Saturday, February 22, 2020

God loves us first.

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19: 18).

Sunday 23rd February in the 7th week in Ordinary Time. You may call this Sunday: Love Sunday because of the emphasis on love in the liturgical readings of today.

What is love? I never understood what love truly means until I met the word waiting for me in 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7:
Love is to be patient and kind to your neighbor and stranger. Love does not envy; it does not boast and it is not proud.
If you dishonor others, if you are self-seeking, if you are easily angered or keep records of wrongs, sorry, you do not understand a thing about love.

The Romans say: "Nobody can give that which he does not have." How do you get love? Start from this truth: God first loves us even when we are unlovable. In 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7, He shows us some of the attributes of His love: patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, long suffering, etc. We can not imitate God's love except the Holy Spirit helps us. The Holy Spirit is our Paraclete and Advocate and always ready and willing to help us.

Now that you know how dearly you are loved, you will be blessed if you do the same.

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Friday, February 21, 2020

The Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

"The Lord says to Simon Peter:
I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and, once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22: 32).

Saturday 22nd February 2020 in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the Chair of St Peter, the Apostle.

We celebrate today the mission of St Peter and his successors as universal teacher and pastor of the world-wide Church. Jesus Christ, Head of the Church conferred and guaranteed the stability of the office the Petrine Ministry.  It is amazing that the office of the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff has not failed. Good men and bad men had been popes but the integrity of the teachings of Jesus Christ has been preserved faithfully. This is what we celebrate today.

Have you ever heard Jesus say that He prayed for you? I felt this at the beginning of my conversion and this word of knowledge (rhema) has always bring comfort to me in difficult periods. If Jesus Himself  prays for me to the Father, then all is well in spite of all appearances. In fact, we are all Simon Peter. Jesus prays for each of us. He promises to be with us always and everywhere. Trust Jesus!

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Feast of the Reformer. Meet St Peter Damian.

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8: 34).

Friday 21st February 2020 in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Peter Damian (1001 - 1072), Benedictine monk, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Peter Damian lived over 200 years before St Francis of Assisi and almost 500 years before St Ignatius Loyola. When we honor the saints, we glorify Jesus Christ, the King of all Saints. 

It would appear that the Scriptures in the Liturgy today is written to celebrate the life of the monk-Cardinal whose life we celebrate today. Damian was a reformer who urged his fellow clergy to live upright lives. Many clergy at all levels were at this time living sordid lives. But Peter pursued reforms with the heart of a pastor unlike Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) who preferred to tear up the seamless garment of the Body of Christ and got nether the reform he sought but instead thousands of petty churches quibbling over doctrines.

I like the Opening Prayer in Mass of St Peter Damian:
"All-powerful God, help us to follow the teachings and example of Peter Damian. By making Christ and the service of His Church the first love of our lives, may we come to the joys of eternal light, where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
May we all say Amen!

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

"Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?" (James 2: 5).

Thursday 20th February 2020 in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time.

That God has a preference for the poor is obvious from the ministry of Jesus. Who are the first people to notice Jesus and seek His help? Who in the society is more likely to be hungry, sick and outcast? The poor! When people of high class in society seek out Jesus for a desperate healing, for example: the Centurion, Jairus, or the rich woman with the issue of blood, their desperate need placed them in the class of the Anawin. Every disadvantage is a blessing and an opportunity.

Who are the poor among us today? The orphans, widows and immigrants (the Bible calls them strangers because this is how the Egyptians saw the Jewish immigrants). From the time of Abraham, the class of the poor has remained constant. As it was in the beginning so it is today.

A melodious refrain we sing in the Liturgy is "The Lord hears the cry of the poor." How true! Although God in His omnipotence can provide the necessities of all His creatures,  God says to man: Increase and multiply. I charge you to take good care of My creation.

The poor seeks the Lord at all times. He answers them and delivers them from all their fears. If God Almighty has given you more than you need, do not hoard your surplus.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Believe what you read. Practice what you believe.

"Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves." (James 1: 22).

Wednesday 19th February 2020 in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time.

When I read James 1: 19 - 27 (our 1st Reading today), I was stung by two reproaches from the holy word.  "Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves." What is the Lord trying to tell me? I spent hours in the word of God every day. I try to go to Mass many days a week. I try to be an active member of the RCIA. But I do not go to the Soup Kitchen nor visit the sick or prisoners. There are other corporal and spiritual works of mercy I don't even think about.

Lord Jesus, I am encouraged when You talk of persevering in the word:

"But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does." (James 1: 25).

Brethren, let us believe what we read. Let us teach what we believe. Let us practice what we believe and teach. Then we shall be immensely blessed by "the perfect law of freedom."

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Monday, February 17, 2020

How much do you remember and understand God's interventions in your life?

"Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember?" (Mark 8: 17 - 18).

Tuesday 18th February 2020 in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time.

Jesus chides His disciples for not remembering all the wonderful things He does daily in their midst. As good disciples (students), they should not only remember but seek to understand the reasons behind every divine act.

In the first Reading from James 1, the Teacher reminds us that every single good gift we enjoy comes from God and not from chance or lottery. Therefore it is crucial to remember everything God is doing in our lives. It is equally important to understand that when the Lord permits scarcity or problems in our lives, His intervention is certain. To remember and to understand are two great habits of the disciple.

There must always be trials. But have no fear, I have overcome the world.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ask for Wisdom with confident and expectant faith.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it." (James 1: 5).

Monday 17th February 2020 in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites (13th century), Religious. The Servites are a Confraternity of the Order of the Servites of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They lead a life of prayer and penance.

Our chosen Scripture today from James 1: 1-11 is a gift to everyone. My heart glows with joy as I read and reread it.

What is Wisdom? Although I coveted the gift of Wisdom as long as I can remember, I had to look it up since I wasn't even sure what it is. This is what I found below from an excellent source (NABRE):

"Wisdom: a gift that God readily grants to all who ask in faith and that sustains the Christian in times of trial. It is a kind of knowledge or understanding not accessible to the unbeliever or those who doubt, which gives the recipient an understanding of the real importance of events. In this way a Christian can deal with adversity with great calm and hope (cf. 1 Cor 2:6–12).

I like what I read. The sacred text below shows how to acquire this mother of all gifts:

"But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways."

Brethren the above needs no commentary. God told Solomon:
"I give you what you request here and now." God is not a liar. He will do the same for you and me.

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