Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

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

September 19, 2018

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

Prayer for the Day

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

Related:

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

LOVE IS THE KEY TO WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, September 19, 2018 — Can we surrender our lives completely to Him as St Paul did?

September 19, 2018

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Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude…

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 445

Reading 1 1 COR 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 AND 22

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia  SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life,
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

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

LOVE IS THE KEY TO WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morning Prayer for Saturday, August 18, 2018 — Seeking a Power greater than ourselves

August 18, 2018

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Thought for the Day

“We of agnostic temperament have found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which we call God. As soon as you can say that you do believe or are willing to believe, you are on your way. Upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.” Am I willing to depend on a Power that I cannot fully define or comprehend?

Meditation for the Day

We seek God’s presence and “they who seek shall find.” It is not a question of searching so much as an inner consciousness of the Divine spirit in your heart. To realize God’s presence you must surrender to His will in the small as well as in the big things of life. This makes God’s guidance possible. Some things separate you from God – a false word, a fear-inspired failure, a harsh criticism, a stubborn resentment. These are the things that put a distance between your mind and God. A word of love, a selfless reconciliation, and a kind act of helpfulness – these bring God closer.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may think and say and do the things that bring God closer to me. I pray that I may find Him in a sincere prayer, a kind word, or an unselfish deed.

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Morning Prayer for Wednesday, August 8, 2018 — Calm My Storms and Give Me Refuge

August 8, 2018

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Oh Lord, sometimes my insides feel like a battle zone, where missiles are falling too close to home. Other times I’m caught in an endless storm, with thoughts flying out of control. Confusion reigns, and defeat creeps in to steal my joy. I need your peace—the deep-down-in-your-heart kind that stays with me day and night and speaks confidently into the wind. Calm my anxious spirit, Lord; all the attacking “if-onlys” and “what-ifs” fill me with needless worry.

I know that trust is a big part of experiencing peace and that fear has no place in my life. Most of the things I worry about or dread don’t even happen. So I’m declaring my trust in you. I’m releasing the reins of my life again and asking you to take control. I may need to pray this same prayer daily, but I’m tired of the frenzy of life that leaves my schedule and my thoughts without any margin. I need more of you, Lord, and less of me.

I surrender and admit: I can’t control people, plans, or even all my circumstances, but I can yield those things to you, and focus on your goodness. Thank you today for every good gift you’ve given, every blessing you’ve sent, all the forgiveness I did not deserve, and, yes, for every trial you’ve allowed into my life. You bring good out of every circumstance if I’ll only let go and believe you. I know that when I pray and give thanks instead of worrying, you have promised that I can experience the kind of peace that passes all understanding. That’s your kind of peace, Lord. And it’s the kind I crave.

Whenever I’m stressed, anxious, or afraid, help me remember to run to you. You’re the only one that can calm my fears and end my fretful behavior. Whether in trivial or heavy matters, I know you will not only give me peace; Lord, you will be my peace. And when I draw close to you—in prayer, in reading your Word, in helping another, in taking my mind off myself—you will be there, up close and personal.

I can’t handle these times alone, Lord. Will you speak peace and calm my storms, or hold my hand while we walk through them together? Will you bring the reassuring wisdom of those who have come through similar times into my life? Thank you, Lord. I’m trusting you.

In the name of the One who makes the wind and the waves stand still, Amen.

A Short Prayer for Peace

Lord, I come before you ready to pour out my worries, anxieties and fears at Your feet. I am claiming and declaring Your promises for blessings of peace and strength over my life. Bring a peace into my soul that passes all worldly understanding and make me a light for others to see Your strength.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/prayers/a-prayer-for-inner-peace.html

Photo at the top: Lightning cracks during an eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010
PHOTOGRAPH BY SIGURDUR H. STEFNISSON, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Related:

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“We are all created for intimacy with God, which is a sharing in His life.” — Prayer for Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018

The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

Sunday, June 10, 2018

SHARING IN GOD’S LIFE THROUGH HIS WISDOM AND HIS WILL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GN 3:9-152 COR 4:13-5:1MK 3:20-35 ]

Of all questions we have in life, only two are really important: namely, where did we come from? And what is our purpose in life?   These two questions are answered clearly in the opening chapter of Genesis.  Firstly, we all come from God, whom we acknowledge as our creator.  Secondly, we are all created for intimacy with God, which is a sharing in His life.  This invitation to intimacy with God is anthropomorphically portrayed in the dialogal relationship between God and Adam in the garden of Eden.  Yes, such is  the privilege of man.

But what does it mean to share in His life?  Concretely, this necessarily entails a sharing of His mind and will; or if you like, His knowledge and love; or His wisdom and compassion.   In other words, when we share in the knowledge and wisdom of God, we will also come to share in His will, which is His love.  Hence, knowing and willing in unity with God is to share in God’s being and life.  Conversely, the failure to share in His knowledge results in man’s will being at variance with His will.

Indeed, the mistake of our first Parents is our mistake as well.  It is an existential and historical fact that man is not interested in sharing in God’s knowledge and thus is always fighting against God’s will.   Like Adam and Eve, we do not seek to grow in the knowledge of God through our intimacy with Him.  Instead, we seek consort with the serpent, listening to him and trusting in his wisdom, which is that of the world’s.  Like our first parents, we are fooled into believing that the knowledge of the world symbolized in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,  is the way to life.  Indeed, if God forbade Adam And Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was because they would think like the world and become more ignorant instead.  By seeking to understand life not through the wisdom of God but their own ways, Adam and Eve were relying on their own human knowledge and self-will.

The truth is that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God.  The ways of the world cannot lead us to see beyond the immediate and the superficial.  Indeed, this is what Paul is cautioning us.  For those who are unspiritual, they can only see the visible and tangible things which are temporal and passing.  But for those who are spiritual, they possess the eyes of God and see the eternal, the invisible, things beyond the apparent.  Indeed, the foolishness of Adam and Eve is illustrative of such worldly ignorance.

But what is the root of such ignorance? It originates from pride.  It is pride that leads us to have a false and exaggerated understanding of ourselves.  It is pride that caused the downfall of our first parents.  Such deep pride is symbolically portrayed in two ways.  Firstly, they did not trust in God’s wisdom and therefore disobeyed His will.  Secondly, in their embarassment in their nakedness before God.  Pride prevented them from being open to God and surrendering themselves to Him.  Now they had to hide themselves, their real selves before God. This loss of authenticity, inner conviction and fidelity to oneself is underscored by our first parents’ refusal to acknowledge their ignorance and faults.  Instead of taking responsibility for their lack of discernment and trust, they tried to justify themselves.  Adam blamed Eve; and Eve pushed the blame to the serpent.  Since then, man has always been exonerating himself and putting on masks to run away from reality, living in self-deception.

The scripture readings today invite us to put our trust in the wisdom and plan of God for us in our lives.   Instead of relying on ourselves and our own limited understanding of what is truly good for us, we are called to be open to the greater wisdom of God and to surrender our lives to Him.  This wisdom of God is expressed in His will for us.  In the words of Jesus, doing the will of God is sharing in the wisdom of God.

Thus, for those who trust in His wisdom, they become truly the sons and daughers of God.  For what could be more intimate in any relationship than a sharing of heart and mind.  It is no wonder that Jesus declared that those who had this spiritual relationship with Him, sharing in His vision and life, were His family members.  Doing God’s will is the sure sign that we share in His wisdom and love; and therefore share in His life. This entitles us to be recognized as truly sharing in God’s image and likeness.

Conversely, those who do not do the will of God, even though they might be physically related to Jesus, are far from the kingdom of God. Such was the irony of the relatives of Jesus.  We are told that they were convinced that Jesus was out of His mind.  They were closed to Jesus.  Some even accused Him of having an unclean spirit in Him.  This is a danger we can well afford to pay attention to if we do not want to fall into the same category of Jesus’ relatives.  Not to be open to Him tantamounts to rejecting the Holy Spirit who is the wisdom of God.  And such a sin cannot be forgiven since God cannot force us to accept His invitation if we are closed to the truth.  Hence, for such a person, he or she cannot share in the life of God.

The consequences of living a life apart from the life of God are far-reaching. In the first place, one cannot find real satisfaction and contentment in life.  This lack of contentment arises from our inner division. There is now a constant struggle between good and evil; wisdom and falsehood within us.  Torn between the good and bad spirits, one cannot expect to find peace and calmness.  Such interior division will then be manifested in our lack of orientation in life.  We lose our center, become impatient, selfish and angry towards others.  This is the divided kingdom that Jesus was speaking about in today’s gospel. Such kingdom is destined to fall.   Is there a way out?

There are two ways that we can go about it.  The first way is the hard way.  But we will also arrive at the kingdom of God.  In this way, one struggles to do the will of God.  Of course, this is often an uphill task.  We will have to go through the agony in the garden with Jesus.  For it is in the garden that we try to streamline our will with God’s will. This struggle is necessary and almost inevitable.  But as St Paul tells us in the second reading, it is a necessary stage of growing in faith.   Nevertheless this interior struggle will result in the destruction of the outer man of ours so that the inner man is renewed day by day. As we wrestle within ourselves, surrendering our fears to the Lord, we will come to realize that this tent which we had mistaken for a palace would be folded up.

When that happens we have arrived at the stage of wisdom.  This is the stage when we, as Paul says, become a house which is not only built up by God but also His dwelling place, since God lives in us.  Such a person already lives a resurrected life in this present life.  He becomes truly a happy person since he sees his whole life as a life of thanksgiving and glory to God in all that he does according to how God had planned for him.  He can therefore live without much undue anxiety. Instead he lives in peace, love and contentment and self-surrender.

But one need not go through such a difficult path to attain the wisdom of God.  There is an easier way – the way of love.  It is the way of intimacy.  In love and intimacy, one comes to a real understanding of the person.  Love brings about an understanding of both the heart and mind.  Such intimacy creates trust and faith.  Truly, if many of us find it difficult to do the will of God, it is simply the lack of understanding of His plan and trust in His wisdom because of the lack of intimacy with the Lord.  For this reason, we must go back to the original plan of creation, which is to have a constant dialogue with the Lord.

Indeed, it was Paul’s personal relationship with Jesus that enabled him to trust in Him.  It was his intimacy with Jesus that gave him the faith to trust and surrender himself to Jesus and God’s providence.  For Paul, his experience of the risen Lord was enough to convince him that God’s wisdom is beyond man’s imagination; and that death and suffering cannot triumph over the plan of God.  His wisdom is found even in the cross.  If that was so for Jesus, it must also be for us.

Yes, we too are called to surrender ourselves to the plan of God.  We are called to have a real intimacy with Jesus so that we can see life through His perspective.  This is the paradigm shift that is required for us to see the wisdom of God’s plan for us so that doing His will is not a burden but rather a most liberating and life-giving thing to do. This is the kind of faith which Jesus exhorts us to cultivate in today’s gospel.  With such a faith no one and nothing can break us.   We will always stand tall no matter in good times or in bad times, for we know God’s wisdom and love is expressed in His will.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer for Today:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Can The Philippines Ever Have Its Own Foreign Policy Again?

April 20, 2018

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

 / 05:36 AM April 20, 2018

To hear Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano talk about Philippine-Chinese relations is to hear the whiny sound of surrender and subservience. In Cayetano’s view, the landmark arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016 that gave the Philippines a sweeping legal victory over China over disputed parts of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea is not a sign of strength but, rather, a source of weakness.

After all, what does the following statement, from the former senator with a reputation for articulate rhetoric, really mean, but that smoother relations with China are a higher priority than defending Philippine sovereign rights? “As of now, if we compare the Aquino administration strategy and the Duterte strategy, we simply are making do with a bad situation but we have stopped the bleeding.” Only someone who sees the strain in bilateral relations because of the filing and the winning of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as more important than the actual legal victory itself would think that the Philippines was in “a bad situation” post-July 12, 2016.

The exact opposite is true: Our side in the dispute with China was never stronger than on the day the arbitral tribunal issued an award that was an almost complete vindication of Philippine claims. Only someone who thinks that pleasing China meets a greater public interest than enforcing the legal victory so painstakingly won at The Hague would say that, today, “we have stopped the bleeding.” There is a term for this, and it is appeasement.

The foreign secretary makes the situation worse, undermines even further the Philippine position regarding its own rights to the West Philippine Sea and its jurisdiction over parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, by adopting the Chinese perspective hook, line, and sinker. “Yes, we want to fight for what is ours but we don’t want a war. And no one in our region wants a war because no one will win.” This is the Chinese view, that the only alternative to settling the disputes is through a war. This is simply not true; it is also, essentially, un-Filipino. Which makes us ask: Whose interests does the Honorable Alan Peter Cayetano, secretary of foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, really represent?

There is an alternative to war, and that is the process which the Philippines helped set up: a regime of international law governing maritime and territorial disputes. That is the process  which the Philippines won, despite China’s bullying and its demonization of the international law system. That is the process which allows smaller countries an almost equal footing with the great powers. And that is the process which, unaccountably, this administration’s lawyers shortchange, subvert, sell out.

Consider these words of wisdom from Cayetano: “China has not asked us, and I can tell you this very honestly whether closed door or in open, they have never asked us to give up our claims. They have simply asked us to put some order in how we will discuss these claims and where we should discuss these claims.” He speaks, not as a public servant of the Filipino people, but the servant of the Chinese government.

Assume for the sake of argument that what Cayetano said is in fact the case; why should we follow China’s proposed order in discussing our rights? Indeed, why should our foreign secretary mindlessly repeat the Chinese line that our claims are still in dispute—when the arbitral tribunal has already and convincingly ruled in our favor? (Let Beijing say these are mere claims; Manila should assert them as vindicated rights.) Even more to the point: Why privilege what China wants (“China has not asked us …”)? The real question is: What does the Philippines ask, when it meets with China?

If it’s only money, through expensive loans or dubious investments, then we really should all worry that Beijing has landed military cargo aircraft on Mischief or Panganiban Reef. We are trading our sovereign rights, inch by inch, for the proverbial filthy lucre.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/112597/whose-foreign-secretary#ixzz5DCvSYJXS
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Have You Found Your Reason for Living? — Let us celebrate the Resurrection

March 28, 2018
Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) – March 28, 2018 – 12:00am

Mark Twain was supposed to have once said “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

It is easy to understand the first part. Whoever is in control of the universe, the One who created it all… caused you to be born. From nothing, you became someone… Your birth is not an accident, even if by human reckoning the manner of your conception may seem like it was.

Every birth is important. Every single one of us born into this earth was meant for something. The One who made it happen is a master creator who accounts for every minute detail that made you, well… you.

The second part is a little difficult to ascertain or understand. So you are born and will be in this earth for maybe 80 or more years. But why? We can often live our entire lives not knowing why.

Simon helps Jesus carry the cross By Titian

The only birth whose purpose was known before the day of birth was Christ. He is the Son of God and indeed, he is God himself in the context of the Holy Trinity. He was born to us and, thus, became as human as we are because He had the mission of bringing us back to his Father.

His Father created man in His image, but man has sinned. God’s sense of justice requires man to be shut out from the joy of everlasting life in His presence. The only way we can fully recover is for a perfect sacrifice to be offered in atonement. That perfect sacrifice can only be Christ himself. That’s what we are commemorating this Holy Week.

In his Passion Sunday sermon, Fr. Tito Caluag expanded on this theme of why Christ became man… the purpose of His mission on this earth.

Fr. Hans Kung, S.J., according to Fr Caluag, said that to give people a good and meaningful life we need to give them something to live on, something to live for, and something to die for. So it was in the life of Christ…

“At a certain point, aged 30, he embarks on his something to live for, his mission. He sees this clearly in his beatific vision in the Baptism narrative: ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’

“For three years, he lives out this mission as teacher, more than being a teacher, his core came from his identity as a the beloved son of God.  His mission focused on this… became more and more central to his life and work. This had evolved into a mission where he had something to die for.

“On his way to Jerusalem where he was to fulfill this mission, God reveals Christ’s mission and identity to Peter, James and John – ‘This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.’ – the confirmation not just for Christ, but a public confirmation through the three apostles…

“Christ journeyed to Jerusalem to complete his ‘something to die for.’ He was to enter now his Passion… the rejection, the betrayal of the very people for whom ‘[He] came to serve and not to be served, and to give [his] life as a ransom for all.’ The rejection, betrayal, and abandonment – of his friends – that brought him to the point of surrender: ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’

“Our college professor in our philosophy of religion class said…  we must remember that Christ, being fully human, struggled on the Cross…

“This was part of Christ’s Passion. He agonized over this in the garden to the point of asking his Father to spare him, and then at that point, he makes his final choice and surrender, ‘. . . not my will, but your will be done.’

“The Passion of Christ gave birth to Christian hope…  He completes the cycle, ‘though he was in the form of God . . . he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave . . . becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him . . .’ Now he empties himself of his human life and his Father rewards him with the Resurrection; giving him back the glory that was [his] from the beginning.

“The Passion of Christ is our Passion because it is our hope. Our hope is that everything in our life has meaning – our something to live on and to live for – because of Christ’s Passion, Cross, and Resurrection.”

Christ knew why he was born. Many of us are still figuring out why we were. Surely to win power and riches in this world can’t be it because it’s too temporary. Death comes in 80 to a 100 years, and that’s not even a blip in the timeline of eternity.

Fr. Caluag says “all this will not end in death, rather our something to die for is what gives us the fullness of life, the great freedom to make the great choice and the great act to offer in great love and great service to God and to others, ‘that others may have life, and life to the full.’”

Indeed, we ought to live our lives in the conscious presence of our God… that our purpose is to please him every day of our lives… doing what he has set us out to do even before we were born… so that on the day we die, we can face him and hear him say, “Well donegood and faithful servant!… Enter into my kingdom and share the joy of your master.”

Let us celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now we have a reason to live and to die for … to enjoy everlasting life in the presence of our loving God.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

HOLY WEEKREASON FOR LIVING

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/business/2018/03/28/1800874/living-something#oXQiqorE2iCSsORq.99

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, March 21, 2018 — “Surrender” — “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

March 20, 2018

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 253

Image result for Nebuchadnezzar and golden statue, art, photos

Reading 1 DN 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.
“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”

Responsorial Psalm DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim;
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!

Verse Before The Gospel SEE LK 8:15

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.

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Return of the Prodigal Son By Rembrandt.

Gospel JN 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”*************************************

Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection

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• The reflection on chapter 8 of the Gospel of John continues today. In the form of concentric circles, John deepens the mystery of God which envelopes the person of Jesus. It seems like a repetition, because he always goes back to speak of the same point. In reality, it is the same point, but every time at a more profound level. Today’s Gospel treats the theme of the relationship of Jesus with Abraham, the Father of the People of God. John tries to help the communities to understand how Jesus places himself within the whole history of the People of God. He helps them to perceive the difference that existed between Jesus and the Jews, and also the Jews and the others, all of us are sons and daughters of Abraham.

• John 8, 31-32: The liberty which comes from fidelity to the word of Jesus. Jesus affirms to the Jews: “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; 32 you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free”. To be a disciple of Jesus is the same as opening oneself to God. The words of Jesus are in reality words of God. They communicate the truth, because they make things known as they are in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of the Pharisees. Later, during the Last Supper, Jesus will teach the same thing to the disciples.

• John 8, 33.38: What is it to be a son or a daughter of Abraham? The reaction of the Jews is immediate: “We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone: what do you mean: You will be set free?” Jesus repeats and confirms making a distinction between son and slave and says: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave. The slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free”. Jesus is the son and remains in the house of the Father. The slave does not live in the house of the Father. To live outside the house, outside of God means to live in sin. If they would accept the word of Jesus they could become sons and attain liberty. They would no longer be slaves. And Jesus continues: “I know that you are descended from Abraham; but you want to kill me, because my word finds no place in you”. The distinction is immediately very clear: “What I speak of is what I have seen at my Father’s side, and you too put into action the lessons you have learnt from your father”. Jesus denies to them the right to say that they are sons of Abraham, because their works affirm the contrary.

• John 8, 39-41ª: A son of Abraham fulfils the works of Abraham. They insist in affirming: “Our father is Abraham!” as if they wanted to present to Jesus a document of their identity. Jesus repeats: “If you are sons of Abraham do the works of Abraham! 40 Now, instead you are seeking to kill me, because I have told you the truth heard from God; Abraham has not done this. 41 You do the works of your father”. Between the lines, he suggests that their father is Satan (Jn 8, 44). He suggests that they are sons of prostitution.

• John 8, 41b-42: If God was your Father, certainly, you would love me, because I have my origin in God and I come from Him; I did not come of my own accord, but he sent me”. Jesus repeats the same truth using diverse words: “Whoever comes from God listens to the words of God”. The origin of this affirmation is from Jeremiah who says: “Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people. There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbour or brother, saying: ‘Learn to know Yahweh!’ No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind” (Jr 31, 33-34). But they will not open themselves to this new experience of God, and because of this they will not recognize Jesus as the one sent by the Father.

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Personal questions

• Liberty which submits itself totally to the Father. Does something of this type exist in you? Do you know persons who are like that?

• Which is the deepest experience in me which leads me to recognize Jesus as the one sent by God?

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Concluding Prayer

May you be blessed, Lord, God of our ancestors,
be praised and extolled for ever.
Blessed be your glorious and holy name,
praised and extolled for ever.
Blessed on the throne of your kingdom,
exalted above all, glorified for ever. (Dn 3,52.54)

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Source:  http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-john-831-42

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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16 MARCH 2016, Wednesday, 5th Week of Lent
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Daniel 3:14-20.91-92.95; John 8:31-42

Freedom is intrinsic to humanity.  We all want to be free.  The world seeks freedom from domination and slavery.  Yet the irony today is that the freedom that is being sought is not freedom but slavery.  In the name of freedom, what they are promoting is lawlessness.  Freedom does not mean that we can do what we like.  Freedom does not mean that we sin as much as we like.  This is not freedom.  Rather, when sin has control over us, it compels us to do what it wants us to do.   We lose our freedom to our passions, our greed, anger, lust, envy, pride and gluttony.  When someone has no control over his passions, he cannot be said to be free but a slave to sin.  This was what Jesus told the Jews, “I tell you most solemnly, everyone who commits sin is a slave.”

Besides being slave to our sins we can also be slave to traditions and inheritance.  The Jews were so proud that they had Abraham as their father.   Based on their race and the fact that they were descendants of Abraham, they felt that they were justified before God.  They answered Jesus: “We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, ‘You will be made free’?”  Indeed, that is how many of us Catholics live our lives.  We do not live the gospel but think that just by being Catholic, we are saved.  Just because of inheritance or by belonging to a certain race or church is no guarantee that we are saved unless we share the faith.

So what is true freedom?  It is when we no longer live in fear of death, of what others say about us, and of ourselves.  True freedom means that we can live our lives in love and service, even to the extent of dying for others.   A person who has overcome the need for freedom from freedom itself is truly free.  This was the case of the three men in the first reading.  They were not fearful of the King or even of imprisonment or execution by being burnt to death in the fiery furnace.  They were only fearful of God and trusted that God would rescue them.  They told the King, “if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us; and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.”  This is the irony of life.  Those of us who live in so called democratic countries and are supposedly free, live as slaves of people’s opinions, of anti-life culture and of our sins.  Jesus, although a prisoner of Pilate, acted like a free man as He was fearless even when threatened with death. He remained free when mocked and scourged.

So a person is truly free when he is free for the service of God.  This is what the Lord meant when He said, “Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured, but the son’s place is assured. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  As God’s son, we belong to Him.  We have a permanent place in the heart of God.  But if we behave as slaves of sin, then we need to ask as Jesus asked them, who our father is.  He told the Jews, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me when I tell you the truth as I have learnt it from God; that is not what Abraham did. What you are doing is what your father does…If God were your father, you would love me, since I have come here from God; yes, I have come from him; not that I came because I chose, no, I was sent, and by him.”  So the question we have to ask is, whether God is truly our Father.  If He were our Father, then we would not be like the Jews who did not follow Abraham in doing God’s will.  We would listen to the voice of the heavenly Father in and through Jesus.

How can we find true freedom today if not in Jesus?  “To the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus said: ‘If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free’.”   If we were to seek freedom, we must first believe in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Faith in Jesus entails that we are ready to listen to Him through the Word of God.   Without allowing the Word of God to take root in our hearts and to read with faith and love, then His word would have no home in us.  The real sadness among many Catholics is that many of us do not read and pray over the scriptures daily.  We like to be involved in Church ministry, and talk about God and theology, but we do not spend time every day to soak ourselves in the Word of God.  Without a keen listening to the Word, no one can grow in faith and knowledge of the truth.

Of course, discipleship is more than just listening to the Word of God.  It is about acting on what we have heard and read.  It means an active listening of the Word and then putting it into practice.  Are our life’s decisions, the values that we have and choices that we make, whether with regard to entertainment, information, work, business, etc, dictated by the bible, or are our choices influenced by the mass media and what the world is advocating?  Unfortunately many of us only profess in name that we are Catholic but we put the Church to shame when we advocate values that are totally against the teachings of scripture and the Church. How could we call ourselves disciples of Christ if what we say, think and do are not in union with Jesus’ mind and heart but according to our own views and preferences?

The three young men put us all to shame in the way they lived out their faith.  They were both figuratively and literally not burnt by the fire because their hearts and conscience were already purified.  Only those who are burnt here and now; and will be burnt upon death in hell are those whose conscience is not at peace.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were true to their conscience and to themselves.  This was because they were true to God in the first place.  They also did not want to deceive the King in pretending to worship the statues created by him.  That is why the king was impressed by them and found faith even in their God.  He exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: he has sent his angel to rescue the servants who, putting their trust in him, defied the order of the king, and preferred to forfeit their bodies rather than serve or worship any god but their own.”

How many of us would stand up for our faith the way the three men did and bring glory to the Lord?  How many of us are afraid to take a stand for Christ among our friends because we do not want to lose our popularity?  How many of us would rather compromise our faith and values at work because we want to get on in the world or are fearful of being persecuted? In many ways, we still kill Jesus today because of our betrayal in the way we live our faith.  As a consequence, we have not only misled others but we have become counter-witnesses to our belief.  The Church is not credible because we have too many Catholics who are not disciples but simply nominal Catholics who stand on the sidelines, one foot in the Church and the other foot in the world.  Until the day when our Catholics imbue themselves with the Word of God and let that become the light of their lives, the Church continues to suffer credibility in the eyes of the world.  Could we say with the psalmist, “You are blest, Lord God of our fathers. To you glory and praise for evermore” by our lives and our words?

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

21 MARCH, 2018, Wednesday, 5th Week of Lent

TRUE FREEDOM IS FOUND IN THE SON AND THROUGH THE SON

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ DN 3:14-2024-2528JN 8:31-42 ]

We are approaching the Feast of the Resurrection, which is the feast of new life.  Jesus wants to give us new life in Easter.  But there is life only when there is real freedom.  Freedom is an essential dimension of finding life, and of being truly human.  Without freedom, there can be no life.  Of course, we are not simply talking about physical freedom.  We are speaking of an interior freedom, the freedom of the mind and heart.  Today, we are presented with the three young men who, although not physically free, were so happy because their interior freedom could not be taken away.  In the gospel too, we have Jesus enlightening us on the real meaning of freedom.

What then is freedom?  Very often we define freedom as the ability to choose between good and evil.  We see this in the case of the three young men.  They were conscious of what is morally right and wrong.  In their perspective, no compromise was possible, even if it were to cause their death.  As far as the three young men were concerned, what was good and morally acceptable had to be done, irrespective of the coercion of men to do otherwise.  Their submission was to God alone who is the source and measure of all goodness and truth.

However, whilst such understanding of freedom is praiseworthy, this is still a very narrow understanding of freedom.  Freedom is not so much a moral choice of choosing between good and evil.  Rather, it is to be true to oneself; to live by the truth; to determine our lives for good rather than evil.  Freedom, therefore, is always orientated to goodness. It means the power to do and be good.  Such freedom implies that we must be able to be true to our convictions and the truth.  The inability to live up to our inner convictions is what makes us slaves. This is what Jesus accused the Jews of.  They were slaves to their falsehood. They were slaves even though they were descended from Abraham.  Hence, Jesus told the people, “learn the truth and the truth will make you free.”

What, then, is being true to truth?  Truth is an existential and personal truth; not a philosophical truth. Hence, the ultimate truth is that all of us are called to be sons of the Father. Indeed, Abraham considered God as his Father. In the covenantal relationship between God and Abraham, God is the Father of Abraham and all his descendants. It is because Abraham was true to his identity as God’s heir that he lived the life of faith and trust in God.  It was the same situation for the three young men who were willing to die for their faith and belief in God.  By being true to our identity, we will have a life that is reflective of God.  All our moral actions will flow from our basic and fundamental realization of who we are.

On the other hand, when we do not know our real identity, then, like the Jews who claimed that God is their Father, we will not behave like the children of God nor accept Jesus and the truth that He came to reveal.  Did the Jews not know their identity?  Of course they knew, for they retorted saying, “we are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, ‘You will be made free’?”  So why did Jesus say that they did not know their true identity?

We can be children of our parents in two senses.  We can regard our parents in biological terms.  Legally and genetically, we originate from them.  But sometimes our biological parents are not our father or mother, because they never exercised their paternity and maternity over us.  To be a father and mother in the real sense means that we nurture our children according to our image and likeness, passing on to them our nature, the way we think, the values we hold, the life that we live.  So a true son and daughter would take after his or her parents by adopting their culture, outlook towards life and faith as well.

Prescinding from this, the Jews, although true descendants of Abraham, could not in spirit call him ‘father’, because they did not share the same faith of Abraham, a faith that was lived in total obedience to God. This was why Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me when I tell you the truth as I have learnt it from God; that is not what Abraham did. What you are doing is what your father does.”  Indeed, they did not know the Father, as demonstrated by the fact that they rejected Jesus who came to speak the Word of the Father.  If they were truly the sons of Abraham, they would have accepted Jesus, since He came from the Father.  But in truth, they were ‘bastards’, not truly the son of Abraham, neither were they the sons and daughters of God.

In rejecting the Father, they became slaves to their sins.  Jesus told them, “I tell you most solemnly, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured, but the son’s place is assured.”  Truly, because we are not putting on the mind of Christ, therefore of the Father as well, we allow fear to cripple us in life.  We live in guilt of our past, not believing that the Father loves us and has forgiven us in Christ.  We live in anxiety, not trusting that the Father will look after our future.  We do not love ourselves with all our strengths and weaknesses, because we do not believe that the Father loves us for who and what we are.  So we struggle with the negativity about ourselves, wallowing in low self-esteem on one hand, and on the other, envious of others and angry with God, often making Him or others scapegoats for our unhappiness in life.  When we live under the bondage of anger, resentment and sin, then we know that we are not free because true sons and daughters of God are truly free, for they know that God has given them their dignity.

How then can we recover our sonship?  In Jesus, we are set free because He says, “the Son makes you free.”  In Jesus, we see what being son truly means.  In Jesus, the Father is revealed to us.  This is because Jesus is the true Son of God in the fullest sense of the term.  Jesus lives intimately with the Father.  He shares the mind, heart and will of the Father.  Only Jesus can restore us to our true sonship in Him.  Jesus is the face of the Father.  He said, “If God were your father, you would love me, since I have come here from God; yes, I have come from him; not that I came because I chose, no, I was sent, and by him.” He is the One who can reveal to us the Truth that sets us free.  In Jesus the Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, we discover the truth, since He reveals to us the mind and heart of the Father.  Jesus knows the Father intimately as He originated from the Father.  Hence He knows the real life that is to be lived.

Consequently if we want to recover our sonship, then, as Jesus tells us, we must make His Word our home.  We must immerse ourselves in Jesus, not simply by listening to His Word, but by having a personal relationship with Him.  The Word of God is not simply words but an event, His personal self.  Hence, by letting His Word make a home in us, we will indeed be His true disciples.  We can discover the truth by immersing ourselves in the Word, which is to put on Christ, since the Word is a person. In our relationship with Jesus, we become more like Him and therefore one with the Father.  Only then can we enjoy real freedom because we truly become who we are. And then as sons in the Sonship of Jesus, we truly become like Abraham, the heirs of God.  Hence, as we approach Holy Week, the Church underscores the importance of confessing Jesus as the Son of God, for only by accepting Him can we truly regain the joy and freedom of our divine filiation at our baptism which we will renew at Easter.

Most of all, by coming to accept our true identity as sons and daughters of God, we can surrender our lives to Him completely, like the three young men.  Their trust in God was vindicated.  Because they fixed their eyes on God, they were saved by Him.  Nothing is too difficult for God.  When faced with trials, temptations and the struggles of living an authentic life we too are called to surrender in faith.  We are called to exercise the highest and most heroic form of freedom, which is obedience to God unto death.  The highest form of freedom is to surrender our freedom to the Lord by accepting His holy will.  This was the case of Jesus who surrendered His life to the Father.  His only food was to do the Father’s will, and this obedience caused Him His life and suffering on the Cross.  It was by this very obedience unto death that God demonstrated His power over death by raising Jesus from the dead.  When we respond with fearless and unflinching obedience to His divine will, we too will find ourselves elevated to the level of the divine, transcending all earthly pain and fear, for God is our security and peace.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Book By J.P. de Caussade

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, December 13, 2017 — Soaring as with eagles’ wings — My yoke is easy and my burden light

December 12, 2017

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Lectionary: 183

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Reading 1 IS 40:25-31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 AND 10

R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Gospel  MT 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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Commentary on Matthew 11:28-30 From Living Space

The Gospel in many of its passages is very demanding and requires an unconditional commitment to the following of Christ. We have seen that clearly in the contrast Jesus made between the demands of the Law and what he expected from his followers. But, again and again, that is balanced by the other side of God – his compassion and his understanding of our weakness and frailty.

Today he invites “all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest”. He seems to be referring to the burden of the Law and the many other legalistic observances which had accumulated over the generations. In fact there was a common rabbinic metaphor which spoke of the ‘yoke of the Law’. We will see some of this in the two remaining readings of this week. Jesus did not have much time for this kind of religion. He invites us to come to him instead and experience comfort and consolation.

Jesus invites us to take on his yoke instead. A yoke can be heavy but it makes it easier for the ox to pull the cart or the plough. Jesus’ yoke is the yoke of love. On the one hand, it restricts us from acting in certain ways but at the same time it points us in the right direction. In the long run, it has a liberating effect. It is not unlike the idea of the “narrow door” which Jesus invites us to go through rather than follow the wide road to nowhere.

Jesus asks us to learn from him in his gentleness and humility. This was in stark contrast to the severity and arrogance of other religious leaders. Not only are we to experience the gentleness of Jesus, we are also to practise it in our own dealings with others.

I think it is commentator William Barclay who offers another lovely idea. It was quite common to have double yokes when two animals pulled a vehicle together. Barclay suggests that Jesus is offering to share his yoke with us. He and I will pull together and he will share the burden with me. In either case, he assures us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Jesus expects us to give all of ourselves to him but, when we do so, we discover that what he asks is absolutely right for us. To follow Jesus is not to carry a great weight but to experience a great sense of liberation.

If we have not found that experience yet then we are not yet carrying the yoke of Jesus.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o1155g/

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Thank Heaven Prayer for Little Children
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“I thank you Father,
Lord of Heaven and of earth,
for hiding these things from the learned and the clever
and revealing them to little children”. 
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Get God To Help With Your Problem

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

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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07 DECEMBER, 2016, Wednesday, 2nd Week of Advent
MAKING LIGHT OUR BURDENS IN LIFE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: ISAIAH 40:25-31MATTHEW 11:28-30  ]

How has life been treating you?  Do you find life to be nothing more than drudgery?  Are you heavily laden with the cares, anxieties and responsibilities of life?  Do you feel that your burden is too overwhelming and wish that the Lord would come and relieve you of your life soon?  Indeed, some of us are so weary, tired and weighed down by the struggles of daily life that we wish we could die soon so that we can rest in peace.   If you are feeling this way, then the prophet Isaiah assures us, “He gives strength to the wearied, he strengthens the powerless. Young men may grow tired and weary, youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire.”

How could this be?  Will we not grow weary and tired of the burdens of this life? In the first place, we must ask what these burdens are that have caused us to feel a load on our shoulders and this heaviness in the heart.  Burdens come from three areas of life.   Basically, they belong to the past and the future.  It is not the present that is difficult but when we take the past and the future together, it is immensely heavy and intimidating.  Unfortunately, many of us live in our past and the future, forgetting the present joys and the moment.

In the first place, we are burdened by sin and guilt.  We cannot forgive the mistakes we have made in life.  Hence, we cannot move on.  The past continues to haunt us and accuse us of the follies we have made in life.  We cannot let go of the hurts we have caused to others, the betrayals in love and friendship, especially of our loved ones and family.  But we are burdened not only by our own sins; we are equally, if not more, enslaved by the sins others have committed against us.  We cannot forgive those who have sexually abused us, those who have caused us to lose our dignity because of slander and gossip; and those who have acted unjustly towards us, cheating us of our money, business secrets, etc.

Secondly, we are burdened by the perfection demanded by Christian life.  We know that we all fall short of what a Christian should be.  We want to live a holy and exemplary Christian life.  But the Old Adam is deeply latent in us and waiting to resurrect the moment we are weary or vulnerable.   So we are beset with our struggles against the capital sins, especially of pride, envy, anger, sloth, gluttony, lust and greed.   We find ourselves losing the battle against our human weaknesses so much so we feel hypocritical, especially when we are supposed to be “good and devout” Catholics.  We are ashamed that we have betrayed Christ.  But like St Paul, the more we try to meet the demands of the Law and what is expected of us, our faith become a religion, simply meeting the obligations of what the Church or the gospel asks of us.  When we break them, we live in fear of God’s displeasure, even punishment.  So religion is burdensome because it means having to do this and that, fulfilling this and that obligation.  Some of us in ministry also feel so burdened having to fulfill the conditions of membership.  With the demands upon our time from all sides, we simply feel like giving up completely and just let things be!

Thirdly, we are burdened by our responsibilities in life.  For those of us who hold responsibilities, the higher the office we hold, or the more people are dependent on us, whether as leaders, bosses or parents, the more we feel the load on our shoulders.  Heavy is the head that wears the crown.  There are always the anxieties for tomorrow.  We are aware that we need to protect and give our children a great future.  We worry about their studies, about their relationships and their health.  As parents, our worries for our family have no end.  Even when our children are married, we worry for their children and our grandchildren. There is no end to worrying! If we are leaders, we worry about how to grow the organization, how to strengthen the members and how to strategize.  Most of all, we have the headache of dealing with difficult members, be they family, colleagues at work or Church ministry.  We have to firefight in managing scandals, internal squabbling, jealousy, envy, backbiting and irresponsible people under us. This explains why people shy from holding office, especially public office because of the undue glare of the public’s eye and the accountability for everything that happens under their charge.  There is no peace for those who hold office, but then this is true for parents as well.

In the light of the burdens that we carry, how then can we be happy in life and not worry so much?  Jesus is our solution.  He invites us saying, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.  Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   How does Jesus help us to lighten our load?  Does it mean that He will take away our crosses in life?  Surely not!  He Himself carried His own cross and instructed us to carry our crosses and follow after Him.  So the solution is not removing the crosses and the burdens in our lives.  The key is to consider how we carry them, our past, the future and our responsibilities.

The primary attitude that is required of us as Jesus said is to be gentle and humble of heart. Humility, gentleness and love are the three keys to approaching the demands and trials of life.  Humility is the foundation.  Indeed, just earlier on, Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father saying, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”  (Mt 11:25f)   We need to be humble if we want to see life through the eyes of God and to have the wisdom to look at life in the right perspective.

Only with humility can we see the greatness, beauty and love of God in creation and in our lives.  It is because of our pride that we want things always to be done our way.  We dictate to God what we need and how things should work out according to our narrow-minded thinking.   The first reading invites us to contemplate on the intricacies of creation, the beauty of God’s work, His majesty, wisdom and power.  This is what the Lord says, “To whom could you liken me and who could be my equal?  Lift your eyes and look. Who made these stars if not he who drills them like an army, calling each one by name? So mighty is his power, so great his strength that not one fails to answer.”   Truly, even science cannot fathom everything in creation in spite of all its achievements.  Pondering on the power of God and the transient things of nature, we should surrender and resign our lives to God.  So in our trials and sufferings, we must think that God does not care.  This was what God said to the ingrates, “How can you say, Jacob, how can you insist, Israel, ‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord, my rights are ignored by my God’? Did you not know? Had you not heard?”

Consequently, we must surrender our lives, especially our worries to Him.  When Jesus invites us to carry His yoke and learn from Him, He is saying that as a carpenter, He knows how to make the yoke fitting for us.  When we carry the yoke, we need to have the right fitting, otherwise we hurt ourselves.  So too, let us trust that God has given the right crosses for us to bear in life.  Each one has his or her cross to carry.  None of the other crosses fit us.  So when we try to run away from our crosses and seek other crosses instead, this is where the misfit comes in and we suffer more eventually.  So to carry the yoke of Jesus is to accept the cross like Him and when we carry them rightly, in faith, the crosses will no longer be that heavy.  God knows our limits and our strengths.  He does not give us the cross without giving us His grace and strength.  When you look at your life, you know that He has always blessed you and helped you, as the psalmist says, “My soul, give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings.”

Secondly, we need the attitude of gentleness.  Most of us are not gentle with ourselves and therefore harsh with others as well.  To be gentle is to learn to love ourselves, accepting our mistakes and limitations.   Pride, ambition and envy cause us to be hard on ourselves.  Perfectionists are never happy because their self-acceptance depends on their performance and what others say of them.  So we need to love ourselves and recognize our human frailties.  The psalmist reminds us that God is always forgiving and tolerant.  “My soul, give thanks to the Lord.  It is he who forgives all your guilt, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with love and compassion. The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.”  If God deals with us in this manner, then we should learn to forgive ourselves, our past mistakes and our sins.

Until we forgive our own mistakes, we cannot forgive others who have hurt us.  A big part of our burden is not letting go of our hurts.  We continue to nurse the pain in our hearts and in our minds.  This is the most unnecessary burden.  It is not life-giving and it is not empowering.  We will not only destroy others around us because of the bitterness in our hearts but we will be a prisoner of our hatred and anger.  So let us know that our brothers and sisters, like us, are weak in different areas and vulnerable to the temptations of the Evil One.  If we do not feel that way, then we have fallen into the sin of presumption and self-righteousness.

Finally, the burden will be light when we carry all of them like Jesus, not just in faith, in gentleness, but in love.  When Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest”, this is a not a rest from our duties and responsibilities, but the rest of the soul, because we carry them without fear of the future, the mistakes of the past and, most of all, with love in our hearts.  Anything that is done in life is still a sacrifice on our part, but it is a loving sacrifice.  Such sacrifices not only give life to those whom we serve but we give life to ourselves. Indeed, with faith, we will be like the Israelites, carried by the wings of the eagles knowing that “his understanding is beyond fathoming”; with humility, we will not stumble because we will walk in His ways; and with love, the Lord will renew our strength and we can “run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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13 DECEMBER, 2017, Wednesday
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13 DECEMBER, 2017, Wednesday, 2nd Week of Advent
RELYING ON THE STRENGTH OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 40:25-31PS 103:1-4,8,10MT 11:28-30  ]

“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”  These words from our Lord are most consoling for all of us.  The Lord knows how tired and weary we are.  We feel that this life is too demanding and tiresome.  We are burdened by our office, responsibilities, anxieties and our past hurts and sins.

For those of us in public office or have our loved ones to look after, our life is always about giving and giving.  Everyone is making demands of us and expecting us to be at their beck and call.  Bishops, priests, social workers and parents are often overwhelmed by the demands on us. We are tired and sometimes feel that we have no more energy left to give.   Some suffer from burnout.  We are also burdened by our responsibilities.  We feel responsible for our children and our elderly.  We have to provide for their financial and medical needs.  We have to find money to care for them, their education, their food, housing, expenses, etc. At the same time, we have to make time to look after them, tuition them, listen to their woes.

We are also burdened by anxieties, whether our children are doing well in their studies, mixing with the right company, whether they are able to get into a good school; whether our demented elderly are coping at home, their illnesses, etc.  Finally, we are burdened because we cannot let go of the past, especially those hurtful events in our lives.  We continue to bear grudges against our parents, loved ones, guardians, friends and our bosses.  When we think of them, we are filled with anger and resentment and also remorse.  We cannot forgive others nor ourselves.

All these weigh us down and make life so burdensome and tiring.  We wish to die early and be released from the burdens we carry each day.  If we are feeling this way, it is because we have taken all these burdens upon ourselves. We feel that we must accomplish and fulfill all the needs that others have placed upon us.  We use our own strength, thinking we can carry these by ourselves.  This is the sin of pride.  We think we are in control of this world.

For this reason, we are called to acknowledge our limitations in all humility and to rely on God instead.  Jesus said, “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  We must learn humility and gentleness towards ourselves from our Lord.  We are not all powerful and we are not gods!  We cannot do all these by our own strength alone.  We need the strength that comes from God.  This is what the prophet Isaiah assured us, “He gives strength to the wearied, he strengthens the powerless.  Young men may grow tired and weary, youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire.”

Secondly, in humility, let us acknowledge that it is our pride that is the cause of our stress and misery.  We want to do well.  We have our ambition.  We want to be better than others.  We are perfectionists.  As a result, we become tense, irritable and always not satisfied with ourselves and with others who are under our care.   In humility, let us also acknowledge our sins of greed and anger that make us pursue these worldly things.  We never feel that we have enough.  We are always craving for this and that, falling into the sins of envy and greed.  So if we wish to enter the Kingdom of God, then Jesus says that we must be like a little child.  “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.” (Mt 11:25f)

How, then, can we live our lives without so much stress?  Firstly, let us trust in divine providence and the power of God.   Our minds are too finite to understand the ways of God. The Lord reprimanded Israel for saying, “My destiny is hidden from the Lord, my rights are ignored by my God”  Such accusations against God come from our lack of understanding and appreciation of the power and mercy of God.  The Lord instead questions our knowledge of creation.  He said, “To whom could you liken me and who could be my equal? Lift your eyes and look. Who made these stars if not he who drills them like an army, calling each one by name? So mighty is his power, so great his strength, that not one fails to answer.  Did you not know? Had you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God; he created the boundaries of the earth. He does not grow tired or weary, his understanding is beyond fathoming.”

Secondly, we must carry the yoke with Jesus.  This means that we must accept the yoke that is placed on us.  We all lament about our sufferings and the situation we are in.  The other side of the grass always looks greener.  The truth is that the cross that we are carrying is the cross that fits us.  When Jesus asks us to carry the yoke with Him, He is inviting us to accept the cross in our life just as He accepted the cross from the Father.  Whichever cross we carry is that cross that fits us well.  Indeed, the yoke that is placed on the shoulder of the ox was tailor-made in such a way that it sits perfectly.  It is said that perhaps the best yokes in town were the ones made by our Lord as he was a carpenter for 30 years.  Jesus understands perfectly how important the yoke must fit on the one who carries it.   So when we carry our yoke, carry it with the understanding that God knows best and He knows that we can carry it.  Otherwise, He would not have given us what we cannot do.   In the parable of the Talents, God gave the servants different amounts of talent and they reaped different amounts as well.  God gives us the talents that we are capable of using well. (cf Mt 25:14-30)

Thirdly, the yoke must be carried not just with humility but with gentleness of heart, with love for God, self and for others.  We must not carry our responsibilities and fulfill them with stoic fidelity.  This makes us unfeeling and hard people.  It is interesting that the yoke refers to the commandments that the Jews had to perform each day and the laws that they needed to observe.  And there were so many laws that it was almost impossible to live properly because of the many dos and don’ts.   When  the laws are observed in a legalistic way so that we will not incur the wrath of God, it is carried and fulfilled with resentment and hostility.

Rather, following Jesus, the yoke must be carried with love.  Jesus said, “Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”  When we carry our crosses, not like a stoic but a man of love and compassion, then the duties and responsibilities will become more meaningful and rewarding.  When we carry our crosses and tasks with love and for love, they become less tiring and more rewarding and fulfilling, knowing that we have given life to others and made a difference in their lives.  By living for others, we free ourselves from being inward-looking and we no longer have to worry about ourselves.

Fourthly, we must bask ourselves in the love of God.  This was what Jesus said earlier on before today’s reading.  He spoke of His intimacy with the Father.  “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  (Mt 11:27)  If Jesus found the strength to carry the cross even unto death, it was because He knew His Father’s love.   We too need to find strength from His love.  It is this assurance of His love for us that will give us the strength to continue loving when we are tired, hoping when we feel hopeless, believing when we feel it is too illogical.  Indeed, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 8:3537-39)

Finally, we must surrender all our past to the Lord, our pains, mistakes and brokenness.  We must be like the psalmist who could thank God for all the things that happened.  Count His blessings, not our woes.  As for our sins, let us trust in His mercy and forgiveness.  With the psalmist, we say, “My soul, give thanks to the Lord all my being, bless his holy name. My soul, give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings.  It is he who forgives all your guilt, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with love and compassion.  The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.”  Let us not assume greater burdens than is necessary by carrying our grievances and hurtful memories.  Learn to let go and surrender them to the Lord.  With our sins and those who sinned against us lifted, our hearts will be lighter and with the eyes of God, we can see the crosses we carry positively as a sacrifice of love for God and for others.

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

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, September 14, 2017 — “Everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

September 13, 2017

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Lectionary: 638

Image result for Exaltation of the Holy Cross, art, photos

Reading 1 NM 21:4B-9

With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Responsorial Psalm PS 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Reading 2 PHIL 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

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

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Homily for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
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Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Christian faith is faith in a crucified Christ – But – this does not mean that we are glorifying suffering, because no one wants to suffer and carry his cross if given the choice but rather – today it is that celebration that we exalt the supreme power of God’s love… although in truth, this is the paradox, it is precisely at the heart of a human suffering that we discover a crucified Christ who calls us to enter into the mystery of redemption.

The cross is in truth the center of the evangelium, the glad tidings, the Good News, of the Gospel… that is why the cross is the symbol of our Christian faith. The Resurrection shows the power of God to conquer even death. The Cross shows the power of God to conquer sin; the power of God to conquer hatred and the Cross shows the unconditional power of God’s love and mercy.

God finds man so important that God Himself suffered for man… man means all human persons. The cross is proof of how important we all are to God; how important that we exist and live life to its fullest. God showed it not in words, but in an act of radical self-sacrificing love completely that God became human and suffered to save us.

Today, we celebrate the power of God’s infinite love for us; the awesome truth that God spared nothing to save us, not even his only Son, to rescue us. To God, it was worth it, we are worth the death of his incarnate Son.

There is this beautiful prayer as part in the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hour – the official prayer of the Church prayed by priests, deacons, religious and by many lay people now.

It goes like this: “Lord Jesus, We stood condemned and you came to be judged in our place. Send your saving power on us and when you come in glory bring your mercy to those for whom you were condemned.”

The cross is a reminder of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. The cross is a reminder of the Gospel of the Lord and the Gospel of Christ demands forgiveness. It demands that we let go of that grudge that we harbor deep in our hearts. The Gospel of Christ demands forgiveness when we have been offended.

The Gospel of Christ demands that we live in our daily lives the condition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Gospel of Christ is not easy, it is tough to say the least. But by putting our hatred to death, we give life to our love and more importantly, by putting our hatred to death, we give life to God’s love.

The news of the barbaric treatment of the prisoners, Christians and Westerners by Islamic militants and terrorists in Iraq and Syria, admittedly, makes our blood boil to think of all the innocent people who were savagely killed; whose lives were destroyed; some were beheaded. Sadly, even in our society, we see often in the news so much violence not only by the terrorists but even by youth who just randomly hit innocent people just for the fun of it.

Of course, we need protect and defend ourselves from terrorists and any form of violence and injustice – But we also need to realize and always remember not to respond to hate with hate because that reaction often can be responsible for people acting in ways that certainly are not the ways of the Lord.

During the Memorial Mass in a packed church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary for the beheaded American reporter, James Foley, Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. invoked the prayer of St. Francis to implore the gathered not to hate but to heal:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. It is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

To these words, the Bishop added, “Yes, I wish we could all do that. Yes, it is not beyond our capability. It is not impossible. Our Lord lived it. Our most Blessed Mother lived it. Many saints have lived it.”

What gave the Bishop the confidence and hope that living the words of the Prayer of St. Francis to be instrument of peace is really possible?

When Jesus gave his life on the cross, he gave a whole new life for all who would believe in him. His victory over sin and death was complete. He bore every sin—past, present, and future—and took every evil inclination of our hearts and nailed them to his cross.

By his death, he defeated the power of Satan and destroyed death forever. He triumphed over the ways of the world that are opposed to God. He opened up heaven and poured out unlimited grace and mercy.

That is why Jesus said: ‘In this world, you will have troubles… but take courage; do not be afraid, I have overcome the world.”

There is more to this celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross than bold statements of spiritual victory. We also celebrate Jesus’ personal touch upon every person who believes in him; upon each one of us.

Please look at the image of Jesus on the cross. If you cannot see the image from where you sit or stand, then just close your eyes… and now everyone – imagine Jesus telling you these words personally as if you are the only one here:

“My beloved child, heaven has been opened up for you. Because of my cross, you have been forgiven and cleansed of all sin. You are justified and made righteous. You are protected from Satan’s evil schemes. You have been rescued from darkness and the ungodly ways of the world, and you now have power to live a holy life on earth. My child, do you believe this? Place your faith in me, and you will see my victory.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ – You see – Jesus’ triumph is really our triumph. May we surrender our hearts to Jesus, who loves us so deeply, so unconditionally; much more than we can even ever imagine.

May these beautiful, profound and mysterious words of the Gospel, dwell in us and resonate in our hearts and whole being: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

http://stcatherinevallejo.org/wp/2014/09/14/homily-on-exaltation-of-the-holy-cross/

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From 2014

Homily from the Abbot

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

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The Cross of Christ! We are so used to the Cross that we no longer feel the awfulness of this symbol in our lives. It has become something ordinary. For the early followers of Christ, the Cross was a symbol of how a human had undergone the very worst of human torture and had accepted it for our sake. Always we hear this phrase: for our sake. Jesus became human for our sake. Jesus lived for our sake. Jesus suffered for our sake. Jesus died for our sake. Jesus rose for our sake. For our sake means also for my sake, for me personally.

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It is not often that a feast such as that of the Cross takes a more important place than the normal Sunday liturgy. But a feast of Christ takes such a place when it falls on a Sunday in Ordinary time. So today we contemplate the Cross of the Lord.

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Did Jesus have to die on the Cross? This is a question that avoids the simple fact: Jesus did die on the Cross for my sake, for our sake. The Cross is foolishness and is for really bad people and for slaves. Jesus took all of that on Himself for my sake, for our sake.

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What was a symbol of deep shame becomes a symbol of eternal love, of boundless love–for my sake, for our sake. It is not easy for any of us to accept that another person loves us completely, even in marriage or in a religious community. It is not easy to believe in love, especially when we see desires all around us which are not love. It is not easy to want to give our lives in love, even when we may have fallen in love. Love is such a compelling commitment to another person–and it requires everything we have and all that we are.

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Part of the symbol in the celebration of today is the lifting up of the serpent by Moses for the healing of the people. The people are healed by that which they were trying to kill. The serpent is lifted up on a pole and by looking at it, the people were saved. For us who come after Christ, it is easier to see this symbol. We are healed of our sins by look at the one we have caused to die, the one we have killed, the one who gave Himself in love for us.

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Truly the mystery of God’s love for us is beyond understanding, even when we accept it. Why would God want to love such rebellious people? Why would God want to love me when I so often pay no attention to Him? This is the mystery of love. It is a mystery of suffering love, a love willing to die for me.

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Let us spend some time today with the Cross, giving thanks, meditating, letting our hearts be touched by the Lord. The Letter to the Philippians tells us that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Through His Cross we are saved.

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From 2014

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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SHARING IN CHRIST’S TRIUMPH OVER THE CROSS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: NUM 21:4-9;  PHIL 2:6-11; JN 3:13-17
http://www.universalis.com/20140914/mass.htm

No one on this earth is exempted from suffering and the crosses of life.  Whether we are babies, youth, adults or elderly; studying, working or retired, we have our share of sufferings.   Where do our crosses come from?

The first source of suffering comes from our fragile humanity.   As human beings, we suffer the weakness of the human body and of the mind.  Our suffering comes from the inconvenience and humdrum drudgery of daily life.   In themselves, they need not cause us great pain, if we are able to accept them in stride and take them as part of being human.   Only those who seek to escape from suffering will suffer more than the hassles themselves.  This was the case of the Israelites in the desert.  They were short in tolerance, always complaining about the situation they were in, and comparing with what could have been.  By fighting against the daily discomforts of life, we make ourselves miserable, for instead of focusing on the joys, we focus on our pain.  Sadness is experienced when we see things out of perspective.  Joy comes to those who see everything positively.

The second source of suffering is the consequence of our sins.  Instead of being grateful for what they had received, especially their freedom from the slavery of the Egyptians, the Israelites grew discontented with their new found freedom.  They valued material comfort more than personal freedom.  Hence, they grumbled against God and Moses, accusing them of leading them into the desert to be destroyed.  Such a response showed the self-centeredness of the Israelites and the utter lack of gratitude.

As a result, God punished them by sending “fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. “  This must not be misunderstood as God taking revenge on them.  Rather, it symbolized that their sins and lack of contentment ultimately destroyed them. People who are selfish and self-centered eventually bring destruction upon themselves.

The third source of suffering comes from the sins of others.   Quite often, our sins not only harm us, but also the innocent people around us.  The sins of the people of Israel not only affected those concerned, but the whole nation as well. This was particularly true of the sins of their leaders, religious and political. Because of the sins of parents, children suffer as well.  Because of the sins of church leaders, the members’ faith is shaken. Because of the sins of society, we are all contaminated.  Jesus’ death on the cross of course was caused by our sins.

What is the antidote to sin and suffering?  The paradox is that the key lies in the suffering itself.  It is strange that God chose the serpent that bit them as the instrument of healing.  He told Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.”  Why did God want them to look at the serpent?  So that they would be reminded of what their selfishness and ingratitude had caused them, and thereby desist from repeating their mistake.  Indeed, the responsorial psalm says, “Do not forget the works of the Lord! While He slew them they sought Him and inquired after God again, remembering that God was their rock and the Most High God, their redeemer.  But He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not. Often He turned back his anger and let none of His wrath be roused.”

Of course we know that the serpent mounted on the pole foreshadows the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven; and the Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”  Truly, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has become the source of salvation for the whole world.

For the death of Jesus is not just any suffering or death, but the suffering and death of God Himself in His Son.   St Paul made clear the identity of Jesus when he wrote, “The state of Jesus Christ was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”  St John the evangelist brought out the significance of Jesus’ death, which is nothing less than the expression of God’s unconditional and total love for the world.  He wrote, “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.” Such is the extent of His love, that He would suffer the humiliation of His Son, so that His love would be revealed to us all.

If we contemplate on the love of God in Christ Jesus, especially in His passion on the cross, then the realization of what our sins have done to God will move us to repent of our sins and ingratitude towards His love.  It is not just an intellectual belief in the death of Christ, but a personal conviction of Jesus as the Son of the Father, that would cause us to grieve for our sins, not simply because our sins hurt us, but because our sins hurt the One who loves us so much, God Himself.  Hence, by reflecting on our sins in the light of God’s suffering and mercy, we are changed.  Unfortunately, many of us do not believe in Jesus as the Son of the Father.

If we still live in sin today in spite of our conversion to Christ in baptism, it is because, like the Israelites, we have forgotten the works of the Lord!  Today, as we celebrate the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the Church is not just asking us to contemplate on the love of Christ for us on the cross, but most of all, His triumphant victory over sin and death.   Yes, the Cross might appear to be a failure, but for God, it is His instrument of victory.  As St Paul wrote, “But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  By His cross, He destroyed sin.  By His death, He destroyed death.

So if we are suffering today, be it on account of our own sins or the sins of others, or because we have chosen to suffer with and forJesus in His Body the Church, let us be confident that our sufferings, when carried out positively and vicariously, can bring about our own redemption and that of the world.  Like Jesus, by emptying ourselves, we become one with the world. Just as Moses interceded for the sins of his people, our innocent sufferings offered for the sins of the world, will be the most powerful form of intercession for its conversion.  May we carry our sufferings and crosses cheerfully for our own conversion and for others, so that His mercy and grace will fill us all!

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/14-september-2014-the-exaltation-of-the-holy-cross/#sthash.uE1eeBuv.dpuf

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