Friday 3rd March – Friday after Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Isaiah 58: 1-9


A hungry man, they say, is an angry man. As the call to fasting, prayer and almsgiving is emphasized this season, we must not fall into the trap of being “angry” as a result of “hunger”. Our penance is aimed at putting our flesh underneath and seeking to love God in our neighbours. Hence, for it to be rewarding, our penance must be pleasing to God. In today’s reading, God reprimanded the Israelites through Prophet Isaiah because their penance was accompanied by dishonesty, oppression and quarrelling; He told them clearly that their penance had no reward: “Fasting like yours today will never make you voice heard on high…” (Is 58:4). On the other hand, He called them to seek for justice and be generous with corporal works of mercy – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless etc.

Dear friend, what acts of penance have you set out to undertake this season? Let these acts be marked by an honest desire to seek out the needs of those around you. As you do this, God promises that: “your light will shine like the dawn and your wound will be quickly healed over. Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’ (Is 58: 8-9).

Every day of Lent, look out for a need in someone around you: maybe a need for money, attention, care, a listening ear etc and meet that need in love. Let your acts of penance truly please the Lord throughout this season and bring relief and joy to others.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to extend my hands generously to others this season so that my penance may be pleasing to you. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 450 – What are the “corporal works of mercy”?

To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and bury the dead

Hide a Treasure: “Is not this the kind of fast that pleases me: To share your food with the hungry; to bring into your house the homeless poor, to clothe the naked when you find them and not turn away from your own kin” Isaiah 58: 6a,7 CCB

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 58: 1-9; Ps 51: 3-6, 18-19; Mt 9: 14-15



Monday 15th February – Monday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 25: 31-46


One of the things that scare many of us greatly is the prospect of death and judgment. Each time we think of it, we are shaken to our bones as we imagine having to stand before God and give an account of our lives. Today’s reading gives us the only picture of judgment given by Christ in all the gospels. And to our surprise, it is not based on very “big” acts of piety or perfection. Rather it is based on the “little” acts of love we extend to others.

Jesus has given us a new commandment – love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34). While in the old covenant, God’s people were instructed to love others as their own selves, Jesus gives us a much higher calling: Love as I have loved you. And how did He love us? By laying down his life for us, hence calling us to lay down our lives for our brethren (1 John 3:16). As baptized Catholics, we are partakers of the new covenant in Christ Jesus and our identity is that of love; “By this all men will know that you are my disciples…” John 13:35.

Dear friends, in the midst of our increasingly secular and individualistic world, Jesus tell us to look around and see Him on the streets around us: in the poor, lonely, blind, homeless, sick, prisoners etc. He calls us to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy especially this jubilee year of mercy. He says to us in the Stations of the Cross: “seek me not in faraway places. I am very close to you. Your home, your working place, on the streets, the markets, at the playgrounds, these are altars where you offer love and I am there with you”. Let us look up to Him and ask for the grace to love especially during this season of self denial.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You have loved me so much. Please rid me of selfishness; help me to look out for those in need around me and extend your love to them. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 449- What significance do the poor have for Christians?

Love for the poor must be in every age the distinguishing mark of Christians. The poor deserve not just a few alms; they have a claim to justice. For Christians there is a special obligation to share their goods. Our example in love for the poor is Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “By this we know love that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” 1 John 3:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Leviticus 19: 1-2; 11-18; Psalm 19: 8-10, 15; Matthew 25: 31-46


Saturday 6th February – Memorial of Saints Paul Miki and his Companions, Martyrs

Reflection: Mark 6: 30-34


A viral internet video caught by surveillance cameras on the accident that killed the two year old Chinese; Wang Yue, who was run over by two vehicles on the 13th October, 2011; exposed the cold extinction of mercy spreading over the world. This disheartening video caught eighteen people skirt around the fatally wounded child, until a female rubbish scavenger moved by compassion raised an alarm for help. The baby was then rushed to a hospital, where she died after eight days of a painful fight for life. Chen Xianmei (the rescuer); might have been the wrinkled poor lady, who had never been to a church, yet she was more Christ-like than many lavishly dressed Christian leaders in her actions. In a more horrific replica of the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’; this woman became Christ to the baby. She chose to show mercy.

Jesus and His disciples had just completed a missionary journey around the villages; and were obviously exhausted from the excited but austere mission. This exhaustion did not make Jesus blind to the needs of the people; who had hurried ahead on foot to meet Him. Jesus ignored His own hunger and exhaustion to teach them at length; and so taught us: ‘Nothing should be put before mercy’.

Friend; Christ taught us to choose mercy over our selfish needs, and give even when we have ‘almost nothing’. In this, we become like our merciful Father and please Him.

PRAYER: O good Shepherd, forgive my selfishness. Teach me our divine mercy and help me to live out, even with those who would rather show no mercy to me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 450What are the “corporal works of mercy”?

To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and bury the dead.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6: 32-36 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings:1 King 3: 4-13; Psalm 118: 9-14; John 10: 27; Mark 6: 30-34.


Friday 5th February – Friday of week 4 of the year

Reflection: Ecclesiaticus 47: 2-11


As long as I can remember, my mum would sneak into her boys’ room on cold nights to lay a blanket over anyone (especially me); who would usually sleep without one. The sudden warmness from this blanket would awaken me; to find my mum busy with keeping her children warm. I am well over sixteen now, yet she has not grown tired of this simple act; which only recently I began to appreciate when far away from home on those cold rainy nights. Pampering me has become for her more than a duty, but a reflex of love. My mom never got me the Play Station most of my friends got (in fact she disallowed video games) and she seriously restricted the amounts of sweets I took as a child (a discipline I now appreciate).

This is a model for Christianity; a model that made David so special to God. David was dedicated out of love to pleasing God in his songs of praise and worship. His love for his maker made him so dear to God’s heart; his many sins were forgiven him and the God he loved so much exalted him.

Beloved of God; living the Christ-like life of charity and mercy would too soon become unbearable and stale outside love. Obeying every law in the books, praying and fasting all year long, winning a million and one debates to uphold the doctrines of the Church and giving out your entire salary; if not done out of love is as ‘pouring water into a basket’. If you would remain a Christian; it can only be out of love for God and His creatures. Indeed it is only deeds done out of love than can stand the test of time and can endure through difficult situations.

PRAYER: Sweet Jesus, teach me to follow you out of pure love.  Help me repay your perfect love for me with true love from my imperfect heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 485 – Why should we adore God?

Every person who understands that he is God’s creature will humbly recognize the Almighty and adore him. Christian adoration, however, sees not only the greatness, omnipotence, and holiness of God. It also kneels before the divine Love that became man in Jesus Christ.


HIDE A TREASURE: “Thus will your faith be tested, like gold in a furnace. Gold, however, passes away but faith, worth so much more, will bring you in the end praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears. You have not yet seen him and yet you love him; even without seeing him, you believe in him and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith: the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1: 7-9 RSV-CE


Today’s Readings: Ecclesiaticus 47: 2-13; Psalm 17: 31 47, 50-51; Mark 6: 14-29.