Saturday, March 09, 2019

All this will be yours if you worship me.

"Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil." (Luke 4: 1- 2).

First Sunday in Lent, the Church presents us the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert. Nobody can go through life without multiple desert experiences. Jesus was severely tempted after 40 days of rigorous fasting. He was tempted to abandon the path His Father marked out for His mission for a grandiose scheme of the Devil.

The Devil took Jesus up and showed Him downtown of the city with the glistening skyscrapers and malls. "All this will be yours, if you worship me,” said the Devil. (Luke 4: 7).

Not a few people dream how to become millionaires. Scripture has many counsels for such temptations.

#1 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." (Matthew 6: 19 - 21).

#2 "Keep your lives free from love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never leave you, I will never abandon you'" (Hebrews 13:5).

#3 Man does not live on money alone.  Man is created to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  (Cf Matthew 4 : 4).

Jesus defeated Satan by quoting the Scriptures. Can we afford to do less? Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ, says St Jerome.

Friday, March 08, 2019

How is your Sunday observance?

"If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the sabbath a delight, the Lord’s holy day glorious; If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs— Then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 58: 13 - 14)

The Sabbath observance brings blessings. How do I know? Go through Sacred Scripture and you will find scattered throughout its books blessings pronounced on the Sabbath and its observance. This starts from the Creation Account in the very beginning of Genesis. God rested on the 7th day after His work of creation and pronounced blessing on the 7th Day, the Sabbath.

Why do so many people not keep holy the Lord's Day? Unbelief or Ignorance? Lent is a good time to evaluate where you stand in keeping holy the Lord's Day.

"Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!
Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.
Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!" (Cf Psalm 94 :8).

Thursday, March 07, 2019

How is your fasting?

“Why do we fast, but you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, but you take no note?” (Isaiah 58: 3).

Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving are supposed to produce beneficial results for us. Right? These People of the Covenant perceived that they afflict themselves in vain. Instead of brooding in silence, they asked God why?

"See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. See, you fast only to quarrel and fight and to strike with a wicked fist!" (Isaiah 58: 3 - 4).

How is your fasting? Do you believe as you pray? Do you live as you believe? What do you know about the spiritual and corporal works of mercy?

Corporal Works of Mercy:
1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit the imprisoned
7. Bury the dead

"Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and that the Lord God of hosts may really be with you.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ!"  (Cf.Amos5:14).

"Show gracious favour, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances we undertake. 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."

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Choose life and prosperity.

"Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom." (Deuteronomy 30: 15)..... If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am giving you today.." (30: 16).....  I tell you today that you will certainly perish;" (30: 18)....
"I call heaven and earth today to witness against you." (30: 19).

Thursday after Ash Wednesday, there is an unmistakable note of urgency in the message from Deuteronomy, our first Reading for today. "Today", the key word is used 4 times in the message. Why? The answer may be in the Gospel for today:

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily [today] and follow me." (Luke 9: 23).
Then the Teacher asks:" What profit is there for one to gain the whole world [today] yet lose or forfeit himself?" (Luke 9: 25).

"Prompt our actions [today] with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,
and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion.
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, Thursday after Ash Wednesday).

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent 2019.

"Have mercy on us Lord, for we have sinned." (Cf Psalm 51).

"If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1: 10).

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. Lent is the Season appointed for repentance and spiritual purification. Our God is kind and merciful. Let this truth encourage us to turn to the Lord without fear for our inward renewal.

Lent is the Journey of Faith to the supreme joy of Easter. If we die with Christ, we shall rise with Christ.

"Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!" (Cf. Psalm 94:8).

Monday, March 04, 2019

What have you given up for Jesus lately?

"Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses.... with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come." (Mark 10: 29 - 30).

After reading this, I looked around to see what I have given up for Jesus? Pretty little it seems to me. What have I received from Jesus? Everything! How do I make right this in-equilibrium? The answer might be in the Book of Sirach, our first Reading today:

"Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means." (Sirach 35: 12).

The sacred writer goes on to remind us: "For he is a God who always repays and will give back to you sevenfold." (Sirach 35: 13).

From Jesus:
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." (Matthew 10: 42).

These are timely lessons for Lent 2019 which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. The three pillars of Lent are: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

"By works of charity one offers fine flour, and one who gives alms presents a sacrifice of praise." (Sirach 35: 3 - 4).

Do not forget brothers and sisters that God provides us everything we have including the offerings we bring to the Altar. Our Abba Father sees our gifts as signs of our desire to serve Him. He rewards for it.

Be generous this Lent 2019.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

One essential thing you lack in life can ruin everything.

 “Teacher, all of these [commandments]. I have observed from my youth.” (Mark 10: 20).

The rich young man that Jesus encountered in today's Gospel is luckier than most of us. How many of us can boast that we have kept all the commandments from our earliest days? Yet he lacked one thing. In life, it may be the one essential thing you lack that can ruin your prospects on: health, family, financial prospects, job prospects, etc.

The rich young man lacked freedom and detachment from his wealth and it ruined his prospects of permanent employment with Jesus. Instead of Sacred Scripture recording his identity as "St Justus", it labeled him as "a rich young man."

Are you being smothered by your possessions? Has the clutter in your life become a source of constant headaches? We have good news for you. Lent 2019 starts in 2 days, March 6th. Lent is the best Season in the year to tackle our major headaches and win the battle.

"Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty." (2 Corinthians 8: 9).

Thanksgiving and Praise will bring you to victory in your struggle against evil.
"I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me, sing psalms to the name of the Lord Most High." (Cf. Psalm 12: 6).