IN THE POTTER’S HAND

Thursday 31st July – Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Reflection: Jeremiah 18: 1-6

IN THE POTTER’S HAND

Many of us have no difficulty believing that we were created by God. However, we often find ourselves disbelieving that God has great and beautiful plans for our lives and seeks us to allow Him fulfill His purpose in us. We often want to be in charge and make all our plans and decisions on our own. This often results in a lack of trust in God and sometimes it even leads to rebellion.

Today’s reading reminds us that the God who created us is always in the act of moulding us into whom He wants us to be. Just as the potter moulds his clay into any object he desires so does God seek to mould us into what He desires. Are we prepared to surrender to Him and allow Him to bring out the beauty He has created in you and I?

Dear friends, the Bible reassures us that God has plans of good for us. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us surrender ourselves to God and seek His will in prayer. Only then can we fulfill our purpose on this earth and live in true happiness and peace. “Yes, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, House of Israel” Jeremiah 18: 6

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I submit myself to you. Please take me and mould me into that beautiful vessel you have created me to be. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 59 Why did God make man?

God made everything for man. Man, however, who is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”, was created in order to be blessed. This happens when he knows, loves, and serves God and lives in gratitude toward his Creator.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Jeremiah 18: 1-6; Psalm 145: 2-6; Matthew 13: 47-53

FINDING A TREASURE

Wednesday 30th July – Wednesday of week 17 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 13: 44 -46

FINDING A TREASURE

The dictionary defines a “treasure” as something that is highly valued by its owner. Today, Christ likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure found in a field and to pearls of very high value. Let us look closely at these parables and see what message our Lord is passing across us.

First, in both parables, there is some effort on the part of the person who finds the treasure. The first parable shows that the treasure is hidden in a field. Hence the man who found it must have put in lots of effort before discovering where the treasure was hidden. The same goes for the second as the merchant is described as looking for fine pearls. Hence he didn’t simply stumble upon the pearls of great value. He was in fact looking for them.

Secondly, in both parables, the persons who find the treasure and the pearl have to sell all they have in other to buy the valuable treasures they have found. Hence the treasure and the pearls are much more valuable to them than everything they have. The kingdom of Heaven is really a treasure. It’s the reason for our creation.

The grace of becoming God’s children which we receive at baptism is a free gift. However, we still have our role to play if the gift of our faith is to truly become a treasure for us. If we do not sincerely seek to grow in our relationship with God; the grace of our divine sonship would mean nothing to us and we can easily become carried away by this world. As we increase our knowledge about God through His word, we come to treasure His kingdom above all things and only then can we truly give up our all in this world for the sake of our eternal happiness. Have you found the greatest treasure of all? What are you doing in order to obtain it?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to recognize the great treasure of your kingdom and strengthen me to live out the fullness of my faith so as to obtain the gift of eternal life you have promised to all who seek you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 546 – The proclamation of the kingdom of God

…Through His parables, Jesus invites people to the feast of he kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received?…

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Jeremiah 15: 10, 16-21; Psalm 59: 2-5, 10-11, 17-18; Matthew 13: 44-46

OH LORD! YOU ARE OUR HOPE

Tuesday 29th July – Memorial of St Martha

Reflection: Jeremiah 14: 17-22

OH LORD! YOU ARE OUR HOPE

A careful look at the first reading makes me wonder if the writer is familiar with our dear country, Nigeria. The exact problems lamented in the reading – killings, poverty, sickness and exploitation of the land by those in authority are the very problems that plague our land. Like the Israelites, we keep hoping for peace, for an end to corruption but all hope seems dashed. What must we do?

The Israelites recognized the source of their problems – they had abandoned God and had their fill of wickedness. Hence the only solution was to turn to God with a plea for mercy. Dear friend, you and I must also realize the root of our problems in Nigeria – selfishness and godlessness (despite the seemingly large number of religious people) has eaten deep into our nation and all we have to reap are the evils we see each day ranging from corruption to terrorism.

You and I have a role to play. If we are truly sincere in our relationship with God, God desires that we turn away from our own sins and plead for His mercy on behalf of our country. Like Israel, we must remember that God is our only hope (Jeremiah 14:22). If we look away from Him because we there is no apparent improvement in our country, then we would find ourselves in the depths of despair. God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if there were just ten righteous people there (Genesis 18:32); if God is to spare our land because of a certain number of righteous men would you and I add to or subtract from that number? God is counting on you and I to stand in the gap for Nigeria as we call upon Him for mercy on our land.

PRAYER: Lord God, please have mercy on our country. Forgive our sins and deliver us from the evils that beset us. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 331 – Why is there nevertheless injustice among men?

All men have the same dignity, but not all of them meet with the same living conditions. In cases where injustice is man-made, it contradicts the Gospel. In cases where men have been endowed by God with different gifts and talents, God is asking us to rely on one another: in charity one should make up for what the other lacks.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Jeremiah 14: 17-22; Psalm 79: 8-13; Luke 10: 38-42

NOURISH YOUR SEED

Monday 28th July – Monday of week 17 of the year

Reflection: Matthew 13: 31- 35

NOURISH YOUR SEED

A seed is something we are all familiar with from our everyday human experience. Most plants around us are propagated by a seed and hence we can very well understand the concept of the seed with Christ uses as an analogy to the Kingdom of Heaven.

At our baptism, we became children of God and the seed of God’s kingdom was sown in each of us. Just as a seed has great potentials but requires nutrition and the right environment to germinate and grow, so too is does the seed planted in us. The seed of faith planted within us at baptism has great potentials – to help us live to glorify God and to be with Him in Heaven ultimately.

Let us nourish the seed of faith within us through the Sacraments especially by frequenting the Holy Eucharist which is our food for the journey of faith and the Sacrament of reconciliation. Let us find direction, courage, example and instruction in the Word of God through daily meditation and let us find strength in prayer.

Every seed has the potential for numerous fruits with millions of new seeds. As we journey in our faith let us share the joy of the gospel of Christ with those who surround us so that more seeds of faith will germinate through us. Only then would the potentials of the seed sown in you and I truly come alive.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for the gift of my faith. Please help me to nourish this seed and bear fruit in plenty. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1254 – Faith and Baptism

For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter vigil the renewal of Baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.

HIDE A TREASURE: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15: 8 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Jeremiah 13: 1-11; Deuteronomy 32: 18-21; Matthew 13: 31- 35

 

ASKING ARIGHT

Sunday 27th July – 17th Sunday of the year

Reflection: 1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12

ASKING ARIGHT

James gives us an insight into why our prayers are not answered. “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4: 2-3). God desires the best for you and I. However we often do not know what is best for ourselves. Our worldly mind is so occupied by mundane things and selfishness that we do not ask for the right things.

Today’s reading presents us with “a question of a lifetime”. Imagine God telling you: “Ask what you would like me to give you”. What would be your reply? Solomon’s answer to this question was commended by God. He looked beyond himself, his comfort, material gain etc and asked for the understanding and discernment needed to lead God’s people aright. What was God’s response? “…here and now I do what you ask”. That is the very response you and I love to here when we pray.

Dear friends, indeed God has that same response for you today if you ask aright. God created us to be happy. But our true happiness only comes when we are unselfish in our prayers. Christ assures us: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14: 13-14). Let us approach our dear Father each day for our needs with faith and trust and with the desire to glorify Him even in our requests.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the reassurance you give me. Please take away from me all selfish inclinations so that my petitions will be in accordance to your divine will. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 507 – What happens if you find that prayer does not help?

Prayer does not seek superficial success but rather the will of God and intimacy with him. God’s apparent silence is itself an invitation to take a step farther—in total devotion, boundless faith, endless expectation. Anyone who prays must allow God the complete freedom to speak whenever he wants, to grant whatever he wants, and to give himself however he wants.

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 Kings 3: 5, 7-12; Psalm 119: 57, 72, 76-77, 127-130; Romans 8: 28 – 30;

Matthew 13: 44 -52

CELEBRATING FAITHFUL PARENTS

Saturday 26th July – Memorial of SS Joachim and Anne, the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reflection: Matthew 13: 24-30

CELEBRATING FAITHFUL PARENTS

One of the many attacks the church gets from her separated brethren is for the many seemingly “weird” feasts and observances she keeps. This is because, for them, all these observances and feasts are neither recorded in the bible nor measure up to their reasoning. Today, we celebrate one: “Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.  No mention of the both of them was made in the entire bible, and yet, they are celebrated. According to the line of argument of our separated brethren, this is a “weird and questionable” celebration.

But then, are the teaching, feast and dogmas of the church unfounded, unscriptural and ungodly? NO! Sure some of them are not expressly stated in the scripture. However, none of them is ever anti-scripture. If not expressly stated, they are either alluded to or found to be in conformity with divine revelation.

By tradition, Joachim and Anne are considered to be the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. No written historical evidence exists as factual substantiation of this. All stories of their lives come to us through legend and tradition. However, attention must be drawn not to historical evidence, but to why these Saints are honored by the Church. Whatever their names or the facts of their lives, the truth is that it was the parents of Mary who nurtured her, taught her and brought her up so that she was able dispose herself to the divine will of God, in being the mother of God. It was their faith that laid the foundation upon which the “Fait” of Mary was built. Such parents can be emulated as role models and heroes of the faith.

PRAYER: Lord, we pray for all parents and all homes, especially those going through difficulties. Through the intercession of your holy Saints Joachim and Anne, grant them your mercy and grace. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 87 – The Magisterium of the Church

Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles “He who hears you hears me”, the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

HIDE A TREASURE:  “Our God is merciful and tender, he will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us.” Luke 1: 78 GNB

Readings for Today: Jeremiah 7: 1-11; Psalm 84: 3-6, 8, 11; Matthew 13: 24-30

THE SERVANT-LEADER

Friday 25th July – Feast of St. James, Apostle

Reflection: 1 Corinthians 4: 8-13

THE SERVANT-LEADER

In our contemporary society, every young person is aspiring for one leadership position or the other. Little do they know that “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Leadership in our day has become an avenue to gain fame and popularity among the people, or to dominate and exercise authority over the led. What does it truly mean to be a leader? A leader is one who is ready to forgo his own pleasure for the benefit of the followers. A leader is a servant who is sensitive to the need of every one of his followers. A good leader leads by example.

Today’s text reveals St. Paul as a leader par-excellence. He possessed all these qualities of leadership listed above. He became weak so that his followers may be strong, he became poor that they may be rich; he was humiliated, so that his followers might be honoured. In fact, he became all things to all men for the sake of Christ. Such leadership qualities are rare these days. Hence, one would need to go back to the Sovereign Leader himself, Jesus Christ to learn what it means to lead. Beloved, Jesus has taught us that he who desires to be the first among many must first of all become the servant of all (Mark 9: 35).

Simply stated, a leader should be an embodiment of divine love. If you are already occupying one leadership position or the other anywhere, then you must ask yourself a question to know if you have these qualities in large measure. And if you don’t, then cry to God for them. The reason is because every position ofthe authority you occupy is an opportunity to make a life changing impact towards the people you are leading, failure to do this is tantamount to disappointing God.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, give me the grace to be a servant leader like yourself. Help to make a meaningful impact in every leadership position I find myself. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1804: “The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “…If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest.”  Matthew 20:26b GNB

Readings for Today: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 126; Matthew 20: 20-26