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

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;

HANDLING ENEMIES

Saturday 11th March – Saturday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 5:43-48

HANDLING ENEMIES

So much seems to have changed in the thinking and practice of Christians today. More than ever before, we are at a time when many Christians are increasingly more focused on their “enemies”, the devil and the powers of darkness much more than our Almighty Father.

How do we handle our enemies? The commonest answer today is to pray for their death or destruction. Yet, our Lord tells us something entirely different in today’s gospel reading. He calls us to extend a hand of love and prayer to our enemies and persecutors. Love in this sense does not mean having some nice emotions towards them. It simply refers to wishing their good and offering a hand of help to even our enemies when we are in the position to.

We cannot claim to be true disciples but act in direct contrast to our Lord’s words… that is disobedience. Indeed, there is so much evil in our world today, so much wickedness and shedding of innocent blood. Let us lift our voice to the Lord in prayer for these enemies and trust that He would act as it pleases Him. When faced with spiritual warfare, let us take up the armour of God: shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, belt of truth, our feet fitted with the readiness to proclaim the gospel of peace and perseverance in prayer (Eph 6:14-18).

Prayer: Lord, in a world full of hatred and revenge, help me to love like you did, even your enemies. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 487 – Why should we petition God for other people?

As Abraham intervened by his prayer for the inhabitants of Sodom, as Jesus prayed for his disciples, and as the early Christian community looked “not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4), so too Christians always pray for everyone—for people who are dear to their hearts, for people who are not close to them, and even for their enemies.

Hide a Treasure: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Deut 26:16-19; Ps 119:1-8; Mt 5:43-48

TAKING ADVANTAGE

Monday 6th March – Monday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 25:31-46

TAKING ADVANTAGE

As we take up the challenge to grow in holiness, Christ reminds us in today’s gospel reading that our piety should not be unidirectional – directed only to God. Our piety instead should be directed both to God in prayer and to our neighbor in showing love.

Today’s first reading runs through a list of “thou shall nots” which God gave to Moses for the Israelites. God warned his chosen people against taking advantage of the less privileged in their midst: the blind, the dumb, laborers who depended on them for their wages etc. They were to desist from the temptation of taking advantage of those at their mercy. What is more? Christ shows that our call doesn’t simply stop at that. Our Christian call invites us to take a step further. While we should not take advantage of the less privileged, we must take advantage of the opportunity their presence in our midst offers us – the opportunity to give, to love, to reach out, to provide.

We are called to recognize Christ, present in the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the stranger and prisoner and even those closest to us who need our help or attention in any way. The call to almsgiving during Lent offers you and I a reminder to be more conscious of practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. As you step out today, seek the opportunities God offers you to extend a helping hand and be sure to take good advantage of them to deepen your love for God and for your neighbor.

Prayer: Lord, please take away the selfishness in me that makes me shrink from extending my hands to those in need. Fill my heart with love and mercy this season of grace. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 450 – What are the “corporal works of mercy”? To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and bury the dead.

451 What are the “spiritual works of mercy”? The spiritual works of mercy are: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.

 Hide a Treasure: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Lev 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 19:8-10, 15; Mt 25: 31-46

A PLEASING PENANCE

Friday 3rd March – Friday after Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Isaiah 58: 1-9

A PLEASING PENANCE

A hungry man, they say, is an angry man. As the call to fasting, prayer and almsgiving is emphasized this season, we must not fall into the trap of being “angry” as a result of “hunger”. Our penance is aimed at putting our flesh underneath and seeking to love God in our neighbours. Hence, for it to be rewarding, our penance must be pleasing to God. In today’s reading, God reprimanded the Israelites through Prophet Isaiah because their penance was accompanied by dishonesty, oppression and quarrelling; He told them clearly that their penance had no reward: “Fasting like yours today will never make you voice heard on high…” (Is 58:4). On the other hand, He called them to seek for justice and be generous with corporal works of mercy – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless etc.

Dear friend, what acts of penance have you set out to undertake this season? Let these acts be marked by an honest desire to seek out the needs of those around you. As you do this, God promises that: “your light will shine like the dawn and your wound will be quickly healed over. Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’ (Is 58: 8-9).

Every day of Lent, look out for a need in someone around you: maybe a need for money, attention, care, a listening ear etc and meet that need in love. Let your acts of penance truly please the Lord throughout this season and bring relief and joy to others.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to extend my hands generously to others this season so that my penance may be pleasing to you. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 450 – What are the “corporal works of mercy”?

To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and bury the dead

Hide a Treasure: “Is not this the kind of fast that pleases me: To share your food with the hungry; to bring into your house the homeless poor, to clothe the naked when you find them and not turn away from your own kin” Isaiah 58: 6a,7 CCB

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 58: 1-9; Ps 51: 3-6, 18-19; Mt 9: 14-15

JESUS IS ON THE STREETS!

Monday 15th February – Monday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 25: 31-46

JESUS IS ON THE STREETS!

One of the things that scare many of us greatly is the prospect of death and judgment. Each time we think of it, we are shaken to our bones as we imagine having to stand before God and give an account of our lives. Today’s reading gives us the only picture of judgment given by Christ in all the gospels. And to our surprise, it is not based on very “big” acts of piety or perfection. Rather it is based on the “little” acts of love we extend to others.

Jesus has given us a new commandment – love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34). While in the old covenant, God’s people were instructed to love others as their own selves, Jesus gives us a much higher calling: Love as I have loved you. And how did He love us? By laying down his life for us, hence calling us to lay down our lives for our brethren (1 John 3:16). As baptized Catholics, we are partakers of the new covenant in Christ Jesus and our identity is that of love; “By this all men will know that you are my disciples…” John 13:35.

Dear friends, in the midst of our increasingly secular and individualistic world, Jesus tell us to look around and see Him on the streets around us: in the poor, lonely, blind, homeless, sick, prisoners etc. He calls us to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy especially this jubilee year of mercy. He says to us in the Stations of the Cross: “seek me not in faraway places. I am very close to you. Your home, your working place, on the streets, the markets, at the playgrounds, these are altars where you offer love and I am there with you”. Let us look up to Him and ask for the grace to love especially during this season of self denial.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You have loved me so much. Please rid me of selfishness; help me to look out for those in need around me and extend your love to them. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 449- What significance do the poor have for Christians?

Love for the poor must be in every age the distinguishing mark of Christians. The poor deserve not just a few alms; they have a claim to justice. For Christians there is a special obligation to share their goods. Our example in love for the poor is Christ.

HIDE A TREASURE: “By this we know love that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” 1 John 3:16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Leviticus 19: 1-2; 11-18; Psalm 19: 8-10, 15; Matthew 25: 31-46

CHOOSE TO SHOW MERCY

Saturday 6th February – Memorial of Saints Paul Miki and his Companions, Martyrs

Reflection: Mark 6: 30-34

CHOOSE TO SHOW MERCY

A viral internet video caught by surveillance cameras on the accident that killed the two year old Chinese; Wang Yue, who was run over by two vehicles on the 13th October, 2011; exposed the cold extinction of mercy spreading over the world. This disheartening video caught eighteen people skirt around the fatally wounded child, until a female rubbish scavenger moved by compassion raised an alarm for help. The baby was then rushed to a hospital, where she died after eight days of a painful fight for life. Chen Xianmei (the rescuer); might have been the wrinkled poor lady, who had never been to a church, yet she was more Christ-like than many lavishly dressed Christian leaders in her actions. In a more horrific replica of the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’; this woman became Christ to the baby. She chose to show mercy.

Jesus and His disciples had just completed a missionary journey around the villages; and were obviously exhausted from the excited but austere mission. This exhaustion did not make Jesus blind to the needs of the people; who had hurried ahead on foot to meet Him. Jesus ignored His own hunger and exhaustion to teach them at length; and so taught us: ‘Nothing should be put before mercy’.

Friend; Christ taught us to choose mercy over our selfish needs, and give even when we have ‘almost nothing’. In this, we become like our merciful Father and please Him.

PRAYER: O good Shepherd, forgive my selfishness. Teach me our divine mercy and help me to live out, even with those who would rather show no mercy to me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 450What are the “corporal works of mercy”?

To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and bury the dead.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6: 32-36 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings:1 King 3: 4-13; Psalm 118: 9-14; John 10: 27; Mark 6: 30-34.