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WSC Circle – June 9, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
June 9, 2019 – Pentecost Sunday (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit transforms our lives.
Theme: Our lives are transformed when we use the spiritual gifts to serve the body of Christ.
Promise: “The Holy Spirit… will teach you everything that I told you.” (Jn 14:26)
Reflection: 
Pentecost is one of the great feasts of Christianity. The feast of Pentecost marks the end of Easter season and the birthday of the Church. On this day, the disciples became new persons, full of courage and confidence, fearlessly preaching Jesus. They received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. They began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. They received the understanding and faith needed to fulfill the mission entrusted to them by Jesus to proclaim the good news to all nations. The same Holy Spirit who guided Jesus throughout His life was passed on to His disciples when He told them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained,” (Jn 20: 22-23).

Our theme this week tells us – Our lives are transformed when we use the spiritual gifts to serve the body of Christ. We have received the Holy Spirit in our baptism and confirmation, and underwent a Pentecostal experience during our baptism in the spirit (LSS). Equipped with spiritual gifts, we are expected to be part in promoting God’s kingdom. We are bestowed with different gifts and talents so that we can accomplish our unique role in the body of Christ, not only for ourselves but for the benefit of others. So, we need to entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit that He may use us in wonderful and awesome ways.

Christian life is much more effective and fruitful when we use God’s given gifts as tools in doing ministry and mission work. Although we received all the spiritual gifts, they are given in varying measure. St. Paul tells us, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us,” (Rom 12:6). This helps us act with humility and not think highly of ourselves as greatly gifted people, else we are in danger of pride or boasting. St. Paul says that any distinction that sets us apart from others in ability is owing to grace, freely given and not earned or deserved. “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord,” (1 Cor 1:31).

What is essential is that if we see ourselves as gifted people, we are encouraged to share that gift with others. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#737) it is stated, “The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with His grace, in order to draw them to Christ.” When we use the spiritual gifts God has given us, we will be able to operate optimally with minimum frustration, and we will find the true area for which God has gifted us. Our gift may look small, but as part of the revelation of God’s infinite glory it takes on an amazing significance. There is nothing more meaningful and joyful than to find the importance of our role in the building of God’s kingdom.

As gifted people, there is no fear or discouragement because we always carry with us the assurance of Jesus Christ that “The Holy Spirit… will teach you everything that I told you,” (Jn 14:26). The Advocate will always be with us as we are sent to break the barriers of disunity in the Church by proclaiming the Gospel in words and in action.

Prayer: 
O Holy Spirit, teach me to use Your gifts to bring love, joy and peace to everyone I meet. Grant me the grace that I continue to rely on Your counsel than on my own abilities in doing the tasks I am called to do. Inspire and motivate me that I can be an effective laborer in the Church accomplishing the mission that Jesus has commissioned me to do. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1. Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit manifested in your daily life? How are you using your spiritual gifts to inspire people around you?

2. How does the power of the Holy Spirit help you in serving others?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
June 9, 2019 (Sun) – Acts 2:14-11/Ps 104:1, 24, 29, 30/1Cor 12:3-7, 12, 13/Jn 20:19-23
June 10, 2019 (Mon) – 2Cor 1:1-7/Ps 34:2-9/Mt 5:1-12
June 11, 2019 (Tue) – Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3/Ps 98:1-6/Mt 5:13-16
June 12, 2019 (Wed) – 2Cor 3:4-11/Ps 99:5-9/Mt 5:17-19 
June 13, 2019 (Thu) – 2Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6/Ps 85:9-14/Mt 5:20-26
June 14, 2019 (Fri) – 2Cor 4:7-15/Ps 116:1-18/Mt 5:27-32
June 15, 2019 (Sat) – 2Cor 5:14-21/Ps 103:1-4, 9, 12/Mt 5:33-37

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

 
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WSC Circle – June 2, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
June 2, 2019 – Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit transforms our lives.
Theme: Our lives are transformed when we repent, forgive, and preach in His name.
Promise: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” (Acts 1:8a) 

Reflection: 
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord tells us that our hope does not consist merely of dwelling in this world, but rather in Heaven. God truly wants to share His happiness with all men and Christ is our bridge to heaven. This Sunday’s gospel narrates the homecoming of Jesus to heaven, where He dwells in the company of The Most High God, beyond the boundaries of death and decay, the same home which we are invited to share because Christ has brought our human nature there with him, where He now waits to welcome us. Hence, we should prepare for our pilgrimage. He says: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places,” (Jn 14:2) and for Him, as for us, there really is no place like home.

By virtue of our calling as Christians, we are destined to be an optimistic people, full of hope and deep-rooted confidence in our future. For where Christ has gone, we hope to follow, once our earthly journey is over. This is the joyful hope we have as the safe and sure anchor for our lives.

Jesus’ final words to His apostles were brief and to the point. “I am with you always. Go, teach all nations.” No longer confined to a bodily presence, He will be with His disciples in a new way, through the power of the Spirit. With His earthly mission over, He sends His disciples and those who believe in Him, to continue the work He began. Their task is to fan out from Jerusalem, ‘to the ends of the earth’, to proclaim the salvation He has won to all nations. 

Christ’s ascension reveals the work we must do in order to be with Christ forever. Our way to glory is none other than to witness to the Lord by taking up our own cross and following in His footsteps. God gives us the mission to preach the gospel using the gifts and talents He gave us, the time He gives us, and ultimately, the very life He has given us. He gives us the opportunity to help save others for whom He paid so dearly. So let us clearly see where we are heading and who awaits us at the end of our journey. Let us not waste time, let us have a sense of direction and purpose, eager to encounter the Lord in heaven.

The Ascension has tremendous implication in the life of the faithful. As disciples in Community, we should allow the in-dwelling Holy Spirit to clothe us with His power, so that we can effectively witness to God’s message. When challenged, we should be able to face it with determination and sincerity. When burdened, we should strive to resolve it with truth and be ready to give and to receive fraternal correction. We have the responsibility to alleviate the sufferings around us and do our bit in helping to free the world of everything that keeps human beings from reaching their highest potential. We should allow ourselves to be witnesses of God’s forgiving love. After all, the Lord remains present to us and in us through the in-dwelling Holy Spirit.

The good news of Christ’s ascension is that it defies death and promises a new life. As today’s reading tells us, we are not to stand there gazing up to heaven awaiting Jesus’ return. Instead, we are to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins, to restore men and women from a life of isolation and indifference to that of rebirth in Christ. That is our work today. We should not be speculating on Jesus’ return, but give witnesses and accomplish the work the ascended Jesus has entrusted to us.

Christian witnessing is an occasion for purification and rebirth. It is a marvelous opportunity to continue to discover the newness of God’s presence in our lives, that we may indeed be transformed into new people with new hearts and spirit. As the Lord promises: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” (Acts 1:8a). So let us put our trust in the Lord, confident of His presence in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: 
Almighty Father, You are truly good for You continue to reassure us that we can become new creation by the newness of life through Your Holy Spirit. Allow our transformed life to prosper so that in the name of Jesus, we will be able to preach Your love and Your forgiveness to as many of Your people that You send us to. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1.As a disciple of Christ, how can I witness His forgiving love to my brothers and sisters in and out of community?

2.How do I participate in the continuing mission of evangelization in community and the larger church?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
June 2, 2019 (Sun) – Acts 1:1-11/Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9/Eph 1:17-23/Lk 24:46-53
June 3, 2019 (Mon) – Acts 19:1-8/ Ps 68:2-3, 4-5, 6-7/ Jn 16:29-33
June 4, 2019 (Tue) – Acts 20:17-27/ PS 68:10-11, 20-21/ Jn 17:1-11
June 5, 2019 (Wed) – Acts 20:28-38/ Ps 68:29-30, 33-35, 35-36/ Jn 17:11-19
June 6, 2019 (Thu) – Acts 22:30; 23:6-11/ Ps 16:1-2, 5,7-8, 9-10,11/ Jn 17:20-26
June 7, 2019 (Fri) – Acts 25:13-21/ Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20/ Jn 21:15-19
June 8, 2019 (Sat) – Acts 28:16-20, 30-31/ Ps 11: 4, 5, 7/ Jn 21:20-25

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

 

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WSC Circle – May 26, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 26, 2019 – 6th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Followers of the Risen Christ faithfully live His word.
Theme: We are faithful to Christ’s word when we share the peace of God.
Promise: “The advocate, the Holy Spirit … will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:26) 
Reflection: 
Our theme for this week is – We are faithful to Christ’s word when we share the peace of God. What does “peace of God” mean and who receives such peace?

Most of St. Paul’s letters begin with the words, “grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In his letter to the Philippians, he refers to “the peace of God which transcends all understanding,” (Phil 4:7). Peace is the state of tranquility or quietness of spirit that goes beyond or above any circumstances. Peace is a gift from God and in harmony with God’s character (cf. 1 Thes 5:23, Gal 6:16, 1Pt 1:2, Heb 13:20). If God is peace then to know God is to delight in His peace. The closer we draw to Him, the more we can enjoy of His peace (cf Ja 4:8). God gives us clear instructions about how to draw near to Him. In Psalms it says, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god,” (Ps 24: 3-4). 

Scriptures is also clear that we cannot make ourselves clean or pure enough to earn the presence of the Lord (cf 3:10,23). So, how do we go to God to experience His peace? Jesus provides the answer in this Sunday’s gospel when He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” (Jn 14:27). We receive the peace of God through His Son (Jn 14:6). When we accept forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s death and resurrection we are counted as righteous, and only then can we have peace with God (cf. Ro 4:5, 5:1; Jn 4:10).

The initial peace that comes from having our conscience purified grows as we get to know God more and more (cf. Heb 10:22). From the letter of St. Peter, it says, “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord,” (2 Pt 1:2). When we grow in understanding of the depths and riches of God’s love toward us, our minds and spirits begin to rest in His power and wisdom (cf. Ep 3:18-19, Ro 8:38-39). We begin to understand that He will make all things work together for our good (Ro 8:38). We learn that His purpose will be accomplished (Ps 33:11, Pv 19:21, Isa 45:9, 46:9-11). 

When we develop a way of life that makes the Lord our refuge, we begin to live in the peace of God (cf Ps 46:1, 62:8). Psalm 91:1 holds the secret to living in the peace of God – “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” 

With whom shall we share the peace of God? He who loves Christ is to be like Him, a good shepherd. He who is loved and forgiven, held up that he might not fall, restored after he might have fallen, must be to others what Christ is to him. He too should feed men with spiritual truths, guiding and caring for the weak ones with gentleness, and sharing the peace of God with them. The main work of every true follower of Christ is to win back the erring, the wounded, the last, the least and the lost. Christ is not leaving us alone in what He is asking us to do. He gave us the Holy Spirit who stands beside us day and night, guiding us and making all things clear. For this is His promise: “The advocate, the Holy Spirit … will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you,” (Jn 14:26). If we follow, the Spirit will lead us to the Truth. If we obey, the Spirit will lead us to life. 

Prayer: 
Lord Jesus Christ, we praise You. Bring peace into the world by bringing Your peace into the hearts of all. Help us to turn away from every sin and to follow You in love and service. Glory and honor be yours, forever and ever. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1. Share your recent experience when you became an instrument of peace and what inspired you to do so.
2. How can you promote unity and teamwork within your Ministry and the Community?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 26, 2019 (Sun) – Acts 15:1, 2, 22-29/Ps 67:2, 3, 5, 6, 8/Rv 21:10-14, 22-23/Jn 14:23-29
May 27, 2019 (Mon) – Acts 16:11-15/Ps 149:1-6, 9/Jn 15:26-16:4
May 28, 2019 (Tue) – Acts 16:22-34/Ps 138:1-3, 7, 8/Jn 16:5-11
May 29, 2019 (Wed) – Acts 17:15, 22-18:1/Ps 148:1, 2, 11-14/Jn 16:12-15
May 30, 2019 (Thu) – Acts 18:1-8/Ps 98:1-4/Jn 16:16-20
May 31, 2019 (Fri) – Zep 3:14-18/Is 12:3-6/Lk 1:39-56
June 1, 2019 (Sat) – Acts 18:23-28/Ps 47:2, 3, 8-10/Jn 16:23-28 

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

 

 

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WSC Circle – May 19, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 19, 2019–5th Sunday of Easter(Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word:Followers of the Risen Christ faithfully live His word.
Theme:We are faithful to Christ’s word when we love one another as He has loved us.
Promise:“He will wipe every tear from their eyes…I make all things new.”(Rev 21:4-5)

Reflection: 
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus gives us a commandment: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (Jn 13:34-35).We are to love in the manner that Jesus loves us, in the way He demonstrated it by His words and actions. Scriptures tells us how He shared His life with us, as a humble and lowly person, leaving the glory and majesty of Heaven; how He served man by teaching the values of God’s kingdom, performing miracles and healing their diseases, reaching out to the poor in spirit, and even washing the feet of His disciples. Jesus showed us the highest and most amazing form of love by forgiving His enemies and dying on the cross for our sins. And, finally, by His resurrection, He restored our relationship with God to the fullest.

Our response to Christ’s invitation to love one another is expressed in our theme for the 5th Sunday of Easter – We are faithful to Christ’s word when we love one another as He has loved us. As His followers, we should be guided by Jesus’s example of loving. Like Jesus, we should be ready to leave the comfort of our own world and embrace the world of the people we meet in our everyday life. We ought to sacrifice our personal convenience, self-centered ambitions and desires for the sake of serving others, in making their lives better. Our love should not be mere words, but a genuine concern for the welfare of others by caring and sharing our time, talent and treasure for them.

It may take a while to learn to love like Christ, knowing that to imitate Him is often difficult to do. But as we persevere, we begin to realize that to love like Jesus is not impossible, and eventually our life becomes a manifestation of Jesus who lives in our very hearts, as our love is being perfected in His love by the grace of God. Our connection to the True Vine grows stronger and we become fruitful with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Jesussays: “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” (Jn 15:5).

Therefore, to love like Jesus, we must allow the Holy Spirit to change our heart. By obeying the Spirit through God’s word we can share the same unconditional, sacrificial and forgiving love towards our fellow men. We become identified and united by the same love that Christ’s teaches us. For example, unity in a group or community reveals Christ’s presence as everyone is drawn to follow Him. When members of a community are one, people see Christian love stemming from the heart of everyone and is expressed through authentic concern and concrete action. There is love for the weak and lost, care for the elderly and youth, concern for those who are suffering and forgiveness to those who are at fault. And when others see such kind of care and love, they will say, ‘They are followers of Jesus Christ!’

The Risen Lord exhorts us to follow His commandment of love (cf. Jn 13: 34-35). He expects that our life will be transformed into the kind of love that He has taught us and exemplified. And as we go through trials, obstacles, sacrifices and difficulties because we love like Jesus does, He will always console us with this hopeful promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes… I make all things new,” (Rev 21:4-5).

Prayer: 
God our Father, we thank You for teaching us to love through the example of Jesus. May our words and actions always reflect His love toward our family, friends, and community members and even to people who hurt or hate us, from this day until we join You in glory. In the name of Jesus, my Lover and Great Teacher. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1. What are your struggles in loving others like Jesus does? How can you overcome them?

2. What actions can you take to demonstrate your genuine concern for the last, the least and the lost?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 19, 2019 (Sun) -Acts 14:21-27/Ps 145:8-13/Rv 21:1-5/Jn 13:31-33, 34-35
May 20, 2019 (Mon)-Acts 14:5-18/Ps 115:1-4, 15, 16/Jn 14:21-26
May 21, 2019 (Tue)-Acts 14:19-28/Ps 145:10-12, 21/Jn 145:27-31
May 22, 2019 (Wed)-Acts 15:1-6/Ps 122:1-5/Jn 15:1-8
May 23, 2019 (Thu)-Acts 15:7-21/Ps 96:1, 2, 3, 10/Jn 15:9-11
May 24, 2019 (Fri)-Acts 15:22-31/Ps 57: 8-10,12/Jn 15:12-17
May 25, 2019 (Sat) – Acts 16:1-10/Ps 100:1-3,5/Jn 15:18-21

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

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WSC Circle – May 12, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 12, 2019 – 4th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C, Year I)

Theme: We are faithful to Christ’s word when we serve in His vineyard and proclaim the Gospel to the lost.

Promise: “The Lamb…will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water.” (Rev 7:17)

Reflection: 
The 4th Sunday of Easter is better known as the “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Let us reflect upon and seek to understand through the readings, the qualities of a good shepherd that we may follow and imitate the Good Shepherd Himself, Jesus our Redeemer.

The disciples knew that they were called by the Lord because no matter what their circumstances or situation in life, the words of Jesus always filled them with joy and peace. Consequently, they did not choose the worldly life and attachments but opted for a conversion of life in Christ Jesus. They understood that it was time to “cast their nets into the deep” and to share the word of God not only with the righteous but also to all peoples – the Gentiles and pagans. They proclaimed the Good News of repentance, forgiveness and love of Jesus, such that many people came to believe and were converted, for the Holy Spirit was with them. It was no longer they who lived but Christ living in them.

The disciples were also prepared for rejection. On many occasions when they were with Jesus, they witnessed and experienced rejection by the Jewish authorities who felt threatened by their mission and wanted to silence them. Because of their patience and humility, they knew when to “shake the dust off their feet.” By this time, they had become risk takers. They understood that despite persecutions, blessing and grace will be poured upon them if they obeyed and put their trust in God. They knew that their reward is not on earth, but in the promised of eternal life with God. And so “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit,” they took the many risks confronting them.

We note that many of the great people who God anointed to serve Him were shepherds by profession, among them Jacob, Moses, David and many others who came after them. Perhaps they were chosen because of their natural ability to care, love and guide the flock entrusted to them. As seasoned shepherds, they were strong; they could hold their ground and fight to protect their sheep. Jesus was sent by the Father to be the Shepherd of humanity. God prefigured Jesus in the lives of these biblical shepherds that we may understand the role for which Jesus was sent as our true Shepherd.

The disciples of Jesus in moments of indecision, doubts and unbelief, found the strength and courage to carry on with their tasks after having personally experienced the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Only then did they understood their calling and truly heard the voice of God in their hearts. Only then did they found the boldness to risk ridicule, persecution and even death, as they stood witness, shared and propagated God’s word. And like the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, they cared for and guided His flock. They understood the promise of Jesus: “The Lamb…will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water,” (Rev 7:17).

Finally, the disciples were always united with God in prayer; they were one with Jesus, just as Jesus was one with His Father. This means they endeavored to make His thoughts their own, His plans their plans, and to act and behave like Him.

Prayer: 
Lord God, thank You for showing me the qualities and character of a good shepherd. As I continue to live in community, grant me the grace to do Your will as You call me to remain in Your fold as well as care for your ‘lambs’. Grant me wisdom that I may know what to do and the strength to do Your will for me. I want to be like You, my one True and Good Shepherd. Help me that I may glorify You in my life, and in my community. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1.What qualities of the Good Shepherd do I possess, or need to cultivate?

2.What areas of my life need changing that I may be more Christ-like, more like the Good Shepherd?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 12, 2019 (Sun) – Acts 13:14, 43-52/Ps 100:1, 2, 3, 5/Rv 7:9, 14-17/Jn 10:27-30
May 13, 2019 (Mon) – Acts 11:1-18/Ps 42:2-3; 43:3-7/Jn 10:1-10
May 14, 2019 (Tue) – Acts 1:15-17, 20-26/Ps 113:1-8/Jn 15:9-17
May 15, 2019 (Wed) – Acts 12:24:13:5/Ps 67:2, 3, 5, 6, 8/Jn 12:44-50
May 16, 2019 (Thu) – Acts 13:13-25/Ps 89:2, 3, 21-22, 25, 27/Jn 13:16-20
May 17, 2019 (Fri) – Acts 13:26-33/Ps 2:6, 7, 8-11/Jn 14:1-6
May 18, 2019 (Sat) – Acts 13:44-52/Ps 98:1-4/Jn 14:7-14

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

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WSC Circle – April 28, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 28, 2019 – 2nd Sunday of Easter (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Christ’s sacrificial love leads us to eternal life.
Theme: We live Christ’s sacrificial love when we acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior.
Promise: “…believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:31)

Reflection: 
The second Sunday of Easter is also known as the Divine Mercy Sunday. Mercy is the love of God for sinners and for which reason the Father gave His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die on the cross for mankind, that we “will not perish but may have eternal life,” (Jn 3:16b). By Jesus’ passion and death, salvation is offered to those who truly repent and believe in His resurrection, giving them new birth. As St. Peter proclaimed: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1Pet 1:3).

The gospel of John relates how Jesus, in His glorified body, appeared to the disciples showing them the wounds from His hands and side, evidences of His passion and death. Those who were present saw and believed. Unfortunately for Thomas, he was not around and he remained unbelieving. He wanted clear proof that Jesus is alive, in spite of the fact that he had witnessed Jesus perform miracles, signs and wonders during their time together. In his skepticism, he wanted to see the wounds of Jesus firsthand. And when Jesus appeared again, his belief turned into a declaration which we often say during the consecration of the host at mass: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

Many people today remain cynical about our Lord Jesus Christ. They are unbelieving and demand signs and wonders in order to be convinced that He is alive. But our Lord remains patient, ready to offer proof of His love to those who seek Him. He understands that like His first disciples, we need a personal encounter with Him so that we will feel Him in our hearts and develop a personal relationship with Him. And through the gift of faith, we can profess that Jesus Christ is our personal Lord and Savior.

Our theme for the second Sunday of Easter tells us that, we live Christ’s sacrificial love when we acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior. For all that He has done for us, it is our turn to be grateful to Him. We must remember and acknowledge that Jesus paid the highest price for our sins and in return we give ourselves into His service. We must honor Him as our Savior who rescues us from our enemies, frees us from slavery of sin, embraces us as His own and cares for us in every way ensuring our well-being. We must adore Jesus for His eternal love, for giving us new life in His Holy Spirit so that we may walk towards the Father and live worthy of our calling by the power of His resurrection.

Together with our declaration of faith, we will see Jesus in our daily life, especially in the people whom He calls us to minister. Jesus is in the sick, the weak, the oppressed and the poor. These people provide us the opportunity to love and to show Christ’s compassion for the last, the least and the lost. Jesus is also in our enemies and in people who have wronged us, challenging us to be His instruments of forgiveness and peace. To them, we are called to manifest the unconditional and sacrificial love of Christ and bring to them the hope of His resurrection with this promise: “…believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name,” (Jn 20:31). 
Prayer: 
Jesus, my Lord and Savior, by Your death and resurrection, You saved us from our sins and defeated the powers of Satan. Draw me to Your loving heart. Give me the grace to fully trust in Your life-giving word, fulfilling Your plans for my life. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that my faith remain strong in Your promises and my hope persevering in the power of Your resurrection. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1. What is the meaning of Christ’s resurrection in your life?

2. What are the areas of your life that you have not fully surrendered to Jesus, your Lord and Savior? How do you plan to overcome the struggle?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
April 28, 2019 (Sun) – Acts 5:12-16/Ps 118:2-4,13-15,22-24/Rv 1:9-11,12-13/Jn 20:19-31
April 29, 2019 (Mon) – Acts 4:23-31/Ps 2:1-3, 4-9/Jn 3:1-8
April 30, 2019 (Tue) – Acts 4:32-37/Ps 93:1-2, 5/Jn 3:7-15
May 1, 2019 (Wed) – Acts 5:17-26/Ps 34:2-5, 6-9/Jn 3:16-21
May 2, 2019 (Thu) – Acts 5:27-33/Ps 34:2, 9, 17-20/Jn 3:31-36
May 3, 2019 (Fri) – 1Cor 15:1-8/Ps 19:2, 3, 4, 5/Jn 14:6-14
May 4, 2019 (Sat) – Acts 6:1-7/Ps 33:1-2,4,5,18,19/Jn 6:16-21

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

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WSC Circle – April 21, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 21, 2019 – Easter Sunday (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Christ’s sacrificial love leads us to eternal life.
Theme: We live Christ’s sacrificial love when we believe in the power of His resurrection.
Promise: When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”
(Col 3:4)

Reflection:
The First Reading – Acts of the Apostles, is crucial to our reflection of Easter Sunday. It is an account of events after Jesus’ ascension to heaven and the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the apostles. Peter relates how he along with the other apostles were witnesses to the many miraculous events and how they were commissioned to preach to the people and testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God.

As disciples, that commissioning has been extended to us. We too are to testify to Christ’s work, death and resurrection. We too need to help reconcile the world to God. Pope Francis reminds us that the Church’s mission is to the poor, not only by ministering temporally to them through corporal works of mercy, but by evangelizing the poor in spirit as well. This means we need to be witnesses. But what does it mean to be a witness? A witness is one who was present when the event in question happened and who heard what was said. How can we be witnesses to an event today in which we were not physically present? To be authentic witnesses to Christ today, we must have personally undergone our own resurrection experience – our own “passion, death and resurrection” and to testify how our lives have been renewed in our own transformation.

Our personal resurrection may not be a one-time, big conversion event. Most of us experience a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys of conversion. Our conversion may be a process rather than a single event.

How do we know if Christ is winning the battle in us? If we no longer hate as much, envy as much; if we get into less disagreements as we did the day before; if we dismiss lustful or unfaithful thoughts faster than we did yesterday; if we are more patient, kinder, humbler, more forgiving, more trusting; if we can honestly say that we have made continuous improvement in our behavior; if we can truly say that we are making progress in our spiritual life, praying more, listening more, obeying more, and studying God’s word more ardently… then we are becoming more fruitful. Our resurrection experience is in progress and we are empowered to do better.

Yet, there may things that might hinder us from experiencing our own resurrection from old life to a renewed and fruitful life, especially for us who are members of community. For example, as long-time members, do we have the tendency to be a know-it-all person? If we are shepherds in the LSS, do we fail to bring our bibles and shepherd using God’s word, or just talk about our own transformation experiences? When we teach, do we teach using the Holy Scripture as basis? When we testify or share, do we glorify ourselves and not God’s victory in us? When we hold positions of authority, do we ascribe that authority to God or has power gone to our heads? Do we give more importance to being right and legalistic than being kind in dealing with rules?

Let us remember that by Christ’s resurrection, Jesus has shown us that life is not just about struggles and confusion, and that we can find answers to troubling questions and act accordingly because Jesus has conquered sin and death. Human suffering offered in faith and love becomes the means by which we receive a new and glorified life. For this reason we can stand firm on this week’s promise: “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory,” (Col 3:4).

Prayer:
Almighty Father, without the resurrection of your Son, our faith would be empty and hopeless. But Jesus is alive and we rejoice in knowing that in Him anything that separates, injures and destroys has been overcome by that which unites and heals. We rejoice in you, our Risen Christ. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. What “old things” in your life have not yet been renewed by our Risen Christ?

2. How can the truth of the Risen Christ nourish our daily life?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
April 21, 2019 (Sun) – Acts 10:34, 37-43/Ps 118:1, 2, 16, 17, 22, 23/Col 3:1-4/Jn 20:1-9
April 22, 2019 (Mon) – Acts 2:14, 22-33/Ps 16:1, 2, 7-11/Mt 28:8-15
April 23, 2019 (Tue) – Acts 2:36-41/Ps 33:4, 5, 18,-20, 22/Jn 20:11-18
April 24, 2019 (Wed) – Acts 3:1-10/Ps 105:1-4, 6-9/Lk 24:13-35
April 25, 2019 (Thu) – Acts 3:11-26/Ps 8:2, 5, 6-9/Lk 24:35-48
April 26, 2019 (Fri) – Acts 4:1-12/Ps 118:1, 2, 4, 22-25, 27/Jn 21:1-14
April 27, 2019 (Sat) – Acts 4:13-21/Ps 118:14-21/Mk 16:9-15

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

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WSC Circle – April 14, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 14, 2019 – Palm Sunday (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Christ’s sacrificial love leads us to eternal life.
Theme: We live Christ’s sacrificial love when we are obedient to the will of God.
Promise: “The Lord God is my help…I shall not be put to shame.” (Is 50:7)

Reflection:
After healing the sick, driving out demons, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Lk 19:38). The crowd in Jerusalem exclaimed joyfully as they welcomed Jesus.

Just as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, so too He desires to come into our lives in humility, even if He is the Son of God. Unlike the Pharisees who asked Him to silence the people and children from cheering and acclaiming Him, nothing should prevent us from allowing Jesus be the source of true joy in our hearts. By the power of His divine love, He forgives our sins and reconciles us with the Father.

The Palm Sunday Gospel tells us that Jesus did not save us by His triumphant entry into Jerusalem or by the power of miracles He performed. St. Paul epitomizes the path to redemption in two actions: Jesus “emptied” and “humbled” Himself (cf Phil 2:7-8), demonstrating the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied Himself and did not cling to the glory of being the Son of God. Instead He became the Son of Man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet He was without sin. Even more, He lived among us in the condition of a servant, not of a royalty. He humbled Himself, accepting the status of a slave when He stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples (cf. Jn 13:1). This act is so undignified that not even Israelite slaves can be compelled to do it.

But, the most horrible humiliation of Jesus was experience in His Passion. He was sold for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed by a kiss of a disciple whom He had chosen and considered as His trusted friend. Nearly all the others fled and abandoned Him, while Peter denied Him three times. As His spirit was humiliated by mockery and insults, His body suffered brutally from the blows, scourging and crowning of thorns on His head, making Him unrecognizable. And when the hour of death arrived, He underwent the most painful form of shame reserved only for the worst kind of criminals. On the cross, Jesus experienced the mysterious abandonment of God, and as He hang on to the love and obedience to His Father, He cried out: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” (Lk 23:46).

Even at the point of His death, Jesus revealed the true face of God which is mercy. He forgave those who crucified Him, He opened the gate of Paradise to the repentant thief and He touched the heart of the centurion. If evil is vastly manifested, the reality of God’s unfathomable love that flowed through Jesus to mankind is infinite, overflowing and encompassing.

Palm Sunday is also officially called Passion Sunday. While we rejoice and sing hosanna when we receive Jesus into our lives as our Lord, we also weep and mourn as His death confronts us because of our sins. We are responsible for His crucifixion and we must be sorry before the cross, yet we should be grateful that He is our Savior. During this Holy Week, we are exhorted to meditate on Christ’s sacrificial love and unite our hearts, mind and spirit with the Passion and Death of Christ. Let us enter into the pierced heart of Jesus and penetrate deeper into the love of God.

As we do, let us persistently strive to be holy by being obedient to God’s will and living the purpose for which Christ died on the cross. Yes, the road to holiness is laden with trials and difficulties, but these should not discourage us. Rather, let us cling to God’s promise: “The Lord God is my help…I shall not be put to shame,” (Isa 50:7). The day will come when we will be in the great crowd gathered around the throne of God, and here everyone will be shouting holy praises and heavenly hosannas ringing throughout eternity.

Prayer:
O God, our heavenly Father, grant us the grace to receive Jesus triumphantly into our hearts, fully realizing that He is the only source of our joy. As we relive Jesus’ passion and death during the Holy Week, allow us to join our suffering and pain with His suffering and pain. Gazing at the Crucifix, may we feel sincere sorrow and genuine repentance for all our sins and receive Your loving forgiveness for which we are very grateful for. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. Is your heart filled with gratitude for Christ’s passion and death? Ask the help of the Holy Spirit in your reflection.

2. In praise and worship, do you allow the triumphant entry of Jesus into your heart, giving Him the true honor, glory and praise that He deserves as Lord and King?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
April 14, 2019 (Sun) – Is 50:4-7/Ps 22:8,9,17-20,23,24/ Phil 2:6-11/Lk 22:14-23:56
April 15, 2019 (Mon) – Is 42:1-7/Ps 27:1-3,13-14/Jn 12:1-11
April 16, 2019 (Tue) – Is 49:1-6/Ps 1-6, 15, 17/Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
April 17, 2019 (Wed) – Is 50:4-9/Ps 69:8-10, 21, 22, 31, 33, 34/Mt 26:14-25
April 18, 2019 (Thu) – Is 61:1-3, 6, 8, 9/Ps 89:21, 22, 25, 27/Rv 1:5-8/Lk 4:16-21
April 19, 2019 (Fri) – Is 52:13-53:12/ Ps 31:2,6,12,13, 15-17,25/ Heb 4:14-16;5:7-9/Jn 18:1-19:42
April 20, 2019 (Sat) – Gn 1:1-2:2/Gn 22:1-18/Ex 14:15- 15:1/ Is 55:1-11/Bar 3:9-15, 32-4:4/ Ez 36:16-28/Ps 118:1, 2, 15, 17, 22, 23/Rom 6:3-11/Lk 24:1-12

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

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WSC Circle – April 7, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 7, 2019 – 5th Sunday of Lent (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Christ’s sacrificial love leads us to eternal life.
Theme: We live Christ’s sacrificial love when we repent of our sins and commit to renew our life.
Promise: “Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” (Ps 126:5)

Reflection:
For the 5th Sunday of Lent, our theme is – We live Christ’s sacrificial love when we repent of our sins and commit to renew our life. Today’s Gospel is an unparalleled story of mercy and forgiveness. Jesus demonstrates His compassion towards the adulteress who was about to be stoned to death as the Jewish law demanded for the offense of adultery. The Pharisees presented the adulterous woman to Jesus to entrap him. Instead, with this challenge, Jesus gave His unqualified acquittal and pardoned her who was proclaimed a sinner in the eyes of man: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” (Jn 8:7b).

Judging and condemning others seems to be socially acceptable now a days. Media is abuzz with news, even fake ones, and tabloids are putting people in the limelight and exposing their immoral actions. The natural reaction is to condemn the sinner instead of the sin. It is so much easier to condemn those who have committed wrongdoings, especially grievous ones. But mercy defies logic. It is dispensed, not because of the requirements of the law and justice, but mercy that comes from the goodness of one’s heart. Jesus did not just comply with the law. During His ministry, He did not condemn sinners, but forgave sins and showed us the impact of forgiveness – He reintegrated forgiven and repentant sinners into God’s community of the righteous.

We are given chance after chance to renew our lives, away from sin, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When one goes to confession with a sincerely contrite heart, no sin is too big to be forgiven by our Lord.

We know that in the Ten Commandments adultery is a serious sin. In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrated His love by condemning the sin, but not the adulterous woman – “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore,” (Jn 8:11b). God does not deal with us according to our sin because His love is so great for “those who fear Him” (cf. Ps 103:10-11).

In the first reading, we receive this assurance when we are reconciled back to God, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” (Is 43: 18-19). Jesus is not interested in our past, but in what we can become by God’s power and grace. With His help, any sinner can become a saint.

It is exactly a week before Palm Sunday, the day that ushers in Holy Week. The season of Lent is indeed a fitting preparation for Holy Week when on Good Friday, we commemorate the day that Jesus died. He died because of His love for us. He offered Himself as the ultimate Sacrificial Lamb for people like us, who are sinners and who are tempted and are prone to sin again. Lent offers us an opportunity to review our life’s journey towards eternal salvation. It is the time to acknowledge our sinfulness and beg God for His mercy, trusting in His goodness and unconditional love for us. From the dark alleys of our sinful life, we can lead a renewed life of grace and be assured of the Lord’s promise: “Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing,” (Ps 126:5).

Prayer:
Lord, we reflect on Your great mercy and compassion in pardoning the adulterous woman. Forgive us when we become self-righteous and are quick in condemning others, in judging them instead of being Your instruments in bringing them back to You. Thank you for Your unconditional love and boundless mercy. Grant us the grace to be truly repentant, making a good general confession this Lent so that we can be reconciled with You and renew our life towards the path of holiness. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. Are you more inclined to condemn the person rather than the wrongful act he/ she has committed? What can you do not to be judgemental or condemning towards your fellowman?
2. How do you treat a brother or sister who has sinned against you?
3. In the remaining days before Holy Week, what steps are you taking to be restored into God’s graces and be reconciled with Him?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
April 7, 2019 (Sun) – Is 43:16-21/Ps 126:1-6/P126:1-6/Phil 3:8-14/Jn 8:1-11
April 8, 2019 (Mon) – Dn 13 1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62/Ps 23:1-3,3-4,5,6/Jn 8:12-20
April 9, 2019 (Tue) – Nm 21:4-9/Ps 102:2, 3, 16-18, 19-21/Jn 8:21-30
April 10, 2019 (Wed) – Dn 3:14-20, 91, 92, 95/Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56/Jn 8:31-42
April 11, 2019 (Thu) – Gn 17:3-9/Ps 105:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9/Jn 8:51-59
April 12, 2019 (Fri) – Jer 20:10-13/Ps 18:2m3, 5, 6, 7/Jn 10:31-42
April 13, 2019 (Sat) – Ez 37:21-28/Jer 31:10, 11, 12, 13/Jn 11:45-56

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

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WSC Circle – March 31, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
March 31, 2019 – 4th Sunday of Lent (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: God’s unconditional love brings salvation in Christ Jesus.
Theme: We respond to God’s unconditional love when we repent of our wrongdoing and be reconciled with Him and others.
Promise: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.” (2 Cor 5:17a)

Reflection:
The Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Gospel reading for this Sunday, points to the meaning of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. What we have in this story are three characters – two ungrateful sons, and an extravagant father. We tend to relate to either the prodigal son, or the self-righteous elder brother, and frequently forget the father who is actually the main character of the narrative. Let’s ask ourselves. Are we as extravagant with our children, as this father is, nurturing them physically, as well as spiritually in the words of life of Jesus?

The reading from Joshua 5:9 tells us: “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.” Here, we have a parent who exemplifies three virtues – love, compassion (or mercy), and forgiveness, all of which are antidotes for pain and suffering, whether of mind, body, or spirit.

In the course of growing up, we frequently disobey, or hurt our parents. The younger son in the parable showed little regard for his father when he demanded his inheritance and left his father’s house, lured by the seductions of the material world and his need to satisfy his cravings. His eventual realizations of his wrongdoing came the hard way, bringing him to repentance, humility, and the decision to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with his father.

On the other hand, in his self-righteous indignation, the elder brother likewise failed to demonstrate love and affection for his father who however, showed his love for both his sons – by his actions for the younger son, and through his reassuring words to his elder son. This scenario also illustrates mercy and its opposite – unforgiveness – on the part of the elder brother who, while he himself had not been wronged, hardened his heart against both his brother and father in resentment and anger, isolating himself in his estrangement.

The story reminds us that God does not want any of His children to be separated from Him. It also gives us a vivid picture of God, and what He is like. He is kinder than we human beings can be, as demonstrated by His resentful elder son. Neither does He lose hope or give up on us. Rather, He rejoices in finding the lost.

In the second reading, St. Paul declares God’s reconciling love for all, “And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ…” (2 Cor 5: 18). Since God has made things new and different, we now have a renewed and improved relationship with Him which requires us to live our gift of faith. And this we can do by turning away from the sinfulness of our former lives, and living out God’s love.

It is our selfishness and self-centeredness that separates us from God. St. Paul tells us, “Whoever is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Cor 15:17a). As Catholics, we are even more blessed because we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to fall back on. And as we repent and confess our sins, we cause “all heaven to rejoice!” (Lk 15:7, 10).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for inviting us to always be reconciled with you. We are truly sorry for the times we squandered the gifts you have given us. Help us to be genuinely repentant, and to amend our ways in response to Your call for us to live a life of holiness. Thank you that you always rejoice when we come back to you.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. Do I exercise the five “R’s” every time I sin? (recognition, remorse, resolve, reformation, restitution)
2. How can I be a better ambassador of reconciliation at home, at work and within the community?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
March 31, 2019 (Sun) – Jos 5:9-12/Ps 34:2-7/ 2Cor 5:17-21/Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
April 1, 2019 (Mon) – Is 65:17-21/Ps 30:2, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13/Jn 4:43-54
April 2, 2019 (Tue) – Ez 47:1-9/Ps 46:2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9/Jn 5:1-16
April 3, 2019 (Wed) – Is 49:8-15/Ps 145:8, 9, 13, 14, 17, 18/Jan 5:17-30
April 4, 2019 (Thu) – Ex 32:7-14/Ps 106:19, 20, 21, 22, 23/Jn 5:31-47
April 5, 2019 (Fri) – Wis 2:1, 12-22/Ps 34:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23/Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
April 6, 2019 (Sat) – Jer 11:18-20/Ps 7:2-3, 9-10, 11-12/Jn 7:-40-53

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

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