RAISED TO NEW LIFE

Sunday 2nd April – 5th Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Romans 8:8-11

RAISED TO NEW LIFE

A study of living things reveals that there is an innate struggle for survival. From the moment a seed germinates or an animal is conceived, it does everything possible to sustain life. Trees shed their leaves in the dry, cold days of winter to reduce the amount of water loss so that they survive. Certain animals sleep through the winter so they don’t starve to death by expending energy hunting for food that is scarce during that season. We humans are not left our in this quest for survival. We do everything possible to survive difficult situations. We give our all to fight disease because we do not want to die. For us, death is the ultimate end, the moment when all hope is lost …or so it seems.

In today’s gospel reading (Jn 11:1-45), Christ delayed in going to heal Lazarus while he was still alive, while there still seemed to be hope (Jn 11:4-6). He did is to help his followers realize that death is not the end of our story and his raising of Lazarus from the dead points us to a greater reality…that of our resurrection in Him. We too, like Lazarus were dead in our sins. We were stripped of the divine life of God from the very day of our conception because of the original sin we inherited from our first parents and we constantly were led astray by the lure of sin (Rom 5:12). Thankfully, that was not the end of the story for us. Through the waters of Baptism, God has raised us up to new life in Christ Jesus (Col 2:12).

Beloved, you and I are privileged to be children of God. God has given life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit that lives in us (Rom 8:11). You and I, are partakers of the wonderful promise of new life God gave to Israel (Ezek 37:12-14). In Baptism, we have been buried with Christ and raised to new life in Him by the glory of the Father (Rom 6:4). How are you living out this new life? As we look forward to celebrate our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection, let us seek His mercy for the times we have drifted back to our old ways and renew our commitment to live out new life He has won for us through His death.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the new life have given to me through the working of your Spirit. Please help me to truly live as you have called me to. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 200 – What happens in Baptism?

In Baptism we become members of the Body of Christ, sisters and brothers of our Redeemer, and children of God. We are freed from sin, snatched from death, and destined from then on for a life in the joy of the redeemed.

Hide a Treasure: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

Today’s Readings: Ezek 37:12-14; Ps 130:1-8; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45

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WHERE DO YOU STAND?

Monday 16th November – Monday of week 33 of the year

Reflection: 1 Maccabees 1: 10-15, 41-43, 54-47, 62-64

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

“Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us” (1 Macc 1:11)

An attentive listening to today’s first reading will necessarily stir our hearts to wonder at the behavior of the Jews. They were God’s own people. They and their fathers had seen God’s mighty power at work in their midst over the centuries. Yet, many allowed themselves to be misled, attracted to the practices of the gentile nations around them and abandoning the true God and the covenant they had with Him. How could they ever do this? Even in the midst of difficulties, was there anything better than having God close to them?

Yet this same question is what each of us is faced with in our day-to-day lives. The Jews are not alone. We who have been chosen by God and covenanted to Him through the waters of baptism, we the new Israel often act just like the Israelites did. In the midst of an increasingly secular age, do we stand with God, obedient to His word and determined on pleasing him or do we submit ourselves to the standards of this world, seeking the easiest way out?

Beloved, just like the blind man in today’s gospel reading, let us cry out with all our strength to the Lord so that He may rescue us from spiritual blindness, so that He may open our eyes to recognize the privilege we have of being his children and we may not allow the lure of the world to draw us away from Him.

PRAYER: Thank you dear Lord for the privilege of being called by your name. Please help me to be faithful to my call especially when in the face of temptation. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 203: What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is the sacrament that compeletes baptism; it 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 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: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: 1 Macc 1: 10-15, 41-43, 54-47, 62-64; Psalm 119: 53, 61, 134, 150-158; Luke 18: 35-43

WHO ARE YOU?

Wednesday 28th October – Feast of SS Simon & Jude, Apostles

Reflection: Ephesians 2: 19-22

WHO ARE YOU?

If a two year old prince of a renowned kingdom is taken out to play with other toddlers, he immerses himself fully into their child’s play without hesitation. When this same prince, at fifteen years of age, goes out into the streets of his father’s kingdom. He cannot behave just like any other person because he is aware that there is something different about him – he is the heir to the throne. He was no less an heir to the throne when he was two years old; he was only unaware of this fact and as the awareness dawns on him, his way of life changes.

The awareness of one’s identity largely influences one’s way of life. As Christians, our lives take on a new dimension at Baptism. We cease to be ordinary people and become members of God’s household and heirs to his kingdom. It is this awareness that St Peter draws our attention to as he tells us: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…” (1 Pet 2:9). It is this awareness that the Church brings to us as she teaches us that “By Baptism, we share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission” (CCC 1268). How conscious are you of your identity? Do you really know who you are?

Just as Jesus called Saints Simon and Jude whose feast we celebrate today to be his apostles, He has called you into His Church, to be a visible sign of His presence in the world. As St Paul tells us in today’s first reading, “You are a citizen like all the saints, and part of God’s household.” (Eph 2:19). Let your awareness of this call reflect in your daily choices and let your thoughts, words and actions “declare the wonderful deeds of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the gift of my faith. Please help me to truly be a reflection of your presence in the world. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1273 – The Baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.

HIDE A TREASURE: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Ephesians 2: 19-22; Psalm 19: 1-4; Luke 6: 12-16

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

LIVE AS A DISCIPLE

Sunday 31st May – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reflection: Matthew 28: 16-20

LIVE AS A DISCIPLE

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

As we read these words of today’s gospel reading let us focus on ourselves as disciples who have been “made” as Jesus instructed. We, who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity are an evidence that Christ’s first disciples truly carried out the great commission. Yet, our discipleship is not manifested simply in being members of the Body of Christ. Our discipleship calls us to an entirely different way of life – a life that reflects our conversion. Are you living as a disciple of Christ?

Today’s readings reveal what our lives should entail as disciples:

  1. Obedience to God’s laws: In the first and gospel readings, Moses and Jesus call for God’s people to be obedient to His laws. Living as disciples entails living in total obedience to God in ALL situations of our lives.
  2. Sharing Christ’s suffering: St Paul reminds us that our sharing in Christ’s glory as his co-heirs must be preceded by sharing in His sufferings. When we stand up for truth and purity despite opposition from peers; when we decide to obey God no matter the cost, we share in Christ’s sufferings and truly live as disciples.
  3. Trust in Christ’s presence: Jesus promised His disciples His ever abiding presence. As His disciples, we must trust in Jesus’ abiding presence especially in the difficult moments of life. His presence is manifested in a special way in the Sacraments. He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist and raises hands of mercy and forgiveness over us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we avail ourselves of these live-giving encounters with the Lord, we grow in grace to live as true disciples.

Dear friend, St Paul tells us that only those moved by the Holy Spirit are sons of God (Rom 8:14). Ask the Holy Spirit today for the grace to truly live as a faithful disciple always.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the gift of my faith. Please help me to live in obedience to you and to trust you in every situation of my life. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 205What happens in Confirmation?

In confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” Matthew 7:21 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Deut 4: 32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33: 4-6, 9, 18-22; Rom 8: 14-17; Mt 28: 16-20

MAKING THE MOST OF WHAT YOU HAVE

Saturday 16th May – Saturday of the 6thweek of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 18: 23-28

MAKING THE MOST OF WHAT YOU HAVE

It is an irony of life that the little a man has and considers as an excuse for failure is all another man grabs to give an amazing success story. Surely, the mind that dwells in failure will always find more than enough reasons for its sustenance. If we would truly manifest as sons and daughters of God; if we are to position ourselves for greater blessings of God, we must start maximizing the seemingly little opportunities and privileges we have in life.

In today’s first reading, amidst the many positive attributes mentioned of Apollos, there was something of special interest about him: “he had only experienced the baptism of John.” John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance (Acts 19: 4), it did not confer the sacramental grace of a new birth which the baptism of water and the Spirit instituted by Christ does. (John 3: 3-7; Matthew 28:19, CCC 720). Little wonder St. Paul considered it necessary to later baptise Apollos and his colleagues though they were already participating in the activities of the Church (Acts 19: 1-6). Before Apollos’ proper initiation, into the family of God, through the Sacrament of Baptism he had fully disposed himself to the service of God. He was fully maximizing the grace available to him by his acceptance of the Good news!

Beloved, have you been baptised? Have you received the sacrament of confirmation? Do you partake in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? How well are you making the most of the indispensible graces received in these sacraments? Let us this day do away with the myriad of excuses we often give and begin to maximise the opportunities and privileges we have in life. It is only by doing this that we can prove ourselves ripe for greater upliftment in life.

PRAYER: For all you have given me, I say thank you Jesus. For the privileges I have wasted, I ask for your mercy. Strengthen me oh Lord that I may cooperate with You to make the most of all that You have blessed me with! Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1131 – The sacraments are efficacious sings of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” Galatians 6:7 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Acts 18: 23-28; Psalm 47: 2-3, 8-10; John 16: 23-28

SAVED TO SAVE; FREED TO FREE

Tuesday 12th May –Tuesday of the 6th Week of Eastertide

Reflection: Acts 16:22-34

SAVED TO SAVE; FREED TO FREE

Paul and Silas were stripped, publicly whipped, and thrown into jail. Yet, their persecution did not in any way undermine their love and faith in God; they praised God in the darkest moment. God was moved by their selflessness and released His power which shook the prison foundations, freeing them and all the other prisoners. Even the jailer was not exempt from freedom and salvation which he badly needed. He recognized the need for salvation with that single encounter, hence His question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30).

Dear friend, your testimony to Christ’s wonders in your life is incomplete until it results in your total conversion and the conversion of others. God wants to manifest his power through your steadfastness and thanksgiving even everything seems hopeless. Just as we find strength and hope in the stories of heroes of our faith in Scripture and Church’s tradition, our own journey of salvation will be a testimony for others in times to come. God uses our victory stories to help our brethren become victorious as well.

Bearing this in mind, we must give thanks to God in all things. This attitude of praise is powered by genuine trust in God’s power to save us and set us free. Let us thank God for the gift of salvation today and ask for grace to be agents of salvation to others through all the events of life we encounter. Like Paul and Silas, we are all saved to save others and freed to set others free.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me courage to see in all my troubles, your saving power which is mighty and sufficient for me and active in saving others through me. Give me a heart of praise and in times of need.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 290 – How does God help us to be free men?

Christ wants us to be “set free for freedom” (see Gal 5:1) and to become capable of brotherly love. That is why he sends us the Holy Spirit, who makes us free and independent of worldly powers and strengthens us for a life of love and responsibility.

HIDE A TREASURE: “For we are like a sweet smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are saved and those who are being lost”.

2 Corinthians 2:15 GNB

Today’s Readings: Acts 16: 22-34; Psalm 138: 1 -3.7-8; John 16:5-11