Saturday, January 30, 2021

Jesus Christ the Rabbi.

"[Jesus] came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he 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).

Sunday 31st January, in the 4th Week of Ordinary Time.

In the public ministry of Jesus the Christ, He fed the crowd, He healed the sick. He cast out demons and raised the dead. The crowd and teachers of the law remembered Jesus most for His electrifying skills as a Teacher. "He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes."

Jesus bequeathed the authority to teach to the Church He founded. Where is this authority and how does it work? The authority is called Magisterium from the Latin word, magister which means teacher. It resides in the Pope who is the universal pastor and teacher in the Church. The Pope shares this authority with his Brother Bishops. Only with Bishops who are in Communion with the Pope. The Bishop is the Pastor-in-Chief and Teacher in his diocese. He delegates this authority to priests and catechists in his local church. The Teachers are to teach with clarity. No ambiguity. No equivocation.

The Devil is the agent who sows the tares after the farmer has planted the good seeds and gone home. Tares are pernicious doctrines, lies and campaigns of disinformation against the true doctrine of the Church. This cancer has plagued the Church from the very beginning. This is the greatest threat to the core mission of the Church, Evangelization. A House divided cannot stand. This is why we need to stand strong united in one heart, one mind and one purpose in the mission of Jesus Christ.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

How I deal with fears.

“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4: 40).

Saturday 30th January 2021, in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time.

Can fear be learned? A child who sees her friend put her hand on a hot stove and be burned would be afraid to try the same thing. Just as fear can be learned and unlearned, faith and trust can be learned and forgotten.

The human mind can hold faith or fear but not faith and fear at the same time. In our key Scripture for today, we see the disciples of Jesus terrified by a raging sea. Jesus was in the boat sound asleep. They rudely woke Him up by their panicky screams. They showed that after all the miracles they had seen, they still lacked confidence in Jesus.

The first Reading from Hebrews and the Gospel from Mark deal with faith. Faith is probably the most important subject in the Bible. Without faith, we cannot please God. Without faith we cannot enjoy the fruits of Redemption like the Sacraments and miracles. In its essence, faith is a very simple concept to understand. Faith is believing that what God says to you is true and will happen come what may. For example: A woman prays for the fruit of the womb. God says: "Yes I will do it." The woman goes home and trusts in God's word. She knows that God's word cannot fail no matter how long it takes for the promise to be fulfilled. When it is fulfilled, she makes a note of it because she wants to remember it. She wants the remembrance to help her the next time she has needs.

Different people have developed different ways of dealing with fear. The one that works for me is from Mark 5: 36: "Fear is useless. All you need is trust."
I copy this Scripture and post it on the wall where I can see it easily. When I am afraid, I look at it and repeat it several times. I add: "This is my word from God. My word from God is not fear or worry or doubt but trust."

You can defeat fear, worry and doubt with faith. Read the Bible every day.

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

What happened to your bold confidence?

"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense.  You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised." (Hebrews 10: 35 - 36).

Friday 29th January 2021, in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time.

Can you remember a time in your life when you trusted God with abandon? Perhaps graduation, wedding, first job, first house? Everything seemed possible. You believed the sky was the limit. What happened to that bold confidence? Yes, you had a couple of rude trials on the way and you allowed this awesome trust in God to die.

Now you have a second chance and you are learning what you did not know the first time about how faith works. You learn the following truths:

#1. The test of your sincerity, your conversion is endurance. What is your staying power (hang on) power when trial comes? One day, two weeks, a couple of months?
#2. The just person lives by faith. Faith in the promise of God which can never fail.
#3. A firm conviction that the gracious and mysterious will of God is the best thing for you always, everywhere and in everything.

Armed with this new knowledge, you resolve never again to neglect daily prayer, daily nourishment from the word of God. You commit yourself never to slacken in doing good to your neighbor.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Feast of the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools, St Thomas Aquinas.

“Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4: 24 - 25).

Thursday 28th January 2021, is the feast of the Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas. (1225 - 1274). Italian. Dominican Priest. Doctor of the Church. He wrote the Summa Theologica. Apart from being one of the greatest theologians in the Church, Thomas is noted for his humility and holiness.

The NABRE rendition of our key Scripture for today is not clear. Let us use the NLT translation for our reflection today:

“Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (NLT).

What is Jesus saying here?
Scripture is God's love letter to you. Do you read a love letter once? You read it many times. The more you read it, the more you appreciate the love codes and nuances. But those who have little love for the sender, browse through the letter rapidly and toss it away.

St Thomas Aquinas has a great  longing for the word of God and Jesus revealed to him a ton of truth.

Do you yearn to know Jesus passionately? Do you have a teachable heart? Do you try to apply the spiritual truths of Sacred Scripture to your life?
To receive, you must start by receiving the word Now. The more you receive what is offered Today, the more you will receive Tomorrow.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Sower of the seed is Jesus. If you find Him, you will find life and peace.

"The seed is the word of God, Christ the sower; whoever finds this seed will remain for ever." (Gospel Acclamation).

Wednesday 27 January 2021 in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Angela Merici (1474 - 1540), Virgin.  Italian. She founded the Ursuline Order, the first women teaching order in the Church. St Angela believed that the formation and education of Christian women is society's greatest investment.
Convinced of this truth, St. Angela Merici founded the Company of St. Ursula,  [Ursulines] a secular institute devoted to educating young women to be Christian wives, mothers, teachers, and catechists.

The Seed in the Parable of the Sower is the word of God and the Sower is Jesus the Word of God. Not every soil is born equal.

"Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit." (Mark 4: 18 - 19).

The causes of barrenness in Kingdom investment are listed in Mark 4: 18 - 19:
#1. Worries about this life.
#2. Deceitfulness of wealth.
#3. Desires of other things. For example: Success and nice things of life.

These three are killers of faith and peace.

What is the clear prescription by the Divine Physician? In order to return the soil to fruitfulness?
#1. Singleness of purpose in seeking and finding Christ Jesus. Put in another way. Seek Jesus and make Him your first priority in life. Make His way of talking and doing things your way. Believe absolutely that Jesus will provide all your needs always, everywhere and in everything.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Who is my mother?

 “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3: 34 - 35).

Tuesday 26th January, in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus. Timothy (+ 97). Jewish mother and a Greek father. He was ordained by St Paul as Bishop of Ephesus. He was a disciple of Paul and traveled with Paul in some of his missionary journeys.
Titus (+ 96 or 107). Ordained Bishop of Crete by St Paul. Both Timothy and Titus had very difficult churches to oversee in Ephesus and Crete respectively.
The harsh experiences of Timothy and Titus as Bishops vindicates the prophetic utterance of Jesus in our key Scripture.  Those who do the will of God are the brothers and sisters and true disciple of Jesus. Encouraged by the letters of St Paul, Titus and Timothy persevered in their posts till their martyrdom.

The will of God. The will of God. What do you think of the will of God? This important phrase appears to have disappeared from Christian speech and literature.  When I was growing up, it was rare not to hear it or read about it many times a day. Yet our happiness, well being and destiny is tied to the will of God.

In the most important prayer Jesus left us, He intended that we pray: "Father, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
Mary who is our model disciple prayed at the Annunciation, and we must imagine at the Birth of Jesus in the stable and when the Boy Jesus was lost for three days and finally at the foot of the Cross:
"Be it done to me according to your will."

If you are able to discern God’s will in everything that concerns you, you will be a very happy person.  The will of God is not only good but the best and the perfect thing for you in everything. (Cf Romans 12: 2).
We pray in the Liturgy of the Hours: "Father, Your will is our peace." The peace of God is the Shalom of God containing our perfect and best desires.

The Church teaches that through the operations of Divine Providence, God provides us all our possible needs from womb to tomb in accordance with His generous riches. But the will of God is not only gracious but mysterious. Here are a few examples:
#1. Abraham and Sarah waited for 25 years for the fulfillment of the promise of a son.
#2. Joseph before he became the Prince of Egypt was sold as a slave to an Egyptian master who sent him to prison to languish until the fullness of time when God rescued him to fulfill His destiny for Joseph.
#3. David waited for about 15 years after he was anointed king of Israel to see the actualisation of the promise.
#4. Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God was tortured and crucified but rose from the dead.

All the above four examples and many more in the Bible are in accordance with the gracious and mysterious will of God and His most loving Providence.

I just finished reading an excellent book on the will of God by St Alphonsus Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. The book is called: "UNIFORMITY WITH GOD'S WILL." After finishing the book, I wondered why God did not put this book into my hand in the prime of youth. My life would be totally different. The answer is simple: This is the perfect time. All things work out for good to those who love and obey God. (Cf Romans 8: 28).

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

 "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you." (John 15: 16).

Monday 25th January 2021, in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time is the important feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

Why is the feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul a very important feast in the Church?

#1. Christ Jesus undertook the conversion of St Paul Himself. No delegation of duty. No intermediary. Like all the other Apostles, it was a personal choice, call and anointing.
#2. Paul is the greatest missionary and evangelist in the Church.
#3. Paul wrote most of the New Testament.

What do we learn from the Conversion of St Paul?
#1. We share a vocation with the great Apostle: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16: 15).
#2. People are converted through hearing the testimonies of converted people. Testimony also means witnessing. When you witness to what God has done for you, it is very powerful. If you received the COVID vaccine and witness to family and friends about how great you feel, you unleash the power of testimony, witnessing. This is why autobiographies and biographies are powerful genre of literature. They leverage the power of example and testimony.

It is not an accident that the Conversion of St Paul is repeated three times in the Acts of the Apostles in considerable length. The Holy Spirit is teaching the Church the best practice in Evangelization. Do not hide the blessings of God. Shout them.

"They [converts] only kept hearing that “the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” So they glorified God because of me." (Galatians 1: 23 - 24).
This powerful example of Paul encouraged the faith of all.

The Church exists for only One Thing: Evangelization. Jesus is appealing to us:

"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16: 15).
How do you start?
"You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses..." (Acts 1: 8).
No Holy Spirit, No power. Ask the Lord Jesus with confident boldness for the Gift of the Holy Spirit for Evangelization. And you can start evangelizing right away with your smart phone. Do you have a phone with Internet connection? Do you  have an address book on your phone? Start sharing Scriptures and the blogs you like. Cost of Evangelization? $0.
Benefits: Joy and contentment that flood you because of the Obedience of Faith. It is ridiculous not to try.

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