HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART!

Thursday 3rd March – Thursday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 94: 1-2, 6-9

HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART!

“…O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts… “(Psalm 95:7-8)

Today’s psalm, like the season of Lent itself is a call to repentance for us. It tells us how eagerly the Lord expects us to come into his presence with our hearts and minds set on repentance. Why the Lord does not force us to repent, He constantly reminds us that we are His people and has paid the price for our redemption. His arms remain wide open as He seeks every opportunity to draw us to Himself.

Dear friends, as young people we sometimes want to live our lives without the reminder that there is a God somewhere reaching out to us. Christ tells us: “Anyone who is not for me is really against me…” (Luke 11:23). Every sincere act of repentance leads us closer to Christ who desires to have us come back to him.

You may have strayed far away from God and plunged yourself deep in sin. Do not despair my friend; God seeks your return; He is waiting for you with all eagerness, ready to run just like the father of the prodigal son as soon as you take a few steps back to Him. Do not follow the evil intentions and stubborn desires of your youthful heart. Today, you have heard His voice; will you harden your heart? The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy and he responds to repentance

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Oh that today I would listen to your voice. Draw me away from sin and closer to you this season of grace. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 229What prepares a person for repentance?

The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. Then we are full of sorrow for our sins; we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” Proverbs 28:13 GNB

Readings for Today: Jeremiah 7: 23-28; Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-9; Luke 11: 14-23

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

EMBRACE GOD’S MERCY

Tuesday 23rd February – Tuesday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20

EMBRACE GOD’S MERCY

One of the gifts of new life given to us is the gift of reconciliation. God calls us to Himself always out of love to reconcile us with Him. This beautiful and reassuring truth is at the heart of this holy Season as we are called to repentance and is central to the Jubilee year of mercy as we celebrate the mercy of God the Father who doesn’t want any of His children to be lost. It is in this light God tells us in today’s first reading “come now, let us reason together, if your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God calls you and I to examine our lives: are their elements of hypocrisy in us? Are there certain attitudes, habits or conversations we engage in that do not bring honour to God? He reminds us today of his ever open arms but also of the terrible prospect of judgement on those who fail to repent. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Dear friend, no matter how far you may have strayed, our loving Father is ever ready to welcome you home. Simply call out to Him.

PRAYER: Merciful father, have mercy on me and draw me nearer to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 367 – To whom does the Fourth Commandment refer, and what does it require of us?

The Fourth Commandment refers in the first place to one’s physical parents, but also to the people to whom we owe our life, our well-being, our security, and our faith.

What we owe in the first place to our parents—namely love, gratitude, and respect—should also govern our relations to people who guide us and are there for us. There are many people who represent for us a God-given, natural, and good authority: foster or step-parents, older relatives and ancestors, educators, teachers, employers, superiors. In the spirit of the Fourth Commandment we should do them justice. In the broadest sense, this commandment applies even to our duties as citizens to the State.

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: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Psalm 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 &23; Matthew 23: 1-12

REPENT!

Wednesday 17th February – Wednesday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Jonah 3: 1-10

REPENT!

The theme of repentance is put before us over and over again in the Church’s calendar as She calls her children to seek forgiveness and turn away from evil. However, this theme becomes even more prominent during this season of Lent. Our Mother Church sets aside forty days to focus on repentance, self-denial and almsgiving as we reflect on the passion of our Lord Jesus and prepare to celebrate His resurrection with brand new hearts and minds.

The call to repentance and reconciliation with God is ultimately for our own benefit. Sin hurts us deeply because it strains or totally severes our relationship with our loving Father who is the only source of peace and contentment. Just as Jonah was sent to preach repentance to the Ninevites so also does the message of repentance come to us again this season. Are we going to respond like the Ninevites who turned away from sin and sought God’s mercy?

Jesus tells us in the gospel reading that our judgement will be severe if we fail to repent. Why? Much more that sending a prophet like Jonah, God has come down to dwell with us through Jesus Christ and shown us the way to repentance and peace with Him. Hence we have no excuse if we fail to listen to Jesus as He speaks in the gospels and through our Priests today. What is that sinful pattern that is taking charge of your life and making you hide your face from God? Dear friends, let us today humble ourselves and ask for God’s mercy. Let us approach Him in the Sacrament of reconciliation and receive His sancitifying grace in the Eucharist. Let us ask for the grace to truly “turn around” and abandon the sinful habits that hold us captive.

PRAYER: Lord, please have mercy on me. Grant me the grace to live a new life in you – a life of sincerity and holiness. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 229What prepares a person for repentance?

The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. Then we are full of sorrow for our sins; we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help.
HIDE A TREASURE: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” Acts 3:19 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jonah 3: 1-10; Psalm 51: 3-4, 12-13, 18-19; Luke 11: 29-32

YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO GOD

Saturday 16th January – Saturday of week 1 of the year

Reflection: Mark 2:13-17

YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO GOD

There are certain times in our lives, when we get overwhelmed by our poor state of spirituality  or seeming inability to overcome our sinful nature and we tend to write ourselves off, considering ourselves unworthy of God’s love and mercy. More than anything else, these moments can cause us to stay away from our loving Father. When we feel this way, let us be encouraged by Jesus’ words and actions in today’s gospel reading.

Our Lord reminds us that He is much more than interested in us just as we are. He wants to spend time with us, dine with us and reassure of His love and mercy. At the same time, He wants to extend that wonderful and constant invitation to us: “come, follow me”

How deeply steeped in sin are you? Open the door of your heart for the master who is Jesus Christ to come in. He came to make you whole again and to save you, confess all your burdens and sins to Christ because He can transform you only if you allow him. You mean a lot more to God than you can ever imagine. No matter what your past has been, come back to him because he loves you.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to come back to you and always realize that I am important to you and to try my best to always please you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 428: Whoever is called “to teach Christ” must first seek “the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ”; he must suffer “the loss of all things…” in order to gain Christ and be found in him” and to know him and the power of his resurrection, and to share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [he] may attain the resurrection from the dead”.

HIDE A TREASURE: Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick, I have come not to call respectable people but outcasts”. Mark 2:17 GNB

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1; Psalm 21:2-3,4-5,6-7; Mark 2:13-17

LOOK INTO THE MIRROR

Wednesday 25th November – Wednesday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Daniel 5: 1-6, 13-17, 23-28

LOOK INTO THE MIRROR

As the Church’s liturgical calendar draws to a close and we move closer to the end of the year 2015, there is no better time for us than now to examine ourselves and see how well we have fared through this year. “An unexamined life,” it is often said is “not worth living”. Taking time for self-examination is indispensable if we are to grow in holiness and as we examine ourselves, seek God’s mercy and make conscious efforts in striving against our human nature, we will keep ourselves from condemnation.

Belshazzar’s downfall in today’s first reading occured because he failed to examine himself, thus allowing the sin of pride to overcome him. He had become great, being the ruler of the whole world and had fought and won numerous battles. But he did not recognise the hands of the Almighty God at work in his life. Despite the humiliating experience his father, Nebuchadnezzar had gotten because of his pride, Belshazzar did not learn from it and humble himself before God. Hence, “he had been measured on the balance and found wanting” (Dan 5:27).

Dear friend, what is that vice that is holding you captive? Take time to examine yourself today. Do you have traces of the seven capital sins in your life? Pride, anger, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, sloth – all these open the door to more grievous sins. God gives us a chance today to weigh our own selves while we still can and make the necessary amends so that He will not weigh us at the end of time and find us wanting.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please shed the light of your Spirit into my heart. Open my eyes to see myself as I really am and seek for your pardon and grace in my areas of weakness. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 229What prepares a person for repentance?

The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. Then we are full of sorrow for our sins; we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help

HIDE A TREASURE: “But if we judge ourselves truly, we should not be judged.” 1 Cor 11:31 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Dan 5: 1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28; Dan 3: 62-67 (canticle); Lk 21: 12-19

SHARING JESUS’ INTEREST

Monday 21st September – Feast of St Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist

Reflection: Matthew 9: 9-13

SHARING JESUS’ INTEREST

“The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” ( 2 Peter 3: 8-9).

It is the loving desire of the Almighty God that none of us should perish. Though He abhors sin, He nevertheless constantly seeks the conversion of sinners. However, this is not done at the expense of our free will: “He who created you without your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation” – St. Augustine.

Dearest in Christ, the salvation of all is very paramount to our Lord. Today’s gospel reading calls us to examine our response to the conversion of unbelievers around us. Are we like the Pharisees who were so wrapped up in religious pomposity and self-righteousness that they would not attend to the needy souls around them but would rather seek discourage those who seek out these souls?  “Be separated from them” (2 Corinthians 6: 14-17) is what some erroneously quote to justify their uncharitable disposition to folks outside the fold. This is an ungodly disposition that does not in any way portray the way of Christ. Our separation should rather be to holiness and righteousness; love and truthfulness. It must never breed pride, hatred or prejudice in us. By the totality of our way of life, we are called to live by godly virtues.

Beloved in Christ, irrespective of your mission or apostolate within the church, let us heed the counsel of St. Paul in today’s first reading (Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13) to be better Christians. Though, none of us is perfect, we nevertheless must daily strive to evangelize both within and outside the church. The more we labour for the salvation of others, the better we ourselves are united to Christ.

PRAYER: Father, I give you my soul; please keep it for I cannot keep it outside of you. I give you my heart, please enflame it that it may burn for the conversion of souls for you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 588- … Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others,” Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.

HIDE A TREASURE: “ And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like stars for ever and ever ( Daniel 12: 3 RSV-CE)

Today’s readings: Ephesians 4: 1-7, 11-13; Psalm 19:2-5; Matthew 9: 9-13