TAKE UP YOUR SWORD

Sunday 14th February – 1st Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Luke 4:1-13

TAKE UP YOUR SWORD

Of the six weapons outlined as components of the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-18), only one stands out as a weapon of offense. While the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, shield of faith and shoes being the readiness to proclaim the gospel of peace serve as weapons of defense with which we protect ourselves from the devils fiery darts, the sword of the Spirit stands out as the only weapon with which we can launch back our attack on our enemy, the devil (Ephesians 6: 14-16). There are no spears, arrows or rifles on the list.

We are in a constant combat with the enemy. Our sword is the word of God. The living and active word that has the power to convict, heal, transform, teach and strengthen us is also able to destroy the tactics of the devil. In today’s reading, our Lord gives us an example of how to overcome our temptations by countering the deception of the devil with the word of God. Adam and Eve sinned because they allowed the serpent to deceive them, by making God out to be a liar and His word invalid and so they fell from the life of grace (Genesis 3: 4-5).

Dear friends, as we journey through this season of grace, let us take out time to study God’s Word and ask for the grace to be obedient to it. Only when God’s Word dwells in us can we recognize the tactics the enemy uses and destroy them with our sword. Indeed, you and I who have been baptized into Christ have been made righteous through His obedience. Let us hold on to Him and His word in faith so that we can triumph over our flesh, the world and the devil especially this season of Lent.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to find strength in your word each day so that I may resist the devil and live above sin always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 475 – How did Jesus pray?

Jesus’ life was one single prayer. At decisive moments (his temptation in the desert, his selection of the apostles, his death on the Cross) his prayer was especially intense. Often he withdrew into solitude to pray, especially at night. Being one with the Father in the Holy Spirit—that was the guiding principle of his earthly life.

HIDE A TREASURE: “I have laid up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119: 11 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 26: 4-10; Psalm 91: 1-2, 10-15; Romans 10: 8-13; Luke 4: 1-13

DELIGHTING IN GOD’S LAW

Friday 11th December – Friday of the 2nd week of Advent

Reflection: Psalm 1: 1-6

DELIGHTING IN GOD’S LAW

The book of Psalms begins with a promise of blessedness for the man who delights in the law of God and meditates on it day and night. To “delight” in something means “to have great pleasure” in it. God promises fruitfulness and prosperity, in and out of season for the man who takes great pleasure in His word. More so, the first reading of today reveals even more blessings upon the one who is alert to God’s commandments.

How then can we as youth take great pleasure in God’s law? God’s law is outlined for us in scripture and in the church’s tradition. As we study God’s word and the teachings of the Church, the Body of Christ, we come to know what God requires of us. God’s requirement of our way of life is often contrary to that of the world around us. If we live by the world’s standards, we will find ourselves following the counsel of the wicked, lingering in the way of sinners and sitting in the company of scorners. This standard of living brings nothing but doom. (Psalm 1: 1, 5-6).

What does the world around you say about pre-marital sex, abortion, use of hard drugs, homosexuality, lying, revenge, unforgiveness, exam malpractice, theft etc? What do God and his Church say about all these? We must seek daily to know God better by studying His word, obeying it and asking for his help in difficult moments. Only then would we be partakers of the divine blessing of all round fruitfulness and prosperity.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, your call to holiness is one that entails standing up for you in the midst of a sinful world. Please increase in me a desire to know you more and to live out your precepts. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 282Does Sacred Scripture speak about a way to happiness?

We become happy by trusting in Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes.

The Gospel is a promise of happiness to all people who wish to walk in God’s ways. Especially in the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12), Jesus has told us specifically that eternal blessedness is based on our following his example and seeking peace with a pure heart.

HIDE A TREASURE: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word” Psalm 119:9 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Isaiah 48: 17-19; Psalm 1: 1-6; Matthew 11: 16-19

WORDS WE CAN TRUST

Friday 27th November – Friday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Luke 21: 34-36

WORDS WE CAN TRUST

Over the last few days, Jesus has been explaining to his disciples about the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem, the city which had refused to recognise the day of its visitation. The destruction of Jerusalem which historically prefigured the end of the world was to put an end to the Old Covenant and establish Christ’s new and everlasting covenant. Hence, Christ told his disciples that in the midst of the unprecedented sufferings they were to “look up and raise their heads because their redemption is drawing near.” (Lk 21:28).

As Jesus, continues this discourse in today’s gospel reading, he leaves us words of reassurance; words we can hold on to tightly as we run our Christian race; words from which we can find strength and succour amidst life’s difficulties: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Lk 21:33). What better assurance can we get as we read through Scriptures?

God has many promises reserved for His children. He promises to hear us each time we call on him and to protect us in the day of trouble. He assures us that He has good plans for our lives and asks us to trust him completely. Jesus assures us of eternal life as we partake in the Eucharist – His very Body and Blood. Realising the impact of God’s word in our salvation, we would be immensely grateful for Jesus words: “…my words will not pass away.” Let us hold tightly to God’s words because they are words we can trust; words we can hang our lives on.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the wonderful promises you have for me. Please help me to trust completely in your words always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 16 – What is the right way to read the Bible?

The right way to read Sacred Scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is God’s word and contains God’s essential communication to us.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Lk 21:33 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Dan 7: 2-14; Dan 3: 75-81 (canticle); Lk 21: 29-33

UPHOLD THE WORD OF GOD

Thursday 15th October – Memorial of St. Theresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor

Reflection: Luke 11:47-54

UPHOLD THE WORD OF GOD

Do you honor those who speak the wisdom of God and do you heed their message?  God’s Wisdom is personified in the voice of the prophets, a voice that always brought rejection and martyrdom because they spoke for God. Jesus chastised the religious leaders of his day for being double-minded and for demanding from others standards which they refused to satisfy.  They professed admiration for the prophets by building their tombs while at the same time they opposed their message and closed their ears to the word of God.

What does Jesus mean when he says they have taken away the key of knowledge? The lawyers and scribes held the “office of the keys” since they were the official interpreters of the scriptures.  They not only shut themselves to heaven; they also hindered others from understanding God’s word.  Through pride and envy, they rejected not only the prophets of old, but God’s final prophet, Jesus.  Jesus is the “key of David” (see Isaiah 22:22; Rev. 3:7) who opens heaven to those who accept him as Lord and Savior. He is the “Wisdom of God” and source of everlasting life. Only the humble of heart, those who submit to God and acknowledge their dependence on him can receive this wisdom. God is ever ready to speak his word to us and to give us wisdom and understanding. Beloved, we are called today to listen to the word of God and abide by it, unlike the scribes in the gospel reading we should not look for every possible way to conquer the truth rather we should uphold it. Ask yourself today‘Do you hunger for the wisdom which comes from above?’

PRAYER:“Govern all by your wisdom, O Lord, so that my soul may always be serving you as you will, and not as I may choose.  Do not punish me, I beseech you, by granting that which I wish or ask, if it offends your love, which would always live in me.  Let me die to myself that so I may serve you; let me live to you, who in yourself are the true life. “(Prayer of St. Theresa of Avila)

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 777 – The word “Church means “convocation.” It designates the assembly of those whom God’s word “convokes,” i.e. gathers together to form the people of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Rom 3:21-30; Ps 130: 1-6; Lk 11:47-54

KEEPING WHAT YOU HEAR

Saturday 10th October – Saturday of week 27 of the year

Reflection: Luke 11: 27-28

KEEPING WHAT YOU HEAR

Each time we are confronted with the truth, it has an effect on us; we may acknowledge it, ignore it or oppose it. If we claim to acknowledge it without a concurrent effort to apply it to our lives, then we have actually ignored it. In the same way, each time we hear God’s word, we are confronted with the truth and are invited to model our lives on it. Hence, Jesus answers the woman in today’s gospel reading: “Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).

Each time we are confronted with God’s word, the parable of the sower plays out again (Luke 8: 4-15). What kind of soil are you? Do you allow the devil to steal the word from your heart or the cares of this world to choke it out? Do you allow the word to grow deep roots in you or is your faith superficial? The good soil are those who hear the word of God, hold it fast in an honest and good heart and bring forth fruit with patience (Lk 8:15).

As you hear God’s word each day, ask yourself, “in what way does this word apply to me?” “What message is God directing at me today?” Jesus’ response to the woman shows that his mother was not blessed just because of the physical contact he had with her. Rather, she was blessed because she heard God’s word and kept it. Dear friend, make a commitment to keeping what you hear and you will experience the blessings the Lord has in store for you.

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the gift of your word. Please help me to accept it with faith and joyfully live it out always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2706 – To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. it is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joel 4:12-21; Psalm 97: 1-6, 11-12; Luke 11: 27-28

DIG DEEP!

Saturday 12th September – Saturday of week 23 of the year

DIG DEEP!

Luke 6: 43-49

The root of a plant serves two major functions: it anchors the plant to the ground, thus giving it the stability it requires as well as receives nourishment from the soil to help the plant grow. The tap root which many huge trees possess is known to grow very deep into the soil hence their survival through various seasons of the year and indeed for several centuries. The anchorage a tap root gives to a tree can be likened to that which the foundation gives to a house. The stronger the foundation, the stronger the superstructure of the building.

Jesus likens those who hear and act on His words to a man who builds his house on rock (Lk 6:47-48). We all hear Jesus’ words on a daily basis. Indeed we have become so familiar with Jesus’ teaching and parables that we know the stories by heart. Yet, such deep knowledge is of no use if we do not act on it. It is through our conscious efforts to live out what we learn from Scriptures that our faith will grow and stand the test of time.

While the foolish man chose the easy way out, the wise man who built his house on rock had to dig deep. Digging dip must have required his commitment, determination, self denial and time. In the same way, as young Christians, Christ calls us to dig deep – to put in all our effort, self-denial and determination in living out His words. As we do this, we will have a store of goodness in our hearts that reflects in our words and action. As we make our efforts to live out our Christian faith fully, let us ask Him for the grace to strengthen us in our moments of temptation and weakness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of your word. Please help me hear your words and act on them always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2706 – To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. it is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

HIDE A TREASURE: “But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget, but put it into practice – you will be blessed by God in what you do” James 1:25 GNB

Today’s Readings: 1Timothy 1: 15-17; Psalm 113: 1-7; Luke 6: 43-49

YOU CAN COUNT ON HIS WORD

Thursday 16th July – Our lady of Mount Carmel (opt. Mem)

YOU CAN COUNT ON HIS WORD

Psalms 130:5 (Gospel Acclamation)

Christian, why are you worried? Beloved in Christ what is troubling your mind? Are you looking at the lost benefits or wasted opportunities? Perhaps the present looks bleak and the future is not assuring. Trust in the Lord!

There is an open call to all from our blessed saviour in today’s Gospel: “come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The first reading shows us the Lord coming to the rescue of a people that called on Him in their oppressed and distressed state. He was liberating them from slavery to usher them into a prosperous land promised to their forefather Abraham (Genesis 15: 18-20; Joshua 1:4). This affirms the words of the Psalmist today: “He is mindful of his covenant for ever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generation, the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac” (Psalm 105: 8-9).

Dearest in Christ, you and I have been called to rest in the assurance of God’s promises (Psalm 18:30; Isaiah 55:11). He is not man, that he should lie (Number 23:19) and with him there is no hopeless situation (Jeremiah 32: 27) or impossibility. This is the way of faith. This was the path trod by our patriarchs in faith and they were not disappointed. However, to rest in the promises of God, we must be aware of these promises. Ignorance of the word of God is ignorance of God. Scriptural study and meditation are necessary for the development of our faith and deeper experience of the power of God.
PRAYER: I count on your promises to me dear Lord. Please sustain me by the power of your word and be glorified in my life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 16 What is the right way to read the Bible?

The right way to read Sacred Scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is God’s Word and contains God’s essential communication to us.
The Bible is like a long letter written by God to each one of us. For this reason I should accept the Sacred Scriptures with great love and reverence. First of all, it is important really to read God’s letter, in other words, not to pick out details while paying no attention to the whole message. Then I must interpret the whole message with a view to its heart and mystery: Jesus Christ, of whom the whole Bible speaks, even the Old Testament. Therefore I should read the Sacred Scriptures in the faith that gave rise to them, the same living faith of the Church. 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” Proverbs 30: 5 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Exodus 3: 13-20; Psalm 105: 1, 5, 8-9, 24-27; Matthew 11: 28-30