Posts Tagged ‘keep yourselves within the love of God’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, June 2, 2018 — Do you know what is of heavenly origin?

June 1, 2018

Tissot, The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:18

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Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 352

Reading 1 JUDE 17, 20B-25

Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand
by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.
Keep yourselves in the love of God
and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
that leads to eternal life.
On those who waver, have mercy;
save others by snatching them out of the fire;
on others have mercy with fear,
abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you unblemished and exultant,
in the presence of his glory,
to the only God, our savior,
through Jesus Christ our Lord
be glory, majesty, power, and authority
from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Alleluia  SEE COL 3:16A, 17C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel  MK 11:27-33

Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem.
As he was walking in the temple area,
the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders
approached him and said to him,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
Or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question.
Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”–
they feared the crowd,
for they all thought John really was a prophet.
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
Then Jesus said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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02 JUNE, 2018, Saturday, 8th Week, Ordinary Time
PERSONAL AUTHORITY OF LEADERS COMES FROM FAITH THAT WORKS ITSELF THROUGH LOVE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ JUDE 17:20-25;  MK 11:27-33 ]

In the gospel today, the authority of Jesus was questioned by the Jewish leaders.  Without mincing their words, they said to him, “What authority have you for acting like this?  Or who gave you the authority to do these things?”  The response given by Jesus might appear to be paradoxical but in fact it forced the Jewish leaders to admit their fear and prejudice against Him.

By citing the example of John the Baptist, who was popularly acknowledged as a great prophet by all the common people and could not be disputed by the Jewish leaders lest they incurred the wrath of the people, it underscores the fact that if John the Baptist had won such respect from the people, it was because of his lifestyle and preaching.  We know that John the Baptist lived a life of poverty in the desert, having only wild locusts and honey for his food.  He preached the baptism of repentance with such forcefulness and conviction that many who heard him could see the power of God at work in him and recognized his words as coming from God Himself.

The implication is that Jesus too based His authority not so much on the institutional office given to Him, as was the case of the Jewish leaders, but on the authority that came from His way of life, His identification with the Father and His works.  In John’s gospel, He said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.” (Jn 14:11)  So Jesus was telling the Jewish leaders that His authority could be verified by the works that He had done.

Truly, in any discernment of authenticity, we must verify the fruits of the work of the person.  When something is from God or from the Holy Spirit, it will surely bear good fruit.  Not just fruits, but lasting fruits of the Spirit.  Jesus in the gospel taught us that we should judge the tree by its fruits.  So even if we have personal prejudices against a person, let the enduring fruits of his work substantiate his claims that his mission comes from God.  Conversely, if we are not producing good and lasting fruits, then we must be weary of the origin of our work, whether it comes from God or from the human spirit, or worse still, the evil spirit under the guise of the good spirit.

What does it mean for us as priests and lay leaders?  It is not enough to rest our authority on the office, be it by ordination or by appointment.   Institutional authority alone cannot command respect from those whom we serve.  We need to complement our institutional authority with personal authority that comes from a life of faith and love of God.  This is what St Jude said to the Christians.  He exhorted them saying, “You must use your holy faith as your foundation and build on that, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves within the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life.”  Indeed, a true Christian leader, clerical or lay, must act from the authority given to him by Jesus through faith in Him as the Risen Lord, and bathe in His love and mercy, so that he would never become too proud, arrogant or self-reliant, but always surrendering his life and ministry to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, this faith in God’s love and mercy must result in a genuine concern for our brothers and sisters in faith.  It is out of love for them that St Jude urged the Christians to act thus, “when there are some who have doubts, reassure them; when there are some to be saved from the fire, pull them out; but there are others to whom you must be kind with great caution, keeping your distance even from outside clothing which is contaminated by vice.”  A good leader therefore is one who cares for the faith and salvation of his or her fellow brothers and sisters.  Like the Good Shepherd, lay leaders must show fruits of genuine pastoral care for those who are weak in their faith, those who are on the way to perdition and those who are living in sin.   When we are sincere in reaching out to such wounded and stray Christians, they will eventually respond to us as they know we are truly concerned about their well being and not just an attempt at proselytizing.

All of us in a certain sense therefore have the authority to proclaim the gospel even if we do not have institutional authority.  By our very lives, we can bring Jesus to others and convict them of their sin and pride.  Through our good examples of faith and love, we can win the hearts of those who are searching for God.  And as the psalmist tells us, many people are thirsting for God and waiting to see His power and glory.  If we show kindness to such people and they perceive the kindness as coming from God, they will be brought to conversion.

Finally, if we are skeptical about those leaders placed over us or those who claim to be working for God, then we must be sincere in evaluating the genuineness of their authority.  Before we reject their claims that their work is from God, we must be objective in examining their works and their fruits.  We cannot dismiss a person simply because we are not inclined to him or her.  Worse still, quite often, the real motives for our rejection of such leaders are due to our jealousy and insecurity.  Our pride and envy of their success make us envious, and we try to discredit their works.  So we must pray that we do not work against God unwittingly, especially when we can see that a certain project or church group is helping people to live a life of holiness and charity with evangelical zeal.

The last line of today’s first reading sums up the final criteria in our discernment of genuine authority and the works of God, namely, that in all things, we can say confidently, “Glory be to him who can keep you from falling and bring you safe to his glorious presence, innocent and happy.  To God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord, be the glory, majesty, authority and power, which he had before time began, now and for ever.  Amen.”  In other words, whether as leaders or followers, we must give glory to God for He is the One who is the source of all authority and power.   When anyone begins to think consciously or unconsciously that he or she is the one responsible for the success of the works undertaken, then that person is being deceived by Evil One.  The moment success gets into our head, we are headed for a downfall.  So let us follow Jesus in affirming that our authority and power comes from His Father and that whatever we do, we want to do it in union with Him, doing only His will and His alone.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Homily Ideas for Mark 11: 27-33 “By What Authority”?
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Don’t forget, Jesus was an outcast and “the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.” (Matthew 27: 41)

In Mark’s account in Chapter 11, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Jesus over the issue of authority. They had every right to do so. They were the duly appointed leaders of the nation of Israel. But even though they had this authority, they did not understand that the authority of Jesus was much greater than theirs. They wanted to question Jesus‘ authority for teaching the people things which were contrary to what they were teaching them, and for doing miracles on the Sabbath day, which they thought ought not to be done on that day. They believed that Jesus was a false prophet. They did not understand, spiritually, how it is God who raises up men to have and to exercise true spiritual authority among the assembled people of God. They did not understand that this man who was standing in front of them was the Lord of Glory; their Master, their Messiah, and their King; the One through whom the world was made. They just saw Him as a man who was a troublemaker; a man who needed to be brought into line with their own false teaching and authority.

This passage is very important to all believers in Jesus Christ, or all who are considering believing in Him. For it teaches us that we have a very reasonable faith which is based on the authority of God Himself. These verses teach us that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, have no responsibility to submit to the authority of men who would put us into spiritual bondage to themselves.

Any pastor or spiritual leader in the visible Church of Jesus Christ who cannot recognize the difference between an appointment to an office that men appoint other men to; and the particular graces and gifts which God alone gives to establish good spiritual authority in the lives of God‘s people, may come to make great mistakes in the exercise of their authority. There is an authority which God gives and conveys, that enables a man to be raised up to do God‘s good work in promoting the gospel and Christ‘s kingdom; and there is an authority which men give to men, or which men take to themselves, which shuts other men up to themselves rather than to God. Men who are spiritually blind in this regard, may find themselves attempting to put other people around them under their own spiritual authority, rather than establishing the people who attend their church under God‘s true authority. They may actually find themselves trying to take away the true spiritual freedom which God has called all believers to, by attempting to do these things. Indeed, they may actually find themselves opposing the true work of God. So, this afternoon I would like to set before you the Lord Jesus‘ response to the question, ―By what authority are you doing these things?‖ His response was 1st of all – To ask His own question of them. (Verses 27-30) It was 2ndly – To know their reasonings. (Verses 31 and 32) And then 3rdly – It was to refuse to give them the answer to their question. (Verse 33).

From Pastor Paul Rendall

http://www.reformedbaptistoftama.com/sermons/Se
rmons%20on%20Mark’s%20Gospel/pdf/Mark%20
11%3B%2027-33%20%20By%20What%20Authority.pdf

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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28 MAY 2016, Saturday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time
WITNESSING IN THE MARKET PLACE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Jude 17:20-25; Ps 62:2-6; Mk 11:27-33  ]

In this age of secularization, the gospel has to be brought to the market place where the people are.  We cannot expect people to come to our churches to look for Christ.  A few might come out of desperation.  But the world seems to be more appealing and attractive.  They speak louder and there are more choices.  Our young people are out there, seduced by the world of music, entertainment, arts, pleasure, fun and excitement.  They are glued to their mobile devices, always on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  So if we want to capture them for Jesus, the Church, as the Holy Father, Pope Francis says, must go out to the frontlines of the battle where the sick and wounded people are, not stay in the comfort of our offices, waiting for them to come and seek us out for help.

Yet, there is so much danger when we try to bring the gospel to the market place.  In a world that is so secularized, in order to befriend them, we have to become in many instances, like them, and sometimes unfortunately even one of them.  This gradual process of desacralization has taken place since Vatican II.  Priests and religious tend to become more secularized in their dressing and lifestyle.   No longer do we try to be different from the rest of the world in dressing and sometimes we even adopt the lifestyles of the world.  At times, we wonder what it means to be “holy” today when the original meaning of being holy is to be set apart and to be different.   The question is:  can the world tell that we are different from others, not necessarily in dressing but in values and lifestyle?   Perhaps, for this reason also there is a great fall in the number of priestly and religious vocations as our life does not seem to be much different from that of the laity.  And why give up so much to be a priest or a religious when as a lay person one can spread the gospel anyway.

At the heart of it all is the loss of urgency in the work of evangelization.  With the doctrine that explicit faith in Christ and baptism is no longer necessary for salvation, many Catholics do not see why we should bother to bring people to Christ since they can be saved by and in their own faith tradition.  Unlike in the 15th and 16th Centuries where missionaries came from Europe with the conviction of saving souls for Christ, there is this implicit belief among many Catholics today that we should let those who already have their religion remain as they are.  As for those without religion, so long as they live a good life, it is sufficient. Indeed, today, faith in Christ has weakened tremendously that missionary zeal has been lost to a great extent, not just among the laity but even priests and religious.  Even for those who have become priests and religious, many joined not so much because they are passionate about spreading the gospel message but simply because it is a good life, with comfortable living, a life of bachelorhood, and opportunities to engage in some good works now and then.

Surely, most of us would not think that those who are not baptized would be condemned to hell but that God in His own way would save them.  As the Constitution of the Church in the Modern Word says, “Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope.  All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.” (GS 22)  The Constitution of the Church reiterates this teaching when it says, “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.” (LG 16)

In the light of such challenges, how do we defend the need for the spread of the gospel and how do we continue to witness to Christ in a very secularized, multicultural and multi-religious world?  Once again, we need to find the authority to do what we are doing.  This was the question posed to the Lord in the gospel when the Jewish religious leaders asked, “What authority have you for acting like this?  Or who gave you the authority to do these things?”  The truth is that the Jewish leaders were not interested to know the answer.   They were simply trying to disprove Jesus, to discredit Him so that their authority would be not eroded from the eyes of the people.  They were both envious and intimidated by Jesus, whom they saw as someone who was a threat to their status quo and the institution.  Instead, Jesus exposed their hypocrisy by countering their question with another question of authority.  Indeed, they were not sincere in seeking for the truth but were afraid of the truth.

Similarly, in the work of evangelization, we ourselves need to be clear about our own conviction of Jesus if we were to present Him as the Saviour of the world.  Is our faith found in Him alone? As St Jude says, “Glory be to him who can keep you from falling and bring you safe to his glorious presence, innocent and happy.  To God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord, be the glory, majesty, authority and power, which he had before time began, now and for ever.  Amen.” Otherwise, the situation is precarious when we try to witness to Christ in the world.  Instead of changing the world, the world changes us instead.  This was the situation of the Christian community during the time of St Jude.  They were faced with the danger of religious leaders teaching heresies and apostasy as many drifted away from the faith and turned away from the Lord.  This was because of the weak foundation of their faith; the bad examples and lifestyles of the Christians and faith in the life that was to come.  Like them, many of our Catholics today are so secularized that they live only for this world.  Many of our Catholic parents are so weak in the knowledge of their faith and are such poor examples of Christian life, so much so we should not expect their children and children’s children to be fervent in their faith except for the grace and mercy of Christ.

It is for this reason that St Jude gave us guidelines to remain firm in our witness even whilst we witness in the market place.  He wrote, “Remember, my dear friends, what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told you to expect. You must use your holy faith as your foundation and build on that, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves within the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life.”  As Catholics, we need to strengthen the foundation of our faith through the ongoing study of doctrines and the Sacred Scriptures.  Unfortunately, many of us not only do not update ourselves in the teachings of the Church but we do not read the Word of God regularly, and be nourished by the Word of life.  When we do not build up our faith, we are potential victims for the Evil One, as the world would confuse us and we will eventually lose the faith.

Secondly, St Jude urges us to pray in the Holy Spirit.  We must never forget the importance of prayer and a personal relationship with the Lord, which is made possible when we pray in the Holy Spirit and live and walk in the Spirit.  With the psalmist, we must thirst for Him, the living water, to quench our spiritual thirst.  “So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.  For your love is better than life, my lips will speak your praise.”   Only in the Holy Spirit, can we witness with faith and love.

Thirdly, St Jude reminds us of the hope of the Lord’s return.  We do not live only for this life but for eternal life.  This life is short and in the blink of an eye, we will be no more.  So let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we will not join our forefathers.  Our time will come and therefore we must live fully in this life with a view of fullness of life eternal after death with Jesus Christ forever.

Only when we are rooted in the truth, filled with the Holy Spirit and living in the ambience of God’s love, are we ready to witness to Christ by strengthening our fellow Catholics who are weak in their faith, as St Jude says, “when there are some who have doubts, reassure them; when there are some to be saved from the fire, pull them out.”   To those outside the faith, we must be watchful that in trying to reach out to them, we do not lose our identity and our values and faith in Christ.  He said, “but there are others to whom you must be kind with great caution, keeping your distance even from outside clothing which is contaminated by vice.”  Let us not betray Christ by our conduct, life, words and deeds.

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

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Bishop Goh reminds us to be “Dynamic Catholics.”

  1. Pray/Meditate
  2. Study
  3. Pour ourselves out in service to others
  4. EVANGELIZE

Related:

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Book: Holy Spirit by Fr. Edward Leen

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