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

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

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