Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The ABC of Evangelization

"Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:  "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned."  (Mark 16: 15 - 16).

Today is the Feast St Mark the Evangelist. Happy feast day to all my friends named Mark.  God endowed Mark with the grace not just to preach the Gospel but to be author of what is considered the first Gospel and mother of all the Gospels.

Jesus gives us the Great Commission:  "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."  What exactly are we to proclaim?  We are to proclaim Christ crucified as the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1: 23 - 24).  Note that we are not called to be philosophers or theologians but simply to share the Good News that Christ was dead. Christ is risen from the dead. Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.  It is as simple as ABC because God wants everyone to be involved.

"They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs."  (Mark 16: 20).
Amen. Alleluia!
God Never Fails. He is faithful.
"Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28: 20).

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Evangelization is the core mission of the Church.

"Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews."  (Acts 11: 19).

After Pentecost, it appeared that the infant Church went temporarily into a sleeping mode. But not for long. The Holy Spirit like the mother eagle had to wake them up by fluttering over them with loud shrieks.  The tool the Holy Spirit used was persecution. It worked. Henceforth, evangelization became the mission of the Church.

The Hebrew linguistic group evangelized the Jews wherever they sought refuge.  The Greeks evangelized their patriots. (Cf 11: 20).

The Holy Spirit is the Master and Leader of Evangelization.  He is the Principal Actor.  Our role is docile spectators.

As needs arose, the Holy Spirit sent the missionaries help from Jerusalem in the person of Barnabas who "was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord."  (Cf Acts 11: 22 - 24).

Jesus says, "The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me."  (John 10: 25).

We lay people are called upon to become the tip of the spear in the work of Evangelization in the 22nd century.   The work we do in our Father's name must testify to us. (Cf John 10: 25).  Are you ready? Listen to the Church:

"Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, "that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life." For lay people, "this evangelization . . . acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world."  (CCC 905).

The Church continues:
"This witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful."  (CCC 905).

When you say yes, you will find that God will supply everything you need for the mission.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Holy Ghost is the Abundant life that Jesus promised.

"I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."  (John 10: 10).

In John 18: 37, Jesus told Pontius Pilate that the purpose of His coming is to bear witness to the truth.  In John 10: 10, He said that His purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life.  Do you believe that He who came to bear witness to the truth is telling the truth about coming to help us live life to the fullest? Are you living a great full life?

What really is Christ promising here? He is promising the unrationed gift of the Holy Spirit. (John 3: 34).  The Holy Spirit is the Abundant life.  (John 10: 10).

Deepak Chopra wrote in his book, "CREATING AFFLUENCE": "Affluence is the experience in which our needs are easily met and our desires spontaneously fulfilled. We feel joy, health, happiness, and vitality in every moment of our existence."  Our prayers are answered and we feel the pure joy of answered prayer.  The Holy Spirit is Abundant Life and the Creator of Affluence in our lives.

In the Veni Creator Spiritu (Come O Holy Spirit and fill the hearts...), we ask Abba Father to grant that we may always rejoice in the consolations of the Holy Spirit.  We are asking that our lives will overflow with abundant goods and affluence.

If you do not know what I am talking about, please prepare yourself for Pentecost. Pentecost 2018 is Sunday May 20th.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Good Shepherd is always there for me.

"I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep."  (John 10: 14 - 15).

The Good Shepherd image is my favorite image of Jesus.  I invoke in my prayers always.  Jesus is my Good Shepherd.  He guides me step-by-step. He provides everything I need.  My Good Shepherd protects me moment by moment.  When I walk through a neighborhood with unleashed dogs, I do not fear. (Cf Psalm 23).

I enjoy a stable relationship with my Good Shepherd. Jesus is not a fair weather friend.  He is not like some automobile insurance companies who are your friend on the condition that you remain accident free.  Jesus my Good Shepherd is always there, come what may.

One day, I was very anxious and my Good Shepherd said to me:
"Let Me have all your worries and cares, for I am always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you."  (1 Peter 5: 7). I made a list of 4 worries, noted the date and inserted the paper in my Missal.  One day, I found the list and scratched all the 4 items.

Like many people, I worry about money from time to time.  My Good Shepherd gently reproached me:
"Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For I say to you: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.”  That is why you can say without any doubt or fear, “The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.”  (Cf Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

One day, I complained to my Good Shepherd:  “You have deserted me; the Lord has forgotten me.”
My Good Shepherd answered me:
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!"  (Cf Isaiah 49: 14 - 15).  I was reassured.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

There are some of you who do not believe.

"Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  (John 6: 60).

Today is Saturday, April 21 in the 3rd Week of Easter.  The Church concludes the Bread of life Discourse from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St John started on Monday.  The end of the teaching is anticlimactic.  Jesus lost most of of His followers at the end of His teaching.

“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  (John 6: 60). No doubt, the Eucharist is a hard doctrine to accept.  No religion on earth since the beginning of the world had made such an extravagant claim of eating human flesh and drinking human blood as conditio sine qua non for eternal life. But instead of backing down, Jesus pressed His point as He stared at the few who did not leave:  "But there are some of you who do not believe.”  (John 6: 64).  They looked back at Him in silence.

"It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."  (John 6:  63).

The Holy Spirit is indispensable in understanding and accepting the Doctrine of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The key to accepting the Eucharist is Faith.  Faith in the truth that Jesus is God and that you can trust His word. The disciples believed in Jesus Christ. "We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6: 69).  God neither lies nor deceives. (Cf 1 Peter 2: 22).  The followers of the Apostles after Pentecost believed that the Apostles had divine mandate from Jesus to teach the Faith, administer the Sacraments and appoint successors.  So it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Paul is My chosen instrument to carry My Name to the world.

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."  (Acts 9: 4-5).

Today is Friday, April 20 in the 3rd Week of Easter.  We interrupt the Bread of Life  Discourse to savor the Conversion of St Paul. The gentle breath of the LORD Jesus knocked Saul off his horse.  Blinded by the dazzling light coming from the Redeemer, Paul was led by hand into the city of Damascus where Saul met Ananias.

“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites,  and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”   (Acts 9: 15 - 16).

Here we witness Divine Intervention creating a unique Divine Mission.  Welcome Rabbi Saul to the Church.
A good part of Sacred Scripture is actual human experience that becomes a template for the life of faith.  Every day, God is creating your own scripture through your daily experiences.  Be proactive in this process through the Sacrament of the Present Moment.

“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.”   (Acts 9: 17).

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Saul did not waste a moment before he started proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues as the Son of God. (Acts 9: 20).

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Eucharist is the Church. The Church is the Eucharist.

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 51).

Have you noticed that since Monday, April 16, 3rd Week of Easter, the Gospel has been from John 6.  The Gospel message this week is called the Bread of life discourse.  Jesus' promise to offer us His Body and Blood as food and drink is so important that in a curriculum of 52 weeks, the Church assigned one full week to this unique subject.

How does the Church understand The Eucharist?
The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life.".. ."For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."  (CCC 1324).
This is pretty a weighty statement.
To summarize this in words of Pope St John Paul II:
The Eucharist is the Church. The Church is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the raison d'etre for the existence of the priesthood. The Eucharist is intimately intertwined in the mystery of the Church and the priesthood. No priest, no Eucharist, no Church.  This is a well known axiom.

Thank You Jesus for the gift of Your Body and Blood.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Come and eat fresh whole wheat bread without cost.

"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."   (John 6: 35).

The Bread we receive in Holy Communion is exactly what is promised:  Jesus Christ. Jesus is the genuine Bread of life.  Under the appearance of bread and wine, He  gives us Himself in the Eucharist. That this is the constant teaching of the Church from the days of Acts 2: 42 to this day is a miracle. "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers."  (Acts 2: 42). Unless this sublime truth of our faith was guaranteed by God Himself, It would have been lost.  Thank You Abba Father.

Jesus fed 4000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. They all ate and were satisfied with plenty leftover.  "They ate and were satisfied."  (Mark 8:  8). 

Only Christ the Bread of life who knows exactly what we need and when we need it can perform such a miracle.  Remember the Wedding Feast at Canna? (John 2: 2 - 5). The people drank the best wine until they could drink no more.

Jesus fulfilled admirably the prophecy in Isaiah 55: 1 - 3).
"All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!"  (Isaiah 55: 1).

The Miracle of the feeding of 4000 people prefigures the Eucharist. 
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 51)

Every single day, Jesus continues to feed millions of people with the finest wheat, the Bread of life.   (John 6 : 35;  Matthew 26: 26; 1 Corinthians 11: 24)

"He fed them with the finest wheat
and satisfied them with honey from the rock."  (Cf.  Psalm 81: 17 RM)

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

"As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep."  (Acts 7: 59 - 60).

This is how St Stephen, the first Christian martyr died.  Was Stephen ready to die as he died and when he died?  The answer is in this statement: "Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Suffering and dying comes with the territory of the Prophet.  Consider Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul, etc.

When you say in the Lord's Prayer (Our Father): "Your Kingdom Come."  How much do you mean it? Are your permanent interests and permanent residence solidly here on earth?  Clearly not Stephen's!

St Augustine says:
"If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, then all is well."

"Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth. You hate those who serve worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy, once you have seen my misery, [and] gotten to know the distress of my soul."  (Psalm 31:  6 - 8).

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Man needs the food for the Journey.

"Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."  (John 6:  27).

What is Jesus saying here?  Abandon your job and go searching for some mystical food? To understand what Jesus means, we need to bring other scriptures.
"One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."  (Matthew 4: 4).  One does not live by money alone... One does not live by job alone... One does not live by home or cars alone..
Man is created to live for ever. So he needs spiritual food as well.

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and at the end of the game to lose his soul? (Mark 6: 36).
To win in the game of life, you must keep the big picture in mind.  Jesus could not have come from heaven and lived among us and suffered the cruel agony we all witnessed on Good Friday just to procure for us the food that is eaten and quickly passes through to the latrine. (Cf Mark 7: 19).

Jesus is offering us Himself as food.  TAKE AND EAT. TAKE AND DRINK. IT IS ME.
The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  It is the medicine of immortality and the Food for the Journey. (St Ignatius of Antioch).  It is the food that is guaranteed to kill the appetite for lust, greed for filthy lucre and all other debased desires that poison and imprison the hearts and minds of women and men of this age.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  (John 6: 35).

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.

"Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.”  (Luke 24: 38 ).

I recently found this inspirational advice by Pope St John XXIII:
"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but what is still possible for you to do."   Very good advice for the fearful Apostles after the Resurrection.

My hopes and dreams are about the future.  They deal mostly with desires and intentions on enhancements of my human potentials.

But my experiences are in a different category.  They are historical certainties. Your   experience is about how God dealt with you in the past. Eg on health, family, money, job, tools, food and future.   Your experiences form the core of your own scripture.  Do you keep a diary? Through the lens of your experiences, you can observe how God has been faithful to you over the years. St Ignatius Loyola advices that when you are in hardship, consider how God treated you mercifully at a period of prosperity in the past.  I have found this advice very helpful in my life.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Do not be afraid. It is Me.

"They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat.  This frightened them, but he said, ‘It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  (John 6: 19 – 20)

"I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28: 2).  Jesus is in every event in our life.  He is saying to you here:  ‘Do not be afraid.  I am present with you as I promised.’  How can I make this truth serve me every single day?  In the midst of the turbulent events of my life, how can I call to mind the sure presence of Jesus?  Brother Lawrence, a humble cook in a French monastery in the 17th century taught the world how to immerse oneself in the Presence of the Lord while doing his humble duties.  [THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD]. One way is to cultivate the presence of Jesus through the Jesus prayer.  Jesus!

Lord Jesus, I believe you are present in my life through the Holy Spirit.  I thank you for the peace and tranquility that is your gift.  Sometimes I forget about your presence and become anxious and afraid.  I feel that I am in control of events and I feel so inadequate.  Lord teach me to live in your presence every moment of my life.
 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you, in God, whose word I praise, in God I put my trust and have no fear, what power has human strength over me?”  (Psalm 56: 3-4)

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

In order to live constantly in the presence of Jesus, immerse yourself in the words of Jesus and say the Jesus prayer: Jesus!

“It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

If this Enterprise is from God, you can never destroy it.

"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him."  (Acts 5: 38 - 39).

Every year after Easter, I look forward to this narrative from  Acts 5: 34 - 42.  It reinforces my faith.  I heard it at the beginning of my Journey of Faith and I relish to hear it again at this time in the Easter Season. You may call it the Gamaliel Principle text.  Gamaliel was a famous teacher in Israel at the time of the death of Jesus.  He was the teacher of St Paul and a member of the Sanhedrin.  He laid down a principle of discerning God's will in complex situations based on astute historical analysis. Divine action in history is predictable, he opined.

Members of the the Sanhedrin accepted Gamaliel's advice but went ahead to flog the Apostles in order to intimidate them.  You may call this state terrorism.  Read on to see if they succeeded.

"After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them." (Acts 5: 40).

"So they [Apostles] left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." (Acts 5: 41).

These men have tasted the Holy Spirit and were transformed by the experience.  Instead of quitting....

"All day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus."  (Acts 5: 42).

"What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?"  (Acts 8: 31).

"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]."  (Romans 8: 37 AMP).

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Experience the Holy Spirit. Experience abundant life and affluence.

"He [The Father] does not ration his gift of the Spirit. (John 3: 34).

What other promise of the Father is so lavish?  You cannot find any other as lavish as the promise of the Holy Spirit or Wisdom.  Exactly the same thing.  Consider a few examples:

#1.  Solomon asked for Wisdom instead of wealth, power and long life and God was very pleased. "I here and now give you what you asked for and more...." (1 Kings 3: 11; 2 Chronicles 1: 11).
#2.  "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  (Luke 11: 13).  If you ask for the Holy Spirit, you get Him here and now.

Who is the Holy Spirit? The Creed teaches that the Holy Spirit is Lord and Giver of life.  The Holy Spirit is the Abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10: 10.

Deepak Chopra in his book, "CREATING AFFLUENCE" writes: "Affluence is the experience in which our needs are easily met and our desires spontaneously fulfilled. We feel joy, health, happiness, and vitality in every moment of our existence."

Our prayers are answered and we feel the pure joy of answered prayer . The Holy Spirit is Abundant Life and the Creator of Affluence in our lives. 
Desire the Holy Spirit above gold and silver and ask the Father for the Holy Spirit and He will give Him to you here and now.  Experience affluence. Experience abundant life.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Yes I believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God.

"God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life."  (John 3: 16).

So everyone who believes in Jesus has automatically eternal life? But what does it mean to believe in Jesus?

Every Sunday, the Church confesses its faith in Jesus Christ using the Apostles' or the Nicene Creed.  See below:

"I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead."

In the early Church and still true today, every person seeking membership of the Church must learn and memorize this formula.  The entire congregation repeats this formula when they renew the Baptismal vows and new members baptized at the Easter Vigil.  Why is this important or why does it matter? Because this Creed is the Light of Christ.  It is the mystery which was hidden for ages until Jesus Christ came to reveal these truths. "The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people." (Colossians 1: 26).

Now here is why Belief involves knowledge:
"For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."  (1 John 5 : 4).  Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  (John 14: 6).  Amen!

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Monday, April 09, 2018

The early Christians were of one heart and one mind.

"The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common."  (Acts 4: 32).

The early Christian community had one heart and one mind in every question and situation.  Is it surprising then that they had everything in common? There were no communist or conservative factions amongst them.  Wait a minute. How did we get to where we are today?

Paul proclaimed to the Corinthians with confidence:  "Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2: 16).

A modern compromise on the problem of disunity is put this way:" In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity."  This bogus quote was once attributed to St Augustine.  But no more.  The root of the radical relativism that undermines society, Church and family today is in my opinion the work of the Father of lies. Consider the following parable of Jesus:

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off."  (Matthew 13: 24 - 25).

Enable us Almighty Father to proclaim the power of our Risen Lord and invite Him to heal divisions amongst us. Amen.

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Behold I was born to do your will.

"The Lord said, as he entered the world: Behold, I come to do your will, O God, alleuia."  (Hebrews 10: 5, 7).

Today April 9th is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, transferred from its usual date of March 25th because of Holy Week.

"Behold, I come to do your will, O God,."  (Hebrews 10: 7), which is a Scripture pointing to Christ but can fittingly be attributed to Mary.  Mary's one purpose in life is to do whatever God wants.

How about you? Still struggling to be master of your fortunes in all things? Kicking against the goad?

The Angel Gabriel coming to Mary said “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”  (Luke 1: 28).

You may wonder:  Mary is full of grace.  I am not.  How can I imitate her virtues? Hear this O Christian:
“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."  (Luke 1: 35).  Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do for you? (Genesis 18: 14).

"O God, who willed that your Word
should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect in the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord).

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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy with the ABC of Mercy.

"Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (John 20: 21 - 23).

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter, DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY.

The universal Church celebrates today the Solemnity of Divine Mercy. (Always 2nd Sunday of Easter).  Jesus is the Face of Mercy of Abba Father.  Mercy is the name and essence of God the Father revealed to us through His Only Son, Jesus the Christ. The open Heart of Jesus is the symbol and seat of Mercy.  Mercy is promised to all. 

To prepare yourself to receive and retain Mercy, follow the ABC OF MERCY.  It is called  ABC because, it is an acronym that can be remembered easily and secondly it is as simple as ABC.

A:  Ask for Mercy. 
B:  Be Merciful. 
C:  Completely Trust Jesus for Mercy.

Mercy, mercy. Nothing but mercy!
"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by."  (Psalm 57: 1)

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. (The Diary 950).

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Friday, April 06, 2018

The Eleven refused to believe the testimony of credible witnesses.

"[But] later, as the eleven were at table, Jesus appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised."  (Mark 16: 14).

Why did the Eleven and close companions of Jesus refused to believe the testimony of credible witnesses that Jesus has risen from the dead and appeared to them?  Let us not look further than the very words of Jesus, eternal wisdom who knows what is in each human being. (Cf John 2: 24).
They refused to believe because of a spiritual condition that is called Unbelief and Hardness of heart. If you find it difficult to believe the truths of the Bible or the teachings of the Church, you may be suffering from one or both of these conditions.  Seek a wise spiritual counselor filled with the Holy Spirit to help you.

"Father, You restored Your
people to eternal life by raising
Christ Your Son from death.
Make our faith strong and our
hope sure. May we never doubt
that You will fulfill the promises
You have made. Grant this
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son." (Collect in the Season of Easter)

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Thursday, April 05, 2018

What is in the Name of Jesus?

“By what power or by what name have you done this?” [healed the crippled man] (Acts 4: 7).

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Voice that speaks in court (Cf Matthew 10: 20) answered them as a matter of fact:  "it was in the name of Jesus Christ  the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed."  (Acts 4: 8, 9 - 10).

"There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”  (Acts 4: 12).

What is in the Name of Jesus to make It so powerful?  In Sacred Scriptures, name and mission are always linked. 

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11).

"She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1 : 21)

“I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”  (Acts 3: 6). 
The crippled man rose and walked.

Jesus means Savior (Yeshua).  Jesus Name means what it signifies (Savior) and signifies what it means. (Savior/Salvation).

According to St Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church, "The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, and nourishes pure affections.... This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul."

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My Heart is assured refuge for those who honor My Sacred Heart.

April 06, 2018 First Friday in April in the Octave of Easter.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 4th month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #4.

#4.  "They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death."

The key word in this promise to me is DEATH.  Do you find the subject of death scary?

I consider Promise #4 a great Promise.  St Augustine says:  "If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, all is well."  To die well therefore is what every human being must pray for.  Most of the post Ascension apparitions of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary to mystics promises succor at the time of the last struggle of death to those who honor them in the manner they specified.  The Church declared St Joseph patron saint of Happy Death.  I said to myself:  "I must think of my death and my dying more than I did in the past." The thought of dying no longer scares me.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

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

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

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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Allow the Prince of Peace to flood your heart with peace.

“Peace be with you.”   (Luke 24: 36).

Where do you hear this sweet words?  Of course at Mass.  But do you know that PEACE is the dominant gift of Jesus to us at Easter?  Read the post Resurrection events and see how many times Jesus says it in His encounter with His beloved brothers and sisters.  It is no accident that you hear it many times at Mass. Jesus, the Prince of Peace is truly present at Mass in the persona of the priest.  He actually is the Celebrant.  TAKE AND EAT. TAKE AND DRINK. IT IS ME! Going to Mass frequently keeps one from depression and the psychiatrist's couch.

After wishing His frightened Apostles Shalom, "Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid? Why do you have doubts in your hearts?"

What is the killer of peace in the heart and soul? Doubts. Fears. Worries. The Peace of Christ is opposed to these fruits of darkness and destroys them in mid air as they rush towards you.

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful."  (Colossians 3: 15).

"God our Father, you give us the joy of celebrating the Lord’s resurrection each passing year.
Let this yearly feast bring us to eternal joy and peace.
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."

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Why are you scandalized by my suffering?

 “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  (Luke 24: 25 - 26).

The only things necessary in life according to Jesus are:
#1.  Prayer (Cf Luke 18: 1).
#2.  Suffering (Luke 24: 25 - 26).

You try to avoid them to your own peril.

Why are you scandalized by my suffering?  Jesus seemed to ask His disciples after His Resurrection. If you had read the Scriptures, you would have been wiser.

There is a divine necessity that Jesus must suffer.  It was clearly predicted by the Scriptures.
No cross, no crown is also a divine law for you and for me.

"Then Jesus said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 
(Luke 24:44).

Are you paying attention?

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  (Luke 9: 22)

Why is the Spirit giving us this Scripture now?  Consider these reasons:

#1.  Are you fully aware of the power of the cross and the necessity of your own suffering? 
#2.  No following of Christ without suffering.  Rejection of the cross is rejection of Jesus Christ.  (Pope Benedict XVI). 
#3.  The Son of Man must suffer before His glorification.  (Luke 24: 26).  What is a divine necessity for Jesus is true for us.

"You are witnesses of all these things."  (Luke 24:48 NLT)

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Monday, April 02, 2018

I have seen the Lord.

"But Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping."  (John 20: 11).

Have you noticed that we have been hearing a lot about Mary Magdalene in the past few days? There is a reason for this.  Not because she was the "wife" of Jesus. That was a crazy Da Vinci myth. Happily and predictably that fake news has died and  consigned to the dust heap of history. Mary Magdalene was a significant personality in the early Christian community.

The Scripture below is taken from the feast of Mary Magdalene on July 22st.

"The Bride says:
On my bed at night I sought him
whom my heart loves — I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city;
 in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves."  (Song of Songs 3: 1- 2).

This is the first Reading chosen for the feast of St Mary Magdalene.  It illustrates the intense love of Mary Magdalene for Jesus.  She sought the dead among the dead and found the Risen Jesus waiting for her.  Jesus promised "Seek and you shall find."  ( Matthew 7: 7). Jesus rewarded Mary by saying to her:  
"Go to my brothers and tell them:
I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."  (John 20:  17).

And Mary responded and announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her."  (John 20: 18).

This made Mary Magdalene both the first person to see Jesus after His Resurrection and the first messenger of the Gospel.

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

Go give my brothers this message.

"Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”   (Matthew 28: 10).

In spite of the betrayals, the abandonment, Jesus calls His Apostles "My brothers."   Our mission is to teach and proclaim everywhere that there is hope even for the worst sinners.

Today is April 2, Monday in the Octave (8 days) of Easter.  Each of the 8 days following Easter is a solemnity.  Easter is celebrated as feast for 50 days. Till Pentecost.  The ways of God are mysterious. 40 days of Lent. 50 days of celebration after Lent.

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it."  (Psalm 118:  24).

We Christians, the Redeemed have every reason to rejoice and be glad for the awesome gift of Easter.  Let the joy of the Lord be our strength.  (Nehemiah 8: 10).

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Our Civilization today is based on the reality of the Resurrection.

"I have risen, and I am with you still, alleluia.
You have laid your hand upon me, alleluia.
Too wonderful for me, this knowledge, alleluia, alleluia."  (Entrance Antiphon, Solemnity of Easter Sunday).

"O God, who on this day,
through your Only Begotten Son,
have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit,
rise up in the light of life.
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."  (Collect on the Solemnity of Easter Sunday).

Brothers and sisters, do you fully realize that our faith, all missionary endeavors, starting with St Paul to the humble missionary today in Honduras, all Church schools and hospitals throughout the centuries, all Bibles, spiritual books, libraries and universities is all based on one truth:  The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  If Christ is not risen from the dead, I will be not only a liar but the greatest fool.  Look at all the sacrifices I have made over many decades promoting this "fake news".  You too reading this will be a liar and a fool.  But are we really liars and fools?

Happy Easter Family.  We are no fools. No liars!

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Becoming a New Man in Christ.

"If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him."  (Romans 6: 8).

A few days ago, I walked into a parish office with a clothing shopping bag.  The receptionist noticed and asked what is going on.  "Easter is a few days away.  I am going to become a new man at Easter."  The more I thought of this conversation, my words grew in my mind to become like a prophetic utterance.  I cannot grade my Lent as A+.  But I entered Lent 2018 with a huge desire for transformation.  With regard to becoming a new man at Easter, I said to myself:  God in His merciful love and providence will deal with me according to my desires and not according to my deeds.

Yes, I can be truly a new man.  How? I have a new perspective in everything.  A supernatural perspective. I surrender all my foolish fears, worries and doubts to Jesus.

Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, I too might live in newness of life.  (Romans 6: 4).

I believe therefore I become.

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Behold the Man. Crucify Him!

"So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he [Pilate] said to them, “Behold, the man!”  When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”  (John 19: 5 - 6).

The Church is not" those people."  In fact, it is you and me. The redeemed.  How should we see the gory events of this day.  Reflect on the words below:

"It is love "to the end" that confers on Christ's sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life. Now "the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died." No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all."  (CCC 616).

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lord Jesus, You can wash my feet.

"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”  (John 13: 6 - 7).

Today is Holy Thursday.  According to ancient tradition, the Church celebrates this evening the Mass of the Last Supper.  When Jesus celebrated the first Mass at the Last Supper, the Apostles did not understand what He was doing.  The narrative of today's Gospel is dominated by the event of the washing of the feet of the apostles, an event so significant that it was incorporated into the Holy Thursday liturgy from ancient times.  What does this event mean for us? First, are you going to allow Jesus to wash your feet this evening?  I once refused and still regret it till today.

"Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”    (John 13:  8 - 9).

Whose feet will you prefer to wash?
"If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."  (John 13: 14 - 15).

The priesthood was instituted on this day.  No priest, no Eucharist. No Eucharist, no Church.  O Lord Jesus Christ, our Eternal High Priest, bless all Your priests. Prosper their ministry and protect them from the evil one. Amen.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

They paid him thirty pieces of silver.

"One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over."  (Matthew 26: 14 - 16).

On Tuesday of Holy Week, we consider again the Mystery of Betrayal.  We shall look at Betrayal through the genealogy of some Betrayal characters in the Bible and Church history.

Old Testament:
+  David
+  Solomon
New Testament:
+  Judas
+  Peter
Church Age:
+  Pope Alexander V1
+  Martin Luther
+  King Henry VIII
+  English Bishops under Henry VIII except Martyrs and Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.

How about you and I?

"The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed."  (Matthew 26: 24).

"Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter."  (Gospel Acclamation).

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Every sin is a betrayal.

"Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  (John 13: 21).

Why is every sin a betrayal?

“How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver."   (Matthew 26:15 NLT)

God permitted the betrayal and the humiliation of Jesus so that the plan formed long ago for our salvation will be fulfilled.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
(Genesis 50:20 NIV).

The betrayal of Joseph who became the Prince of Egypt by his brothers is a foreshadow of that of Jesus several centuries away.

Dearest Jesus, you are right. I can betray you and I will betray you unless you help me. Help me for I am weak. Help me for I do not want to betray you.

March 27, Tuesday of the holiest Week in 2018, what are the open doors in your life today? 

All “alien gods” of whatever nature, be they money, health, family, job, tools, food or love of security and comfort could  “take advantage of us”(Psalm 16: 4) and become open doors for temptation to betray Jesus.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Are you called to the Victory of Justice?

"I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations. To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness."  (Isaiah 42: 6 - 7).

Are you one of the elite troops called to the Victory of Justice?
Do not be afraid!  Rejoice!  Because He who calls you has anointed you already for Victory.   But first, you must study and master your job description and the character profile that is required.

"Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.  Upon whom I have put my Spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.  Not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.  Until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching."  (Isaiah 42: 1 - 4).

Jesus Christ has completed His Mission.  He brought truth and mercy to the world. (Cf John 1: 17).
He established His Kingdom here on earth of which the Church is the seed.  (Cf CCC 567).  The Church possesses the Fullness of Truth but not yet the Fullness of Charity.  The Fullness of Charity is what brings about the Victory of Justice on earth.  Warriors of Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, do you get the message?

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust."  (Psalm 27:  1, 3).

Brothers and sisters, today is March 26, Monday of the holiest Week of  2018.  Easter is just days away. "Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees."  (Hebrews 12: 12).

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Today is Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord Jesus.

"Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  (Mark 11: 9 - 10).

Today is the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. On this day the Church celebrates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem to accomplish His mission, called the Paschal Mystery.  The Paschal Mystery is the core of the Gospel. Jesus suffered. Jesus died. Jesus rose from the dead.  Jesus ascended into Heaven.  Before the Gospels were written many years after the Ascension of Jesus, this was the only creed the first and early Christians were expected to know.  It was called the Apostolic Proclamation or Kerygma.

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”  (Cf Mark 11 - 12).
The Kingdom that Jesus came to establish will fulfill and complete the "kingdom of our father David."
The summary of the Church's teaching on the kingdom is:
"The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. "This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ" (LG 5). The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter. (567).

"Almighty and ever-living God,
who as an example of humility for the human race to follow
caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross,
graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect of Palm 🌴 Sunday).

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Friday, March 23, 2018

What are we going to do about this man?

“What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs."  (John 11: 47).

The works or signs performed by Jesus are proofs that He comes from God.  (John 10: 38). But the leadership of the Jewish people appears to see it differently.  The high priest Caiaphas quickly discerned the significance of the moment and made a dramatic prophecy.

“You know nothing,  nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”   (John 11: 49 - 50).

Caiaphas "prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,  and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God."  (John 11: 51 - 52).

This is in accordance with the ordained will of God.  We can apply the words of Isaiah on the powerful providence of God to this event:
"You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them, just as you said!"  (Isaiah 25: 1).

"O Lord, do not stay afar off;
my strength, make haste to help me!
For I am a worm and no man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people."  (Psalm 22:  20, 7).

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Many believed in Jesus on account of the testimony of John the Baptist.

"Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.”  And many there began to believe in him."  (John 10:  41 - 42).

Many believed in Jesus on account of the testimony of John.  John the Baptist gave a compelling and credible testimony about Jesus Christ through his uncompromising word and austere lifestyle.  Even King Herod respected John and liked to listen to him. (Mark 6: 20).

What is your faith in Jesus based on? Our faith is either based on eye-witness experience or eye-witness account of a credible witness.  Since we did not experience Jesus in His earthly life and ministry, our faith is based on the faith of the Apostles and their credible successors.

"Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.”  And many there began to believe in him."  (John 10:  41 - 42).

Let us thank God for the prophetic and credible testimony of John the Baptist which laid the foundation of the Christian faith.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Who do you make yourself out to be?

"Who do you make yourself out to be?” (John 8: 53)
A blunt challenge to Jesus! Jesus in His public ministry is never shy of such a confrontation.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.”  (John 8: 58).
Without mincing a word, Jesus gave them the stunning truth. He said in effect, "I AM THE GREAT I AM."  His audience understands perfectly what He means.

How about you? Do you believe that Jesus is God? Savior and Redeemer? The Alpha and the Omega?  St Augustine says that if you confess these truths in the morning, the truth will transform your entire day.  Try starting your day confessing these truths.

On Day 37 of Lent 2018, are you ready to renew your Baptismal Promises at Easter?

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Please forgive one another.

Please look at the speech that was read yesterday at retirement by the Pope.
Regardless of religion, see how Pope Francis has beautifully written about the family.

FAMILY, PLACE OF FORGIVENESS ...

©  There is no perfect family.
©  We do not have perfect parents,
- we are not perfect,
We do not marry a perfect person or we do not have perfect children.
©  We have complaints from each other.
©  We are constantly disappointed.
©  There is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness.
©  Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness, the family becomes an arena of conflict and a fortress of evil.
©  Without forgiveness, the family becomes sick.
©  Forgiveness is the asepsis of the soul, the purification of the spirit and the liberation of the heart.
He who does not forgive does not have peace in his soul or communion with God.
©  Evil is a poison that intoxicates and kills.
©  Keeping heartache in your heart is a self-destructive gesture. It's autophagy.
©  Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill.
For this reason, the family must be a place of life and not a place of death;
a place of paradise and not a place of hell;
A healing territory and not a disease;
an internship of forgiveness and not guilt.
Forgiveness brings joy where sorrow has brought sadness;
Healing where sorrow has caused the disease.

¤ Pope Francisco

Please send to all the families you know. This could help extinguish some family battles!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sin enslaves.

"Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin." (John 8: 34).

Sin enslaves.  Sin is addictive behavior. This is what makes the sinner a slave to his sin.  Here are examples of addictive behaviors:  pornography, alcoholism, anger, etc. This is what the Church teaches in this regard:
"Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root. (CCC 1865).

The price of freedom is fully paid by Jesus Christ.  "So if the son frees you, then you will truly be free."  (John 8: 36).  Only the disciples of Jesus Christ can  truly be free. How?
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8: 31 - 32).

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
"Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance."  (Luke 8: 15).

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Monday, March 19, 2018

We are redeemed by the Cross.

"But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”  (Numbers 21 : 4-5 RM)

No matter your frustration or anger, remember this one thing: Thou shalt not complain or criticize the Lord your God.

In punishment for sinning with their tongue, "the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died."  (Numbers 21:  6). The punishment worked.   “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us.”  (Numbers 21 : 7).

The Lord instructed Moses:  "Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover."  (Numbers 21: 8)

A long time after the incident in the desert, Jesus teaches the true meaning of what happened in the desert:
"And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  (John 3: 14 - 15).

On Day 35 of Lent 2018, we realize that soon Jesus must be lifted up on the cross. What does the cross mean to you? Pope Benedict XVI writes:  "Man is redeemed by the cross." And in another place, he continues:  "Rejection of the cross is rejection of Jesus Christ."

"Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory!  The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;  all who come to Him will live forever." (Gospel acclamation, Tuesday 5th Week of Lent 2018).

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Feast of St Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1: 20 - 21).

Today is the Solemnity of St Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This is a feast day in Lent. Who is St Joseph and why does he matter in salvation history?

Church tradition has attributed to St Joseph the following attributes:
+ Patron of the Church.
+ Patron of a happy death (CCC 1014).
+ Patron of workers.
+ Foster father of Jesus.
+ Great man of faith.

"Behold a faithful and prudent steward, whom the Lord set over his household." (Cf Luke 12: 42).

"Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that by Saint Joseph’s intercession
your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care.
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."  (Collect on the feast of St Joseph).

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Be afraid of rejecting your cross.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."  (John 12: 24).

Every farmer understands that new life comes out of the old.  But the old must die to give way to the new.

"And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  (John 12: 32).

Jesus Christ died on the cross making it a source of new life.

"It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world."  (John 16: 21).

The joy of bringing a new life physical or spiritual into the world is unbelievable.

So, do not be afraid of the process. Be afraid of rejecting the cross.

St Francis de Sales writes: "The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity, the cross He now presents to you from His innermost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it is not one ounce too heavy for you."

Your cross is tailor made for you.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

I am a trusting lamb led to the slaughter.

"Yet I, like a trusting lamb led to slaughter, had not realized that they were hatching plots against me:
“Let us destroy the tree in its vigor;
 let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more.”  (Jeremiah 11:  19).

As we approach Good Friday, the plot against Jesus thickens as seen here through the experience of Prophet Jeremiah.  Where are you in this unfolding drama? You will be either for Jesus or against Jesus.

"O LORD, my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me,
Lest I become like the lion’s prey, to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue me."  (Psalm 7: 2 - 3).

"Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance."  (Cf Luke 8: 15).

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

On which side are you? For truth or Against truth?

"At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?"  (John 7: 25).

Yes indeed, it is He.  Jesus the Christ.

"Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”

"These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, And they did not know the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense for holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward."  (Wisdom 2: 20 - 22).

Do you know one of the great distinguishing marks of Christianity? Detailed prophecies on the birth, life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ the Only Begotten Son of God?
For those on the side of truth, there are more than sufficient evidence. For those who hate the truth, no evidence will be sufficient.  (Cf John 18: 37).

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I was born for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth.

 "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  (John 18: 37 ESV).

Jesus who was born to bear witness to the truth humbled and subjected Himself to the Mosaic principle of acceptable testimony.

“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified."  (John 5: 31).

Jesus gives four witnesses that testify He came from God:

#1.  The witness of John the Baptist (John 5: 33).  The people know that John the Baptist is a credible witness.
#2.  The works of Jesus:  Jesus fulfilled all the messianic signs for the Messiah by the Prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 42: 7).
The works of Jesus continue today in the works of missionaries and the Church.
#3.  The testimony of the Father:
"And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."  (Matthew 3: 17).
"A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." (Luke 9: 35)
#4.  The evidence of the Scriptures. (John 5: 39).

Do you believe in Jesus Christ the Only Begotten Son of God?
For those who are well disposed, there are more than sufficient evidence. For those who are not of the truth, no evidence will be sufficient.  (Cf John 8: 37).

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Grant me O Lord a time of favor.

"I pray to you, O Lord, for a time of your favor.
In your great mercy, answer me, O God, with your salvation that never fails."  (Isaiah 69: 14).

Why is Lent such a blessed time to receive favors from God?
Consider the following:
+Jesus went into water for Baptism and sanctified water and made it holy for Baptism.  (Matthew 3: 16).
+ At the Wedding Feast at Cana, Jesus made marriage between one man and one woman a holy Sacrament and an institution. (John 2: 1-12).
+ Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert and defeated the devil 3 times.  (Matthew 4: 1 - 11).  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the early Church understood the significance of the event and instituted the discipline of Lent.
I received most of the blessings in my life during Lent.

"Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land and allot the desolate heritages."  (Isaiah 49: 8).

Faith is accepting the word of God as true.  Then act according to the the word you believe.

" The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.

The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down."  (Psalm 145: 8 - 9, 13 - 14).

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Monday, March 12, 2018

My Stronghold is the God of Jacob.

The Lord of hosts is with me; my stronghold is the God of Jacob.

God is my refuge and my strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore I fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.

The Lord of hosts is with me; my stronghold is the God of Jacob.

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed; God will help it at the break of dawn.

The Lord of hosts is with me; my stronghold is the God of Jacob.
(Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6).

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

The official took Jesus at His word and departed.

"The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”  “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed."  (John 4: 49 - 50).

Are you scratching your head trying to understand what faith really is? Above in my opinion is a good example of faith-in-action.  Oh that I will always act according to this model! On top of this, the senior official received the gift of understanding that helps him  perceive how God acts.

On Day 27  of Lent 2018, the word of God encourages us to be humble and pray:  "Lord, increase our faith." (Luke 17: 5).

"You changed my mourning into dancing. You took off my funeral clothes and dressed me up in joy so that my whole being might sing praises to you and never stop.
Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever."  (Psalm 30: 11 - 12).

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why is this man born blind?

"As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."  (John 9: 1 - 3).

Many adverse human conditions are not associated with sin.  Of the poor, sick, homeless, refugees, lonesome, Jesus says:  "It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."  (John 9: 3).

St Francis of Assisi said:  "Alms are an inheritance and a justice which is due to the poor and which Jesus has levied upon us."

"Wealth … is like a snake; it will twist around the hand and bite unless one knows how to use it properly."  (St Clement of Alexandria.“).

"The rich man who gives to the poor does not bestow alms but pays a debt."  ( St. Ambrose of Milan).

"Our prayers and fastings are of less avail, unless they are aided by almsgiving."  (St Cyprian).

On Day 26 of Lent 2018, where are you on almsgiving?

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Friday, March 09, 2018

Humility is the foundation of Prayer.

"The tax collector stood at a distance, beating his breast and saying:
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner."  (Luke 18: 13).

The tax collector went home justified before God.  But the Pharisee was condemned because of his righteous posture.

Mother Church has something to say on Prayer:
 "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer.  Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. "Man is a beggar before God."  (CCC 2559).

"Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him."  (CCC 2560).

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Thursday, March 08, 2018

Behold now is a very acceptable time.

"Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the LORD; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.  Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.”  (Hosea 14: 2 - 4).

Lent is the best and most fruitful time for Reconciliation with God. Don't take my word for it.  Listen rather to the word of God:

“In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”
Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."  (2 Corinthians 6: 2).

Now listen to holy Mother Church:
"The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle."  (CCC 1496).

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions."  (Psalm 51: 3).

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