A HAPPY ENDING

Wednesday 31st December – 7th day within the octave of Christmas

Reflection: Psalm 96:1-2, 11-13

A HAPPY ENDING

After a journey of 365 days in the year 2014, what more can we do but give thanks to God for his unending love and faithfulness to us all throughout the year? It is a great privilege to count your blessings and remember the goodness and mercy of God through the happy and sad moments that we have encountered in the year 2014. Think less of what you would have loved to accomplish this passing year and thank God for what you have been able to do. Lift him high in praise and worship. Find some moments today to reflect over the past year, and rejoice in thanksgiving as you look forward to the beginning of the New Year.

Dear friends, the scripture says that the end of anything is better than its beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Hence we must heed the psalmist today as he calls us to: “Sing a new song to the Lord, sing to the Lord all the world” (Psalm 96:1). Just as a pregnant woman rejoices when she finally gives birth to her child, so must we enter the New Year with joy as we hope for a good start. Make a choice to be happy and let the Spirit of truth lead you to make right decisions and conclusions for whatever plans you have. A happy ending would always usher in a note of peace, a sign of freedom from worry and a platform for the presence of God’s spirit. Be determined to finish strong by letting go strongholds of malice, depression, self-pity and all that weighs you down. Today can still make a difference in this passing year.

So be at your duty post today no matter how little it may be. Do everything out of love. Remember also that life is a pilgrimage the end of which must come one day. Keep focused and live well so as to die well.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for seeing through me another year, help me to remain united to you as long as I live. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 186What is the liturgical year (the Church year)?

The liturgical year, or the Church year, superimposes the mysteries of the life of Christ—from his Incarnation to his second coming in glory—on the normal course of the year. The liturgical year begins with Advent, the time of waiting for the Lord, and has its first high point in the Christmas season and its second, even greater climax in the celebration of the redemptive suffering, death, and Resurrection of Christ at Easter. The Easter season ends with the feast of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church. The liturgical year is repeatedly interrupted by feasts of Mary and the saints, in which the Church praises God’s grace, which has led mankind to salvation.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You would do everything you have promised; Lord, your love is eternal. Complete the work that you have begun”. Psalm 138:8 GNB

Readings for Today: 1 John 2:18-21, Psalm 96:1-2, 11-13, John 1:1-18

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INVESTING OUR STRENGTH

Tuesday 30th December – 6th day within the octave of Christmas

Reflection: 1 John 2:12-17

INVESTING OUR STRENGTH

Dear friends, many parts of the Holy Scriptures emphasize the purpose of youthfulness and describe it as a stage of decision to choose life and denounce the temptations of the devil. This phase in which we are requires right counsel to stand firm in faith as it is a time when the battle against sin is at its peak as well as the formation of character. It is a phase in which we love to choose mentors, people whose pathways we can follow to newer facets and discoveries in life. Nevertheless, all our aspirations must necessarily lead us back to God (Ecclesiastes 11:9). All our questions about life can only get right answers when we sincerely make efforts to search for truth. This is the true essence of our strength which St John makes reference to in our reading today: I am writing to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the evil one. (1 John 2:14b).

As the year 2014 passes away, we are called to evaluate what have achieved with our youthful strength this past year. How have we tailored our talents and treasures to earn us eternal treasures? Beloved, the greatest treasure we can ever have is Christ dwelling in us, His word fuelling our hearts with the grace and power to defeat the evil one. This is the most important investment of this phase of our lives. Let us take heed of our flaws and fight the good fight of faith. Never be discouraged to take up your cross and follow Christ. You can do all things through him who strengthens you. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:17). Press on, beloved!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I am sorry for the misuse of your grace upon my life. I ask for renewed strength as I wait on you today. Help me to use my strength to know you more. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 34 – What should you do once you have come to know God?
Once you have come to know God, you must put him in the first place in your life. And with that a new life begins. You should be able to recognize Christians by the fact that they love even their enemies. 

HIDE A TREASURE: “…I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”. Philippians 3:8 GNB

Readings for Today: 1 John 2:12-17; Psalm 96:7-10, Luke 2:36-40

DO YOU KNOW CHRIST?

Monday 29th December – 5th day within the octave of Christmas

Reflection: 1 John 2:3-11

DO YOU KNOW CHRIST?

“Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4).
The ancient Greek aphorism “Man, know thyself!” is invaluable in every area of our lives. As there is no compromise in life, we are either moving forward or backward, upward or downward. However, to know the direction in which we thread, we must first determine who we are. Though, people may acclaim that we are Christians, we go to church and read our Bibles; but deep within us we have to tell ourselves the truth. For it is only by discovering that we are little that we can ever become great; it is only when we discover our weakness that we can grow in strength.  As St. Peter wrote, “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining”. We must in the privacy of our hearts, allow the light of Christ to shine on those areas of our lives that are not yet in tune with God. We must allow the light of Christ to lay open the secret thoughts of heart and purify us.

Dear friends, the best way to know ourselves; is to know Christ and make Him our standard in our journey towards perfection. This is the way we may know that we are in union with Him, for anyone who claims to be in union with God ought to walk just as He walked. This is what Christianity demands from us: to be Christ-like in all we do. To love as Christ loved us, not just our friends alone but also, those who seem to be against us. To bear with each other in love and in patience; to forgive as God forgives us. Our crosses as Christians are largely products of our daily lives; thus in bearing the crosses God gives us with joy and through His grace, we know we are following Christ. Today, let us take time to reflect on who we are in relation to Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, please help me to know you more and to be able to live for you in all things. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 30 – Although man can forget God or reject Him, He never ceases to call every man to seek Him, so as to find life and happiness.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 CCB

Readings for Today: 1 John 2:3-11; Psalm 96: 1-6; Luke 2: 22-35

KEEP HOPE ALIVE


Sunday 28th December – Feast of the Holy Family

Reflection: Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3

KEEP HOPE ALIVE

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants without knowing where he was going. Equally by faith Sarah though past the reproductive age believed she will conceive because she knew that He who made the promise would be faithful to it. (Hebrews 11: 8,11). By faith, man completely and freely submits his intellect and his will to God. Faith is a personal adherence of man to God and a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. Faith is a personal decision made for God, through God, out of the freedom He has given us. Thus, in faith there is no compromise. Faith is borne out of our trust in God, that He can do all things; and our submission to God, that He will do what is best for us. Hence, our faith in God should make us realize that ‘there is nothing impossible for God to do’ (Luke 1:37); at the same time, our faith in God should assure us that ‘in all things God works always for our good’ (Romans 8:28). With this assurance, things may seem haywire to us, but with God on our side, we will know that they are working out as God as planned them.

The Blessed Virgin most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the goods tidings and promise brought by the angel, believing that God can do all things and she gave her fiat: “Behold am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38). She gave her fiat without minding the consequence of death if found to be pregnant outside marriage as a Jew. Because of her faith in God above the fear of death; She is called Blessed: Blessed is she who believed that the promise made to her by the Lord will be fulfilled (Luke 1:45).

Dear friends in Christ, to find peace and fulfilment in life, we must put all our faith and hope in God. We must let go and let God take charge of lives. To reap the fruit of faith in God, we must first submit ourselves to Him to use as He pleases. When we have surrendered all to Him, and things do not seem to be going right, then, more than ever, we must keep our hope alive in God and trust Him because He works always for the good of His own people.

PRAYER: Lord, help my faith in you to grow and keep me firm when my faith is put to the test. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 154 – Believing is possible only by grace and the interior help of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 CCB

Readings for Today: Genesis 15: 1-6, 21:1-3; Psalm 104: 1-9; Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40

THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL


Saturday 27th December – Feast of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist.

Reflection: 1 John 1:1-4

THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL

The Church celebrates today, an icon of the Gospel – St John the Evangelist, who, according to tradition, was the only Apostle of Christ that died a natural death. All others were martyred. He preached love in his letters and lived the gospel with joy, a joy he was ever ready to share. The “beloved Apostle”, as he is called, John’s humility is manifest in the Gospel reading of today (John 20:2-8) as he waited for Peter to enter the tomb of their master before he did. He gives us an example of humility which we all are called to embrace.

The word of life in today’s reading is the word made flesh (John 1:14), Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the reason for our life of joy and victory. He is the one we meet every day in prayer and in the Sacraments. We meet him at our working place and in our schools, in the market and on the streets. Do we recognize him? Do we deliberately create an atmosphere of love amidst hatred where Jesus’ presence can be felt? Beloved, Jesus is alive and he desires our active participation in his ministry to put smiles on the faces of those around us.

The Apostles may have seen and touched Jesus during his earthy ministry but we too are blessed because we believe in Him even without seeing Him (John 20:29) and are united in faith with the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us embrace the life of joy and peace which Christ brings. We must choose to live out the gospel and never be ashamed to experience the transformation it brings. (Romans 1:16). St John was able to share the joy of the gospel because He encountered Christ personally. Let us encounter Him in prayer, in His word and in the Eucharist; let us draw living water from the word of God each day to quench our thirst and fill our lives so that we can share the joy of the gospel with our neighbors. Only then is our joy is made complete.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please fill my life with your presence that I may overflow with the joy of your saving grace to others. Amen,

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 124 – The word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament which hand on the ultimate truth of God’s revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church’s beginnings under the Spirit’s guidance.

HIDE A TREASURE: “How happy are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:29 GNB

Readings for Today: 1 John 1:1-4; Psalm 96:1-2, 5-6, 11-12; John 20: 2-8

A HAPPY DEATH

Friday 26th December – Feast of St. Stephen, the first Martyr

Reflection: Matthew 10:17-22

A HAPPY DEATH

We may wonder why the Church chooses to celebrate the feast of a Martyr just after the Nativity of our Lord. Does it not spoil the joyous mood of the season? Certainly not! It brings even greater joy as we celebrate a life of victory over trials and a glorious transition to eternal life. This is why the scripture says: “Good people die, and no one understands or even cares. But when they die, no calamity can hurt them. Those who live good lives find peace and rest in death” (Isaiah 57:1-2). The stoning of St. Stephen in the first reading of today (Acts 7:54-59) is an expression of faith which finds its joy in a happy ending. It brings to life St. Paul’s words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Beloved, bearing witness to Christ every moment of our lives gives us the opportunity to finish well. Though we may not have to die as Martyrs like St Stephen did, death is inevitable and  none of us knows when our time is right. When we live in obedience to God’s word, we purify ourselves and keep continuous watch over our weaknesses. To give in and persist in sinful patterns puts one at risk of dying in sin. However, if we arise and return to the Father each time we become conscious of our sin, we put ourselves on a sure platform to eternal happiness.

As Christians, rather than being afraid of death, our preoccupation should be to live in holiness. Jesus tells us today that trials and persecutions will befall us but we must stand firm to the end. Let us strive to be faithful and we can trust God to strengthen us in times of temptations and difficulty and lead us through our sojourn here on earth to eternal happiness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please lead me and guide me to a happy death. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1014 – The church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death: in the ancient litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord”, to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.

HIDE A TREASURE: “But he who endures to the end would be saved”. Matthew 10:22 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Acts 6: 8-10, 7: 54-59; Psalm 31: 3-8, 16-17; Matthew 10: 17-22

THE LIGHT OF MEN


Thursday 25th December – Christmas Day, Solemnity (Mass during the day)

Reflection: John 1:1-18

THE LIGHT OF MEN

In him was life, and the life was the light of men” John 1:4

Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of goodwill! It is yuletide again; a time of reunion and togetherness. Christmas is a time to share, following the example of our Father who gave his only son to redeem us. What a perfect example of love which we ought to imitate as children of God every day of our lives.

Today’s reading reminds us of the mystery of the incarnation; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The miracle of the incarnation showcases God’s mercy and brings to fulfillment His plan of redemption. To refuse to ponder on such great mystery is to deliberately remain in the darkness of ignorance and this ultimately prevents us from celebrating the birth of Christ in its truest sense – it reduces our celebration to mere eating and drinking without leading us to appreciate God for the gift of our salvation.

Beloved in Christ, our lives must be purified by the event of Christmas. As we gather together to celebrate with our family and friends, we must seek ways in which we can be better Christians. Let us allow the light of Christ to permeate every area of our lives and dispel the darkness of hatred, malice, discord and all forms of unrighteousness so that our lives can radiate God’s light and love to others as we share and celebrate today. Let us do all things with the consciousness of Christ’s presence, the joy of the EMMANUEL – God with us. Jesus Christ is the light of the world and in him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). He is the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) which our family and the world constantly needs.

Seek him more in your life and allow him to be the king of your heart. This is the greatest gift you can offer the new born King. Welcome; my Lord and King. Happy Birthday to you, the Light of men. Merry Christmas!!!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please dispel all darkness in my life and family with the light of your presence. Let me rejoice in your saving power always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 76Why did God become man in Jesus?

“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven” (Nicene Creed).
In Jesus Christ, God reconciled the world to himself and redeemed mankind from the imprisonment of sin. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). In Jesus, God took on our mortal human flesh (incarnation), shared our earthly lot, our sufferings, and our death, and became one like us in all things but sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”
Isaiah 9:2 GNB

Readings for Today: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98:1-6; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18