Posts Tagged ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit’

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

November 18, 2018

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

Prayer for the Day

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

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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

From “Recovery The Scared Art” by Rami Shapiro

Related:

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

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

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

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

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

How do we find fullness in you, Father?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related:

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

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

  1. Pray/Meditate
  2. Study
  3. Pour ourselves out in service to others
  4. EVANGELIZE (For A.A.s, do “Twelve Step Work”)
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Morning Prayer for Wednesday, November 7, 2018 — Resentments Destroy My Inner Peace

November 7, 2018

Resentments can ruin my life — and ruin me.  Getting even with people doesn’t do any good. When we try to get revenge, instead of making us feel better, it leaves us frustrated and cheated. Instead of punishing our enemies, we’ve only hurt our own peace of mind. It does not pay to nurse a grudge; it hurts us more than anyone else. Hate causes frustration, inner conflict, and neurosis. If we give out hate, we will become hateful. If we are resentful, we will be resented. If we do not like people, people will not like us. Revengefulness is a powerful poison in our systems. Have I lost my resentments?

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Meditation for the Day

It is not so much you, as the grace of God that is in you, that helps those around you. If you would help even those you dislike, you have to see that there is nothing in you to block the way, to keep God’s grace from using you. Your own pride and selfishness are the greatest blocks. Keep those out of the way and God’s grace will flow through you into the lives of others. Then all who come in contact with you can be helped in some way. Keep the channel open, free from those things that make your life futile and ineffective.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that all who come in contact with me will feel better for it. I pray that I may be careful not to harbor those things in my heart that put people off.

From the Book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, October 31, 2018 — Live Life More Abundantly

October 31, 2018

God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ

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Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 481

Reading 1 EPH 6:1-9

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Honor your father and mother.
This is the first commandment with a promise,
that it may go well with you
and that you may have a long life on earth.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling,
in sincerity of heart, as to Christ,
not only when being watched, as currying favor,
but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
willingly serving the Lord and not men,
knowing that each will be requited from the Lord
for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Masters, act in the same way towards them, and stop bullying,
knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven
and that with him there is no partiality.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 145:10-11, 12-13AB, 13CD-14

R. (13c) The Lord is faithful in all his words.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is faithful in all his words.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is faithful in all his words.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is faithful in all his words.

Alleluia SEE 2 THES 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 13:22-30

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Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.’
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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31 OCTOBER, 2018, Wednesday, 30th Week, Ordinary Time

BUILDING OUR RELATIONSHIPS IN CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EPHESIANS 6:1-9LUKE 13:22-30 ]

One of the biggest challenges in life is handling relationships at all levels.  In fact, most of our sufferings in life are caused by strained and broken relationships.   Indeed, if there is so much disunity and lack of peace in society and in the world, it begins first with unhappy relationships at home.  Parents are often at odds with each other over values, finance, raising of children, dealing with relatives, religion and education.  They are always shouting at each other or they go to the extreme of having a cold war.  Siblings are often jealous and envious of each other.  They always feel that they are more favoured at home by their parents.  They compete and see each other as enemies rather than brothers and sisters.  Between parents and children there are tensions.  Although parents are supposed to be the support for their children, they are often seen as joy-killers, wet blankets, financial controllers, slave masters.  Instead of looking towards their parents for encouragement and understanding, the children look towards their friends.

The other great source of tension we face in relationships is at work and in our community or the organizations we are in.  At work, bosses lament about their employees or subordinates. Vice versa, employees gossip about their bosses and express their unhappiness and resentment against them.  Superiors act in a discriminating manner, are self-centered, hot-tempered, temperamental and dictatorial.  They gripe about workers who are lazy, unmotivated, slow and lacking creativity and initiative.  So too, in Church there are politics.   There are struggles for power because of ambition, fame, popularity and egotism.  We have differences in working style, in vision and in execution.

What is the key to building loving, supportive, empowering and enriching relationships?  It is to bring Christ into the picture.  If we pay attention to the first reading, St Paul repeatedly ends every advice on the different levels of relationship by bringing Christ into the equation.  Human love alone cannot sustain a relationship unless Christ is the center of it.  Emotional love cannot last long. It is not enough to strengthen a relationship.

This is what the Lord meant in today’s gospel when He said, “Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.”  What is this narrow door if not through Him?  In the gospel, He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  He also declared, “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  (Jn 10:9f)

But what does it mean to enter through the narrow gate?  It is more than just having a superficial knowledge and relationship with our Lord.  He said to them, “Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will find yourself saying, ‘We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets’ but he will reply, ‘”I do not know where you come from.  Away from me, all you wicked men!’”  This is the biggest mistake of many of our Catholics.  They think that just because they are baptized, they are saved.  Just because they got married in Church, their marriage is protected.  It is not enough to receive the sacraments, but we must live out the sacraments in our lives.  This means welcoming Jesus into our personal relationships with everyone.

What does it mean to make Jesus the center and foundation of our relationships?  It means that our love for each other must be a sacrificial love, putting the interests of others before self, whether it is our spouse, children, staff or friends.  Earlier on, St Paul said, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Eph 5:1f)  In this context, he wrote that husbands must love their wives, “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy.”  (Eph 5:25f)

In the same way too, that is how we must love our children and our elderly in Christ.  St Paul said, “Parents must never drive your children to resentment but in bringing them up correct them and guide them as the Lord does.”  Parents must put their children’s interests before their own.  They must learn to understand them and feel with them in their struggles and not impose their fears, anxieties and ambitions on them.  Sometimes, parents are more concerned about their children doing well in their studies and work than that they are truly happy.

Similarly, children must build their relationships with their parents in Christ.  St Paul urges, “Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord – that is your duty.  The first commandment that has a promise attached to it is: Honour your father and mother; and the promise is: and you will prosper and have a long life in the land.”  Rendering respect to our parents requires humility to recognize that they care for us even if they have shortcomings.  We must forgive them for over-reacting and often over-protective of us because they are afraid to lose us or to see us suffer in the future.  But we should not ignore their wisdom and experience in life lest we fall into the same pit as they did.  And even if our parents are old and elderly, infirmed and demented, we must be patient with them because they were once patient with us when we were young.   We must seek to understand their struggles of loneliness, pain and sickness in their old age.

So too, in relationships between bosses and subordinates.  We are not against each other.  The boss is to ensure that his or her workers have a job that gives them passion, growth and meaning so that they can contribute to society; and also to earn money to take care of their loved ones.  The workers’ task is to ensure that the company and organization is viable and successful, otherwise, how could they be paid and how could they continue to be employed.  So there is a partnership between bosses and workers.  There should not be a tension if we realize that we are together in this equation.

At the end of the day, we are serving the Lord through each other and together we serve the community.  This is what St Paul advised the Christians. Hence, he said, “Slaves, be obedient to the men who are called your masters in this world, with deep respect and sincere loyalty, as you are obedient to Christ: not only when you are under their eye, as if you had only to please men, but because you are slaves of Christ and wholeheartedly so the will of God.  Work hard and willingly, but do it for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of men.  You can be sure that everyone, whether a slave of a free man, will be properly rewarded by the Lord for whatever work he has done well.”

Indeed, we must remember that we have the same Father and Master in heaven.  “And those of you who are employers, treat your slaves in the same spirit; do without threats, remembering that they and you have the same Master in heaven and he is not impressed by one person more than by another.”  Every child, every parent, every worker and every boss is given to us by God to help each other to grow in love and holiness.  We all belong to God and therefore to serve our brothers and sisters and to care for them is to give glory to God.  In this way, “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, to make known to men your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your reign.”

Unless we walk through the narrow gate of self-sacrifice, we will be worse off than those who are non-Catholic and even unbelievers.  So long as they live the life of Christ, they too will come to enjoy the peace, love and joy of the kingdom of God.  They might not know Christ but they are living the gospel life.  The sad reality is that many Catholic families, Catholic organizations and Catholic bosses and workers do not reflect the life of Christ and put Him at the center of our relationships.  There is so much politics, power-struggle, in-fighting with little respect, charity and sensitivity to each other, they can hardly be called ‘Catholic’.  Hence, the Lord warns us, “Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside.  And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.  Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Wednesday, October 31, 2018 — Seeking the inner voice that speaks to our hearts

October 31, 2018

In all of us there is an inner consciousness that tells of God, an inner voice that speaks to our hearts. It is a voice that speaks to us intimately, personally, in a time of quiet meditation. It is like a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We can reach out into the darkness and figuratively touch the hand of God. As the Big Book put it: “Deep down in every man, woman, and child is the fundamental idea of God. We can find the Great Reality deep down within us. And when we find it, it changes our whole attitude toward life.”

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may follow the leading of the inner voice. I pray that I may not turn a deaf ear to the urging of my conscience.

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Many of us have experienced a “kind of creepy feeling,” especially on halloween.

But what can help our lives, perhaps more than  anything else, is an inner compass that sends us a creepy feeling whenever we are thinking of doing something bad or wrong.

Psychologists say many people also have an inner compass that helps them choose the right and the good path.

Catholic scholars say a well developed inner compass becomes a kind of “Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Fr. Edward leen is one who explains this concept in his book, “Holy Spirit.”

But we don’t have to be deeply involved in religion to develop a better inner compass.

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Your Internal Compass

The great thing about a compass is it can tell you if you’re heading in the right direction. It can also be extremely useful when you’re lost and unsure of where you’re traveling on your journey.

This is true in life.

If you feel that you keep encountering the same struggles time and time again and acquiring an array of tactics and strategies to get to a specific result or goal but find that you always fall short. Chances are, your inner-compass is way off the mark.

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I also get it. It’s frustrating when the results aren’t happening for you as quick as you would like them to. But what’s more damaging isn’t the results or lack of. It’s the bad relationship that is being formed between you and yourself in the pursuit of them.

The negative self-chatter that has you kicking your own ass because you’re not where you currently want to be. You also have to contend with your constant comparisonitis that goes on within your Facebook feed and Instagram account. Looking at the successful can be just another painful reminder that things aren’t going your way.

This breeds frustration, resentment, anger and a misalignment with who you be. You could say, it’s a vicious circle and if you’re currently experiencing this then it will certainly feel like one.

I’ve worked with many people who have came to me facing these challenges. Looking for the magic bullet, the next “how to” tactic or “secret” strategy to achieve success inside their health, business, finances and relationships.

And here’s where the problem lies. No amount of “how to” tactics, “secret” strategies or “magic bullets” can help you if the relationship between you and yourself is out of alignment.

Results will always come up short with a lot of head scratching and confusion as to why. Let me prove it to you right now with a simple question.

How many mentors, programs, plans, self help books, “secret” strategies and “how to” tactics have you already tried with whatever it is that you’re trying to succeed with?

Probably a lot, right? And how much of that is currently working for you? Take a look at your results and be truthful with yourself. Are you happy?

This was something that I struggled with for a long time in business and my personal life. Never being able to figure out what the issue was and where I was going wrong. I invested a lot of money trying to figure this out too.

Then one day the answer hit me. The more knowledge I was consuming, the more things became unclear (by the way, I’m not saying knowledge isn’t great, on the contrary) but what I am saying is: You can lose your sense of self when you are trying what works for everyone else and your authenticity disappears in all the noise.

Recalibration of your inner-compass to align with you and your own path is vital. Drown out the noise for a while by getting out of your own environment. Take a walk in the park or on the beach. Go somewhere that you can think deeply and ask yourself if you are being authentic in all aspects of your life. This will be a big indicator to what’s true for you.

What’s the definition of authenticity?

When you are being the you that you feel you should be.

If you’re not, then the calibration of your inner-compass is simple. Get back to who you be. The true you. The authentic you. When you come from this place, you’ll see amazing things happen for you and to you.

Much Love,

Robert Westerburg

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-westerburg-/your-internal-compass_b_9563766.html

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Of course, “Help is all Around” as we like to say at Peace and Freedom.  Prayer and meditation help us to find ourselves and maybe even a Higher Power or the still strong voice of God. Religious people, people in recovery programs, psychologists and all kinds of helpers are here to assist us in our journey….

Related:

 (Henri Nouwen told this writer to meditate at the Trappist monastery.)

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, October 25, 2018 — “Be strengthened with power through his Spirit.”

October 25, 2018

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So let us walk in the Spirit and pray for an indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 476

Reading 1 EPH 3:14-21

Brothers and sisters:
I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia  PHIL 3:8-9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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25 OCTOBER, 2018, Thursday, 29th Week, Ordinary Time

SETTING THE GOSPEL ON FIRE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ephesians 3:14-21Luke 12:49-53 ]

Jesus said to His disciples:  “I have come to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were blazing already!  ”This is another of Jesus’ mission statements.  From these words, we get a glimpse of Jesus’ passion for His ministry.  He had a big dream for humanity.  Jesus was a man who was passionate in bringing the love of God to all of humanity.   He wanted to fire up the world with a deep love for God and for all.  He wanted to build the kingdom of God, justice, truth, equality tampered with compassion and forgiveness.  He wanted to give us the joy, peace and love of the Holy Spirit.

But it had to come at a price because fire indicates judgement, purification and passion.  The fire that Jesus brought was meant to purify the world of sin and hypocrisy.  The gospel that He preached was meant to purify Judaism of its hypocritical observance of the laws.  The poor were marginalized and the sinners were ostracized whilst the religious institutions, comprising the priestly class, the scribes and Pharisees, were making use of their positions to acquire wealth and power.  As a result, the love of God could no longer be felt among the people.  Worship was reduced to legalism.  To bring the fire back again meant that Jesus had to revive the faith and the love of the people once again for God and for each other.

But He felt that in spite of His preaching and miracles, things were not changing quickly enough.  The Jewish hierarchy, instead of being receptive to His call for a change of heart, became increasingly hostile towards Him.  The apostles were still shallow and motivated by worldly pursuits.  They still did not understand God’s love and mercy.  He knew the gospel would bring division and suffering for His disciples because the truth of the gospel would unsettle those who were self-centered and compromise their interests.  “Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  For from now on a household of five will be divided:  three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

This was a real reflection of the early Church, when Christians were persecuted, misunderstood, slandered and the Christian Faith was considered an outlawed religion. It was dangerous to be a Christian then.  This is still happening today in a more covert manner using the tools of secularism, relativism, consumerism and terrorism.  With Christ, we need to make a choice whether to be for Him or against Him.  There is no neutrality with regard to our position with Jesus.  Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore, I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”  (Mt 12:30-32)

How, then, was He to find disciples when the challenges were many before them?  Who would be interested in being part of their group?  Indeed, He forewarned James and John about the cup they had to drink.  He did not mince His words or deceive them into believing that they would have an easy life on earth.  On the contrary, they were told in advance of the martyrdom that awaited them.  Jesus Himself knew that He would follow the destiny of all the prophets before Him.  He was psychologically ready for the Messianic trials ahead of Him. So He said, “There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!” (Lk 12:50)

He knew His death was necessary to bring about the change and conversion of hearts. Hence, He began to shift His preaching ministry from Galilee to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the place of His passion and glory.   He was ready to face head on the oppositions that came from the religious authorities.  It would be His death, the final signature of His love for humanity, that would convict us of His Father’s love and mercy.

Only love can transform lives and change hearts.  No amount of intellectual arguments can change the hearts of people until they encounter the love of God in a tangible way.  This is why St Paul said, “This is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name.”  Only when we grasp the Father’s unconditional love for us all can we trust in Him.  Few people who lose faith in God do so because of doctrines, but many lose their faith because the doctrines do not come alive in their lives.  To them, the proclamation of God’s love and mercy is contradicted by human suffering, unjust and innocent suffering and hopelessness.   It does not make sense for them to believe in a God who appears to be indifferent to our pains, and who cannot help us overcome our trials in life.

For this reason, we need to remind ourselves of God’s love in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.  “Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love.”  Faith in Jesus and His love for us even when we are suffering will help us to overcome the challenges of life.  That is why St Paul speaks of the necessity of grasping the “breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.”  Mystics have come to know the depths of God’s love.  Once we are assured of God’s love, we will be able to overcome all trials. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 8:37-39)

Most of all, it is faith in His resurrection and the foretaste of the heavenly life in the Holy Spirit that will empower us to face the sufferings of each day with fortitude, hope and confidence.  “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.  Amen.”   With the resurrection of Christ, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, the Church continues to perform miracles in the name of Jesus.  The works of healing and restoration continues even today.  We have seen lives changed, touched and moved because they encountered the power of the Risen Lord in the Holy Spirit.  Once they encounter Him in a radical way, and experience His love in their hearts, they will be able to face the trials of the apostolate with perseverance and with love. 

Truly, as the psalmist says, “They are happy, whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his own.  The Lord looks on those who revere him, on those who hope in his love, to rescue their souls from death, to keep them alive in famine.”  What we need therefore is the Holy Spirit, the fire that Jesus spoke about, blazing in our lives, filling us with His love and His corresponding gifts to enable us to bring the gospel to all of humanity.  “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mk 16:17f)  So let us walk in the Spirit and pray for an indwelling of the Holy Spirit so that, knowing the depths of His love, we can be empowered like the apostles to go out to proclaim the gospel with boldness.  St Paul says, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”  (1 Cor 2:4f)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Acquiring the Spirit of God is the true aim of our Christian life — Woe betide us if He finds us overcharged with the cares and sorrows of this life!

October 24, 2018

“Acquiring the Spirit of God is the true aim of our Christian life, while prayer, fasting, almsgiving and other good works done for Christ’s sake are merely means for acquiring the Spirit of God.”

“Do you understand, what acquiring money means? Acquiring the Spirit of God is exactly the same. You know very well enough what it means to acquire in a worldly sense, your Godliness. The aim of ordinary worldly people is to acquire or make money; and for the nobility, it is in addition to receive honors, distinctions and other rewards for their services to the government. The acquisition of God’s Spirit is also capital, but grace-giving and eternal, and it is obtained in very similar ways, almost the same ways as monetary, social and temporal capital.”

“How great is God’s compassion on our misery, that is to say, our inattention to His care for us, when God says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev. 3:20), meaning by “door” the course of our life which has not yet been closed by death! Oh, how I wish, your Godliness, that in this life you may always be in the Spirit of God! “In whatsoever I find you, in that will I judge you,” says the Lord.

“Woe betide us if He finds us overcharged with the cares and sorrows of this life! For who will be able to bear His anger, who will bear the wrath of His countenance? That is why it has been said: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mk. 14:38), that is, lest you be deprived of the Spirit of God, for watching and prayer brings us His grace.

This book is also available on-line at:

https://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/sermon_st_seraphim.htm

Related:

See also:

Book: Holy Spirit by Edward Leen

Does the Holy Spirit Live in You?

August 22, 2018

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit

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The Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person. The Bible says that He is not something, He is Someone. He is God. There are three Persons in the Trinity–God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is all-powerful. We read in Micah 3:8, “I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.” The Bible says that God is present everywhere. No matter where we go, He is there. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). The Holy Spirit can be in both your heart and my heart, even though we may live a thousand miles apart.

The Holy Spirit has all knowledge. The Bible says, “The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and takes us deeper and deeper into God’s truth as we go along in our Christian life. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, but we can grow only by the help of the Holy Spirit.

The moment that we receive Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts. Our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helps us live the Christian life. There is not a person anywhere who can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. There is not a person who can follow Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sees everything that goes on. He knows what goes on in our hearts. He knows what goes on in our minds. Nothing is hidden from Him. And in Hebrews 9:14 the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is eternal.

The Spirit is called holy. The Bible says, “Be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). And one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to help make us holy. We ought to be more holy today than we were yesterday. We should always be conforming more to the image of Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in this growing process.

Conviction of Sin
First, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit uses a mother’s prayers, a tragic experience, a pastor’s sermon or some other experience to convict us of sin and of our need to turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. He points to us and says, “You are a sinner. You need to repent.” We don’t like to hear that, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without that work we could never have our sins forgiven. We could never be saved. We could never go to Heaven.

New Life
Second, the Holy Spirit gives new life. The Bible says that we are dead in sins and trespasses. Our spirit within us, made in the image of God, is dead toward God. Mankind needs life. All have sinned. Therefore, all are dead toward God. The Holy Spirit gives us new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be born again. And the Holy Spirit is the One who does the work of making you a born-again person. It is a supernatural act.

Paul said to Titus, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Our good works and all the good things that we have done are not going to save us. We are saved by the mercy of God, by the grace of God. It is something I didn’t earn, something I didn’t work for. It is the gift of God, the gift of salvation.

Indwelling Spirit
Third, the Holy Spirit indwells us. Many of you are spiritually dead and are completely immersed in our hedonistic culture. God says, “I will put my Spirit in you. I will come to live in you.” Your body becomes the temple where God dwells by His Holy Spirit.

That is the reason we should never take anything unclean into our bodies. That is the reason we should discipline our bodies. God loves your body. He doesn’t want it polluted by fleshly lusts and the things to which you give yourself. The Bible says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Power to Serve Christ
Fourth, the Holy Spirit gives you power to serve Christ. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). I couldn’t do the work I am doing without the power of the Holy Spirit. I am a communicator of God’s message. He called me and gave me that gift. What counts is the message that–according to Scripture–Christ died for our sins, He rose again, He is coming back again and He is ready to come into your heart by the Holy Spirit and make you a new person. That is the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). There are people whom you may not be able to love easily. But the Holy Spirit will give you the power to love them. Love is the greatest evidence that you know Christ. The Holy Spirit can love through you.

There are times I feel that I don’t have joy, and I get on my knees and say, “Lord, where is the fruit of joy in my life?” I find that the joy is there, down deep. It is a deep river. Whatever the circumstances, there is a river of joy.

The peace that passes understanding comes from the Holy Spirit. Whatever the circumstances, I have peace in my heart. I know where I am going, I know where I have been. And I know why I am here–by the Holy Spirit.

Do you know Christ? The Holy Spirit comes to magnify, to glorify and to exalt the Son. Jesus said the Holy Spirit shall not speak of Himself. He comes to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:13-14). And the Holy Spirit is pleased when you glorify Christ in your life.

It is the Holy Spirit who draws you to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts you of your need of Christ. There is only one way of salvation, and that is Christ. It is a dangerous thing to resist the Spirit. “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:28–29).

I am asking you to give in to the call of the Holy Spirit. I am asking you to say, “I want Christ in my life, to be my Lord and my Savior.” I know thousands of churchgoers who need to come to Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. You need to say, “I want Christ in my heart.” Say, “I want to know I am going to Heaven. I want my sins forgiven. I want to start a new life.”

By    •   April 30, 2009

https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/may-2009/does-the-holy-spirit-live-in-you/

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Catholics often encounter the Holy Spirit and we may, from time to time, find people truly able to carry the gift of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Edward Leen’s book “Holy Spirit” is a great read for any Christian. Leen believes that the Holy Spirit lives inside each of us in a phenomena known as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Believers say this indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes for the “Sanctity of Human Life” in each of us. And how do we make the most of this most precious gift? We live within God’s Law (The Commandments), and we seek to do the Will of God.

Matthew Kelly tells us in “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” to pray and meditate, to study and stay true to the scriptures, to pour ourselves out in loving service to others and to evangelize to have a spectacular God-centered life!

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“Twelve-step programs teache, of course, twelve steps. Matthew Kelly suggests we can boil those down to just Four Signs of a Dynamic Christian/Catholic.”

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, August 23, 2018 — “I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes” — Am I seeking to follow the Lord Jesus?

August 22, 2018

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“Behold, I have prepared my banquet,my calves and fattened cattle are killed,and everything is ready; come to the feast.’

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Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 422

Reading 1 EZ 36:23-28

Thus says the LORD:
I will prove the holiness of my great name,
profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial PsalmPS 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (Ezekiel 36:25) I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.

Alleluia PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
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From The Abbot

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Banquets and parties—and yet the invited don’t show up.  Today’s readings are about God’s invitation to you and to me.  Will we answer his invitation?

This is a strong message because so many in our world do not want salvation for everyone nor even do many people want good things for everyone.  There is enormous competition in our world—and so many, perhaps even ourselves, want to be ahead of others.  Such desires destroy our humanity.  We can strive to be the very best person that we can be—but never in competition with another.  We can strive to serve others to the best of our ability—but not by competing with others.  God wants us all to be saved and that should always be our prayer for our sisters and brothers.  May they be the person that God has created them to be:  and if they are better than we, so be it.

Saint Paul is teaching us:  “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.”  (Philippians 4:12)  The challenge is for us to live the same way.  Whether we have power and might and money or whether we have nothing, we must know how to live for God’s glory and not for our own purposes.

Today’s Gospel from Saint Matthew brings us back to banquets!  Now the King, God Himself, is giving a banquet and those invited don’t come to the banquet.  Jesus uses this image as an image of the Kingdom of God.  We are all invited!  Are we going to respond to the invitation of Jesus?  God wants us.  God also invites us to live in a way given to us by Jesus Himself.  So many people today no longer believe that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is Savior.

When we acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, God and Savior, then we can understand how important it is to respond to His invitation and to live as He has shown us:  love for all others, sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of others, trying to give our lives completely to the Lord through the service of others.

Just as in today’s Gospel, God will not force us.  Jesus accepts our freedom to reject Him and His invitation to the banquet of the Kingdom.  Even though Jesus is God and Lord, He will never compel us against our own choices.  So we are left in the end with our own choice:  I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to do everything right.  I can make mistakes.

At the center of my heart there is only question:  Am I seeking to follow the Lord Jesus?

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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23 AUGUST, 2018, Thursday, 20th Week, Ordinary Time
DISPLAY THE HOLINESS OF HIS NAME

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  Ezekiel 36:23-28Matthew 22:1-14 ]

Happiness and joy in life are always portrayed as a Wedding Feast.  A “wedding” because it is a celebration of love.  A “feast” because it is the way in which we participate in the love of the couple.  This explains why we do not celebrate our wedding privately as a couple in the Registry of Marriages, but we have witnesses and most of all, a religious and a social celebration.  Through the wedding, the couple profess their love for each other for the rest of their lives.  Such a love must be permanent and indissoluble so that it can withstand the trials and storms of life that would surely come in time.  This is why the bible underscores the indissolubility of marriage, without which couples would easily give up trying to perfect their love in times of difficulty, whether because of differences in personality or in issues pertaining to their relationship, family, children, work and friends.  Indeed, as Jesus remarked, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”  (Mt 19:8)

This is the faithful love that God has for His people.  God invites us to the Wedding feast of His Son.  He wants us to celebrate the love that He has with His Son so that we can partake of His divine love.  For all generations, God has been preparing us to share in His Trinitarian love through Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.  When He made the covenant with His people, He meant it to be permanent.  In spite of man’s sins and infidelity, God remained faithful to His covenant.  He did not change His mind or give up on humanity regardless how obstinate, evil or incorrigible we were.  He continues to send us messengers, one after another, to invite us to the banquet of love and life.  This is what the first part of the parable of the Weeding Banquet seeks to illustrate.

Yet, we read that this invitation to love and life continues to be rejected even today.  The rejection of God’s invitation by the leaders and the people of Israel continues in our days.  Many of us are like them, rejecting the call of God’s prophets to repent of our sins and to turn back to Him.  Instead, like them, we are also so absorbed in our worldly endeavours, in our work, business, and pleasures.  Indeed, “they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.”   So many of us put money, power, and worldly success first before God and before authentic love.  Even our relationships with people are based on an “I-it” relationship, that is one of use and manipulation, not one of self-giving to the other.   Some do not simply reject the call of God but they, like the Israelite leaders, react with hostility by attacking God and His Church simply because they feel annoyed by the call to holiness, integrity, justice.

Nevertheless, God’s plan is undefeatable.  Man might close the door but God will open the window.  When the chosen people of God rejected Him, God extended His call to the Gentiles and to sinners. He said to His servants, “’The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.’ So these servants went out onto the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”   Such is the graciousness of God and the insuperable plan of God for humanity.  Israel was supposed to be the light of the nations. “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant  to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isa 49:6)  But they failed in that responsibility.  Therefore, God turned to the Gentiles through St Paul who said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles.”  (cf Acts 13:46f)

Today, we belong to God’s Chosen people because of God’s gracious love.  We are the people of the Promised Land.  We are the New Chosen People of God.  By His grace alone, we are here.  Indeed, we have received the forgiveness of God.  Like those from the highway, we are invited to the Wedding Banquet.  God’s grace is free.  Most of all, we have been forgiven of our sins and we have a future.  We are given a new heart because of the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us at baptism.

This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel in the first reading.  “I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land.  I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols.  I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead.  I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances.  You will live in the land, which I gave your ancestors.  You shall be my people and I will be your God.”

Unfortunately, there is another group of people that have lost God again after conversion.  These are fellow Catholics.  They are the ones portrayed in the gospel as the man without the wedding garment.  In those days, all guests were provided with the wedding garment.  They were expected to respect the host by participating in the celebration fully.  But the man was careless and negligent.  He went to the wedding without the garment, which is the baptismal garment which we were given at our baptism.  Instead, they continue to wear their old clothes.  In other words, they have not given up the sinful way of life that they lived before baptism.  They have not died to the Old Adam in them.  They have been negligent in their faith.  They do not belong to any Catholic community and are unsupported in their faith.  As a consequence, although baptized, they remain with the world.

Today, we are called to assume the responsibility of being the light to the nations.  Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  (Mt 5:13-16)   In this way, we will display the holiness of His great name that has been profaned among the nations in the world.  We are called to be the holiness of God.  By living holy lives based on the gospel of love and compassion, we show forth the glory of God and His holiness.  In this way, we show that we are truly sons and daughters of God our Father who loves us all.  God’s face and glory can only be seen through us, His children.

What is the path to holiness?  Pope Francis in his latest apostolic exhortation reiterates the call to holiness.  He wrote, “At its core, holiness is experiencing, in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life. It consists in uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection in a unique and personal way, constantly dying and rising anew with him. But it can also entail reproducing in our own lives various aspects of Jesus’ earthly life: his hidden life, his life in community, his closeness to the outcast, his poverty and other ways in which he showed his self-sacrificing love.”  (GEX 20)  Most of all, we are called to be the holiness of God by living out the beatitudes in our lives.  By so doing, Jesus says we live a blessed and a happy life.  It is this kind of life that can display His love and His holiness.  By living a life of compassion for the poor and a life of forgiveness and mercy for the weak, we will bring sinners, those who have left the Church and those who have never known God’s love to find Him.  In the final analysis, holiness of life is to display the mercy, compassion, forgiveness and the love of God in words and actions.  This is aptly summed up in the parable of the Last Judgement when the criterion for entering the kingdom is based on love, mercy and compassion.  (cf Mt 25:31-46)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Bishop Barron on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet

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Reflection by Darris McNeely
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In the parable, Jesus tells of a king who prepares a great marriage feast for his son. None of the first round of invitees is willing to come, and a second group is invited. While everyone who comes is sitting at the tables enjoying the occasion, one man is singled out for attention because he does not have on the right garments.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless” (Matthew 22:11-12). It doesn’t say he was naked, but he was missing something. He did not have on a wedding garment.

Why is the matter of proper dress at a wedding so important? It’s important because the man was making a statement against what the marriage feast represented. His presence was an intolerable offense.

I know this seems like an overreaction to a modern mind. Dress at any formal event today is more casual than it once was. To understand what we are dealing with here, let’s back up into the story.

A king’s marriage for his son

The rest of this parable is a straightforward story that begins like many of the others—”The kingdom of heaven is like …” In this case it’s like a king who arranges a marriage for his son and sends out invitations. A wedding celebration given by a king is quite an important event. His son is a prince, and such an affair demands attention.

The big royal weddings of our time command a lot of attention. Two years ago Prince William, the grandson of England’s Queen Elizabeth II, was married in Westminster Abbey while the whole world watched. Many who were not invited would have paid a princely sum to get in the door of that wedding.

Because of the interest shown in a modern royal wedding, it’s hard to understand in this parable why some would reject the invitation. But it says, “They were not willing to come” (Matthew 22:3). Even when the event was described—a menu of prime rib, steaks and all you can eat, and dancing to a full orchestra under the stars on the palace grounds—they still wouldn’t come.

The king’s servants, sent to encourage them to attend, were seized by them and treated in a shameful manner, showing great dishonor to the king. The wrath of the king was kindled to a white-hot fury: “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (Matthew 22:7-8).

The marriage feast would still go on, regardless of the fact that those invited would not attend. The king decreed that the invitation go out “into the highways,” giving people everywhere from all walks of life, “both good and bad,” opportunity to attend the marriage of his son and the planned festivities. This was an unprecedented invitation. People from all nations were given opportunity to choose to come, or not, to the marriage feast. In this parable is profound teaching.

A calling to salvation

God’s calling or invitation is not a light matter. The calling to salvation, pictured here by the glory of a marriage feast, is a beautiful, precious and once-in-a-lifetime matter. It’s why the garment, or lack of one, was such an issue for the king.

The garment is important to understand. And the attitude of the guest in not wearing the garment is also important. Let’s first look at what the garment represents.

This is where it gets easy because the Bible tells us exactly what the garment of this parable means. Revelation 19 states: “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:6-8)

There it is, spelled out for us. At this marriage of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, to His Bride the Church, she has put on “fine linen,” which is defined as “the righteous acts of the saints.” It is all about personal righteousness—good decisions made by the individual (and the Church is made up of people) that put together a seamless life of godly character and good works. This requires repenting of sin, accepting the sacrifice of Christ to purge our sins, and receiving God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to live in obedience to God’s laws.

The Bible uses clothing as an analogy to show how we “put on” behavior that is pleasing to God.

Notice how the apostle Paul describes this in a passage where he teaches how to put off bad habits and put on good habits: “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Read the rest:

https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/lessons-from-the-parables-matthew-22-the-invitation-to-the-wedding-feast

Morning Prayer for Sunday, August 19, 2018 — My First Responsibility Is To My Higher Power, I Am a Loyal Citizen After That — What we seek cannot be found completely in this life

August 19, 2018
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Thought for the Day

“People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. There is a wide variation in the way each one of us approaches and conceives of the Power greater than ourself. Whether we agree with a particular approach or conception seems to make little difference. There are questions for each of us to settle for ourselves. But in each case the belief in a Higher Power has accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible. There has come a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking.” Has there been a revolutionary change in me?

Meditation for the Day

Worship is consciousness of God’s divine majesty. As you pause to worship, God will help you to raise your humanity to His divinity. The earth is a material temple to enclose God’s divinity. God brings to those who worship Him a divine power, a divine love, and a divine healing. You only have to open your mind to Him and try to absorb some of His divine spirit. Pausing quietly in the spirit of worship, turn your inward thoughts upward and realize that His divine power may be yours, that you can experience His love and healing.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may worship God by sensing the eternal Spirit. I pray that I may experience a new power in my life.

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God will help you to raise your humanity to His divinity: Many Christians call this the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

Book:

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Morning Prayer for Saturday, August 18, 2018 — Seeking a Power greater than ourselves

August 18, 2018

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Thought for the Day

“We of agnostic temperament have found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which we call God. As soon as you can say that you do believe or are willing to believe, you are on your way. Upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.” Am I willing to depend on a Power that I cannot fully define or comprehend?

Meditation for the Day

We seek God’s presence and “they who seek shall find.” It is not a question of searching so much as an inner consciousness of the Divine spirit in your heart. To realize God’s presence you must surrender to His will in the small as well as in the big things of life. This makes God’s guidance possible. Some things separate you from God – a false word, a fear-inspired failure, a harsh criticism, a stubborn resentment. These are the things that put a distance between your mind and God. A word of love, a selfless reconciliation, and a kind act of helpfulness – these bring God closer.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may think and say and do the things that bring God closer to me. I pray that I may find Him in a sincere prayer, a kind word, or an unselfish deed.

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