Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Meditation on the Birth of Christ

December 24, 2018

Leo the Great of Rome, Homily 21, On the Nativity, 1

Written by Leo the Great of Rome.

I. All share in the joy of Christmas

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness.

There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life.

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For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin.

Truly foreign to this nativity is that which we read of all others, no one is clean from stain, not even the infant who has lived but one day upon earth” ({bible}Job 19.4{/bible}). Nothing therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated with the sacred seed and to conceive the Divinely-human offspring in mind first and then in body.

And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result , she learns from converse with the angel that what is to be wrought in her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she believe it loss of honour that she is soon to be the Mother of God. 

For why should she be in despair over the novelty of such conception, to whom the power of the most High has promised to effect it. Her implicit faith is confirmed also by the attestation of a precursory miracle, and Elizabeth receives unexpected fertility: in order that there might be no doubt that He who had given conception to the barren, would give it even to a virgin.

II. The mystery of the Incarnation is a fitting theme for joy both to angels and to men

Therefore the Word of God, Himself God, the Son of God who in the beginning was with God, through whom all things were made and without whom was nothing made” ({bible}John 1.1-3{/bible}), with the purpose of delivering man from eternal death, became man: so bending Himself to take on Him our humility without decrease in His own majesty, that remaining what He was and assuming what He was not, He might unite the true form of a slave to that form in which He is equal to God the Father, and join both natures together by such a compact that the lower should not be swallowed up in its exaltation nor the higher impaired by its new associate. 

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Without detriment therefore to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt, belonging to our condition, inviolable nature was united with possible nature, and true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, so that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and rise again with the other.

Rightly therefore did the birth of our Salvation impart no corruption to the Virgin’s purity, because the bearing of the Truth was the keeping of honour. Such then beloved was the nativity which became the Power of God and the Wisdom of God even Christ, whereby He might be one with us in manhood and surpass us in Godhead. For unless He were true God, He would not bring us a remedy, unless He were true Man, He would not give us an example.

Therefore the exulting angel’s song when the Lord was born is this, Glory to God in the Highest, and their message, peace on earth to men of good will .

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For they see that the heavenly Jerusalem is being built up out of all the nations of the world: and over that indescribable work of the Divine love how ought the humbleness of men to rejoice, when the joy of the lofty angels is so great?

III. Christians then must live worthily of Christ their Head

Let us then, dearly beloved, give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit , Who for His great mercy, wherewith He has loved us, has had pity on us: and when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together in Christ (Ephesians 2:5) that we might be in Him a new creation and a new production. Let us put off then the old man with his deeds: and having obtained a share in the birth of Christ let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, acknowledge your dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct.

Remember the Head and the Body of which you are a member.

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Recollect that you were rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God’s light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism you were made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from you by base acts, and subject yourself once more to the devil’s thraldom: because your purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge you in truth Who ransomed you in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/655

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Book: The Imitation of Christ

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How will the story of your life end?

December 3, 2018

The story is told about a medium who told a rich golfer: “I have good news for you! I see you playing golf in heaven on a 36-hole golf course, with 24-hour access, with your own personal caddy. The bad news is that you are due to tee off tomorrow at 10 a.m.”

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 21, 25-28, 34-36), Jesus talks about the end time. It will be the time for victory for us, but there will be tribulations that will accompany it. Such too is our human condition—heaven awaits us, but first we must pass through the valley of tears, and experience death, the great letting go.

By Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD

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Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the time for preparation for Christmas, and a looking forward to Christ’s second coming. It is a time for repentance, but also a time for joy and hope.

Focus on joy, not on the worldly stress that the Christmas season brings. As we have often said, focus on the humor, not on the “tumor” we encounter in our lives.

The first of the four Advent candles which signifies hope will be lighted today. Let us not give in to hopelessness and depressions. Let us continue to believe, and keep on believing that all will be well, and that there is a reason and a mission in everything that happens, no matter how senseless things may seem.

I graduated from chemotherapy last Nov. 28, filled with gratitude, and hope that it will be my last in my lifetime.

I praise the Lord for all the people who have helped, prayed, encouraged, and supported me in my journey these past four months. God is good, loving,
and merciful!

Weak this week. The nausea, dizziness, and lack of appetite are side effects of chemotherapy. But immunotherapy helps to ease this. More so, it is prayer therapy, which I call “prayotherapy,” that really lifts up our weak body and spirit. With prayer, we know we are not alone, and there is meaning in our weaknesses, and sufferings.

Gone too soon. Canzmate (cancer mate) Dr. Rodolfo “Ogie” Frez, went home to the heavenly Father last Nov. 25, Feast of Christ the King, after a four-year battle with cancer. To the very end, he was a picture of gentleness, silent suffering, and complete trust in the Lord. He was such a generous person, doing a lot of charity especially for the poor and the needy, reminding all of us to use our time, talents, and treasures for the good of others.

Christmas won’t be the same this year for Ogie’s wife, Lorna, and only child, Regine, who is getting married this January 2019. There are many things we cannot explain nor understand, but we continue to trust and believe that through it all, God is in complete control, and that God has a plan.

Think about this: “Worry never climbed a hill; Worry never paid a bill; Worry never dried a tear; Worry never calmed a fear; Worry never composed a song to sing; Worry never did a worthwhile thing; Where worry ends, faith begins; Don’t worry about anything; Pray to God about everything!”

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, my life began with You. Let it end with You, and with Your way. Amen.

jorbos@inquirer.com.ph

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/117854/how-will-it-end#ixzz5YdEO50Am
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St. Anthony with “Jesus Jumping Out of the Book” — When the book of our lives is written,
Will Jesus be jumping out?

Pope Francis: Life is a constant call to go forth

November 4, 2018
“In the Lord’s eyes what matters is not appearances but the heart.”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica for those Cardinals and Bishops who have died in the past year, saying that “life is a constant call to go forth”.

We provide here the full text of the homily pronounced by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated for Deceased Cardinals and Bishops.

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In the parable of today’s Gospel, we heard that the bridesmaids, all ten of them, “went forth to meet the bridegroom” (Mt 25:1).  For all of us, life is a constant call to go forth: from our mother’s womb, from the house where we are born, from infancy to youth, from youth to adulthood, all the way to our going forth from this world.  For ministers of the Gospel too, life is in constant movement, as we go forth from our family home to wherever the Church sends us, from one variety of service to another.  We are always on the move, until we make our final journey.

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The Gospel shows us the meaning of this constant wayfaring that is life: it is a going forth to meet the Bridegroom.  This is what life is meant to be lived for: the call that resounds in the night, according to the Gospel, and which we will hear at the hour of our death: “Here is the Bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!” (v. 6).  The encounter with Jesus, the Bridegroom who “loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), gives meaning and direction to our lives.  That and nothing more.  It is the finale that illuminates everything that preceded it.  Just as the seeding is judged by the harvest, so the journey of life is shaped by its ultimate goal.

If our life is a journey to meet the Bridegroom, it is also the time we have been granted to grow in love.  Every day of our lives is a preparation for the wedding banquet, a great period of betrothal.  Let us ask ourselves: do I live like someone preparing to meet the Bridegroom?  In the ministry, amid all our meetings, activities and paperwork, we must never lose sight of the one thread that holds the entire fabric together: our expectation of the Bridegroom.  The centre of it all can only be a heart in love with the Lord.  Only in this way will the visible body of our ministry be sustained by an invisible soul.

Here we begin to realize what the Apostle tells us in the second reading: “We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).  Let us not keep our gaze fixed on earthly affairs, but look beyond them.  It is true when they say that the really important things are invisible to our eyes.  The really important thing in life is hearing the voice of the Bridegroom.  That voice asks us daily to catch sight of the Lord who comes, and to make our every activity a means of preparation for his wedding banquet.

We are reminded of this by what the Gospel tells is the one essential thing for the bridesmaids awaiting the wedding banquet.  It is not their gowns, or their lamps, but rather the oil kept in small jars.

Here we see a first feature of oil: it is not impressive.  It remains hidden; it does not appear, yet without it there is no light.  What does this suggest to us?  That in the Lord’s eyes what matters is not appearances but the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7).  Everything that the world runs after and then parades – honours, power, appearances, glory – passes away and leaves nothing behind.  Detachment from worldly appearances is essential to our preparation for heaven.  We need to say no to the “cosmetic culture” that tells us to worry about how we look.  Instead of our outward appearance that passes away, we should purify and keep custody of our heart, our inner self, which is precious in the eyes of God.

Along with this first feature – not to be flashy but essential – there is another aspect of oil: it exists in order to be consumed.   Only when it is burned does it spread light.  Our lives are like that: they radiate light only if they are consumed, if they spend themselves in service.  The secret to live is to live to serve.  Service is the ticket to be presented at the door of the eternal wedding banquet.  Whatever will remain of life, at the doorstep of eternity, is not what we gained but what we gave away (cf. Mt 6:19-21; 1 Cor 13:8).  The meaning of life is found in our response to God’s offer of love.  And that response is made up of true love, self-giving and service.  Serving others involved a cost, since it involves spending ourselves, letting ourselves be consumed.  In our ministry, those who do not live to serve do not de-serve to live.  Those who hold on too tightly to their lives will lose them.

A third feature of oil is clearly present in the Gospel: it must be prepared.  Oil has to be stored up ahead of time and carried with one (cf. vv. 4, 7).  Love is certainly spontaneous, but it is not impromptu.  It was precisely by their lack of preparation that the bridesmaids excluded from the wedding banquet showed their foolishness.  Now is the time for preparation: here and now, day by day, love has to be stored up and fostered.  Let us ask for grace to renew daily our first love with the Lord (cf. Rev 2:4), lest its flame die out.  It is a great temptation to sink into a life without love, which ends up being like an empty vase, a snuffed lamp.  If we do not invest in love, life will stifle it.  Those called to God’s wedding feast cannot be content with a sedentary, flat and humdrum life that plods on without enthusiasm, seeking petty satisfactions and pursuing fleeting rewards.  A dreary and predictable life, content to carry out its duties without giving of itself, is unworthy of the Bridegroom.

As we pray for the Cardinals and Bishops who have passed away in this last year, let us beg the intercession of all those who lived unassuming lives, content to prepare daily to meet the Lord.  Following the example of these witnesses, who praise God are all around us in great numbers, let us not be content with a quick glance at this day and nothing else.  Instead, let us desire to look farther ahead, to the wedding banquet that awaits us.  A life burning with desire for God and trained by love will be prepared to enter the chamber of the Bridegroom, for all eternity.

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-11/pope-homily-mass-deceased-cardinals-bishops.html

Jesus cautions us against “the anxieties of daily life”

Jesus says, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Morning Prayer for Wednesday, September 19, 2018 — With spiritual laws, you can expect your share of joy and peace, satisfaction and success

September 19, 2018

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“These things have I spoken unto you, that your joy may be full.” Even a partial realization of the spiritual life brings much joy. You feel at home in the world when you are in touch with the Divine Spirit of the universe. Spiritual experience brings a definite satisfaction. Search for the real meaning of life by following spiritual laws. God wants you to have spiritual success and He intends that you have it. If you live your life as much as possible according to spiritual laws, you can expect your share of joy and peace, satisfaction and success.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I will find happiness in doing the right thing. I pray that I will find satisfaction in obeying spiritual laws.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Wednesday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time

LOVE IS THE KEY TO WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 COR 12:31-13:13LUKE 7:31-35  ]

There are many questions in life for which we seek answers.  Many of us have questions regarding their faith and the existence of God.  We wonder whether He loves us and cares for us, or even if He could help us at all.  We cannot understand why we have to suffer and why there is so much innocent and senseless suffering in the world.  We also feel powerless to do good, and even if we do, we end up doing evil and selfish things.  No matter how we search, we know that every answer is inadequate and imperfect.  This was how St Paul felt when he wrote, “When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me.  Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but them we shall be seeing face to face.  The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.”

Indeed, in this life, we can never have the full answers to the mysteries of life.  Our minds are finite and limited.  We will never be able to comprehend everything even if they are revealed to us because we do not have the capacity to understand, just like a child who does not understand why his or her parents make him or her do certain things.  When compared to the mind of God, our minds are like little children.  St Paul exclaimed, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”  (Rom 11:33-36)  Like St Paul, we can only surrender in faith to the mystery of God’s plan and love for us.

It is not the answers to our intellectual questions that we ultimately need, so long as we are assured that we are safe and secure in love.  We look for answer after answer simply because we do not trust God enough to surrender our lives to Him.  In the same way, if we do not trust someone, we will always be suspicious and keep asking what he is doing or where he is. We will keep checking on that person because we are unsure of the person’s love and fidelity.  However, if we know that the person loves us above everything else and will protect us in love, then all questions and doubts will cease.  When there is an assurance of love, all the questions become secondary.  One does not need to know all about the person in order to love.  One only needs to know that the person loves us for us to entrust our life to that person.

So too, it is, in our relationship with God.  When we know that God loves us, we will stop asking all the intellectual questions about Him.  Those of us who keep doubting God and asking questions are simply saying that we do not know Him well enough to entrust our lives to Him because He might not even exist, much less that He loves us.  St Paul makes it clear, “among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”  (1 Cor 2:6f) For this reason, St Paul remarks, “there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”  When there is love, our faith in Him is strong and our hope is certain.  Only faith, hope and love give us the grace to persevere in times of difficulties and trials.   Love pulls faith and hope together in this journey of life.  So long as there is love, we will continue to keep our faith in God or in anyone whom we love, never giving up hope in God or in anyone.

It is love that enables us to see life from the perspective of our beloved.  Love is not self-centered but always focused on the other.  “It is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish.”  Love makes us able to enter into the other person’s life. Such a love is always non-judgmental and always understanding.  Even when the person fails us, love is always patient and kind.  Indeed, St Paul says that love “does not take offence, and is not resentful.  Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”  Love therefore is the key to enter into the heart and mind of our beloved.  Instead of judging them from our vantage point, we see them the way they look at themselves and their life.

When we lack this kind of love, then we become judgmental and inconsistent, like the religious leaders during the time of Jesus.  They were not ready to accept the love of God and His Word spoken through John the Baptist or Jesus.  They were always finding excuses and rationalizing to reject the truth spoken by them.  “For John the Baptist comes, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, ‘He is possessed.’  The Son of Man comes, eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”  Jesus likened them to children in the market square shouting to one another, “We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.”  Their wisdom was the human wisdom of the world.  It was not the wisdom that came from their love of God.

This also explains why many of us do not know how to truly love, because our love lacks trust.  For many people love is reducible to having gifts from their loved ones.  We need tangible signs for us to encounter the love of someone.  Like the Corinthians, we seek to have more and more gifts, and we think that the gifts we receive is love itself.  But it is not the gifts that we need, what we need is love itself.  Gifts are important, but they are just signs.  St Paul wrote, “But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear.”

Consequently, St Paul urges us, “Be ambitious for the higher gifts.  And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.”  The only gift that can fulfill and complete us is when we have the love of God in our hearts.  Otherwise, “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all.  If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.”   When there is love, we are always happy.  The gifts we possess are means for us to express the love in our hearts when we share them with others.  Unless the gifts come from a heart of love, they will only be used to manipulate others for our self-interests and insecurity. 

To find the greatest love in life is to find Christ.  The true wisdom is God’s love for us in Christ crucified.  This is what the Lord prophesied, “Yet wisdom has been proved right by all her children.” St Paul wrote, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  (1 Cor 1:22-24)  Christ’s love is captured in St Paul’s poem of love.  His love is unconditional and forgiving.  His love is enduring and faithful.   When we experience such love, we can surrender our lives completely to Him as St Paul did.   With the psalmist, we say, “They are happy, whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his own. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.”

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

Morning Prayer for Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 26, 2018

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“God we ask you to accept and bless your servant John McCain as he arrives into your arms and reports for duty.”

Thought for Today

“If we are still clinging to something that we will not let go, we must sincerely ask God to help us to be willing to let even that go, too. We cannot divide our lives into compartments and keep some for ourselves. We must give all the compartments to God. We must say: ‘My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my friends.'” Am I still clinging to something that I will not let go?

Meditation for the Day

The laws of nature cannot be changed and must be obeyed if you are to stay healthy. No exceptions will be made in your case. Submit to the laws of nature or they will finally break you. And in the realm of the spirit, in all human relationships, submit to the moral laws and to the will of God. If you continue to break the laws of honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love, you will be broken to some extent yourself. The moral and spiritual laws of God, like the laws of nature, are unbreakable without some disaster. If you are dishonest, impure, selfish, and unloving, you will not be living according to the laws of the spirit and you will suffer the consequences.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may submit to the laws of nature and to the laws of God. I pray that I may live in harmony with all the laws of life.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

26 AUGUST, 2018, Sunday, 21st Week, Ordinary Time

FINDING COURAGE IN CHOOSING TO SERVE THE LORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ JOS 24:1-215-18PS 34:2-316-23EPH 5:21-32JN 6:60-69  ]

One of the greatest challenges in our times is the threat to the institution of marriage and the family.  How do we preserve the sacredness of marriage and the family when the current trends in the world make the unity of marriage and family life rather daunting?  In a world of individualism, the needs and happiness of the individual takes precedence over others.  The spirit of self-sacrifice is no longer attractive to the modern generation.  Such an attitude is reinforced by the loss of the future for eternity.  Today, people without faith in God live only for this world and this life, for to them there is no future, no life after death.  So no one is willing to sacrifice his present happiness for the sake of a future that is uncertain.  We want to grab all we can before we take our permanent exit from this world.  Hence, we can understand why the Church’s teachings on contraception, indissolubility of marriage, unity of marriage and marriage as between a man and woman do not hold water for the pragmatic person.

The irony of it all is that whilst most Catholics externally profess these beliefs, many do not believe in them personally nor practise them in their own lives. We wonder how many of us really believe and observe the moral teachings of the Church.  Although all are baptized in Christ, not all are followers of Christ.  Although all might claim to be Catholic, many do not subscribe to Catholic beliefs.  Many of us are nominal Catholics.  We subscribe to our own values which are often contrary to that of the Catholic Faith.  Indeed, we are selective Catholics.  We choose what we want to believe and what we like.  Those teachings that do not agree with us, we discard or just ignore.  Indeed, many of us subscribe to divorce, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, same sex union, etc.

Many of us serve two or more gods in our life.  Many even fall into syncretism, that is, a mixture of other religions, values and practices.  Those values that we agree with, we practice.  Those that we disagree with, we just dismiss as irrelevant or inconsequential.  St Augustine warns us against taking such an attitude of selective acceptance of the teachings of Christ.  He wrote, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”  Of such disciples, the evangelist remarked, “Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him.”  Indeed, insiders who are traitors are worse than those without.  They are the counter witnesses of Christ.

Today, the scripture readings confront us all to make a radical decision for our Lord.  This was what Joshua told his people.  “If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve, whether the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.” In a similar vein, the Lord posed the same challenge to the Twelve, “What about you, do you want to go away too?”  Indeed, we are confronted with a choice, whether to accept God as our Lord, Christ as our Saviour, or the false gods of money, power and the worship of self.

One thing is certain; there is no question of compromise.  This was always the temptation of the Israelites.   Although they belonged to the God of the Covenant and accepted Him as their Lord and God, they also worshipped the pagan gods.   They wanted the best of both worlds.  Do we choose a religion based on the material benefits of power, money, riches, or because we want live in truth and love?  In fact many claim to love Christ only because they want to be rich and seek only the riches of this world.  They do not love Christ but only what He can give them, like the way the Jews sought for Jesus after they saw Him multiply the loaves and wanted to make Him king by force even.

What does it mean when we say with Joshua, “As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.”  To serve the Lord means that we will put Him first in everything.  We will act only in accordance to His will.  To serve the Lord means to submit in obedience of faith. Indeed, St Paul urges us to render obedience to Christ, and it is within this context that he gave the analogy of the relationship between husband and wife.  What is said about marriage must be extended to our submission in obedience to the Church and those appointed by the Lord because they represent and act in the name of Christ.

As disciples of Christ, we must obey all teachings, especially those that are difficult for us to accept.  If the teachings of Christ are so logical, then faith is not needed.  Indeed, the teachings of Christ are in contradiction to the values of the world.  The beatitudes are the reversal of the attitudes of the world.  The message of forgiveness versus revenge, grace over merit, the importance of one lost sheep over many that are saved; the question of indissolubility of marriage, rejection of same sex union, poverty over riches contradict the values of the world.  In today’s gospel, the idea of taking blood was already abominable to the Jews, not to speak of eating flesh. Understandably, we read, “after hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before.”

Disobedience is always the consequence of the lack of love for those in charge of us.  If Jesus could submit in obedience to the Father, it was because He experienced His unconditional love.  He willingly died for His Father because He loved His Father and He knew that His Father loved Him more than Himself.  Even in the passion, the Father and the Son were one in the sacrifice of love when they suffered the distance between them.  Consequently, no husband can demand obedience from his wife or children unless he is acting purely from his love for them, without vested interests.  This is true for all those in authority.  Unless those in authority show that their love is free from self-interests, our subordinates will not listen to us nor respect us.  On the contrary, they will also fight for their own interests and teach others to do the same.

To accept the teachings of Christ, faith is required.  This faith is faith in Christ as the Son of the Living God. Without faith, we cannot obey and serve the Lord.  Faith goes beyond reason.  If faith is reduced to reason, then faith is not required.  Hence, Jesus told the people, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” St Peter on behalf of the Twelve likewise responded in faith to the challenge of Jesus, “What about you, do you want to go away too?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Faith is not just an assent but a personal relationship with Him.  If Joshua could command the Israelites to choose the God of Israel, it was because He had demonstrated His love for them again and again, by leading them out of Egypt through the desert into the Promised Land.  We cannot obey unless we are first drawn to His love.  This is what the Lord says, “This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.”   We must, as the psalmist says, have tasted the sweetness and love of the Lord.

Consequently if we want to find faith in Christ, we need to be in union with Him and His Church, which is His body. The Body of Christ which we receive in communion is not just Christ Himself but also a reference to the Church as the Body of Christ.  We need to be a member of the community of faith.  It means relationship with fellow Catholics and not living as if we are alone in our faith.  Unless we stand together, we will fall in the face of difficulties.   Without being involved in the lives of our Catholics, joining in fellowship, one cannot be said that he or she is a member of the Body of Christ just by receiving communion alone.  Receiving the Body of Christ is to make us one with Christ so that we can be one with the Church.

Finally, this faith is strengthened through a prayerful reading of the Word of God.  When the Word is read in faith, it brings about transformation of life.  Indeed, only a prayerful reading of scriptures, that is, reading with faith, can bring about our transformation.   We must confess our faith in Christ because He has the message of eternal life.   If Jesus is the Son of God and His message is eternal life, then we must turn to the scriptures daily to search for the truth and be led into the fullness of life by following His teaching.  Through contemplation of the Word of God, we find wisdom, inspiration and encouragement for us to remain true to our spouse, children and to the Church, the family of God.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Afternoon Meditation for Saturday, August 25, 2018 — Do You Have “Peace of Soul”?

August 25, 2018

Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote a book entitled: “Peace of Soul – Timeless Wisdom on Finding Serenity and Joy.” It is well worth reading and certainly every human being should want “peace of soul” along with serenity and joy.

This book might be helpful to some people today who want to escape from the endless discussions, objections and news stories that seem to be robbing society from what it needs most to thrive and survive: Peace, Joy and Serenity!

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Just as Peace of Soul was needed in Bishop Sheen’s day, it was much sought after throughout Christian existence.

St. Gregory Palamus (1296-1359) looked upon the Soul the way a physician might inspect a troublesome gall bladder or spleen.

“The soul is tripartite and is considered as having three fundamental powers: the intelligent, the incensive, and the appetitive.”

Thus begins part of a discussion of the Soul by St. Gregory Palamus in a letter to Rev. Nun Xenia.

St. Gregory’s letters are available to us today in The Philokalia, a mainstay of Greek Orthodox Christianity.

Incensive means “tending  to excite or provoke; inflammatory,” according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged.

Anyone can see, the provoking, inflammatory nature in a soul could easily preclude peace, joy and serenity.

St. Gregory Palamus continues his discussion this way:

“Because the soul was ill in all three powers, Christ, the soul’s Healer began his cure with the last: the appetitive. For desire unsatisfied fuels the incensive  power, and when both the appetitive and incensive powers are sick,  they produce distraction of mind. Thus the soul’s incisive power will never be healthy before the appititive power is healed; nor will the intelligence be healthy until the other two powers are first restored to health. If you examine things you will find that the first evil offspring of the appetitive power is love of material possessions.”

Everyone knows there are many scripture verses that warn us to beware of material possessions. Perhaps, “For the love of money is the root of all evil,” (1 Timothy 6:10) covers just about every possibility.

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More On Incensive Power — And Being Troubled in Spirit

The incensive power usually troubles and confuses the soul more than any other passion, yet there are times when it greatly benefits the soul.

For when with inward calm we direct it against blasphemers or other sinners in order to induce them to mend their ways or at least feel some shame, we make our soul more gentle.

In this way we put ourselves completely in harmony with the purposes of God’s justice and goodness. In addition, through becoming deeply angered by sin we often overcome weaknesses in our soul.

Thus there is no doubt that if, when deeply depressed, we become indignant in spirit against the demon of corruption, this gives us the strength to despise even the presumptuousness of death. In order to make this clear, the Lord twice became indignant against death and troubled in spirit (John 12:27, 13:21); and despite the fact that, untroubled, He could by a simple act of will do all that He wished, none the less when He restored Lazarus’ soul to his body He was indignant and troubled in spirit (John 11:33) – which seems to me to show that a controlled incensive power is a weapon implanted in our nature by God when He creates us.

If Eve had used this weapon against the serpent, she would not have been impelled by sensual desire. In my view, then, the man who in a spirit of devotion makes controlled use of his incensive power will without doubt be judged more favorably than the man who, because of the inertness of his intellect, has never become incensed.

The latter seems to have an inexperienced driver in charge of his emotions, while the former, always ready for action, drives the horses of virtue through the midst of the demonic host, guiding the four-horsed chariot of self-control in the fear of God. This chariot is called ‘the chariot of Israel’ in the description of the taking up of the prophet Elijah (2 Kgs. 2:12); for God spoke clearly about the four cardinal virtues first of all to the Jews. This is precisely why Elijah ascended in a fiery chariot, guiding his own virtues as horses, when he was carried up by the Spirit in a gust of fire.

http://thecatholicreader.blogspot.com/2013/06/on-incensive-power.html

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Some Bible Verses On Virtue

(Virtues must have some significance since they sure come up a lot!)

2 Peter 1:5

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,

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Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

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2 Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

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Proverbs 10:9

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

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Proverbs 31:11-20

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. …

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Matthew 7:1-2

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

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Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

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Colossians 3:13

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

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Matthew 22:36-39

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

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Hebrews 10:30

For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

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Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

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James 5:12

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

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2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. …

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Romans 14:10-13

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

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Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

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Proverbs 1:1-33

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, …

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1 John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

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Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

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Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

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2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

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John 8:44

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

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Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

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Isaiah 1:1-31

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. …

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Proverbs 31:10

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

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1 Peter 1:15-16

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

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John 3:16-17

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

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Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. …

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Isaiah 58:11

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

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Philippians 1:1-30

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. …

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Romans 14:1

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

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2 Timothy 3:2-4

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

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Mark 5:30

And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?”

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Job 31:1

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?

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Deuteronomy 6:6-9

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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Revelation 21:8

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

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https://www.openbible.info/topics/virtue

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, May 20, 2018 — Pentecost Sunday — “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

May 19, 2018

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Pentecost Sunday – Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 63

Reading 1  ACTS 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures;
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 COR 12:3B-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.or

 GAL 5:16-25

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Sequence

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  JN 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”or

 JN 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”

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Reflection from the Monastery of Crist in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The Holy Spirit!  So often we have very little understanding of the Holy Spirit in our lives, even though that Spirit is always with us and always seeking to draw us into the love of God!  We need to ask that Spirit to be present right now:  Come, Holy Spirit!

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles and describes upon them.  Many of us have never had an experience such as we find in this account.  On the other hand, many of us have had experiences that are different from this but also are experiences of the Spirit.  Many of us have felt truly moved by some religious experience.  Perhaps we have been walking near a Church and have felt some tug in the heart to enter and say prayers.  Perhaps we have heard some terrible news and our hearts have turned to the Lord.  Possibly someone has asked us about our faith and in trying to describe our faith we have felt something new.

There are so many ways in which the Spirit is present in our lives.  Perhaps we have found ourselves in a really difficult situation and have asked the Lord for help—and it all turned out well for us. Or maybe we were in a situation of danger and asked the Lord’s protection, and we emerged safely.

The challenge is to reconcile these experiences with the other experiences that we have when we seem far from God, when we ask help from God and nothing good seems to happen.  We humans often want an all-powerful God who will always do what we ask of Him!  God is not that way. Nevertheless we need to take time to meditate on the positive experiences that we have been given.

Today we have two options for the second reading.  In the option which is from the First Letter to the Corinthians, we find Saint Paul teaching us about the role of the Holy Spirit.  No one can truly proclaim that Jesus is Lord except with the power of the Holy Spirit.  All of us today should say and proclaim:  “Jesus is Lord.”  This is a simple test of the Spirit’s presence.  We have to say that Jesus is Lord with conviction, however, and not just with words.  It is the Spirit that gives all the gifts in the Church because we are all one body in Jesus Christ, in His Church.

The second option for the second reading is from the Letter to the Galatians.  In this section of the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul contrasts the values of a life in the Spirit and those of a life without the Spirit.  It is a sobering comparison, especially in our day when so many choose to live with the values which indicate a life without the Spirit.

This is the comparison that Saint Paul gives to us:  “immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.”

There are two options for the Gospel today as well.  The first is from the Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 20.  Here Saint John records the appearance of Jesus to His disciples after His Resurrection.  Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit and this gift of the Holy Spirit is completely related to the forgiveness of sin.  We should realize that when we really love another and when we forgive another, we are sharing in the Holy Spirit.

The second option for the Gospel is from the 15th Chapter of the Gospel of Saint John and teaches us that the Spirit will guide us in truth.  If we choose to ask the Holy Spirit, even now, that Spirit will show us the way of Jesus our Lord.

May this Holy Spirit come upon us today, guiding us in love, truth and forgiveness.  May this Holy Spirit give us unity in the Church and faithfulness in preaching the Gospel.  May this Holy Spirit guide us in the path of right living and away from the values of this world.  Amen.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

https://christdesert.org/2018/05/easter-pentecost-cycle-b-2018/

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is the simplified version according to the Abbot’s sermon in 2015.

Related:

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The only thing we need to allow us to find the Holy Spirit is to SEARCH. Our search requires an open mind and prayer. Pope John Paul II said one time, “No prayer, no spiritual life.” We all need to energize our lives with Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. We start by wanting more out of life….

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The seven gifts of Holy Spirit

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these gifts “…complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.”[19]

  • Wisdom is considered the first and the greatest of the gifts. It acts upon both the intellect and the will. According to St. Bernard, it both illumines the mind and instills an attraction to the divine. Adolphe Tanquerey OP explained the difference between the gift of wisdom and that of understanding, “…the latter is a view taken by the mind, while the former is an experience undergone by the heart; one is light, the other love, and so they unite and complete one another.”[20] Wisdom is the perfection of the theological virtue of charity;
  • Understanding is a perceptive intuition which illuminates the mind to grasp the truths of faith. It does not involve a comprehensive understanding of the mysteries of faith, but helps a person understand that these mysteries are credible; compatible with and related to each other; and not unreasonable. The gift of understanding perfects the theological virtue of faith.[21]
  • Counsel functions as a sort of supernatural intuition, to enable a person to judge promptly and rightly, especially in difficult situations. It perfects the cardinal virtue of prudence. While prudence operates in accord with reason as enlightened by faith, the gift of counsel operates under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the will of God.[22]
  • Fortitude is often identified with courage, but Aquinas takes its meaning to also encompass endurance. Joseph J. Rickaby describes it as a willingness to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm. The gift of fortitude allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil.[23] It is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of the same name.
  • Knowledge: The gift of knowledge allows one, as far as is humanly possible, to see things from God’s perspective. It “allows us to perceive the greatness of God and his love for his creatures” through creation.[24]
  • Piety accords with reverence. A person with reverence recognizes his total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Thomas Aquinas says that piety perfects the virtue of religion, which is an aspect of the virtue of justice, in that it accords to God that which is due him.[25] In a series of talks on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said that piety is a recognition of “…our belonging to God, our deep bond with him, a relationship that gives meaning to our whole life and keeps us resolute, in communion with him, even during the most difficult and troubled moments”.[26] “Piety is not mere outward religiosity; it is that genuine religious spirit which makes us turn to the Father as his children and to grow in our love for others, seeing them as our brothers and sisters,…”[27]
  • Fear of the Lord is akin to wonder (or awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord, one is made aware of the glory and majesty of God. At a June 2014 general audience Pope Francis said that it “is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace”.[28] A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all one desires. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a “filial fear,” like a child’s fear of offending his father, rather than a “servile fear,” that is, a fear of punishment. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is the perfection of the theological virtue of hope.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_gifts_of_the_Holy_Spirit

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Pope Francis’ Pentecost Homily and Regina Coeli Address

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May 24, 2015

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Pentecost

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“The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth”

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Pope Francis against the backdrop of St Peter’s Basilica and dressed in scarlet vestments, celebrated Mass on Pentecost Sunday. In his homily, the Holy Father began by focusing on Sunday’s readings saying that, “the word of God, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit. Expanding on this theme of the Spirit, Pope Francis said that, in the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth. Indeed he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”.
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Today’s world Pope Francis stressed, “needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit, he said, means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin.  There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit, the Pope continued, “by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways.” He underlined that the gift of the Holy Spirit “has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace.”
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The Holy Father explained to those gathered that, “the gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth”.  The Holy Spirit, he went on to say, “whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same.” Therefore, the Pope said, respect for creation, is a requirement of our faith and the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, he added, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect. Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed that strengthened by the Spirit and his many gifts, we would be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.
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Below is the Vatican’s English translation the Pope’s homily on Pentecost Sunday

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“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you…  Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22).  The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection took place once again on the day of Pentecost, intensified this time by extraordinary outward signs.  On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22); on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).  Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple and the Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace and her smile, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus.
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The word of God, especially in today’s readings, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit: he guides us into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), he renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and he gives us his fruits (cf. Gal 5:22-23).
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In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13).  Indeed he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth,” and explains to his disciples that the Spirit will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially in regard to his death and resurrection.  To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event.  At first they were paralyzed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday.  Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand “all the truth”: that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all.
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The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth.  The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit… and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). The account of the birth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles is significantly linked to this Psalm, which is a great hymn of praise to God the Creator. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same.  Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect (cf. Gen 2:15). Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam.  In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10).
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In the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wants to show the “fruits” manifested in the lives of those who walk in the way of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22).  On the one hand, he presents “the flesh”, with its list of attendant vices: the works of selfish people closed to God.  On the other hand, there are those who by faith allow the Spirit of God to break into their lives.  In them, God’s gifts blossom, summed up in nine joyful virtues which Paul calls “fruits of the Spirit”.  Hence his appeal, at the start and the end of the reading, as a programme for life: “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:6, 25).
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The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit.  Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin.  There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways.  The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers.  The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22).  The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace.  Strengthened by the Spirit and his many gifts, may we be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.

Holy Spirit

Regina Coeli Address – Pentecost Sunday

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Following Mass on this Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis at the Regina Coeli expressed serious concerned over the plight of migrants in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman sea in Southeast Asia. More than 3,600 people, around half of them from Bangladesh and the others, minority Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, have come ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since May 10. But thousands more are reported to be trapped at sea in desperate conditions.
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The Holy Father spoke of his appreciation for the efforts being made by those countries that have expressed a willingness to welcome those people who are facing great suffering and danger. He also encouraged the international community to provide them with the necessary humanitarian assistance.
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Pope Francis, after the recitation of the Regina Coeli also recalled Sunday, the one hundreth anniversary of Italy’s entry into World War I, describing the conflict as “useless slaughter”. He prayed for the victims, asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace. The Pope then recalled Saturday’s Beatification’s of an Archbishop and Nun in El Salvador and Kenya.
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Firstly, he remembered Archbishop Oscar Romero, of San Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith while celebrating the Eucharist. This zealous pastor, he said  an example of Jesus, chose to be among his people, especially the poor and the oppressed, even at the cost of his life. He also remembered, Italian nun, Sister Irene Stefani, of the Consolata Missionaries, who served the Kenyan people, he said,  with joy, mercy and tender compassion.
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The Pope underlined that the heroic example of these blesseds inspire in each of us the fervent desire to be witnesses to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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04 JUNE, 2017, Sunday, Pentecost
UNIVERSALITY AND BREATH OF THE GOSPEL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 2:1-111 COR 12:3-7,12-13JOHN 20:19-23 ]

Today, there is so much talk of inclusivity.  In itself, it is the right step towards promoting unity and cohesiveness among all peoples.   In the heart of every human person, there is this built-in desire for unity and communion.  It is in our DNA.  No man is an island.  We are created for love and the expression of love is unity.  Only when there is love and unity, can there be world peace.

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, we are invited to promote unity and peace in the world through an authentic love for all of humanity.  If the Christian gospel is called the “Good News”, it must be good news for all, regardless of language, race and religion. The Risen Lord comes to give us peace so that we can be messengers of peace.  “He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’” 

Peace, however, cannot be attained by violence, war, guns, weapons and technology.  This is the perennial mistake of humanity. Indeed, the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the reversal of Babel.  Those of us who are familiar with this story in Genesis 11, where we read that when humanity cuts itself off from God and its reliance on Him, depends only on itself, technology, science and reason, like those who sought to build the tower without God’s help, it will bring about further division.

Humanity can only be united firstly when there is a real communion between God and man and among men.  It is significant that the first reading talks about the miracle of the gift of tongues.  “Something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.”  The gift of tongues enables us first and foremost to communicate with God and with our fellowmen.

What is this gift of tongues? In the first place, it refers to what most of us are familiar with, especially those in the charismatic renewal, which we call praying in tongues.  In glossolalia, the person that is being addressed is God Himself. This language however is made up of utterances of meaningless syllables, unintelligible to the speaker.   It was widely practiced in the early Church till the 4th century by both clergy and laity.  In our times, because of the charismatic renewal, this use of glossolalia is once again practiced.  It is called the language of the angels or a language of the spirit.  It is used as a form of deep contemplative prayer to the Lord.

Indeed, whether we exercise the gift of glossolalia in prayer or not, it remains the essential truth that we all need to communicate with God.   A radical religious experience like receiving the gift of tongues is inexplicable and beyond description. All of us in the depths of our heart remains incomplete unless we are in union with God.  As St Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God!’  So regardless whether we are believers or not, Christian or of other religions, we all need to encounter God deeply and intimately.  There is this deep thirst in our soul for the ultimate, otherwise we remain incomplete and restless.

At the same time, this religious experience underscores the essence of this truth that without a real encounter with the Lord, there can be no real transformation in our lives.  The apostles, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, were transformed from fearful and timid people to bold witnesses for the Lord.  in the final analysis, it is our religious experience of God that will determine how we worship Him and how we share our experiences with others. At the end of the day, conversion is not a matter of intellectual conviction alone, but it is rooted in a radical experience of the Sacred.  This explains why St Paul declared, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.” The work of conversion is not the work of man, neither by force or pressure, but ultimately it is the work of the Holy Spirit who touches the hearts of man.  So if a person comes to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, it is because of the gift of the Spirit.

There is yet another aspect of the gift of tongues.  This is the gift of prophecy.  It remains true that the gift of prophecy is given to the universal Church and for humanity.  God raises people within and without the Church to address humanity and the world on issues that affect society and the world at large.  Today, we still need prophets to speak courageously on the trends in the world.  More than ever, we need strong, courageous, wise, foresighted statesman and religious leaders to proclaim the truth to the rest of humanity.   The tragic situation in the world today is that leaders are afraid to speak the truth lest others get offended.

In the final analysis, the only language is love.  This is the only tongue that is truly universal.  We need to pray for a renewal of love in our hearts for God and for humanity.  The gift of tongues, symbolized by the tongues of fire, is a call to reignite the love of God in our hearts.  Unless we are filled with the Spirit of Christ’s love, we cannot go out to the world and renew the face of the earth.  Love is the beginning and basis of mission.  Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”  It is the love of the Father for humanity that He sent Jesus, His only Son, for the salvation of the world.

It is this same Spirit of love that raised Jesus from the dead that urges us to bring reconciliation to the world, for that is what the Lord commanded the disciples to do.  “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’”  Forgiveness and compassion is the way forward for reconciliation.  The Good News is that our sins are forgiven.  We do not have to live in fear and guilt like the apostles hidden in the Upper Room.  Jesus the Risen Lord came to them and offered them peace through forgiveness of their sins. The Lord wants to liberate us from our guilt and self-hatred so that we in turn can be His messengers of peace to others, freeing them from their guilt and fears and healing their wounds.

Finally, it is the same Spirit of love that invites us to appreciate and recognize the gifts of the Spirit in others even when they are not of the same faith.  We cannot be narrow minded.  St Paul reminds us that “there is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.”  So we should recognize and appreciate what others are doing, whether they are faith believers or otherwise.  So long as they teach the values of peace, love, joy, kindness and generosity, they too are working from the same Spirit.   Who is not against us is for us.  Indeed, St Paul reminds us that we are ultimately one body in Christ, one family of God, whether we recognize it or not, all have been given the one Spirit to drink.

So let us be promoters of dialogue and reconciliation wherever we are, at home, in church, in the office and in society.   Let us encourage each other in doing good regardless of race, language and religion.  Let us build bridges, not barriers!  This is what it means to carry out the mission of Christ in building a world of unity, love and peace.

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

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, October 15, 2017 — The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face

October 14, 2017

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 142

Misha Levin (Russian b1986) “The Prophet Isaiah” Oil on Canvas

The Prophet Isaiah by Misha Levin (Russia)

Reading 1 IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

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Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Reading 2 PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

AlleluiaCF. EPH 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
so that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 22:1-14

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

Or MT 22:1-10

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.”

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From The Abbot

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

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

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  The Prophet tells us that God will provide a banquet for all peoples.  Everyone is invited.  God wants all to be saved.  God will destroy death forever.  All will rejoice that God has saved us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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15 OCTOBER, 2017, Sunday, 28th Week, Ordinary Time
GOD’S GRACE IS A GIFT AND A RESPONSIBILITY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 25:6-10PHIL 4:12-14,19-20MATT 22:1-14 (OR ><22:1-10) ]

In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah spoke of the great vision of God for humanity  where “the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.”  Indeed, paradise or heaven is always described as a banquet.  In the gospel, the same imagery is used with regard to God’s invitation to all men and women, Jews and Gentiles, to come to share in His heavenly banquet.  The Lord has this banquet all prepared and is waiting for us to respond to His invitation.

Why is a banquet an appropriate imagery of heaven?  When there is food, there is pleasure and joy.  It is a fact that our body needs food and pleasure to be in good health. But the joy of a meal is more than just eating delicious food; we need to have good company.  Food is for the body but the company is for the soul.  It is in sharing, laughing and celebrating that we experience the love of God in our community.  What more when this banquet is a wedding banquet which is truly a celebration of love.  This is why the summit of Catholic worship is the celebration of the Eucharist, which is an anticipation of heaven.  Every Eucharist is a celebration of our wedding feast with the bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ.   This is what the psalmist prays, “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes.”

So right from the outset, this dream of God for humanity is a wonderful dream.  Heaven on earth and in heaven is a beautiful place to be in.  This concept of heaven should dispel all the false notions that to be a Catholic is to lose our joy in life.  There are many who paint the Catholic Faith as a gloomy religion; that it is all about laws, fasting, doing penance, making sacrifices, dying and being at a disadvantage.   No wonder, such bad news attract few to join the Church.   To be a Christian is to find life to the fullest, for Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  (Jn 10:10)

Rather, the Good News that Jesus comes to offer is the Good News of life, love and joy.  It is the Good News that all will have a share in the life and love of God.  There will be enough food for all and abundantly, if only the world is willing to share the resources they have with everyone.  Unfortunately, 1% of the rich owns half of the world’s resources and the richest own 87% of the world’s wealth.  This is the result of global inequality due to selfishness and irresponsibility.  But in the vision of a heavenly banquet, when everyone lives a responsible life, contributing their best and sharing their resources with others as a community of love, then there will be joy and peace for all.   As the prophet Isaiah said, “On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever.”

For this reason, the Good News that Jesus came to offer us is given to all.  Regardless of whether we are Jews or Gentiles, rich or poor, influential or marginalized, all are invited to this banquet of love, joy and sharing.  In the gospel, Jesus told us the parable of the Wedding Banquet.  The King firstly invited the Israelites and the Jews to the banquet.  The king was still gracious when they did not come the first time, “he sent some more servants. ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.’”

However, we read that they rejected the prophets who invited them on behalf of God to the Mountain of Jerusalem.   “But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.”  Most of all, they rejected the king’s son, that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.   This is the tragedy of grace being rejected.  And many of us are just like the Jews as well. The truth is that the rejection of grace often need not be a blatant rejection but a preference for evil over goodness, immorality over morality.  Such people certainly deserve condemnation and punishment, just like those who killed the prophets.   We read that “the king was furious. He dispatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town.”  This note by the evangelist was made because Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 because the people did not repent by being humble and submissive. Their arrogance and rebelliousness caused the Roman authorities to overthrow the country.

But for most people, when they are invited to come to the banquet and the house of God, they appear to have valid excuses.  Most people belong to this category.  We read that “one went off to his farm, another to his business.”  Indeed, many of us are preoccupied with other responsibilities.  We are concerned about our jobs and our loved ones.  We have to look after them, the young and the elderly.  We have to be responsible in our job.  Some of us are busy tending to our business as many workers depend on us to provide them an earning.  The tragedy is that these people are short-sighted.  They think that by just giving their energy and focus to their responsibilities, they can be successful and be happy.  They fail to see the bigger picture of life, which is God, friends and the invitation to love and serve and belong to the family of God.  It is this family that could give them the support and encouragement they need, rather than just going on alone.  Most of all, although we are concerned about earthly responsibilities and temporal affairs, we must not lose sight of the eternal values of life, which is love, sharing, caring, fellowship with God and with our brothers and sisters.  Life is more than just work and making money.  It is fellowship and communion with each other.

For those of us who are regular Church goers, the tragedy does not lie in the fact that we did not receive the invitation of God to come to the wedding feast.  Indeed, we are here like those who were called from the wayside.  “’The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the cross-roads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.’ So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”  We are the fortunate ones who have been invited purely out of the grace of God.  We are invited to the banquet not because of merit, status or position.  It is purely by the grace of God that we have come to know Jesus as the Saviour and Lord.

The real tragedy lies in the fact that we come to the wedding feast without the wedding garment.  This garment has been given to us at our baptism.  In other words, we have been given the necessary graces to enter heaven to celebrate the Wedding feast.  In those days, the wedding gown was provided for the guests.  Hence, there was no excuse for the man to come to the Wedding without the Wedding garment. This explains why the man was silent when the King said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?”  He was irresponsible and callous, showing disrespect for his host and guests.

We too must also ask ourselves whether we have kept the baptismal garment given to us free from stain and that we put it on every day in our lives.  To put on the baptismal garment means to put on Christ in our attitudes, thoughts and actions.   The truth is that many of us are careless and irresponsible in our faith.  We do not take the time to pray, to read the Word of God before every mass we celebrate.   We do not treasure the sacraments of healing that the Church gives to us, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation.  We neglect the sacraments.  We fail to give Him worship on Sundays or make time to be with the Lord daily.

Indeed, if we are Catholic, we cannot carry on living a life of the world, a life of immorality and selfishness.  We cannot go on living as if we have never met Christ or received His gospel.  Our lives must be different from the rest of humanity. The gift of grace entails a corresponding responsibility. The Lord welcomes sinners into His kingdom but when we enter, we must put on Christ and become saints.  Otherwise, we would have received the grace of God in vain.

The consequence of rejecting the grace of God or not receiving it responsibly is not so much the punishment of God but the deprivation of joy in our lives.  “Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.’”   It is not God who throws us out of the wedding banquet but we deprive ourselves of of the joy of sharing in the wedding banquet.  We will fail to realize ourselves and the joy of love.

That was how St Paul lived his life after knowing Christ.   He was indifferent to being poor or rich.  He said, “I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty.”   For St Paul, life is more than having riches and plenty of food.   Richness in life is when we learn to trust God completely and learn to care for each other.  “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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