GAUDETE!

Sunday 13th December – 3rd Sunday of Advent

Reflection: Luke 3:10-18

GAUDETE!

As we get half-way through Advent we are greeted at Mass today with “Rejoice!” The Entrance Antiphon captures the message in a beautiful way: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” The “Gaudete” Sunday calls you and me, amidst the penitential nature of Advent, to embrace our hope and expectation with joy. What better reason do we have to be joyous than the reassurance that our Lord and Saviour is near?

When we encounter difficulties in our day to day lives – at home, at work, in our communities, in our nation, we can easily become so overburdened that we do not see any reason for joy. Yet God tells us to look beyond all these and see how much we are loved by the very God that holds the universe in existence. St Paul calls us in the second reading to hand over our worries and concerns to God in prayer so we may experience His peace, one that is much greater than we can understand and one that keeps our hearts in perspective.

The question of John’s hearers should become our own too: “what must we do?” We must rid ourselves of the division and strife caused by sin and human selfishness. Remember that the call to rejoice is for the entire human race. Is there any way your words and actions may be preventing your neighbour from experiencing the joy that God fills our heart with? John the Baptist called the people to reconciliation and a life of love and sharing. Advent gives you an opportunity for reconciliation as we wait in hope to celebrate our Saviour’s birth. Let us grasp this opportunity and experience the rivers of overflowing joy in us and around us.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please fill me with your joy today and help me share that joy with all who surround me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 311-What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.

 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Isaiah 12 (canticle); Phil 4:4-7; Luke 3: 10-18

LOOK FORWARD

Wednesday 30th September – Memorial of St Jerome, Priest & Doctor

Reflection: Luke 9: 57-62

LOOK FORWARD

No one who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 62b

Old habits they say, die hard; however, through the power of Christ at work in us we can overcome all ungodly tendencies that hitherto characterise our way of life. Conversion to Christ could be an instantaneous event; however, the work of transformation takes a life time. Having answered the call of Christ to be His followers; it is required of us to give Him unalloyed fidelity. Though the waves of temptation and opposition rage against us, our faith must never succumb to these if we are to earn the crown of glory.

Beloved, today’s gospel reading calls you and I to examine how forthrightly we are following Christ. Through our baptism we have renounced Satan and all his empty promises; we embrace the way of holiness and righteousness. Friend, do you still involve yourself in ungodly acts that run contrary to your baptismal vows? No one can serve two masters says our Lord (Luke 16: 13); we cannot partly serve God and partly serve the devil; Christianity demands hundred per cent commitment.

Let us this day renew our commitment to follow Christ, let us lay aside every weight and sins that easily beset us; looking up to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrew 12 :1-3); . No gain of this world is comparable to the ultimate reward that awaits us in heaven if we remain committed to Christ till the end.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, having come to know you, please help me to serve you with a steadfast heart. Detach me from all that offends your love; help me to make heaven at the end of my earthly sojourn. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 226 – But we have Baptism, which reconciles us with God; why then do we need a special sacrament of Reconciliation?

Baptism does snatch us from the power of sin and death and brings us into the new life of the children of God, but it does not free us from human weakness and the inclination to sin. That is why we need a place where we can be reconciled with God again and again. That place is confession.

It does not seem like a modern thing to go to confession; it can be difficult and may cost a great deal of effort at first. But it is one of the greatest graces that we can receive again and again in our life—it truly renews the soul, completely unburdens it… Someone who has gone to confession turns a clean, new page in the book of his life

HIDE A TREASURE: “No one who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 62b RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Nehemiah 2:1-8; Psalm 137: 1-6; Luke 9:57-62

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

Tuesday 25th August- St. Louis, St. Joseph Calasanz P. (Opt.Mem)

Reflection: Matthew 23:25-62

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

Today’s Gospel presents us with a very unique aspect of our spiritual and moral life. We may be quick to conclude that Jesus seemed to always pick on the Pharisees. However, what Jesus disliked and condemned was their hypocritical life style. This hypocritical way of life is gradually eating deep into the lives of many Christian youths.

Dear friends, being a christian goes beyond what people would say about you and more of what Christ himself would say about you. We  need an inward transformation. It is not just the external things we do like being active in church, attending church programmes and trying to portray ourselves as righteous that makes us true Christians; rather, it is by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us inwardly.
Are there certain bad habits you desire to conquer? Don’t pretend they are not there. Own up to them and ask the Holy Spirit to help you for the human flesh is weak. (Rom.12:2). You cannot conquer sin in your life through your own strength alone. Approach our Lord at confession where He desires to receive you with open arms and strengthen you in your quest for holiness. Study His word and allow its truth to transform you.

PRAYER: Precious Holy Spirit, please purge me off all filthiness within me.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You will succeed… not by might or by your own strength, but my Spirit.” Zechariah 4:6

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC  2466: “The disciple of Jesus continues in His Word so as to know the truth that will make you free and that sanctifies.”

Today’s reading: 1Thess 2:1-8; Ps.139:1-3.4-6; Mt. 23:23-26

ONLY SAY THE WORD

Saturday 27th June – Saturday of week 12 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 8:5-17

ONLY SAY THE WORD

Beloved in Christ, nothing can stop the fulfillment of the word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Once God speaks concerning any situation, whatever He says must come to pass.

Today’s first and the Gospel readings give an account of two men who heard God speak to them in their different predicaments. The first was Abraham who welcomed God into his tent with such a hospitable gesture (Gen 18:1-5). God spoke this WORD to him; “Nine months from now, I will come back and your wife Sarah will have a son” (Gen 18:10). Despite Sarah’s unbelief, it couldn’t stop the spoken WORD. Unlike Sarah, the Roman officer in the Gospel reading knew the power of God’s word; “Just give the order, and my servant will get well” Matt. 8:8b. These two instances reveal to us the place of God’s word in our journey of faith. God’s word to you and me is his will for our lives.

Beloved in Christ, Christ is here for you today. He wants you to encounter him more deeply than ever. He is not interested in an encounter without a WORD from him. He desires that you truly mean the words of the liturgy which we address to him during Communion rites at Mass just like the Centurion in our reading: “Lord I am not worthy that you may enter under my roof, but only say the WORD and my soul shall be healed”. He is saying to us every time we receive the Eucharist; I AM FOR YOU AND I AM IN YOU. If we truly desire the word of God, then we must seek it with our hearts. As we do that, we experience God’s mighty power to save us and meet our needs.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, speak your word of life to every situation of my life and let me rejoice in your saving help. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 10 With Jesus Christ, has everything been said, or does revelation continue even after him?

In Jesus Christ, God himself came to earth. He is God’s last Word. By listening to him, all men of all times can know who God is and what is necessary for their salvation.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Listen to me, my people, listen to what I say; I give my teaching to the nations, my law will bring them light” Isaiah 51:4 GNB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 18:1-15; Luke 1:46-55 (Canticle); Matthew 8:5-17

HAVE YOU BEEN PRUNED?

Sunday 3rd May – 5th Sunday of Easter.

Reflection: John 15:1-8

HAVE YOU BEEN PRUNED?

You may wonder what it means for a human being to be pruned. It simply means allowing oneself to be tested and purified.  Beloved, without purification we will be unable to attain a good height in both our spiritual and physical lives. This is indeed a hard saying, not so? But it is true! Jesus tells us today that “the branch that bears fruit will be pruned so that it can bear more fruit.” (John 15:2).

If you have ever sustained a wound that required dressing by a health worker then you have some understanding of what it means to be pruned. Cleaning the wound is often a very painful process but the aftermath is a wound free of germs so as to accelerate healing. This is can serve as a good illustration to Jesus’ words on our need to be pruned in order to bear more fruit.

How does the pruning occur in the life of a child of God? It is by allowing God access into your heart when you read His word in Scripture; when you read the Bible not just for information, but for transformation (John 15:3). Transformation is not an easy process because it demands that you let go of worldly attachments and habits you love so much so as to become better and holier. Hence beloved, don’t run away when the Word of God is challenging you, rather allow it to change you for your own good.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please prune me so that I can die to my selfishness and may bear more fruits of righteousness. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2706: “To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened, the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword…It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 GNB.

Today’s Readings:  Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22: 26-32; 1Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Tuesday 27th January – Tuesday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: Hebrews 10: 1-10

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

“You Are What You Eat” was the theme of a dieting programme aired between 2004 and 2007 on the British Television. With the pandemic of non-infectious diseases like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases etc, the world has become much more conscious of the impact of our diet and lifestyle choices on our health. You need not look too far to find numerous diet regimens being promoted in a bid to encourage a healthy life. We too, as Catholic Christians are what we eat; Christ invites us to eat His flesh in the discourse on the Eucharist and at the last supper, on the night He was betrayed (John 6:51; Matthew 26: 26-28).

The writer to the Hebrews tells us in today’s reading that “God’s will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:10). The blood of goats and bulls which were required under the old covenant for the cleansing of sin were grossly inadequate and lacked the power to truly purify the Israelites. However, the blood of Christ which was shed once and for all as He offered Himself on the cross has the power not only to take away our sins but also to purify our hearts and consciences and unite us with our Heavenly Father. Thus, the Eucharist raises us from our fallen state into union with God.

Dear friend, at every Mass you have the privilege of reliving this ultimate sacrifice. Each Mass is celebrated in obedience to Christ’s instruction: “do this in memory of me”. The Eucharist is a life giving meal; it pours out sanctifying grace – the very life of God into us and strengthens us in our journey of faith, preparing us to meet Him whom we receive face to face at the end of time. Jesus invites you and I to receive Him so we can be like Him. Let us open our hearts and minds to the Lord and approach Him with purity of heart so that the bread of life that we eat may bring us eternal life and not condemnation.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the gift of your body and blood. Please help me to receive you worthily and frequently and to cooperate with the grace of holiness you give me in the Eucharist so that I may truly be Christ-like.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 221 – How does Holy Communion change me?

Every Holy Communion unites me more deeply with Christ, makes me a living member of the Body of Christ, renews the graces that I received in Baptism and Confirmation, and fortifies me for the battle against sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me” John 6: 57 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Hebrews 10: 1-10; Psalm 40: 2-4, 7-11; Mark 3: 31-35

YOU NEED A NEW NAME

Friday 23rd January – Friday of week 2 of the year

Reflection: Mark 3:16-17

YOU NEED A NEW NAME

What is in a name? So much! Your name is your identity. Today God wants to give you a new name. When God gives a person a new name, it overturns the future of the person for good. Our father in faith – Abraham witnessed a change of name and was never the same again. Sarah and Jacob also experienced name changes that marked a transformation in their lives. In today’s text, Simon’s name was changed to Peter by Christ Himself. A name that signified the mission Christ had for him – to be the leader of His Church.

You may ask whether you really need a physical change of name before you can experience such spiritual transformation. The answer is simply- “not necessarily”. What you and I need is a transformation that changes our identity. Through baptism, we have become God’s children; our identity has been changed. Yet, for us to be truly transformed, we must cooperate with the grace we received at Baptism; we must be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and strive to live holy lives.

When we do this, then we become like the Apostle Paul who shared a spiritual identity with the name of Jesus. An identity that even the devil recognised: “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you who are you?” (Acts 19:14). What an identity Paul the apostle had in the spirit realm! Do you now see why you need a new name? If you are keen on getting a new name from God today, then you must read about and imitate the lives of Christ and of those who experienced such great transformation. In addition, let every day lead you to a closer union with Christ as He alone can transform you and I and elevate our names – our identities.

 PRAYER: Father, thank you for the gift of my faith. Please transform me by the power of your Spirit and help me to live out my Christian identity to its full. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 201, 202 – What is the significance of receiving a name in Baptism? Why should Christians choose the names of saints at Baptism?

Through the name that we receive in Baptism God tells us: “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is 43:1). There are no better examples than the saints and no better helpers. If my namesake is a saint, I have a friend with God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being, the old is gone, the new is come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 GNB

Readings for Today: Hebrews 8: 6-13; Psalm 85: 8, 10-14; Mark 3: 13-19