TRUE HAPPINESS

Saturday 28th February – Saturday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 118: 1-8

TRUE HAPPINESS

Tade was confused. She had made new friends during registration week on her new campus but as they settled down to work, she realised she was becoming more and more alone. All her friends had new boyfriends whom they were into sexual relationships with and were very excited about it as they had all the pleasure they wanted and money to throw around. Should I just join them and enjoy this new exciting life of theirs or should I keep up with my quest for holiness and remain lonely, missing out on all the fun? Tade wondered.

Many young people are familiar with Tade’s experience It is not unusual to find ourselves been lured by peers into immoral relationships, partying, drugs, exam malpractice etc. Those who engage in it are happy; why should I deny myself all the fun, we ask ourselves. Dear friend, true happiness is only found in living the life God our creator has called us to. The excitement sin offers is the devil’s way of luring us into sin; yet, the happiness sin offers is shallow, temporal and filled with regrets.

Do you desire pure and lasting happiness? Do you desire to live with peace of mind, devoid of regrets? God calls you today to a life of blessedness. “They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law! They are happy who do his will, seeking Him with all their hearts” (Ps 119: 1-2). Set your mind on pleasing God and ask for the grace to overcome the temptation around you. Have you already succumbed to the lure of Sin? Dear friend, it is not too late; repent, approach God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and begin again. His grace is sufficient for you. Only in following God’s law would you find true happiness.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to seek true and lasting happiness in you. May I obey you in all I do and seek to please you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 407 – Why is the Church against premarital sexual relations?

Because she would like to protect love. A person can give someone else no greater gift than himself. “I love you” means for both: “I want only you, I want all that you are, and I want to give myself to you forever!” Because that is so, we cannot, even with our bodies, really say “I love you” temporarily or on a trial basis.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.” Psalm 119: 2 CCB

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 26: 16-19; Psalm 119: 1-8; Matthew 5: 43-48

RECIPIENTS OF GOD’S MERCY

Friday 27th February – Friday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 130: 1-8

RECIPIENTS OF GOD’S MERCY

“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven”. George Herbert

Christ tells the story of a servant who owed his master a large sum of money but pleaded for mercy and was forgiven his debt. Yet he went on to treat his fellow servant shamefully because the fellow servant had been unable to pay him what he owed him – a very small amount of money compared to what he had been forgiven by his master. Much as we are familiar with this story and the message our Lord was driving home, are we not often guilty of acting like this unmerciful servant?

The Psalmist asks: “If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord who would survive?” (Psalm 130: 3). You and I are recipients of God’s bountiful mercy. It is only our hope and trust in his mercy that enables us to approach Him in confidence. Yet, are you extending this mercy to your brothers and sisters? Who is that person that has angered you so much and you find it difficult to forgive? Who is that person you claim to have forgiven yet cannot speak to politely and lovingly? In today’s gospel reading, Christ calls you to forgive that person if you desire your sacrifice, penance and offerings this season of Lent to be acceptable to Him (Mt 5: 23-24).

Dear friend, look around you – at home, in school, at work, in Church, at play and see those places as fertile grounds to plant the seeds of mercy you have received from God. As you extend your forgiveness to others, your hurts are healed and you open yourself more and more to receive mercy from our loving Father.

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for your great mercy upon me. Please help me to extend this mercy to those who hurt me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 524 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 18: 21-28; Psalm 130: 1-8; Matthew 5: 20-26

THINKING OF OTHERS

Thursday 26th February – Thursday of the 1st Week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 7:7-12

THINKING OF OTHERS

Jesus words: “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you” referred to as the Golden rule is also called the ethic of reciprocity. These words have been accepted by people of all times, ethnicity and creed as a rule that guards against greed and selfishness. As Christians, the call to consider others first is central to our faith. Just as our Lord poured out His life for us, we too are called to love sacrificially and unconditionally.

How can we claim to be Christians if we are selfish, proud and greedy? How can we claim to be followers of Christ if we refuse to share in His virtues of compassion, seeking the good of others and love for enemies? More than anything else, the Church calls you and me to be renewed this season of Lent. The purpose of our penance is to raise our thoughts outside of ourselves and our comfort so as to think of the needs of others first and to extend our hands to them in charity.

Today, make it a point of duty to seek the needs of others first in every decision you make. Our natural selves are selfish; ask the Lord for the grace to rise above selfishness and to treat others as you would love to be treated. Strive to be perfect reflection of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I come to you as I am, please take away every selfishness in me and help me to consider others first and treat them well. Grant me the grace to be a perfect reflection of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 173 – Why do we need sacraments in the first place?
We need Sacraments in order to outgrow our petty human life and to become like Jesus through Jesus: children of God in freedom and glory.

HIDE A TREASURE: “So treat others the way you would like them to treat you.” Matthew 7: 12

Today’s readings: Esther 4:17; Psalms 138:1-3, 7-8; Matthew 7:7-12

OUR MERCIFUL GOD


Wednesday 25th February – Wednesday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Jonah 3:1-10

OUR MERCIFUL GOD

Our greatest hope as Christians lies in knowing that we have a merciful God who forgives our sins each time we return to Him. Today’s reading tells us of how God relented from pouring down his wrath on the people of Nineveh because of their prompt repentance at the preaching of the prophet Jonah. The King declared a time of fasting and prayer for repentance and as the people made efforts to turn from their wicked ways, God honoured their efforts.

Beloved, the Church calls you and I reconciliation with God. Like the Ninevites, let us respond promptly to this call. You may say: “my past is so ugly; I don’t think God will forgive me”. The good news is that He is willing to welcome you home, regardless of how far you have strayed. Christ reassures us that there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous men who need no repentance (Lk 15:7).

When last did you approach Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Today, take some time to examine your conscience; ask the Holy Spirit to shed light into your life so you can recognise your sins and be truly sorry for them. Then seize the next opportunity to go to confession. Christ awaits you with open hands. Go and experience the freshness of a new beginning.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I acknowledge my sinfulness. Please forgive me and help me to live to please You always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 228 – Who can forgive sins?

God alone can forgive sins. Jesus could say “Your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5) only because he is the Son of God. And priests can forgive sins in Jesus’ place only because Jesus has given them that authority. 

HIDE A TREASURE: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jonah 3:1-10; Psalms 50:3-4, 12-13, 18-19; Luke 10:29-32.

Tuesday 24th February – Tuesday of the 1st Week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 34:4-7, 16-20

BLESSED ASSURANCE

“Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from all, the Lord preserves them completely; not one of their bones are broken” Psalm 34:19-20

Do you remember the incident recorded in the gospels of Jesus sleeping in the boat amidst a raging storm and his fear-stricken disciples (Luke 8:22-25)? That picture fits beautifully into the psalmist’s description of the life of a person who honours God and trusts in Him. Such person is always assured of the saving grace of God even in the midst of trouble.

What else can we hope for in our daily lives which are often full of uncertainty? God assures us in the first reading that His words are sure and always fulfil their purpose (Isaiah 55:11). God’s word must never leave our hearts so that it can drive far away from us every form of fear posed by the devil who always wants to steal our joy. We must let it dwell in our hearts and daily confess it in prayer and in moments of trials.

Dear friends, our young minds can easily be weighed down by the numerous political and economic problems in our nation and in the world around us. Let us consciously and constantly put our concerns before God and let His peace fill our beings. Pray for peace in your heart and rest in the blessed assurance of God’s word to keep you firm in hope and joyful in charity and share this living hope with someone else today.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please remove anything that contends with Your word in my heart. Let my heart rest in Your saving power and fill me with Your peace that I may live by the faith and not by sight. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2755: Two frequent temptations threaten prayer: lack of faith, and acedia – a form of depression stemming from lax ascetical practice that leads to discouragement.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which can never be shaken, never be moved.” Psalm 125:1 GNB

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19; Matthew 6:7-15

MEETING GOD IN YOUR NEIGHBOR

Monday 23rd February – Monday of the 1st Week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 25:31-46

MEETING GOD IN YOUR NEIGHBOR

God always seeks communion with His children. In the Sacraments, He comes to meet us in signs such as the Eucharist and the priest at the confessional but our lack of faith and worldly minds often prevent us from recognising Him. Yet, Christ tells us that He stands at the door of our hearts, knocking” (cf Rev 3:20). Beloved in Christ, what is your response to God’s divine appointments with you?

Today’s reading reveals that God is closer to us than we can ever imagine – in the every needy person around us. Our works of mercy to those in need are actions which have an eternal value. Christ approaches us each day as a neighbour in need but do we pay close attention to recognize him? Are we still oblivious of the opportunities given to us to channel our treasures to our eternal home (cf Mt 6:20)?

As our Lord illustrated with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-36), attending to the needs of others is putting God first in our lives. It implies that we are placing our eternity at the top of our dreams in life and positioning ourselves to be blessed by God. (Mt 25:34). It is never too late to choose to be on the right hand side of God on judgment day. The thief on the cross recognised Christ at his last moment and was saved. Let us always be conscious of Christ presence in our neighbour and willingly extend our hands to them in charity. This season of Lent, look out for those in need: your schoolmate, sibling, parents, a street beggar, an elderly neighbour, a child, your colleague at work etc and offer some help.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please open my eyes that I may see you in my neighbour and respond to their needs with love. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2463 – How can we not recognise Lazarus, the hungry beggar in the parable, in the multitude of human beings without bread, a roof or a place to stay? How can we fail to hear Jesus: “As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me” (Mt 25:45)?

HIDE A TREASURE: “…whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me” Matthew 25:45 GNB

Today’s Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 19:8-10,15; Matthew 25:31-46

IMITATING CHRIST

Sunday 22nd February – First Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Mark 1:12-15

IMITATING CHRIST

Consider the heroes of faith we read about in Scripture and in the Church’s tradition. What was their mission and purpose? Why did they have to battle against the world? These Heroes whom we look up to all lived for a single reason: the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Beloved, you and I are called to live out this same gospel in our own day and age.

Today’s reading gives us a schematic view of our Christian lives. Like Jesus, our mission begins at Baptism when become children of God. Yet, in order to live out our Christian calling and preach the good news effectively, we must be tried. As we overcome the daily temptations the devil throws at us, we can courageously proclaim Jesus’ message: “The Kingdom of God is near. Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News”. A disciple who is not ready to tread his master’s path can never become like his master. No Christian is exempted from this great commission (Mark 16:15) hence you and I cannot afford to be silent about it.

Christ’s temptation prepared Him for His ministry. To imitate Christ we must be courageous in the face of temptation and be spiritually alert so as to recognise and resist the devil’s tactics to derail us from the master’s path.  Let us never give up on God’s transforming power in the good news for as we preach it with sincerity and humility, we are transformed into what we preach.
Beloved, Lent offers us a wonderful opportunity to become more like Christ. Make use of every opportunity you have; in school, at work, on the internet, at family prayers, while hanging out with friends etc. to preach Christ, your hope of glory.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to become more like you in my words and deeds. Let your love consume me and compel me to preach the Good news. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 425: The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”. And they invite people of every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith…” Romans 1:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25:4-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15