DO NOT BE AFRAID

Wednesday 6th January – Wednesday after Epiphany Sunday

Reflection: Mark 6: 45-52

DO NOT BE AFRAID

Bible scholars have said that the most commonly repeated phrase in the entire Bible is “fear not” or “do not be afraid.” This phrase is said to occur 365 times in the Bible; and many have interpreted this as a daily admonition from our Blessed God to us not to be fearful. Certainly we would go through some life situations that will stretch our faith and threaten our stability, but our good shepherd is reminding us this day that we can always trust His loving kindness and abiding grace to transform our situation for good (Isaiah 43: 1-2; Romans 8: 28).

Today’s gospel presents us with an account of a turbulent sail experienced by the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though this journey was embarked on at the instance our Lord; nevertheless, it was not trouble free (Mark 6:48). Dearest in Christ, does this experience of Christ’s disciples describe your present situation? Christ is saying – “Courage….do not be afraid” (Mark 6: 50).

There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear (1 John 4:18). The courage Christ calls us to is realised in nothing but a deep awareness of the great love of God for us. He who freely offered Himself on the cross for us is more than able to grant us all that is good for the fulfilment of our purpose here on earth and ultimately the salvation of our soul. Beloved, let us trust in the infinite love of God above our life’s challenges. This is a sure panacea for fear and worry if truly we have fully yielded our lives to Christ.

PRAYER- Lord Jesus, I trust in your love for me. Please fill me with your joy and peace. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH – What does God show us about himself when he sends his Son to us?

God shows us in Jesus Christ the full depth of his merciful love.

Through Jesus Christ the invisible God becomes visible. He becomes a man like us. This shows us how far God’s love goes: He bears our whole burden. He walks every path with us. He is there in our abandonment, our sufferings, our fear of death. He is there when we can go no farther, so as to open up for us the door leading into life.

HIDE A TREASURE – “Those who trust in the lord are like mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides for ever.” Psalm 125:1 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings – 1 John 4:11-18; Psalm 72: 1-2, 10-13; Mark 6:45-52

FOCUSING ON THE “WHEN”

Tuesday 24th November – Memorial of SS Andrew Dung-Lac & his

Companions, Martyrs

Reflection: Luke 21: 5-11

FOCUSING ON THE “WHEN”

Quite often I hear comments on how close the end of the world is, considering the difficulties faced by the modern world – wars, natural disasters, terrorism, extreme poverty, godlessness, immorality etc. Our preoccupation is very much like that of Christ’s audience in today’s gospel reading: “when…what are the signs?” They wanted to know when these things would take place so as to prepare beforehand but Jesus’ emphasis was different – His emphasis was on their constant preparedness.

Beloved, whether or not we can read the signs of the end of time is insignificant compared to the hard truth that stares at us in the face each day – our own personal lives can end at any time. We certainly have been taken aback by the sudden death of friends and loved ones. These deaths remind us that ours too can come at any time. Yet, far from keeping us in the fear of death, these reminders of our end should help us put life into proper perspective and that is what the Church calls us to do at Advent which is fast approaching.

Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the first reading showed that God would set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed. We have the privilege through our Baptism to be children of God, heirs to his kingdom. Let us live up to our baptismal promises and put to use the various means of sanctification the Church offers us in our daily lives. As we do this, we would focus not on the “when” of our end but on living a life of constant union with God here on earth.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the gift of my faith and for incorporating me into God’s kingdom through your death. Please help me to live each day as your true ambassador. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 543 – Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. Frist announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word: the word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field: those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace” 2 Peter 3:14 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Daniel 2:31-45; Dan 3: 57-61 (canticle); Lk 21: 5-11

FEAR NOT

Friday 16th October Friday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Luke 12:1-7

FEAR NOT

What does leaven have to do with hypocrisy?  To the Jews leaven was a sign of evil.  It was a piece of dough from left-over bread which fermented. Fermentation was associated with putrefaction.  Why did Jesus warn his disciples to avoid the ways of the Pharisees? The Pharisees were good at looking religious while harboring evil intentions. The word hypocrite means actor, someone who pretends what he is not. But who can be good, but God alone? Hypocrisy thrives on making a good appearance and masking what we don’t want others to see.  The good news is that God’s light both exposes the darkness of evil and sin and overcomes hatred with love, pride with humility, and pretense with integrity and truthfulness. God gives grace to the humble and contrite of heart to enable us to overcome the leaven of insincerity and hypocrisy in our lives.

What does fear have to do with the kingdom of God? Fear is a powerful force. It can lead us to flight or panic or it can spur us to faith and action. The fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing one’s life. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. ..O fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:4.9.11) What is godly fear? It is reverence for the One who made us in love and who sustains us in mercy and kindness.  The greatest injury or loss which we can experience is not physical but spiritual — the loss of one’s soul to the power of hell.  A healthy fear of God leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom and right judgment and it frees us from the tyranny of sinful pride, cowardice; especially in the face of evil and spiritual deception.  Do you trust in God’s grace and mercy and submit to his word?

PRAYER: Lord, your perfect love casts out fear.  Give me a passion for your word and for your righteousness and a resolute hatred for sin.  Help me to cast aside anything which would hinder full union with you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1831: The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Romans 4:1-8; Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11; Luke 12:1-7

DO NOT BE SILENCED BY FEAR

Friday 15 May – Friday of the 6thweek of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 18: 9-18

DO NOT BE SILENCED BY FEAR

How many times as students have we been asked questions by our teachers for which we possibly had correct answers but were unsure of ourselves and rather choose to be quiet? It pains deeply when we see a more courageous classmate speak up and we discover that we would have been right had we dared speak. At such times, we have been silenced by fear!

Today’s first reading presents us with the Lord’s warning to St. Paul: “Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you.” Beloved in Christ, how tight is the grip of fear on You? How readily do you allow your noble ideas and initiatives to be paralysed by the fear of failure, the fear of men or fear of the future? Though we might have genuine reasons for concern at some points in life, we need not allow our progress to be crippled by the fear of the unknown. Purposeful living demands a good deal of courage and more importantly, as Christians, we need to trust in the God at all times (Hebrews 11:6; James 1: 6-8).

Dearest friend, let us this day ask the Lord for the grace to give voice to our noble convictions; to give action to our worthwhile aspirations; to live by faith and not in fear, so that we may know the joy of meaningful living.

Prayer: Oh Lord, fill my heart with faith and love! Please liberate me from every imprisonment of fear and grant me the faith and courage to embrace the life You have called me to live. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 162 – Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man…..To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 18: 9-18; Psalm 47: 2-7; John 16:20-23

IT IS I, DO NOT BE AFRAID

Saturday 18th April – Saturday of the 2nd week of Eastertide

Reflection: John 6:16-21

IT IS I, DO NOT BE AFRAID

In Mark’s account of today’s gospel reading (Mark 6:45-50), it was our Blessed Lord Himself that told the apostles to sail across the sea to the other side. Why did He ask them to sail when He knew there would be a storm, you may wonder. He was well aware that the sea will be turbulent, yet He told them to go. He could have prevented the storm but did not. When the going became tough, there was Jesus walking right beside them. For while they sailed He was watching them and when they needed Him, he was right there for them. The solitary crew was not as solitary as it thought after all.

Our God is more ready to help us than we seek to be helped. We have been created to sail through the sea of life with its storms and our Creator who knows what lies ahead of us still urges each of us to go on.  He does not promise us an easy path but He assures us of a safe landing if we hold on to Him. For though our trials as His children may be many, He has promised to deliver us from them all.

To successfully sail on the sea of life we need to rest all our faith in God who tells us, “Courage, I have overcome the world”. For if He who has overcome the world is with us, we can be sure of our triumph too. The difficulties we experience are exactly what He uses to build our trust and commitment to Him. Never focus on the winds, your difficulties, challenges and weaknesses, rather trust in the power of the Master and keep your eyes on Him as He tells you today, “It is I, Do not be afraid.”

PRAYER: In all my difficulties and troubles, help me come to you Lord with humble trust saying: Jesus Help me and never leave me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2743 – It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. Our time is in the hands of God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You will have troubles in the world; but, courage! I have overcome the world” John 16:33 CCB

Today’s Readings: Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 32:1-5, 18-19, John 6:16-21

DO NOT BE AFRAID

Friday 17th October – Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr

Reflection: Luke 12: 1-7

DO NOT BE AFRAID

These were the words used by our beloved Saint, Pope John Paul II the Great at the start of his pontificate in October 1978; he called all of us, members of the Church not to allow ourselves become fearful and discouraged by the evils around us. These words given to the world by St John Paul were a reminder of what our Lord Himself tells us in today’s gospel reading: Do not be afraid…” Indeed, evil abounds, but we must trust in our Lord who cares for us and knows the smallest details of our lives.

Jesus was very much aware that His disciples were going to face tribulations in the steps of their master; hence, He taught them to distinguish physical death from spiritual death. Their bodies could be killed by the authorities; but much more important was their souls which the authorities had no power over. (Luke 12:4). This assurance was a source of strength and confidence to His followers and must be for us too if we truly desire to serve Jesus with our lives. St Ignatius of Antioch whom we celebrate today was a 2nd century bishop of Antioch who was martyred in 107 AD; when he was fed to the wild beasts at the Colosseum because of His defence of his faith.

How ready are you to stand for your faith in the face of persecution? How ready are you to uphold what is right even when you have to be the odd one out amongst your peers. We must remember that our peers may mock us; they may find us too “holy” or unfashionable; but their opinion about us is nothing compared to God’s opinion. Beloved, today Jesus reminds us that we have nothing to fear; our Father in heaven cares about us much more than we can ever imagine. Let us seek to deepen our commitment to Christ daily so we can be strengthened to stand for Him.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I trust in you; please help me to uphold my faith and allegiance to you, come what may. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 454 – How strongly obligatory is the truth of the faith?

Every Christian must give testimony to the truth and thereby follow after Christ, who before Pilate said, “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18:37).

This can even mean that a Christian lays down his life out of fidelity to the truth and love for God and mankind. This ultimate form of commitment to the truth is called martyrdom.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Think of Jesus who suffered such opposition from evil people, so that you may not be discouraged or grow weary. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” Hebrews 12:3-4 CCB

Readings for Today: Ephesians 1: 11-14; Psalm 33: 1-5, 12-13; Luke 12: 1-7