ARE YOU ASLEEP?

Sunday 9th April – Palm Sunday

Reflection: Matthew 26: 14- 27:66

ARE YOU ASLEEP?

The above question which our blessed Saviour asked Simon Peter in today’s gospel reading remains pertinent to us as individuals in our journey of faith. Perhaps we think we can wish away temptation(s) or sufficiently ward it off by human strength; the experience of Apostle Peter should help us to know better!

To effectively combat and overcome temptation, we need to stay awake – we need to be spiritually watchful and vigilant (1 Pet 2:8; Lk 22: 40, 46). Much as soldiers do not start preparation on the day of battle, we as Christians cannot afford to allow ourselves to be caught in the web of temptation before we start looking for a way out, otherwise we might find ourselves lacking in the needed strength to overcome it. To be spiritually awake, we must daily find time to commune with God in prayer. The complexity of the modern times demands a daily evaluation of our life before God lest our faith is drowned by the wave of secularism and relativism raging around us. This is much more important to us as youths.

Beloved, are you asleep or awake? Is your standard of living measuring up to the call and investment of God in your life or you have merely settled for complacency? Let us this day arise from slumber and be awake to a full actualization of our call and potentials in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Consider and answer me, Oh Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep death. Amen. Psalm 13: 3.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2849 –…It is by His prayer that Christ vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of His public mission and in the ultimate struggle of His agony. In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to His battle and His agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with His own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart”…the Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” Matthew 26: 41a RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 50: 4-7; Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-34; Philippians 2: 6-11; Matthew 26:14- 27:66

JOURNEYING THOUGH THE WILDERNESS

Tuesday 4th April – Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: Numbers 21:4-9

JOURNEYING THOUGH THE WILDERNESS

When I was growing up, my parents often told us stories about their childhood and how some of the things we see as necessities where great luxuries for them. One of the stories I found outrageous was the fact that they had to eat virtually the same meal three times a day on most days. I can’t imagine how monotonous and boring meal times would have been for them. But this feeling recalls the complaints of the Israelites in today first reading. They had been on the journey to the promised land for so long and they lost patience. They had become bored with the monotony of their lives and food – manna.

Dear friends, we all at some points in our lives can pass through a wilderness experience like the Israelites – a time when life seems tough and tiring with nothing interesting to look forward to. Times when basic needs become unattainable luxuries and we are tempted to lose patience with God. Let us pause for a while at these difficult moments and seek consolation and strength in God’s wonderful works in our lives and in His promises to us.

Wilderness experiences ultimately test our allegiance to God. Are we going to trust Him only in plenty or are we going to hold on to Him as He leads us through this fallen world full of suffering to eternal happiness with Him? Let us look up to the cross of Christ and find healing, strength and the grace to be patient on our journey of faith.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, through the difficult moments of life, help me to trust that you are right beside me and you have a purpose for me. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 102 – Why are we too supposed to accept suffering in our lives and thus “take up our cross” and thereby follow Jesus?

Christians should not seek suffering, but when they are confronted with unavoidable suffering, it can become meaningful for them if they unite their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ: “Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21).

Hide a Treasure: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:17

Today’s Readings: Num 21:4-9; Ps 102:2-3,16-21; Jn 8:21-30

CEASE THROWING STONES

Monday 3rd April – Monday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: John 8:1-11

CEASE THROWING STONES

Something in is repulsed at the sight of injustice, dishonesty or maltreatment. We are often taken aback when we see the atrocities committed by people around us. This is rightfully so because the law of good and bad is written on our consciences as human beings. Yet, isn’t it surprising that we excuse our own selves for the same atrocious acts we condemn in others?

The woman in today’s gospel reading was certainly guilty of the accusation brought against her for which the Pharisees and scribes had condemned her to death. Jesus saw the whole episode from a different perspective…the perspective that realizes the struggles with sin we all experience and offers a second chance at holiness. It is this through same perspective Christ sees you and me and calls us to see our brothers and sisters.

Beloved, Lent is a time to celebrate God’s mercy and deep love for us. The love that makes him offer us a chance repeatedly…the love that makes Him say to us “Go away, and do not sin anymore.” Even more so, Lent is a time to stop throwing stones of condemnation and judgement of our brothers and sisters, bearing in mind that we all are sinners in need of redemption. Let us come to our Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation and seek His mercy as we approach the celebration of his passion,

Prayer: Thank you dear Lord for your mercy. Please help me to see others as you see them. Deliver me from urge to pass judgement on others. Amen.

Faith Pearls: CCC 1430 – Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.

Hide a Treasure: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Dan 13:41-62; Ps 23:1-6; Jn 8: 1-11

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

STANDING IN THE GAP

Thursday 30th March – Thursday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: Exodus 32: 7-14

STANDING IN THE GAP

The power of prayer cannot be overemphasized. So often the events around us that set us complaining can be solved when we bring them to God in prayer. Today’s reading gives us a picture into how powerful intercessory prayer can be. God’s anger towards Israel because of her sin was turned around through Moses intercession.

Can you imagine what would have become of Israel if Moses had at that moment begun to recall how fearful, disobedient and difficult the Israelites were instead of interceding for them? Indeed God had a big promise for him: He would destroy the Israelites for their sin and make a great nation out of Moses. What a privilege! Moses would have become such a great man! But this humble man would hear none of that. He had great concern for the Israelites and for how other nations might begin to perceive God if He destroyed his people.

Dear friends, we often find ourselves complaining about our nation, our community, our siblings, parents, colleagues etc. Do we care enough to pray about those situations we complain about? Indeed we will find more peace and solutions to the problems we complain about if only we turn to God in prayer. We can make a lot of difference in our environment and in the lives of others if we humble ourselves like Moses, recognize that we too are in need of God’s grace and mercy and spend time praying for others. Dare to stand in the gap for someone today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have promised to listen to me when I pray. Please grant me a heart of humility and love so that I may pray for others who need your help. Amen.

Faith Pearls: CCC 2635 – Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates with Christs, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.

Hide a Treasure: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Exodus 32: 7-14; Psalm 106: 19-23; John 5: 31-47

REVIVING OUR HOPE

Tuesday 28th March – Tuesday of the 4th week of Lent

Reflection: John 5: 1-3, 5-16

REVIVING OUR HOPE

Thirty-eight years is certainly a long time, taking into consideration the average life span of we humans. Regardless of how old the man whom Christ healed was, he had endured this crippling illness for most of his life. He must have been brought to the pool side several years earlier with high hopes of receiving healing but when he discovered he could not get into the pool first after so many attempts and so many years gone by, he may have lost all hope that he would ever be well again. He probably woke up that Sabbath morning and wondered if ever he would use his feet and work to the Temple like others did. Everything seemed dark and hopeless to Him until our Lord arrived on the scene and his story changed.

Beloved, we do not have to be paralyzed for thirty-eight years to know what a feeling of hopelessness means. You may feel like the dark tunnel of your life is simply getting longer and longer with no end in view. Christ reassures us in today’s readings that his presence makes all the difference. He asks you today: “Do you want to be well again?” Turn to Him in loving trust and let Him into those most difficult areas of your life. He wills to revive your hope. He desires to speak His word of healing and renewal. He is our helper close at hand in time of distress. Look up to Him in trust today and receive the strength and grace He has for you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to be made whole again. Please revive my hope that I may trust in you for healing and renewal. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 507 – What happens if you find that prayer does not help?

Prayer does not seek superficial success but rather the will of God and intimacy with him. God’s apparent silence is itself an invitation to take a step farther—in total devotion, boundless faith, endless expectation. Anyone who prays must allow God the complete freedom to speak whenever he wants, to grant whatever he wants, and to give himself however he wants.

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; Ps 46:2-9; Jn 5: 1-3, 5-16

LIVING IN THE LIGHT

Sunday 26th March – 4th Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Ephesians 5: 8-14

LIVING IN THE LIGHT

The discovery of the filament light bulb is one that has transformed our human experience in a tremendous way. People who hitherto depended solely on the light of the sun to get all their activities done now had the opportunity to get more things done through the aid of artificial light hence, prolonging productive hours of the day. The most beautiful thing attribute about light is its ability to make things clear. Little wonder Christ calls his disciples the “light of the world.”

St Paul admonishes us today to be children of light, following in the footsteps of Christ and dispelling the darkness of sin and evil in our world through the lives we live. Beloved, you can look around you and wonder if anything you can ever do will make a difference. You may think of acts of love and kindness are insignificant, considering the depth of decay. The good news is that the tiniest speck of light stands out amid darkness. The little you do counts a great deal.

Let us begin this week with a renewed commitment to shine Christ’s light by refusing to gossip, saving a school mate from bullies, breaking the chain of a rumour against someone, helping someone in dire need. Let us try to discover what the Lord wants of us (cf Eph 5:10) with regards to the situations around us and let us trust in the good shepherd to guide us as we follow Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the privilege of belonging to you. Please help me to bring your light and love to an aching world. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 219 – How often must a Catholic Christian participate in the celebration of the Eucharist?

A Catholic Christian is obliged to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. Anyone who is really seeking Jesus’ friendship responds as often as possible to Jesus’ personal invitation to the feast

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: 1 Sam 16: 1, 6-7, 10-13; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9: 1-41