Posts Tagged ‘do not be afraid’

Morning Prayer for Thursday, June 14, 2018 — Get out of the desert…. Seeking Peace of Mind.

June 14, 2018

When people put up a show and live a life of pretense, we don’t want them as friends.

Get out of the desert…. Seeking Peace of Mind.

It is not your circumstances that need altering so much as
yourself. After you have changed, conditions will naturally
change. Spare no effort to become all that God would have you
become. Follow every good leading of your conscience. Take each
day with no backward look. Face the day’s problems with God, and
seek God’s help and guidance as to what you should do in every
situation that may arise. Never look back. Never leave until
tomorrow the thing that you are guided to do today.

Prayer For The Day

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I pray that God will help me to become all that He would have me
be. I pray that I may face today’s problem as with good grace.

http://www.recoveryreadings.com/dailyrecoveryreadingsJune14.html

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

14 JUNE, 2018, Thursday, 10th Week, Ordinary Time

GOD’S POWER TRANSFORMS US FROM WITHIN

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 Kings 18:41-46Ps 65:10-13Matthew 5:20-26  ]

How are you feeling? Some of you might be in the desert, like the Israelites facing a long drought.  Some of us are unhappy with our life.  We are not happy where we are and what we are, whether with our marriage or our work.  We find life meaningless and empty. Some of us live in fear and anxiety about the future and as a result, are greedy like King Ahab.  Others are unhappy with people around us, not just with our enemies but even with our friends and loved ones.   We are always fighting with people whom we see as obstructing our will to do what we want and how we live.   Very often, we tend to blame people.  We pick on others.  We look for scapegoats for our failures and mistakes in life instead of recognizing that it is our fault as well.  This was the case of the people of Israel.  They were unfaithful to the covenant.  Instead of looking at themselves, they looked for other causes.

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Sunrise Photograph – Dawn In The Desert by Saija Lehtonen
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When we live superficially and lack authenticity in the way we live our lives, especially in relationships, we will be exposed eventually.  That is what Jesus is warning us in today’s gospel, “Come to terms with our opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.”  This is the price for our folly and lack of integrity.  Our friends will see how fake we are.  When they come to realize how inward-looking and self-centered we are and that we are doing things only to win their attention, they will dump us.  We want genuine people who are not necessarily perfect but are honest with themselves, are striving to improve themselves and willing to admit their mistakes. 

When people put up a show and live a life of pretense, we don’t want them as friends.

Rather, Jesus asks us to look deep within us.  He warns us against behaving like the Pharisees and the scribes who lived superficially by impressing to get attention, glory and honour.  They fulfilled the laws only to feel justified before men and God.  There was much pride and self-righteousness in the way they conducted themselves.  That is why Jesus invites us to live deeply.  He says, “If your virtue goes not deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

So we must come to terms with ourselves, our brokenness and our goodness.   We must learn to connect with ourselves.  Hence, we must ask ourselves the reasons for our misery and emptiness.  What is causing us to be so full of anger, vindictiveness, hatred, intolerance and unforgiveness?  Even anger for Jesus is but the sign of a deeper issue affecting us and causing us to hurt others and in the process, hurt ourselves.  Jesus said, “You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother, ‘Fool’ he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him ‘Renegade’ he will answer for it in hell fire.”

Happiness in life requires us to live deeply.   To live deeply means to live a life of God.  How can one live deeply?  Firstly, we must remove our sins, especially of anger and revenge.  When we are angry, we cannot look at things objectively.  Our sins cause us to be blind.  This is why the Lord asks us to forgive our brothers and sisters.  When we are not at peace with ourselves and with others, we act out of our wounds and pain.  Indeed, most of us react to situations rather than act.  The fact that we are reacting means that we are not dealing with the events and challenges objectively.  We need to heal the pains that come from old wounds, especially those traumatic events in our lives inflicted on us, especially by our loved ones, parents, siblings and relatives.  Anger is the cause of misery.

Secondly, to live deeply requires that we live our faith deeply, not just a superficial faith or ritualistic faithbut authentically.  This is to say that we must believe deeply in our hearts what we believe in.  The trouble is that many of us do not truly believe in what we have been taught.  We only pay lip service to the Word of God and the doctrines of the Church.  We are not completely sold on the teachings of the Church because we tend to listen more to the world’s views than the Church’s views.  Our faith in Christ and in the Bible is superficial.  We are more concerned with external practices and obligations, believing that if we observe some of the rules, we can count ourselves as good Catholics.  The truth is that we are not saved by good works but by Christ’s forgiving love and mercy on the cross.  Unless we come to understand this truth, we will always see religion as a set of practices rather as an invitation to love and live like Christ who shows us the way to fullness of life.

The fruits of our salvation are demonstrated in a virtuous life transformed in Christ.  Indeed, Jesus makes it clear that “If your virtue goes not deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”  It is more than just performing some pious exercises.  Rather, it is to allow the saving work of Christ to show its effects in our lives by allowing His Spirit to work in and through us.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”  (Gal 5:22f25ff)

Thirdly, to live deeply means going beyond the letter of the law to the Spirit.   This is the intention of Jesus with regard to the teaching on anger.  On the surface, we think anger is quite acceptable because many of us get angry easily.  He saw it as a deeper issue.  He is against all forms of anger as it would lead to shouting, verbal abuse, violence and even killing. So, it is more than just breaking the law.  If we do not reconcile, we will be led to greater evil.  The separation will cause greater misunderstanding and make us lose our peace of mind.  It prevents us from worshipping God totally and blocks our hearts from entering the love of God.  When we are not in union with God, then other issues will arise.  That is why the Lord advises us accordingly, “So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.”

In the same vein, offering worship to God is not just an external performance of sacrifices.  Love of God and love of our fellowmen go together.  Jesus makes it clear that these two commandments are inseparable, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)  John is even more explicit.  “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. ‘The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”  (1 Jn 4:20f)

Consequently, today, we are called to follow Elijah  in developing a personal relationship with the Lord rooted in faith and trust.  It was his faith in the Lord and His power that enabled him to pray with expectation that the Lord would fulfil what he asked of Him.  His fervent prayer brought about the rain.  And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’ And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.”  The Lord too wants to send down His blessings on us.  But we must surrender to Him in prayer.   We must cultivate a personal faith in the Lord Jesus.  Only then, can we live our lives authentically, in the power of the Spirit, in truth and in love.  Just as the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, so too, His hand would also be on us if we seek Him with all our hearts, turn away from sin, live in truth and love, and in integrity, and not follow the bad example of King Ahab whose insincerity caused him and his family to suffer.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer for Peace: Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12, 2018

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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SCRIPTURE READINGS: [1 KG 17:7-16;  MT 5:13-16  ]

Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth.”  Salt has two elements, one is for preservation and the other is for flavouring.   So when Jesus asks us to be the salt of the earth, He is telling us that we need to protect our faith and preserve the faith of others in society.   But besides merely protecting our faith, we need to add flavor to the lives of others.  We are called to enrich one another with the gifts we have received and bring life to all whom we meet each day.

Elijah is a role model with respect to what it means to be the salt of the earth.  In the first place, Elijah sought to preserve the purity of the faith of Israel which was contaminated by the import of pagan elements through inter-marriage, especially that of the kings’ foreign wives.  So Elijah was sent to King Ahab to help him to regain his faith by showing forth the power of God in bringing about drought in the country; a beautiful symbol of the state of Israel, barren in faith and justice.  (cf 1 Kg 17:1)

But he was also asked to strengthen the faith of those who already had faith, as in the case of the widow at Zarephath.  The Lord asked him to go to this village in the region of Sidon.  There he met the widow who was preparing her last meal as there was nothing left for her and her son to eat.  Knowing this, Elijah challenged the woman to total faith in God by sharing with him the little food she had left.  In total surrender, she made him a meal saying, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.”

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The reward of faith was beyond her imagination.  When she surrendered everything she had to the Lord, even her life and that of her son, by sharing the little she had with the prophet, the Lord ensured that she and her son had more than enough food to last them throughout the famine.  Elijah said, “For thus the Lord speaks, God of Israel: ‘Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.”‘  And indeed, “the jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.” This is what faith is all about, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  (Heb 11:1)  Only when we are ready to surrender our lives to Him completely, even at the prospect of death, will God then show forth His power and provide us all our needs.

However, faith is a growing thing and needs to be reaffirmed again and again.  Faith must grow, otherwise it will die. This is the mistake of many newly baptized, and those who attend life-changing retreats but never follow up with their faith.  Faith is just like a relationship.  If we do not deepen it, it will become stale and eventually the relationship will die. This was true of the widow.  Because “some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing.” (1 Kg 17:17)  At that moment, she lost her faith and accused the prophet, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”  (1 Kg 17:18)  Again, Elijah demonstrated the power of God to give life even to the dead.  “The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, ‘Look, your son is alive!’   Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.’” (1 Kg 17:22-24)  Truly, faith given without growth will be easily lost even if we have seen a miracle.

But Elijah could inspire faith only because he was a man of faith himself.   This is why the Lord said, “But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?  It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.”  Elijah had this total faith in God whom he served faithfully.  Called by the Lord, he was not fearful even of King Ahab and those who opposed the God of Israel.  He trusted in God’s divine providence. So when he prophesied the drought in Israel, God instructed him to “turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” ( 1 Kg 17:3f)  God supplied his needs in strange ways even through the ravens, who “brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”  (1 Kg 17:6)

If we trust in God, He will send us help in ways that we least expect.  He does not give us what we ask according to our plans.  But He has His plans and will surprise us by making possible our provisions so that we will never lack what we need.  Of course, God does not supply our greed, only our needs.  This is why the Lord exhorts us not to worry too much about tomorrow.  He said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 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 6:31-34)

Truly, life is more than just food and clothing.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”  (Mt 6:25)  Life is about loving God and serving our fellowmen and putting their interests before ours, like the widow at Zarephath who served the Lord’s prophet.  When we are focused on how to serve people, to help others, to reach out to others who are worse off than us, then we will work hard to find the resources not just for ourselves but to share with others as well.  When we are absorbed in our own needs, we become paralyzed and think only of ourselves.  Instead of reaching out, we become inward-looking and protectionist in our outlook. Many of us fail to realize that God wants to give us through each other.

So what must we do to inspire faith?  We must be salted in Jesus!  The greatest mistake for many of us is to depend only on ourselves and not in God.  Many church members, priests and religious do not pray as hard as they work for God.  As a result, they end up working for themselves, their unconscious ambition for success, glory and their own personal interests.  We are told that Elijah cried out to the Lord.  “He cried out to the Lord, ‘Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?’ Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, ‘Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!’  The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.”  (1 Kg 17:20-22)  This is what the psalmist says, “It is the Lord who grants favours to those whom he loves; the Lord hears me whenever I call him. Fear him; do not sin: ponder on your bed and be still.  ‘What can bring us happiness?’ many say. Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.  You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from abundance of corn and new wine.”

How do we grow in faith if not by coming to the light?  Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.”  To be the light of the world, we must first come to the Light.  But many are fearful of the light.  Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”  (Jn 12:46)  Only Christ can show us the light and add flavour to our life, protect us in our faith.  “Come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” (1 Pt 2:4f)

Secondly, we must not allow sins to dim our light.  Jesus said, “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (Jn 12:35f)  Faith is lost because of sins.  That is why the Church encourages us to go for mass daily, make our daily examen and go for regular confession so that by removing our sins that darken our intellect, we can walk in the light of truth and love.  Complacency and sloth lead to backsliding in our faith.

Finally, the best way to overcome darkness is to be the light, as Jesus calls us, “In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.”  By announcing the light of Christ and sharing about Jesus with others, our faith will grow.  The reasons why many Catholics are so weak in their faith is because they do not share their faith with fellow Catholics and with non-Catholics.  The way to evangelize ourselves is to evangelize others!  Remember the Lord’s warning, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”  (Mt 25:29)

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

Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, June 12, 2018 — You are the light of the world — Rid yourself of worry and anxiety

June 11, 2018

“We have everything we need. Do not be afraid. Reflect the glory of God.”

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Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 360

Reading 1 1 KGS 17:7-16

The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry,
because no rain had fallen in the land.
So the LORD said to Elijah:
“Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.
I have designated a widow there to provide for you.”
He left and went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.”
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked;
there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'”
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 4:2-3, 4-5, 7B-8

R. (7a) Lord, let your face shine on us.
When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
Have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart?
Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood?
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.
Tremble, and sin not;
reflect, upon your beds, in silence.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart,
more than when grain and wine abound.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.

Alleluia MT 5:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others
That they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
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Prayer
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Meditation for the Day

“Lord, we thank Thee for the great gifts of peace, that peace which passeth all understanding, that peace which the world can neither give nor take away.” That is the peace which only God can give in the midst of a restless world and surrounded by trouble and difficulty. To know that peace is to have received the stamp of the kingdom of God. When you have earned that peace, you are fit to judge between true and false values, between the values of the kingdom of God and the values of all that the world has to offer.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that today I may have inner peace. I pray that today I may be at peace with myself.

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Today’s Gospel passage from Saint Matthew speaks to us and tells us that we must be the salt of the earth and a light for the world.  This presence in the world is so very different from the presence of great people who receive attention and adulation of others.  Instead, the salt that we are and the light that we shine are also only from Jesus Himself.  When we reflect the glory of God, the strength is incredible!  When we show forth our own strength, it is as nothing.  At some level, we all know that, but we are still tempted to put ourselves first rather than God.

My sisters and brothers, all of us fail.  We all sin and are prone to sin.  On the other hand, we know the power of God in our lives and we must choose each day to walk with the Lord and to let the Lord be our strength and our light.  Our world will be transformed and will reflect the words of Isaiah:  If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Your  brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Abiquiu, New Mexico

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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13 JUNE, 2017, Tuesday, 11th Week, Ordinary Time
REKINDLING OUR ZEAL FOR THE LORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 Cor 1:18-22Ps 118:129-133,135Mt 5:13-16 ]

In today’s gospel, Jesus said to His disciples: “’You are the salt of the earth.’… ‘You are the light of the world.’”  Clearly, Jesus expects His disciples to make a difference in the lives of their fellowmen.  Do we bring our riches to enrich the rest of humanity? Do we share our resources with others to make this world a better place?  Like salt, we are called to make this world a vibrant place to live in.   Like salt, we are called to add value to what others are doing.  Unless, we make positive contributions to the lives of our fellowmen we are not living out the gospel.

Besides being the salt of the world, we are called also to be the light of humanity.  Our task as Christians is to lead people to the fullness of the light and the fullness of truth.  We who have been enlightened in the truth about our identity as the sons and daughters of God and called to share in the life of Christ must, like St Paul, also proclaim the mystery of God’s plan for all humanity.  All of us are members of the family of God but not all are aware of their calling to share in the fullness of life that Christ has shown us in His passion, death and resurrection.  Most of all, we are called to share in the Trinitarian life of God, a life of joy, abundant love and life.

However, the more important questions are those which Jesus posed to us –  “But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?  A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.”  The truth is that some of us who have been passionate in spreading the Good News to everyone have lost our passion and zeal.  Indeed, there is much turnover in Church membership and active involvement.  Many who are newly baptized or have found the Lord are full of life and are committed to many activities in the Church.  They are zealous and happy to be able to serve Christ in His Church.  But along the way, many lose their zeal.  Some become jaded, others are disillusioned and some even resentful.

What are the reasons for losing our zeal and our shine?  Firstly, we fall into routine.  When we do the same thing again and again, we get used to what we do. Initially, we do with our mind and heart.  But when such activities, which include spiritual practices such as daily mass, meditation and devotional prayers are repeated, they get done mechanically.  The lips are moving but the heart is far from God.  This is true even in Church activities.  We can simply be singing correctly in the choir but without the heart and the sentiments.  We can be teaching catechism but we are just imparting information, not a conviction.  Extra-ordinary communion ministers could just be distributing the hosts as quickly as they can, but without the consciousness that they are bringing Christ to those who come to receive them.

Secondly, we become jaded because of burnout.  The danger for those who are active in Church is that people are always looking for a willing horse.  So those who are already committed in the Church are often asked to do more and more.  They join a few organizations as their services are needed.  They do not know how to say “no.”  Eventually, they over commit.  They get tired and fatigued.  They have no time to pray or even have time for family and work.  As a result, everything starts crashing and from over involvement, the person gives up everything.

Thirdly, we lose our zeal because of the lack of support and opposition, not so much from without the Church but from within.  The most insidious enemies are those within the Church.  They have nothing but negative criticisms.  They have nothing good to say about anything. They are skeptical and destructive in what they say.  Some have ulterior motives because their interests are compromised.  Some seek power and popularity.  When we meet such wet blankets, we get easily discouraged.  As it is, the work we do is out of passion, voluntarism and generosity on our part.  But when we receive little support, we become disillusioned, resentful, and it would be a matter of time before we lose our zeal and passion. We react by just maintaining the status quo, afraid to rock the boat and become mediocre in our commitment.  The fire and zeal are extinguished by the harsh critics in our life.  After some time, we will say to ourselves, “Why should I suffer such ingrates?  Why should I be bothered with the organization; after all I am providing a free service!”  Truly, we have many good and dedicated people who have given up serving the Church simply because they were rejected.

Fourthly, some lose their zeal because of the world.  Instead of changing the world, they have allowed the values of the world to change them.  Instead of Christianizing the world, they have allowed the world to secularize them.  When we are too much of the world and not just in the world, we will lose our faith and values.  The truth is that many Catholics do not have Catholic friends of Catholic influence other than the Sunday mass they attend.  Being in the world most of the time, they pick up values that are contrary to the gospel and to the faith.  As a result, the light that they have received from the Lord dims over time.  No one loses his faith immediately.  But our faith, just like love and zeal, dies out over time when we do not rekindle it.  So we must not allow the world to influence us; adopting values such as promiscuity, consumerism, relativism and living a sensual life of pleasure and fun.

“But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?”  The responsorial psalm gives us the answer.  “Let your face shine on your servant.  Your will is wonderful indeed; therefore I obey it. The unfolding of your word gives light and teaches the simple. Let my steps be guided by your promise; let no evil rule me.  Let your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.”   Indeed, there is no other way than to turn to the Lord for His mercy and enlightenment.  The lack of prayer life is the primary cause of losing zeal and passion in our ministry.  The lack of intimacy with the Lord is the cause of losing our relationship with Him.

That is why St Paul reminds us of the anointing that we have received and that we have been given the first pledge of salvation.  “Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.”   When we were baptized and when we received the Holy Spirit, we were filled with His presence and given the gifts as well.  What we need to do is to renew our lives in the Holy Spirit.  We need to renew our relationship with the Lord, contemplating on the Word of God and receiving the sacraments with devotion and fervor.

Finally, let us cling to the fidelity of God towards us.  St Paul was able to remain firm in his faith and ministry because he knew that Christ is reliable.  He said, “I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you.  The Son of God, the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed among you was never Yes and No: with him it was always Yes, and however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him.  That is why it is ‘through him’ that we answer Amen to the praise of God.”  We can rely on Christ because He is the fulfillment of the promises of God as prophesied in the Old Testament.   In Christ, all that God has promised His people are fulfilled.  That is why, Christ is the fulfillment of the plan of God for humanity.   With confidence in Christ’s fidelity to us, we can continue to persevere in our faith and ministry, regardless of the trials and difficulties,because we know that just as the Father was faithful to Jesus even at death, He will be faithful to us if we continue to shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing our good works, they may give the praise to our Father in heaven.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Sunrise Photograph – Dawn In The Desert by Saija Lehtonen
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

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Reflection

• Yesterday, in meditating on the Beatitudes, we passed through the door of entry of the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5, 1-12). Today in the Gospel we receive an important instruction on the mission of the Community. It should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5, 13-16). Salt does not exist for itself, but to give flavour to the food. Light does not exist for itself, but for the service of people. At the time when Matthew wrote his Gospel, this mission was very difficult for the communities of the converted Jews. In spite that they were living in faithful observance of the Law of Moses, they were expelled from the Synagogues, cut away from their Jewish past. Regarding this, among the converted pagans, some said: “After the coming of Jesus, the Law of Moses has become obsolete”. All this caused tension and uncertainty. The openness of some seemed to be criticism of the observance of others, and vice versa. This conflict brought about a crisis which led many to close up in their own position. Some wanted to advance, to go ahead, others wanted to place the light under the table. Many asked themselves: “In last instance, which is our mission?” Recalling and updating the words of Jesus, Matthew tries to help them.

• Matthew 5, 13-16: Salt of the earth. By using images of daily life, with simple and direct words, Jesus makes known which is the mission and the reason for being a Christian community: to be salt. At that time when it was very hot, people and animals needed to consume much salt. The salt, which was delivered by merchants in great blocks in the public square, was consumed by the people. What remained fell to the ground and lost its savour. “It no longer serves for anything, but it is thrown out and trampled under people’s feet”. Jesus recalls this use in order to clarify for the disciples the mission which they have to carry out.

• Matthew 5, 14-16: Light of the world. The comparison is obvious. Nobody lights a candle and places it under the tub. A city built on the hill top, cannot be hidden. The community should be light, it should enlighten. It should not be afraid to show the good that it does. It does not do it to make itself seen, but what it does can be seen. The salt does not exist for itself. The light does not exist for itself! This is how the community should be. It cannot remain enclosed in itself. “Your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in Heaven.”

• Matthew 5, 17-19: Not one dot, not one little stroke will disappear from the Law. Among the converted Jews there were two tendencies. Some thought that it was not necessary to observe the laws of the Old Testament because we are saved by the faith in Jesus and not by the observance of the Law (Rm 3, 21-26). Others thought that they should continue to observe the laws of the Old Testament (Ac 15, 1-2). In each one of the two tendencies there were some more radical groups. Before this conflict, Matthew tries to find a balance, the equilibrium, over and beyond the two extremes. The community should be the space, where this equilibrium can be attained and lived. The response given by Jesus continued to be very actual: “I have not come to abolish the law, but to complete it!” The communities cannot be against the Law, nor can they close themselves up in the observance of the law. Like Jesus did, they must advance forward, and show in a practical way that the objective which the law wants to attain in life is the perfect practice of love.

•The different tendencies in the first Christian communities. The plan of salvation has three stages united among themselves from the earth to life: a) the Old Testament: the path of the Hebrew People, orientated, guided by the Law of God. b) The life of Jesus of Nazareth: it renews the Law of Moses starting from his experience of God, Father and Mother. c) The life of the communities: through the spirit of Jesus, they tried to live as Jesus lived it. The union of these three stages generates the certainty of faith that God is in our midst. The intention to break or weaken the unity of this plan of salvation gave rise to various groups and tendencies in the communities:

i) The Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as Messiah and accepted only the Old Testament. In the communities there were some people who sympathized with the thought of the Pharisees (Ac 15, 5).

ii) Some converted Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah, but they did not accept the liberty of spirit with which the communities lived the presence of the Risen Jesus. (Ac 15,1).

iii) Others, both converted Jews and pagans, thought that with Jesus had come the end of the Old Testament. From now on, Jesus alone and the life in the Spirit.

iv) There were also Christians who lived so fully the life in the liberty of the Spirit, that they no longer looked at the life of Jesus of Nazareth, nor the Old Testament (1Co 12,3).

v) Now the great concern of the Gospel of Matthew is that of showing that the Old Testament, Jesus of Nazareth and the life in the Spirit cannot be separated. The three form part of the same and only project of God and give us the central certainty of faith: The God of Abraham and of Sarah is present in the midst of the communities by the faith in Jesus of Nazareth.

Personal questions

• For you, in your life experience, for what does salt serve? Is your community salt? For you, what does light signify in your life? How is your community light?

• How do the people of the neighbourhood see your community? Does your community have some attraction for others? Is it a sign? Of what? For whom?

Concluding Prayer

Yahweh judiciously guides the humble,
instructing the poor in his way.
Kindness unfailing and constancy mark all his paths,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. (Ps 25,9-10)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-513-16

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Salt of the Earth
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Basic, fundamental goodness; the phrase can be used to describe any simple, good person: “I like Mary: she’s reliable, trustworthy, and straightforward; she’s the salt of the Earth.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers, who are mainly fishermen and other simple people, “Ye are the salt of the Earth.”

“We are all created for intimacy with God, which is a sharing in His life.” — Prayer for Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018

The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

Sunday, June 10, 2018

SHARING IN GOD’S LIFE THROUGH HIS WISDOM AND HIS WILL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GN 3:9-152 COR 4:13-5:1MK 3:20-35 ]

Of all questions we have in life, only two are really important: namely, where did we come from? And what is our purpose in life?   These two questions are answered clearly in the opening chapter of Genesis.  Firstly, we all come from God, whom we acknowledge as our creator.  Secondly, we are all created for intimacy with God, which is a sharing in His life.  This invitation to intimacy with God is anthropomorphically portrayed in the dialogal relationship between God and Adam in the garden of Eden.  Yes, such is  the privilege of man.

But what does it mean to share in His life?  Concretely, this necessarily entails a sharing of His mind and will; or if you like, His knowledge and love; or His wisdom and compassion.   In other words, when we share in the knowledge and wisdom of God, we will also come to share in His will, which is His love.  Hence, knowing and willing in unity with God is to share in God’s being and life.  Conversely, the failure to share in His knowledge results in man’s will being at variance with His will.

Indeed, the mistake of our first Parents is our mistake as well.  It is an existential and historical fact that man is not interested in sharing in God’s knowledge and thus is always fighting against God’s will.   Like Adam and Eve, we do not seek to grow in the knowledge of God through our intimacy with Him.  Instead, we seek consort with the serpent, listening to him and trusting in his wisdom, which is that of the world’s.  Like our first parents, we are fooled into believing that the knowledge of the world symbolized in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,  is the way to life.  Indeed, if God forbade Adam And Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was because they would think like the world and become more ignorant instead.  By seeking to understand life not through the wisdom of God but their own ways, Adam and Eve were relying on their own human knowledge and self-will.

The truth is that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God.  The ways of the world cannot lead us to see beyond the immediate and the superficial.  Indeed, this is what Paul is cautioning us.  For those who are unspiritual, they can only see the visible and tangible things which are temporal and passing.  But for those who are spiritual, they possess the eyes of God and see the eternal, the invisible, things beyond the apparent.  Indeed, the foolishness of Adam and Eve is illustrative of such worldly ignorance.

But what is the root of such ignorance? It originates from pride.  It is pride that leads us to have a false and exaggerated understanding of ourselves.  It is pride that caused the downfall of our first parents.  Such deep pride is symbolically portrayed in two ways.  Firstly, they did not trust in God’s wisdom and therefore disobeyed His will.  Secondly, in their embarassment in their nakedness before God.  Pride prevented them from being open to God and surrendering themselves to Him.  Now they had to hide themselves, their real selves before God. This loss of authenticity, inner conviction and fidelity to oneself is underscored by our first parents’ refusal to acknowledge their ignorance and faults.  Instead of taking responsibility for their lack of discernment and trust, they tried to justify themselves.  Adam blamed Eve; and Eve pushed the blame to the serpent.  Since then, man has always been exonerating himself and putting on masks to run away from reality, living in self-deception.

The scripture readings today invite us to put our trust in the wisdom and plan of God for us in our lives.   Instead of relying on ourselves and our own limited understanding of what is truly good for us, we are called to be open to the greater wisdom of God and to surrender our lives to Him.  This wisdom of God is expressed in His will for us.  In the words of Jesus, doing the will of God is sharing in the wisdom of God.

Thus, for those who trust in His wisdom, they become truly the sons and daughers of God.  For what could be more intimate in any relationship than a sharing of heart and mind.  It is no wonder that Jesus declared that those who had this spiritual relationship with Him, sharing in His vision and life, were His family members.  Doing God’s will is the sure sign that we share in His wisdom and love; and therefore share in His life. This entitles us to be recognized as truly sharing in God’s image and likeness.

Conversely, those who do not do the will of God, even though they might be physically related to Jesus, are far from the kingdom of God. Such was the irony of the relatives of Jesus.  We are told that they were convinced that Jesus was out of His mind.  They were closed to Jesus.  Some even accused Him of having an unclean spirit in Him.  This is a danger we can well afford to pay attention to if we do not want to fall into the same category of Jesus’ relatives.  Not to be open to Him tantamounts to rejecting the Holy Spirit who is the wisdom of God.  And such a sin cannot be forgiven since God cannot force us to accept His invitation if we are closed to the truth.  Hence, for such a person, he or she cannot share in the life of God.

The consequences of living a life apart from the life of God are far-reaching. In the first place, one cannot find real satisfaction and contentment in life.  This lack of contentment arises from our inner division. There is now a constant struggle between good and evil; wisdom and falsehood within us.  Torn between the good and bad spirits, one cannot expect to find peace and calmness.  Such interior division will then be manifested in our lack of orientation in life.  We lose our center, become impatient, selfish and angry towards others.  This is the divided kingdom that Jesus was speaking about in today’s gospel. Such kingdom is destined to fall.   Is there a way out?

There are two ways that we can go about it.  The first way is the hard way.  But we will also arrive at the kingdom of God.  In this way, one struggles to do the will of God.  Of course, this is often an uphill task.  We will have to go through the agony in the garden with Jesus.  For it is in the garden that we try to streamline our will with God’s will. This struggle is necessary and almost inevitable.  But as St Paul tells us in the second reading, it is a necessary stage of growing in faith.   Nevertheless this interior struggle will result in the destruction of the outer man of ours so that the inner man is renewed day by day. As we wrestle within ourselves, surrendering our fears to the Lord, we will come to realize that this tent which we had mistaken for a palace would be folded up.

When that happens we have arrived at the stage of wisdom.  This is the stage when we, as Paul says, become a house which is not only built up by God but also His dwelling place, since God lives in us.  Such a person already lives a resurrected life in this present life.  He becomes truly a happy person since he sees his whole life as a life of thanksgiving and glory to God in all that he does according to how God had planned for him.  He can therefore live without much undue anxiety. Instead he lives in peace, love and contentment and self-surrender.

But one need not go through such a difficult path to attain the wisdom of God.  There is an easier way – the way of love.  It is the way of intimacy.  In love and intimacy, one comes to a real understanding of the person.  Love brings about an understanding of both the heart and mind.  Such intimacy creates trust and faith.  Truly, if many of us find it difficult to do the will of God, it is simply the lack of understanding of His plan and trust in His wisdom because of the lack of intimacy with the Lord.  For this reason, we must go back to the original plan of creation, which is to have a constant dialogue with the Lord.

Indeed, it was Paul’s personal relationship with Jesus that enabled him to trust in Him.  It was his intimacy with Jesus that gave him the faith to trust and surrender himself to Jesus and God’s providence.  For Paul, his experience of the risen Lord was enough to convince him that God’s wisdom is beyond man’s imagination; and that death and suffering cannot triumph over the plan of God.  His wisdom is found even in the cross.  If that was so for Jesus, it must also be for us.

Yes, we too are called to surrender ourselves to the plan of God.  We are called to have a real intimacy with Jesus so that we can see life through His perspective.  This is the paradigm shift that is required for us to see the wisdom of God’s plan for us so that doing His will is not a burden but rather a most liberating and life-giving thing to do. This is the kind of faith which Jesus exhorts us to cultivate in today’s gospel.  With such a faith no one and nothing can break us.   We will always stand tall no matter in good times or in bad times, for we know God’s wisdom and love is expressed in His will.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer for Today:
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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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How Anxiety Affects Us

June 9, 2018

The disease can take various forms and present different symptoms, but it responds well to treatment.

By David Levine, ContributorJune 8, 2018, at 2:14 p.m.

Anxiety and depression share some similarities, but they are distinct diseases. (ISTOCKPHOTO)

THE FIRST TIME Stephanie Cardamone experienced anxiety was in the seventh grade in New Jersey. She was playing basketball for an elite team full of talented players when she had a panic attack before practice. “I had convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough to be there,” says Cardamone, now 26 and living in Los Angeles. The disorder continued to haunt her into adulthood. “My anxiety has shown itself through extreme negativity, self-hatred and avoidance. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to move for days at a time and would isolate myself from my family or friends.”

It wasn’t until she graduated college that she realized “something was off. I tried to work through things myself, but it got to the point where I started to have suicidal thoughts and then I knew I needed help,” says Cardamone, a sales manager for a lighting and building control manufacturer.

Cardamone is far from alone. Anxiety is a very common disorder. About 18 percent of the U.S. population has it, says Simon Rego, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “That’s 18 percent of about 300 million people – that’s a huge number of people,” he says. Anxiety also tends to be chronic and can get progressively worse. The good news, though, is that it is also highly treatable. “In a relatively short amount of time – in weeks, not months or years – you can be treated and get a great response, and get your life back again,” Rego says.

Fight or Flight Symptoms

Anxiety and depression share some similar symptoms, including trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and feeling fidgety or restless, and often occurring in tandem, says Dr. Eric Bui, acting director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. But they’re distinct diseases. “They differ on a number of aspects, including their main characteristics,” he says. “Depression is characterized by consistent depressed mood, which is to say sadness and/or loss in interests, whereas anxiety disorders are usually characterized by fear and/or worry.”

Anxiety is a manifestation of our natural “flight or fight” response to a perceived danger. That response has evolved as an important defense mechanism for most species, including humans. “You need some level of fear or stress, or you would walk into trucks,” says Debra Kissen, clinical director of Light on Anxiety, a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment center in Chicago, and co-chair of the Public Education Committee for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “If you were not worried about the future, you wouldn’t study for that exam. So a certain amount of fear is good and adaptive.”

The problem comes when that feeling of heightened awareness and fear becomes more frequent and more intense, is triggered by seemingly nonthreatening events and interferes with daily functioning, Kissen says. “The brain is always on high alert, sensing danger in every corner.”

Anxiety, like other mental illnesses, occurs across a spectrum from mild to debilitating. It is broken down into a few diagnostic categories:

  • Panic disorder, in which there are recurring panic attacks;
  • Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, which is characterized by a fear of being negatively evaluated in social situations;
  • Generalized anxiety disorder, which is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about several things, such as health, finances, your children, flying or even whether you left the stove on.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are technically not considered anxiety disorders, Rego says, “but at their core, they clearly have anxious arousal as part of their presentation.” Using a door handle in a public bathroom or internal triggers like an intrusive memory from a traumatic event can trigger anxious responses like a racing heart, increased respiration, dry mouth, blurry vision, throat restriction, cold sweat and dizziness.

Safe, Effective Treatments

There are a number of safe and effective treatments for anxiety disorders. The antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, have proven effective. “Usually we need to increase the doses slowly and reach higher doses than for depression,” Bui says. Talk therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has also been shown to help those with anxiety disorders. And there is increasing evidence that mind-body approaches, such as yoga or mindfulness medication, may work well for anxiety too, Bui says.

Cardamone has gone through cognitive behavioral therapy and was on antidepressants for about a year. “Both helped me a lot,” she says. “I highly recommend medication if you are struggling to a point where your anxiety is making it hard to function daily. CBT helped me figure out my negative thought patterns and change them or start thinking rationally. I also rely heavily on my faith – I’m a practicing Christian, and it’s helped me with expressing gratitude and being present and thankful for where I am.”

But it’s a constant struggle, Cardamone says. “I still experience anxiety in waves. It shows itself through the same things – negativity, guilt or self-hatred.” Meditation, deep breathing and being active helps, she says, as do the techniques she learned through CBT. “I used to lose days to anxiety. Now that I can change my thinking patterns quickly or identify when I’m being irrational, I don’t spend as much time dwelling on it anymore,” she says. “It takes time to practice CBT, and you go through a lot of trial and error, but it’s changed my life and the way I think about myself and other people.”

11 Simple, Proven Ways to Optimize Your Mental Health

See more:

David Levine, Contributor

David Levine is a freelance health reporter at U.S. News. 

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, June 10, 2018 — “We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen.” — We know that if our earthly dwelling will be destroyed

June 9, 2018

“If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

“For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Image result for jesus, disciples, seated in a circle, photos

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 89

Reading 1 GN 3:9-15

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (7bc) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption
and he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Reading 2  2 COR 4:13—5:1

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore we speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Therefore, we are not discouraged;
rather, although our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen;
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent,
should be destroyed,
we have a building from God,
a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

AlleluiaJN 12:31B-32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Now the ruler of the world will be driven out, says the Lord;
and when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel  MK 3:20-35

Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,”
and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder the house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be
forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

His mother and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
“Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

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Reflection From The Abbot
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Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

These are strong readings today!  Sin comes into the world by not listening to God but listening to another.  Sin creates conflict in the world and it will never end until we choose to follow the Lord Jesus.  It is the Lord Jesus who can remake us in the image of God and restore to us the loving relationship with God.  The devil is never as powerful as the Lord Jesus and His Spirit.  It is Jesus Himself who invites us to follow him and to be His family.

The Book of Genesis, from which is taken the first reading today, sets forth the experience of sin that began our later experiences of sin.  Sin is contagious is so many ways.  So often we blame sin on others instead of accepting our own responsibilities.  The author of this passage from Genesis sees that in the future there will be a battle between sin and the offspring of the woman.  This passage is sin as a prediction that salvation will come finally—and through the offspring of the woman.

The second reading comes from the Second Letter to the Corinthians.  Today this letter tells us: “the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.”  God will place us with Christ Jesus, but must first remake us in His image, which we have lost through sin.  This life, for all of us, is a matter of allowing God to remake us.  We have to be patient.  We might think that we are ready to see God now, but for most of us, there is a recognition that we are not yet so full of love that we can simply come into the presence of the Lord.

Just as in Genesis, so also in this Second Letter to the Corinthians, we see that there is an awareness of the spiritual combat which must take place in our world and in each of us personally so that we are truly ready to “see the Lord as He is” and come to be like Him.  For many people today, life is simply about enjoying as much as we can get.  For us who follow Christ, life is about becoming as much as possible like Christ so that we reflect the glory of the Father.

The Gospel of Saint Mark today is a delight because it shows the family of Jesus believing that Jesus has truly lost His mind.  And it shows us Jesus completely frustrated with what had happened in the temple.  Jesus was the House of God to be a house of prayer, not a business enterprise.

We can understand that the family of Jesus does not understand Him.  Jesus is so different!  Jesus is completely caught up in doing the work of His Father and pays no attention to anything else.  This looks like insanity to any normal person.  Jesus is not getting enough to eat. He probably is not getting enough sleep.  He seems obsessed with healing people.  All in all, his family decides that Jesus has lost His mind.

So Jesus irritates and bothers his family.  With the Scribes and Pharisees, it is worse.  Jesus seems to have an understanding of the Law that is completely different from theirs.  They want to challenge Jesus but recognize how popular Jesus is among the ordinary people.  They think that Jesus is possessed by the devil but again fear saying anything like that.

For us, all of this is a call to follow the Lord, not matter what our families or other religious people think about us.  We are challenged to do the works of God, to recognize that the fight between good and evil is still going on in our own time.  We must also recognize that it is God who is at work and so we can trust that we are being remade in the image of God.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

https://christdesert.org/2018/06/10th-sunday-ordinary-time-cycle-b-2018/

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Book: Spiritual Combat — A Treatise on Peace of Soul

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, June 9, 2018 — “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

June 8, 2018

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The boy Jesus discovered in the Temple…  Today’s kids can’t even walk to the school bus alone…

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Scripture teaches, “Do not be afraid.”

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 358/573

Reading 1  2 TM 4:1-8

Beloved:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.For I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well;
I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 71:8-9, 14-15AB, 16-17, 22

R. (see 15ab) I will sing of your salvation.
My mouth shall be filled with your praise,
with your glory day by day.
Cast me not off in my old age;
as my strength fails, forsake me not.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
But I will always hope
and praise you ever more and more.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
I will treat of the mighty works of the Lord;
O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
So will I give you thanks with music on the lyre,
for your faithfulness, O my God!
I will sing your praises with the harp,
O Holy One of Israel!
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Alleluia  SEE LK 2:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is the Virgin Mary who kept the word of God
and pondered it in her heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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The boy Jesus discovered in the Temple…

Art: William Holman Hunt The Finding of the Savior in the Temple

Gospel  LK 2:41-51

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

“They began to look for him” here we can identify the core of the text, its fundamental message, it is important that we open ourselves to a deeper understanding of this reality. Also because Luke uses two different verbs to express the “search”, the first to anazitéo vv. 44 and 45, indicating an accurate, repeated, careful, as some of those who browse, from bottom to top and second to zite vv. 48 and 49, which indicates the search for something that is lost and you want to find. Jesus is the object of all this movement and deep inner being, is the object of desire, the longing of the heart …

 * “Distressed” It ‘great to see how Mary opens her heart to Jesus, telling him everything she saw, what she felt within herself. She is not afraid to tell the truth to his Son, to tell him the feelings and experiences that they felt in deep. But what is this anguish, this pain that you saw in Mary and Joseph in search of Jesus, who went missing?

* “Kept all these sayings in her heart” Maria does not understand the words of Jesus, the mystery of his life and his mission and for this silent, accepts, makes space, keep in the heart. This is the true path of growth in faith and relationship with the Lord.

Once again, Luke gives us a very beautiful and meaningful word, a compound of the verb “keep” – dia – Tiree, which means literally “keeping through”. That is the spiritual operation that Mary carry within herself and that give us as a precious gift, a legacy for our good relationship with the Lord, so that it can  take us into a journey deep, deep, that does not stop at the surface, or half, which is not coming back, but it goes deep down. Mary takes us by the hand and guides us through all our heart, all her feelings, her experiences. And there, in the secrecy of ourselves, in our hearts, we can learn to find the Lord Jesus, that perhaps we had lost.

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/divina-lectio-sacred-heart-mary.

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Searching for Jesus

Joseph turned to Mary and said, “Where is Jesus?” That set in motion, not a tragedy, but a teachable moment into the mystery of God’s dealing with the mind and imagination of kids.

Jesus was 12 years old when it happened, a pivotal year for kids. No more childhood. Hello, adolescent! Time for bar mitzvah and confirmation classes, leaving behind elementary school, launching into middle school.

“What are you going to be when you grow up?” You ask a twelve-year-old and what do you hear? A singer. I want to be a farmer. One public school teacher said to me, “I teach in the west end of Louisville and all of my boys want to play professional ball. My friend Rick Stewart said recently, “Audrey wants to be either a zoo keeper or the president of the United States. But she is only 8.”

So we shrug it off with a smile.

But some 12-year-olds are already thinking seriously about their future. Steve Jobs, for instance, wrote about his early fascination with computers. “I was 13 years old,” he says in his end-of-life autobiography, “and already knew what I wanted to do.” He did it, and the whole world is glad.

What about you? Did you know at age 12 or 13 what you would do with your life?

Jesus did.

After the festival, the text tells us, his parents headed home, down that well worn road to the Jordan valley. Jesus, however, stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Years later he told a story that began this way, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves.” He told it that way because he was familiar with that road, that Roman road that headed east out of Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley, went over the Mount of Olives, around the village of Bethany, and along the south side of that ravine that we call Wadi Qelt. At the edge of that stone road was the aqueduct that, to this day, carries water from the hill country down into the Jordan Valley. It still runs strong, a foot deep and is a welcome respite from the dry desert air.

That day this road was crowded with thousands of pilgrims heading home after the holidays. They were on their way to the Jordan Valley, or Galilee, or even further: Syria or Persia, perhaps. Friends and family, all of them Jews, traveling, talking, singing, eating, laughing.

For them it was a religious obligation: not a burdensome one, but a delightful interruption of the rough and rugged routine of regular life. “How delightful is your dwelling place, O Lord.” That is one of the songs they sang.

Then the question: “Where is Jesus?”

All of a sudden, the joyful journey home becomes a frantic search for a young son.

Read the rest:

http://day1.org/4402-where_is_jesus

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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09 JUNE, 2018, Saturday, The Immaculate Heart of Mary
THE JOY OF MARY AS THE BASIS FOR A HEART OF CHARITY AND MERCY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISA 61:9-11EPHESIANS 1:3-6.11-12; LK 2:4-51 ]

The origin of this feast of the Immaculate Heart came from St John Eudes in the 17th century.  Through him, this devotion received widespread approval from both the laity and the Church authorities.  But this feast became popular only after the apparition of our Lady of Fatima in the 20th century.  It received impetus because of our Lady’s commendation to the three shepherds that “Jesus desires to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart” (June 13).  The Lord repeated this desire when He said, “I shall come to ask for consecration to my Immaculate Heart.”

Indeed, this feast is a fitting conclusion to the series of solemnities that the Church celebrated, from Holy Thursday to Easter, followed by the Feasts of Ascension and Pentecost.   Capturing the whole economy of salvation, the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Trinity because salvation comes from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, and happiness and fulfillment in life is to be in communion with the Holy Trinity.  To further contemplate on the love and mercy of the Father in Jesus, the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi followed by the feast of the Sacred Heart, underscoring the utter love of God in His self-giving.

Whilst the feast of Corpus Christi speaks of His self-giving and continued presence in our lives, the feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us of His passion and love for us, and a heart that is wounded and bruised because of rejection and the sins of men.  The feast of the Immaculate Heart that follows immediately after the feast of the Sacred Heart shows that there is a creature like us who responded readily to the grace and mercy of God.  And it is Mary, whose feast we celebrate. Whilst the Feast of the Sacred Heart celebrates the outpouring love and mercy of God for us, the feast of the Immaculate Heart speaks of our response to that love and mercy. This, then, is the motif and theme of our celebration.  How can we acquire a heart like Mary in our response to God’s love and mercy?

When we speak of the heart, we are dealing with the center and source of the interior life of a person, namely, the will and the affective faculties.  In the area of affectivity, Mary, like all of us, needed joy to motivate her in life.   Indeed, if many of us find that our life lacks enthusiasm and passion, it is because joy is not present in our lives, whether in our marriage, relationships, work or business, or involvements.  Joy is an important factor in giving ourselves fully to what we do.  When a person is joyful, he brings joy to others and infects others with his joy.  A person who is motivated by an inner spirit of joy is driven to do things for others not because of mundane motives.

Indeed, in the gospel, Mary is portrayed as a woman of joy.  What then was the basis of Mary’s joy?  The first reading is applied to Mary when the prophet said, “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity, like a bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels.”  Mary was indeed the bride of God, the spouse of the Holy Spirit.   She gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God.  It was a joy that is incomparable.  In the Magnificat, she sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”  (Lk 1:46f)

Her joy therefore came from God’s election of her to be the mother of the Saviour.  She was graced by God, not by her own merits.   She was humble to acknowledge this fact when she said, “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”  (Lk 1:49)  She was blessed by God and was called by the angel, “full of grace” whom God had highly favoured.  (cf Lk 1:28)  This is what St Paul wrote with reference to all Christians.  “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes.”

So the joy of Mary came from her humble recognition that all she had was the grace of God and not her own doing.  Consequently, there was nothing to boast about.  The responsoral psalm in which Mary echoed in the Magnificat says, “The bows of the mighty are broken, but the weak are clothed with strength.  Those with plenty must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more.  The childless wife has children now but the fruitful wife bears no more. It is the Lord who gives life and death, he brings men to the grave and back; it is the Lord who gives poverty and riches.  He brings men low and raises them on high.”  Indeed, if there is anything to boast, it is the grace of God.  St Paul said, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Cor 11:30) Again, he reiterated, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  (2 Cor 12:9)

It is this realization of God’s immense grace for us all, especially for Mary, that we too are called to be blessed for others. This is what Isaiah said of Israel. “Their race will be famous throughout the nations, their descendants throughout the peoples. All who see them will admit that they are a race whom the Lord has blessed.”  Mary in the Magnificat said, “His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”  St Paul confirms this when he wrote, that God intends “to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.”   We are blessed by God, never for ourselves, but for others.

Out of this heart of joy and love, Mary’s heart reached out to others in charity and mercy.  She was a woman of action.  Upon receiving the call of God to be the mother of the Messiah, she did not hesitate in saying “yes” to His election.  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)  The next thing she did was to reach out to Elizabeth her cousin who was pregnant with child in her old age.  “Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah.”  (Lk 1:39)  Mary did not keep her blessings to herself.  Then again, at Cana in Galilee, when Mary observed that there was no more wine at the wedding, and feeling embarrassed for the bridegroom and the needs of the guest, she told Jesus, “They have no wine.” (Jn 2:3) These incidents demonstrate Mary’s charity and compassion for others.

Out of this heart too, was a woman of mercy.  Simeon already prophesied to Mary the future she was to suffer as the mother the Messiah.  “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed  so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  (Lk 2:34f)  True enough, Mary followed Jesus right to the cross when He was abandoned by His disciples and friends.  John noted, that “standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”  (Jn 19:25)  Mary stood up for Jesus.   And she joined Jesus in forgiving His enemies, uniting her heart with the heart of Jesus who too was pierced with a lance at the cross.  We can imagine the horror and pain that Mary witnessed, not just at the cruelty of Jesus’ scourging and crucifixion but seeing her only Son pierced with a lance.

Indeed, when we contemplate on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in her obedience to God’s will, sharing in His divine plan for the salvation of humanity, through charity and mercy, we see the powerful effects of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Contemplating on God’s love and mercy in Christ, we too will be empowered to do what Mary did.  Her heart beat with the heart of the Lord.  She was one with the Lord in everything she did, in mind and will.  For this reason, the Church gave her the title of co-redemptrix and mediatrix because of her close association with the saving death of our Lord.

Let us therefore take heed of the instruction of our Lord who asked us to cultivate a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  According to our Lady who appeared at Fatima, we must therefore seek conversion of heart through penance, sacrifices and mortification so that we will be focused not on self but on God and others.  Secondly, we need to pray the rosary and contemplate on the love and mercy of God as she did.  The gospel said,  “His mother stored up all these things in her heart.”  When we contemplate with Mary on the heart of God in Jesus, we too will be filled with delight and joy to do what they did.

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

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61 — US suicide rates increased more than 25% since 1999 —

June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France early Friday

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, June 6, 2018 — Suffering indicates neither dishonor nor failure

June 6, 2018

Stir into flame the gift of God that you have…God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. He is not God of the dead but of the living… Have Faith in the resurrection and you will never die…

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Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 355

Reading 1 2 TM 1:1-3, 6-12

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

He saved us and called us to a holy life,
not according to our works
but according to his own design
and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,
but now made manifest
through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus,
who destroyed death and brought life and immortality
to light through the Gospel,
for which I was appointed preacher and Apostle and teacher.
On this account I am suffering these things;
but I am not ashamed,
for I know him in whom I have believed
and am confident that he is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 123:1B-2AB, 2CDEF

R. (1b) To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.
To you I lift up my eyes
who are enthroned in heaven.
Behold, as the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.
As the eyes of a maid
are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the LORD, our God,
till he have pity on us.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.

Alleluia  JN 11:25A, 26

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

Gospel  MK 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection,
came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers.
The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants.
So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants,
and the third likewise.
And the seven left no descendants.
Last of all the woman also died.
At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
When they rise from the dead,
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but they are like the angels in heaven.
As for the dead being raised,
have you not read in the Book of Moses,
in the passage about the bush, how God told him,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob?

He is not God of the dead but of the living.
You are greatly misled.”
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Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:1-14

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We often expect wisdom and special insight from those preparing to die, so our lives might be richer for what we learn from their perspective. Examples from modern literature may come to mind (recent bestsellers such as The Last LectureTuesdays with Morrie, and the novel Gilead), but they have ancient forerunners. Think of testaments, literature in which an about-to-die leader offers reflections on a life lived and advice to family or friends who will live on. Examples include Genesis 49:1-28, 1 Kings 2:1-9, Acts 21:17-38, several extrabiblical writings (such as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs), and the letter we call Second Timothy.
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Following the letter’s salutation, a thanksgiving introduces themes of continuity and succession. The mention of Paul’s “ancestors,” Timothy’s “sincere faith” with roots in his grandmother and mother, and Timothy’s need to “rekindle” God’s gift — these all encourage Timothy to understand his identity and his obligations by considering those who have gone before him (see also 2 Timothy 3:14-15). The letter construes Christian faith and ministry entirely in communal and familial settings, extended through time. This makes Timothy anything but an independent agent peddling new insights. His faith’s roots in the past make it reliable, proven. Timothy’s job, for the sake of the future, involves more preservation than innovation.

Right out of the gate, Second Timothy presents itself as a conservative letter, understanding “conservative” in the most literal sense of the word. It imagines “the faith” as something to be guarded (see 2 Timothy 1:14), lest it become corrupted or diluted. This makes the letter especially attractive to some contemporary Christians, while others get worried. Wise preachers will avoid using a single sermon to adjudicate those battles or to speak about tradition and change in abstract terms. Additional options for a sermon include these:

  • The letter tells Timothy his faith and calling aren’t ancillary to his identity; they are part of who he is. Consider, then, exploring with a congregation how our beliefs and ministry are meaningfully connected to our personal and corporate identities, rooted in particular yet shared heritages.
  • Taken as a whole, Second Timothy expresses great concern about false teachers and rival doctrines (some of these appear, based on 1 Timothy 6:20-21, to have involved ideas taken from gnostic thought). It worries about other teachings possibly leading Christians astray or making them cantankerous, thereby wounding the ministry of the gospel. Consider, then, asking questions about what kinds of perceived threats make you and your congregation determined to secure yourselves against “outside” or “foreign” influences. What influences must really be resisted? What do we resist only because we are scared or think we ourselves are under attack?

Confidence beyond Shame and Suffering (1:8-14)

Next, the letter exhorts Timothy to remain faithful, proceeding with numerous clusters of exhortations through 2:13. The first set of exhortations comes in 1:8-14, which instructs Timothy to emulate Paul in enduring suffering and shame (for the letter describes Paul as incarcerated here and elsewhere). Suffering indicates neither dishonor nor failure when the gospel is involved, because the gospel is all about God’s power to bring life from death (2 Timothy 1:10). That power, enacted in Christ Jesus, reconfigures our perspectives on the anguish and humiliation that supposedly must accompany suffering. Suffering cannot nullify God’s grace, which was “revealed” (phaneroo) or made known in the “appearing” (epiphaneia) of Christ Jesus. This leads Paul to express confidence in Jesus’ (or God’s?) ability to guard what Paul has entrusted to Jesus, meaning, perhaps, Paul’s very own self. Correspondingly, and mirroring that activity, Timothy must faithfully guard the apostolic teaching entrusted to him.

The language about Christ abolishing death (2 Timothy 1:10) strikes many hearers as powerful, good news. A sermon might devote itself to exploring how the defeat of death and the promise of immortality are expressions or consequences of God’s grace.

Read more:

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1834

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Do not be afraid:

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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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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06 JUNE, 2018, Wednesday, 9th Week, Ordinary Time

FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [2 Tim 1:1-36-12Ps 123:1-2Mark 12:18-27  ]

We can appreciate the question of the Sadducees to Jesus if we understand the context of their doubts about the resurrection.  Faith in the resurrection was a historical development.  In the early years of the Israelites’ faith, there was no teaching on the resurrection.  The Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, which every Jew subscribes to as the most important part of their sacred scriptures, does not speak about the resurrection.  It was believed that in death, we would all enter Sheol, a place of non-existence, both for the good and bad alike.  It was later on during the time of the prophets, Daniel and Ezekiel, and the wisdom books such as Job and Wisdom, that faith in life after death gradually emerged.  In the later part of the Old Testament, especially towards the inter-testamental period and by the time of the Maccabean era (170 B.C.), belief in the afterlife became more explicit.  Nevertheless, the Jews were divided over this doctrine, as seen in the time of Jesus, with the Sadducees denying the doctrine of the resurrection, and the Pharisees upholding it.

It is within this context that the reality of the resurrection was challenged.  So, all those who were skeptical about the resurrection would see the argument of the Sadducees concerning the case of the man whose brothers had to marry his widow in order to raise up children for him.  If she were to marry all the seven brothers who died, then the logical question was, “when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?”

In fact, this question is not only relevant to those who challenge the reality of the resurrection but also for those who believe in the resurrection.  There are many naïve Catholics who similarly ask me, “Would my husband still recognize me as his wife in heaven?  And suppose I remarry after his death, would I then have two husbands in heaven?”, or, “Will I see my parents and friends or my dogs and cats in heaven?”  Such questions, sincere and innocent though they may be, belie the fact that many do not understand the true meaning of the resurrection.

The resurrection of the body is not a resuscitation.  In the next life, our body would be transfigured.  The body would possess a glorified matter with the soul. Whilst it remains a body, it would be an incorruptible body.  As St Paul says, “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.”  (1 Cor 15:42-44)  So at the resurrection we will have a spiritual body filled with the glory of God.

Accordingly, in the next life, we will share the life and love of God so totally that we will love each other as God loves us, individually, personally and yet inclusively.  That is why the Lord said to them, “Is not the reason why you go wrong, that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, men and woman do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven.”   Heaven is a communion of saints.  We will still recognize each other but we will love without possessiveness.  We will love all others as much as we love our spouses when they were on earth.  Regardless whether they were our loved ones on earth or not, in heaven, we will have so much capacity to love that our love includes all.  Isn’t this the kind of love that priests and religious are supposed to live already in this life?  We are called to love everyone, rich and poor, friends and strangers, male and female, without discrimination or exclusivity.  We are called to share the love of God with everyone because all are our brothers and sisters.   We love others as much as God loves each one of us.

Of course, this cannot be understood or accepted through human logic alone.  This is the mistake of the Sadducees and all those who deny the resurrection.  They want to rationalize and prove the resurrection through reason.  Indeed, Jesus did try to offer them an argument based on scriptures to indicate the truth of the resurrection. “Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead but of the living. You are very much mistaken.”  And this is what systematic theology also seeks to do when proving the resurrection.  We will use the scripture texts and illustrate the gradual belief in the doctrine of the resurrection from the time of Abraham till the period before Christ.

However, this is insufficient because without a proleptic experience of the resurrection, such reasoning remains a theory and a hypothesis.  This is why our faith in the resurrection is not dependent on reason but on our personal encounter with the Risen Lord.  Only an encounter with the Risen Lord can cause us to believe in the resurrection.  This was true of the apostles and particularly St Paul who was a great persecutor of the Church until his encounter with the Lord. He wrote, that Christ “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”  (1 Cor 15:5-9)

Indeed, in the final analysis, faith in the resurrection requires a personal encounter with the Risen Lord, without which, it remains an empty doctrine and lacks the power to change lives.  With the resurrection, we can “proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”  (1 Cor 1:23-25)

The resurrection is the basis for the proclamation of the gospel.  After encountering the Risen Lord, Jesus commanded them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19f)   Indeed, the Lord repeatedly told the disciples when they saw Him, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers.”  (Mt 28:10)

This explains why St Paul too could encourage Timothy, the young bishop to proclaim the faith without fear or favour.  He reminded him, “never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace.”  We should not be afraid to witness for Christ like the apostles who preached with boldness after the resurrection because “this grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the Appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.”  Faith in His death and resurrection is the power of God that we are called to rely on. St Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  (Phil 3:10f)

So what must we do?  St Paul told Timothy, “I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control.”  The Risen Lord has given us His Spirit at Pentecost. This same Spirit that empowered Jesus in His ministry will empower us as well.

So we must renew the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That is why He ordered the disciples “not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This is what you have heard from me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4f)  With the Holy Spirit in us, we know with confidence that the Lord is also with us.  We can say with St Paul, “It is only on account of this that I am experiencing fresh hardships here now; but I have not lost confidence, because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.”

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

Meditation for June 1 — I pray that I may be gradually transformed from the old life to the new life.

June 1, 2018

Image result for Anthony Hopkins, photos

Meditation For The Day: June 1

You were born with a spark of the Divine within you. It had been all
but smothered by the life you were living. That celestial fire has to be
tended and fed so that it will grow eventually into a real desire to live
the right way. By trying to do the will of God, you grow more and
more in the new way of life. By thinking of God, praying to Him, and
having communion with Him, you gradually grow more like Him. The
way of your transformation from the material to the spiritual is the
way of Divine Companionship.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may tend the spark of the Divine within me so that it will
grow. I pray that I may be gradually transformed from the old life to
the new life.

— From the book “24 Hours a Day”

http://www.recoveryreadings.com/dailyrecoveryreadingsJune1.html

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!

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