KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH

Saturday 30th January – Saturday of week 3 of the year

Reflection: 2 Samuel 12:1-7, 10-17

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH

As children of God, it is certain that what keeps us going is that we know God is aware of us and wants us to be aware of Him always. We know that salvation came through Christ and the power to save us from all our foes rests in his hands. All these make up what we believe. However, if not experienced, this can neither be a testimony for us not can it bring us victory in our battles. This knowledge of God must not lie fallow in our lives but must generate a way of life which is lived and practiced.

Beloved, Jesus Christ often condemned the Pharisees and the Scribes because they were usually at the forefront of pointing accusing fingers to the wrongs of others but never cared about how their knowledge of the law could change their own lives. This was Prophet Nathan’s message to King David in our reading today to be reprimanded by God because he was not accountable for his word. “A servant who knows what master wants is and does not get ready to do it would be punished with a heavy whipping”. (James 1:22-24 also describes such hypocrisy. Thus, to witness for Christ requires a lifestyle of truth and a firm determination to constantly check any areas our lives which may not be in accordance with truth. A blind man cannot lead another blind man. Refusing to live the word of God belittles God’s grace in us which gives the ability to do His will.

Let us all learn from David who had Luke 12:47-48). To whom much is given, much is expected. Now that you know the truth, how happy you would be if you put in into practice. (John 13:17).

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, to know you as my Lord isn’t enough, help me to be a witness of the Gospel in words and deeds.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1802 – The word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer, and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Now that you know the truth, how happy you would be if you put it into practice.” John 13:17 GNB

Readings for today: 2 Samuel 12:1-7.10-17; Psalm 51:12-17; Mark 4:35-41

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LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

Thursday 28th January – Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor

Reflection: Mark 4: 21-25

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

In a country like Nigeria where power outages are still part of our everyday life, we would be able to appreciate the concept of light and darkness and I bet we all will agree with St John’s gospel that darkness cannot overcome light (John 1:5). No matter how dark a room is, the light of a single candle cannot be hidden by the darkness.

At our baptism, our admission into God’s family, we all were given lit candles, signifying that we were given Christ, the light of the world who calls as His disciples to be light of the world too. A light always shows the way, giving illumination and direction to a dark path. Hence, you and I are called to be light even in the darkness of this world. As young people, we come face to face daily with worldly ways of doing things from the media, internet, friends, colleagues etc. The world upholds its own sinful standards on several issues such as fornication, lies, fraud, exam malpractice etc. We must not blend to the standards of this world because love for the world is enmity with God (1John 1:15).

Dear friend, Christ reminds us today that a lamp brought into the house cannot be put under a bed. Instead it is put on a stand so its light is seen everywhere in the house. Do not be afraid of standing out for Christ (Philippians 2:14­). Do not be afraid of being the lone voice speaking the truth or being the only one in your class not engaging in sexual immorality. Each day, spend time with Christ studying His word and in prayers. Avail yourself of the privilege of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist as He is the strength for our journey of faith.

Remember you are called by Jesus through your baptism to stand out and shine the light of truth and righteousness and someday, you will be called to account for how well you obeyed this call.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the privilege of belonging to the family of God through my baptism. Please grant me the grace and the courage to shine as a light in this fallen world. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 11 – Why do we hand on the faith?

We hand on the faith because Jesus commands us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

No genuine Christian leaves the transmission of the faith exclusively to specialists (teachers, pastors, missionaries). We are Christ for others. This means that every genuine Christian would like God to come to other people, too. He says to himself, “The Lord needs me! I have been baptized and confirmed and am responsible for helping the people around me to learn about God and ‘to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4b).” Mother Teresa used a good comparison: “Often you can see power lines running alongside the street. Unless current is flowing through them, there is no light. The power line is you and I! The current is God! We have the power to allow the current to flow through us and thus to generate the light of the world: JESUS—or to refuse to be used and, thus, allow the darkness to spread.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” Matthew 5:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 7: 18-19, 24-29; Psalm 132: 1-5, 11-14; Mark 4: 21-25

GOD RETURNS AT EVERY MASS

Tuesday 26th January – Tuesday of week 3 of the year
Reflection: 1 Samuel 6: 12-15, 17-19
GOD RETURNS AT EVERY MASS

To many the Mass has become the routine ceremony of listening to lengthy homilies, singing the same old hymns and sharing some ‘tasteless’ bread. Even to devout Catholics; it could become a colorless daily repetition of prayers. The Eucharist: a renewal of God’s covenant of love in the sacrifice of His Son, God’s majesty glorified in the simplicity of bread and wine should never become so ‘common’.
Many years before the first mass celebrated by Jesus and His disciples at the upper room; David led the whole of Israel to celebrate the return of the ark of God’s covenant with great rejoicing. In this sketchy replica of the Eucharistic celebration, they celebrated in singing and dancing; with an imperfect sacrifice of sheep, a mere shadow of the everlasting covenant we now share at every Mass. This replica represents a lesson on how we should receive God’s covenant at mass. Our hope in his power revealed in bread and wine should bring us to worship him in truth and spirit. Our faith in the mystery of the Eucharist should make us blessings to the world and to ourselves. Our love in sharing bread and wine should be taken beyond the mass to our homes and the world.
As you prepare for Mass today; rejoice that you would see God return at Mass as you prepare your heart for him. See you at mass; there we would meet God.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, come into my heart today, and may I take you with me wherever I go. Amen.
KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 216In what way is Christ there when the Eucharist is celebrated?
Christ is mysteriously but really present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. As often as the church fulfills Jesus’ command, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24), breaks the bread and offers the chalice, the same thing takes place today that happened then: Christ truly gives himself for us, and we truly gain a share in him. The unique and unrepeatable sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is made present on the altar; the work of our redemption is accomplished.

HIDE A TREASURE: But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”. John 1: 50-51 RSV-CE
Readings for Today: 2 Samuel 6: 12-15. 17-19; Psalm 23; Mark 3: 31-35.

AUTHENTIC CONVERSION

Monday, 25th January – Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Reflection: Acts 9:1-22

AUTHENTIC CONVERSION

Saint Paul, who is also referred to as an “Apostle to the Gentiles” made his impact in spreading the good news of salvation through the help of the Holy Spirit and his strong determination to complete what God entrusted to his care. This whole work cannot but be traced back to his encounter with Christ on his way to Damascus which led to an authentic conversion. Anytime we remember how he became an apostle, it is always wonderful to think of how God can chose even the worst of sinners for his work of salvation.

Today, we wonder why the flame of the faith grows weak even with sound liturgies and constant celebration of Sacraments by the Church. People complain that the Church is boring and seem not to know why they are in the church. Dear friend, a Christian without an authentic conversion brought about by a divine encounter with Christ will not be able to live out the Gospel of Jesus. Christianity is not always about what we hear about God from people but is significantly what God says to you, what God reveals to you and what God has entrusted to you. Saint Paul in our reading today, encountered God with some “elements” which made the encounter very unique; the presence of Christ, a new sight and baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also, God perfected and made all this possible by sending Ananias to minister to him. Beloved in Christ, have you ever had an encounter with Christ which you can hold on to and recall whenever the fight of faith gets tough? Do you desire more and more of Christ’s revelation of himself to you? This is the testimony and power of great men of faith.

Our obedience to the great commission of Christ, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good news to all creation” in the Gospel reading of today (Mark 16:15) would be dependent on our individual testimony of Christ and divine encounter with him. Let us be conscious of the fact that nobody is dispensable or too weak to proclaim Christ.

Dear Friends, as we go out today, let us pray that God may give us the grace to truly encounter Him in our daily activities.

TALK TO YOUR FRIEND: Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to me in a way that I have never experienced before. Let your light shine on me to enkindle the fire of your love in my heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 27- The desire for God

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never cease to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures” John 15:16 GNB

Readings for Today: Acts 9:1-22; Psalm 117; Mark 16:15-18

WHY WE FAILED

Saturday 23rd January – Saturday of week 2 of the year
Reflection: 2 Samuel 1: 1-4, 11-12, 17, 19, 23-27
WHY WE FAILED
Why do certain people; who had enjoyed fame and wealth in their prime, end abruptly and unhappy? Why do extravagant weddings, too often, end in devastating divorce? Why do the science prodigies; born into wealth homes, end in rehab for drug addiction? Why do people suddenly fail? Saul; the most handsome man in the whole of Israel at that time, was most fit by any human standard to rule as king. After he was anointed as king of Israel, he succeeded in many battles and had his kingdom secured; until his story changed.
In his impatience at Gilgal; he would not wait seven days for Samuel’s return as instructed (1 Samuel 13: 8-11). In his ill-charity, he starved six hundred of his men in mad pursuit of revenge and swore to execute his son, Jonathan, who bravely invaded the enemy camp trusting God (1 Samuel 14: 24, 29-32). His jealousy of David’s victory led him to murder Ahimelech, the priest, and his family over allegations of consulting God on David’s behalf (1 Samuel 22: 17). For his disobedience to God’s commands and obstinacy, he was rejected as king of Israel (1 Samuel 15: 17-19, 26). With his hands; he destroyed his kingdom, and with his spear; he killed himself. Truly, God exalts the lowly and brings down the proud.
Friend, when constant success becomes abrupt failure, remember, God is the giver of every Gift. It is only in our union with God that we can be sure of fulfillment and peace; even in cloudy days. Turn back to God today, and find true success in Him.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I work today keep me connected to you. Amen.
KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 125What is unique about the People of God?
In the midst of all the peoples on earth, there is one people that is like no other. It is subject to no one but God alone. It is supposed to be like salt, which adds flavor; like yeast, which permeates everything; like light, which drives away the darkness. Anyone who belongs to the People of God must count on coming into conflict with people who deny God’s existence and disregard his commandments. In the freedom of the children of God, however, we have nothing to fear, not even death.
HIDE A TREASURE: “You give it to them, and they gather it up; you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face; they vanish, you take away their breath; they expire and return to dust. When you send forth your spirit; they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed”. Psalm 104: 28-30 RSV-CE
Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 1: 1-4, 11-12, 17. 19. 23-27; Psalm 79; Mark 3: 20-21.

WHY WE SHOULD NEVER FIGHT BACK

Friday 22nd January – Friday of week 2 of the year
Reflection: 1 Samuel 24: 11-13        

 WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER FIGHT BACK
From the cynical bullying of ‘the nerds’ in classrooms, to fanatic terrorist killings with religious colors, the unwarranted discrimination of Catholics even by ‘fellow Christians’; we are knocked down daily by punches even from our loved ones. Should we build up hatred and throw back punches in defense? Should we jump at any opportunity to revenge? Should we become silent, so that peace would reign? Certainly not; we would not be ‘Christians’, if we did.
Our dear St. John Paul was crossing St. Peter’s Square on the 13th May, 1981, when a man fired four shots at him with a 9-millimeter pistol. Despite severe blood loss, the pontiff survived, and asked for all Catholics to pray for his would-have-been assassin, whom he had ‘sincerely forgiven’. St. John Paul visited his would-be assassin in 1983 as a friend and stayed in touch his family, and in 2000 requested that he be pardoned.
As Christ-like people; it is our nature to do good everywhere and to everyone, yet we cannot always expect the same from everyone else. In sparing Saul’s life; who with three thousand men sought tom kill him, David teaches us to depend totally on God for defense. In the face of death, David found an opportunity to show God to Saul by kindness, even when he had the chance to fight back. He saw God’s wonderful image in Saul; anointed as king, and would never harm him.
St. Augustine beautifully wrote: ‘Unwaveringly, the Church marches forward on her pilgrim way between the world’s persecutions and God’s consolations’. Friend, in every persecution; find an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus in words and action. Being born again in God’s image of love; we should show this love especially when it is difficult, not returned and unappreciated. Today, tell someone you would rather not: ‘God loves you and I love you too’. This is what it is to be Christian.
PRAYER: Lord, make me an instrument of peace; when injured let me pardon. Amen.
KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 396 – How does a Christian deal with anger?
Anger is initially a natural emotion, a reaction to perceived injustice. If anger becomes hatred, however, and someone has ill-will toward his neighbor, this normal feeling becomes a serious offense against charity. All uncontrolled anger, especially thoughts of revenge, are detrimental to peace and destroy “the tranquility of order”.
HIDE A TREASURE: “My grace is enough for you; my great strength is revealed in weakness. Gladly, then, will I boast of my weakness that the strength of Christ may be mine. So I rejoice when I suffer infirmities, humiliations, want, persecutions: all for Christ! For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 Samuel 24: 3-21; Psalm 56; Mark 3: 13-19.

BEWARE OF JEALOUSY

Thursday 21st January – Memorial of St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Reflection: 1 Samuel 18: 6-9, 19: 1-7

BEWARE OF JEALOUSY

Dear friends, as we continue our reading about David, we are confronted with a surprising reaction to the victory God won through him for Israel. At the time David killed Goliath, Saul was king over Israel. One would expect that as king, Saul would be the happiest person in the nation since God had miraculously led them to defeat the Philistines who had been making war with them for a while.

Unfortunately, although Saul was initially happy with this victory but his happiness turned sour when he heard the women sing; “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” From that point on, Saul grew jealous of David and though he knew God’s hand was upon David, he sought to kill him by all means. Dear friends, before we are quick to condemn King Saul, let us look into our own lives. Are there ways we have allowed the evil spirit of jealousy to envelope us and control our behavior and actions towards others?

As young people, we desire all the good things of life. We desire beauty, fame, the best clothes and accessories, the latest electronic gadgets etc. In as much as we desire these good things, we must not allow ourselves to become envious of our friends or colleagues who have them when we do not. Envy is a capital sin which opens the door to more grievous sins and shuts a person up from God’s blessings. A tiny wave of jealousy rising in the heart of a man can eventually lead to slander, murder, theft etc. Friends, rejoice with others in successes and achievements and God will open the door of blessings unto you.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for your forgiveness for the times I have been jealous of other people’s blessings, talents and successes. Please remove every seed of jealousy in my heart and fill me with the love that comes from you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 318 What are vices?

Vices are negative habits that deaden and dull the conscience, incline a person to evil, and habitually prepare him for sin. Human vices are found in connection with the capital sins of pride, avarice, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth (or acedia, spiritual boredom).

 

HIDE A TREASURE: “So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander” 1 Peter 2:1 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1Samuel 18: 6-9, 19: 1-7; Psalm 56: 2-3, 9-14; Mark 3: 7-12