Your Will? Yes! 

Solemnity of the Annunciation of The Lord; 25th March, 2017. 

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

Today, the Annunciation of the Lord, we are reminded of the “yes” of Christian living. In the second reading of today, St. Paul recalls to the Hebrews, Jesus’s yes to His Heavenly Father’s will, then over to the gospel reading, our Lady’s yes to God’s ultimate plan for man. These two yeses are what brought about our salvation

Just like our Mother Mary, God finds favour in us too. And this favour demands of us sacrifices that may seem soo impossible to carry out: sacrifice of self-giving, sacrifice of true love, sacrifice of total submission. Jesus having said yes to God’s will died on the cross for our sake. Mary too probably had perfect plans for her life but abandoned it all so as to become an instrument of our salvation. No matter what difficulties and tribulations we would be faced with, we are called to say, “Let it be done to me according to Your word” to God as Mary did; we are encouraged to say, “Behold I have come to do your will, O God” as Christ came to do

The Lord who demands that which seems impossible to us is always there to give us the grace and strength to overcome them. All He needs is our yes. May we like Jesus submit our will to God Our Father and may Mother Mary continue to intercede for us so that we would overcome difficulties we may face as we say yes to Him everyday. 

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The First of All

Friday of the Third Week of Lent; 24th March, 2017.

At that time: One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

Commandment, commandment on the stone;

Which is the greatest that leads the patient dog to the heavenly bone?

And Christ gives the answer: Love. So simple the word, love; so simple it is that its simplicity gets misused everyday. We say “I love you” even when we don’t truly mean it. We claim to love men and women but the issue of racism and gender indifference remains on the rise. But Christ isn’t calling us to utter mere words of love as we do so often; no, instead He calls us to live out love. First by loving God above all earthly gains and worldly pleasures with our all-heart, soul, mind and body. By keeping His statutes and ordinances. By living up to the expectations of a Christian in the narcissistic world who echos self-love before any other love. And then follows the call to love of neighbour as we love ourselves. Looking at them with the love we would view ourselves with while facing the mirror because they are channels through which love for God can be perfected. God has shown us such great love in His goodness and mercy towards us, wouldn’t we fail as Christians if we didn’t reciprocate this magnitude of love to those who live around us?

Only by obeying this Commandment of love can we return to the Lord our God who would take away our sins. Only by loving freely shall we blossom like the lily and the beauty of our souls be like the olive, flourishing in everything we do. May God give us the grace to love unconditionally this season of Lent.

Harden Not Your Hearts… 

Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent; 23rd March 2017. 

O that today you would listen to His voice! Harden not your hearts. 

Psalm 7d-8a

Hardness of the heart. When we have bitterness within us, we leave no room for forgiveness in our hearts and gradually grow a heart of stone. We may bottle up past hurts from loved ones and enemies alike to the extent we cannot see ourselves recieving forgiveness because we cannot offer forgiveness ourselves. Obedience to God’s word as Prophet Jeremiah encouraged us to do today cannot be achieved if we have possess such harden hearts. We might even block our chances of seeing God’s hands in the good done just as the people of hardened hearts did to Jesus in today’s gospel. Only by letting go can we come to God’s presence with a clear conscience giving thanks; only by giving in to the spirit of forgiveness can we kneel before the Lord who made us to ask for pardon; only with softened hearts can we fully receive his Holy Word and his Son’s Body and Body which gives life.  We are called today to return to God with all our hearts, for He is gracious and merciful (Joel 2:12-13). Not with hardened hearts of course, for He gave us a heart of love when He created us, but if we should return with our stony hearts, He is willing to change it all and make it anew from which love and forgiveness will spring forth. May we listen to His voice this Lenten season and harden not our hearts.

Oh Just Joseph… 

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary; 20th March, 2017.

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

Matthew 1:16.18-21.24a

Today we celebrate Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary and the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the saints that was known from the Holy Scripture never to had altered a single word but yet well known for his great actions. But what really can we learn from the guardian Saint Joseph in the short account of him?

Justness: I sure haven’t heard of a just act in the Holy Bible greater than that carried out by Saint Joseph in today’s gospel reading. Amidst the mixed feelings of betrayal (he would have believed intially she had cheated) and hurt and in a confused moment in his life, he still chooses to be honourable in handling the situation of the news of Mary’s pregnancy in all fairness. This questions how far we can be in our dealings with people we might not fully understand or who may cause us hurt. Do we go about revealing their flaws to everyone who cares to hear, thus indulging in detraction and even calumny or are we just enough to endure and not make rash judgements about whatever motives were behind such actions of theirs.

Total Surrender to God’s Will: It’s amazing how just one dream had Joseph changing his goals around. In a world where miracles must be performed before the ‘reality of what is’ is finally believed in, we tend to wait for a series of events that points us to God’s direction before we actually believe in Him. Our hearts seem reluctant towards having God’s will take first place before ours. What happens to our own dreams and goals if we surrender our wills to Him, we ask ourselves. But it always isn’t about us. It should be always about God and what he has in store for us. We should embrace the “God First” policy in every thing we do. Only then can we truly imitate Saint Joseph.

Obeying as the Lord Commands: Finally, we are called like Saint Joseph to be obedient to our calling by accepting every thing that comes our way in good faith that our Lord will always be with us to see us through to the end. 

Saint Joseph played very important role in our salvation, by submitting to God’s will and being the protector of the child Jesus and Mary. We are called to be guardians of our faith in actions than in words and attentive listeners to God’s word. May Saint Joseph continue to intercede for us as we follow his footsteps in justness, obedience and total surrender to our Lord God

The Cornerstone… 

Friday of the Second Week of Lent, Year A: 17th March 2017. 

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. “When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. “Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. “Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

The Gospel depicts the challenges of the message of repentance and its response by the world. God’s love for us is soo deep that he keeps sending people to us in all aspects of our life so that we can come back to him— priests, pastors, friends, family members, enemies even. The message of repentance from our past ways is being preached everyday and we hear it. What loss we will be at if after listening to Christ everyday we fail to respect the Son of God by not turning away from our sins. What shame will be ours if the kingdom of God will be taken away from us because we listened but did not heed to His advice

God created the world with us in it so that we can grow in love of Him and serve Him faithfully. But we the people of God, misuse the things (and people) meant to bring us close to our Father – we live in sin, we fail to utilize God’s gifts to us and we end up leaving the world in chaos, disregard for nature, wars, hatred among ourselves; the list goes on and on. We as children of God and servants of His Holy Church are given a higher calling today and encouraged to go into the world and make His mercy and salvation known to everyone in our words and deeds bearing in mind that rejection and persecution are bound to come to us in the process of it all. 

Christ beckons on us to be cornerstones wherever we may find ourselves through service to God and people. May the light of mercy radiate through us and may people turn back to God as we live a life of holiness worthy of emulation

To Be Served Or To Serve. 

Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent Year A; 15th March 2017

But Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and a great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whatever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus Christ today once again tells His disciples about His suffering and death and then His glory after (Matthew 20:17-19). But some of his disciples were not concerned with that. All they wanted to know was what the glory could hold for them, and for a moment became ignorant of the suffering they must first undergo as well (Matthew 20:20-23). We at times can display attitudes similar to the sons of Zebedee; wanting to be at the top of every of our peers- be an ‘Alpha’ above all -and lobby for position, power and titles. But Christ immediately points us to what is more important: drinking His chalice; His cup of suffering which is being shared for us and all

There is no crown without the cross. The journey to the way up is down – humility. Christ invites us to service in all aspects of our life; in our families, in communities and in our spirituality. The reason why the world is the way it is because we who are called to lead, climb up to those positions and choose to be served inside of serving. We are made to know that ‘the greatness of a person is the measure of service to others and not in the positions or awards given.’ 

Our Lord is an example of humility and service, for “the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)If He who is the King of all the kings which the world has ever had can bend down to serve the creatures he created willingly and with humility, who are we not to serve our brethren in the little positions we may find ourselves in? 

May our Heavenly Father give us the grace to take up whatever mantle of leadership and responsiblity, be it big or small with humility and serve like Christ did so that at the end, glory and honour which the world cannot give will be ours. 

For the Measure You Give… 

Monday in the Second Week of Lent; 13th March 2017.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Luke 6: 36-38

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. We keep being given graces upon graces to rewrite our wrongdoings all because of God’s infinite mercy. For Daniel once confessed that we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from God’s commandments and ordinances but yet our great and awesome God keeps giving us his merciful love (Daniel 9:4b-5). How much of a difference would it make if we loved sincerely and showed mercy to those who need it. 

Judge not, and you will not be judged. Not to be judgemental; this seems to be a hard thing to do. In our countries where corruption and inhumanity strives and every voice wants to be heard, in our Christian communities where people sin different from us and self righteousness is on the high rise, we may fall prey to being judges. But Christ tells us that the way we judge others in our own frame of mind might end up being the way our judgement comes to us

Condemn not and you will not be condemned. Condemnation. “His/her sins weigh more than mine”, “If he/she keeps going this way, he’ll end up in the unquenchable fire”- remarks we might make in our minds forgetting that God’s will is that every man be saved (Timothy 2:4) and it is our duty to reach out for those who we may think are beyond saving. So why not convert instead of condemn.

Forgive and you will be forgiven. Christ through the Church keeps stressing how important forgiving is this Lent. Just as we pray today with the psalmist that our Lord God does not treat us according to our sins (Psalm 103:10a), how much more are we to forgive others for their past actions to us.  

Give and it will be given to you. Just incase we forgot the need to be charitable this Lenten season, well, Ding! We got a reminder now. Give help, give advice, give support, give a shoulder to cry on, give alms, give forgiveness too!  

Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to be compassionate today just as His Father is compassionate. May we in the spirit of Lent learn to be more merciful and forgiving, less judgmental and condemning and more charitable to one another