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

WHERE LIES YOUR INTEREST?

Saturday 24th October – Saturday of week 29 of the year

Reflection: Romans 8: 1-11

WHERE LIES YOUR INTEREST?

What interests a man goes a long way to tell you about his personality. While some see life as a field for pleasure and self-satisfaction, others consider it as a pilgrimage during which they are to discover and live out the purpose of our creator. To both, their outlook on life will inevitably shape their life’s engagements and pursuits.

Today’s first reading calls us to examine our interests in life. Are we fascinated by spiritual things or carnal things? “It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual; …to limit oneself to what is unspiritual is to be at enmity with God: such a limitation never could and never does submit to God’s law” (Romans 8: 6-7). God’s laws are meant to direct our ways aright in life. To deliberately choose to live in opposition to them would amount to self-inflicted injury on one’s soul.

Beloved in Christ what drives your life? Is your life bearing godly fruits to the Lord’s delight? Today we are called to rededicate our lives to godly pursuits; to devote our youthful strength to the Lord’s service. Though this might appear unpopular in our secular age, it is the only sure guarantee to a life of fulfilment and peace. Let us make our delight in pleasing the Lord.

PRAYER: Fill my heart with a pure love of you Lord. Please dispel from me all yearnings and attention that do not honour you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 285What is eternal happiness?

Eternal happiness is seeing God and being taken up into God’s happiness. This happiness is the pure gift of God’s grace, for we men can neither bring it about ourselves nor comprehend it in its magnitude. God would like us to decide in favor of our happiness; we should choose God freely, love him above all things, do good and avoid evil insofar as we are able. 
Man is so great that nothing on earth can satisfy him. Only when he turns to God is he content. St. John Vianney

HIDE A TREASURE: “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” Romans 8:6 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Romans 8:1-11; Psalm 24: 1-6; Luke13: 1-9

WHAT IS YOUR IDOL?

Sunday 11th October – Sunday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Mark 10: 17-30

WHAT IS YOUR IDOL?

Given our African setting, it is easy to point an accusing finger or raise a brow at anyone who has a carved image under some tree which he prays to, pours libation or recites incantations. Yet, if we are not careful, we may be just as guilty of idolatry as such a person is. The Church teaches us that idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It consists in divinizing what is not God (CCC 2133).

The young man who met Jesus in today’s gospel reading was sincerely interested in inheriting eternal life. St Mark’s record that he “ran up” to meet Jesus shows us that he was eager to meet Jesus and know what he would say. This eagerness was confirmed by his admission that he had made efforts to keep all the commandments since his youth. Unfortunately, despite his zeal and earnest desire for eternal life, Jesus’ answer saddened him. The sacrifice it required was too much for him because his was attached to his wealth; it had become his idol.

Dear friend, what would you hold back at the expense of your salvation? What is it that the gospel message will touch in your life and leave you sad? That is your idol. Identify and destroy it now before it destroys you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may nothing separate me from your love. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 358 – why does the Old Testament forbid images of God, and why do we Christians no longer keep that commandment?

In order to protect the mystery of God and to set the people of Israel apart from the idolatrous practices of the pagans, the First Commandment said, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image” (Ex 20:4). However, since God himself acquired a human face in Jesus Christ, the prohibition against images was repealed in Christianity; in the Eastern Church, icons are even considered as sacred.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you’re your heart be also” Matthew 6:20-21 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Wisdom 7: 7-11; Psalm 90: 12-17; Hebrews 4: 12-13; Mark 10: 17-30

WILL YOU ALSO GO AWAY?

Sunday 23rd August – 21st Sunday of the year

Reflection: John 6: 60-69

WILL YOU ALSO GO AWAY?

The crowds were often filled with admiration at Jesus’ words but today’s response was different. Though they eagerly sought Jesus out in the earlier verses of John 6, the chapter ends on a different note: “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him” (Jn 6:66). However, Jesus response to his massive loss of disciples is even more startling. Rather than going after them he made the apostles realise that they were free to leave too. Peter’s response shows that though the apostles did not understand Jesus’ teaching on “eating His flesh and drinking His blood”, they had grown to trust Him as the Son of God who “has the message of eternal life.”

The Catholic Church, established by Christ Himself as history testifies, possesses the fullness of the Christian faith as handed down to us by the apostles. Many truths have been compromised by majority of Christian groups – truths about the Eucharist, baptism, salvation through faith and works, contraception, abortion, homosexual unions, carrying our crosses etc. – truths which have constantly been upheld by the Catholic Church. Yet, many young people are carried away by the excitement and noise these other Christian communities offer and do not care about living out the truth.

Dear friend, Jesus asks you today too: “will you also go away?” Just as Christ did not compromise his teaching to appease the crowd in today’s gospel reading, His Church will not either. The apostles persisted with Christ and came to understand His words more fully after His resurrection. You have the fullness of the Christian faith as a Catholic. Don’t let this great treasure go to waste. Seek to deepen your friendship with Christ through an active faith life – prayers, the Eucharist, confession, Bible study and seek to understand your Catholic faith through study and prayers. Only then would you be able to respond like St Peter did: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.”

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the priceless gift of my faith. Please help me to embrace it in trust and true commitment so that it may lead me to the holiness of life to which you call me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 870 – The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic…subsists on the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines.

HIDE A TREASURE: “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” John 6:63 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18; Psalm 34: 2-3, 16-23; Ephesians 5: 21-32; John 6: 60-69

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

THE LIVING BREAD

Thursday 23rd April – Thursday of the 3rd week of Eastertide

Reflection: John 6:44-51

THE LIVING BREAD

Have you ever thought of what your Christian faith would be like if you were not Catholic? You may say: “there is really no big deal…I have many friends who are sincere Christians but are not Catholic and they are happy with their lives.” Sure, there are many Christians who love the Lord but do not have the privilege to be Catholic. They do not have the privilege of receiving Christ, the living bread which you and I have.

You can only understand and appreciate your Catholic faith when you sincerely believe Jesus’ words in today’s reading: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:51). Do you truly believe Jesus’ words? Your attitude to Mass and the Holy Eucharist will prove if you do.

Beloved, what is preventing you from receiving the Holy Eucharist? Is it lust, fornication, abortion, cultism, lies, examination malpractices and other immoral acts? You do not have to wallow in mortal sin and exempt yourself from the table of the Lord. God calls you today to turn away from all that leads to death. He has provided you with the Sacrament of Reconciliation to grant you forgiveness and help you participate in His life giving Body and Blood.

Today, thank God for the gift of your Catholic faith, make a decision to be reconciled with God in confession and approach His table of love so as to be united with Him and strengthened for your spiritual journey.

PRAYER: Sanctify my soul oh Lord, make me always worthy before you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1395 –  By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins…The Eucharist is not ordered for the forgiveness of mortal sins – that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

HIDE A TREASURE: “I am the bread of life” John 6:48 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 8: 26-40; Psalm 66: 8-9, 16-17, 20; John 6:44-51