Posts Tagged ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit’

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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Image result for an angel of Satan, pictures

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.

backlit cemetery christianity clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

green trees surrounding lake

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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“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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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…

Image result for Faith in the resurrection, art, pictures

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

Related:

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, May 13, 2018 — Love one another — Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him — Consecrated in truth

May 12, 2018

“God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.”  If we love one another….  That is the constant theme:  love one another.  How do we know that we love one another?  We know that we love one another because He has given us His Spirit. 

Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 60

Reading 1  ACTS 1:15-17, 20A, 20C-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

R. (19a) The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.
R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 JN 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.
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This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

Alleluia  CF. JN 14:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord.
I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel   JN 17:11B-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
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From The Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The Lord has ascended and now prepares to send the Holy Spirit upon us with power.  We must have hearts that are open to receive this power of the Holy Spirit.  We must have hearts that believe deeply in Jesus Christ and in his Holy Church.  We want to be transformed more completely so that God’s glory may be seen on earth.

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles.  The followers of Jesus are now replacing the Judas who betrayed Jesus.  There is a sense that the group of Twelve Apostles must remain as a group of twelve and so Judas who betrayed Jesus must be replaced.  Later this sense of the group of twelves transforms itself into the bishops of the Church.  Then it is no longer just twelve, but all who share the same burden as the twelve:  that of being shepherds of the various parts of the Church.

The second reading today is from the First Letter of Saint John.  It should not surprise us at all that this section of the First Letter of Saint John is about loving one another.  Saint John tells us:  “If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.”  If we love one another….  That is the constant theme:  love one another.  How do we know that we love one another?  We know that we love one another because He has given us His Spirit.  This is why we await the great celebration of Pentecost.  We want to celebrate once more that Jesus has given us His Spirit and in that Spirit we have the power to love one another.

Today’s Gospel is from Saint John.  Saint John tells us today:  “May they be one just as we are one.”  That is so strong that we can hardly believe it.  The Father and the Son are ONE.  Jesus wants us to be one with one another.  It sounds so wonderful, but when we look at other people, we are never sure that we want to be one with them.  Our human reality pushes up against divinity and often we choose our human reality instead of choosing divinity!

Only the Spirit of God can transform us and truly make us one.  Only when we choose to live in the Spirit can we choose to live in truth.  Only be asking the Spirit to be in our lives and to guide our lives can we truly be followers of the Lord Jesus.  We want to live in truth and we can only do that when we call on the Spirit to transform us totally in this life.  Come, Holy Spirit!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Consecrated in the truth

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By Fr. John Abberton
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To be consecrated means to be “set apart” for a holy purpose. To sanctify also means, “To make holy”. A consecrated thing or person is made holy by God. When we are consecrated: given over to God, we have holiness bestowed on us. We belong to God; we are God’s property. Since we are beings with free will, we must also cooperate with God by choice. We are sanctified by God, but not against our will. We are given holiness but we must also choose it. Holiness is not a cold, clinical approach to life. It is a discipline but it is the discipline of love. The holiest amongst us is the most loving. It needs to be said, as well, that this is not about appearances or exhibitionism: those who truly love know when to speak and when to be silent.

A musical instrument best serves its purpose when it is tuned by the one who plays it in relation to the other instruments in the band or orchestra. The instrument must be pliable, responsive and reliable. The strings must be in good shape, the wood of good quality the metal clean. A concert violinist, for example, may have more than one violin. He will know how to get the very best out of each one. He will handle each violin in such a way that he will respect the strengths and weaknesses of each instrument.

We belong to Jesus Christ.

To be consecrated to the Truth means several things:To begin with;

1. We must try to know enough about ourselves to understand how we may be of use in the world.
2. We must know that there is more to learn.
3. We must know where to look, or who to ask, for the answers we need about ourselves.
4. We must be able to listen and learn without being overcome by fear or prejudice of any kind.

We must be humble. Humility is openness to the Truth. It is close to docility, which means the ability to listen and learn. It is not easy to be humble, but without humility the other Christian virtues will not flourish. Humility is the soil where God plants the most beautiful things in His garden. We need to guard and develop the virtue of humility. It helps to know a few facts about ourselves. I have taken the following from a little book called, “Victory Over Vice” by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

“ From a material point of view, we are worth so little. The content of a human body is equivalent to as much iron as there is in a nail, as much sugar as there is in two lumps, as much oil as there is in seven bars of soap, as much phosphorus as there is in 2,200 matches, and as much magnesium as it takes to develop one photograph. In all, the human body, chemically speaking, is worth just a few dollars” (Page 49)

Of course, we are worth much more than that to our Creator. Our true worth is based on God who made us. It is only correct to say, “I am nothing” or “I am worthless” if I mean “nothing” or “worthless” without God. The respect we must have for ourselves comes from our respect for the one who made us. Remember we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. This means that we are not allowed to treat ourselves like rubbish, otherwise we would have to treat each other as rubbish. But without God, we are rubbish, worth no more than a few dollars. Pride is a kind of insanity. What am I compared to God? I am less than a speck of dust, yet, God loves this speck of dust and Christ shed His blood for it. This means that I must treat other specks of dust – you – like gold dust, but only because of Christ.

To be consecrated in the truth means that we both belong to the truth and that we are committed to the truth. To accept this calling; to be instruments of the Truth, means that we are seeking God’s Will.

The question of how we come to know God’s Will does not have a simple answer. Not because God is complicated, but because we are. Jesus tells us that the Truth is love.

In the message of October 22 1990 he says;

“The Truth is LOVE. I am the Truth. Be witnesses for the Truth – receive the Holy Spirit of Truth.”

When we cannot love properly it may be because we are not open to the truth.

Read more:

http://www.tlig.org/en/spirituality/pilgrimages/meteora/met5/

 

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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13 MAY, 2018, Sunday, 7th Week of Easter (World Social Communications Sunday)
COMMUNICATING THE GOOD NEWS TO THE WORLD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [Acts 1:15-26PS 1031 Jn 4:11–16Jn 17:11-19]

Today, we celebrate World Communications Sunday.  Next week, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.  To prepare the Church to be witnesses of the gospel to the world, the liturgy of today gives us the prerequisites to be an apostle of our Lord and what it takes to proclaim the Good News.  Indeed, it is becoming more and more difficult to proclaim the gospel of Christ, much less of Christ as the Universal Saviour of humanity.  We face opposition from the world denying our claim and belief that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  This is not surprising because the Lord warned the disciples already.  Jesus prayed to His Father, “I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.  I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

In a world of secularism, materialism, individualism and relativism, it is difficult for anyone to claim that he or she has the truth.  The world is either agnostic or relativistic to the question of truth.  No wonder fake things or half-truth news are being circulated in the world, causing division and disunity. All lies cause misunderstanding and division in society and in the world.  That is why even whilst we celebrate the advancement of science and technology in communications, whether in transport, digital or social communications, we are aware that havoc is wrecked in these areas because of distorted truths being passed around.

Indeed, if we are to proclaim Jesus as the Way to the Truth and to Life, we must first be consecrated in the truth.  This is the priestly prayer of Jesus to the Father.  “Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.”  Without being set apart in the truth, we cannot announce the Good News of freedom in love and truth.

Accordingly, the first condition of apostleship, as we read in Acts, is stipulated as one who was in the company of Jesus.  “We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.”  This is obvious.  Unless we have walked with Jesus, we cannot be a witness to Him.  That was why the first words of Jesus to His potential disciples were, “Come and see.”  (Jn 1:3946)   Walking with Jesus, being with Jesus, listening to Him and watching Him is the precondition for witnessing.  A witness is one who testifies to what he has seen and heard.

The second criterion of apostleship is the recognition of Jesus as Lord and God.  St John wrote, “We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.” Faith in Jesus as the personal presence of God is fundamental to Christian Faith.  Jesus for us is nothing less than the Son of God.  Only Jesus who knows the Father can reveal to us who God really is.  “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”  (Jn 1:18)  Our faith in God is based on Jesus’ personal testimony.  But this presupposes that we have faith in Him as the Son of God.

Thirdly, we must encounter God’s love and mercy before we can announce Jesus as the Good News.  Because Jesus is the expression of God, we who see Jesus can appreciate God’s unconditional love and mercy for usthrough His ministry to the poor, the sick, the possessed, the outcasts, the marginalized and sinners.  Most of all, by His death and resurrection, we are certain of God’s immense love for us.  This must be the basis of our desire to tell others about Jesus.  St John wrote, “We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”

Fourthly, to be able to love like Jesus, we cannot do it simply by imitating Him without the Holy Spirit.  Without His grace and His love in us, through the Holy Spirit, we cannot do what He did.  “We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.”  This is why the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and at our baptism concludes the whole process of Christian initiation.   A person is a full Christian when he receives the Sacrament of Baptism, the Eucharist and Confirmation. Only when confirmed in his or her faith and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of our Lord and our Father, can the baptized Christian be a real witness to Christ in the power of the same Spirit.

Once we have the pre-requisites, we must proclaim the truth about Jesus.  Truth is not so much an ideology.  Truth is an event, an experience.  This was what Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote in “God is Love” when he said, “We have come to believe in God’s love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John’s Gospel describes that event in these words: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should … have eternal life’ (3:16).”  (God is Love, 1)

That is why the proclamation of the gospel is not about words or doctrines primarily but about a person, Jesus Christ, who had worked wonders in our lives through His works of mercy and compassion and taught us about the Father’s love and forgiveness.  The gospel is not a book but a person, Jesus, the Son of God who came to give us life to the fullest if we share in His life, love and live out the gospel.  So it is Good News, not bad news.  It is not about observing commandments, obeying some rules or performing some rituals.  It is about the true meaning of love.  This, precisely, is the exhortation of St John when he wrote, “My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.”   The best witness of the Good News is to lead someone to Jesus and to fall in love with Him by encountering His love, mercy, wisdom and truth through the Word of God.

Concretely, for us to witness to Jesus is to live a life of love and mercy.  We begin with our inner circle, our loved ones, parents, siblings and friends.  But charity must not stop here.  We must reach out to the Christian community, society and the world at large.  To be an apostle of Christ does not mean that we have to travel to the ends of the world but to witness His love and mercy according to the situation we are in.  Of course, today with social and digital communication, we can share what Jesus has done for us even with those staying at the other end of the world.  Space and time is no longer a constraint in communicating the Good News about this wonderful man whom we call Jesus, the Son of God.

Indeed, the Good News that we are called to share is to bring others into the joy we have because of Jesus in our lives.  It is the joy of intimacy with the Lord in relationship, and the joy of being with the family of God, the body of Christ.  Joy is attractive and appealing.  This was what the Lord said, “But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.”  What is the joy that Jesus shared with us?  It is the joy of being in fellowship with His Father in the Spirit.  Sharing in the Trinitarian life of communion and love is what makes us joyful.   With the love and joy of God in our hearts, this love is poured out into others, and together as we share the joy of Christ, our love abounds.

Finally, we must live in such a way that we give glory to the name of God.  Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name.”  If we call ourselves sons and daughters of God, we must live like Him and our lives must reflect the image and the person of God in all that we say and do.  This is what it means to be true to His name and to become like Him.  Indeed, if we do not live out our lives as true sons and daughters of God, then the tragedy of life is that we might end up like Judas who was lost.  He too walked with Jesus and counted among the apostles and shared in their ministry.  But he betrayed the Lord because of greed, pride and self-centeredness.  We too must never walk alone in the faith.  We must walk with our fellow Catholics so that, one with each other and one with Jesus, we can overcome all trials and temptations of life and the hostilities of the world.

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

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