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WSC Reflection – February 18, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
February 18, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Lent (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life.
Theme: We receive fullness of life when we repent and firmly believe in the gospel.
Promise: “The Lord shows the sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.” (Ps 25: 8 – 9)

While we are in this world, temptation or being tempted is part of our everyday life. Jesus was no exception that while he was in the desert, he was tempted by the devil. If Jesus, Savior and God, who came to set us free from our sins had to fight his own temptation, how much more for us. He allowed himself to experience the pull towards evil, the struggle against ego and the painful decision for or against God. Like Jesus, we do face all kinds of temptations, but we rely on God alone and His protection against all enemies. Temptations are tests and when we overcome these tests with God’s help, we emerge stronger and better followers of Christ.

As we begin the season of Lent, Jesus is teaching us how to be firm against temptation. As our mentor, he leads us by the hand and brings us to the fulfillment of the promises of our heavenly Father. This is highlighted in our community word for this month which states: Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life. In the face of temptations, God will surely give us the grace to overcome all risks to our souls and to grow in holiness and fulfillment of our Christian faith.

Our theme for this weeks is – We receive fullness of life when we repent and firmly believe in the gospel. Lent is our desert experience. During this season, we are exhorted to stay close to God through our prayers and acts of charity and penance. Lent is the time to recover our baptismal innocence through repentance so that we may go through the path of life with purified hearts. It is the time to refocus our life and our commitment to the Lord in our faith journey. While we are on an earthly pilgrimage, we are bound to be threatened by temptations coming from our natural desires, from the world around us and from Satan himself as we make choices that are in fact death-dealing but disguised as life-giving. Inevitably, we fall into sin that brings us farther away from the Father. Lent is an opportunity for us to re-establish our relationship with the Lord through repentance and putting our trust and faith in the Good News of our salvation. Jesus is calling us to learn from his teachings, to prepare our lives for God’s kingdom and to be renewed and restored towards our very purpose in God’s plan.

During this Lenten season, let us direct our minds to the self-giving love of Jesus, and truly believe in his love. There is no greater love than the love of Jesus on the cross that conquers all else in the world. It is given by the mercy and compassion of God. Lent pours the grace of forgiveness to mankind, individually and as a people. We need to know that God is bigger than our sins, confusion, violence and hatred. God wants His kingdom to come now as His word in Mark 1:15 declares: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” Our response is to be one with the Lord in declaring this same message to everyone else, with the hope that all may be saved from the effects of evil and sin.

During the next five weeks of Lent, we are encouraged to be more prayerful, to meditate daily on the gospel and to do something good for others every day. We can make our Lent more meaningful by caring for others and extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Above all, we should learn to acknowledge our failures and allow the Lord to come into our hearts where His grace and mercy may minister to our weary souls. Because as promised in Psalms: “The Lord shows the sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way,” (Ps 25: 8).

Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to turn away from sin so that we may live according to the Good News proclaimed by Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We pray that during this season of Lent, we may receive the grace to be humble in asking and receiving Your forgiveness and to reform our lives towards the goal of eternal reward. Amen.

Reflection Questions: 
1. As act of repentance, what are the areas in your life that you need to fully surrender to God?

2. In what ways are you helping build the kingdom of God in your life, family, society and community?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
February 18, 2018 (Sun) – Gn 9:8-15/Ps 25:4-9/1Pt 3:18-22/Mk 1:12-15
February 19, 2018 (Mon) – Lv 19:1, 2, 11-18/Ps 19:8-10, 15/Mt 25:31-46
February 20, 2018 (Tue) – Is 55:10-11/Ps 34:4-7, 16-19/Mt 6:7-15
February 21, 2018 (Wed) – Jon 3:1-10/Ps 3, 4, 12, 13, 18, 19/Lk 11:219-32
February 22, 2018 (Thu) – 1Pt 5:1-4/Ps 23:1-6/Ps 23:1-69/Mt 16:13-19
February 23, 2018 (Fri) – Ez 18:21-28/Ps 130:1-8/Mt 5:20-26
February 24, 2018 (Sat) – Dt 26:16-19/Ps 119:1-5, 7, 8/Mt 5:43-48

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

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WSC Reflection – February 4, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
February 4, 2018 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life.
Theme: We receive fullness of life when we take time to pray and preach the gospel.
Promise: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; to his wisdom there is no limit.” (Ps 147: 5)

Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life! This is the community word given to us for the month of February following the readings for the next four weeks. As we spend more time with our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer, we will experience a deep relationship with Him that will give us the strength and hope to deal with our daily struggles and tribulations. As Job in the 1st reading accurately describes his depression, Psalm 147 provides an encouraging word to those who are suffering, “The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Life can be quite challenging. There are days when we find it hard to get out of bed knowing that we have to face another day with financial concerns, health issues, relationship problems and various challenges that make it difficult for us to get moving. How do we handle these burdens? What has helped us get through all these trying times in the past? Often it is someone who reaches out to us with a comforting and compassionate hand and reminds us that God loves us and is ultimately in control.

Our theme for the week reminds us what we should do amidst the trying times and busyness of life – We receive fullness of life when we take time to pray and preach the Gospel. We need to spend time with God, serve the needs of others and share the Gospel. If we follow these instructions, we will receive help and we experience His comforting hand touching us. In the Gospel reading, Jesus has shown us how. “He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons….” (Mk 1:34a). As He reached out and touched those who were sick and in pain, He became drained. He then turned to His Abba Father in prayer to be refreshed before continuing His ministry. Here, we are taught that we should be instruments in reaching out to others so that God may work through us. This is also what St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds us – “To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it,” (1Cor 9: 22-23).

The ministry of Jesus is the best example of how God works in our lives. As He preached the Good News, He also demonstrated it by compassionately healing and touching broken lives. The food that sustained Him was His relationship with His Abba Father who empowered Him to keep spreading the Good News in Word and in action. We may not have the strength or ability to do the same. But, if we believe that God is all-powerful and that nothing is impossible with Him, we can rely on His promise – “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; to his wisdom there is no limit,” (Ps 147: 5).

Lord God, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, refresh and energize us so that we can fulfill the mission You have called us to do. In the coming of the Lenten season, help us to truly spend time in prayer, serving others and spreading the Good News amidst the struggles we are facing. As we turn to You and cry out for Your help, we have faith that You will answer us in Jesus’ powerful name. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1. How has prayer helped you in your suffering? What did you feel when you sensed God’s healing hand lifting you up?

2. What can you do to reach out and help another person experience the healing touch of God?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
February 4, 2018 (Sun) – Jb 7:1-4, 6-7/Ps 147:1-6/1Cor 9:16-19, 22-23/Mk 1:29-39 
February 5, 2018 (Mon) – 1Kgs 8:1-7, 9-13/Ps 132:6-7, 8-10/Mk 6:53-56
February 6, 2018 (Tue) – 1Kgs 8:22-23, 27-30/Ps 84:3-5, 10, 11/Mk 7:1-13
February 7, 2018 (Wed) – 1Kgs 10:1-10/Ps 37:30-31, 39-40/Mk 7:14-23
February 8, 2018 (Thu) – 1Kgs 11:4-13/Ps 106:3, 4, 35-37, 40/Mk 7:24-30
February 9, 2018 (Fri) – 1Kgs 11:29-32; 12:19/Ps 81:10-15/Mk 7:31-37
February 10, 2018 (Sat) -1Kgs 12:26-32; 13:33, 34/Ps 32:1, 2, 5, 11/1Cor 10:31-11:1/Mk 1:40-45

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

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WSC Reflection – February 11, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
February 11, 2018 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Our relationship with the Father gives us hope and fullness of life.
Theme: We receive fullness of life when we forgive others out of love and compassion.
Promise: “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered.” (Ps 32:1)

Fullness of life is in Christ. He is the source of life, as He is the way and the truth. The life of Jesus is fullness of life itself as exemplified by His complete submission to the will of His Father. He was totally obedient to His mission to reconcile man back with God, forgiving the sins of those who sought physical healing during His earthly ministry. And He accomplished it on the cross when He uttered these words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” (Lk 23:34), not only to those who crucified Him, but to all of mankind who has sinned and continues to sin against God. Because of this act of great love and forgiveness, “God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” (Phi 2:9-11).

The theme for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We receive fullness of life when we forgive others out of love and compassion. Jesus is teaching us a life of forgiveness and compassion, a way of life that He demonstrated during his earthly ministry, and for us to imitate. He wants us to be always reconciled and be one with God as well as with each other. How can we resist such a compelling mandate of compassion and love from the One whose flesh we consume and blood we drink in the Eucharist? Ignoring the call of Jesus is like turning our backs from the message of perfect love shown on the cross as He went through suffering and death for all of us.

Oftentimes, we harbor resentment and hold grudges against people who inflicted emotional pain on us, insulted our dignity, abused us, simply ignored us or not showed any care at all. And as we go through life carrying the burden of unforgiveness, we remain stressed out and unhappy, while they, on the other hand, go on with their lives. Our Lord invites us to forgive so that our hearts will be set free from hatred and negativity and will now be open as channels of God’s mercy towards us. In the Beatitudes we receive this assurance, “Blessed are the merciful, they shall have mercy shown them,” (Mt 5:7). As the Holy Spirit ministers to us, our role is to forgive and gain our emotional freedom and stability and our right standing before God. God will not be forgiving to those hearts which remain hardened with unforgiveness. Unforgiveness hinders fellowship, intimacy and communion with God. Like all of God’s commandments, this is for our inner peace and healing of mind, body and spirit.

Forgiveness is a decision to be healed of our woundedness, regardless of the emotional scars that may remain in our being. It means simply accepting that these marks are there, nonetheless, one makes a decision to be back on his feet and move on in life. Our future should not be defined by what happened to us in the past. We may remember the past, but because the grace of God enables us to forgive ourselves and others, our past hurts will no longer control who we are and what good we can do. As we forgive people who have hurt us, such emotional scars become symbols of God’s redeeming love rather than reminders of pain. As St. James wrote: “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” (Jm 2:13).

The promise this week… “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered,” (Ps 32:1), is a reminder that for Christians who have experienced God’s mercy, we should speak to our brothers and sisters with gentleness and treat them with tenderness that flows from God’s forgiveness. Leaving behind a life of bitterness and resentment, we begin to truly fellowship with each other and enjoy the abundance and fullness of life that God’s Kingdom has prepared for those who are one with our heavenly Father.

Lord God, I pray that I remain worthy of Your loving care and healing. As I decide to forgive those who have hurt me, grant me the grace to triumph over my emotional pain, to be free from the enslavement of negative spirits, to replace hatred with joy and inner peace. Remove all arrogant feelings and the disappointment of other people’s shortcoming and imperfection, and allow me to be more understanding and to empathize with those who are weak and marginalized. Lord, fill the void that’s left in my heart with Your love, grace and forgiveness. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Do you remember that one person who hurt you deeply and emotionally? Who are the people that you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from?

2. How did you feel when you were able to release forgiveness to someone you vowed never to forgive?

3. Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to speak healing to your unforgiving heart and be open to His counsel to forgive and be compassionate?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
February 11, 2018 (Sun) – Lv 13:1, 2, 44-46/Ps 32:1, 2, 5, 11/1Cor 10:31-11:1/Mk 1:40-45
February 12, 2018 (Mon) – Jas 1:1-11/Ps 119:67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 76/Mk 8:11-13
February 13, 2018 (Tue) – Jas 1:12-18/Ps 94:12-15, 18, 19/Mk 8:14-21
February 14, 2018 (Wed) – Jl 2:12-18/Ps 51:3-6, 12-14, 17/2Cor 5:20-6:2/Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
February 15, 2018 (Thu) – Dt 30:15-20/Ps 1:1-4, 6/Lk 9:22-25
February 16, 2018 (Fri) – Is 58:1-9/Ps 51:3-6, 18-19/Mt 9:14-15
February 17, 2018 (Sat) – Is 58:9-14/Ps 86:1-6/Lk 5:27-32

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

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WSC Reflection – January 28, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 28, 2018 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Jesus Christ is the Light that leads us to the Truth.
Theme: We are led to the truth when we speak God’s word with authority. 
Promise: “I will raise up for them a prophet…and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” (Dt 18:18)

In the gospel of Mark, people are often amazed at Jesus with His powerful preaching – “a new teaching with authority” (Mk 1:27). Jesus connected His teachings closely with His miracles. The miracles point to the strength of both His teachings and His personal declarations. He never directly claimed to be the Son of God, but this aspect of His preaching showed His subtle way of revealing Himself. His words are powerful, striking and effective – the Word of God in person. His words are potent statements that change the lives of people. This is expressed in our community word for this month: Jesus Christ is the Light who leads us to the Truth.

Jesus taught with authority, not only because He is God but because His words are always accompanied by His deeds, and His deeds are always consistent with His words. How far are we from the examples of Jesus? Our words are rendered meaningless because too often they are not matched by action. And sometimes, we act opposite to what we say and preach. But our words can be made powerful only if we live in it and by it, if we truly give witness to the power to serve, love and heal. We become the living and truthful instruments of Jesus in His works. Let us remember we have a God-given responsibility to live in a manner that will allow others to see Christ in us. As the body of Christ, we are His hands and His mouthpiece.

Our theme for the week says: We are led to the truth when we speak God’s word with authority. What inspires us is the fact that, by God’s grace, this authority can be given to anyone. A specific kind of education or status in life is not required for this. But whoever does what he says by that very fact becomes an authority. We too can teach with authority when we accept the teachings of Jesus and carry them out in our lives. When we do so, we are true to our calling as Christians, to be become witnesses of Jesus Christ. Like the disciples, they inherited the power of His words as they learned and were inspired by the Greatest Teacher. As modern-day disciples, we seek and hold on to the truth and so we are teachers in our own way.

Let us gain strength from the love, encouragement and wisdom that Jesus brings into our lives. We can be certain that our existence is meaningful in fulfilling God’s purpose by His word. As written by one writer: “If through one man’s life, there is little more light and truth in the world, then he will not have lived in vain.” We do exactly what Jesus has commanded us to do – to proclaim the true message of the gospel to as many people as possible. We offer others the trustworthy words of the Holy Scripture and the reason of our faith.

We have the power to be bold and to experience the indwelling presence of God through His word. When God’s Spirit is at work through us, we will accomplish the goals He helps us to set. No matter how complicated or impossible the task may seem, God provides exactly what we need. His assurance for doing His work is what the promise for this week declares – “I will raise up for them a prophet… and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” (Dt 18:18)

Almighty Father, thank you for imparting to us and in us Your authority behind Your word, allowing us to experience it in our life as we share Your truth with others. By Your Spirit, continue to grant us Your teaching ability for the benefit of Your people. All these for Your greater glory. Amen.

Reflection Questions: 
1. How does the authority of God’s Word empower me in my daily life?

2. As a Christian believer, in what ways can I declare the Word of God with authority?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 28, 2018 (Sun) – Dt 18:15-20/ Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9/ 1Cor 7:32-35/ Mk 1:21-28
January 29, 2018 (Mon) – 2Sm 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13/ Ps 3:2-7/ Mk 5:1-20
January 30, 2018 (Tue) – 2Sm 18:9-10, 14, 35-25, 30; 19:1-3/ Ps 86:1-6/ Mk 5:21-43
January 31, 2018 (Wed) – 2Sm 24:2, 9-17/ Ps 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7/ Mk 6:1-6
February 1, 2018 (Thu) – 1Kg 2:1-4, 10-12/ 1Ch 19:10-12/ Mk 6: 7-13
February 2, 2018 (Fri) – Mal 3:1-4/ Ps 24:7-10/ Heb 2:14-18/ Lk 2:22-40
February 3, 2018 (Sat) – 1Kg 3:4-13/ Ps 119:9-14/ Mk 6:30-34

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

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WSC Reflection – January 21, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 21, 2018 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II) – International

Community Word: Jesus Christ is the Light that leads us to the Truth.
Theme: We are led to the truth when we respond to God’s call to be followers of Christ. 
Promise: “…the Lord shows sinners the way… and teaches the humble his way.” (Ps 26:8b-9)
If we are given a task to assemble a team to start a movement to change the world, presumably, we would be looking for extra-ordinary, gifted and accomplished people to form the core group. But in the gospel of Mark for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, the men whom Jesus called to be His inner circle were not the most educated or influential figures that He could have found. By all appearances, they were ordinary people among the lower echelon of society, but in whom Jesus saw extra-ordinary potentials. After He taught and formed them, the Lord ultimately used them to bring to birth something awesome, still alive today and will live for eternity – God’s Kingdom.

The theme for this week states: We are led to the truth when we respond to God’s call to be followers of Christ. The call of Christ’s first disciples is more than a challenge. They gave up their identity, status and worth and got out of their “comfort zones” with a determined purpose, to follow Jesus and be in relation with Him as their master and teacher. As modern day disciples, we are invited to the highest calling as true followers of Christ in faith. First and foremost, we are called to be with the Lord, to spend time and develop spiritual intimacy with Him, be molded by His teachings and be recipients of His gifts as vessels of spiritual power. Then, with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we are commissioned “to witness in our lives the beauty and truth of His life and teachings,” (CCC 2470). We ought to become effective instruments for the proclamation of the Good News in today’s world, not just by words, but mostly by our actions.

Not fully aware of the Lord’s plan, we have no idea that He had placed us where we should be. He planted us in our respective families, work places, communities or churches to experience His presence in our life. Often, we do not notice that God is challenging us to use and develop the talents and gifts that He has given us. Sadly though, we limit our calling to a particular job description insisting to be just hardworking parents, effective office workers, or obedient ministry members and being contented on following instructions and fulfilling a given task. We wait for other people to point to us our capabilities because we are hesitant to fully explore the extent of our charisms.

People do not make us preachers or teachers, leaders or shepherds, counselors or healers; only God can if we only heed His call and allow Him to work in us and through us. Take for example St. Paul, a mere tent maker who later on was designated to work on a much bigger tent, God’s Church. Or Peter, an ordinary fisherman who became a “fisher of men” and the first vicar of Christ. The Lord can increase our talents to a level we cannot comprehend to accomplish greater tasks.

Our giftedness is unique and exclusive to each one, but complimenting those of others to support building God’s Kingdom. We may ignore them and limit our effectiveness, abuse them and destroy our credibility. Though we make bad choices and at time offend God, dead ends or detours do not change our calling. The truth is, God never changes His mind when He give gifts or call someone. We just have to accept our failures with humility and Lord will restore us because this is what He promises to those who are faithful – “the Lord shows sinners the way… and teaches the humble his way,” (Ps 26:8b-9).

Heavenly Father, make us steadfast in following Your ways and truth. Give us the grace to resist temptations and help us to live uprightly. Enable us to exercise our God-given gifts to pursue our calling, to be with You always and do Your will at all times. When we fail and fall, help us make a genuine repentance so that we will remain fit for Your Kingdom. Amen.

Reflection Questions: 
1. What gifts or talents does the Lord want you to develop and use when He called you to serve in your church or community?

2. How much do you value your earthly priorities and attachments? Are you prepared to give them up and focus more on your spiritual well-being?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 21, 2018 (Sun) – Jon 3:1-5, 10/Ps 25:4-9/1Cor 7:29-31/Mk1:14-20
January 22, 2018 (Mon) – 2Sm 5:1-7,10/Ps 89:20-22,25,26/Mk 3:22-30
January 23, 2018 (Tue) – 2Sm 6:12-15,17-19/Ps 24:7-10/Mk 3:31-35
January 24, 2018 (Wed) – 2Sm 7:4-17/Ps 89:4,5,27-30/Mk 4:1-20
January 25, 2018 (Thu) – Acts 22:3-16/Ps 117:1,2/Mk 16:15-18
January 26, 2018 (Fri) – 2Tm 1:1-8/Ps 96:1-3,7,8,10/Mk 4:26-34
January 27, 2018 (Sat) – 2Sm 12:1-7,10-17/Ps 51:12-17/Mk 4:35-41

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

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WSC Reflection – January 14, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Jesus Christ is the Light that leads us to the Truth.
Theme: We are led to the truth when we make Christ known to others. 
Promise: “Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.” (1Cor 6:17)

In today’s gospel, Jesus asks his would-be disciples: “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38). This is the same question that Jesus continues to ask us. What are we really trying to get out of our lives? Is it security, rewarding career, successful relationship, prosperity, popularity, peace? Scripture says that first and foremost, look for God and seek His kingdom first before you are able to acquire other benefits in your life. It was Andrew’s great joy to bring his brother, Simon, to meet Jesus and his desire to share the excitement of finding the Messiah. Like Andrew, we should be able to bring others to Jesus, the light who leads us to the Truth. “Come, and you will see” (Jn 1:39) is the invitation of our Lord for us to go to Him and experience Him. Accepting Jesus makes us His faithful disciples and we become His witnesses in making Christ known to others.

Jesus called a few men to follow Him and their lives were transformed, sharing the fullness of grace to everyone who believed. Every believer is commissioned to bring people to Christ. The Lord is not asking us to do something impossible or impractical. While it is not easy to be a witness of Christ, our lives have to be patterned after the character of the Lord so that the power of the Holy Spirt, by His gifts and fruit, will enable us to testify boldly to the truth that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Indeed, there is a great need for good and holy men and women, who are in touch with God, to help and lead people in their search for the true purpose and meaning of life and to look to Jesus who is the way, truth and life. Through Jesus, we will understand who God is. Having a deep relationship with Jesus, brings us to a deeper and holy relationship with God. And having experienced Jesus, we become true disciples and we can joyfully lead others to Him.

In bringing Christ to others, we should not be disappointed if people do not show the response that we expect. Renewal and transformation take time and one should exhibit patience, understanding and perseverance along the way. Our job is to lift Jesus up (Jn 12:32) and that takes place when we present the love and forgiving grace of God. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts sin (Jn 16:8, 9). If we try to impose guilt or coerce a conversion, people might reject our message. On the other hand, when we invite others to come to Jesus, telling them of His wondrous love and sharing with them what Jesus has done in our lives, the gentleness of Christ is seen in us and others will be drawn to Him. Anyone desiring to lead another person to Christ needs to be aware of John 3: 8: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, and you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going. So, it is with everyone that is born of the Spirit.” Accepting Christ and be born again is the work of the Holy Spirit. As we respond to the call to minister to others, let us allow the Holy Spirit to do His work through us.

What are you looking for? The Lord is telling us today to direct our invitation to those who are waiting for us to bring them to Jesus. Surely there is one or many out there who need to be invited to ‘come and see’ Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. And as Paul tells the people of Corinth: “Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.” (1Cor 6:17). This promise is received by anyone who comes to Christ and believes in Him.

Thank you, Almighty Father for giving us your incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Grant me the grace to be an obedient disciple in your community and church. Give me a sensitivity of heart to understand and grow in love with your Word. Let the light of your Word shine in my being that I will be able to respond to your every calling and testify to Your saving presence in my life. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Recall when the invitation of Jesus started in your life. Do you still hear His calling? Are you responding as in John 1: 38-39?

2. What is my personal response to Jesus Christ? How do I share the life-giving Word to others?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 14, 2018 (Sun) – 1 Sm 3:3-10/Ps 40:2, 4, 7, 8-10, /1Cor 6:3-15, 17-20/Jn 1:35-42
January 15, 2018 (Mon) – 1 Sm 15:16-23/Ps 50:8, 9, 16-17, 21, 23/Mk 2:18-22
January 16, 2018 (Tue) – 1 Sm 16:1-13/Ps 89:20-22, 27, 28/Mk 2:23-28
January 17, 2018 (Wed) – 1 Sm 17:32-33, 37, 40-51/Ps 144:1, 2, 9, 10/Mk 3:1-6
January 18, 2018 (Thu) – 1 Sm 18:6-9, 19:1-7/Ps 56:2, 3, 9-13/Mk: 3:7-12
January 19, 2018 (Fri) – 1 Sm 24:3-21/Ps 57:2-4, 6, 11/Mk 3:13-19
January 20, 2018 (Sat) – 2 Sm 1:1-4, 11, 12, 23-27/Ps 80:2, 3, 5-7/Mk 3:20-21

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

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WSC Reflection – January 21, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 21, 2018 – Feast of Sto. Niño (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Jesus Christ is the Light that leads us to the Truth.
Theme: We are led to the truth when we accept the kingdom of God with a pure heart.
Promise: “God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of Him.” (Eph 1:17)

The Feast of Sto. Niño in the Philippines recalls the Christmas mystery of God offering His love to humanity in the Child Jesus. This is popular to us, Filipinos, for reason of history. The devotion dates back to the beginnings of Christianity in the country as the image came to the Philippines with Magellan in 1521 and is now enshrined in the Cebu Basilica. In the Catechism for Filipino Catholics, Sto. Niño is one of the “three popular Filipino images of Christ that are particularly expressive…imaging the innocence, simplicity, child-like wonder of Christ…responding to the Filipino’s natural love for children. Filipinos have traditionally recognized children as a gift from God. They experience the birth of a baby into the world as a special moment when God’s creative power is so intimately united with their own human parental procreative powers.” Moreover, as we have natural intimacy with children, our yearning for God’s intimacy with us becomes real in the Child Jesus.

In the Gospel, St. Mark describes a custom among the Jews of bringing their children before a rabbi, who is expected to give a blessing to accompany the children all their life. The disciples prevented them from coming close to Jesus for just like in most ancient cultures, children are considered as without value; they are essentially dependent nonproductive, ignorant. They believe that Jesus’ work is “serious” adult business requiring maturity, experience, merit and achievement. Like the Scribes and the Pharisees, the disciples believe that only those who know and observe the Mosaic Law count before God.

But Jesus receives the children, embraces and blesses them. Not only does he accept the Jewish practice but also points to the child as the prototype of a redeemed person. They are models of those who belong to God’s kingdom in their pristine humility, in their trust and complete dependence upon their parents. They have never been touched by the cunning of the world and so they never cease to amaze with their spontaneity and unconditional trust. To them is revealed the way to the kingdom that was hidden to the clever and the wise (1Cor.1:27). St. Mark saw in the child the promise of eternity: “…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” (Mk.10:14b). The Kingdom is a gratuitous gift given to everyone, worthy or unworthy, not because they know and observe the law. For as the Lord promises: “God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of Him,” (Eph 1:17).

God came to us as a baby because he knows that it is by being reborn that we can love him unconditionally with a pure heart, and be renewed to start all over again. A baby will always be a sign of hope, abundant joy and great rejoicing, to reunite, to heal, to form bonds, to reconcile, “For there is a child born for us…and this is the name they give him: Wonder-counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa.9:5). A baby will always be one with whoever takes care of him/her. There is always a symbiotic relationship with the caregiver.

God is more than a caregiver. He is Father and Creator! Our adult life in Christ poses a challenge for us to reinvent the stage in our life that is long been past and forgotten. St. Paul reminds us that God “…chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…” (Eph.1:3b). It is not enough that we utter words of protestations as a response to God, but like Mary in her fiat, we are to live the Word each and every day of our life. She is a bearer of Christ and therefore is fully aware that the reason of her being is to lead others to her Son, Jesus. In turn we are given this stewardship of God’s grace and truth of His kingdom. We have a fitting theme for this week in this feast to honor the Sto. Nino: We are led to the truth when we accept the kingdom of God with a pure heart.

Let not our devotion to the Sto. Nino be stunted into a ritual or merely into a superstitious endeavor. May we see in the Child Jesus the potentiality of the human race being born again, with our great responsibility towards human life.

Father, You have freely given us Your Kingdom out of Your over-flowing love for us. As You have revealed Jesus, your Son, our Savior, as a child to reunite, to heal, to form bonds, to reconcile, may He reveal our true selves to us. Jesus, help us to revisit our childhood and get in touch with who we were in our innocent trust and dependence upon the Father. And may the Holy Spirit empower us to lead the children to Jesus so we can truly be stewards of Your grace and proclaim that truly we have seen a great light. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions: 
1. What are the ways in which you can bring children to Jesus in the Sto. Niño devotion that can strengthen the family?

2. How can the devotion to Sto. Niño enrich your life in maintaining a pure and humble heart in your relationship with the Lord through others?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 21, 2018 (Sun) – Is 9:1-6/Ps 98:1-6/Eph 1:3-6, 15-18/Mk 10:13-16
January 22, 2018 (Mon) – 2Sm 5:1-7, 10/Ps 89:20-22, 25, 26/Mk 3:22-30
January 23, 2018 (Tue) – 2Sm 6:12-15, 17-19/Ps 24:7-10/Mk 3:31-35
January 24, 2018 (Wed) – 2Sm 7:4-17/Ps 89:4, 5, 27-30/Mk 4:1-20
January 25, 2018 (Thu) – Acts 22:3-16/Ps 117:1, 2/Mk 16:15-18
January 26, 2018 (Fri) – 2Tm 1:1-8/Ps 96:1-3, 7, 8, 10/Mk 4:26-34
January 27, 2018 (Sat) – 2Sm 12:1-7, 10-17/Ps 51:12-17/Mk 4:35-41

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

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WSC Reflection – January 7, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 7, 2018 – Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Jesus Christ is the Light that leads us to the Truth.
Theme: We are led to the truth when we look to Jesus as our Redeemer.
Promise: “… you shall be radiant at what you see… the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.” (Is 60:5)
On the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we celebrate the manifestation of Jesus to the world and His unconditional love for all. It is a celebration of light through the bright guiding star observed by the wise men of the East. As they followed the star of Bethlehem, they were amazed to discover the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

It was a simple encounter, yet deeply meaningful, that profoundly touched the hearts of the three magi. The magi were non-Jews and the first gentiles to whom Jesus chose to reveal Himself. As wise and learned pagans, but men of goodwill, they searched for the Messiah who they knew about in their scholarly and astrological studies. Thus, when the long awaited star appeared, their strong determination and belief led them to begin an arduous journey to look for the Divine Savior. They found Him, a newborn King in a manger, to poor parents. In spite of such poverty, the magi gave homage and gifts befitting a royalty: gold – a gift to honor a king; frankincense – perfume for a priest; and myrrh – as anointing oil, pre-figuring Christ’s death.

As Christians, we too have our own guiding star and light – our faith. Faith is the guide in our life-long journey to the Father. We imitate the magi in our faith journey and follow their example in diligently searching for Jesus, to be close to Him as we seek His guidance and blessings. The star that shines in our life can change us powerfully when we begin to see more clearly the truth about ourselves, our relationship with God, others and community.

As we begin the New Year, let us be attentive to our star of faith that leads us to the Light of Christ. Our life is all about finding Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And as we have found Him in our life, we may also bring others to Him that they too may embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior, as our theme for this week states: We are led to the truth when we look to Jesus as our Redeemer.

The Light of Christ continues to shine in our midst when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. A life lived in the Eucharist brings unspeakable joy to one’s being amidst trials and tribulations. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist and we receive His light that keeps us going through the many challenges that we encounter. We radiate the light of Jesus to others and by our love and concern, lead them to embrace Him as we pass His light to them. As God gave us a mission to reveal Christ to others, we know that He will not abandon us because we will always feel His light shining in our hearts when we experience hope and joy.

With Christ in us, our joy is new every day. God is with us and He wants everyone to be saved. Thus He will always call us from our old life of sin to a new life with Him. We journey through the various stages of our life, growing and bearing the losses that increase with time and age. There are days of celebration and sadness, of grace and sin, of realization, consolation and tribulation. But having found the Lord in our search for truth and light, we must believe that He will never abandon us and completely trust that God will always be faithful.

The glory of God is risen among us and we are blessed beyond what we deserve. Jesus, our Redeemer is here. Let us receive Him with great joy and be expectant of His promise in Isaiah: “…you shall be radiant at what you see …the wealth of nations shall be brought to you,” (Is 60:5).

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the star of hope and faith that lead us to Your Holy Word, teaching us to know, love, and serve You more each day and continually nourishing as we go through with our daily journey.

Almighty Father, as we look back to 2017, we are amazed that You are our God who remained manifested in our lives with such joy and power that enabled us to prevail the past year despite all odds and tribulations. Thank you for the love, mercy and graciousness accorded to us far beyond what we have expected and deserved. You are indeed a marvelous living God. We look at 2018 with excitement and expectant faith, and we pray that all our hopes and plans, both personal and communitarian, be in accord to Your holy will, all for Your greater honor and glory. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. At what moment in my life did I discover and start to feel God’s presence as I lived my life at home, work, in school and community?

2. Share the fullness of joy and hope that you have been experiencing since you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 7, 2018 (Sun) – Is 60:1-6/Ps 72:1, 2, 7, 8, 10-13/Eph 3:2, 3, 5, 6/Mt 2:1-12
January 8, 2018 (Mon) – 1 Sm 55:1-11/Is 12:2-6/Mk 1:7-11
January 9, 2018 (Tue) – 1 Sm 1:1-8/Ps 116:12-19/Mk 1:14-20
January 10, 2018 (Wed) – 1 Sm 3:1-10, 19, 20/Ps 40:2, 5, 7-10/ Mk 1:29-39
January 11, 2018 (Thu) – 1 Sm 4:1-11/Ps 44:10.11, 14, 15, 24, 25/ Mk 1:40-45
January 12, 2018 (Fri) – 1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22/Ps 89:16-19/ Mk 2:1-12
January 13, 2018 (Sat) – 1 Sm 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1/Ps 21:2-7/ Mk 2:13-17

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

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WSC Reflection – December 24

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
December 24, 2017 – 4th Sunday of Advent (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: We celebrate God’s presence in us at all times.
Theme: God’s presence keeps us ready and willing to respond to His call.
Promise: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…nothing will be impossible for God.”
(Lk 1:35a,37)
In today’s gospel, we commemorate the Annunciation and the start of the life of the God made-man. In the middle of this great event was young Mary of Nazareth who had the unique privilege of being mother to the very Son of God. The pains and pleasures of her motherhood are understood by all mothers everywhere. She saw Jesus arrive as her baby son and watched Him die as her Savior. The lessons from Mary’s life of obedience can be summed up as follows:

1. God’s best servants are often the ordinary people available to Him.
Joseph and Mary, chosen to be the mother and foster father of the Messiah, were ordinary people from a small town called Nazareth. Mary was a young woman of humble origins, typical of the people of her day, and seemingly too insignificant for such an important task as becoming the mother of God. But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever demanded of anyone. Often, we may feel that our situation in life makes us unlikely candidates for God’s service, but we must not limit God’s choice because He can use us if we trust in Him.

2. God’s plan involved extraordinary events in the lives of ordinary people.
Until Gabriel’s visit, Mary’s life was going about well as she could hope. She had recently become engaged to a local carpenter, Joseph, and was anticipating married life. But Mary’s life was about to change forever. God’s blessing does not automatically bring instant success, fame or favor. His blessing on Mary, the honor of being the mother of the Messiah, would lead to much pain; her peers would ridicule her; her fiancé would come close to leaving her; her Son would be rejected and murdered. But through her Son would come hope for the world. This is why Mary is praised by countless generations as “blessed among women.” Her submission led to mankind’s salvation. When our blessings lead to sorrow, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out His plan for us.

3. Our character is revealed by our response to the unexpected.
Mary is greatly troubled by the angel’s words and wonders what the greeting implied. “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Why am I favored? But the angel gives an answer with further explanation. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High…” Mary was very much aware that in Israel at that time, everyone was awaiting the coming of the Messiah and she had no doubts about the truth of the angel’s proclamation. However, her next question was very relevant. “How can this be since I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34). After all, faith must also be reasonable, and not blind. So we ask questions to enlighten our minds. And the angel continues to explain that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

The birth of Jesus to a virgin is a miracle that many unbelievers find difficult to accept. However, Luke holds this virgin birth to be true. Firstly, Luke was a medical doctor and he knew how babies are made. It would have been as hard for him to believe in a virgin birth, as it is with many contemporary scoffers. And yet he reported it as fact. Secondly, Luke was a painstaking researcher who based his Gospel on eyewitness account. Traditions hold that he talked with Mary about the events in the first two Chapters of his book. This is her story, not a fictional invention. And, thirdly, Christians and Jews, who worship God as Creator of the universe have no doubt that He can create a child in a virgin’s womb, if He so chooses.

Mary’s answer was a wholehearted “Yes” to the call and her humble response was: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word,” (Luke 1:38). With her consent she makes the mystery of the Incarnation possible, affected by the Holy Spirit. God can become man if we say “yes” to his call. We could imagine that even if she had known all she would suffer as Jesus’ mother, Mary would have given the same response.

Almighty Father, let Your will be done in my life. Even if I am not sure of the path that I will thread, give me the grace to be humbly obedient to Your commands, knowing that when I keep my faith strong and my hope enduring, in the end I will reap the reward of fullness and abundance because nothing is impossible with You, Lord. Amen.

Reflection Guides
1. Like Mary, how will you respond when God asks you to fulfill a mission that may seem to disrupt your comfortable life?
2. Recall a situation in your life when you simply trusted in God’s will and you were blessed by it.

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
December 24, 2017 (Sun) – 2Sm 7:1-5,8-12,14,16/ Ps 89:2-3,4-5,27,29/ Rom 16:25-27/
Lk 1:26-38
December 25, 2017(Mon) – Is 62:11-12/Ps 97:1, 6, 11, 12/Ti 3:4-7/Lk 2:15-20
December 26, 2017 (Tues) – Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59/Ps 31:3, 4, 6, 8, 17, 21/Mt 10:17-22
December 27, 2017(Wed) – 1Jn 1:1-4/Ps 97:1, 2, 5, 6, 11, 12/Jn 20:1, 2-8
December 28, 2017 (Thur) – 1Jn 1:5-2:2/Ps 124:2,-8/Mt 2:13-18
December 29, 2017 (Fri) – 1Jn 2:3-11/Ps 96:1-3, 5, 6/Lk 2:22-35
December 30, 2017(Sat) – Sir 3:2-6, 12-14/Ps 128:1-5/Col 3:12-21/Lk 2:22-40

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

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WSC Reflection – December 17, 2017

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
December 17, 2017 – 3rd Sunday of Advent (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: We celebrate God’s presence in us at all times.
Theme: God’s presence keeps us bold enough to lead others to Christ.
Promise: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.”(1Thes 5:24)

“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord” (Jn 1:23) was John the Baptist’s humble reply to the Levites when they found him preaching and baptizing in the River Jordan. John’s words indicate that what he is doing is in preparation for the coming of ‘someone greater’ than himself. And his message also exhorts us to prepare for the coming of ‘someone very special’, a message which leads us to the word for this month: “We celebrate God’s presence in us at all times.”

Only in Christ can man find salvation. In Him it is possible to find the inner peace, hope and strength necessary to face life’s day-to-day demands, including the most burdensome and challenging. John tells us that the purity, wonder and perfection of heaven, everything that the Son of God knew before He became man, is now available to those who believe. Because Jesus came to us full of grace and truth, heaven is within our grasp. Simply by reaching out to Jesus in faith and trust, we can touch heaven. Jesus is the life and light of the human race. In Him is the light that sanctifies and transforms us into the image of God. In Him, as His disciples, we can become the love and compassion, the shining light of Christ for a world groping in darkness and hungry for love, expressed in our theme: God’s presence keeps us bold enough to lead others to Christ.

The 3rd Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday.” This day we catch a glimpse of the joy with the coming of Emmanuel – God with us, Messiah, Son of God. While we tend to define ‘joy’ in worldly terms according to our personal gratification, the real joy is in sharing ourselves as instruments of God, as God’s willing gift to others. This is how the joy of Jesus flowed from Him to the sick, the lonely, the oppressed and the poor. We experience joy when we discover the extraordinary in ordinary things, circumstances and persons. It comes from the knowledge that God is present in our lives in simple humdrum ways, and even in trying times. It flows from hearts that know how to care and share, from people who appreciate and love and, more importantly, from opening our lives to Jesus who journeys with us. It flows from God to us… and from us, to others.

Are we ready to follow the mission of John the Baptist – doing everything to prepare people to accept Jesus? We are reminded to be watchful and ready. What have we done to prepare for His coming? After spending so much preparing for Christmas celebrations, sometimes we forget to prepare for one very important thing. We fail to feed and give joy to our soul, we neglect to be the fitting sanctuaries for the coming Christ Child, the real source of joy this season.

We are invited to die to self so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in and through us by way of our humility, acts of love and service. To die for the faith is a gift to some, but to live the faith is a call for all. Everything we say or do impacts on others. We can be the bearer of Good News, but we can also bring despair to those we disappoint. The choice is ours. Let us ask ourselves how exactly we are bringing the grace of the Lord’s coming into the lives of those who cross our path.

Each of us is called to prepare the coming of God into the hearts of loved ones and others to whom we have been sent. We are called to let God’s saving word be heard especially among the lost, the least, and the last. And as we do, we might receive His promise which says: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.” (1Thes 5:24).

Our Emmanuel, there is so much chaos and confusion around us but we thank You for sending John the Baptist as a witness to Your Light. May we also bear witness to Your Light as we bring your word to others. Please be present in us with Your love and compassion that we may be always ready to share Your love, grace and blessings to others. Amen.

Reflection Guides
1. As a renewed Christian, how can you testify to others that our Lord Jesus has indeed come to your life as your Lord and Savior?

2. How can you prioritize spiritual preparations over material concerns during this season of Christmas?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
December 17, 2017 (Sun) – Is 61:1-2, 10-11/Lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54/ 1Thes 5:16-24/ Jn 1:6-8, 19-28
December 18, 2017(Mon) – Jer 23:5-8/Ps 72:1, 2, 12, 13, 18, 19/Mt 1:18-25
December 19, 2017 (Tues) – Jgs 13:2-7, 24, 25/Ps 71\; 3-6, 16, 17/Lk 1:5-25
December 20, 2017(Wed) – Is 7:10-14/Ps 24:1-6/Lk 1:26-38
December 24, 2017 (Thur) – Sg 2:8-14/Ps 33:2, 3, 11, 12 Lk 1:39-45
December 22, 2017 (Fri) – 1 Sm 1:24-28/1Sm 2:1, 4-8/Lk 1:46-56
December 23, 2017(Sat) – Mal 1:1-4,23,24/Ps 25:4,5,8-10,14/Lk 1:57-60

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

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