DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

Friday 11th March – Friday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: Wisdom 2: 1, 12-22

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

The disciples were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26). This name which means “followers of Christ” was given to this new religious sect whose preaching, life and example was very much like that of Christ. Indeed as Christians, were called to be followers of Christ and the way we live our lives is the real proof as to whether or not we are Christ’s followers. As Christians, we are called to live a life that is different from that of the world around us. We are to live in holiness and in obedience to God. Indeed Christ tells us “though you are IN the world, you are not OF the world”.

Our Christian faith does not call us to live on our own, separated from other human beings; instead it invites us to live our calling wherever we find ourselves. Our lives are to be shining lights, showing unbelievers the way to salvation and peace. Today’s reading shows us that the life of a Christian is continually a challenge to unbelievers. They see something higher than themselves. While they are pushed around by their sinful lusts and desires, the self mastery of the Christian speaks volumes to them, bringing condemnation on them.

Dear friend, does your life speak of your relationship with Christ? As young people, let us submit ourselves to Jesus and to the working of the Holy Spirit in us. Let us make a decision to live out our faith, even in the face of persecution from friends and classmates. Once we desire holiness, and strive for it, we will be surprised at how God will pour His grace upon us so that we can truly live for Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to live for you and let my life we be a source of evangelization to those around me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 347 Why is “not practicing what you preach” such a serious deficiency in a Christian?

Agreement between one’s life and one’s witness is the first requirement for proclaiming the Gospel. Not practicing what you profess is therefore HYPOCRISY, a betrayal of the Christian duty to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers and example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Wisdom 2: 1, 12-22; Psalm 34: 16-23; John 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

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A HELPER CLOSE AT HAND

Tuesday 8th March – Tuesday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 46

A HELPER CLOSE AT HAND

We live in a world full of different experiences, good and bad alike. Some of the difficulties we experience may be as a result of our own inadequacies, laziness or negligence while so many others are certainly no fault of ours. However, in the midst of the difficulties of life, we have an assurance we can hold on to: God is a refuge and strength for us. The Psalmist, speaking from his own experience reassures us today that God is a helper close at hand in time of distress.

As young Christians, we may be tempted to see our difficulties as insurmountable and our trials can easily overwhelm us. We must not give in to fear. If we simply hold on to God’s promise that He will be with us even when we pass through fire and through water (Isaiah 43: 2), we will have the peace that comes from God and eventually experience victory over those difficult situations.

Dear friend, what is that impossible situation that you are going through? What is that difficulty that is making you consider compromising your faith? Remember Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers and seduced by his master’s wife; remember Daniel’s three friends who were cast into the fiery furnace; remember Paul and Silas who were thrown into prison. Their trust in God paid off in the end.

Hold on to God in faith, call out to Him in prayer and commit yourself to obeying Him no matter how difficult it seems. Even if the earth should rock and the world seems upside down, God is there for you as a refuge. Be still and know that He is the supreme God (Psalm 46: 2, 10)

Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for the assurance You give me today. Please help me to trust You absolutely and let my trust lead me to obey you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 476 How did Jesus pray as He was facing his death?

When face to face with death, Jesus experienced the utmost depths of human fear. Yet He found the strength even at that hour to trust his heavenly Father: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will be done” (Mark 14:36)

HIDE A TREASURE: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 47: 1-9, 12; Psalm 46; John 5: 1-3, 5-16

SING PRAISES

Monday 7th March – Monday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 30

SING PRAISES

“Count your blessings, name them one by one

and it will surprise you what the Lord has done”.

So reads a song we are all familiar with. It’s a song that calls us to give thanks to God as we reflect on the numerous blessings we receive from Him each day. However, the words of this song unveils one reality: if we are not careful, we can easily forget the great things God does for us and begin to take them for granted, hence the need to count our blessings and name them one by one.

The Psalmist in today’s reading does just that. He reflects on all the wonders God has done for Him and cannot but sing praises to God from the depths of His heart. We too should stop and think. Think of the times of uncertainty or difficulty you have experience in the past. Think of the times of sickness, suffering and pain, think of the numerous times you have turned to God and asked for His help. Think of the many blessings you have received which you did not even ask for. Look around you and see the beauty and order of creation.

Dear friends, God’s steadfast love and faithfulness is indeed great. Let us take time to praise Him. Let us look beyond the difficulties assailing us right now and praise our God for the many blessings we receive each day. Remember, God dwells in the praises of His people and moves mightily on their behalf. A heart of thanksgiving always touches God’s heart. Are you ready to praise? Go on, God is waiting to hear your voice!

PRAYER: Lord I thank You for the blessings You give me each day. Please give me a heart of gratitude that I may praise you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 489 What does it mean to praise God?

God needs no applause. But we need to express spontaneously our delight in God and the rejoicing in our hearts. We praise God because he exists and because he is good. We thereby join even now in the eternal praise of the angels and saints in heaven.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 117 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Isaiah 65: 17-21; Psalm 30; John 4: 43-54

SHARING GOD’S MERCY

Friday 4th March – Friday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Hosea 14: 2-10

SHARING GOD’S MERCY

Do you allow yourself to be hurt over and over by the same person? Do you trust the same person who has constantly hurt you? Do you find it easy to forgive people who have hurt you? It is only natural for our human mind to shield itself from emotional traumas most especially after recovering from one. However, God unlike we humans does not do this, irrespective of the number of times we consciously and unconsciously walk away from His presence. He is ever ready to forgive us due to the unconditional and unlimited love he has for us. It takes true love to be ready to draw nearer to God and likewise our neighbour through forgiveness.

Dear friends, it is of paramount importance that we show love to others by constantly forgiving them, for God does the same for us whenever we stray away from Him. Whenever we pray our Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12). Since we are all created in God’s image and likeness, we should be willing and ready extend the same mercy He show us to others. To love your neighbour as yourself thus requires that you show love to your neighbour through forgiveness. Forgiveness is truly “love in action”.

PRAYER: Merciful Father, fill my heart with love so I can forgive others as you forgive me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 227Who instituted the sacrament of penance?

Jesus himself instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he showed himself to his apostles on Easter day and he commanded them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; If you retain the sins of any, they are retained”. Jesus forgave sins in the power of the Holy Spirit, and he handed that power on to his apostles. We fall into the arms of our heavenly Father when we go to a Priest and confess.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!” Matthew 5:7 GNB

Today’s Readings: Hosea 4: 2-10; Psalm 81: 6-11,14,17; Mark 12: 28-34

HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART!

Thursday 3rd March – Thursday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 94: 1-2, 6-9

HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART!

“…O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts… “(Psalm 95:7-8)

Today’s psalm, like the season of Lent itself is a call to repentance for us. It tells us how eagerly the Lord expects us to come into his presence with our hearts and minds set on repentance. Why the Lord does not force us to repent, He constantly reminds us that we are His people and has paid the price for our redemption. His arms remain wide open as He seeks every opportunity to draw us to Himself.

Dear friends, as young people we sometimes want to live our lives without the reminder that there is a God somewhere reaching out to us. Christ tells us: “Anyone who is not for me is really against me…” (Luke 11:23). Every sincere act of repentance leads us closer to Christ who desires to have us come back to him.

You may have strayed far away from God and plunged yourself deep in sin. Do not despair my friend; God seeks your return; He is waiting for you with all eagerness, ready to run just like the father of the prodigal son as soon as you take a few steps back to Him. Do not follow the evil intentions and stubborn desires of your youthful heart. Today, you have heard His voice; will you harden your heart? The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy and he responds to repentance

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Oh that today I would listen to your voice. Draw me away from sin and closer to you this season of grace. 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: “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” Proverbs 28:13 GNB

Readings for Today: Jeremiah 7: 23-28; Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-9; Luke 11: 14-23

IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD

Wednesday 2nd March – Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent.

Reflection: Psalm 147: 12-16, 19-20

IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD

The more the world realizes its nothingness without God, its maker, the better it would operate. We may have acquired lots of skills and advancement in technology, we may be permitted to have our way and ignorantly do many things contrary to God’s precepts, yet, all these do not rule out the importance of God. The Scriptures tell us that “everything God does will last forever. You can’t add anything to it or take anything away from it” (Eccl 3: 14a). The Psalmist today directs his message to the supremacy of God. Nothing can ever exist without His consent. He is the Alpha and Omega. What he commands his quickly done (Ps 147:15).

Beloved, have you taken time to build up every aspect of your life on Godly principles? What is God saying about your relationship, your career, your utterances, your dressing, eating habits etc? The more God is permitted to possess everything about us, the happier and fulfilled we would become. Let us commit our ways into His hands. God is ready to teach you. As you read His word, make a conscious plan to observe them. (Deut. 4: 9-10). They are the package of God to you which keeps unfolding till the perfect day. It all about God and what he has to say about you. Nothing else counts and in him, we exist and have our being.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, reign in my thoughts, my actions and my will. Your will is mine and your word is my portion. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 40 – Can God do anything? Is he almighty?

“For God nothing is impossible” (see Luke 1:37). He is almighty.

Anyone who calls on God in need believes that he is all-powerful. God created the world out of nothing. He is the Lord of history. He guides all things and can do everything…Often God’s omnipotence is displayed in a situation where men no longer expect anything from it. The powerlessness of Good Friday was the prerequisite for the Resurrection.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “In my desire for your commands, I pant with open mouth” Psalm 119:131 GNB

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy. 4:1, 5-9; Psalm 147:12-16, 19-20; Matthew 5:17-19

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tuesday 1st March – Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Reflection: Joel 2:12-13 (Gospel Acclamation)

DON’T JUST TEAR YOUR CLOTHES

Tearing of clothes in the Jewish setting signified penance and a deep quest for God. Yet, outward acts alone do not show what a man is really made of. The true man is of the heart. In this season of Lent, there is a great tendency for us to put up an outward show of penitence. This in fact a good start in aiming for the real thing. What then is the real thing? The real thing is the inward transformation of the heart. Since creation, the state of man’s heart has always been of paramount importance to God. Hence, in Genesis 6:5-6, God lamented terribly when he saw the wickedness of man’s heart.

God desires that we not only attend the Stations of the Cross, Masses or Retreats this season, but that we check the depths of our hearts to ensure that there is no wickedness therein. During this season, we are called to fast and do abstinence. These too should not just be external acts, but should have a deep effect in our heart; they should tear our heart away from seeking earthly pleasures and turn it towards God. The reading of today explains it perfectly: “tear your hearts and not your clothes”, God says. (Joel 2:13). Beloved, let us use this season of lent to come to God wholeheartedly and he would surely shine his face upon us for He is gracious and merciful.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please give me the grace to come to you always with sincerity of heart. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2519: “The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like Him. Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbours”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. 1Samuel 16:7c GNB..

Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25: 4-9; Matthew 18:21-35