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

Listen… 

Second Week of Lent Year A; 12th March 2017. 

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three booth here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking, when behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell to their face and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one about the vision, until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Matthew 17: 1-9

Today we like the disciples are given a glimpse of the glory of Christ we get to share in at the end of the race here on earth if we stay steadfast. That is why we are encouraged to take part in the sufferings we are faced with in this life so that we shall gain that immortality to light at the end (2 Timothy  1:8b-10). Sometimes we may be overwhelmed with the graces and blessings being showered on us when we’re in the light of our Lord’s presence. But just as Christ commands the disciples to tell no one of his transfiguration until his death and suffering, we too as his followers as called to remain calm and humble in our triumphant moments not forgetting that suffering may come to us at any time. Like Abraham, we are to have a faith that doesn’t waver; a faith that believes that suffering is only temporary and the joy God gives is eternal.

As we continue to go through this season of Lent, let us be motivated to look beyond whatever difficulties that may come our way and believe in God with the assurance that joy will always come to we His children

Love Your Enemies… 

Saturday in the First Week of Lent: 11th March 2017. 

At that time: Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

Loving those who are not worthy of our love. How uneasy it can make us feel, right? Trying to crack a smile when we see that nosy neighbour who is all up in our business, trying to ignore and tolerate the “I-know-it-all” attitude the fellow at school or in our workplace always gives, the struggle to accept people who differ from us in many ways: doing all these can be seen as going contrary to our standards; “after all it’s not like they are worthy of half the love we give them,” so we might say to ourselves. But Jesus today tells us to break down the walls of love we have surrounded only our family and loved ones with and look beyond the barriers we humans place before ourselves: the race, tribe, gender, sexuality or colour of those around us and then spread such love nevertheless. Jesus encourages us to pray for those who may outrightly hate us due to our beliefs and differences so that they find it in their hearts to respect us as we do respect them. We are called to break free from the norm of the world: loving those who love us back forgetting we are all children of God the Father who made us in his image and likeness. 

God’s love knows no bounds. We as his sons and daughters should reflect such love. That’s where perfection lies. May we gain the graces to love all unconditionally and pray for those who don’t do the same to us this season of mercy.