Saturday, January 19, 2019

Everyone serves good wine first.

“They have no wine.”  (John 2: 3).
Mary told Jesus at the wedding party at Cana.  This is the first miracle of Jesus. What a story it tells about Jesus and His ways.  Some people choose to believe that Christianity is a kill joy religion. No fun whatsoever.  Only fasting, armsgiving and praying.  This first miracle at Cana demolishes this.  If Jesus did not perform the miracle, shortage of wine would not invalidate the marriage. Jesus performed the miracle to show His pleasure in the celebration of marriage.

"Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  (John 2: 10).

There is a word of encouragement for us here.  God in His most powerful Providence reserves the best for us to the last. Don't give up.

Another truth we can take away from the Miracle at Cana is this:
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our trust, O King of kings."  (Lauds - Liturgy of the Hours).

Not even a single comfort you enjoy in life come from chance or accident.  Every single comfort you enjoy comes from the God of all consolation and comforts. (2 Corinthians 1: 3).
This is an incredibly powerful promise.  Will you share this good news?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Approach Jesus with confidence.

"Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."  (Hebrews 4: 16).

My friends, this is the beautiful invitation from today's first Reading. Consider for a moment the vehicle or medium of this invitation:
"The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword."  (Hebrews 4: 12).  Do you realize that another name for Jesus is the "word of God?"

We know who invites us to step forward boldly and receive grace and mercy whenever we need it.  But why should anyone hesitate to come to Jesus, the friend of sinners? Three reasons jump to me immediately:

#1.  Lack of faith.
#2.  Too busy for Jesus.
#3.   Our sins.

Does any of the above pass the Lie test? The answer is No.  If Jesus Himself invites us to to receive grace and mercy, why should He hesitate to deal with our lack of faith. Friends, open your mouth and ask.  Too busy for Jesus sounds like the teenager who goes off to college.  "Junior, why don't you write mom and dad?"  "Oh, I am too busy."  The Lord in His sense of humor might allow parents to experience such neglect in order to see how they treat Him.

Jesus is the friend of sinners. In the Gospel of today, Jesus dines with Matthew also known as Levi and his friends. All of them without exception sinners. At the objection of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said:  “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  (Mark 2: 17).

Will you be an evangelist and bring this glad tidings to your family and friends?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jesus saw their faith.

"Jesus saw their faith."  (Mark 2: 5).

Jesus while preaching the word in a packed room in his hometown, had a paralytic man lowered from the roof of the house by four friends and dropped to His feet.  Scripture records that Jesus saw the faith of the four friends of the paralytic.  What exactly did Jesus see?  He saw the four men did the one thing necessary.  The men knew and believed the healing powers of Jesus.  "If only we could get our paralytic friend before Jesus, he would be healed." Must have been their thinking.
Faith is a bold action based on a credible assumption.  The  woman with the issue of blood searched for Jesus until she found Him. Then she sneaked behind him and touched the hem of His cloak.  She got an instant healing.  (Matthew 9: 20 - 22).

Faith is absolute confidence in the word of God, in the promise of God.  Do you have a faith that can be seen? How do you get such faith?
By prayer and daily feeding of the word of God.

For many days now, the Church has repeated the same prayer in the Collect in the daily Mass:

"Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care,
O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen."  (Collect).

Give us the grace to see what we must do.  Give us the strength to do what You show us.  This is how faith that is seen is produced.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Encourage one another to persevere in the Christian walk.

"Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God." (Hebrews 3: 12).

An evil and unfaithful heart is one that conveniently forgets all that God has done for him. He is not constant in prayer nor steadfast with acts of devotion.

The word of God wants us to be our brother's keeper.  "Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin."  (Hebrews 3: 13). The lure and the lust of sin are everywhere. This is why the ministry of encouragement is sorely needed in the Church today.

Never forget that without perseverance and constancy we cannot make it to the Kingdom of God. "We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end."  (Hebrews 3: 14).

Brothers and sisters, encourage one another with prayers and the word of God.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to avoid fear of death.

Jesus came to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."  (Hebrews 2: 15).

My friends, are you terrified of dying? Of being suddenly snuffed out of existence and disappearing forever?  The word we share today is your Good News.

It is God's plan that Jesus Christ be like us in everything but sin;  that He suffers and dies so that "he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil."  Jesus broke the power of death by rising from the dead on the third day.  He shows that we too must die but shall rise again.  Dying and rising is what we sacramentally experience when we are baptized.  We die when we are immersed into water. We rise from death when we are raised up again.

As a result of the power of this Sacrament, our faith and the word of God, every Christian should have no fear of death.

It is not only the fear of death that the devil causes us. He makes us to have unhealthy fears of poverty, ill health, etc. To overcome these fears, we have to die to money and worship of good health.
Remember Jesus in His Temptation in the Desert?  He looked the devil in the eye and told him: "Man does not live on bread alone." (Matthew 4: 4). Man does not live on money alone. Man does not live on good health alone.
If you are able to do this, you will experience peace and freedom.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Jesus is still teaching with authority.

“What is this? A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

The people of Nazareth noticed something peculiar about Jesus the first time He walked into the synagogue.  But after reading and interpreting Isaiah's prophecy on the Messiah, Scripture records that their eyes were transfixed on Him.

On another Sabbath, Jesus "entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes."  (Mark 1: 21 - 22).

Jesus taught with the authority of Moses and all the prophets combined plus something different: "A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

After His Resurrection, He breathed on His Apostles and imparted them the Holy Spirit. Then before He ascended into Heaven, He gave them the authority to go to all the world and teach and evangelize all people.  This authority has been exercised by the Sacred Magisterium of the Church from the very beginning to today.

The Church exists to evangelize. Are you part of this effort?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Will you follow me and become a fisher of men?

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Mark 1: 17).

These are the words of Jesus the Fisher of men to new recruits Simon and Andrew.  What I love most about this incident is this:
"Then they abandoned their nets and followed him."  (Mark 1: 18).  Do you notice the immediacy of the response? God loves the cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9: 7).  Social psychologists teach that spontaneity and immediacy of response point to a good finish.  Remember a young Virgin called Mary? "Yes I will. Let it be done to me according to your words."  She too left everything and embraced her mission.

Jesus is still passing by. He is still calling. He has tremendous good news to share. For example:

"I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10).

Will you too be a fisher of men?