DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

Friday 11th March – Friday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: Wisdom 2: 1, 12-22

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

The disciples were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26). This name which means “followers of Christ” was given to this new religious sect whose preaching, life and example was very much like that of Christ. Indeed as Christians, were called to be followers of Christ and the way we live our lives is the real proof as to whether or not we are Christ’s followers. As Christians, we are called to live a life that is different from that of the world around us. We are to live in holiness and in obedience to God. Indeed Christ tells us “though you are IN the world, you are not OF the world”.

Our Christian faith does not call us to live on our own, separated from other human beings; instead it invites us to live our calling wherever we find ourselves. Our lives are to be shining lights, showing unbelievers the way to salvation and peace. Today’s reading shows us that the life of a Christian is continually a challenge to unbelievers. They see something higher than themselves. While they are pushed around by their sinful lusts and desires, the self mastery of the Christian speaks volumes to them, bringing condemnation on them.

Dear friend, does your life speak of your relationship with Christ? As young people, let us submit ourselves to Jesus and to the working of the Holy Spirit in us. Let us make a decision to live out our faith, even in the face of persecution from friends and classmates. Once we desire holiness, and strive for it, we will be surprised at how God will pour His grace upon us so that we can truly live for Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to live for you and let my life we be a source of evangelization to those around me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 347 Why is “not practicing what you preach” such a serious deficiency in a Christian?

Agreement between one’s life and one’s witness is the first requirement for proclaiming the Gospel. Not practicing what you profess is therefore HYPOCRISY, a betrayal of the Christian duty to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers and example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Wisdom 2: 1, 12-22; Psalm 34: 16-23; John 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

DECORATING THE INSIDE

Sunday 20th December – 4th Sunday of Advent

Reflection: Hebrews 10: 5-10

DECORATING THE INSIDE

 “And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ” Heb 10:10

Christmas is very much in the air. The streets are decorated, Christmas songs are being played and we all are preparing in various ways for the celebration of the Lord’s birth. Travel preparations and shopping for clothes and food items are in top gear and everyone is looking forward to the celebrations that end each year. It is great to look forward to Christmas with all the external preparations yet, we all run the risk of focussing so much on them that we lose the internal preparation that the Church has been calling us to through the past three weeks.

As we begin the 4th week of Advent, take a moment to ask yourself if you are truly ready to receive the precious gift of our Lord at Christmas. How ready is your heart for our Saviour? Have you cleaned up your life and decorated it just as you may have done your house of office? The writer to the Hebrews reminds us today that God’s will is for us to be made holy through Christ’s self-offering.

Beloved, as we head on to celebrating our Lord’s best, prepare your heart for Him this week. Make efforts to mend broken relationships, seek reconciliation from your neighbours and offer forgiveness to those who have hurt you, attend confession and make your heart right with God. Let this year’s celebration truly make you holy, thus fulfilling the purpose of our Saviour’s birth.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to truly be holy as I celebrate your birth this week. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAAT 6 – Why did God become man in Jesus?

“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven” (Nicene Creed). In Jesus Christ, God reconciled the world to himself and redeemed mankind from the imprisonment of sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Hebrews 10:10 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Micah 5:1-4; Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-19; Hebrews 10: 5-10; Luke 1: 39-44

RECOGNISE YOUR PRIVILEGE

Tuesday 1st December – Tuesday of the 1st week of Advent

Reflection: Luke 10: 21-24

RECOGNISE YOUR PRIVILEGE

The seeming “unfairness” of life beats our human understanding. One person is born in an environment that offers great opportunities required to fly high in academics and any chosen career while another person is born in an environment that barely allows him to pass through primary school before he is required to learn a low-income trade that merely allows him to struggle for survival throughout life.

This discrepancy is very obvious in faith and religion. Many people various parts of the world seek God amidst shadows and have not the privilege of coming to know the one true God. There are fellow baptised Christians too who believe in Christ and strive to follow him faithfully but do not have the privilege of the fullness of the Christian faith that subsists in the Catholic Church. But, you and I have the privilege not only to be Christian, serving the one true God of the universe but to be fully united with His Church and possess all the truth and beauty she offers as we journey towards eternal union with God.

Beloved, your eyes have seen, your ears have heard and even your tongue has tasted the fullness of Christ in His Church but what effect does it have on you? Is your commitment to God and to a life of love any stronger than those around you? Do your attitudes to life and your interpersonal relationships reveal that you have encountered Christ in his fullness? Jesus proclaimed his disciples blessed in today’s gospel reading because they were privileged to see and hear him. Yet that blessing only holds true when we properly respond to the call to love and holiness extended to us each day. As we take up the missionary mandate to proclaim Christ to every creature and trust God to take care of his beloved children who have never heard about Christ, let us recognise our privilege and live worthily of our Christian call.

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the gift of my precious faith. Please help me to respond to your call to holiness in my everyday life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 125 – what is unique about the People of God?

The founder of this people is God the Father. Its leader is Jesus Christ. Its source of strength is the Holy Spirit. The entryway to the People of God is Baptism. Its dignity is the freedom of the children of God. Its law is love. If this people remains faithful to God and seeks first the kingdom of God, it changes the world.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 11: 1-10; Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Lk 10: 21-24

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

BE FAITHFUL

Monday 23rd November – Monday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Daniel 1: 1-6, 8-20

BE FAITHFUL

Each phase of life presents itself with its own peculiar challenges. The challenges one encounters as young child are quite different from the challenges encountered as a teenager and those presented as a young adult are different from those encountered as one grows to old age. In the midst of these varying challenges one important call is extended to us a Christians – the call to faithfulness. Irrespective of where we find ourselves, God calls us to be faithful to Him, trusting that He is able to take care of the challenges that assail us.

Daniel and his friends had been taken away from their native land to Babylon on exile. Though far away from their country, their faithfulness to the God of their fathers did not wane. Being in a pagan land presented to them the temptation of eating from the king’s table, food offered to idols. Indeed, all their fellow Jews were eating the king’s portion but Daniel “resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s rich food…” (Dan 1:8). What temptations does your present state of life present to you? Are you being pressured by your peers to “experiment” with sin? Do you find yourself contemplating sexual sin, exam malpractice, dishonesty etc?

Dear friend, just as God had a way out already for Daniel and his friends by granting them favour before the Eunuch in charge of them so also does he have a way out for you if only you truly resolve like them to be faithful to God. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by the seeming difficulty of living a holy life. It is a constant call for us as Christians and God is ever willing to provide all the grace and help we need. Today, make a decision to be faithful to God come what may and rejoice in the peace that godliness brings.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please strengthen me especially in moments of temptation and decision making. Help me to be faithful to you and to pursue holiness in all things. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 525: What does it mean to say, “Lead us not into temptation?”

Because every day and every hour we are in danger of falling into sin and saying “No” to God, we beg God not to leave us defenceless in the power of temptation.

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

Today’s Readings: Daniel 1: 1-6, 8-20; Daniel 3: 52-56 (Canticle); Luke21: 1-4

A SHINING LIGHT THEY LEFT US

Sunday 1st November 2015: Solemnity of All Saints

Reflection: Matthew 5: 1-12

A SHINING LIGHT THEY LEFT US

“We seek from the saints example in their way of life, fellowship in their communion and the help of their intercession” – Vatican II

Every day we live as Christians ought to take us deeper in intimacy with Christ (Philippians 3: 12-13). This spiritual progress we are called to has never been and will never be achieved with ease as it demands the renunciation of our whole self (Luke 9:23-24). It is for this exemplary life of self-renunciation and fidelity to Christ despite all odds that the Church celebrates her saints today. Their lives affirm the truth that cooperating with the grace of God, we can all live out our call to sanctity (Leviticus 19:2).

Beloved in Christ, what are your struggles and weaknesses? Are you facing some opposition to your faith and spiritual advancement? Please be reminded that no challenge you are going through is absolutely new, so do not give up. The Church is calling you and I to reflect on the lives of the saints gone ahead of us and draw strength from their steadfastness and perseverance. We are also encouraged to seek the intercessory support of these holy men and women for strength on our own spiritual journey.

To those who think otherwise of the appropriateness of asking for the prayers of the saints, we need to remind ourselves of certain truths: (i) Our communion and fellowship as faithful in Christ transcend physical death (John 11: 17-26; Matt 22: 31-32; Jeremiah 15:1). For us, life is changed and not ended by death when we abide in Christ. (ii) God delights in the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15: 8, 29; Job 42:8) and encourages us as faithful to pray for one another (James 5:16). If the saints are alive in Christ, and closer to God than we are (Revelation 7: 13-15), should we not seek their intercessory support as we do for other faithful here on earth (Hebrew 13:18; Colossians 4:2-4)? (iii) Asking for the intercessory  support of saints does not in any way change our conviction on Christ  being the one mediator between God and men ( 1 Timothy 2:5) just as asking for the prayers of pastors or brethren does not alter this conviction.
Dearest in Christ, let us all make holiness a daily pursuit that the light of our faith may brightly shine to lead others to Christ even after our departure from this world.

PRAYER: You have called me to holiness dear Lord, please help me to daily walk therein through the help of your grace. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 497- Why does it help to turn to the saints when we pray?

Saints are people who are aflame with the Holy Spirit; they keep God’s fire burning in the Church. Even during their earthly life, the saints prayed ardently, in a way that was contagious. When we are close to them, it is easy to pray. Of course, we never worship saints; we are allowed, though, to call on them in heaven, so that they may present petitions for us at the throne of God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, you shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Apocalypse 7: 2-4, 9-14; Psalms 24: 1-6; 1 John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12

VIRTUOUS LIVING

Sunday 20th September – 25th Sunday of the year

VIRTUOUS LIVING

Wisdom 2: 12, 17-20

The theme of persecution is one that has been a part of our Christian faith right from its inception and though the form in which this occurs may have evolved through the centuries, it is still very much with us. This is because; the truth and beauty radiated by true Christian living remains a constant threat to those who have no use for God. Hence our Lord told His apostles, “…if they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20).

Today’s first reading gives us a picture of what goes on amongst the godless. They find the character of the virtuous man as an opposition to their way of life and threaten to test his endurance and bring him down. As a young Christians, on what side of the divide do you find yourself? Is your life different in any way from non-Christians around you? Does your Catholic faith radiate through a life of love, patience and gentility? Is your faith in God manifested through the choices you make? Or on the other hand, do you join in worldly way of life of those around you – in exam malpractice, lying, cheating, immorality etc?

Beloved, we are called to a life of holiness as baptized Catholic Christians. We must not allow ourselves to be conformed to the standards of this world (Roman 12:2) and as we see other striving towards holiness, let us be sources of encouragement for them rather than stumbling blocks. In striving to live out your call each day, be conscious of the persecutions that may arise and ask for the grace to deal with them in a way that honours God.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for the gift of my faith. Please help me to live it out in sincerity each day and be strengthened by your grace in moments of persecution and trials. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1696 – The way of Christ “leads to life”; a contrary way “leads to destruction.” The gospel parable of the two ways remains ever present in the catechesis of the Church; it shows the importance of moral decisions for our salvation: “There are two ways, the one of life, the other of death; but between the two, there is a great difference.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54:3-8; James 3: 16- 4:3; Matthew 9:30-37