Posts Tagged ‘do not be afraid’

Morning Prayer for Sunday, December 9, 2018 —

December 9, 2018

A hermit’s life is not a normal or natural one. We all need to be by ourselves at times, but we cannot really live without the companionship and fellowship of others. Our natures demand it. Our lives depend largely upon it. Do I fully appreciate the fellowship — and what it means to me?

Image result for my soul is restless until it rests in you

Meditation for the Day

We are all seeking something, but many do not know what they want in life. They are seeking something because they are restless and dissatisfied, without realizing that faith in God can give an objective and a purpose to their lives. Many of us are at least subconsciously seeking for a Power greater than ourselves because that would give a meaning to our existence. If you have found that Higher Power, you can be the means of leading others aright, by showing them that their search for a meaning to life will end when they find faith and trust in God as the answer.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that my soul will lose its restlessness by finding rest in God. I pray that I may find peace of mind in the thought of God and His purpose for my life.

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“Our Heart is Restless Until It Rests in You.”

St. Augustine is speaking of three types of restlessness: “the restlessness of spiritual seeking, the restlessness of the encounter with God, the restlessness of love.” This restlessness, whether we recognize it or not, is a desire to know God and to have a deeper relationship with Him. None of this is easy, but God is always there for us. He is waiting with open arms, just as he waited for Augustine in his conversion to Christianity, so that we might rest in Him.

Related:

See also:

https://www.catholicapostolatecenter.org/blog/lessons-from-st-augustine

and

Restless, Irritable and Discontent

https://www.emergingfrombroken.com/restless-irritable-and-discontent/

and

Dealing With General Discontent

https://www.mentalhelp.net/advice/dealing-with-general-discontent/

Related:

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This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Nada Te Turbe (Let nothing disturb you)
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Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.— St. Teresa of Avila
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Related:
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Peace Prayers

https://wsfpeacecoalition.wordpress.com/resources/peace-prayers/

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Prayer and Meditation for Friday, December 7, 2018 — “Do you believe I can do this?”

December 7, 2018

The deaf shall hear, the blind shall see and the lowly will ever find joy in the Lord

Image result for The Lord is my light and my salvation, picture

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Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 179

Reading 1 IS 29:17-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
But a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone;
All who are alert to do evil will be cut off,
those whose mere word condemns a man,
Who ensnare his defender at the gate,
and leave the just man with an empty claim.
Therefore thus says the LORD,
the God of the house of Jacob,
who redeemed Abraham:
Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of,
nor shall his face grow pale.
When his children see
the work of my hands in his midst,
They shall keep my name holy;
they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob,
and be in awe of the God of Israel.
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding,
and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, our Lord shall come with power;
he will enlighten the eyes of his servants.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Image result for jesus heals the blind man, pictures
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Gospel MT 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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07 DECEMBER, 2018, Friday, 1st Week, Advent

DO YOU BELIEVE?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ISA 29:17-24MT 9:27-31  ]

Do you believe?  This is what God is asking of us.  Indeed, in the first reading, to the Israelites who lived in exile in Babylon who had lost everything – land, the Kingdom and the Temple – the Lord says to them, “In a short time, a very short time, shall not Lebanon become fertile land and fertile land turn into forest?  The deaf that day, will hear the words of a book and, after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see. But the lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel; for tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish, and all be destroyed who are disposed to do evil: those who gossip to incriminate others, those who try at the gate to trip the arbitrator and get the upright man’s case dismissed for groundless reasons.”  Is this dream possible?  Truly, the Israelites found it too difficult to believe that this prophecy would come true.  Again, in the gospel, Jesus asked the same question to the two blind men, “Do you believe I can do this?”

Indeed, many of us are like them in exile.  We too are desperate and walking in the shadow of death.  The situation in our life does not seem to be moving forward or changing.  We are still stuck in our problems or the mess we have created because of our folly.   Our marriage is now on the rocks.  We are still unable to accept the infidelity of our spouse even though he or she has asked for forgiveness.  We say we want to forgive but we are still hurting.   Our children are not doing well in their studies and abusing the trust and privileges given to them.  Many people, young and old, are addicted to drugs, gambling, especially online gambling, pornography, and drinking.  On top of all these problems, we are struggling with work politics, low morale among our staff, health issues, physical or mental, depression and meaninglessness.  Some of us wish we could die earlier because we are sick of life, of this world.  Friends are not real.  They cheat us and make use of us.   With financial commitments, anxieties about the future, and all the confusion in life, we feel so overwhelmed.

If we are feeling this way, then do not give up hope.   God is on the way to rescue us.  This is what the prophet said, “Therefore the Lord speaks, the God of the House of Jacob, Abraham’s Redeemer: No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale, for he shall see what my hands have done in his midst, he shall hold my name holy. They will hallow the Holy One of Jacob, stand in awe of the God of Israel.”   For Israel, they were finally able to return to their homeland because of King Cyrus’ decree to allow them to return and rebuild their homes and especially the Temple, with his support even, financially and morally.

For us, Christ is our Redeemer, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.  He has come to set us free, to heal us and redeem us from our sins, slavery, and misery.   He is full of compassion and mercy like our heavenly Father.  He will give us back our dignity and confidence in living our lives with purpose and meaning.  He will help us to overcome all fears.  How will He help us?  By showing us the way to live our life meaningfully and courageously!  He will show us how to conquer the fear of death and most of all, how to bear our crosses joyfully after Him.   He will free us from all our bondage and give us true freedom, the freedom to love freely and totally.  He will help us to live each day by living one day at a time, with faith and with joy.  He has come to give us the light for our salvation.  This is what the psalmist says.  “The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom shall I shrink? I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in him, hold firm and take heart. Hope in the Lord!”  Indeed, this is the invitation today for those who have lost hope and courage in life.  Hope in the Lord!  Come to Him and He will heal us and give us life once again, in the land of the living.

How will this happen?   By delivering us from our blindness as He did for the two blind men!  It is the lack of spiritual understanding that prevents us from seeing the mysteries of life in perspective.  Because of the dullness of mind and our ignorance, we are shortsighted and too myopic in the way we look at our challenges and sufferings.  We need to ask what is causing us to be unhappy.  Most of the time, our sins, selfishness, and desires make us grasp, hanker and cling on to what we want.  This leads to envy, greed, anger, and discontentment.   At times, it is because of our pride, the refusal to admit our mistakes and our prejudices.  We allow our pride to blind us in doing things that serve our ego rather than doing what is right and good.  By insisting on having things our way, which is the offspring of pride, namely, arrogance and stubbornness, we hurt ourselves.

That is why Jesus is asking us as He did with the blind men, “Do you believe I can do this?”  In other words, He is asking, firstly, whether we really want to see.  There is a responsibility when we see.  It is said that ‘where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise’.  So the ability to see means that we have to do what we know is the truth.  Otherwise, we will suffer guilt for being culpable in not doing the right things when we know that this is required of us.  If we are desperate and sincere like the blind men who really wanted to see, then we need to follow Jesus as they did to the house where He was in.

But we cannot see clearly unless we see with faith.  This explains why the Church always says that whilst faith is not against reason, faith purifies reason.  Using human reason alone, whilst not impossible, often will not lead us to the fullness of truth.  Faith gives us the eyes to see beyond reason.  Faith enables us to see more.  Isn’t it true that when we trust someone, we can understand that person better and see more in what he is saying than with someone whom we do not trust or do not know?  So if anyone wants to see, he or she must first confess his or her faith in Jesus who is the Light of the World, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Faith in Jesus will allow our hearts to be receptive to His Word and understand what He is saying, not just with our head but with our heart.  Only such understanding from the heart can bring about a total conviction of mind and heart.  

To come to see means that from now on, we see through the eyes of Jesus, whether it is with respect to suffering, to living a life of truth or doing the will of God.   In other words, to see means to look at life with the lens of Jesus.   With Jesus, recovery of sight does not mean that our sufferings are taken away.  Rather, the pain could be embraced in the light of God’s truth and His own suffering for us.  In other words, we see sufferings, injustices, hurts, and illnesses in a different light.  Once we have the light of Christ, then we will stop hurting ourselves by refraining from those actions that will destroy us.  We will then be able to let go of those who have hurt us.  We learn contentment and not crave for this and that thing.   We learn to let go even of loved ones and those whom we love so dearly but who no longer love us.  Like Jesus, we learn to accommodate others, their strengths and weaknesses, not to be judgmental but to be understanding, forgiving and encouraging. Most of all, with spiritual sight, we can unravel all our unconscious motivations in what we do and why we do so that our intentions are purer and not simply a cover-up of our insecurities, our need for affirmation and acceptance, but truly because of love.

So we must pray earnestly and be watchful. The prophet says, “Erring spirits will learn wisdom and murmurers accept instruction.”  Seeing entails reading the Word of God and acquiring the Wisdom of God to judge all things.  We are called to place our total trust in Jesus.  Like the blind men, we only have to believe.  Jesus says to them, “Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you.”   Only faith in Jesus can give us the courage to surrender our lives to Him, trust in His Word and claim His promises.  With faith in Jesus, we know that He can work wonders in our lives.  Nothing is impossible for Him.

With the psalmist, we too will say, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”  For the Israelites, it was simply unbelievable that they could return to their homeland.  It will be the same for us if we trust the Lord.  He will help us find ourselves and we will be at home with ourselves, living a life of contentment, enjoying the simple things of life, but most of all, living a life of love, meaning, and purpose.  Regardless of the situation, we are able to take His will and take things as they come, for we know that submission to His will is the way we find peace. Indeed, being at home with the Lord is what gives us joy and peace.  “There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long, to live in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, to savour the sweetness of the Lord, to behold his temple.”  In His house, when He lives in us, we find perfect peace and joy.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Image result for st ambrose, art, pictures

Art: St Ambrose by Matthias Stom

Saint Ambrose, also known as Aurelius Ambrosius, is one of the four original doctors of the Church. He was the Bishop of Milan and became one of the most important theological figure of the 4th century.

Ambrose was born around 340 AD to a Roman Christian family. He grew up with his siblings, Satyrus and Marcellina, in Trier, Belgic Gaul (present-day Germany). It is believed by many that when Ambrose was just an infant, a swarm of bees landed on his face and left behind a drop of honey. To his father, this was a sign that Ambrose would become someone great with a wonderful sense for speaking.

After Ambrose’s father passed away, he was educated in Rome, where he studied law, literature and rhetoric. Ambrose received a place on the council, like his father, and was made consular prefect, or the Governor, of Liguria and Emilia around 372. Ambrose’s headquarters were in Milan, the then second capital of Italy.

Ambrose remained Governor until 374 when he became the Bishop of Milan. After the former Bishop of Milan died, Ambrose attended the election to prevent any uproars between the Nicene Church and the Arians. While giving an address, the assembly began calling for him to become the next bishop.

Ambrose was known for his Nicene beliefs, but Arians also favored him because he had previously shown charity in theological matters. However, being neither baptized or trained in theology, Ambrose refused to become the next bishop.

He ran and attempted to hide, but his colleague gave him up. Within a week’s time, Ambrose was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan on December 7, 374.

As bishop, he donated all of his land and gave his money to the poor. This made him widely popular and often times more politically powerful than even the emperor.

He studied theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome. Using his new education, along with his knowledge of Greek, he took the time to study the Old Testament and Greek authors. He used all of this while preaching; his abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who previously thought poorly of Christian preachers.

After meeting Ambrose, Augustine reevaluated himself and was forever changed. In 387, Ambrose baptized Augustine, who he had a great influence on. St. Monica, Augustine’s mother, loved Ambrose “as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions of Christ.”

According to legend, Ambrose tried to put an end to Arianism in Milan. He often attempted to theologically dispute their propositions. The Arians appealed to many high position leaders, but Ambrose was able to stay one step ahead. The Arians increasing strength proved troublesome for Ambrose. Around 386, the Emperor Valentinian II and his mother, Justine, along with many other people, including clergy, laypersons, and military, professed Arianism.

They demanded some of the churches in Milan be dedicated to them, one in the city and one in the suburbs. Ambrose refused and was ordered to appear in front of the council, where he then spoke eloquently in defense of the Church. He is quoted with stating: If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

The imperial court did not like Ambrose’s religious principles, but he was sought out to help and speak to Magnus Maximus to prevent him from descending upon Italy. Ambrose was successful.

During a second attempt, the embassy was not successful and Milan was taken. Justine and Valentinian II fled, but Ambrose stayed. He is credited with doing a great service to the sufferers during this time.

In 385, Ambrose once again refused handing over the Portian basilica to Valentinian II, this time to be used by Arian troops. A year later, Ambrose was again ordered to hand over the church for Arian use. Ambrose and his congregation barricaded themselves within the church walls until the imperial order rescinded.

After Theodosius I, emperor of the East, married Justine, Ambrose had him excommunicated for the massacre of 7,000 people. The emperor did several months? worth of public penance.

In his later years, Ambrose retired in Bologna and assisted in the transferring of saints Vitalis and Agricola’s relics.

Two years after Theodosius died, after he acquired the possession of the Roman empire, Ambrose passed away on April 4, 397. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician.

Ambrose’s body remains in the church of St. Ambrogio in Milan, along with the bodies of Saints Gervase and Protase.

St. Ambrose was generous to the poor. He considered them not a group of outsiders, but rather those of the united people. To him, giving to the poor was just a repayment of God’s resources, which were intended for everyone equally.

He introduced reforms in the order and manner of public worship. He was known for his “liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place.”

Ambrose is credited with advising Augustine of Hippo to follow local liturgical customs. “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are,” he stated. This advice remains today, and is translated in English as the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Some believe Ambrose was a Christian Universalist, based on interpretations of his writing. The Theological treatises of Ambrose had great influences on Popes Damasus, Siricius and Leo XIII. Ambrose studied largely on the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God. He viewed celibacy as superior to marriage and saw Mary as virginity’s model.

Ambrose authored many of the Church’s important writings and hymns. He is credited with composing the repertory Ambrosian chant, also known as the Antiphonal Chant. He is also credited with composing the hymn “Te Deum,” which is believed to have been written when he baptized Augustine of Hippo.

St. Ambrose is the Confessor and Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of bee keepers, beggars, learning and Milan, and his feast day is celebrated on December 7.

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=16

Morning Prayer for Thursday, December 6, 2018 — Lead us not into temptation

December 6, 2018

“God will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation He will also find a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

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(Temptations may vary)

Nobody entirely escapes temptation. You must expect it and be ready for it when it comes. None of us is entirely safe. You must try to keep your defenses up by daily thought and prayer. That is why we have these daily meditations. You must be able to recognize temptation when it comes. The first step toward conquering temptation always is to see it clearly as temptation and not to harbor it in your mind. Dissociate yourself from it, put it out of your mind as soon as it appears. Do not think of excuses for yielding to it. Turn at once to the Higher Power for help.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be prepared for whatever temptation may come to me. I pray that I may see it clearly and avoid it with the help of God.

From “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

Related:

First Thoughts for Your Peace and Freedom
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I have a friend who suffers from great pain. Yesterday he said, “I am afraid of dying.”
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It had never occurred to him that “The Antidote to Fear is Faith.” We don’t have to accept our fears. In fact, this is one that we must all immediately reject.
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If we fear death, why is that? We have confession available. God is all forgiving. He takes away our sins. He forgives. He Consoles. Run to Him. He is like the Father in the Prodigal Son parable — all forgiving and all loving.
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So if we are afraid of death, maybe we need to put our mind and our soul in order…
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Advent is the season to return to the Father; in anticipation of the arrival of the son.
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The Return of the Prodigal Son (Rembrandt)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_(Rembrandt)

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, December 5, 2018 — “Let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”

December 5, 2018

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are at my side

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Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
Lectionary: 177

Reading 1 IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
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.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Image result for miracle of the loaves and fishes, pictures
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Gospel  MT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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ANTICIPATING THE JOY OF HEAVEN IN CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISA 25:6-10MT 15:29-37 ]

The season of Advent is to prepare us for the coming of the Lord, especially at Christmas.  But it is important that the Church puts us in perspective for the celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas.  Indeed, if we have paid attention especially to the liturgy of the first week of Advent, the Church is more focused on the Second Coming. In the opening prayer we prayed “that we may be ready to receive Christ when he comes in glory and share in the banquet of heaven. “

Clearly, it means that our hope for heaven is the real reason why we are celebrating Christmas.  Advent is to prepare us not just for the coming of Christ at Christmas, because He has already come and is still with us, but to remind us that in celebrating Christmas, we are awaiting His final return at the end of time.  When He returns in His glory, then we will share the fullness of His presence in our lives.  This sharing of the life of Christ is graphically presented as coming to the mountain of the Lord, the heavenly Jerusalem which is heaven. Yes, the liturgy wants us to be excited about heaven so that we have a great desire to be in heaven with Jesus.  But perhaps, many of us are not really interested in heaven.  This is because we think that heaven is quite a boring place.  Furthermore, many of us might think that we still young and we have many more years to live on this earth.

Thus, before we can speak of Christ’s return in glory and our share in the banquet of heaven, we must ask ourselves whether we know what heaven is all about.  Have we tasted heaven in our life?  If we have not, how can we have confidence that there is heaven in the next life or that heaven is such a great place to be?  So, do you know what heaven is?  Of course you know but do not recognize it!  The truth is that you have tasted heaven already.   In the first reading, we have a description of what heaven is like.  Isaiah speaks of heaven as “a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.” In heaven, God “will destroy Death for ever.” In the gospel, we are told that Jesus multiplied bread to feed the hungry crowd until they were totally satisfied.  Not only did “they all ate as much as they wanted,” but “they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.”  Seven of course is a biblical symbol of total fulfillment.

Hence, heaven is a state of great joy, happiness and fulfillment where is there is fellowship, excitement, love and life.  All that we experience on this earth, especially in our activities, is already a taste of the fullness of life that is given to us in heaven.  Whenever we encounter peace, joy and love, this is a preview of heaven. Whenever we give ourselves to each other in love, friendship and service, whether in our family, among our own friends, in school, at work and at Church, we would have tasted what heaven is like. So heaven is a state of life that is full of love, joy, dynamism and life.

Needless to say, this heaven on earth is not perfect.  We have never said it is anyway.  Rather it is a “taste” of the heavenly banquet; not yet the full meal.  We will experience some inconvenience, unhappiness and misunderstandings in life.  Not everything is always right and according to our desires.  We are not always nice to others and our loved ones and friends do not always show love towards us either.  So heaven on earth is only a “taste” and a foretaste.   Precisely, this is the point of today’s liturgy.  If we think that human friendship and this life is great, Then God wants to give us something more excellent than we can ever imagine.  He wants to give us joy, love and life to the fullness.  This is what Prophet Isaiah says, “On this Mountain”, that is, heaven, God will “wipe away the tears from every cheek” and “remove the mourning veil” so that we can see Him face to face.  Hence, heaven is often described as a beatific vision.  To meet God face to face means that we encounter Him in His presence and love that we could say with the Israelites, “See, this is our God to whom we hoped for salvation.”  When we experience the indwelling of God’s presence in our hearts, we will experience a joy and love that is simply indescribable.

Such a foretaste of what heaven is like is anticipated especially when we celebrate the Eucharistic banquet.  This is what the gospel wants to remind us.  In the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus was anticipating the Eucharist, the gift of Himself to the Church.  In fact, the miracle of the loaves is narrated within a liturgical setting.  Similarly, in the Eucharist, we encounter once again in a very real way, the presence of our Lord in the bread and wine.  In the liturgy of the Word, we hear the Lord speaking to us again.  And in the worship service, we find ourselves in deep communion with the Lord in prayer.  So every time we celebrate the Eucharist and listen to His Word in scripture when it is read, Christ becomes so real and present to us in our hearts and mind so much so we could, like the Israelites, say “We exult and we rejoice that he has saved us.”  In our union with Him, we are healed of our brokenness, fears and anxieties.  For this reason, the celebration of the liturgy and the Eucharist is a real foretaste of heaven, since in the celebration we experience the love and presence of God so intensely in our hearts.

However, this is only possible because of Christ who has come among us in the flesh.  In celebrating Christmas, the Feast of Incarnation, we are acknowledging the presence of God amongst men.  It is in order that we might recognize the love of God that God became man in Jesus.  Through His works of love, compassion and healing, Jesus revealed to His people who God is and what the kingdom is like.  This is clearly presented in today’s gospel where Jesus is shown as a Good Shepherd reaching out to the lonely, lost and broken souls who are searching for direction and meaning in life.  And this presence of Jesus is continued especially in the Sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In the Eucharist, Jesus is fully present to us in His entire being.  That is why the Eucharist is the extension of His incarnation and resurrection.

However, we who are so privileged to have a foretaste of heaven in our fellowship with one another and our fellowship with God are asked to share that joy with others.  Before we came to the Lord, we were also crippled; blind, and dumb like many people in the world.  We were crippled in love, blind to our own sinfulness and dumb when it came to witnessing to Christ and His love.  But now that Christ has healed and given us a share of His love, He is appealing to all of us to make His Incarnation and presence real again in the lives of so many people who are still crippled, blind and dumb.  Just as He told His disciples, “I feel sorry for all these people … I do not want to send them off hungry,” He is speaking these words to each one of us.

The question is whether we will be like them, shake off our responsibility because of our lack of faith and love and tell Jesus to send them away instead.  Nay, Jesus wants us to feel for the crowd.  In the miracle of the loaves, Jesus is asking us to multiply Him as He multiplied the loaves and fed the people.  After all, He has fed us abundantly already.  But more than the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, He is challenging us to share that abundance with others, symbolized by the seven baskets full of scraps that were collected.

So, how can we multiply Jesus today?  It is fitting therefore that as we prepare for the Feast of Christmas, when Christ lives in us and amongst us, we must ask ourselves how Christ is asking us to prolong His presence among us.  His presence is revealed when we are faithful to our calling in life, regardless of what that may be.   Are we generous enough to show our gratitude to His love for us that we want give our lives to serve Him and be with Him all the days of our lives?  Are we equally excited as He was in bringing all men to share in the banquet of the kingdom of His Father?

In order to have the capacity to love and give like Jesus, we must therefore deepen our love for the Lord and listen to His calling and cry in our hearts for the love of His people.  Unless we love Him and grow in intimacy with Him, we would not experience His love and presence in our lives.  But if we do, we will be so filled with His compassion and love that we feel the call to feed His people who are hungry for spiritual food and the presence of God.  Indeed, we are all called to bring heaven down to earth for all so that anticipating the joy of heaven, they too will look to that fullness of Christ’s coming in His glory at the end of time.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Morning Prayer for Monday, December 3, 2018 — “In Thee, O Lord, I have put my hope. Let me never be confounded.”

December 3, 2018

Fret not your mind with puzzles that you cannot solve. The solutions may never be shown to you until you have left this life.

The loss of dear ones, you may not know the inequality of life, the deformed and the maimed, and many other puzzling things until you reach the life beyond. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Only step by step, stage by stage, can you proceed in your journey into greater knowledge and understanding.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be content that things, which I now see darkly, will some day be made clear. I pray that I may have faith that someday I will see face to face.

Related:

“Christianity established a a rule and order and the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”

— G. K. Chesterton (In his book “Orthodoxy”)

“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by de Caussade — the goal is total dependence upon God. To get a new self; most human beings need to get rid of the old self.

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, December 1, 2018 — “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life…”

December 1, 2018

Related image

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life

The Lord God shall give them light

Image result for “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”, art, pictures

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Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 508

Reading 1 RV 22:1-7

John said:
An angel showed me the river of life-giving water,
sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb down the middle of the street,
On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.
Nothing accursed will be found anymore.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun,
for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true,
and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits,
sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”
“Behold, I am coming soon.”
Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7AB

R. (1 Cor 16: 22b, see Rev. 22: 20c) Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great king above all gods;
In his hands are the depths of the earth,
and the tops of the mountains are his.
His is the sea, for he has made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Alleluia  LK 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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01 DECEMBER, 2018, Saturday, 34th Week, Ordinary Time

WATCH YOURSELF

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ REV 22:1-7LUKE 21:34-36 ]

In the gospel, the Lord warned His disciples, “‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap.”  Why should we watch ourselves?  Many people no longer watch themselves.  This is because there seems to be a loss of hope for the future.  Many are living with the thought that once we die, everything is finished.  So what is there to be alert to because we are not going anywhere!   This explains why many are not keeping watch for the life to come as they only live for this world and this life.  When that is so, indeed, as Jesus said, “our hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life.”  Life for them is all about making money, pleasure, merry-making, enjoyment and holidays.  Work and ambition are the means to secure wealth and a luxurious life.  So why worry about God, about Church, about the poor and the suffering or the future of the country and the world?  Why worry about ecology or climate change and that the world will one day be burnt out?   We will be long dead and gone.

That is why it is important that we do not get soiled by the world and its values.  Many of our Catholics who are weak in faith, who hardly pray or read the scriptures, attend church services only occasionally, behave more like baptized pagans than real Catholics.  The values they subscribe to are not founded on the Word of God but on the current opinions of the world.  They believe more in the ideology of the world than in Catholic theology.  In truth, no one becomes an unbeliever overnight.  It is always a gradual process.  It begins with neglect in our spiritual life, especially a deep relationship with God.  Once our relationship with the Lord becomes cold and distant, we become worldlier and more sensual in our needs.  We cling to the pleasures that come from the flesh and the world.  Very soon, we fall deeper into sin and God is completely out of our mind and our lives.  In order to justify our sinful actions that are contrary to the Church’s teachings and the Word of God, we employ the reasons of the world to convince us that what we do is the right thing and that the Church is wrong and the bible is outdated and not the Word of God.  We become arrogant in our thoughts.  From indifference to the faith, we soon become hostile to the Word of God.  From being a Sunday and nominal Catholic, we become anti-Catholic and join the rest of the world in condemning the Catholic Faith.  This is the path that many Catholics take simply because they had not been watchful of the workings and the strategy of the Evil One.

This is why the Lord exhorts us, “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”  Praying keep us awake to the presence of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Praying keeps us informed of the Word of God which “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Ps 119:105)  Today’s gospel text came before Jesus’ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He Himself prayed at the most difficult time in His life when He had to make a decision to do the Father’s will.   Hence, He urged us, “Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Mt 26:41) Without prayer, we would fall into temptations because of weakness, like St Peter who denied the Lord because of his cowardice and the rest who ran away for safety when Jesus was arrested.

How often is this case for us all as well?  Many of us are easily tempted to sin because of the weakness of the will and the flesh.  We are afraid to carry the cross.  We are afraid to suffer for Jesus, especially shame and humiliation.  Indeed, when people were attacking the Church and her moral values, few Catholics came out to the open to defend the truths of the gospel and the morality of our peoples.  Many kept silent.

So how can we, besides praying, find the strength to stay awake and remain firm in our faith?  We must keep the vision that Christ has shown us.  We need to have a clear vision of our ultimate goal in life if we are to give our whole heart and soul to arrive at it.  Only with a clear vision like St Paul and St John, can we focus fully.  Hence, we must nurture the vision that the Word of God presents to us about our future destiny so that by remembering and keeping the vision alive, we will never lose enthusiasm and hope. 

In the book of revelation, we have the angel showing St John the vision of life.  “The angel showed me, John, the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the pagans.”  The view of heaven where there will be eternal life and fruitfulness is what must continue to inspire us.  We know that at the end of the day, we will share in the river of life eternal when the Spirit lives in us.  This is what the Lord promised us.  “‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  (Jn 7:37-39)

Secondly, our hope is that we see God face to face. “The ban will be lifted. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in its place in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever.”  Returning to God is where we truly belong.  When we see the face of God, we come to realize that we belong to Him and in Him we find our peace and joy.  St John wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”  (1 Jn 3:2f)  God will be our complete joy and light.  There will be no darkness, no fear, no more temptations but we will be in God who is our peace and life.

Finally, the ultimate question is, when will He come? He said, “Very soon now, I shall be with you again.”  God will come at the end of our sojourn on earth when we die.  God will come at the end of history when everything will reach its consummation.  But He will come.  How soon, is an irrelevant question.  In fact, He has never left us.  He said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Mt 28:20)  He has already come to us in the Church, in the Eucharist, in the Sacraments, and in the Holy Spirit.  He went up to heaven and has brought heaven to us when He came again in the Holy Spirit.  What is needed for us now is to receive Him again and again, especially at the Eucharist.  What we need to do is to find Him, especially among the poor, for He is with them too, as He said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  (Mt 25:40) Or when we receive the little and insignificant people in our lives.  “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”  (Mt 18:4f)

So, rather than speculating on the end of time to get ready, we must be ready at all times.  Our entire life must be one of readiness to welcome the Lord.  We must be saying, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”  In this way, we will be ready for any unforeseen circumstances in life, whether we meet a sudden death, a tragic event, trials in life or a crisis.  To be prepared at all times is the best preparation because we have nothing to fear.  Let us keep ourselves holy by making sure we go regularly for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, keep ourselves walking in love and truth, have a clear conscience and fulfill our responsibilities faithfully in life.  When we do that, we will always be ready to stand before the Lord with full confidence.  When we cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus”, He will come to our help in our trials.

Morning Prayer for Sunday, November 18, 2018 — Reflect God’s Light in Your Life — Experiencing the Fullness of God

November 18, 2018

Image result for sunrise, prayer,, photos

“Do not hide your light under a bushel. Arise and shine, for the light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen in thee.” The glory of the Lord shines in the beauty of your character. It is risen in you, even though you can realize it only in part. “Now you see as in a glass darkly, but later you will see face to face.” The glory of the Lord is too dazzling for mortals to see fully on earth. But some of this glory is risen in you when you try to reflect that light in your life.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to be a reflection of the Divine Light. I pray that some of its rays may shine in my life.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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“My God, the soul that you placed within me is pure. And because it is pure I am free to live today differently than yesterday. Because it is free, I am free to live today without the burden of past habits, past fears, past mistakes, past failures.”

From “Recovery The Scared Art” by Rami Shapiro

Related:

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A number of folks I know and love are chasing hard after God these days.

I think the times are demanding it. The draining nature of the pace of life combined with the spiritual battles that seem to be hitting everyone are creating in us a deeper need and hunger for more of God. Just this week a dear friend said to me, “I just need more of God.” I sure need more of God. I bet you do, too.

How do we find “more of God”? Where do we look?

Folks seem to be looking to the latest cool conference, the new worship CD, the prophetic teacher, churches and experiences promising “encounters.” Some of it delivers. But it doesn’t seem to last. So you’ve got to find the next new conference, the next breakthrough worship CD, the next “encounter.”

I don’t think love works like that. I don’t think God plays hide and seek, bait and switch, running from this city to that speaker to this next promise of an encounter. That doesn’t sound like love to me.

How do we find fullness in you, Father?

I re-read Ephesians 3 this week, which climaxes in this promise: “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” What? That’s it—that’s it! How do we find that?

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (vs 14-19).

There it is—that we might be filled to all the fullness of God! That’s what we yearn for, what we are chasing, what we so desperately need! Wouldn’t it be incredible to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God? And God is showing us the way to that fullness. Pay careful attention to the progression Paul walks us through, prays us through:

1. That God our Father would strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inmost being. That’s Step 1. I think that alone would change my life. But it is only the beginning of this incredible progression. Having that, we are able to move to Step 2…

2. That He might really fill and dwell in our hearts. Wonderful. Yes! If our hearts were really filled with the presence of Jesus??! From there we can move into Step 3…

3. That we might be rooted and grounded in love. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Who do you even know that is rooted and grounded in love? It is the widespread weariness and unsettledness that is causing us to need more of God. We can be rooted and grounded in love?! Step 4 builds on this…

4. That we might have power to grasp the full height, depth, length, and breadth of Jesus’s love. Oh yes, Father—we need this! I know it would transform our lives. But there’s more…

5. Paul prays that we would KNOW this love (experience it—deep, personal “knowing”). And from this place we get to the goal, Step 6…

6. That we might be filled to all the fullness of God!

Oh, friends—there is a treasure here for us. There is a rescue here for us. A path is laid out for us. I think great conferences, CDs, and “encounters” are all good and have their place. But the truth is, they don’t last, and honestly, much of them don’t really deliver on the promises being made. Here is a far deeper, truer, and sure-er path—one given to us by God himself. He wants us to find fullness in him.

Try this—pray through this progression for yourself. Chase this. Stay in this for awhile. You don’t even have to leave your house. I bet the fruit will be wonderful, just what we are looking for. There is a way to fullness in God, but it’s different than what most people are chasing.

Yes, yes, yes to more of God! And here is the path he has given to find it. I think this is going to be revolutionary, and an incredible relief.

https://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/john/experiencing-fullness-god-really

Related:

Twelve-step programs teach, of course, twelve steps. Matthew Kelly suggests we can boil those down to just four once we are sober for some time.

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

  1. Pray/Meditate
  2. Study
  3. Pour ourselves out in service to others
  4. EVANGELIZE (For A.A.s, do “Twelve Step Work”)

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, November 11, 2018 — “She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had.”

November 10, 2018

He Offered once to take away the sins of many

“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”  (2 Cor 8:9)

Lesson of the widow’s mite — Jesus expects us to trust Him completely, and to give our all

Image result for widow's mite, bible, pictures

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 155

Reading 1 1 KGS 17:10-16

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.”
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'”
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2  HEB 9:24-28

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Alleluia MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

Or  MK 12:41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

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Reflection from the Abbot
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Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Jesus expects us to trust Him completely.  Many of us are not quite so sure that we can trust Him, even though we want to trust Him.  The widow in the first reading shows us how a person can trust completely, even to the point of giving up the little one has for another person.  The Gospel of Mark today repeats that message with the story of the poor widow who gave all she had, trusting in the Lord.  The challenge today:  Will I trust?  Will I give up what I have because I trust in the Lord?

The first reading is from the First Book of Kings and gives us stories about the Prophet Elijah.  Elijah is a wonderful person in the Old Testament.  Elijah trusts so completely that he always does what God asks of him, even when it puts his own life in danger.  Elijah can complain to God because Elijah has such a close relationship with God and thus shares everything with God.  This is part of the challenge for us today:  trust and become close!  When God does not give us what we think we need, we are free to tell God that we still need what we are asking for.  We must have confidence will always give us what we truly need.

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Hebrews.  The author continues to compare Jesus Christ to the High Priest of the Jewish faith.  The author always wants us to know that there is more in the world of the sacred than just the High Priest.  Jesus is a new expression of what it means to be a High Priest. You and I are invited to be priests also, sharing in the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  We need to embrace our human condition and bring all that is truly human to the Lord.  We are invited to share in Christ and with Christ.

The Gospel of Mark brings us back to the theme of giving all that we have to the Lord.  Perhaps many of us are more practical and give to the Lord what we may have in excess of what we need.  The Lord wants more!  The Lord wants all that we have and all that we are.  The Lord invites us and waits for us.  Many of us are fearful that if we give all, we shall have nothing left.  Think again of the widow in the first reading.  She had practically nothing and was preparing to share the little she had with her son—and then die.  The Prophet comes and asks her to give to him the small amount she had.  This is the kind of experience that we may have.  We seem to lack everything that we need in this life and especially we may lack the means to obtain what we believe we need.  Then God asks us to give up even the little we have.

Can we do that?  Are we able to trust so much in God that we will give up even what we believe is necessary?  God is asking us?  What will we reply?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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11 NOVEMBER, 2018, Sunday, 32nd Week, Ordinary Time

AUTHENTICITY IN FAITH WHEN SYMBOL BECOMES THE REALITY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [1 KGS 17:10-16PS 145:7-10HEB 9:24-28MK 12:38-44  ]

Are we what we say and do?  Does our life reflect our teaching? Do we live out what our faith expresses?  This is particularly true when it comes to the celebration of rituals and observances of the customs in our Catholic life, whether it is the celebration of the sacraments, the mass particularly, the external signs of faith, like genuflecting, making the sign of the cross, abstaining meat on Fridays, etc.   All these are external signs, but are they truly expressive of our interior faith?  Is there a dichotomy between what we say and perform in our rituals and customs as Catholics and how we relate to God and our fellowmen in love and devotion?  Are we authentic in our life of faith? 

In the gospel, Jesus was critical of the religious leaders of the day who lacked authenticity in their faith.  The problem was that what the religious leaders said and did were not a true reflection of who they were. He warned them saying, “Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets.”  These words are also directed at the religious leaders of our day. Pope Francis always warns us from falling into the temptation of spiritual worldliness, where religious leaders are more concerned about securing power, influence, ambition, popularity, recognition, living a luxurious life and having more wealth.  They are not primarily concerned with leading people to God and leading a life of charity and forgiveness.  Instead, as the Lord would say, these are the men who swallow the property of widows.

The Lord warns those religious leaders who live such a hypocritical life.  “The more severe will be the sentence they receive.”  When their lifestyle is exposed or seen by others as hypocritical, the scandal caused to the community is enormous.  Many Catholics have left the faith because of the example of religious leaders.  They themselves will also be conflicted in their own lives as their conscience will not let them be at peace.  At the end of the day it is not what we preach but how we live our life in simplicity, in faith, charity and forgiveness that counts.

This lack of authenticity in a life of faith is not confined to religious leaders.  In fact, none of us is exempted.  Many of us who are apparently active in church, attend mass regularly, take part in Catholic activities, and assume positions in church organizations, also live a double life.  We look good for others to see but in our hidden life, we are tyrants, dictators, nasty, ambitious, power crazy and live a sinful life of addictions, greed and lust.  If it were true that scandalous Catholic leaders put off others who want to join the faith, it is true of every Catholic as well.  Living an inauthentic Catholic life will not bring us the peace and joy the Lord wants to give us.

What does it mean to live an authentic Christian life? It means that what is symbolized becomes a reality as well in our lives, even if it is not the fullness of this manifestation.  The second reading today compares the temporary and imperfect sacrifice offered by the priests of the Old Covenant and Christ our High Priest who offered Himself as a living sacrifice to convict us of our sins and the mercy of God the Father.  Indeed, the author reminds us, “it is not as though Christ has entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began.”

Clearly then, what we have now on this earth is an imperfect representation of the kingdom life.  In addition, what is even more encouraging is that Christ is the one who has carried our sins in Him and gained for us direct access to God.  “Instead of that, he has made his appearance only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.”   In Jesus, we do not simply see a symbol but the reality symbolized. In Jesus, we see the face and mercy of God in person.  Jesus told Philip, “to see me is to see the Father” and the works He did were from the Father.  Whatever the Father does, He would do because as He said, “the Father and I are one.”   Our celebration of His death on the cross in the Sacrifice of the Mass is not just merely an empty symbol but a real participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord as we enter into His Spirit at His passion.

This was the case of the woman in today’s gospel.  Without any fanfare or attempt to bring attention to herself, she acted out her faith in God through the giving of a penny into the collection box of the Temple.  On two counts, she showed us what faith is all about.  Firstly, the widows in those days were deprived of financial support, especially if they had no children.  They were one of the most vulnerable peoples in those days.  Secondly, as the Lord observed, “from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.”  She gave her life completely into the hands of God.  She trusted that God somehow would provide for her the next day.  Our poverty makes us humble and not to rely too much on our efforts alone. 

This made Jesus remark, “I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over.”   Her act of giving the mite was but an expression of her entire being and her love, devotion and trust in God. Indeed, for most of us, we contribute what we do not need, not what we need for ourselves.  So even if you give a large sum of money compared to someone else, it is not the amount you give eventually but the extent of your generosity of heart.  The greater we are willing to deprive ourselves for the greater good of others and for the glory of God, the more we are identified with God in His generosity.  In fact, Jesus gave all, His entire life for the service of God and of His fellowmen.  St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”  (2 Cor 8:9)

This was the same for the poor widow and her son in the first reading.  She was suffering from hunger because of the famine.  But when Elijah asked her for water and bread, she willingly acceded to his request.  Like the poor widow in the gospel, she gave all she had.  She replied, “I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.”

Indeed, what is significant about today’s scripture readings is that God will reward those who are authentic in their faith.  God will not disappoint us.  We need not fear the future because it is in God’s hands.  For being so generous to Elijah, the prophet provided her food by asking the Lord to multiply the food for her each day.  He too would raise her son who fell ill and died back to life.  As the psalmist says, “It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever, who is just to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free. It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down, the Lord, who protects the stranger and upholds the widow and orphan.”   God who we worship is an amazing, surprising and loving God.

Our identity as Catholics must be seen not simply through our worship in signs and symbols. We must go beyond symbols celebrated in our rituals, but we must make concrete the symbols we use for our faith.  Our greatest symbol and sign of course is the Eucharist, because the Lord is completely identified with the bread and wine consecrated during mass as He offered Himself perfectly to the Father, bringing us to Him.  We too must therefore live out the mass and the Eucharist we receive by being a sacrificial love and victim to save others, to glory God and to restore life to wholeness.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, November 8, 2018 — Live in faith, trusting in God to supply what is needed

November 8, 2018

“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people.”

Image result for Jesus, photos, LDC

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil By Robert Nyman

“Turn to God in prayer and pray with faith.”

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 488

Reading 1 PHIL 3:3-8A

Brothers and sisters:
We are the circumcision,
we who worship through the Spirit of God,
who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh,
although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh.If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I.
Circumcised on the eighth day,
of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage,
in observance of the law a Pharisee,
in zeal I persecuted the Church,
in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.

But whatever gains I had,
these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.
More than that, I even consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (3b) Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaMT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.”Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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08 NOVEMBER, 2018, Thursday, 31st Week, Ordinary Time

APOSTOLIC ZEAL COMES FROM A SUFFICIENCY FOUNDED ON A DEEP EXPERIENCE OF GOD’S LOVE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ PHIL 3:3-8LK 15:1-10]

Unlike Protestants, Catholics generally are not used to going on mission, especially in the work of direct evangelization.  We do not mind going on mission trips, or rather mercy trips, to help the poor and the underprivileged in poor countries, but we usually fight shy of direct proclamation of the Good News for fear of rejection and even ridicule.  Protestants, on the other hand, are ready to brace rejection and brazenly go out to share the Good News with strangers.  At the bottom of this fear to reach out is our lack of control, because of uncertainties.  We lack the faith to trust in the power of God.  We seek security in ourselves.

I know of a young man who goes on mission trips, helping the underprivileged children in poor countries using his own resources.  He considers his work for the poor as his apostolic mission in life.  I asked him whether he had ever considered a priestly vocation.  He replied that he finds the priesthood lacking challenges.  In his view, such a life is too sedentary and comfortable. Everything is provided for, whether food, accommodation or medical attention.   It looks like a life of security.  Whereas for this young man, he told me that his life is full of dangers.  Sometimes, there are no proper facilities in those remote places where he worked, not even electricity.  He lives in faith, trusting in God to supply his needs.

Indeed, most of us seldom have the experience of living in uncertainty, unlike the poor man in the street who has to worry about his accommodation, his next meal or his medical needs.  As a result of our sufficiency, we never really have to live in faith in such a way that we need to rely on Him alone.  Even when sick, we turn to medical science for cure.  Only when we have exhausted all means, then we turn to God out of desperation, not out of faith.  If the world has lost faith in God and become secular, it is because the world thinks that all the problems can be solved through science and technology.

Indeed, there is a real danger of complacency when we do not experience our insufficiency.  This was the situation of the Israelites and the Jews.  Just because they were the chosen people, they began to believe that salvation was something owed to them and assured simply because of their race.  So much so, they thought salvation was meant for them alone.  Furthermore, they thought that just by following the laws of the Covenant, they would have earned merit before God.  They failed to realize that they were initially nobody.  They were slaves and God chose them.  When they relied on their race or their own strength, they became a frozen people.  Salvation by grace became salvation by merit.

St Paul himself was aware of this danger when he recognized that such privileges could become a liability in our lives.  Indeed, he said, “If it came to relying on physical evidence, I should be fully qualified myself.  Take any man who thinks he can rely in what is physical: I am even better qualified.”   Truly, Paul was a Jew by birth.  He was trained in scriptures and the tradition of his ancestors and was a rabbi.  He was also a Roman citizen.  Most of all, he said, “as for working for religion, I was a persecutor of the Church; as far as the Law can make you perfect, I was faultless.”   When he relied on his credentials and physical merits, he became self-righteous, proud and judgmental like the Pharisees and scribes who complained when Jesus ate and drink with the tax collectors and the sinners, who “were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say.”

We, too, even whilst professing our faith in Christ, are in danger of self-sufficiency because in reality, we rely on the knowledge we have gained through study or the meticulous ways we prepare for our projects.  We find our security from our talents and strength.  There is a temptation to rely more on ourselves rather than on God.  Catholics tend to be activists and functional in Church movements.   We organize many activities in our parishes and we spend much time in planning and executing our projects.  The reality is that we do not spend time praying for the success of our projects and even if we do, do we pray fervently and with faith or just in a perfunctorily manner?   Because we never experience our nothingness, we never really turn to God in prayer and pray with faith.  Only those who have experienced so much insecurity in life tend to pray with fervor and faith because they have come to realize that only God can be their sufficiency.  False security makes us proud, complacent and even lazy.

Thus, it is important that we must know where the power of apostolic zeal is to be found.  It is found in knowing Jesus.  St Paul understood this need of finding total reliance on the Lord when he said, “But because of Christ, I have come to consider all the advantages that I had as disadvantages.  Not only that, but I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  What is this knowledge that Paul speaks about?  It is the knowledge of the death and resurrection of the Lord.  In his death, Paul encountered the depths of God’s unconditional love and mercy in Christ.  In his resurrection, Paul encountered the fidelity of the Father and the living personal presence of Christ in his life.  It was this realization of his nothingness before God’s mercy and the new life empowered by the Risen Lord that gave him the strength of apostolic zeal.

When St Paul came to realize that conversion is not simply rhetoric and skills or qualifications but the power of God that comes from the Risen Christ, he considered all his human qualifications as insignificant.  He recognized himself to be that lost sheep in today’s parable that was rescued by Christ.  We are that lost sheep considered insignificant by others who are rich and strong, like the 99 sheep.  That God would even go out of His way to rescue us shows how important we are to Him, even if we were only one among the 100 sheep.  Thus, St Paul exclaimed, “we are the real people of the circumcision, we who worship in accordance with the Spirit of God; we have our own glory from Christ Jesus without having to rely on a physical operation.”  In Christ, his heart was circumcised from pride and ambition.  Instead, he relied on the Lord for everything.  The joy of experiencing His love and mercy empowered him to share that unimaginable joy with others.

Yes, unless we experience God’s mercy we cannot know the power of His love and therefore unable to share the thirst of God for salvation of humankind.  It is this experience that leads us to deep gratitude and appreciation. Otherwise, not only will we not bother about the lost sheep, since we have so many, but will be complacent even with only the few sheep that we have left under our care.  Indeed, as is evidenced in many so-called Christian countries, we are not even interested in the ninety-nine that are lost!

We must avoid coming to this pathetic stage in our apostolic mission and zeal.  We must be more evangelical minded, identifying with the mission of the Church in reaching out to as many as possible; and never parochial-minded, protecting our little kingdom.  Yes, if we know the heart of Jesus, then we too will never be contented, never rest, always working, staying connected with our people, improving ourselves and seeking new ways to proclaim Christ and to find the lost sheep.   Like the woman, we too would want to light up the lives of our people and search every place for the lost coin, and like the Good Shepherd for the lost sheep, for indeed, “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.”  The joy of bringing someone to Christ is unimaginable, both for us and for God.  But we must never rely on our own strength.  Let us take heed of the advice of the psalmist, “Consider the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, the judgements he spoke. Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/