A PLEASING PENANCE 2: NO FOUL TALK!

Saturday 4th March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Isaiah 58: 9-14

A PLEASING PENANCE 2: NO FOUL TALK!

Yesterday, our reflection centred on the need to please God with our penance. Today, we will continue this reflection, focusing on our “words”. God continues His message about a pleasing penance with the words: “if you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word…your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon” (Is 58: 9). Hence, you and I are called to focus not only on our actions this season of penance but also on our words.

A Yoruba adage states that “words are like an egg”, hence just as a broken egg can’t be gathered again, the words we speak can never be withdrawn. Thus we need to examine our thoughts before speaking. Many young people habitually use abusive and disrespectful words on each other. Whether as a joke, a reaction in anger or by engaging in gossip, the use of foul words are unbecoming of us as children of God. Christ tells you and I that we would be required to account for every foul word we speak (Mt 12:36). That should put us on our toes in guarding our words.

Today, make a commitment to examine every word you say. Choose to speak kindly to others and to desist from gossip every day throughout Lent. Ask for God’s mercy each time you recognise your failure in this regard and for the grace to be kind and gentle especially with your words.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please forgive me for the times I have spoken wrongly to others. Strengthen me this season to resist every temptation to gossip or use abusive words. Amen.

Faith Pearls: CCC 2507 – Respect for the reputation and honour of persons forbids all detraction and calumny in word or attitude.

Hide a Treasure: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one.” Colossians 4:6 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 58: 9-14; Psalm 86: 1-6; Luke 5: 27-32

 

A PLEASING PENANCE

Friday 3rd March – Friday after Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Isaiah 58: 1-9

A PLEASING PENANCE

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

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tuesday 1st March – Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Reflection: Joel 2:12-13 (Gospel Acclamation)

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tearing of clothes in the Jewish setting signified penance and a deep quest for God. Yet, outward acts alone do not show what a man is really made of. The true man is of the heart. In this season of Lent, there is a great tendency for us to put up an outward show of penitence. This in fact a good start in aiming for the real thing. What then is the real thing? The real thing is the inward transformation of the heart. Since creation, the state of man’s heart has always been of paramount importance to God. Hence, in Genesis 6:5-6, God lamented terribly when he saw the wickedness of man’s heart.

God desires that we not only attend the Stations of the Cross, Masses or Retreats this season, but that we check the depths of our hearts to ensure that there is no wickedness therein. During this season, we are called to fast and do abstinence. These too should not just be external acts, but should have a deep effect in our heart; they should tear our heart away from seeking earthly pleasures and turn it towards God. The reading of today explains it perfectly: “tear your hearts and not your clothes”, God says. (Joel 2:13). Beloved, let us use this season of lent to come to God wholeheartedly and he would surely shine his face upon us for He is gracious and merciful.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please give me the grace to come to you always with sincerity of heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2519: “The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like Him. Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbours”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. 1Samuel 16:7c GNB..

Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25: 4-9; Matthew 18:21-35

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

Saturday 27th February – Saturday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the two sacraments of healing in the Church; it obtains pardon from God for the offense committed against Him and by the Priest’s sacramental absolution, God grants the penitent “pardon and peace”. In approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the first step is Interior Penance; recognition of guilt with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed. Next is a contrite heart; sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again. Then comes the confession of sins to the priest after a diligent self-examination. Lastly, the Satisfaction; is fulfilling the penance given by the priest in order to make amends for the sin.

The Prodigal Son’s process of conversion stems from a recognition of his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, his reflection on all he had lost, a sorrowful heart for what he had done, his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey home. Up to this point he had lived “outside “of himself; now in the language of the Gospel he “enters into himself”, that is, he begins to look inwards and see his true nature.

When he starts back, he finds that the father is out on the roadway ready to welcome him back. Forgiveness meets us more than halfway. The father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The Beautiful robe, the ring and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure, worthy and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of His Family, which is the Church.

Dear Friends, let us take time to reflect and identify areas of our life where we have strayed from God, let us be sorrowful for them and pray for the grace to fully complete our conversion process. Remember, no matter how bad your past might have been, you can always begin anew with God. Today God calls us to conversion; He calls us to journey home.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to remember always that my sins are not greater than your mercy. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1470 – Effects of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Jesus spoke up “healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous” Luke 5:31-32 CCB

Today’s Readings: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tuesday 10th March – Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Reflection: Joel 2:12-13 (Gospel Acclamation)

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tearing of clothes in the Jewish setting signified penance and a deep quest for God. Yet, outward acts alone do not show what a man is really made of. The true man is of the heart. In this season of Lent, there is a great tendency for us to put up an outward show of penitence. This in fact a good start in aiming for the real thing. What then is the real thing? The real thing is the inward transformation of the heart. Since creation, the state of man’s heart has always been of paramount importance to God. Hence, in Genesis 6:5-6, God lamented terribly when he saw the wickedness of man’s heart.

God desires that we not only attend the Stations of the Cross, Masses or Retreats this season, but that we check the depths of our hearts to ensure that there is no wickedness therein. During this season, we are called to fast and do abstinence. These too should not just be external acts, but should have a deep effect in our heart; they should tear our heart away from seeking earthly pleasures and turn it towards God. The reading of today explains it perfectly: “tear your hearts and not your clothes”, God says. (Joel 2:13). Beloved, let us use this season of lent to come to God wholeheartedly and he would surely shine his face upon us for He is gracious and merciful.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please give me the grace to come to you always with sincerity of heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2519: “The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like Him. Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbours”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. 1Samuel 16:7c GNB..

Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25: 4-9; Matthew 18:21-35

OUR MERCIFUL GOD


Wednesday 25th February – Wednesday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Jonah 3:1-10

OUR MERCIFUL GOD

Our greatest hope as Christians lies in knowing that we have a merciful God who forgives our sins each time we return to Him. Today’s reading tells us of how God relented from pouring down his wrath on the people of Nineveh because of their prompt repentance at the preaching of the prophet Jonah. The King declared a time of fasting and prayer for repentance and as the people made efforts to turn from their wicked ways, God honoured their efforts.

Beloved, the Church calls you and I reconciliation with God. Like the Ninevites, let us respond promptly to this call. You may say: “my past is so ugly; I don’t think God will forgive me”. The good news is that He is willing to welcome you home, regardless of how far you have strayed. Christ reassures us that there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous men who need no repentance (Lk 15:7).

When last did you approach Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Today, take some time to examine your conscience; ask the Holy Spirit to shed light into your life so you can recognise your sins and be truly sorry for them. Then seize the next opportunity to go to confession. Christ awaits you with open hands. Go and experience the freshness of a new beginning.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I acknowledge my sinfulness. Please forgive me and help me to live to please You always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 228 – Who can forgive sins?

God alone can forgive sins. Jesus could say “Your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5) only because he is the Son of God. And priests can forgive sins in Jesus’ place only because Jesus has given them that authority. 

HIDE A TREASURE: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jonah 3:1-10; Psalms 50:3-4, 12-13, 18-19; Luke 10:29-32.