Saturday, March 18, 2023

The man born blind.

This man was born blind. 

"As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.

His disciples asked him,

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."  (John 9: 1 - 3).

Sunday, March 19th 2023, 4th Week in Lent. This Sunday is called Laetare Sunday, that is: Rejoice Sunday! We have made it to the mid point of Lent. It is a good reason to be joyful.

Many adverse human conditions are not associated with sin.  Of the poor, sick, homeless, refugees, lonesome, Jesus says:  "It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."  (John 9: 3).

St Francis of Assisi said:  "Alms are an inheritance and a justice which is due to the poor and which Jesus has levied upon us."

"Wealth … is like a snake; it will twist around the hand and bite unless one knows how to use it properly."  (St Clement of Alexandria.“).

"The rich man who gives to the poor does not bestow alms but pays a debt."  ( St. Ambrose of Milan).

"Our prayers and fastings are of less avail, unless they are aided by almsgiving."  (St Cyprian).

Jesus gave back sight to the man born blind. He gave him much more besides. He gave him wisdom and the courage to be a witness to God's marvelous works. So the man became better off than those who were born with sight but in fact are blind spiritually. Every disadvantage is a blessing.

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Friday, March 17, 2023

Feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

Feast of Cyril of Jerusalem, the Master Catechist. 

"Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 

The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 

"But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 

"I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 9 - 14).

Saturday March 18th 2023 in the 3rd Week of Lent  is the feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem. Bishop and Doctor of the Church. (315 - 386). St Cyril was the Archbishop of Jerusalem when the Arian heresy disturbed the peace of the Church all over the Roman Empire.

Cyril vigorously defended the unchangeable teachings of the Church. For this, he suffered multiple exiles from the See of Jerusalem. St Cyril is recognized in history by his catechetical works. He prepared multitudes of Catechumens to receive Baptism and helped the Neophytes after Easter to grow in the faith. What is really providential in the work and legacy of St Cyril is that he documented his teachings which have come to us. His writings of over 1600 years ago prove that the Catholic Church is the same in teachings and beliefs in the late 300s as she is today. Nothing has changed.

Our takeaway from today's well-known Gospel sounds simple enough:

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How does one exalt himself? You exalt yourself when you overrate yourself. You exalt yourself when you consider yourself superior to your neighbors based on the color of your skin. You exalt yourself when you consider yourself the knowall in any area of knowledge. 

How does one humble himself? Simply, be like Jesus. Be like the Virgin Mary. Be like the saints. An example, our saint of today: St Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Cyril was a very humble man. Although one of the most learned in his epoch, he was a very humble man. 

Examination of Conscience and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most effective tools in acquiring humility teaches St Philip Neri. 

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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Feast of St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland.

St Patrick Missionary Bishop. 

"One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

 Jesus replied: “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 

"And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions." (Mark 12:  28 - 34).

Friday 17th March 2023 in the 3rd Week of  Lent is the feast of St Patrick. (389 - 461). Born in Britain. Bishop and great Missionary to Ireland.

Patrick was captured by Irish pirates at the age of 16 and subjected to the harsh life of slavery for years. He escaped, went to Europe and became a priest. Then he came back to Ireland to convert the Irish people to Christianity. St Patrick is the Apostle of Ireland and patron saint of Puerto Rico and Nigeria and 29 dioceses all over the world.

 St Patrick teaches us that persistence in prayer breaks resistance. St Patrick had a great desire to become a priest. He was opposed by powerful clerics because he was considered too old and not able to withstand the rigors of the studies involved. Convinced by the intensity of his desire, he persisted. Result: St Patrick became a priest and a Bishop. 

In the Gospel of today from Mark 12, Jesus teaches us the greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

This is what St Patrick, our Saint of today believed and lived. His written testimony is below. 

"I bear witness in truth and joyfulness of heart before God and his holy angels that the one and only purpose I had in going back to that people from whom I had earlier escaped was the Gospel and the promises of God. I now pray for anyone who believes in and fears God and who may perchance come upon this writing that Patrick, the sinner and the unlearned one, wrote in Ireland." (St Patrick). 

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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A House divided cannot stand.

A House divided against itself will collapse. 

"Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.

"Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” 

"Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.

"But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. 

And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? 

"For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? 

"Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. 

"When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils.

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11: 14 - 23).

Thursday March 16th 2023 in the 3rd Week of Lent. 

Today's Scripture points us to reflect on the reality of Spiritual Warfare. 

Are you one of those sophisticated scientific Christians who despise the reality of demons and spiritual combat? 

If you are, think again because you may be about 50% or 60% Catholic at the best. This is because the Church defines a Catholic as: He who believes in the all that is contained in Sacred Scripture and believes everything taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This includes: The Sacraments, Sacramentals, the Hierarchy, etc. 

The Season of Lent has been known as a Season of Desert Experience by Christians. This is the period when most Christians are severely tested in their walk with Jesus. 

I learned during my years with the RCIA that most Catechumens and Candidates are very tempted to leave the Process at this time. The Church applies the Rite of Exorcism to help all those preparing to enter the Church at Easter Vigil. 

How do we protect ourselves from demonic assaults? 

Holy water, crucifix, Bible, Chaplet, Sign of the Cross, holy Medals and pictures. 

All these are sacramentals. 

They all belong to the treasury of graces that Jesus bequeathed His Church. 

Use them. Put on the full armor of God always. 

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

I do not come to abolish the Law.

The promised new law is the Holy Spirit. 

"Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. 

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.” (Matthew 5: 17 - 19).

Wednesday 15th March 2023 in the 3rd Week of Lent. 

"From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1: 16 - 17).

From the fullness of Jesus Christ, we have received the fullness of the Promise of God: the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit through the word of God gives us inspiration and power to live like the children of God. 

Renew your Baptismal promises frequently this Lent and be refreshed with fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. 

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.

Ask and Receive the Grace to Forgive. 

"Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

"Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. 

"At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. 

"When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.

 Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ 

"Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18: 21 - 35).

Tuesday March 14th 2023 in the 3rd Week of Lent. 

Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Only God can mend a broken egg. How many times has God mended me? 

I have unusual experiences of brokenness and mending. Here are three examples with Forgiveness:

  1. I was unjustly fired from my job. It caused me a couple of years anguish and real poverty. I forgave the managers who conspired against me. 

  2. Someone took the house I built without compensation. I forgave this person. 

  3. When my father died, a close friend did not commiserate with me. I did not forgive this person for years. Many years after, the person lost the mother and father almost back to back. I did not send condolence messages. It was time for sweet revenge. 

The Lord is rich in mercy. He healed my heart. Now I pray for people who offended me every day. 

Four steps I learned about forgiveness:

  1. Forgive immediately. 

  2. Forgive every offense no matter what. 

  3. Pray every day for the person who offended you until the poison of unforgivenness drains from your heart. 

  4. Ask God to grant grace to everyone you offended to forgive you. 

Lent is the Season to seek forgiveness and obtain the grace to forgive. 

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Sunday, March 12, 2023

Naaman's Healing is a type of the power of Baptism.

By faith Naaman was healed of his leprosy. 

"Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the Lord had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.

"Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife. “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,” she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.” 

Naaman went and told his lord just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said. “Go,” said the king of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments. To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”

 When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.”

Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”

"But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the Lord his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left.

"But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. 

His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. 

On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” (2 Kings 5: 1 - 15ab).

Monday 13th March 2023 of the 3rd Week in Lent. 

The 1st Reading from 2 Kings is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. This is why:

  1. The story is type and shadow of God's miraculous intervention in our lives. 

  2. It is specifically the type of Baptism. 

  3. It teaches us that God's ways are not our ways. 

  4. God does not need a huge army to give victory. Cf David and Goliath. Nor does God need a first class teaching hospital to heal diseases. 

  5. God needs Obedience of Faith. 

During the Lenten Season, the Church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit puts together the crème de la crème of Sacred Scripture for the consumption of the obedient children of God. 

Immerse yourself seven days a week in Scriptures during Lent and your soul will be healed. 

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