THE VOICE OF YOUR ACTIONS

Friday 31st October – Friday of week 30 of the year

Reflection: Luke 14: 1-6

THE VOICE OF YOUR ACTIONS

What is your reaction when you see someone acting in opposition to what he preaches? It will demand a lot of patience and self-control from most of us to resist the temptation to condemn such a person. Actions indeed speak louder than words.

Today’s reading tells us that Jesus was invited for a meal and was being closely watched. Dear friends, whether you like it or not, you are being watched everyday and everywhere you go. Consciously or unconsciously, those who live around you: your family members, colleagues in school or at work, brethren in the Church; all those whom you live and work with are watching you. What does your action speak to them? Do your actions reflect your Christian identity? Do your actions portray the presence of Christ in you?

Dear friends, until Christ’s presence is seen in us – in our words, actions, attitudes etc. Our Christianity remains superficial and unreal. Let us open our hearts to the Holy Spirit today and ask Him to permeate our innermost being so that our actions will be prompted by Him and will evangelize those who surround us.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of your Spirit that dwells in me. Please help me to be docile to His promptings so that my actions will bring glory to you always. 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”.

…Christians themselves, not the things they say, are Christ’s “letters of recommendation” (2 Cor 3:2) to the world.

 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: Philippians 1: 1-11; Psalm 111: 1-6; Luke 14: 1-6

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BE COMBAT FIT

Thursday 30th October – Thursday of week 30 of the year

Reflection: Ephesians 6: 10-20

BE COMBAT FIT

Blessed day to you, beloved in Christ. Can you imagine what becomes the fate of a soldier in a war front who is neither armed, nor aware of the battle raging around him? He will most likely die a casualty! The motto of the scout movement remains germane to all military personnel globally – “Be Prepared”. The sophistication of modern warfare demands that a soldier be physically and psychologically prepared to defend the interest of his country and stay alive. He must always be combat fit and combat ready.

The same goes for you and me, followers of Christ. By our Christian call, we are soldiers, soldiers of Christ and fierce is the battle that rages in and around us (2 Timothy 2: 3-4; Ephesians 6:12). Ours is not a physical confrontation, fought with guns, explosives and all sorts; for we are children of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Today’s first reading clearly captures the dimension of our warfare. It is a battle against evil and all appearances of such; a battle against Satan and demons; a battle against the flesh and all forms of inordinate affection; a battle against hatred, immorality and injustice. In short, we are in constant battle against all forms of ungodliness.

How then do we safely navigate through all these? We must not be spiritually naïve! A clear awareness and constant preparedness for this peculiar warfare is necessary for the survival of our faith and our safe arrival at our heavenly homeland. Human strength and ingenuity are grossly inadequate for our spiritual warfare (1 Samuel 2:9b). We need to be clad in God’s armour to emerge victorious.  These, St Paul clearly highlighted in today’s First reading. Let us be vigilant (1Peter 5: 8-9), let us steer clear of anything that could make us vulnerable to the antics of the evil one (Ecclesiastes 10:8). The grace of God is surely sufficient to safely lead us home (Isaiah 40: 30-31)

PRAYER: Oh Lord, grant me victory over life’s battles, that I may thereafter enter the joy of heaven. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 409- This dramatic situation of “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” makes man’s life a battle:

The whole of man’s history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, sour Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by god’s grace, that he succeeds in achieving integrity.

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

Readings for Today: Ephesians 6: 10-20; Psalms 144:1-2, 9-10; Luke 13: 31-35

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT WITH A PROMISE

Wednesday 29th October – Wednesday of week 30 of the year

Reflection: Ephesians 6: 1-9

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT WITH A PROMISE

Contained in the Bible are numerous commandments, which Jesus Christ divided into two: the love of God and the love of neighbour (Matthew 22: 36-39). If we truly love God scripture says, we will abide by His holy injunction (John 14:15). Our faithful God as today’s psalm pointed out (Psalm 145: 13) surely rewards obedience to His commandments (Isaiah 66:22, John 14: 23). However out of the numerous commandments, one was given special attention as “the first commandment that has a promise attached to it.” It is none other than the commandment to honour your father and mother; that it may be well with us and that we might have long life (Ephesians 6: 1-3; Matthew 7:10; Deuteronomy 5:16). No matter the circumstance, this must always be seen as what it is – a command, not merely an advice, from the all faithful God.

Dear friend, this command is not conditioned on how you perceive your parents. Perhaps you consider them dishonourable individuals that have failed in parental responsibilities and exemplary leadership. However, the Almighty God who knows best says you must nevertheless honour them if you want to live long and be prosperous. We must treat them respectfully and never yell or insult them, even under provocation. Our obedience must go beyond eye service; instead it must be sincere.

We must cultivate the habit of generously giving to them, even as youths. We must not wait until we have a stable income before we deem it fit to buy gifts for our parents. Give them within your means; give even to the seemingly well to do parents. Let us give them listening ears and spend quality time with them especially in their old age whether or not they were there for us in our growing years. Hearty parental blessing is a vital key to prosperity in life (Genesis 27: 1-4).

Beloved, today’s gospel (Luke 13: 22-30) admonished us on the horror and surprise that awaits some on the day of judgement. Let us not fall prey, by belittling or neglecting any of our Lord’s commandments (Matthew 5:19) especially as it concerns honour to parents. When we count on God, He is always ready to give us the needed grace to do His will.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for the gift of my parents. Please help me in all that I do, that I may honour them as you have commanded me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 367 – To whom does the Fourth Commandment refer, and what does it require of us?

The Fourth Commandment refers in the first place to one’s physical parents, but also to the people to whom we owe our life, our well-being, our security, and our faith.

What we owe in the first place to our parents—namely love, gratitude, and respect—should also govern our relations to people who guide us and are there for us.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Children, obey your parents in Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise) “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6: 1-3 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Ephesians 6: 1-9; Psalm 145: 10-14; Luke 13: 22-30

KEEP YOUR HOMELAND IN VIEW

Tuesday 28th October – Feasts of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

Reflection: Ephesians 2: 19-22

KEEP YOUR HOMELAND IN VIEW

As Christians, we must constantly remind ourselves of the truth that we are sojourners on earth (Hebrews 11: 13-16). There exists a heavenly homeland awaiting us at the end of our earthly pilgrimage if we remain faithful to our loving God (Revelation 2: 17). The Christian journey is full of ups and downs (Matthew 7: 13-14, 2 Timothy 4:5), many distractions of the world could easily sway us off our course if our eyes are not set on seeing God.

To stay on track, we daily need the counsel of God in all of life’s decisions. The scriptural counsel that we cannot independently determine the best choices in life must keep ringing in our minds (Proverbs 14:12). We must maintain an attitude of prayer, which essentially is communication with God as exemplified in today’s gospel by our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 6: 12-16). As we speak to God and listen to Him in prayer, He makes clearer His counsel for our lives.

Beloved, keeping Heaven in focus demands giving first place to our relationship with God. As we make Him the king and centre of our hearts here on earth we can count on His abundant grace and faithfulness to lead us home

PRAYER: Oh Lord, help me live to daily please you; to daily seek you and to be supremely united with you in Heaven. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 3 – Why do we seek God?

God has placed in our hearts a longing to seek and find him. St. Augustine says, “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We call this longing for God religion.

…All of our striving for truth and happiness is ultimately a search for the one who supports us absolutely, satisfies us absolutely, and employs us absolutely in his service. A person is not completely himself until he has found God. “Anyone who seeks truth seeks God, whether or not he realizes it” (St. Edith Stein).

 HIDE A TREASURE: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Matthew 6:33 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Ephesians 2: 19-22; Psalm 19: 2-5; Luke 6: 12-16

SEXUAL LAXITY

Monday 27th October – Monday of week 30 of the year

Reflection: Ephesians 4: 32 – 5: 8

SEXUAL LAXITY

Our perception of life goes a long way in influencing our way of life. If we consider life to be a stage on which to grab all that we can for the benefit of ourselves, we can only end up living purely for self-gratification which guarantees nothing but misery and lack of fulfilment in life. As Myles Monroe rightly puts it “when purpose is unknown, abuse is inevitable”. If I lack the understanding of the purpose of life, I cannot but abuse it. In the same vein, when the purpose of sex is unknown, abuse is inevitable. Abuse of anything ultimately erodes the inherent goodness therein, because it runs contrary to the intent or plans of the manufacturer of creator.

By “abuse of sex”, I mean sexual immorality, sexual laxity. The “deployment” of sex beyond the boundary of divine purpose, which is conjugal unity and procreation within the sacrament of Holy Matrimony (CCC 2360- 2363; Hebrews 13:4; Genesis 1: 27-28). Our modern society has over time downplayed the primary intent of sexual relation; little wonder the attending consequences: increased prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, marital infidelity, divorce and heart breaks. St Paul gave a strong message against these in today’s first reading – “…You can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity…can inherit anything of the kingdom of God…it is for these loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against Him.” Why should we deliberately set ourselves against God’s wrath for a fleeting “enjoyment”? Why should we want to jeopardize heaven for a transient pleasure?

As youths we must keep our passions in check. We must do away with all (lewd jokes, pornographic clips, indecent dressing, bad company etc.) that weakens our moral guard. Premarital sex destroys; it snowballs into marital unfaithfulness!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, I consecrate my body unto you. That in chastity I may honour you with my sexuality. Please strengthen me by the help of your grace. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 408 – How can you live as a young Christian if you are living in a premarital relationship or have already had premarital relations?

God loves us at every moment, in every “complicated” situation, even in a state of sin. God helps us to seek the whole truth about love and to find ways to live it more and more unambiguously and decisively.

In a conversation with a priest or a reliable, experienced Christian, young people can look for a way to live out their love with increasing integrity. They will learn that every life is a process and that, whatever has happened, they can make a new beginning with God’s help.

 HIDE A TREASURE:“Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” 1 Corinthians 6: 18-19 RSV-CE

 Readings for Today: Ephesians 4: 32- 5:8; Psalm 1: 1-4, 6; Luke 13: 10-17

WHAT MUST YOU BREAK AWAY FROM?

Sunday 26th October – 30th Sunday of the year

Reflection: 1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10

WHAT MUST YOU BREAK AWAY FROM?

An unexamined life, it is said, is not worth living. If we will make any significant impact in life, we must periodically take out time to evaluate our lives. We must have a proper knowledge of where we are coming from, where we are and where we are heading to in life. As we daily respond to varying situations and circumstances in life, our habits get formed. However, these habits go a long way in determining how we will end up in life.

From today’s second reading (1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10) we are told that the believers in Thessalonica broke with idolatry in order to serve the living God. Beloved in Christ, what must you and I, as youths break away from to better serve the Lord? Do you have habits limiting your achievement in life? Talk of pornography, fornication, masturbation, inordinate pursuit of riches, drunkenness, substance abuse – these are some “idols” that desecrate our lives and make it uninhabitable for God. Habits like procrastination, gluttony, lateness, reckless spending etc. can easily curtail our achievement in life if not put in check.

Periodic appraisal of our lives helps us to identify these “dark spots”. Awareness of them alone is insufficient; we must concretely move against all that seeks to debar us from being the best God has purposed us to be (Hebrews 12:1; Jeremiah 29:11). This we cannot independently achieve by our own might; we need to seek and trust in God’s grace (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13). Our God is willing and able to help us out of all these when we genuinely cooperate with him.

PRAYER: Oh Lord! By the help of your grace, I renounce all that undermines my relationship with you and all that prevents me from being the best that you have called me to be. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT304 – Why is it virtuous to be moderate?

Moderation is a virtue because immoderate behavior proves to be a destructive force in all areas of life.

Someone who is immoderate abandons himself to the rule of his impulses, offends others by his inordinate desires, and harms himself. In the New Testament words like “sobriety” and “discretion” stand for “moderation”.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Exodus 22: 20-26; Psalm 18: 2-4, 47, 51; 1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10; Matthew 22: 24-40

THE JOY OF HIS PRESENCE

Saturday 25th October – Saturday of week 29 of the year

Reflection: Psalm 122: 1-5

THE JOY OF HIS PRESENCE

Most of us young Catholics were born and grew up in families that attended Mass every Sunday, hence it is a routine for us to wear our best clothes on Sunday and go to Church. However, as we grow into adolescents and adults, we must have more reasons for attending Mass than it being just a routine family practice.

Today’s psalmist recalls the joy he experienced when going up to the temple at Jerusalem; the Lord’s dwelling place. Dearest friend, you cannot experience true joy at the thought of attending Mass if you do not know the significance of the Mass. The Old Testament feast of the Passover attracted all Jews to the temple in Jerusalem once a year. This feast has been fulfilled and transformed in Christ, our Passover Lamb that has been sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins. Each Mass we celebrate is a re-enactment of the sacrifice of our Lord; and we have the privilege of receiving Him into ourselves in the Eucharist.

Do you rejoice at the thought of attending Mass? Do you seek to attend Mass on other days apart from Sunday? Only when you realise that every Mass is an opportunity to receive Christ in a unique way; in a way that guarantees eternal life (John 6:54) would you truly experience a desire to avail yourself of the privilege of the Mass regularly and be able to say with the Psalmist “I rejoice when I heard them say: Let us go to God’s house” Psalm 122:1

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the gift of yourself in the Eucharist. Please help me to thankfully and joyfully avail myself of the opportunity to dine with you at Mass frequently. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 211 How important is the Eucharist for the Church?

The celebration of the Eucharist is the heart of the Christian communion. In it the Church becomes Church.

We are not Church because we get along well, or because we happen to end up in the same parish community, but rather because in the Eucharist we receive the Body of Christ and are increasingly being transformed into the Body of Christ.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in Him.” John 6:41 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Ephesians 4: 7-16; Psalm 121: 1-5; Luke 13: 1-9