Posts Tagged ‘will of God’

Morning Prayer for Friday, August 3, 2018 — Stay in the Present Moment — Life is a gift to God — Get Help from Your Friends!

August 3, 2018

The only day you can tuly influence is today. The only moment you are working on is the present moment.

With God we are OK. Do not be afraid.

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Each moment of your day, which you devote to this new way of life is a gift to God. The gift of the moments. Even when your desire to serve God is sincere, it is not an easy thing to give Him many of these moments: the daily things you had planned to do, given up gladly so that you can perform a good service or say a kind word. If you can see God’s purpose in many situations, it will be easier to give Him many moments of your day. Every situation has two interpretations – your own and God’s. Try to handle each situation in the way you believe God would have it handled.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may make my day count somewhat for God. I pray that I may not spend it all selfishly.

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In other words: stay in the present moment.
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How come we refuse to believe?
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Book: The Sacrament of the Present Moment
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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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 (That word “UNLESS” means this is something we cannot ignore…)
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On our Peace and Freedom web site, these are our three top “overnight reads” —

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Padre Pio
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“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
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– St. Pio of  Pietrelcina
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John Paul The Great (Pope Saint John Paul II) carries his cross. What cross is yours? How are you doing carrying it the way Jesus taught us?
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Our Thanks to Father Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R. — His books can be very helpful if you are seeking God in your life ….. He helped me more than he ever knew… He also suffered a lot his last few years…

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Morning Prayer for Wednesday, August 1, 2018 — Give Your Heart To The Will of God

August 1, 2018

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You should strive for a union between your purposes in life and the purposes of the Divine Principle directing the universe. There is no bond of union on earth to compare with the union between a human soul and God. Priceless beyond all earth’s rewards is that union. In merging your heart and mind with the heart and mind of the Higher Power, a oneness of purpose results, which only those who experience it can even dimly realize. That oneness of purpose puts you in harmony with God and with all others who are trying to do His will.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may become attuned to the will of God. I pray that I may be in harmony with the music of the spheres.

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A Few Thoughts from Peace and Freedom

Military “War Colleges” teach that “unity of purpose” is a fundamental quality in all successful military endeavors. The Bible teaches that a “house divided cannot stand.”

“But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.'”

The prayer suggests that we follow the “Will of God.”

A good friend of mine routinely opines that, “No human being can ever know the will of God.”

Over time, I saw in him that he just refused to seek the will of God, feeling somehow absolved of doing so, following his early pronouncement that “No human being can ever know the will of God.”

You know what happened. He got into a world full of trouble.

Me, I decided to seek the Will of God even HARDER!

Our pride gets us into a lot of trouble.

If you approached the average American on the street today and said, “You should become like little children” or you should “become more like sheep,” you might end up with a bloody nose.

But Jesus himself urges us toward humility — not pride.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.

That’s a sort of “no way out” pronouncement from Jesus.

The scripture is also filled with stories about the sheep. The sheep has to be me … us! We are the sheep.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

A good meditation is to seek out ways to become like little children, to be more humble, and to be a true follower of Christ — like a sheep.

Our culture teaches just the opposite.

Which may be why much of our society is so repulsive.

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Morning Prayer for Friday, July 20, 2018 — Help Others and Live according to the dictates of your conscience

July 20, 2018

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While we’re in this lifeboat, trying to save each other and ourselves and from the threats around us — We must be truly and sincerely helpful to each other.

Meditation for the Day

Carry out God’s guidance as best you can. Leave the results to Him. Do this obediently and faithfully with no question that if the working out of the guidance is left in God’s hands, the results will be all right. Believe that the guidance God gives you has already been worked out by God to produce the required results according to your case and in your circumstances. So follow God’s guidance according to your conscience. God has knowledge of your individual life and character, your capabilities and your weaknesses.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may live according to the dictates of my conscience. I pray that I may leave the results to God.

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Morning Prayer for Thursday, July 19, 2018 — Expect Miracles!

July 19, 2018

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To God, a miracle of change in a person’s life is only a natural happening. But it is a natural happening operated by spiritual forces. There is no miracle in personalities too marvelous to be an everyday happening. But miracles happen only to those who are fully guided and strengthened by God. Marvelous changes in people’s natures happen so simply, and yet they are free from all other agencies than the grace of God. But these miracles have been prepared for by days and months of longing for something better. They are always accompanied by a real desire to conquer self and to surrender one’s life to God.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may expect miracles in the lives of people. I pray that I may be used to help people change.

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Morning Prayer for Sunday, July 15, 2018 — Climbing Toward Eternity

July 15, 2018

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You are climbing up the ladder of life, which reaches into eternity. Would God plant your feet upon an insecure ladder? Its supports may be out of sight, hidden in secret places, but if God has asked you to step on and up firmly, then surely He has secured your ladder. Faith gives you the strength to climb steadily this ladder of life. You should leave your security to God and trust Him not to let you fall. He is there to give you all the power you need to keep on climbing.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may climb the ladder of life without fear. I pray that I may progress steadily through the rest of my life with faith and confidence.

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, July 15, 2018 — “I will hear what God proclaims; for he proclaims peace.”

July 14, 2018

“He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world.”

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“Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.”

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 104

Reading 1 AM 7:12-15

Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD —for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Reading 2  EPH 1:3-14 OR 1:3-10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of God’s grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In him we have redemption by his blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

Alleluia  CF. EPH 1:17-18

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

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Art: Jesus Casts Out The Demon from the Possessed Boy at the Foot of Mount Tabor by James Tissot

Gospel  MK 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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From 01 FEBRUARY, 2018.

The first principle that all Godly people would teach is this, “Observe the injunctions of the Lord your God, following his ways and keeping his laws, his commandments, his customs and his decrees, as it stands written in the Law of Moses, that so you may be successful in all you do and undertake.”  This is the constant teaching of the Bible.  Moses also instructed the people the same thing before they entered the Promised Land.  “See, just as the Lord my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’”  (Dt 4:5f)

Fidelity and obedience to God was the most important lesson David had learnt throughout his life and as a king.  He knew from his mistakes that whenever he failed to listen to the Lord and went his own ways, he caused problems and sufferings both for himself and for his loved ones.  On hindsight, he knew that it was his self-will and selfishness that caused his house and kingdom to suffer.  We can be sure that if David were to live his life all over again, he would to be more obedient to His holy will and walk in His ways.  God is always faithful.  He showed His fidelity to King David by ensuring his dynasty would last forever, which would be fulfilled in Christ, the descendant of David.  But that he and his sons would reign forever was dependent on whether they would walk in the ways of God.  The Lord would fulfil the promise of putting his sons to reign in Israel provided, “your sons are careful how they behave, and walk loyally before me with all their heart and soul, you shall never lack for a man on the throne of Israel.”

Secondly, we are called to rely on the power and grace of God.  In sending out the Twelve, Jesus “instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses.”  This was to make the apostles rely on divine providence and to live by faith, not by sight or by might.   When we can no longer depend on our own strength and resources, then we start relying on God.  This is the great disadvantage for those of us who are capable, intelligent, self-sufficient, have plenty of money and resources, because we never know what it is to live in faith with open hands waiting for the next meal.  When we are strong, we do not understand the meaning of faith and of course, we will never experience the power of God at work in our lives, unlike those who are sick, weak and desperate. This made St Paul remark, “Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor 12:10)

Thirdly, Jesus sent “them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits.”  The authority over unclean spirits is an authority given by God.  The authority we exercise as leaders is always exercised on behalf of God and in the name of God.  “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve, the Lord Christ.”  (Col 3:23f)  Indeed, Jesus as the Lord, chose the Twelve and gave them authority, so we leaders are also chosen by God.  It is Christ who summons us to serve Him and His people.  He calls us to specific tasks.  Even Solomon’s brother, Adonijah who tried to steal the throne from him acknowledged this fact.  He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign; however the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord.”  (1 Kg 2:15)  So it is important that we do not abuse our authority to serve our interests.   Authority is given not to be used for evil but for good.

Fourthly, this authority is also exercised in collegiality.  It must be noted that Jesus sent them out in pairs.  We cannot accomplish the mission alone.   We need to walk with others and work with others.  Alone, we cannot accomplish much, and even if we could, we would not be able to last for long.  But when we have good collaborators to journey with us, they will give us the necessary encouragement during times of trial and difficulties.  The mission of the apostles was assigned them as a college, with St Peter as the head.  This is how the Church continues to be structured with the Pope as the head of the apostolic college of bishops.  When we exercise our authority in collegiality with the others, we can be more confident of the will of God for us.

Fifthly, there must be no coercion or imposition on others.  When we use force, we will only receive negative reaction.  Rather, as leaders, we must do all we can to persuade and convince.  As leaders, we must do all within our power that which is good and right.  Beyond that, we should allow freedom to respond.  Knowing that we have done all in our power the right thing, we should be clear that our responsibilities are limited to that extent.  Hence, Jesus in the gospel advised the disciples how to respond to those who reject the gospel.  He said to them, “If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district.  And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake of the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.”  In other words, so long as we have done our part, the failure to respond is not our failure but that of the recipients.  We need not feel responsible when people reject the message or the good we do.  We entrust them into the hands of the Lord.  Success at the end of the day, is the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is not within our control and that is why we must allow the grace of God to work in its own ways.

In the final analysis, it is not so much what we say but what we do.  We read that “they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.”  Preaching and words alone cannot change hearts.  It is the work of charity and miracles of healing that testify to the power of God.  So as leaders, it is when people see us doing good for them, serving them and their interests instead of ours that will move them to respect us and believe in us.  It is when we live out our faith in love that we impart the best legacy to those whom we serve.

When we impart to others a living faith, we give them everything.  Just as King David did not tell Solomon how to rule the kingdom, but gave him the most important foundation of leadership, which is to have faith in God and walk in His ways, the best legacy we can leave to our children too is the gift of faith.  But many parents are short-sighted.  They think that giving their children a good education or finding them a good career is everything, failing to realize that all these things, whilst good, are not sufficient to help them find happiness unless they use their knowledge, skills and resources for the service of God and their fellowmen.  Giving them the heart of God, is what will make them truly happy in whatever they do in life.  Only faith in God can assure that we will be strong and show ourselves as men of God, men for others.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

15 JULY, 2018, Sunday, 15th Week, Ordinary Time

MISSIONARY ZEAL IS DEPENDENT ON CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR IDENTITY AND RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ AMOS 7:12-15EPH 1:3-14MK 6:7-13 ]

Today, the scripture readings speak about our call.  The prophet Amos was called to prophesy to the people in Israel.  In obedience, he responded even though he was not a trained prophet but merely a shepherd.  Like Prophet Amos and the apostles, we are called to enlighten and call sinners to repentance.  We must help them to see that the life they live is without meaning.  Similarly, in the gospel, “They set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.”  That is why, besides proclaiming the truth, we need to deliver them from their bondages and heal them. 

What are the reasons for the lack of evangelical and missionary zeal among Catholics?  Firstly, it is because of our failure to recognize our dignity and Christian calling.   Indeed, what is the greatest thing about the Christian Faith?  That we have been chosen!  What did God choose us for? It is this, to share in His life and love.  St Paul says, He “chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ, for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace.”  Such is the mercy of God, that we are called to holiness of life, that is, a life of integrity, a holistic life.  We are called to live a life of love like God, “in his presence.”   In this way, we become His adopted sons and daughters in Christ.   Living the life of Christ in us, like Christ, we share in His glory and become a light to the nations.  This is our great calling as Christians.  These are the blessings given to all of us in Christ.  This is our purpose in life.  This is our destiny.  So we cannot, like the rest of the world, say “we do not know the purpose of life, we do not know who we are, we do not know where we come from, we do not know where we will be after death.”

Secondly, many of us have no real personal relationship with the Lord.  Our faith in Christ is not real to them.  This faith in God’s love however is not something of the past.  It remains real even in our days with Christ’s departure into heaven.  Today, we continue to have a foretaste of this salvation and the experience of divine sonship through the Holy Spirit living and working in us.  St Paul wrote, “Now you too, in him, have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation, and have believed it: and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, the pledge of our inheritance which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his glory praised.”  Indeed, the Holy Spirit is our down payment, our installment, our deposit for the fullness of life that is ahead of us when we die.

How, then, can we overcome our lack of identity as Christians and the shallow relationship we have with the Lord?  Firstly, it has to do with our connection with the Word of God.  If our relationship with the Lord is weak, it is because we have no love for the Word of God. When we speak of the Word of God, it is more than just a written word in the bible or even proclaimed orally but Christ Himself, who is mediated by both oral and written tradition, words and works.  The Word of God or the Gospel cannot be reduced to merely the written Word of God.  The Word is a living Person.  The bible is the Word of God in the written form insofar as it seeks to mediate to us the personal presence of Christ.   It is for this reason that we say the Word is a living Word, not a dead word, written now on paper or even simply spoken, but that it bears fruits in our daily life, and is incarnated in us.

Without praying the scriptures, our prayer life would be affected.  The depth of our prayer life is very much dependent on our familiarity with the Word of God.  Many of us do not know how to pray other than using the formula prayers taught by the Church.  If we cannot pray spontaneously and from our heart, it is because the Word of God does not abide in us.  When we are familiar with the Word of God, we pray back the scriptures to God as they become part of our convictions and faith.  Through the praying of the Word using the methods as taught by the Church, particularly Lectio Divina, we will come to know Jesus personally, be imbued with His mind and thoughts and most of all, sharing His heart and love.

Secondly, it has to do with our failure to be connected with the Body of Christ.  Jesus sent out His disciples in pairs.  This is because God wants us to find strength in team ministry.  As human beings, ministry can be discouraging, especially in the face of rejection. We need to have a human voice encouraging us and feeling with us, and working together to find new ways to reach out to those who do not know or reject Christ.  Mission must always be carried out in communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Otherwise we get disheartened.  At any rate, we do not seek glory for ourselves but for Him alone.  So it is necessary to collaborate with fellow Christians, work as a team to achieve more for the Lord.  When we have someone at our side, we will find strength to endure and persevere in love and faith.

For this reason, we need to form cell groups or belong to a community of faith where we can share the Word of God weekly with a group of five or six persons. If only Catholics pray the Word of God every day for half an hour and have weekly shared reflection on the Word and pray with a small cell group, whether in the office, neighbourhood, among ministry members or just friends, within our family, the Church will be on fire and we will all become great evangelizers in word and in deed.  This, I believe, is the key to a deeper intimacy with the Lord and a stronger prayer life leading towards the work of the New Evangelization.

We will see changes in our lives and be strengthened in our faith if we would only come together to pray and share the Word of God together.  Family bonds will be strengthened, relationships among colleagues will improve, and there will be greater collaboration among members in organizations.  Most of all, we will edify each other by our testimonies of how the Lord works in our lives.  This will help especially those who have no time to attend formal talks or sessions on faith, doctrines and scriptures to grow in their faith.  By sharing the Word of God with others, we journey in our faith together.  We will teach others informally and search the scriptures together.

Indeed, the authority that is needed to proclaim the Word of God efficaciously is not so much a juridical authority but a personal authority based on faith and conviction.  Training is secondary, but the most important criterion is obedience in faith to the Word of God.  This was what the Prophet Amos said in response to those who tried to discredit him for his lack of credentials.   He admitted, “I was no prophet, neither did I belong to any of the brotherhoods of prophets…I was a shepherd, and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”  So it was in faith that he prophesied, not because of any formal training, or upbringing or prophetic lineage.   He was responding purely in obedience to God’s call in faith.

If our faith is in God, we only need to rely on divine providence.  This explains why Jesus instructed the Twelve, “to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’”  The Lord wanted them to rely on His power and grace so that His glory can be manifested.  He did not want them to over-prepare, but to surrender to His power.  He did not want us to rely on ourselves and our resources alone.  He will work in and through us.  We must trust in the power of God and totally depend on Him alone.

So let us be true prophets, humble shepherds and faith-filled healers of the Lord so that His glory will be shown and His mercy received.  In this way, the divine plan of God will come to fruition and all will be reunited under Christ, the head of the Church, His body, sharing in His sonship and daughtership.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Morning Prayer for Tuesday, July 10, 2018 — I pray that I may be used by God to help change the lives of others.

July 10, 2018
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Without entering into any theological discussions we can carry our message and attempt to explain the simple “how” of the spiritual life. How faith in a Higher Power can help you to overcome loneliness, fear, and anxiety. How it can help you get along with other people. How it can make it possible for you to rise above pain, sorrow, and despondency. How it can help you to overcome your desires for the things that destroy. Have I reached a simple, effective faith?

Meditation for the Day

Expect miracles of change in people’s lives. Do not be held back by unbelief. People can be changed and they are often ready and waiting to be changed. Never believe that human nature cannot be changed. We see changed people every day. Do you have the faith to make those changes possible? Modern miracles happen every day in the lives of people. All miracles are in the realm of personalities. Human nature can be changed and is always being changed. But we must have enough faith so that we can be channels for God’s strength into the lives of others.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may have the faith to expect miracles. I pray that I may be used by God to help change the lives of others.

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From the book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”
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Morning Prayer for Sunday, July 8, 2018 — We are Called to be Faithful — Serving God, not man

July 8, 2018

There is a force for good in the world and when you are cooperating with that force for good, good things happen to you. You have free will, the choice to be on the side of right or on the side of wrong. This force for good we call God’s will. God has a purpose for the world and He has a purpose for your life. He wants you to bring all your desires into oneness with His desires. He can only work through people. If you try to make God’s will your own will, you will be guided by Him. You will be in the stream of goodness, carried along by everything that is right. You will be on God’s side.

I pray that I will try to make God’s will my own will. I pray that I may keep in the stream of goodness in the world.

–From The Book “Twenty-Four Hours a Day”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

08 JULY, 2018, Sunday, 14th Week, Ordinary Time

CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL, NOT SUCCESSFUL (Or Popular)

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ez 2:2-5Ps 123:1-52 Cor 12:7-10Mk 6:1-6 ]

Many of us have chosen to follow Jesus and serve Him by giving ourselves to Him in service, especially in the Church or even outside of our parishes and in NGO activities.  But serving the Lord is not always easy.  Serving people who appreciate us is very easy.  But when we have to serve those who are always fighting with us, criticizing and opposing us, it can get very tiresome and discouraging, especially when we are giving voluntary and free services.  This is how some of us priests, religious and church ministry members feel.  At times, we fail in our projects because of the lack of support, and then we are blamed for them.  This accounts for why many who serve in the Church or in charitable organizations become jaded, skeptical, resentful, disillusioned and angry with those in authority and those under them after some time.   Eventually, many leave the ministry as they do not want to waste time on ingrates.

This was the case for the Prophet Ezekiel and St Paul in today’s scripture readings. They faced the same struggles and experience of rejection, opposition and apparent failure in their mission.  The prophet Ezekiel was called by God to upbraid the people for their sins, their rebellion against Him.  He said, “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, ‘The Lord says this’.”  In spite of the fact that Ezekiel was prophesying to those in exile, they refused to admit their sins and repent.   St Paul similarly suffered persecution and opposition in his ministry.   In his letter to the Corinthians, he had to assert his authority as an apostle and a true disciple of the Lord in the face of those who raised objections to his position as an apostle of our Lord.  He had to face enemies from within and enemies from without.   Above all, he was suffering physically.  He spoke of “a thorn in the flesh”, which could have been a chronic ailment that was debilitating and constraining him from giving more fully to the ministry and preaching.

Jesus, too, was not spared of rejection in His mission.  In fact, His entire mission ended in apparent failure on the cross.  Although the outcasts, the sinners, the poor and the sick appreciated Him, the religious authorities and those who had political power and influence found Him a nuisance.   Even His own family members and friends rejected Him.  “Most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary.’ And they would not accept him.”

They were prejudiced against Him. Some were jealous of His talents, charisms and success.  He was rejected because He was seen as one of their peers and only a carpenter.  They had their preconceived notions of who Jesus should be and not who He really was.  They were blinded to the truth by their inner fears, so much so they could not hear Jesus and accept Him as the Son of God. As a consequence, they were the losers instead; not our Lord who came to save them.  The poignant words of Jesus summed up His own experience of being rejected when He remarked, “A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”  Indeed, Jesus could not work any miracles because no miracle could change their hearts since they could not accept His word or believe that He was from God.  Hence, Jesus looked elsewhere to serve those who had faith in Him and would respond to His Word.

In the light of what we see in the lives of great leaders, we must come to realize as well that they remained great leaders despite rejection, not because they were successful in their ministry but because they were faithful.  The measure of success in the eyes of God is not whether a leader can bring people to conversion, measured by productivity numbers and KPIs.  The success of a prophet is dependent on his obedience to God’s Word, not on whether others accept the message.  Whether they listen or not, is the grace of God and their cooperation with His grace.  That is why the Lord said to the prophet Ezekiel, “Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.”  Jesus said the same thing.  “A prophet is only despised in his own country.”  However, that does not make His his work less important.  We do not have to be respected or honoured to be useful to God.   We only have to do what the Lord asks of us.

So, we must not allow rejection, opposition and failure to keep us from serving God. We must never forget that we are serving God, not man.  St Paul wrote, “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.  For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.”  (Col 3:2325)  This is what St Teresa of Calcutta reminded her missionaries.  “What the Lord is asking of us is to be faithful not successful!”  

So, like St Paul, we must keep our conscience clear, doing our best.  Writing to Bishop Timothy, he said, “As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:6-8)  He was not always successful.  In fact, he also shared painfully about his opponents.  (cf 2 Tim 4:14-16)

Indeed, failures, weaknesses and persecutions keep us humble. This is God’s way of reminding us that it is His kingdom that He is building, not ours.  Ours is made by human hands but His is only possible in the power of His Holy Spirit.  When we are intelligent, bright, influential, wealthy and have plenty of resources, we will rely only on our own abilities and strength.  We become proud and self-reliant instead of depending on God.  People who can depend on themselves do not need to pray or depend on God because they can do it on their own.  That is why such proud people hardly pray, because they do not believe in the power of grace and prayer.

St Paul sees his weaknesses as strength instead.  He said, “In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud!”  It was his limitations, whether physical, material or opposition from his enemies that made him rely on God’s strength and not his own.  With regard to the thorn in his flesh, he said, “I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness’.”  Indeed, His grace was sufficient for St Paul, and for us too.

God does not always remove our weaknesses but He promises us His assistance and divine power.  With respect to his opponents, Paul wrote, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”  (2 Tim 4:17)    Indeed, God allows us to feel weak so that we can strengthen our Christian character and deepen our spiritual life.   Ezekiel was obedient to the word of God and He was filled with His spirit to carry out His work.  “As he said these words the spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard him speaking to me.”   When we are weak, God fills us with his power.  Only His strength can empower us to be effective and give our work lasting value, resulting in a real transformation of hearts, not just superficial results and activities that we see so often in some church programs.

At the same time, our weakness will demonstrate the power of God, that it is not on our own strength that we accomplish His work.  As St Paul wrote, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”  (2 Cor 11:30)  “So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” (cf also 2 Cor 12:10)

So let us trust in the primacy of grace.  Only those who believe in grace will pray with faith and fervor.  Like the psalmist, we say, “To you have I lifted up my eyes, you who dwell in the heavens; my eyes, like the eyes of slaves on the hand of their lords.  Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy. We are filled with contempt.  Indeed all too full is our soul with the scorn of the rich, with the proud man’s disdain.”

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

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

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Meditation:

  1. Where is my motivations when with others?
  2. What is my life purpose on this earth?
  3. What gives me meaning and value in my life?
  4. Where am I failing in sincerely loving others?
  5. How can I become more balanced as a person in offering compassion?
  6. How can I find God as my source to help me in my life’s struggles?

Morning Prayer for Thursday, July 5, 2018 — I pray that I may try to steer a straight course

July 5, 2018

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Many things can upset you and you can easily get off the track. But
remember that God is near you all the time, ready to help you if you
call on Him. You cannot forever stand against God’s will for you, nor
can you, forever upset God’s plan for your life, even though Gods plan
may be postponed by your willfulness and deliberate choice of evil. A
whole world of men and women cannot permanently change God’s
laws nor His purpose for the universe. The sea of life may look very
rough to us, but we can believe that our Captain steers the boat on a
straight course.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may try to steer a straight course. I pray that I may
accept God’s direction in my life’s journey.

From the Book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

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Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, June 28, 2018 — “Be like a wise man who built his house on rock” — Saving Others and Saving Ourselves

June 28, 2018

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

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Saint Irenaeus , Église Saint-Irénée, France photo by Gérald Gambier

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Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
Lectionary: 374

Reading 1 2 KGS 24:8-17

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign,
and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
His mother’s name was Nehushta,
daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
He did evil in the sight of the LORD,
just as his forebears had done.
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At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
himself arrived at the city
while his servants were besieging it.
Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother,
his ministers, officers, and functionaries,
surrendered to the king of Babylon, who,
in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive.
And he carried off all the treasures
of the temple of the LORD and those of the palace,
and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel,
had provided in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had foretold.
He deported all Jerusalem:
all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number,
and all the craftsmen and smiths.
None were left among the people of the land except the poor.
He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon,
and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon
the king’s mother and wives,
his functionaries, and the chief men of the land.
The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon
all seven thousand men of the army,
and a thousand craftsmen and smiths,
all of them trained soldiers.
In place of Jehoiachin,
the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king,
and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 79:1B-2, 3-5, 8, 9

R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Alleluia  JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

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Saint Irenaeus’ Story

The Church is fortunate that Irenaeus was involved in many of its controversies in the second century. He was a student, well trained no doubt, with great patience in investigating, tremendously protective of apostolic teaching, but prompted more by a desire to win over his opponents than to prove them in error.

As bishop of Lyons he was especially concerned with the Gnostics, who took their name from the Greek word for “knowledge.” Claiming access to secret knowledge imparted by Jesus to only a few disciples, their teaching was attracting and confusing many Christians. After thoroughly investigating the various Gnostic sects and their “secret,” Irenaeus showed to what logical conclusions their tenets led. These he contrasted with the teaching of the apostles and the text of Holy Scripture, giving us, in five books, a system of theology of great importance to subsequent times. Moreover, his work, widely used and translated into Latin and Armenian, gradually ended the influence of the Gnostics.

The circumstances and details about his death, like those of his birth and early life in Asia Minor, are not at all clear.

Reflection

A deep and genuine concern for other people will remind us that the discovery of truth is not to be a victory for some and a defeat for others. Unless all can claim a share in that victory, truth itself will continue to be rejected by the losers, because it will be regarded as inseparable from the yoke of defeat. And so, confrontation, controversy and the like might yield to a genuine united search for God’s truth and how it can best be served.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-irenaeus/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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28 JUNE, 2018, Thursday, 12th Week, Ordinary Time

SAVING OTHERS BUT NOT OURSELVES

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 KINGS 24:8-17PS 79:1-5,8-9MT 7:21-29 ]

The world has come to the stage where leaders are no longer trusted. Unfortunately, the greatest disappointment is when religious leaders who are supposed to be moral markers fail in their leadership and in their way of life.  Hence there is a growing distrust in the institutions as they are no longer viewed as protectors and guardians of the people’s morality and justice.

Is it because the world’s level of morality is degenerating? Perhaps so, but this might not be the real picture.  Since the beginning of time, in the history of Israel, there has always been bad and evil leaders.  It is true everywhere in the world and in every sphere of life.  That is why it is said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  I suppose the real reason why we see so many evil and self-centered leaders is because with social media they are easily exposed for their double dealings, and people today are also better educated and informed and so are able to tell if the leaders are following the rules they set for others.  In the early days, one could cover up quite easily one’s evil deeds by using their authority to instill fear in their subordinates to keep them quiet.

What, then, do we do when we find leaders who do not walk the talk, or worse still, deliberately cheat using their office and influence?  This is what the Lord said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.”  (Mt 23:2f) If they are teaching the truth, even if they do not practise what they teach, it is still the Word of God and we must therefore listen and obey accordingly.  We must be focused on the content, not just the preacher or the teacher.  Living out the truth is ultimately for our good and our salvation.  It would be unwise of us to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  We must be discerning and not react to the imperfections and the sinfulness of our teachers and those in authority. We are not perfect ourselves and therefore we can afford to be sympathetic and compassionate with them when they too fall into the temptation of the Evil One.

But the real problem is, how do we deal with leaders who are hypocritical and living a double life without usknowing it until they are exposed?  In public, they appear to be earnest preachers, sincere ministers, good workers, dressed in nice robes, making “their phylacteries broad and their fringes long” like the scribes and Pharisees.  But in fact, they are simply putting on a show when they are quietly enriching themselves, living a spendthrift, luxurious and wanton life, irresponsible and lazy in their work, mixing only with the rich and powerful, and caring for their own interests.

The irony is that they seem to be producing the fruits that Jesus said we should look out for when discerningtrue leaders, ie, good works, miracles and healings, attracting great crowds of people, bringing much money to their projects and growing the Church as well.

But the Lord warned us immediately after giving us the rule of thumb for discerning good leaders, that good works alone does not mean that they are good. “It is not those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.  When the day comes many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work miracles in your name?’  Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil man!”  Indeed, good works alone need not indicate that they are saved or that they are holy men and women!  They could be simply making use of religion to make money, enjoy a life of luxury, getting attention and fame for themselves, but in truth they are far from God.  “From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”  (cf 1 Tim 6:3-5) Sound doctrine is not focused on personal gain but on the salvation of the souls of others.

This is why the Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by our merits but purely through faith in the grace of God that comes from the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  St Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph 2:9f) He repeated this in his letter to Titus, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  (Tit 3:4-7)

How, then, do we see the value of their works, since they apparently bring many to conversion, even if they are imperfect to say the least?  The truth is that good works can be produced either by the Holy Spirit. Even the devil can mimic good works as well.  St John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  (1 Jn 4:1) Even if we do things from the wrong motives, God can make use of our good works for the conversion of many people.  The devil on the other hand can also hijack our good works by tempting us to sin, as St Paul warns us.  “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”  (1 Tim 6:9f) In fact, greater is their punishment, like the evil kings of Israel, for their misconduct.

St Paul has this to say about those ministers and missionaries that have selfish intent in proclaiming the gospel.  “Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill.  These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.”  (Phil 1:15-18) So we should rejoice that even if they serve imperfectly with impure motives or even deliberately with selfish motives, His gospel is preached to all who have faith and they are saved not by them but by Christ.

How, then, can we avoid being hypocritical leaders who harm not just our own souls but that of others?  Jesus makes it clear that we need to have a personal relationship with Him. Otherwise, He will say to you, “I have never known you; away from me, you evil man!”  A personal relationship with the Lord is the key to having greater faith in Him.  Out of this faith in Christ, His grace will be at work in us and through His grace, we will do good works, not to gain our salvation as such, but to express a life that is under the reign of Christ and His kingdom.  We do good not to earn salvation but to cooperate with His grace to live a good life, bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  (cf Gal 5:22)

This is what our Lord is asking of us, to build our House, that is, our lives on Him as the rock of our salvation.  “Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.  Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against the house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock.”  When our foundation is on the love of Christ for us and our personal relationship with Him, then we will not falter in times of trials and tribulations because we know that Jesus is with us and will supply all our needs and will strengthen us.

Most of all, because God is with us, He will make use of us more powerfully for His glory because of our greater receptivity to His grace than those ministers who are insincere and living a sinful life.   Whilst it is true that God can still make use of them, the power of His grace is also limited by man’s personal response to His grace.  So when we live holy lives in accordance with the Word of God founded in our personal relationship with the Lord, our ministry will remain pure and powerful in the name of the Lord.  This is why we read at the end of the gospel, that “his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, and not like their own scribes.”  Jesus did not simply teach but lived out what He taught and did good in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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