I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH

Monday 29th June – Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul, Apostles

Reflection: Matthew 16: 13-19

I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH

How much do you trust in God and in His word? Do you hold on to the words of Scripture as truth? Do you believe everything Christ says in the gospels? The average Christian will respond in the affirmative. Yet, many Christians have out rightly rejected Jesus’ words in today’s gospel reading pertaining to the leadership of Apostle Peter over the Church. He said, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the underworld shall never hold out against it” (Mt 16:18). He went on to give Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, with authority to bind and to lose.

History testifies to the truth that the Catholic Church is the one Church established by Christ; it has no human founder and is the only Church that can trace its history back to the apostolic and post-apostolic era. If Christ built his Church upon Peter and declared that evil will never overpower it, we can trust His words and believe that He who has kept His Church through the centuries will perpetually keep her from error. We can also trust that the Church, the pillar of truth (1 Tim 3:15) which has defended the Christian faith against heresies and guided many souls unto salvation will guide ours as we trust in her teaching and follow the path of holiness to which she calls us.

Dear friend, as we celebrate two foremost apostles today, take time to thank God for the privilege to be a Catholic; to belong to Christ’s own Church. Live out your faith in love, holiness and absolute trust in Jesus words – words of eternal life (John 6: 63). You have the fullness of the Christian faith. Embrace it with all seriousness and live your Christian life to its fullest.

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the gift of my Catholic faith. Please help me to grow in deeper friendship with You each day and to live the life of love to which you call me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 141 What is the Pope’s responsibility?

As successor of St. Peter and head of the college of bishops, the Pope is the source and guarantor of the Church’s unity. He has the supreme pastoral authority and the final authority in doctrinal and disciplinary decisions.
Jesus gave Peter a unique position of preeminence among the apostles. This made him the supreme authority in the early Church. Rome—the local Church that Peter led and the place of his martyrdom—became after his death the internal reference point of the young Church.

HIDE A TREASURE: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 12: 1-11; Psalm 34: 2-9; 2 Tim 4: 6-8, 17-18; Mt 16: 13-19

SAVED TO SAVE; FREED TO FREE

Tuesday 12th May –Tuesday of the 6th Week of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 16:22-34

SAVED TO SAVE; FREED TO FREE

Paul and Silas were stripped, publicly whipped, and thrown into jail. Yet, their persecution did not in any way undermine their love and faith in God; they praised God in the darkest moment. God was moved by their selflessness and released His power which shook the prison foundations, freeing them and all the other prisoners. Even the jailer was not exempt from freedom and salvation which he badly needed. He recognized the need for salvation with that single encounter, hence His question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30).

Dear friend, your testimony to Christ’s wonders in your life is incomplete until it results in your total conversion and the conversion of others. God wants to manifest his power through your steadfastness and thanksgiving even everything seems hopeless. Just as we find strength and hope in the stories of heroes of our faith in Scripture and Church’s tradition, our own journey of salvation will be a testimony for others in times to come. God uses our victory stories to help our brethren become victorious as well.

Bearing this in mind, we must give thanks to God in all things. This attitude of praise is powered by genuine trust in God’s power to save us and set us free. Let us thank God for the gift of salvation today and ask for grace to be agents of salvation to others through all the events of life we encounter. Like Paul and Silas, we are all saved to save others and freed to set others free.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me courage to see in all my troubles, your saving power which is mighty and sufficient for me and active in saving others through me. Give me a heart of praise and in times of need.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 290 – How does God help us to be free men?

Christ wants us to be “set free for freedom” (see Gal 5:1) and to become capable of brotherly love. That is why he sends us the Holy Spirit, who makes us free and independent of worldly powers and strengthens us for a life of love and responsibility.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For we are like a sweet smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are saved and those who are being lost”.

2 Corinthians 2:15 GNB

Today’s Readings: Acts 16: 22-34; Psalm 138: 1 -3.7-8; John 16:5-11

DON’T STOP, KEEP MOVING!

Saturday 2nd May – Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop &.Doctor

Reflection: Acts 13:44-52

DON’T STOP, KEEP MOVING!

My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials” Sirach 2:1

As long as you commit yourself to living in obedience and doing God’s work, you are bound to encounter opposition. Such was the plight of St. Athanasius, whose memorial we celebrate today. He was the Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. During Athanasius’ reign as Bishop, he encountered great opposition from those who propagated a heresy known as Arianism (they were opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity). He stood firm in defending and preaching the truth about Christ’s divinity and by God’s grace, paved way for First Council of Nicaea, where the heresy was debunked and the truth of the Trinity affirmed.

In today’s reading, we see the apostles Paul and Barnabas being opposed when they stood out to preach the gospel to the people of Antioch in Pisidia. Scripture records here that in the midst of opposition, they stood firm and spoke out even more boldly about the faith they professed. Such should be our disposition when we encounter opposition in any aspect of our lives. Rather than allow yourself to be weighed down, say to yourself “I must keep moving” Rely solely on the grace of God, and you will overcome at the end.

PRAYER: Ask the Lord to fill you with His divine power so that you may not give up in difficult times.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC2471: “…In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of Paul before his judges.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Philippians 4: 13 GNB

Today’s Readings: Acts 13:44-52; Psalm 98:1-4; John 14:7-14

APPROACH TO EVANGELIZATION

Thursday 30th April – Thursday of the 4th week of Eastertide

Reflections: Acts 13:13-25

APPROACH TO EVANGELIZATION

As Paul preached to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, he put the message of the gospel into historical perspective so that his hearers would understand how the message of Christ flowed from their history and is a fulfillment of God’s promise made to their fathers. He needed to open their eyes to see, that the son of God was indeed Immanuel – of their own lineage and dwelling amongst them.

Since they were Jews, they could only understand and accept the message of salvation if it was explained in the context of their Jewish heritage. Dear friends, you and I are called to evangelize. We can only be effective in this mission when we understand the background and needs of our hearers because this would influence our approach to sharing the good news. The way you will speak about Christ to a regular church goer who doesn’t take his faith seriously may differ from the approach needed in speaking to someone who has never heard the gospel message at all. St Paul recognized this, and we too must recognize it.

Beloved, as we seek to share the good news of salvation with our peers, neighbours, co-workers or family members let us ask the Holy Spirit for direction. The Holy Spirit himself is the principal agent of every conversion. The seeds of the gospel that we sow are nurtured, germinate and bear fruits of repentance by His power. As we listen to him, He will speak the right words through us that will make a difference to our hearers.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please grant me the grace that my way of life and my words may bring others to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 205 – What happens in Confirmation?

In confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” 1Corinthians 9:22 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 13:13-25, Psalm 90: 2-3, 21-27, John 13:16-20

A PEOPLE SET APART FOR THE LORD

Wednesday 29th April – Memorial of St Catherine of Siena, Virgin & Doctor

Reflections: Act 12:24-13:5

A PEOPLE SET APART FOR THE LORD

Today’s first reading provides the account of how Barnabas and Saul were sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit. This accounts points out a few lessons for us, Christians of today:

Like the disciples of Jesus, we can often become worn out on our mission, from our daily work and the various burdens of daily living. When you reach this point, seek help, seek the company of believers. When you are weary, tired and worn out, seek the Church; where there are pastors, prophets and teachers. There, you will find a new sense of mission.

There may also be moments when we are unsure of what to do next as we accomplish our current tasks. In those moments, let us find the direction and the strength to move through a life of prayer and participating in the Eucharist. The disciples received their mission while observing a fast. Are you praying for direction? Seek God’s face in fasting and prayer and you will hear more clearly as His Spirit speaks to your heart.

Never forget dear friend, that we are a pilgrim people, a people on a mission to preach Christ to the ends of the earth. This mission is intricately the mission of the Church, just as it is your mission and my mission; a mission of the people set apart. This is what St Catherine embodies; a lowly hand maid, whose only desire was to do the will of God. Are you living out the mission of Christ?

PRAYER:  Lord, you have set me apart for yourself; please help me to bring the church to the world, that through my participation in the mission of evangelization, many hearts will be worn to your glory. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 59 – How is the universal priesthood of all the faithful different from the ordained priesthood?

Through Baptism Christ has made us into a kingdom of “priests to his God and Father” (Rev 1:6). Through the universal priesthood, every Christian is called to work in the world in God’s name and to bring blessings and grace to it.

HIDE A TREASURE: “He saved us and called us to holiness of life” 2 Timothy 1:8 CCB

Today’s Readings:  Act 12:24-13:5; Psalm 67:2- 8; John 12:44-50

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD TO USE


Friday 24th April – Friday of the 3rd week of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 9:1-20

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD TO USE

Though we often do not like to be judged by others, we find ourselves almost always judging others. Ananias, the disciple must have been greatly surprised by God’s instruction about Saul and wondered, “Lord, do you really know this man? He is our arch enemy! Let me tell you a bit about him…” but God insisted, “This man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the pagans…” God is unquestionable as regards whom He decides to use for work. Regardless of your past, you are good enough for Him if you are open to His mercy and grace.

If Paul, the Church’s great persecutor could encounter God right on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, who cannot be brought to conversion? Who are you to judge that person in your class or neighbourhood? Something noteworthy about Saul was that his actions stemmed from sincerity. He persecuted the Church, not because of sheer hatred but because he thought they were going against God’s law. Hence his action stemmed from a “sincere ignorance”.

Are you available to be used for the glory of God? Do you live in sincerity before Him? Let your actions stem from a sincere love for God and readiness to do His will and you will be surprised what great things He will do with you.

PRAYER: Lord, I give you my life. Please manifest your love and glory through me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 196 – Who can be baptized, and what is required of a candidate?

Any person who is not yet baptized can be baptized. The only prerequisite for Baptism is faith, which must be professed publicly at the Baptism.
A person who turns to Christianity is not just changing a world view. He travels a path of learning (the cathecumenate), in which he becomes a new man through personal conversion, but especially through the gift of Baptism. He is now a living member of the Body of Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.”
2 Timothy 2:20 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 117:1-2; John 6:52-59

AUTHENTIC CONVERSION

Saturday, 25th January

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Reflection: Acts 9:1-22

AUTHENTIC CONVERSION

Saint Paul, who is also referred to as an “Apostle to the Gentiles” made his impact in spreading the good news of salvation through the help of the Holy Spirit and his strong determination to complete what God entrusted to his care. This whole work cannot but be traced back to his encounter with Christ on his way to Damascus which led to an authentic conversion. Anytime we remember how he became an apostle, it is always wonderful to think of how God can chose even the worst of sinners for his work of salvation.

Today, we wonder why the flame of the faith grows weak even with sound liturgies and constant celebration of Sacraments by the Church. People complain that the Church is boring and seem not to know why they are in the church. Dear friend, a Christian without an authentic conversion brought about by a divine encounter with Christ will not be able to live out the Gospel of Jesus. Christianity is not always about what we hear about God from people but is significantly what God says to you, what God reveals to you and what God has entrusted to you. St. Paul in our reading today encountered God with some “elements” which made the encounter very unique; the presence of Christ, a new sight and baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also, God perfected and made all this possible by sending Ananias to minister to him. Beloved in Christ, have you ever had an encounter with Christ which you can hold on to and recall whenever the fight of faith gets tough? Do you desire more and more of Christ’s revelation of himself to you? This is the testimony and power of great men of faith.

Our obedience to the great commission of Christ, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good news to all creation” in the Gospel reading of today (Mark 16:15) would be dependent on our individual testimony of Christ and divine encounter with him. Let us be conscious of the fact that nobody is dispensable or too weak to proclaim Christ.

Dear Friends, as we go out today, let us pray that God may give us the grace to truly encounter Him in our daily activities.

TALK TO YOUR FRIEND: Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to me in a way that I have never experienced before. Let your light shine on me to enkindle the fire of your love in my heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 27- The desire for God

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never cease to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures” John 15:16 GNB

Readings for Today: Acts 9:1-22; Psalm 117; Mark 16:15-18