FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Tuesday 21st March – Tuesday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 18: 21-35

FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Each time I read through today’s gospel reading I see so clearly, the wickedness of the unforgiving servant. I see a person who could not even simply share the joy, excitement and freedom of being pardoned such a huge debt with a fellow servant by extending the same hand of forgiveness. I often say to myself: “…I can never be so wicked!” But is that completely true? Haven’t there been times when I have acted just the same way? Though I may not have anyone locked up in prison, are there not many people who are locked up in the prison of my heart because they have hurt me in one way or another?

Beloved, it is easy to claim to have forgiven a person who hurt you. The true test of your forgiveness is not what you say, rather it is your attitude to that person each time his name is mentioned in a conversation, or each time you have an opportunity to offer help to him/her. Christ asks us not simply to forgive with our “lips” but from our hearts. If you find yourself retelling the story of how unjust or untrustworthy a person is each time his/her name is mentioned, if you unconsciously keep talking ill of a person, then that is an indication to look into your heart. You may still have the person locked up in the prison of your heart.

Lent is a time to seek reconciliation with God and with our brethren. Lent is a time to examine our hearts and ensure that we are truly keeping in step with our master, Jesus. Examine your unconscious attitudes to those who have offended you in the past and ask the Lord for the grace to truly forgive them from your heart.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for forgiving me each time I come to you. Please pour out your grace into my heart that I may truly extend your perfect forgiveness to those who have hurt me. Amen.

Faith pearls: “For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgement.” James 2:13 RSV-CE

Hide a treasure: YOUCAT 524 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

Today’s readings: Dan 3:25, 34-43; Ps 25:4-9; Mt 18:21-35

BE VIGILANT!

Sunday 5th March – 1st Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 4: 1-11

BE VIGILANT!

There is no better time to be reminded of Jesus’ temptation than now, as we begin our own journey into the wilderness, taking after the footsteps of our Lord who spent 40 days and nights fasting and praying. Lent is a time for us to take a break from our routine and examine our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is a time to turn away from the sinful patterns that weigh us down and grow deeper in our faith.

As we reflect upon the subject of sin and seek repentance, it becomes even more important for us to consider the subject of temptation if we are truly to break the sinful patterns that hold us bondage. All sin starts with temptation, yet not all temptation results in sin. Adam and Eve in our first reading were tempted and yielded to the devil but our Lord Jesus was also tempted but did not yield. What made the difference between them?

Our Lord was conscious of the enemy’s deception and recognized it quickly. To truly overcome sin, we must be vigilant – we must be sensitive to the ways in which the enemy comes to us with his deceptive tactics. The more conscious we are, the more likely we are to recognize the temptations as they come and resist them. In addition, our Lord resisted the enemy with the word of God. God’s word is the sword of the spirit; our singular weapon of offense in our spiritual battle (Eph 6:17). We can successfully fight the enemy when we soak our ourselves in the truth of God’s word and make it our rule of life.

As we begin the first week of Lent, be vigilant. Watch out for the enemy’s tactics of discouragement, sloth and temptation and resist him. Only then would we cooperate with God’s grace to grow in holiness this season.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, sharpen my spiritual senses that I may be able to recognize and resist the temptations of the enemy. Please strengthen me in the battle against sin. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 88 – Why was Jesus led into temptation? Could he really be tempted at all?

Jesus was truly human, and as part of that he was truly susceptible to temptation. In Jesus Christ, we do not have the sort of redeemer “who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning” (Heb 4:15).

Hide a Treasure: “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-17; Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11

THE CONSEQUENCE OF SIN

Wednesday 3rd January
Reflection: 2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17

THE CONSEQUENCE OF SIN

‘For it is the one whom the father loves that he chastises’. This statement came to fulfilment in the reading of today that despite the fact that David was a man after God’s own heart, a beloved of God, he was severely punished for his sin.

However, a great lesson that should be taken from today’s reading is the fact that when the punishment comes, it may not be the only one who sinned that will partake in the punishment just like seventy thousand people died on the account David’s sin. So when we see others around us falling away from the way of God, it is our duty to always call them to order especially when they are our leaders. We should always learn to watch one another’s back because we are all children of God even the sinner himself.

Dear beloved, though painful it may be, the punishment for our sins, it must be seen as a way in which God the father purifies us again, makes us worthy again and prepares us for greater tasks ahead of us.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner, please give me the heart to bear the punishment for my sins and never to go back to them again. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 337– How are we saved?

No man can save himself. Christians believe that they are saved by God, who for this purpose sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world. For us salvation means that we are freed by the Holy Spirit from the power of sin and have been brought back from the realm of death to a life without end, a life in God’s presence.

HIDE A TREASURE: I have acknowledged my offence to you, and I have not concealed my injustice. I said, “I will confess against myself, my injustice to the Lord,” and you forgave the impiety of my sin. [psalm 32:5]

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 24:2,9-17; Psalm 32: 1-2, 5, 6, 7; Mark 6: 1-6

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH

Saturday 30th January – Saturday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: 2 Samuel 12:1-7, 10-17

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH

As children of God, it is certain that what keeps us going is that we know God is aware of us and wants us to be aware of Him always. We know that salvation came through Christ and the power to save us from all our foes rests in his hands. All these make up what we believe. However, if not experienced, this can neither be a testimony for us not can it bring us victory in our battles. This knowledge of God must not lie fallow in our lives but must generate a way of life which is lived and practiced.

Beloved, Jesus Christ often condemned the Pharisees and the Scribes because they were usually at the forefront of pointing accusing fingers to the wrongs of others but never cared about how their knowledge of the law could change their own lives. This was Prophet Nathan’s message to King David in our reading today to be reprimanded by God because he was not accountable for his word. “A servant who knows what master wants is and does not get ready to do it would be punished with a heavy whipping”. (James 1:22-24 also describes such hypocrisy. Thus, to witness for Christ requires a lifestyle of truth and a firm determination to constantly check any areas our lives which may not be in accordance with truth. A blind man cannot lead another blind man. Refusing to live the word of God belittles God’s grace in us which gives the ability to do His will.

Let us all learn from David who had Luke 12:47-48). To whom much is given, much is expected. Now that you know the truth, how happy you would be if you put in into practice. (John 13:17).

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, to know you as my Lord isn’t enough, help me to be a witness of the Gospel in words and deeds.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1802 – The word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer, and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Now that you know the truth, how happy you would be if you put it into practice.” John 13:17 GNB

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 12:1-7.10-17; Psalm 51:12-17; Mark 4:35-41

A MERCIFUL BUT JUST GOD

Wednesday 23rd September – Wednesday of week 25 of the year

A MERCIFUL BUT JUST GOD

Tobit 13: 2, 4, 6-8 (Canticle)

Life is full of choices. We can either choose to live according to the commandments of God or at variance with them. Either way attracts its own consequences. While sin leads to captivity and death (Romans 6: 23; Ezekiel 18:4), obedience to God leads to freedom and eternal life (Jeremiah 38: 20b; John 17:3). Every moment of our lives offers us an opportunity to say “yes” to the will of God and “no” to the subtle suggestions of the evil one; to renounce ourselves and embrace the way of Christ. We are daily encouraged to grow in virtues and intimacy with Christ.

However, this is not always the case with us. We sometimes deliberately go against the will of God to satisfy our selfish desires. We wave aside our shortcomings on the basis that God is merciful and “understanding.” Yes, He is truly merciful (Exodus 34: 6) and knows our imperfection (Genesis 6: 5-7); yet, we cannot continue to deliberately sin and take His mercy for granted. In today’s first reading, Ezra made us realize that the punishment of the Israelites was as a result of their persistent neglect of the Lord’s commandments.

Dearest in the Lord, we are called this day to examine areas of our lives where we deliberately sin against God. Are we indulging in pornography, fornication, abortion, examination malpractices, fraud, drunkenness etc.? As youth of this age, numerous are the temptations and vices raging around us; but as Christians, we must be people set apart for the Lord, shinning as light in the darkness around.

Great are the plans of God for us (Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthian 2:9), we however can lose out on His best for us through some costly mistakes in life. Some mistakes are better prevented then amended. Sin has both temporal and eternal consequences (CCC 1472- 1473). Even after we might have been forgiven, it takes the grace of God to live with the consequences of some past misdeeds. The experience of King David with Bathsheba is an example for us to learn from (2 Samuel 11-12).

PRAYER: Thank you for your abundant mercy Lord; please strengthen me to honour you in every season of my live. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 234 – When is a Catholic obliged to confess his serious sins? How often should one go to confession?

Upon reaching the age of reason, a Catholic is obliged to confess his serious sins. The Church urgently advises the faithful to do this at least once a year. At any rate one must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion if one has committed a serious sin. By “the age of reason”, the Church means the age at which one has arrived at the use of reason and has learned to distinguish between good and bad.

HIDE A TREASURE: Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the lord.” Ps 119:1 GNB

Today’s readings: Ezra 9:5-9; Tobit 13: 2, 4, 6-8; Luke 9: 1-6

THE LORD STILL HEARS

Saturday 10th January – Saturday after Epiphany Sunday

Reflection: 1 John 5: 14-21

THE LORD STILL HEARS

Looking through the scriptures; we see several instances of God attending to the needs of His people when they call upon Him in prayer. Yet, when we have needs or are in the midst of trials and we do not seem to get answers to our prayers readily, we can easily slip into doubt. Today, God seeks to increase our confidence in Him as He reminds us in His word that He hears us every time we pray and grants our request in accordance with His will (1 John 5: 14).
Sin; however is a barrier between God and us. If we live in sin, God’s grace does not abound in our lives and two things happen:
Our sins prevent God from hearing our prayers (Isaiah 1:15; Proverbs 15:8)
We are unable to recognise God’s work in our lives, unable to hear His voice and follow the promptings He gives which may be the very answer to our prayers.

The Bible tells us that all disobedience is sin; no matter how little they are and whether or not the sins can lead to death. Are you living in sin? Do you take time each day to examine your conscience and ask for God’s mercy when you recognise your faults? Do you take advantage of the forgiveness and reconciliation the Sacrament of Penance offers to you?

Dear friend, God still hears you when you pray. He knows your needs and He is in the very act of meeting you at the point of your deepest need. Simply make it your own priority to live in sincerity with Him and strive for holiness each day. His grace is indeed sufficient; cooperate with that immense grace today.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, in your mercy, I pray for the grace to always overcome temptation so that I may hear you clearly at all times. Please Lord, meet me at my points of need and increase my trust in you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2375 – …we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the result of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? Or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

HIDE A TREASURE: “And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 John 5:14-21; Psalm 149:1-6, 9; John 3:22-30

REPENT!

Wednesday 12th March – 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 reconcialiation 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 229 – What 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

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