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

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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

A GENEROUS HEART

Monday 13th March – Monday of the 2nd week of lent

Reflection: Luke 6:36-38

A GENEROUS HEART

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be measure you get back” Luke 6:38

It is often said that givers never lack and the hand that gives is always on top. A generous heart is not only reflected in extending hands of generosity to the needy, poor or less-privileged; but also in the readiness to pray for others. When we see our brethren living below the expectation of their call as Christians, we should not criticize or point accusing fingers at them. Such moments give us the opportunity to be generous with our kind words and prayers. We should be ready to encourage those who are discouraged or spiritually weak, especially by praying for them and for the conversion of sinners.

Our generosity attracts God’s blessing when it is done, not out of compulsion, but with a willing and loving heart (2 Cor 9:6-8). He who gives sparingly will receive sparingly and he who gives bountifully will receive bountifully. It is the measure we give that we will receive. For God loves a cheerful giver. As we choose to pray for others rather than criticizing them, God will raise people to pray for us too. Let your preoccupation this season of Lent be to pray, fast and to give alms; and may God accept your offering of love.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I thank you for giving me your very self through your death on the cross and in the Eucharist. Please grant me a generous heart so I can be like you. Amen.

Faith Pearls: 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: “You should each give, then as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty, for God loves the one who gives gladly” 2 Corinthians 9:7 GNB

Today’s Readings: Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 79: 8-13; Luke 6:36-38

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

AWAITING YOUR REQUEST

Thursday 9th March – Thursday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 7: 7-12

AWAITING YOUR REQUEST

If you had the privilege of growing in a Christian home, one of the first things you would have learnt as a child is how to pray. Whether you were taught to recite prayers or to use your own words, it all boiled down to talking to God and asking Him for your needs for the most part.

Indeed, prayer is a very vital part of our lives as Christians and many of us know that. We often remember to ask the Lord for our material needs and maybe the needs of our families and our society and this is in fact laudable. Our Lord reassures us in today’s reading that He awaits our request. He wants us to come to Him asking, seeking and knocking and he promises that we would never go back empty handed.

As we go through Lent, why not consciously make prayer a priority? Take a step further, make a habit of asking the Lord for help as you encounter challenging moments in day to day living. Take a moment to tell him about what bothers you and remember to offer a prayer of thanksgiving as you encounter the day’s success. God longs to hear your voice and awaits your requests.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the assurance that you will hear me when I call upon you. Please help me to always bear I mind that you are only a prayer away. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 490 – Is it enough to pray when you feel like praying?

No. Someone who prays only when he feels like it does not take God seriously and will leave off praying. Prayer thrives on faithfulness.

Hide a Treasure: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Esther 4:17; Psalm 138: 1-3,7-8; Mt 7:7-12

OUR DAILY BREAD

Tuesday 7th March – Tuesday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 6:7-15

OUR DAILY BREAD

The Pater Noster (Our Father) remains the blue print of prayer, through which Christ teaches us what prayer should truly be: an interaction between a loving Father and His children who with gratitude make their requests known to Him. Let us take a moment to reflect on one of the requests of this age-old prayer: Give us today our daily bread.

First, we ask specifically for our “daily” bread. Just like the Lord taught the Israelites to rely on Him for manna each new day so also He teaches you and I. Do you find yourself worrying about your material needs or get overwhelmed about tomorrow? Place all your worries at Jesus’ feet in the Lord’s prayer and allow Him to take care of your needs day by day. In addition, as we ask for our daily bread we must remember that our needs are not merely physical. We need spiritual strength to live out our Christian call. The strength for yesterday is not sufficient for today. To be truly victorious Christians, we must come to the Lord in prayer each new day. We must study His words and ask for his direction each new day.

Finally, the request for our daily bread reaches its fulfilment in the Eucharist: the Bread of Life in which Christ offers us His very self as food for the journey. Do you avail yourself of the opportunity Christ offers you in the Eucharist? Let us take away anything that stands in our way of receiving Christ this season of grace and let us make out time to meet Him more often at the table of His word and in the Eucharist at Mass.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the reassurance that you are a loving Father. Please help me to trust you with my needs each new day. 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: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Matthew 6:33 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19; Mt 6:7-15

THAT WE MIGHT BE PEOPLE OF ANSWERED PRAYER

Monday 4th January – Monday after Epiphany Sunday

Reflection: 1 John 3: 22-4:6

THAT WE MIGHT BE PEOPLE OF ANSWERED PRAYER

As we continue to bask in the euphoria of the New Year celebration, we undoubtedly have some important expectations and aspirations for the year. While some of these might be unmet goals of previous year(s), others are most likely fresh pursuits for the New Year. Along with these also come unanticipated needs and challenges that we cannot but confront. In all these, we would definitely agree that the best of our efforts as humans does not always furnish us with solution or victory over life’s challenges or pursuits. These, experience must have thought us.

It is for this, amongst other important reasons that man needs Divine aid if he is to successfully and joyfully forge ahead in life. This Divine leverage is readily available to us when we faithfully commit all about us to God in prayers. Today’s first reading  goes to assure us on this – “ whatever we ask God, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants” ( 1John 3:22).

Dearest in Christ, perhaps you and I have at different times complained of not getting answers to our prayers, today’s first reading call us to examine ourselves to see if we are keeping God’s commandments and living the Kind of life that He wants. We need to guard against a common error of our time when many try to substitute prayer for righteous living and sacrifice for obedience. All these we ought to strive after without the exclusion of any. Our loving Father who has called us to Himself in love is more than able to meet our needs and grant us abundant testimonies as we faithfully abide in Him and call upon Him in Prayers.

PRAYER- Please show me Your loving kindness Father, and grant answers to my prayers for in You I repose my trust. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH – YOUCAT 471: Why is Abraham a model of prayer?

Abraham listened to God. He was willing to set out for wherever God commanded and to do what God willed. By his listening and his readiness to make a new start, he is a model for our prayer.

HIDE A TREASURE – “And we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:22 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings – 1 John 3: 22-4:6; Psalm 2: 7-8, 10-11; Matthew 4: 12-17, 23-25