SINGLENESS OF HEART

Thursday 4th June – Thursday of week 9 of the year

Reflection: Tobit 8: 4-9

SINGLENESS OF HEART

“…I do it in the singleness of heart…”(Tobit 8:7)
The title of today’s reflection casts my mind back to my Chemistry lessons in Secondary school. We were taught the differences between homogenous and heterogeneous compounds. Basically, a heterogeneous compound is made up of two or more constituents while a homogenous compound is of a single make. The homogenous compound is essentially a pure compound. 

The human mind can also be related to a compound- It could either be homogenous i.e. pure and of a single make or heterogeneous i.e. impure; a jumbo mixture of many parts. Our Blessed Savior in the beatitudes calls the pure hearted blessed, for they shall see God ( Matthew 5:8) and from the first reading of today we hear these words of Tobit: “ …I do not take my sister for any lustful motive; I do it in singleness of heart.” Beloved in Christ, the place of motive is crucial in our actions or inactions in life. Except our hearts are pure and right with God, our motives will not be right. They will be nothing but inordinate and self-seeking.
Tobit said the above in relation to his newly wedded wife. As youths, prospective husbands and wives, how sincere is the love we profess in our relationships? It is a common phenomenon that some young men and ladies go about deceiving and exploiting the opposite sex in the name of “love.” Beloved in Christ, this must not be our line of action as sons and daughters of Light. The love our Lord calls us to in today’s Gospel demands that we have the fear of God and seek to honor Him in all our dealings. This is the only way we can access the blessings professed by the Psalmist today. To do otherwise is to walk in the path of deception which leads only to regrets!

PRAYER: Deliver me Lord from every grip of falsehood. Please make my heart pure and sincere like Yours that I may see your loving-kindness in all my ways. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 463How does one achieve “purity of heart”?

The purity of heart required for love is achieved in the first place through union with God in prayer. When God’s grace touches us, this also produces a path to pure, undivided human love. A chaste person can love with a sincere and undivided heart.

When we turn to God with a sincere intention, he transforms our hearts. He gives us the strength to correspond to his will and to reject impure thoughts, fantasies, and desires. 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8 RSV-CE.

Today’s Readings: Tobit 6: 10-11, 7:1,9-14, 8:4-9; Psalm 128: 1-5; Mark 12: 28-34

WHAT EFFORTS ARE YOU MAKING?

Sunday 25th January – 3rd Sunday of the year

Reflection: Jonah 3: 1-5, 10

WHAT EFFORTS ARE YOU MAKING?

The story of the prophet Jonah is one that shows forth the depth of God’s mercy. Though God is just, He is immensely merciful, seeking the salvation of all man. Hence despite Jonah’s initial refusal to obey God’s instruction, God ensured that he did so that the Ninevites would be given a chance to hear the message of repentance.

Dear friends, God is aware of our imperfections and the struggles we face in this fallen world are very well known to Him. Each new day He gives us is a new chance for repentance and reconciliation with Him (2 Peter 3:15). Yet, all He requires from us is a sincere effort to live in holiness. Just as God saw the efforts of the Ninevites in today’s first reading and relented on the punishment He had proposed to bring on them, God looks out for the efforts you and I are making. Are you making any efforts at all or are you simply wallowing in sin and worldly living with the excuse that “no one is perfect?”

Jesus called ordinary men to be his followers in today’s gospel reading. These men whom He later appointed “Apostles” were uneducated imperfect fishermen. Yet, because they surrendered themselves to our Lord and made efforts to follow Him faithfully, He strengthened their faith and enabled them to become pillars of His Church. Beloved, Jesus calls out to you and I today with the words: “follow me”. He is ready to give us the grace we need. But we must be ready to make efforts to follow Him in sincerity.

PRAYER: Lord, make me know your ways. Teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me; for you are God my saviour.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1694 – Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with Him, Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love” by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind… which is yours in Christ Jesus,” and by following His example.

HIDE A TREASURE: “…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge” 2 Peter 1:5

Readings for Today: Jonah 3: 1-5, 10; Psalm 25: 4-9; 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31; Mark 1: 14-20

HOW SINCERE IS YOUR LOVE?

Thursday 8th January – Thursday after Epiphany Sunday

Reflection: 1 John 4: 19- 5:4

HOW SINCERE IS YOUR LOVE?

Love, the greatest of all virtues (1 Corinthians 13:13) appears to be the most abused word nowadays. We claim to love, yet we sacrifice little or nothing for our love and barely forgive offences. We claim to love God but readily flout His commandments. The list of contradictions is inexhaustible!

Beloved in Christ, we are called this day to individually examine our disposition and sincerity to the greatest of God’s commandments – loving God and our neighbour (Mark 12:28-31). The true affirmation of our love of God is found in our wilful obedience to Him (1 John 5:3). We should sincerely seek to know His will and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to doing it.

Our love for our neighbour must not be based on how “lovable” they appear to us as it is precisely those who seem “unlovable” that we are called to go out of our way to love (Matthew 5: 44-46). When we point out imperfection in others, we must not forget that we are not flawless ourselves. If God in His infinite mercy loves us despite our imperfections, why should we demand perfection from others?

Dear friends, let us this day reflect on 1 Corinthians 13. Until we love our neighbours, no matter who they are, as ourselves and lovingly commit ourselves to obeying God’s commandments, we have no true claim to be followers of Christ.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, my inadequacy in love is glaring! Please help me that I may better love you and love my neighbour as myself. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1825 – Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies”. The Lord asks us to love as He does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbour of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ Himself.

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own will; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” 1 John 5:3 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 John 4: 19- 5:4; Psalm 72: 1-2, 14-17; Luke 4: 14-22

WHEN FAITH IS IN DOUBT

Thursday 3rd July – Feast of St Thomas, Apostle

Reflection: John 20: 24-29

WHEN FAITH IS IN DOUBT

To thine own self be true,                                                                                                                                          And it must follow, as the night the day,                                                                                                            Thou canst not then be false to any men”

-Hamlet; William Shakespeare

 One of the tragedies of our time is man’s increasing tendency towards self deception. When a man has been consistently untruthful to others, it follows that with time he will become untruthful to himself. A man is untruthful to himself will invariably be lacking in conviction and hence, cannot stand up for anything in life. Such readily betray themselves and their larger society. So, to ourselves, we must first be true!

Many over the years have been quick to utterly disapprove of Thomas’ disbelief of our Lord’s resurrection. However, there is a lesson we can all learn from this disciple, especially as Catholics. How much of the Church’s teaching do you doubt but openly pretend to uphold? Think of the Eucharist or the sacrament of Reconciliation; the place of Mary in our salvation history or the veneration Saints; purgatory or the use of contraceptives…the list is endless. Does faith entail professing or even defending what you don’t believe? That undoubtedly is hypocrisy and self-deception which only leads to but religious fanaticism.

Much as we can all have moments or areas of doubt about our faith, sincerity, as exemplified by Thomas demands that we admit these areas of doubt. They are not to be denied or suppressed neither must we allow them to drive us out of the Church. Such doubts are in themselves opportunities to seek clarification and deepen our understanding of the faith. Irrespective of our age or status we must never be so ashamed of our doubt or ignorance much as not to seek the needed help or clarification. The consequences of inaction could be grave. (Hosea 4:6).

Despite his doubt, Thomas abided with the fold and his commitment was rewarded by our Lord’s second apparition to his disciples. So great his faith later became that he defended it up to martyrdom. Beloved, if you too will persistently and sincerely ask God in prayer; ask elders in faith and devotedly study the Church’s writings on that grey area(s) in your faith, our faithful and just Lord will surely grant you an answer.

PRAYER: Dear Father, I believe in your love and your guidance of your Church. Please grant me a clearer understanding of You and Your mystical body- the Church. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 158– “faith seeks understanding.”It is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love….In the words of St Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”

HIDE A TREASURE:“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find;  knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7: 7-8 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Ephesians 2: 19-22; Psalm 117: 1-2; John 20: 24-29