Saturday, August 10, 2019

Rejoice in hope.

"Stay awake and stand ready,
because you do not know the hour
when the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 24: 42, 44).

Sunday of the 19th week in Ordinary Time. Today's message could be personal. Are you waiting for something to happen? An answer to prayer for example. How do you know when God will deliver the answer? The Church answers the question thus:

"In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes...... In communion with their Master, the disciples' prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation." (CCC 2612).

When you keep watch in prayer, you will know the appointed time, the fullness of time. When you do not keep watch in prayer, you will fall into temptation and see your bus speed by while you are not paying attention. In the 1st Reading, we are told:

"The night of the Passover was known before hand to our forefathers." (Wisdom 18: 6). If you keep watch in prayer, God will be pleased to give you the privilege of knowing that the appointed time has come.

Live in hope. Rejoice in hope. God Never Fails!

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Friday, August 09, 2019

The Feast of St Lawrence the Deacon.

"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).

Saturday of the 18th week in Ordinary Time is the Feast of St Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. (+Circa 258). St Lawrence was a prominent Roman Deacon who braved roasting by red hot fire to defend the Church and her greatest wealth: the Poor. In this, Lawrence became like Jesus, the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. As a result of the death of Jesus, life sprang up everywhere.

"Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it." (Luke 17: 33).

St Lawrence sowed bountifully and the Lord rewarded him and made him the Doyen of Deacons.
"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9: 6).

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

When you remember the wonderful things God has done for you.

"I remember the deeds of the Lord." (Psalm 77: 12).

Friday of the 18th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Teresa of the  Cross (1891 - 1942). Teresa was born Edith Stein of Jewish parents and converted to the Church. A well established philosopher in the universities in Germany, she was sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis and died in the gas chambers.

What one thing can make you grow in faith, hope and love? "I remember the deeds of the Lord." (Psalm 77: 12). Forgetfulness of what God has done for you is about the greatest harm you can inflict on yourself.
This truth and insight comes to us from the Responsorial Psalm in today's Liturgy:

"I remember the deeds of the Lord, I remember your wonders of old, I muse on all your works and ponder your mighty deeds." (Psalm 77: 12 - 16).

It is a well known axiom that what God has done once, He can always do again. The Israelites in the Desert forgot again and again that it the same God who split the Red Sea in two for them is the same God leading them on their Journey. The same God who fed them with manna feed 7000 people with bread and fish with much leftovers.

"Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts, Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills, Who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with mercy and compassion, Who fills your days with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagles." (Psalm 103: 2 - 5).

Psalm 103: 2 - 5 is the greatest advice you can receive from God's holy word. It is not a coincidence that this Psalm is used most in Responsorial Psalms. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you remember and give thanks.

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Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Get behind me, you Satan!

"He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Matthew 16: 23).

Thursday of the 18th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Dominic (1170 - 1221), Priest and Founder of the Order of Preachers, the Dominican Order.

What do you make of the sharp rebuke of Jesus to Peter? Peter opposed the truth that Jesus must suffer and die. Christ's reaction implies that this truth is fundamental and of the highest priority in the hierarchy of truth. Nobody should mess up with this fundamental proposition. Not even Peter.

After His Resurrection, Jesus laid down 4 principles of apostolic witness:

#1 The Death of Jesus.
#2 Testimony of Scripture to the suffering and death of Jesus: (Luke 24: 44 - 46).
#3 The Resurrection of Jesus.
#4 The power of the Name of Jesus.

Deprecation of any of these truths by heresies must not be tolerated in the Church.

"May Saint Dominic come to the help of your Church by his merits and teaching, O Lord, and may he, who was an outstanding preacher of your truth, be a devoted intercessor on our behalf.
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 Dominic).

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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Faith welcomes unusual challenges to our welfare.

"We felt like mere grasshoppers." (Numbers 13: 33).

Wednesday of the 18th week in Ordinary Time. Have you ever felt like a grasshopper before a giant problem? Think of unanimous verdict of a team of medical expert that your case is simply hopeless. Or condemned to life sentence with no option of appeal by the highest court of the land. Or your only family home with all that you own is washed into the sea by the last hurricane and you have no insurance.

Faith welcomes any of the above scenario with a smile. A student who is prepared for an examination is impatient to see the test begin. One who is not prepared will pray for all the imaginable causes of delay.
In today's Scriptures, we see from the 1st Reading in Numbers 13, a story of No Faith. The men sent to survey the land flowing with milk and honey disparaged the territory. In the Gospel narrative in Matthew 15, we hear Jesus commend a foreign woman for a strong faith:

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Matthew 15: 28). And the result of strong faith: "And her daughter was healed from that hour."

David must have looked like grasshopper before Goliath. But who won the day? We do not and we can never vanquish the world with arms of flesh. Our faith will overcome this world anytime. We do not walk by sight or feeling but always by faith.

The God of Jesus Christ who is always with us never fails!

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Monday, August 05, 2019

What is the Transfiguration?

"In a resplendent cloud the Holy Spirit appeared.
The Father’s voice was heard: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him." (Cf Matthew 17: 5).

Tuesday of the 18th week in Ordinary Time is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus. What is the Transfiguration and why does it matter?

"On a high mountain, before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, John and James. Jesus' face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking "of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem". A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" (CCC 554).

The Transfiguration matters because before the presence of three credible witnesses, the glory of Jesus was revealed. These three witnesses Peter, James and John were to become witnesses to the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. They were to bear witness to these eye witness events with their lives m. Our faith as Christians is built on solid foundation and not on "cleverly deviced myths." (2 Peter 1: 16 - 19).

"This is my Son, the Beloved: he enjoys my favor. Listen to him." (Matthew 17: 5).

Thank You Father. I listened to Your Son and heard beautiful words. (Matthew 6: 33).

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Sunday, August 04, 2019

You have given us O Lord Bread from Heaven.

"Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds." (Matthew 14: 19).

Monday of the 18th week in Ordinary Time. Our Scripture pick for today reminds us immediately of Eucharistic narrative where at the Last Supper:
Jesus Takes, Blesses, Breaks, Gives the Bread of life.

Is this sequence of action accident or purposeful? The Church has interpreted the Feeding of the Crowd as type and shadow of the Eucharist which is the defining institution of the Kingdom to come. Note that it must have been this same sequence of actions that opened the eyes of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to recognize Jesus. (See Luke 24).

But what do we learn about the Eucharist from the feeding of the crowd? "They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full." (Matthew 14: 20).
You shall eat and be satisfied.

Nothing prefigures the Eucharist as closely as this Scripture from Isaiah:
"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! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what does not satisfy?" (Isaiah 55: 1 - 2).

The Eucharist is the rich food and rich wine prefigured in Isaiah 55.

"You have given us, O Lord, bread from heaven, endowed with all delights and sweetness in every taste." (Wisdom 16: 20).

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