20 of the year

IT IS WORTH THE COST

Matthew 19:23-30

Anyone who consistently makes the “easy alternative” a way of life would possibly never leave a positive imprint in the sand of time. History celebrates success and times have shown us that only few out of the multitude demonstrate the needed sacrifice and courage to pay the demands of excellence. Life is about choices and there is a cost to every decision we make. By our choices, we are either growing in virtues or losing them; and it is the virtues that we exhibit that truly set us out as follower of Christ (Matt. 7:20; Matt. 5:20).

From yesterday’s reflection, we were counselled on the need to give God first place in our hearts; to resist the seductive lure of the worldly attractions that compete with the love of God in our hearts. In today’s gospel reading which is a continuation of yesterday’s, our Blessed Saviour gives consolation to all who have made a total commitment to Him – “…everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life”( Matt. 19:29).

Dearest in Christ, our call as followers of Christ is one that comes with its costs. To truly be Christians, we cannot but embrace the life of self-denial and sacrifice. Discipleship of Christ comes with some choices that ordinarily run contrary to the natural inclination of the fallen man. What are those things that you are tightly holding unto that are preventing you from freely and fully serving the Lord? As the Holy Spirit daily impels us to a deeper union with the Lord, are we embracing His demands or fleeing from them? No cost is too high to make heaven as there is a greater cost to pay for anyone who loses out (Matt. 16:26)!

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to daily say yes to your will, to forsake all that displeases you as I am called to a deeper intimacy with you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 618– The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”…He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him],” for Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.

Hide a treasure: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? Matthew 16: 26 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Judges 6: 11-24; Psalm 84: 9, 11-14; Matthew 19: 23-30