MAKING A CHOICE FOR HEAVEN

Monday 31st August – Monday of week 22 of the year

Reflection: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

MAKING A CHOICE FOR HEAVEN

“It is appointed for men to die once and after that comes judgment (Heb 9:27). And this judgment, based on our lives here on earth will determine what eternity will be for us -Heaven or Hell. Each time we hear about Hell, our natural response is to reject it: “God forbid!” we would say. This is a good response of course, yet, the choice of Heaven lies in our very hands. Jesus’ country men in today’s gospel reading lost the transformation Jesus’ visit was to bring because they rejected him out of familiarity “Is he not the son of Joseph the carpenter?”

Israel was God’s chosen people. They had the laws and the prophets and it was through them that God planned to save mankind but all these good things slipped off their hands to the advantage of the gentiles, because the Jews failed to recognize and accept the Messiah. Little wonder Jesus told the Pharisees: “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” (Mt 21: 43).
How about us? We have the privilege of being Catholic Christians. Are we going to embrace this gift? Beloved, how terrible it will be, if after professing Jesus Christ, we hear the words: “I never knew you (Mt 7:21); “away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41). Indeed, God forbid it! We can only forbid this by living in obedience to God each day. When we do, then like St Paul tells us in the first reading, we will realize that death is simply a passage from this world to blessed union with our eternal Father (1Thess 4:14).

PRAYER: Eternal Father, give us your grace to serve you wholly, so that at the end of our sojourn here on earth, we may inherit your kingdom where you live forever. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH:  YOUCAT 157Will we be brought to judgment after death?

The so-called particular or personal judgment occurs at the moment of death of the individual. The general judgment, which is also called the Last Judgment, occurs on the Last Day, at the end of the world, when the Lord comes again.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The quality of each person’s work will be seen when the day of Christ exposes it. For on that day, fire will reveal everyone’s work; the fire will test it and show its real quality” 1 Corinthians 3:13 GNB

Today’s Readings: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18; Psalm 96: 1, 3-5, 11-13; Luke 4: 16-30

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BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

Tuesday 25th August- St. Louis, St. Joseph Calasanz P. (Opt.Mem)

Reflection: Matthew 23:25-62

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

Today’s Gospel presents us with a very unique aspect of our spiritual and moral life. We may be quick to conclude that Jesus seemed to always pick on the Pharisees. However, what Jesus disliked and condemned was their hypocritical life style. This hypocritical way of life is gradually eating deep into the lives of many Christian youths.

Dear friends, being a christian goes beyond what people would say about you and more of what Christ himself would say about you. We  need an inward transformation. It is not just the external things we do like being active in church, attending church programmes and trying to portray ourselves as righteous that makes us true Christians; rather, it is by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us inwardly.
Are there certain bad habits you desire to conquer? Don’t pretend they are not there. Own up to them and ask the Holy Spirit to help you for the human flesh is weak. (Rom.12:2). You cannot conquer sin in your life through your own strength alone. Approach our Lord at confession where He desires to receive you with open arms and strengthen you in your quest for holiness. Study His word and allow its truth to transform you.

PRAYER: Precious Holy Spirit, please purge me off all filthiness within me.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You will succeed… not by might or by your own strength, but my Spirit.” Zechariah 4:6

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC  2466: “The disciple of Jesus continues in His Word so as to know the truth that will make you free and that sanctifies.”

Today’s reading: 1Thess 2:1-8; Ps.139:1-3.4-6; Mt. 23:23-26

WILL YOU ALSO GO AWAY?

Sunday 23rd August – 21st Sunday of the year

Reflection: John 6: 60-69

WILL YOU ALSO GO AWAY?

The crowds were often filled with admiration at Jesus’ words but today’s response was different. Though they eagerly sought Jesus out in the earlier verses of John 6, the chapter ends on a different note: “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him” (Jn 6:66). However, Jesus response to his massive loss of disciples is even more startling. Rather than going after them he made the apostles realise that they were free to leave too. Peter’s response shows that though the apostles did not understand Jesus’ teaching on “eating His flesh and drinking His blood”, they had grown to trust Him as the Son of God who “has the message of eternal life.”

The Catholic Church, established by Christ Himself as history testifies, possesses the fullness of the Christian faith as handed down to us by the apostles. Many truths have been compromised by majority of Christian groups – truths about the Eucharist, baptism, salvation through faith and works, contraception, abortion, homosexual unions, carrying our crosses etc. – truths which have constantly been upheld by the Catholic Church. Yet, many young people are carried away by the excitement and noise these other Christian communities offer and do not care about living out the truth.

Dear friend, Jesus asks you today too: “will you also go away?” Just as Christ did not compromise his teaching to appease the crowd in today’s gospel reading, His Church will not either. The apostles persisted with Christ and came to understand His words more fully after His resurrection. You have the fullness of the Christian faith as a Catholic. Don’t let this great treasure go to waste. Seek to deepen your friendship with Christ through an active faith life – prayers, the Eucharist, confession, Bible study and seek to understand your Catholic faith through study and prayers. Only then would you be able to respond like St Peter did: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.”

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the priceless gift of my faith. Please help me to embrace it in trust and true commitment so that it may lead me to the holiness of life to which you call me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 870 – The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic…subsists on the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines.

HIDE A TREASURE: “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” John 6:63 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18; Psalm 34: 2-3, 16-23; Ephesians 5: 21-32; John 6: 60-69

MARY: MOTHER OF OUR KING

Saturday 22nd August – Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

Reflection: Luke 1: 26-38

MARY: MOTHER OF OUR KING

The Blessed Virgin, both in her earthly life and glorious eternity remains a clear expression of God’s infinite power to exalt the lowly. It was God’s will that a lowly maid would be raised to become the mother of the eternal King of kings. It was God’s will that Mary (whose name meant “bitterness”) would be given the immeasurable joy of becoming Queen of heaven. Our faith in this glorious mystery is our hope that our imperfect nature would be shed-off for the perfect nature of Christ; when we are raised with Him (2 Peter 1: 3-4).

In her submission to God’s will, Mary teaches us absolute faith; without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Just as we all shared in the disobedience of Eve, by her obedience and acceptance to be the mother of our Redeemer, we all have a share in the joy of salvation. Our Blessed Mother teaches us with her life that obedience to God never goes unrewarded. Are you willing to obey Him even in the uncertainties of life like Mary did?

Today, we are called to learn from our mother and queen, the virtue of faith. If Mary could do it, you can too. Let her words to the servants at the marriage feast at Cana resound in your ears each day: “Do whatever He tells you” (Lk 2:5

PRAYER: Holy Queen, teach us absolute faith in your Son. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 147Why does Mary have such a preeminent place in the communion of saints?

Mary is the Mother of God. She was united with Jesus on earth as no other human being was or could be—in an intimacy that does not cease in heaven. Mary is the Queen of Heaven, and in her motherhood she is quite close to us.
Because she committed herself, body and soul, to a divine yet dangerous undertaking, Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven. Anyone who lives and believes as Mary did will get to heaven.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Yet without faith it is impossible to please him: no one draws near to God without first believing that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him earnestly.” Hebrews 11: 6 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 9: 2-7; Psalm 113: 1-8; Luke 1: 26-28

MAKE GOD YOUR CHOICE TODAY

Friday 21st August – Memorial of St Pius X, Pope

Reflection: Ruth 1: 1-6, 14-16, 22

MAKE GOD YOUR CHOICE TODAY

During the exchange of vows in holy matrimony, the couple chooses to stick with and love each other totally; through everything and with everything. In the presence of God and the Church; two people are joined and become one by choice and it might be right to say; that would be the second most important decision of their lives; second to only one decision – the decision to follow Christ. Have you made this most important choice?

In today’s first reading, Ruth had every justification to return to her people and her gods. But she chose to endure the famine with Naomi, her elderly widowed mother-in-law who had lost her sons. The death of Ruth’s husband did not make her rethink her commitment to him and that led her to an even greater choice: She chose to serve the living God even in hardship. Thus, becoming a model for us Christians.

Christ’s arms are always open to receive us as His children. He has made the ultimate sacrifice for us by His own freewill; giving up His life for our salvation. If we were baptised as infants, our parents made a choice of faith for us. Yet, after the age of reason, the Church offers us the opportunity to renew our baptismal vows and pledge our allegiance to God over and over again. Have we made the firm choice to love God with our whole hearts and follow Christ come what may? Ruth made the choice for the God of Israel and became privileged to be the great grandmother of King David and one of the only three women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. Make God your choice today and see the great things He is willing to do through you.

PRAYER: Lord, give me strength to stick with you come what may. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 25 Why does the faith require definitions and formulas?

Faith is not about empty words but about reality. In the Church, condensed formulas of faith developed over the course of time; with their help we can contemplate, express, learn, hand on, celebrate, and live out this reality.

HIDE A TREASURE: “…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life that you and your descendants may live, loving Yahweh, listening to his voice, and being one with him. In this is life for you and length of days in the land which Yahweh swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30: 19-20 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Ruth 1:1.3-6.14-16.22; Psalm 146:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40

EVERYTHING IS READY: COME

Thursday 20th August – Memorial of St Bernard, Abbot & Doctor

Reflection: Matthew 22: 1-14

EVERYTHING IS READY: COME

“Food is ready!” The rumble in stomachs cease, mouths water and smiles suddenly appear on faces as they jump out of their seats to make a feast of their favourite meal. At the dining table; we hope to get satisfaction for our hunger and thirst and our ears would stay up until they catch the “call to the feast”. Any mother would be disappointed; if her family ignores or rejects her call to the dining room. This instinctive human behaviour should teach something of the response God expects from us to His call: “Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare”. (Isaiah 55: 1-2)

In today’s gospel reading, the king became furious at the disheartening response he got to the invitation he gave out for the wedding feast of his son. After dealing with the evil invitees; he called out again but this time, to everyone. Today, the King of the universe calls every one of us to the unending feast of joy in His kingdom of light. He has a special place prepared for us at His side if only we would come; bringing to Him our entire lives that He may mould us and use us.

Dear friend, Indeed, everything is ready; only in Him can we find the true happiness and peace of mind we all seek. Only in Him can we find meaning to life and fulfilment. Are you ready to put off the old life for a new one hidden with Christ in God? Through your baptism, you have responded to His call; yet, that response is still ongoing. His call comes to you each new day and He awaits your response, your commitment.

PRAYER: O good Shepherd, teach me to listen and obey when you call. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 523 Why does man not live on bread alone?

This passage of Scripture reminds us that men have a spiritual hunger that cannot be satisfied by material means. One can die for lack of bread, but one can also die because one has received bread alone. In a profound sense we are nourished by the one who has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68) and a food that does not perish (John 6:27): the Holy Eucharist.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! Whoever hears let him say, come! Whoever thirsts let him approach, and whoever desires, let him freely take the water of life.” Revelation 22: 17 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Judges 11: 29-39; Psalm 40: 5. 7-9. 10; Matthew 22: 1-14

LET EACH RUN HIS COURSE DILIGENTLY

Wednesday 19th August: Wednesday of week 20 in Ordinary Time

LET EACH RUN HIS COURSE DILIGENTLY

Matthew 20:1-16

Great is the love of our Heavenly Father who sacrificed His only begotten son so that you and I might be saved (John 3: 16). Though our Lord Jesus Christ through His death paid the full price for our salvation, it nevertheless remains the choice of each and every one of us to either accept or reject the gift of Divine life offered us. While some start up early with the Lord, some do not embrace the call to salvation until the noon or twilight of their life. It is however more beneficial to come to know God early in life, to minimize the risk of making costly mistakes in life that could lead to future heartache and regret (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

The Gospel reading gives a glimpse of the magnanimity of God’s love. He constantly seeks to bring to the fold of His flock all who are yet to accept His Lordship over their lives. This should be an encouragement for us never to lose hope on the salvation of any one no matter how wayward their current way of life seems to be. Saint Monica never gave up on her son Augustine despite the depth of his waywardness. Through years of unrelenting intercession the bright light of conversion eventually shone in his heart. So deep was his conversion that the sinner was transformed into a prominent Saint in the Church.

Dearest in Christ, as we are encouraged never to lose hope on anyone, so are we equally admonished to keep watch over ourselves. No matter how long we have been living out our committment to Christ, of greater importance is the state of our relationship with God at the point our departure from this world, (Ezekiel 18:21-29). Let each of us run the course of faith diligently that the first might not end up being the last (Matt. 20: 16; 1Tim 4:16). God help us. Amen.

PRAYER: Help me Lord, that having come to know you, I may never forsake you but rather serve you till I see you in Heaven. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 294: Is someone a sinner if he experiences strong passions within himself?

No, passions can be very valuable. They are designed to lead to and reinforce good actions; only when they are disordered do the passions contribute to evil.
Passions that are ordered to the good become virtues. They then become the motive force of a life of fighting for love and justice. Passions that overpower a person, rob him of his freedom and entice him to evil, we call vice. 

Hide a treasure: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on the last Day, and not to only me but also to all who have loved his appearing”  1 Tim. 4: 7-8 RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Judges 9: 6-15; Psalm 21: 2-7 Matthew 20: 1-16