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Reflection for December 2018

Reflection for December 2018

Community Word: Disciples of Christ prepare their hearts for His coming with joy.
Order: “Be vigilant at all times and pray!” (Lk 21:36)

Reflection:
Our Community Word for the month of December states: Disciples of Christ prepare for His coming with joy. As Christians, we are exhorted to make our hearts ready for His coming with great anticipation, excitement and happiness. Advent is concentrated on the two main comings of Christ: His Incarnation and His glorious coming at the end of time. For these two reasons Advent is markedly a time of pious and joyful expectation. At His first coming, Jesus assumed the lowliness of human flesh to fulfill God’s salvific design for mankind. He opened for us the way to eternal salvation. And when He comes again in glory and majesty, we who prepare and watch for that day may inherit the great promise for which we now dare to hope. As disciples of Christ we are asked to “Be vigilant at all times and pray!” (Lk 21:36) so as to ensure the readiness of our hearts to meet Him during our lifetime and at the end of time.

The Season of Advent brings us to a time of reflection about our readiness and vigilance for the coming of Jesus Christ thru the weekly scriptural readings.

For the 1st Sunday of Advent our theme is – We prepare for Christ coming when we persevere doing what is right and just. God is telling us to persevere in righteousness and holiness no matter and whatever the situation we may have until the day of His coming. In the life of a disciple there are many obstacles and challenges that must be faced and overcome, and these difficulties must not affect or hinder us from doing what is right and just. We must stay on course and finish well. Jesus will always be there to help us as we rely on His promise, “Good and upright is the Lord: thus He shows sinners the way,” (Ps 25:8).

We prepare for Christ coming when we repent of our wrongdoings and seek forgiveness – is the theme for the 2nd Sunday of Advent. How can we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ today, everyday and when He comes again to bring us finally into His everlasting Kingdom? The first step is conversion and repentance (cf. Mat 3:2, Lk 3:7). Conversion involves receiving God’s word in our heart and mind allowing His word to change our attitudes and wrong ways of thinking and doing. Repentance is the deliberate turning away from sin (wrongdoing) and turning to God to ask for His forgiveness, healing and strength to do what is good and reject what is wrong. We must depend on the loving mercy of God and believe in His promise that, “…the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus,” (Ps. 1:6).

The 3rd Sunday of Advent has this for our theme – We prepare for Christ coming when we gladly share our blessings with others. Consistently sharing our blessings with others is one of the ways to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Sharing our blessings especially when it pains us, requires much self-denial and self-sacrifice. Giving not only promotes God’s work through us, but also God’s work in us, our sanctification. As every act of giving weakens and breaks our sinful, selfish nature, God’s grace spreads into our hearts even more. Sharing in the right spirit is an act of worship; it is rendering God a tribute of praise. We can receive so much happiness when we see how much God is glorified in our sharing and when we see Him bless others with our giving. As we share our blessings as long as we live, God’s promise will manifest in us – “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” (Phi 4:7).

For the 4th Sunday of Advent our theme is – We prepare for Christ coming when we accept and obey the will of God in our lives. God does not force His will on us. He gives us the freedom to choose whether to follow Him or not. If we accept His will to follow Him, then we will receive much of His blessings. When we obey God, we don’t try to control our lives and the situations around us by our own human strength. Instead, we focus on the Lord by keeping Him and His word before our eyes, allowing Him to have His way and trusting that He fulfill His promises on us as we obey His commandments. Acceptance and obedience to God’s plan in our life assures us of the fulfillment of God’s promise, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord will be fulfilled,” (Lk 1:45).

Finally, for the 5th Sunday of Advent our theme is – We prepare for Christ coming when we let God to be the center of our family life. Trusting God, surrendering to Him as our Lord, and orienting all our personal and family relations towards Him, transforms the home as a little heaven on earth. The example of the Holy Family best teaches us how to build our own little “Nazareth” and raise saints to serve God and the world. Reflecting on the roles of Mary as mother, Joseph as father, and Jesus as child, gives us spiritual perspective that can shape our understanding of our own roles in our families. Emulating the love that exist among the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph brings us to God’s promise, “For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork, blessed shall you be and favored,” (Ps 128:2).

Prayer
God, our heavenly Father, teach us how to create a manger in our heart to receive Jesus with inner joy this Christmas. Help us to prepare inwardly by giving a deeper spiritual meaning of Bethlehem and of baby Jesus in our lives. Grant us also the grace to be always vigilant, persevering in holiness until His second coming. Amen.

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Reflection for November 2018

Community Word: Jesus the King reigns in the hearts of those who are faithful to Him.
Order: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mk 12:30-31)

Reflection:
The month of November ushers in a very important feast which marks the end of the Church’s liturgical year – Solemnity of Christ the King. There are several references in Scriptures about the sovereignty of Christ and one pre-eminent verse is Matthew 28:18, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. The intent of the Encyclical which established the feast is to provide a clear guide on how we can be faithful to Christ and live up to His commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” (Mk 12:30-31).

Thus, our Community Word for November tells us: Jesus the King reigns in the hearts of those who are faithful to Him. Pope Pius XI says: “If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth: He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls.”

Among the precepts of the Lord, it is actually “Love your neighbor as yourself” that manifests our love for the Lord in concrete terms. Apparently, this involves a relationship which is quite complex and difficult to handle as it could end up in discord in case of disagreement. There is a businessman, one of the richest in the Philippines, though he holds considerable power and authority, uncharacteristically displays a noble virtue of keeping a good relationship and does not nurture rancor in his heart for any untoward past experience with others.

A parent counsels his children: To journey in this life, keep moving forward and do good things. If you have a positive attitude and you treat others well, the road ahead becomes wider for you to walk through. Extract wisdom from crisis like juicing, but consider as useless residue what is left. If you retain unnecessary baggage of anger and negative thoughts, you will be weighed down and you will lose your freedom. Don’t think of exacting revenge against those who have wronged you, because to think of vengeance is looking back and distracts you from moving on.

During this month, we are exhorted to reflect on the readings of the remaining Sundays of the liturgical year.

For the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, the theme is: Those who are faithful to Jesus the King keep and honor God’s commandments. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, but delight in the law of the Lord. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and whatever he does, he prospers.” God wants us to be happy and live an abundant life. We can attain this if our relationship with God is right and we are in tune with all that He commands us to do. Certainly, a life without God is like a vine cut-off from the main branch that will eventually die. Those who follow God will receive His blessing in this promise: “Keep…all His commandments…that you may grow and prosper the more,” (Dt 6:2b-3a).

Those who are faithful to Jesus the King generously share their blessings – is our theme for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Giving generous tithes and love offering is the Lord’s precept that may be very challenging to observe. It may be difficult to let go even a small amount if family earnings is hardly enough for daily needs. It may also be difficult to be charitable if one is not used to giving. But in Malachi 3:10, the Lord says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” It is an ultimate test of faith. Sometimes, blessing comes in the form of genuine peace and joy because of faithfully serving the Lord. We admire a covenant member from our Smokey Mountain outreach who has been faithful in community for over 25 years, even if her income is not much, giving her all in community service. And, another member who left a high paying job to devote his time fully in community, yet finds joy and fulfillment in his present vocation. Truly, God’s generosity cannot be outdone when He promises: “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry,” (Kgs 17:14b).

The theme for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time is: Those who are faithful to Jesus the King stay vigilant for His coming. Jesus comes to us every time we receive Him in Holy Communion. He comes to us when we celebrate His birth on Christmas day. And most importantly, we anticipate His second coming at the end of time. To give flesh to the theme in a meaningful way, we are exhorted to follow the directions for the month: 1. Make a daily examination of conscience on how faithful you are in honoring God’s commandments, 2. Go to confession and receive the Holy Eucharist regularly, and 3. Show your love of neighbor by doing spiritual and corporal works of mercy. To those who store treasures in heaven by their acts of mercy, Jesus will say: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world,” (Mt 25:34). Lord, we claim Your promise that: “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever,” (Ps 16:11).

For the Solemnity of Christ the King, our theme is: Those who are faithful to Jesus the King listen to Him and testify to the Truth. The Truth is Jesus is King and Ruler over all. He has all authority and power to reign over heaven and earth. He came to conquer every heart and soul and establish God’s kingdom here on earth – “a kingdom ruled not by force or fear but by the power of God’s righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Rm 14:17). Our lives should be submitted to His lordship as we seek to do only His will and to serve His Kingdom above all else today and for all eternity. Which kingdom will you serve today and for all eternity? The world, which is passing, or God’s kingdom, which will endure for all time? If we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and King, we become citizens of this everlasting kingdom which is governed by God’s righteousness, peace, and love.

In community, we testify to Christ in our way of life as genuine Christians, through our evangelization and mission works, through our assignments as lay under-shepherds, in the study of God’s word and in spreading His word by our faith and good works. Is your life submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Faithful servants of God will know of this promise: “Behold He is coming amidst the clouds, and every eye will see Him,” (Rv 1:7a) and, in the end of time, will inherit eternal reward in heaven.

Let us all possess this solemn faith, that as we faithfully serve the Lord in the community, He will welcome us at the end of our journey on earth.

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Reflection for October 2018

Reflection for October 2018

Community Word: Those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Order: “…come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21b)

Reflection:
For the month of October, our community word states: Those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God. We are exhorted to continually ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and help us do the things that God wants us to do and to allow the Holy Spirit to take control over more areas of our lives. What is important is our response and cooperation with God’s grace to do our part, especially in consistently reading the bible and reflection on God’s word, in fervently praying and asking the Holy Spirit to show us the Truth and teach us how to live and inherit the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is within every man’s heart, within us, to make the right choices. It is in the midst of every true believer, in the presence of Jesus, following His command (our Order for the month): “…come, follow me,” (Mk 10:21b).

For the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme is – We inherit the Kingdom of God when we possess childlike obedience and humility. Jesus tells us to be like children who are innocent and dependent, and to come to Him full of faith and trust. The attitude and characteristic of children who are humble and obedience are what Jesus is referring to when He opens Himself to them: “…let the children come to me for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” (Mk 10:14). We are likewise encouraged to be strong in our humility and obedience to the Lord’s will to claim our rightful place as God’s children, to walk more closely with Christ in our relationship and exciting journey with Him. Let us be stirred by His words and be lead to travel the path of spiritual growth as His empowered disciples, with this inspiring promise: “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways!” (Ps 128:1).

We inherit the Kingdom of God when we share our blessings with those in need, is our theme for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. God’s kingdom cannot be received or felt by people who are engrossed with their own self, their self-sufficiency, their attachment to self-serving comfort, pleasure, power and wealth. The message of the readings is the need for detachment by way of sharing our time, talent and treasure for the good of others. The way towards God is following the example of Jesus in serving others – His care, empathy, compassion and sacrifice, not only by words but through actual action and service. Let us not wait for tomorrow to discover the joy of being free from the vanity of material things and to share the wonders of God’s boundless blessings. Indeed the promise “… give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven,” (Mk 10:21b) encourages us to imitate our ever generous and loving God.

The theme for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We inherit the Kingdom of God when we become servant of all. Our mission will only have meaning if we keep the spirit of service alive. In God’s Kingdom, there is no position of power but the power of perfect love of God. Though Son of God, Jesus taught us how to empty ourselves of self-preoccupation – “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be the servant of all,” (Mk 10:43). A man who develops his full potentials and uses God-given gifts is the one who glorifies God the most. If we want to be great in God’s presence, we must learn to be the “servant of all.” The crosses in our life, accepted in faith and humility, become the antidotes to our pride and self-centeredness. Let us pray to be instilled by the Lord with a passion for service and not a desire for power and self-glorification, for great is the person who willingly accepts the role of a servant to others. In all we do for others, Christ gives us this assurance: “If he gives his life as an offering…the will of Lord shall be accomplished through him,” (Is 52:10b).

Finally, for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme is – We inherit the Kingdom of God when we witness to our faith. Like Bartimaeus in the gospel, Jesus is asking each of us, “What do you want me to do for you?” He longs to see us cast aside anything that limits our vision and expectations. He wants to heal our hearts and fill it with the fire of His love. But like Bartimaeus, we too can be blind. Our blindness may be compared to those of the crowd who rebuked Bartimaeus to stay silent. Sometimes we, too, keep quiet and are indifferent when we ought to speak out against what is morally wrong in defense of our faith. Let us be like Bartemaeus who cried out, “Master, I want to see,” (Mk 10:51b); to be open, honest, courageous, calling out in faith to plead for our conversion and to bear witness to Jesus as our Savior and Lord and for all that He has done in our life. For the Lord reaches out to us and gives us His word of life: “I will console and guide them, I will lead them to brooks of water on a level road, so that none shall stumble,” (Jer 31:9b).

Prayer: 
Lord Jesus, give us the courage to follow you faithfully on the road of life. Give us the strength to live for you day by day in the loving service of our brothers and sisters. As we travel on the road to holiness, be our peace and our joy. Amen.

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Reflection for September 2018

Reflection for September 2018

Community Word: Honoring God’s commandments brings peace to our hearts.
Order: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”(Jas1:22)

Reflection:
Peace is difficult to define and more challenging to attain especially when we are caught in a whirlwind of conflicts and anxieties. Oftentimes when we choose to follow our instincts and be led by temptations, we experience restlessness in our heart that reveals such negativity as, guilt, bitterness, resentfulness, discontent, doubt and fear. But when we obey God’s instructions and are guided by His precepts, inner peace prevails even in the midst of struggles and difficulties. During this month of September, we are given this core message: Honoring God’s commandments brings peace to our hearts.

God’s word is like a mirror that reveals our very thoughts and the intentions of our heart. It exposes our self-centered attitudes, our unrighteousness and pride, our uncaring attitude towards other people. It uncovers our vengeful anger, our deception, our greed and lustful disposition. And if we ignore God’s commandments and remain lukewarm or indifferent towards addressing our sinfulness, we will never be brought out of our chaotic and unproductive lives. Peace in our hearts may come in many ways as we reflect on our themes for this month.

The theme for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time is – There is peace in our hearts when we confess our sins. When we sin, especially grievous ones, there is a resultant guilt that disturbs our heart and we lose our joy. But with the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can experience once again peace in our heart and soul that only comes from being in the right relationship with God. Forgiveness lifts the heavy burden of sin. Some may hesitate to go to confession, feeling afraid and ashamed. But when they have made a good one, they leave forgiven, free and liberated from sinful bondage. The beauty of confession is expressed in this promise from the Lord: “Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart … shall never be disturbed,” (Ps 15:2).

There is peace in our hearts when we are open to God’s saving power – is the theme for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Through God’s marvelous grace, we are delivered from sin and brought into a saving relationship with Father, by the work of Jesus Christ, completely as free gift. Such love and grace continue to be poured upon all faithful believers in their lifetime to eternity. Because of grace, we constantly receive the blessing of peace that will rule our heart as we live a life with God. For this is His spoken promise to those who remain faithful and obedient to the Lord: “Here is your God… he comes to save you,” (Is 35:4b).

For the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the theme is – There is peace in our hearts when we deny ourselves to follow Christ. Many people today seek contentment through worldly and materialistic desires. Many turn to fleeting pleasures of illegal drugs, immorality, adulation or wealth. There are those who embrace their comfort zones and do not lift a finger to serve the last, the least and the lost. They are afraid to be inconvenienced and are insensitive to compassion and kindness. But the word of God teaches us that these are fruitless and wasteful endeavors and calls us to follow Christ, to die to self and start serving Him through our neighbors. We cannot profess our faith without service, because following Christ is much more than just lip-service. When we follow Christ, we receive peace as He promised: “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it,” (Mk 8:35b).

The theme for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – There is peace in our hearts when we surrender our selfish ambition in serving Jesus. Surrendering our life to serve the Lord is an act of giving back to Him the very life He gave us. It is relinquishing our will, our heart, our mind, our soul, our ambitions and plans, and giving Him control over everything our life is all about, in all that we say and do. We may encounter many obstacles and challenges along the way because of our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Christ, but we can hold on to this promise: “God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life,” (Ps 54:4). When we live for God’s sovereign pleasure, we will never lose sight of our eternal reward in God’s kingdom.

Finally, our theme for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – There is peace in our hearts when we do not allow sin to separate us from the love of God. Sin forms a barrier that isolates God from the people He loves. Because of sin, the mind is perverted, imagination corrupted and faculties of the soul degraded. There is a great abyss between light and darkness that cannot be bridged except by accepting the salvific gift of Christ. But when a heart is pure and the life and character of a person is transformed, he becomes a testimony to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because Christ lives in him. A person who is renewed in mind and spirit will be granted this promise: “… because you belong to Christ …you will surely not lose his reward,” (Mk 9:41). Be righteous and holy then, that you may inherit heaven as your reward.

Prayer:
Lord, you command us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only,” (Jas1:22). Grant us the grace to be obedient to your precepts and be followers of Christ in all that we do and say. In our faithfulness, give us the willingness to serve Your Son, Jesus, as we become transformed in His likeness, doing what is holy and pleasing to Your Holy Will. Amen.

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Reflection for August 2018

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)
Reflection:
Belief in Jesus Christ, our Living Bread, leads us to eternal life. This is the central community message for the month of August. Christ gave Himself to us as our spiritual food as we journey in this life. He feeds us by revealing the Father to us in word and in deed, giving us the knowledge and wisdom of God who satisfies our hunger for God. He says: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever,” (Jn 6:51). Every time we participate in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we remember the redemptive, life-giving love of God that culminated in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Through our communion with Christ in this sacrament, we deepen our friendship with Him and allow Him to shape the way we see, decide and act. The Eucharist is a place where one comes to eternal life, (Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina p 224).

The theme for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – Our belief in the Living Bread leads us to accomplish the works of God. As Catholic Christians and Eucharistic people, we are also a people of mission. We are commissioned to proclaim the goodness and greatness of Jesus Christ by word and deed in the witnessing of our lives. As we are blessed with His Real Presence in the sacrament, we are sent forth to make His presence real to others. As we are fed by the Bread of Life, we are also called to feed the hungry people that we encounter, to strengthen the bond of communion among members of our family, community and work places. As we do, all of God’s people will be able to share in Jesus’ promise in John 6:35 – “…whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

For the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time the theme is – Our belief in the Living Bread allows us to listen and learn from our Father. To listen and to learn require humility, a key characteristic of a disciple of Jesus. One who listens to God will learn from God and will be drawn to Jesus, for Jesus is the one who speaks God’s word and manifests His presence. A prayerful reflection is a learning process that brings us into conversation that connects us with God. It is noteworthy to mention that Christian listening requires patience with an act of love to one who is speaking. It allows the avenue to ask perceptive questions and readies us to minister words of grace to others in need at the right time and place. It reflects our sincere and loving relationship with God because as John wrote – “They shall all be taught by God,” (Jn 6:45). Jesus says: Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from Him comes to me.” This is the promised assurance of Jesus for those who listens to His Father’s word.

Our belief in the Living Bread inspires us to partake in the Holy Eucharist – is the theme for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Celebrating the Holy Eucharist is central to our faith as Catholic Christians. It is unique to us because we believe that bread and wine are not merely representation of Christ, but that at the moment of consecration, these species become transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is in the Eucharist that we discover who we are and to whom we truly belong, that we belong to and remain in Jesus. Partaking Holy Communion reinforces our commitment to God and fortifies our relationship with Jesus. In the Holy Eucharist, we are taking God into our body and into our lives, bestowing grace on us. Jesus promised us – “…the one who feeds on me will have life,” (John 6:57b).

Finally, the theme for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time is – Our belief in the Living Bread compels us to stand firm in following Jesus. The Eucharist sums up the mystery of our faith. In John 16:33, it is clear and evident that trials and troubles will be part of our life. Difficulties may pile up and at times, we may hardly see God at work. But our true and strong belief in Jesus as the Living Bread compels us to be resolute in embracing God’s truth and in following Jesus. If ever we may not see God working, we can depend and take refuge in our Rock and Fortress (Ps 71:3). We should never fear or be discouraged, but be relentless in placing our trust and hope in the Lord and allow Him to work mightily in us, anticipating His promised deliverance. For He has assured us – “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” (John 6:63b).

Prayer:
O Heavenly Father, nourish and sustain us with the Bread of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ. Transform us for mission, strengthen us for service and let our hearts, minds and whole being be ready to receive You and offer You our thanks and praises. Amen.

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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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Reflections for May 2018

Reflection for May 2018

Community Word: God’s love empowers us to make disciples of all nations.
Order: “Remain in my love.” (Jn 15:9b)
Reflection:
The Community Word for the month is – God’s love empowers us to make disciples of all nations. He has commissioned all of us to proclaim the Good News of His love to all people. The very nature of God is love. He is love and this is the reason why He wants all of us to know about His love and be affected by His love and be part of His kingdom. We are loved by God as manifested by giving us His only Son to save us – through the ministry, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In our gratefulness, we respond to His commandment and share the Good News of Salvation to His people, by our loving service and witnessing to Christ. We are called and empowered to love one another as He has loved us. And His order for us is “Remain in my love,” (Jn 15:9b).

The theme for the 6th Sun. of Easter is – We make disciples of all nations when we bear much fruit that will remain. The only way to bear fruit in the Kingdom of God is to live our lives in Jesus and in imitation of Jesus. We are called and chosen by God to continue the work and ministry of Jesus. Once we experience God’s love in our life, we should be able to testify to this love and bear fruit, to announce it by our caring service to others and glorify and honor God in each thought and action of our daily life. Christian life is life in Jesus, life in relationship with Him under the guidance of the His Spirit with the Father. We are promised – “whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you,” (Jn 15:16b).

The Theme for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is – We make disciples of all nations when we open ourselves to God’s call in spreading the Good News. If we truly love God, we will listen to Him and open our hearts to answer His call to share the Good News. It is indeed a great task but we do not have to go far in this undertaking. We can start right where God has placed us, and Jesus will always be with us in His Spirit as we carry out our divine mission. We may feel underserving of this task but with His Spirit, we live not only with hope but also with strength as He tasks us to accomplish a mission. Christ is working through us and therefore, we should not fear to undertake great things for His Kingdom. Jesus assures us – “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” (Acts 1:8a). It is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is our Counselor and Helper, to empower and enable us to spread the Good News.

The Theme for Pentecost Sunday is: We make disciples of all nations when we use our spiritual gifts to unite the Body of Christ. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles is what happened on Pentecost. They were empowered with varied spiritual gifts, giving them courage and strength. Because of this, they went out courageously to the whole world and proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior. The same Holy Spirit is now working in our life and unites us in His Church, the Body of Christ, through His gifts. The Holy Spirit equips us to succeed in the tasks given to us to love and serve others, even in the face of many challenges and obstacles. We have been transformed and as our minds are renewed, we manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit as true Christians, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Holy Spirit shows us what the word of God means and He reveals to us the truth. In times of opposition and oppression, the Holy Spirit continues to be our Advocate, calling on all Christian generations to come forward, to stand up and be counted as Christ’s witnesses. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that His peace will always be with us as we have His Spirit in our hearts, telling us – “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,” (Jn 20:22a).

The Theme for the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity is – We make disciples of all nations when we bear witness to the glory of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. The sign of the Cross is a profound and powerful profession of our faith in the Holy Trinity. One aspect of our belief that can help us in our day-to-day life is that the Trinity as one community – the perfect community. Looking at what each of the Person is and what binds “Them” together in a Trinitarian community can help us create better human communities. The whole existence of the Three Persons in one Godhead revolves around the perfect love each one has for the other. It is this love that forms the Trinitarian community. And this is what Jesus wants for every human community to be, whose members give more than they take and settle conflicts where love reigns, for where there is love there is harmony, trust and peace, just what true disciples of Christ are expected to do.

Thus, Jesus commanded His disciples and us today to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt 28:19). As we work for the glory of the Holy Trinity by sharing the central mystery of our faith, we are assured by this promise – “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b).

Prayer
Heavenly Father, by Your goodness You call us to share in the love which flows from Your very being. You always desire that we experience Your love. We come before You to humbly seek Your forgiveness for not following Your command to love others. We thank You for enriching our lives through the love we receive from others and for choosing us to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ, by our loving service to those You entrusted in our care. This we pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one GOD for ever and ever. Amen.

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Reflection for April 2018

Community Word: The resurrection of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith.
Order: “Live and declare the works of the Lord.” (Ps 118:17)

Reflection:
There are people to this day who do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. But for us Christians, if Christ’s resurrection was a hoax, then nothing in our faith has any meaning at all. We are still guilty of sin and those who have died believing in Christ are lost. Living this life and all good things we do including a life of sacrifice will be pointless and useless.

The truth is that Jesus was risen and is alive today and forever, founded on facts, faith and testimonies of his disciples who have witnessed the events after his passion and death. His resurrection is a promise to all of us that our life is not in vain and has temporal and eternal meaning. Jesus conquered death and because of our faith in him we now anticipate victory over the grave. Our community word for this month declares – The resurrection of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith. His triumph gives us courage to endure our tragedies and the wisdom to relish every earthly delight. His victory over the final evil, death, assures us that there is no one dead to sin who cannot be revived and be transformed. And because we are a redeemed people we will continue to “live and declare the works of the Lord,” (Ps 118:17).

The theme for Easter Sunday is – Our faith is strengthened when we testify to Christ’s resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is the momentous display of God’s mighty power assuring us that, like Christ who suffered, died and has risen, rebirth to new life awaits those who are faithful in following God’s will even in difficult and trying circumstances. We are compelled to believe that even if we experience disappointment, injustice and failure, our faith brings us hope that all will be restored. Thus, we can also testify to God’s love and justice, encouraging others to persevere in their own trials, as we are assured by the Lord’s promise – “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory,” (Col 3:4).

Our faith is strengthened when we truly believe in Christ’s presence in our midst. This is our theme for the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Our faith tells us that Jesus became one of us and he is with us until the end of age. Though sometimes we might lose the sense of God’s presence in our lives, we should never forget that Jesus is our Emmanuel – God is with us. He desires to be with us in our homes, in our family, and in our relationships. He wants to be part of our work and careers, be involved in our finances and health. He wishes to dwell in us and influence every aspect of our lives. For his love cannot separate us from him. In him we are more than conquerors; no one can be against us, no one can condemn us and everything we need will be provided for. We only need to believe in his resurrection and his promise to us – “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” (Jn 20:29b).

The theme for the 3rd Sunday of Easter is – Our faith is strengthened when we open our hearts and minds to God’s word. Often times our faith weakens and we struggle with the feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. The good news is that God has the power to strengthen our faith if we only surrender ourselves to Him completely and totally trust in His word. It is not by our own effort that we earn merit from God or do the best we can to raise our spirits. But rather it is by our humility that we cry out to Jesus to help us in our unbelief. We need to listen to his word that not only tells us what to do, but empowers us to act as well. As we continue to trust and follow his direction, his promise is fulfilled in us: “… whoever keeps his word the love of God is truly perfected in him,” (1Jn 2:5).

Our faith is strengthened when we serve others in self-giving sacrifice – is the theme for the 4th Sunday of Easter. God has served our needs when His mercies are bestowed on us by Christ’s sacrificial service on the cross – redeeming us and restoring our heavenly inheritance. By Christ’s ultimate example of service, we are called to serve others to demonstrate our faith and in gratitude for what he had done for us. We serve others not for selfish intentions or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regarding others as more important than ourselves. This means looking beyond our own interests for the interests of others. We draw from the power of Christ’s spirit of servanthood more than what we can produce on our own. When this happens we become God’s instruments of love for others as we look towards His promise: “… we are God’s children now; what shall be revealed is … we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” (1Jn 3:2).

Finally, for the 5th Sunday of Easter, the theme is – Our faith is strengthened when we bear much fruit for God’s kingdom. As faithful servants and followers of Christ, we cannot be barren or useless. We are called to remain in Christ and continue to be nourished by his word to be formed and equipped, otherwise we become dry and we will wither like dying plants bereft of spiritual nourishment from the Lord. Our fruitfulness is necessary to build God’s kingdom. We are given gifts to promote and proclaim his gospel of love to others and to build their faith up that they too might experience God’s faithfulness and mercy. Those who believe in Christ, and are in and for Christ, are destined for eternal life. They bear much fruit and become his disciples. And they receive his promise: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you,” (Jn 15:7).

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Reflection for March 2018

Reflection for March 2018

Community Word: Jesus, our Redeemer, calls us to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Order: “…love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex 20:6b)

Reflection:
Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians said: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body,” (1Cor 6:19). This statement of Saint Paul summarizes our community word for the month: Jesus, our Redeemer, calls us to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

The theme for the 3rd week of Lent is: As the temple of the Holy Spirit, we obey God’s commandment. We obey His command in response to the favor He has already given us – His gracious mercy and salvation. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (Jn 13:15, Jesus said and added, “Whoever keeps my commandments is the one who loves me. If he loves me, he will also be loved by my Father; I too shall love him and show myself clearly to him,” (Jn 14:15, 21). And our Lord God also assured us in His promise that “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul … giving wisdom to the simple.” (Ps 19:8a).

Our theme for the 4th week of Lent is: As the temple of the Holy Spirit, we believe in Jesus and live in His truth and with an appended promise, “Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned,” (Jn 3:18a). As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe in One True God, in three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our Creator, Savior and Sustainer of all things. The truth of salvation is only in Jesus Christ, as He is the embodiment of Truth (Jn14:6) – the truth about who we are, about God’s purpose why we are on earth, the truth about sin, righteousness, the coming judgment, heaven and hell, how to love God and how to love one another, and all others we need for life and godliness. Our own cleansing/renewal is an on-going process that our Lord performs in us, but we need to cooperate with the process, and be responsible enough to use the means available to us through His word, teachings and the truth.

As the temple of the Holy Spirit, we follow Jesus and serve Him in His people, is the theme for the 5th Sunday of Lent. Our personal desire to follow Jesus may be our emotional link with Him, created by the gift of grace and salvation, like the early disciples of Jesus. They experienced a greater level of deliverance from sin than they had ever experienced before. Grace changed their lives that made them ready and willing to make Jesus the center of their lives, following Him wherever He went and trusting Him completely. The call of Jesus to serve Him in His people is exemplified in the scriptural passage from the gospel of Matthew: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me,” (Mt 25:40). Jesus is pointing us to those who are the weakest, the most gravely ill, the incapacitated, the hungry, the homeless, the most sinful and all those who have pronounced needs in the earthly life. By serving those in special need, we are serving Jesus. Our call to service is our eminent choice to God’s love for us. In those we serve, we see, know and feel the Lord, and our opportunities to love are ever present and our love grows deeper in serving Him through His people. The Lord’s promise to us is: “…whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life,” (Jn 12:25b).

The last Sunday of the month is Palm Sunday which celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and marks the start of the Holy Week, the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The theme of this week is: As the temple of the Holy Spirit, we allow the Lord to sanctify us through suffering. The perfect model of humility and obedience in the face of suffering is Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, the details of His life were humiliating: He was born amidst the stench of a stable; His disciples came from the low-life of a reviled province, not cultured nor learned; His worth is the price of a slave – 30 pieces of silver; and He was punished, crucified and stripped completely naked and put on display for all to see, adding shame to the pain. Jesus willingly lowered Himself and freely laid down His life. Because of these, “God greatly exalted Him!” (Phil 2:8).

In our own sufferings and tribulations, we learn to rejoice because we believe that these sufferings and tribulations produce endurance (greater perseverance in dealing with increased challenges), endurance produces character (becomes progressively more stable to focus effectively on the things of the Lord), and character produces hope (unleashes hope in suffering and joyful expectation of what the Lord promised). Therefore, we neither suffer in vain or alone; Jesus Christ suffers with us and redeems the suffering in us. And He promised “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced … I shall not be put to shame,” (Isa 50:7).

Prayer
Merciful God, as I receive your mercies every day especially this Lenten season, I pray that You instill in me the fear and love of Your blessed commandments so I may lead a spiritual life pleasing to You and in accord to Your divine way and Holy Will. I seek to obey You in all that I think and do. Help me prepare for the glory of Your Heavenly Kingdom, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

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Reflection for February 2018

Reflection for February 2018

Community Word: Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life.
Order: “Listen to him.” (Mk 9:7b)
Reflection:
Our community word for the month tells us: Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life. Our relationship with God comes from His amazing love and grace reaching to us. It has always been the Father’s desire to reveal Himself to us since creation. In the beginning, God desired an everlasting, loving relationship with man. God made us according to His image and likeness, until man chose to reject and disobey His command, producing sin which separated mankind from Him. But God restored us to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, whose voluntary sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection delivered and redeemed us from sin and death, and brought us life through the Holy Spirit.

If we decide to make our relationship with God foremost in our life, everything else will naturally fall into place in the right order, fulfilling the life of abundance that we hope to enjoy. Jesus gives us this encouragement: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Mt. 6:33). We are being asked to set our priorities right and turn our attention away from worldly attachments, to desire of things above and not of earthly things. Seeking God first in our life – trusting Him, listening to His voice, turning away from sin, and obeying His commandment to love, is a decision we need to make so that we will enjoy fullness of life. We should avoid wasting time and energy on what does not really matter, but instead focus our hearts, minds and spirits in experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings for us.

During the next four weeks, we shall be guided in our meditation on the word of God as we begin to enter the Lenten Season.

Our theme for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We receive fullness of life when we take time to pray and preach the gospel. Jesus, despite being so occupied healing the sick, driving out demons, or teaching those who followed him, never forgot to commune with His Father where he draw His consolation and strength and receive affirmation in doing His Father’s will. Many of us are overwhelmed by the demands of life, work and ministry that we have difficulty finding time to pray. Jesus is setting the example that being grounded in prayer and be recharged in spirit, connects us with the Father even closer. With this spiritual relationship with the Lord, we have His promise this week: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; to his wisdom there is no limit,” (Ps 147:5).

We receive fullness of life when we forgive others out of love and compassion, is the theme for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Choosing to forgive is not like the sticker card at your favorite supermarket where you are rewarded with a bonus point for buying an item. We cannot show forgiveness and compassion in the spirit of reciprocity. We offer it out of love with no expectations in return. Forgiveness and compassion is genuine when given out of love, care and pure sincerity, without any condition. Let us be like Jesus, when He forgives our sins, He blots them out and forgets them when we are truly sincere. He gives us this week’s promise: “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered,” (Ps. 32:1).

For the 1st Sunday of Lent, the theme is – We receive fullness of life when we repent and firmly believe in the gospel. Lent is a time of atonement and penance, a period when we acknowledge our sinfulness, turning away from a life of sin to a life with Christ and embracing the call to holiness. To fully enter such a call, fervent repentance is necessary. Repentance is not merely to know of Christ, nor is it a matter of picking and choosing, with an intellectual arrogance, some aspects of our Lord’s teaching, while coldly rejecting others. Rather, it is a union of mind, heart and soul to the Person of Christ. To repent is to die to Christ, discarding our former way of life in favor of the Way, Truth and Life that is Christ himself. For in repentance, “…the Lord shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way,” (Ps 25: 8 – 9).

And, finally, for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, the theme is – We receive fullness of life when we listen to God’s voice to transform us. We are invited to follow the Lord at all cost, but we can only do that if we empty ourselves with our pride and self-centeredness, and be filled by His grace. The transfiguration of Jesus reminds us to have a continued conversion of heart, to transform our lives in Him, a change of self towards being Christ-centered. The transfiguration event is the affirmation of God’s glory in Him, just as our transformation is our walk to holiness towards God. God commands us – “Listen to him,” (Mk 9:7b). The more we try to make our life better by pursuing our own desires, the more our desires will take control over us, giving us stress and frustration. But when we pursue a closer relationship with God above all else, the wiser we will become and be able to discern what is truly right and meaningful, freeing us to receive more blessings that God wants to send us. He says in this promise for this week: “I will bless you abundantly…because you obeyed my command,” (Gn 22: 17a, 18b).

Prayer
Heavenly Father, may this Lenten season allow us time to reflect on our spiritual journey, to examine what we have accomplished in our life, in our desire for genuine conversion and transformation as followers of Christ. In our prayers, may we be always reminded by Your command to constantly listen to Your Son, Jesus, through His words and teachings in the gospel. Amen.

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