Saturday, February 06, 2021

How Jesus prayed.

"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed." (Mark 1: 35).

Sunday 7th February 2021, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus heal Peter's mother-in-law.  After sunset on the same day, Jesus went on a healing spree: casting out demons and healing many with various diseases. In this reflection, we want to focus on the prayer habits of Jesus. We start by making some point blank statements:

#1. Prayer is a priority for Jesus and not an after thought. He connects with His heavenly Father through prayer. We connect with Jesus through prayer.
#2. No prayer, no power for ministry.
#3. Jesus prayed in a solitary place. Other translations describe the place as: a desert place, a secluded place, a lonely spot, a place where He could be alone, a place in the wilderness, etc. We get the point. Not in Starbucks Coffee.

Spiritual writers write about the 3 S of Prayer:
#1. Sacred Place: We see this in today's Gospel.
#2. Sacred Time: We also see this in Mark's narrative. While everyone is snoozing, Jesus slipped out of the house to seek solitude in prayer.
#3. Sacred Intention: The intention is always the same. Communion with the Father.

To pray like Jesus, we must realize that Prayer is a sacrifice we must be willing to make. This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Prayer a battle. The devil wages an intense war to dissuade us from Prayer. St Alphonsus Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists and Bishop and Doctor of the Church writes that if you pray, you are saved. If you do not pray, you are lost

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Friday, February 05, 2021

The Feast of St Paul Miki and Companion Martyrs.

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6: 31).

Saturday 6th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Paul Miki of the Society of Jesus (+ 1597). Japanese Priest and his companion martyrs. They were stabbed with spears while raised on the cross.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus acted as a compassionate boss. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” You do not find such a behavior in the corporate world. It is work, work and work. If you fall dead, you will be replaced immediately.

Leisure is an important command in the Bible. God in His love ordered the Sabbath Rest so that people could have one full day for rest after working for six days. The Israelites experienced no rest as slaves in Egypt. No rest, no retirement. You work until you drop dead. There used to be little rest for the worker during the Industrial Revolution until the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII in 1891, Rerum Novarum called society to its responsibility to workers.
Jesus anticipated the Encyclical when He said to His disciples:

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted placement."

Man does not live on bread and money alone. The spirit and mind of man need to be nourished as well. If a balance is not maintained, there will be burnouts, breakdowns and crashes. This is the lot of some pastors. This need not happen because Jesus said: "Without Me, you can do nothing." The work is the Lord's.

In the Responsorial Psalm 23, Jesus has a great promise for us:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul."

Do not refuse the rest, the leisure provided by the Lord Jesus.

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Thursday, February 04, 2021

Trust Me completely with regards to money.

Trust Me completely with regards to money.

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my Helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

Friday 5th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary is First Friday in February and also the feast of St Agatha (+ 3rd century). Italian. Virgin and Martyr. Agatha resisted attempt to force her into marriage and refused to violate her vows of chastity. She resisted to the point of shedding her blood. The Lord Jesus, Prince of Virgins and Martyrs welcomed Agatha into Paradise.

"Everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2: 16).

Money is at the heart of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Our key Scripture for today deals with this ruthless enemy of the human heart that Jesus called "filthy lucre."

Many people are not ashamed to be obsessed with money. They believe that with money, they can get anything they want in life.

But God's word on money is straightforward: "Man does not live on money alone. There is life for him in every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Cf Matthew 4: 4). God further instructs us about money: "Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have."

When I heard this the first time, I asked God: "How can I be satisfied with what I have since I have so little. Not enough for rent, food, insurance, etc." God answered:
“I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my Helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 6).

I saw the ball is in my court to believe or not to believe. I chose to believe God. The belief brought me peace and trust in God's loving and powerful Providence. I came to understand what saints mean when they say: "GOD WILL PROVIDE."

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First Friday in February 2021. Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

February 5, 2021  -  First Friday in February.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 2nd  month of the year 2021, we look at Promise #2.

#2.  "I will give peace in their families."

My friends, many people like this promise. Why? Because peace in the family is the foundation of health and prosperity. Do not doubt this. Moreover, if there is peace in the family, there will be peace at work and school, peace in the nation and peace on earth!

Jesus is our peace. He is the Prince of Peace.  Would you accept today His generous offer of peace in your family?

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Take nothing for the journey.

"He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts."

Thursday 4th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time.

The student fishers of men are now ready for practicum. This would be their first practice teaching. They were to take no worldly backup: food, plenty of clothes, laptop, smart phones, wallet with many credit cards and plenty of cash. They were not to plan for every contingency to avoid unpleasant surprises.
When I worked for Unilever and traveled to foreign countries, this was standard practice. But not in the Kingdom that Christ founded.  We must follow the teaching and example of the Way.

Jesus Christ wanted the student fishermen to travel completely free of baggage and totally dependent on God for their provisions. They would learn that God is trustworthy as a Provider. Hospitality has been fully arranged. The Providence of God leaves nothing to chance.

Not trusting and not obeying this principle of the kingdom is the principal reason why many churches have dire money problems today. They rush to banks for loans and more loans. They carry the heavy burdens of debt. The Lord sits in Heaven and laughs at them:
"I told you: Seek first the kingdom of God and holiness of life above every other thing and all your needs shall be met." Holiness consists in acting as Jesus will act in every situation. "Do this and then try Me and see if I do not provide all your needs."

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Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Jesus was disappointed by the unbelief in His hometown.

"He was amazed at their lack of faith." (Mark 6: 6).

Wednesday February 3rd, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of two Bishops: Saints Blaise and Ansgar. Blaise (+ 316). Armenian. Martyred under Emperor Licinius. Blaise is known for his cures of throat ailments.

St Ansgar: (801 - 865). French. Worked in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Known as the Apostle of the North for his great evangelical success in these nations.

Our key Scripture is about the great disappointment of Jesus because of the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth in His teachings and miracles. Jesus was so amazed by their unbelief because He invested a great deal of His ministry in His hometown.

Our trust in God is in direct proportion to our awareness of what God is doing for us. The more aware you are, the more grateful you become and the more you trust God the next time you are in need. Imagine the teenage girl whose mom grooms with tender care. One day the mother overheard her telling her friend that it was her classmate mother that gave her all she has and taught her the little home economics she knows.
For us adults, our version of this behavior is to attribute all our good breaks to luck or hard work.
Paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 4, the Liturgy of the Hours put it poetically:
"Tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our trust, O King of kings." (Liturgy of the Hours: #52 Lauds Hymn).

Jesus had good reason to be disappointed by the inexplicable unbelief of the people of Nazareth when He compared it with the striking faith of the Centurion and the woman with the issue of blood. The Centurion and the woman are foreigners.

There is a pricey cost to wilful unbelief:
"Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness."
In order words, unbelief costs you your miracles.

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Monday, February 01, 2021

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2: 34 - 35).

Tuesday 2nd February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the great feast of the Presentation of the Lord. With this feast, the Church concludes the festivities of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. With the Presentation of the Child Jesus to His heavenly Father and the custom offering for the first born son Jesus, and the prophecy of Simeon, the saintly old prophet, the liturgical calendar now points to Easter.

Although this feast is not the Presentation of Mary but of Jesus, we want to reflect on the great insight into the Virgin Mother that we glean from this feast that we honor universally in the fourth mystery of the Holy Rosary. Consider Mary's: shining
Humility, silence, purity, obedience and charity.

Mary is the shining model of the Christian woman. St Monica, the mother of the great St Augustine imitated Mary. The result: Mother and son became great saints.
St Monica is the patron saint of these causes:
Married women and women with difficult marriages; undisciplined children; victims of adultery or unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse.

St Monica is a great intercessor for the causes listed above. The Blessed Virgin Mary is a greater intercessor for us in every need. She is the Mediatrix of all graces, all favors. Her intercession is indispensable in life in Christ. When in dire need, go to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pray her Rosary every day.

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Power of Faith.

"I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,
who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises." (Hebrews 11: 32 - 33).

Monday 1st February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time.

Hebrews 11 is the great chapter on Faith. We have seen that Faith is one of the greatest gifts in life.        "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith." (1 John 5: 4) proclaims the Beloved Disciple. What more could be said to convince you of the power of Faith.

Our key Scripture uses a powerful technique to convince us that without Faith, our lives will be unfulfilled. He uses testimonies and examples. Most of the names are familiar: David, Samuel. We can add Abraham, Elijah, Mary etc. These heroes of Faith teach us how to turn disadvantages into advantages with Faith. Their Faith is not a formality. If they are in battle, Faith is called upon as a vital armor. This trust in God is enduring through out the struggle.

How do we get this Faith?
#1. Daily nourishment with the word of God.
#2. Prayer is the activator of power in the mind.

A few examples of power producing prayer are below:

Father, I believe that You are a Father to me at every moment of my life, and that I am Your Child!
I believe that You love me with an infinite love!

I believe that You are watching over me night and day and that not a hair falls from my head without Your permission!

I believe that, in Your infinite Wisdom, You know better than I what is good for me.
I believe that, in Your infinite power, You can bring good even out of evil. 

I believe that, in your infinite goodness, You make everything to the advantage of those who love You:  even under the hands of those who strike me, I kiss Your hand which heals!

Prayers like the above affirm God's attributes in your mind at the moment of your greatest need. With bold faith, you can now ask for the specifics.

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