Posts Tagged ‘do not be afraid’

Lindsay Lohan tried to save addicted billionaire Matthew Mellon

April 21, 2018
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Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, April 19, 2018 — Go to any length to get it — Do not be afraid — Boldly go where others fear to go

April 18, 2018

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
Lectionary: 276

Image result for Ethiopian eunuch, chariot, philip, art, pictures

Philip talks about the scripture with the Ethiopian eunuch

Reading 1 ACTS 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
“Get up and head south on the road
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”
So he got up and set out.
Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch,
a court official of the Candace,
that is, the queen of the Ethiopians,
in charge of her entire treasury,
who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.
Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit said to Philip,
“Go and join up with that chariot.”
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
He replied,
“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.
This was the Scripture passage he was reading:Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will tell of his posterity?
For his life is taken from the earth.
Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply,
“I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this?
About himself, or about someone else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage,
he proclaimed Jesus to him.
As they traveled along the road
they came to some water,
and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water.
What is to prevent my being baptized?”
Then he ordered the chariot to stop,
and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water,
and he baptized him.
When they came out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,
and the eunuch saw him no more,
but continued on his way rejoicing.
Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news
to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 66:8-9, 16-17, 20

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless our God, you peoples,
loudly sound his praise;
He has given life to our souls,
and has not let our feet slip.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 6:51

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven,
says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel JN 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowds:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:They shall all be taught by God.Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
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Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch: Reflection on ACTS 8:26-40

We are fascinated by missionary tales of “chance” encounters. Along a lonely road in the African bush, a man suddenly appears and asks a missionary traveler, “Can you tell me who Jesus is?” Luke’s account of Philip’s divinely guided encounter with the Ethiopian would have been just as fascinating to first-century Romans or Greeks, for in their view Ethiopians lived literally at the southern edge of the earth (Homer Odyssey 1.23–eschatoi andron; see Acts 1:8).

God is actively fulfilling his purposes for the scope of the church’s mission (Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8). If it reaches an Ethiopian so soon after its beginning, Theophilus can know for sure that the gospel that is to be preached among all the nations is true. It is for him, and for us too.

This scene is a fitting climax to the Grecian Jewish Christians’ mission thrust, for here they complete the geographical aspects of the Acts 1:8 commission: Jerusalem (6:8-8:3), Judea and Samaria (8:4-25) and the ends of the earth (8:26-40). Further, it is a harbinger of the full-fledged Gentile mission to come (Acts 13–28).An Evangelist Guided by God (8:26-31)

Through his angel, God takes the initiative and directs Philip to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. The phrase translated south (kata mesembrian) may also be taken temporally, “at noon” (so regularly in the LXX). This would make the command all the more unusual, for few travelers would be on the road in the harsh midday sun. Desert road might be better translated “wilderness road.” This fits the topography of the northern route from Jerusalem to Gaza, which was paved (suitable for a carriage), was more direct and had abundant water at Ein Yael (Rapuano 1990:47; contrast Williams 1985:146).

In immediate obedience, with little information but complete trust in the God who guides, Philip sets out. For God to summon Philip from a thriving ministry in Samaria to the wilderness of the Judean hills is not an irrational move. God’s goal is not only “quantity” but also “quality,” in the sense of an ethnically diverse body of Christ (Rev 5:9). In a day when four of six billion have yet to hear the gospel within their own language and culture, we should not be surprised to see God calling our most effective evangelists to go to remote places. And like Philip, they should obey immediately and unquestioningly.

Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch and his retinue. He is at once exotic, powerful and pious. Greeks and Romans were particularly fascinated with dark-skinned Africans (Martin 1989:111; Diodorus Siculus Library of History 3.8.2-3; Strabo Geography 17.2.1-3). Although Ethiopian was used generally for anyone with these physical characteristics, here it refers to an inhabitant of the ancient kingdom of Meroe, which covered what is now northern Sudan south of Aswan to Khartoum (see NIV marginal note; compare Youngblood 1982:193; Crocker 1986). This man is powerful, the chief treasurer of a kingdom wealthy from its iron smelting, gold mining and trading position. It was a conduit for goods from the rest of the continent. Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (better “Queen Mother, ruling monarch of the Ethiopians,” since candaceis a title, not a proper name), cared for the duties of state. The king was regarded as a god, “child of the sun,” too sacred to engage in administration. The candace in this instance was Amanitare (A.D. 25-41; Wead 1982:197; Crocker 1986:67).

Luke does not identify the eunuch as either a proselyte, a Gentile convert to Judaism, or a God-fearer, a Gentile adherent to the Jewish monotheism, ethic and piety (compare Acts 2:11; 6:5; 10:2; 13:26, 43; Levinskaya 1990). He presents him only as pious according to the Jewish faith. The eunuch is returning to Meroe after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for one of the feasts, and he is sitting in his chariot reading Scripture. The chariot is probably a four-wheeled covered vehicle, like an oxcart, large enough to accommodate the eunuch, his driver, Philip and possibly another servant (who would be reading the manuscript aloud if the official is not doing so himself). The carriage is moving slowly enough to allow for reading and for Philip to approach it on foot. Reading aloud was the common practice in ancient times, and was especially necessary when words were strung together on a manuscript without spacing or punctuation (Bruce 1990:226).

Under the guidance of the Spirit (compare 10:19; 11:12; 13:2, 4; 16:6-7), Philip obediently overcomes any social reticence, approaches the wagon, walks briskly alongside and engages the eunuch in conversation about his reading. Luke consistently tells us that reading and understanding Scripture are not the same thing, especially for those who do not have the hermeneutical key (13:27; compare Lk 6:3; 10:26). Correct spiritual understanding is a gift (8:10; 10:22). The eunuch admits his need. His humble, teachable stance is the essential first step to achieving knowledge of salvation (compare Acts 17:11).

God in his mercy has provided not only the text but also the interpreter, a Spirit-filled teacher. The eunuch urgently, but politely, asks guidance (13:42; 16:9; contrast Lk 6:39). And today these two gifts are still present. Where are those of teachable spirit?Jesus Is Preached from the Scriptures (8:32-35)

Luke reports that the eunuch was reading the Septuagint of Isaiah 53:7-8 (Acts 8:32-33). Though the wording reflects “a gravely deviant translation” (Archer and Chirichigno 1983:123) at this point, the basic intention of Isaiah is not completely lost (Williams 1985:147). Luke is very interested in the content of this quote, introducing it with a phrase meaning the “content or wording of the passage” (compare v. 35; not passage of Scripture as the NIV). In it we have a description of the innocent, righteous sufferer, the objective basis for vicarious atonement. Luke has already portrayed Jesus in his passion in these terms: silent before authorities (Lk 23:9), deprived of justice, an innocent man condemned (Lk 23:4, 15, 22; 23:47; compare Acts 2:22-23; 3:14), his life taken (Lk 23:18; 22:2; 23:32; compare Acts 2:23; 10:39; 13:28).

The eunuch wants to know whether the prophet is talking about himself or someone else. For the Jew in the first century “someone else” was either the humiliated but vindicated “righteous sufferer” of the apocalyptic and wisdom traditions (Is 53:11; 1 Enoch 46, 62, 63; Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-5:23; Sirach 11:13/Is 52:15; Decock 1981:114). Or, as the targum has it, wicked Gentile nations suffer at the hands of the victorious Messiah, who vindicates his people (Targum of Isaiah 53:7-8; note Israel suffers in Targum of Isaiah 52:14; 53:2, 4, 10, and the wicked Gentile nations in 53:3, 7-9, 11). The messianic interpretation is original with Jesus (Lk 22:37/Is 53:12; Longenecker 1981:364; Bruce 1988:176).

Philip “opened his mouth” (NIV omits this phrase; compare 10:34) and beginning from this passage (compare Lk 24:27) tells the eunuch the good news about Jesus. Christ is the salvific key to the Old Testament. Does Philip simply expound Isaiah 53 and then show the fulfillment in Jesus’ life, vicarious death and victorious resurrection/exaltation (see E. F. Harrison 1986:152)? Does he continue a connected exposition through succeeding chapters of Isaiah, dealing with baptism at Isaiah 54:9-10 (compare 1 Pet 3:21) and the new day of salvation at 55:1, to 56:4-8, where a eunuch participates without hindrance in the people of God (Porter 1988)? Does he proceed from Isaiah 53 via early Christian testimonia on the suffering servant and righteous sufferer to show the Ethiopian how Christ and his salvation are preached in all the Scriptures (Is 42:1-44:5; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; Ps 22, 34, 69, 118; Longenecker 1981:365)?

Whatever the method, Philip both answers the eunuch’s question and points to Jesus’ saving significance. Just as a messenger fresh from the field of battle would “evangelize” the citizens with news of their army’s triumph (2 Sam 18:19-20, 26, 31), Philip evangelizes the Ethiopian that Jesus, the righteous sufferer, crucified and risen again, has won the victory over sin and death, and now repentance and forgiveness of sins are available in his name (compare Lk 4:18/Is 61:1; Acts 13:38-39).

See more:

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Acts/Philip-Ethiopian-Eunuch

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First Thought From Peace and Freedom
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There are things in this world that we should really like to strive for….
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Many of us choose to chase after money, promotions and the things of this world. Yet scripture tells us we will never be fulfilled unless (and until) we shed out worldly desires and chase after “The One Thing.”
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What I need more than anything else in life is St. Philip’s passion for sharing The Good News along with the Ethiopian eunuch’s passion (and humility) which allows him to have a completely open heart ready to learn.
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Both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch are “Going To Any Length To Get It!”
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We might also say, each is “Going The Extra Mile.” Even if that means transiting a bumpy cobblestone Roman road in a chariot!
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Oh God, “How can understand, unless someone instructs me?”
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Give me the open heart and mind of the Ethiopian eunuch and the passion to share the good news of Jesus Christ the way St. Philip teaches us!
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 APRIL, 2018, Thursday, 3rd Week of Easter
LEADING OTHERS TO CHRIST OUR TEACHER

 

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 8:26-40PS 66:8-9,16-17,20JOHN 6:44-51 ]

In the gospel, Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets: They will all be taught by God.”  In saying this, Jesus was referring to the Prophet Jeremiah who said, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days. I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  The prophet Isaiah also said a similar thing,  “All your sons shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your sons.”  (Isa 54:13)

How will they be taught by God?  Christ, precisely, is the fulfillment of this promise.  Only the one who came down from heaven and has gone up to heaven can reveal to us who God is. Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”  (Jn 3:13)  In the gospel, Jesus reiterated this truth, “to hear the teaching of the Father, and learn from it, is to come to me. Not that anybody has seen the Father, except the one who comes from God: he has seen the Father.”  Hence, Jesus declared Himself to be “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”  (Jn 14:6)  He is the Shepherd and the Gate. (cf Jn 10:2,7)

He is the New Moses, the teacher, as Jesus hinted in today’s gospel.  “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die.”  Moses gave them bread from heaven.  Those who consumed the bread died because the bread was just physical sustenance.  But Jesus came to give us the Bread of life.   In the synoptics, Jesus presented Himself as the New Moses when He ascended the Mountain to teach His disciples. (cf Mt 5:1) And at the Transfiguration, Jesus summed up in Himself the Law and the Prophets represented by the appearance of Moses and Elijah.  (cf Mt 17:3f)

Consequently, if we want to find life to the fullest, we must come to Jesus who is the Bread of life.  As the bread of life, He came to speak to us of the goodness and mercy of His Father.  “I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  (Jn 17:26)  He came to show us the way to live our lives so that we can find fullness of life by giving ourselves for the service of God and others.  “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:26-28)  The way of a blessed life is to live the Beatitudes, the blueprint for true happiness.  (cf Mt 5:1-11)

But Jesus revealed the Father to us not just through His teachings but His very life.  He said, “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”  His flesh refers to His humanity.  Jesus came to give His entire life and through His life and humanity, He showed us the face of His Father.  “He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.”  (Jn 14:9-11)  In His works of mercy, His miracles, His conduct, relationship with people, the poor, sinners and marginalized, Jesus showed us the merciful and compassionate face of God, and most of all, by His death and resurrection.

But how can we come to Jesus?  In the first place, God has planted in the heart of each man a deep desire for God.  Jesus said to the crowd, “No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  The Father draws us all to Him, regardless of who we are.  For in our hearts, we all long for eternal truth and love.  This desire for the fullness of truth and love is found in every human person.  Man seeks to find truth and love in their fellowmen but they are deeply disappointed.  No human person can reveal to us the fullness of truth or give us the fullness of love.  Only God can fulfill our thirst and hunger.   That is why St Augustine remarked that our hearts are restless until we rest in God.  There is nothing on this earth that is really satisfying, only God.

So the truth is that God is stirring in everyone’s heart a deep yearning for fulfillment.  Whenever we feel incomplete, it means we are looking for something more. Those of us who are wealthy and have everything we want, do we not feel there is some emptiness in our hearts and we wonder what it is?   It is our longing to rest in God.  Those of us who are successful in life, in our career or business, and have accomplished great things in life, how long can past achievements sustain our joy?  They came as quickly as they went.  Even human relationships cannot last, regardless how loving it is.  They too must come to an end.   That is why only God can fulfill our needs and our emptiness in life.

But to come to Jesus, we need to have guides to lead us to Him.  Philip proved himself to be a good guide in leading others to Jesus.   He took the opportunity when it presented itself, to explain to the Ethiopian about Jesus by enlightening him that the prophecy of Isaiah on the Suffering Servant was a reference to the Crucified Christ and Lord.  When the Ethiopian understood that Christ was the fulfilment of the prophecy, his heart and mind were opened and he sought baptism from Philip.  Indeed, Philip was truly a good instrument of the Lord to lead others to Jesus, seizing every opportunity that he had.

If Philip was a good pointer to the Lord, it was because he was led and moved by the Spirit.  He was completely docile to the Lord and did not keep anything for himself.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit and he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him wherever He chose.  The first reading highlighted a few times how the angel of the Lord told him,  “’Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey.”  And then after the baptism of the Eunuch, “Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.”

If we want to be used by the Lord to lead others to Him, then we too must be available to the Lord like Philip.  We must not resist the Holy Spirit but be attentive to how He leads us.  The trouble is that we often want to lead the Holy Spirit instead.  We have all our plans set up and we expect God to follow our plans.  By all means, we must prepare and plan but we must also be receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who is one of surprises.  As Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”  (Jn 3:8)

Finally, if we are to be true guides to others in bringing them to the Lord, we must not make ourselves the focus of attention.  This is what John the Baptist reminded us.  “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (Jn 3:2830)  Philip showed us his self-effacement too when he disappeared immediately after the baptism of the Ethiopian.  All he wanted was to make the Lord known and loved so that we too can say “this joy of mine is now full.”  (Jn 3:29) Preachers and teachers must be careful not to take over the limelight of our Lord.  They should be directing them to the Lord and not to themselves.

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

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, April 8, 2018 — “We have everything we need.” — “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed!”

April 7, 2018

Second Sunday of Easter
(Or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Lectionary: 44

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Doubting of Thomas – Carl Heinrich Bloch – 1881

Reading 1 ACTS 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Responsorial Psalm PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. (1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 21 JN 5:1-6

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

AlleluiaJN 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
Blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Doubting Thomas, ART: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.

Gospel JN 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
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Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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Reflection from The Abbot in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed!  Jesus is clear in his words to Saint Thomas.  On the other hand, he accepts the doubts of Thomas, allows Thomas to touch Him and continues to be the friend of Thomas.

There are so many ways in which we could be closer to our Lord Jesus.  We cannot do everything at once.  Like Thomas, we must accept our defects and also acknowledge them before the Lord.

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles and the basic teaching is this:  The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and they had everything in common.

We also know that this ideal state did not last for long before some began to withdraw from it or even to misuse it.  There are still religious communities today which try to live this way.  Most of us, however, share our goods with the causes that we find to be good.  Sometimes it is good to reflect that God shares Himself with both the good and the evil.  God gives to all.

The second reading is from the First Letter of Saint John.  The words that might touch us deeply today are these:  “The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”  Today so many people reject any kind of commandment, any kind of imposition from without.  If we ever want to know God, we must be open to allowing Him into our hearts.  God always brings commandments of one type or another.  If there are no commandments, then we are deluding ourselves about God.

Today’s Gospel is from Saint John.  Jesus has just been raised from the dead.  Now Jesus begins to appear to various of his followers.  He appears to His disciples and gives them the Holy Spirit.  This Gospel relates to us that Thomas was not present and would not believe the testimony of those who were.  This Thomas is hard headed.  So are so many of us today.  We find it difficult to accept the testimony of others, especially if we have doubts about what they are saying.  We want to see and touch and decide on our own and not just believe because someone else told me so.  This lack of faith has always been present, both within the Church and outside the Church.

Our Christian faith is handed down by others.  We come to know Christ, normally, from the testimony of others.  We can accept the New Testament writing about Christ, but all of them are the testimony of others.

This first week of the Resurrection, we place our lives and our faith in the hands of others and ask that they may learn and we may learn:  all for the glory of God.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom
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Around where I live we have a motto: “We have everything we need.”
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What that means is, after you have encountered Jesus Christ, what else are you waiting for?
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Once we believe that our Lord is all loving and all forgiving, what could we possibly need?
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“Jesus came and stood in their [our] midst.”
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Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection fulfills us totally.
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All we have to do is believe!
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The scripture reveals all we’ll ever need. On this site, use these search terms:
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“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

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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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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08 APRIL, 2018, Divine Mercy Sunday
MERCY AND COMPASSION AS THE KEYS TO BUILD COMMUNITY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Acts 4:32-35Ps 1181 Jn 5:1-6;  Jn 20:19-31]

In the first reading, we read how the early Christian community was “united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.”  Indeed, “None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.”  This was how united they were, taking care of each other’s needs and sharing the same love for God, the same vision and values of the gospel.

They were able to love so freely and unconditionally because they had encountered the power of the love of the Risen Christ in His passion, death and resurrection.  If the Lord had conquered hatred and death through His resurrection from the dead, what is there for them to be afraid of since even death is overcome. (cf Rom 8:37-39)

In response to God’s love for them in Christ Jesus, they in turn could love each other the way that God loved them. This is what St John wrote, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot him loves the child whom he begets.”  It is true in life that we love those whom we love and those whom they love.  So if we love God the Father, then St John says, we should also love His Son.  And if we love His Son, we will also love those whom the Son loves.  And who does He love?  He said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Mt 25:40)

As a consequence, the early Christians were living as the first faith community in history. They were deeply in love with God and as a consequence, in love for each other.  Caring for each other, looking after each other’s interests rather than one’s own, sharing all that we have is what will make this world a better place.  Where there is genuine love and sharing, there will be peace and unity.  And what do we all wish for if not a world and a society that is gracious, caring, loving and united.  Such is the dream of every man and woman.  This is the ideal world that we are called to build.

But the ideal world is far from the reality.  The truth remains that we are living in a very wounded world.   Even for those of us who are baptized and the elect, they would fall into sin, often not by choice but out of human weakness.  The Old Adam does not die completely when we are baptized but latent and sleeping in us, waiting to resurrect when we are not conscious of God’s presence in us.   Because of our disoriented will which is not healed completely after baptism, even though our sins are forgiven, we will still be inclined to sin.  Our fears and selfishness will surface.  We will still have to continuously struggle against sin.    That is why love is not sufficient to build a community because our love is imperfect.

Over and above love, we need mercy to build a new community.   This was why in the first Sunday of Easter, we celebrated new life through the love of God expressed in His passion and resurrection.  The second Sunday of Easter we focus on Divine Mercy.   Mercy is more than compassion by caring for the poor and the hungry.   Mercy means compassion and forgiveness for those who fail in Christian charity, honesty and integrity.  This was what Jesus did upon His resurrection.  The disciples were hiding in shame of Jesus and in fear of their enemies.  They were hiding behind closed doors.  But Jesus came to bring them out of their fears by extending His forgiveness and offering them the gift of peace.  Twice, He greeted them, “Peace be with you!”  Peace comes from forgiveness.

Today, many of us are also locked up in our fears, manifested in resentment, anger, coldness of heart, retaliation, backbiting and gossiping.  That is why we are vindictive and revengeful.  We are also imprisoned by our insecurity because we feel our interests are at stake.  We see others as our competitors and even enemies rather than as fellow collaborators or better still, our brothers and sisters who care for us more than they care for themselves.   So how can we break out of the walls that we have erected for ourselves?

The truth is that unless we have encountered His divine mercy, we cannot show mercy the way He showed us.   We need to first receive His divine mercy.   This was what the Lord did for the disciples.  After reconciling them with Himself, He said, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” Without receiving His unconditional mercy for our sins, we cannot forgive those who sin against us.   A case in point was the apostles of our Lord.  We read in the gospel, Thomas was adamant in not believing what the rest of them said about the fact of the resurrection. They did not judge him but showed great tolerance for his incredulity.  This was because they had already encountered Jesus’ mercy.   Indeed, the early Christians could exercise mercy because they were moved by God’s mercy. (cf 1 Pt 1:3f)

How, then, can we receive this divine mercy today?  St John wrote, “Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness – since the Spirit is the truth.”   Water is a symbol of baptism, blood a symbol of the Eucharist, and the Spirit of truth and witnessing is given in the Sacrament of reconciliation.

To enter into Divine Mercy, we must be like Jesus who, at His baptism, identified with us sinners even though He was without sin and need not be baptized.  (cf 2 Cor 5:21) But He did it so that He could carry our sins in His body.  (1 Pt 2:24)  Indeed, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”  (1 Pt 2:22f)  That was how Thomas was converted when he saw the wounds of Jesus.  Thomas believed not because He saw the Risen Lord but he was overwhelmed by Christ’s love for him through the wounds that He suffered for them.  He was overcome more by God’s mercy and love than the sight of Jesus.  And his immediate response to the wounds of the Crucified Lord was, “My Lord and my God!”   In Christ crucified, God’s mercy is power in love.

We too must be identified with the sufferings and sinfulness of our fellow brothers and sisters.  We should not be judgmental and unforgiving for their negligence and sins.  We are all human beings and we sin now and then.  We should therefore be empathetic and tolerant of each other’s faults and weaknesses.  This is what a gracious society is all about, not just caring for each other but accepting each other’s human frailties and encouraging each other on the road to holiness of life.

The second way to celebrate the Divine Mercy is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This explains why the Lord, after His resurrection, empowered the apostles to remit sin. “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those who sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”  This is the most powerful form of healing of the human soul, more than any amount of counselling and psychiatric treatment we can have.  The soul will have no peace unless he or she feels that God has forgiven him or her.  The priest, as the representative of Christ, offers that forgiveness in His name and assures us of His unconditional love and mercy.   The priest is called to be the Father of mercy and compassion when he celebrates the sacrament of reconciliation.  He is called to be the image of God’s forgiving love.  Hence, we must not deprive ourselves of this Sacrament of Reconciliation, especially the new baptized.  They should frequent this sacrament so that they can encounter God’s mercy.

Finally, we can experience God’s mercy through the Eucharist.  That was what the early disciples did.  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)  By celebrating the Eucharist together, we are joined to Christ and His Church, especially through the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  Receiving the Eucharist with thanksgiving and gratitude brings about a change of heart in our lives.  Listening to the Word of God that is preached and shared will ignite us to live like Christ.  This explains why receiving the Eucharist brings about the forgiveness of venial sins through the strengthening of spiritual life.  But equally important is that we need the Christian fellowship to keep us united in mind, soul and heart.  This happens through the sharing of the Word of God and the mutual love of the community.

So let us build the Christian community into a sacrament of love and unity despite our imperfections and sinfulness by exercising mercy and compassion towards each other.  In the creed, we say the Church is Holy because of Christ, but we are sinners becoming and growing to be more like Him.   So let us be signs of God’s mercy and compassion to each other through our compassion for the poor, the sick, the marginalized and for those who have sinned against us.  Through such signs, they may “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this they may have life through his name.”

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

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 2, 2018 — Monday in the Octave of Easter — “O God; you are my hope!”

April 1, 2018

Monday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 261

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Reading 1  ACTS 2:14, 22-33

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.“You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 16:1-2A AND 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Allelluia  PS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

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Lectio Divina:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Time
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Easter! Today’s Gospel describes the experience of the Resurrection which the disciples of Jesus had. At the beginning of his Gospel, in presenting Jesus, Matthew had said that Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us (Mt 1, 23). Now, at the end, he communicates and increases this certainty of faith, because he proclaims that Jesus is risen (Mt 28, 6) and that he will be with us always, up to the end of time! (Mt 28, 20). In the contradictions of life, this truth is questioned, contested very much. Opposition is not lacking. The enemies, the chief priests of the Jews, defended themselves against the Good News of the Resurrection and sent word to say that the body had been stolen by the disciples (Mt 28, 11-13). This also happens today. On the one side, the effort of many persons to live and to witness to the resurrection. On the other side, so many evil people who fight against the resurrection and against life.
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• In the Gospel of Matthew, the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus is told through a symbolical language, which reveals the hidden sense of the events. Matthew speaks about the earthquake, of lightening and of the angels who announce the victory of Jesus over death (Mt 2-4). It is an apocalyptic language, very common at that time, to announce that finally the world had been transformed by the power of God! The hope of the poor, who reaffirmed their faith, was fulfilled: “He is alive in our midst!”
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• Matthew 28, 8: The joy of the Resurrection overcomes fear. On Sunday morning, the first day of the week, two women went to the tomb, Mary of Magdala and Mary of James, also called the other Mary. All of a sudden the earth trembled and an angel appeared as lightening. The guards who were guarding the tomb were so shaken up with fear that they were like dead men. The women were frightened but the angel encouraged them, announcing the victory of Jesus over death and sending them to go join the disciples of Jesus in Galilee. And in Galilee they would be able to see him again. Everything began there; they received the great revelation of the Risen Lord. The joy of the Resurrection began to overcome fear. Thus the announcement of life and resurrection begins in this way.
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• Matthew 28, 9-10: Jesus appears to the women. The women left quickly. In them there is a mixture of fear and of joy. These are sentiments typical of those who have a profound experience of the Mystery of God. Suddenly, Jesus himself went to meet them and said to them: “”Rejoice!” And they fell on their knees and adored him. It is the attitude of the one who believes and accepts the presence of God, even if it surprises and goes beyond the human capacity of understanding. Now, Jesus himself orders them to go and join the brothers in Galilee: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me”.
• Matthew 28, 11-15: The astuteness or guile of the enemies of the Good News. The opposition itself which Jesus had to face during his life, springs up again now after his Resurrection. The chief priests meet and give money to the guards. They should spread the news that the disciples have robbed the body of Jesus, and this in order to avoid everything which is said about the resurrection. The chief priests do not accept the Good News of the Resurrection. They prefer to believe that it is an invention on the part of the disciples – men and women – of Jesus.
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• The significance of the testimony of the women. The presence of the women at the death, at the burial and at the resurrection of Jesus is significant. They are witnesses of the death of Jesus (Mt 27, 54-56). At the moment of the burial, they remain sitting before the tomb and, therefore, they can render witness of the place where Jesus was buried (Mt 27, 61). Now, on Sunday morning, they are there once again. They know that the empty tomb is truly the tomb of Jesus! The profound experience of death and resurrection which they had, transformed their lives. They themselves become qualified witnesses of the Resurrection in the Christian Communities. This is why they receive the order to announce: “Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead!”
Personal questions
• Which is the experience of resurrection that I have in my life? Is there in me some force which tries to oppose the experience of the resurrection? How do I react?
• Today, which is the mission of our community, of us, disciples of Jesus? From where can we draw force and strength and courage to fulfil our mission?
Concluding Prayer
I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand,
nothing can shake me. (Ps 16,7-8)
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Related:
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
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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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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Image result for St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827)
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827)
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Related:
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
02 APRIL, 2018, Easter Monday
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IS FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION DEPENDENT ON THE EMPTY TOMB?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ACT 2:1422-33MT 28:8-15 ]

The resurrection of our Lord is a claim that is unique.  No religious founders have made this assertion that they would rise from the dead.  Only Christians make this declaration of Jesus’ resurrection.  Indeed, faith in Christ rests entirely on this foundation, without which, all the other claims by Jesus would have been invalidated.  We accept all that Jesus said and did only because He is Lord and God, which is vindicated by His resurrection.   Indeed, St Augustine remarked that the great thing about Christians is not that we believe Jesus died but that He rose from the dead, for even non-believers believe that Jesus died.

But the gospel tells us that apparently at the beginning of the Church, there was a rumor that went around that His body was stolen.  So, it seems that not all believed that Jesus had died.  There were attempts then to dispute the death of Jesus.  Some skeptics circulated what was called the “swoon theory”, which claimed that Jesus never really died, or He was wrongly presumed dead. This was proposed only to support the other psychological theory that the apostles were hallucinating after the death of their master and made up the story to declare Him as their Lord.

Of course, such a theory is ridiculous. It would be impossible for the Guards to be asleep when the stone was removed, as a few men would have been needed to remove that heavy stone.  And we can be sure that Jesus died as His legs were not broken to hasten His death.  Because they wanted to make sure that He was dead and for that reason, the solider pierced His side with a lance and then blood and water flowed.  (Jn 19:31-37) Furthermore, the Romans were never known to have bungled over any crucifixion because it would have cost the soldiers their lives.  Even if the body was stolen, the resurrection is not the same as resuscitation.  And why would they want to steal the body and then proclaim Him as Lord.  If the master could not even save Himself, how could the apostles save themselves and indeed the whole world? So, this swoon theory appeals only to those who just want to disprove the resurrection.  For this reason, the evangelist suggested that when the guards told the chief priests all that had happened, they were given a considerable sum of money to say that “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.”

But this swoon theory invites us to ask a deeper question.  Does faith in the resurrection of the Lord depend on the empty tomb?  Strictly speaking, faith in the resurrection of our Lord is independent from faith in the Empty Tomb. The gospel proclaimed by St Paul never mentioned the story of the Empty Tomb to bolster faith in the resurrection.  The gospels were written much later than the letters of St Paul.  They were written only in the 70’s until early 90’s.  It was never intended to be a proof of the resurrection.

At any rate, if the resurrection of Christ is dependent on the Empty Tomb, that is, to say, that the resurrection is concerned with the same earthly body, then it means that we will not be raised because our body will be corrupt after death.  When we die, our bodies will become corrupt, and worse still, some cremated and reduced to ashes.  And science tells us these would turn into molecules and eventually form new bodies.  What then will happen at the resurrection if our bodies are corrupted? Precisely, the truth is that the resurrected body is not a simple continuity of the earthly body.  Resurrection is not resuscitation, a coming back to life of the same earthly body. It is a transfigured body.  Although it is somehow related to this earthly body of ours, yet it will be totally transformed. It can walk through doors, come and go when one likes as the Risen Lord did. We will not look the same as we did on earth.   What our faith holds is that the same person, body and soul will be transfigured, but the resurrected person will not be a different person.

In order to illustrate that the resurrected Lord is not a different person from Jesus of Nazareth even though His body had been radically transformed, it is important then, to hold that the body of Jesus was not found in the tomb.  That this same body has been radically transformed.  So, although faith in the resurrection of our Lord does not depend on the Empty Tomb or even the missing body of Jesus, it is a tangible sign of faith, and leading to faith.  When the disciples discovered the Empty Tomb, it was just a fact.  But just because the tomb was empty does not immediately mean that He is risen.  Faith has to add this conclusion.   The angel said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.” (Mk 16:6)  But we read that “they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  (Mk 16:8)

Indeed, seeing the Risen Lord requires faith.  That was why not all saw the Risen Lord.  The apostles, including Peter, initially lacked the faith and therefore could not see the Risen Lord.  But the Empty Tomb story opened up their hearts to faith.  And as they surrendered their minds and hearts to faith, the Lord appeared to them.  And when those who had seen the Risen Lord testified to the others who did not see, their hearts too became more open to the Risen Lord. This was the case of St Thomas.  It was the faith of the rest of the apostles that gave him the courage to see the Lord in faith.

Only in faith then could they begin to see more into the scriptures.  They came to realize that the earthly life of Jesus corresponded to the Jesus that was foretold in the scriptures all the while.  St Peter said, “Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”

So we have St Peter preaching the Pentecost homily when he cited from the Old Testament to bolster faith in the Risen Lord.  He cited from the text of the psalm of David when he prophesied that his descendent would not see death and corruption.  “I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy; my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption. You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.”  (cf Ps 16:7-11)   Only in faith could they see the resurrection of the Lord as the fulfillment of scriptures.

Seeing the Risen Lord is analogous to a love relationship.  When we love a person, we believe the person in faith.  It takes faith to fall in love with someone because lasting love is never proven or guaranteed.  But when we allow ourselves to fall in love, we begin to see more of the person, and believe in him or her more and more.  When there is no love, we remain an observer from the outside.  So long as we stay out, we cannot experience the love of our beloved.  Only those who open their hearts to love can receive love.  So too is faith in the Risen Lord.  Without faith, we cannot enter into the resurrection experience.

Today, we can still encounter the Risen Lord if we surrender in faith to Him.  How will we encounter Him?  In a similar but not exactly the same way the apostles encountered the Lord.  We will encounter Him when we allow His Spirit to dwell in us as the apostles did at Pentecost.  St Peter, after receiving the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues said, “Now raised to the heights by God’s hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.”   We encounter the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit resting on us and showing forth His power and glory.

The obvious sign that we have encountered the Risen Lord is the experience of uncontained joy and freedom.  We will experience a radical transformation in our lives when we believe in the Risen Lord.  Like the women, “filled with awe and great joy”, we too will run to announce the Good News to all.  Those who have encountered the Risen Lord no longer fear the future and their enemies.  This was what happened to the cowardly apostles after the resurrection.  But the same message of our Lord when He appeared to the disciples was always this, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer and Meditation for Easter, April 1, 2018 — Faith in the resurrection of our Lord means that we no longer have to live in our tombs — No fears and unbeliefs…

March 31, 2018

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord – The Mass of Easter Day
Lectionary: 42

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John & Peter Running to the Tomb, by Eugene Burnand.

Reading 1  ACTS 10:34A, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23.

R. (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2  COL 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.Or

I COR 5:6B-8

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.

AlleluiaCF. 1 COR 5:7B-8A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel  JN 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
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They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.Or
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Gospel  MK 16:1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.'”

Or

Gospel  LK 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:

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they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
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From The Abbot in the Desert

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Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

Christ is risen!  Incredible!  Christ died for us, but Christ is risen and now lives for us!  The followers of Jesus were devastated by His death because they had believed that He was the Messiah.  They saw Him die such a humiliating and painful death and most could no longer believe in Him because His death seemed to deny all that they had believed.

His Resurrection changed everything.  It was as if they were now able to understand more of what He had said and preached.  His mysterious words now seemed prophetic and made sense.  Christ is risen!  That statement changed the whole reality of faith for His followers.

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles, the witness of Saint Luke.  This witness explains how the followers felt, how they seemed to lose all hope and only with the Resurrection were they able to understand to some extent the wonderful works of God.  The Resurrection transformed this band of followers into a group of people totally committed to proclaiming that Jesus is the Lord, even if everyone else doubted them or even made fun of them.  They could now understand the Law and the Prophets and the Wisdom literature of their ancestors in the faith and see that all of that pointed to Jesus as Lord.  Alleluia!

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Colossians.  This is the witness of Saint Paul.  We must die with Christ so that we too can be raised with Christ.  This whole life now, for us as followers of Jesus, is the process of dying to ourselves and living more and more in Jesus.  We are invited to proclaim Jesus as Lord by our own dying to self and living in Him.  Alleluia!

The Gospel today is from Saint John.  This is the witness of Saint John.  The men who were followers of Jesus were totally undone by His death and sort of stuck together, bemoaning the death of Jesus, but not doing much more.  Instead, the women went to the tomb and found it empty.  The women then return and tell the men, who run to the tomb—believing that the body of Jesus had been stolen.  They did not yet believe in the Resurrection.

John gets to the tomb first but does not go in.  Instead he waits for Peter to go in.  They both see the same thing:  “the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.”  Peter does not yet believe but John believes.  John tells us in this Gospel:  “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, the followers begin to receive reports that Jesus is alive and speaking with various followers and that these followers begin to believe that it is really Jesus, now risen from the dead.  Alleluia!

And you?  And me?  Do we believe?  Alleluia!  Christ is risen from the dead!  He tramples down death by death!  He gives life to those in the tomb!  He speaks to His followers!  He eats with them!  Alleluia.  Let us rejoice in the Lord!

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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01 APRIL, 2018, Easter Sunday

A RESURRECTED CHURCH

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ACTS 10:34.37-43COL 3:1-4 OR 1 COR 5:6-8JN 20:1-9 ]

Alleluia!  The Lord is Risen!  This is the Good News that the Church proclaims to all of humanity.  The resurrection is the foundation of Christian joy and Christian hope.  With the resurrection of Jesus, we know that He is truly Lord and savior of the world.  With the resurrection, He shows us that the way to life is through love and service unto death.  Most of all, the resurrection frees us from the fear of death as the end of everything in life.  Christian hope in fullness of life after death takes away the sting of death.

Consequently, faith in the resurrection of our Lord means that we no longer have to live in our tombs.  There are many who are living in shame, in fear and self-condemnation of their past and their mistakes, like the apostles who were hiding in the upper room.  There are those of us who are discouraged in life because of failure and disillusionment, like the disciples at Emmaus when they felt their hopes dashed with the death of their master.  There are those who have lost their loved ones and unable to let go, as in the case of Mary Magdalene.  Then there are those who live in wonder or bewilderment, as Peter did even when he saw the empty tomb, unable to make sense of it.  And there are those who doubt the reality of the Risen Lord, like St Thomas who said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  (Jn 20:25)

However, for those of us who have encountered the Risen Lord, we no longer need to take refuge in our tombs of unbelief and fears.  Instead, we manifest joy, optimism, courage, and hope for the future even when it appears gloomy.  This was what happened to the disciples of Jesus when they met the Risen Lord.  Their whole direction in life changed from hopelessness and discouragement to one of confidence and joy for the future.  Whether it was Mary Magdalene, the disciples at Emmaus, the apostles, or even St Paul, their encounter with the Risen Lord set them free from all fears about the future.  From being cowards, fearful of their enemies, especially the Jewish authorities, they proclaimed the Good News with boldness even when under persecution and at the risk of their lives.

Indeed, they could not contain the joy of knowing that Jesus was their Lord and Savior.  They were now capable of living for God and for others.  They were no longer protecting their lives or hoarding their wealth for themselves. The early Church grew as a community through their sharing of a common faith, love and resources.  They were all supportive of each other and the work of the apostles.  Together as a Christian community, they pooled all their resources together for the spread of the gospel.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, the community used the gifts they had received for the building of the Church.

Once we have encountered the Risen Lord, then it will be our turn to announce Him to the world.  A clear sign that we have truly encountered the Lord and can sing Alleluia from our hearts, not just from our lips, is when we cannot but be like the disciples who ran to announce the resurrection to others.  We cannot contain such incredible news to ourselves.  We would want to share with the whole world.  The lack of the desire to announce that He is risen means that our faith in the Risen Lord is just a cerebral faith, not a personal conviction.

As a resurrected Church, like the apostles, we must go out and proclaim the Good News.  The instruction of the Risen Lord to the disciples was, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers.”  (cf Mt 28:10)  We do this by recovering our personal relationship with the Lord.  We need to rekindle the faith of our Catholics.  Then we need to reach out to those who are searching for God in their lives or desire a personal relationship with Him.  But faith is not just about worship and doctrines; we need to express them concretely as there are many who are seeking for signs of love and welcome, a sense of identity and belonging.

There are many Catholics who lack passion and enthusiasm in the faith.  They might go for church services but their hearts are far from God. They do not have any real relationship with Him.  The practice of faith is reduced to fulfilling obligations.   Some have stopped coming to church because they have been wounded by fellow Catholics, especially Church leaders.   Where are they?  The young and the rationalists are not able to connect with the Church.  Many cannot feel the presence of God in their lives because of a secularist culture where God is absent.  Many are overwhelmed with the current ideologies of relativism, materialism and individualism.  But deep in their hearts, they feel empty, even if they have all the pleasures of this life.

To change this, we must be a resurrected Church. Firstly, Christ is risen but is He risen in our hearts?  This is what St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians in today’s second reading is asking us.  (1 Cor 5:6-8; cf Col 3:1-4)  Their lives were radically changed.  From fear to courage, from slavery to freedom, from ambition to service, from death to life.   The apostles, like St Paul, were so changed by the Lord that they began to live holy lives in imitation of the Lord.   So are we risen in faith and in love?  Has our faith in the Lord increased and strengthened?  Is our relationship with the Lord real, intimate and personal?  Are we joyful and hopeful people in the way we look at life and even when we suffer, either because of the trials of life or even because of injustices? Are we a community of love among ourselves and welcoming of others into our family, reaching out to the poor, non-believers and even nominal Catholics or those who have left the Church?  Or are we exclusive, parochial-minded and protectionist of our turf, reducing us to mere enclaves?

Secondly, all of us must be renewed in our faith and our love for Christ and His Church.  We need to be formed in our faith and be empowered through spiritual renewal and growth.   What about a deepening growth in doctrinal and moral faith?  Have our Catholics become better informed in their theological faith so that they can defend and explain their faith to the world?   Are our Catholics journeying alone in faith or do they have a community to pray with, sharing the Word of God intimately and be strengthened in their faith?

Thirdly, we must be partners of the archdiocesan vision and mission to build a vibrant, evangelistic and missionary Church.  Has our parish community grown in number and in strength?  Are there more ministries and services, not just serving the parish but also going out of the parish to serve the larger community, especially the neighbourhood?  How many are evangelistic- minded and witnessing to Christ in their lives? So too in every parish, your pastoral care is not just for Catholics but every one, believer or not, who reside within your parish and even beyond.    Do we see the number of adult baptism growing each year?  We have about 1,000 adult baptisms a year, which is just 0.25 percent of the 383,000 Catholics in Singapore.  It clearly means that our Catholics are not living up to their obligation of bringing Christ to those around them.

The more tangible signs that we are truly an anointed Church and a resurrected Church is the fruit of more adult baptisms, priestly and religious vocations and young people.  How can we call ourselves a Church that is alive with the Spirit when we do not find young people who have fallen in love so much with Jesus that they want to give their lives entirely to His service in the Church and for the community?   How can we call ourselves a local Church if we are still so dependent on migrant priests and increasingly so?  Indeed, we are grateful to them but they cannot be a replacement for local vocations.  The MEP fathers handed over their ministry to the local Church in the 1970’s, but ironically, we are handing it back to migrant priests.   If the Church is local, then vocations must come from within the Church.

Finally, the sign of a resurrected Church is when we see more and more young people in church, leading in ministries and activities.  It means the Church is growing and is vibrant and not stagnating.   We are beginning to see this in the work of the Office of Young People.  However, in our parishes, how many young people do we retain in the service of the Church after confirmation?  How many of them are still active or fervent in their faith, or has the Sacrament of Confirmation become a sacrament of farewell?  The moment we see only elderly in our churches, then it means the Church is slowly dying.  There is a future for the Church only when we see young children and especially young people active in church.

So let us not remain in our tombs.  Let us find strength and hope from the Risen Lord as we move forward in building a Church that is vibrant, evangelistic and missionary.  Let us have faith and live out the resurrection in our lives.  In Christ who was crucified and now risen, we come to realize the victory of love over hatred, life over death.  Unless we show ourselves alive in Christ, no one would believe that the Lord is Risen from the dead.  The Good News of Easter can only be announced by those who have seen the Lord.  Only then will the announcement be passionate, enthusiastic and courageous.

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

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, March 14, 2018 — The Father does not judge anyone but he has given all judgment to the Son — Whoever hears my word and believes has eternal life

March 13, 2018

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 246

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Reading 1 IS 49:8-15

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 145:8-9, 13CD-14, 17-18

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Verse Before The Gospel  JN 11:25A, 26

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.

Gospel JN 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.”I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom

The counterintuitive propositions of the Gospels.

Society tells us: be strong. Seek money. Show off your skills. Rise to the top.

Jesus tells us: be humble. Become totally dependent upon the father. Seek out and do service for the marginalized.

Embraces all his creatures.

Eat my body. Drink my blood.

Can we follow him? Can we imitate him? There is little in the way of reward here on earth…..

Do not be afraid…

The Gospels also say, “No matter what you encounter, be joyful. Your reward shall be in heaven.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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29 MARCH, 2017, Wednesday, 4th Week of Lent

THE FOUNDATION FOR DOING GOOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Is 49:8-15Ps 144:8-9,13-14,17-18Jn 5:17-30]Today, the liturgy continues with the theme of joy in expectation of the feast of the resurrection, albeit in the shadow of hostility and death.  “Shout for joy, you heavens; earth, exult! Mountains, break into joyful cries! For Yahweh has consoled his people, is taking pity on his afflicted ones.”  In the first reading, we read the consoling words of the Lord to the Israelites who felt forsaken and abandoned in their exile at Babylon, “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast; feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you.”   On the day of salvation, the Lord would restore Israel.  “Along the roadway they will graze, and any bare height will be their pasture. They will never hunger or thirst, scorching wind and sun will never plague them; for he who pities them will lead them, will guide them to springs of water. I shall turn all my mountains into a road and my highways will be raised aloft.”

This promise of the Lord of course was fulfilled in Jesus who is the Suffering Servant prophesied in the first reading.   The words spoken to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah aptly applies to Jesus when God said, “I have formed you and have appointed you to be the covenant for a people, to restore the land, to return ravaged properties, to say to prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’” In the last few days, the gospel narrated how Jesus manifested Himself as a life-giver.  He told the story of the Prodigal Son and the mercy of His Father whom He sought to imitate.  He said, “I tell you most solemnly, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too.”

The works of Jesus was done in union with the Father.  He said, “My father goes on working, and so do I.”  So like the Father, Jesus gave life to the Court Official’s son who was on the brink of death.  Yesterday, we read how Jesus healed the paralyzed man and forgave his sins.  This is justified by the fact that “the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does himself, and he will show him even greater things than these, works that will astonish you. Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses.”   The authority and powers of Jesus to heal, raise and forgive were given by the Father.  Jesus saw Himself as acting on His behalf.

On this basis, Jesus claimed identification with the Father!   And the Jews knew what He was implying.  “That only made the Jews even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the Sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.”   By healing on the Sabbath and giving the basis for doing good works of mercy on the Sabbath, in imitation of His Father, Jesus was making implicit claims that He was God.  They were fully aware that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of Man mentioned in the Book of Daniel, chapter 7.  The miracles He performed were messianic signs, especially the raising of the dead, curing the lame and giving sight to the blind. He was thus seen as making a blasphemous claim to be the Son of God.

Secondly, He claimed to speak the Word of God.  He said, “I tell you most solemnly, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live.”   He is the Word of God in person.  If He were to speak God’s words, then it means that one has to believe in Him and all that He said.  It means that we need to accept Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life.   Only by accepting Jesus, can we find life, not just life after death but life on this earth.   In following the path that Jesus set out for us, the way of love and humble service, in obedience to the Father’s will, in everything, we will live the fullness of life.  Hence, for such a person, “without being brought to judgement he has passed from death to life.”

Thirdly, Jesus claimed to be the Judge as well, a position reserved for the Father.  He said, “For the Father, who is the source of life, has made the Son the source of life; and, because he is the Son of Man, has appointed him supreme judge.  Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graces at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation.  I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just.”   Jesus could judge only because He is holy and perfect like the Father.  Because He is the Word of God, He could judge with full knowledge and understanding.   He judges with love and compassion, as the psalmist says. “The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.”  So the judgement of Jesus is founded on truth, love and compassion.  In speaking of Himself as the judge, He takes the place of God.

How could Jesus dare to make such claims of divinity and authority to act on behalf of the Father?  How could He be so confident and courageous to make such claims at the risk of courting death?  How is it that He was not afraid of being misunderstood, condemned or opposed? How do we explain the confidence in Jesus if not because of His intimate relationship with the Father? 

This identity with the Father is based on a mutual union between the Father and the Son.  This union with the Father must be seen as a union of mind and heart.  Jesus performed everything in union with the Father, based on the union of mind and will.  Jesus would not do anything except in alignment with the Father’s will.  He reiterated, “I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”   Jesus’ obedience to the Father was not a reluctant obedience or simply a submission of will. Rather, His obedience was the consequence of a union of will and love.  As Jesus said to the disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” (Jn 4:34)  Jesus loved His Father because of His Father’s love for Him.  He lived and died for His Father.  He said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”  (Jn 10:17f)

What about us?  What is the basis for our good works?  What is the basis for living a life of love and truth?  Is it based on purely humanitarian reasons, simply because we feel the sufferings of our fellowmen or because of moral obligation to contribute to society because we have been beneficiaries?   In truth, many of us do good out of guilt, or at most out of responsibility because of our conscience.  Of course, some do out of love for their fellowmen but many help because of fear of condemnation or at least to gain respect and honour from the world.

In the case of Jesus, His good works came from His identification with the compassion and love of His Father.  His union with the Father was the cause of His mission to humanity.  As the psalmist says, “The Lord is faithful in all his words and loving in all his deeds.  The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down. The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds. He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.”  So it was out of the love of the Father in Him that He went about doing good so that the Father could be seen through Him. This too must also be the source of our strength in doing good. We must not be like the pagans.  “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Mt 5:46-48)

So today, we need to return to the ancient times when Catechumens were instructed more intensely during this time.  At this mass, salt would be placed in their mouths so that they would receive the Word of God and be the salt of the earth.  They too would be given the creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Four Gospels so that they will become more identified with the Lord in how they live their lives.  For those of us who are baptized, let us renew our appreciation for the love of God in Christ as we contemplate on His passion.  We must come to know the identity of Jesus more and more so that we can truly be identified with Him in mind and in heart as Jesus is with the Father.

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Related:

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“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

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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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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14 MARCH, 2018, Wednesday, 4th Week of Lent
CHRIST THE MERCY OF GOD IN PERSON

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Is 49:8-15Ps 145:8-9,13-14,17-18Jn 5:17-30 ]

In the first reading, the Israelites, who were suffering the loss of their freedom, identity, their pride and temple whilst in exile, were lamenting that God had abandoned them.  This is true of us also when we suffer, often because of our sins, negligence and irresponsibility.  When we have to pay a price for our sins, instead of using the time to reflect on our wrongdoings, folly and carelessness, we too blame God and accuse Him of abandoning us.  Of course, some of us are not directly responsible for our sufferings, which are the consequence of the mistakes of others, but by virtue of our association with them, we too have to carry their sins as well.

Yet in truth, God does not abandon us.   Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said to Zion who “was saying, ‘Yahweh has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me.’  Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you.”   God’s love and compassion for us is stronger even than that of a mother towards her child.   God’s love exceeds any human love, even that of a mother’s love for her child.  In other words, God will never forget us in our need.  The Lord assured Israel, “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”  (Isa 49:16)

Indeed, He will come to rescue us.  This is the promise of God through Isaiah, “Along the roadway they will graze, and any bare height will be their pasture. They will never hunger or thirst, scorching wind and sun will never plague them; for he who pities them will lead them, will guide them to springs of water. I shall turn all my mountains into a road and my highways will be raised aloft. Look! Here they come from far away, look, these from the north and the west, those from the land of Sinim”

How does God do it if not by sending His servant?  Jesus is the fulfilment of the Suffering Servant whom God appointed to be the Covenant for His people.  “Thus says Yahweh: At the time of my favour I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have helped you. I have formed you and have appointed you to be the covenant for a people, to restore the land, to return ravaged properties, to say to prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’”  This is reiterated by St Paul when he said, “As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”  (2 Cor 6:1f)

When Jesus began His public ministry, He cited the words of the Suffering Servant to spell out His mission, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Lk 4:18f cf Isa 61:1-4)  Jesus, at the end of His life at the Last Supper, proclaimed Himself as the New Covenant.  “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  (Lk 22:20)  By so doing, He fulfilled the New Covenant as prophesied by Jeremiah. (cf Jer 31:31-34)  He is the perfect Covenant because He is the expression of God’s mercy and compassion.  In Jesus, we see the compassion of God in person as expressed by the psalmist.  “The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love.  How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.  The Lord is faithful in all his words and loving in all his deeds.  The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down.  The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds.  He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.”

Indeed, Jesus is the love and mercy of God in person because He is identified with the Father.  This is what the gospel wishes to underscore; that Jesus and the Father are one.  In Jesus, we see the Father’s love and mercy.  Jesus clearly speaks of His perfect identification with His Father in terms of work, authority and power.  When He was accused of breaking the Sabbath Law for healing the paralytic on the Sabbath Day, He said, “My father goes on working, and so do I.”  The evangelist noted “that only made the Jews even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.”   Like the Father who sustains creation and continues to give life to us all, Jesus as the life-giver continues the work of the Father, regardless whether it is the Sabbath or not.

Only God can give life of course.  The fact that Jesus also gave life to the sick and the dead, means that He is identified with God.  By raising the dead to life, Jesus was assuming the power of God.  He said, “I tell you most solemnly, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; without being brought to judgement he has passed from death to life. I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live.  For the Father, who is the source of life, has made the Son the source of life; and, because he is the Son of Man, has appointed him supreme judge.”  Christ is appointed both the Lord of life and also the eternal judge of those who would receive fullness of life or eternal damantion.

Another implicit claim of Jesus’ identification with the Father is in the work of judgement.  It was believed that the Father would be the judge in our lives.  But Jesus said that God had handed to Him the authority to judge as well.  His judgement is the judgement of His Father, “for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father.  Whoever refuses honour to the Son refuses honour to the Father who sent him.”  He further elaborated, “Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graces at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation.”

Jesus acts on behalf of the Father and in unity with the Father.  He is one with Him in will and in action.  “I tell you most solemnly, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does himself, and he will show him even greater things than these, works that will astonish you.”  In all that Jesus did, He claimed that He was in perfect union with the Father.  He further explained, “I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”   This is what we mean when we speak of the obedience and fidelity of Jesus to the Father. The sonship of Jesus is expressed in His total commitment to the Father’s will and mission.  Obedience is always the consequence of an authentic sonship.   Jesus completely surrendered His life to His Father.  He made it clear to His disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.”  (Jn 4:34)

Consequently, the decision is in our court.  Will we accept Jesus as the Son of God, the expression of the Father?  Unless, we choose Him, and that means accepting His teaching about Himself and that of the Father, we will not have the fullness of life.  This is what the Lord said, “Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses; for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father.  Whoever refuses honour to the Son refuses honour to the Father who sent him.”   This is the decision we have to make.  The Jews who believed in strict monotheism, that is, the one God, could not admit Jesus to be the Son of God and therefore rejected Him in spite of the signs that Jesus gave.  If we want to experience God’s mercy and love, then we need to declare that Jesus is identical with God.

This is the amazing claim for us Christians.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  This is highlighted by St Paul when he wrote, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?  Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.” (Rom 8:31-34) Paradoxically, in giving up His own Son, God was restating the statement earlier in Isaiah that even if the mother were to forget her child, “I shall not forget you.”  Truly, His love is so great that He would even give up His only Son to save us!

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

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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, February 20, 2018 — “The Lord’s Prayer” — Plus: “The Antidote to Fear is Faith”

February 19, 2018

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 225

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Reading 1 IS 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

R. (18b) From all their distress God rescues the just.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

Verse Before The GospelMT 4:4B

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

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Gospel  MT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”This is how you are to pray:Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
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Henri Nouwen wrote about the all loving and all forgiving Father in this simple book…
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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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Lent is the time we talk about these things. 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…. this Lent….
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The Antidote to Fear is Faith

The way to overcome our fears is to follow Jesus in faith. Our faith is what allows us to enter the future — not with a question mark — but with an exclamation point!

Faith is what allows us to declare in confidence that God is with us no matter what happens. We are certain God is for us and certain he has our best interests at heart.

Through faith, we know that God is working all things out for our good — if we love God and are following the commands of Jesus (Romans 8:28). If you are a believer, the Bible says all things are working together for good — not that all things are good — but working together for your good and the Glory of God.

There is no difficulty, dilemma, defeat, or disaster in the life of a believer that God can’t ultimately get some good out of – so what is there to fear, as we enter this Decade of Destiny?

When you face the future, what do you see?  Do you look at it with eyes of doubt?  With eyes of cynicism?  With eyes of expecting the worse?

You have two choices about the future –

  • You can either face the future as a cynic, a doubter, with negative thoughts, expecting the worse, or …
  • You can face the future expecting God to be with you and that His goodness and His mercy will follow you all the days of your life.

http://pastorrick.com/devotional/english/faith-is-god’s-antidote-to-fear

Related:

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

The Gospel today presents the prayer of the Our Father, the Psalm which Jesus has left us. There are two redactions of the Our Father, of Luke (Lk 11, 1-4 and of Matthew (Mt 6, 7-13). The redaction of Luke is briefer. Luke writes for the community coming from paganism. He tries to help the persons who are beginning a path of prayer. In the Gospel of Matthew, the Our Father is found in the part of the Discourse of the Mountain, where Jesus orientates the disciples in the practice of the three works of piety: alms giving (Mt 6, 1-4), prayer (Mt 6, 5-15) and fasting (Mt 6, 26-18). The Our father forms part of a catechesis for the converted Jews. They were used to pray, but they had certain vices which Matthew wanted to correct. In the Our Father, Jesus summarizes all his teaching in seven petitions addressed to the Father. In these seven petitions, he takes the promises of the Old Testament and orders to ask the Father to help us to realize them. The first three refer to our relationship with God. The other four have to do with the community relationship that we have with others.

• Matthew 6, 7-8: The introduction to the Our Father. Jesus criticises the persons for whom prayer was a repetition of magic formulae, of strong words, addressed to God to oblige him to respond to their petitions and needs. Anyone who prays has to seek, in the first place, the Kingdom, much more than the personal interests. The acceptance of prayer by God does not depend on the repetition of words, but rather on the goodness of God who is Love and Mercy. He wants our good and he knows our needs, even before we pray.

• Matthew 6,9a: The first words: “Our Father in Heaven!” “Abba, Father, is the name which Jesus uses to address himself to God. It expresses the intimacy that he has with God and manifests the new relationship with God which should characterize the life of people in the Christian communities (Ga 4, 6; Rm 8, 15). Matthew adds to the name of Father the adjective our and the expression in Heaven. The true prayer is a relationship which unites us to the Father, to the brothers and sisters, to nature. Familiarity with God is not intimist, but expresses the awareness of belonging to the great human family, in which all persons participate; of all races and of all creeds: Our Father. To pray to the Father is to enter in intimacy with him, it is also to be in harmony with the cry of all the brothers and sisters. It is to seek the Kingdom of God, in the first place. The experience of God the Father is the foundation of the universal fraternity.

• Matthew 6, 9b-10: The three petitions for the cause of God: the Name, the Kingdom, the Will. In the first part of the Our Father, we ask to restore our relationship with God. To do this Jesus asks (a) the sanctification of the Name revealed in Exodus on the occasion of the liberation from Egypt; (b) to ask for the coming of the Kingdom, expected by the people after the fall of the monarchy; (c) to ask for the fulfilment of God’s Will, revealed in the Law which was in the centre of the Covenant. The Name, the Kingdom, the Law: are three axis taken from the Old Testament which express how the new relationship with God should be. The three petitions indicate that it is necessary to live in intimacy with the Father, making his Name known, making him loved, doing in such a way that his Kingdom of love and of communion becomes a reality that his Will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven. In heaven, the sun and the stars obey the law of God and create the order of the Universe. The observance of the Law of God “on earth as it is in heaven” should be a source and a mirror of harmony and of well being for the whole creation. This renewed relationship with God becomes visible only in the renewed relationship among us, which on his part is the object of other four petitions: our daily bread, the forgiveness of debts, not to fall into temptation, to deliver us from evil.

Related:

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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20 FEBRUARY, 2018, Tuesday, 1st Week of Lent
LIVING OUT OUR PRAYERS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISA 55:10-11PS 34:4-716-19MT 6:7-15 ]

Today, we focus on the first pillar of our Lenten program, which is prayer.  Yesterday, the theme of the mass focused on the second pillar of the Lenten spiritual exercises, namely, on justice, charity and almsgiving. These two themes are closely related.  The goal of prayer is charity.  Prayer is not an end in itself but to enable us to be immersed in the love of God so that with that love, we can love others.

That is why right from the start, the Church warns of futile prayers that does no one any good.  Jesus warns us, “In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.  Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  Indeed, some of us might think that we are holy and pious just because we increase our time for prayers and devotions, such as praying the rosary, attending the Stations of the Cross and other pious exercises.  Many of us could be doing all these things and yet our lives are not transformed in any way, including those who attend daily mass out of routine and devotion.

Because we do not pray with our hearts or even meditate with our minds, what we say is mere lip service, something that we rattle off, without consciously imbibing what we say, or pray, and without feeling what we express.  Indeed, sometimes, I wonder whether the pious devotional prayers, including the traditional Stations, that we pray at our churches are impacting lives.  We try to meditate quickly the 14 Stations in half an hour, so much so we hardly have any time to let the thoughts and the sentiments sink into our heads and hearts.  It is just touch and go.  So too, for the rosary and other devotions as well.  If only we take time to deepen our reflection, let the thoughts linger a bit longer and let our hearts be moved by the words, our lives will be transformed.  Indeed, the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary are some of the most powerful forms of devotional prayers that can be used for the transformation of lives.

In a special way, this is also true for all formula prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer that the Lord taught us in the gospel.  This prayer is the pattern of all prayers.  It is not so much that the prayer itself is inspired, beautiful and succinct, but because it provides us the way we should pray, and the principles that should guide our prayers.   Jesus only taught us one prayer and that is sufficient because it is the prayer that should help us to make our own prayers.

The Lord’s Prayer sums up the whole teaching of Jesus with regards to God, our neighbour and ourselves.  It is about relationship and trust and forgiveness.  It tells us how we should pray and what we should be praying for.  Many of us have the wrong disposition for prayer and often pray for the wrong things.  As St Paul said, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”  (Rom 8:26)  We need to pray in the Spirit, which is what the Lord’s Prayer seeks to communicate – the Spirit of Jesus at prayer.  The Lord’s Prayer, coming at the center of the Sermon on the Mount, is the heart of Jesus’ teaching, and summarizes what He wants to communicate to us.  In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus sums up His teachings and also the entire bible.  What the bible teaches us about God, life, providence, trust, mercy, forgiveness and charity are captured in the Lord’s Prayer.  Every verse of the Lord’s Prayer can be associated with the scripture texts elsewhere in the bible, especially in the psalms.  In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church concludes the hour of praise and thanksgiving with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, a fitting summary and conclusion to the prayers of the Church.

So what are the principles that we should bear in mind when we pray?  Firstly, we must be conscious that God is not just almighty and omnipotent.  He is our Father.  He is not someone whom we fear but someone whom we love.  He is a Father who cares for us all.  “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  (Mt 5:45)  And He looks after our needs.  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  (Mt 6:26)  He is the Father who is ever ready to forgive us when we fail, and to welcome us home.  We read this in the parables of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin.  (cf Lk 15)  The psalmist says, “I sought the Lord and he answered me; from all my terrors he set me free.”  Beyond recognizing that God is our Father, we must therefore regard all men and women as our brothers and sisters. “Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”  (Heb 2:11)

Secondly, our whole life is for the glory of God.  This is what we pray, “may your name be held holy.”   We are called to glorify God by our lives.   This is what St Paul urges us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)  Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”  (Jn 17:4)   Only by glorifying Him, can we also share in His glory.  “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”  (Jn 17:5)  “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity”  (Jn 17:22f)  This is what the psalmist says as well.  “Glorify the Lord with me.  Together let us praise his name.”

Thirdly, we give glory to God only by doing His will perfectly.  This is what the first reading asks of us. The prophet says, “As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.”  When we do the will of God, then we know that God rules in our lives.  Jesus’ whole life was lived in obedience to God, doing His holy will. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”  (Jn 4:34)  Most of all, at the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord said, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  (Mt 26:42)

Fourthly, we are called to trust in the divine providence of God.  “Give us today our daily bread.”  As Jesus tells us in the gospel, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Mt 6:33f)  We pray for what we need daily and what we need the most daily is the Word of God, the bread of life.  This daily bread refers not just to our daily needs but also the bread of life, the Word of God and the Eucharist, the bread of tomorrow.   This is also the faith of the psalmist when he says, “Look towards him and be radiant; let your faces not be abashed.  This poor man called, the Lord heard him and rescued him from all his distress.  They call and the Lord hears and rescues them in all their distress.  The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.”

Above all, the Lord asks us to pray for forgiveness, which is the heart of the gospel.  “And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.”  This is the heart of prayer as well.  If we are not forgiving, we will impede the grace of God from flowing towards us.  A man with a vindictive heart will not be able to find peace in his life.  Indeed, Jesus reminds us, “Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.” As the psalmist says, “The Lord turns his face against the wicked to destroy their remembrance from the earth. The Lord turns his eyes to the just and his ears to their appeal.”  When we do not forgive, we hurt ourselves primarily because we are prisoners of our enemies.

Finally, every prayer must conclude with a prayer for the grace of God to protect us from all evil.  “And do not put us to the test, but save us from the evil one.”  Living a godly life is not solely dependent on our will and strength because we are fighting against the evil one.  We need to pray for God’s strength to resist temptations.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  (Eph 6:10f)  This means that we should cooperate with His grace by avoiding the occasion of sin. Let us take heed of Peter’s advice, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Pt 5:6-8) Only when we seek to walk in His path, can we find peace and joy.

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

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, February 18, 2018 — First Sunday of Lent — “Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

February 17, 2018

First Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 23

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Reading 1 GN 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
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God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Reading 2 1 PT 3:18-22

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once, 
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, 
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh, 
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, 
who had once been disobedient 
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah 
during the building of the ark, 
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body 
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, 
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God, 
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Verse Before The Gospel  MT 4:4B

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

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Temptation in the Desert by Eric Armusik

Gospel  MK 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Even Jesus was subjected to human temptation. He knows what we go though because he went through it himself. Temptation. Longing. Pain. Suffering. Jesus was human like us — and he felt like us.
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This should give great solace all who walk this earth. We are not alone in our pain and suffering and temptation. In fact, man may be defined by his mind that comprehends pain and suffering and temptation differently from the animals. But in our humanness we also have love, desire and free will. We have choices to make and we must make them or perish.
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Jesus is tempted in the desert (Jésus tenté dans le désert)
By James Tissot
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At the Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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Reflection from The Abbot in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Part of Lent is deepening our awareness that we people who have a Covenant with the Living God.  We are not just people who believe in God.  We are a people sought out by God, a people formed by God and a people with a special love relationship with God.  Only when we are deeply aware of His love for us can we truly begin to do penance in a Christian way.

The first reading today is from the Book of Genesis and recounts the establishment of the Covenant with Noah and his descendants.  Many times in the history of the Chosen People, God has made Covenants.  These Covenants mark important events in the life of the Chosen People and are a sign of God’s choosing this people and remaining faithful to His choice.  What happens always is that God remains faithful to the Covenant and we do not.  Yet we are called to look back at these Covenants and to let God change our faithlessness to faithfulness.

The second reading today is from the First Letter of Peter.  This portion of the letter refers us once again to the Covenant with Noah and explains even more clearly that we must return to faithfulness.  The letter points out that it is Christ who has died for our sins and that we cannot think that the death of Christ was simply a removal of dirt from the body.  Rather the death of Christ our consciences are made clean by our faith in Him.  Thus we are invited to choose Jesus Christ once again in this time of Lent and know that He is our salvation.

The Gospel of this First Sunday of Lent is always the Gospel of Christ in the Desert, the temptations of Christ fasting for forty days.  The account this year comes from the Gospel of Mark and is very, very short.  Saint Mark simply tells us that Jesus was in the desert forty days and was tempted and that angels ministered to Him.  When Jesus leaves the desert, he begins His ministry of preaching.  He preaches repentance and belief in the Good News of God.

We are invited to see that Lent is a time of Good News of God.  Lent is a time to believe more deeply in this God who loves us and comes to save us in every situation.  Lent is a time to listen attentively to the Word of God and to meditate on what this Word means in our lives.  We are invited to turn away from anything that misleads us and walk always the way of the Lord.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

(In the photo above, Abbot Philip is at the far left)

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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18 FEBRUARY, 2018, Sunday, 1st Week of Lent

VICTORY OVER EVIL IN CHRIST JESUS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [Genesis 9:8-151 Peter 3:18-22Mark 1:12-15  ]

Overcoming temptation is always a struggle for us all.  It is not that we are wicked people by nature.  Rather, we are all self-preservative.  We do what we can to protect our interests.  We are afraid of death, suffering and rejection.  That is why we grab, we hoard, we steal and we kill.  If not for the fear of suffering, death and rejection, we can be very generous and caring people.  Many who have sufficient in life and feel that they have more than enough would sacrifice their lives to do good, to help the poor and the Church.  As it is said, charity begins at home, but it does not end there.

Still, there are many other temptations that we cannot resist, not just money and wealth.  We cannot resist the sin of lust and the things of the flesh, food and beauty, because we are human beings with a spirit and a body.  So we give in to the sin of flesh easily because our body desires sensual and physical pleasure.  We are desperate for acceptance and recognition and so the sin of vanity and pride make us do things to gain praise.  Our ego will not let us rest, but make us fight to be seen as right and great.

The truth is that such temptations continue to remain with us even after baptism because whilst our sins are washed away and forgiven at baptism, the effects of original sin, namely concupiscence, stays with us.  This refers to the weakness of our disoriented will.  Although we are not depraved, our human nature is weakened and therefore the resistance to temptation is much weaker in us human beings.  Indeed, we read that immediately after the Covenant was made with Noah, upon leaving the Ark, Noah and his sons planted the vineyard.  Noah “drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.”  (Gn 9:21f)  Instead of behaving himself, Noah showed a bad example to his sons.

Overcoming temptation due to human weakness is made even more complex because the Devil, who is the Tempter, seeks to destroy us by manipulating our human weakness.  Knowing how weak we are to the flesh and the world, he tempts us with lust, food, glory and power.  Right from the outset of Jesus’ ministry, the devil sought to make Jesus fall through the threefold temptation of identity, pleasure and power.  We read in the gospel that “the Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan.”   We also read that “He was with the wild beasts.”  What are these wild beasts if not the devil who sought to tempt Him?  But for us, the wild beasts also refer to the brute nature in us seeking for pleasure, glory and power.

In the face of our temptations, the Lord promised to deliver us from our sins and win victory over the Evil One.  This is the covenant that God made with Noah.  “I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.”  In other words, God does not seek to destroy us but to redeem us.  With the coming of Jesus, we are told that upon His death, “in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison.”  This could mean that Jesus, upon His death, went to save those that came before Christ and were waiting in Sheol.  It could also mean, as some scholars suggest, that Jesus went down to hell to proclaim to the devils that He was victorious and hence, everything was under His dominion.  St Peter said, He “has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, now that he has made the angels and Dominations and Powers his subjects.”

How can we do it?  In Christ, we can overcome all evil.  Jesus showed us the Way, walked the Way and taught us the way.  How did He do it?  Firstly, He, as the Son of God, assumed our humanity.  He was truly a man in every way except sin.  “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.”  (Heb 4:15)  Indeed, Jesus, more than anyone else, can feel with us.  He knows what it is to be tempted as a man.  “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.”  (Heb 2:18) He can surely sympathize with us in our weakness more than our fellowmen who are judgmental.

Secondly, not only is He able to feel with us in our weakness in the face of temptations, He shows us the way.  The psalmist says, “The Lord is good and upright. He shows the path to those who stray, He guides the humble in the right path, He teaches his way to the poor.”  How does He show us the way?  First, by living out His sonship in obedience to His Father.  “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”  (Heb 5:8f)  He walked the way of truth and of love.

He shows us the way by helping us to use the Word of God to protect ourselves. “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Tim 3:16f)  To the Devil who tempted Him to change stones to bread, He cited from the scriptures, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”  To the temptation to worship Satan, Jesus cited the scriptures, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” And when asked to test the fidelity of His Father, He said that it is written, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Thirdly, to conquer sin and temptation, Jesus invites us to die to ourselves.  St Peter wrote, “Christ himself, innocent though he was, died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life.”  Dying to self is the only way in which we can rise to new life.  This is what baptism is all about.  It is more than just a washing of the physical dirt, as St Peter said, “but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  St Paul in his letter to the Romans said, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  (Rom 6:3-4; cf Rom 6:6-8)

Fourthly, we are called to overcome the fear of death, which is the cause of all sins.   All sins spring from the fear of death.  “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”  Hence, all sins lead to death.  “But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. For the wages of sin is death.”  (Rom 6:2123)   By His death, He destroyed death forever because He died so that He could rise from the dead to show us that death need not be feared, for it is not the last word, but eternal life with God.  “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”  (Heb 2:14f)

Finally, to overcome the fear of death and punishment because of our inclination to sin, we must cling to Jesus’ unconditional love and mercy for us.  This is what the Good News is.  When Jesus said, “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News”, He was saying that the forgiveness of God is here.  We have already been forgiven and we are all reconciled with the Father even before we make amends for our sins.  We are loved always by the Father no matter what we do.   (cf Rom 7:24f)

Realizing His love for us, we respond in love, not out of fear.  We must stop sinning, not because of the fear of punishment that comes from breaking the laws, but because it is a betrayal of love.  The psalmist says, “Remember your mercy, Lord, and the love you have shown from of old. In your love remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord.”  St Paul precisely responded in that manner.  “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.”  (Gal 2:20)  St Peter also exhorted the newly baptized, “Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall.”  (2 Pt 1:10)

The First Sunday of Lent is to lead us through the whole journey of Lent to repent and reclaim our sonship and daughtership in Christ.  It calls for a renewal of our baptismal promises, foreshadowed in the story of Noah’s Ark and given to us at our baptism as St Peter wrote.  We must now live out the Covenant that has been given to us in Christ, as sons and daughters of God by staying away from sin and living the New life in Christ Jesus.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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As Bishop Goh says, Lent requires us to become like little children again. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children….” (Matthew 18:2-4) — In Lent we confess our sins and try again to become totally dependent upon God and His Will (Not our own).  Notice Jesus says “unless” meaning we must do this to enter the kingdom of heaven….
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Prayer and Meditation for Friday, February 9, 2018 — “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

February 8, 2018

Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 333

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Jesus and the deaf man with a speech impediment

Reading 1  1 KGS 11:29-32; 12:19

Jeroboam left Jerusalem,
and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road.
The two were alone in the area,
and the prophet was wearing a new cloak.
Ahijah took off his new cloak,
tore it into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam:“Take ten pieces for yourself;
the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
‘I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon’s grasp
and will give you ten of the tribes.
One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant,
and of Jerusalem,
the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’”Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 81:10-11AB, 12-13, 14-15

R. (11a and 9a) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

Alleluia SEE ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel  MK 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
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Homily From The Abbot (From Sunday, September 6, 2015)
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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The work of God in our lives is so incredible!  The gifts of the Lord Jesus to those who follow Him are gifts of the Kingdom of God.  Just as God loves us in Christ Jesus and brings healing and wholeness, so we also much touch the lives of one another in the same way.  May our burning sands become pools, and may our thirsty ground become springs of water.

We can know that we don’t have to be frightened.  We can be upset, we can be lazy, we can be against God.  Whatever!  God is still going to seek us out in some way and we will have a choice to believe in Him.  We don’t even know how God will come into our lives.  For those of us who already believe, there are still surprises ahead of us.  God never abandons us.  God never gets us to one point in live and says:  that is enough.  No!  God wants us fully alive and fully in love with Him.  Isaiah tells us:  with divine recompense he comes to save you.

Divine recompense!  Recompense is compensation or reward given for loss or harm suffered or effort made.  Divine recompense is surely mercy upon mercy upon mercy—and yet always trying to entice from us a divine response to His divine love.

The Gospel of Mark today is about the healing of the deaf man who had a speech impediment.  Again this account is put here to show us that God wants us whole and alive.  Perhaps we will never be entirely whole in this life or entirely alive, but God is always there with us, enticing us, drawing us and seeking to gain our attention and our response.  When we do feel small touches of healing and wholeness and life, then at times we are like this deaf man and cannot restrain ourselves from telling others.  Jesus still will not reject us.

We know that if we get preachy, others will lose interest in the path of life.  We know that if we do not live joyful and humanly rewarding lives, others will not want such a path.  Our best preaching is simply living the joy of the presence of Lord in every aspect of our lives and in the way we love others.  Let us draw others to the Lord so that they too will know the Divine recompense.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

https://christdesert.org/2015/09/23rd-sunday-in-ordinary-time-cycle-b-2015/

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Reflection on Jesus Healing The Deaf and Mute Man
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By Martin G. Collins
Church of the Great God
Charlotte, NC  28247-1846
Forerunner, “Bible Study,” November-December 2011

 

Christ maketh the deaf to hear. Published by John Fleetwood, Life of our Blessed Lord and Saviour (c 1870)

Only Mark records Jesus Christ’s healing of the deaf-mute man (Mark 7:31-37), though Matthew refers to it generally (Matthew 15:29-31). After His special journey to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, where He healed the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter, Jesus made a circuit of the Decapolis, ten cities to which the Roman conquerors had granted special privileges about a century earlier. He found a tremendous need for healing in that region.

Matthew’s account relates that, when Jesus returned from Tyre and Sidon, throngs of people brought their sick—the lame, blind, deaf, mute, and maimed—to be healed by Him. Of these, Mark perhaps selects the deaf-mute man’s case to record because of associated incidents that had not occurred on any other occasion.

He recounts that the man was deaf and had a speech impediment. Deafness can isolate and exclude the sufferer from society. Evidently, this man was not born deaf because, if he had been, he would have been unable to speak at all. No mention is made of how he lost his hearing; possibly a disease or an accident was responsible.

His difficulty in speaking indicates that he was not completely mute, but after Christ’s touch, he could speak plainly, which may indicate that his handicap cannot be directly traced to a spiritual source of evil (Matthew 9:32).

1. What do the man’s two physical handicaps represent? Mark 7:32.

Comment: His deafness was absolute; he could hear nothing. This greatly limited him, especially in those days when sign language and other communication helps did not exist as prominently as they do today. The poor had no access to speech therapists, and the medical practices of the time offered no hope at all.

His deafness also put him in danger, as people use their hearing more than they realize to avoid harm. Spiritual deafness is no different: When we cannot hear or refuse to hear the Word of God, we endanger ourselves greatly, not hearing the warnings of God’s ministers against the enticement and pull of sin and its curses and penalties. While physical deafness is a very limiting disability, it does not normally lead to death, but spiritual deafness is infinitely worse, leading to eternal death.

The man was almost entirely mute except for a speech impediment that kept him from communicating with others verbally. The word “impediment” in Mark 7:32 does not mean he could not make any sounds but that he had great difficulty in speaking. He could make sounds with his mouth, but they came across as gibberish. Mark’s account states that Jesus “loosed” the man’s tongue, which may indicate that the problem was a birth defect.

Deafness and dumbness are often associated because humans learn to speak by hearing. A person who cannot hear his own voice or the voices of others has difficulty with pronunciation. If a person becomes deaf later in life, he will be able to speak much better than one born deaf or who loses his hearing as a child.

The relationship between the inability to speak and deafness pictures some of sin’s effects. Those who are deaf to the Word of God will have great difficulty speaking properly of spiritual matters. Even the most educated sinner betrays an impediment in his speech as soon as spiritual truths are introduced, but when he opens his ears to receive the truth, his spiritual speech will improve greatly and continually. Just as Jesus physically healed the man to enable him to hear, He must spiritually heal us so that we can understand God’s Word (see John 8:47I Corinthians 2:9-14).

In one sense, a person who cannot speak could be said to have an advantage over others since, “for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). However, we will be judged by our thoughts as well: “For out of the abundance of the heart [the mind] the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

2. What lessons regarding service does the presenting of the deaf-mute man to Christ teach? Mark 7:32.

Comment: The phrase “they brought to Him” describes others presenting the man to Christ. From this, we can learn several lessons of service. Those who presented the man to Christ were involved in a work everyone should emulate, that is, leading people to Christ as the solution to their needs. This work involves compassion and sacrifice. It is not proselytizing, per se, as it is done most effectively by being a true witness of God’s way of life.

We must have compassion for people needing help, as those who brought the deaf-mute man to Christ had, otherwise they would not have gone out of their way to bring him. In addition, bringing others to Christ shows a willingness to pay the cost, as it is a sacrifice of time, effort, and sometimes money—and often brings criticism and ridicule from the world. It may not be an act that brings prestige in the eyes of the world, but it is wonderful in God’s sight if His name is promoted and glorified.

The men in this scenario simply took a man to Christ for healing. Our work may be as simple as turning a person’s attention to an article or sermon, or in this Internet age, showing him the church’s website to make him aware of spiritual solutions to his problems. While these efforts can lead people to Christ, the most effective way is to be a true witness of God’s way of life by living righteously (Psalm 37:30Proverbs 10:20-21, 31-32; Revelation 20:4).

http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/BS/k/1548/Miracles-Jesus-Christ-Healing-Deaf-Mute-Part-One.htm

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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09 FEBRUARY, 2018, Friday, 5th Week, Ordinary Time
CREATIVE APPROACHES TO THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOOD NEWS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [1 KGS 11:29-3212:19PS 81:10-15MK 7:31-37  ]

Being able to praise God is a sign that one is restored to wholeness.  Indeed, that was what happened when Jesus healed the deaf and dumb man.  The on-lookers, and presumably the healed man as well, could not contain their joy and admiration for Jesus.  Hence, they publicly gave testimony to the wonderful works of Jesus.  Praise and gratitude therefore is an indication of one’s encounter with God and His goodness.  That is why when we come across people who are happy and liberated, we know that they have been touched by the love and goodness of God. Conversely, if we come across people who are pessimistic and negative towards life, it is because they are unable to receive the Good News from God.  Like the deaf and dumb man, they are unable to speak or proclaim God’s mighty works since they have not heard the Good News.  They are truly sick at heart and in the mind.

But why were they unable to hear?  This impediment to hearing is not simply a physical impediment but an impediment of the heart, a heart that is hurt, broken and hardened.  As a result, they could not see nor feel goodness in their lives as they were no longer open to the wonders of God around them.  This was the case with King Solomon and the son of Solomon, Rehoboam.  Solomon, we were told in yesterday’s reading, could no longer listen to the voice of God as he was led astray by his foreign wives to worship false gods.  His son, Rehoboam too, was unable to hear his people’s cries to the forced labour and exorbitant taxes imposed on the northern tribes of Israel.  Instead of attending to their needs, he increased the taxes all the more.  Such insensitivity necessarily resulted in a rebellion led by his former military leader, Jeroboam, which eventually split the kingdom of David into two.

How, then, can we reach out to those who are unable to hear the good news?  If the direct proclamation of the Word is not possible, then we must find other ways of reaching out to those who are physically or psychologically impeded from hearing.  We must help them to remove those obstacles, be they spiritual, emotional or psychological. We can proclaim the Word of God by our actions instead.  As is often said, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Actions certainly speak louder than words.  Hence in today’s scripture readings, we find the use of prophetic actions to proclaim the message of God.  In the first reading, Ahijah the prophet conveyed the message of God to Jeroboam through the prophetic ot by taking the new cloak he was wearing and tearing it into twelve pieces and giving ten strips to Jeroboam, signifying that the latter would be given ten tribes from the kingdom of Solomon.  In the same way too, Jesus also healed the deaf and dumb man using some physical action, like putting His fingers into the man’s ears and touching his tongue with His spittle.  If Jesus had chosen such a complicated way to heal the man, it was not because Jesus needed to, but because Jesus knew that the deaf and dumb man needed that assurance since he could not hear.  The physical contact enabled the deaf and dumb man to be open to Jesus.

What, then, are the implications for us in our ministry?  Firstly, if we are to proclaim the Good News, we must proclaim it in such a way that the listeners can hear the message.  We must make use of all possible means to reach out to others in ways that they can understand and identify with us.  If they cannot hear the message we are proclaiming, we need to make use of whatever resources that are available to us.  For this to be possible, we must first come to them on their own terms and not ours.  Indeed, God reaches out to us as we are, just as Jesus reached out to the deaf and dumb man in his limited condition.  That is why He had to employ physical actions to heal him so that if the man could not hear, at least he could feel.

Secondly, this healing miracle illustrates the importance of signs, sacraments and sacramentals.  Sacramentalism cannot be ignored in our communication of the Good News.  This explains why the Catholic Church places great emphasis on the liturgy and the use of sacramentals in the liturgy so that the Good News is not only heard but felt in the heart as well.  For this reason, the Church reintroduced the rites of scrutiny and the praying over in order to gradually prepare Catechumens for the sacrament of baptism.  We must never under-estimate the power of signs and symbols employed in the liturgy.  Of course, the use of signs must be extended to our daily life as well.  It is through signs of love, welcome and good works that people can feel the Good News in person in concrete terms in their own lives.

Thirdly, in reaching out to our listeners, we must respect their dignity and pride.  Here again, Jesus was sensitive to the deaf and dumb man and thus He took him aside, away from the peering eyes of the crowd.  He did so presumably because He did not want to embarrass the man in case he found it too unnerving to utter the first few words, which would probably sound distorted. We too must be sensitive to the needs of our audience when bringing the Good News to others.  For example, in reconciliation, we need not have to hear the words, “I forgive” or “I’m sorry” before forgiveness is effected.  Some of us might be too proud to ask for forgiveness or even to utter the words of forgiveness.  But very often, the signs of forgiveness or asking for forgiveness are already there and we just need to notice them.  Another example is helping people financially or in kind.  Even in giving we must respect the pride of the other person and not embarrass the recipient, making him feel small by receiving our gifts.

Yes, the gospel tells us that Jesus had done all things well.  He made “the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”  We too, if we truly want to do all things well and be effective in our ministry, then we must be sensitive and creative like Jesus to our potential listeners.  We must reach out to them on their own terms, with great sensitivity manifested in concrete action.  Only then will they be able to praise Him unceasingly for His great love and works for them with their lips.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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The man’s deafness was absolute; he could hear nothing. This greatly limited him, especially in those days when sign language and other communication helps did not exist as prominently as they do today. The poor had no access to speech therapists, and the medical practices of the time offered no hope at all.

His deafness also put him in danger, as people use their hearing more than they realize to avoid harm. Spiritual deafness is no different: When we cannot hear or refuse to hear the Word of God, we endanger ourselves greatly, not hearing the warnings of God’s ministers against the enticement and pull of sin and its curses and penalties. While physical deafness is a very limiting disability, it does not normally lead to death, but spiritual deafness is infinitely worse, leading to eternal death.

The man was almost entirely mute except for a speech impediment that kept him from communicating with others verbally. The word “impediment” in Mark 7:32 does not mean he could not make any sounds but that he had great difficulty in speaking. He could make sounds with his mouth, but they came across as gibberish. Mark’s account states that Jesus “loosed” the man’s tongue, which may indicate that the problem was a birth defect.

Deafness and dumbness are often associated because humans learn to speak by hearing. A person who cannot hear his own voice or the voices of others has difficulty with pronunciation. If a person becomes deaf later in life, he will be able to speak much better than one born deaf or who loses his hearing as a child.

The relationship between the inability to speak and deafness pictures some of sin’s effects. Those who are deaf to the Word of God will have great difficulty speaking properly of spiritual matters. Even the most educated sinner betrays an impediment in his speech as soon as spiritual truths are introduced, but when he opens his ears to receive the truth, his spiritual speech will improve greatly and continually. Just as Jesus physically healed the man to enable him to hear, He must spiritually heal us so that we can understand God’s Word (see John 8:47I Corinthians 2:9-14).

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Deaf-Mute (Part One)

See More:

http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/CGG/ID/17042/Speech-Impediment.htm

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There are 28 Bible verses about deafness:

http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Deafness

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Prayer and Meditation, for Sunday, January 28, 2018 — “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” — Jesus cures a man with an unclean spirit — Finding the meaning of life outside of ourselves

January 27, 2018

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 71

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Jesus Drives Out An Evil Spirit From A Man In Capernaum

Reading 1 DT 18:15-20

Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
on the day of the assembly, when you said,
‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’
And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.'”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
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. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
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. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 1 COR 7:32-35

Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

Alleluia MT 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death,
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MK 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
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From The Abbot at The Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

God’s authority in our daily lives is important.  Who speaks for God?  Do we want to listen to God?  Are we interested at all in finding the meaning of life outside of ourselves?  The challenges of the readings today keep pointing us outside of ourselves and toward a divine authority who wants to communicate with us but who will never force Himself upon us.

The first reading today, from the Book of Deuteronomy, is really strong.  God’s people have told God Himself that they do not want to hear His voice directly!  So God tells them that they will hear him now only through prophets.  But real prophets, not the fake ones.

We may think that there is something odd in not wanting to hear God, but so often we ourselves do not want to hear God in His Word, in His Scriptures and in His Church.  Yet at times, if a really strong and charismatic personality comes and is able to preach the Word of God, there are times when we listen.  We are no different from the people of the time of Moses!  We need prophets when we don’t listen to God.  We need also to listen to God’s words about false prophets—for they will die!

The second reading is from the First Letter to the Corinthians.  We are told that the unmarried person is able to be more concerned to listen to the Lord and to seek the Lord’s will.  This does not mean such an unmarried person is better than a married person or even that such an unmarried person will actually be more concerned about the things of the Lord.  Our holiness and our value before the Lord is in doing the Lord’s will and surely many married people are more concerned about the Lord than some unmarried.  On the other hand, it is clear that an unmarried person who truly seeks the Lord is able to be more concerned solely about the things of the Lord because of the lack of spouse and children.  The point, however, is always the same:  listen to the Lord!

The Gospel brings us back again to this them of listening to the Lord.  The people in the Gospel are totally amazed at Jesus and his power over unclean spirits.  They could see that Jesus spoke as a person having authority on His own.  But did the people of the Gospel follow the Lord?  Not always!  Even when the Word of God is right in front of us, we are still able to resist.  God has given us this freedom to choose and so often we choose against God and thus also against ourselves.

Let us pay attention today to the many ways that God comes into our lives.  Let us seek to be faithful to the voice of the Lord as it comes to us in Scripture and in the Church.  Let us pay attention to the things of God and rejoice when God sends us the strength to be faithful.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom

Whenever people approach my priest friend, asking how they can be fee from suffering, he asks them: “When last did you go to Confesssion? And when last did you consume the Body of Christ at Mass?”

Many people are stunned.

The purpose of many religions is to help us find Peace and Freedom.

Anyone who looks around the world can see that there seems to be war, death and chaos all around.

Why isn’t the world more full of people cherishing Peace and Freedom?

Because human beings never lose their free will!

No matter how often our spiritual leaders suggest we follow the Word and the Will of God — many of us never “get it.”

So we suffer and are filled with anxieties and fear.

But the Scripture tells us “Do Not Be Afraid!”

Why can’t many of us FOLLOW.

Another priest friend tells us that many want to “put off until the last minute” their work on a spiritual life.

He always says to them, “WHY WAIT.”

We think cocaine might make us feel better than following Jesus. Yet scores of folks tell us we are wrong. Still, we have to know for ourselves.

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Jesus saves. Jesus cures. Seeking Him always makes life better. WHY WAIT?

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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28 JANUARY, 2018, Sunday, 4th Week, Ordinary Time
TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY REQUIRES RIGHT MOTIVES

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ DT 18:15-20PS 95:1-26-91 COR 7:32-35MARK 1:21-28 ]

Today, we look for witnesses rather than teachers.  Words are hardly trusted, especially from politicians and even religious leaders!  Children are distrustful even of their parents.  This is because many no longer believe in what they say.  In truth, many of us have lost our authority to teach.  Our words are no longer taken seriously by our hearers.  In fact, the credibility of leaders is at stake in today’s world.

This was equally true in the Old Testament during the time of the prophets.  There were many false prophets.  As Moses warned the people, “But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”  Indeed, there were many false prophets in the history of Israel.  The prophet Elijah sought to clean Israel of the false prophets of Baal.  (cf 1 Kg 18:20-40)  These false prophets often operated from selfish motives.  Their motivation was not to speak the Word of God but to gain favour from kings and countrymen.  They were prompted to say nice things and to say bad things in politically correct language so that no one got hurt or offended.

This was the case during time of Jesus.  The religious leaders, scribes and Pharisees lacked authority in teaching.  They taught for the wrong reasons.  But the people until then had no other option but to listen to them because there were no credible teachers around.  Jesus said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.”  (Mt 23:2-7)

However, Jesus showed us what it takes to be a true prophet or teacher.  It is having the right motive in what we do and what we say.   In the gospel, Jesus taught with authority and “his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught with authority.”  What was the reason?  Simply because Jesus taught from the depth of His heart.  He spoke what He believed in and what He was utterly convinced of.  He did not speak from His head but from His heart.  It was an inner conviction that came from the depth of His being.  Unlike Him, the religious leaders quoted from their forefathers, but Jesus would preface His teaching by saying, “You have heard it was said but now I say to you.”  Jesus as the Word of God did not need any reference for His teaching because He spoke the Word of the Father.   “For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.”  (Jn 12:49)

Secondly, Jesus performed the works of God for the right motive.   He did not perform miracles in order to draw attention to Himself.  He did it purely out of compassion and empathy for those who were suffering either from the bondage of the Evil One or from illnesses or from the oppression of the laws.   His motive for healing and deliverance were selfless.  In fact, when asked to demonstrate His power and majesty by working miracles, He would not, as in the case of King Herod who wanted to be entertained or the crowd who challenged Him to come down from the cross to prove His divinity.  In fact, whenever a miracle of healing was done, He would tell the one who was healed to tell no one about it.  “And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.”  (Mk 7:36)

This was also the case of the exorcism story in today’s gospel.  When the unclean spirit revealed Jesus’ identity, saying, “what do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God”, Jesus sharply said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Jesus wanted the people to discover for themselves who He was, rather than from a secondary source; and to learn the power of God in human lowliness, not in spectacular demonstrations.  Jesus came to reveal the Father’s love and mercy, not to put up a show.

This was the same motivation for St Paul when he encouraged celibacy.  It is not a question of whether celibacy is of a higher state than marriage.   In fact, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  (Gn 2:18)  “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’” (Gn 1:28)   Whether we live a married state or a celibate life, it is a question of having the right motivation in wanting to devote ourselves in serving the Lord totally.  He said,  “An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways.”  One can be a celibate but live the life of a bachelor, caring for himself, seeking freedom for himself and not for the service of love of fellowmen and of undivided attention to the Lord.

Thirdly, because Jesus spoke from an inner conviction and without ulterior motive, the devil feared Himbecause he knew that Jesus could not be manipulated or be tempted to do God’s work for the wrong motive of gaining honour and praise.   Only when leaders do things out of pure motives and inner conviction can they command respect and obedience from the people they lead.  When leaders feed themselves or are concerned about their own image and interests, they will be exposed eventually.

This was the example that Moses showed as well.  That is why Jesus is portrayed in the New Testament as the New Moses by the evangelist.  In the first reading, he assured the people, “Your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.”   The Lord said to Moses, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it.”  Moses became the measure of what a true prophet is.  Moses did not mince his words when he had to confront Pharaoh to let his people leave Egypt.  He did not keep quiet when the people apostasied, unlike Aaron who gave in to their wishes by making a golden calf for them.  (cf Ex 32)  Finally, when he was told that he would not be able to enter the Promised Land but see it from afar, he did not insist on crossing the river Jordan even though he had hoped to enter the Promised Land.

Thus it was said of Moses at the end of his life, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Dt 34:10)  until the coming of Christ.  Jesus fulfilled the role preeminently of the prophet whom Moses spoke about. No one dared to claim this role, not even John the Baptist, for when he was asked by the Jewish leaders if he were “the prophet” the one that Moses announced, his reply was firmly negative. (cf  Jn 1:22)  But later on St Peter and St Stephen confirmed that Jesus was the one whom Moses prophesied.  St Peter quoted Moses saying, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.”  (Acts 3:22; cf 7:37)

The secret of Jesus’ authority came from the fact that He, like Moses, saw the Father face to face.  It was Jesus’ intimacy with the Father that gave Him the courage to be authentic to Himself, for the Father loved Him as He was.  Jesus said, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”  (Jn 10:37f)   Seeking to do the Father’s will in all things and giving glory to His Father was the motivation for Jesus’ works.  In many instances, He spoke of His desire to serve the Father.  “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.  (Jn 4:34)  “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do. (Jn 17:4)   “I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  (Jn 17:26)   Indeed, seeking the Lord alone and giving ourselves totally to Him and for His greater glory by serving His people with all our heart is what gives us true joy and meaning.  This is what a true prophet and teacher is, by his witnessing and not so much by his words.

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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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While walking on the water, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” So why is everyone full of anxiety?
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 Many of us struggle with ego, false pride and self-esteem issues. Many of us constantly worry about money, our jobs, our future security, our health or health care.
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Yet Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life.” Again and again the theme in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.”
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A basic teaching of Christianity is: With Jesus we are OK. Do not be afraid.
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“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
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In other words: stay in the present moment.
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How come we refuse to believe?
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It is interesting to me that Alcoholics Anonymous teaches newcomers to believe in what they were often taught as very young children — but they somehow refused or neglected to believe.
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The Twelve Steps of AA start with “We admitted that we were powerless…” The very start of AA suggests humility and self-abandonment. By the Third Step, alcoholics are taught to put all their trust in a Higher Power.
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Self-abandonment can also be thought of as surrender. Each of us knows in our heart when its time for that…
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Humility, self abandonment, trust in God and the “Christian way of life”  are the tonic used by patient, kind, forgiving, useful people to keep their lives in order.
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The readings also remind us today of an old friend, now gone to his heavenly reward, who often said, “God won’t give us more than is equal to the strengths of the gifts he has given us.” In other words, “Fear not, God is on our side.”
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I have come to ask myself at the start of each day: What are we seeking — and What are we using to get there?
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Third Step Prayer:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Our Thanks to Father Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R. — His books can be very helpful if you are seeking God in your life …..

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The most frequently said line in the Bible may be “do not be afraid.” So why is everyone complaining about anxiety and depression? No person of faith need ever die of suicide, depression or addiction…. But we have to remember: We are ETERNAL spiritual beings with a physical part. We are not physical beings alone. In fact, our physical part may be the smallest and the shortest…. Nurturing our spiritual life often makes everything better. More peaceful. More free.