BE ON YOUR GUARD

Sunday 30th November – 1st Sunday of Advent

Reflection: Mark 13:33-37

BE ON YOUR GUARD

“You know what hour it is. This is the time to awake, for our salvation is now nearer than when we first believed; the night is almost over and the day is at hand. Let us discard, therefore, everything that belongs to darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans13:11-12)

God created us to be free and responsible. He created us for His own purpose and not for ours, and He constantly reminds us of this purpose each time we listen to His word. More so, God, like the master of the house has given each of us ‘treasures’, ‘time’, and ‘talents’ according to our capacity to be used for His own purpose. Just as the master of the house in today’s gospel reading, our end too will come at an unexpected hour and an account of our stewardship will be demanded of us. We will be required to give an account of how well we have used the gifts God has given us for His glory. Are you prepared for this?

We must bear in mind that ‘we do not have eternity to prepare for eternity’. The day of salvation is today, tomorrow may be too late. Let us arise from our slumber, shun the old immoral ways of life, and shun all forms of insincerity, hatred, and unfaithfulness. Let us put on the armour of righteousness, walking daily in the light of God’s presence. When we fall, let us call on Him to help us up, when we are weak, let us call on Him for strength; for our God is more than willing to help us stay prepared if we are willing to.

Today we are called to a sober reflection on our state of preparedness for heaven. We must remember that, ‘if we are not prepared for heaven today, there is no assurance we will be tomorrow’. Let us daily live for heaven.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be eternity conscious and to daily make a choice for heaven. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1022 – Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgement that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven – through a purification or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation. “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Be alert and watch, for you don’t know when the time will come.” Mark 13:33 CCB

Readings for Today: Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:1-8, Psalm 80:2-3, 15-19; 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9; Mark 13:33-37

 

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WATCH YOURSELF!

Saturday 29th November – Saturday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Luke 21:34-36

WATCH YOURSELF!

The admonishment to “watch” is one that comes up at several points during Jesus’ earthly ministry. In discussing the end of time, He admonished His hearers to “watch”. In Gethsemane, at the moment of his agony, He again told them to “watch”. Why does Jesus give this instruction at such critical moments? Through our baptism, we have been cleansed of original sin – the absence of divine grace in us which we inherited from our first parents. We have become children of God and have the grace of God imputed into us. Yet, we still have to make choice between good and evil. Our flesh seeks to satisfy itself always and hence the need for us as Christians to watch ourselves, to always be on the alert.

We live in a fallen world; one that is full of sin and evil. Yet if we cooperate with God’s grace, we will be able to swim against the tide that leads to destruction. Let us remember that this world is not our home; we are on a journey to eternity (Philippians 3:20). Let us hold on to Jesus admonishment today: “Watch yourselves, do not let your heart be weighed down with a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares…” (Luke 21:34).

Each time Jesus asks us to “watch”, He follows closely with the admonishment to pray (Luke 21:34-36; Matthew 26:41). Keeping guard over ourselves goes hand in hand with unceasing prayer. Beloved, let us pray for the strength to resist temptation and watch ourselves so that we may be able to cooperate with God’s grace as the moments of testing and decision making come in our daily life and activities.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, I submit myself to you; please help me to be sensitive to the working of your Holy Spirit. Grant me the grace to watch and pray always that I may not be led into temptation. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 525 What does it mean to say, “Lead us not into temptation”?

Because every day and every hour we are in danger of falling into sin and saying No to God, we beg God not to leave us defenseless in the power of temptation.

Jesus, who was tempted himself, knows that we are weak human beings, who have little strength of our own with which to oppose the evil one. He graciously gives us the petition from the Our Father, which teaches us to trust in God’s assistance in the hour of trial.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Stay awake and pray, so that you may not slip into temptation. The spirit indeed is eager, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 CCB

Readings for Today: Apocalypse 22: 1-7; Psalm 95: 1-7; Luke 21: 34-36

 

PREPARING FOR THE END

Friday 28th November – Friday of week 34 of the year

Reflections: Apocalypse 20: 1-4, 11- 21:2

PREPARING FOR THE END

In the past few days the Church has been drawing our attention to the end of time. When we think of death or of the end of the world, there is a tendency to be afraid of what is to come. The prospect of having to stand before God in judgement and the uncertainty of what eternity will be like is so great that we often do not want to think about it.

Today’s readings however, should bring us hope rather than fear, as it tells us that those who are faithful to Christ will reign with Him. (Apocalypse 20:4). Indeed when all is said and done, we would win a crown of life eternal. This news warms the heart and should fill us with the zeal to live the life of love and faithfulness to which Christ calls us. We must bear in mind that we are to be judged nothing else but the way we have lived our lives on earth (Apocalypse 20: 12-13).

Dear friends, all that we need for salvation is at our disposal. How ready are we to cooperate with God’s immense grace which He gives us in order to live in holiness? We are all aware that the end is inevitable and each day of our lives brings us closer to the end. The choice of where we would spend eternity lies in our hands, in our readiness to respond to God’s grace.

Scripture tells us that eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, neither has it entered the heart of man, what God has in store for them that love him. This reality should fill our hearts with great awe and longing; a longing for our celestial home, a longing to see God, just as he truly is and that longing should strengthen us in our quest for holiness. (cf 1 John 3:2-3). Let us use the privilege of each new day on earth to prepare for eternity. Heaven is worth our labour, our life and our death, for in the end, all that matters is whether we are there or not (St Josemaria Escriva). “Let us courageously then, work and labour, with our hearts set on heaven, our one and only true goal” St Therese of Lisieux.

PRAYER: Lord, you have made us for yourself, may we come to find rest only in you, and for all eternity. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1016: By death, the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection, God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by the reunion with our soul. Just as Christ is risen and loves forever, so all of us will rise at the last day.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” Luke 21: 33 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Apocalypse 20: 1-4, 11- 21:2; Psalm 84: 3-8; Luke 21: 29-33

 

THE WEDDING FEAST OF THE LAMB

Thursday 27th November – Thursday of the week 34 of the year

Reflections: Apocalypse 18: 1-2, 21-23, 19: 1-3, 9

THE WEDDING FEAST OF THE LAMB

The Angel said, “Write this down: Happy are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the lamb” (Apocalypse 19:9). Jesus said, “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand” (Luke 21:28)

As the Church’s liturgical calendar draws to its close in the next few days, the Church draws our attention to the last things (death, judgement, heaven and hell) and to the culmination of the age. It beautifully wraps it up with the picture of a wedding – the wedding of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. Since I write this reflection at a time I am preparing to get married in a few days, I can readily relate with the concept of wedding as a high moment in a man’s life. I can relate with the joy, excitement and the longing to posses your bride, your most priced jewel.

Dear friends, each day we attend Mass, we hear those words “Happy are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb”. They are used to call us to communion – to receive the body and blood of our blessed Lord, the Lamb of God who has taken away our sins. Indeed, you and I are the bride of Christ. He unites himself with us in the Eucharist and longs that you and I grow in love and holiness so that we may be completely united with Him in Heaven. Hence, let us heed his call in response to His great love and be strengthened through the Eucharist so that at the end of time we may be able to stand our ground, with our heads high, knowing that our redemption is near at hand.

PRAYER: Lord, may your kingdom come. May your will be done in our lives, until in us, the glory of your kingdom is revealed. Amen.

 KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 219 – How often must a Catholic Christian participate in the celebration of the Eucharist?

A Catholic Christian is obliged to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. Anyone who is really seeking Jesus’ friendship responds as often as possible to Jesus’ personal invitation to the feast.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Apocalypse 3:20 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Apocalypse 18: 1-2, 21-23, 19: 1-3, 9; Psalm 100: 2-5; Luke 21: 20-28

 

AFTER THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Wednesday 26th November – Wednesday of week 34 of the year

Reflections: Apocalypse 15: 1-4

AFTER THE GREAT TRIBULATION

The Christian faith may seem scary sometimes because it teaches of (redemptive) suffering. Christian teaching goes on to indicate clearly that only a few will be saved as narrow is the way that leads to life and only a few find it (Matthew 7:14). So, the questions my Atheist friends ask, (and these questions have often troubled me) are: “so, your Christ died supposedly to save the world, and yet, only a few of that world will be saved; and even that few will come out of great tribulation? Must the believer suffer pain, betrayal, loss, self denial, restrain and even death for salvation to be accomplished in them?”

Today’s reading puts the concept of suffering in its proper perspective. Suffering is a result of the ongoing battle between good are inevitable; suffering is inevitable. But, the Psalm of today shows us that God comes to our aid, with and evil in our world; the battle between light and darkness that resulted from the fall of man. Just like in every war, casualties His mighty arm to win us victory. The Apostle Peter urges us to unite our suffering with the ultimate suffering of Christ (1 Peter 2: 20-23) first for our own salvation and then the salvation of the world. The suffering we undergo as children of God is ultimately redemptive.

The end of the suffering of the blessed is certain. It does not end in sorrow, but in joy. Its end is eternal life. Our Catholic Christian faith does not assure us of a smooth sail because those are the words of our Saviour: “…in the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33). We are assured however of a safe landing and a glorious harbour.

PRAYER:  Lord, preserve those whom you have called, that through our partaking of the suffering of Christ your son, we may be brought to salvation. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1521 – By the grace of the sacrament of Anointing of the sick…suffering, which is the consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Christ

HIDE A TREASURE: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But, not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.” Luke 21:19 RSV-CE

Readings for Today:  Apocalypse 15: 1- 4; Psalm 98:1-3, 7-9; Luke 21:12-19

 

BE PREPARED

Tuesday 25th November – Tuesday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Luke 21:5-11

BE PREPARED

As the Season of Advent draws near, the Church turns our minds towards the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s Gospel reading is the beginning of a discourse given by our Lord in which He prepared the minds of His disciples for the events that were to take place in Jerusalem and at the end of time. The central point Jesus emphasizes is the place of preparedness.

As the Gospel tells us, we must not allow ourselves to be deceived and led astray. False and frightful teachings abound around us predicting the day of our Lord. Century after century has witnessed speculations about the day the Lord Jesus will return. Dear friends, this should not be our pre-occupation. Our call is to focus on the pursuit of holiness. Each new day offers us new opportunities to be reconciled with God and to live the life of love to which He has called us. If we postpone responding to His call today, there is no assurance that we will have the privilege of tomorrow.

Beloved, let each moment of your life serve to lead you to a closer union with God. Let each night leave you loving God more than you did in the morning. As we strive to please God always, we will have no reason to fear the hour of death or the end of time.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for the grace to persevere in holiness till the end of time. Please grant that after my sojourn here on earth, heaven shall be my inheritance. Amen.

 KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 95 – Why did Jesus choose the date of the Jewish feast of Passover for his death and Resurrection?

Jesus chose the Passover feast of his people Israel as a symbol for what was to happen through his death and Resurrection. As the people Israel were freed from slavery to Egypt, so Christ frees us from the slavery of sin and the power of death.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Revelation 14:14-19; Psalm 96: 10-13; Luke 21:5-11

 

CHEERFUL GIVING

Monday 24th November – Memorial of Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions, Martyrs

Reflection: Luke 21: 1-4

CHEERFUL GIVING

Cheerful giving denotes the act of giving with joy despite the sacrifice required of the giver. We can only give cheerfully when we trust that God is able to supply our needs. In today’s Gospel reading, the poor widow put two copper coins into the treasury and what was Jesus reaction? Jesus said she had put in more than the rich who gave out of the abundance they had because she had given all she had – 100%.

The more sacrifice our act of giving requires of us, the more blessings we obtain from God. The only prerequisite for “giving” is “having” and not “having excess”. We need not wait till we have all the money in the world before we cultivate the habit of giving cheerfully. How much we give may not matter as much as our attitude towards giving. For our giving to yield blessings, we are to give cheerfully and generously, trusting that God is able to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

How many times have you and I failed to give cheerfully and generously out of the fear that we will not have enough for tomorrow? Let us ask God for mercy for our failure to trust Him at those moments and commit ourselves to cheerful giving trusting that we shall lack nothing good.

PRAYER: Holy Father, please take away all fears from me. Help me to be willing always to share the beautiful gifts I receive from you each day. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 449 – What significance do the poor have for Christians?

Love for the poor must be in every age the distinguishing mark of Christians. The poor deserve not just a few alms; they have a claim to justice. For Christians there is a special obligation to share their goods. Our example in love for the poor is Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Revelation 14:1-5; Psalm 24:1-6; Luke 21:1-4