Saturday, February 11, 2023

Choose wisdom. Choose life.

Choose life and enjoy life. 

"If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;

"If you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. 

"Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.

"Immense is the wisdom of the Lord he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. 

"The eyes of God are on those who fear him; he understands man’s every deed. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin." (Sirach 15: 15 - 20).

Sunday 12th February 2023 of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time. 

Our reflection on the word of the Holy Spirit for the Churches this Sunday is from the first Reading. The Book of Sirach is from the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. The message this Sunday is simple. Seek wisdom. Find wisdom at all cost. 

Why wisdom? Because wisdom is the gift that enables you to make good choices. The opposite of wisdom is foolishness. An example is the Prodigal Son. He made bad choices. See where it landed him. 

In the Gospel, Jesus says:

"Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

It is utter folly to choose a life that is opposed to the eternal word of God. The consequences will be concrete and immediate. This is because one has chosen to live a life that is opposed to the Divine Providence of God for him. 

"If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you."

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Friday, February 10, 2023

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. 

World Day of Prayer for the Sick. 

"The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, "Where are you?"

He answered, "I heard you in the garden;

but I was afraid, because I was naked,

so I hid myself."

"Then he asked, "Who told you that you were naked?

You have eaten, then,

from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!"

"The man replied, "The woman whom you put here with me—

she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it."

"The LORD God then asked the woman,

"Why did you do such a thing?"

"The woman answered, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it."

"Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

"Because you have done this, you shall be banned

from all the animals

and from all the wild creatures;

On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat

all the days of your life.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

He will strike at your head,

while you strike at his heel."

"To the woman he said:

"I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing;

in pain shall you bring forth children.

Yet your urge shall be for your husband,

and he shall be your master."

"To the man he said: "Because you listened to your wife

and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,

"Cursed be the ground because of you!

In toil shall you eat its yield

all the days of your life.

Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your face

shall you get bread to eat,

Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken;

For you are dirt,

and to dirt you shall return."

"The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.

"For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments, with which he clothed them.

"Then the LORD God said: "See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is evil!

Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand

to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever."

"The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.

When he expelled the man,

he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,

to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3: 9 - 24).

Saturday February 11th 2023 in the 5th Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This feast marks the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother Mary to St Bernadette Soubirous. It is also the World Day of Prayers for the Sick. 

Pope John Paul II instituted February 11 as the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. 

In the first Reading, the Lord said to Satan in the Garden:

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;

He will strike at your head,

while you strike at his heel."

God's intention in creation was not that humans will die of poisons and illnesses. Death was the work of the Devil.  About the Fall, our Redemption was prophesied in Genesis 3: 15.

We see the Blessed Virgin Mary literally fullfilling this prophecy in Lourdes in the feast of today. 

Lourdes in France became a place of healing. People from all nations and faith have experienced physical, spiritual and emotional healing in Lourdes. 

The Responsorial Psalm 90 expresses well our faith and gratitude. 

"In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge." We are comforted by the truth that in every change in life, God remains faithful. 

Daily Bible Verse @

Thursday, February 09, 2023

The Feast of St Scholastica OSB, Virgin and Foundress.

The Feast of St Scholastica, Virgin and Foundress of a Religious Order. 

"Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the Lord God had made.

"The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” 

"The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’” 

"But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.”

"The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

"When they heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3: 1 - 8).

Friday 10th February 2023 in the 5th Week of February  is the feast of St Scholastica, Virgin and Religious. (480 - 547). Italian. Religious nun.  She founded the Benedictine Nuns that continue to serve the Church for 1500 years. Scholastica is the twin sister of the great St Benedict. St Scholastica is the patron saint of education, convulsive children and  Benedictine Nuns.

The first Reading from Genesis 3: 1 - 8 is one of the best known Scripture in the Bible. Call it the Story of the tragic Fall. At the root of the Fall of Adam and Eve is their lack of faith in God. Eve chose to trust the words of the Serpent over the words of God. 

Every trial in life is a trial of faith. Who do you believe? God or Satan, the Father of lies. At the heart of Religion is Worship. God created us. We worship Him and show allegiance to Him. The Fall of Adam and Eve introduced a necessary and important element into Religion: Sacrifice. God is not a vengeful God. So God made Thanksgiving the very heart of Sacrifice. 

What a happy fault of Adam and Eve that brought Jesus Christ to come as our Redeemer and Savior. How fortunate we are for the faults of Adam and Eve. 

I was asked recently: What are my obstacles to faith? To trusting God completely? The powerful, merciful and mysterious Providence of God is the greatest obstacle. 

Others have answered: the obstinate evil and suffering in the world. This group may point to the category 7.8 earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria in the past couple of days. 

The Church light of the world urges us to trust in the mighty, merciful and mysterious Providence of God that governs all things. In all changes, our God remains faithful. 

Daily Bible Verse @

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Don't be afraid to bargain with God.

"Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. 

"Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.

"He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

"She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

"Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone." (Mark 7: 24 - 30).

Thursday February 9th in the 5th Week of Ordinary Time. 

I like the story of the woman in today's Gospel a lot. First, we do not know her name. She is labeled as a Syrophoenician woman. Did you notice what she did when she approached Jesus? "She came and fell at his feet." Her great needs powered faith. She inwardly decided not to be discouraged by Jesus initial refusal of her request, she decided that she was determined to haggle with God. 

We can dialog, argue and haggle with God and persuade God to show His merciful love to our needs. 

Abraham, Moses and David bargained and God yielded to them. 

I come from a country where haggling for prices is a way of commerce. I am happy to haggle with God in my prayers from time to time. 

Do not be afraid to bargain with God in your prayers. Tell God: "I am asking what You promised. Give me this or in accordance with your merciful, mighty and mysterious Providence, give me 10,000 patience. Give me one or the other." Amen! 

Daily Bible Verse @

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Feast of St Josephine Bakhita, Virgin and Religious.

Feast of St Josephine Bakhita and St Jerome Emiliani. 

"Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them:

“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

"When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them:

“Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. 

"All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7: 14 - 23).

Wednesday February 8th 2023 in the 5th Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Josephine Bakhita and St Jerome Emiliani. 

St Josephine Bakhita (1869 - 1947). Sudanese. Virgin and Religious. Josephine was brought to Italy as a slave. By Divine Providence, she became a sister of the Canossian order. Her exemplary and holy life was noticed. She bore patiently and heroically her last illness. Pope St John Paul II brought her relics to Sudan where she was canonized in 2000. St Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan and victims of human trafficking.

St Jerome Emiliani. (1481 - 1537). Italian. Priest. Jerome was wayward as a young man. When he was surprised by grace, his life changed 360 degrees. He founded a religious congregation (Somaschi) which looked after the sick, the poor and orphans and abandoned children. St Jerome Emiliani died of the plague while ministering to the afflicted.

Jesus teaches: “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. 

"All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Can we live a life that is undefiled? Not possible without the power of the enabling Holy Spirit. 

St Paul warned the Galatians: "I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.  Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another." (Galatians 5: 21 - 26).

Brethren, let us remain in the Holy Spirit and our salvation will be assured. 

Daily Bible Verse @

Monday, February 06, 2023

You are hypocrites.

What is hypocrisy? How can a baptized Christian avoid hypocrisy? 

"When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.) 

"So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” 

"He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:

"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.

"You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother, and Whoever curses father or mother shall die. 

"Yet you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.” (Mark 7: 1 - 13).

Tuesday February 7th 2023 of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time. 

The confrontation of Jesus in today's Gospel is time for frank talk with His adversaries. 

Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites. 

How often do you defend the truth of the Catholic Church when it is savaged by extremists or the media. 

You cannot do this unless the Holy Spirit is in you granting you the gift of fortitude. 

Prepare yourself to live fully your Baptismal commitment and the grace of Confirmation by activating the Holy Spirit in you. 

Daily Bible Verse @

Sunday, February 05, 2023

In faith, they touched his tassel and were healed at once.

The Feast of St Paul Miki, SJ and his Companion Martyrs. 

Monday 6th February 2023 in the 5th Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Paul Miki of the Society of Jesus (+ 1597). Japanese Priest  and 25 Companion Martyrs. St Paul Miki, a Japanese Jesuit and his 25 companions faced death courageously in Nagasaki, Japan in 1597 and thus were the first Christian martyrs in East Asia. 

The bloody persecution of the Church in Japan wiped out the Church in Japan and seemed to have obliterated the missionary efforts of St Francis Xavier, SJ and others. The mystery of Divine Providence is inscrutable! The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity, says Tertulian. 

"After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. 

"They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.

"Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed." (Mark 6: 53 - 56).

By faith, the sick and their friends who brought them to Jesus believed that if they touched the tassel of the cloak of Jesus they would be healed. 

By faith, St Paul Miki and his companions decided to face death than to be enticed by the flimsy and shallow pleasures of this world. We celebrate their lives today as members of the Communion of the Saints. 

In the first Reading from Genesis 1: 1 - 19, we note the way and manner God created the world. Step by step. 

Incrementally. Rome and Washington DC were not built in one day. Adam and Eve ruined the first creation by their foolish disobedience. The second creation was inaugurated with the Baptism of Jesus. With our Baptism, we become the children of God and heirs to all the promises of God in Jesus. 

Do not throw away your confidence in the promises of God. 

Daily Bible Verse @

Become salt to your world.

You are the Salt and Light of the World. 

Sunday 5th February in the 5th Week of Ordinary Time. 

I keep a small bottle of salt and a small electric light without shade on my desktop to remind me of this awesome truth. 

St John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church commenting on this verse alluded to the gruesome corruption in the world. Salt is essential to preserve what can be preserved. Every baptized Christian has this saltiness in him that comes with the gift of the Sacrament of Baptism. Become salt in your home, church and workplace by becoming the salt of truth. Challenge the culture of falsehood and fake news that is corrupting even Catholic Media. 

As the light of the world, become joyful in hope and thankful in everything. The world today is starved of joyful spirit. Joy is infectious. It is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I prayed for the gift of joy for a long time. When people ask: "Why are you brimming with joy?" I laugh and point to the Holy Spirit.

St Teresa of Kolkata is a saint that brimmed with joy. St Philip Neri refers to Cheerfulness as a great tool for evangelization. Cheerfulness and joyfulness are one and the same thing. Finally Brethren:

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23‭-‬25). 

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