Posts Tagged ‘Prayer and Meditation’

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, October 21, 2018 — Giving our lives for others

October 21, 2018

Image result for James and John, the sons of Zebedee, art

Jesus is clear that we can have spiritual gifts.  What our role in the final Kingdom of Heaven will be is already prepared.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 146

Reading 1 IS 53:10-11

The LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness
of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22

R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Reading 2 HEB 4:14-16

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Alleluia  MK 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Or MK 10:42-45

Jesus summoned the twelve and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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Reflection from The Abbot
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Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

Jesus shows us the way to give glory to the Father:  become the servant of all and give our lives for others.  Are we willing to do that?

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  He is very clear that even long before the time of Jesus, a deeply religious person could see that one person could take on suffering for the good of others.  And the person who does that will have many come after who are able to live in the light of God.  A truly righteous person can offer himself for others and even carry the sins of others in some mysterious way.  We see that gift of self-offering clearly in the life of Jesus.  We are also called to share in that self-offering.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and continues the same theme.  We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because he has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.  There is a lesson here for all of us.  Even if we have sinned, we often find that we can sympathize with others and even help others when we have struggle with sin and overcome it in the Lord Jesus.  Jesus can help others without sinning.  We can sometimes learn from our struggles with sin to offer ourselves for others and to give insight about the struggle with sin.

The Gospel from Saint Mark gives us two teachings.  One is about wanting spiritual gifts.  Jesus is clear that we can have spiritual gifts.  What our role in the final Kingdom of Heaven will be is already prepared.  Our role is to do the Father’s will in this life and to trust that what the Father gives us in heaven will be completely wonderful and beyond anything that we can imagine.

Probably many of us never think about our role in heaven or what we will do there.  The challenge is simply to love God in this life and leave the future to the Lord.  If we follow the Lord Jesus, we will surely suffer.  Yet at the same time we will share more intimately in His life.  In the life to come, we will not be jealous or even want to be anything other than we are.  We will be loved beyond all that we can imagine.

So let us be servants to one another, seeking only to love one another and to do what will benefit the other.  Let us walk with Jesus and accept the sufferings that must come if we are truly loving others.

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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21 OCTOBER, 2018, Sunday, 29th Week, Ordinary Time

GREAT LEADERS GIVE THEIR LIVES AS A RANSOM FOR THEIR PEOPLE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Is 53:10-11Ps 33:4-5,18-20,22Heb 4:14-16Mk 10:35-45 (or >< 10:42-45) ]

Many people seek positions of leadership.  We are no different from the apostles in today’s gospel.  James and John asked Jesus for a favour, “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.”  They wanted to be given places of glory and power when Jesus restored the kingdom back to Israel.  However, they were not the only ones.  “When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John.”   They were envious of their bold request.

Indeed, many of us seek leadership for ourselves.  We seek positions of power in life, not for the good of others but for our own interests.  The focus is not on those whom we are leading, but it is about us.  It is about our needs, our fulfillment and our desires.  We seek office so that we can feel great about ourselves, control the lives of others, get the attention of the world, be famous and well known, have money and pleasure at our disposal.  Hence, Jesus warned His disciples, “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you.”

Such selfish and worldly motives for seeking leadership will bring greater destruction and division, not just to themselves but to the people they are leading.  When it is about acquiring power to control and dominate the lives of others, we act as if we are the master.  When we portray ourselves as the master, the slaves will retaliate one day.  They are in secret hostility against us.  They suck up to those in powers only because they need them.  So both leaders and subordinates make use of each other.  The day we are no longer in power, no one would care for us.   Others will be vying for our power as well and finding ways to bring us down so that they could be in power.  Many will seek those who have money, not because they are their friends but because they have an ulterior motive. Rich people never know who their true friends are.  They live under deception because one day when they are no longer rich and wealthy, they will lose all these so-called friends and supporters.  For this reason, worldly motives for leadership will not bring peace and unity, both for those in leadership and the people whom they lead.

True leadership is when a leader puts the people above himself.  Jesus said, “For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  A true leader gives his life as a ransom for his people.  In other words, he sacrifices his life for others.  He gives up his life, his time, his money, his resources, his energy, his sleep and everything he has for the greater good of his people.  For such a leader, the people’s needs come before his own.  He makes himself available to the people.  This is what parents do when they give everything they have to their children, ensuring that they have the best education and that their needs are provided before their own.  Parents will reserve the best food for their children and eat what they do not want.  This too should be the attitude of a leader.  He regards the people as his own children and family.

For this reason, a leader is a selfless servant.  Jesus said, “anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all.”  Leaders must always be conscious that they are servants.  They are providing a service to the people they lead.  Leadership is not about commanding people and ordering them around.  It is about servant leadership, always thinking how best to serve the people, provide for their needs, give them security, and bring unity among the community.  The leader is always the last to be served because he cannot rest until the rest have had their needs.

Secondly, in order to be an effective servant leader, a leader must suffer with the people.  He must be one with the sufferings and the aspirations of his people.  The more leaders are detached from the realities of life, the less effective they become.  That is why leaders must always be on the ground, moving among their people, working with them, living amongst them, sharing their joys and their woes.  A leader who sits in his office and simply attends meetings and make decisions will soon lose touch with his people.  He would not be able to identify with them and render the necessary assistance.  Leaders who concern themselves only with administrative roles and making policies often forget the needs of the ordinary people because they do not walk the ground or speak to them.

This is the case for the Suffering Servant in today’s first reading.  “The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering.”  In addition, the author of Hebrews speaks of Jesus as the compassionate High Priest. “It is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin.”  Indeed, if God became man in Christ Jesus, it was in order to demonstrate to us that God knows our pain, our struggles against temptation.  Jesus, in sharing our human nature, suffers with us.  He knows what it is to be misunderstood, ridiculed, unjustly treated, and accused falsely and to suffer.  Only because God understands our misery and pains, that He reserves nothing for Himself but gave Himself through Jesus to save us from our sins.

This is where we speak of the third dimension of leadership.  A leader suffers with his people so much that he chooses to suffer for his people so that he can save them from their suffering.  The task of a leader is to be an atonement sacrifice for the sufferings and the sins of his people.  This is what the Suffering Servant was asked to do for his people.  “If he offers his life in atonement … By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.”  This is what the Lord also warned the apostles, “You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them, ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’”

Leaders are called to make personal sacrifices for their people.  They choose to suffer for their sake so that the greater number of people would suffer less.   At times, in fighting for their rights, especially those in oppression or suffering injustices, they will be misunderstood, attacked innocently and suffer rejection.  But through their sacrifices, their sufferings and being offered as a ransom, a price for the salvation of the people, they will find peace and contentment.  The prophet said, “he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done. His soul’s anguish over, he shall see the light and be content.”

When a leader suffers with the people, for the people, giving his life as a ransom and in atonement for their sins, he truly brings harmony and unity.  The people will not vie over his position because he is not clinging to an office that gives him power, money or fame.  They know that the leader is giving up his body and blood for the people, reserving nothing for himself.  When a leader is only focused on giving and helping people, not caring for power or recognition or personal gains, he commands respect.  No one will fight with him but rather he will inspire people to work with him and join him in giving themselves to the service of God and humanity.  This was what the Lord did.  The apostles eventually learnt from our Lord.  Instead of seeking for position, they became servants of the gospel.  Instead of seeking for security and safety, they gave their lives for the gospel.  James was martyred and John was exiled.  This is what Christian leadership is all about.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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Morning Prayer for Saturday, October 20, 2018 —

October 20, 2018

“Our Lord and our God, be it done unto us according to Thy will.” Simple acceptance of God’s will in whatever happens is the key to abundant living. We must continue to pray. “Not my will but Thy will be done.” It may not turn out the way you want it to, but it will be the best way in the long run, because it is God’s way. If you decide to accept whatever happens as God’s will for yourself, whatever it may be, your burdens will be lighter. Try to see in all things some fulfillment of the Divine Intent.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may see the working out of God’s will in my life. I pray that I may be content with whatever He wills for me.

Related image

Third Step Prayer (Alcoholics Anonymous)

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

God Hears Us — Morning Prayer for Friday, October 19, 2018

October 19, 2018

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We can believe that somehow the cry of the human soul is never unheard by God. It may be that God hears the cry, even if we fail to notice God’s response to it. The human cry for help must always evoke a response of some sort from God. It may be that our failure to discern properly keeps us unaware of the response. But one thing we can believe is that the grace of God is always available for every human being who sincerely calls for help. Many changed lives are living proofs of this fact.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may trust God to answer my prayer as He sees fit. I pray that I may be content with whatever form that answer may take.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 OCTOBER, 2018, Friday, 28th Week, Ordinary Time

YEAST OF HYPOCRISY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EPHESIANS 1:11-14LUKE 12:1-7  ]

“The people had gathered in their thousands so that they were treading on one another.  And Jesus began to speak, first of all to his disciples. ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is, their hypocrisy.’”    Why did Jesus call the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the yeast?  Sadly, it was their hypocrisy that was the cause of their downfall.  As the Lord reprimanded them, “You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’”  (Mt 15:7-9)

Why is hypocrisy described as a yeast?  We know that yeast will grow and spread.  So, too, hypocrisy, which springs from the sin of Pride, will lead to many offsprings of sin.  Underlying the sin of hypocrisy is the desire to look good before others.  That is why it is fundamentally the sin of pride.  We want to be appreciated, recognized, liked, adored and even worshipped.  It comes from our insecurity and the desire to be accepted and admired.  As a result, we try to appear good, righteous, holy and kind.  But deep in our hearts, we know that we are not.  So, for the sake of public image we appear to be that kind of person.

By so doing, who we are and what we are suffer a dichotomy.  We live a double life; a public life where we project ourselves to be the person that people expect of us; and a private life where we are anything but the public persona we project.  We try hard to live up to people’s expectations, projecting a confident, self-made and happy facade.  But deep within us, we are insecure, lonely, empty and tired.  This accounts for why many of us live a double life, including priests and religious.  They try hard to live up to peoples’ expectations, but they suffer an emotional and psychological misfit.  This explains why some celebrities commit suicide, to the surprise and dismay of their many fans.  And we are scandalized to find religious people and professionals who are pedophiles, or are having extra marital affairs.

Hypocrisy leads to a loss of our real identity.  We want to believe that we are that kind of person when we are not.  We seek to be holy and do things people expect of us.  We think we are worshipping God with all our pious acts and rituals, but we are in truth worshipping ourselves.  We think we are serving our people, but in reality, we are serving ourselves because we want appreciation and recognition.  We do not worship or serve God or people with the right motive.

What is even more devious is that hypocrisy leads to self-righteousness.  When we think we are so good and holy, or so efficient and hardworking, we begin to despise others who cannot do as much as us.  We condemn others who fail in their moral life.  We pass judgement on them as if we are sinless ourselves.  We pick at the faults of others, always looking and judging others, instead of looking at our own failings.  We make ourselves the judge of others, wanting to take out the splinter from our neighbour’s eyes whilst failing to see the beam in our own eyes.  (cf Mt 7:1-5)

This sin of hypocrisy is supported by lying and boasting.  We tell all kinds of lies to cover up our sins and failings.  We are afraid to tell the truth for fear that people might not love us once they discover our weaknesses.  They are always boasting of what they are doing and how much they have accomplished in life.  They like to show off their wealth, their generosity, their kindness and their good deeds.  It is all about creating a good image.

But are we that different from the Pharisees?  They were the supposedly good Jews from the Old Covenant.  They were trying to make themselves the model of how a true Jew should conduct himself.  Unwittingly, they ended up being hypocritical because, as the Lord said of them, “For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”  (Mt 23:13-15 cf Mt 23:1-36)

Indeed, we are also the hypocrites of the Christian Faith.  We come to church to worship God but we quarrel at the car park and in church over seats.  We park our cars inconsiderately, blocking residents’ gates, and take our time removing our cars after service, preventing others from leaving.  We receive communion just because everyone else does, even when we are in mortal sin.  We serve in Church ministries, but at home and at work, we order people around and do nothing to help them.  We go for seminars, growth talks and devotions but we do not live out the gospel life.  We do holy things but do not live holy lives.  So who are we to condemn the Pharisees when we are the new ones.

Today, the Lord warns us of the danger of hypocrisy.  Sooner or later, we will be exposed and we will have nowhere to hide our faces.  “Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.  For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed on the housetops.”  Indeed, the truth about ourselves, our character and the motives of our deeds will be revealed and we will be put to even greater shame.  Even if we are not, we cannot live in peace but always in fear because of the possibility that we will be exposed one day.  St John wrote, “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God.”  (1 Jn 3:18-21)

Today, we are reminded of who we are.  We are the chosen ones of God, not because of our merits but simply because of His grace and love.  “It is in Christ that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.”  So we do not need to prove ourselves to be loved by God.  He loves us as we are.   We are His adopted sons and daughters.  Of course He wants us to share in the fullness of His life and love.  This is what it means to be chosen for His greater glory.  That is why we can live a life of freedom and peace.  “Now you too, in him, have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation, and have believed it; and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, the pledge of our inheritance which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his glory praised.”

Flowing from this new identity, we are called to live it out so that we can become who we are meant to be.  St Peter said, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.”  (2 Pt 1:10f) St John in a similar vein wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”  (1 Jn 3:2f) This means that we are not perfect now.  God knows that and He accepts that we are not what and who we should be as yet.  It is a process of becoming God’s adopted sons and daughters.  He is patient with our growth and He waits for us to grow in grace, slowly but surely.

So flowing from the gratitude of being called and chosen, we strive to live according to our new identity, not with our own strength but with His grace.  This is what the psalmist says.  “Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.  For the word of the Lord is faithful and all his works to be trusted. The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with his love.  They are happy, whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his own. From the heavens the Lord looks forth, he sees all the children of men.”

Hence, we can afford to be authentic people.  We recognize we are sinners and yet to be saints.  So let us not be afraid to admit our weaknesses and at the same time focus on our growth in Christ-likeness more and more.  This is what the Lord is asking of us.  He is asking us to be authentic when He said, To my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight.  Why, every hair on your head has been counted.  There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.”  Indeed, the Lord is with us and He will protect us from hypocrisy even as we strive to be His true sons and daughters.  But let us not allow people’s judgment to affect us.  Rather, we should accept God’s judgement instead, as St Paul said. “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”  (1 Cor 4:4f)

Morning Prayer for Thursday, October 18, 2018 — Humility opens the door to compassion and service to others

October 18, 2018

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Not until you have failed can you learn true humility. Humility arises from a deep sense of gratitude to God for giving you the strength to rise above past failures. Humility is not inconsistent with self-respect. The true person has self-respect and the respect of others and yet is humble. The humble person is tolerant of others’ failings, and does not have a critical attitude toward the foibles of others. Humble people are hard on themselves and easy on others.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be truly humble and yet have self-respect. I pray that I may see the good in myself as well as the bad.

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Related:

Humility is the Remedy for all our Miseries

Humility is the Remedy for all our Miseries.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

18 OCTOBER, 2018, Thursday, St Luke, Evangelist

STAYING FOCUSED UNDER TRIAL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 TIMOTHY 4:10-17LUKE 10:1-4  ]

“The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit.”  But the Lord did not simply send them out without informing them of the challenges they would face in their mission.  Jesus never hid from His disciples the trials and sufferings of the apostolate.  He always spoke plainly to them about what it takes to be a disciple.  Earlier on, in the Beatitudes, He said to them, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”  (Lk 6:22f) Then, after the appointment of the Twelve and Peter’s declaration about Jesus, He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”  (Lk 9:23f)

In sending out the 72 disciples, Jesus also warned them accordingly of the dangers ahead of them.  Right from the outset, He said, “Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  Indeed, even with the good intentions of sharing the Good News, saving souls, healing hearts and empowering people, there will always be those who will oppose us because of jealousy, perceived threats to their vested interests, ego and pride.   Indeed, Paul wrote, “Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself; because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.”

Sometimes, we are abandoned in our mission.  Paul was disappointed by some of his collaborators when they left him in the lurch halfway in the mission, as Mark did initially.  But in a more disappointing case, he said, “Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika.”  Paul felt the sense of abandonment when he wrote, “Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me.”  St Paul spoke of his many betrayals by those whom he worked with.  This is not surprising, even Jesus was betrayed by His apostles, some because of fear and others because of selfish reasons. What is worse is when we need their help most and they are not there to stand up for us.  This was what Paul felt when he wrote, “The first time I had to present my defences, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me.’”

Regardless, we should not allow such trials to distract us from our mission. We must remain focused on our mission.  This was what the Lord advised the disciples.  Salute no one on the road.”  In other words, do not be easily distracted and tempted by the world, be it glory or pleasure or even suffering.  For this reason, we should “stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you.”  We should remain contented with what we have.

We must keep in mind our mission of proclaiming the Good News to the poor, materially and spiritually poor.  Our task is to bring the gospel of peace.  Jesus reminds us, “Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.”  We must be mediators of peace and be peacemakers.  This peace comes about when we help people to be reconciled with God and with each other through forgiveness.

Most of all, we must be those who come to heal the wounded, the sick and the troubled.  Jesus asked of us, “Cure those in it who are sick, and say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you.’”  Unless, we heal the broken hearted, it would be difficult for them to believe that God is near.  This was what the Lord took upon Himself when He started His ministry.  The manifesto was from Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Isa 61:1fLk 4:18f)

Indeed, being peacemakers and healers of wounds are ways we “make known the glorious splendor of your reign” as the psalmist prayed.  “All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, and your friends shall repeat their blessing.  They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might, O God.  They make known to men your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your reign.  Yours is an everlasting kingdom; your rule lasts from age to age.”   The Kingdom of God is the reign of God’s love and mercy seen in the restoration of creation through the establishment of peace, justice and equality.

However, the call to proclaim the gospel is not for the weak and faint-hearted but the strong.  A weak faith cannot sustain us in the apostolate.  This is the challenge for many Catholics, especially those who are not well-formed in the faith and are not undergoing on-going formation spiritually and doctrinally but involved in Church ministry, particularly those who have just completed their RCIA or those who have just been renewed and returned to the Church. In the face of trials, misunderstanding or opposition, they become disillusioned and disheartened.  Instead of being strengthened in the faith through service in the apostolate, they become bitter and resentful.  They fail to realize that even whilst serving in the Church, there will be fellow Catholics and not just non-believers who will attack them and thwart their good deeds and intentions.  Instead of persevering, they give up not just on the Church but on God as well.

If we are to be like St Paul, we need to learn to depend on the Lord.  The psalmist assures us, “The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds.  He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.”  We cannot depend on our own strength and efforts alone.  Rather, we must call out to God as Jesus did, going to the mountain and desert to pray in the early hours of the morning.  Without intimacy with the Lord and basking in His love and enlightened by His Word, we cannot find the courage and inspiration to continue the mission.  Only then can we remain focused and transcend our enemies. Like St Paul, we too must commend everything to the Lord as Christ Himself did when He prayed for His enemies on the cross.  So too St Paul made excuses for his enemies, for those who were weak, instead of holding grudges in his heart.  He wrote, “May they not be held accountable for it.”

That is why the Lord told the disciples, “Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals.” This is to remind them that the mission is not the work of human hands but the work of God. The Lord works through and in us.  This motif is repeated in the bible in many different ways.  When David fought with Goliath, he said, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”  (1 Sm 17:46f)  Total reliance and dependence on Him alone is the cause of our victory.  This was what St Paul felt when he wrote, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear.”  The Lord will never leave us completely alone.  The Lord encourages us that as far as possible, we should proclaim the gospel, never alone but with our brothers and sisters.  We must bear in mind that the Lord “sen(t) them out in pairs” to strengthen them in their mission.  Mission must be accomplished in communion with the Lord and His Church.  In this way, our mission would be fruitful.

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

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

Morning Prayer for Wednesday, October 17, 2018 — Finding God in Silence

October 17, 2018

Today look upward toward God, not downward toward yourself. Look away from unpleasant surroundings, from lack of beauty, from the imperfections in yourself and those around you. In your unrest, behold God’s calmness: in your impatience, God’s patience; in your limitations, God’s perfection. Looking upward toward God, your spirit will begin to grow. Then others will see something in you that they also want. As you grow in the spiritual life, you will be enabled to do many things that seemed too hard for you before.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may keep my eyes trained above the horizon of myself; I pray that I may see infinite possibilities for spiritual growth.

From the book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

— Blaise Pascal, from his book Pensées

See also:

God Speak Through Silence

https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/miracles/gods-grace/can-god-speak-through-silence

And

God Speaks in Silence

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-god-speaks-in-silence

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, October 16, 2018 — All reform is from within

October 16, 2018

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If your heart is right, your world will be right. The beginning of all reform must be in yourself. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you take it. However restricted your circumstances, however little you may be able to remedy financial affairs, you can always turn to your inward self and seeing something not in order there, seek to right it. And as all reform is from within outward, you will always find that the outward is improved as the inward is improved. As you improve yourself, your outward circumstances will change for the better. The power released from within yourself will change your outward life.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that the hidden power within me may be released. I pray that I may not imprison the spirit that is within me.

From the book “Twenty Four Hours A Day”

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Why We Pray and Meditate:

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)
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Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

16 OCTOBER, 2018, Tuesday, 28th Week, Ordinary Time

FAITH IN CHRIST AS THE POWER FOR OUR MINISTRY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GAL 5:1-6LK 11:37-41  ]

We all know that our justification is by faith alone.  We are made right with God not because of what we can do or what we have done but simply because of His merciful love for us.  Hence, how effective and dedicated we are to be as disciples and apostles of our Lord, depends on how strong our faith is in Him.

But in reality, do we truly believe in His merciful love?  How does one measure one’s faith in Christ?  Do we measure our faith in terms of how much good works and how many projects we have done?  Do we measure our faith in Him by examining how faithful we are to the decrees of the Lord, always keeping the law and delighting in His commands?  If these are the means by which we gauge our faith in the Lord, then Jesus warns us that we might be putting the cart before the horse.

Yes, we too have fallen into the same mistake of the Galatians.  Instead of clinging to Christ’s love and mercy, they clung to the laws and we, our good works.  Hence, St Paul challenged them saying that “everyone who accepts circumcision is obliged to keep the whole Law.”  As a consequence, they lost the joy of being Christians.  Indeed, this so disappointed Paul that he urged them, “When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

This, too, was the misunderstanding of the Pharisees and the Scribes about justification.  They were apparently so faithful to the Torah, just like the psalmist who worshipped the commands of the Lord.  Unfortunately, they literally worshipped the commands of God by making the laws their idols.  They were preoccupied and meticulous in the observation of the rituals and the traditions of the Fathers.  In itself, the observation of such traditions has its value and is not to be despised.  Yet, we know that Jesus deliberately broke the Jewish customs by eating without first washing His hands.  The intention, as implied by the evangelist, is to surprise them rather than to deny the value of the traditions.  Jesus wanted to put the all-important point across that what is essential is not so much the commandments that we observe legalistically but that they are really meant to help us to live a righteous and charitable life.  Indeed, He reprimanded them, “Oh, you Pharisees!  You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness.  Fools!  … Instead give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you.”   So what is necessary is that we purify the heart rather than be too taken up by externals which, although are important, do not necessarily mean that they are the measure of true holiness.

But does it mean therefore that if we do good deeds, that is, almsgiving, we can claim to have a deep faith in Christ?  Is Jesus implying that if we give alms then we can presume that we love God?  Such an interpretation would only lead us to believe that we can justify ourselves by good works.   The truth is that this is no real indication that we have a deep faith in Jesus.  How then does one measure one’s faith in Christ?

Faith in Christ means that we do not rely on the Law, as St Paul tells us.  Concretely it means that we do not rely on our observance of the laws or good works.  Why? Because obedience to the laws and even the performance of good works spring from pride.  Pride, we know, was the first sin of Adam and Eve.  They wanted to be like God without God.  Often, we, too, act in that manner.  Although our lips profess that we rely on God, yet in faith we can actually be like the Galatians whom Paul condemned.

Sometimes we can stress too much on the strict observance of rubrics, rules, regulations and doing the right thing by our faith, and forget the real purpose or intention of the rules, which is to promote love and unity.  Indeed, Jesus condemned the Jews not because of their observance of the customs but because they forgot the real reason for their observance.  Just the execution of them is no guarantee that we love God if it springs from our pride, for the consequence is that we begin to think too highly of ourselves and even despise those who fail to keep to the rules.  We become proud and condescending.  We say to others, “If I can do it, why can’t you?”  So it is nothing but human power and strength.  If we can do it on our own strength and will, it is really not the work of God but our own work.  If that were the case, we do not really need God or His grace. If we think we are such good Christians and consider ourselves worthy and therefore have a place reserved for ourselves in heaven, it is already a sign of pride because we think we have earned it.

Secondly, for those of us who cannot live up to the laws or are incapable of loving, we may feel depressed and demoralized.  We hate ourselves.  We feel that we are not worthy of God or of His love. When we see ourselves as hypocritical and unlovable, we begin to hate ourselves more and more.  As a result we become envious of those who are well loved and who do well in their calling.  Some of us might even condemn others more harshly because we act like sour grapes.  How can we accept others when we cannot admit our own sinfulness?

The solution cannot be based on our good works.  It must be because of our faith in the love of God in Jesus.  This is primary and central.  We must realize that our faith is primarily in the love of God and His forgiveness in Christ Jesus before anything else.  It has nothing to do with our works.  This is the faith that is presupposed.  As St Paul says, it is faith that manifests its power through love.  There is great import in this statement.  Faith in Christ means that we no longer depend only on ourselves but always on His love for us.  We must never think of ourselves as unworthy of His love.  This is the kind of faith in Christ that St Paul means.

Hence, even when we fail, especially when we have tried our best, then we must trust in God’s mercy.  We are loved by God even if we have not been able to live up to our calling; even if we have not been able to do as much as we want.  We will still feel unworthy before the Lord, but without despising ourselves simply because we have not lived up to the gospel demands.  All the more we want to love Him so that our lives can be lived in union with Him.  Unless we have this faith, we cannot say that we have faith in Him.

Without this faith, we will fall back to slavery as we try to prove ourselves in good works.  Thus, we must not misunderstand Jesus as simply saying that it is enough to love.  We must qualify His statement with that of Paul.  Jesus was not so much against the external practices but He was speaking of the heart that has been transformed by the love of God.  He was not speaking of charity only.   A lot of philanthropists do that.  But that can also make them proud.  So even to love is not sufficient to make us happy in life.  We can think highly of ourselves, but we will always feel insecure and never feel that we have done enough.  We become restless as we try to keep proving ourselves to others.  We remain forever unhappy because we think we can do better and strive to do better.  If such a thought comes from our recognition of our powerlessness, it is good, but when it comes from our pride, then it will unsettle us and make us anxious and fearful people.

Thus, the Good News that we are called to proclaim to ourselves and to others is that, although unworthy, we know that He still loves us unconditionally and always.  With this confidence in His love, we are now healed and transformed.  We want to tell the world that they do not have to prove themselves before God but that God loves them just as they are and want us to share in His love even more each day.  Hence, when we speak of good works, it is a work and obedience to the commandments rooted in our deep experience of God’s love for us.  It is His love that makes us good; not that He loves us because we are good.  Our strength must come from our experience of the merciful love of the Lord.  With the psalmist we implore, “Lord, let your love come upon me, the saving help of your promise. Do not take the word of truth from my mouth for I trust in your decrees.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Monday, October 15, 2018 — Following God’s Will Toward Happiness

October 15, 2018

There is only one-way to get full satisfaction from life and that is to live the way you believe God wants you to live. Live with God in that secret place of the spirit and you will have a feeling of being on the right road. You will have a deep sense of satisfaction. The world will have meaning and you will have a place in the world, work to do that counts in the eternal order of things. Many things will work for you and with you, as long as you feel you are on God’s side.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may have a sense of the eternal value of the work I do. I pray that I may not only work for now, but also for eternity.

From “Twenty Four Hours A Day”

Related:

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Nine quotes from Christian prodigy and philosopher Blaise Pascal

1. The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.

2. All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

3. Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

4. All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

5. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen.

6. Since we cannot know all that there is to be known about anything, we ought to know a little about everything.

7. People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

8. Happiness is neither without us nor within us. It is in God, both without us and within us.

9. Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.

 

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 15, 2018 — Saint Teresa of Avila

October 14, 2018

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Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you,
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God is enough.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

https://www.joanszymko.com/works/ind/nada-te-turbe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Art: Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 467

Reading 1  GAL 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1

Brothers and sisters:
It is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
Now this is an allegory.
These women represent two covenants.
One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery;
this is Hagar.
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother.
For it is written:
Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children;
break forth and shout, you who were not in labor;
for more numerous are the children of the deserted one
than of her who has a husband.

Therefore, brothers and sisters,
we are children not of the slave woman
but of the freeborn woman.

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm
and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 113:1B-2, 3-4, 5A AND 6-7

R. (see 2) Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Who is like the LORD, our God,
who looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia  PS 95:8

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

Gospel LK 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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21 FEBRUARY, 2018, Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent
THE UNCONVERTED CONVERTED

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Jonah 3:1-10Ps 51:3-4,12-13,18-19Luke 11:29-32 ]

The call to repentance and conversion is often heard and responded to by those who are non-Catholic and those who consider themselves great sinners; more so than by those who are already in the Church.  This precisely was the feeling that Jesus had when He tried to preach to His own people about conversion.  In spite of His preaching and the miracles He worked, the people remained unconverted, especially the Jewish leaders.  Indeed, the gospel says, “The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, “This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign.  The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”   Jesus was of course referring to His passion, death and resurrection, which would be the ultimate sign that He was from God. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, Jesus was in the tomb for three days before He rose from the dead.

But greater is the judgement on those who have had the privilege of seeing Christ and yet remain unconverted.  This was the warning of Jesus to His contemporaries.  “On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Indeed, this is the tragedy of life, that we do not appreciate what we have.  We tend to take our privileges for granted.  This is true for us Catholics as well.  We have 2000 years of testimony of God’s love in Christ.  We have 2000 years of tradition and spirituality in the Church where many have encountered the Lord.  We have all the means to salvation, especially the sacraments.  Many of us have easy access to the Eucharist, just a 5 to 10 minutes’ drive from our house.   In many Churches, there are talks and retreats and prayer services held.  In terms of knowledge and information, the internet gives all kinds of information about the Catholic faith, including homilies and talks on video and you-tube.  So we are not short of access and avenues to grow in the faith.

Yet many of us are indifferent to the call to repentance.  Our response is half-hearted.  We might go for Penitential service just before Christmas and Easter.  But it is merely a routine confession, saying the same old sins without making any effort to overcome them.  We are just happy to have a superficial confession, but there is no real examination of conscience, no serious preparation – just a routine.  This explains why such confessions will not change lives because our sins are forgiven only when we confess them fully and sincerely with a humble and contrite heart.  Like King David, we must be genuinely sorry for our sins in order to find the forgiveness of God.  “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.  In your compassion blot out my offence.  O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.  A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.”

This was the case of the Ninevites when they heard the preaching of Jonah.  They were pagans but when  they heard that Nineveh was going to be destroyed, “the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers.”

Not only did they fast, but they also renounced their evil behaviour and the wicked things they had done.   They had confidence in God’s mercy saying, “Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?”  Indeed, “God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour. And God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he threatened.”  A contrite heart is not simply one that feels remorseful for one’s sinful actions and past but it is a heart that takes the necessary actions as well to change one’s way of life.  Indeed, all that God wants of us is that we change our lives so that no harm would befall us.  God wants us to repent, not to punish us.  He allows us to suffer the consequences of our sins in order that we will stop doing things that will hurt us eventually.  Hence, it must be clearly understood that even the penance that is imposed on us after we make our confession is not to be seen as a punishment for the offences we committed.  Rather, they are means that the Church provides to help us make amends for our sins and to strengthen our spiritual life so that we can ward off future temptations.

Why, then, is it so difficult to preach repentance and conversion to those who are already coming to Church?  Firstly, many of us have spiritual pride.  We think we know much about the Church and the doctrines.   We have heard the same messages read and preached in different ways by the priests.  Intellectually, we might know much about the teaching and doctrines of the Church.  However, they are merely knowledge on the cerebral level.  Such knowledge does not engage our entire being.  It does not engage our heart.  Therefore our hearts are not moved.  What we do not feel, we remain detached.  Our hearts are hardened and numbed, like the Israelites and the contemporaries of Jesus.  Whereas for the real sinners and the common people, they take the Word of God to heart.  They recognize their failures in living up to the gospel life.   Like the early converts after hearing the first sermon of Peter, “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’”  (Acts 2:37)

Secondly, because of familiarity.  Indeed, it is said that familiarity breeds contempt.  We often take for granted the love of our spouse, the care of our parents and our friends until they are taken away from us.  We do not appreciate the freedom of worship until one day we are deprived of it, as in some countries.  Not only does familiarity breed contempt, but it brings about the loss of the sense of the Sacred.  This is particularly true for Church ministers, including the lay ministers.  We handle the Eucharist and our sacred items so often that we lose the sense of the sacred.  When we lose our taste for the sacred and sacred things, we merely go through the motions; there is no real contact with God.  It is worship without a relationship.

Thirdly, it is because of routine.  Sometimes, we can be performing sacred actions without any real consciousness of what we are doing, be it celebrating the mass, hearing confessions or distributing Holy Communion.  We forget what we are doing and what we are celebrating, unlike our first encounter, when we felt the closeness of God.  Or when we are before the Blessed Sacrament for adoration or for mass.  Initially we may feel His presence, but when we get used to it, it can become just a routine. This is how Catholics behave.  They attend mass and say their prayers in a perfunctory manner.  This was how Isaiah condemned the people, The Lord said: “these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote.”  (Isa 29:13)

So today, we are called to be humble and have a contrite heart.  Let us hear the message even if it were the same one, not just as words or something that we have heard before.  Christ is speaking to us directly. St Paul calls us to accept the Word of God that is preached, “not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”  (1 Th 2:13)  Let the psalmist’s words be ours as well, “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast away from your presence.”   Let us be conscious of His love and mercy for us so that we can repent and treasure His presence once again.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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Commentary on Luke 11:29-32 From Living Space

Today’s readings are about doing penance for our sins and they are linked by the name of Jonah.

In Mark’s gospel the crowds are often shown as recognising God’s presence in Jesus better than the Scribes and Pharisees do. In Luke, however, they are sometimes shown as people curious to see signs and wonders but without any real commitment to following Jesus.

So today we are told that “the crowds got even bigger” and Jesus spoke to them. But what he said was not very flattering. “This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign.” The only sign they will get will be the sign of Jonah. Jesus, like Jonah, is a call to repentance and radical conversion. And Jesus implies that many of his listeners are not ready or willing to hear that call. They don’t need any signs; Jesus has been giving them an abundance of signs through his teaching and healing work.

On the judgment day, they, the chosen people of God, will be surprised to see the Queen of the South rise up because she, pagan that she was, came a long distance to listen to the wisdom of Solomon – and Jesus is someone far superior to Solomon. They will be surprised to see the people of Niniveh, pagans that they were, rise up because they repented at the preaching of Jonah – and Jesus is far greater than Jonah.

We too, who claim to be God’s People, may be surprised to see who will be called to God’s side on judgment day because they heard and followed God’s word according to their capacity. The question is: where will we be on that day? Thomas A Kempis, the writer of a famous medieval treatise, called The Imitation of Christ, asked that very same question. He was worried about whether he would persevere in serving Christ to the very end of his life. He said he was told in answer to his prayer: “Do now what you would like to have done then, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Where will I be on the Day of Judgement? The answer to that question can be decided by me this very day and every single day from now on.

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St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada

Born at Avila, Old Castile, 28 March, 1515; died at Alba de Tormes, 4 Oct., 1582.

The third child of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda by his second wife, Doña Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, who died when the saint was in her fourteenth year,Teresa was brought up by her saintly father, a lover of serious books, and a tender and pious mother. After her death and the marriage of her eldest sister,Teresa was sent for her education to the Augustinian nuns at Avila, but owing to illness she left at the end of eighteen months, and for some years remained with her father and occasionally with other relatives, notably an uncle who made her acquainted with the Letters of St. Jerome, which determined her to adopt the religious life, not so much through any attraction towards it, as through a desire of choosing the safest course. Unable to obtain her father’s consent she left his house unknown to him on Nov., 1535, to enter the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila, which then counted 140 nuns. The wrench from her family caused her a pain which she ever afterwards compared to that of death. However, her father at once yielded and Teresa took the habit.

After her profession in the following year she became very seriously ill, and underwent a prolonged cure and such unskillful medical treatment that she was reduced to a most pitiful state, and even after partial recovery through the intercession of St. Joseph, her health remained permanently impaired. During these years of suffering she began the practice of mental prayer, but fearing that her conversations with some world-minded relatives, frequent visitors at the convent, rendered her unworthy of the graces God bestowed on her in prayer, discontinued it, until she came under the influence, first of the Dominicans, and afterwards of the Jesuits. Meanwhile God had begun to visit her with “intellectual visions and locutions”, that is manifestations in which the exterior senses were in no way affected, the things seen and the words heard being directly impressed upon her mind, and giving her wonderful strength in trials, reprimanding her for unfaithfulness, and consoling her in trouble. Unable to reconcile such graces with her shortcomings, which her delicate conscience represented as grievous faults, she had recourse not only to the most spiritual confessors she could find, but also to some saintly laymen, who, never suspecting that the account she gave them of her sins was greatly exaggerated, believed these manifestations to be the work of the evil spirit. The more she endeavoured to resist them the more powerfully did God work in her soul. The whole city of Avila was troubled by the reports of the visions of this nun. It was reserved to St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter of Alcantara, and afterwards to a number of Dominicans (particularly Pedro Ibañez and Domingo Bañez), Jesuits, and other religious and secular priests, to discern the work of God and to guide her on a safe road.

The account of her spiritual life contained in the “Life written by herself” (completed in 1565, an earlier version being lost), in the “Relations”, and in the “Interior Castle”, forms one of the most remarkable spiritual biographies with which only the “Confessions of St. Augustine” can bear comparison. To this period belong also such extraordinary manifestations as the piercing or transverberation of her heart, the spiritual espousals, and the mystical marriage. A vision of the place destined for her in hell in case she should have been unfaithful to grace, determined her to seek a more perfect life. After many troubles and much opposition St. Teresa founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Primitive Rule of St. Joseph at Avila (24 Aug., 1562), and after six months obtained permission to take up her residence there. Four years later she received the visit of the General of the Carmelites, John-Baptist Rubeo (Rossi), who not only approved of what she had done but granted leave for the foundation of other convents of friars as well as nuns. In rapid succession she established her nuns at Medina del Campo (1567), Malagon and Valladolid (1568), Toledo and Pastrana (1569), Salamanca (1570), Alba de Tormes (1571), Segovia (1574), Veas and Seville (1575), and Caravaca (1576). In the “Book of Foundations” she tells the story of these convents, nearly all of which were established in spite of violent opposition but with manifest assistance from above. Everywhere she found souls generous enough to embrace the austerities of the primitive rule of Carmel. Having made the acquaintance of Antonio de Heredia, prior of Medina, and St. John of the Cross, she established her reform among the friars (28 Nov., 1568), the first convents being those of Duruelo (1568), Pastrana (1569), Mancera, and Alcalá de Henares (1570).

A new epoch began with the entrance into religion of Jerome Gratian, inasmuch as this remarkable man was almost immediately entrusted by the nuncio with the authority of visitor Apostolic of the Carmelitefriars and nuns of the old observance in Andalusia, and as such considered himself entitled to overrule the various restrictions insisted upon by the general and the general chapter. On the death of the nuncio and the arrival of his successor a fearful storm burst over St. Teresa and her work, lasting four years and threatening to annihilate the nascent reform. The incidents of this persecution are best described in her letters. The storm at length passed, and the province of Discalced Carmelites, with the support of Philip II, was approved and canonically established on 22 June, 1580. St. Teresa, old and broken in health, made further foundations at Villanuava de la Jara and Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Granada (through her assistant the Venerable Anne of Jesus), and at Burgos (1582). She left this latter place at the end of July, and, stopping at PalenciaValladolid, and Medina del Campo, reached Alba de Torres in September, suffering intensely. Soon she took to her bed and passed away on 4 Oct., 1582, the following day, owing to the reform of the calendar, being reckoned as 15 October. After some years her body was transferred to Avila, but later on reconveyed to Alba, where it is still preserved incorrupt. Her heart, too, showing the marks of the Transverberation, is exposed there to the veneration of the faithful. She was beatified in 1614, and canonized in 1622 by Gregory XV, the feast being fixed on 15 October.

St. Teresa’s position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences, which a deep insight and analytical gifts enabled her to explain clearly. The Thomistic substratum may be traced to the influence of her confessors and directors, many of whom belonged to the Dominican Order. She herself had no pretension to found a schoolin the accepted sense of the term, and there is no vestige in her writings of any influence of the Areopagite, the Patristic, or the Scholastic Mystical schools, as represented among others, by the German Dominican Mystics. She is intensely personal, her system going exactly as far as her experiences, but not a step further.

A word must be added on the orthography of her name. It has of late become the fashion to write her name Teresa or Teresia, without “h”, not only in Spanish and Italian, where the “h” could have no place, but also in French, German, and Latin, which ought to preserve the etymological spelling. As it is derived from a Greek name, Tharasia, the saintly wife of St. Paulinus of Nola, it should be written Theresia in German and Latin, and Thérèse in French.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14515b.htm

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Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mysticRoman Catholicsaint,Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time and the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor Saint John were alive when the two orders separated.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and on 27 September 1970 was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.[5] Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle), are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices. She also wrote Camino de Perfección(trans.: The Way of Perfection).

After her death, Saint Teresa’s cult was known in Spain during the 1620s, and for a time she was considered a candidate to become a national patron saint. A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, said to have been sent with one of her brothers to Nicaragua by the saint, is now venerated as the country’s national patroness at the Shrine of El Viejo.[6] Pious Catholic beliefs also associate Saint Teresa with the esteemed religious image called Infant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Morning Prayer for Sunday, October 14, 2018 — Seeking Wisdom and Our Spiritual Destiny

October 14, 2018

Lay upon God your failures and mistakes and shortcomings. Do not dwell upon your failures, upon the fact that in the past you have been nearer a beast than an angel. You have a mediator between you and God – your growing faith -, which can lift you up from the mire and point you toward the heavens. You can still be reconciled with the spirit of God. You can still regain your harmony with the Divine Principle of the universe.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not let the beast in me hold me back from my spiritual destiny. I pray that I may rise and walk upright.

From The Book, “Twenty Four Hours A Day”

Image result for prayer, photos

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful
And kindle in them the fire of Your love
Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created
And You shall renew the face of the earth

Let us Pray:
O God, Who instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit,
Grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Read more: https://www.lords-prayer-words.com/prayers_before/prayer_for_wisdom.html#ixzz5TsxAMtLP

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