LOOK FORWARD

Wednesday 30th September – Memorial of St Jerome, Priest & Doctor

Reflection: Luke 9: 57-62

LOOK FORWARD

No one who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 62b

Old habits they say, die hard; however, through the power of Christ at work in us we can overcome all ungodly tendencies that hitherto characterise our way of life. Conversion to Christ could be an instantaneous event; however, the work of transformation takes a life time. Having answered the call of Christ to be His followers; it is required of us to give Him unalloyed fidelity. Though the waves of temptation and opposition rage against us, our faith must never succumb to these if we are to earn the crown of glory.

Beloved, today’s gospel reading calls you and I to examine how forthrightly we are following Christ. Through our baptism we have renounced Satan and all his empty promises; we embrace the way of holiness and righteousness. Friend, do you still involve yourself in ungodly acts that run contrary to your baptismal vows? No one can serve two masters says our Lord (Luke 16: 13); we cannot partly serve God and partly serve the devil; Christianity demands hundred per cent commitment.

Let us this day renew our commitment to follow Christ, let us lay aside every weight and sins that easily beset us; looking up to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrew 12 :1-3); . No gain of this world is comparable to the ultimate reward that awaits us in heaven if we remain committed to Christ till the end.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, having come to know you, please help me to serve you with a steadfast heart. Detach me from all that offends your love; help me to make heaven at the end of my earthly sojourn. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 226 – But we have Baptism, which reconciles us with God; why then do we need a special sacrament of Reconciliation?

Baptism does snatch us from the power of sin and death and brings us into the new life of the children of God, but it does not free us from human weakness and the inclination to sin. That is why we need a place where we can be reconciled with God again and again. That place is confession.

It does not seem like a modern thing to go to confession; it can be difficult and may cost a great deal of effort at first. But it is one of the greatest graces that we can receive again and again in our life—it truly renews the soul, completely unburdens it… Someone who has gone to confession turns a clean, new page in the book of his life

HIDE A TREASURE: “No one who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 62b RSV-CE

Today’s readings: Nehemiah 2:1-8; Psalm 137: 1-6; Luke 9:57-62

FEEL SECURE IN GOD

Monday 28th September – Monday of week 26 of the year

Reflection: Luke 9:46-50

FEEL SECURE IN GOD

It is only normal for a 3 or 4 year old kid to feel insecure when a new baby is welcomed into the family, there is this feeling of fear that his parents might transfer all the tender loving care and affection to this new baby. The child gets unnecessarily paranoid and involves himself in a sort of competition with the new born baby, he tends to want the mother’s attenttion at the very moment when she’s attending to the new baby.

The disciples in today’s gospel reading, just like this child also exhibited this paranoia characteristic. They rebuked the man who drove out demons not because he was not doing it in Christ’s name but because ‘he was not in their group’ (Lk  9:49). This is what we also exhibit when our friends or junior colleagues are able to do something that we alone could do in times past. We feel so insecure, with the fear of being forgotten that rather than collaborating with the person, we try to make everyone dislike the fellow.

Dear friends, let us learn to collaborate with other people and work hand-in-hand with them. It is true that as young people we have a tendency to form “cliques”. Yet, we should not form cliques with the mindset that anything that comes from outside your clique is bad. We should be welcoming to other people most especially people who are just developing skills, it doesnt matter if we were once champions. What should matter is that when you are gone there will be someone to do what you did best. Christ is a good example he taught his disciples all he knew. Let us then not act childishly and immature by being ‘unnecessarily paranoid’.

PRAYER: Almighty Father, help me to secure my whole life in you and root out of me every atom of envy and jealousy towards my neighbours, that I may welcome all who come my way. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 466What is envy, and how can we fight against it?

Envy is a sadness and annoyance at the sight of another’s wellbeing and the desire to acquire unjustly what others have. Anyone who wishes other people ill commits a serious sin. Envy decreases when we try to rejoice more and more in the accomplishments and gifts of others, when we believe in God’s benevolent providence for ourselves as well, and when we set our hearts on true wealth, which consists of the fact that we already participate in God’s life through the Holy Spirit.

HIDE A TREASURE: As rust consumes iron, so envy consumes the soul that is afflicted by it.-St. Basil the great.

Today’s reading: Zech 8:1-8; Ps 102:16-18.19-21.29.22-23; Lk 9:46-50

DETACH FROM EARTHLY TREASURES

Sunday 27th September- 26th Sunday of the year

DETACH FROM EARTHLY TREASURES


Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48

I once met a man who believed he was everything a woman would ever want; he had good looks and so much wealth that he felt he was in control of every situation. He met this very simple lady whom he loved so much and wanted to marry but all she asked of him was to live simpler life, a life without so much riches but filled with much love, peace and happiness. He refused because he could not imagine a life without riches. This young man never found anyone as good as the simple lady and he remained single all his life.

The world we live in today is filled with all sorts of material attractions, things that are enough to buy  a man’s conscience and even his soul. It is true that the human wants are unlimited but we must always remember that the top item on our preference list should be the salvation of our souls. As young people we have different things and people that we unnecessarily attach ourselves to, ranging from clothes, jewels, phones and other gadgets. We also attach ourselves to certain people  believing that we cannot survive without them. Yet they add nothing to our moral and spiritual values but rob us of virtues . Christ is telling us today how vague these things are, for it is better to enter the kingdom of heaven without them than hell with them.
…If your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out! It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into Hell. (Mk 9: 45-47)

Let us then unlike the man in our illustration make sacrifices now that we may enjoy eternally at God’s side. No matter how far you think you can run to hide your riches from God, all he need take is a step to take it away from you.

PRAYER: Lord God, detach me from earthly treasures that I may find joy in your Kingdom.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 52 What is heaven?

Heaven is God’s milieu, the dwelling place of the angels and saints, and the goal of creation. With the words “heaven and earth”we designate the whole of created reality. Heaven is not a place in the universe. It is a condition in the next life. Heaven is where God’s will is done without any resistance. Heaven happens when life is present in its greatest intensity and blessedness- a kind of life that we do not find on earth.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Everything will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified by salt.” Mark 9:49 GNB

Today’s reading: Num 11:25-29; Ps 19:7-12; Jam 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48

BEYOND THE POSTEXILIC STATE

Saturday 26th September – Saturday of week 25 of the year

Reflection: Zechariah 2:1-5, 10-11

BEYOND THE POSTEXILIC STATE

Like Haggai, Zechariah took part in the “restoration” of God’s people and the Temple when the Jews returned from Babylon. In the postexilic period, Judah was trying to regain its stance and was plagued by the ruins of the past. The Jews planned to build walls around Jerusalem to prevent it from being ravaged again by their captors. Through Zechariah, God told the Jews, “I will be a wall of fire for her all round her, and I will be her glory in the midst of her.” (Zech 2:5).

Many of us find ourselves are plagued by certain sins. We confess the same sin at the confessional almost every time and yet give in to same temptations almost immediately. Sin holds us captive and exiled from God. When we acknowledge and confess our sins, we enter the postexilic state. In this state, we are most vulnerable and the forces that take the final control are largely product of our choices. It is good that we confess and do our penance, but that’s just the beginning of our victory over sin. To prevent us from being ravaged by sin and corruption again, we must listen to the voice of God as addressed to the Jews in their postexilic period.

First, is to build the Temple of the Lord – The Temple is the place of communication between God and man, and where God dwells. Prayer is our own place of communication with God. Thus, our first step to prevent further ruin is through prayer and meditation on God’s word. We need to pray for grace to overcome. No one wins the battle without prayer. Next, we must make conscious efforts at defense – The Jews decided to build a physical wall around Jerusalem. Like the Jews, we need to make a conscious and firm decision to avoid occasions that can make us fall. Is it the movies that we watch, magazines and novels that we read or parties that we attend? Is it the friends that we keep or our desire to belong? Is it our lack of patience and understanding or failure to bear gently with other faults? Is it our laziness or idleness?

When we make a conscious efforts to build a wall of defense for ourselves by avoiding occasions of sin, God will build a super-wall for us to help overcome them. God is ready to help us, but we must first stretch out our hands for help.

PRAYER: In all my temptations and weaknesses, Lord help me to always have recourse in you and help me daily make a choice for you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 229What prepares a person for repentance?

The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. Then we are full of sorrow for our sins; we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Sin will not lord it over you again, for you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Zechariah 2:1-5, 10-11; Jeremiah 31:10-13(Canticle); Luke 9:43-45

PUT TO DEATH THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH

Friday, 25th September- Friday of week 25 of the year

PUT TO DEATH THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH

Haggai 1:15 – 2:9

“A little while now, and I will fill this temple with glory.” The Israelites were held captives in Babylon because they abandoned their God. The postexilic period represents a time when they tried to rebuild their union with God. One of it is rebuilding the Temple. The Temple stands as the place of union of God and man. In our days we consider the Church and more so our body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19). For God to fill ‘Our Body’ with His glory, then our body must necessarily be devoid of all forms of human glory and vices. To devoid ourselves of all human glory means we must proceed by way of renunciation and self-mortification and put to death in us all desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

“I am with you – it is the Lord of hosts who speaks – and my spirit remains among you. Do not be afraid! For the Lord of hosts says this: A little while now, and I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations and the treasures of all the nations shall flow in, and I will fill this Temple with glory, says the Lord of hosts. Mine is the silver, mine the gold!”

In our academics, do we engage in malpractice to get a better result or do we trust fully in God while putting our best in preparation? Do we tell lies to gain favor or get what we want especially from our parents or do we tell the truth always irrespective of the outcome? Do we patiently wait on God and ask for guidance or do we go about doing things and planning our life our own way? Do we intentionally deceive others in our words and actions to gain something from them? Are we faithful with what is kept in our custody especially money or do we misappropriate them to help ourselves?

Dear friends, let’s examine our lives and see where we are seeking our own human glory rather than that of the divine. Let us surrender them back to God and pray for His glory to fill us.

Prayer: Lord help me by your grace to put to death in me all desires of the flesh and help me live by your Spirit. Amen

Know Your Faith: YOUCAT 526- 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 strenght of our own with which to oppose the evil one. He graciously gives us the petition from Our father, which teaches us to trust in God’s assistance in the hour of trial.

Hide a Treasure: – Therefore I say to you: walk according to the spirit and do not give way to the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 CCB

Today’s Readings: Haggai 1:15–2:9; Psalm 42:1-4; Luke 9:18-22

A MERCIFUL BUT JUST GOD

Wednesday 23rd September – Wednesday of week 25 of the year

A MERCIFUL BUT JUST GOD

Tobit 13: 2, 4, 6-8 (Canticle)

Life is full of choices. We can either choose to live according to the commandments of God or at variance with them. Either way attracts its own consequences. While sin leads to captivity and death (Romans 6: 23; Ezekiel 18:4), obedience to God leads to freedom and eternal life (Jeremiah 38: 20b; John 17:3). Every moment of our lives offers us an opportunity to say “yes” to the will of God and “no” to the subtle suggestions of the evil one; to renounce ourselves and embrace the way of Christ. We are daily encouraged to grow in virtues and intimacy with Christ.

However, this is not always the case with us. We sometimes deliberately go against the will of God to satisfy our selfish desires. We wave aside our shortcomings on the basis that God is merciful and “understanding.” Yes, He is truly merciful (Exodus 34: 6) and knows our imperfection (Genesis 6: 5-7); yet, we cannot continue to deliberately sin and take His mercy for granted. In today’s first reading, Ezra made us realize that the punishment of the Israelites was as a result of their persistent neglect of the Lord’s commandments.

Dearest in the Lord, we are called this day to examine areas of our lives where we deliberately sin against God. Are we indulging in pornography, fornication, abortion, examination malpractices, fraud, drunkenness etc.? As youth of this age, numerous are the temptations and vices raging around us; but as Christians, we must be people set apart for the Lord, shinning as light in the darkness around.

Great are the plans of God for us (Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthian 2:9), we however can lose out on His best for us through some costly mistakes in life. Some mistakes are better prevented then amended. Sin has both temporal and eternal consequences (CCC 1472- 1473). Even after we might have been forgiven, it takes the grace of God to live with the consequences of some past misdeeds. The experience of King David with Bathsheba is an example for us to learn from (2 Samuel 11-12).

PRAYER: Thank you for your abundant mercy Lord; please strengthen me to honour you in every season of my live. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 234 – When is a Catholic obliged to confess his serious sins? How often should one go to confession?

Upon reaching the age of reason, a Catholic is obliged to confess his serious sins. The Church urgently advises the faithful to do this at least once a year. At any rate one must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion if one has committed a serious sin. By “the age of reason”, the Church means the age at which one has arrived at the use of reason and has learned to distinguish between good and bad.

HIDE A TREASURE: Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the lord.” Ps 119:1 GNB

Today’s readings: Ezra 9:5-9; Tobit 13: 2, 4, 6-8; Luke 9: 1-6

BEYOND FAMILY TIES

Tuesday 22nd September – Tuesday of week 25 of the year

Luke 8: 19-21

BEYOND FAMILY TIES

Today’s gospel reading has something to teach us on proper conduct in our relationships. Have you ever being tempted to violate your conscience in a bid to satisfy the desires of your relatives? I certainly believe you would have at one point or the other find yourself in such a tight situation. In today’s gospel reading, our Divine master teaches us the right way to handle such – our commitment to please the Lord must always rank above any other tie. Inability to rightly handle this is a major cause of nepotism even among Christians.

By virtue of our baptism, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God ((Colossians 1:16, 2:12; Galatians 4:4-6) and are members of one family with our Lord Jesus Christ. However, beyond our baptismal entry into the family of God, Christ is telling you and I that what truly gives legitimacy to our relatedness to Him is our openness to hear and obey His word (John 10:27). No matter how long we have been baptised or how regularly we frequent the sacraments, if these do not translate into godly living we cannot say we belong to Him.

Some readily sight today’s gospel in their bid to downplay the role of Mother Mary in the life of the Church. However, the fundamental question to ask ourselves is “how well did Mary cooperate with the will of God in her life?” By her fiat she completely acceded to the will of God to become the mother of God (Luke 1:26-38) even though it was beyond her understanding. She accepted God’s will at the risk of rejection and public ridicule. She shared in her son’s sorrow and stood by him till His crucifixion at Golgotha. Mary’s motherhood of the Church (Luke 19: 26-27; Luke 1:48) was not merely earned by her giving birth to Christ, much more than that, she was a woman of deep faith who freely and fully committed herself to doing the will of God.

PRAYER: Please teach me Lord to hold you foremost in my heart. Guide me on how best to handle the relationships you have blessed me with in a manner that brings honour to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 148 – Can Mary really help us?

Yes. Since the beginning of the Church, experience has taught that Mary helps. Millions of Christians testify to it. Being the Mother of Jesus, Mary is also our Mother. Good mothers always stand up for their children. Certainly this Mother does. While still on earth she interceded with Jesus for others; for example, she protected a bride and groom in Cana from embarrassment. In the Upper Room on Pentecost she prayed in the midst of the disciples. Because her love for us never ceases, we can be sure that she will plead for us in the two most important moments of our life: “now and at the hour of our death”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Am I seeking the favour of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 RSV-CE

Today’s reading: Ezra 6: 7-8.12.14-20; Psalm 122: 1-5; Luke 8: 19-21