APPROACH TO EVANGELIZATION

Thursday 30th April – Thursday of the 4th week of Eastertide

Reflections: Acts 13:13-25

APPROACH TO EVANGELIZATION

As Paul preached to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, he put the message of the gospel into historical perspective so that his hearers would understand how the message of Christ flowed from their history and is a fulfillment of God’s promise made to their fathers. He needed to open their eyes to see, that the son of God was indeed Immanuel – of their own lineage and dwelling amongst them.

Since they were Jews, they could only understand and accept the message of salvation if it was explained in the context of their Jewish heritage. Dear friends, you and I are called to evangelize. We can only be effective in this mission when we understand the background and needs of our hearers because this would influence our approach to sharing the good news. The way you will speak about Christ to a regular church goer who doesn’t take his faith seriously may differ from the approach needed in speaking to someone who has never heard the gospel message at all. St Paul recognized this, and we too must recognize it.

Beloved, as we seek to share the good news of salvation with our peers, neighbours, co-workers or family members let us ask the Holy Spirit for direction. The Holy Spirit himself is the principal agent of every conversion. The seeds of the gospel that we sow are nurtured, germinate and bear fruits of repentance by His power. As we listen to him, He will speak the right words through us that will make a difference to our hearers.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please grant me the grace that my way of life and my words may bring others to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 205 – What happens in Confirmation?

In confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” 1Corinthians 9:22 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 13:13-25, Psalm 90: 2-3, 21-27, John 13:16-20

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A PEOPLE SET APART FOR THE LORD

Wednesday 29th April – Memorial of St Catherine of Siena, Virgin & Doctor

Reflections: Act 12:24-13:5

A PEOPLE SET APART FOR THE LORD

Today’s first reading provides the account of how Barnabas and Saul were sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit. This accounts points out a few lessons for us, Christians of today:

Like the disciples of Jesus, we can often become worn out on our mission, from our daily work and the various burdens of daily living. When you reach this point, seek help, seek the company of believers. When you are weary, tired and worn out, seek the Church; where there are pastors, prophets and teachers. There, you will find a new sense of mission.

There may also be moments when we are unsure of what to do next as we accomplish our current tasks. In those moments, let us find the direction and the strength to move through a life of prayer and participating in the Eucharist. The disciples received their mission while observing a fast. Are you praying for direction? Seek God’s face in fasting and prayer and you will hear more clearly as His Spirit speaks to your heart.

Never forget dear friend, that we are a pilgrim people, a people on a mission to preach Christ to the ends of the earth. This mission is intricately the mission of the Church, just as it is your mission and my mission; a mission of the people set apart. This is what St Catherine embodies; a lowly hand maid, whose only desire was to do the will of God. Are you living out the mission of Christ?

PRAYER:  Lord, you have set me apart for yourself; please help me to bring the church to the world, that through my participation in the mission of evangelization, many hearts will be worn to your glory. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 59 – How is the universal priesthood of all the faithful different from the ordained priesthood?

Through Baptism Christ has made us into a kingdom of “priests to his God and Father” (Rev 1:6). Through the universal priesthood, every Christian is called to work in the world in God’s name and to bring blessings and grace to it.

HIDE A TREASURE: “He saved us and called us to holiness of life” 2 Timothy 1:8 CCB

Today’s Readings:  Act 12:24-13:5; Psalm 67:2- 8; John 12:44-50

GOOD PERSECUTION

Tuesday 28th April – Tuesday of the 4th week of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 11:19-26

GOOD PERSECUTION

Surely, you must be thinking, “What is good about persecution?” You might not have taken time in the past to reflect on the good side of persecution. Indeed, not every ugly incident that happens to people in life is bad. Some ugly incidents may subsequently yield positive results. For instance, if as a student you are denied a vital grade in your Continuous Assessment tests, that would push you to study harder for the exams and to come out with a good grade at the end. On Meanwhile, if you had not been denied that vital mark and passed the C.A. very well then you might just treat the exams with levity.

The truth is that no one wants to be persecuted or accused for doing right, but we must do right no matter what the outcome may be. The early apostles suffered a lot persecution, some of which we can term as ‘good’ because the persecutions enabled the Good News to spread more rapidly as we see in today’s first reading and reach the uttermost parts of the earth as Jesus charged his apostles to do at His ascension.

Hence, you can turn a bad situation in your life into an avenue for greater accomplishments. It all has to do with your disposition and willingness to accept the situation and choose to make the best of it. That is what we call a ‘determined spirit’, and this too was the spirit of the early disciples amidst their persecutions. The persecutions led the disciples to leave Jerusalem, but wherever they went, they proclaimed the gospel of Christ, thus spreading the message of salvation even more. What persecution do you find yourself in today? Ask God to help you see the good in it.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please grant me the grace this day to overcome every form of persecution against me and make it a stepping stone to good things. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2474: “The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in letters of blood.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “At the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” 1 Corinthians 10:13c. GNB.

Today’s Readings: Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 87:1-7; John 10:22-30

RESPONDING TO CRITICISM IN LOVE

Monday 27th April, 2014 – Monday of the 4th Week of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 11:1-18

RESPONDING TO CRITICISM IN LOVE

There must have been times in your life when you have been misunderstood and even criticized for your actions. So you see beloved, criticism and backbiting is almost an inevitable aspect of any meaningful venture you want to make in life. In today’s first reading, we see some good Christians with even “good motives” who were out to criticize Peter for going to the house of the uncircumcised. To them, it was an abomination for a Jew, not to talk of a Christian-Jew to mingle with Gentiles. Hence they criticized Peter over this matter.

Now, the question lies here: “How did Peter handle his critics”? Obviously, as we see in the passage, Peter did not quarrel with them in turn or respond with angry expressions. He simply recognized their state of ignorance and lovingly explained to them all that happened. Did you learn any lesson from that? Of course you did.

So next time dear friend, when people criticize you unjustly, simply calm down and ask the Lord to fill you with His love which you would use to handle the matter at hand. And if you try to explain to them gently, and they still don’t understand, then leave the matter for God and keep loving them, so far you know you are in the right. For the Bible says that “When a man’s ways pleases the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov.16:7). This is the way to triumph.

PRAYER: Thank you gracious Father for your presence with me that enables me to overcome every trial that comes my way in life. Please help me to respond to my critics in love. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT  311 – What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

In the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” the world can see what becomes of people who let themselves be adopted, led, and completely formed by God.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Keep your temper under control, it is foolish to habour a grudge” Ecclesiastes 7:9 GNB

Today’s Readings: Acts 11:1-18; Ps 42: 2-3, 43: 3-4; Jn 10:1-10

ARE YOU LOOKED DOWN UPON?

Sunday 26th April – 4th Sunday of Easter

Reflection: Acts 4:8-12

ARE YOU LOOKED DOWN UPON?

During the teenage age, a typical young person would feel very embarrassed when he is referred to as a child by the parents or any other adult. Sometimes as youth you want to prove this sense of independence and freedom from every form of control. This feeling can be termed as merely natural, because of youthful exuberance.  It always hurts when people look down upon you especially when you present your ideas, dreams or ambitions to someone that you trust. In today’s reading, Jesus is referred to as the ‘stone’ which the builders rejected.

Jesus was indeed a rejected stone during His time on earth. As far as the religious leaders of the Jews were concerned, they had done away with Him and silenced Him forever. But in just a matter of days, He became the ‘cornerstone’. Beloved, it is amazing how God can take what is seemingly worthless or useless in our worldly eyes and make it the best. It is in fact, the work of grace, and not by any work of ‘righteousness’ done by the beneficiary of such miracle. Today, God reminds you that you are not worthless or useless as others might think you are, or that you think yourself to be. Never look down upon yourself! You are of great value to God and to humanity. Go humbly before Him today with absolute trust and ask Him to re-shape your life for good.

PRAYER: Thank you Father for reminding me that you have a purpose for my life, please fill me with the grace of fortitude. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1808: “Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good… (it) enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “May Your constant love be with us Lord as we put our hope in You” Psalm 33:22 GNB

Today’s Readings: Acts 4: 8-12; Ps 11:1, 8-9, 21-29; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18

CHRISTIANITY: AN OVERWHELMING MESSAGE

Saturday 25th April – Feast of St Mark, Evangelist

Reflection: 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (Gospel Acclamation)

CHRISTIANITY: AN OVERWHELMING MESSAGE

The Christian faith and values has endured an incredibly great and ever new resistance from world powers in all spheres of human life right from its origin and even in our time. In our days, speaking against contraception, abortion and other “anti-life policies” and philosophies is a good way to win the unpopularity of the “modern-day” person. Titles ranging from ‘Ex-Catholic’ to ‘Atheist’ have become as fashionable as “Brazilian hair”. You might be drawn to wonder: “Why is there so much opposition to such a harmless way of life?” Saint Paul gives an answer in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:23): “we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles”.

Christ’s message of unconditional love and forgiveness goes against human logic. The Church’s stance on morality does not hold water in our secular senate houses. Faith in unseen mysteries is regarded as foolishness. The devil goes on seeking souls to devour through sin and unbelief, yet our lives should represent Christ. In the midst of an increasingly secular world where truth is compromised, we are to stand up against these oppositions not by being judgmental or with spiritual pride but out of love and with a firm faith that seeks holiness of life.  (1 Pet 5: 8-9).

Dear friend, always remember that your Christian faith is a call from God and not just a choice you made. (1 Cor 1:24) Obey God’s call today in living as light of the world and salt of the earth (Mt 5: 13-16). You are born of God, overcome the world in faith (1 John 4:4).

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to someone new today, as you make me a manifestation of your goodness. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 4 – Can we know the existence of God by our reason?

The world cannot have its origin and its destination within itself. In everything that exists, there is more than we see. The order, the beauty, and the development of the world point beyond themselves toward God. Every man is receptive to what is true, good, and beautiful. He hears within himself the voice of conscience, which urges him to what is good and warns him against what is evil. Anyone who follows this path reasonably finds God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 Peter 5:5-14; Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17; Mark 16:15-20

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD TO USE


Friday 24th April – Friday of the 3rd week of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 9:1-20

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD TO USE

Though we often do not like to be judged by others, we find ourselves almost always judging others. Ananias, the disciple must have been greatly surprised by God’s instruction about Saul and wondered, “Lord, do you really know this man? He is our arch enemy! Let me tell you a bit about him…” but God insisted, “This man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the pagans…” God is unquestionable as regards whom He decides to use for work. Regardless of your past, you are good enough for Him if you are open to His mercy and grace.

If Paul, the Church’s great persecutor could encounter God right on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, who cannot be brought to conversion? Who are you to judge that person in your class or neighbourhood? Something noteworthy about Saul was that his actions stemmed from sincerity. He persecuted the Church, not because of sheer hatred but because he thought they were going against God’s law. Hence his action stemmed from a “sincere ignorance”.

Are you available to be used for the glory of God? Do you live in sincerity before Him? Let your actions stem from a sincere love for God and readiness to do His will and you will be surprised what great things He will do with you.

PRAYER: Lord, I give you my life. Please manifest your love and glory through me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 196 – Who can be baptized, and what is required of a candidate?

Any person who is not yet baptized can be baptized. The only prerequisite for Baptism is faith, which must be professed publicly at the Baptism.
A person who turns to Christianity is not just changing a world view. He travels a path of learning (the cathecumenate), in which he becomes a new man through personal conversion, but especially through the gift of Baptism. He is now a living member of the Body of Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.”
2 Timothy 2:20 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 117:1-2; John 6:52-59