TAKE THAT STEP

Friday 1st January – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Reflection: Luke 2: 16-21

TAKE THAT STEP

Each day of our lives presents us with information which needs to be backed up by actions. Sometimes, the appropriate action may be to wait patiently or to get into a discussion with someone or even to make a change in our own personal lives. God chose to bring His Son into the world in the most humble way. He was born of peasants in a manger in the lowly town of Bethlehem and though most of mankind was unaware of the great event that was taking place, God chose to reveal it to the most unlikely of persons: shepherds watching their flocks.

God could have chosen to reveal this wonderful event to the chief priests or religious leaders but He didn’t instead He chose lowly men and these men did not disappoint. As soon as they heard the great news of joy the angels brought, they took the appropriate step – went in search of the new born infant Jesus. Thus, they became instruments of evangelisation to all who heard their message (Lk 2:18). Their response was similar to Mary’s when she heard that Elizabeth was to have a baby and Joseph’s when He was asked by the angel in a dream to take Mary as his wife without fear. Beloved, in what ways did God prompt you in the past year? Did you take the required step? Did He prompt you to intensify your prayer life or to evangelise a friend or to attend daily Masses more regularly? Did He prompt you to change some bad habits or be more loving in your words and deeds? How did you respond?

This New Year offers us a wonderful opportunity to begin again. It offers us the opportunity to make a decision not to delay in acting on the promptings God sends to us. Don’t remain in your comfort zone, take the required step and like the shepherds, you will be playing your part in God’s big plan for your life or the life of others and His blessings are sure to remain with you as you walk in obedience to Him.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for the opportunity you give me to play a part in my salvation and in those of others. Please help me to respond appropriately to your promptings always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 22 – How does one go about believing?

Someone who believes is seeking a personal union with God and is ready to believe God in everything that he shows (reveals) about himself.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land” Isaiah 1:19 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Num 6:22-27; Psalm 67: 2-8; Galatians 4: 4-7; Lk 2:16-21

HONOURABLE COURTSHIP

Friday 18th December

Reflection: Matthew 1: 18-24

HONOURABLE COURTSHIP

Living in an increasingly secular society, we can easily lose the values that make us stand out as children of God. Such values that can easily be eroded, especially for young people, include purity of mind, heart and body. We do not need to look very far to get caught up with examples of impurity. Simply observing the trend at school – secondary school or higher institution, the “stars” in music, movie and sports etc that the world projects to us and while innocently surfing the web, we hear the same message ringing out: “purity is old fashioned!”; “It does not really matter whether or not you are a virgin!”; “everyone engages in premarital sex, you cannot possible do without it!”. If we are not extra careful and strengthened by God, we can easily become persuaded to live in impurity.

Dear friends, the results of this secularisation are clear: increasing number of unhappy people and marriages, increasing rates of separation and divorce, increased incidence of depression etc. If we are to live out the fullness of our faith as young Christians, we must strive to live honourable lives and seek out honourable friendships and courtships that will lead to happy homes. We must be willing to listen to God’s voice as He speaks to us and gives us the path to follow when we are uncertain.

Today’s gospel reading describes Joseph as an honourable man. His courtship with Mary was pure and holy such that there was no reason for him to panic when she was found to be with child. There was no chance he could be responsible for the pregnancy! Yet, in the midst of this confusing situation, God gave him direction about what to do. He reassured him that Mary’s story was true and that He had a role for him: to be the foster Father of our Lord. Let us open our hearts to God and ask Him for the grace to live lives that honour Him always. As we do, we can trust his direction every day of our lives.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, please help me to live in purity. Help me to build up good friendships and when the time for marriage draws near, grant me the grace of a fiance(e) and a courtship that honours you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 404 – What is chaste love? Why should a Christian live a chaste life?

A chaste love is a love that defends itself against all the internal and external forces that might destroy it. That person is chaste who has consciously accepted his sexuality and integrated it well into his personality. Chastity and continence are not the same thing. Someone who has an active sex life in marriage must be chaste, too. A person acts chastely when his bodily activity is the expression of dependable, faithful love.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body” 1 Corinthians 6:18 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Jeremiah 23: 5-8; Psalm 72: 1-2, 12-13, 18-19; Matthew 1: 18-24

YOU ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE

Tuesday 8th December – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed   Virgin Mary

Reflection: Luke 1:26-38

YOU ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE

Have you ever marvelled at the variety of natural abilities and talents God has endowed each one of us with? Indeed, every individual is created unique with a combination of gifts, talents, the environment and circumstances required to fulfil his own purpose in life. Today, the Church celebrates the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother, Mary; an article of faith that confesses that our Blessed Mother was preserved from original sin right from the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother.

Why was this privilege necessary? God had chosen her, even before her conception to be the mother of His son, Jesus Christ. Since Jesus was to be pure and sinless, it was necessary for our Blessed Mother herself to be sinless so as to carry within her the Saviour of the world. This unique act of God should remind us as young people that God has created each of us as we are, not by accident, but in order to fulfil His purpose for our lives. Think of Elizabeth and Zechariah, whom God had destined would bring forth John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Christ. This righteous couple had to endure the inconvenience, sadness and shame of barrenness for a long time as the fullness of time had to be reached. Little did they know that God had greater plans for them.

My dear friend, just as our Blessed Mother is God’s masterpiece, created specially to bring our Saviour into the world; you are also God’s masterpiece, designed with extra ordinary skill. God has a unique role for you in this world and you must live each day with that consciousness. He has made you who you are for a purpose. Let us turn to God today and ask Him for direction so that we may fulfil His purpose for our lives like our Blessed Mother did. Let us also ask for our mother’s intercession that we may identify the call of God on our lives in our youth and start living out that call.

PRAYER: My heavenly Father, I thank you for the reminder today that I am not in this world by chance. Please help me to put to use the talents you have given me in a way that glorifies you. Mary my mother, please intercede for me today that I may fulfil God’s divine purpose for my existence. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 83 – What does the “Immaculate Conception of Mary” mean?

The Church believes that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” Jeremiah 1:5 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98: 1-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

BEYOND FAMILY TIES

Tuesday 22nd September – Tuesday of week 25 of the year

Luke 8: 19-21

BEYOND FAMILY TIES

Today’s gospel reading has something to teach us on proper conduct in our relationships. Have you ever being tempted to violate your conscience in a bid to satisfy the desires of your relatives? I certainly believe you would have at one point or the other find yourself in such a tight situation. In today’s gospel reading, our Divine master teaches us the right way to handle such – our commitment to please the Lord must always rank above any other tie. Inability to rightly handle this is a major cause of nepotism even among Christians.

By virtue of our baptism, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God ((Colossians 1:16, 2:12; Galatians 4:4-6) and are members of one family with our Lord Jesus Christ. However, beyond our baptismal entry into the family of God, Christ is telling you and I that what truly gives legitimacy to our relatedness to Him is our openness to hear and obey His word (John 10:27). No matter how long we have been baptised or how regularly we frequent the sacraments, if these do not translate into godly living we cannot say we belong to Him.

Some readily sight today’s gospel in their bid to downplay the role of Mother Mary in the life of the Church. However, the fundamental question to ask ourselves is “how well did Mary cooperate with the will of God in her life?” By her fiat she completely acceded to the will of God to become the mother of God (Luke 1:26-38) even though it was beyond her understanding. She accepted God’s will at the risk of rejection and public ridicule. She shared in her son’s sorrow and stood by him till His crucifixion at Golgotha. Mary’s motherhood of the Church (Luke 19: 26-27; Luke 1:48) was not merely earned by her giving birth to Christ, much more than that, she was a woman of deep faith who freely and fully committed herself to doing the will of God.

PRAYER: Please teach me Lord to hold you foremost in my heart. Guide me on how best to handle the relationships you have blessed me with in a manner that brings honour to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 148 – Can Mary really help us?

Yes. Since the beginning of the Church, experience has taught that Mary helps. Millions of Christians testify to it. Being the Mother of Jesus, Mary is also our Mother. Good mothers always stand up for their children. Certainly this Mother does. While still on earth she interceded with Jesus for others; for example, she protected a bride and groom in Cana from embarrassment. In the Upper Room on Pentecost she prayed in the midst of the disciples. Because her love for us never ceases, we can be sure that she will plead for us in the two most important moments of our life: “now and at the hour of our death”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Am I seeking the favour of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 RSV-CE

Today’s reading: Ezra 6: 7-8.12.14-20; Psalm 122: 1-5; Luke 8: 19-21

TAKE YOUR PART IN SUFFERING

Tuesday 15th September – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows    

Reflection: Luke 2:33-35

TAKE YOUR PART IN SUFFERING

Mary our Mother is a model of faith and a woman set apart by God for a special mission. Though full of grace, she was fully human and shared in the sufferings of her Son, thus playing her own role in our redemption. She was privileged to carry the incarnate word in her womb, yet she had to endure the agony of seeing her son suffer grievously and die shamefully despite his innocence.

The Prophecy of Simeon in today’s gospel reading sheds light on some of the recent happenings in today’s world; a world that often stands in opposition to the truth. Christ has truly become a sign of contradiction not only in the ancient Jewish world but even today. Our Mother Mary is also a part of this sign for by her cooperation with her destined path with her words; “be it done to me according to your words”, she embraced both the joys and suffering of her calling. What then do you have to say about your Christian life? Is it all easy? Certainly not! St Paul tells us: “Take your part in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus.”(2 Timothy 2:3). Opposition and ordeals will come to us but we must learn from our Mother to be patient in difficult times. We must find the true consolation that comes from the Holy Spirit who possessed Mary and lavished her with infinite grace.

For every cross we have to carry for the sake of Christ, there is a much greater grace available for us to withstand its effect. Let us therefore not be ignorant of our part of the suffering for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of others. Instead, let us be encouraged by our victory which our Lord Jesus has already won through the shedding of his blood on the cross.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life and the grace to hold on to you in all things. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us to God that his word may abide in us just as it found a fertile ground in you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 117- How could the Holy Spirit work in, with and through Mary?

Mary was totally responsive and open to God. Thus, she was able to become the “Mother of God” through the working of the Holy Spirit –and as Christ’s Mother to become also the Mother of Christians, indeed, the Mother of all mankind… Strenghtened by the Holy Spirit, she went with Jesus through thick and thin, even to the foot of the Cross. There Jesus gave her to us as our Mother.

HIDE A TREASURE: “My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ’s nature is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19 GNB

Today’s readings: 1 Tim 3:1-13; Ps 110:1-3, 5-6; Luke 2:33-35

CELEBRATE OUR MOTHER

Tuesday 8th September – Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

CELEBRATE OUR MOTHER

Micah 5: 2-4

The key is a small piece of intricately cut metal. If seen just as a piece of cut metal; it is apparently worthless, but by its special design; it provides access even to the most beautiful cars and houses. As simple as it appears, the value of the key becomes the price of the car since only the car owner holds its key. A car might be right in front of you, but till you find its key; you might just have to keep walking. Mary has a similar but greater role in our salvation story.

As prophesied by Micah; the coming of Mary and the birth of Christ marks the return of ‘God in our midst’ a savior of the world. Mary opened the door of salvation in Christ Jesus to the world and the lights the path for the return of the lost world to God’s love. In God’s plan for salvation, he chose a lowly maid in His infinite wisdom to become a major character in our salvation story.

Today, as we celebrate the birth of Mary; let us thank God for the gift of His mother to us and ask our Blessed Mother to form us more and more into her son, Jesus Christ and help us to live out God’s divine will for our lives.

PRAYER: Dear Mother of God, lead me to your Son; the source of my salvation. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 84Was Mary only an instrument of God?

When the angel told her that she would bear “the Son of God”, Mary replied, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). The redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ thus begins with a request by God and the free consent of a human being and a pregnancy before Mary was married to Joseph. By such an unusual path Mary became for us the “Gate of Salvation”. 

HIDE A TREASURE: “He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like his own body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is his to submit everything to himself.” Philippians 3: 21 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Micah 5: 1-4; Psalm 13: 5-6; Matthew 1: 1-16.18-23