FIGHTING TEMPTATION

Friday, 31st January – Friday of week 3 of the year

Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest

Reflection: 2 Samuel 11: 1-10, 13-17

FIGHTING TEMPTATION

Today’s reading puts before us the very popular story of how the righteous man, David sinned against God. As we reflect on this passage we realize that this grievous sin of adultery and murder which King David committed did not happen all at once. It all started with negligence and idleness. King David was in fact expected to be on the battle field rather than in his palace but this negligence on his part opened the door to temptation and sin.

Dear friends, we have a lot to learn from David, the man after God’s heart. We must learn that none of us is above temptation for even Christ himself was tempted. This awareness should make us always cautious and wary of the attempts of the enemy to make us offend our Father in heaven. We must ensure that we are at our duty posts always. Always be where you are expected to be so as not to give the devil a chance to deceive you. Would David have seen Bathsheba taking her bath if he was on the battle field? Certainly not!

In addition, temptation always precedes sin. Being tempted itself is not sin, we sin only when we yield to these temptations. Christ has shown you and I how to overcome temptation through his own life. Like Jesus, we must mortify ourselves. Just as Jesus fasted in the wilderness, we too, as young Christians must have times for fasting and abstinence from the various desires of our flesh. In doing this, we learn to have control of our bodily desires and will be strengthened in times of temptation. Also, like Jesus, we must know the word of God as it is our sword of the Spirit with which we are to fight temptations and triumph over them.

Let us press on daily my dear friend. Even when we fall, let us rise up quickly and ask for God’s mercy and grace

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I submit myself to you today. Please fortify me against the wiles of the enemy and strengthen me to be victorious over every lure of the devil. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: 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: “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” 1 Corinthians 10:13 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 11: 1-10, 13-17; Psalm 51: 3-7, 10-11; Mark 4: 26-34

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LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

Thursday, 30th January – Thursday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: Mark 4: 21-25

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

In a country like Nigeria where power outages are still part of our everyday life, we would be able to appreciate the concept of light and darkness and I bet we all will agree with St John’s gospel that darkness cannot overcome light (John 1:5). No matter how dark a room is, the light of a single candle cannot be hidden by the darkness.

At our baptism, our admission into God’s family, we all were given lighted candles, signifying that we are given Christ, the light of the world who calls as His disciples to be light of the world too. A light always shows the way, giving illumination and direction to a dark path. Hence, you and I are called to be light even in the darkness of this world. As young people, we come face to face daily with worldly ways of doing things from the media, internet, friends, colleagues etc. The world upholds its own sinful standards in several issues such as fornication, lies, fraud, exam malpractice etc. We must not blend to the standards of this world because love for the world is enmity with God (1John 1:15).

Dear friend, Christ reminds us today that a lamp brought into the house cannot be put under a bed. Instead it is put on a stand so its light is seen everywhere in the house. Do not be afraid of standing out for Christ(Philippians 2:14). Do not be afraid of being the lone voice speaking the truth or being the only one in your class not engaging in sexual immorality. Each day, spend time with Christ studying His word and in prayers. Avail yourself of the privilege of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist as He is the strength for our journey of faith.

 Remember you are called by Jesus through your baptism to stand out and shine the light of truth and righteousness and someday, you will be called to account for how well you obeyed this call.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the privilege of belonging to the family of God through my baptism. Please grant me the grace and the courage to shine as a light in this fallen world. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 11 – Why do we hand on the faith?

We hand on the faith because Jesus commands us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

No genuine Christian leaves the transmission of the faith exclusively to specialists (teachers, pastors, missionaries). We are Christ for others. This means that every genuine Christian would like God to come to other people, too. He says to himself, “The Lord needs me! I have been baptized and confirmed and am responsible for helping the people around me to learn about God and ‘to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4b).” Mother Teresa used a good comparison: “Often you can see power lines running alongside the street. Unless current is flowing through them, there is no light. The power line is you and I! The current is God! We have the power to allow the current to flow through us and thus to generate the light of the world: JESUS—or to refuse to be used and, thus, allow the darkness to spread.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” Matthew 5:16 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 7: 18-19, 24-29; Psalm 132: 1-5, 11-14; Mark 4: 21-25

TAKE HEED

Wednesday, 29th January – Wednesday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: Mark 4: 1-20

TAKE HEED

After the death of the great man of God, Moses, when the mantle of leadership was to fall on Joshua, God promised to abide with Him in his new assignment. However, to have good success, God counseled him to hold on tenaciously to His word (Joshua 1: 1-8). Our Lord Jesus Christ came saying: “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6: 63). This affirms the enduring truth that our Christian faith revolves around the word of God (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17). The devil knows this, hence the intensity and myriads of ways he daily employs to make us lose out on this.

The gospel of today presents us with four categories of people in the parable of the sower. The same viable seeds produced four different results due to the differences in the nature and receptivity of the respective soils. How receptive is your heart and mine when we encounter God in His word? Acts like tweeting, facebooking, pinging and other forms of distractions during Mass are concrete examples of the tricks of the devil aimed at robbing us of God’s blessings.

Today, the Lord is admonishing you and I to eliminate all forms of distraction when we approach Him in His word, to hold on tenaciously to His word in the face of life’s challenges and merriment and to safeguard it against being drowned by our rush after material gains of this life (1John 2: 15-17).

We must each day, make conscious effort to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the word of God and act on it in other to experience the overall kind of success promised Joshua.

PRAYER: Oh Lord! Help me to resist and overcome all the antics of satan that daily seek to cloud my vision and understanding of your word. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 20 – How can we respond to God when he speaks to us?

To respond to God means to believe him. [142-149]

Anyone who wants to believe needs a heart that is ready to listen (see 1 Kings 3:9). In many ways God seeks contact with us. In every human encounter, in every moving experience of nature, in every apparent coincidence, in every challenge, every suffering, there is a hidden message from God to us. He speaks even more clearly to us when he turns to us in his Word or in the voice of our conscience. He addresses us as friends. Therefore we, too, should respond as friends and believe him, trust him completely, learn to understand him better and better, and accept his will without reservation.

HIDE A TREASURE:”Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away” Luke 8:18 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 7: 14-17; Psalm 89: 4-30; Mark 4:1-20

THE KING OF MY HEART

Tuesday, 28th January – Tuesday of week 3 of the year

Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Reflection: Psalm 24:7-10

THE KING OF MY HEART

Dear friends in Christ do not be deceived by what you see. Every man is fighting a battle but the great ones would be fought in the mind. This is because the heart is the place where all thoughts are incubated before they finally come into substance. A man might look healthy and handsome but deep down in his heart, he is like a sick and dying person gasping for breath to survive. What then is the problem? What battle are you fighting deep down your heart? Who controls your emotions and regulates the speech which proceeds from your mouth?

The psalmist presents us today with a solution to the battles of the mind which all men must fight. This solution is found in our readiness to open our hearts to God. God knows our thoughts and our problems but needs an invitation to come into our hearts. We must invite God and surrender all to him so that he can take charge. The enthronement of Christ in our heart makes him the centre of our entire decision making. In the first reading of today (2 Samuel 6:12), David went back to take the Ark of the covenant of God from Obed-Edom’s house when he saw the blessings wrought by God on his household. He was determined to enthrone God again amidst the Israelites.

Beloved, the victory we all need most of the time is victory over our hearts and not just over the physical battles that we see. Let us rededicate the kingship of our heart to God and make out time to settle all anxieties by regularly visiting Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and putting away every negative thought by the word of God. Remember that our God is strong and mighty; victorious in battle.(Ps 24:8). May the King of glory make our heart his dwelling place by our constant cleansing with the blood of the Lamb.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, come and be the King of my heart. Give me victory in my life’s battles. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 309 – What is charity?

Charity is the power by which we, who have been loved first by God, can give ourselves to God so as to be united with him and can accept our neighbor for God’s sake as unconditionally and sincerely as we accept ourselves.

HIDE A TREASURE

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still” Exodus 14:14 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 2 Samuel 6:12-15.17-19; Psalm 24:7-10; Mark 3:31-35

LIGHT AND DARKNESS

Monday, 27th January – Monday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: Mark 3:22-30

LIGHT AND DARKNESS

The Kingdom of God is an everlasting one. Everything that happens and would happen is known to God and is revealed in the living word of God. God confirmed the unity of his kingdom when satan was cast down from heaven because he rebelled against God. (Rev12:7-9). This episode was further made known by Apostle John in his (1John 1:5); when he declared God as light which is devoid of darkness.

Dear friends, there are no two ways to our eternal home. The only way is Jesus Christ who is the light of the world. You cannot have two masters (Matthew 6:24), you either serve God or serve the devil. You can either shine for Christ or shine for the devil. Therefore, it is important for us to have a clear-cut understanding of the fruits of our actions. Does my life constantly open others to temptation and sin? Do I still harbor malice, hatred, lust, jealousy and other fruits of human nature (Gal 5:19-21) and still live as if nothing is wrong? These are manifestations of darkness with which the light cannot live.

In our reading today, Jesus was wrongly acclaimed to possess the evil nature; casting out demons with the power of Beelzebul. What an evil contention by the scribes! Dear friends, bearing good fruits for Christ will raise oppositions and all manner of slander. The world will testify against us and plant weeds amongst our plants. There would be times of suffering and division from even our own friends because we want to live for Christ. Let us be courageous and never give in to our human nature. Let us live by the Spirit who will help to sustain our light to our perfect end.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, sustain the light of the Gospel in your body, the Church. Help me to look forward always to a new horizon of your light in my life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 347 – Why is “not practicing what you preach” such a serious deficiency in a Christian?

Agreement between one’s life and one’s witness is the first requirement for proclaiming the Gospel. Not practicing what you profess is therefore HYPOCRISY, a betrayal of the Christian duty to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”

HIDE A TREASURE

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden”. Matthew 5:14 GNB

Readings for Today: 2 Samuel 5:1-7,10; Ps 89; Mark 3:22-30

ARE YOU READY?

Sunday, 26th January – 3rd Sunday of the year

Reflection: Matthew 4:12-23

ARE YOU READY?

“Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw Peter and his brother Andrew who were fishermen and called them to follow him, at once they left all and followed him. Also, James and John, Son of Zebedee, left their Father and their boats and followed him at once. These disciples did not know what lies ahead, yet, they left all and followed him.

Dear Friends, today Christ is calling you to follow him; to be his disciple. Can you hear the call and are you ready for this? The call to follow him is a call to bear witness to Christ. This demands self-mortification and total submission from you. Self-mortification in terms of the comfort and pleasure we have to let go, the way of life and friends we have to leave, the insults we have to bear and the enemies we have to love and forgive. All these constitute the daily cross we have to bear to be a disciple of Christ (Luke 14:26-27). Christ is calling you today to serve him in the Church, in the community, and in the world at large. Can you hear Him and are you ready?

Remember, when God sends you on an errand, He pays the bill. So, do not worry about what lies ahead if you respond to the call. God will take care of that, for He cares for us. All you need to do is to make yourself available and say, “HERE AM I LORD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL”.

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for my being, give me the grace to hear and to respond to your call all my life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 348 – “Teacher, what . . . must I do to have eternal life?” (Mt 19:16)

Jesus says, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). Then he adds, “and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).

Christianity is more than a correct life and keeping the commandments. Being a Christian is a living relationship to Jesus. A Christian unites himself deeply and personally with the Lord and with him sets out on the way that leads to true life.

HIDE A TREASURE: “My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Keep your hearts upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity.” Sirach 2:1-2 GNB

Readings for today: Isaiah 8:23- 9:3, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23

AUTHENTIC CONVERSION

Saturday, 25th January

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Reflection: Acts 9:1-22

AUTHENTIC CONVERSION

Saint Paul, who is also referred to as an “Apostle to the Gentiles” made his impact in spreading the good news of salvation through the help of the Holy Spirit and his strong determination to complete what God entrusted to his care. This whole work cannot but be traced back to his encounter with Christ on his way to Damascus which led to an authentic conversion. Anytime we remember how he became an apostle, it is always wonderful to think of how God can chose even the worst of sinners for his work of salvation.

Today, we wonder why the flame of the faith grows weak even with sound liturgies and constant celebration of Sacraments by the Church. People complain that the Church is boring and seem not to know why they are in the church. Dear friend, a Christian without an authentic conversion brought about by a divine encounter with Christ will not be able to live out the Gospel of Jesus. Christianity is not always about what we hear about God from people but is significantly what God says to you, what God reveals to you and what God has entrusted to you. St. Paul in our reading today encountered God with some “elements” which made the encounter very unique; the presence of Christ, a new sight and baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also, God perfected and made all this possible by sending Ananias to minister to him. Beloved in Christ, have you ever had an encounter with Christ which you can hold on to and recall whenever the fight of faith gets tough? Do you desire more and more of Christ’s revelation of himself to you? This is the testimony and power of great men of faith.

Our obedience to the great commission of Christ, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good news to all creation” in the Gospel reading of today (Mark 16:15) would be dependent on our individual testimony of Christ and divine encounter with him. Let us be conscious of the fact that nobody is dispensable or too weak to proclaim Christ.

Dear Friends, as we go out today, let us pray that God may give us the grace to truly encounter Him in our daily activities.

TALK TO YOUR FRIEND: Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to me in a way that I have never experienced before. Let your light shine on me to enkindle the fire of your love in my heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 27- The desire for God

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never cease to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures” John 15:16 GNB

Readings for Today: Acts 9:1-22; Psalm 117; Mark 16:15-18