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

PRACTICE YOUR FAITH

Wednesday 14th October Wednesday of week 28 of the year

Reflection: Luke 11:42-46

PRACTICE YOUR FAITH

Why does Jesus single out the teachers and lawyers for some rather strong words of rebuke?  Jesus was angry with the religious leaders because they failed to listen to God’s word and they misled the people they were supposed to guide in the ways of justice and truth. The scribes devoted their lives to the study of the Law of God and regarded themselves as legal experts in it.  They divided the Ten Commandments and precepts into thousands of tiny rules and regulations. They were leading people to Pharisaism rather than to God.

Jesus used the example of tithing to show how far they had missed the mark. God had commanded a tithe of the first fruits of one’s labor as an expression of thanksgiving and honor for his providential care for his people (Deut. 14:22; Lev. 27:30).  The scribes, however, went to extreme lengths to tithe on insignificant things (such as tiny plants) with great mathematical accuracy.  They were very attentive to minute matters of little importance, but they neglected to care for the needy and the weak which was of greater importance.  Jesus admonished them because their hearts were not right.  They were filled with pride and contempt for others. They put unnecessary burdens on others while neglecting to show charity, especially to the weak and the poor.  They meticulously went through the correct motions of conventional religion while forgetting the realities.

What was the point of Jesus’ lesson? The essence of God’s commandments is love — love of God and love of neighbor. Do you allow the love of God to transform your mind and heart? And are you willing to carry your neighbor’s burden? God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us.Love is sacrificial; it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. Let us then concentrate on the greatest commandment which is love rather than make lives unbearable for those around us in the name of being religious and principled.

PRAYER: Lord, inflame my heart with your love that I may always pursue what matters most — love of God and love of neighbor.  Give me wisdom and courage to act with justice, kindness, and mercy in all that I do and say. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2063:  The lord prescribed love towards God and taught justice towards neighbour, so that man would be neither unjust, nor unworthy of God. Thus, through the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), God prepared man to become his friend and to live in harmony with his neighbor…. the words of the Decalogue remain likewise for us Christians.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these”. Mark 12:31 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Rom 2:1-11; Ps 62: 2-3, 6-9; Lk 11:42-46

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

Tuesday 25th August- St. Louis, St. Joseph Calasanz P. (Opt.Mem)

Reflection: Matthew 23:25-62

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

Today’s Gospel presents us with a very unique aspect of our spiritual and moral life. We may be quick to conclude that Jesus seemed to always pick on the Pharisees. However, what Jesus disliked and condemned was their hypocritical life style. This hypocritical way of life is gradually eating deep into the lives of many Christian youths.

Dear friends, being a christian goes beyond what people would say about you and more of what Christ himself would say about you. We  need an inward transformation. It is not just the external things we do like being active in church, attending church programmes and trying to portray ourselves as righteous that makes us true Christians; rather, it is by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us inwardly.
Are there certain bad habits you desire to conquer? Don’t pretend they are not there. Own up to them and ask the Holy Spirit to help you for the human flesh is weak. (Rom.12:2). You cannot conquer sin in your life through your own strength alone. Approach our Lord at confession where He desires to receive you with open arms and strengthen you in your quest for holiness. Study His word and allow its truth to transform you.

PRAYER: Precious Holy Spirit, please purge me off all filthiness within me.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You will succeed… not by might or by your own strength, but my Spirit.” Zechariah 4:6

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC  2466: “The disciple of Jesus continues in His Word so as to know the truth that will make you free and that sanctifies.”

Today’s reading: 1Thess 2:1-8; Ps.139:1-3.4-6; Mt. 23:23-26

GOING BEYOND THE SUPERFICIAL

Thursaday 11 June – Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle

Reflection : Matthew 5: 20-26

GOING BEYOND THE SUPERFICIAL

Of what value is our claim to be Christians; of what essence is the faith we profess if at the end of our earthly sojourn we lose out on heaven? As St. Paul says: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1Cor 15:19). He who will make heaven must necessarily desire it, he must work for it and cooperate with the grace of God for its attainment (Matt. 11:12; Matt. 13: 44-46). There is no such thing as making haven by chance, we have to make a choice of heaven my Chaplain in the university would always say.

In the light of the above, we ponder on these words of our blessed saviour from today’s Gospel: “…if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and the Pharisees prided themselves on their immense knowledge and strict adherence to the Torah while being deficient in understanding the Spirit behind the law (Matt. 15: 1-11, 2 Cor. 3:6). They loved outward appearance of religiosity while lacking in the sincere love of God and their fellowmen (Matt 23: 13-33). They were hypocrites proudly treading the path of disobedience and self-righteousness.

Dearest friend, are you in any way like the Pharisees? How genuine is your Christian profession? Can people clearly see true attributes of Christ in you as were seen in the life of St. Barnabas and other early disciples, hence their being called Christians (Acts 11:26)?  Today, there are many Church goers who are merely looking for the blessings of God without a corresponding hunger for the blessed God himself! This is an aberration that will not lead to heaven (Phil. 3:18-19). So, we are being called this day to deepen our relationship with Christ; to a greater quest for holiness and obedience to God. Until our lives take after the virtues and ideals of Christ, we cannot grow in intimacy with Him. Let us commit to heart these words of St. Teresa of Avila : “ He who does not advance in the way of perfection falls back, for love cannot  continue in the same degree.”

Prayer: I seek to know you more; I seek to love you more. Please help me oh Lord in my pursuit that my life may better glorify you! Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 34: What 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. Christians must adopt Jesus’ way of life.

HIDE A TREASURE: “…If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16: 24 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings:  Acts 11: 21-26, 13: 1-3; Psalm 98: 1-6; Matthew 5: 20-26

LOOK INWARDS!

Monday 23rd March – Monday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: John 8: 1-11

LOOK INWARDS!

Does it not surprise you that the greatest opposition Jesus had during his earthly ministry was from the Jewish religious leaders? They were not spared either as Christ openly criticized them. Though they claimed strict observance of the Law of Moses, their pride, outward display of righteousness, hypocrisy and lack of love and mercy had blinded them from understanding the love and mercy of God.

Are we much different from the Pharisees? Don’t we who claim to be good Christians and Catholics look down with disdain on other young people around us who do not live upright lives? Are we not quick to pass judgment on our peers who engage in sexual immorality, drug abuse, exam malpractice, lying, stealing etc? Christ tells us in today’s reading to look inwards. While he does not condone or make excuses for sin, He loves the sinner deeply and is interested not in passing judgment but in arousing repentance.

Dear friend, you are whatever you are because God has shown you mercy. The Psalmist says: “If you oh Lord should mark our guilt; Lord, who will stand?” (Psalm 130: 2). Look into your life and see the areas in which you too need transformation and as you see those who live in sin, extend the mercy God has shown you to them by praying for their conversion and seek loving ways to evangelize them. Through this you will not only please God, but experience the grace of ongoing conversion too.

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for the many times I have passed judgment on others. Help me to seek your mercy more and more and extend this mercy to others. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FATH: CCC 982 – There is no offense however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.” Christ…desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do not judge and you will not be judged” Matthew 7:1 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Daniel 13: 41 -62; Psalm 23: 1-6; John 8: 1-11

LIGHT AND DARKNESS

Monday, 27th January – Monday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: Mark 3:22-30

LIGHT AND DARKNESS

The Kingdom of God is an everlasting one. Everything that happens and would happen is known to God and is revealed in the living word of God. God confirmed the unity of his kingdom when satan was cast down from heaven because he rebelled against God. (Rev12:7-9). This episode was further made known by Apostle John in his (1John 1:5); when he declared God as light which is devoid of darkness.

Dear friends, there are no two ways to our eternal home. The only way is Jesus Christ who is the light of the world. You cannot have two masters (Matthew 6:24), you either serve God or serve the devil. You can either shine for Christ or shine for the devil. Therefore, it is important for us to have a clear-cut understanding of the fruits of our actions. Does my life constantly open others to temptation and sin? Do I still harbor malice, hatred, lust, jealousy and other fruits of human nature (Gal 5:19-21) and still live as if nothing is wrong? These are manifestations of darkness with which the light cannot live.

In our reading today, Jesus was wrongly acclaimed to possess the evil nature; casting out demons with the power of Beelzebul. What an evil contention by the scribes! Dear friends, bearing good fruits for Christ will raise oppositions and all manner of slander. The world will testify against us and plant weeds amongst our plants. There would be times of suffering and division from even our own friends because we want to live for Christ. Let us be courageous and never give in to our human nature. Let us live by the Spirit who will help to sustain our light to our perfect end.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, sustain the light of the Gospel in your body, the Church. Help me to look forward always to a new horizon of your light in my life. 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

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden”. Matthew 5:14 GNB

Readings for Today: 2 Samuel 5:1-7,10; Ps 89; Mark 3:22-30