Posts Tagged ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit’

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, July 17, 2018 — God does not withhold His presence from you.

July 17, 2018

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God does not withhold His presence from you. He does not refuse to reveal more of His truth to you. He does not hold back His spirit from you. He does not withhold the strength that you need. His presence, His truth, His spirit, His strength are always immediately available to you, whenever you are fully willing to receive them. But they may be blocked off by selfishness, intellectual pride, fear, greed, and materialism. We must try to get rid of these blocks and let God’s spirit come in.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may remove all blocks that are keeping me from God. I pray that I may let God come into my life with power.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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17 JULY, 2018, Tuesday, 15th Week, Ordinary Time
PRIDE AND FEAR AS THE CAUSE OF OUR DOWNFALL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ISA 7:1-9MT 11:20-24 ]

In the first reading, we read of the precarious situation, Judah was in.  She was under attack by the Northern Kingdom of Israel who was in league with the king of Aram to capture Jerusalem.  Remaliah, king of Israel, “lay siege to it; but he was unable to capture it.”  Of course, this brought fear into the hearts of the king of Judah and his people.  They knew that they would not be able to hold out against their enemies for long.  There would be bloodshed and destruction of the capital.  “Then the heart of the king and the hearts of the people shuddered as the trees of the forest shudder in front of the wind.”

Surely we can empathize with the Ahaz, the king of Judah in his plight.  Necessarily, if we were in that situation and especially if knowing our decision would affect the lives of so many people, we would have considered all the possible outcomes and made a logical and calculated decision to protect the country.  If we were the king of Judah, what decision would we make?  Most likely, the same logical decision as King Ahaz.  Life is full of politics.  We make use of one group of people to fight another.   Therefore, in the mind of King Ahaz it would not be long before Judah would fall under siege from the kings of Israel and Aram.  So in order to find military support, he welcomed the Assyrians to his country.  She became affiliated with the powerful empire of Assyria, paying gold and silver as tribute to the Assyrians. Indeed, they eventually destroyed the Northern Kingdom. The inhabitants from the Northern Kingdom of Israel were the first batch of Israelites to be exiled in 722 B.C.  As Isaiah prophesied, “Six or five years more and shattered Ephraim shall no longer be a people.”

However, by inviting the Assyrians into his kingdom, Ahaz created more trouble for his kingdom.  With a foothold in the country, the Assyrians gradually weakened the city, attacking Judah a few times.  However, it would be to the Babylonians that Judah would fall 250 years later, in 587 B.C.   All these happened in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, when he said to King Ahaz, “These two smouldering stumps of firebrands, or because Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah have plotted to ruin you, and have said: Let us invade Judah and terrorise it and seize it for ourselves, and set up a king there, the son of Tabeel.  The Lord says this: ‘It shall not come true; it shall not be.’”

Indeed, the lack of wisdom prevents us from looking further into the implications of what we do for the future.  This is the sadness and the lack of foresight of the world today.  We look for instant benefits and pursue immediate gratification.  But we will eventually suffer, as is already happening today – birth control, aging population, euthanasia, same-sex union, adoption of babies by same sex couples, divorce and falling marriages, dysfunctional families, etc.  More and more, society will become dysfunctional.  This explains all the senseless killings and murders in some countries.

Fear drove King Ahaz to put God outside his decision-making considerations.  He did not trust in God enough to believe that He would be able to help him.  He relied on his might and political maneuvering.  He thought he knew better what to do instead of listening to the Word of God.   This was in spite of the fact that God did not expect him to have pure faith in Him, as demonstrated by His wanting to authenticate His promise through the sign that He would give Him, “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, ‘Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven’. But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.’”  (Isa 7:10-12) Isn’t this what we do as well? When we do not intend to listen to His word or do His will, we avoid praying or listening to His Word for fear that His word would prick our conscience and we would hesitate in carrying out our will.

If it is not fear that drives us to destruction, then it would be pride.  This was certainly the case of the Jews living in Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum.   These were cities bordering the Sea of Galilee.  These cities, Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida formed what is called the “Evangelical Triangle,” the region where most of Jesus’ miracles were displayed (Mt. 11:20).   In these three places, Jesus performed His miracles.  They were the first cities that Jesus sought to evangelize and demonstrate the coming of God’s Kingdom through His miracles of healing and exorcism.  Yet, the hearts of the people remained hardened.  Hence Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.”  (Mt 7:6)

Yet, there is also a warning for those who reject the Lord in their lives because of other preoccupations.  Those of us who have received more, more would be demanded of us.  “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Mt 25:29)  Jesus is firm about the consequences for those who reject Him because they will bring about their own destruction.  And as the Lord said, it would be worse than the punishment inflicted on the cursed cities of Tyre and Sidon.   “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida!  For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you.”  Self-sufficiency makes us proud and arrogant because we think we can do everything by ourselves.  Only those who have suffered much in life know what humility is.

Indeed, the sin of pride is truly a great obstacle to anyone who wants to come close to God or to find the fullness of truth.  For when we are proud or self-sufficient, we tend to rely on ourselves.  Even if we pray to God, it is just a routine and at most a safety measure.  But deep in our hearts, we are not too sure that God can be of real help to us.  We take things into our own hands as Ahaz did.  Pride prevents us from listening to others and trusting in our opinions only.  The book of Proverb warns us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  And to Capernaum, the Lord pronounced judgement as well.  “And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven?  You shall be thrown down to hell.  For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard as the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.’”

We need to pray for the gift of humility, because this is the gateway to faith in God.  If many do not trust or believe in God, it is because they think they know better than God and that they can resolve all the mysteries of life on their own.  Only in humility can we come to know where we stand as human beings in this world, our limitations and our total dependence on the blessings of God.  We should be grateful for what we receive.  This has always been the case for Mary and all the great saints in history.  It was because of their humility that the Lord inspired them to do what they did.  God always works great wonders for those who are humble in obeying His word, like the apostles and all holy men.

In the final analysis, we can live in peace, free from fear and anxiety only when we place all our hope in God.  This is what the Prophet Isaiah says to us all.  “Pay attention, keep calm, have no fear, do not let your heart sink.  But if you do not stand by me, you will not stand at all.”  Standing by the Lord Jesus is the only way to overcome all things in life.  Faith in His saving grace and cooperating with Him fully is the way to surrendering all our fears to Him.  As it is said, we must do our best and let God take care of the rest.  We must not manipulate people but allow the process to unfold itself whilst we continue to work for Him.   Faith and humility therefore are two virtues that go together because they are dependent on each other like brothers.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, July 8, 2018 — “For when I am weak then I am strong.”

July 7, 2018

Can I abandon myself? Can I pour myself out for others? — “As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me.”

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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 101

Reading 1  EZ 2:2-5

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
and set me on my feet,
and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,
rebels who have rebelled against me;
they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart
are they to whom I am sending you.
But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

Responsorial Psalm PS 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

R. (2cd) Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
To you I lift up my eyes
who are enthroned in heaven —
As the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters.
R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
As the eyes of a maid
are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the LORD, our God,
till he have pity on us.
R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
Have pity on us, O LORD, have pity on us,
for we are more than sated with contempt;
our souls are more than sated
with the mockery of the arrogant,
with the contempt of the proud.
R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
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Reading 2 2 COR 12:7-10

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak then I am strong.

Alleluia CF. LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
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Reflection By The Abbot in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Are we able to see the presence of God in others?  Are we able to recognize that God speaks through others?  Do we see and acknowledge the prophets of our own time?  Today’s readings call us to open our hearts, our minds and our whole being to the presence of God in others.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Ezekiel.  God sends prophets to His people.  We don’t always like to hear the words that a prophet speaks.  On the other hand, not everyone who speaks is a prophet.  The Old Testament and the New both understand clearly that a true prophet must speak according to the Word of God, and not according to the words of men.

Today many claim to be prophetic, but most lack any claims to speaking the Word of God.  A true prophet in our Christian tradition must reflect both the Holy Scriptures and the Church.  The Prophet Ezekiel clearly speaks the same message as the other prophets and that message is always the same:  faithfulness to God’s word revealed in Holy Scripture, love for God, love for others, care for the needy and the oppressed.

This message of the Scriptures remains the same from the beginning to the end of the Scriptures.  The message always demands that we give up our own concerns and be concerned only for God and God’s message for us.  The moment we begin to seek our own good, our own enrichment, our own way of thinking—then we become unfaithful to the word of God.

The second reading today is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians.  Here we also listen to God’s word:  “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  We are invited to embrace the word of Jesus Christ with all our strength and all our being.  When we do embrace this word of God, we shall surely suffer and know our own weaknesses.  This also is a form of prophecy because the more we embrace Christ and follow His way, the more our lives speak about God and His incredible love for us.  We prophesy simply by living.

The Gospel today is from Saint Mark and takes us back to the challenge of rejection.  We should remember that Ezekiel told us that it does not matter if a prophet is recognized or not.  What matters is that the prophet speaks the word of God.  Today’s Gospel points out that we can reject a true prophet simply because we don’t believe that God acts in the ordinary events of our lives and in seemingly ordinary people.

God is always speaking to us:  in others, in the events of our lives, in the Church, in our world.  In order to understand God we must be attentive first of all to His revealed word.  When that revealed Word is our whole way of living, then we begin to recognize His word in all the other realities of our lives.  Today God invites us:  listen to the prophets!  Open your hearts and minds and beings!  God loves you and wishes to speak with you.  Harden not your hearts today!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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I am but an empty cup….fill me Lord, with your unlimited love…..

We who profess to be Christians, have been infused with the Christ Spirit whose life is intricately intertwined in the tattered threads of our humanity, and He is the One who works in and through us to bring about His plans and purposes for our lives, not we ourselves.

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I have discovered this faith life, is not so much about doing anything, it is all about being God’s Heart of love in the flux of life coming at me.

The Art of Surrendering

This life becomes a daily act of surrendering on my part and a daily action on God’s part to lead, direct, and guide in the continual high call upon my life in intricately allowing His Spirit life to manifest His love wherever I walk and with whomever I meet.

Letting go becomes a necessary process in moving forward in my journey as a woman of Faith in this world. God’s ways are not my ways.  Letting go so God’s love can saturate those places I am giving up in a consecrated devotion in desiring Him above anything else in this world.

God’s Redemptive Love

Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus that they (along with all of us) would “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” and “to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”(Ephesians 3:18-19).

I am not sure about you, but have you ever stopped to think about the multiple dimensions of God’s love—the breadth, length, depth, and height— that Paul mentions?

I can barely imagine such extraordinary, magnificent, gracious, glorious, expounding, expansive dimensions of this love, where I have only tasted a bit, barely scratching the surface of a love that is untainted by any human concept of love.

God’s love never gives up on me and He pursues me dearly all the days of my life.  His love is faithful, loyal, and remains steadfast.  His love requests no return.  His love is freely gifted to me. His love cannot be forced onto anyone.

Those who come to Him do so in response to His love. Love shows kindness to all. Love  went about doing good to everyone without partiality. Love did not covet what others had, living a humble life without complaining. Love did not brag about who He was in the flesh, although He could have overpowered anyone He ever came in contact with.

Love does not demand obedience. God did not demand obedience from His Son, but rather, Jesus willingly obeyed His Father in heaven. “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). Love was/is always looking out for the interests of others.

This love has a name, Jesus Christ, Father God, Holy Spirit, who dwell in a perfect union known in the fellowship of their love and when I abide, dwelling in this secret place, I  become their expression of love upon this earth..

When I am deeply touched in their love, I desire to fellowship in this Triune Godhead, receiving love into my heart each day.  It is in this known intimacy in having this near relationship with a living God where I become His love.

My God hears, always responding lovingly, desiring communion with us, calling us to Himself each moment.  God, whose timing is perfect and whose actions always stem from a purely motivatedfoundation of His true love for all mankind.

God’s Love dwells in me

Wherever I travel today, His love dwells in the core of my inner being.

God gave His love to me and offers His love to anyone who will receive it. In the gospel of it is writing;  “For God so loved the world.” John 3:16.  In John 16:27 we read, “For the Father Himself loves you.” The apostle John, again, speaks of God’s love in 1 John 3:1 when he says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us.”

These verses are simply a sampling of the many times this truth is expressed in the Scriptures. God is love, and He expresses His love in many ways.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comWe All Struggle At Times

In those times of uncertainty, unknowing, wondering, it is His love I return in finding Him again, seeking His grace to help in sustaining me through any difficulties.  I myself have weather sudden and unexpected chronic health issues, unrelenting emotional/physical pain, lost job, death of loved one, estranged family members, etc.

Perhaps you too are struggling with some sort of unrelenting issues in your life.  We all do at times and we all need someone to help us to get through these times. We were never meant to be on our own in this faith life. God has gifted us with a community of saints all over the world.

It was in my search for His guidance to lighten my burdens in the dark times I found myself wondering, around, in and through, I discovered His love was the only way to be in this world, regardless of any life altering events that came my way.

It was in those times of not having answers, I realized, I have no power of my own to carry the divine nature of the Christ in me, and I needed to surrendered on a deeper level, allowing His Spirit room to move in the edges and in the corners of all the hidden regions of my heart.

In this process of letting go, in giving up of my ways, it was God’s love who continued to wash me, refreshing me by His Spirit of regeneration, and it was His love who continually changing my inner thoughts, attitudes to be more loving in my response with myself and with others.

Through all of the situations and circumstances in my life, it has been God who drew me nearer to His bosom of love, so that I could become God’s Heart, manifesting His genuine, sincere,authentic love towards others.

Manna From God

Each falling in my own strength, ushered me into the new land graced with honey combs, where I become strengthened in the daily manna from God’s hand, and all I had to do was to come to Him, again and again and again, as an open receptacles thirsting and hungering to receive His presence of love.

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 26:24

Yes, pleasant words, God’s words, scriptures are as honey – health for body and good for my soul. It’s especially healthy for my bones, the strength of body and combined with Holy Spirit living, He holds me together within His frame of Holinessknitting my flesh, bones and blood in the shed blood of the crossinterconnecting me in the sufferings of Christ.

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Book: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Holy Spirit Power

In those times of my human failings, He stepped in, lifting me by His resurrection power of His Holy Spirit, where I became His adopted daughter, desiring only Him, longing to be with Him each day, pining to be filled with His sweet love and goodness towards me.

In this way I become the fragrance of His character walking this earthly pilgrimage one step at a time, in and by His abundant mercy and grace.

When I am in the dark, spiritually blind to the secret things of God, it is He who unveils His ways, His love, revealing spiritual insights that are birthed from those dark times when I became blind to His activity in my life, either through wrong decisions, or from life events.

I find myself bowing before Him in humility asking for His forgiveness in my errors in not being His love.

Stepping out in faith often requires me to fall flat on my face in the realization, on my own, I am unable, but in Him, I am more than able to fulfil the purposes and intentions He has on my life, and the greatest ones are in being His breath of love in the hearts of the men, woman and children I meet in my journey.

I do this one step at a time, one moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time….

A New Day is Here

Today is a new day, to begin again. To begin again on the road that revives life in my soul and brings life to all those I touch, as I come into His presence with humbleness, asking forgiveness when I react from my flesh rather than responding through His love.

I am ever thankful for His tender gentle care towards me, as I ask again, for my God to pour into my dry days, His rain of lovefilling my empty cup by His streams of living waters, giving me His compassion for this day.

As I walk this road with others, one step at a time, in and by His ability, I am mindful, He has gifted me with sisters who join with me in this journey, to encourage, to support, to edify, to prayerful lift one another up, for in God we are never alone, and in the fellowship of one anthers’ company, we will never be alone!

The New Way is Love

In scriptures, the book of James tells us to not be surprised when troubles come our way, for we will have many in this world, but Jesus Christ and His love is the way in and through the hard times and Jesus Christ and His love is the way in and through all the good times.

It is in the dark times He draws me ever nearer to Him, as I draw ever nearer to His love, and I am are drawn ever nearer to the community of the saints.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to me.”  James 4:8

I have learned this faith life is all of us gathering together, walking hand in hand, helping, assisting, being His love Heart, lighting the way for one other, where our love becomes the healing balm, uniting in the fellowship of the Triune Godhead and in the intimacy found in becoming vulnerable with one another in our relationships, where truth, honor and integrity become moral codes.

God as my Source

When I learn the art of dwelling in Him, coming to Him in each moment, drinking from the living waters in the well of life that will never go dry, I am learning the art of abiding, of resting, of being in His Spirit, who becomes the very breath in my lungs, granting me His new life each day generously filling me in His rich unlimited love.

His love becomes my source for enduring in the difficulties found in being human, in being born in the flesh having an earthly vessel, where I become weary at times, where I feel alone at times, where I see the tragedies all around me, and where I come face to face with the overwhelming suffering of people, often beyond what any human being seems capable of bearing.

Then I discover again, His supernatural ability enters into my humanness helping me to persevere in adversity, in the many life challenges, in the often unexpected arrival of life altering events, and in having weathered these times of intense unrelenting suffering.

God’s Agents offering Compassionate Caring

In and through my own pained sorrows, I have learned to carry the compassionate caring of my Lord, with all those I come face to face with who are daily suffering, and I become His active agent in pouring into their souls, an offering of His mercy and grace.

In becoming His holy breath of love in those who have lost hope, in those who are downtrodden, in those who are poor, in those who are ill, in those who know not my God, I can help to inspire a renewed hope simply through those acts of kindness in being sensitive in meeting others right where they are at, not forcing them to be where I am.

When we realize, we can be powerful influencers in our own sphere of the world, helping to ignite passions in others in desiring to seek out this God who is love, in developing spiritual patterns in a new way of being, and showing there is a way we can bridge all that comes to separate us in this world, in learning to relate with others, according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In this way we are instilling value and worth into the lives of those we touch, becoming God’s human agents, infusing His love into the souls of those we encounter and our lives become a balm of healing in the midst of the struggles of those we come face-to-face with in this world.

I am but an empty cup….fill me Lord, with your unlimited love…..

Living Intentionally

 

I have a few questions I would like us to reflect on.  If you wish to share your answers with us in the ‘Penny for your thoughts’ section at the end of this post, please do so, as we can all learn from one another.

  1. Where is my motivations when with others?
  2. What is my life purpose on this earth?
  3. What gives me meaning and value in my life?
  4. Where am I failing in sincerely loving others?
  5. How can I become more balanced as a person in offering compassion?
  6. How can I find God as my source to help me in my life’s struggles?

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If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

— Isaiah 58:10

See also 1 Samuel 1: 15

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

 

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

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Morning Prayer for Thursday, June 28, 2018 — Maintain your calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending challenges

June 28, 2018

If you can take your troubles as they come, if you can maintain your
calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending engagements,
if you can rise above the distressing and disturbing circumstances in
which you are set down, you have discovered a priceless secret of
daily living. Even if you are forced to go through life weighed down by
some unescapable misfortune or handicap and yet live each day as it
comes with poise and peace of mind, you have succeeded where most
people have failed. You have wrought a greater achievement than a
person who rules a nation. Have I achieved poise and peace of mind?

Meditation For The Day

Take a blessing with you wherever you go. You have been blessed, so
bless others. Such stores of blessings are awaiting you in the months
and years that lie ahead. Pass on your blessings. Blessing can and does
go around the world, passed on from one person to another. Shed a
little blessing in the heart of one person. That person is cheered to
pass it on, and so, God’s vitalizing, joy-giving message travels on. Be a
transmitter of God’s blessings.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may pass on my blessings. I pray that they may flow into
the lives of others.

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Book: Holy Spirit by Fr. Edward Leen
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Every human being has the spark of God within. What we want to do is make that spark into hot, life saving flame! We want the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Related:

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, June 24, 2018 — “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.”

June 23, 2018

He made of me a sharp-edged sword — He made me a polished arrow

For surely the hand of the Lord was with him

God wants us all to reflect the mysteries of God and to point to God by everything in our lives.

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John the Baptist, wood carving

Elizabeth and Zechariah named him, “John” which in Hebrew means, “God is gracious.”

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist – Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

Reading 1 IS 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15

R. (14) I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Reading 2  ACTS 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Alleluia  SEE LK 1:76

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
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Reflection From The Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,

Instead of the regular Sunday Mass, today we have the Birth of Saint John the Baptist.  John the Baptist has a huge role in the life of Jesus and prepares others to know of the coming of salvation and of Jesus.  John the Baptist was recognized as a strong religious presence before Jesus was recognized—and John always points to Jesus.  In the same way, you and I must learn always to point to Jesus by the way we live our lives and in our speaking, writing and thinking.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  Isaiah tells us of his own awareness that God had called him to be a servant of God’s presence in all that he does.  Isaiah realized that God had created him to testify to God’s presence and to proclaim God’s presence in his life.  This reading reflects an awareness that many of the prophets had that God wants us all to reflect the mysteries of God and to point to God by everything in our lives.

You and I are invited today to know that God is also calling us in the same way, with the same intensity.  God loves us.  God wants us.  God wants us to proclaim His presence and His works to everyone.  Most of us don’t do that in our lives, but our not doing it does not change God’s wanting it.

The second reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.  It reflects another human trait:  when we someone good, we tend to think of them not only as set apart, but better than ourselves.  The challenge is that God wants us all to be saints.  The word “saint” makes us think of someone better than ourselves.  God wants us all to be saints, not to look better than others, but to reflect His goodness and love to all.  It is always the challenge of doing only what God wants.  This is the challenge of spiritual combat and we are all invited to such spiritual combat.

Saint John the Baptist took up the challenge of doing God’s will and tried to do God’s will with all his being.  John the Baptist took up the spiritual combat of not doing his will but God’s will.

The Gospel today, from Saint Luke, tells the things that happened before the birth of John the Baptist.  The neighbors all knew that there was something special about this child.  We can all claim that there was nothing special about our birth, but it is not so.  The birth of new life, of a new child, is always special—but we don’t pay attention to that aspect.  Today as there are fewer and fewer births in the western world, we begin to see how special each one is.  Only as we begin to pay attention to God do we begin to understand how special each human being is and how each human being can draw others to God and to the mysteries of faith.

May we come to know how special each life is, our own included, and how each of us can point to the Lord Jesus and draw others to Him.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

Morning Prayer For Saturday, June 23, 2018 — Constant Contact with God — Where your treasure is; there will your heart also

June 23, 2018

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And how long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Turn back at my reproof
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Proverbs 1:22-23

(Don’t get Stuck on Stupid)

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Do not be focused on yourself

No chain is stronger than its weakest link. Likewise, if you fail in the
day-by-day program, in all probability it will be your weakest point.
Great faith and constant contact with God’s power can help you
discover, guard, and undergird your weakest point with a strength not
your own. Intelligent faith in God’s power can be counted on to help
you master your emotions, help you to think kindly of others, and help
you with any task that you undertake, no matter how difficult. Am I
master of my emotions?

Meditation For The Day

You need to be constantly recharged by the power of the spirit of
God. Continue with God in quiet times until the life from God, the
Divine life, by that very contact, flows into your being and revises your
fainting spirit. When weary, take time out and rest. Rest and gain
power and strength from God, and then you will be ready to meet
whatever opportunities come your way. Rest until every care and
worry and fear have gone and then the tide of peace and serenity, love
and joy, will flow into your consciousness.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may rest and become recharged. I pray that I may pause
and wait for the renewing of my strength.

From the book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

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“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.”

How often we get weary of praying when God does not answer our prayers the way we want Him to answer them!  How slow we are to recognize that God knows better than we what is truly good for us!  How difficult it is to remain praying for what we think is right when nothing good seems to happen to us and when we sense that God has abandoned us!

God never abandons any of us but instead is always with us, seeking to form us as wonderful and loving human beings who have the strength to do what is right and good.  To form anyone requires that we learn how to persevere, how to keep going in the midst of any difficulties, how to accept that if we persevere and keep trying, eventually we see the hand of God present and his loving presence beside us.

My sisters and brothers, let us not be spoiled children who only want our own desires!  Let us grow into women and men who are strong and seek only what God wants and who are willing to suffer for the love of God and the love of others.

Pour Yourself Out:

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Book: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade.

 

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Mass For Saturday:

Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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23 JUNE, 2018, Saturday, 11th Week, Ordinary Time

SLAVE OF GOD OR OF MAMMON?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 CH 24:17-25MT 6:24-34 ]

In the gospel yesterday, Jesus made it clear that “where your treasure is, there will your heart also.”  So today, we are confronted with a decision to choose God or Mammon. This is the crux of today’s Word of God, “No one can be the slave to 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 money.”   What we choose in life will determine our happiness because our focus is dependent on what motivates us in life.  If God is whom we choose, we put God as the center of our life in all that we do or say.  If Mammon is what we choose, then it becomes the controlling factor in all our thoughts, words and actions.  So what is driving us each day in life?

In the first place, we must clarify what it means to be a slave.  The first thing we take note is that a slave is the property of the master.  He lives entirely for the master.  His whole life, all his energy and talents are at the service of the master.  All that he owns belongs to the master, his time and his whole life.  He claims nothing for his own.  The corollary of this also means that he lives from the master.  His life is dependent on the master since he lives for his master.  Since he has nothing that he could claim as his own, the master is the one who looks after him and cares for him since he is serving him.  Otherwise, the slave would be too weak to serve the master and take care of his needs.  So there is this mutual relationship of loyalty and fidelity to each other.  If the master does not treat his servant well, he will suffer ultimately.

Analogously, in our relationship with God, He is our master and we are His servants.  If we consider God as the treasure of our lives, then we would live for Him and Him alone.  He is the sole determinant in whatever we do or say.  This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness.”   This entails living for God and His kingdom of justice, love, mercy and compassion.   When we put God and His kingdom values in our lives, then all our energy, talents and resources, all our will and devotion is to make these values of the kingdom prevalent in the world.  In this way, we live for God and for the service of humanity.

All that we have belong to God and therefore our possessions and wealth are only means, not the ends.  They are used for the glory of God and the extension of His reign of love and justice.  Like the birds in the sky or the flowers in the field, we are called to glorify God with our lives.  Our attitude towards things of the world is to use them for the service of love of God and of our fellowmen.  Money and possessions are not used solely for ourselves or just for our selfish enjoyment but we see ourselves as stewards of God’s gifts to be distributed and shared with others.  Our position in society, our health, our wealth, they are all to be used to further the reign of God’s love.

But it also means that we will also live from God alone.  Since everything belongs to Him, we are aligned with His will.  We will do what He wants and not what we want.  We take whatever the Lord has given to us for others.  We accept whatever He gives us without demanding more than we need to serve the plan of God.  If God does not bless us with certain gifts, wealth or position, it is simply because we are not required to serve in that area.  When we endeavor to do God’s will rather than ours, then we will not fall into the sin of pride, envy and greed.  We will live a full life, doing as much as we can in whichever situation we are in, because we are serving our master.  At the same time, we do not crave for things that we do not need for the service of love.  In this way, we live a contented life, free from fear and worry about tomorrow because we know that God will take care of us since we live for Him.

Conversely, when a person lives for Mammon and entrusts his life to the pursuits of this world, regardless whether it is wealth, money or status, then his entire focus is about the world.  The world controls his direction in life.  Like a slave, he lives for money, power and glory.   Whatever he does, it is to increase his wealth, power and glory.  These are the things that matter most.  People are subordinated to this goal.  He will make use of people and often put his family and loved ones second to his worldly pursuits.  Everything is measured in terms of worldly success and gains.  He would even use unscrupulous and unethical means to enrich himself.   All his time and energy is for his ambition and selfish wants.

Such a person lives for himself.  He is focused on himself, his needs, his desires and aspirations.  Because he lives only for himself and can only depend on himself, he lives a life of insecurity.  He is always worried about tomorrow because life is unpredictable.  He wants his will to prevail and his goals to be realized.  But the truth is that one can fall sick and even die, the economy can suddenly collapse; a tragedy could strike anytime and anyplace.  So he lives in fear and worries even as he accumulates more and more; and grows to be more powerful and influential.  Yet, he knows that these things will soon pass and that makes him insecure and fearful that it is a matter of time when he will lose everything that he has.

This was the mistake of King Joash.  He started well as a young king guided and mentored by Johoiada, the high priest who restored the Temple of Jerusalem by removing Queen Athaliah.   When the Temple was restored, the country was also restored to order.  When God is worshipped and loved, then we find our bearings in life because everything is seen in the perspective of the love of God and of our fellowmen.  However, the tragedy of life is that riches and wealth often blind us to the truth.  As the country became prosperous, Joash and his leaders again forgot about Yahweh.  They fell into decadence and allowed idolatry, the worship of false gods and superstitious practices to come into their lives.

When we are consumed by our desires and when God is no longer the center of all that we live for, then we can no longer even hear the truth proclaimed by the prophets.  This was the reaction of King Joash to the prophet, Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest.  He forgot completely what his father did for him in helping him to regain the throne from the wicked Queen.  Yet for all that he did for him in his glory, he dismissed the warning of Zechariah.  Instead of being grateful, he had him killed.   As a consequence, the country deteriorated.  Eventually, he was conquered by the Aramean army and was murdered by his own officials.  He got his just desserts for the sins he committed.   God sends prophets to save us from our sins and destruction.  And even when He allows us to suffer for our sins, it is never out of vindictiveness or revenge but to awaken us to the truth about our selfish pursuits and the more important things of life.   If we do not pay heed to His warnings, we too will suffer the same fate.

So, we are called to make a decision today, whether we want to serve God or Mammon.  If we choose God and make Him the center of our lives, we do not have to live in fear for His will is our peace.  By surrendering our lives to Him, we can live in peace and give ourselves entirely to what we do and choose to be happy and fulfilled in any circumstance we are in.  We can be confident that He will look after us as history has shown.  Somehow, we will manage and survive in life.  When we look at our past, the Lord has shown in many situations that He is the Lord of our lives.  “Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith?”  So we live in faith and trust in the Lord each day, without having to worry about tomorrow.  As Jesus said, “Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing!”  If we choose Mammon, that is, to put our trust in worldly things and in ourselves, then the consequence is that we live in perpetual fear and worry because there is no peace in our hearts.  We will always be seeking to fulfill our will.

But the real tragedy for us is not that we choose God or mammon but we want both.  The truth is that no one can serve two masters.  In trying to serve both masters, we end up confused and fickle minded.  One day, we serve God and another day, we serve Mammon.  As such, our lives are lived like a yo-yo, swinging up and down, left and right because we lack focus.  We fall into sin and then get out of sin. This explains why those of us who apparently choose God but not definitively or totally, continue to live in tension, in fear, in worry and lacking peace and joy in our lives.   So the choice is really ours.  The kingdom of God, the reign of His love and peace is ours if we choose to serve Him and make Him the center of our lives.  If we choose Mammon, the world and ourselves, then be ready for the consequences.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 
 
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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, June 17, 2018 — “For we walk by faith, not by sight”

June 16, 2018

We need to spend some time with the Lord, listening to His words, and wondering what the words mean.  When we do this, we begin to understand Jesus and the Kingdom.

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I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree … Ezekiel

Sounds like: “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 92

Reading 1 EZ 17:22-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16

R. (cf. 2a) Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
Declaring how just is the LORD,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Reading 2 2 COR 5:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him,
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to him will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom
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People used to talk a lot about extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense or second sight. That’s the powerful feeling about where to go, what to do and how to proceed.
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Christians would be more comfortable talking about the Holy Spirit — a God centered type of guidance system informed by scripture, prayer and even God Himself.
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After all, ESP could be fueled by heroin or cocaine… or lust, selfishness, greed or maybe anger.
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God wants us to choose the right path.
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“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
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There will be an accounting. And to reach a life that will “pass muster,” we start as small as a mustard seed and try to grow in the way of the Lord.
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This takes work and prayer and dedication.
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Our choice is to pick God’s Way or the Highway.
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But remember, the Highway is full of disorder even if we manage to avoid the worst of it — the opiates, prostitutes and the rest.
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God’s way, even with the required work, is still easier than the Highway — especially when it’s time to give our accounting!
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Reflection By The Abbot, Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

Parables!  Jesus is often speaking to us in parables.  Often we don’t spend enough time thinking about the parables, about the images that He gives us.  We need to spend some time with the Lord, listening to His words, and wondering what the words mean.  When we do this, we begin to understand Jesus and the Kingdom.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Ezekiel.  We have many images in this reading.  However, the message is clear:  “All the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.”  The message is simple:  God is God and we humans are not God and cannot control our world or anything in it.  We have the appearance of control, but the world spins out of control when we humans no longer respect God nor respect the ways of God for us.  This has happened over and over in human history and we humans seem incapable of learning the lesson:  follow the Lord and life is very good!  Abandon the Lord and life becomes unbearable.

The second reading is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians.  The small passage that we read today repeats the lesson from the Prophet Ezekiel:  “We walk by faith, not by sight.”  When we walk by faith, we listen to the Word of God and strive to form our lives by that Word.  If we walk by sight, we no longer believe in the Lord because the present world tells us that God is not necessary, is only a foolish thought of humans, and that life is much better without God.

Once again we are confronted with the truth:  With God there is mercy!  Without God, all becomes useless and without meaning.  The only meaning without God is the human being.  The human being is always fickle, always seeking its own good, always looking for please and wealth and power.  As our world continues to abandon God, we can expect worse things yet to happen.

Today’s Gospel is from Saint Mark and brings us back to parables and images.  What is the Kingdom of God like, Jesus asks?  Well, it is something that we cannot control.  It is like planting a field and not understanding why the plants grow.  The Kingdom of God is all around us and is within us—but we have a choice to recognize it or to ignore it.  Whether we recognize the Kingdom or ignore the Kingdom, the process of the Kingdom is still at work:  time is given to us to give ourselves to God.

The Kingdom of God is very small and that is why so many cannot see it.  Small.  Not small in size but small in its beginnings within us and within our communities.  Yet it can grow and become so powerful.  God never forces Himself upon us.  We can always invite God to grow within us and within our communities.

When we see the grass grow or when we see a tree grow, we can think of the Kingdom of God!  When we see birds fly in the air, we can think of the Kingdom of God.  God is always at work and always loving us.  May we open our eyes and our hearts to Him.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Related:

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

June 10, 2018

The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer for Today:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, June 6, 2018 — Suffering indicates neither dishonor nor failure

June 6, 2018

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

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Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 355

Reading 1 2 TM 1:1-3, 6-12

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia  JN 11:25A, 26

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

Gospel  MK 12:18-27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more:

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

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Related:

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Do not be afraid:

Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
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This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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

FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1, 2018

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Meditation For The Day: June 1

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

Prayer For The Day

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

— From the book “24 Hours a Day”

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

Related:

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

Keywords on this site:

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Holy Trinity Sunday: God Is Love — The mystery of the Holy Trinity simplified — God’s simplicity — Are we seeking ‘Oneness’? — Am I a beacon of love?

May 27, 2018

Fr Matthew Jarvis delights in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, The Triune God who, as a beacon of Love, draws us ever further into glory.

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‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Or more literally: ‘into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ That’s also what the original Creed says: ‘I believe into God the Father… and into the Son… and into the Holy Spirit.’ We are on a journey into God, a journey into the dynamic life of the Holy Trinity. It’s a journey into love.

‘I love you.’ Three of the simplest words in the world, but we use them to express an inexhaustible mystery in our human relationships. 

‘God is love.’ Again, three simple words but they open up the infinite mystery of the Trinity.

‘The Lord is God indeed,’ we read in Moses today, ‘he and no other.’ Reason finds no problem in thinking of God as the Absolute, the One, but we need revelation to teach us about the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is Three and God is One; both are true mysteries, and they are connected. To appreciate why we cannot fully comprehend the mystery of the Holy Trinity (God’s personal threeness), it helps to remember that we really cannot grasp the mystery of the Divine Simplicity (God’s substantial oneness) either.

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The doctrine of divine simplicity states that God is not complex (made up of parts) in any way. Father, Son and Spirit are not parts of God, but One God. Easier said than understood! G. K. Chesterton recounts the story: ‘A lady I knew picked up a book of selections from St Thomas [Aquinas], with a commentary; and began hopefully to read a section with the innocent heading, The Simplicity of God. She then laid the book down with a sigh and said: “Well, if that’s His simplicity, I wonder what His complexity is like.”’

But God is not complex. The Platonists understood that simplicity is found at both the highest and lowest realities, both in the mere potentiality of ‘pure matter’ and in the luminous glory of the One. Is this what a modern American writer, variously cited as Ralph Waldo Emerson or Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, is also saying? ‘I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.’

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God’s simplicity is not like pure matter, because God is pure Actuality, white-hot Light, total and unconditional Love. This actuality envelops and drives everything, as its source and goal, the Alpha and Omega. I’m deliberately mixing philosophical language with Scriptural images, because both reason and revelation should guide us on our journey into the mystery of the Triune God.

Our journey into God’s simplicity will not take us back again to square one, empty-handed, but instead we will discover that a fullness has sent us out and a fullness will receive us home, transformed. There is a fullness in the simplicity that encloses complexity, like there is a fullness in the God whose eternity encloses time and is not enclosed by it. So, our journey into the Trinity is an attraction to the divine simplicity, not a stagnation in human simple-mindedness.

After all, there is a lovely simplicity in genius that differs from simple-mindedness. Often a beautiful object is found to have a simple rationale, despite its manifold appearance, whether it’s the mathematical iteration of the ‘Hofstadter butterfly’ or the musical unfurling of a Bach fugue.

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We cannot draw the Trinity or compose its theme-tune, but there’s a decent medieval attempt in the simple yet profound pictogram called the Scutum Fidei (Shield of Faith) that summarises: the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God, yet the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father.

The Trinity does not undermine the simplicity of God, because there’s nothing simpler nor stronger than persons united in love. The unity of God is a perfect communion of persons. And then St Paul pronounces God’s extraordinary invitation to us: receive the Spirit of God, let God dwell within you and make you his child, his heir, and take you into his glory.

The Light is too bright for our eyes right now; it’s too pure and simple, but it beckons us, a beacon of Love, drawing us ever further into glory – into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Spirit.

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Deut 4:32-34, 39-40  |  Rom 8:14-17  |  Matt 28:16-20

Photograph by Fr Lawrence Lew OP of the ‘scutum Fidei’ depicted in a window in the church of St Denis in Hanover, MA.

https://www.english.op.org/torch/journeying-into-love

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