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WSC Circle – July 22, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
July 22, 2018 -16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable.
Theme: Unshakeable faith enables us to lead others to a deeper understanding of Christ’s teachings.
Promise: “I will appoint shepherds for them … so that they need no longer fear… (Jer 23: 4)

Reflection:
Christ calls us to carry our lamps glowing with the Truth of our Faith wherever we go. As high-spirited lamp-carriers we cannot hide the light we are carrying. Our proclamation of faith may vary at various moments and stages of our life as we are called to stand up for Truth and live our Christian values. We have to ensure that our sharing of God’s word is true to our experience so that we may become authentic witnesses for Christ as we pondered on His word to understand our lives better. We are indeed called to use our God-given spiritual gifts in service to others as part of the Body of Christ.

In this digital age, many people are eager to share their daily living experiences with others thru media; for example, the food they eat, places they go to and people they are with, but do not care about sharing the joy of living in faith. People are hesitant to share about one’s faith for fear of offending others or making them feel uncomfortable. If we talk about things we truly love, we should not be scared to speak about our faith with those around us, else we will never become the bearer of light for our faith. It becomes a challenge for Christians then to speak for the truth especially when situations grow increasingly complex. But we are called to stand up for our faith and live it every day of our life.

To fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, we must be strong in facing the challenges of proclaiming the story of God’s love in meaningful ways. When we answer God’s call and seeing our own imperfections and that of others, we begin to see these imperfections with God’s eyes of love. Then we are able to tell a different story. With God’s eyes of love we are tasked to live differently, revealing Christ to the world and bearing the fruit of the Spirit in all that we do. Our mission is to go beyond ourselves to serve and connect with the deeper needs of the community. As disciples and missionaries, the Lord gives this consoling promise: “I will appoint shepherds for them … so that they need no longer fear…” (Jer 23:4).

Our commitment to follow Jesus as His disciples may leave us feeling overwhelmed and tired. So, in today’s Gospel, Jesus shows us the importance of resting and going away in solitude to be refreshed and renewed. He himself brought his disciples away to spend time with Him alone. As present-day disciples, this is what we need – to pause and spend time in prayer and in the celebration of the Eucharist. These are moments of abandonment into the hands of God and resting in His Spirit. We need to continually ignite our hope and confidence through prayer, reflection and self-offering to God that we may be sustained in our faith journey and mission work.

We ask for God’s grace to help us become more aware of the needs of His people and to respond in a generous way. We also give to the Lord our service so that He may ease our burden while sharing His teachings to others, as we are sustained by allowing Him to refresh our souls along the way. The work to promote God’s kingdom is not ours alone. As faithful Christians, when we open our lives as vessels to bring the Good News of salvation to others, we shall persevere because Jesus remains with us through all ages.

Prayer:
Almighty God and Father, ours is the privilege to share in the loving, reconciling and healing mission of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in this age and wherever we are. Without You, there is nothing good that we can do. May Your Spirit make us wise, guiding, renewing and strengthening us so that we will remain strong in faith, be discerning in proclamation, courageous in witness and persistent in good deeds. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What do you do when you want to teach others something about your faith?
2. How can you lead others to a deeper understanding of Christ’s teachings?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
July 22, 2018 (Sun) – Jer 23:1-6/Ps 23:1-6/Eph 2:13-18/Mk 6:30-34
July 23, 2018 (Mon) – Mi 6:1-4, 6-8/Ps 50:5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 17, 21, 23/Mt 12:18-42
July 24, 2018 (Tue) – Mi 7:14, 15, 18-20/Ps 85:2, 4, 6, 7, 8/Mt 12:46-50
July 25, 2018 (Wed) – 2Cor 4:7-15/Ps 126:1-6/Mt 20:20-28
July 26, 2018 (Thu) – Jer 2:1-3,7-8,12,13/Ps 36:6,7,8,9,10,11/Mt 13:10-17
July 27, 2018 (Fri) – Jer 3:14-17/Jer 31:10-13/Mt 13:18-23
July 28, 2018 (Sat) – Jer 7:1-11/Ps 84:3-6, 8, 11/Mt 13:24-30

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”

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Be the gift I gave you

Be the gift I gave you.
– GOD

Brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

How can you tell if you are a spiritual person? Frequently people have the idea that we have many spiritual gifts. But spiritual gifts are not a good measure of how spiritual we are. You can tell if you are a spiritual person by how much the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) characterizes your life.

#bldmanila #bldlss54 #baptisminthespirit #day46

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CBCP PASTORAL EXHORTATION

REJOICE AND BE GLAD!
CBCP PASTORAL EXHORTATION

“Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called sons and daughters of God.” (Mt 5:9)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do we not all aspire for the grace to be called “sons and daughters of God?” If we do so, then we must constantly strive to be peacemakers in these troubled times in our country. And that means to always strive to bring love where there is hatred, pardon where there is injury, faith where there is doubt, hope where there’s despair, light where there is darkness, and joy where there is sadness (from the prayer for peace attributed to St. Francis of Assisi).

PEACE: OUR COMMON VOCATION AND MISSION

Our enemies in this world are not fellow human beings, not “flesh and blood” (Eph 6:12). We do not fight our battles with guns and bullets. We do not seek protection from those who might wish to harm us by wearing bullet-proof vests, because the battles that we fight are spiritual. In these times of darkness, when there’s so much hatred and violence, when murder has become an almost daily occurrence, when people have gotten so used to exchanging insults and hurting words in the social media, we admonish the faithful to remain steadfast in our common vocation and mission to actively work for peace.

But make no mistake about it; even the master said, “Not as the world gives peace do I give you peace.” (Jn 14:27). His peace is never the peace of compromise or capitulation to evil; it is also not about the absence of conflict and turmoil. Was he not rejected by his own townsfolk in Nazareth? (Lk 4:16-30) Was he not called crazy by his own relatives? (Mk 3:20-22). Was he not called a “prince of demons”? (Mk 3:22-30). Was he not called a drunkard and a lover of tax collectors and sinners? (Mt 11:19)

Did he not show us how to deal with adversities when he slept in the boat, or walked on water even in the midst of a storm? (Mk 4:35-40; Mk 6:45-52) But like the apostles, we are often so easily overcome by fear and panic. Even when we’re already making baby steps on troubled waters like St. Peter, we find ourselves sinking because of our “little faith” (Mt14:31). There is nothing that can calm us down in these turbulent times except the quiet recognition of him who assured us of his abiding presence — “Be not afraid; it is I!” (Mt 14:27)

THE COST OF WITNESSING TO CHRIST

What is new about priests being murdered for witnessing to Christ? What is new about modern prophets being silenced by the treacherous bullets of assassins? What is new about servant leaders who are maligned because they have carried out their duties as shepherds configured to the person of their Chief Shepherd? Have you forgotten that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”? (Tertullian) It is what has kept the Church alive after two thousand years. Be not afraid! Did not our master say, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul into Gehenna” (Mt 10:28)?

We are no strangers to ridicule and persecution. What we are going through is no different from what the Psalmist describes in Psalm 64: “They sharpen their tongues like swords; they aim bitter words like arrows to shoot at the innocent from ambush, shooting suddenly and recklessly.” But what does the Lord tell his disciples when they are persecuted or humiliated for his sake? He tells them to “rejoice and be glad” (Mat 5:12). These are the very words with which Pope Francis opens his apostolic exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate”. They are the Lord’s words to those persecuted and humiliated for his sake. With the intention of calling us all to strive for a life of holiness, Pope Francis says the Lord does not want us “to settle for a bland and mediocre existence” (GE 1). How have we been taught to deal with persecution? Listen to what the apostle, St Paul, says, “When we are insulted, we respond with a blessing; when we are persecuted, we bear it patiently; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become the world’s refuse, the scum of all; that is the present state of affairs” (1 Cor 4:12-13).

And how are we to deal with divisions among ourselves? How are we to deal with fellow “Christians” who see nothing wrong about the killings, who just laugh when our God is blasphemed, and who take part in passing on fake news? Did not the Lord himself warn us that part of the exigencies of working for peace is having to go through the crucible of conflicts? (Lk 12:51-53) There will always be those among us who profess the faith in Christ but are so easily seduced by the empty promises of Satan. Remember him who once sold the master for 30 pieces of silver because he had allowed himself to be mastered by Satan? St. Paul is right in saying, “…there have to be divisions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may become known.” (ESV 1 Cor 11:19)

THE SUFFERINGS OF THE POOR

Our sufferings as Church leaders are nothing compared to the sufferings of the poor in our country. Do we not hear the cry of poor slum-dwellers being jailed for “loitering”? Have they forgotten that for the homeless urban poor — the little alleys between their flimsy homes also serve as kitchens, bathrooms, recreation spaces, and playgrounds for their children? Have they forgotten that they live in tiny dwellings that are razed quickly to the ground when fire strikes, because they do not have proper roads? Do we not feel the sufferings of drug addicts who are labelled as “non-humans”, and are stigmatized as criminals when their names end up in the dreaded “drug watch lists”? Yes, we are aware of the sufferings of those who have been victimized by substance abusers, but can we not see them also as sick people who are struggling with a disease? Should we not rather look at them also as victims who are crying out for help? Are we to remain as bystanders when we hear of people being killed in cold blood by ruthless murderers who dispose of human lives like trash? Do we not realize that for every drug suspect killed, there is a widowed wife and there are orphaned children left behind — who could hardly even afford a decent burial for their loved ones? Do we not care when poor people’s homes are searched without warrants, or when drug suspects are arrested without warrants, or detained without charges?

Do we not care about the misery of people charged of drug-related offenses and packed like sardines in extremely congested jails? Can we even bear the thought of seeing most of them languishing in jail, knowing that rehabilitation is what many of them need? Do we not hear of the sufferings of indigenous peoples who are displaced from their ancestral lands in order to give way to mining companies and dams? And how do we feel about communities that are forced to leave their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire of conflicts between government troops and insurgents? How are we affected when our own troops die because of unceasing hostilities that have not been adequately addressed through peaceful dialogue? We have a saying in Tagalog, “Ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay ramdam ng buong katawan.” (The pain of one part of the body is felt by the whole body.) Alas, this is not always true! There is no way we can feel each other’s pains when some parts of the body are numbed by sheer indifference.

To those in this world who boast of their own wisdom, those who arrogantly regard themselves as wise in their own estimation and the Christian faith as nonsense, those who blaspheme our God as stupid, St. Paul’s words are to the point: “For the stupidity of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Cor 1:25) And to those who ridicule our faith, we say with St. Paul, “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.”(1 Cor 1:27-29).

THE WAY OF JESUS

We wish to remind those who have been angered by the insulting statements of people in authority; remember what the Lord had taught his disciples. He said, “But to you who hear I say… bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well…” (Lk 6:27-29). Vengeance is never the way of Christ. It is not the way of Jesus to return evil for evil; no, we can conquer evil only with good (Rom 12:21). Up to the last moment of his breath, he had nothing but words of mercy towards his tormentors, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Lk 23:34).

There are those who accuse us of getting involved in political moves to destabilize the government. Nothing can be farthest from the truth. Our concern is never the establishment of any earthly kingdoms. Worldly kingdoms come and go. We work only for God’s kingdom which is beyond this world — so that we can start learning to live life “on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). For the times in our history when we fell into the temptation of working for political power, we can only bow in shame and say, never again! We do not proclaim a false image of God, such as one who is just watching from heaven like a ruthless deity who threatens us of damnation in hell all the time. Ours is the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ — the God who saves, a God “rich in mercy and compassion”, a God involved in our history, a God who — for love of us — emptied himself totally, and “became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

CHURCH AND GOVERNMENT

The Church respects the political authority, especially of democratically-elected government officials, as long as they do not contradict the basic spiritual and moral principles we hold dear, such as respect for the sacredness of life, the integrity of creation, and the inherent dignity of the human person. We are not political leaders, and certainly not political opponents of government. The Church has, throughout history, coexisted with countless forms of government. The Church has always been and will always be a partner of government (especially in the LGUs and barangays) in countless endeavours for the common good, especially in addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged sectors of society. Sometimes we qualify the collaboration as “critical”, mainly to distinguish our differences in terms of ultimate goals, even as we partner in some shared endeavours. Needless to say, on some specific issues, collaboration might not be possible because of our spiritual and moral beliefs, which we persistently propose, but never impose on the unwilling. In such instances, we can only invoke our right to conscientious objection. We do recognise the constitutional provision of the separation of church and state, mainly in the sense of distinction of roles in society. When we speak out on certain issues, it is always from the perspective of faith and morals, especially the principles of social justice, never with any political or ideological agenda in mind.

CHURCH OF SINNERS, CALLED TO HOLINESS

We admit humbly that we are a Church made of members who are “wretched but chosen” (Miserando atque Eligendo, Pope Francis’ episcopal motto). We are a Church of sinners called to conversion and holiness at the same time. We bow in shame when we hear of abuses being committed by some of our fellow Church leaders — especially those ordained to “act in the person of Christ”. We hold ourselves accountable for their actions, and accept our duty to correct them — as duly mandated by our own higher authorities in the universal Church. We humbly admit that we have many weaknesses and shortcomings, human as we are. We have no reason to justify our weaknesses on the basis of our participation in the human condition, because we profess faith in the God who embraced the human condition, precisely to set a new template of humanity in his son Jesus Christ. We draw a lot of strength from St. Paul, who desperately begged the Lord to remove his weakness but only got these words as assurance, “My grace is enough for you; for in weakness power reaches perfection. It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9).

CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING

On July 16, 2018 on the feast of the Blessed Mother of Mt. Carmel, the mountain associated with the bold challenge of the prophet Elijah in defense of God (2 Kings 18), let us spend a day of prayer and penance, invoking God’s mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed God’s Holy Name, those who slander and bear false witness, and those who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting criminality in our country. We invite you to join us, your bishops, in three days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving from July 17 to 19, 2018.

We commend you, our dear people of God, to the maternal care of the woman to whom Jesus entrusted his “Beloved Disciple” and said, “Behold your son!” (Jn 19:26) We, for our part, behold her — our mother in faith — with filial love. Mary, mother of the Church, be near to us especially when we tend to despair and run out of the wine of faith, hope and charity (Jn 2:1-11). Teach us to do only what your Son asks of us. And when we lose heart in the face of persecution, may we stand by you at the foot of the cross and regain our strength from the blood and water that flowed from the wounded side of your Beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

Most Rev. Romulo G. Valles, DD
Archbishop of Davao
President, CBCP
July 9, 2018

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WSC Circle – July 15, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
July 15, 2018 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable.
Theme: Unshakeable faith drives us to go to mission fully dependent on God’s provision.
Promise: “The Lord himself will give his benefits, our land shall yield its increase.” (Ps 85:13)

Reflection:
In the gospel reading of the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus gave His disciples instructions on how they are to carry out their mission of preaching the Good News of God’s reign – ” … take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts,” (Mk 6:7). They are to travel light, taking only what is essential and leaving behind whatever might weigh them down so that they will be able to focus on the mission. Poverty in spirit will free them from seeking comfort and pre-occupation with possessions and will make room for God’s provision. Jesus wants His disciples to be dependent of God and not on themselves.

Jesus is telling us the same thing thru our community theme for this week – Unshakeable faith drives us to go to mission fully dependent on God’s provision. Our good Lord plants us in our community to help advance the Kingdom of God. He is sending us with a mission to bring healing and restoration, pardon and freedom from the oppression of sin, despair, hopelessness and eventual destruction of self. We are to do this without guile, instead with charity, selflessness, peace and simplicity. As He told the early disciples, we must give our full attention to the proclamation of God’s Kingdom and not be diverted to other lesser things. We must do our work, not for what we can get out of it but for what we can give freely to others.

Jesus’ love for us is so incomprehensible that He wills for us to have a share in the salvation of souls. He wants us to serve with Him. God works in and through each of us for His glory. He expects us to do greater things by leading us to be dependent on Him, more than what we can achieve by relying on ourselves. When we respond to God’s word with faith and obedience, we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own. We are changed and made “a new creation” in Jesus Christ (2Cor 5:17).

Yes, we will experience disappointment, difficulties and failures in going about our mission. But suffering is a “training tool” that God uses to purify our hearts and grow our faith. It is a humbling process that allows us to become more and more dependent on God and be reminded that His grace is sufficient and His love for us strong. There is nothing greater we can do with our life than to faithfully serve our Master. We should see His provision and care even when it is not what we expect because God’s ways are not our ways.

Jesus brings this promise to those who are willing to partner with Him in His mission – “The Lord himself will give his benefits, our land shall yield its increase,” (Ps 85:13). Sometimes we may feel that God’s provision is not available right away or we may even doubt that it will come at all. But we must have that unshakeable faith in believing that God will always provide for our needs. And as we move from this life to the next, all of God’s gifts, graces and blessings will be topped by the promised reward in heaven where we will share in God’s love for all eternity.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I humbly empty myself to You so that You can fill me with Your graces that I need to accomplish the mission that You will for my life. Take and receive my soul, my mind, my will and my heart. Fill my heart with love and compassion for those who do not know You or follow You. May I be a good witness to Your truth and salvation. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Do you believe that God will provide all your spiritual and physical needs in your daily life and when you go and serve Him in mission?

2. When was the time you were anxious that God might not provide what you need in your mission for your family and community life? Share your experience.

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
July 15, 2018 (Sun) – Am 7:12-15/Ps 85:9-14/Eph 1:3-14/Mk 6:7-13
July 16, 2018 (Mon) – Is 1:10-17/Ps 50:8, 9, 16, 17, 21, 23/Mt 10:34-11:1
July 17, 2018 (Tue) – Is 7:1-9/Ps 48:2-8/Mt 11:20-24
July 18, 2018 (Wed) – Is 10:5-7, 13-16/Ps 94:5-10, 14, 15/My 11:25-27
July 19, 2018 (Thu) – Is 26:7-9, 11, 16-19/Ps 102:13-21/Mt 11:28-30
July 20, 2018 (Fri) – Is 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8/Is 38:10-12, 16/Mt 12:1-8
July 21, 2018 (Sat) – Mt 2:1-5/Ps 10:1-4, 7, 8, 14/Mt 12:14-21

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”

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WSC Reflection – July 18, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
July 8, 2018 -14th Sunday in Ordinary Time(Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable.
Theme: Unshakable faith gives us wisdom to do mighty deeds.
Promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”(2Cor 12:9a)
Reflection: 
Our theme this week says: Unshakeable faith gives us wisdom to do mighty deeds. As present-day disciples we have a mission to boldly proclaim the Good News despite opposition and rejection. St. Paul exhorts us to be faithful to God’s calling inspite of hardships and to place our complete and strong faith in God. Going to mission is not always easy and therefore, we need to trust God to strengthen us in facing the challenges along the way. Those who are called by God to be His servants are sometimes met with rejection and mockery.

Jesus himself was not accepted as the Messiah in his hometown because they only knew Him as an ordinary person. Sometimes, people who are called to serve are not accepted because others think that they are not equipped to take on higher responsibilities. As in the scriptural readings of this Sunday, the Lord makes it clear that we may lose faith while experiencing opposition and failures. That is why we need to posses immovable faith that is anchored on God alone.

God reaches out to us even when we go through a bad and undesirable experience. St. Paul himself struggled with what he called a “thorn in the flesh” – insults, hardships and persecutions in the course of his ministry. God answered his prayer to rid him of these sufferings, but not in the way he expected. Paul realized that God is powerfully present in the circumstances he was going through. In the same manner that when we struggle with something or someone, we will discover that such difficult experiences will open us up to God’s presence. The very thing we see as of no value or bothersome can create a space for God to powerfully work in our lives. We begin to see that these trials are merely a test of our faith. Like Paul, we can accept the will of God and allow His strength to shine through our weakness, knowing that lack of faith prevents us from being open to the healing and salvation that the Lord brings into our life. Relying on God’s call and trusting in the empowerment of His Spirit give us the strength, wisdom and guidance to proclaim God’s word faithfully and boldly.

Having a faith that is strong and steadfast, anchored in the Lord, gives us empowerment to share in the prophetic mission of Jesus. It is indeed a privilege to become instruments of faith in God’s kingdom. Our prophetic role means that we must be willing to speak up for our belief and relationship with God in the name of Jesus. It means that we must continue to deepen this relationship through a discipline of daily prayer, living the word of God and other learning experiences that brings us spiritual growth. Further, we must share our loving relationship with Jesus with others – family, friends, community brethren and even strangers. While we might meet opposition and ridicule, we know that we are strong in faith and we can overcome these obstacles.

And as we continue to proclaim the glory of God our Father, to testify to the love of Christ and the works of the Holy Spirit in our life, we can stand firm on our faith anchored on this promise from the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness,” (2Cor 12:9a). Often, when we feel that life as a struggle, we know and believe that God touches our lives most powerfully and we are victorious over our troubles because of our unshakeable faith in Christ Jesus. To God be the glory!

Prayer:
Lord God, You are forever faithful and true. Because of Your goodness, we are grateful for calling us to share in the prophetic mission to announce the Good News to Your people. Cast our fears and weaknesses away, especially when be are tempted to be lukewarm and uncommitted to do Your work. Give us the grace to anchor and deepen our faith in You that we may have the strength to faithfully “walk the talk” as true followers of Christ and help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our Master and Teacher. Amen.

Reflection Questions: 
1. What challenges have I encountered that shaken my faith in the Lord? In what ways have I overcome them?

2. What are my obstacles in sharing in the prophetic mission of Jesus? Do these obstacles make me incapable of going to mission and doing evangelization works?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
July 8, 2018 (Sun) – Ez 2:2-5/Ps 123:1-4/2Cor 12:7-10/Mk 6:1-6 
July 9, 2018 (Mon) – Hos 2:16,17,18,21,22/Ps 145:2-9/Mt 9:18-26
July 10, 2018 (Tue) – Hos 8:4-7,11-13/Ps 115:3-10/Mt 9:32-37
July 11, 2018 (Wed) – Hos 10:1-3,7-8,12/Ps 105:2-7/Mt 10:1-7
July 12, 2018 (Thu) – Hos 11:1-4,8,9/Ps 80:2,3,15,16/Mt 10:7-15
July 13, 2018 (Fri) – Hos 14:2-10/Ps 51:3,4,8,9,12,13,14,17/Mt 10:16-23
July 14, 2018 (Sat) – Is 6:1-8/Ps 93:1,2,5/Mt 10:24-33

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”

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Reflection for July 2018

Reflection for July 2018

Community Word: Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable.
Order: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” (Mk 5:36b)
Reflection:
The community word for the month is: Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable. This central message draws our attention to contemplate and assess the strength and steadfastness of our faith. It is our faith in God that moves His hands to do wondrous deeds. We should never take our faith for granted, rather, we must take advantage of the time given to us each day to grow spiritually. Deepening faith opens the door to the stream of blessings God wants to impart to His people. But closed hearts limit the possibilities of the magnanimous heart of God, our God who is involved in the most intimate events of our life. We are indeed blessed that despite our unworthiness God grants us the gift of faith and we must accept this gift wholeheartedly above anything in this world. We are to defend it and make sure it is nurtured through study of God’s word and prayer. Most importantly, God expects us to share our faith with others, and as we do, our faith becomes even stronger.

What are some effects of unshakeable faith?

On the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme tells us: Unshakeable faith brings life through the spoken word of Jesus. The healing power of Jesus flows into the lives of people through a living dialogue of faith between God and His people. His spoken word alone has the power to lead us to salvation and eternal life. God is always willing to heal our frail bodies, our weak soul and even this sick world. We just need to place our trust in His saving power. Only Jesus has the power to bestow fullness of life and, as Christians, we affirm this with our minds and hearts. We should put our trust and hope in the Lord and allow Him to heal every aspect of our life. As we do, we continue to hold on to His promise: “…your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction,” (Mk 5:34).

Unshakable faith gives us wisdom to do mighty deeds, is the theme for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. “He was amazed at their lack of faith,” (Mk 6:6). Lack of faith blocks God’s hand to do miracles. Sometimes we fail in our mission to encourage one another and nurture them; and then we feel exasperated. But the grace of God assures us that some things can still be done. Jesus gives us the strength and the example to start the change ourselves. He did go His way to build the kingdom of God, a God who cares for His people and seeks to bring healing, freedom and happiness. We are followers of Christ by being committed to His task of challenging people to return to God and accept the Good News of forgiveness, justice, equality, love and peace. We need to pray for others and with others that love may prevail. And our faith in Christ will equip us to become better persons, and enable us to build a caring and united community. He gives us this promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness,” (2Cor 12:9a).

Unshakeable faith drives us to go to mission fully dependent on God’s provision, is our theme for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mission is where Jesus wants us to spread the fragrance of His love. Be it a mission to evangelize His Gospel, mission to give charity to the poor and marginalized, or simply a mission to care for our own family members. Jesus tells us not to worry about anything, but in responding to God’s call, to be totally dependent on God’s provision and wisdom. As we do, we will find that our mission is not complicated because Jesus is always on the side of those who are rejected, ostracized and pushed to the periphery. The Lord will provide the bare essentials to succeed in your work as His missionary. While others may be oppression to what you do, continue to love, share and shine. Do not allow other’s lack of understanding and compassion kill your joy. Help the world become more fervent in the Lord’s service where people will be able to do God’s work among their fellow men in love and unity. Relying on divine providence, God promises us this: “The Lord himself will give his benefits, our land shall yield its increase,” (Ps 85:13).

On the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme is – Unshakeable faith enables us to lead others to a deeper understanding of Christ’s teaching. Jesus understood the importance of rest and solitude during the course of doing mission. It recharges our souls and allows God to renew His spirit in us during those quiet moments of respite. It is a time to gather up energy, to rebuild one’s strength and refresh ones mind for the next challenging phase of the mission. We need a spiritual break, time of being alone with Christ. Prayer time enabled Jesus to continue with His work to let the people know more about God’s kingdom by His teachings. With greater faith in His words, our open hearts will receive a deeper understanding and knowledge of God, empowerment to be transformed in the likeness of Christ, and truth that liberates us from deception and ignorance. Thus, this is what the Lord promises us: “I will appoint shepherds for them … so that they need no longer fear…,” (Jer 23:4). Let us imitate Jesus and be his under-shepherds to guide and lead others to Him.

Finally, for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme is: Unshakeable faith allows us to share our love and compassion with others. God’s word this Sunday speaks emphatically about compassion, selflessness and constructive paths to peace. Jesus performs the miracle of the multiplication of bread to underscore the importance compassion and to allow others to share the few resources they have with others. As we begin to give our time, talent and treasure, God will join us and share in the suffering and blessing of community. Indeed, no one is so poor as to have nothing to share and God does wonders with what little we have when we give to others out of concern and love for them. If all of us do our share, even in our own little ways, then we are multiplying the bread of kindness in this uncaring world. As the Lord has promised: “They shall eat and there shall be some left over,” (2Kgs 4:43b).

Prayer: 
Lord Jesus, with your encouraging words, may we lend a helping hand to your people. We pray that we may be more like You to speak to them gently and assure them that faith is what we need to bring about love, peace and unity. Amen.

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WSC Reflection – July 1

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
July 1, 2018 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable.
Theme: Unshakeable faith brings life through the spoken word of Jesus.
Promise: “…your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mk 5:34)

Reflection: 
The community word for this month: “Faith anchored on Jesus Christ is unshakeable,” bid us to put our complete trust in God’s saving-power. Jesus alone has the power to bestow fullness of life. And as Christians, we affirm this with our minds and hearts; on this rests our hope.

And for this week, our theme says: “Unshakeable faith brings life through the spoken word of Jesus.” It brings to light that Jesus wants us to spread the fragrance of His love. As sensitive Christians, we always realize that Jesus invites us to declare the Good News where we are and right now. To be his disciples means to accept and be responsive to the call of Jesus. The Good News is the unique chance for everyone to be saved. Let us make sure that our study of the word of God is true to our experience which has led us to understand our lives better. Much is required of us, but we are not to be anxious because God, as the source of all goodness, will provide whatever we need so that we may live up to our noble calling.

The gospel shows us that salvation comes after the heels of strong faith. The official, Jairus, needed to obey Jesus’ counsel – “Do not be afraid; just have faith,” (Mk 5:36), to witness the healing of his daughter. So also with the hemorrhaging woman when Jesus assured her of her healing as a consequence of her quiet but very strong faith – “your faith has saved you,” (Mk 5:34). Here we understand the power of faith and how Jesus helps those who put their absolute trust in Him. The grace of God assures us that some things can still be done amidst all the chaos around us. Regardless of our circumstances, God always urges us to deepen our faith, away from fear. Unshakeable faith opens the door to the flow of blessings that God wants to impart to His people, but closed hearts limit the possibilities of the burning heart of God. Let our hearts welcome and imitate the heart of our Savior.

Faith also means that we must rise above our defeats and defects, from our mistakes, from our blunders, from our failures. Just as Jesus tells the little girl to rise – “Talitha koum” (Mk 5:41), God is also commanding us to rise up. He is always reaching out to us; He is always touching us. Whenever He touches us, there is healing, there is new life, there is salvation. We need to continuously ignite our hope and confidence through prayer and self-offering to God. God helps us to become aware of the needs of others and respond in a generous way. In the midst of fear, hatred and vengeance, the presence of God assures us that healing will take place and that peace will triumph. By His spoken word, we live through the compassion of the Lord and become instruments of peace to others.

We ourselves should be the living gospel. As Pope Paul VI noted, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” With blazing hearts of faith to our Almighty God, let our Christian lives be the shining light. Let us be effective beloved disciples of the Lord, helping the world become more fervent in the Lord’s service where people are able to do the work of Jesus as present-day disciples working in unity.

What the world needs today is conversion of hearts of people, hearts that abound in firm faith. Jesus, our great leader and teacher, leads us to experience grace in a deeper way, to bring His people closer to him, by His spoken word and with obedient faith. Let us live to receive the fulfillment of His promise as we journey in life: “…your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction,” (Mk 5:34).

Prayer:
Dear Lord, we pray for the grace of a strong and unshakeable faith especially during times of afflictions and illnesses. Do not allow our hearts to be discouraged and lose hope, but remind us that Your love is encompassing and unfailing. Keep our faith alive that we may be sustained in this life until we see You in Your heavenly glory. Amen.

Reflection Questions: 
1. How can I overcome my sorrows and trials and attain the promised newness of life? What is the state of my faith?

2. How do I show my concern for my brothers and sisters who are undergoing trials and sufferings?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
July 1, 2018 (Sun) – Wis 1:13-15;2:23-24/Ps 30:2,4,5,6,11,12,13/2Cor 8:7,9,13-15/Mk 5:21-43 
July 2, 2018 (Mon) – Am 2:6-10, 13-16/|Ps 50:16-23/Mt 8:18-22
July 3, 2018 (Tue) – Eph 2:19-22/Ps 117:1, 2/Jn 20:24-29
July 4, 2018 (Wed) – Am 5:14, 15, 21-24/Ps 50:7-13, 16, 17/Mt 8:28-34
July 5, 2018 (Thu) – Am 7:10-17/Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11/Mt 9:1-8
July 6, 2018 (Fri) – Am 8:4-6, 9-12/Ps 119:2, 10, 30, 40,131/Mt 9:9-13
July 7, 2018 (Sat) – Am 9:11-15/Ps 85:9-14/Mt 9:14-17

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”

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Community Word for August 2018

COMMUNITY WORD FOR AUGUST 2018
(WORD, THEMES AND PROMISES)

READINGS
August 5 – Ex 16:2-4, 12-15/Ps 78:3, 4, 23-25, 54/Eph 4:17, 20-24/Mt 17:25-20
August 12 – 1Kgs 19:4-8/Ps 34:2-9/Eph 4:30-5:2/Jn 6:41-51
August 19 – Prv 9:1-6/Ps 34:2-7/Eph 5:15-20/Jn 6:51-58
August 26 – Jos 24:1-2, 15-18/Ps 34:2, 3, 16-21

COMMUNITY WORD
Belief in Jesus Christ, our Living Bread, leads us to eternal life.
ORDER
“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
(Jn 6:27a)
PROPHECIES:
1. Follow the ways of My word and live in My holiness.
2. As you find Me in the bread and wine, believe in My abiding presence amidst all pains and trials.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Read and meditate on the daily word of God and regularly receive Holy Communion to enrich and deepen your faith.

THEMES AND PROMISES

Week#1 (18th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Theme: Our belief in the Living Bread leads us to accomplish the works of God.
Promise: “… whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:35)

Week#2 (19th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Theme: Our belief in the Living Bread allows us to listen and learn from our Father.
Promise: “They shall all be taught by God.” (Jn 6:45b)

Week#3 (20th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Theme: Our belief in the Living Bread inspires us to partake in the Holy Eucharist.
Promise: “… the one who feeds on me will have life.” (Jn 6:57b)

Week#4 (21st Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Theme: Our belief in the Living Bread compels us to stand firm in following Jesus.
Promise: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63b)

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Donate to the Life in the Spirit Seminar

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT | DONATE TO THE LIFE IN THE SPIRIT SEMINAR | REPOST & SHARE

Dear Fellow Workers in Christ,

We enjoin you to be one with us in bringing people closer to the Lord through the Life in the Spirit Seminar No. 54. We seek your generous support believing that this activity is directed by our Lord whose promise we cling to:

The one who supplies seed for the sower and bread for food, will also supply you with all the seed and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity. 2 Corinthians 9:10

Thank you for your generosity. May our good Lord bless and prosper the work of your hands.

For pledges and donations, please email Celia Cunanan at celiabcunanan@yahoo.com

Two ways to donate:

CASH or CHECK over-the-counter donation at any Unionbank Branch
1. Deposit check or cash at BLD Manila’s Unionbank Account: 002020030634
2. For check donations, please make it payable to “BLD MANILA”
3. Once donation has been completed, please contact the BLD Manila Secretariat at telephone no. (02) 478 9782 and look for Beth Sumbi. Please inform Ms Sumbi that you have made a donation for the LSS.
4. Email a scanned/photographed copy of the deposit slip at bld@bldmanila.org
5. BLD Manila will issue an official receipt

DONATE ONLINE via BLD Manila’s website
1. Log on to http://bldmanila.org.ph/donate/ and read our Online Donation and Privacy policies
2. Click on “X” at the upper right side of the page
3. Select “Evangelization” as campaign
4. Accomplish the online form and input or select the amount you wish to donate
5. Click “Make My Donation”
6. You will receive a confirmation in your email

#bldlss54 #bldmanila

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WSC Reflection – June 17, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
June 17, 2018 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II):

Community Word: God’s great mercy keeps us in communion with Christ
Theme: We are in communion with Christ when we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts
Promise: “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be.” (Ps.92: 15)

Reflection:
Our community theme for this week tells us that – We are in communion with Christ when we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts. The parables in the gospel compare the Kingdom of God to a seed planted in the ground that would naturally sprout and grow, and no matter how small that seed is, just like a mustard seed, over time it grows into a huge tree with large branches. But just like any seed, growing will not happen unless such seed is sown and allowed to grow into a full tree. The same is the case with the word of God that needs to be planted in our hearts to take root from there and become fruitful for God’s kingdom.

Spiritual growth does not happen instantaneously for everyone. Some receive what is planted within them, but nurturing and growing takes a while. Some are committed in allowing God’s word to take root in their hearts, while others struggle with many concerns that distract them from focusing their hearts and minds to God’s word. But what really matter is to acknowledge that God is the author and initiator of our spiritual growth, for with God everything is possible. It is by God’s grace that our small faith becomes stronger and we become open to God’s will and plan for our life. We must allow ourselves to bloom where we are planted, letting God’s word to grow and guide our life so that we can give glory to God and share our growth experiences with others.

This week, we take inspiration from God’s word in our scriptural readings. In the 1st reading, the prophet Ezekiel proclaims that God can take a tender lowly shoot, plant it elsewhere and it will grow into a lofty tree. God can make the most out of a humble servant when He choose him for God’s purpose. In Psalms, when the Lord plants us where we should flourish to honor His kindness and faithfulness, He will grant us this promise: “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be,” (Ps 92: 15). Needless to say, God can sow greatness and positivity from what may seem insignificant in our life. He is able to expand our spiritual horizon to many possibilities and use our hidden capabilities when we allow Him to work in our everyday life that we might love and serve Him more.

The 2nd reading clearly speaks about how God will evaluate the positive growth and fruit of a Christian who seeks to do what He wants. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil,” (2Cor 5: 10). St. Paul, nearing the end of his life, looks towards the day when he would complete his earthly mission and be able to experience the blessings for all his labor in the heavenly home of God.

God is the giver of life and source of all positive growth and spiritual transformation. Like branches, we must continue to be firmly attached to the source of a life-giving vine. Jesus is the Vine and from Him we receive what we need to grow spiritually and produce good fruit. Jesus points out that once a seed is sown in the ground, God allows that seed to grow and eventually produce a rich harvest, many times the original seed. And so with us His children, God allows growth to take place in us as we ground ourselves in His word, letting it to take root in our hearts, and from its fullness, we become sharers of His word to other people.

Let us then reflect on these realizations: 1) God alone gives us the grace to grow in our spiritual life, 2) with God’s word, a small seed of faith can grow and expand to much stronger faith not only for us but also for others in God’s Kingdom, and 3) we should not grow weary in our struggles, for God will always nurture our faith with hope and love and bring us to our full potential as followers of Christ. And just like the small mustard seed, what small thing we do for the least of our brothers and sisters with love, is already a huge step in prospering the Kingdom of God till the end of times.

Prayer:
Blessed are You Lord God, by Your goodness You continue to empower us to grow spiritually so we can share who we are and what we have with others. Pardon us for the times we failed to grow in the ways You expect from us with our sins and imperfections. Thank you for reassuring us of Your love in Your desire for us to grow into that person You want us to be. We lift this prayer through Christ our Lord in unity with the Holy Spirit, One God forever. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Have I allowed the word of God to grow and prosper in my heart? What areas in my life have I allowed spiritual transformation to happen and become more like Christ?

2. How can I reach out to others and help them grow spiritually?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
June 17, 2018 (Sun) – Ez 17:22-24/Ps 92:2, 3, 13-16/2Cor 5:6-10/Mk 4:26-34
June 18, 2018 (Mon) – 1 Kgs 21:1-16/Ps 5:2-3, 4-6, 6-7/ Mt 5:38-42
June 19, 2018 (Tue) – 1Kgs 21:17-29/Ps 51:3-6, 11, 16/Mt 5:43-48
June 20, 2018 (Wed) – 2Kgs 2:1, 6-14/Ps 31:20, 21, 24/Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
June 21, 2018 (Thu) – Sir 48:1-14/Ps 97:1-7/Mt 6:7-15
June 22, 2018 (Fri) – 2Kgs 11:1-4, 9-18, 20/Ps 132:11-14, 17-18/Mt 6:19-23
June 23, 2018 (Sat) – 2Chr 24:17-25/Ps 89:4, 5, 29, 30, 31,-34/Mt 6:24-34

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”

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