Saturday, December 30, 2017

Feast of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

"The shepherds went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger."  (Luke 2: 16).

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  The Holy Family of Nazareth besides sharing their joys, hopes, griefs and the anxieties of daily living shared those of their neighbors.

Nobody can pretend that marriage and family life is easy. It is particularly under great stress today.  The Church points to many successful and happy families among her children. Let us consider a few of the habits of these families:

1. Prayer  (Absolute Necessity, Fountain of grace and mercy).
2. Word of God (God’s Manual). Source of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Secret of the saints.
3.  Eucharist (Bread of life & Food for the Journey)
4.  Sacrament of Reconciliation (Medicine for the Journey).  Add some self-denial.
5.  Examen (Look at your soul in the spiritual mirror at the end of the day).
6.  Spiritual Reading (GPS). When you pray, you talk to God. When you read, God talks to you.
7.   Ministry (Sharing your gifts & making them more abundant).
8.  A family that prays together stays together.

Prayer for a balanced family life: 
"Grant our family Lord, the gift of balance,  the grace of due proportion. May we pray when it is time to pray, work when it is time to work, laugh when it is time to laugh.  May our lives be whole, 
and wholly given to you."  Amen.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Consider making Jesus first in everything as your New Year Resolution.

"Do not love the world or the things of the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.  Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever." (1 John 2: 15 - 17).

On the 6th Day in the Octave of Christmas, the Holy Spirit gives the Church a chilling warning as we hasten to make plans and New Year resolutions for 2018.

Simply put:
Whoever does not seek the Kingdom of God above all else and adopt Jesus' way of doing and being righteous and His whole character does not have the love of the Father in his heart. (Cf Matthew 6: 33).

"For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]."  (John 1: 16 AMP).

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

This Child is destined to be a sign of contradiction.

"Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted  (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  (Luke 2:  34 - 35).

The above incident is one of the Infancy Narrative to feature Joseph and Mary.  Let us reflect on two other Bible incidents involving Mary :

"Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."  (Luke 1:  30 - 31).

"Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"  (Luke 1: 41 - 43).

Simeon predicted that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction.  Jesus Himself said that families will be divided on account of Him. (Luke 12: 53; Matthew 10: 37). Mary shares the fate of His Son. Mary's blessedness has been challenged throughout history. Many Christians believe that Mary is the obstacle to Church unity.  Consider for a moment this prophecy:

"Then the Lord God said to the snake:.... .. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel."  (Genesis 3:  14-15).

The above passage has been interpreted since the early Church as the Proto-Gospel, predicting battles to be waged between Jesus and the Satanic Kingdom.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."  (John 3: 16).

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

There are still many dark sides to ourselves.

"Beloved:  Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all."  (1 John 1: 5 RM).

God is absolute light in whom there is no shadow of darkness.  But we Christians are not light. There are still many dark sides to ourselves.
Therefore, we need discernment of spirits to help us know when the good spirit is at work in us and when the dark spirit is in control. Whatever brings fear, worry or doubt in you is not from the Father of Light.

"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,  occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 19 - 21).

The spirit that causes such behaviors as above causes sadness, depression, fear, worry and doubts.

"In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."  (Galatians 5: 22 - 23).

Beloved, learn to discern the spirit at work in you in all things, always and everywhere.

"Almighty God, your incarnate Word fills us with the new light he brought to men. Let the light of faith in our hearts shine through all that we do and say. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (Prayer, Vespers Thursday in the Octave of Christmas). 

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

John saw, heard and touched. He was therefore an eye witness.

"What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."  (1 John 1: 3).

Today is the Feast of of St John the Divine, Apostle and Evangelist.

What is the Bible, Sacred Scripture all about?  REVELATION! God the Father revealed His eternal love for mankind through His Beloved Son, Jesus the Christ.  No human messenger captured this truth as did St John, the author of the 4th Gospel, the Book of Revelation and 3 epistles.  St John's account of his Jesus experience is eye witness.
He saw. He heard. He touched. He then bore witness.  His witness which is faithful and credible have unlocked for us the secrets of the Word of God.

Father, grant that we may grasp with proper understanding what John so marvelously brought to us.

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Prayer of St Francis de Sales

My yoke is tailored precisely for you.

Prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman had a great belief in Divine Providence.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Stephen trusted the promise of Jesus on the Holy Spirit.

"Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.  Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedman...... came forward and debated with Stephen,  but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke."  (Acts 6:  8 - 10).

The Church celebrates today the feast of St Stephen, the 1st Martyr of the Christian Faith.  Coming right after the joys and festivities of Christmas jolts us into the true meaning of the Christ Event.  Joys and sorrows will be mixed in our Journey of Faith.

In this reflection, we shall dwell on one fulfilled promise of Jesus Christ during His public ministry.

"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.  For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."  (Matthew 10: 19-20).

The Holy Spirit is called the Voice that speaks in court.  If you trust Him, all is well.  All manner of things will be well.  Jesus Christ has given us His unfailing words:
"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  Luke 8:50, Mark 5:36).
Stephen trusted the Holy Spirit.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Birthday 🎂 Jesus!

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means God is with us” (Matthew 1:23)

Jesus, Our Emmanuel is born tonight.  If God is with us  and for us, who can be against us?  What can we not accomplish through His immense power?

Rejoice O Christians because Jesus Our Savior has come to save us.

Happy Birthday 🎂 Jesus! We the redeemed love you so much.

Merry Christmas family.  Peace and joy and mercy to you all and to all men of good will.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Who is this Child?

"You have found favor with God."  (Luke 1: 30).

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent.  It is also Christmas Eve and the end of the Advent Season.  Christmas Season begins tonight.

The Archangel Gabriel told Mary:  "You have found favor with God."  (Luke 1: 30).  I hope you too have found favor with God after 4 weeks of preparation for this great feast.

During the Advent Season, we met the following Bible characters and hopefully learned a few things from them:
Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus.
Joseph, the silent, faithful and obedient husband of Mary.
St John the Baptist, the single-minded, humble and courageous precursor of Jesus the Messiah.
Isaiah the prophet, who prophesied about the Messiah as no other prophet did.

The time of waiting is now over. As we welcome the Christ Child at Midnight Sunday, let us rejoice and be convinced that our God has truly come to save us and that He is indeed Emmanuel, the God who is with us.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart on Christmas day, what will be your response.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3: 20).

These are the words of Jesus to John in a vision in the Book of Revelation.  What do you think of these incredible words?  What is your response?

In a few days, we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus will be standing at the door of your heart begging you to let Him in.  Decide in advance how to respond.

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!" (Gospel Acclamation, Saturday before Christmas).

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hannah prayed for a son and the Lord gave her Samuel.

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him."  (1 Samuel 1: 27).

This is the testimony of Hannah, the mother of Samuel to the high priest Eli.  Hannah is one of my favorite Bible characters. Why?
Hannah believes in prayer.
She believes in miracle.
She has an incredible spirit of gratitude.

Let us relish her hymn of gratitude to God:

“My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.”

“The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”

“The LORD puts to death and gives life he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts.”

“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.”  (1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8).

Everything you need to affirm you, to give you the consolation of the truth from the Scriptures is here in the hymn of Hannah.

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!"  (Gospel Acclamation, Friday 3rd Week of Advent).

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How do you handle the inspiration and ideas dropped into your mind by the Holy Spirit?

"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1: 45).

Mary could have disbelieved the message of the Archangel Gabriel. But she chose to believe.  And for this, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit pronounced her blessed.

Whenever God wants to do a big thing in my life, the first thing He does is give me the faith to believe that the project can be done.

As a high school teacher, I suddenly conceived an idea to go to London to do graduate studies. I had no scholarship nor money.  But mysteriously, I believed I could do it. The mission was accomplished.

At one time, I had the desire to buy a land and build a home in the city I was living.  Again I had no money but mysteriously believed it was possible.  To make a long story short, the project was accomplished on time.

Make no mistake about it.  Both the inspiration and power came from God. I did not know it at the time. But I knew it was not the power of positive thinking.

Scripture pronounces blessed he who believes that what was spoken to him by the Lord would be fulfilled.

How about you?  How many inspirations and ideas have you lost through unbelief?   Ask the Lord to give you the gift of Faith.

"O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!" (Gospel Acclamation, Thursday 3rd Week in Advent). 

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mary prepared herself through Prayer and Scripture to receive the message of God.

"Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favor! The Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28)

The Angel Gabriel also said to Mary:

+ Mary, do not be afraid, you have won God's favor.

+ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.

+ For God's promises can never fail.

Mary answered:

+ You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.

I like very much the reminder that God's promises never fail. Here are a few other instances of this word:

+  With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19: 26, Mark 10: 27)

+  What is impossible for man is possible for God (Luke 18: 27)

+  With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1: 37)

+  Nothing will be impossible for them (Genesis 11: 6)

+  Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17: 20)

+  I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4: 13)

"O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!"  (Gospel Acclamation, Wednesday 3rd Week of Advent).

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Abba Father, remove our barrenness.

"But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years."  (Luke 1: 7)

"There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children."  (Judges 13: 2 - 3).

Barrenness is the theme the Holy Spirit appears to give the Church today to chew and digest in this Tuesday of the final Week in Advent.  The scriptures come from Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25 and Luke 1: 5-25.  

I sense the Lord asking me: "What fruits have you produced for my Kingdom?" Tough question.

Are you also barren in an area that matters most in life?  What God did for Zechariah and Elizabeth and Manoah and his wife, God can do for you and for me.  Let us pray to God to open our hearts in faith.

Abba Father, in Your mercy, take away all barrenness and bitterness from our hearts and make us fruitful so that we can glorify Your Name.  Amen.

"O root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
Come to save us without delay!"  (Gospel Acclamation for Today).

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Lord Jesus, prepare our hearts to experience Your presence this Christmas.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1: 23).

But Jesus is also God in us and God for us. 

At a moment of great crisis many years ago, I was inspired to read Exodus 14: 13-14.  I did and realized that God was with me.  I became calm and peaceful convinced that God would help me.  God is the Unseen Actor.  He wanted me to be a spectator.  I overcame my fears and triumphed in the crisis. Just as I experienced Emmanuel on that unforgettable occasion, you too can experience Him anytime you wish.  How?

You can experience Emmanuel when you receive the Eucharist or  when you sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament and exercise your faith in His promise.  You can experience Jesus when you pray or when you read the word.  Again it is very important to consciously affirm your trust in the promise He made to be always with you.
We can experience God when we read devout books.  When you pray, you speak to God.  When you read, God speaks to you.  (St Vincent de Paul). 

How awesome it will be for you and me to know with certainty that  Jesus, God-with-us is indeed with us. 

Consider for a moment what this will mean for you.  Awareness of His mysterious presence conquers fear, worry and doubts.
 If Jesus is with you, then all is well; all is accomplished.

"Father, help us to keep in mind that Christ our Savior lives with you in glory and promised to be with us until the end of time….." (Collect  in the 7th Sunday of Easter).

"O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!"  (Gospel Acclamation, Monday 3rd Week of Advent).

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks Always, Everywhere in Everything.

"Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."  (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 - 18).

Third Sunday in Advent.  Gaudate Sunday.  The Scriptures urge us to overflow with joy because Christ Jesus our Lord is almost here.

Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 gives us three things to do Always:
#1.  Rejoice.
#2.  Pray.
#3.  Thank.

These three things are Key to the mystery of the Christian life.  Why rejoice, pray and be thankful always, everywhere and in everything?

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  (Romans 8: 28 NLT).

What do you say to that? "God is in control" is not just a mere platitude but a profound theology.

Now let us listen to the Elder who lived and walked with Jesus for three years and paid the full cost of Discipleship:

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."  (James 1: 2 - 4).

"Say to the fearful of heart:
Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God, he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense he comes to save you."  (Isaiah 35: 4).

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Behold the Lord is coming in splendor to visit His people with peace.

 “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;  but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased."  (Matthew 17: 11 - 12).

Elijah the great prophet came back in the persona of John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths and people did not recognize the hour or the opportunity.  Although he appeared like a fire whose words were as a flaming furnace, yet people took little notice. The noise in the world was too loud and impenetrable for the message of salvation.

This is Advent, less than ten days to Christmas. Arise from your sleep.  Do not allow Christmas shopping and any other frenzied activities to obscure the true meaning of the Season.

The Lord is surely coming in splendor to visit His people. Prepare to welcome Him.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who can please the world?

“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,  ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn."  (Matthew 11:  16 - 17).

Who can please the world? Nobody.  Stop trying.  It is far easier to please God than to please the world.  God looks at your heart and your goodwill and makes excuses for your weakness.  The world is capricious and erratic and expects you to be a winner 100% of the time for 100% of the people.  Impossible you would say.  So, what do you do?  Aim at pleasing God.  It is easier and less complicated.  At least you have a Manual (Bible) to check what God wants of you.

"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul,
my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be disgraced;
do not let my enemies gloat over me. No one is disgraced who waits for you, but only those who are treacherous without cause."  (Psalm 25: 1 - 3)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fear, worry and doubts are not from God.

I will help you, says the Lord your God.

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."   (Isaiah 41:13-14 NIV)

Fear, worry and doubts are not from God.  God Never Fails!
"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Luke  8: 50).

"Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, "God has lost track of me.  He doesn't care what happens to me"? Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?"

"God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.  And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired,  gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." 
(Isaiah 40:27 -  31  MSG)

Wait on God’s answer;  wait for His help.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Come to Me all you who need rest and peace.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11 - 28 - 30).

Gracious invitation from Christ.  But how do we come to Christ?  We come to Christ in prayer, in His word, and when we encounter the poor.  We come to Jesus especially in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. 

What are the labors and burdens that we bring to Christ the Doctor to heal?  First, we bring our burdens of sin.  We are overwhelmed with fears, worries and doubts about our health, family, finances, job, tools, food and the future.  We bring all these to Jesus.

How does Christ give us the promised rest?  He cancels our debts of sins and relieves us once and for all from guilt.  Sometimes He heals our bodies and finances.  At other times, He gives us a supernatural perspective from which to view our woes.  You may call this indepth perspective therapy.  People go to the Shrines of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and Guadalupe in Mexico for physical healing.  Many such people receive the indepth perspective therapy and decide to stay behind to minister to pilgrims sicker than themselves..

What yoke does Christ invite us to take upon ourselves?  The yoke of Christ is the Gospel of Christ.  The yoke of Christ is the Sermon on the Mount.  Christ Himself says that this yoke is both easy and light. John the Apostle says that to keep the commandments is not burdensome. (1 John 5:3). Paul writes of the weight of glory that awaits us after some light suffering.  (Romans 8: 18;  2 Corinthians 4: 17).

"Learn from me," pleads Christ.  Christ is the Teacher and the Lesson.  Learn to be with me.  Learn to be like me.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Feast Day O Virgin of Guadalupe!

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."  (Luke 1: 30 - 31).

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. Some might even object:  You honor Mary too much!  How will Mary's children respond? Not enough! I am with this group.

To honor Mary is to honor Jesus, the Son of Mary.

“Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who recall the might of God."  (Judith 13: 18 - 19 NABRE)

"Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst — oracle of the Lord.  Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day.   They  will be my people,  and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you."  (Zechariah 2: 14 - 15 NABRE).

God spoke.  Mary believed.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, she predicted "All generations shall call me blessed." (Cf Luke 1: 48). True or false?

Happy Feast Day, Our Lady of Guadalupe! 

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is your faith strong enough to be seen?

"When he saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” ( Luke 5: 20).

What did Jesus see as their faith? Although Jesus could see the heart and mind of every person and know what is in it, here let us say that Jesus saw the physical effort the paralyzed man and his friends made to get to Jesus.  That is faith in action.

Jesus is our full security for health, family peace, money, job and all our needs.

What is paralyzing you today?  Health, family problems, money, job, tools, food or your future?  The paralyzed man had faith partners to lift him to the presence of Jesus.

We all need prayer and faith partners to lift us up at the moment of our greatest need. One of the great teachings of the Church is of immense consolation to many Christians:  the Communion of the Saints.  Our prayer partners include the saints here on earth and those already in Heaven.  I have probably over 30 such saints in Heaven whom I invoke every day to lift me up to God in my needs. Some people ask:  why don't you ask God directly instead of going through a saint? The answer is simple. Of course you can ask God directly.  But when you are in a desperate situation, you ask your pastor, prayer warriors, family and friends to help you urgently.  Some of these people you ask will not remember to pray for you.  But the saints in Heaven will never forget.  The greatest reason for invoking the saints in Heaven is because the practice is in the Bible and it is sealed by the official Teaching of the Church.

All you holy men and women in Heaven, pray for us in our struggles to get to where you are. Amen.

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

John the Baptist is not one of the greatest but the GREATEST!

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths."  (Mark 1: 2 - 3).

Who is this messenger?  John the Baptist.  What do we know about John?  John was the son of promise of aged parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. His father was a priest from the clan of Levi. This means that John was assured by birth the privileges of the upper middle class of the Jewish community. But John had a vocation announced by two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah 40: 1 - 5 and Malachi 3: 1.  So John is a serious and important person in salvation history.

How did John handle his mission?
John made the wilderness his home and "wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey." (Mark 1: 6).
You might wonder: Why this extreme austerity? This is to have the radical detachment and independence necessary for his mission.

Jesus praised John as not one of the greatest but the greatest!  (Matthew 11: 11;  Luke 7: 28).

John the Baptizer has done his work and is gone.  But the work of announcing the good news and glad tidings continue to this day. 
Jesus is Calling.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

We have One Teacher: Christ the Lord!

"No longer will your Teacher  hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, and your ears shall hear a word behind you: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or the left."  (Isaiah 30: 20 - 21).

A teacher in Israel is synonymous with a prophet. "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  (Proverbs 29: 18).  Israel has known many days without teachers and prophets.  "For many days Israel was without a teaching priest" (2 Chronicles 15: 3).  The nation was able to compare the Before and the After experience.

In our key Scripture for today (Isaiah 30: 20 - 21), God is promising a permanent Teacher, who will always be there.   "He is the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."  (John 14: 17).

Today we live in a world in an existential crisis of truth.  In the Body of Christ, people ask  "Where is the truth? What is the truth?"  From the media and social media, and government media, we see  more often than in the past mutual accusations of falsehood and lies.
Who do we believe?

The Bible warns that the time will come when "They will accumulate teachers after their own lusts" (2 Timothy 4: 3).  These contending voices want to be teachers of the law, but are ignorant (1 Timothy 1:7).  The Bible warns:  "Not many of you should be teachers" (James 3: 1)

"Do not be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher, for the Christ is your only Teacher." (Matthew 23: 10). We have one Teacher, Jesus the Christ who teaches us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Amen!

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - A Holyday of Obligation.

"I rejoice heartily in the Lord,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bride adorned with her jewels. (Isaiah 61: 10, Entrance Antiphon on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception).

The Church worldwide celebrates today the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a Holiday of Obligation.
The Church applies Isaiah 61: 10 to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the gracious will of God to prepare a worthy dwelling for His Son Jesus. By God's prevenient grace, Mary was untouched by any stain of sin when she was conceived by her parents. She was preserved from the curse of Original Sin. This was accomplished by virtue of the vicarious death of Jesus the Christ which was foreseen by the Eternal Father.

The Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the United States of America.  Today therefore:  No fasting or Advent penances .  Let us rejoice and be glad as we celebrate one of the great mysteries of our salvation.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Make Prayer a Special Gift for yourself this Advent.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found;  call him while he is near."  (Isaiah 55:  6).

The Gospel acclamation today, Thursday in the First Week of Advent is direct in its message.  Advent is a season of anticipation, expectation and waiting.  When you expect something,  as you grow in wisdom, you learn to wait for it.  When I was an inexperienced air traveler. I arrived at the airport at the stated time expecting the flight to leave exactly at the stated departure time.  Needless to say, it doesn't happen always.  I would be frustrated.  When I became more experienced, I planned to wait.  I bring along some work or books.  The Gospel intimates us that there will be delays in the Second Coming of Jesus.  It will come without warning like a thief in the night or spring open like a trap.

Lent and Advent are two Seasons  most favorable for divine favors:
"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near."  (Isaiah 55:  6).  It is like handing you a cheat sheet for an exam.  Use it, you pass.

How do we prepare for Advent?
#1.  Prayer:  If you don't do the Liturgy of the Hours already, this is a good time to start. The Liturgy of the Hours is found in LAUDATE and is also available in other apps in all platforms. Prayer is a vital necessity.  When you pray with the Church using the Liturgy of the hours (about 10 minutes), you participate in a prayer used by millions all over the world.  You are comforted to know that this Prayer goes to the very beginning of the Church.  Jesus most probably prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.  All the clergy and all religious are bound to this prayer by Church.  Today many lay men and women pray it.

"Prepare our hearts, we pray, O Lord our God, by your divine power,
so that at the coming of Christ Your Son we may be found worthy of the banquet of eternal life and merit to receive heavenly nourishment from his hands.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect   Wednesday, 1st Week of Advent).

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will."  (Luke 10: 21 RM).

I cannot read the above word of God without rejoicing in how it was fulfilled in the life of St Therèse of the Child Jesus, also called the Little Flower.  I just finished a reread of her autobiography.  St Therèse entered the Carmelite Convent at the age of 15, when most girls today have not graduated from high school. She died at the tender age of 24 when most people have not finished college. Her autobiography, THE STORY OF A SOUL was the only work she produced.  That was enough to make her one of the 35 Doctors of the Church in the 2017 years of Church History. Amazing, you might say.  But truly the most wise and powerful Divine Providence at work in human history.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will."  (Luke 10: 21 RM).

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Lord Jesus, no need to come to my house. You can heal my servant right here, right now.

Lord, heal my servant, right here, right now.  The Roman Centurion pleaded with Jesus.

“Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."  (Matthew 8: 10 NABRE)

Why does Jesus praise so lavishly the faith of the Centurion?  Faith is a rare commodity and one of the greatest gifts of God.  The opposite of faith is Unbelief and Doubt.

How does faith work?  Jesus said to the Centurion:  “I will come and cure him.” The Centurion heard this and believed.  The faith of the Centurion is much deeper.  He said to Jesus: No need to come to my house.  Just heal my servant with a word from here.  Right here, right now.

I had been a Christian for many years before I understood what faith means.  I remember that the first time I came to realize that faith means believing or trusting in what God says to us, I was surprised.  It sounded so simple.  My immediate reaction to this definition of faith was:  “Would anybody doubt what God says?”  In fact, this is what we do most of the time.  

What gave the Centurion such an elevated faith?  He applied  his experiences as a senior Roman officer to understand how God's power works.

Faith comes from hearing and believing the promises of God.  As you exercise your faith every day, it grows.

Happy Advent!

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Watch and Pray.

"Jesus said to His Disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come."  (Mark 13: 33).

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The above Scripture is the core message of the Advent Season.

How do we watch? How do we keep alert?

#1. By spending time in prayer.  Prayer is not just a vital necessity, it is the cause and source of grace and mercy.
#2. By spending time in the word of God.  Sacred Scripture is the Manual written by God for a purposeful and successful living.
#3.  By worshiping God in a Christian Community and Assembly on Sunday.

"God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."  (1 Corinthians 1: 9).

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Friday, December 01, 2017

Don't allow the day to catch you by surprise. Be prepared.

 “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise  like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

We are in the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year! It is one big celebration.  Yet the Church gives us the above Scripture always at this time.  Why?
Today is the last day of the Church Year.  The Church starts a New Year on Sunday with the Beginning of Advent.

Advent is the Season we wait for the Coming of the Lord.  Two Comings of Jesus are always in our mind.  The first Coming of Jesus as a poor child born in a Manger in Bethlehem.  The second Coming is His Coming in majesty at the end of the ages to judge the world.  Just as it is impossible to be unaware of a brilliant sunrise ☀, so will it be impossible to mistake the Second Coming of Jesus.  His Second Coming will be thousands of times more dazzling than the most brilliant sunrise 🌅 you have ever experienced.

This season of joy and festivities cause anxiety to some people.  Instead of trusting God and enjoying the present moment, they are filled with anxieties about the future. Some others see the season as a time of indulgence in sinful and carnal pleasures. Scripture warns that the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ will catch them unprepared as a trap catches a prey.

"Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:  36).

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First Friday in December 2017.

December 1st, 2017 First Friday in December.

Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 12th month of the year, we look at Promise #12.

#12. "The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour."

"I was dead but now I am alive for ever."  (Revelation 1: 18).
Many years ago, I was in a hospital ready for death. They called a priest, whom I chose and he came promptly for the Last Rites. He heard my confession and administered the Viaticum.  I was peaceful as he bid me goodbye and left the room for his work.  I recovered after a short time.

Now, when I read the 12th Promise, I remember this incident and thanked Jesus for His faithfulness. Jesus knew that I would not die then, but He wanted to impress upon that He is truly the Faithful Witness.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, December 1st.

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For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jesus Christ is in His word. That is why it will never pass away.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."  (Luke 21: 33).

This is an amazing promise for the word of God. Everlasting stability and infinite staying power.  One of the attributes of God I love is His staunch faithfulness. Always faithful to His word, His promises and all His decrees.  Semper Fidelis!

But what is this word of God that will never pass away? Let us learn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament" which hand on the ultimate truth of God's Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit's guidance."  (CCC #124).

The word of God is ultimately and finally Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Jesus Christ is in His word. This is why it will never pass away.

Praise, honor and glory be to You, LORD Jesus Christ, Word of God, Son of the Eternal Father. Amen!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Is Jesus calling you as He called Peter and Andrew?

"As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him."  (Matthew 4:  18 - 20).

Today is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle.  Jesus caught Andrew and his brother Peter as they were catching fish and promoted them beyond their dreams to be fishers of men.

"And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,  to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4: 11 - 12).

Is Jesus calling you to use your talent, training and experience to build up His Body?  There is no unemployment in the Vineyard of the Lord.  Jesus is hiring all the time.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!”  (Romans 10:  15).  Those beautiful feet may be yours.

“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”  (Romans 10: 18).
The Apostles and their disciples did their part.  The Lord Jesus is still saying:
"Why do you stand here idle all day?"  (Matthew 20: 6).

"They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard."  (Matthew 20: 7).

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Henry the 8th executed Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. The rest of the English Bishops ran for their lives.

"They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.....By your perseverance you will secure your lives." (Luke 21: 12 - 13,  19)

Persecution, small, big and unto death comes with the territory of being Christian. In 1534, St Thomas More opposed King Henry the 8th over his self declaration as head of the Church in England.  All the English hierarchy, that is all the Bishops of England out of fear of death succumbed to the threat of Henry the 8th except for Bishop St John Fisher and St Thomas More who was the Lord Chancellor of England.  Both were executed. Both were canonized as saints.  This is what Jesus is saying in today's Daily Bible Verse. Persecution can come suddenly.  As in the case of England in the 1530s, how the mighty may fall.

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives."  (Luke 21: 19).

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Daniel foretold the future of the Church.

"But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."  (Daniel 2: 35).

Daniel interpreted to King Nebuchadnezzar the course of future events which was revealed to the king in a dream.  Throughout the Old Testament, God's plan for the Church was revealed in stages using different communications techniques.  King Nebuchadnezzar had a mysterious vision of various political powers vying for supremacy. One power displacing the other and occupying center stage for a brief moment until a mysterious stone fell out of heaven and shattered the myth of earthly powers. This stone is the Church. No historian will deny the enduring power of the Church.

"In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2: 44).

Christians rejoice in this truth:  The Church of God shall endure forever and ever.

"The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”  (Daniel 2: 45).

"Remain faithful till death, and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2: 10).

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

This poor widow gave everything she had because she trusted God to remain faithful.

"When he[Jesus] looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury  and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins."  She offered all that she had. (Luke 21: 1 - 2, 4).

Today we consider the story of the poor widow and her offertory contribution.  Have you noticed that God has a preferential option for widows?  What does Sacred Scriptures teach us about how God regards widows?

"For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes,  who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing." (Deuteronomy 10: 17 - 18).

"You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.  If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry." (Exodus 22: 21 - 22).

"The Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked."  (Psalm 146: 9)

"The Levite who has no hereditary portion with you, and also the resident alien, the orphan and the widow within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied; so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake."  (Deuteronomy 14: 29).

We have seen how the Lord cares so tenderly for the widow. Is it surprising to see that the poor widow in today's Gospel is aware of this from her life experiences and shows her gratitude and trust in a God who has provided all her necessities since her husband died.

"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Mark 5: 36; Luke 8: 50).

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Lord our King is a merciful Judge.

Sunday, November 26, is the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Israel has always recognized God as their King and Master.

"The Lord is King for ever and ever."  Psalm 10: 16).
"For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth."  (Psalm 47: 2).

"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our law Giver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us."  (Isaiah 33: 22).

What type of King is Jesus the Lord?
"I myself will search for my sheep and examine them.  As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep."  (Ezekiel 34:  11 - 12)

Our King is a Shepherd King but infinitely more tender than the human Shepherd.

"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me."  (Psalm 23: 1 - 2).

This is the promise of our King Shepherd.  Let us receive this promise with great faith and joy.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

We celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday. Sunday is a rehearsal of eternal life.

"Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him" about the absurdity of the idea of the Resurrection of the dead.
Jesus put them in their place easily:

"Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage;  but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.  They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."  (Luke 20: 34 - 36).

Jesus provided a definitive proof of the Resurrection through His own death and Resurrection. We celebrate this every Sunday.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

My House shall be a House of Prayer.

"Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves."  (Luke 19:  45 - 46).

Why is the Temple so important in God's plan of salvation? Why is Jesus so angry about the desecration of the Temple?

Religion like the government  is an incarnate reality. It exists in time and space not in the air as intangible.  It exists for men and women with flesh and blood. God ordered Moses to build a sacred space where He would meet with His people. He gave concrete and precise instructions for the construction of the House. The sacred meeting Tent later evolved to be a Temple when the Israelites became domesticated in the Promised Land.  The Temple is conceived to be a dwelling of God on earth.  Today, the Temple is the Body of Christ, the Dwelling Place of the Holy Spirit. It is also seen as the individual Christian. Last but not the least, it is the brick and mortar Church where the Blessed Sacrament is reposed.

Jesus Christ defended the integrity of the the Temple as many prophets did with their blood.
Do you honor the Church as the Dwelling Place of God?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

God has provided all our needs as He promised. Let us now give thanks to Him with Joy.

The Bible is filled with Scriptures on giving thanks.  The Lord Himself commands us to give thanks always. What a great uplift to have one Day in the Year devoted to Thanksgiving.

Give thanks to the Lord (1 Chronicles 16: 8, 34; Psalm 97: 12; 100: 4; 105: 1; Isaiah 12: 4).

Come before your God with thanksgiving (Psalm 95: 2).
Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 50: 14; 107: 22).
Thanksgiving will please the Lord better than an ox (Psalm 69: 30 - 1).
He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me (Psalm 50: 23).

Why give thanks to the Lord?

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 92: 1)

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9: 11).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

Now let us make a checklist of things to thank our generous God and Father in 2017:

1.  Health
2.  Family
3.  Money
4.  Job
5.  Tools (car, smart phone, home)
6.  Food
7.  Future

I have been richly blessed in 2017. I hope you can say the same.

Happy  and Joyful Thanksgiving Family.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What are you doing with the talents God has entrusted you?

"I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  (Luke 19: 26).

At the end of the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins, Jesus said the above. Ten servants were given each, one gold coin to trade with. The one who made the most of the opportunity received ten cities in compensation addition to the gold coin of the useless servant who did nothing with his talent.

Jesus teaches us again that we have all received tremendous gifts from our Heavenly Father.  Every Christian becomes the adopted child of God through Baptism. This privilege comes automatically with the supernatural gifts of Faith, Hope and Love. Every child of God has the opportunity to develop these gifts. As you develop them, they grow and you become richer in Faith, Hope and Love. As you fail to use and grow your talents, they atrophy and may die.

Use them or lose them.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Open the door of your house for Jesus and salvation may enter your house today.

Zacchaeus I want to be your guest today.

"And when Jesus reached the place, He looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today. So he hurried and came down, and he received and welcomed Him joyfully."   (Luke 19:5-6 AMP)

Who is Zacchaeus?
Zach was an important CEO of a tax collection company for the the Romans.  Something like a Director of the IRS. He was very wealthy and his wealth, considered ill gotten attracted animosities to him.

"Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”   Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham."   (Luke 19:8-9 NLT)

People are convicted every day of malicious fraud by our courts every day.  How many have volunteered to give back the loot?

Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy."   (Luke 19: 6 RM)

What a gracious act. 

Some of us have the opportunity to receive Jesus frequently in Holy Communion or in His word.  Do you receive Him with joy?  "Today salvation has come to this house."   (Luke 19:  9)  What a mighty reward for Zach and his family.

Do not let your heart  grow lukewarm.  Pray for the grace of joy and enthusiasm.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ask boldly. Ask with faith and you will receive.

Bartimaeus, the blind beggar sitting by the roadside asked for the cause of the unusual commotion.
"They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”  They shouted him down to keep quiet, "but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”

Those who are well and have no need for doctor may never understand your pain or situation.
But Jesus understood and stopped. “What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, Have sight; your faith has saved you.”  (Cf Luke 18: 35 - 43)

Two lessons from the encounter of Bartimaeus and Jesus.
#1.  Come to Jesus with deep faith, which means simply that you believe that He is God and that nothing is impossible for Him.  Believe too that nothing is too marvelous for Jesus to do for you.
#2.  Be precise about your need or desire.  “Lord, please let me see.” "Lord I need a job desperately and urgently."  "Lord I need a partner for life."  "Lord I am dying of pain. Heal me now."

"Amen, I say to you: Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive, and it shall be given to you, says the Lord."  (Mark 11:  23 - 24).

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Times and Seasons are God’s Appointments.

"Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you.  For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night."  (1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 2).

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3: 1).

The central message of Times and Seasons is the need to be vigilant at all times.

"I have learned the secret of.... living in abundance and of being in need."  (Philippians 4: 12 ).

There is Times and Seasons in God's plan of provision for our needs.

"Thus says the Lord:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord."  (Jeremiah 17: 5).

If we want to enjoy change of seasons in our lives, we must trust in God with all our hearts.

Times and Seasons are God’s Appointments.  They are not haphazard ; they are not accidents. Winter, spring, summer and autumn are not accidents. 
Rainy and dry seasons are not accidents.

All times and all seasons are in the hand of Jesus Christ.

Wait for them with due diligence.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The wicked and corrupt judge feared the persistent widow.

"While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me."  (Luke 18: 4 - 5).

Today, our Great Teacher Jesus uses the parable of the the persistent widow and the wicked and unjust judge to teach us a valuable lesson on persistence in prayer. Note that the unjust and corrupt judge was most probably an atheist.  Hence, he has no fear of God or man. But in today's event, he met his match.  A poor but courageous widow who had nothing to lose in the battle with the empty headed, corrupt and unjust judge. The widow's strategy was simple. Be persistent. Never give up. She won.

Then Jesus made extraordinary extrapolation from the story. God too can be worn out by persistent prayer.  But why does God delay in answering our prayers?

Learn to wait for God in prayer, the saints have taught persistently:
"That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."  (Romans 8: 24 - 25 MSG).

"God grants us not always what we ask so as to bestow something preferable."..... “The desire is thy prayers; and if thy desire is without ceasing, thy prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.”  (St Augustine).

St Augustine also said that God delays answering our prayer in order to make us ready by enlarging us for a far superior gift which we cannot  imagine. How comforting!

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Only fools say in their hearts, there is no God.

"All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan."  (Wisdom 13: 1).

What is the Spirit saying here?  God the Creator is an Artisan who stamped His DNA on every single work He made. Sacred Scripture notes this: 
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands." (Psalm 19: 2).

Why then do certain individuals say there is no God?  See what the Scriptures say of such fools:

"Only fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!" (Psalm 41: 1).

Scripture is harsh in its indictment of atheism but the Church is more gentle in her Good Friday Prayers for those who do not believe in God:

"The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.  Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse."  (Romans 1: 18 - 20).

Could the atheists say to God: "I refused to acknowledge You because of the evil and corrupt behaviors of so-called Christians."
Lord have Mercy!

Every Good Friday, the Church prays thus:

"For Those Who Do Not Believe in God:
Let us pray
For those who do not believe in God, that they may find Him
By sincerely following all that is right.

Almighty and eternal God,
You created mankind
So that all might long to find you
And have peace when you are found,
Grant that, in spite of the hurtful things
That stand in their way,
They may all recognize in the lives of Christians
The tokens of your love and mercy,
And gladly acknowledge you
As the one true God and Father of us all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen"

We say with the Church, AMEN!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Behold I am with you always.

"Behold, the kingdom of God is among you.”  (Luke 17: 21).

The kingdom of God is among you. The kingdom of God is inside you.
Jesus Christ is the King of eternal glory. His reign is the Kingdom.
"The word was made flesh and dwelt among us."  (John 1: 14).
The birth of Jesus ushers in the reign of God on earth.

You may wonder:  Where is the Kingdom? The Kingdom is wherever the King is. The King is in the Church, which is a visible sign of His Presence and authority in the world. The King is in the hearts and minds and souls of everyone who accepts His reign and authority. The King is in every person who loves, as we are taught by the ancient liturgical hymn:  "Wherever there is love, there is God."  (Ubi Caritas).

The thought that Jesus is truly living in you and me is thrilling beyond measure.  One of the aspects of this Live-in that I enjoy most is this:  "I am not alone."  No matter wherever I am, I am not alone.  Earthquake can shake the city, I am not alone. The stock market can crash and all the banks fail at the same time, I am not alone.  The promise of Jesus to this effect can never fail!  Jesus Christ will always be with me, come what may.
"Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”  (Matthew 28: 20).

Thank You Jesus!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ten of you were blessed. Only one of you came on Sunday to give thanks.

“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”..
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”

"And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him."  (Cf Luke 17: 11 - 19).

God is glorified by our Thanksgiving.  Yet, less than 30% of our community is willing to thank God on Sunday for all His blessings of the past six days. God commanded us to do Eucharistein (Thanksgiving) on Sunday in order to honor and praise Him for all the benefits He provides us, viz: health, family, finances, job, homes and cars, computers and cell phones, food and security.  Every good gift comes from God including security.  (Cf James 1: 17).

Ingratitude offends sharply the Heart of God as it does to every parent.

“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  (Cf Luke 17: 11-19).

"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High."  (Psalm 50: 14).

SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, November 13, 2017

Jesus is the Master who calls us and equips us for service. Who should be grateful to who?

"Is he [the Master] grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?   So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do."  (Luke 17: 9 - 10).

Jesus Christ is the Master who calls us to service in His Kingdom on Earth and gives us every single gift we bring to the service.  "He equip you with everything good for doing his will."  (Hebrews 13: 21).

"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4: 11 - 12)

Now use your gifts to build up the Body of Christ.

"I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart."  (Psalm 34: 1 - 2).

SeekFirstcommunity.com