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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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WSC Circle – March 24, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
March 24, 2019 – 3rd 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 seek Him with reverence and humility.
Promise: “He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion.” (Ps 103:4)

Reflection:
Mindful of His covenant with Abraham (Ex 2:24), God came down and used Moses to rescue His people from Egyptian slavery. And faithful to the same covenant, He sent Jesus to redeem all mankind from the destruction of sin and death. This event in the Old Testament was written down in Scriptures as a prelude and foreshadowing of our baptism of water, our liberation from sin and our feeding of spiritual food and drink.

The events in the Exodus were also given as a warning, that being children of Abraham is no guarantee that we will reach the promised land of our salvation. St. Paul cautioned the people of Corinth that we could perish, not because God will punish us as great sinners, but because, like the Israelites in the wilderness, we stumble in our evil desires, fall into grumbling, and forget all the benefits that the Lord has given us. Jesus calls us everyday to repentance, not merely a one-time change of heart, but an ongoing transformation of our life. We are called to live the life that we recite or sing in Psalm 103, blessing God’s holy name and giving Him thanks for His kindness and mercy.

In the gospel, Jesus narrates the parable of the fig tree, a familiar symbol for Israel. Just as the fig tree is given one last season to produce its fruit before being cut down if it remains barren, so too is Jesus giving Israel one final opportunity to bear good fruit as evidence of its repentance (cf. Lk 3:8).

Lent is another chance for us to turn around our life. It is a season of reprieve, a grace period when we let the “gardener,” Jesus Christ, cultivate our hearts, uprooting what chokes the divine life in us, strengthening us to bear fruit that will last to eternity. Perhaps, Jesus has come to us many times looking for the fruit of good works and found none. Perhaps, He has continued to bestow favors and blessings upon us and has waited for us to respond with His grace by doing acts of penance and expiation. Jesus is so patient with us waiting for us to be productive and bear good fruit.

In the parable, the gardener proposed to cultivate the soil around the fig tree and hoped that it will bear fruit in the future. In like manner, we are created to increase love in the world, love of God and love of neighbor. Without love, we are fruitless. Pope Gregory the Great says, “The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” Bearing fruit of good works consistently is responding to God’s unconditional love, and it will not be possible without His grace when we seek His help in humility and reverence in prayer. St. John Vianney tells us, “Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains.” Without prayer nothing good is done. God’s work is accomplished when we fall on our knees, clasp our hands, and lift our voices to God in humble and reverential supplication and thanksgiving.

We should always work for Jesus and with Jesus. If we stray away from Him, we will get lost and our efforts will not bear fruit with no value in eternity. Without God, our spiritual life will be dry and barren. As long as we are with Jesus, everything will be good work and holy, and all our actions will gain merit for us in Heaven. This is His promise for us this week, “He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion,” (Ps 103:4).

Prayer:
Lord, let my heart and mind seek Your holy presence daily through prayer and let my love for You and my love for others continue to grow always. Continue to grant me the grace to bear fruit of good works, as I persevere in loving service to You and the community. Amen

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. How I do I know that God is present in my life everyday?
2. Am I growing in the love of God and love for others? What concrete actions must I do to show this?
3. Examine your life if you are bearing the fruit of good works. Are you progressing in your effort to be fruitful?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
March 24, 2019 (Sun) – Ex 3:1-8,13-15/Ps 103:1-4,6,7,8,11/1Cor 10:1-6,10-12/Lk 13:1-9
March 25, 2019 (Mon) – Is 7:10-14/Ps 40:7-11/Heb 10:4-10/Lk 1:26-38
March 26, 2019 (Tue) – Dn 3:25, 34-43/Ps 25:4-9/Mt 18:21-35
March 27, 2019 (Wed) – DT 4:1, 5-9/Ps 147:12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20/Mt 5:17-19
March 28, 2019 (Thu) – Jer 7:23-28/Ps 95:1, 2, 6-9/Lk 11:14-23
March 29, 2019 (Fri) – Hos 14:2-10/Ps 81:6-11, 14, 17/Mk 12:28-34
March 30, 2019 (Sat) – Hos 6:1-6/Ps 51:3, 4, 18-21/Lk 18:9-14

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

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WSC Circle – March 17, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
March 17, 2019 – 2nd 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 allow Him to transform our lives.
Promise: “He will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body.” (Phil 3:21a)

Reflection:
On the second Sunday of our Lenten journey, we read the gospel of the Transfiguration, a very special event that revealed the Divinity of Jesus, witnessed by Peter, James and John. Not only were they eyewitnesses to the divine splendor and radiance of Jesus’s face and clothing, but from the cloud, they also heard the voice of God acknowledging Jesus as His beloved Son and telling them to “listen to Him,” (Luke 9:35). For the three disciples, the experience was a clear message of faith and hope for the time when they would witness the suffering and death of Jesus, a reminder that even though they saw Jesus hanging on the cross, He would conquer death and rise again in glory.
As Jesus’ followers, we also need to be reminded that when the cross we daily carry seems to overwhelm us with our own “Calvary”, we can turn to our loving Savior (Lk 19:10) for counsel – He had overcome them all. When the appeal of sin is too strong, we should rely on our Shepherd (Jn 10:27) for guidance – He will lead us to righteousness. In the midst of life’s trials and challenges, we must call on our Good Teacher (Lk 18:18) for His wisdom and help. When the storms of life appear to weaken our faith, we need to approach our Master (Mt 6:26) for His authority – His words can silence the wind and calm the waves. He will show us how to pass through these difficulties.
We hear Jesus’ voice in our prayers, for the Holy Spirit communicates to us in the depths of our hearts. His message of love is revealed when we read and meditate upon His word in Scripture. And His message is revealed by the works of our fellow Christians who persevere in holiness.
When we yield to the commandments of Jesus and allow His word to take root in our heart, our lives are surely renewed and transformed. In obedience, we find the strength to fight sin and receive the grace of perseverance as we travel the road to holiness. And seeing our continuing conversion, we may inspire others to join us in the path of righteousness. Our heavenly Father will surely be pleased and will help us focus our eyes on our eternal home where Christ “will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body.” (Phil 3:21a)
Prayer:
Jesus, You are God’s chosen Son. Make us always aware of Your presence in our lives. Take away the hardness from our hearts that we may hear Your life-giving word that nourishes us daily. Open our spirit to Your grace and show us Your glory hidden in the routine of our daily life. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Increase our zeal for Your kingdom and instill in us a holy desire to live for Your greater glory as You transform us into your likeness.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. Are you ready to let God transform you with His life-giving word? What are the hindrances that prevents you from listening to Jesus?
2. During the season of Lent, how do you prepare yourself to celebrate the coming of Easter?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
March 17, 2019 (Sun) – Gn 15:5-12, 17, 18/Ps 27:1-9, 13, 14/Phil 3:17-4:1/Lk 9:28-36
March 18, 2019 (Mon) – Dn 9:4-10/Ps 79:8, 9, 11, 13/Lk 6:36-38
March 19, 2019 (Tue) – 2Sm 7:4, 5, 12-1416/Ps 89:2, 3, 4, 5, 27, 29/Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22/ Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24
March 20, 2019 (Wed) – Jer 18:18-20/Ps 31:5-6, 14-16/Mt 20:17-28
March 21, 2019 (Thu) – Jer 17:5-10/Ps 1:1-4, 6/Lk 16:19-31
March 22, 2019 (Fri) – Gn 37:3-4, 12, 13, 17-28/Ps 105:16-21/Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
March 23, 2019 (Sat) – Mi 7:14-15, 18-20/Ps 103:1-4, 9, 10, 11, 12/Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

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

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WSC Circle – March 10, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
March 10, 2019 – 1st 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 believe and obey every word that comes from God.
Promise: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13)

Reflection:
Our theme for the 1st Sunday of Lent is inspired by the events when Jesus was tempted by the devil in a span of 40 days at the start of His ministry. The temptations of Jesus were not easy because they challenged the status of Jesus as the “Son of God.” A person weakened by hunger, fatigue and complete deprivation could succumb to the cunning invitation of the devil to be comforted, to be empowered and to be in control. But not Jesus. He thwarted these temptations by invoking the word of God at every turn. He demonstrated that the most effective weapon against the snares of the devil is claiming the word of God as the source of truth and strength. He knew that it is the Father’s will that he became man to suffer and die for our sake, to fulfill the covenant of God’s unconditional love for mankind.

Calling on the name of the Lord to be save is not enough. It demands from us not only to believe, but also to obey every word that comes from God. It requires that to love God, we must follow His will and turn to Him alone. Jesus tells us: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,” (Mt. 7:21). What happens to our life when we abide in God’s word? When we abide in the Lord and allow His word to abide in and nourish us spiritually, we become what God wants us to be, to experience and accomplish what God wants us to accomplish and to know what God wants us to know. Jesus is very explicit in telling us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you,” (Jn 15:7). This is a vital reality in the life of a Christian. Our only hope of seeing God’s best in our life is to hold fast to the truth of God’s word operating in us, in our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Believing in Jesus and obeying His direction for our life keep us in His company throughout our faith journey. Unlike those disciples who left Him because they stopped believing in Him, let us not wait for the Lord to ask as – “Do you want to go away?” Instead, we should be like Peter who boldly declared – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (cf Jn 6:66-69).

To ensure that we abide in Christ, it is important that we read and study God’s word consistently, thoroughly and reflectively, and then obey it. Jesus is telling us, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him,” (Jn 14:21). We must continue to study His word and let the Holy Scripture teach us to be wise and to deepen our faith in Christ. St. Paul tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (cf. Tim 3:14-17).

Believing God’s word leads us to communicate and pray to God. Sometimes, we wonder why our prayers are seemingly not answered, and why blessings do not flow freely. We should go back to Christ’s exhortation to love and forgive one another. Perhaps, there is still unforgiveness in our hearts that even praying “Our Father” becomes pretentious. Jesus has promised: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Rom 10:13). Let us be worthy to receive God’s salvation and forgiveness by truly believing and obeying His holy word.

Prayer:
Thank you, Father, for saving me. Thank you for Your word of Truth and Your desire to transform me into Your image and likeness through Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I want to live a righteous life with humility of heart and in obedience to Your will.

Lord, the eyes of my heart are on You and my confidence is in Your word. Inspire, convict, teach and correct me, through the Scriptures. Root out the unholy parts of my life as Your Holy Word searches me. May I develop a docile spirit like Mother Mary, in submission to the leading and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to reflect the love of Jesus to others in my life, in my thoughts, words and deeds. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. What are some obstacles that have made your faith journey difficult? How has the word of God transformed and guided you as a renewed Christian?

2. In serving community, what would be some reasons why you are reluctant in accepting assigned tasks? Do you look into the word of God to give you an inspiration?

3. During the season of Lent, ponder upon your relationship with God and others. Do you have a need for reconciliation or to go to confession?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
March 10, 2019 (Sun) – Dt 26:4-10/Ps 91:1, 2, 10-15/Rom 10:8-13/Lk 4:1-13
March 11, 2019 (Mon) – Lv 19:1-2, 11-18/Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15/Mt 25:31-46
March 12, 2019 (Tue) – Is 55:10-11/Ps 34:4-7, 16-17, 18-19/Mt 6:7-15
March 13, 2019 (Wed) – Jon 3:1-10/Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19/Lk 11:29-32
March 14, 2019 (Thu) – Est C: 12, 14-16, 23-25/Ps 138:1-3, 7, 8/Mt 7:7-12
March 15, 2019 (Fri) – Ez 18:21-28/Ps 130:1-8/Mt 5:20-26
March 16, 2019 (Sat) – Dt 26:16-19/Ps 119:1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8/Mt 5:43-48

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

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WSC Circle – March 3, 2019

Community Word: God’s unconditional love brings salvation in Christ Jesus.
Theme: We respond to God’s unconditional love when our hearts are filled with righteousness.
Promise: “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be.” (Ps 92:15)

Reflection:
Our love for God can be shown by the fruit of righteousness that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts in baptism. We have been justified by Christ’s death and resurrection, bringing us out of darkness into the light of righteousness. Our actions should speak goodness, not evil, for if there is goodness in our hearts, good is produced, but if there is evil in our hearts, evil is produced (cf. Lk 6:45a).

How we relate to others by our word, action or thought is essential in showing the love, care and understanding that we extend to others. Sometimes, we are so self-engrossed that we are not careful with how we look at others. We see our self-sufficiency and only notice the defects of others, but not the imperfection in ourselves. We are quick to see what is wrong with others, but disregard or fail to notice what is wrong with us. And when people point to us our own faults, we feel insulted and nurture resentment, though, sometimes, there is a moment that we swallow our pride and accept to be corrected. We then realize that we have become better at criticizing others, but we are blinded to see our own shortcomings.

The Gospel illustrates how hypocrisy presents itself, in being blind from seeing only the flaws in others, but not seeing the good or potential in them; in being blinded to see that we too have our own shortcomings. In Jesus’ term, this person is a hypocrite: “You notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own,” (Lk 6:41). Some examples are closer to us. We readily criticize that lack of cleanliness in our neighbor’s surrounding, but fail to see the garbage piling in our own house. Sometimes, we preach moral teachings to others, but forget that our own family need pastoring. We are quick to judge our leaders for burdensome directives, but we also fail to follow discipline and refuse to cooperate. We love to criticize, but we ignore doing our small part to improve the system, much less complain about it. There is a saying that if you have nothing good to say to a person, then it is better to stay silent.

As Christ’s followers, we are called to be light to others, to point the truth to them. As Christians, our speech and action must be edifying to others, not to bring them down. Our own testimony must be true and not a pretention “for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Lk 6:45b). Then others will see the righteousness of Christ in us. Let not our mouths that we used in praising God be used in cursing or judging others. Let not our hands that we use for honoring God be used in hurting others.

Jesus has clothed us with His righteousness. Let us continue to examine ourselves, allowing others to give us feedback, in recognizing our defects, and in learning to be mindful of them. Light comes when we present ourselves as we truly are, when we come out of darkness of our pretentions. When we walk in righteousness and do works of righteousness, we can claim the fruitful promise of the Lord: “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be,” (Ps 92:15).

Prayer:
Lord, forgive me for the times that I judged others of their faults which I myself was guilty of. Forgive me for simply criticizing them, but failed to give them counsel through fraternal correction. I ask for your grace to be more tolerant and understanding, to judge people from where they stand and not from where I stand, that I may be worthy of your mercy. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How do I correct myself if I have the tendency to be judgmental and critical to others? What are the things I need to do to be more tolerant, accepting, understanding and forbearing of others?
2. Share an experience when you have to swallow your pride and accept the correction by others of your faults or self-righteous tendencies. How did this make you feel?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
March 3, 2019 (Sun) – Sir 27:4-7, Ps 92, 1 Cor 15:54-58, Lk 6:39-45
March 4, 2019 (Mon) – Sir 17:20-24, Ps 32, Mk 10:17-27
March 5, 2019 (Tues) – Sir 35: 1-12, Ps 50, Mk 10:28-31
March 6, 2019 (Wed) – Jl 2:12-18, Ps 51, 2 Cor 5:20-6:2, Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18
March 7, 2019 (Thur) – Dt 30:15-20, Ps 1, Lk 9:22-25
March 8, 2019 (Fri) – Is 58:1-9a, Ps 51, Mt 9:14-15
March 9, 2019 (Sat) – Is 58: 9b-14, Ps 86, Lk 5:27-32

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

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WSC Circle – February 24, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
February 24, 2019 – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: God’s word calls us to proclaim His love.
Theme: We proclaim God’s love when we forgive those who have wronged us.
Promise: “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”(Lk 6:37b)

Reflection:
Our theme for this week expresses the message of the Gospel of the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time – We proclaim God’s love when we forgive those who have wronged us. We are exhorted to forgive people, including family members, relatives, friends, members of our community and society as whole, who have offended us, maltreated us, and most especially those who have hurt us the most. God is calling us to be merciful to them and to always have a heart willing to pardon those who have wronged us, as well as to ask pardon from those whom we have hurt ourselves.

As Catholic Christians and community members, we have experienced forgiveness through personal repentance, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and through life changing renewal in the various encounters and LSS that led us to be reconciled with God and with our own family. But because of our sinful nature, we still continue to offend God and frequently hurt each other in our words and actions and even in our thoughts. When we become estranged from one another because of this, there is much reason to be reconciled with each other. It demands from us to ask God forgiveness with all humility, as well as from the person whom we have hurt, or forgive those who have hurt us. Yet when it comes to forgiveness, it would seem easy for us to demand mercy from God (Lord, please forgive me), but want justice for the sinner (They must be punished for what they did). Or perhaps say, ‘I can’t forgive that person until he says he is sorry.’

But the teaching of Jesus is to forgive all those who have betrayed us, rejected us or caused us emotional wounds. He is very explicit, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither your Heavenly Father will forgive your transgressions,” (Mt 6:11-15). This is the same message that Jesus teaches us in the prayer ‘Our Father.’ Our love for others even our ‘enemies’ must encompass the same kindness and mercy that Jesus showed us on the cross – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we expect to benefit from doing so. It is much harder if we expect nothing in return. Indeed, it is very difficult to forgive someone who has slighted or pained us. Pope Francis has said: “Human strength or will is not enough to be able to forgive; it requires grace from the Holy Spirit.” It is grace to treat others not as they deserve, but with loving kindness and mercy as God wishes them to be treated.

Here are three practical steps that are helpful in forgiveness:
1. Take your mind off the person you can’t forgive. Do not allow yourself to grumble, or justify your situation, or feel sorry for yourself, or think about ways to get even. Suppress these thoughts as soon as you see him/ her coming.
2. Remember that you are a sinner too. Recall specific ways you needed forgiveness. Ask God to help you, and practice being grateful for the mercy God has shown you.
3. Every time that person comes to mind, say the words, ‘I forgive you’ whether you feel it or not. Make it an act of the will and ask the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into your heart. Over time, start asking God to bless the person. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Resolve to make this a habit and watch how that sets your heart free.

All of us have received the mercy of God. He has forgiven our sins, washed them away, even though we do not deserve it. This is why St. Paul tells the Ephesians, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” (Eph 4:31-32). Then, we will reap the promise of God that we will be forgiven because we choose to forgive, (cf Lk 6:37b).

Prayer:
God our Father, I know that it is very difficult to forgive those who have maligned me, abused me and hurt me. I need your Holy Spirit to grant me the grace to forgive those persons who have wounded me so much. Come, Holy Spirit, and pour God’s great love into my heart and set my heart free from lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent me to experience complete forgiveness. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. Are your harboring feeling of resentment or bitterness towards someone (family, friend, community member)? Offer a prayer for this person every day until your heart is set free from those ill feelings. Also, go to confession as soon as you can.
2. What has been your experience when you decided to forgive someone due to a deep seated hurt?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
February 24, 2019 (Sun) – Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12, 13, 22, 23/Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12, 13/1Cor 15:45-49/ Lk 6:27-38
February 25, 2019 (Mon) – Sir 1: 1-10/Ps 93:1, 1, 2, 5/Mk 9:14-29
February 26, 2019 (Tue) – Sir 2:1-11/Ps 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40/Mk 9:30-37
February 27, 2019 (Wed) – Sir 4:11-19/Ps 119:165,168,171,172,174,175/Mk 9:38-40
February 28 2019 (Thu) – Sir 5:1-8/Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6/Mk 9:41-50
March 1, 2019 (Fri) – Sir 6:5-17/Ps 119:12, 16, 18, 27, 34, 35/Mk 10:1-12
March 2, 2019 (Sat) – Sir 17:1-15/Ps 103:13-18/Mk 10:13-16

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

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WSC Circle – February 17, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
February 17, 2019 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: God’s word calls us to proclaim His love.
Theme: We proclaim God’s love when we perform charitable acts.
Promise: “Behold, your reward will be great in heaven,” (Lk 6:23)

Reflection:
What does the Bible tell us about charity? Some bible versions (e.g. King James) equates charity to love. In 1 Corinthians 13, the word “agapē” is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, “the highest form of love, charity” and “the love of God for man and of man for God.” Acts 9:36 tells about a woman named Tabitha (which translated means Dorcas) who was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving or charity. The Greek word here means “compassion, as exercised towards the poor; beneficence.”

The Bible has much to say about charity and how we are to care for the poor and needy among us. One of the most famous passages on the importance of caring for those in need is in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. He says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Mt 25:34-36, 40).

Clearly, when we care for someone in need, we do the will of Christ and manifest in our charitable actions the love of the Father. And our Father shows His appreciation and gratitude to us by promising the highest reward when He assures us: “Behold, your reward will be great in heaven,” (Lk 6:23).

For those who are in community, the compelling question would be – If I am already assigned to a ministry or apostolate doing other tasks, do I need to be involved in charitable acts or in mission works? The answer can be taken from the exhortation of Pope Francis when he said: “Churchmen should leave their comfort zone and tend to the needy on the peripheries. Jesus wanted his church to be a church on the move, a church that goes out into the world.”

As Christians, we are expected to help alleviate and even fight for better living conditions for the poor and the underprivileged. Social justice is part and parcel of Christian morality and something greatly emphasized by the Church from the time of its foundation. Social justice and care for the less fortunate is s foremost concern and duty for all Christians. Christ’s followers were convinced of that. Paul told Timothy, “Tell those who are rich in this world’s goods not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth. Charge them to do good, and be rich in good works, generally sharing what they have,” (1 Tim 6:17).

It is in this context that our community sets Christ in his earthly ministry, as our model for social responsibility. With an additional exhortation to serve him with joy, this call to action is clearly expressed in our week’s theme: We proclaim God’s love when we perform charitable acts.

Prayer:
Thank You Lord for the many graces and blessings you have given me. Please accept my heart-felt gratitude for Your countless gifts to me each day. In turn, dear Lord, help me to be aware of the needs of the least of my sisters and brothers, and to respond to those who are less fortunate with generous expressions of charity, kindness and caring. On that day, Lord, when I finally stand before You to give an account of my life, I pray I will hear you say, “Come O good and faithful servant to share your Father’s joy, for when you saw me hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, ill and imprisoned, you offered your gifts in charity and you lovingly did it for me”. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. In following the will of Jesus, how do you respond to the exhortation of Pope Francis for “Churchmen to leave their comfort zone and tend to the needy on the peripheries”?

2. What hinders you from participating in outreach programs to exercise charity for the poor? What are your difficulties and how do you plan to overcome them?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
February 17, 2019 (Sun) – Jer 17:5-8/Ps 1:1-4, 6/1Cor 15:12, 16-20/Lk 6:17, 20-26
February 18, 2019 (Mon) – Gn 4:1-15, 25/Ps 1.8, 16-17, 20, 21/Mk 8:11-13
February 19, 2019 (Tue) – Gn 6:5-8, 7:1-5, 10/Ps 29:1-4, 9, 10/Mk 8:14-21
February 20, 2019 (Wed) – Gn 8:6-13, 20-22/Ps 116:1-15, 18, 19/Mk 8:22-26
February 21 2019 (Thu) – Gn 9:1-13/Ps 102:16-18, 19-21, 29, 22, 23/Mk 8:27-33
February 22, 2019 (Fri) – 1Pt 5:1-4/Ps 23:1-6/Mt 16:13-19
February 23, 2019 (Sat) – Heb 11:1-7/Ps 145:2-5, 10-11/Mk 9:2-12

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

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WSC Circle – February 10, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
February 10, 2019–5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: God’s word calls us to proclaim His love.
Theme: We proclaim God’s love when we respond to His call to be fishers of men.
Promise: “The Lord will complete what he has done for me.” (Ps 138:8a)

Reflection:
God loves us not because of who we are but because of who He is. God’s very nature is being complete and perfect in His love. He looks beyond our faults and sees our need for redemption. His love is personified in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our sin. On the other hand, our nature is that we are weak and sinful, like a sheep that goes away from the fold. Jesus knows this and that is why He declares in the gospel of John: “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd,” (Jn 10:16). His mission… to find these lost sheep and bring them back to His flock.

Jesus’ evangelization ministry has been passed on to His disciples whom he calls “fishers of men.” Today, we are called to the same message as “catchers of men” to bring people back to the family of God. We are called to witness to and share His perfect love that forgives sinners unconditionally even of their most grievous faults. We are to bring His light to the weary and wounded souls, giving them strength, healing and hope. Are we willing to be partners of Christ in His mission?

The theme for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – We proclaim God’s love when we respond to His call to be fishers of men, challenges us Christians to be His ambassadors to use the ordinary circumstances of our daily life and work situation to draw others back to His sheepfold. We may feel limited and incapable, but Jesus promised to be with us always that we may be successful and victorious in this mission endeavor. He will qualify and equip us. St. Paul reminds us of this assurance: “But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,” (2 Cor 2:15).

Good “fishers of men” have teachable spirits and they have time to study the Scriptures. They are well equipped with God’s word and put its message into daily living and application. Their lifestyle and behavior draw people to them as role models rather than scandalize them. We don’t have to go far to “fish.” Our fish pond or sea can be our own home, neighborhood, workplace, our community or church – among our family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers or community brethren. And, we can also find people to evangelize among strangers, people we meet in the streets and public places as we go about our daily routine. Many of them hunger for answers and we should be ready to lead them to the truth and win their souls for Jesus.

God is not concerned about how many we catch. It’s about the willingness of our heart to answer His call to be the “arms, feet and voices” in letting the last, the least and the lost know that their redemption is in Christ alone. And even if sometimes we feel discouraged, unworthy, and insufficient, we should always remember that Jesus is the “Fisher of Men” and we are His “under-fishermen.” And, we need to trust in His promise that: “The Lord will complete what he has done for me,” (Ps 138:8b). He has given us the Holy Spirit who empowers us with His grace of persistence and perseverance so that we will never grew weary in doing evangelization work and mission, and continue the good work when He commands us to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch,” (Lk 5:4).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, teach us how to “catch” souls not by our own effort or skill, but with our willingness to follow You and by Your grace of perseverance. Make us more attentive to Your instructions especially in times of discouragement when we don’t seem to see the results of our efforts. Lead our hearts to yield to the prompting of Your Spirit to absorb the Truth. Shape our lives as worthy vessels that we may become authentic evangelizers of Your word to bring people to Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. What are the difficulties you have encountered in being prepared and well-equipped “fishers of men”? How did you overcome these challenges?

2. How do you plan to overcome obstacles if you are not successful in evangelizing those close to you like your family members, friends or office mates?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
February 10, 2019 (Sun) – Is 6:1, 2, 3-8/Ps 138:1-8/1Cor 15:1-11/Lk 5:1-11
February 11, 2019 (Mon) – Gn 1:1-19/Ps 104:1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 24, 35/Mk 6:53-56
February 12, 2019 (Tue) – Gn 1:20-2:4/Ps 8:4-9/Mk 7:1-13
February 13, 2019 (Wed) – Gn 2:4-9, 15-17/Ps 104:1-2a, 27-30/Mk 7:14-23
February 14 2019 (Thu) – Gn 2:18-25/Ps 1-5/Mk 7:24-3000 0
February 15, 2019 (Fri) – Gn 3:1-8/Ps 32:1, 2, 5-7/Mk 7:31-37
February 16, 2019 (Sat) –Gn 3:9-24/Ps 90:2,3-6,12,13/Mk 8:1-10

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

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WSC Circle – January 27, 2019

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 27, 2019 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Christ is the revelation of God’s glory to the world.
Theme: God’s glory is revealed when we live our faith as one body of Christ.
Promise: “…the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.”
(Ps 19:8b)

Reflection:
We will reflect on the theme and promise this week as one unified scriptural message. Thus, the glory of God is revealed when we live our faith as one body of Christ, and our faith is that, the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.

Scriptures says that it is possible for every believer to see the Lord’s glory. God says that He will reveal His glory to those who seek Him for it. Why is it important for us to see and understand God’s glory? It is because the revelation of His glory is meant to equip His people for the challenges and trials in life, and for them to receive the full measure of His blessings. According to Paul, this revelation “is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all of them which are sanctified,” (Acts 20:32).

What exactly is the glory of God? It’s not some physical manifestation, though some Christians believe it is. In simple terms, God’s glory is a revelation of His nature and attributes. When the Lord chooses to show us His glory, it is a revelation of how He wants to be known by us. When the Lord sent Moses to deliver Israel, He told him, “Go, and say I AM sent you.” But He gave no explanation of who “I AM” is. So Moses cried, “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory,” (Ex 33:18). Moses had a gnawing hunger to know who the great I AM is, the essence of His nature and character.

When God reveals His glory to His people, it is with a purpose in mind. And He allowed Moses to see His glory so he might be transformed by understanding it. The same is true for us today. God reveals His glory to us so that we may be reassured in our daily walk. And to us followers of Christ, the glory of God is revealed through His decrees, so that we will know and faithfully live them.

For better understanding of the promise in Psalm 19:8b, this is expressed in different ways in various Bible versions. For one, the decree is stated in the plural form and referred to as statutes, commands, laws, teachings and rules in others. Thus,
– “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
– “The testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.”
– “His teachings last forever, and they give wisdom to ordinary people.”
– “The commands of the Lord are trustworthy, giving wisdom to those who lack it.”
– “The rules set down by the Lord are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”
– “The testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.”

But what are these decrees? According to Scripture, God has made a number of decrees or divine pronouncements. The Bible says that God has decreed a number of things. First, He has decreed the stability of the universe. The universe remains stable because of God’s pronouncement. God has also decreed the free acts of human beings – humans can act either for good or evil. God has also decreed the circumstances of nations. God has decreed the length of a person’s life. The way one will die has also been made by God’s decree. The Lord has also decreed the salvation of believers. Finally, God has decreed the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The various decrees of God are in harmony with God’s attributes.

There are a number of practical benefits that can be derived from understanding God’s decrees. First, there is confidence that what God has decreed will come to pass; what God says will indeed happen. This also brings humility to the believer. For the unbeliever the decrees warn them of judgment to come. Finally the decrees bring a genuine hope to believers. Consequently, it is important to understand the things that God has decreed for humanity and for the universe.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for being faithful to Your promise. Grant us the grace to know You more and more, so that we will be transformed into Your image and likeness. And as people see You in us, may they will likewise get closer to You and give You all the honor, glory and praise that You deserve. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:
1. How is God’s glory revealed in my life?

2. What are the obstacles that prevent God’s glory to be fully revealed in my life?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 27, 2019 (Sun) – Neh 8:2-4, 5, 6, 8-10/Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15/1Cor 12:12-30/ Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
January 28, 2019 (Mon) – Heb 9:15, 24-28/Ps 98:1-6/Mk 3:22-30
January 29, 2019 (Tue) – Heb 10:1-10/Ps 40: 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11/Mk 3:31-35
January 30, 2019 (Wed) – Heb 10:1-18/Ps 101:1-4/Mk 4:1-20
January 31 2019 (Thu) – Heb 10:19-25/Ps 24:1-6/Mk 4:21-25
February 1, 2019 (Fri) – Heb 10:32-39/Ps 37:3-6, 23, 24, 39, 40/Mk 4:26-34
February 2, 2019 (Sat) – Mal 3:1-4/Ps 24:7-10/Lk 2:22-40

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

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