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.

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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. 

That, You Did To Me… 

Monday in the First Week of Lent, 6th March 2017. 

“Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40

We go about our daily activities in the manner we see pleasing to us, failing to come to the realization of the truth the Gospel of today (Matthew 25:31-46) reveals: that one day, an account will be demanded of us of how we lived our lives here on earth. If only we had this in our minds everyday how careful will we be in the way we lived. Jesus Christ today separates the sheep from the goats. And who are these sheep: “those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed a stranger, clothed the naked, cared for the sick and comforted the imprisoned”- those who carried out the Corporal Works of mercy with a free mind and loving heart. It’s amazing that the sheep didn’t even know that they were sheep for they asked;

“Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” (Matthew 25:37)

This is because they made these works of mercy and acts of charity a norm in their lives, a way of their life. In the end, nothing would be more important than living life immersed in good works. Our judgement won’t be based on the earthly possessions we have or our fame or even how religious we have made ourselves; the criterion of Christ’s judgement on us will be love: how much we loved and cared for others especially the less privileged who Our Lord Jesus Christ calls ‘his brethren’. The goats probably carried out these Corporal Works of mercy too, for they were surprised and asked Jesus; 

“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” (Matthew 25: 44)

But they didn’t do it to the less privileged; and if they did, definitely not with love. It was done to attract vain glory and self praise, for recognition from people for a deed well done. And thus they found themselves on the wrong side in the end. 

We are called to take heed to our Lord’s words because they are Spirit and Life. Let us not forget the reason to why we are here on earth: to live a life worthy of heaven. May we spend our time, treasure and talents in love alleviating the needs of less privileged in our society and helping our brothers and sisters so that we may be counted as sheep in the end.

Fasting. Yes. But Where is Thy Mercy? 

Friday After Ash Wednesday Year A; 3rd March 2017. 

Is such the fast I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to the undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share bread with the hungry and bring homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not you hide yourself from your own flesh? 

Isaiah 58:4-7

God speaks to our hearts and minds today through Prophet Isaiah to “take it up a notch” in our ways of fasting: to loose the bonds of wickedness and be more loving as we fast, to share bread with the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless poor, to clothe the naked (Isaiah 58:6-7)-all these Corporal Works of Mercy and works of charity done with love is what is required of us this Lent. What is fasting without Mercy if not unacceptable in the Lord’s sight. So let’s not fast for ourselves, there is no “self-giving” in that. Saint John Cassian once said, 

“Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything worldly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; theyare its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow men. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.”

It is the love of God that gives us the grace to live a life of mercy for our fellow men who are in need. So let us pray as we fast for the grace to be loving and merciful this season of Lent. Only then shall our light break forth like the dawn, our healing spring up speedily,and our righteousness go for before God who always answers His own.

Hello Lent

Lenten Season Year A; 1st March 2017

Lent remains one of the best liturgical season we Catholics can ever witness. It is a time of return to God, of soul searching: a time to acknowledge our sinfulness and create habits of the mind and heart that are centered on Jesus Christ. It’s pretty amazing that this year’s Lenten season begins with the new month. Lent could feel like this: we walk through the green fields of hope the Ordinary Time gives, and gradually it opens its path and leads us to the violet ocean which purifies our hearts and souls, an ocean of extraordinary grace opened up for those who return to the Lord with repentant hearts and contrite spirit.

So what really is expected of us this season of Lent? 

Prayer: Pray for loved ones. Pray for enemies. Pray for world peace. Pray for your country and its leaders. Pray for the sick, for the poor, for those in purgatory. Pray for forgiveness. Do something different in your prayer life. If you don’t pray the rosary often, you can decide this Lent to pray at least 5 decades a day. Or if you haven’t been keeping up to your morning prayers and the first thing you do when you open your eyes is reach for your phone (which a lot of us tend do), you could decide to begin every morning with a “Serviam”(I will serve) and any other short ejaculatory prayer of thanksgiving to God. Go to confession if you’ve been keeping it on a long finger for quite sometime. Recieve Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Visit the Blessed Sacrament regularly. Just take your prayer life one step up to the next level. 

Fasting: A lot of us think, “Fasting: the ‘6/9 hours stay away from food’ thingy.” Then we start off all strong, till its an hour before we break the fast and time seems soo slow and we hear the enyzmes in our stomachs scream at every minute that ticks past. But then again, what good is a fasting if our minds are so bent and focus on how long before we break it? Fasting ought to be some form of self-denial. You eat 5 times a day? Try making it 2. You online for the 16 hours you stay awake? Why not cut it down to 6. Fasting could be the sacrifices we make for the daily pleasures we give ourselves. And what to we do when we don’t eat at the appropriate hours we have denied ourselves of? We could offer it up for those who barely have a full squared meal to eat. And the hours not spent online? We could offer it up in prayer for those who stay addicted to the social media and what it feeds. We could grow in our holiness while we fast by reading spiritual books or knowing God more by reading the Bible. So what is that you feel addicted to? It’s high time you fast from it/them.

Giving: Give alms. Give hope. Give genuine love. Give good advice. Give a listening ear, a leaning shoulder, a helping hand. Give all. Give yourself. In the spirit of self denial, we ought to give to those who need. Empty yourself of that you cling to so you can be fill back up at the end of Lent with joy and blessings those things wouldn’t have given you. 

Christ shows us the way we can live this out this season of Lent: In Humility; In Sincerity, In Secret (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18). So Fast, Pray and Give. May the Lord purify our motives so that our Lenten observance will lead us to repentance and self-renewal so that we may fully experience the joy Easter brings.

My Heart Exults in the Lord, My Saviour…

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 4th June, 2016.

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I will greatly rejoice in the Lord my soul shall exult in my God; for he has covered me with the garment of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…
(Isaiah 61:9-10)

Today we celebrate the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day we recall and reflect on the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections and, above all, her love for God, and her compassionate love for us, her children. Mary’s heart was essentially concerned with the love that her heart has for Jesus, for God- a love that made her say yes to God, a love that made her totally submit to His will. This love her heart had is meant to be a model for the way we should love God. We are called to practice the virtues of this Immaculate Heart. The fact that her heart is immaculate, that is sinless, means that she is the only fully human person who is able to really love
God in the way that he should be loved.

Blessed is the Virgin Mary, who kept the word of God, and pondered it in her heart.
(Gospel Acclamation)

  So let us honor Mary’s Immaculate Heart, she is the person who was chosen to be the Mother of God and we his adopted ones, let us recognize her extraordinary holiness and the immense love she bestowed on Jesus as his mother, and let us imitate her virtues, that in doing so we may remain faithful to our calling and become fit for the kingdom of God.

Let Thy Hearts Be Sacred…

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; 3rd June, 2016

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“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it and when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me for I have found the sheep which was lost.'”
(Luke 15:4-6)

A wonderful parable being told by our Lord Jesus Christ today. There are two sides of the story we are to fully grasp the lesson to be learnt however: the side of the lost sheep and the side of the shepherd.

The lost sheep: We have all felt lost sometime during our spiritual journey in life (and if you haven’t, I guess you’re one of the ninety-nine, Well done!). When we fall away from God’s faithful due to our sins, when we make ourselves believe we can get that lasting joy and happiness we seek in the world and its pleasures- those moments are the moments we identify with the lost sheep.

The shepherd: We are shepherds of some sort living in a self-absorbed world. Not everyone who had a hundred sheep who leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which got missing. Isn’t that crazy? “That’s way too stressful!”, we’ll tell ourselves, “What if the sheep enjoys its lost state? What if a pack of big bad wolves come for the remaining ninety-nine, wouldn’t that be a greater loss? What’s one compared to ninety-nine anyways?” And thus this is how we let our lost brethren stray away from the faith they once believed in, we watch them drift away from God because we wouldn’t want to discomfort ourselves in searching for the lost and moreover we still have ninety-nine righteous brothers and sisters in Christ.

But God speaks to we the lost sheep today through the prophet Ezekiel:

“I myself will search for my sheep, and I will seek them out… I will rescue them from all the places where they have scattered… I will seek the lost and I will bring back the strayed and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak…”
(Ezekiel 34:11-16)

And Christ speaks to we the shepherds:

“Just so I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
(Luke 15:7)

It’s high time we let God in. It’s high time we stopped on the lost path we find ourselves in and pray to God that He come find and rescue us. We ought to imitate the good shepherd who goes all the way to find the lost sheep. We too could be means through which our lost brethren find their way back to God. We too can be a reflection of His love and compassion. So let’s make our hearts sacred. Let’s make it like Christ’s.