Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ask for anything and I will give it to you.

"In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you." (1 Kings 3: 5).

Sunday 26th July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time.

The first and second Readings and the Gospel this Sunday are true feast in the word of God. Don't miss the lavish spiritual nourishment.
Our reflection is from the first Reading: "Whatever you ask I shall give you."

What will you ask? What is your treasure? Where is your treasure? According to Jesus, the heart and treasure are always in the same place. Solomon asked for wisdom.
What is wisdom? Why is wisdom listed as the first of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? Why is wisdom so highly priced?
Wisdom is the ability to make good choices. Your prosperity and peace depend on the choices you make. If you are a judge as every king is, you need wisdom to discern good from bad, the innocent from the guilty.
Who should you marry? Joe or John? Which career to pursue? Teacher or nurse? What time do you pray? Early in the morning or anytime you feel like?

The Lord was pleased that Solomon chose wisdom and He said to Solomon:
"I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.  In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days."

Wisdom will bring you wealth, health, happiness and long life.
James teaches: "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). Ask for wisdom with faith and you will get it at once.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

The Feast of St James, Apostle.

"As he walked by the Sea of Galilee,
Jesus saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother
mending their nets and he called them." (Matthew 4: 18, 21).

Saturday 25th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St James, Apostle. James and John are sons of Zebedee, all fishermen. They left their nets and followed Jesus when He called them from their fishing occupation. Peter, James and John belong to the inner circle of the group of Apostles. They witnessed the Transfiguration and were with Jesus at Gethsemane.

Our Scripture for today evokes the theme of the Choice, the Call and the Anointing. Peter, James and John were chosen for the role they played as leading pioneers of the Christian movement before their birth. In the fullness of time, Jesus came by the shore of the Sea of Galilee and called them. They were not the most qualified but Jesus anointed them for the ministry He had for them. Like Moses, Joshua and David, this anointing qualified them.

Have you found your purpose in life? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you. Keep asking Him until you find and embrace it fully. Remember one thing: It is the Anointing that breaks the yoke of fear, worry and doubt.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Feast of St Sharbel Makhlouf.

“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart." (Matthew 13: 18 - 19).

Friday 24th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Sharbel Makhlouf. (1828 - 1898). Lebanese Catholic priest, monk and hermit. Sharbel is known for his great devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament and his filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was a great miracle worker during his life and after his earthly life.

In our Gospel message for today, let us reflect on this illuminating words: "The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it." Does your problem with the word of God stem from the fact that you do not understand it? Do you understand the word of God as a personal message to you requiring a response or action? This response is called obedience of faith. No understanding, no response or wrong response.

So how do we understand God's word to us? Through prayerful reflection and meditation. Read the verse or the message several times. When the Lord spoke this Scripture to me: "Make my Kingdom and my holiness your top priority. I promise you that I will take care of everything you need." (Cf Matthew 6: 33). I read the passage hundreds of times. Eventually, the message went from my head to my heart and I understood it and laughed for joy.

"But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13: 23).

No understanding of God's love letter to you, no possibility of bearing fruit. Your ability to bear any fruit will be in direct proportion to your understanding of God’s word to you. God commanded Joshua to read the word He gave him and meditate on it day and night and always. This is the only way Joshua could succeed. (Cf Joshua 1: 7 - 8).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

St Bridget of Sweden: mystic and scholar.

"Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted." (Matthew 13: 11).

Thursday 23rd July 2020 is the feast of St Bridget of Sweden (1303 - 1373). Housewife, mother of 4 boys and 4 girls. One of the girls, St Catherine of Sweden is a canonized saint. Bridget persuaded her husband to become a Franciscan Tertiary with her. When the husband died, St Bridget moved to Rome where she founded the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. St Bridget meditated long on the suffering and death of Jesus. God revealed to her the secrets of heaven. St Bridget is a mystic and authored books on ascetical and mystical theology.

St Bridget is an examplar of our Scripture for today:
"Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted." (Matthew 13: 11).
When it comes to the word of God, there are two classes of people:
#1 Insiders: the childlike who hunger for the things of God. God Himself feeds them and satisfies their hunger. They grow in the knowledge of the word and the mysteries of the kingdom. They persevere in their faith till death.

#2 Outsiders. This group hear the word of God but are distracted by anxieties about money, health, family, job. The word never takes root in their lives. They soon lose the little word of God they possess and soon revert to the faithless and unstable state in mind and heart.

Consider the Cloud of witnesses in heaven like St Bridget of Sweden whose life we celebrate today. They urge us on in our Journey of Faith  with joyful encouragement: "Heaven is amazingly beautiful. Fight the good fight and finish well the race that is set before you. Your golden crown is waiting for you."

"Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord." (Psalm 95: 8).

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

"I will seek Him whom my heart loves." (Songs of Solomon 3:2).

Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Jewish. One of the hand full of women who followed Jesus as He tramped everywhere preaching the Gospel. These women took care of the welfare of Jesus and His Apostles from their purse. But Mary Magdalene was unique and exceptional among these ladies. Jesus healed her of demonic possession and Mary could not forget this favor all her life.

The Church chooses appropriately the Songs of Solomon 3: 1 - 4 as the first Reading for her Liturgy today. The Songs of Solomon is an intimate love diary. Mary is characterized as she who says: "I will seek Him whom my heart loves."

Mary Magdalene trekked the Via Dolorosa with the other Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus. Both women stood under the Cross and watched Jesus die slowly. While the Blessed Virgin Mary did not hurry to the tomb on Easter Sunday because she heard and believed what her Son said about "rising from the dead on the third day," Mary of Magdala hurried to the tomb. She became the first human being to see the Risen Jesus. This is how St Mary Magdalene became the "Apostle to the Apostles."
"Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her." (John 20: 17 - 18).

Mary Magdalene is my patron saint. She reminds me of all the good things that Jesus has done for me and is doing for me every day and why I should seek and follow Him everywhere and love Him passionately. Mary Magdalene pray for us.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

God delights in mercy.

"You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins." (Micah 7: 19).

Tuesday 21st July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Lawrence Brandisi (1559 - 1613). Priest and Doctor of the Church. Italian Capuchin. Lawrence is an extraordinary man who used excellently the lavish gifts God bestowed on him. The Church remembers him for his profound gift and love for Sacred Scripture, the Holy Spirit, Prayer and Mary.

Who are the Doctors of the Church?
These are today the 36 men and women all of them saints who have made great contribution to the development of theology and doctrine through extensive research and writing. St Lawrence Brandisi is one of these giants of our faith.

Our first Reading from Micah is for me one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. Who can forget this phrase?

"Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever, but instead delights in mercy, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our iniquities?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins." (Micah 7: 18 - 19).

No one is like God when it comes to mercy. His record on mercy is everywhere in the Scriptures.
The ABC of Mercy summarizes this:
A. Ask for Mercy.
B. Be merciful.
C. Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

God teaches us what is good for us.

"O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you." (Micah 6: 3 - 4).

Monday 20th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Apollinaris. (Bishop and Martyr). Syrian. Died 79 AD in Ravenna, Italy where he was Bishop. Two things are most fascinating about our saint of today, Apollinaris:
#1 The Apostle Peter himself ordained him a Bishop.
#2 St Apollinaris had an extraordinary gift of healing. The pagan Roman priests were so jealous of him that they persuaded Emperor Claudius to martyr him.

Many of us will be familiar with our lead Scripture for today from the Lenten liturgies. "O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you."

How sad it is that this captures the spirit of mankind. Consider this fact : Some of those who oppose migrations ferociously have themselves and their forebears benefitted most from what God characterized: "I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you."

Our Scripture for today may have greater insight for this pandemic period. God is calling for spiritual renewal. Some people reading this may not be alive in 30 days. The right question like the 3000 people that embraced Christianity after the sermon of St Peter on Pentecost Sunday is:
"Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2: 37). The answer is given by the Prophet Micah:

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

The Apostle Paul teaches the Corinthians:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God." (2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 4).

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