Posts Tagged ‘humility’

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

November 10, 2018

He Offered once to take away the sins of many

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

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

Image result for widow's mite, bible, pictures

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 155

Reading 1 1 KGS 17:10-16

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

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

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

Reading 2  HEB 9:24-28

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

Alleluia MT 5:3

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

Gospel MK 12:38-44

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

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

Or  MK 12:41-44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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

AUTHENTICITY IN FAITH WHEN SYMBOL BECOMES THE REALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, November 10, 2018 — What is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God

November 10, 2018

The just one shall be in everlasting remembrance, pleasing to God, exalted in glory

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“As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Poverty, humility, honesty, integrity, service to others, generosity

Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 490

Reading 1 PHIL 4:10-19

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice greatly in the Lord
that now at last you revived your concern for me.
You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.
Not that I say this because of need,
for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself,
to be self-sufficient.
I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the Gospel,
when I left Macedonia,
not a single church shared with me
in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone.
For even when I was at Thessalonica
you sent me something for my needs,
not only once but more than once.
It is not that I am eager for the gift;
rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account.
I have received full payment and I abound.
I am very well supplied because of what I received from you
through Epaphroditus,
“a fragrant aroma,” an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm PS 112:1B-2, 5-6, 8A AND 9

R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia2 COR 8:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich,
So that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all these things and sneered at him.
And he said to them,
“You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts;
for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.

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

PARTNERSHIP IN THE GOSPEL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ PHILIPPIANS 4:10-19LUKE 16:9-15 ]

In the gospel, the Lord declares, “No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn.  You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.”  Is this choice really necessary?  Can we not be rich and yet serve God?  What about those who are blessed with riches?  Are they not saved?  Riches themselves are not the obstacles to finding life but it is the way we make use of them.  St Paul, writing to Timothy advised him saying, “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”  (1 Tim 6:17-19)

This, precisely, is the point in today’s gospel reading.  What the Lord is condemning is not those who are rich but those who become slaves of money.  This was the case of the scribes and Pharisees.  “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him.  He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts.  For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’”  Indeed, when money becomes our master, we will lose our priority and our focus in life.  St Paul warns us, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”  (1 Tim 6:10)

Rather, we are called to be like the dishonest steward who knew how to make use of money for the greater good in the future.  Even his master commended him for his resourcefulness.  “And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”  (Lk 16:8)  Jesus reiterated the principle of how money should be used.  “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when is fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.”  Money is for the use of developing relationships and making people feel loved and looked after.  Money must be used for others and not only for ourselves.  When money is used to give life to others, then money becomes a servant at our disposal rather than our master.

Most of all, money should be for the spread of the gospel.  Those of us who have resources must use them for the proclamation of the gospel.  This was what the Christians in Philippi did.  They helped St Paul with his finance so that he could continue to proclaim the gospel.  They came to the help of St Paul when he needed their help.  St Paul was ever grateful to them for their generosity.  “In the early days of the Good News, as you people of Philippi well know, when I left Macedonia, no other church helped me with gifts of money.  You were the only ones; and twice since my stay in Thessalonika you have sent me what I needed.”  Then again, the Philippians never failed to remember St Paul in his needs.  “Now for the time being I have everything that I need and more: I am fully provided now that I have received from Epaphroditus the offering that you sent, a sweet fragrance – the sacrifice that God accepts and finds pleasing.”  How many of us are as generous as the Philippians in extending their resources to help other Christian communities who are building up the faith of their people? Without their funding, it would have been more difficult for St Paul to give himself fully to the work of preaching and teaching the gospel.

So the money the Lord has blessed us with must be employed for partnership in the proclamation of the gospel.  This also means that the money should be used also for the service of the poor.  This is what the psalmist reminds us.  “The good man takes pity and lends, he conducts his affairs with honour. The just man will never waver: he will be remembered for ever.  With a steadfast heart he will not fear.  Open-handed, he gives to the poor; his justice stands firm for ever. His head will be raised in glory.”  Giving to the poor is also one way of helping to proclaim the gospel indirectly.  When we love our money more than the poor, we are poorer in love.  Instead of being possessed by love, we allow money to possess us.

When we use our wealth and money for the spread of the gospel, we are truly responsible stewards of God’s grace.  We are called to be responsible for what has been entrusted to us by the Lord.  By using them well, it shows our character, values and generosity of heart.   It shows whether we are serving God or mammon.  This is what the Lord said, “The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great.  If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?”  There are more important things in life than money.

True riches is about serving God and our fellowmen.   The genuine riches that the Lord wants to give us are peace, love, joy, generosity and goodness.  (cf Gal 5:22)  These are the fruits of the Spirit for using money properly.  Indeed, there is a saying among the Jews, “The rich help the poor in this world, but the poor help the rich in the world to come.”   So if God gives us riches it is for us to help the poor and so gain a place in the heart of God in heaven.  And if we are poor, God is using us to help the rich to expand their capacity to give more. Money, in the final analysis, is just a means to an end.  What is the end if not that money is used in such a way that we grow in the capacity to love and give, the joy of sharing with others who are in need, and the grace to manifest the presence of God to them?

Indeed, when people are generous to us, what we must thank God for is not so much that we are the recipients but that they have the generosity to share and to give.  Only one who shares in the heart and life of God can give as much as the Lord has given to us.  This is what St Paul said to the Philippians.  He said, “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength.  All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships.”  By alleviating the hardship of Paul, the Philippians showed themselves to have the capacity to love like God Himself.  So when people are generous to us, we should not be grateful that we are the recipients but we should be more grateful that God has blessed them with the virtue of sharing, for by so doing they share in God’s life and love, which is greater than any earthly blessings. This is what St Paul said to them, “In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can.”   Only God can fulfil our desires in the final analysis.

So let us not pursue money, that “tainted” thing, not because it is intrinsically evil, but because it leads us to sin, selfishness and worldliness.  How often, because of the love of money, people will steal, kill or destroy their health?  How often, beautiful relationships are broken because of greed, dishonesty and cheating.  When we love money more than people, we begin to make use of people for ourselves instead of genuinely loving them.  So with St Paul, our attitude towards money must be one of contentment.  “I have learnt to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too.  I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty.”  We must learn detachment with regards to material things.  When we have them, we should make good use of them.  When we do not have, we should not crave for such things.  Our sufficiency must be found in Christ alone.  In Him, we have all.

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

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

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“No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.  No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.

Pope St. Leo the Great

November 10 is the Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Image result for St. Leo the Great, pictures

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St. Leo the Great was born in Tuscany. As deacon, he was dispatched to Gaul as a mediator by Emperor Valentinian III. He reigned as Pope between 440 and 461. He persuaded Emperor Valentinian to recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in an edict in 445. The doctrine of the Incarnation was formed by him in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who had already condemned Eutyches. At the Council of Chalcedon this same letter was confirmed as the expression of Catholic Faith concerning the Person of Christ.
All secular historical treatises eulogize his efforts during the upheaval of the fifth century barbarian invasion. His encounter with Attila the Hun, at the very gates of Rome persuading him to turn back, remains a historical memorial to his great eloquence. When the Vandals under Genseric occupied the city of Rome, he persuaded the invaders to desist from pillaging the city and harming its inhabitants. He died in 461, leaving many letters and writings of great historical value. His feast day is November 10th.
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He is also a Doctor of the Church, most remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was foundational to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. The Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council, dealt primarily with Christology, and elucidated the orthodox definition of Christ‘s being as the hypostatic unionof two natures—divine and human—united in one person, “with neither confusion nor division”.
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Morning Prayer for Friday, November 9, 2018 — God Grant Me Cheerfulness

November 9, 2018

“Cheerfulness is a sign of a generous and mortified person who forgetting all things, even herself, tries to please her God in all she does for souls. Cheerfulness is often a cloak which hides a life of sacrifice and a continual union with God.”

— Mother Teresa (St Teresa of Calcutta)

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Is a negative person good for anybody? Is being moody and unhappy a sign of spiritual growth?

We all go though terrible turmoil in life. In many ways, life is a journey of ups and downs. The ups can give us ecstatic joy. Our downs can make us miserable, depressed and useless. For many these depressions turn into drug abuse, addiction, even murder and suicide.

We always have a choice. We we stop mourning our losses, we need to return to God and the world He has given us. We can stay on the side of the living and the side of God — or we can defect to the other side, the dark side.

Spiritual experts say God is talking to us. But we can only hear Him when we are still. Peaceful.

When we are angry, we hear nothing but ourselves, our inner demons and negative vibes.

For me it’s best for everyone when I stay on God’s side, meditate, listen for his direction, and maintain a cheerful demeanor. Service to others allows us to find a healthy and humble self respect while doing God’s work, God’s will.

Prayer:

God grant me cheerfulness. And keep me on the right path with gratitude, humility and service to others.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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Molly Esterline is hugged by David Crawford on the scene of a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, on Thursday, November 8.

Photo: Aftermath at Thousand Oaks

From Twenty Four Hours A Day for November 9:

I have learned to be less negative and more positive. I used to take a negative view of almost everything. Most people, in my estimation, were bluffing. There seemed to be very little good in the world, but lots of hypocrisy and sham. People could not be trusted. They would “take you” if they could. All churchgoers were partly hypocrites. It seemed I should take everything “with a grain of salt.” That was my general attitude toward life. Now I am more positive. I believe in people and in their capabilities. There is much love and truth and honesty in the world. I try not to run people down. Life now seems worthwhile and it is good to live. Am I less negative and more positive?

Meditation for the Day

Think of God as a Great Friend and try to realize the wonder of that friendship. When you give God; not only worship, obedience, and allegiance, but also close companionship, then He becomes your friend, even as you are His. You can feel that He and you are working together. He can do things for you and you can do things for Him. Your prayers become more real to you when you feel that God counts on your friendship and you count on His.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may think of God as my Friend. I pray that I may feel that I am working for Him and with Him.

Related:

Positive Psychology, Wellness, and You

https://caps.tcnj.edu/self-help-resources/positive-psychology-wellness-and-you/

and

For more than a decade of my life, I had struggled with debilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Like millions of people around the world, I longed to discover a magic pill to cure my ills and promise me nirvana. But, despite taking many medications, ongoing psychotherapyelectroconvulsive therapy (ECTs), hospitalizations and failed suicide attempts, wellness had remained a distant dream. The anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants worsened my symptoms, and made me more agitated, depressed and suicidal. And I was utterly confused why the medications that were supposed to alleviate my symptoms exacerbated them instead.

Staring out of the fifth-floor hospital window one day after yet another failed suicide attempt, I promised to take charge of my life and create a life of wellness. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just wanted to be well.

By Gayathri Ramprasad

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shadows-in-the-sun/201411/the-eight-dimensions-wellness

Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, November 6, 2018 — Give Yourself Away — Pour Yourself Out — Fulfill Your Vows

November 6, 2018

Image result for pouring water from a pitcher, photos

Bring in the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame….

The last shall be first and the first last.

Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 486

Reading 1 PHIL 2:5-11

Brothers and sisters:
Have among yourselves the same attitude
that is also yours in Christ Jesus,Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and, found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
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Image result for pouring from a pitcher, , bible, art, pictures

Responsorial Psalm  PS 22:26B-27, 28-30AB, 30E, 31-32

R. (26a) I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear him.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts be ever merry!”
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
All the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people. 
For dominion is the LORD’s,
and he rules the nations.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
To him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
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Image result for pouring from a pitcher, , bible, art, pictures

Alleluia MT 11:28

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

Gospel LK 14:15-24

One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'”
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Image result for Jesus, art, Akiane Kramarik
Art By Akiane Kramarik
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Related:
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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06 NOVEMBER, 2018, Tuesday, 31st Week, Ordinary Time

OUR PRIORITIES IN LIFE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11LUKE 14:15-24 ]

“Happy the man who will be at the feast in the kingdom of God!” Indeed, like the one who uttered this remark to Jesus, we too hope that we can partake in the feast of the Kingdom of God.  But what is this kingdom if not a communion of life and a communion of love?  Hence, the imagery for the kingdom life is always presented in terms of a banquet.  Indeed, Christian life is supposedly a foretaste of this kingdom.  Such a kingdom life would entail a balanced life where there is time to eat, play, rest, read, pray and fellowship.  This is what heaven on earth is like, and truly a foretaste of the life that is to come.  This is what the psalmist says, “My vows I will pay before those who fear the Lord. The poor shall eat and shall have their fill. They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him. May their hearts live for ever and ever!  All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord, all families of the nations worship before him for the kingdom is the Lord’s; he is ruler of the nations. They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth.”

But we all know very well that life is not a bed of roses.  Relationships are fragile.  Work is demanding.  Ministry is filled with frustrations even when one is seeking to do good or to help.   We have lots of demands on us.  We try to fulfill our obligations and our duties to our bosses and our family and at the same time do our part to contribute generously to the community, especially the poor.  We are always so busy that we do not have time for rest, much less for prayers.   When we live such a hectic and stressful life, the warning of the master might apply to us when he said, “not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet.”  Life is reduced to work and achievements.  We are chasing one laurel after another whilst our relationship with God and our loved ones are weakening each day.  Without God, everything is out of focus.

For this reason, we are called to make time for communion with God.  It is not enough just to work and be preoccupied with our personal interests or even give ourselves entirely to our career at the expense of forming meaningful relationships.  This was what happened to those who were invited for the feast.  They had no time for God or for fellowship. “But all alike started to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies.’ Yet another said, ‘I have just got married and so am unable to come.’”  We are just like those people who were invited for the banquet.  We have legitimate excuses for not making time for Jesus.  We have our personal needs to attend to, such as our rest and recreation, homework and household chores.  We have commitments to our family, our spouse, children and in-laws.  Besides, we have our work and other mundane matters and administrative duties to handle.  As a result, many of us are so busy that we are so burnt out, leaving us no time for others and for God.  We have no time for fellowship with our loved ones and friends, to share their joys and sorrows.  But most of all, we do not have time for God in prayer.

The question that the gospel is confronting is one of priorities.  What is our priority in life? The excuses given by those who were invited to the banquet were valid excuses.  It was necessary for the man who bought the land to go and inspect to ensure that everything was in order.  It was right for the man who bought five oxen to make sure that they were healthy and fit to work in the fields.  It was right that the man who was just married spent time with his wife.  But the point was that the invitation was sent out long ago and they had already accepted the invitation.  Instead of giving priority to the commitment made, they were more preoccupied with their own interests.

So what is really important?  It is to be focused on building the kingdom of God, which is a life of service and communion with everyone, beginning with God.  Unless we put God as the center of our life, we will displace Him with all the other things we do and own.  Work will begin to consume us until we lose our health and loved ones.  Money will preoccupy us day and night and in all that we do.  Power and status will enslave us so that we lose our freedom to do the right thing.  Our loved ones will become the gods that we worship and seek to possess.  We will live in fear of losing them one day and become obsessed with controlling their lives.  Without God, everything we do will become the idols that we worship.  We will destroy the very things that we seek in our career; which is to serve humanity, money to take care of our loved ones, power and influence for greater service.   It would be unfortunate to be listed as those who have been invited to the banquet but never “taste of my banquet.”

The gospel wants us to remember that everything is the grace of God.  It is not just our doing alone.  We cannot control life but we are called to surrender our life to Him.  Indeed, in the second part of the gospel, we have the master inviting everyone who was not worthy to come to the banquet.  “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ said the servant, ‘your orders have been carried out and that there is still room.’ Then the master said to his servant, ‘Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and force people to come in to make sure my house is full.”  God invites all to His banquet, the sinners, the marginalized, including the gentiles.  All that was needed for them to enjoy the banquet was to respond.   We, too, if we want to enjoy the banquet of life, love and communion, then we must make time for the Lord first and foremost in our life.  He must be our priority above all others.  When we make a place for Him, then we will have a place for everyone and everything that we do.

This calls for self-emptying and trust; to put away our reliance on self and our strength and to trust in God requires humility.  This was the way of our Lord.  This is where St Paul directs us to find focus and unity in life.  He said, “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus: His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”  Jesus emptied Himself twice, first of His divinity to assume the condition of a slave and then accepting death on the cross.  In emptying Himself, Jesus was truly like God, and even in that self-emptying, Jesus showed Himself to be truly divine because God is precisely One who pours Himself out for us, inviting us to share in His image and likeness, and giving us a share of His life and love in His kingdom.  Here, divine weakness, although a divine scandal, is the glory of God.  Indeed, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the 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 Cor1:22-24)

Will we trust in the power of God to act in our lives instead of wanting to be in control?  We must recognize our human limitations, if not we will only put unnecessary stress on ourselves and others under us.  Humility requires us to be careful not to allow our ministry or our work to become our ambition.  When we are ambitious, we turn the work of God into the work of man.  Like Jesus, we are called to accept failures in our lives, especially when we have done our best.  Jesus gave Himself totally to the project of his Father and had to learn to accept failure as part of the divine plan.  Can we be open to the fact that just as God uses the suffering and death of Jesus to raise Him high “and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord”, He will also do for us, if we allow His grace to work in us?  In this way, we would feel free in doing the work of God with joy and enjoy every moment of what we do because we are focused on the Lord and not working for our ambition or glory but for the service of all.

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

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

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, November 5, 2018 — Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory

November 4, 2018

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you….

Image result for Jesus with the blind, poor, weak, pictures

Christ taught us to treat everyone equally, irrespective of social rank; and more so those who are the weakest members of the community….

Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 485

Reading 1  PHIL 2:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 131:1BCDE, 2, 3

R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.

Alleluia

LK 14:12-14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 14:12-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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05 NOVEMBER, 2018, Monday, 31st Week, Ordinary Time

BUILDING UNITY IN CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Philippians 2:1-4Luke 14:12-14 ]

The world is very much divided between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the elite and the ordinary.  This was never the intention of God.  He created a world where we could all live and support each other as one big family.  Indeed, in the eyes of God, we are all equal before Him.  We are all His children, the rich no less than the poor, the strong no less than the weak.   Jesus said,  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Mt 5:44f)

In the gospel, Jesus sought to abolish all class consciousness.  He taught that it was not good enough to invite those people who were of our same social standing or expect that we would be invited back in future.  Rather, the Lord said, “when you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.”  In the eyes of God, it is the poor, the hungry and the marginalized that the Lord feels most for, because they are deprived and stripped of their basic needs in life.  This is why the Lord said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)

Indeed, Christ Himself taught the disciples what it meant to be a leader.  “It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave;  just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matt 20:28)  A leader is a servant and not so much a position of honour.  Jesus Himself who took the form of a servant to wash the feet of His disciples just before His passion reminded them, “You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  (Jn 13:13-17)

St Paul also reiterates our unity in Christ when he says, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”   (Gal 3:27f)   Indeed, Christ by His death on the cross has brought us together as one.  “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”  (Eph 2:13f)

After Pentecost, the early Church for a short time tried to relive this kind of community.  They sought to be true to the teaching of Christ.  “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:44-47)  Indeed, Christ taught us to treat everyone equally, irrespective of social rank; and more so those who are the weakest members of the community. (cf 1 Cor 12:22-24)

Why is there this division among us, even amongst Christians?  It is because of selfishness and pride that man seeks to protect his interests over the others.  Even in the Christian community, we have class consciousness.  We want to differentiate ourselves from the other members of the community.  When we do that, we are not living the gospel values.  St James reprimanded the early Christians for making distinctions and showing favouritism to those who were richer.  He wrote, “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? Have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.  Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?”  (cf Jms 2:1-5)

Indeed, we must be careful that we do not import the values of the world into our churches.  What the Church should boast about is not that we care for the rich and give special preference to them but rather that we are known to be lovers of the poor, the suffering and the marginalized.  This is the best form of Christian witnessing, more than just proclaiming and preaching the gospel of love.   This is what the Lord teaches us in the beatitudes.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”  (Mt 5:3-7)

St Paul also warned the early Christians about dividing the Church through pride, leading to competition. He exhorted them saying, “There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead.” How often have we witnessed the Church divided among her members because various church organizations try to prove themselves to be more important than others, that they can sing better than the others, and that their roles and functions are greater than the rest.  Likewise, within the Church, we have members seeking recognition, power, control, prominence, and positions.  It is all about themselves and not truly for the glory of God or for the service of the community.

So the key to overcoming selfishness and pride that divide the community is through self-emptying and humility.  Jesus led the way as St Paul wrote in the next chapter of Philippians.  Christ chose to empty Himself of His divinity.  As if it were not enough, He emptied himself, “taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.”  (Phil 2:7f)  Christ suffered the lowest form of human rejection by being crucified as a criminal on the cross.  Consequently, St Paul appealed to us all, If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind.”

We all must put on the mind and heart of Christ in service and in love.  We must do it out of love for Christ.  Instead of putting ourselves above others, we must put others before self.  Instead of competing and become self-conceited, we must learn to be self-effacing like our Lord.  Humility is the mark of Christian service.  With the psalmist, we must recognize our limitations and constraints.  Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord. O Lord, my heart is not proud nor haughty my eyes. I have not gone after things too great nor marvels beyond me. Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace. A weaned child on its mother’s breast, even so is my soul.”  In this way, we can say we share the same Spirit of Christ and are united in one common mission and in love.

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

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

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Morning Prayer for Saturday, November 3, 2018 — Do your best for the other person

November 3, 2018

Image result for “The Good Samaritan,” by Walter Rane

“The Good Samaritan,” by Walter Rane

I have charity, another word for love. That right kind of love, which is not selfish passion but an unselfish, outgoing desire to help other people. To do what is best for the other person, to put what is best for him or her above my own desires. To put God first, the other person second, and myself last. Charity is gentle, kind, understanding, long-suffering, and full of desire to serve. What I do for myself is lost; what I do for others may be written somewhere in eternity. Have I charity?

Meditation for the Day

“Ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.” God has unlimited power. There is no limit to what His power can do in human hearts. But we must will to have God’s power and we must ask God for it. God’s power is blocked off from us by our indifference to it. We can go along our own selfish way without calling on God’s help and we get no power. But when we trust in God, we can will to have the power we need. When we sincerely ask God for it, we get it abundantly.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may will to have God’s power. I pray that I may keep praying for the strength I need.

From the Book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

Related:

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Several years ago, and filled with pride, on my way to Church on Easter Morning, I spotted a homeless man dressed mostly in a trash bag, standing in front of a 7-11.

I said this quick and very stupid prayer to God:

“Oh God, I am going to show you what a GOOD GUY I AM!”

After jumping out of the car, I approached the homeless man and gave him a crisp FIFTY DOLLAR BILL!

He turned around, went into the 7-11, and stuffed the bill into a donation jar for people more deserving than himself.

When he came back out, he drew near me and said, “We have everything we need.”

I tried that day to stop saying stupid prayers to God.

A few years later, I spotted another homeless man, and approached him to ask if I could do anything for him.

His response: “Cherish what you have.”

Now, I am no Mother Teresa, but after those two encounters, I decided I had better learn how to be of meaningful service to others — without any show or fol-de-rol.

God needs us all in service to others. especially those among us that have been most fortunate.

Everyone in my family knows the story of the “Stupid Guy Prayer.”

But better than that, they all know that “We have everything we need” and to “Cherish what you have” and to “Be of service to others.”

Pass it on!

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, October 26, 2018 — Live in a manner worthy of the call; with all humility, gentleness, and patience

October 26, 2018

Image result for christ, pictures

Jesus asks, “Do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face

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Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 477

Reading 1 EPH 4:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
through the bond of peace;
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 24:1-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Alleluia  SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds,
“When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny.”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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26 OCTOBER, 2018, Friday, 29th Week, Ordinary Time

OUR CHRISTIAN VOCATION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [EPHESIANS 4:1-6LUKE 12:54-59 ]

When we speak of a vocation, we are speaking of a call that is outside of us.  It is a transcendent call of God.  As human beings, we all have a common vocation, which is to arrive at our ultimate goal, which is to be with God.  St Paul says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.”  (Phil 3:20f)

However, many of us have forgotten our ultimate calling. This is the great tragedy.  We live as if there is only this life on earth, and after that we are no more.  The way we live our lives is dependent on our goal.  If we think that this is the only life there is, then of course we seek to grab all that we can to make ourselves happy, enjoy all the pleasures of life, care only for ourselves and live an individualistic and materialistic life.   If there is no life after death, why should we bother to make this world a better place; why should we make sacrifices for the generations after us; why should we do good; why should we even want to protect this creation when we will not be around to see it destroyed, and finally, why would we live for the future when life is so short?

Indeed, the warning of Jesus about the reality of the future of the kingdom is clear.  He said to the people, “When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does.  In addition, when the wind is from the south you say it will be hot, and it is.  Hypocrites!  You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky.  How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?”  Indeed, if we are truly intelligent people, with modern science and technology, the Lord is asking us how it is that we do not consider the outcome of our life on this earth.  How can we not consider our future destiny?

The reality of the final judgment before God is certain.  This is what the Lord said to the people, “Why not judge for yourselves what is right?  For example:  when you go to court with your opponent, try to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand your over to the bailiff and the bailiff have you thrown into prison.  I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the very last penny.”  We too are on our way to the judgment seat of God. That is why St Paul wrote, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.  We will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”  (Rom 14:7-10)   There is no escapism from death or judgement. We must not be deceived by the world that we live forever or that everything ends at death.

It is therefore important that we keep in view our final destiny, our ultimate vocation, if we are to reach the end prepared.  Until then, the Lord is giving us time to repent and to re-orientate our life in case it is too late by the time we reach the judgment seat of God.  How, then, can we prepare ourselves for the ultimate goal of life?  The psalmist says, “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things.  He shall receive blessings from the Lord and reward from the God who saves him. Such are the men who seek him, seek the face of the God of Jacob.”  In the beatitudes, the Lord taught us, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God., for they will be called children of God.”  (Mt 5:7-9) To see the face of God requires purity of heart, mercy and love.

To keep us focused, St Paul in the first reading reminds us of our vocation.  Firstly, he spoke of a transcendent call, the common hope of all.  He said, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.”   Our hope in life is to be with God who is the Father of us all.  Regardless whether we are Christians or otherwise, we share the same calling to be with God who is “over all, through all and within all.”   This is what the Lord taught when He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”  (Mt 5:44f) Speaking of the end, St Paul also wrote, “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.”  (1 Cor 15:28)

This hope in being one with God our Father implies our communion with the Son and the Holy Spirit.  “There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called.  There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  We come into communion with the Father only through the Son sharing in His Spirit.  To arrive at the Father’s house, we must come through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  (cf Jn 14:6) “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (Jn 14:7) For us as Christians we are privileged to come to know the Father through the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To Philip, the Lord said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”  (Jn 14:9f)

However, this hope is not just a dream but it is already in us because the Spirit of Jesus lives in us as a pledge of what is to come.  St Paul said, “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  (Rom 5:5) To the Ephesians, he wrote, “In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.”  (Eph 1:13f) And to the Corinthians, St Paul underscores this reality when he assured them, “But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.”  (2 Cor 1:21f)

Indeed, those of us who live in His Spirit already experience as a foretaste the joy, love, unity and freedom of the Kingdom of God that is to come. “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  (Gal 5:22) Truly, St Paul said, “The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”  (Rom 14:17-19)

This is why St Paul urges us all in the first reading to “bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience.  Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together.”  The truth is that we are all in different stages of growth in Christian life and in the realization of our common vocation, just as in any family, there are some who are weaker than others, some more difficult to love or to fit into the family.   This is true in the Christian community as well.  We must seek to build communion with each other through dialogue, collaboration, giving in to one another for the greater good of all and for the unity of the Church.  As a community, we will have differences, different views and perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. So it is necessary that we learn to humbly accommodate each other, find a position that is moderate so that all can find acceptance in the Church, regardless which level of spiritual growth the person is in. We need to be patient, accommodating and understanding.

Indeed, let us bear in mind the exhortation St Paul gave to the Philippians.  “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 2:1-5) If we learn humility and put our egoism and self-centeredness aside, we can then share the joy of being with each other, supporting each other in our journey to the Father when we will all be one in Him through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Thursday, October 25, 2018 — Overcoming Selfishness

October 25, 2018

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We should work at overcoming our selfish desires, our self-centeredness and ourselves. This can never be fully accomplished. We can never become entirely unselfish. But we can come to realize that we are not at the center of the universe and that everything does not revolve around us at the center. I am only one cell in a vast network of human cells. I can at least make the effort to conquer the self-life and seek daily to obtain more and more of this self-conquest. “He that overcomes himself is greater than he who conquers a city.”

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may strive to overcome my selfishness. I pray that I may achieve the right perspective of my position in the world.

From the book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

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Overcoming Selfishness

Selfishness is a word that we are all too familiar with but I wonder how often we stop to think about what it actually means!

Self–ish-ness … it’s about our tendency to put ourselves, our needs, our plans, our reputations before other people.

Problem is, we notice when other people are being selfish to us, we notice when they put themselves and their own interests before ours but we rarely notice when the shoe is on the other foot. We rarely notice when it’s us who are being selfish. In fact, for most of my life, I never once thought of myself as being selfish when the reality was that ‘self’ was all I was interested in.

How about you? How often do you think of yourself being selfish as opposed to other people being selfish towards you? That’s why selfishness is such an insidious sin. It rears its ugly head all too often without us ever really noticing that we are the ones being selfish. And this putting of self above and before other people, it takes so many different forms. Whenever my interests are more important to me than your interests, the easiest thing in the world is to put mine before yours and that … that’s what we call selfishness.

Over the last three weeks on the programme we have been chatting about overcoming stubborn sin and I know that there are a few people who might squirm at that little word ‘sin’. I used to too. I thought of it as an outdated, irrelevant, judgemental, religious term that, frankly, belonged in the lexicon of those doddering old folk I saw wandering in and out of those places they call ‘church’, and that … that is a deception that the devil was happy for me to live under for many years.

But ‘sin’ – it’s a very simple concept: it’s falling short of all the good and wonderful things that God has planned for our lives. It’s missing the whole point and the point is that God wants us to enjoy Him and worship Him and glorify Him with our lives and that brings such a great source of delight and wonder and peace and joy to us. It’s the way things are meant to be, now and for all eternity. Through every up and every down, every mountain top experience and every trial and temptation and hurt this world has to offer.

And so those ‘sins’ that are particularly stubborn, that one sin that keeps coming back again and again and again, is Satan’s messenger to torments us; to try and rob us of the abundant life that God has planned for us. And this one, selfishness, is one that so many people suffer from. It’s one that used to be right up there right on top of my list too. I couldn’t see what was wrong with it either.

I worked hard, I applied myself and I’m this outcome focused person who drives hard at life to achieve what I set out to achieve – my agenda, my success, my way or the highway. So what’s wrong with getting my way? If other people want to get their way, well, they should be like me, otherwise tough, right?

That’s the world’s template for success. Climb over whoever you have to; roll over the top of whoever you have to; crash through whoever you have to, to get to wherever you are going.

And here’s how it changed for me. There were two parts – one to do with my heart, the other to do with my hands. In other words one part to do with my motivation and the other part to do with my practical ‘doing’, how I lived that out. I was always after greatness, I wanted people to recognise who I was; to recognise my achievements. And I, like most of the rest of the world, thought that that was about getting ‘my’ way and other people going ‘WOW!’ isn’t he fantastic? Ha, well, that a deception; that’s a lie, because it doesn’t work that way.

Jesus, in what the theologians called the ‘Great Denunciation’ in Matthew chapter 23, where He rips into the religious leaders of the day; people who were selfish and were ripping off those in their charge. Right in the middle of His vehement argument against their hypocrisy and selfishness, Jesus has this to say – He says:

“The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves, will be exalted.” That’s Matthew chapter 23, verses 11 and 12.

Now, I thought about that a lot and the truth of that first sentence really … really started to do its work in me. “The greatest among you will be your servant.” The greatest people in my life; the ones whom I truly value and honour and respect are the ones who have served me more than all the others.

There’s a man called Graham. He was a Colonel in the Army when I was a young Captain. Together Graham and I and another man, Mark, left the Army and formed an Information Technology consulting firm. Now Graham is not only intellectually one of the smartest people I know, but he has a deep wisdom about life, about dealing with other people, about all sorts of things. Now he’s twenty years my senior and over a period of seventeen years when we worked together in this consulting firm, he was my mentor; my teacher.

He taught me how to listen, how not to roll over the top of people, how to influence instead of control. He taught me any number of things. Many of those come out through these radio programmes, day after day, week after week, all these years later. He served me, even when I was young and precocious; even when I didn’t deserve it. Ask me who are amongst the greatest people in my life and he is right up there.

Once I figured out the deep truth of what Jesus said: “The greatest among you will be your servant,” my motivations changed. And then … then it was time to live that out, minute by minute, relationship by relationship, interaction by interaction. And here’s what I discovered when I took my selfishness out of the equation; when I no longer had to win every time and get my way every time, all of a sudden life became much easier. James chapter 3, verse 16:

“For when there is envy and selfish ambition there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.”

And that is absolutely right! Take away the selfishness and instead of disorder and wickedness, what you get, nine times out of ten, is peace. Once I learned to collaborate instead of obliterate, WOW, what a great way to live your life!

You know why ultimately, selfishness has become one of the easiest of my stubborn sins to give up? You know why? Because the rewards are so great and they are pretty much instant. Stop the selfishness and conflict reduces, peace increases, relationships improve and it happens quickly. And after a while it’s really easy to get addicted to those rewards.

You know, I’m wondering if that isn’t what God planned all along. Have a listen to a bit more of what James chapter 3 says, verses 16 to 18:

For where there is envy or selfish ambition there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

When we give up our selfishness, we are sowing peace and whatever we sow we will reap – we’ll reap a harvest which is peace. This really works.

Overcoming the Flesh

Well, I don’t know about you, but for me this last few weeks on the programme, where we’ve been looking at overcoming stubborn sin, once and for all, it’s been a real challenge and for me too, a breath of fresh air. See, as we have travelled through God’s Word, you know what’s really leapt out for me? The truth that Jesus truly does want to set us free from the terrible effects of those stubborn sins that linger on in our lives.

How many people I know … I was just sitting the other day having coffee with a man; a really successful businessman who was telling me about something in his life, a stubborn sin. And as successful as he was in business, he completely resigned himself to the fact – as least he thought it was a fact – that this stubborn sin would never go away. He was utterly convinced of it.

Man, that is such a tragedy! Does that mean, he believes that when it comes to that one particular stubborn sin, that Jesus died and rose again in vain? Does he believe that the cross of Christ is mighty and powerful and able to save everyone and everything except him from that one sin? Evidently so!

Well, let me be perfectly blunt,
too many people for too long have been living with stubborn sin; destructive patterns of behaviour that they could be completely free of through a simple, yet tenacious faith in Jesus Christ.

Today, right now, I want to show you that this truth is for you too. But here’s the problem: so many people want a foot in each camp. They want to be free of the destructive effects of stubborn sin, but they don’t want to pay the price of letting it go.

Let me paint a picture for you. The man who works in a company; he’s incredibly competent at what he does – he knows his job backwards and as it turns out, his skills and knowledge and abilities are invaluable to his employer – BUT he’s incredibly critical. No one else can ever do the job to his standards and so he complains about people. He almost always has a bad attitude, he grumbles and because no one else can do things to his standard, he becomes a control freak.

So, valuable as he may well be to his employer, he just doesn’t have any friends at work. When people organise to go out to lunch together, they somehow … forget to invite him. The others seem to laugh together and enjoy each other’s company but he’s is always on the outer.

He knows deep inside, that his attitudes are robbing him of those relationships. But the truth is, he’s not prepared to let go of the bad attitudes and the destructive behaviour that is robbing him of life.

And that’s what happens! See, we justify our own sin to ourselves and we want to be rid of its effects. We just don’t want to have to pay the price of letting the sin go out of our lives. Huh, does this sound familiar? We’re double minded about our sin. We want a foot in both camps. We want to be free but we just don’t want to let go.

Now, here’s the question – how to we take this decisive step to let go of the sin? How? Well, I believe that what’s required is a decisive step; a firm decision; a firm resolve in Christ to make a change. And if you know you have been double minded; if you know that you have been struggling, trying to have one foot in each camp and it hasn’t been working, I want to share this powerful few verses from the Word of God with you. Because I believe that through them the Spirit of God is going to help you to decide, once and for all, to let go of whatever stubborn sin has been tearing your life apart. I’m reading from Romans chapter 13, beginning at verse 9:

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up by this word, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Here’s what God is saying to us through the Apostle Paul and this chapter from Romans: you know all the obvious rules; the ones we just can’t seem to keep because of the stubborn sin in our lives. You want to know what they boil down to? Love the people around you; just love them the way God loves you and then He allowed His Son Jesus to be brutally nailed to that cross for you.

Let me ask you: can you do that? Are you prepared to love others the way Jesus loved you? That’s the question God’s asking each one of us right now. “Take a good hard look at My Son, nailed hands and feet to the cross,” God’s saying, “gasping for breath, dying, bearing the price of your sin in His flesh that you might be forgiven. Take a good, hard look. Now, tell Me, now that you have seen My great love for you, will you love others with that same love with which I loved you? The day’s coming; the time of your salvation is much, much closer than you might imagine. It is time … it’s time My child, for you to live in that light, to lay aside the works of your darkness and put on the armour of light. Replace whatever sin it is that’s tearing you apart, replace it with a love that you have in My Son, Jesus Christ.”

Here’s the problem: God’s saying through this passage: you have been making provision for your flesh to gratify your worldly desires. It is time … it is time for you, for each one of us to decide instead to clothe ourselves in Christ, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and stop making provisions for your flesh, stop pandering to your desires.

And this, my friend, is the crunch point: we start off with all these great intentions, ”No, no, I won’t be selfish anymore; no, no, I won’t get involved in sexual immorality anymore; no, no, I won’t let anger ruin my life”. But then … then the flesh cries out.

See, the flesh never wants to let go; it never wants to die to self and when it hurts; when it screams out; when we can’t get the gratification that we have become addicted to – a gratification no less destructive than heroin or ice, mind you – when we can’t get it anymore, what we do is pander to the flesh. And just continue on that downward spiral of self destruction that sin is all about.

Today … today, God is calling you and me to a decisive point in our lives. Listen again to the very call of God to you and to me – listen, allow it to rest on your heart. Romans chapter 13, verse 14:

Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Now I have a question. As the Holy Spirit takes that Scripture and begins to do His work in your heart by it, are you prepared to make the decision to die to self, to stop making provision for the flesh each time it cries out and once and for all, clothe yourselves in Jesus Christ? Because that’s what God is calling each one of us to do. I can’t answer that call for you, only you can.

As you stand and behold the Lamb of God, suffering on that cross for you, let me ask you this: do you hear His call? ‘Die to self and come … come and enjoy the new life that My Son died to give to you.’ Do you see how much God loves you? ‘Come!’ Do you hear the call? How do you answer?

Once and For All

As we come to the end of this four week series “Overcoming Stubborn Sin Once and For All” I know that there is still some among us, whilst they hunger in their hearts after God, find that something … an elusive something is holding them back. Something is not quite right. If that’s what going on inside you right now, then you should not be surprised, you’re not alone.

There is indeed an elusive something holding back many a man and many a woman, holding them back from giving their lives, all of who they are over to God, holding them back from letting go of this stubborn sin that has been ruling their lives all too long.

I’m going to read something to you that was written by the well known author A.W. Tozer in the mid-twentieth century, in his book “The Pursuit of God”. The language and the turn of phrase may have dated a little but it makes the truth of what he says no less true and no less powerful. Have a listen to what he writes:

“There is something more serious than coldness of heart; something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence. What is it? What but the presence of a veil in our hearts. A veil not taken away as the first veil was but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us.

It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us; un-crucified and un-repudiated. It is the close woven veil of the self life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed and which, for these reasons we have never brought to the judgement of the cross.

It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify – we have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see it there – sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there, never the less, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress.

This veil is not a beautiful thing, it is not a thing about which we commonly care to talk but I am addressing the thirsting souls who are determined to follow God and I know they will not turn back because the way leads temporarily through the blackened hills.

The urge of God within them will assure their continuing pursuit. They will face the facts, however unpleasant, and endure the cross for the joy set before them. So I am bold to name the threads out of which this inner veil is woven. It is woven of fine threads of the self life – the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.

They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention until the light of God is focused on them. The grosser manifestation of these sins: egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. Promoting the self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice. The self is a hard and brutal taskmaster and letting go is painful.”

Tozer goes on to say this: “Let us remember when we talk about the rending of the veil we are speaking in a figure and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant but in actuality, there is nothing pleasant about it at all.

In human experience, that veil is made of living spiritual tissue. It is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole being consists and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain – to tear it away, this veil of self, is to injure us, to hurt us and to make us bleed.

To say otherwise is to make the cross, no cross and death, no death at all. It is never fun to die – to rip through that dear and tender stuff of which life is made, can never be anything but deeply, deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.

Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in the hope, ourselves, to rend the veil. God must do everything for us – our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake and repudiate the self-life and then reckon it to be crucified. But we must be careful to distinguish lazy acceptance from the real work of God. We must insist upon this work being done. We dare not rest with a neat doctrine of self-crucifixion – that is to imitate Saul and to spare the best of the sheep and the oxen.”

I have got to tell you, that really strikes hard with me. There is a veil of self that hangs over many a heart because we have not taken it to God; because we have not allowed it to be crucified and we have not travelled that way. I just feel right now as we finish this series, this four part series of “Eliminating Stubborn Sin – Once and For All”, I feel that you and I should pray this very thing through.

Father God. We come before You today, knowing the depth of our sin and the consequences of our rebellion. We come before You today not knowing how to let go of this stubborn sin that dogs our lives and we know that it is only through the cross that this veil of self can be torn from our hearts. So we come to You by the power of Your cross and the grace available to us through the price that Jesus paid for us there.

Forgive us, Lord God, and set us free from this sin, once and for all. This day, this moment, we will take up Your cross and follow You, no matter what it may cost us, no matter how much it may hurt to give up the self life. Even if it should cost us our lives, we choose to follow You. Father God, honour the desires of our hearts and empower us to live our lives for You. Father, we give our lives over to You. In Jesus mighty name, we pray. Amen.

https://christianity.works/cw/4965/

God Hears Us — Morning Prayer for Friday, October 19, 2018

October 19, 2018

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We can believe that somehow the cry of the human soul is never unheard by God. It may be that God hears the cry, even if we fail to notice God’s response to it. The human cry for help must always evoke a response of some sort from God. It may be that our failure to discern properly keeps us unaware of the response. But one thing we can believe is that the grace of God is always available for every human being who sincerely calls for help. Many changed lives are living proofs of this fact.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may trust God to answer my prayer as He sees fit. I pray that I may be content with whatever form that answer may take.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 OCTOBER, 2018, Friday, 28th Week, Ordinary Time

YEAST OF HYPOCRISY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EPHESIANS 1:11-14LUKE 12:1-7  ]

“The people had gathered in their thousands so that they were treading on one another.  And Jesus began to speak, first of all to his disciples. ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is, their hypocrisy.’”    Why did Jesus call the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the yeast?  Sadly, it was their hypocrisy that was the cause of their downfall.  As the Lord reprimanded them, “You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’”  (Mt 15:7-9)

Why is hypocrisy described as a yeast?  We know that yeast will grow and spread.  So, too, hypocrisy, which springs from the sin of Pride, will lead to many offsprings of sin.  Underlying the sin of hypocrisy is the desire to look good before others.  That is why it is fundamentally the sin of pride.  We want to be appreciated, recognized, liked, adored and even worshipped.  It comes from our insecurity and the desire to be accepted and admired.  As a result, we try to appear good, righteous, holy and kind.  But deep in our hearts, we know that we are not.  So, for the sake of public image we appear to be that kind of person.

By so doing, who we are and what we are suffer a dichotomy.  We live a double life; a public life where we project ourselves to be the person that people expect of us; and a private life where we are anything but the public persona we project.  We try hard to live up to people’s expectations, projecting a confident, self-made and happy facade.  But deep within us, we are insecure, lonely, empty and tired.  This accounts for why many of us live a double life, including priests and religious.  They try hard to live up to peoples’ expectations, but they suffer an emotional and psychological misfit.  This explains why some celebrities commit suicide, to the surprise and dismay of their many fans.  And we are scandalized to find religious people and professionals who are pedophiles, or are having extra marital affairs.

Hypocrisy leads to a loss of our real identity.  We want to believe that we are that kind of person when we are not.  We seek to be holy and do things people expect of us.  We think we are worshipping God with all our pious acts and rituals, but we are in truth worshipping ourselves.  We think we are serving our people, but in reality, we are serving ourselves because we want appreciation and recognition.  We do not worship or serve God or people with the right motive.

What is even more devious is that hypocrisy leads to self-righteousness.  When we think we are so good and holy, or so efficient and hardworking, we begin to despise others who cannot do as much as us.  We condemn others who fail in their moral life.  We pass judgement on them as if we are sinless ourselves.  We pick at the faults of others, always looking and judging others, instead of looking at our own failings.  We make ourselves the judge of others, wanting to take out the splinter from our neighbour’s eyes whilst failing to see the beam in our own eyes.  (cf Mt 7:1-5)

This sin of hypocrisy is supported by lying and boasting.  We tell all kinds of lies to cover up our sins and failings.  We are afraid to tell the truth for fear that people might not love us once they discover our weaknesses.  They are always boasting of what they are doing and how much they have accomplished in life.  They like to show off their wealth, their generosity, their kindness and their good deeds.  It is all about creating a good image.

But are we that different from the Pharisees?  They were the supposedly good Jews from the Old Covenant.  They were trying to make themselves the model of how a true Jew should conduct himself.  Unwittingly, they ended up being hypocritical because, as the Lord said of them, “For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”  (Mt 23:13-15 cf Mt 23:1-36)

Indeed, we are also the hypocrites of the Christian Faith.  We come to church to worship God but we quarrel at the car park and in church over seats.  We park our cars inconsiderately, blocking residents’ gates, and take our time removing our cars after service, preventing others from leaving.  We receive communion just because everyone else does, even when we are in mortal sin.  We serve in Church ministries, but at home and at work, we order people around and do nothing to help them.  We go for seminars, growth talks and devotions but we do not live out the gospel life.  We do holy things but do not live holy lives.  So who are we to condemn the Pharisees when we are the new ones.

Today, the Lord warns us of the danger of hypocrisy.  Sooner or later, we will be exposed and we will have nowhere to hide our faces.  “Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.  For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed on the housetops.”  Indeed, the truth about ourselves, our character and the motives of our deeds will be revealed and we will be put to even greater shame.  Even if we are not, we cannot live in peace but always in fear because of the possibility that we will be exposed one day.  St John wrote, “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God.”  (1 Jn 3:18-21)

Today, we are reminded of who we are.  We are the chosen ones of God, not because of our merits but simply because of His grace and love.  “It is in Christ that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.”  So we do not need to prove ourselves to be loved by God.  He loves us as we are.   We are His adopted sons and daughters.  Of course He wants us to share in the fullness of His life and love.  This is what it means to be chosen for His greater glory.  That is why we can live a life of freedom and peace.  “Now you too, in him, have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation, and have believed it; and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, the pledge of our inheritance which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his glory praised.”

Flowing from this new identity, we are called to live it out so that we can become who we are meant to be.  St Peter said, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.”  (2 Pt 1:10f) St John in a similar vein wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”  (1 Jn 3:2f) This means that we are not perfect now.  God knows that and He accepts that we are not what and who we should be as yet.  It is a process of becoming God’s adopted sons and daughters.  He is patient with our growth and He waits for us to grow in grace, slowly but surely.

So flowing from the gratitude of being called and chosen, we strive to live according to our new identity, not with our own strength but with His grace.  This is what the psalmist says.  “Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.  For the word of the Lord is faithful and all his works to be trusted. The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with his love.  They are happy, whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his own. From the heavens the Lord looks forth, he sees all the children of men.”

Hence, we can afford to be authentic people.  We recognize we are sinners and yet to be saints.  So let us not be afraid to admit our weaknesses and at the same time focus on our growth in Christ-likeness more and more.  This is what the Lord is asking of us.  He is asking us to be authentic when He said, To my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight.  Why, every hair on your head has been counted.  There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.”  Indeed, the Lord is with us and He will protect us from hypocrisy even as we strive to be His true sons and daughters.  But let us not allow people’s judgment to affect us.  Rather, we should accept God’s judgement instead, as St Paul said. “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”  (1 Cor 4:4f)

Morning Prayer for Thursday, October 18, 2018 — Humility opens the door to compassion and service to others

October 18, 2018

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Not until you have failed can you learn true humility. Humility arises from a deep sense of gratitude to God for giving you the strength to rise above past failures. Humility is not inconsistent with self-respect. The true person has self-respect and the respect of others and yet is humble. The humble person is tolerant of others’ failings, and does not have a critical attitude toward the foibles of others. Humble people are hard on themselves and easy on others.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be truly humble and yet have self-respect. I pray that I may see the good in myself as well as the bad.

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Related:

Humility is the Remedy for all our Miseries

Humility is the Remedy for all our Miseries.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

18 OCTOBER, 2018, Thursday, St Luke, Evangelist

STAYING FOCUSED UNDER TRIAL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 TIMOTHY 4:10-17LUKE 10:1-4  ]

“The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit.”  But the Lord did not simply send them out without informing them of the challenges they would face in their mission.  Jesus never hid from His disciples the trials and sufferings of the apostolate.  He always spoke plainly to them about what it takes to be a disciple.  Earlier on, in the Beatitudes, He said to them, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”  (Lk 6:22f) Then, after the appointment of the Twelve and Peter’s declaration about Jesus, He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”  (Lk 9:23f)

In sending out the 72 disciples, Jesus also warned them accordingly of the dangers ahead of them.  Right from the outset, He said, “Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  Indeed, even with the good intentions of sharing the Good News, saving souls, healing hearts and empowering people, there will always be those who will oppose us because of jealousy, perceived threats to their vested interests, ego and pride.   Indeed, Paul wrote, “Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself; because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.”

Sometimes, we are abandoned in our mission.  Paul was disappointed by some of his collaborators when they left him in the lurch halfway in the mission, as Mark did initially.  But in a more disappointing case, he said, “Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika.”  Paul felt the sense of abandonment when he wrote, “Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me.”  St Paul spoke of his many betrayals by those whom he worked with.  This is not surprising, even Jesus was betrayed by His apostles, some because of fear and others because of selfish reasons. What is worse is when we need their help most and they are not there to stand up for us.  This was what Paul felt when he wrote, “The first time I had to present my defences, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me.’”

Regardless, we should not allow such trials to distract us from our mission. We must remain focused on our mission.  This was what the Lord advised the disciples.  Salute no one on the road.”  In other words, do not be easily distracted and tempted by the world, be it glory or pleasure or even suffering.  For this reason, we should “stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you.”  We should remain contented with what we have.

We must keep in mind our mission of proclaiming the Good News to the poor, materially and spiritually poor.  Our task is to bring the gospel of peace.  Jesus reminds us, “Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.”  We must be mediators of peace and be peacemakers.  This peace comes about when we help people to be reconciled with God and with each other through forgiveness.

Most of all, we must be those who come to heal the wounded, the sick and the troubled.  Jesus asked of us, “Cure those in it who are sick, and say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you.’”  Unless, we heal the broken hearted, it would be difficult for them to believe that God is near.  This was what the Lord took upon Himself when He started His ministry.  The manifesto was from Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Isa 61:1fLk 4:18f)

Indeed, being peacemakers and healers of wounds are ways we “make known the glorious splendor of your reign” as the psalmist prayed.  “All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, and your friends shall repeat their blessing.  They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might, O God.  They make known to men your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your reign.  Yours is an everlasting kingdom; your rule lasts from age to age.”   The Kingdom of God is the reign of God’s love and mercy seen in the restoration of creation through the establishment of peace, justice and equality.

However, the call to proclaim the gospel is not for the weak and faint-hearted but the strong.  A weak faith cannot sustain us in the apostolate.  This is the challenge for many Catholics, especially those who are not well-formed in the faith and are not undergoing on-going formation spiritually and doctrinally but involved in Church ministry, particularly those who have just completed their RCIA or those who have just been renewed and returned to the Church. In the face of trials, misunderstanding or opposition, they become disillusioned and disheartened.  Instead of being strengthened in the faith through service in the apostolate, they become bitter and resentful.  They fail to realize that even whilst serving in the Church, there will be fellow Catholics and not just non-believers who will attack them and thwart their good deeds and intentions.  Instead of persevering, they give up not just on the Church but on God as well.

If we are to be like St Paul, we need to learn to depend on the Lord.  The psalmist assures us, “The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds.  He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.”  We cannot depend on our own strength and efforts alone.  Rather, we must call out to God as Jesus did, going to the mountain and desert to pray in the early hours of the morning.  Without intimacy with the Lord and basking in His love and enlightened by His Word, we cannot find the courage and inspiration to continue the mission.  Only then can we remain focused and transcend our enemies. Like St Paul, we too must commend everything to the Lord as Christ Himself did when He prayed for His enemies on the cross.  So too St Paul made excuses for his enemies, for those who were weak, instead of holding grudges in his heart.  He wrote, “May they not be held accountable for it.”

That is why the Lord told the disciples, “Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals.” This is to remind them that the mission is not the work of human hands but the work of God. The Lord works through and in us.  This motif is repeated in the bible in many different ways.  When David fought with Goliath, he said, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”  (1 Sm 17:46f)  Total reliance and dependence on Him alone is the cause of our victory.  This was what St Paul felt when he wrote, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear.”  The Lord will never leave us completely alone.  The Lord encourages us that as far as possible, we should proclaim the gospel, never alone but with our brothers and sisters.  We must bear in mind that the Lord “sen(t) them out in pairs” to strengthen them in their mission.  Mission must be accomplished in communion with the Lord and His Church.  In this way, our mission would be fruitful.

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

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