OUR ULTIMATE CALL

Friday 24th March – Friday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Mark 12:28-34

OUR ULTIMATE CALL

When we think of the word “Love” we often look at it in the context of feelings. Loving someone could easily amount in our thinking, to having nice feelings and emotions towards the person. While love certainly does involve emotions, it is much more than that. It is simply a decision to will the good of the other person without thinking of any benefits to oneself. We love for the sake of the other.

It is only as we examine love in this context that we can truly embrace the first commandment as Christ clearly expresses it today: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…” We love God not because of the gifts He gives us but just because He is God, our creator, our source of life. Our love for God is a call to obedience to Him. It is a call to hold on to his commands, regardless of what the world around us calls us to.

Our love for God also directly calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our ultimate call as Christians is that of unconditional love. It is a call to find God in the least of our brethren, in our enemies, in societies outcasts and to love them for whom they are: precious children of God. Beloved, let us turn to the Lord today and ask Him for renewed grace so that we may truly love God by living in obedience to him and love our brethren regardless of how difficult it may be to do so.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please pour out your love into my heart today. Let me look up to the cross and be reminded that love means total self-giving. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 351 – Aren’t the Ten Commandments outmoded?

No, the Ten Commandments are by no means the product of a particular time. They express man’s fundamental obligations toward God and neighbor, which are always and everywhere valid.

Hide a Treasure: “But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Hosea 14: 2-10; Ps 81: 6-11, 14, 17; Mk 12: 28-34;

FOLLOW YOUR MANUAL

Wednesday 22nd March – Wednesday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9

FOLLOW YOUR MANUAL

Every device has a manual which instructs on how to use it. Failure to read and obey the instructions in the manual might lead to ineffective use or even malfunctioning of the device. Likewise, as Christians we have commandments and instructions given to us by God, our Creator and Father which we need to obey in order to live a holy life. As young people we sometimes overlook some of the commandments, believing that God understands that we are young and would be lenient with us. This is mere deception as obedience to God is fundamental to our Christian faith regardless of our age. “Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, follow your hearts desires but remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do… So remember your creator while you are still young…” (Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:1).

Beloved in Christ, as we go deeper into this season of repentance, let us tune our ears, hearts and minds to God’s commandments. Always bear in mind Christ’s words in today’s gospel reading: “whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do same, will be least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, “whoever obeys the law and teaches others to do same will be great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19). Take up your manual, the word of God today and you will live a life of purpose, direction and favour.

To read the Sacred Scriptures means to turn to Christ for advice – Francis of Assisi.

Prayer: Help me Lord to know your word and always obey you in all circumstances. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 16What 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.

Hide a Treasure: “Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path.” Psalm 119: 105 GNB

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Psalm 147: 12-20; Matthew 5: 17-19

 

 

FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Tuesday 21st March – Tuesday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 18: 21-35

FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Each time I read through today’s gospel reading I see so clearly, the wickedness of the unforgiving servant. I see a person who could not even simply share the joy, excitement and freedom of being pardoned such a huge debt with a fellow servant by extending the same hand of forgiveness. I often say to myself: “…I can never be so wicked!” But is that completely true? Haven’t there been times when I have acted just the same way? Though I may not have anyone locked up in prison, are there not many people who are locked up in the prison of my heart because they have hurt me in one way or another?

Beloved, it is easy to claim to have forgiven a person who hurt you. The true test of your forgiveness is not what you say, rather it is your attitude to that person each time his name is mentioned in a conversation, or each time you have an opportunity to offer help to him/her. Christ asks us not simply to forgive with our “lips” but from our hearts. If you find yourself retelling the story of how unjust or untrustworthy a person is each time his/her name is mentioned, if you unconsciously keep talking ill of a person, then that is an indication to look into your heart. You may still have the person locked up in the prison of your heart.

Lent is a time to seek reconciliation with God and with our brethren. Lent is a time to examine our hearts and ensure that we are truly keeping in step with our master, Jesus. Examine your unconscious attitudes to those who have offended you in the past and ask the Lord for the grace to truly forgive them from your heart.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for forgiving me each time I come to you. Please pour out your grace into my heart that I may truly extend your perfect forgiveness to those who have hurt me. Amen.

Faith pearls: “For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgement.” James 2:13 RSV-CE

Hide a treasure: YOUCAT 524 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

Today’s readings: Dan 3:25, 34-43; Ps 25:4-9; Mt 18:21-35

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Sunday 19th March – Sunday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Exodus 17: 3-7

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Considering that we have the benefit of hindsight, we often perceive the Israelites as a stubborn and unbelieving people during their exodus from Egypt to the promised land. It is very easy for us to read through the stories of their unbelief and repeated complaints against God and Moses and judge them. Yet, rather than judge them, they give us an insight into what we ourselves are very likely to do or may even be currently doing.

Journeying through the desert was certainly no fun for the Israelites they had to keep trekking under the hot scourging sun, had only a single type of food for nourishment and obviously missed the pleasures of a settled life. We too may encounter desert experiences in our lives. There may be times when everything seems to be tough, basic needs are lacking and it feels that God has abandoned us. These moments, just like it was for Israel are times when the Lord may be leading us to a deeper level of trust in Him.

In moments of dire difficulty, it is easy to forget about whatever God may be doing and focus solely on the extreme suffering or discomfort we are going through. God reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Rather than complain against God, let us turn to the Lord in prayer and in trust…He knows our needs and knows just how to supply them. We can make a discipline of abstaining from complaining as we go through Lent. Are you trusting the Lord through your desert experience?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to resist the temptation to complain. May I turn to you in trust in life’s most difficult situations. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 515 – Where do we get the confidence to call God “Father”?

We can be so bold as to address God as Father because Jesus has called us to a close relationship with himself and made us children of God. In communion with him, “who is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18), we are privileged to cry, “Abba, Father!”

Hide a Treasure: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 RSV-CE

WHERE IS YOUR SOURCE?

Thursday 16th March – Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Jeremiah 17:5-10

WHERE IS YOUR SOURCE?

It is that time of the year we all look forward to – the trees have become green with leaves again and the flowers are beginning to blossom, the dark cold days are gradually giving way to an earlier sunrise and later sunset…spring is here! In the tropical regions of the world where there is the dry harmattan season and the rainy season, the trees are noticed to be dry during harmattan and blossom as the rains start. Yet, there is an exception…tress planted by a river. Trees planted by a river have their roots constantly nourished and do not dry and that is exactly what awaits us if we have God as our source

In our everyday lives, there are ups and downs, times of plenty and times of scarcity, much like the seasons of the year. It is a normal human response for us to get agitated when times of scarcity come upon us. But our Lord assures us that we need not worry if only we make Him our source of life and nourishment. If we trust in the Lord to take care of us and supply our needs, then do not have to fret through the droughts and heat of life.

Lent gives us a wonderful opportunity to reassess ourselves. Where is my trust and confidence? Do I rely on my wisdom, intelligence or strength to sustain me or do I rely on the Most High God from whom all good things come?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I trust in you. Help me to cast all my cares on you for you are the source of my life and wellbeing. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 522 – What does it mean to say, “Give us this day our daily bread”?

The petition about our daily bread makes us people who await everything from the goodness of our heavenly Father, including the material and spiritual goods that are vitally necessary. No Christian can pronounce this petition without thinking about his real responsibility for those in the world who lack the basic necessities of life.

Hide a Treasure: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jer 17:5-10; Ps 1:1-6; Luke 16:19-31

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

LEARN TO DO GOOD!

Tuesday 14th March – Tuesday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Isaiah 1: 10, 16 -20

LEARN TO DO GOOD!

While in secondary school I could attend Mass only on Sundays but I loved the Mass and longed for the opportunity to go every single day. Hence, as soon as I left for University, I found myself gladly waking up very early to begin my day with the Mass. This beautiful practice went on until my 4th year on campus when I was saddled with many responsibilities and decided to go to Mass 3 times a week rather than every day. Before long, the 3 year old practice became a burden and I had to struggle to get up early and meet up with the Mass. It took almost 3 more years with prayers and encouragement from my spiritual director to overcome this struggle and attend Masses everyday again.

This experience opened my eyes to how easy it is to lose virtue and acquire vice. Indeed doing good is learned. it doesn’t just happen. It takes conscious effort on our part as Christians to rise above our human selfishness and comfort zone to do good. God tells us today “Cease to do evil; learn to do good” (Is 1:16). In what areas of your life are you struggling to do what is right? Are you making conscious efforts to do what is right? Let this season of Lent be a time for you to rise above every limitation and strive with God’s help to learn to do good.

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the ways in which you have failed to do what is right and respond to God’s call to repentance. Ask Him for the grace to live a life of goodness – a life that seeks the good of others and pleases God. He is ever ready to help us!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please strengthen me in my quest for holiness. Help me to learn to do what is good always and never look back.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 279 – Why do we need faith and the sacraments in order to live a good, upright life?

If we were to rely only on ourselves and our own strength, we would not get far in our attempts to be good…When God gives us his strength; we call this “grace”. Especially in the sacred signs that we call the Sacraments, God gives us the ability actually to do the good that we want to do.

HIDE A TREASURE: “To Him who by the power a work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 1: 10, 16 -20; Psalm 50: 8-9, 16-17, 21-23; Matthew 23: 1-12