Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I forgave you your entire debt because you begged Me.

"The servant fell down, did him  homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’  Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan."  (Matthew 18: 26 - 27).

The above verses are from the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6: 12).

Forgiveness or Mercy is at heart of the Gospel.  Not only did Jesus teach this message every opportunity but He demonstrated it practically from the Cross.  He forgave the Good Thief.  And while still experiencing the terrible agony of the Cross, He forgave everyone who played a part to place Him on the Cross including yourself and me.

Some people think that to forgive a grievous offense is so hard. Perhaps it is.  Can you try this prayer every morning?
"Father, forgive all my sins.  I forgive completely everyone who has ever offended me.  I pray you grant the grace to all those I have ever offended to forgive me and release me from their anger. I ask for this in the Name of Your Son Jesus who commands us to forgive."

"You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to."  (Matthew 18: 32).

Remember the ABC of Mercy:
Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rejoice O Most Blessed Virgin Mary!

"The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name."  (Luke 1: 49).

The Mighty God has truly done great things for Mary.  The Church throughout the world rejoices today as she celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Let us consider four of the stupendous things the Mighty God has done for Mary:

#1 The Immaculate Conception:  Mary, chosen before the foundation of the world to be the Mother of Jesus was preserved from the curse of Original Sin. She was born without the taint of sin.
#2 The Annunciation: The Archangel Gabriel brought the message of salvation to Mary. Mary said YES!
#3  The Assumption:  At the end of her earthly life, Mary is taken up to heaven as chorus of angels exulted.
#4  Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and earth.

Mary was declared by the Archangel Gabriel, messenger of God to be "full of grace." (Luke 1: 28).  Mary in the Magnificat prophesied "Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed." (Luke 1: 48).  Billions of Hail Marys are said every day proclaiming Mary blessed.

On the occasion of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, let the Church rejoice with all the angels and saints in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Who is a little child?

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18: 3).

We have noted the magnificent obsession of Jesus for the wonderful place and state He calls the Kingdom of God.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9).

Throughout His public ministry, Jesus laid out the qualifying principles for entrance into this Kingdom.  We shall look at one today:  A childlike attitude.  What is this?

+ Innocence (sinlessness)
+ Simple
+ Humble
+ Trusting
+  Forgiving
+  Living here and now

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  (John 3: 4).

"Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit."  (John 3: 5).

Here is the secret! The Holy Spirit must affect the transformation.  If this transformation is not completed during your allotted life span, it will be finished in Purgatory, the Church teaches.

"It is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18: 14).

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why did the disciples forget 3 predictions of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus?

"As they [disciples] were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 17:  22 - 23).

How is it possible that the disciples of Jesus could ever forget such a prediction? If you are in the inner circle of the leadership of an important person, can you forget this type of warning from your leader?  The disciples understood clearly what Jesus meant because their "hearts were filled with sorrow and dread."  (Matthew 17: 23 TLB).

Consider also two other predictions of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus:
"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." (Matthew 16: 21).

And a 3rd prediction:
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20: 18 - 19).

Why did the disciples forget 3 predictions of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus?  Why were they so unprepared for the gory events of Good Friday?  Why was their initial reaction to the news of the Resurrection complete unbelief?

Jesus predicted His Second Coming.  Will the Church remember? Will Christians be ready?  If Jesus knocks on your door tonight, how do you welcome Him?

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Take my life, O Lord!

"This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”  (1 Kings 19: 4).

Elijah, the great Prophet is in big trouble. Jezebel has placed a price on his head. This provoked a depression and a burn out.  Can this happen to a great man of God? It can happen to anyone.  It happened to Jeremiah, John the Baptist. From the Cross, Jesus cried out:  ""Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  (Matthew 27: 46).

The mystery of Divine Providence is profound. But God never forsakes His servant.  And He brought food to the weary Elijah.
“Get up and eat!”  (1 Kings 19: 5)
"Get up and eat!" reminds us of "Take and eat."  (Matthew 26: 26). In the later, the food is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

“Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!”  (1 Kings 19: 7).
The food that Elijah was offered and the Eucharist has this thing in common:  Both are food for the Journey.

"Elijah got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb."  (1 Kings 19: 8).

Jesus offers us the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that He gives is His flesh for the life of the world.”  (Cf John 6: 51).

Everyone is invited to taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Jesus (Cf Psalm 34: 8).

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Friday, August 10, 2018

It is God's plan that we learn to wait.

"Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision
clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late."  (Habakkuk 2: 2 - 3).

Recently a young friend shared with me a story about a woman who is waiting for Mr Right. She is now 56.   Habakkuk 2: 2 - 3 is one of the great Scriptures on waiting for God's timing.  Habakkuk's lesson is timeless.
It proclaims the truth that God is faithful to all His promises. It teaches the profound mystery of Divine Providence.  It affirms that the Razor Precision Providence of God is Never Late!  Mind you, God knows exactly what you need and when you need it.  God is like a Super GPS taking us to our destination. (Cf Jeremiah 29: 11).

"They trust in you who cherish your name, for you forsake not those who seek you, O LORD."  (Psalm 9: 11).
God will never forget those who trust Him.
"The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live."  (Habakkuk 2: 4).

In the Gospel of today, Jesus our Teacher points to the infinite value of even a tiny grain of faith:

"Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  (Matthew 17: 20).

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

God loves a cheerful giver.

JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: "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).

When we are ready to submit our puny will to the gracious will of God, everything in life becomes possible.  In God's will is our peace and prosperity.  Why do we struggle to have our way in everything?  There must be a dying to our will in order to live fully the life that Christ the Redeemer died for us all.

Whatever it is O man, surrender your will to God and live. "God loves a cheerful giver."  (2 Corinthians 9: 7). Trust, Surrender and Obey.

"Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me."  (John 12:  26).

Jesus our Leader and Captain asks us to follow where He leads.

When you follow Jesus, you shall not fear an ill report; your heart is steadfast, trusting the Lord. Your heart is tranquil, without fear, till at last you look down on his foes.  (Cf Psalm 112: 7 - 8).

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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Who is Jesus?

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16: 13).

The mystery of Jesus.
Who is He?
Whence did He come?
Why did He come?

These and similar questions exercised the minds of the disciples of Jesus and the Jewish leaders who watched with amazement the ministry of Jesus Christ.  The time has come at last to confront these questions.  Jesus took the initiative and asked His disciples.

"They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  (Matthew 16: 14).

Jesus apparently not satisfied with generalities asked pointedly:

“But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  (Matthew 16: 15 - 16).

Then Jesus revealed an astonishing truth:
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."  (Matthew 16: 17).

Many people in the Church today have stopped believing.  The honest ones are those who have stopped coming to Church.  There is a phenomenal problem of faith in the world today.  Jesus is saying in Matthew 16: 17 that faith is a gift of God.  Those who have stopped asking and practicing their faith may be losing their faith.

 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."  (Matthew 7: 7 NLT).

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

O woman, great is your boldness!

"Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour."  (Matthew 15: 28).

Blessed are the desperate, for they shall have their miracles.
O man, your extremity is God's opportunity. Know too that your security is Satan's opportunity.

The Canaanite woman whose daughter was tormented by a demon understands what faith is all about. True faith is driven by desperate need.  Mother Angelica, the EWTN founder taught me that faith is boldness.  Be bold with God's promises. Be bold with the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Gross materialism in the culture gives us a false sense of security.  Your security is Satan's opportunity.  The Canaanite woman's desperation is an opportunity for Jesus.

How many things have you prayed and cried? God hears the cry of the poor.

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Monday, August 06, 2018

In their fear, they thought Jesus was a ghost.

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  (Matthew 14: 27).

The disciples of Jesus were terrified when they saw Jesus walking toward them in the foaming sea.  They thought it was a ghost. To calm them down, Jesus assured them that it was He.

When our heart is gripped by whatever fear, we need to remember those calming words of Jesus.  Can you draw money from an empty account? To withdraw money, you must first deposit funds.  It is when things are calm that you fill your mind with the word of God.

On the subject of fear, St John Chrysostom, a 4th/5th century Church Father and Doctor of the Church who admired St Paul the Apostle said that Paul was inimitable. He added that Paul was so bold and fearless that even the devil was afraid of Paul.  We can all say that Jesus, the God-Man is fearless and the devil is terrified by His Name. And Jesus is the source of the fearlessness of every Christian.

Here are a few of the Scriptures that help me to fight fear:

#1 Deuteronomy 31:  8
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

#2  Psalm 27:1
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

#3  Isaiah 41:10
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 NLT).

I like this petite but powerful Scripture:
"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Luke 8: 50; Mark 5: 36).

And here is word of wisdom and courage from the Carmelite mystic:
"Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices."  (St Teresa of Avila)

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

What do you hear when you listen?

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17: 5).

The Church celebrates today the great feast of the Transfiguration. What happened at the Transfiguration?  In the presence of credible eyewitnesses, Peter, James and John, Jesus was transformed in His essence into a heavenly Being. But that was not all.

"Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”  (Mark 9: 7).

Just as John the Baptist identified Jesus at the Baptism as the Lamb of God, the Father Himself pointed out Jesus as His only beloved Son.
The Father added an authoritative command which should catch our attention. "LISTEN TO HIM."

What do you hear when you listen to Jesus? What I hear clearly is this:
"Make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well."  (Matthew 6: 33 NTE).
I like what I hear. It is clear from the Gospel that Jesus has a magnificent obsession for the Kingdom of God and righteousness.  I ask Abba Father every day to grant me a magnificent obsession for the Kingdom so that I can accomplish my mandate.

When you listen to Jesus, what do you hear?

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

What is this food?

"My Father gives you the true bread from heaven." (John 6: 32).

Jesus and His followers are having an interesting conversation about the Bread of life.  First, what is this Bread of life? Answer:  "For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  (John 6: 33).

We know from Isaiah 25: 1 that every plan of God in salvation history is conceived "long ago." Nothing is improvised. The Eucharist is prefigured in today's first Reading from Exodus 16.
"What is this?" the people asked Moses. “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat." (Exodus 16: 15).

The manna the Lord provided the people in the desert was to be the grandfather of the Eucharist in the fullness of time.  The Israelites greeted the manna initially with scorn, "They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" (Numbers 21: 5).

Today some Christians sadly treat the Holy Eucharist with gross misinterpretation and levity.

"Brothers and sisters, I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;  darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart." (Ephesians 4: 17 - 18).

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Friday, August 03, 2018

Seek the gift of Prophecy.

“It is not lawful for you to have her.” (Matthew 14: 4).

The speaker of the above words is the Prophet John the Baptist.  He paid supreme price for these words.  An English author wrote:  "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."  Prophets in the Bible and in history have suffered the brunt of angry women whose loves were threatened. Let's consider a few:

#1. Jezebel would have skinned the Prophet Elijah alive if she had caught him. 
#2.  "And he [Herod] had John beheaded in the prison." (Matthew 14: 10).
#3. King Henry VIII beheaded St Thomas More in order to marry Anne Boleyn.

Clearly the vocation of a Prophet would rank one of the most dangerous in the world.  The concluding verse in today's first Reading is: "But the hand of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, protected Jeremiah, so they did not hand him over to the people to be put to death."  (Jeremiah 26: 24). Yet in spite of these clear dangers, the Holy Spirit urges us:

"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy." (1 Corinthians 14: 1).
That is, pray especially for the gift of prophecy. What is your response?

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Thursday, August 02, 2018

Do not forget your ancient landmarks.

"And Jesus did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith." (Matthew 13: 58).

Familiarity amongst Jesus' kith and kin did not only breed contempt but bred unbelief as well.  Result? No faith, no miracle. Let us take stock of our faith.

Rule #1: How aware are you of all the good things God has done for you?  St John the Evangelist calls miracles signs. A sign is something that points to something else. Some modern commentators call miracle divine intervention.  I like this definition.  Scripture urges us:
"Do not forget your ancient Landmark."  (Proverbs 22: 28).
I decided recently to review the Timeline of my life to check on my ancient landmarks.  I was shocked at what I discovered. The least active decades had more than half a dozen landmarks.  Each of them, very impressive divine intervention.   Take for example when I received a major and transformative promotion which I had not expected.  I still look at it today as a miracle.

"Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts." (Psalm 103: 2).
Help me gracious God never to forget any of Your benefits. I will recall the wondrous deeds You have done for me. (Cf 105: 5).

Jesus chides His disciples:
"Do you not yet understand, and do you not remember?" (Matthew 16: 9).

Remembering and understanding God's marvelous deeds in your life is the key to affluence or living the Abundant life promised by Jesus. (Cf John 10: 10).

Keep a record of God's mercies. Never forget your ancient landmarks.

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

August 3, 2018 - First Friday.

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 8th month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #8.

#8.  "Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection."

Who are fervent souls?
Are there hierarchy or grades of reward in Heaven? How would you feel to realize that although you made it to Heaven, you have not realized your fullest potential?

There are hierarchy of angels and choir.  Therefore there must be hierarchy of saints.  Some of the ministries or celebrations in Heaven are likely to be:  Choir and Intercessions.  Leading the ministries of Intercessions is Jesus our Eternal High Priest and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven.

Saints who will have pride of place in these two Heavenly Ministries are saints who have gone extra mile while on earth to please the Lamb and had washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 22: 14).

So my friends, being fervent is good but why not aim for perfection.

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, August 01, 2018

Do you know better than God?

"Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?—oracle of the Lord. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel." (Jeremiah 18: 6).

God challenged the arrogant and independent minded Israelites with the reminder that their destiny is squarely in His hands.  Think about it: Aren't you happy that your destiny is in God's hands? I am.

"Whenever the vessel of clay he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making another vessel of whatever sort he pleased." (Jeremiah 18: 4).

You recognize that God is the potter.  God knows the plan He has for you and me.  He says under oath (oracle of the Lord) that this plan for our welfare is excellent.   (Jeremiah 29: 11).

Consider this:
"If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you, from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire?.... Do you know better than God?" (Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ).

We are clay in the potter's hands and our attitude should be  like a weaned child in its mother’s arms. (Cf Psalm 131: 2).

These are some of the clay vessels which were transformed by the Master Potter:
Moses
Jeremiah
St Paul
St Francis of Assisi
St Louis Marie de Montfort

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Where is this Pearl of Great Value?

"Jesus said to his disciples: "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."  (Matthew 13: 45 - 46).

Are you a seeker? Are you searching for more value in your life? More meaning? More peace and joy? More capacity for faith, hope and love?
Welcome to the the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The Pearl of Great Price.

Is it possible to find such a treasure? Let us look at some of the best of the children of men who searched and found this Pearl of Great Price:
St Mary Magdalene: Found the Great Pearl and thereafter got attached to the Pearl.
St Ignatius Loyola: Loved the Pearl passionately and abandoned everything and followed the Pearl everywhere.
St Thomas More:  Gave his life happily for the Pearl.
St Teresa of Kolkata:  Traveled the whole world spreading message about the Pearl.

How about you? What is your passion in life? Do you have any magnificent obsession? Jesus has a magnificent obsession for the Kingdom of God. He desires to get you involved in this beautiful project.
Will you say YES to Jesus?
Nobody who said YES had any regrets.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Every knee must bend at the Name of Jesus.

"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: 10 - 11).

The Scriptures say that at the Name of Jesus, every knee should bend in worship.  This will happen at the Eschaton, the End of the Age.  When the Kingdom of God is made manifest, there will be no choice for any person but to bend the knee.  When Christ comes to take possession of His Kingdom, He will come not like a helpless poor baby but like a mighty King.  When the sun is up and shining, nobody asks "where is the sun?" You see the sun from wherever you may be.

Today is the feast of St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.  Ignatius contributed deep insights into the Discernment of Spirits.  His insights are still used in retreats all over the world.  Ignatius had such an intimate love for Jesus and left us this great desire of his heart:

+  To know the Heart of Jesus intimately.
+  To love Him passionately.
+   To follow Jesus everywhere.

Ignatius counsels his spiritual children to do everything for the greater glory of God.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Where is the Kingdom of God?

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches."  (Matthew 13: 31 - 32).

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Mustard Seed at the beginning of the Church Age.  At Pentecost about 120 disciples of Jesus were in the Upper Room, praying and waiting for the Promised of the Father, the Holy Spirit.  2000 years after, there are over 2.5 billion Christians in the world.  Is the Kingdom of God still like a Mustard Seed? Yes, it has grown but yet to reach its potential.

Jesus Christ came to the world to establish the Kingdom of God. The Church is the seed on earth.
The Kingdom is mentioned 342 times in the entire Bible.  119 or 34% in the 4 Gospels.  Jesus had a magnificent obsession about the Kingdom.  He talked of nothing as much as the Kingdom.

"Jesus presented himself alive to them [Apostles] by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."  (Acts 1: 3).

After the Resurrection, Jesus continued His catechesis on the Kingdom.

The Kingdom is here and now.  The fullness of the Kingdom is in the future.  Until the full realization of Kingdom, it is like a Mustard Seed. Jesus wants us to be obsessed with the Kingdom just as He was in the days of His public ministry.  We participate in the the work of the Kingdom by growing daily in Faith, Hope and Charity.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."  (Matthew 6: 10). 
"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."  (Matthew 6: 33).

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

They all ate and were satisfied.

“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Jesus said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do." (John 6: 5 - 6).

This is the prelude to the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves.  This miracle is critical to the the Mission of Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God amongst men.  Note that this is not a haphazard event since "He himself knew what he was going to do." The Multiplication of Loaves point squarely to the Miracle of the Eucharist, the subject of most of Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St John.

What did Jesus do on this occasion?
"Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted."   (John 6: 11).

On the night before He died, "Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26: 26 - 29).

The Eucharist is not a happy chance event in the ministry of Jesus.  To use the words of Prophet Isaiah:
"O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God; you do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them, just as you said!"  (Isaiah 25: 1).

The Eucharist is the symbol of God's inexhaustible bounty and generosity.
 “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”  So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat."  (John 6: 12 - 13).

We have a foreshadowing of this miracle in today's first Reading where Prophet Elisha commanded:
“Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the Lord: You will eat and have some left over.”  He set it [20 barley loaves] before them, and when they had eaten, they had some left over, according to the word of the Lord."  (2 Kings 4: 43 - 44).

Therefore come with a joyful heart without hesitation or excuses to the Table of the Lord:

"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).

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Friday, July 27, 2018

An enemy has done this.

“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).

The man who sowed good seed in his field in this parable is God. The enemy who sneaked in at night and sowed weeds is the devil.
The question is:  Why will an all powerful God allow the devil to spoil the work of His hands?  This and similar questions bother many people of good will.  The Church has grappled with the mystery of evil most of her history and at the end has concluded that evil is indeed a mystery.  But the question never goes away.

Why did God allow the division in the Body of Christ?
Why does God permit slavery and abuse of children?
Why did God permit the Holocaust?
Why did God allow such a horrible agony and death of Jesus on the Cross?  It goes on and on.

"While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off."  (Matthew 13: 27).

We know that God never sleeps nor slumbers.  What is going on here? When Jesus was asked what happened, "He answered, ‘An enemy has done this." (Matthew 13: 28).  An answer full of mystery.

The Church explains the difficult mystery of Evil thus:

"The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life." (CCC 324).

Can you find a better insight into the mystery of Evil?

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Anxiety and lure of riches choke the word.

"The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit."  (Matthew 13: 22).

The Seed is the word of God and Jesus Christ is the Sower.  You and I represent the soil where the Sower sows the seed.  Because we know the Sower, we can say the seed is good.  Those of us who are teachers know that the student's ability to learn is in direct proportion to his desire to learn and his preparation for the class.  You become a rich soil for the word in direct proportion to your desire for the word of God and preparation in ridding yourself of unnecessary baggage in the form of "worldly anxiety and the lure of riches."  Imagine your student sitting in the classroom at 8 am with so much stuff in his mind:  little sleep, junk breakfast eaten on the run, homework not done, not sure of dinner, etc.

The Sower of the word of God and our Teacher says that each person has the responsibility in making ready the soil for the word.  Only rich soil can bear fruit and yield a harvest of 100, 60 or 30 fold. I want to go for 100 fold.  Help me Jesus.

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7-27

"The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit."  (Matthew 13: 22).

The Seed is the word of God and Jesus Christ is the Sower.  You and I represent the soil where the Sower sows the seed.  Because we know the Sower, we can say the seed is good.  Those of us who are teachers know that the student's ability to learn is in direct proportion to his desire to learn and his preparation for the class.  You become a rich soil for the word in direct proportion to your desire for the word of God and preparation in ridding yourself of unnecessary baggage in the form of "worldly anxiety and the lure of riches."  Imagine your student sitting in the classroom at 8 am with so much stuff in his mind:  little sleep, junk breakfast eaten on the run, homework not done, not sure of dinner, etc.

The Sower of the word of God and our Teacher says that each person has the responsibility in making ready the soil for the word.  Only rich soil can bear fruit and yield a harvest of 100, 60 or 30 fold. I want to go for 100 fold.  Help me Jesus.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God is given to the little ones.

"I give praise to you, 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."  (Matthew 11: 25).

Have you read "THE STORY OF A SOUL?"  The autobiography of St Therese of Lisieux, the little French flower? It is one of the most delightful and popular life of Saints since it was published at the close of the 19th century.  St Therese entered Carmel at 15 and died at 24.  What made Therese one of the 35 Doctors of the Church, 4 of which are women?

St Therese was the little child of Jesus and Jesus taught His little child the simple secret of holiness.

"The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted."  (Matthew 13: 10 - 11).

What is the knowledge of the Kingdom of God?  Read on:

The mystery of the Kingdom of God is the mystery of God's unfathomable mercy.

"Lord, your mercy reaches to heaven; your fidelity, to the clouds."
"How precious is your mercy, O God!" (Psalm 36: 6, 8).

The Blessed Virgin Mary has a profound knowledge of this mystery.  She is childlike and a little one.
"And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has looked [with loving care] on the humble state of His maidservant; For behold, from now on all generations will count me blessed and happy and favored by God!...
“And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who [stand in great awe of God and] fear Him."  (Luke 1: 46 - 50). 

This knowledge is so profound that the Church uses the Magnificat of Mary every day in Vespers going back possibly to the beginning of the Church.  Mary, the Simple One is also Seat of Wisdom, one of her titles from ancient times.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Jesus chose James, a vessel of clay.

"But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us."  (2 Corinthians 4: 7).

What a great portrayal of who we are.  We are delicate vessels of clay.  Yet, God has poured into us the word of life and made us messengers of this word and ministers of reconciliation urging us to go forth boldly and tell our brothers and sisters to reconcile with God.  Brothers and sisters, no more excuses of inadequacies.  Your inadequacy pushes you to front of the line.

"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain."  (John 15: 16).

Jesus Christ chose us in spite of who we are.  He knows us intimately.  He is a great and generous King.  His reward is unbelievable.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves."  (Psalm 126:  5 - 6).

Today is the feast of St James the Apostle.  He too was a vessel of clay.  He drank the chalice of the Lord and became the friend of Jesus.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Who is my mother?

“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”  And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  (Matthew 12: 48 - 50).

"Who is my mother?"  My mother is she who does the will of God.
Who are my brothers and sisters?
My brothers and sisters are they who do the will of God.

What does it mean to do the will of God? What does Scripture say?
The Bible is full of passages on the importance and benefits of doing the will of God.  (Matthew 6: 10, Matthew 7: 21, James 1: 22, Romans 12: 2, Hebrews 10: 36, 1 John 2: 3 - 6, etc.).

The will of God is the Law of God, His Commandments and all that He has decreed. This Law is written first in the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), in the entire Bible and in the consciences of men and women of good will everywhere.  He who observes this Law is the true brother of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit who is in every true believer helps us to observe this Law and qualifies us as the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

God enters into trial with His people.

"For the Lord has a case against his people; he enters into trial with Israel.  (Micah 6: 2).

Every once in a while in the Journey of Faith of Israel, we see the situation we have in today's Scripture from Prophet Micah.  God has entered into litigation with His people Israel. God is both Prosecutor and Judge.  First, God lays down His case.

"My people, what have I done to you? how have I wearied you? Answer me! I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I ransomed you; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam."  (Micah 6: 3 - 4).

How would you answer the above charges?  Like David? "Have mercy on me God. I have sinned." (Cf Psalm 51: 1).   Or like Saul?  "But I did obey the LORD." Saul said."

Obedience to His will is not a complicated matter.

"You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:  8).

And one more thing:
"He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”  (Psalm 50: 23).

This is why David is a man after God's Heart.  (1 Samuel 13: 14;  Acts 13: 22).

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cast all your burden and worries on your Good Shepherd, He will sustain you.

"Jesus said to them [Apostles], “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6: 31).

The common thread in the Scriptures of this Sunday is the tender and great care of the Good Shepherd for us His sheep. If you come to the table of God's word hungry, you will be nourished and be satisfied by the rich menu of the Scriptures.  So come and eat rich food without money. (Cf Isaiah 55: 1 - 3).

"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack."  (Psalm 23: 1).

What do you lack that Your Good Shepherd cannot provide you? If He has not provided, have you asked why?

"Cast all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]." (1 Peter 5: 7 AMP).

This is a promise that every person of good will should try and confirm.
After you have confirmed God's faithfulness, sing with the saints:
"See, I have God for my help.
The Lord sustains my soul.
I will sacrifice to you with willing heart, and praise your name, O Lord, for it is good."  (Psalm 53: 6, 8).

"Show favour, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands..."  (Collect Sunday, July 22, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time).

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Friday, July 20, 2018

They plotted to put the Prophet to death.

"The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death."  (Matthew 12: 14).

A shocking turn of events in the fortunes of the Prophet that  healed the sick, fed multitudes and taught the clueless masses. What is the crime of Jesus?  Let us turn to the Prophet Isaiah for the profile of the Prophet Jesus:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”  (Matthew 12: 18 - 21).

Jesus predicted that His mission will be confronted by intense opposition culminating in His crucifixion.  And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.". (Luke 9: 22).

We are foolish in judging spiritual things too quickly.  "Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  (Luke 24: 26).

Jesus, Son of God, our Savior and our Redeemer have mercy on us.

"Holy Father and Lord, you willed that Christ your Son should be the price of our salvation. Give us grace so to live that through sharing his sufferings we may be strengthened by the power of his resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen."  (Prayer: Vespers Friday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time).

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Son of Man is Master of the Sabbath.

“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.” (Matthew 12: 2).

The Sabbath is a sacred Covenant between God and His people.  "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20: 8). And then the Lord blessed the Sabbath Rest.

How the Sabbath is to be observed became a sore point of controversy between Jesus and the the Jewish leaders.  The Pharisees wanted a strict adherence to the Sabbath code. Jesus teaches God's intention in establishing the Sabbath.  He quickly enunciated His authority:

"I say to you, something greater than the temple is here."  (Matthew 8: 6).
And added in good measure:
"For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”  (Matthew 8: 8).

No need to ask who is right in the Sabbath debate.  The person who has authority on his side always wins.

A little time after the Ascension of Jesus, the Jewish leaders kicked out the Jewish Christians from the Temple.  After the Resurrection, the Christians observed the Sabbath law and still met on Sunday, the first Day of the Week to celebrate the Eucharist.  After they were expelled from the Temple, the Church used the authority given to the Church by Jesus to make Sunday the new Day of Rest.

Emperor Constantine made the Sunday Rest official day of Rest for the Roman Empire in 321 AD. Christians have been observing Sunday Rest before 321 AD for over 200 years. Constantine did not hallow Sunday.  The Church did.

Is the Sunday Rest threatened today? The consequences will be simply catastrophic.  For the Sabbath Rest is  Rehearsal for Eternal Rest. If Sunday goes, so goes our faith in Heaven.
Observe Sunday.  Protect Sunday.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Come to me with your anxieties, fears and burdens.

"Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11:  28).

Are you weary? Are you overburdened by life's struggles? Health, Family, Money, Job and Worries about the Future?

Today I am celebrating the 4th anniversary of Passport.  Four years ago, I woke up suddenly at 5 am burdened by many crisis.  Still lying in bed, like King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38: 2, I turned my face to the wall and prayed directly to Abba Father.  I find that my prayer thoughts and sentiments are similar to the first Reading and the Responsorial Psalm for today's Liturgy from Isaiah 26: 7 - 19 and Psalms 102 respectively.
I prayed thus:

Lord, oppressed by Your heavy hand , I cry out in anguish under your discipline.  (Isaiah 26: 16).

"Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly."  (Psalms 102: 2 - 3).

I was sobbing as I made this prayer.   A friend of mine told me many years ago that if you want to get God's attention, you must mix tears with prayers. I had never tried the idea.  Like Hezekiah, mine were genuine tears.

I continued to plead earnestly.
"You will again show mercy to me; now is the time for pity; the appointed time has come. Please no more delays"  (Cf Psalms 102: 14).

God saw my tears and heard my prayers.  He gave me an answer in one word:  "PASSPORT."  At the word, my soul was filled with joy. I jumped down from bed and concluded my morning prayers on my knees.  Two days later, I left for the inspired city almost a thousand miles away.  Today, I am celebrating the 4th anniversary of Passport.

My friends, in my experience, nothing is as sweet as the pure joy of answered prayer.  Why am I celebrating the 4th anniversary? Because I got this Scripture from EWTN Journey Home program this Monday, July 16th:

"Do not forget your ancient Landmarks."  (Proverbs 22: 28).
Your Landmarks are the gracious providences of God in your life.
Note them. Celebrate them.

"For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea." (Psalms 102: 16 - 17).

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The SuperEye sees everything.

"Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see?" (Psalms 94: 9).

In Psalms 94: 9 God reminds us of His sovereign attributes: omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence. For this reflection, let us call God SuperEye and SuperEar.
God asks the question:
What in heaven and earth does SuperEye not see?  What sound in all the universe does SuperEar not hear?
The simple answer is:  God sees everything. God hears everything.

God sees the sick in the hospitals.
He sees all the homeless.
He sees all the widows and the fatherless.

God hears the cry of the poor.
He hears the cry of the immigrants.
God hears the cry of the hungry.

"Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see?" (Psalms 94: 9).

God sees your present situation.
God hears every prayer you utter even those hidden in the depth of your heart.  God wants you to trust in the plan He has for you.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

The Lord says: It will not happen.

“Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.”  (Isaiah 7:  6).

Have you ever been attacked by a gang of enemies bent on your ruin? Like King Ahaz of Judah in Isaiah 7: 6? This Scripture came to my aid years ago in the corporate world when a gang of managers swore to my destruction.

"Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood."  (Isaiah 7:  4).

The word of God urged me to be calm and fearless. Throughout the weeks of the crisis, I repeated the Scripture to myself and called my foes "smoldering stubs of firewood."

"The Lord says this:  "It will not take place, it will not happen. "  (Isaiah 7: 7).

I said to myself that their plans will not succeed because God has said that "It will not happen."  

"Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm."  (Isaiah 7: 9).

I learned the importance of faith and appropriating the promises of Sacred Scripture and standing firm on them.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain."  (Psalms 127: 1 - 2).

"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord; the Lord will be their trust." [Security] (Jeremiah 17: 5).

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

What is the the Cross?

"Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10: 38).

What is the Cross for me and for you?

The Cross is to seekfirst the Kingdom of God and to live righteously. In other words, make Jesus Christ the first in your home, work and play. Live as righteously as Jesus lived.

How do the deepest truths of the Gospel help us to pick up the Cross every day and follow Jesus?

#1. Believe that God is watching over us night and day and that not a hair falls from our head without His permission!

#2.  Believe that in His infinite Wisdom, He knows  better than you what is good for you.

#3. Believe that in His great power, He can bring good even out of evil. 

To carry your Cross today is no more than making Jesus first in your life, obeying His commandments and accepting with serenity always and everywhere God's disposal of events in your life.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can do it.

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
(John 13:17).

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Father blesses us with every blessing in the heavens.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens." (Ephesians 1: 3).

The above text is from Ephesians 1: 3 - 14, the second Reading in the Sacred Liturgy of this Sunday.  Savor the message of the Holy Spirit for the Church.

I asked Abba Father for the Holy Spirit. The Father gave me not only what I asked for but gave me as well:
Prayer, Word of God, Eucharist, Penance, Ministry.
He gave me peace, pardon, power, purpose, Presence, protection and provision.
He gave me Faith, Patience, Wisdom, Courage and Contentment.

Let us bless "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens" for He is a Promise-Maker and a Promise-Keeper.

"In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,  which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1: 13 - 14).

Amen.  Alleluia!

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Lord send me.

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”  (Isaiah 6: 8).

The Prophet Isaiah had a vision of God in His Temple. In this vision, the Almighty has a message for the world.  “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”  “Here I am,”  said Isaiah “send me!”  (Isaiah 6: 8).

In today's Gospel (Matthew 10: 24 - 33).  Jesus once again instructs His disciples on the cost of discipleship.  In your missionary endeavors, I warn you to be prepared for anything. He concludes by giving them a great assurance of Divine protection and provision.  Without God's great faithfulness in keeping this promise, there will be no Church or missionaries today.
Read Christ's assurance and believe the word as the word of God and not the word of man.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  (Matthew 10:  29 - 31).

You are indeed worth more than many sparrows.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Honey, please come back.

"Thus says the Lord:
Return, Israel, to the Lord, your God;
you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words, and return to the Lord; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and take what is good.  Let us offer the fruit of our lips."  (Hosea 14: 2 - 3).

Yahweh God in the above Scripture is pleading with His spouse, Israel who offended Him and keeps offending Him by her flagrant prostitution: "Honey, please come back. I am prepared to forgive and forget everything.  Only tell Me that you are sorry and we can start all over as if nothing happened."

This is no melodrama here. This is the true Heart of God as presented in Sacred Scripture.  We are all the wayward woman.

The Response the Holy Spirit prompts the Church to use in today's Sacred Liturgy is the very response of David when he was cornered by Prophet Nathan to admit his guilt of adultery and murder.

"Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom. O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.
(Psalm 51:3-4,8-9,12-14,17).

Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Join hands with Me to complete this mission.

"Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."  (Matthew 10: 8).

In Matthew 10: 1 - 7, Jesus chose the Twelve Apostles and commissioned them to start building the new Church He came to found:  Heal the sick, cast out demons and preach the arrival of the Kingdom of God. He lays down two principles to guide their missionary work:

#1.  They had full scholarship. Tuition and board were free.  Their healing and teaching ministry will be done free of charge.
Christ recognizes that the Apostles still need food and lodging. He lays down the second principle of missionary work.
#2. "The laborer deserves his keep."  (Matthew 10: 10).
They are not to be anxious about their needs. The people they serve will be inspired to provide what they need.

Seekfirst the Kingdom of God and live as simply as I do.  If you take care of My business, I promise to take care of yours.
"Master, this is a deal."

The mustard seed continues to grow and has become a huge tree where every kind of bird makes its home.
Will you trust Jesus?  Will you join hands with Him to complete this project?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

To understand Jesus, you must understand the Kingdom He came to build.

"Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness."  (Matthew 10: 1).

The Twelve is now formally constituted into a body to speak and act as Jesus. Cast out evil spirits and cure every disease and illness.  Then Jesus mandated the definitive mission of the Twelve and the Church they would oversee:
Make the proclamation everywhere:
"THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND." (Matthew 10: 7).

This is our mission. To seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33).

But what is the Kingdom of God?
Pope Francis has something important to say about the Kingdom of God and our personal involvement in its realization.  In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, "Rejoice and Be Glad."

"Just as you cannot understand Christ apart from the kingdom he came to bring, so too your personal mission is inseparable from the building of that kingdom: “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Your identification with Christ and his will involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice and universal peace. Christ himself wants to experience this with you, in all the efforts and sacrifices that it entails, but also in all the joy and enrichment it brings. You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor. (Gaudate et Exsultate: REJOICE & BE GLAD).

To understand Jesus, you must understand the Kingdom which is His life's work. To be a Christian, you must seek first the kingdom of God and live as Jesus lived.

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Monday, July 09, 2018

Wherever love and joy is to be found, there is God.

"But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”  (Matthew 9: 34).

Jesus cast out a demon from a mute demoniac and the Pharisees accuse Him of working under the power of the prince of demons.

Joy, peace, encouragement can never come from the Devil.  UBI CARITAS (wherever love is to be found, there is God) is a popular song in the Church teaches that love comes only from God.  Jesus is love, peace, joy and mercy incarnate.  How can the Pharisees not see this?

St Paul advices his spiritual children:
"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4: 8).
These qualities come only from God.

"Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit."  (Matthew 7: 17 - 18). The Pharisees and their likes are known by their fruits.

How do you recognize the actions of God in your life?  What are the fruits? Joy, peace, love, encouragement? They are from God.  Sadness, fears, worries and doubts? They are from the Evil One.
Swing into spiritual warfare and reject them in the mighty Name of Jesus.

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Sunday, July 08, 2018

The unbelievable faith of the official.

 “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”  (Matthew 9: 18).

An official whose daughter has just died said to Jesus: I believe that if You come with me to my house and lay Your hand on my dead daughter, she would be alive again.
Whence come the faith of this man? Why does one person have faith and another no faith? Can faith be developed?

The world today is witnessing an unprecedented crisis of faith.  It reminds us of the time of Hosea in the 8th century BC when the Kingdom of Israel had become very prosperous and experienced mass idolatry: idols of money, business, pleasure and all types of distractions.  Sounds familiar?  Large portions of the world today live in unbridled materialism.  Materialism has always opposed faith in the individual and society.

The official in the Gospel of today believed in Jesus.  He believed that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. (Hebrews 12: 2).  The official believed that the words and person of Jesus produce miracles.

How can we develop such strong faith?  Faith is a pure gift of God which God is more willing to give than we to receive. Ask for faith with boldness. Study passages like the message of today in the Gospels and learn all that you can about faith.

How about the materialism that infects all of us?  This is a prayer I would like to make every day:

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."  (Proverbs 30: 7 - 9).

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Saturday, July 07, 2018

My grace is sufficient for you.

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

If the grace of Christ is sufficient for the Apostle Paul, the same grace of Jesus will do exactly the same for us. To enjoy this favor, understand and trust the Divine Providence.  Then adopt these three steps to peace of heart and mind:

#1 Accept all that has happened.
#2 Accept everything that is happening.
#3  Cooperate with everything except what is sinful.

St Paul understood the mystery of Divine Providence and the Sufficiency of the Grace of God. His attitude underwent 360 degree change. Read St Paul's insight into mysteries of faith:

"I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong."  (2 Corinthians 12: 9 - 10).

Before you can boast of the things Paul boasted about, you must accept them.
Help us O Lord to know Your power working in us.

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Friday, July 06, 2018

The Lord promises full restoration.

"Thus says the Lord: On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David;
I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old." (Amos 9: 11).

God castigated His people through His word proclaimed by Prophet Amos. God's anger lasts a moment. His mercy lasts forever.  The Chosen people that once dwelt in palaces and big mansions now lived in dilapidated huts.  From riches to rags.  God's ways are not our ways.  He strikes and He heals.

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance."  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 - 4).

The Lord promises restoration to a long suffering people.  Are you waiting for restoration in any areas of your life? This promise is for all of us.
"I will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, Plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits."  (Amos 9:  14).

"I, the LORD will do it." (Amos 9: 12).

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Thursday, July 05, 2018

When will the new moon be over?

"See what days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
days when I will bring famine on the country, a famine not of bread, a drought not of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.
They will stagger from sea to sea,
wander from north to east,
seeking the word of the Lord
and failing to find it."  (Amos 8: 11 - 12).

Can a day actually come when people will hunger so much for the word of God?
"O God, when will this day come?" could be the unsurprising response of modern prophets worn out by constant rejection of their message. 

“When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the grain-bins?"  (Amos 8: 5).

The people rejected the Sabbath Rest which is a bonus bestowed by a loving God on His people. 
"They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD's gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day."  (Exodus 16: 29 NLT).

"Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord."  (Matthew 11: 28).
Who will respond to this cry of Jesus?
"Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks."  (Matthew 4: 4), Jesus teaches.

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of July 2018.

July 6, 2018 First Friday in July 2018.

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 7th month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #7.

#7.  "Tepid souls shall become fervent."

What is tepid?  Tepid is defined as lukewarm, slightly warm, unenthusiastic, apathetic, half-hearted.
Listen to what Jesus said about such persons:
"Because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  (Revelation 3: 16).

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, July 04, 2018

Is it easier to heal the body or the soul?

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”  (Matthew 9:   2).

Jesus was ministering in a room packed with people.  The friends of the paralytic man lowered him from the roof and dropped him in front of Jesus.  Their action is the "faith" that Jesus saw.  So you can see faith.

The bigger theme of the Gospel of today is the sin of the paralyzed man.  Since Jesus came to suffer and die for sin, He dealt first with the root and source of illness.  “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9: 2).  Jesus was immediately attacked for forgiving the man's sins. “This man is blaspheming.” (Matthew 9: 3).

The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world knows more than anyone the intricate connection between Sin, Suffering and Salvation.  He proves it:
"Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”  (Matthew 9: 5 - 6).

"Lord, send your mercy and your truth to rescue us from the snares of the devil, and we will praise you among the peoples and proclaim you to the nations, happy to be known as companions of your Son."  (Psalm Prayer, Lauds Thursday, July 5th, 13th Week in Ordinary Time).

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Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The message of Prophet Amos on the occasion of the Independence Anniversary.

"Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you as you claim. Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph."  (Amos 5: 14 - 15).

America celebrates its Independence Anniversary today.  The exhortation from the Prophet Amos in today's Scripture reminds us that genuine freedom is a gift from God.   To safeguard this freedom, the nation must pursue goodness and justice.
The prophet concludes his persuasive nudge to the nation thus:
"But if you would offer me burnt offerings, then let justice surge like waters, and righteousness like an unfailing stream."  (Amos 5:  22, 24).

"Father of all nations and ages,
we recall the day when our country
claimed its place among the family of nations; for what has baen achieved we give you thanks,
for the work that still remains we ask your help, and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation, grant that, under your Providence, our country may share your blessings with all the peoples of the earth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen." (Collect of the Mass of Independence Day).

Happy Independence to you all.

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Monday, July 02, 2018

I command you stop doubting and you start believing now.

"Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  (John 20: 27).

The above text is a sharp rebuke of of Thomas the Apostle by Jesus. Thomas insisted that he had to see with his two eyes, stick his fingers into the nail holes before he would believe.
What is the principal error of Thomas? Against reason, he refused to believe the testimony of credible witnesses.  He discounted the affirmation of Peter and the other apostles and Mary Magdalene who had become eye witnesses to the apparitions of Jesus after the Resurrection.  Faith comes from believing the testimony of credible witnesses.   There are just a few things in life you can see and touch. Vast majority of things we believe because someone we trust tells us so.

Disbelief, unbelief, unreasonable doubt are crippling mental states. Can you believe that there are folks among us today who deny the Holocaust? Victims of these barbarism still live among us.

Jesus told Thomas, "Stop doubting and believe.”  (John 20: 27).  This command was all that Thomas needed to make him a super believer.  Jesus too can command our doubts, fears and worries disappear.  Let us ask Him:

Lord Jesus, command that we no longer be faithless but strong believers in You and Your mission.   Say but a word Jesus and our doubts will be gone. Amen.

Today is the feast of St Thomas the Apostle, martyr and great missionary to India.  This feast is a Solemnity in India.
St Thomas pray for us.

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

How far and how long are you prepared to follow Me?

“Teacher,  I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”  Another of [his] disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”  But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”  (Matthew 8: 19 - 22).

Two enthusiastic would be disciples received one answer to their application to follow Jesus:
You must count carefully the cost of discipleship.  How far and how long are you prepared to follow Me? What will you do when the going becomes tough?  I will show you what a prudent and faithful disciple looks like.  That disciple followed Me from the beginning of my ministry to the end.

“What sort of servant, then, is faithful wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at his employment. I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns.” (Matthew 24: 45 – 48)

Pope St John Paul II writing on faithfulness says:
It is good to be faithful for one day.
It is better to be faithful for ten years.
It excellent and blessed to be faithful day after day to the end.

This is why the Blessed Virgin Mary is called the most excellent and faithful disciple of Jesus.  She received the message of salvation from the Archangel Gabriel. She followed Jesus learning everything she could. She walked the Via Dolorosa with her Son to Calvary.  She received the body of her Son from the Cross from the Roman soldiers. She laid Him in the tomb and witnessed the sealing of the tomb.
Call this: faithful from womb to tomb.
A disciple of Jesus must be prepared to give all.

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