OUR ULTIMATE CALL

Friday 24th March – Friday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Mark 12:28-34

OUR ULTIMATE CALL

When we think of the word “Love” we often look at it in the context of feelings. Loving someone could easily amount in our thinking, to having nice feelings and emotions towards the person. While love certainly does involve emotions, it is much more than that. It is simply a decision to will the good of the other person without thinking of any benefits to oneself. We love for the sake of the other.

It is only as we examine love in this context that we can truly embrace the first commandment as Christ clearly expresses it today: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…” We love God not because of the gifts He gives us but just because He is God, our creator, our source of life. Our love for God is a call to obedience to Him. It is a call to hold on to his commands, regardless of what the world around us calls us to.

Our love for God also directly calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our ultimate call as Christians is that of unconditional love. It is a call to find God in the least of our brethren, in our enemies, in societies outcasts and to love them for whom they are: precious children of God. Beloved, let us turn to the Lord today and ask Him for renewed grace so that we may truly love God by living in obedience to him and love our brethren regardless of how difficult it may be to do so.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please pour out your love into my heart today. Let me look up to the cross and be reminded that love means total self-giving. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 351 – Aren’t the Ten Commandments outmoded?

No, the Ten Commandments are by no means the product of a particular time. They express man’s fundamental obligations toward God and neighbor, which are always and everywhere valid.

Hide a Treasure: “But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Hosea 14: 2-10; Ps 81: 6-11, 14, 17; Mk 12: 28-34;

FOLLOW YOUR MANUAL

Wednesday 22nd March – Wednesday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9

FOLLOW YOUR MANUAL

Every device has a manual which instructs on how to use it. Failure to read and obey the instructions in the manual might lead to ineffective use or even malfunctioning of the device. Likewise, as Christians we have commandments and instructions given to us by God, our Creator and Father which we need to obey in order to live a holy life. As young people we sometimes overlook some of the commandments, believing that God understands that we are young and would be lenient with us. This is mere deception as obedience to God is fundamental to our Christian faith regardless of our age. “Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, follow your hearts desires but remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do… So remember your creator while you are still young…” (Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:1).

Beloved in Christ, as we go deeper into this season of repentance, let us tune our ears, hearts and minds to God’s commandments. Always bear in mind Christ’s words in today’s gospel reading: “whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do same, will be least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, “whoever obeys the law and teaches others to do same will be great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19). Take up your manual, the word of God today and you will live a life of purpose, direction and favour.

To read the Sacred Scriptures means to turn to Christ for advice – Francis of Assisi.

Prayer: Help me Lord to know your word and always obey you in all circumstances. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 16What is the right way to read the Bible?

The right way to read sacred scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is God’s word and contains God’s essential communication to us. The Bible is like a long letter written by God to each one of us.

Hide a Treasure: “Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path.” Psalm 119: 105 GNB

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

 

 

FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Tuesday 21st March – Tuesday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 18: 21-35

FORGIVING FROM THE HEART

Each time I read through today’s gospel reading I see so clearly, the wickedness of the unforgiving servant. I see a person who could not even simply share the joy, excitement and freedom of being pardoned such a huge debt with a fellow servant by extending the same hand of forgiveness. I often say to myself: “…I can never be so wicked!” But is that completely true? Haven’t there been times when I have acted just the same way? Though I may not have anyone locked up in prison, are there not many people who are locked up in the prison of my heart because they have hurt me in one way or another?

Beloved, it is easy to claim to have forgiven a person who hurt you. The true test of your forgiveness is not what you say, rather it is your attitude to that person each time his name is mentioned in a conversation, or each time you have an opportunity to offer help to him/her. Christ asks us not simply to forgive with our “lips” but from our hearts. If you find yourself retelling the story of how unjust or untrustworthy a person is each time his/her name is mentioned, if you unconsciously keep talking ill of a person, then that is an indication to look into your heart. You may still have the person locked up in the prison of your heart.

Lent is a time to seek reconciliation with God and with our brethren. Lent is a time to examine our hearts and ensure that we are truly keeping in step with our master, Jesus. Examine your unconscious attitudes to those who have offended you in the past and ask the Lord for the grace to truly forgive them from your heart.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for forgiving me each time I come to you. Please pour out your grace into my heart that I may truly extend your perfect forgiveness to those who have hurt me. Amen.

Faith pearls: “For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgement.” James 2:13 RSV-CE

Hide a treasure: YOUCAT 524 – What does it mean to say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?

Merciful forgiveness—the mercy that we show to others and the mercy that we ourselves seek—is indivisible. If we ourselves are not merciful and do not forgive one another, God’s mercy will not reach our hearts.

Today’s readings: Dan 3:25, 34-43; Ps 25:4-9; Mt 18:21-35

DO NOT ABANDON HOPE

Monday 20th March – Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reflection: 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16

DO NOT ABANDON HOPE

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin and foster father of Jesus. The genealogy of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 1:1-17, shows that St. Joseph was of the line of King David whom the Lord promised in today’s first reading: ”Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever”. This promise was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, as the prophet Isaiah said, “He will reign on David’s throne and over all his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forever” (Isaiah 9:6).  Though it took hundreds of years, God was faithful to His promise just as He was to our father Abraham.

Dear friends, our God can do much more than we can ask or imagine and He’s more willing to help us than we want to be helped. Though some of God’s promises may seem delayed from our perspective, we must not abandon hope. Though the tunnel may seem very dark and long, there will surely be light at its end; though our tears may persist all the night, we shall surely rejoice at dawn. Beloved in Christ, God’s delays are never His denials; He alone knows the best time is for us. Our Hope in God should lead us to understand that there is nothing impossible for God who is more than able to fulfil His promises.

Let us remember our fathers in the faith; has there been anyone who trusted the Lord and being confounded? Not one! Then, we too can be sure that our hope in God can never fail us. So keep hope alive.

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith in you and give me the grace to know that in all things you always work for my good. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 308 – What is hope?

Hope is the power by which we firmly and constantly long for what we were placed on earth to do: to praise God and to serve him; and for our true happiness, which is finding our fulfillment in God; and for our final home: in God.

Hide a Treasure: “This is a vision for an appointed time; it will not fail but will be fulfilled in due time. If it delays, wait for it, for it will come and will not be deferred.” Habakkuk 2:3 CCB

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16, Psalm 89: 2-5, 27, 29, Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22, Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Sunday 19th March – Sunday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Exodus 17: 3-7

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Considering that we have the benefit of hindsight, we often perceive the Israelites as a stubborn and unbelieving people during their exodus from Egypt to the promised land. It is very easy for us to read through the stories of their unbelief and repeated complaints against God and Moses and judge them. Yet, rather than judge them, they give us an insight into what we ourselves are very likely to do or may even be currently doing.

Journeying through the desert was certainly no fun for the Israelites they had to keep trekking under the hot scourging sun, had only a single type of food for nourishment and obviously missed the pleasures of a settled life. We too may encounter desert experiences in our lives. There may be times when everything seems to be tough, basic needs are lacking and it feels that God has abandoned us. These moments, just like it was for Israel are times when the Lord may be leading us to a deeper level of trust in Him.

In moments of dire difficulty, it is easy to forget about whatever God may be doing and focus solely on the extreme suffering or discomfort we are going through. God reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Rather than complain against God, let us turn to the Lord in prayer and in trust…He knows our needs and knows just how to supply them. We can make a discipline of abstaining from complaining as we go through Lent. Are you trusting the Lord through your desert experience?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to resist the temptation to complain. May I turn to you in trust in life’s most difficult situations. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 515 – Where do we get the confidence to call God “Father”?

We can be so bold as to address God as Father because Jesus has called us to a close relationship with himself and made us children of God. In communion with him, “who is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18), we are privileged to cry, “Abba, Father!”

Hide a Treasure: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 RSV-CE

GOD CAN USE YOUR ENEMY

Friday 17th March – Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent (Feast of St Patrick)

Reflection: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28

 GOD CAN USE YOUR ENEMY

The enemies of our progress in life come through diverse ways such as a weakness in us, our family background, a person who wishes our downfall, unpleasant situations etc. Many have abandoned the course of destiny because they couldn’t see beyond the present. They see others moving fast in their own tracts and because of the limitations they experience, they neglect their own path to progress.

God alone knows our future and the best pathway for us. In today’s reading, God used Reuben and Judah to carve out his plan for their brother Joseph. Our God who controls the heart of kings used them to accomplish his work in Joseph’s life despite their evil plans. When they spoke, none of the other brothers could interrogate them because God was speaking through them. Many instances have gone by in our lives when the worst circumstances turned out to be a glorious story. Can we recall them? Do we ever remember the wonders of the Lord just as the psalmist says today (Psalm 105:5-6)?

Beloved, in the dry pits of life’s challenges, Jesus is there for you to draw you up again. Nothing can stop His plan for our lives when we simply trust and obey him. The Scripture assures us that all things works together for good, for those that love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Let us therefore be courageous in our dealings with others today – even those who seek our downfall. Let us surrender all to Jesus who can turn the worst situations into a perfect story.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I surrender my life to you today. Strengthen me in the face of persecution and guide me in the path of peace and fulfilment. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 51 If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why does he not prevent evil?

“God allows evil only so as to make something better result from it” (St. Thomas Aquinas). Evil in the world is an obscure and painful mystery. Even the Crucified asked his Father, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Much about it is incomprehensible. One thing, though, we know for sure: God is 100 percent good…

HIDE A TREASURE: “When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends” Proverbs 16:7 GNB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Psalm 105: 16-21; Matthew 21:33-46

 

WHERE IS YOUR SOURCE?

Thursday 16th March – Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent

Reflection: Jeremiah 17:5-10

WHERE IS YOUR SOURCE?

It is that time of the year we all look forward to – the trees have become green with leaves again and the flowers are beginning to blossom, the dark cold days are gradually giving way to an earlier sunrise and later sunset…spring is here! In the tropical regions of the world where there is the dry harmattan season and the rainy season, the trees are noticed to be dry during harmattan and blossom as the rains start. Yet, there is an exception…tress planted by a river. Trees planted by a river have their roots constantly nourished and do not dry and that is exactly what awaits us if we have God as our source

In our everyday lives, there are ups and downs, times of plenty and times of scarcity, much like the seasons of the year. It is a normal human response for us to get agitated when times of scarcity come upon us. But our Lord assures us that we need not worry if only we make Him our source of life and nourishment. If we trust in the Lord to take care of us and supply our needs, then do not have to fret through the droughts and heat of life.

Lent gives us a wonderful opportunity to reassess ourselves. Where is my trust and confidence? Do I rely on my wisdom, intelligence or strength to sustain me or do I rely on the Most High God from whom all good things come?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I trust in you. Help me to cast all my cares on you for you are the source of my life and wellbeing. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 522 – What does it mean to say, “Give us this day our daily bread”?

The petition about our daily bread makes us people who await everything from the goodness of our heavenly Father, including the material and spiritual goods that are vitally necessary. No Christian can pronounce this petition without thinking about his real responsibility for those in the world who lack the basic necessities of life.

Hide a Treasure: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145:16 RSV-CE

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