RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

Saturday 27th February – Saturday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

RETURN TO YOUR FATHER

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the two sacraments of healing in the Church; it obtains pardon from God for the offense committed against Him and by the Priest’s sacramental absolution, God grants the penitent “pardon and peace”. In approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the first step is Interior Penance; recognition of guilt with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed. Next is a contrite heart; sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again. Then comes the confession of sins to the priest after a diligent self-examination. Lastly, the Satisfaction; is fulfilling the penance given by the priest in order to make amends for the sin.

The Prodigal Son’s process of conversion stems from a recognition of his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, his reflection on all he had lost, a sorrowful heart for what he had done, his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey home. Up to this point he had lived “outside “of himself; now in the language of the Gospel he “enters into himself”, that is, he begins to look inwards and see his true nature.

When he starts back, he finds that the father is out on the roadway ready to welcome him back. Forgiveness meets us more than halfway. The father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The Beautiful robe, the ring and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure, worthy and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of His Family, which is the Church.

Dear Friends, let us take time to reflect and identify areas of our life where we have strayed from God, let us be sorrowful for them and pray for the grace to fully complete our conversion process. Remember, no matter how bad your past might have been, you can always begin anew with God. Today God calls us to conversion; He calls us to journey home.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to remember always that my sins are not greater than your mercy. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1470 – Effects of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Jesus spoke up “healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous” Luke 5:31-32 CCB

Today’s Readings: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

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TREASURE WHAT YOU HAVE

Friday 26th February – Friday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 21: 33-46

TREASURE WHAT YOU HAVE

In this parable, the vineyard is the kingdom of God; the Jews, God’s chosen people are the tenants. God entrusted His kingdom to them. He guided them throughout the long span of history that they would be an example to others. They were to communicate their experience to others so that all would develop justice, and a spirit of responsibility. These were the fruits God wanted to harvest. God sent his prophets to remind them of their debts; but they ignored them. Finally, the only Son of God appeared as man but they cast Him out and killed Him. Consequently, the Kingdom was taken from them and given to others, those believers converted from other nations. Thus, through their disobedience the mercy of God came to the pagan nations (Romans 11:11-33).

We too as Christians have been entrusted with time, talents and treasures by God; He has given us the grace to dress the vineyard of our life with all He has blessed us with. He has given us all these to use for the betterment of our own lives and to help others. God has given us strength, vitality and ideas as youths to better our life, our environment and the world at large. Dear Friends, today God is reminding us of this duty, He is calling us bear fruits. He is calling us to recognize the resources He has entrusted to us and to value them. Can you recognize the talents God has given you? Can you recognize the grace God has given you to serve him in various capacities? How faithful are you with those God has placed under your care?

Remember, what we have is a gift from God, what we do with them is our own gift to God. What kind of gift are you offering back to God?

PRAYER: Lord, help me to recognize my treasures and to use them for your glory. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 203 – What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is the Sacrament that completes Baptism; in it the gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon us. Anyone who freely decides to live a life as God’s child and asks for God’s Spirit under the signs of the imposition of hands and anointing with chrism receives the strength to witness to God’s love and might in word and deed. He is now a full-fledged, responsible member of the Catholic Church.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire” Matthew 7:19 CCB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-28, Psalm 105:16-21; Matthew 21: 33- 46

BLESSING OR CONDEMNATION

Thursday 25th February – Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent

Reflection: Jeremiah 17:5-10

BLESSING OR CONDEMNATION

Blessings and curses can be traced back to the first family – Adam and Eve. When God created them, He blessed them, asking them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:27-28) but because of their disobedience they were cursed (Gen 3:16-19). Since then, man has the freedom to choose either to be blessed by living in obedience to God or to be cursed by living in sin.

Beloved, the presence of God amongst man brings a blessing. This is seen repeatedly in the life of ancient Israel; the presence of God signified by the Ark of the Covenant always brought victory to them. Today, what do you choose: a blessing or a curse? In today’s reading, God proclaims a blessing on the man who put his trust in Him rather than relying on his fellow man. As young people, there is an increasing tendency to rely on other humans because many privileges such as: getting admission into universities, good job opportunities, good contracts etc are reserved for those with influence. Yet in the midst of seeking the help of men, let us remember that our real source of help whom we can rely on is God Himself. He can work through people around us but He remains the only one we can truly trust.

God has mapped out your life in a way no human can comprehend. When you trust God, He defends you with His glory and establishes you in the land. He gives you an understanding of your purpose and calling and His blessings are indeed much more than material gain; they have are eternal. Today, go out seeking for God’s blessing by placing all your trust and hope in Him.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I place my trust in You. Please rain down your blessing on my life and make me planted in you that I may bear fruit always to the glory of your name. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 484 What is a prayer of blessing?

A prayer of blessing is a prayer that calls down God’s blessing upon us. From God alone all blessings flow. His goodness, his closeness, his mercy—that is blessing. “May the Lord bless you” is the shortest prayer of blessing.

HIDE A TREASURE: “The blessing of the Lord brings riches, and no effort can replace it”. Proverbs 10:22 CCB

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1:1-6; Luke 16:19-31

TRUE GREATNESS

Wednesday 24th February – Wednesday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 20: 17 – 28

TRUE GREATNESS

What names come to mind when you think of great people? Our young minds would think of stars in the fields of music, sports, movie industry or very rich individuals in the world. But is that really what it means to be great? Consider this list: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King (Jnr), Bishop Oscar Romero, St Francis of Assissi, St Maria Goretti, Nelson Mandela, William Wilberforce, Pope St John Paul II the great.  Do they make the list of great souls in your mind?

One thing is common to these people – they lived for others. They became famous not because they desired it; their fame was a result of their desire to live for others. They were servants, giving their lives for the sake of the health, freedom, peace and spiritual growth of others and as they did this, the world took note. Did they face trials? Sure! They faced opposition, rejection, imprisonment, near assassination, and eventual assassination for some; yet they attained greatness through servant hood.

Beloved, do you desire greatness? Why not seek for true greatness which not only man but God himself approves? Christ tells us today: “Anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first…must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20: 26-28). Today, look around you for opportunities to serve others and bring the love of Christ to them and you will be mapping out your way to true greatness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you have given me an example of humility and true greatness. Please help me to follow you in sincerity and seek to serve those around me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 375 – How is authority exercised correctly?

Authority is exercised properly when it is understood according to Jesus’ example as service. It must never be arbitrary. Jesus showed us once and for all how authority should be exercised. He, the greatest authority, served others and took the last place. Jesus even washed the feet of his disciples (Jn 13:1-20).

HIDE A TREASURE: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” Matthew 20: 26 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 18: 18-20; Psalm 31: 5-6, 14-16; Matthew 20: 17-28

EMBRACE GOD’S MERCY

Tuesday 23rd February – Tuesday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20

EMBRACE GOD’S MERCY

One of the gifts of new life given to us is the gift of reconciliation. God calls us to Himself always out of love to reconcile us with Him. This beautiful and reassuring truth is at the heart of this holy Season as we are called to repentance and is central to the Jubilee year of mercy as we celebrate the mercy of God the Father who doesn’t want any of His children to be lost. It is in this light God tells us in today’s first reading “come now, let us reason together, if your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God calls you and I to examine our lives: are their elements of hypocrisy in us? Are there certain attitudes, habits or conversations we engage in that do not bring honour to God? He reminds us today of his ever open arms but also of the terrible prospect of judgement on those who fail to repent. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Dear friend, no matter how far you may have strayed, our loving Father is ever ready to welcome you home. Simply call out to Him.

PRAYER: Merciful father, have mercy on me and draw me nearer to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 367 – To whom does the Fourth Commandment refer, and what does it require of us?

The Fourth Commandment refers in the first place to one’s physical parents, but also to the people to whom we owe our life, our well-being, our security, and our faith.

What we owe in the first place to our parents—namely love, gratitude, and respect—should also govern our relations to people who guide us and are there for us. There are many people who represent for us a God-given, natural, and good authority: foster or step-parents, older relatives and ancestors, educators, teachers, employers, superiors. In the spirit of the Fourth Commandment we should do them justice. In the broadest sense, this commandment applies even to our duties as citizens to the State.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land” Isaiah 1:19 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Psalm 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 &23; Matthew 23: 1-12

PROUD TO BE CATHOLICS!

Monday 22nd February – Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair

Reflection: Matthew 16: 13-19

PROUD TO BE CATHOLICS!

Today’s feast, the Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair is one that should bring us great joy and a sense of pride as Catholics. It reminds us that we are members of the one Church established by Christ Himself and built on the foundation of the Apostles. While you may know several Church founders and see invitations for “Church anniversaries” in your locality; your own Church founder is Christ Himself and her anniversary is celebrated each year too. When? At the Feast of Pentecost!

In today’s reading, Christ promises to build his Church on Peter. The name “Peter” in Greek or “Cephas” in Aramaic means “rock”. While the Apostle’s original name was Simon, Jesus gave him this new name “Peter” on the very first day He saw him (John 1:42), symbolizing his role as the head of the Church. This leadership role is seen in Jesus actions on different occasions and in the early Church (Mark 16:7; John 21:15-17; Acts 2:14-42; Acts 10). This leadership role and the authority to bind and loose (Matthew 16: 18-19) has been passed down through the generations in an unbroken succession to the present pope, Pope Francis.

Dear friends, we are indeed privileged to be Catholics. But how much you and I enjoy this privilege depends on how much we avail ourselves of the opportunity to benefit from the great treasures the Church offers us. Take time to study your Bible, study the Church’s teachings, read good Catholic literature, attend Masses often and partake in the Sacraments wholeheartedly. Deepen your friendship with God and ask Him to make you a better Catholic Christian. You cannot KNOW the Catholic Church and LEAVE the Catholic Church. Know your faith and live your faith, only then can the privilege of being Catholic be truly rewarding.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the privilege to belong to your one holy Church. Please help me to deepen my love for you and my knowledge and faith in your Church so that I may not miss out on the graces you offer me daily. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 141 – What is the Pope’s responsibility?

As successor of St. Peter and head of the college of bishops, the POPE is the source and guarantor of the CHURCH’S unity. He has the supreme pastoral authority and the final authority in doctrinal and disciplinary decisions.

HIDE A TREASURE: “You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20 RSV-CE

Readings for today: 1Peter 5: 1-4; Psalm 23: 1-6; Matthew 16: 13-19

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?

Sunday 21st February – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Philippians 3: 17-4:1

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?

Our values and perception of life go a long way in determining the choice of our role model or mentor. Consequently, the choice of our role model to a reasonable length goes on to influence our decisions and actions in life. In our society today where there is so much hype on materialism and consumerism, we youths are at risk of being swept off our feet by the flamboyant lifestyles of some prominent figures constantly being projected at us by the media their value system or manner of life notwithstanding.

From today’s second reading, of noteworthy is the appeal of St. Paul to the faith community in Philippi to consider the way of life of whoever they imitate to see whether it aligns with the precepts of Christ or not. Dearest in Christ, our world is getting more secular by the day with flagrant disregard for the fundamental precepts of the Christian faith in different quarters. The “modern man” assertion of “freedom and liberty” is daily kicking against every notion of absolute truth and relativism is fast becoming the acceptable hymn. In the light of this, it is of paramount necessity that we carefully examine the ideas being projected at us by the media to be sure we are not being subtlety led in the wrong direction.

Beloved in Christ, that the one you consider your role model comes out to endorse a notion or concept that runs contrary to the fundamental ternate of your faith or the voice of your conscience does not make his or her position right. It will serve us well as youths to identify individuals whose believe and way of life agree with the eternal precepts of the word of God, in addition to other desirable attributes we admire in them, as role models.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please guide me in my associations. Surround me with hearts that love and seek to honour You, that the light of their faith may urge me on in the right path. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2284- Scandal is an attribute or behaviour which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbour’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offence if by deed of omission another is deliberately led into a grave offence.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit” Luke 6: 39b  RSV-CE