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WSC Reflection – November 19, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
November 19, 2017 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)

Community Word: God exalts His faithful servants.
Theme: God exalts those who use His gifts and blessings wisely.
Promise: “…everyone who has more will be given and he will grow rich.” (Mt. 25:29a)

Reflection:
God created each one of us with distinct gifts, talents and abilities. He wants us to discover our talents so that we may use them to glorify Him and thus, experience a full life. Our loving Lord wants us to feel whole and complete and it is through these gifts that we can find our unique calling in life.

Our theme for the week is: God exalts those who use His gifts and blessings wisely. This means that we should use our gifts not only for our own benefit, but more importantly, to bless others and to build His kingdom. Because in everything that we do, we should “work heartily as for the Lord,” (Col 3:24a). As we use our gifts to honor God and strengthen others in love, they too will be encouraged to use their gifts to benefit others, and all will be enriched.

If we believe that every good and perfect gift is from above, we will value the way we use His gifts just like the worthy wife in the 1st reading. She has a holy fear of the Lord and uses her gifts wisely. God is pleased with her and sees her as a faithful servant because she is hardworking, industrious, committed and devout. Hardworking because she does not waste time on useless matters but sees to it that everything is in order and everyone in her home is happy and satisfied. She is committed in that after taking care of her family, “She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy,” (Prv 31: 20). Finally, she is devout, religious and faithful to God’s commands. Similarly in Psalms, the quality of a caring husband who also has a holy fear of the Lord is praised, “Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord,” (Ps 128: 4).

In the 2nd reading, St. Paul reminds us that we should not be anxious in knowing the day and the hour of the coming of the Lord because “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night,” (1 Thes 5: 2b). Instead, we must be more concerned with living our lives that show we are ready for His return and direct our energy towards doing the Father’s will so that we will not be caught in the darkness of evil. We need not fear the darkness because on the day we were baptized we became “children of the light and children of the day,” (1 Thes 5: 5a). Hence, we cannot but stay alert and live in the light of the truth.

In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus teaches us that God will exalt us if we use our blessings and gifts (time, talent and treasures) wisely. The first two servants who were given seed money for investment came back with profit and they were appreciated by their master and received an affirmation: “Well done, my good and faithful servant….come, share your master’s joy,” (Mt 25: 21). Despite being given an investment according to his ability, the third servant did nothing to let it grow; so what little he had, this was taken away by his master.

If we neglect and not use our gifts prudently and wisely, God will look on us as lazy and untrustworthy. It does not matter how great or how little our ability and capability is. What matters to God is whether we make good use of what He gives us. To whom much is given much will be required. If God sees us being faithful in small things, we will be entrusted with higher responsibilities. Even people who are considered poor still has something to give. In like manner, people cannot be very rich as being unable to receive something. Because serving others brings fulfillment, from which wealth, power and possessions can never match. Jesus assures us, “Everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.” (Mt 25: 29a).

We need to prepare our life and be fruitful with whatever God has given us so that we will be ready to answer this question at the final judgement: How did you use the gifts and blessings that God has given you?

Prayer:
Lord God, You are so gracious and generous. By Your goodness, You entrust us with many gifts and expect us to fruitful. Forgive us if we have failed to act responsibly, misused what You have given us and simply wasted our talents away for fear of failure. By the example of Your Son, Jesus, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, grant us the grace to give fully of ourselves to serve You and our fellowman. Amen.

Reflection Guides:
1. What are the gifts and talents God has entrusted or given you? Have you used them responsibly for yourself, as well as for others?

2. Have you invested your time, talent and treasure to bear fruit that would benefit others in your family, society and community?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
November 19, 2017 (Sun) – Prv 31:10-13, 19, 20, 30, 31/ Ps 128:1-5/1Thes 5:1-6/Mt 25:14-30
November 20, 2017(Mon) – 1Mc 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62,63/Ps 119:53,61,134,150,155,158/ Lk 18:35-43
November 21, 2017(Tues) – 2Mc 6:18-31/Ps 3:2-7/Lk 19:1-10
November 22, 2017(Wed) – 2Mc 7:1, 20-31/Ps 17:1, 5, 6, 8,15/ Lk 19:11-28
November 23, 2017 (Thur) – 1Mc 2:15-29/Ps 50:1, 2, 5, 6, and 14, 15/ Lk 19:41-44
November 24, 2017 (Fri) – 1Mc 4:3-37, 52-59/ 1Chr 29:10-12/ Lk 19:45-48
November 25, 2017(Sat) – 1Mc 6:1-13/Ps 9:2-4, 6, 16, 19/ Lk 20:27-40

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

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WSC Reflection – November 12, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
November 12, 2017 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)
Community Word: God exalts His faithful servants.
Theme: God exalts those who remain vigilant in serving Him.
Promise: “Whoever watches…at dawn shall not be disappointed.” (Wis 6:14)

Reflection:
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus teaches us to be ready for the Kingdom of God, and how we should live our life preparing for His coming. In the parable, the bride waits for her beloved groom assisted by her female friends (the virgins in the parable) in the darkness of the night broken by the flickering lights of the oil lamps. But the groom’s coming is delayed. Unfortunately, only the wise virgins who are awake and brought extra oil for the lamps are prepared to greet the groom when he finally arrives; and they are able to accompany him to meet the bride and into the banquet hall. The foolish unprepared virgins are simply left behind.

Jesus draws our attention to the need to be wise and always watchful, to be spiritually prepared. In our life, we could be like the foolish virgins in our neglect to “bring enough oil” and instead waste our time in useless or uncaring pursuit. For example, we know that we should spend more time with our family, but instead choose to be busy with work. We know we need to visit a sick friend in the hospital, but do not go as the traffic will inconvenience us. We know we need to apologize to someone but prefer to ignore it. We know we need to be generous to the needy, but would rather keep the money for personal wants and priorities. We continue to struggle to transform our foolishness and put our preparedness to enter the Kingdom of God at risk. When a person no longer cares for spiritual values, when he no longer respects God and men, he is spiritually asleep and unprepared.

But the good news is that we can transform our foolishness by being vigilant in search of Wisdom. In the 1st reading, Wisdom makes herself known even in advance to those who desire her with all their hearts, for “he (who) for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her rounds, seeking those worthy of her,” (Wis 6:15-16a). The search for Wisdom is actually the search for knowledge of God and for His tangible and concrete presence in our lives. And as we seek to know God, we also should follow His will for us. As we seek Christ’s presence, Christ will seek us out. Jesus teaches us that every person is responsible to his spiritual condition. We do not have to go far in search of Christ’s presence in our lives. All we need is to be constantly conscious that we meet Jesus whenever we encounter the last, the least, and the lost among our neighbors, and serve them. Our theme for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time states: God exalts those who remain vigilant in serving Him.

To be spiritually awake, wise and prepared means to dedicate our life to our calling as a Christian, active in the service of God and neighbor, living our life to the full, and not delaying or postponing spiritual conversion to the last minute. Life maybe a wait in the darkness of temptation, struggle, and despair. But the “dark night of the soul” will be brightened by the “oil” of intimacy, courage and faithfulness to ones consecration as a Christian. With the oil in the lamp, light is produced that will break the darkness until the night passes by and full salvation dawns. Then we can look forward to seeing Jesus in the glory of God’s Kingdom at the end of time.

There is a clear difference between those who believe and those who do not, those who hope and those who do not. Let us be vigilant in seeking Jesus in every person we meet and in every circumstance. Let us embrace Jesus as our Lord, as the true meaning and reason for being, even as we await for His coming. By doing so, we pray that all of us can transform our struggle with foolishness to victory during this “in-between time” and be worthy to enter the wedding feast with our Lord. Because as promised to us: “Whoever watches…at dawn, shall not be disappointed,” (Wis 6:14).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, grant me Your divine wisdom that I may be wise in everything that I do. For Your wisdom will guide me in being watchful and prepared. Do not allow my eyes be blurred by the darkness of this world, but rather fill me with the light of Your promise of salvation. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reflection Guides:
1. How can I develop a disposition of readiness for the Lord?

2. Do I take responsibility for my own spiritual growth? What aspects of my personal life still needs to be transformed?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
November 12, 2017 (Sun) – Wis 6:12-16/Ps 63:2, 3-8/1Thes 4:13-18/ Mt 25:1-13
November 13, 2017(Mon) – Wis 1:1-7/Ps 139:1-10,Lk 17:1-6
November 14, 2017(Tues) – Wis 2:23-3:9,16-19/Lk 17:7-10
November 15, 2017(Wed) – Wis 6:1-11/Ps 82:3-7/Lk 17:11-19
November 16, 2017 (Thur) – Wis 7:22-8:1/Ps 119:89,-91,130,135/Lk 17:20-25
November 17, 2017 (Fri) – Wis 13:1-9/Ps 19:2-5/Lk 17:26-37
November 18, 2017(Sat) – Wis 18:14-19,19:6-9/Ps 105:2,3,36-37,42,43/Lk 18:1-6

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

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WSC Reflection for November 5 – 13, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
November 5, 2017 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)
Community Word: God exalts His faithful servants.
Theme: God exalts those who serve others with humility.
Promise: “… whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mt 23:12b)
Reflection:
God saved us for His purpose. He uses our lives to serve Him and His people. As we are called to service, He is ready to give us power and strength, gifts and abilities that we need to perform our mission. But many of us reject the responsibility thinking that we are not worthy or capable or available, that we look lowly in the sight of others. But if only we are meek and allow ourselves to be used as instruments, we will see that God’s grace is sufficient for all our needs in any situation we are in.

The missionary George Bowen writes: “Whatever hinders us from receiving a blessing that God is willing to bestow upon us is not humility, but the mockery of it. A genuine humility will ever feel the need of the largest measures of grace, and will be perfected just in the degree in which that grace is bestowed. The truly humble man will seek to be filled with all the fullness of God, knowing that when so filled there is not the slightest place for pride or for self.”

Our theme for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time states: God exalts those who serve others with humility. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to serve others. Just as there is no non-functioning part of our human body, there ought not to be a non-functioning member of Christ’s body. A church, community or ministry functions well when everyone uses his or her gifts to up-build other members. We should not boast about our great talents and unique gifts; instead we should serve others with sincere humility. Blessed Giles of Assisi said that “the way to mount high is to descend.”

Our humility must be inward and genuine, not a performance to be seen by others. Whatever we do for others should come from a sincere heart and, needlessly, it will show outwardly. While in most situations serving the poor and needy can be rewarding, there are also times when we could feel some frustration out of it. Sometimes, we feel used, unappreciated, and disrespected. We begin to struggle with temptation to quit as we are exposed to judgements on one hand while facing lots of responsibility on the other. Then we become depressed when we start seeing people’s indifference and we feel unimportant. In the end, we simply want to have nothing to do with it and leave. When this happens, it is time to seek and desire the Holy Spirit who will empower and give us the grace to face these insurmountable trials. He purifies our thoughts, words and actions, allowing us to be renewed and to always realize that service is for God’s greater glory and for the love of Him. Servanthood is not about us.

People in power and position should be reminded that while they possess authority, such authority is not absolute. As leaders, they should never lord it over the people under them and they should be role models instead of leading them astray. Servant leaders and stewards in community are expected to serve and not to be served, out of obedience and dedication to God, our one and only Master. They are accountable for their actions, not to be proud that they are given better talents and skills than what others have. We should be reminded that in church or community, we are family and everyone is of equal importance in the God’s eyes.

When we serve out of pure love and compassion, not expecting anything in return, our reward is so much greater than we could ever imagine. We are living the life of a true servant which is the greatest reward of all because the Lord promises, “… whoever humbles himself will be exalted,” (Mt 23:12b). God will exalt us at the proper time. Our time on earth may require earthly honor and adulation, but our final and true exaltation will be eternal in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, set me free from fear and heal the wounds of pride in my heart that I may be a servant of love and compassion for others. Fill me with the joy of the Holy Spirit and transform me to be meek and humble that I may give of myself generously and serve others faithfully for Your sake. Amen

Reflection Guides:
1. What are those things that hold you back from accepting God’s call to serve Him through your fellow man?

2. How do you overcome the feeling of pride and self-importance when you attribute your capabilities and successes as your own, without recognizing the ultimate Source of your gifts and talents?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
November 5, 2017 (Sun) – Mal 1:14-2:2, 8-10/Ps 131:1-3/1 Thes 2:7-9, 13/ Mt 23:1-12
November 6, 2017(Mon) – Rom 11:29-36/Ps 69:30-34, 36/ Lk 14:12-14
November 7, 2017(Tues) – Rom 12:5-16/Ps 131:1-3 /Lk 14:15-24
November 8, 2017(Wed) – Rom 13:8-10/Ps 1125:1, 2, 4-5, 9/Lk 14:25-33
November 9, 2017 (Thur) – Ez 47:1,2,8,9,12/ Ps 46:2,3,5,6,8,9/ 1Cor 3:9-13,16-17/Jn 2:13-22
November 10, 2017 (Fri) – Rom 15:14-21/Ps 98:1-4/Lk 16:1-8
November 11, 2017(Sat) – Rom 16:3-9,16,22-27/Ps 145: 2-5, 10,11/ Lk 16:9-15

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

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WSC Reflection – October 29 – 30, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
October 29, 2017 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)

Community Word: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness.
Theme: We grow in holiness when we manifest love of God and neighbor through our actions.
Promise: “If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.” (Ex 22:26b)

Reflection:
Jesus summarizes all the commandments in just one word – Love. All his teachings and parables have one underlying message, the message on true unconditional love. He refers to the simplicity of a law we all already know – the law of love. Jesus invites us to pay attention to these words – love of God and love of neighbor, and to reflect upon them again without rushing.

The word for this month encourages us: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness. If we truly desire to grow in our lives, we must be energized by love. Love hopes and plans for the good of all. Christ’s love is committed, enduring and tough, not weak and wavering, but strong and persistent. It is not a conditional love, but an open-hearted, generous, self-giving love which God offers to us. And it is His full intent that our love becomes as steadfast as His is.

Christian life is all about love. It is easy to speak about the love of God, but in reality, is it truly our top concern? When we say that we must love God above all things, it means trusting, believing and clinging to Him at all times and in all seasons and times of our life. It means to believe, not in ourselves or in our strength, but in the good that God Himself has promised us, the good things He has prepared for all His children. We are called to share the life of God, to come to a union (communion) with the Triune-God.

The first commandment assumes that the person who loves God does so because he has reasons for loving God. The one who says he loves God says so because he has experienced God’s love in his life. He has seen, heard, and felt deeply in his heart God’s loving concern for him and for others. Everything we experience is a sign of His love, even the trials and difficulties that come our way. When we go through difficulty, it may seem at first, like an insurmountable problem, an obstacle in our path. But later, we realize that it had a lesson to teach us, and in fact, helped us to become better persons.

Hearing the word of God is not enough, we need to act upon it, as our theme this week exhorts us: We grow in holiness when we manifest love of God and neighbor through our actions. Our love of God is made known and made visible in our love of neighbor. To love ourselves and others, we need our hearts to be opened and healed by the touch of divine love. Our love of God pushes us into active compassion and concern for the neighbor who needs our help, although at times, our love is restricted by our fear of getting hurt or going out of our comfort zone. We see people in great need and our Christian faith enables us to see the face of Jesus in each person, especially the lost and the least.

If we truly love God, then we can accept and trust the neighbor who failed us, or fell short of our expectations, just as we may expect our neighbor to overlook our own shortcomings. If we honestly love God, then we will be sensitive to the urgent needs of our neighbor and will not hesitate to forgive those who have wronged us. To love our neighbor is to show willingness to serve, to understand and to forebear and forgive.

The love of God and love of neighbor gives us both grace and mission. God’s love pours grace upon us, love of neighbor gives us our mission. Jesus calls us to be part of this community of faith to extend His compassion to others and to be instruments of His peace. And in so doing, we hold on to His promise: “If he cries out to me, I will hear him for I am compassionate.” (Ex 22:26b).

Prayer:
Our loving God and Father, Your love for us is beyond what we can grasp with our minds and hearts. May we do to others what You have done for us. May your unfailing love awaken in us true love for You and lead us to a genuine service of our neighbor. Amen.

Reflection Guides:
1. What steps do I take to grow in my love for God?
2. What have I done to demonstrate my love of neighbor?
3. Who are those I should love but have not loved sincerely and truthfully?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
October 29, 2017 (Sun) – Ex 22:20-26/Ps 18:2-4, 47, 51/1Thes 1:5-10/Mt 22:34-40
October 30, 2017(Mon) – Rom 8:12-17/Ps 68:2, 4, 6, 7, and 20, 21/Lk 13:10-17
October 31 2017(Tues) – Rom 8:18-25/Ps 126:1-6/Lk 13:18-21
November 1, 2017(Wed) – Rev 7:2-4, 9-14/Ps 24:1-6/1Jn 3:1-3/Mt 5:1-12
November 2, 2017 (Thur) – 2Mc 12:43-46/Ps 103/Rom 8:31-35, 37-39/Jn 14:1-6
November 3, 2017 (Fri) – Rom 9:1-5/Ps 147:1-15, 19, 20/Lk 14:1-6
November 4, 2017(Sat) – Rom 11:1, 2, 11, 12, 25-29/Ps 94:12-15, 17, 18/Lk 14:1, 7-11

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

 
 
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WSC Reflection (October 22 – 29, 2017)

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
October 22, 2017 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)
Community Word: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness.
Theme: We grow in holiness when we give to God what is due His Holy Name.
Promise: “… I have called you by your name … It is I who arm you.” (Is 45:4b, 5b)

Reflection:
For the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives this direction: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s,” (Mt 22:21). Jesus teaches us the importance of obeying civil authorities, to be good citizens, paying just taxes and following the laws of the land. But what belongs to God should be viewed in a wider perspective. It means everything that is good is God’s possession, even those things which we do not want to give up because they are dear to us – family, friendship, career, financial security, and self-respect, being accepted or understood. Even our weaknesses and failures can be given to God as a sign of our humble surrender to Him. We should place God at the very center of everything and by doing so, we even give to God those things that we render to his delegated authority, such as our parents, the government, society and church. Putting God at the center of our life leads us to being obedient to His will and keeps us to grow in holiness. This is expressed in our community word for October: Obedience to God’s will, keeps us growing in holiness.

Jesus points out that our priorities have gone awry. Sometimes, we are like the Pharisees in the gospel when we express concern over what are important to us, like job security, comfort, convenience, and recognition; we are trapped in these sense of value preventing us from seeing other things of higher value. “God created man in the image of Himself, in the image of God He created him,” (Gen 1:27). God shares with us what He has – the power to think, to will and to love. He also gives us a desire to be virtuous and good. He created our heart, our mind and our very soul to be like Him and He sustains us every moment of our life. This tells us that we owe our whole being to God.

The theme for this week is – We grow in holiness when we give to God what is due His Holy Name. There is nothing that we can do to “repay” God for all the things He has given us in the past or for the ways He blesses us each day of our life. But we can show God our gratitude by living a life of obedience and filled with love. We must be true to our words and we must be honest in our actions. We must be transparent in our relationships. What we say and do must be founded in kindness and all our intentions are for God’s greater glo00ry and not for ourselves.

Our God is mighty, holy and perfect. Though we are weak and imperfect, God does not look down on us, but in His great love He sent His only begotten Son to save us from sin and death. And to this day, He gives us His Holy Spirit to inspire, renew and empower us so that while on earth, we will remain steadfast and fruitful in our journey towards holiness. We are His beloved and it is His perfect desire to make us one with Him in heaven forever. Thus, we claim His promise for this week: “… I have called you by your name … It is I who arm you,” (Is 45:4b, 5b). For we belong to God alone and nothing else matters.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the teaching in today’s gospel. While it is a great challenge for us, we are thankful that you have opened our eyes and directed our thoughts to what is truly pleasing to God. Sometimes, we are blinded by our own worldly sense of values, but your divine Wisdom has given us hope that we can get out from the deceiving values and false attachments of our time. Lord God, we recognize You and You alone in our life. We worship and adore You above everything else. To You we give back honor, glory and thanksgiving. Amen.

Reflection Guides:
1. Do we give rightfully to God, bestowing in Him the highest place in our life?
2. As we honor God, how do we give to others what is due to them?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
October 22, 2017 (Sun) – Is 45:1, 4-6/Ps 96:1-5, 7-10/1Thes 1:1-5/Mt 22:15-21
October 23, 2017(Mon) – Rom 4:20-25/Lk 1:69-75/Lk 12:13-21
October 24 2017(Tues) – Rom 5:12, 15, 17-21/Ps 40:7-10, 17/Lk 35-38
October 25, 2017(Wed) – Rom 6:12-18/Ps 124:1-8/Lk 12:19-48
October 26, 2017 (Thur) – Rom 6:19-23/Ps 1:1-5, 6/Lk 12:49-53
October 27, 2017 (Fri) – Rom 7:18-25/Ps 119:66, 68, 76-77, 93, 94/Lk 12:54-59
October 28, 2017(Sat) – Eph 2:19-22/Ps 19:2-5/Lk 6:12-16

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

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WSC Reflection – October 15, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I), October 15, 2017
Community Word: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness.
Theme: We grow in holiness when we heed God’s invitation to commune with Him.
Promise: “God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19)

Reflection:
In the gospel for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we find a description of a wedding feast where only invited guests may come. In the book of Isaiah, such banquet is described as “a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” (Is 25:6b). Such imagery symbolizes the kingdom of heaven, a celestial banquet of God’s salvation and eternal happiness.

The parable being narrated by Jesus focuses on two things: first is His invitation to the kingdom of heaven, and second is our response. It is out of God’s benevolence and graciousness that we are invited to be in His kingdom. He calls those who are invited to understand that the kingdom of God is a feast, a celebration, and to come without delay so as not to miss the joy and the holiness offered to those who answer the call. Such is as our community word for the month which says: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness. Our response is aptly stated in our theme for the week: We grow in holiness when we heed God’s invitation to commune with Him.

As BLD members, we manifested our clear “Yes” to God’s call when we accepted the invitation to join the Life in the Spirit Seminar, the various renewal and encounter programs, the discipleship formation program and teachings, attend the weekly worship and word sharing circles, and participate in the various mission works for the poor. With steadfastness and complete trust in the Lord, we continue to journey in faith despite physical, emotional and financial obstacles and difficulties. All because God assures us in this week’s promise: “God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with His glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” (Phil 4:19). And that, we “can do all things in Him who strengthens” us (Phil 4:13).

All are invited to enter the kingdom of God even the broken, frail and with moral infirmities. The church is a mixture of saints and sinners. Bad and good people alike are given the opportunity to respond to God’s invitation because, though we are all imperfect and undeserving, it is by His mercy and grace that He keeps heaven’s doors open to all. He reaches to us because He understands our human weakness. Jesus desires all people to be saved and to share in the glory of God. But to be in the feast requires preparation, that is, there must be a personal conversion. As in the parable, to be dressed in a wedding garment means to change one’s lifestyle, from worldliness to holiness, to accept that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior, to believe in His resurrection, to live the moral and ethical values, and to follow His gospel messages and be converted. Jesus wants our full conversion in complete acceptance of His mercy and love.

Sinners are invited but they are expected to repent, to turn away from sin and begin to live a transformed life doing good deeds. The “wedding garment” refers to a true discipleship in following Christ, rather than an uncommitted membership. Those who refuse to repent and change are left out in darkness away from the light, hope and joy of messianic blessings. Our Lord Jesus searches even in the byroads seeking for conversion of every person, even to the extent of dying on the cross so that the entrance to the heavenly banquet is opened. While in His infinite wisdom and love He respects our freedom, nonetheless He exhorts us – Trust in Me for I have the best plans for you!

Prayer:
O loving Jesus, transform my heart that I may readily obey You when You call, to follow You without any hesitation, to trust in Your word even if I cannot fully understand, for Your word is truth and life. Today, like Mama Mary, I say “yes” to You, my Lord. I say “yes” to Your love and will for my life, knowing that only in obedience will I be able to journey well into holiness and rest in Your love and inner peace. Amen.

Reflection Guides: 
1. Think of an instance in your life when you were invited to join an important religious activity or program and you willingly said “yes.” Describe the blessing when you said “yes” to Jesus’ invitation. 
2. What are the forthcoming activities in your community that you believe you will be able to “fully partake in the heavenly banquet tendered by Jesus?”

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
October 15, 2017 (Sun) – Is 25:6-10/Ps 23:1-6/Phil 4:12-14, 19, 20/Mt 22:1-14
October 16, 2017(Mon) – Rom 1:1-7/Ps 98:1-4/Lk 11:29-32
October 17 2017(Tues) – Rom 1:16-25/Ps 19:2-5/Lk 11:37-41
October 18, 2017(Wed) – 2Tm 4:10-17b/Ps 145:10-13, 17, 18/Lk 10:1-9
October 19, 2017 (Thur) – Rom 3:21-30/Ps 130:1-6/Lk 11:47-54
October 20, 2017 (Fri) – Rom 4:1-8/Ps 1, 2, 5, 11/Lk 12:1-7
October 21, 2017(Sat) – Rom 4:13, 16-18/Ps 105:6-9, 42, 43/Lk 12:8-12

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

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WSC Reflection for October 8, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I), October 8, 2017

Community Word: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness.
Theme: We grow in holiness when we use our God-given gifts and talents to prosper God’s kingdom.
Promise: “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds.” (Phil 4:7)

Reflection:
God is indeed kind and generous to entrust each of us with gifts and talents for our every need. He could have total control of our lives and demand our absolute submission, but He gives us freedom to run our life as we choose. Yet, instead of being grateful by offering our time, talent and treasure in building His kingdom, we secure our lives by building our own little kingdoms – those things important to us – career, home, family, relationship and our comfort. And, when we are successful and self-sufficient, we claim all the credit and the right to our personal happiness and satisfaction. Sometimes, we forget to consider our achievements as blessings from the Lord, much less give Him all honor and glory by giving back the fruit of the gifts He planted in us.

The gospel for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time could be telling an uncomfortable message to some people of this age. Many people want to see life in their own way, live a lifestyle in their own terms, and focus more on growing their own “empires and territories.” And when God intervenes with ways different from what they believe in they complain and resist. But the truth is that at the doorstep of every glory stands our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the rejected cornerstone, yet He is the firm foundation of our life. In His hands is the Kingdom of God which He offers to all without distinction. He is the hope that makes a difference in our life, a life that labors for the King in spreading the Good News to all people.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to reign over our lives, we will be able to get rid of our self-centeredness, arrogance and manipulative tendencies. He will reveal who we really are, what our talents and passions are, and point us to the direction of our true purpose, not just about us, but about what the King desires for us to do. We will be obedient when He sends us anywhere, with boldness not fearing any geographic, political, social or economic limits. Every time we go and accomplish our mission, we are reminded by this week’s theme – We grow in holiness when we use our God-given gifts and talents to prosper God’s kingdom.

As community members, let us remember that we are “vine growers” assigned by the “Owner” (God) to take care of His crop – the mission to evangelize not only our members but all His people. And the Lord expects delivery of the fruit – the works of love for our neighbors. Regardless of our reactions when He requires accounting of the harvest, God will always achieve His purpose and obtain the good fruit He wants. Because when we refuse to be fruitful, He will take away from us our gifts and talents and He will give them to others who will produce the fruit (Mt 21:43).

Those who still insist that they are not prepared or equipped to go to mission, or continue to think that they have no time or role in prospering God’s Kingdom, are actually ignoring or neglecting their God-given gifts and talents, deceiving themselves and refusing the Lord’s call to faithfulness and fruitfulness.

Let us be assured that when Jesus calls us for a specific task, He wants us to work on it, to up build others as well as ourselves that we may also experience joy in the process. Surely, He will fill us with confidence, perseverance, and courage. This is His promise for the week, “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds,” (Phil 4:7).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to fully use the gifts and talents you entrusted to me in prospering Your kingdom in the lives of Your people. Remove all hindrances that might prevent me from becoming a true Kingdom builder and allow me to serve You first and foremost in all my works. Give me strength and perseverance that as I grow in holiness I will remain a fruitful, faithful and committed follower of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reflection Guides:
1. In what way are you using your God-given gifts in the church, in community, in your family and society?
2. Have you shared the word of God with the wounded and lost, comforted the sick or helped the oppressed? Share what you experienced while doing these works.
3. What are your fears and apprehensions in doing God’s mission? How do you plan to overcome them?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
October 8, 2017 (Sun) – Is 5:1-7/Ps 80:9,12,13-16,19,20/Phil 4:6-9/Mt 21:33-43
October 9, 2017(Mon) – Jon 1:1-2:1-2, 11/Jon 2:3-5, 8/Lk 10:25-37
October 10 2017(Tues) – Jon 3:1-10/Ps 130:1-4, 7, 8/Lk 10:38-42
October 11, 2017(Wed) – Jon 4:1-11/Ps 86:3-6, 9, 10/Lk 11:1-4
October 12, 2017 (Thur) – Mal 3:13-20/Ps 1:1-4, 6/Lk 11:5-13
October 13, 2017 (Fri) – Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2/Ps 9:2, 3, 6, 16, 8, 9/Lk 11:15-26
October 14, 2017(Sat) – Jl 4:12-21/Ps 97:1, 2, 5, 6, 11, 12/Lk 11:27, 28

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

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WSC Reflection for October 1, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I), October 1, 2017
Community Word: Obedience to God’s will keeps us growing in holiness.
Theme: We grow in holiness when we focus our minds on what God wants us to do.
Promise: “If he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.” (Ez 18:27)

Reflection:
There are various life-lessons the Parable of the Two Sons opens out to us: How do we respond to the Father’s call: with a boastful ‘no’ or a doubtful ‘yes’? As true Christians we should do as Jesus did. Be the perfect Son who is unconditionally obedient to the Father’s will all the way and in every way, not only saying ‘yes’ but also acting on what the Father commands us to do.

A parallel lesson can be gleaned from the First Reading: A morally upright person who has been virtuous all his life but, after turning away from righteousness, later dies, cannot save his life. But a person who has been sinful all of his life but turns away from his sins before he dies, shall preserve his life. It is to these converted persons that God promises eternal life: “When a wicked man turns away from the wickedness and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life,” (Ez 18:27). Could there really be some unfairness in this, as the early Israelites cried out, when tax collectors and prostitutes, who change their ways and repent, receive salvific assurance over the chief priests and elders?

Perhaps the reason many Catholics lack knowledge and are haphazard in the practice of their faith is because they are not in the habit of reading the word of God. Hence, they practice or follow only those parts they are comfortable with or which suit their preferences. For convenience or other reasons, they claim membership to the Church; but their actions are far from the Church teachings. Thus they become confused and begin to fall-out, or become easy prey for recruitment by aggressive spiritual charlatans.

The theme for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – We grow in holiness when we focus our minds on what God wants us to do, challenges us on how we are to live our life and faith as a Christian. Very often, people say “yes” but do not keep their promises, as in the case of broken marriage vows. Couples commit to stay together for “better or for worse, in sickness or in health,” but unceremoniously separate when confronted with life-trials. We pray to be forgiven as we forgive others, but don’t really mean it; or we project holiness in church but cheat, lie, steal, abuse or bully others. It is easy to call ourselves Christian, but it is hard for us to be Christ-like.

Today, it is often said that if people listen to teachers, it is because they (the teachers) are good witnesses. People want to see consistency in what we say and what we do, to ‘walk our talk’, and be what we say we are. No matter how hard we strike our chest during the acknowledgment of sins portion of the mass, it is meaningless if there is no genuine life-change. What is necessary is neither wisdom nor knowledge, nor the ability to speak eloquently, but change of heart and attitude.

As baptized Christians, God wants us to act and live out our faith. Pride and self-righteousness distance us from conversion, while humility leads us to it. Knowledge of the law, beautifully crafted prayers, and alms-giving are all good, but do not guarantee salvation. The Lord looks at the heart. Let us do our best to practice our faith and show God that we believe in Him by living a life of good words and, more importantly, good deeds.

No matter how far we have strayed from God, it is never too late to turn back, and we can be absolutely sure that a warm, ‘no-questions-asked’ God waits to welcome us with open arms. We can be set free from all our sins and wrongdoings if we repent for our failings and faults and return humbly to the Lord. St. Paul tells us, “Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ’s,” (Phil. 2:5). Jesus is a perfect “yes” to the will of the Father. Let His “yes,” His love, and His obedience be reflected in our daily lives, in our words and in all our deeds.

Reflection Guides:
1. From the gospel, which son do I identify myself more? How can I be a more responsible child of God?

2. Am I sincere with my prayers and consider them my covenant with my God?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
October 1, 2017 (Sun) – Ez 18:25-28/Ps 25:4-9/Phil 2:1-11/Mt 21:28-32
October 2, 2017(Mon) – Zec 8:1-8/Ps 102:16-21, 29, 22-23/Mt 18:1-5, 10
October 3, 2017(Tues) – Zec 8:20-23/Ps 87:1-7/Lk 9:51-56
October 4, 2017(Wed) – Neh 2:1-8/Ps 137:1-6/Lk 9:57-62
October 5, 2017 (Thur) – Neh 8:1-12/Ps 19:8-11/Lk 10:1-12
October 6, 2017 (Fri) – Bar 1:15-22/Ps 79:1-5, 8, 9/Lk 10:13-16
October 7, 2017(Sat) – Bar 4:12, 27-29/Ps 69:33-37/Lk 10:17-24

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

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WSC Reflection for September 24, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)
September 24, 2017

Community Word
Jesus enlightens the hearts of those who trust in God’s ways.

Theme: 
Our hearts are enlightened when we respond to God’s grace with gratefulness.

Promise: 
“The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.” (Ps 145:18)

Reflection:
In the ‘Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard,’ the landowner goes out to hire laborers starting at dawn and during different times of the day. We can presume that he would be choosing all the healthy, strong and abled persons he needs to work in his vineyard for one whole day. As he goes out later, he sees some people standing around, and yet he still hires them to work. We can think of them as the elderly, sickly and disabled; not that they refused to work early, but because no one has hired them due to their limitations. At the end of the day, he gives those who worked the whole day their whole day pay. But he also gives the same wage to those who work for shorter hours. Those who are hired early murmurs and complains about being unfair. The landowner tells them that he did not cheat anyone, but he is paying out of the generosity of his heart. He has actually paid the laborers not according to their work, but based on their needs. Not according to what they deserve, but because he is simply a generous landowner.

God is the landowner in the parable and we, His people, are the workers who are being invited to work in His vineyard – the building of His Kingdom. We are called by Christ through the gospel at various stages of our life. Some of us labor long and hard in building the Kingdom of the Lord when we heed His call early or at the prime of our life. Others accept His call in their middle or old age, when their health starts to wane and cannot offer to do as much as they want to. But all of God’s laborers are treated with fairness and generosity. The truth is that by His grace, all of us receive not merely what we deserve, but what God sees as our needs, even beyond what we expect. When we are willing to serve God and spread His gospel to others, we are recompensed not for our human effort, but we are measured by how much we have loved and cared for those who needed our help.

The theme for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us: Our hearts are enlightened when we respond to God’s grace with gratefulness. Knowing and understanding the magnanimity of God when He pours His graces upon us, we should truly be grateful to the Lord for only He sees our hearts. We should continue to fix our eyes on the wonderful works He has done for us and be thankful for these blessings, instead of being envious of His generosity towards others. Remember what the Lord is telling us, “…My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Cor 12:9a). Let us keep our hearts burning with the desire to remain in communion with God, realizing how undeserving we are, yet benefiting from the Lord’s free gift (grace) to us.

There are many who are still standing around waiting to be invited to know the gospel of Christ. To them, we need to preach the gift of salvation we received from Jesus our Savior that brought us unsearchable riches and abundance. We need to make known to them the manifold wisdom of God and the revelation of His eternal purpose, by encouraging them to join our community where they can worship the Lord and fellowship with us. The intensity, dedication and devotion to accomplish this mission will surely be challenged by circumstances and various obstacles. In those times when we are trapped in hopeless situation, we can always cry to God for His grace of encouragement, strength and perseverance, and He will surely hear us.

We just need to believe in His promise for us this week, “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth,” (Ps 145:18). Let us sense His presence with joy, knowing that He is there with His love and generosity. He is God Almighty ready to help us through. Let our hearts feel His grace in every circumstance of our life. As St. Augustine wrote, “in the end, everything is grace.”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, by Your amazing grace You have welcome us into Your kingdom. As workers in Your “Vineyard” make us work diligently and gratefully in the remaining time we have on earth. Lead us by Your Holy Spirit to do whatever we are called to do, out of a genuine faith and spiritual enthusiasm. Remind us that Your grace is timeless and You give to us what we truly deserve. Teach us to be thankful in whatever circumstances we are in and not begrudge the blessings of others. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reflection Guides: 
1. Feeling that you are more faithful and prayerful, do you sometimes perceived that God is unfair to you and you deserve more than others? How do you overcome these feelings?

2. Knowing that God’s grace (blessing, favor, kindness) is His generosity to the undeserving, how does this affect your relationship with God and your neighbor?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
September 24, 2017 (Sun) – Is 55:6-9 / Ps 145:2-3, 8, 9, 17, 18 / Phil 1:20-24. 27 / Mt 20:1-16
September 25, 2017(Mon) – Ez 1:1-6/Ps 126:1-6/Lk 8:16-18
September 26, 2017(Tues) – Ez 6:7, 8/12, 14-20/Ps 122:1-5/Lk 8:19-21
September 27, 2017(Wed) – Ez 9:5-9/Tb 13:2-8/Lk 9:1-6
September 28, 2017 (Thur) – Hg 1:1-8/Ps 149:1-6, 9/Lk 9:7-9
September 29, 2017 (Fri) – Dn 7:9, 10, 13, 14/Ps 138:14-5/Jn 1:47-51 
September 30, 2017(Sat) – Zec 2:5-9, 14, 15/Jer 31:10-13/Lk 9:43-45

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

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WSC Reflection for September 17, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A, Year I)

September 17, 2017

                       

Community Word

Jesus enlightens the hearts of those who trust in God’s ways.

 

Theme:   

Our hearts are enlightened when we forgive others and treat them with compassion.

 

Promise: 

“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice, then your own sins will be forgiven.” (Sir 28:2)

 

Reflection:

The liturgical readings of the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time dwell on the depth of God’s mercy on us and the significance of accepting God’s forgiveness and His call for us to forgive others.

 

The king’s mercy in the Gospel parallels the disposition of God who readily forgives our sins every time we come to Him in humble repentance. And He calls us to do the same for an erring brother. But, how many times should you forgive him? Jesus’ reply to Peter is, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times,” (Mt 18:22).  Jesus puts a number in His answer to Peter to stress a point.  It is more than the quantity of times to forgive, but He teaches us about the quality of forgiveness – to forgive one another from the heart (Mt. 18:35b), with compassion.  God is always willing and ready to forgive without limit, without condition, without hesitation.

 

We too must forgive without limit, just as God forgives us without limit when we commit sin.  Anyone who refuses to forgive will never experience the joy and peace of God’s forgiveness.  It says in Sirach 28:3: “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?”  The painful truth is that while God readily forgives us, we tend to be unforgiving toward those who offend us as we continue to nurture emotional hurt.  Even people of faith struggle to forgive when the wrongdoing being committed is terribly violent and evidently wrong.  But the Lord works through forgiveness from the heart.  This is expressed in our theme for this week: Our hearts are enlightened when we forgive others with compassion.  He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.  But one who has a forgiving heart is a “transformed” person and he receives God’s love and the wonderful grace of His forgiveness.

 

In our relationship with our brothers and sisters, we must not be guided by our self-interest because as Paul tells the Romans, “we live for the Lord, we die for the Lord,” (Rom 14:8).  Therefore, we should ask and pray for wisdom to be merciful to others as God has shown mercy to us.  Let us share His saving love with others and embrace the great thing He wants to do through us. Our decision to forgive offenders is always accompanied by God’s grace.  Jesus invites us to see that we are all “debtors” before God, so we need to seek His mercy because of our sins and failings. We are also indebted to Him for every good gift that we receive in countless ways.  God only requires us to forgive the little that our neighbor may owe us.

 

Forgiveness does not show weakness but strength and power, truly a godly virtue.  It enables us to stop reacting and to take control of ourselves.  Forgiveness does more good for us than for the one we forgive because it sets us free.  To start the process of forgiveness, prayer for the other is always the good approach to start with. Look into the future and do not dwell in the past.  While we have hurts from the past, forgiveness comes as we look forward to what can be in our life and not to what it was. Life is short and we all need to look to our future with the Lord. We do not only reconcile ourselves to God, but also to our self, our neighbor and the community to which we belong.  We can then grow and be the person that Jesus wants us to be, as we channel our efforts to more important matters in life.

 

This is the promise and assurance that the Lord tells us this week: “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice, then your own sins will be forgiven,” (Sir:28:2).  Today, we are called into the joy of the Lord by putting our hatred, anger and sinful past to death that we may be free to love. To forgive is to be one with God who is love. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the source of a great and overflowing river of forgiveness and compassion.

 

Prayer:

Loving Lord, You revealed Yourself to us as our Father who is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion. You enfold us in Your warm embrace giving us your infinite mercy and unconditional love. You forgave our sins not seven times but seventy-seven times, and You even paid a terrible price for our sinfulness.  O dear Lord, grant us Your mercy and grace that we may be Your instruments of compassion and forgiveness toward others. Amen.

 

Reflection Guides:

  1. What are those things or instances when another person caused me pain and emotional hurt?  How much and how far am I willing to forgive?

 

  1. How do I say ‘I forgive you’ or ‘I am sorry’ from my heart?

 

  1. Share an experience when you were able to forgive.  How did that make you feel?

 

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:

September 17, 2017 (Sun) – Sir 27:30 – 28:7 / Ps 103: 1-4, 9-12 /Rom 14:7-9 / Mt 18:21-35

September 18, 2017(Mon) – 1Tm 2:1-8/Ps 28:2,7-9/Lk 7:1-10

September 19, 2017(Tues) – 1Tm 3:1-13/Ps 101:1-3,5,6/Lk 7:11-17

September 20, 2017(Wed) – 1Tm 3:14-16/Ps 111:1-6/Lk 7:31-35

September 21, 2017 (Thur) – Eph 4:1-7,11-13/Ps 19:2-5/Mt 9:9-13

September 22, 2017 (Fri) – 1Tm 6:2-12/Ps 49:6-10,17-20/Lk 8:1-3

September 23, 2017(Sat) – 1Tm 6:13-146/Ps 100:1-5/Lk 8:4-15

 

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

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