Saturday, April 17, 2021

Why are you full of doubt and fear?

"Then Jesus said to them [Apostles], “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?" (Luke 24: 38).

Sunday 18th April 2021, in the 3rd Week of Easter.

Do you suffer from fear, worry and doubt? Every human being does. Psalm 56 says: "When I fear, I will trust in God. In God whose word I praise. In God whose word I trust. In God I put all my trust fearing nothing. What can mortal man do to me?" (Psalm 56: 3 - 4, 10 - 11, 13).

My friend, the cure for fear, worry and doubt is in Psalm 56. For many years, I used this maxim to combat fear, worry and doubt:  When I feel afraid, I shout: No fear. No worry. No doubt. It worked for me. In Easter Season 2021, I have updated my response to the three killer spiritual monsters with an acronym: TOS: TRUST. OBEDIENCE. SURRENDER.

Ask Jesus to give you your response to fear, worry and doubt.

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Friday, April 16, 2021

This is Jesus. Do not be afraid.

"But Jesus said to them [Apostles], “It is I. Do not be afraid.” (John 6: 20).

Saturday 17th April 2021, in the 2nd Week of Easter.

Jesus said to the Apostles who panicked on seeing Him walking on the sea towards their boat: “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Jesus puts them at ease by identifying Himself: "It is I." This expression could mean "I AM." His word, the self identification of Yahweh was enough to calm their nerves.

A word from God is enough to bring light, courage, peace and joy to our hearts. Once upon a time, I spent a night alone in a house in the countryside. The house had a wall round it with a gate. There were fruit trees in the backyard. About 1 am in the morning, I heard a large thud that sounded like some heavy person had jumped into the yard. I was deeply frightened. I sat on the bed in cold sweat wondering what to do. "Look for a heavy object like metal or wood to defend myself." At that moment, I heard these words in my heart:
"If the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain do the sentries defend it."

The full Verse is this:
"Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain." (Psalm 127: 1).
This is one of my favorite verses in the Scriptures. The Lord used the same Scripture I repeat so often to bring me peace that dark night.

Jesus used the Scripture I know to identify Himself." "I AM here. Do not be afraid." I went back to sleep and did not turn till about 7 am. When I checked the backyard to see what happened, I saw that it was a large breadfruit that had fallen down.

Jesus says to us always:
"It is I. Do not be afraid!" God is in His word. Those who memorize their favorite Scriptures are on to something very important. You do not know when they will come handy.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Peter and John rejoiced to suffer abuse for the name of Jesus.

"After recalling the apostles [Peter and John], they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." (Acts 5: 40 - 41).

Friday 16th April 2021, in the 2nd Week of Easter.

The first Reading in today's Liturgy from Acts 5: 34 - 42 is probably one of the strongest passages in post Easter catechesis.
Our key Scripture Acts 5: 40 - 41 shows Peter and John passing the test of discipleship with flying colors.  After they were flogged severely with 40 lashes, they rejoiced that "they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." Jesus taught that the disciple rejoice for suffering persecution for His name and consider himself blessed for doing so. For Peter and John, the teaching of Jesus is no longer theory, they now possess a strong material for testimony. "We did it."

The second Scripture from the first Reading, you may call the Gamaliel Principle. Gamaliel was one of the most important Doctors of Sacred Scripture at this time. He was a teacher of St. Paul. He enunciated a principle, a word of wisdom to guide the Supreme Court of Israel on how to handle Peter and John. Options may be: Torture and kill them? Torture and long prison sentences with heavy labor? Below is the counsel of Gamaliel:

"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him." (Acts 5: 38 - 39).

I have used the Gamaliel Principle for discerning God's will. It has often brought me wisdom and peace. About rejoicing in being made to suffer for the name of Jesus, I am beginning to appreciate this and with the help of the Holy Spirit will get it.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Obedience is better than sacrifice.

"But Peter and [John] the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5: 29).

Thursday 15th April 2021, in the 2nd Week of Easter.

We must obey God rather than men. A great Christian principle is laid down by the Apostle Peter. This Christian principle will lead many Christians to martyrdom including Peter and all the Apostles.

What is Obedience? Obedience comes from the Latin word "oboedire" which can be translated  as listening to the one speaking to you. We understand this when God complains through His prophets that His people do not listen to His voice. They refused to listen to Him. A child who does not listen to his parents will never obey them. The child does not want the parents to stop his planned course of behavior.

Those who did not listen to God and disobeyed Him include:
Adam and Eve, Saul, the first king of Israel, King Ahaz and a line of rebellious kings after him. God says that disobedience is a criminal offense:

"Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. ” (1 Samuel 15: 3). God rejected Saul the first king of Israel because of his disobedience.
"So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

Those who obeyed God:
We must mention first our Leader and Captain, Jesus Christ. He obeyed the Father unto death and set us an example as a faithful and true Witness [Martyr].

Obedience often results in severe persecution. Examples: John the Baptist, the Apostles, Pope St Martin I, St Thomas More, etc. The Roman Martyrology is the record of known martyrs. In its unupdated form, it is bursting with the names of women and men who gave their lives for Jesus. Most of them would not have been condemned if they had chosen to disobey Jesus and obey the worldly powers.

How can you prepare yourself to obey God? Remember the meaning of Obedience. Start with a willingness to listen to God. Commit yourself to listening to God in the Holy Scriptures every day. Through this exercise, the Holy Spirit will transform your mind. A transformed mind is able to discern the will of God in everything. (See Romans 12: 2).
Pray daily for grace to hear God and obey Him.

Ask God daily for the gift of His Awesome Spirit. We hear from Jesus in today's Gospel that the Father does not ration His Spirit. You receive the Holy Spirit in direct proportion to your desire and preparation for the Gift.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Yes Lord, I will share Your Gospel with my brothers and sisters.

"But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them [Peter and John] out, and said,  “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” (Acts 5: 19 - 20).

Wednesday 14th April 2021, in the 2nd Week in the Easter Season.

A note in the margin of the Daily Roman Missal for Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter reads: "Mission/Purpose Wednesday." Why? The Scriptures for this Wednesday are replete of Mission statements. Peter and John discovered in Acts 5: 19 - 20, that when God anoints you for a mission, no force on earth can stop you. Did not God promise:

"I have set in front of you an open door that no one can shut." (Revelation 3: 8 CEB).

In the Gospel of today, we are urged to proclaim the Good News to everyone, everywhere in the world:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3: 16).

Our response to the divine invitation to come forward and participate in the work of evangelization is proposed for us in the Entrance Antiphon:

"I will be a witness to You in the world O Lord.  I will spread the knowledge of your name among my brothers, Alleluia! " (Psalm 18:50;  22 :23 RM)

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Feast of Pope St Martin I, Intrepid Witness.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony." (John 3: 11).

Tuesday 13th April 2021, in the 2nd Week of Easter is the feast of Pope St Martin 1. Italian. Pope and Martyr. St Martin suffered martyrdom because of his defense of the truth that Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% Man. Emperor Constans II got him arrested and exiled him to Crimea where he suffered much abuse and humiliation. Martin wrote from prison: “For forty-seven days, I have not been given water to wash in. I am frozen through and wasting away…. But God sees all things and I trust in him.”

Our key Scripture for today could have been spoken by Pope St Martin I: "Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony." (John 3: 11). For the past 2000 years, saints and martyrs following the example of Jesus have been persecuted for speaking the truth they know. The adversaries have no answers to refute them. But like Pilate, Herod, Henry VIII, Hitler and Stalin they had brute force and they responded accordingly. The brutal persecution did not stop the Gospel from spreading.

"You, O Christ, are the faithful witness [Martyr], the First-born from the dead, you have loved us and have washed away our sins with your blood. (Cf Revelation 1: 5).

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Now that you have been born anew, know your privileges.

"Jesus answered and said to him [Nicodemus], “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (John 3: 3).

Monday 12th April 2021, in the 2nd Week of Easter.

Jesus was born, lived and died to establish the Kingdom of God.

Jesus answered Nicodemus in the AMP translation, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.”

The carnal man is incapable of experiencing spiritual things. He is acquainted only with material carnal things. (Cf Romans 8: 6; 1 Corinthians 2: 14). This is is what Jesus teaches Nicodemus. This is also a truth anyone can bear witness to by reflecting on his acquaintances.

Everything is created twice. The first creation is from the earth and unsurprisingly earthy. The second creation is from above and is heavenly. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the second birth. And this happens when we are baptized. We become born anew and in fact new creation.

Since we died with Christ when we were immersed into the water of Baptism and raised with Christ, let us seek what is above where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. (Cf Colossians 3: 1).

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