Posts Tagged ‘Prayer and Meditation’

Morning Prayer, Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18, 2018

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Meditation For The Day

The spiritual life has two parts. One is the life apart, the life of prayer and quiet communion with God. You spend this part of your life apart with God. Every day your mind can be set in the right direction so that your thoughts will be of the right kind. The other is the life impart–imparting from others what you have learned from your own meditative experience. The victories you have won over yourself through the help of God can be shared with others. You can help them by imparting to them some of the victory and security that you have gained in your life apart.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may grow strong from my times apart with God. I pray that I may pass on some of this strength to others.

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, June 18, 2018 — Go The Extra Mile

June 17, 2018

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‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 365

Reading 1 1 KGS 21:1-16

Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel
next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria.
Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden,
since it is close by, next to my house.
I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or,
if you prefer, I will give you its value in money.”
Naboth answered him, “The LORD forbid
that I should give you my ancestral heritage.”
Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer
Naboth the Jezreelite had made to him:
“I will not give you my ancestral heritage.”
Lying down on his bed, he turned away from food and would not eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him,
“Why are you so angry that you will not eat?”
He answered her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite
and said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard, or,
if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.’
But he refused to let me have his vineyard.”
His wife Jezebel said to him,
“A fine ruler over Israel you are indeed!
Get up.
Eat and be cheerful.
I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and,
having sealed them with his seal,
sent them to the elders and to the nobles
who lived in the same city with Naboth.
This is what she wrote in the letters:
“Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.
Next, get two scoundrels to face him
and accuse him of having cursed God and king.
Then take him out and stone him to death.”
His fellow citizens—the elders and nobles who dwelt in his city—
did as Jezebel had ordered them in writing,
through the letters she had sent them.
They proclaimed a fast and placed Naboth at the head of the people.
Two scoundrels came in and confronted him with the accusation,
“Naboth has cursed God and king.”
And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death.
Then they sent the information to Jezebel
that Naboth had been stoned to death.

When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death,
she said to Ahab,
“Go on, take possession of the vineyard
of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you,
because Naboth is not alive, but dead.”
On hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way
down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite,
to take possession of it.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 5:2-3AB, 4B-6A, 6B-7

R. (2b) Lord, listen to my groaning.
Hearken to my words, O LORD,
attend to my sighing.
Heed my call for help,
my king and my God!
R. Lord, listen to my groaning.
At dawn I bring my plea expectantly before you.
For you, O God, delight not in wickedness;
no evil man remains with you;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
R. Lord, listen to my groaning.
You hate all evildoers.
You destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
the LORD abhors.
R. Lord, listen to my groaning.

AlleluiaPS 119:105

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
9An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.)
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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18 JUNE, 2018, Monday, 11th Week, Ordinary Time

DISCERNING LOVE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 Kg 21:1-16; Mt 5:38-42 ]

In the first reading, we read of the greed of the King of Samaria, Ahab.   He saw Naboth’s vineyard next to his house and said to him, “Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it adjoins my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it or, if you prefer, I will give its worth in money.”  Naboth refused because it was wrong for him to give away the inheritance of his ancestors.  For Naboth, the property was not his but held in trust for future generations.  He was answerable not only to himself but to his ancestors and his children’s children.

Not only was Ahab greedy but he behaved like a spoilt child, throwing tantrums when he did not get what he wanted.  “Ahab went home gloomy and out of temper at the words of Naboth of Jezreel, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ He lay down on his bed and turned his face away and refused to eat.”  This is exactly how immature people behave.  They pout, lament, are dispirited, refuse to eat and make their loved ones sad and worried.

So how do we deal with such big babies in our lives?  Do we pander to their childishness, give in to their demands and seek to appease them?  The truth is that this is what most of us would do for our loved ones. When our children are anxious and depressed because they cannot finish their schoolwork, we finish it for them.  When our children feel sad because they are not allowed to go out with their friends, we cave in to their pleas even though they are slacking in their studies.  When our loved ones are overweight, we continue to feed them with unhealthy food.  When our loved ones are involved in irregular relationships, we tolerate them.   This seems to find support from Jesus in the gospel today when He taught, “offer the wicked man no resistance.  On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him.  Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.”

This was precisely what Jezebel did as well.  Although she was equally wicked, selfish, greedy, power-hunger and more vicious than Ahab, who was a puppet king, she certainly loved Ahab much.  She appeared to be the one controlling the throne.  She was protective of her husband and sought to make him look good, capable and powerful.  So when he was depressed over Naboth’s refusal to sell him his vineyard, Jezebel schemed and manipulated to have Naboth done away with, so as to secure his property for Ahab.  Presumably, she did it in the interest of her husband.  “When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, ‘Get up! Take possession of the vineyard which Naboth of Jezreel would not give you for money, for Naboth is no longer alive, he is dead.’ When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel and take possession of it.”  

The question we therefore need to reflect on is, whether helping our loved ones to commit sin, even if it makes them apparently happy, the right thing to do?  In other words, in the name of love, do we commit another sin?  If we are carrying a baby that we did not plan or even want, do we go for abortion so that the baby would not suffer in the long run because of rejection?  Can we right a wrong with another wrong?  By so doing, aren’t we perpetuating the crime and causing more injury to our neighbour?

Often, in the name of love, we do something that actually hurts our loved ones in the end.  We do not have the courage to endure short-term suffering for long-term happiness. This is what the letter of Hebrews is asking of us when the author says, “Let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Heb 12:1f)

But why are we accomplices to their crimes or sins when we know that supporting them is not the right thing to do?  We do all these not because we love them but because we love ourselves more.  We cannot bear to see them suffer or in a bad mood.  We cannot bear the pain of seeing them grow through sufferings.  Therefore, it is more for the love of self rather than for them.  Within this context, we can better feel with Jezebel.  This explains why we seek to take away their growing pains so that we do not have to suffer.  For in truth, if we really love them, then we must do what is for their ultimate good and not just immediate good.

Is this is the way Jesus is telling us to deal with those who sin?  We must be careful that we do not read the gospel out of context.   The underlying principle of our Lord is that our response must be to heal and not to cause more harm.  This was why He was against the ancient principle of self-defence, a principle which we still hold today, namely, “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.”    Instead, Jesus says, “offer the wicked man no resistance.”  The point is that when we take revenge by taking the life of another, we will only add more injury, injustice and hatred among all peoples.  Hence, the principle of our Lord is clear; we do not resolve a crime by committing another crime.  It is as if a woman who is pregnant with an unwanted child chooses to abort the baby, or a girl who is made pregnant by her boyfriend rushes into a marriage that they are not prepared.  So clearly, whatever we do to help someone should not involve another wrong.

We can only use right and just actions to redeem someone who is in the wrong.  Hence, there are situations when we are unjustly treated by others, as in the case of Naboth, whose property was stolen by Ahab.  In such cases, then the principle of non-violence and non-resistance applies.  In this instance, we are not directly committing a crime or a sin.  Those who are unjust to us are the ones who are guilty of sin.  By not retaliating, we hope that our genuine love and compassion for our enemies might win them over.  Giving them what they want, more than what they deserve, will hopefully help them to experience the unconditional love of God.  Solomon says, “love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.”  (Songs 8:6f)

This is how the Lord acted towards His enemies in His life and ministry.  This was what St Peter exhorted the early Christians who were persecuted for their faith.  For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.  When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”  (1 Pt 2:19-24)   Indeed, the Lord has shown us that love is more powerful than hatred, life more powerful than death.   St Paul says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Rom 12:21)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
 
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Morning Prayer for Sunday, June 17, 2018

June 17, 2018

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Meditation For The Day

Thinking about God in love and worship drives away evil. It is
the thought before that the hosts of evil flee. The thought of
a Power greater than yourself is the call for a life-line to
rescue you from temptation. The thought of God banishes
loneliness and dispels gloom. It summons help to conquer your
faults. Think of God as often as possible. Use the thought
prayerfully and purposefully. It will carry your thoughts away
from material things and toward the spiritual things that make
life worthwhile.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may think of God often. I pray that I may rest in
peace at the thought of His love and care.

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Saint Joseph is the Model for Dads on Father’s Day. He is not quoted one time in the bible. He leads by example. This book by Devon Schadt talks about our call to Fatherly Greatness.

Father’s Day Book:

Book: Joseph’s Way: The Call to Fatherly Greatness – Prayer of Faith: 80 Days to Unlocking Your Power As a Father by Devin Schadt
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Many of  Nguyễn Văn Thuận letters, prayers and sermons have been preserved and published — most are available at fine bookstores and from Amazon.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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17 JUNE, 2018, Sunday, 11th Week, Ordinary Time

CO-OPERATING WITH THE GRACE OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  Ez 17:22-24Ps 92:2-3,13-162 Cor 5:6-10Mk 4:26-34 ]

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Eph 2:8f) Indeed, the primacy of grace is the primary theme of today’s scripture readings. Without His grace, all our works would be in vain. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”  (Ps 127:1)  This is what the Lord says, “From the top of the cedar, from the highest branch I will take a shoot and plant it myself on a very high mountain. I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel. It will sprout branches and bear fruit and become a noble cedar.”  It is God who will make Israel grow, just as He made the trees grow.  God will appoint a Messiah to lead Israel back to Him.

Consequently, we are reminded not to abandon Yahweh and make false compromises with the idols of the world.  This was what Israel did.  Instead of seeking the Lord’s protection, they made alliances with foreign powers and eventually sold out Israel to them.  There is always this temptation not to rely on the grace of God but on ourselves.  As a result, we make a mess of our lives and bring more problems instead.  This was the mistake of the Kings of Israel for trusting in the might and power of foreign nations to save and protect them.

Indeed, we must never forget that if we are Catholic, or if we are blessed, it is because of the goodness and mercy of God.  Without His favour, we would not be where and what we are today.  Like Israel, we were nobody, just slaves and nomads.  But having been chosen in Christ, we are His choicest vineyard.  But it is purely His grace and His love.  This is illustrated in the parables of the seeds.  Once the seed is planted, it grows gradually even though we are asleep.  “Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”   God continues to look after it.  This is the truth of life.  God watches over us whether we are asleep or awake.  “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.”  (Ps 127:2)

His grace is also unimaginable.  The parable of the Mustard seed speaks of the spectacular growth from a very small seed “into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.”   Indeed, the Church began with only a handful of disciples, but today Christianity has more than two billion adherents in the world.  One out of every three persons in the world is a Christian.  How could this be possible if not for the grace of God at work in the Church and in the disciples?  God can do great things in us if we allow His grace to work.  We only have to be docile to Him and He can transform us.  St Paul reminded the Christians, “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters; not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,  so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”  (1 Cor 1:26-29)

But we are not chosen for ourselves.  Like Israel, we are called to be the light of the nations.  “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” (Isa 42:1) The parable of the Mustard seed envisaged the Church to be a refuge and sanctuary for everyone, especially those who are tired, the sick, the poor and the marginalized.  “Once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.” We are to invite everyone to Jesus who said to us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)  As Pope Francis invites us, we are called to reach out to the peripheries, to those who are suffering and give them hope and mercy.

Of course we must cooperate with His grace to make this happen.  St Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”  (1 Cor 15:10)  Like the farmer, we need to plant the seed.  Grace is given to us but without our cooperation, the grace would have been received in vain.  St Paul urges us, “We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.”  (2 Cor 6:1)  For this reason, St Paul says that we must be intent on pleasing Him as a consequence of His love.  “Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him.”  We must let our whole life be a praise to Him.

In the final analysis, we would have to render an account of how we use His grace in our lives.  St Paul says “For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.”  Indeed, salvation is a free gift from God but we have to be accountable for how we make use of His grace. “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So then, each of us will be accountable to God.”  (Rom 14:10,12)  It behoves us therefore to consider carefully how, having received the grace of God, we justify this grace by living a good and fruitful life.  St Peter wrote, “Be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.”  (2 Pt 1:10)

How can we be fruitful disciples of the Lord and confirm our calling?  Firstly, we need to be rooted in the Lord and grounded in Him.  As the psalmist says,  “Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God, still bearing fruit when they are old, still full of sap, still green, to proclaim that the Lord is just. In him, my rock, there is no wrong.”  Unless Christ is the center of our lives and the cornerstone, we cannot bear much fruit. (cf 1 Pt 2:4-6)   In the gospel, Jesus says in no uncertain terms, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”  (Jn 15:4f)

Secondly, we must seek union with Him as the ultimate calling and our hope in life.  Our hope must be with the Lord who is the source and end of life, love and happiness. “We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord.”  It is this hope to be with Jesus that is the real motive for what we do and how we act.  A life of faithful service depends on the hope that is promised to us.  Without this hope, then we will be motivated by other worldly goals.  Only when we are convinced that eternal life is to be with Christ, can we then give ourselves fully to the cause, like St Paul.  He wrote, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”  (cf Phil 1:21-24)

Thirdly, we must be grateful to God for chosing us to be His servants and messengers of the Good News.With the psalmist, we pray, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your truth in the watches of the night.”   Gratitude is what will empower us to do good and repay God for all that He has done for us.  St Paul said, “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Tim 1:12-14)

Finally, let us walk by faith, not by sight, as St Paul urges us.  This is what both parables are teaching us.  We cannot see that God is working in us at times but He is at work.  We must be patient to allow the grace of God to work through nature.  Small beginnings, but great outcomes at the end.  Growing in faith is not always an instantaneous reality but more often than not it is a gradual ongoing process until we reach full spiritual maturity.  There are times when we have to wait.   So let us have full confidence in Him as St Paul asks of us.  Let us trust Him.  But let us cooperate with His grace by growing and deepening our faith each day.  Through contemplation of His word like the early Christians, we will grow in understanding and grasp the truth of the message of Jesus for ourselves.  In this way, we will certainly come to a time when we can too harvest the crops that the Lord has planted in us.

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

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
 
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Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, June 16, 2018 — You are my inheritance, O Lord.

June 16, 2018

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“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.”

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Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 364

Reading 1 1 KGS 19:19-21

Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Responsorial Psalm  PSALM 16:1B-2A AND 5, 7-8, 9-10

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

AlleluiaPS 119:36A, 29B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees;
and favor me with your law.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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We live in a world today where freedom has run wild.
Anyone, at any time, it seems, can speak or do something that others disagree with or voice disapproval. Freedom abounds without, it seems, any limits.
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What happened to “order.” Or as the military says, “Good Order and discipline.”
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God has placed limits on man through his creation and his Word. Philosophers used to talk about “Natural Law” — that intelligent men discovered for themselves and lived by.
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We seem to have forgotten all the thinkers that have come before us. The works of men like Aristotle, the “Father of Western Philosophy,” are rarely studied any more.
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We are taken by our own greatness and technology — as if looking into an iPhone for hours every day somehow makes us better people.
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The readings today remind us about our human powerlessness — a term often heard in addiction treatment but almost no place else.
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Man is, by himself, quite limited. He is not often awesome — especially when compared to God.
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God just asks a few things from us: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Within that teaching flows “feed my sheep,” “love one another,” “honor your father man mother” and other teachings worth knowing, and holding and practicing and living.
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Today’s Gospel offers us yet another gem:
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Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
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Anything more is from the Evil One.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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16 JUNE, 2018, Saturday, 10th Week, Ordinary Time

COMMITMENT

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 KG 19:19-21; MT 5:33-37  ]

It is easy to make promises but can we keep our commitments?  This is the question that is posed to us in the gospel.  Yesterday, the gospel spoke about adultery. Today, we are asked to search our hearts with respect to our commitments.  Indeed, many people make empty promises even in marriage.  How many marriages are lasting?  Today, infidelity is so common and marriage vows are taken too lightly.   Regardless whether these vows are taken before God, many do not observe the vows.  That is why Jesus said, “do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is Gods throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king.  Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black.  All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’”

How is it that very few are able to keep their commitments and promises today?   

Firstly, in a secular climate, where faith in God is diminished; many no longer fear God or consider their vows sacred.  Promises and oath-taking make sense only when they are made before God and not just our fellowmen.  When promises are made just to each other, we can break them.  But even then, when they are made before God, the lack of consciousness of the sacredness of our vows will cause us to break our vows.   In the past, men had greater reverence for God.  In today’s world, the sense of the sacred, the fear of the Lord is no longer felt.

Secondly, we are living in a very individualistic world.  We want to be satisfied immediately.  We live in a world where we make ourselves the center of everything.  Everything must revolve around us.  We want to have things our way.  We want to enjoy and be satisfied with the pleasures of life.  Modern men and women are educated and they have great independence.  They rely on their own logic and justify their needs.  So keeping fidelity today is a great challenge when liberated men and women seeking love and understanding would not tolerate their partner cheating on them.  Since there is financial independence, divorce is the easy way out of the relationship.

Thirdly, even commitment in priestly and religious life is a great challenge.  Many priests and religious have given up on their vocation. They ask themselves, “What is the use of making sacrifices especially when one is not appreciated.”   They too are attracted by the pleasures of the world.  Priests and religious, being human, also have their own affective, physical and material needs.  And because of the demands of the apostolate, many priests and Church leaders, lay or clerical, have no time to pray, to be soaked in the love of God.  As a result, ministry becomes a means to find love and acceptance, not a channel to share the love of God in them.  When we need lots of appreciation and recognition from others, it shows clearly that the motivation of ministry is not the love of God in us but a means to fulfill our need to be loved by our people.  When we make use of people to satisfy our emptiness then we end up frustrated and unfulfilled.  So the lack of interior life is the cause of ineffective ministry and commitment to the people of God, and the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are compromised.

Fourthly, commitments are difficult because we lack role models.  The irony is that many of the role models given to us in the world, whether world leaders, corporate or political, and the movie stars, are divorced and have been unfaithful to relationships and their spouse.  The media today presents such infidelities as something acceptable and not just condoned.  They consider such matters in relationship as private and nothing to do with society.  So our young people today have few models to give them the strength to remain faithful in relationships when they see so much cheating all the time.  This is made worse when such people often come from broken families and single parentage.  Not only are they without role models of fidelity in relationship but they are not capable of commitment themselves.  At any rate, today, loyalty is no more a virtue as in the past.   The world rewards you for the profits that you bring into the company; not your loyalty to the company.  The world is not concerned with upholding values but what brings in money.  The bottom line is profits, not morality and justice.

Today, we are called to learn from the example of Jesus and Elijah.  Commitment calls for total surrender.   Unless we surrender ourselves totally, we cannot speak of commitment.  Jesus was totally committed to His Father and for this reason, He lived a life of integrity.  He was true to Himself and as the gospel tells us, He has no fear of man.   He was true to His Father and therefore true to Himself.

In the same way too, we read how Elisha responded to the call of Elijah to be a prophet.  “Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him.”  This was a sign of election.  Initially, Elisha was hesitant about this choice.  He was not ready to give up his family and his trade.  He told Elijah, “’Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’”  The answer is clear: if Elisha is not ready, then he might just as well forget about the call.  The commitment that Elijah wanted was a decisive commitment.  With that we read that “Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.”   To kill the oxen and to use the plough for cooking is a sign of total surrender, commitment and a break from the old way of life.  There is no question of turning back or falling back on something that one has.

This is the kind of commitment that the Lord asks of us.  It must be decisive, total and immediate.  This is why religious are expected to take the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity when they commit themselves to the Lord.  Unfortunately, many do not even live these vows in fact, or even in spirit.   Many of us no longer take these vows seriously as in the olden days.  Consequently, today, we are called to search our hearts.

In the final analysis, commitment is only possible when we can say with the psalmist, “You are my inheritance, O Lord.  Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you. I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.’ O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize.”  Only when God is our true inheritance and when we recognize Him as the ultimate security in our lives, we cannot give that commitment to the Lord and to our fellowmen.  Only those who know that the Lord is the one who can give them life, will turn to Him for direction and for consolation, like the psalmist who prayed, “I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel, who even at night directs my heart. I keep the Lord ever in my sight: since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.”  Without a commitment to the Lord, our commitment to our fellowmen is weak.  Let us once more turn to the Lord for strength in our commitment, for the Lord Himself is faithful to His covenant and His love for us. God is the faithful One even when we are unfaithful.   Indeed, His fidelity was shown to our Lord Jesus Christ at His death, as the psalmist says, “And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.”  So let us trust in the Lord who is faithful to His anointed ones and those whom He loves.

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

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
 
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Commentary on Matthew 5:33-37 By Living Space

Sermon on the Mount (cont’d):

Today’s third example of Jesus’ “filling out” the meaning of the Law is based on the instruction, “You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord.” In the book of Numbers we read: “If a man makes a vow to Yahweh or takes a formal pledge under oath, he must not break his word: whatever he promises by word of mouth he must do” (Numbers 3:30).

Jesus goes far beyond this requirement. He simply tells us to stop making oaths altogether. The true follower of Christ does not need to take oaths or to swear on anything, however sacred, to guarantee the truth of his words. “All you need say is ‘Yes’ if you mean ‘Yes’, ‘No’ if you mean ‘No’.”

The Christian should be a person of known integrity. He can be taken at his word and no further guarantee is required. It is nice to be known as such a person. Truth should be our second name.

Sometimes, of course, people may not be entitled to the whole truth. In fact, honour may require us even to sacrifice our life rather than reveal something that might put another person in danger but we should never be guilty of positively deceiving another.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2107g/

 

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection• In today’s Gospel, Jesus rereads the commandment: “Do not commit perjury”. And here also he surpasses the letter, concerning the spirit of the law and seeks to indicate the last objective of this commandment: to attain total transparency in the relationship among persons. Here we can apply what we said concerning the two commandments “Do not kill” and “Do not commit adultery”. It is a question of a new way of interpreting and setting into practice the law of Moses, starting from the new experience of God Father/Mother which Jesus has brought to us. He rereads the law beginning with the intention which God had in proclaiming it centuries ago on Mount Sinai.

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Matthew 5, 33: It was said to our ancestors: you must not swear. The Law of the Old Testament said: “Do not commit perjury” And it added that the person should swear for the Lord (cf. Nb 20, 2). In the prayer of the Psalms it is said that “one can go up to the Mountain of Yahweh and reach the holy place, if he does not have innocent hands and a pure heart, and does not confide in idols, nor swears in order to deceive”(Ps 24, 4)..The same thing is said in diverse other points of the Old Testament (Ecl 5, 3-4), because one must be able to trust the words of others. In order to favour this reciprocal trust, tradition had invented the help of the oath. In order to strengthen one’s own word, the person would swear for someone or for something which was greater than he and who could punish him if he did not fulfil what he had promised.

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Things continue to be like this up to the present time. Whether in the Church or in society, there are some moments and occasions which demand a solemn oath on the part of persons. In last instance, the oath is the expression of the conviction according to which nobody can trust completely the word of the other.

• Matthew 5, 34-36: But I say to you: do not swear. Jesus wants to heal this deficiency. It is not sufficient “not to swear”. He goes beyond and affirms: “But I say to you: do not swear at all: either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by earth, since that is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is ‘Yes if you mean yes, ‘No’ if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One”.

They would swear for heaven and for earth, for the city of Jerusalem, for their own head. Jesus shows that all that is medicine which does not cure the pain and suffering of the lack of transparency in the relationship among persons. Which is the solution which he proposes?

• Matthew 5, 37: Let your speech be yes, yes; no, no. The solution which God proposes is the following: Let your speech be yes, yes; no, no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One”. He proposes a radical and total honesty. Nothing more. Anything more that you say comes from the Evil One. Here again, we are confronted with an objective which will always remain in our mind and which we will never succeed in fulfilling it completely.

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It is another expression of the new ideal of justice which Jesus proposes: “to be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5, 48). Jesus uproots any attempt to create in myself the conviction that I am saved because I observe the law. Nobody can merit God’s grace. Because otherwise it would not be a grace. We observe the Law, not in order to merit salvation, but in order to thank with all our heart, for the immense gratuitous goodness of God who accepts us, and saves us without any merit on our part.

Personal questions

• How do I observe the law?

• Have I experienced some time in my life the gratuitous goodness of God?

Concluding Prayer

I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me.
(Ps 16,7-8)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-533-37

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Morning Prayer for Friday, June 15, 2018 — “I pray that I may develop the feeling of being led by God.”

June 15, 2018

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Meditation For The Day

There is beauty in a God-guided life. There is wonder in the
feeling of being led by God. Try to realize God’s bounty and
goodness more and more. God is planning for you. Wonderful are
His ways – they are beyond your knowledge. But God’s leading
will enter your consciousness more and more and bring you ever
more peace and joy. Your life is being planned and blessed by
God. You may count all material things as losses if they
prevent your winning your way to the consciousness of God’s
guidance.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may earn the rewards of God’s power and peace.
I pray that I may develop the feeling of being led by God.

http://www.recoveryreadings.com/dailyrecoveryreadingsJune15.html

Related:

Book:

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How do people keep their faith in prison?

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SINGULAR-MINDEDNESS IN SEEKING FULLNESS OF LIFE IN RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS

From Bishop William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1KGS 19:911-16MT 5:27-32  ]

The gospel text today might sound rather harsh and exacting. What does Jesus really mean when He said, “If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away” and “if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away”?  Does He really expect us to do such a thing as to maim ourselves?

On the contrary, Jesus wants us to have the fullness of life.  What does this fullness of life entail?  Life consists of relationships.  We will find meaning in life only when there is relationship, a relationship that is right and proper both with God and with our neighbours.  Indeed, this is the only goal in life that is worth our sacrifice.  Wealth and status cannot give us life. Only love and authentic relationship can give us life.

It is within this context that we can understand why Jesus spoke against adultery.  He went even further to say that “everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”   In the understanding of Jesus, adultery, which is infidelity in relationship, is the worst sin because it hurts not only the sinner but others as well.  We all know so well that because of adultery, many sins arise.  We have lies, anger, hatred and even violence. We have so many broken families and dysfunctional children today because of infidelity.  Appropriately, adultery is often used in scriptures to portray man’s relationship with God as well.  The truth is that infidelity in human relationship also affects our relationship with God.  After all, love of God is intrinsically tied down to the love of man.

Consequently, since relationship is critical for happiness in life, the demand of Jesus is that we cut away anything that will hinder us from living the full gospel life.   We must do everything within our power to avoid the occasion of sin.  Just as we need to amputate a certain part of the body in order to save a person, all the more, we must be ready to part with anything that can cause us to break our relationship with God, the author of life and love, because we fail to love our fellowmen correctly.  What is the use of having something at the expense of a greater thing?

And the truth is that everything begins from the heart, including evil desires.  The heart is the place not only of the emotions, but the mind, will, thought, and intentions as well.  The heart sums up the being of the human person. But in truth too, the heart desires evil things only because of what the heart sees, both physically and intellectually.  The heart, which is the will, desires an object.

That is why the sin of adultery must first be dealt with in the heart.   But quite often it all begins with the eyes, for the eyes cause us to desire a certain good and the hands cause us to act.  The eyes will send the message to the intellect and the head will tell the heart to desire it.  The heart in turn commands the intellect to tell the body to act.  This is true for lust.  Consequently, even if we do not act, the thought is sufficient to indicate the intention of the heart.  Given the opportunity to act, the action will follow.  This explains why even if one lusts after a woman in the heart, one has already committed adultery in principle.

Yes, we are all called to the apostolate of love.  In demanding that we cut off anything that prevents us from love and life, Jesus is also telling us that life cannot wait.  It requires a radical decision and commitment.  Life cannot be lived half-heartedly.  We cannot postpone living or postpone loving.  It is either a decision to live now or never.  We must make a radical commitment to life.   To delay is to say to ourselves that we do not want to live.  But that would be a contradiction.

Perhaps, love is too difficult for us.  Relationship is always difficult.  Love has to be purified.  Quite often in relationships, we feel like giving up.  At times, we fail.  This was the case of Elijah in the first reading.  He apparently was zealous for the House of Israel, but he was fleeing because the Queen wanted to take his life for slaying her 400 prophets.  On the surface, it seemed that this was the reason why he ran away.  God asked him three times “’What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I am filled with jealous zeal for the Lord of hosts, because the sons of Israel have deserted you, broken down your altars and put your prophets to the sword. I am the only one left and they want to kill me.’”

But the real reason was that he was angry with God for not working wonders as He did earlier to protect him from his enemies.  He had a secret and hidden resentment against God, because he was disappointed with the way God acted. He wanted God to make Himself present in theophany to prove His might and power.  But the Lord refused to make Himself present in the wind, earthquake or fire.  Instead, He came in a gentle breeze. It would appear that Elijah was fleeing because his enemies wanted to kill him, when In truth his real enemy was himself.

We, too, must never be discouraged in our struggles in relationship.  We must not be too harsh towards ourselves, especially in overcoming the sin of lust or in purifying our relationship with our spouse or our friends.   When Jesus asked us to check the motives, He was not simply concerned about the act itself but what goes on in our hearts.  What is even more important is to search our hearts.  Through mistakes that we make, we will learn and find the strength and wisdom to overcome our lack of love for our spouse and partners.  Just as God told Elijah who ran away from his enemies, the Lord is also saying to us, “Go, go back the same way to the wilderness of Damascus.”  In other words, let us never give up fighting the battle to purify our love for our spouse and friends.

Indeed, the high ideals of married life are difficult for the modern generation.  But to those who understand the truth and necessity of the unity and indissolubility of marriage, Jesus will give us the grace and power to follow His way of holiness in their state of life. He does not abandon us even when we forsake him. The Holy Spirit will help us to overcome all things.   What we need to do is to follow Elijah, to spend time in contemplation of His love and His word, so that in the silence of our hearts, God will give us His assurance of love and grace.

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

https://www.catholic.sg/15-june-2018-friday-10th-week-ordinary-time/

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The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder

St. Augustine in the 4th Century basically lamented in his “Confessions” that everything he did was infected by self-advancement.  He would, he confessed, express his selfless love for God or those close to him, but secretly, in his deeper self-examination, he saw his desire for selfish gain.  Every act of giving was suspect.  Perhaps it was his pride or his desire for recognition as a holy man, or the idea that he could impress God with his purity of purpose.  He was, he confessed, trapped within his own ego.  So am I.  So are you.

To be “insane” is to be seriously out of touch with reality.  The insane person has fixed upon a state of private reality so intransigent that change is impossible. After all, why would one fight against reality? To an insane person, it is you, not he or she who fails to understand the world as it is.

Augustine was not insane however for the very reason that he was aware of his spiritual illness and need for healing grace.  He could self-observe, and in a sense, conduct a form of ancient rational cognitive therapy.  He looked at the evidence with objectivity to challenge his subjective convictions.  He then shifted to a mental framework that more closely aligned with the evidence.

That evidence was that he had no sufficient power of himself to be restored to right thinking.  By grace, he began to question his private assessments of the state of his soul in the light of Scripture. What did God say about Augustine, and how attentively was Augustine listening?

Augustine, by God’s grace, was able to look into the twisted state of his own soul.  He wrote of the problem:    “The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.” And he wrote of the solution:  “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Just when I think I am being especially holy, a tinge of my pride or a sweet sense of superiority almost instantly infiltrates my awareness.  Most of the time, I’m oblivious to this ego-contamination, but sometimes,  I privately savor the feeling of my achieved holiness but do not challenge it as evil.  Much more rarely, as just this morning, I am fully conscious that my “holy” thoughts are sick with this incurable ego virus.  My reaction is one of frustration, hopelessness, and sadness that I am in this savage spiritual state.  Is there any way out?

The way out is the Way of God.   The way of holiness is to move past the fascination with the creation [ourselves included] into the splendor of the Creator.  The way out is to seek fervently not only the beauty of truth but the Source of All Truth.  The way out is to be attentive to the presence of God in all His manifestations.  The wonderful nature of God is that He loves us, and draws us to Himself.  This drawing near process is a conversion from illusion towards awareness and healing.  Time is short and precious.   We need to take God’s invitation to sanity seriously and act upon it now.

Holiness and conversion are not instantaneous.  We live in a process of being converted and being made holy.  Each day is a step to be taken towards the outstretched arms of Christ.  But what is critical is to be in a daily relationship.  To be connected is to take life from the Source of Life.  To be disconnected is to die a spiritual death.  “I am the vine; you are the branches.” To connect with the invisible God who speaks without words is such a challenge, but the experience of intimacy is real, convincing, and transforming.  This way of Jesus to “turn things upside down” whether tables in the temple or theological concepts is why he has my attention.  Like the people of his physical time on earth, I’m led to say:  “He’s different. He teaches with authority, not like our religious leaders.”  He is continuously moving us out of the false safety of our rules and into the adventure of real connection with Abba-God. “They were amazed at His teaching.”

This connection is called prayer, and it takes several forms, depending on the mental and emotional posture assumed, whether one primarily of praise and worship, or supplication, or quiet receptivity.  In one sense, it is not a conversation at all, though it may often be.  One important aspect of prayer is being present mindfully with God in everything.  It is at some level of consciousness to be aware that God is to be encountered in every person, place, and event, even those most trivial and ordinary.  It is to be aware that the presence of God renders all things sacred, and that whenever evil enters a relationship or event, the sacred has been defiled by the sacrilegious.  It is to take pleasure in God and sorrow in sin.

Pope John Paul II said this of prayer in his book “The Way to Christ:”

“We have to learn to pray: as it were learning this art ever anew from the lips of the Divine Master himself, like the first disciples: ‘Lord, teach us to pray!’ (Lk 11:1).”[25]

This model is the “Lord’s Prayer,” from the Gospel of Matthew, 6:5-15:

5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9“This, then, is how you should pray:

“ ‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11Give us today our daily bread.

12And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation,a

but deliver us from the evil one.b ’

14For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

This is not a mechanical prayer to be repeated mindlessly word for word. It is offered as a guideline for how our prayers are to conform to the principles that rule heaven and earth.  The model reminds us that we must humble ourselves before our Creator, and unburden ourselves of the grudges and ill-will that stand between us and God or between us and other imperfect humans.   With this mindset, we are more likely to find intimacy with God, which is the whole purpose of prayer.

Prayer too is like the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Those steps could as rightly be called the 12 steps of Sinners Anonymous, for we addictively ingest sin like addicts ingest drugs. We are no different in our spirits or in our need for a “Higher Power.”  Those steps, reduced to a few words, might be:

I’m helpless to find peace and or a way out of this human misery.  I need you, and I surrender to you, not even knowing who you are or why you care, but I’m desperate, and you’re my last hope.  I can’t do this on my own.  Restore me to sanity and life, and maybe, by your grace, I can be a messenger of hope one day for others.

In closing, we return to the words of Augustine as he came to his senses, and over the course of his life, saw the grace of God leading him to recovery:

“The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder,” and “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Source:https://the-daily-peanut.com/2018/04/15/ego-contamination/

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, June 15, 2018 — God Gives The Law on How Women Must Be Treated

June 14, 2018

For people to live in cohesion, agreement, and peace in civil and interpersonal relationships, God gave us laws…

“If you love me keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

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Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 363

Reading 1 1 KGS 19:9A, 11-16

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter.
But the word of the LORD came to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?”
He replied, “I have been most zealous for the LORD,
the God of hosts.
But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant,
torn down your altars,
and put your prophets to the sword.
I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.”
The LORD said to him,
“Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus.
When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram.
Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel,
and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 27:7-8A, 8B-9ABC, 13-14

R. (8b) I long to see your face, O Lord.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.

Alleluia  PHIL 2:15D, 16A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 5:27-32

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.”It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful)
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

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What are the Laws of God?

A kingdom – like any nation today – cannot function without laws. There must be a standard of conduct for subjects and citizens to follow, or chaos and anarchy would result. Following the laws of a kingdom or nation does not grant a person citizenship – that is not the purpose of law. Law is simply a guide for people to follow to ensure cohesion, agreement, and peace in civil and interpersonal relationships. Without an understood standard, enforced by a sovereign ruler, everyone would act according to his own whim or desire, and nothing good or worthwhile would be produced (Judges 21:25).

The Kingdom of God is no different. God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). His Kingdom will be peaceful and orderly because everyone who will enter into it will have voluntarily submitted himself to the law – the commandments – of God. God will not have anyone in His Kingdom who demonstrates, by the pattern of his life, that he will not obey Him (Matthew 7:21-23Hebrews 10:26-31). Revelation 12:17 describes the saints as those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

A Pharisee once asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36). His response shows that the intent behind God’s law is love – love toward God, and love toward fellow man:

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

These two statements – loving God and loving neighbor as oneself – encapsulate the first four and the last six commandments respectively. The commandments merely define further how to love God and love man. We love God in general by placing Him first, by not adopting physical aids in worshipping Him, by not bearing His name in vain, and by keeping the seventh-day Sabbathholy. We love man, in general, by honoring our parents, not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not lying, and not coveting.

When Jesus Christ came, He revealed the spirit – the intent – of His law. He showed that the sixth commandment extends much further than merely prohibiting the taking of human life, but covers even hating (Matthew 5:21-22). Similarly, the intent behind the seventh commandment is to stop adultery at its source: the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Following God’s commandments in both their letter and spirit ensures the best quality of life for everyone.

When Jesus was asked what one must do to have eternal life, His response was simple: “If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). To reinforce this, in His last words to the disciples before His arrest and crucifixion, He had much to say about keeping God’s commandments. He was giving them (and us) instruction that would not be absolved by His death:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (verse 21)

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (verses 23-24)

The apostle James calls the Ten Commandments “the royal law” – meaning that it came from a King, and is worthy of His Kingdom:

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2:8-12, emphasis ours)

While a man cannot earn entrance into God’s Kingdom – that is a gift that God must bestow (Ephesians 2:8) – it is plain from Scripture that willful rebellion against God’s standard of righteousness will keep a man out of the Kingdom:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you. .. that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

I Corinthians 6:9-10 includes homosexuals (catamites), sodomites, thieves, coveters, and extortionists in the list of those who will be barred from entering the Kingdom of God. Revelation 21:8mentions that the cowardly, the unbelieving, and the abominable will not live eternally. Revelation 22:15 adds “whoever loves and practices a lie.” These examples show that there is a standard of conduct by which God expects the heirs to His Kingdom to live. After all, eternal life is more than just length of days – living forever would be a terrible curse if there were not also quality of life to match it.

Our Savior tells us what He means by eternal life: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). He defines eternal life as “to know God.” “Know” suggests a close intimacy, just as a husband and wife are intimate in marriage (Genesis 4:1). It indicates experiential knowledge, not theoretical. In Amos 5:4, God exclaims, “Seek Me and live!” He is saying, “Turn to Me and My way of life; seek to know Me,” not “Search for Me.” He is saying, “Seek to know Me by living the same way I do.” That is how experiential knowledge of Him becomes an intimate knowing of Him. We know Him, in large part, by living the same law of love that He lives by.

http://www.truegospel.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Basics.tour/ID/6/What-are-Laws-of-Kingdom.htm

“If you love me keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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• In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus made a rereading of the commandments: “Do not kill” (Mt 5, 20-26). In today’s Gospel Jesus rereads the commandment “You shall not commit adultery”. Jesus rereads the law starting from the intention that God had, which was proclaimed centuries before on Mount Sinai. He seeks the spirit of the Law and does not close himself up in the letter.

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He takes up again and defends the great values of human life which constitute the background of each one of these Ten Commandments. He insists on love, on fidelity, on mercy, on justice, on truth, on humanity (Mt 9,13; 12,7; 23,23; Mt 5,10; 5,20; Lc 11,42; 18,9). The result of the full observance of the Law of God humanizes the person. In Jesus we can see what happens when a person allows God to fill his life. The last objective is that of uniting both loves, the building up of fraternity in defence of life. The greater the fraternity, the greater will be the fullness of life and greater will be the adoration given by all creatures to God, Creator and Saviour.

• In today’s Gospel, Jesus looks closely at the relationship man-woman in marriage, fundamental basis of human living together. There was a commandment which said: “Do not commit adultery”, and another one which said: “Anyone who divorces his wife, has to give her a certificate of divorce”. Jesus takes up again both commandments, giving them a new meaning.

• Matthew 5, 27-28: Do not commit adultery. What does this commandment require from us? The ancient response was: man cannot sleep with somebody else’s wife. This was demanded by the letter of the commandment. But Jesus goes beyond, surpasses the letter and says:“But I say to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

The objective of the commandment is reciprocal fidelity between man and woman who assume life together, as a married couple. And this fidelity will be complete only if both will know how to be faithful to one another in thought and in the desire and, will know how to reach a total transparency between them.

• Matthew 5, 29-30: Tear out your eye and cut off your hand. To illustrate what Jesus has just said, he states a hard word of which he serves himself on another occasion when he spoke of the scandal to little ones (Mt 18, 9 e Mc 9, 47). He says: If your right eye should be your downfall tear it out and throw it away: for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have to have your whole body thrown into hell”. And he affirms the same thing concerning the hand. These affirmations cannot be taken literally. They indicate the radical nature and the seriousness with which Jesus insists on the observance of this commandment.

• Matthew 5, 31-32: The question of divorce. Man was permitted to give a certificate of divorce to the woman. In the discourse of the community, Jesus will say that Moses permitted this because the people were hard hearted (Mt 19, 8). “But I say to you: anyone who divorces his wife, give her a certificate of divorce; but I say to you: anyone who divorces his wife, except in the case of concubinage, exposes her to adultery and anyone who marries a divorced woman , commits adultery”.

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There has been much discussion on this theme. Basing itself on this affirmation of Jesus, the Oriental Church permits divorce in case of “fornication”, that is of infidelity. Others say that here the word fornication is the translation of an Aramaic or Hebrew word zenuth which indicated a valid marriage among people who were relatives, and which was forbidden. It would not be a valid marriage.

• Leaving aside the correct interpretation of this word, what is important is to see the objective and the general sense of the affirmation of Jesus in the new reading which is done of the Ten Commandments. Jesus speaks about an ideal which should always be before my eyes. The definitive ideal is: “to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5, 48). This ideal is valid for all the commandments reviewed by Jesus. In the rereading of the commandment “Do not commit adultery”, this ideal is translated as transparency and honesty between husband and wife.

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Even more, nobody can say: “I am perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect”. We will always be below the measure. We can never merit the reward because we will always be below the measure. What is important is to continue walking on the road, turn our look toward the ideal, always! But at the same time, as Jesus did, we have to accept persons with the same mercy with which he accepted persons and directed them toward the ideal.

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This is why, certain juridical exigencies of the Church today, for example, not to permit communion to those divorced persons living a second marriage, seem to be more in agreement with the attitude of the Pharisees than with that of Jesus. Nobody applies literally the explanation of the commandment “Do not kill”, where Jesus says that anyone who says idiotto his brother deserves hell (Mt 5, 22). Because if it was like that we would all have the entrance into hell guaranteed and nobody would be saved. Why does our doctrine use different measures in the case of the fifth and the ninth commandments?

Personal questions

• Do you succeed in living honesty and transparency totally with persons of the other sex?

• How is this to be understood: “to be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect?”

Concluding Prayer

Of you my heart has said,
‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Yahweh, I seek;
do not turn away from me.
Do not thrust aside your servant in anger,
without you I am helpless.
Never leave me, never forsake me, God, my Saviour.
(Ps 27,8-9)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-527-32

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Morning Prayer for Thursday, June 14, 2018 — Get out of the desert…. Seeking Peace of Mind.

June 14, 2018

When people put up a show and live a life of pretense, we don’t want them as friends.

Get out of the desert…. Seeking Peace of Mind.

It is not your circumstances that need altering so much as
yourself. After you have changed, conditions will naturally
change. Spare no effort to become all that God would have you
become. Follow every good leading of your conscience. Take each
day with no backward look. Face the day’s problems with God, and
seek God’s help and guidance as to what you should do in every
situation that may arise. Never look back. Never leave until
tomorrow the thing that you are guided to do today.

Prayer For The Day

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, child and outdoor

I pray that God will help me to become all that He would have me
be. I pray that I may face today’s problem as with good grace.

http://www.recoveryreadings.com/dailyrecoveryreadingsJune14.html

Related:

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

14 JUNE, 2018, Thursday, 10th Week, Ordinary Time

GOD’S POWER TRANSFORMS US FROM WITHIN

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 Kings 18:41-46Ps 65:10-13Matthew 5:20-26  ]

How are you feeling? Some of you might be in the desert, like the Israelites facing a long drought.  Some of us are unhappy with our life.  We are not happy where we are and what we are, whether with our marriage or our work.  We find life meaningless and empty. Some of us live in fear and anxiety about the future and as a result, are greedy like King Ahab.  Others are unhappy with people around us, not just with our enemies but even with our friends and loved ones.   We are always fighting with people whom we see as obstructing our will to do what we want and how we live.   Very often, we tend to blame people.  We pick on others.  We look for scapegoats for our failures and mistakes in life instead of recognizing that it is our fault as well.  This was the case of the people of Israel.  They were unfaithful to the covenant.  Instead of looking at themselves, they looked for other causes.

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Image result for Sunrise Photograph – Dawn In The Desert by Saija Lehtonen
Sunrise Photograph – Dawn In The Desert by Saija Lehtonen
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When we live superficially and lack authenticity in the way we live our lives, especially in relationships, we will be exposed eventually.  That is what Jesus is warning us in today’s gospel, “Come to terms with our opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.”  This is the price for our folly and lack of integrity.  Our friends will see how fake we are.  When they come to realize how inward-looking and self-centered we are and that we are doing things only to win their attention, they will dump us.  We want genuine people who are not necessarily perfect but are honest with themselves, are striving to improve themselves and willing to admit their mistakes. 

When people put up a show and live a life of pretense, we don’t want them as friends.

Rather, Jesus asks us to look deep within us.  He warns us against behaving like the Pharisees and the scribes who lived superficially by impressing to get attention, glory and honour.  They fulfilled the laws only to feel justified before men and God.  There was much pride and self-righteousness in the way they conducted themselves.  That is why Jesus invites us to live deeply.  He says, “If your virtue goes not deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

So we must come to terms with ourselves, our brokenness and our goodness.   We must learn to connect with ourselves.  Hence, we must ask ourselves the reasons for our misery and emptiness.  What is causing us to be so full of anger, vindictiveness, hatred, intolerance and unforgiveness?  Even anger for Jesus is but the sign of a deeper issue affecting us and causing us to hurt others and in the process, hurt ourselves.  Jesus said, “You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother, ‘Fool’ he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him ‘Renegade’ he will answer for it in hell fire.”

Happiness in life requires us to live deeply.   To live deeply means to live a life of God.  How can one live deeply?  Firstly, we must remove our sins, especially of anger and revenge.  When we are angry, we cannot look at things objectively.  Our sins cause us to be blind.  This is why the Lord asks us to forgive our brothers and sisters.  When we are not at peace with ourselves and with others, we act out of our wounds and pain.  Indeed, most of us react to situations rather than act.  The fact that we are reacting means that we are not dealing with the events and challenges objectively.  We need to heal the pains that come from old wounds, especially those traumatic events in our lives inflicted on us, especially by our loved ones, parents, siblings and relatives.  Anger is the cause of misery.

Secondly, to live deeply requires that we live our faith deeply, not just a superficial faith or ritualistic faithbut authentically.  This is to say that we must believe deeply in our hearts what we believe in.  The trouble is that many of us do not truly believe in what we have been taught.  We only pay lip service to the Word of God and the doctrines of the Church.  We are not completely sold on the teachings of the Church because we tend to listen more to the world’s views than the Church’s views.  Our faith in Christ and in the Bible is superficial.  We are more concerned with external practices and obligations, believing that if we observe some of the rules, we can count ourselves as good Catholics.  The truth is that we are not saved by good works but by Christ’s forgiving love and mercy on the cross.  Unless we come to understand this truth, we will always see religion as a set of practices rather as an invitation to love and live like Christ who shows us the way to fullness of life.

The fruits of our salvation are demonstrated in a virtuous life transformed in Christ.  Indeed, Jesus makes it clear that “If your virtue goes not deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”  It is more than just performing some pious exercises.  Rather, it is to allow the saving work of Christ to show its effects in our lives by allowing His Spirit to work in and through us.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”  (Gal 5:22f25ff)

Thirdly, to live deeply means going beyond the letter of the law to the Spirit.   This is the intention of Jesus with regard to the teaching on anger.  On the surface, we think anger is quite acceptable because many of us get angry easily.  He saw it as a deeper issue.  He is against all forms of anger as it would lead to shouting, verbal abuse, violence and even killing. So, it is more than just breaking the law.  If we do not reconcile, we will be led to greater evil.  The separation will cause greater misunderstanding and make us lose our peace of mind.  It prevents us from worshipping God totally and blocks our hearts from entering the love of God.  When we are not in union with God, then other issues will arise.  That is why the Lord advises us accordingly, “So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.”

In the same vein, offering worship to God is not just an external performance of sacrifices.  Love of God and love of our fellowmen go together.  Jesus makes it clear that these two commandments are inseparable, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)  John is even more explicit.  “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. ‘The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”  (1 Jn 4:20f)

Consequently, today, we are called to follow Elijah  in developing a personal relationship with the Lord rooted in faith and trust.  It was his faith in the Lord and His power that enabled him to pray with expectation that the Lord would fulfil what he asked of Him.  His fervent prayer brought about the rain.  And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’ And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.”  The Lord too wants to send down His blessings on us.  But we must surrender to Him in prayer.   We must cultivate a personal faith in the Lord Jesus.  Only then, can we live our lives authentically, in the power of the Spirit, in truth and in love.  Just as the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, so too, His hand would also be on us if we seek Him with all our hearts, turn away from sin, live in truth and love, and in integrity, and not follow the bad example of King Ahab whose insincerity caused him and his family to suffer.

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

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, June 14, 2018 — The only sin that God does not forgive is our lack of pardon toward others

June 13, 2018

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When all else fails, allow God to help!

Art: Elijah Fed by an Angel by Ferdinnd Bol

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 362

Reading 1 1 KGS 18:41-46

Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink,
for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”
So Ahab went up to eat and drink,
while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel,
crouched down to the earth,
and put his head between his knees.
“Climb up and look out to sea,” he directed his servant,
who went up and looked, but reported, “There is nothing.”
Seven times he said, “Go, look again!”
And the seventh time the youth reported,
“There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
Elijah said, “Go and say to Ahab,
‘Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.'”
In a trice the sky grew dark with clouds and wind,
and a heavy rain fell.
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Art:  Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. And Elijah ran before Ahab.
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Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel.
But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah,
who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab
as far as the approaches to Jezreel.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 65:10, 11, 12-13

R. (2a) It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
Thus have you prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.

Alleluia  JN 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

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An uprightness which surpasses that of the Pharisees.

This first verse presents the general key of everything which follows in Matthew 5, 20-48. The word Justice never appears in the Gospel of Mark, and it appears seven times in that of Matthew (Mt 3, 15; 5, 6.10.20; 6, 1.33; 21, 32). This has something to do with the situation of the communities for which Mark wrote. The religious ideal of the Jews of the time was “to be just before God”. The Pharisees taught: “Persons attain justice before God when they succeed to observe all the norms of the law in all its details!” This teaching generated a legalistic oppression and caused great anguish in persons, because it was very difficult to be able to observe all the norms (cfr. Rm 7, 21-24). This is why Matthew takes the words of Jesus on justice to show that it has to surpass the justice of the Pharisees (Mt, 5, 20). According to Jesus, justice does not come from what I do for God observing the law, but rather from what God does for me, accepting me as his son, as his daughter. The new ideal which Jesus proposes is the following: “Therefore, be perfect as perfect is your Heavenly Father!” (Mt 5, 48). That means: You will be just before God when you try to accept and forgive persons as God accepts and pardons me, in spite of my defects and sins.

• By means of these five very concrete examples, Jesus shows us what to do in order to attain this greater justice which surpasses the justice of the Scribes and the Pharisees. As we can see, today’s Gospel takes the example of the new interpretation of the fifth commandment: You shall not kill! Jesus has revealed what God wanted when he gave this commandment to Moses.

• Matthew 5, 21-22: The law says: You shall not kill!” (Ex 20, 13). In order to observe fully this commandment it is not sufficient to avoid murdering. It is necessary to uproot from within everything which, in one way or another, can lead to murder, for example, anger, hatred, the desire to revenge, insult, and exploitation, etc.

• Matthew 5, 23-24. The perfect worship which God wants. In order to be accepted by God and to remain united to him, it is necessary to reconcile oneself with the brother, the sister. Before the destruction of the Temple, in the year 70, when the Christian Jews participated in the pilgrimages in Jerusalem to present their offerings at the altar and to pay their promises, they always remembered this phrase of Jesus. In the year 80, at the time when Matthew wrote, the Temple and the Altar no longer existed. They had been destroyed by the Romans. The community and the communitarian celebration became the Temple and the Altar of God.

• Matthew 5, 25-26: To reconcile oneself. One of the points on which the Gospel of Matthew exists the most is reconciliation. That indicates that in the communities of that time, there were many tensions among the radical groups with diverse tendencies and sometimes even opposed ones. Nobody wanted to cede before the other. There was no dialogue. Matthew enlightens this situation with the words of Jesus on reconciliation which request acceptance and understanding. Because the only sin that God does not forgive is our lack of pardon toward others (Mt 6, 14). That is why, try to reconcile yourself before it is too late!

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-520-26

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Reflection on Elijah and Ahab
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ELIJAH longed to be alone with his heavenly Father. But the throngs around him had just seen this true prophet call down fire from heaven, and many of the people were no doubt eager to curry favor with him. Before Elijah could ascend to the heights of Mount Carmel and approach Jehovah God in private prayer, he faced an unpleasant task. He had to speak to King Ahab.

The two men could hardly have been more different. Ahab, bedecked in royal finery, was a greedy, weak-willed apostate. Elijah wore the official garb of a prophet—a simple, rustic robe, possibly of animal skin or of woven camel or goat hair. He was a man of great courage, integrity, and faith. The day that was now drawing to a close had revealed much about the character of each man.

3, 4. (a) Why had it been a bad day for Ahab and other Baal worshippers? (b) What questions will we discuss?

It had been a bad day for Ahab and other Baal worshippers. The pagan religion that Ahab and his wife, Queen Jezebel, championed in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel had been dealt a severe blow. Baal had been exposed as a fraud. That lifeless god had failed to light a simple fire in response to the frantic pleas, dances, and ritual bloodletting of his prophets. Baal had failed to protect those 450 men from their well-deserved execution. But the false god had failed in something else, and that failure was about to be made complete. For over three years, the Baal prophets had implored their god to end the drought afflicting the land, but Baal had proved unable to do so. Soon, Jehovah himself would demonstrate his supremacy by ending the drought.—1 Ki. 16:30–17:1;18:1-40.

When, though, would Jehovah act? How would Elijah conduct  himself until then? And what can we learn from this man of faith? Let us see as we examine the account.—Read 1 Kings 18:41-46.

A Prayerful Attitude

5. What did Elijah tell Ahab to do, and does it seem that Ahab had learned anything from the day’s events?

Elijah approached Ahab and said: “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the turmoil of a downpour.” Had this wicked king learned anything from the day’s events? The account does not say specifically, but we find here no words of repentance, no request that the prophet help him approach Jehovah and seek forgiveness. No, Ahab simply “proceeded to go up to eat and drink.” (1 Ki. 18:41, 42) What about Elijah?

6, 7. For what did Elijah pray, and why?

“As for Elijah, he went up to the top of Carmel and began crouching to the earth and keeping his face put between his knees.” While Ahab went off to fill his stomach, Elijah had an opportunity to pray to his heavenly Father. Note the humble posture described here—Elijah on the ground with his head  bowed so low that his face was near his knees. What was Elijah doing? We need not guess. The Bible, atJames 5:18, tells us that Elijah prayed for the drought to end. Likely he was offering such a prayer on top of Carmel.

Elijah’s prayers reflected his earnest desire to see God’s will done

Earlier, Jehovah had said: “I am determined to give rain upon the surface of the ground.” (1 Ki. 18:1) So Elijah prayed for the fulfillment of Jehovah’s stated will, much as Jesus taught his followers to pray some one thousand years later.—Matt. 6:9, 10.

8. What does Elijah’s example teach us about prayer?

Elijah’s example teaches us much about prayer. Foremost in Elijah’s thoughts was the accomplishment of God’s will. When we pray, it is good to remember: “No matter what it is that we ask according to [God’s] will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Clearly, then, we need to know what God’s will is in order to pray acceptably—a good reason to make Bible study a part of our daily life. Surely Elijah also wanted to see an end to the drought because of all the suffering among the people of his homeland. His heart was likely full of thanksgiving after the miracle he had seen Jehovah perform that day. We likewise want our prayers to reflect heartfelt thanksgiving and concern for the welfare of others.—Read 2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 4:6.

Confident and Watchful

9. What did Elijah direct his attendant to do, and what two qualities will we consider?

Elijah was sure that Jehovah would act to end the drought, but he was not sure when Jehovah would act. So, what did the prophet do in the meantime? Note what the account says: “He said to his attendant: ‘Go up, please. Look in the direction of the sea.’ So he went up and looked and then said: ‘There is nothing at all.’ And he went on to say, ‘Go back,’ for seven times.” (1 Ki. 18:43) Elijah’s example teaches us at least two lessons. First, note the prophet’s confidence. Then, consider his watchfulness.

Elijah eagerly sought evidence that Jehovah was about to act

10, 11. (a) In what way did Elijah show his confidence in Jehovah’s promise? (b) Why can we have similar confidence?

10 Because Elijah had confidence in Jehovah’s promise, he eagerly sought evidence that Jehovah was about to act. He sent  his attendant up to a high vantage point to scan the horizon for any signs of impending rain. Upon his return, the attendant delivered this unenthusiastic report: “There is nothing at all.” The horizon was clear, and the sky, evidently cloudless. Now, did you notice something unusual? Remember, Elijah had just told King Ahab: “There is the sound of the turmoil of a downpour.” How could the prophet say such a thing when there were no rain clouds to be seen?

11 Elijah knew of Jehovah’s promise. As Jehovah’s prophet and representative, he was sure that his God would fulfill His word. Elijah was confident—so much so that it was as if he could already hear the downpour. We might be reminded of the Bible’s description of Moses: “He continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” Is God that real to you? He provides ample reason for us to put that kind of faith in him and his promises.—Heb. 11:1, 27.

12. How did Elijah show that he was watchful, and how did he react to the news that there was one little cloud?

12 Next, notice how watchful Elijah was. He sent his attendant back, not once or twice, but seven times! We might imagine the attendant tiring of such a repetitive task, but Elijah remained eager for a sign and did not give up. Finally, after his seventh trip, the attendant reported: “Look! There is a small cloud like a man’s palm ascending out of the sea.” Can you picture that attendant holding his arm outstretched and using his palm to gauge the size of one little cloud coming up over the horizon of the Great Sea? The attendant may have been unimpressed. To Elijah, though, that cloud was significant. He now gave his attendant urgent directions: “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Hitch up! And go down that the downpour may not detain you!’”—1 Ki. 18:44.

13, 14. (a) How can we imitate Elijah’s watchfulness? (b) What reasons do we have for acting with urgency?

There’s more:

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/true-faith/the-prophet-elijah-prays/

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Fiery Gehenna?

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St Anthony: Ministry to the poor, broken, lost — Making our lives a song of praise to God — Service to others

June 13, 2018

St Anthony is seen to be the patron for lost items only because he, like Jesus, came for the lost souls.

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13 JUNE, 2018, Wednesday, St Anthony of Padua

FINDING THE LOST SOULS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Isa 61:1-3Ps 89:2-527292 Cor 1:18-22Lk 10:1-9  ]

Most of us turn to St Anthony only when we lose our things.  He is often seen as the patron for lost things.  Indeed, we have many testimonies of people, including myself, praying to St Anthony when we cannot find our things either because we misplaced them or lost them.  But if our devotion to St Anthony is confined to this alone, we are not giving full appreciation to this feast that we are celebrating.  St Anthony is seen to be the patron for lost items only because he, like Jesus, came for the lost souls.   St Anthony was consumed with the desire to save souls.   So more than just turning to him in prayer when we lose our things, we should first and foremost turn to him to save our souls and those souls who are lost.  Finding lost souls is far more important to finding our lost things.  If we are to have a true devotion to St Anthony, we must also seek to find the lost souls and not just our lost things.  What can we learn from this great saint in finding lost souls?

Firstly, if we are to find lost souls, we must first lose ourselves in Him.  Indeed, St Anthony who came from a rich family left everything to join the Augustinian order in Lisbon.  We must be ready to give up our riches and worldly pursuits for Jesus and for the joy of bringing Jesus to people.  But we cannot do that unless we are people of prayer and filled with the Holy Spirit.  We read that because of an illness which prevented him from fulfilling his desire to be a missionary in Morocco, he sailed to Sicily and landed in Italy.  There he founded a small hermitage where he spent his time in prayer, reading the scriptures and doing menial tasks. It was at this place that he deepened his prayer life, his knowledge of the scriptures and of his understanding of God.  Through a time of solitude and a life of simplicity, he came to discover the truth of the Word of God and the deeper meaning of the gospel.

Secondly, we need people to inspire us to offer our lives for the salvation of others.  We need good models and mentors.  If today we lack zealous Catholics who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the salvation of others, it is because we lack good role models.  Fortunately, St Anthony had good role models that inspired him to give up his life for Jesus and for the mission.  We read that what truly inspired him to join the Franciscans when he was already an Augustinian monk was because one day, he saw a procession of five bodies of Franciscans who were martyred for Christ.  This inspired him to do more for the Lord and to give his life entirely to Him as the Franciscans did.  As a consequence, he joined the Franciscan Order. He hoped to follow the Franciscans who died whilst preaching in Morocco, Africa.  He too wanted to spread the gospel.

Thirdly, He must have heard the Lord saying to His disciples, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.”  He felt the urgency of the call of the Lord to proclaim the gospel to all of humanity.  “Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.” Like the Suffering Servant, he felt the call to spread the good news and to be a blessing to those who were poor, broken and lost.  “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord, a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all those who mourn and to give them for ashes a garland; for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise.”

How, then, can we bring in lost souls for Christ?  Firstly, our lives must be one of praise to God.  We must sing praises to God not only with our lips but with our lives.  St Anthony lived a humble life in poverty like the poor Franciscans in those days.  With the psalmist, we say, “I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord; through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth. Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever, that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.”  There is no better way than making our lives a song of praise to God in all that we say and do.

Secondly, St Anthony was a man who was clear about the gospel of what is right and wrong.  He was firmly established in the gospel.  Like St Paul in the second reading, he was one who could say, “I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you. The Son of God, the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed among you – I mean Silvanus and Timothy and I – was never Yes and No: with him it was always Yes, and however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him.”   The real problem why we lack the zeal to spread the gospel is because of relativism.  Today, we lack clarity and conviction of what we believe and not just who we believe.  We are not convinced of the gospel and especially of Christ as our saviour, much less what He has taught us in the scriptures.  St Anthony read the scriptures and made the Word of God his own. 

Thirdly, he was a man who was sincere in reaching out to sinners and heretics.  He wanted to bring sinners into realization of the need for repentance.  He was an outstanding preacher and the first Franciscan theologian. Whilst his sermons were preached with gentleness and compassion, he did not mince his words when it came to reprimanding the wicked, the complacent clergy and those who practiced injustice.  As St Paul urged Timothy, “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Tim 4:2-4)

Fourthly, he preached in the power of the Spirit.  Indeed, the years spent in prayer, contemplation of the sacred Scripture and serving Him in poverty, chastity, and obedience disposed St Anthony to allow the Holy Spirit to use his talents. Because of his availability to the Holy Spirit, St Anthony’s sermons were impactful to those who heard him preach, as the Spirit led him without preparation.  The people knew it was the Spirit that gave him the power to preach in such an anointed manner.  This was the same experience of St Paul when he wrote, “That is why it is ‘through him’ that we answer Amen to the praise of God. Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us, marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.” 

Finally, he surrendered his life and mission into the hands of God, believing that God knows what is best.  He did not impose his plans on God.  In fact, in his life, he was always receptive to God’s will for him.  He did not insist on doing what he wanted but he was always open to changes in his life.  His desire was to go to Morocco to convert the Muslims but he became sick and had to go to Italy to recuperate.  Instead of becoming a missionary, he became a contemplative and a hermit.  He accepted God’s plan for him that he was not wanted to evangelize the Moors.  And then when he was called to preach against the Albigensians and correct their heresies, he was ever ready to do so.  He went wherever the Lord sent him.  Isn’t this was what the Lord asks of us in the gospel?   He told His disciples, “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. 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. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

Truly, God was faithful to St Anthony and the Church made him a patron for lost things because he lost himself in God.  God said to David, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: I will establish your dynasty for ever and set up your throne through all ages. He will say to me: ‘You are my father, my God, the rock who saves me.’ I will keep my love for him always; with him my covenant shall last.”  So too, God remained faithful to St Anthony because he did not become an obstacle for God’s power to work in and through him.

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

If you are honestly trying to live the way you believe God
wants you to live, you can get guidance from God in times of
quiet communion with Him, provided your thoughts are directed
toward God’s will and all good things. The attitude of
“Thy will, not mine, be done’ leads to clear guidance. Act on
this guidance and you will be led to better things. Your
impulses seem to become less your own and more the leading of
God’s spirit acting through your thoughts. Obeyed, they will
bring you the answers to your prayers.

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From: Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, June 13, 2018 — A message to whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments

June 12, 2018

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St. Anthony of Padua can be recognized easily by his statuary which usually depicts “Jesus jumping out of the Gospel!”

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 361

Reading 1 1 KGS18:20-39

Ahab sent to all the children of Israel
and had the prophets assemble on Mount Carmel.Elijah appealed to all the people and said,
“How long will you straddle the issue?
If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.”
The people, however, did not answer him.
So Elijah said to the people,
“I am the only surviving prophet of the LORD,
and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.
Give us two young bulls.
Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood,
but start no fire.
I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood,
but shall start no fire.
You shall call on your gods, and I will call on the LORD.
The God who answers with fire is God.”
All the people answered, “Agreed!”Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal,
“Choose one young bull and prepare it first,
for there are more of you.
Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire.”
Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it
and called on Baal from morning to noon, saying,
“Answer us, Baal!”
But there was no sound, and no one answering.
And they hopped around the altar they had prepared.
When it was noon, Elijah taunted them:
“Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating,
or may have retired, or may be on a journey.
Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears,
as was their custom, until blood gushed over them.
Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state
until the time for offering sacrifice.
But there was not a sound;
no one answered, and no one was listening.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.”
When the people had done so, he repaired the altar of the LORD
that had been destroyed.
He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob,
to whom the LORD had said, “Your name shall be Israel.”
He built an altar in honor of the LORD with the stones,
and made a trench around the altar
large enough for two measures of grain.
When he had arranged the wood,
he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood.
“Fill four jars with water,” he said,
“and pour it over the burnt offering and over the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he said,
and they did it a third time.
The water flowed around the altar,
and the trench was filled with the water.

At the time for offering sacrifice,
the prophet Elijah came forward and said,
“LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
let it be known this day that you are God in Israel
and that I am your servant
and have done all these things by your command.
Answer me, LORD!
Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God
and that you have brought them back to their senses.”
The LORD’s fire came down
and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust,
and it lapped up the water in the trench.
Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said,
“The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 16:1B-2AB, 4, 5AB AND 8, 11

R. (1b) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
They multiply their sorrows
who court other gods.
Blood libations to them I will not pour out,
nor will I take their names upon my lips.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
O LORD, my allotted portion and cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

Alleluia  PS 25:4B, 5A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
and guide me in your truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
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Commentary on Matthew 5:17-19 From Living Space

In Matthew’s gospel especially, Jesus is shown as not being a maverick breakaway from the traditions of the Jews. He was not a heretic or a blasphemer. He was the last in the great line of prophets sent by God to his people. “Last of all God sent his Son.” And so, in today’s passage, he strongly emphasises that it is not his intention to abrogate the Jewish law but rather to develop and complete it. In the verses that immediately follow today’s passage Jesus gives six very clear examples of what he means. He quotes a number of moral situations contained in the Law and shows how he expects his followers not only to observe them but to go much further in understanding their underlying meaning.

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The Law is not to be downgraded in any way; rather it is to be transcended to a higher level. Up to the time of Jesus, and this is clearly exemplified in the Pharisees and Scribes as they appear in the gospels, perfect observance of the Law focused on external observance. Jesus will show that true observance must also be in the heart and mind.

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Christians, too, can become obsessed with external observance of Church laws and regulations. It can become a source of scrupulosity and fear. This can happen during the Lenten season when we are encouraged to do ‘penitential acts’. We need to remember that these acts do not stand on their own and only have meaning if they deepen our relationship with God. In all things, our ultimate guide must be the law of love. No truly loving act can ever be sinful, although at times it may violate the letter of a law.

Source http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1034g/

Related:

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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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