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WSC Circle – December 2, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
December 2, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Advent (Cycle C, Year I)

Community Word: Disciples of Christ prepare their hearts for His coming with joy.
Theme: We prepare for Christ’s coming when we persevere in doing what is right and just.
Promise: “Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way.” (Ps 25:8)

Reflection:
We are now in the season of Advent, ushering in the new liturgical year of the Church. This is the time which gives us the opportunity to reflect and to be retrospective about our life so that we may be prepared, not only to celebrate the birthday of Jesus on Christmas day, but also to prepare for the second coming of Christ. Thus, our community word for the month of December states: Disciples of Christ prepare their hearts for His coming with joy. Jesus has come; He is the Emmanuel, God with us, and He will come again.

Christ is on His second coming! We often hear this and we connect it with the end of the world. Many people speculate when the world would end. There are dates, numbers, events, or the Mayan calendar which purportedly prophesy the end of times. But when really is the second coming of Christ? The bible does not give any date, except to say that there will be signs in the heavens (cf Lk 21:25-28). On this, Jesus says: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” (Mk 13:32).

Thus, we are reminded that we must be ready at all times. What does it mean to be ready? Our theme for the 1st Sunday of Advent gives us this insight – We prepare for Christ’s coming when we persevere in doing what is right and just. Preparation is not just a periodic event, but preparation is a lifetime pre-occupation. St. Paul tells us that the objective of spiritual preparation is “to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus,” (1 Thes 3:13). We are to conduct ourselves to please God, to increase and abound in love for one another and for all. To be ready for the coming of the Lord is to strive to love more that our hearts may be strengthened to face all tribulations. To be ready is to be vigilant at all times and to pray, because death is life a thief in the night which does not announce his presence when he is about to intrude your house.

During Advent, we should look inwardly and examine our conscience to search if we have hardened our hearts and repeatedly refused to follow God’s commandments. We need to see if we have already gone astray and wandered from God’s presence, withholding our love from others, thereby detaching ourselves from God and unintentionally nurturing self-centeredness and indifference to the needs of the poor. We have to check our spiritual temperature if our lives are high on worldliness and materialistic pursuits, in the anxieties of daily life and sinfulness. This time of recollection and awareness allows our hearts to be purified and ready for the Lord. As His promise tells us: “Good and upright is the Lord; thus He shows sinners the way,” (Ps25:8).

Our hearts need to be open to the mystery of God’s presence; a heart open to realize that there is more to life than just what we touch and feel. We want to hear Jesus as He speaks to our hearts, inviting us to know the world from His vision and His love. Advent! Christ has already come to our world and may He be in our hearts forever. May we be always ready for Him when He comes again.

Prayer:
Father, just as You sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, help me also to clear the path in my heart for His coming. I am unworthy, but I am grateful for Jesus who saved me. Distractions in my life have prevented me from totally worshiping You, Lord. Please give me the strength to seek forgiveness, to remain purified and transformed in heart and mind. And as I do so, I will be prepared and joyfully awaiting for His coming. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How do I prepare for Christ coming this Advent season?

2. What are the distractions and struggles in my life that I have to confess to Jesus?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Dec 2, 2018 (Sun) – Jer 33:14-16/Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14/1Thes 3:12-4:2/Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
Dec 3, 2018 (Mon) – Is 2:1-5/Ps 122:1-9/Mt 8:5-11
Dec 4, 2018 (Tue) – Is 11:1-10/Ps 72:2,7,8,12,13,17/Lk 10:21-24
Dec 5, 2018 (Wed) – Is 25:6-10/Ps 23:1-6/Hb 15:29-37
Dec 6, 2018 (Thu) – Is 26:1-6/Ps 118:1,8,9,19,21,25-27/Hb 7:21,24-27
Dec 7, 2018 (Fri) – Is 29:17-24/Ps 27:1,4,13-14/Mt 9:27-31
Dec 8, 2018 (Sat) – Gn 3:9-15,20/Ps 98:1-4/Eph 1:3-6,11,12/Lk 1:26-38

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

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WSC Circle – November 25, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
November 25, 2018 – Solemnity of Christ the King (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Jesus the King reigns in the hearts of those who are faithful to Him.
Theme: Those who are faithful to Jesus the King listen to Him and testify to the Truth.
Promise: “Behold He is coming amidst the clouds, and every eye will see Him.”
(Rev 1:7a)

Reflection:
We conclude the liturgical year of the Catholic Church by honoring Jesus Christ as King of the Universe and King of all kings. Jesus is a different kind of king from what we know from history, one who is rich and rules a kingdom, sits on a throne with a scepter of power and has authority of life and death over his subjects.

Jesus is not like an earthly king. His throne is His cross and rules by serving us. His power is His redeeming love. He is the one who protects us, defends us and above all dies for us. His will is to give us eternal life and so He gives up His life for our salvation. Jesus is rich in mercy and He has power over sin and death. His authority is to forgive us and lead us back to the loving arms of the Father.

In the gospel reading, Jesus allows Pilate to question Him, and in turn enlightens Pilate about His intentions and His mission in the world. Jesus shows His commitment to God. He refuses to bargain for His life or concede anything. He testifies to the truth that He is God sent and that He is truly King whose kingdom is not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36). He proclaims that He is victorious and triumphant over-all, and that “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, His kingship shall not be destroyed,” (Dn 7:14).

There are times in our lives when we are tempted to compromise our commitments. Let us remember the example of Jesus. Even though His life was at stake, He refused to compromise His obedience to do the will of the Father to the end and complete His mission. No wonder God raised Him up from death and countless generations have worshipped Jesus, the King of the Universe and our personal king, too. At the face of death, Jesus remained serene, composed and calm. He accepted everything for our sake and took everything in silence, in humble submission so that we may realize that true kingship lies with what He preached. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you,” (Jn 15:13-16).

True kingship is service. True kingship is to save those under our care. It is true kingship to bring them to safety and to life everlasting. Jesus did not come to rule over people & territories but to set people free from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them with God.

Pope Francis said: “The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about His kingdom. The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity. In the twilight of life we will be judged by our love for, closeness to, and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God. Through His victory, Jesus has opened to us His kingdom. But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now, by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity. If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.”

On the Solemnity of Christ the King, we are being challenged that if we are truly faithful to Jesus in everything that He has taught us, we shall continue to answer His call and testify to the truth that He is the Christ, our Lord and Savior. In His second coming, we will be judged not by what we have achieved, but on how much love, mercy and compassion we have shown to our neighbors in our lifetime. Only then are we prepared to claim His promise: “Behold He is coming amidst the clouds, and every eye will see Him,” (Rv 1:7a).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, teach me to always listen to Jesus, our King and Savior. Grant me the grace to have the courage of bringing Jesus to others. Refine me Lord that I will be able to imitate Jesus in giving true service to others. Fill me with Your love that I will be Your dispenser of light & blessing to others. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. In what ways can we claim that we are living by the same values which Jesus, our King, stood for?
2. What are the challenges that you encounter in doing selfless service to others, in doing evangelization and mission works?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Nov 25, 2018 (Sun) – Dn 7:13-14/Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5/Rv 1:5-8/Jn 18:33-37
Nov 26, 2018 (Mon) – Rv 14:1-3, 4-5/Ps 24:1-6/Lk 21:1-4
Nov 27, 2018 (Tue) – Rv 14:14-19/Ps 96:10-13/Lk 21:5-11
Nov 28, 2018 (Wed) – Rv 15:1-4/Ps 98:1-9, 7-9/Lk 21:12-19
Nov 29, 2018 (Thu) – Rv 18:1, 2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9/Ps 100:1,-5/lk 21:20-28
Nov 30, 2018 (Fri) – Rom 10:9-18/’Ps 19:8-11/Mt 4:18-22
Dec 1, 2018 (Sat) – Rv 22:1-7/Ps 95:1-7/Lk 21:34-36

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

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WSC Circle – November 11, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
November 11, 2018 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Jesus the King reigns in the hearts of those who are faithful to Him.
Theme: Those who are faithful to Jesus the King generously share their blessings.
Promise: “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry.”(1Kgs 17:14b)

Reflection:
In our society where acquiring material wealth is viewed as a defining feature of daily life, the concept of sharing what you have earned or possess by your own effort seems to be a paradox. Many would consider giving something away, especially to a total stranger, as losing it. But not for Christians; we trust in Jesus when He teaches us, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back,” (Lk 6:38).

We are taught to be generous, sharing not only our treasure and talent but also our time for a cause, believing that as we share our time, we do not lose a moment off our lifespan. In fact, we add time of experience by creating precious moments not only for ourselves but also with those whom we spend our time. Similarly with our hard earned money, when we use it to provide and care for our family. It is not wasted but in reality it leaves a positive difference in the lives of the people we care for. They may forget what we said or did, but they will certainly remember how we made them feel. The impression we make in their lives becomes the purpose by which we may receive blessing upon blessing.

Those who are faithful to Jesus the King generously share their blessings is the theme for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. God gave us everything, our very lives, and He has gifted us with time, talent and treasures. These should be used to build up the lives of other people so that such blessings will continue to multiply, and in turn, bless others as well. The world may take possession and claim credit for what God has given them. But as faithful followers of Christ, we are expected to live a life of generosity as our response to God’s goodness and grace.

St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, tells us, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work,” (2Cor 9:6-8). The Lord does not bless us to accumulate wealth and acquire it for ourselves only. He blesses us so that we are able to share such blessings. By our acts of goodness to others, God will surely give His recompense a hundredfold for re-distribution to those who are poor and needy. Our act of giving and sharing should come, not out of compulsion or manipulation, but out of our deep love, devotion, and gratitude to our Magnificent Provider.

The way of the world is the way of self-centeredness and self-gratification – the motto of “worshipping myself, loving material wealth and using others to attain my ambition.” But the word of God compels us to be the opposite – be selfless, loving God by loving others thru caring and sharing, as you love yourself. Our attachment must not be towards the world, but that of following God’s commandment. As such, our actions of generous giving will never be left unrewarded. Like the widow in the 1st reading who shared her last meal with another person, we too may receive this promise: “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry,” (1Kgs 17:14b). God’s grace will always be enough for our needs.

Prayer:
Loving Father, You gave us everything and You blessed us in every aspect of our lives. We are Yours Lord, to know, love and serve You. Lead us to be generously giving despite experiencing trial and poverty, to share abundantly as much as we are able to and even beyond our ability. Allow us to serve the urgent needs of Your people and remain sympathetic to their plight. To You, Lord, we are always grateful, knowing that Your mercy and kindness will last forever. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Do you consider all good things as God-given gifts that ought to be shared? How does your giving reflect God’s generosity towards you?
2. What is your motivation in sharing your blessings with others? Do your actions become an expression of gratitude to God?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Nov 11, 2018 (Sun) – Kgs 17:10-16/Ps 144:7-10/Hb 9:24-28/Mk 12:38-44
Nov 12, 2018 (Mon) – Ti 1:2-9/Ps 24:1-6/Lk 17:1-6
Nov 13, 2018 (Tue) – Ti 2:1-8, 11-14/Ps 37:3, 4, 18, 23, 27, 29/Lk 17:7-10
Nov 14, 2018 (Wed) – Ti 3:1-7/Ps 23:1-6/Lk 17:11-19
Nov 15, 2018 (Thu) – Phlm 7-20/Ps 146:7-10/Lk 17:20-25
Nov 16, 2018 (Fri) – 2Jn 4-9/Ps 119:1, 12, 10, 11, 17, 18/Lk 17:26-37
Nov 17, 2018 (Sat) – 3Jn 5—8/Ps 112:1-6/Lk 18:1-8

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

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WSC Circle – October 28 – 30, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
October 28, 2018 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Theme: We inherit the Kingdom of God when we witness to our faith.
Promise: “I will console and guide them, I will lead them to brooks of water on a level road, so that none shall stumble.” (Jer 31:9b)

Reflection:
During His ministry, Jesus stressed that the Kingdom of God is the reign of God in our lives. If we wish to inherit it, we must surrender and completely relinquish our old self at the cross of Christ, to be born again and be renewed, placing our life under the authority of God. We begin to live a new life where everything is under God’s control, allowing Him to transform us, to form and balance our attitude and way of life. There is a total shift of allegiance from this world with all its enticements, to God.

We are no longer self-centered, but we live for Christ, following and walking with Him in faith and obedience. We serve Christ not for own sake or to please others, but doing the will of God wholeheartedly. Because of our faith, we believe and trust that Jesus is always ready to work in and through us for the glory of God. We keep our faith as the key that unlocks God’s power to overcome any obstacle and difficulty which prevents us from inheriting His Kingdom.

This is what is expressed in our theme for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – We inherit the Kingdom of God when we witness to our faith. As Christians, we are commissioned by Jesus to proclaim, establish and promote God’s kingdom and dominion in this world. We are expected to set the example and lead sinners to repentance and bring them back to a deeper relationship with the Lord. Being a witness to our faith means helping those who are “poor in spirit” recognize their dignity and freedom, and the importance of their conscience. We should be ready to lift up those who are being discriminated, marginalized, oppressed and ignored, so that they will see us as the light bearers and the signs of the Kingdom to come.

Our ultimate goal is holiness, continual conversion of heart and possessing the zeal to change and transform our passion for power, recognition and wealth into true and genuine service. Like Jesus, our lives should be witnesses of the reign of God. We might not be able to escape the temptations of self-glorification and triumphalism that hurt our relationship with God. But we have the Holy Spirit whose task is to convict us whenever we are caught in the bondage of sin. He is our Counselor and Advocate who will defend us before God against Satan who works doubly hard to bring us down and away from our path to holiness. St. Paul reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it,” (1Cor 10:13).

This week’s promise from Jeremiah, “I will console and guide them, I will lead them to brooks of water on a level road, so that none shall stumble” (Jer 31:9b) should not only inspire us to continue proclaiming God’s powerful presence in our lives. It is also a call for us to live in faith that His Kingdom is already in our midst.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we thank You for your consolation and guidance that keep our faith strong and our desire to serve You even stronger. Grant us victory over the destructive influences of sin and our self-centeredness that keep us from following Your will. Give us fortitude to always choose what is good and reject what is evil. May Your truth and love permeate our hearts that we may be authentic testifiers of faith as we lead others to the righteous path that your Kingdom may rule their hearts now and always. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. In what way can you testify to others that the Kingdom of God is now in our midst?
2. How can you convince others to respond to the call to renew their lives in Christ?
3. How can you take advantage of God’s grace in resisting temptation to sin? How can you use God’s gift of fortitude to overcome obstacles in doing His will?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Oct 28, 2018 (Sun) – Jer 31:7-9/Ps 126:1-6/Heb 5:1-6/Mk 10:46-52
Oct 29, 2018 (Mon) – Eph 4:32-5:8/Ps 1:1-4, 6/Lk 13:10-17
Oct 30, 2018 (Tue) – Eph 5:21-33/Ps 128:1-5/Lk 13:18-21
Oct 31, 2018 (Wed) – Eph 6:1-9/Ps 145:10-14/Lk 13:22-30
Nov 1, 2018 (Thu) – Rv 7:2-4, 9-14/Ps 24:1-6/1Jn 3:1-3/Mt 5:1-12
Nov 2, 2018 (Fri) – Wis 3:1-9/Ps 23:1-6/Rom 5:5-11/Mt 25:31-46
Nov 3, 2018 (Sat) – Phil 1:18-26/Ps 42:2, 3, 5/Lk 14:1, 7-11

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

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WSC Circle – October 21, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
October 21, 2018 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Theme: We inherit the Kingdom of God when we become servant of all.
Promise: “If he gives his life as an offering…the will of Lord shall be accomplished through him.” (Is 52:10b)

Reflection:
In today’s gospel, we find two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, being rebuked by the other disciples because of what they see as misplaced ambition of these brothers who were thinking only of personal reward and distinction. They are thinking of personal glory without sacrifice by asking Jesus for privileged places beside Him in His kingdom. In short, in their being ambitious, they have the wrong concept of greatness. Jesus takes this opportunity to teach them the true meaning of greatness by telling them who He is – “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mk 10:45). Being great is not about lording over with authority, but to be slave and servant of all.

Jesus lived His whole life as servant to others and He lived to serve not to be served, even if He is the Son of God. He served by inspiring people with His words of truth and encouragement. He ministered to them through His healing miracles. He fully identified with them through His temptations. As our Master-Teacher, He wants us to learn much from His suffering and from being a servant. He teaches that humble service can motivate us to be true disciples – “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all,” (Mk 10:43).

Unfortunately, many are not interested in being servants. Their thoughts, actions and even their prayers are centered on simply fulfilling ones desires. They want to stay in power, retain their authority, and sustain their selfish ambition, thinking that they are better and more qualified than others. We must not fall into the trap of Satan who feeds us with lies; he promotes pride and not humility. St. Paul cautions us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others,” (Phil 2: 3-4).

To be truly great in the eyes of God, Jesus tells us to be “servant of all,” to sacrifice and serve others. This means we go out of our comfort zones and be His real missionaries to serve inside and outside of community without reservations and counting the cost. He urges us to go out to the mission areas to proclaim the gospel and to help those who are in need. Jesus encourages us to suffer with and for Him in order to achieve greatness in the Kingdom of God. To be great is to serve the flock of Christ, following His call to “feed my sheep,” (cf. Jn 21:17).

The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is also World Mission Sunday. Today, we honor and pray for those who have left the comfort of their homes to be missionaries here and abroad. Their sacrifices deserved to be recognized and their examples of emboldened faith be emulated. We pray for their safety and success in their missionary endeavors, especially for those who are in difficult situations. For us who are called to our own vocations in life, we are also missionaries by virtue of our baptism. We have the responsibility to be witnesses to the love of Christ in our lives and to spread that love to others by the sharing of our time, talent and treasures.

Greatness is not about power and authority. It is about fulfilling one’s responsibility with love and fidelity. Greatness is to be able to make a difference in the life of other people by our ability to serve them and being open to help those in need. True service is bearing our own burden and that of our neighbor without complaining and expecting anything in return, but doing it with loving dedication in the name of Jesus, our model of greatness. His greatest service is doing God’s will for mankind and giving His own life as a ransom for all. Jesus gives us this assurance, “If he gives his life as an offering……the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him,” (Is 52:10b). And as our theme tells us: We inherit the kingdom of God when we become servant of all.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, teach and guide me to be humble at all time. Grant me the grace to surrender all of my selfish ambitions. I want to be like your Son, Jesus, to serve & not to be served. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and be Your instrument of love, mercy, compassion & generosity to others especially in the mission areas. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What are the obstacles that hinder you to serve in the mission areas? How do you intend to overcome these obstacles?

2. Are you willing to give up your personal ambition in exchange of loving & serving God & others faithfully?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Oct 21, 2018 (Sun) – Is 53:10, 11/Ps 33:4, 5, 18-20, 22/Heb 4:14-16/Mk 10:35-45
Oct 22, 2018 (Mon – Eph 2:1-10/Ps 100:1-5/Lk 12:13-21
Oct 23, 2018 (Tue) – Eph 2:12-22/Ps 85:9-10, 11-14/Lk 12:35-38
Oct 24, 2018 (Wed) – Eph 3:2-12/Is 12:2-6/Lk 12:39-48
Oct 25, 2018 (Thu) – Eph 3:14-21/Ps 33:1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19/Lk 12:49-53
Oct 26, 2018 (Fri) – Eph 4:1-6/Ps 24:1-6/Lk 12:54-59
Oct 27, 2018 (Sat) – Eph 4:7-16/Ps 122:1-5/Lk 13:1-9

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

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WSC Circle – October 14, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
October 14, 2018 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Theme: We inherit the Kingdom of God when we share our blessings with those in need.
Promise: “…give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”(Mk 10:21b)

Reflection:
In the gospel of Mark, we catch sight of a rich young man as he hurries towards Jesus and falls on his knees before Him. This is an action of a man, not only filled with personal certainty and determined desire for something, but one who has great respect for Jesus. He is quite different from the Pharisees and Sadducees who hound Jesus only to test and trap Him. This young man seems honest and worthy, only wanting to ask a question to find out how he can gain eternal life. Just as it was for him, it is a question which has occupied our minds and all true Christians throughout the ages.

The rich young man addresses Jesus, “Good teacher…” Then almost to set the youth straight and maybe, curb his enthusiasm, Jesus answers, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone,” (Mk 10:18). Jesus goes on to quote the Commandments which the youth assures Jesus he has kept all his life. The Gospel says, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him…,” (Mk 10:21a).

This is how Jesus looks into our hearts when we feel so self-assured, but do not realize that we lack many things in our spiritual life. Jesus knows that this young man is a good person, but He also sees his weak point and gives him a truthful exhortation, to give everything that he has to the poor and follow Him, (cf. Mk 10:21b). But apparently, this young man had a heart divided between two masters – God and money, and he goes away sad. He is too attached to his wealth to part with it and follow Jesus instead.

When we are called to serve Jesus as He wants us to, are we like the young man in this episode? Sometimes or oftentimes, we might be materialistic like the rich young man. Knowingly or unknowingly, we have our attachments; there may be times when the thought of being without our cell phone, car, and other prized possessions, including our careers, our comforts, and even our relationships, is inconceivable. The thought of giving up our vices and pleasures seems hard for us; so too is denying ourselves of putting God before all material things.

It is not bad to have money and other material goods, or to spend time on our temporal concerns, but if these things become our attachments and top priorities in our life, then this is not good for us. Instead, Jesus is asking us to share our blessings – time, talent and treasures, with those in need in order to inherit the Kingdom of God just. Our theme reminds us of this: We inherit the Kingdom of God when we share our blessings with those in need. Our Lord Jesus wants us to spend time serving Him everyday in prayer and in Scriptures. He wants us to share our gifts and to serve our communities. Likewise, God expects us to be generous even if our financial resources are not plenty. Consistent financial giving is the best remedy for any greedy tendencies.

Jesus makes this solemn declaration: “I assure you that he who leaves everything to follow me will have eternal life in the age to come and a hundred times more now in this present age,” (cf. Mk 10:29-30). Pope Francis echoes these words today: “We deprive ourselves of goods and receive in exchange the joy of the true good; we free ourselves from slavery to things and we win the liberty of service out of love; we renounce possessing and we attain the happiness of giving.” About which Jesus says – “There is more joy in giving than receiving,” (cf. Acts 20:35). The rich young man did not allow himself to be conquered by the loving gaze of Jesus and thus, he was not able to change. In fact, he “went away sad.”

In one of his Angelus addresses, Pope Francis tells us: “Only in welcoming with humble gratitude the Lord’s love do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure and success dazzle, but later they disappoint: They promise life but cause death. The Lord asks of us a detachment from these false riches to enter into true life, a full life that is authentic and luminous.”

The Lord is inviting us to be poor, to live with and serve the poor; then the treasure of Heaven will be ours. In His promise, He says: “…give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Mk 10:21b). Unlike the rich young man, we can be with Jesus and be His true followers by being mindful of sharing our blessings and our gifts with those who are in need. Then, we can rejoice in anticipation of our true treasure of eternal life in heaven.

Prayer:
Father God, we ask You to instill in us a generous heart, a heart that is willing to serve even the poorest of the poor. Grant us the grace, Lord God, to give our yes to You everyday and to put You first before other things here on earth. Help us to use our time, talent and treasure always in the service of You and Your people. All these we pray in Jesus name, through the powerful intercession of Mama Mary, St. Joseph and St. Padre Pio. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. If I am to meet Jesus face to face today, what would my question to Him be?
2. How can I stop putting off following Jesus 100% when I keep on clinging to something or someone?
3. In what way can I be generous in sharing my blessings to others?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Oct 14, 2018 (Sun) – Wis 7:7-11/Ps 90:12-17/Heb 4:12, 13/Mk 10:17-30
Oct 15, 2018 (Mon – Gal 4:22-24, 36, 27, 31-5:1/Ps 113:1-7/Lk 11:29-32
Oct 16, 2018 (Tue) – Gal 5:1-6/Ps 119:41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48/Lk 11:37-41
Oct 17, 2018 (Wed) – Gal 5:18-25/Ps 1-4, 6/Lk 11:42-44
Oct 18, 2018 (Thu) – 2Tm 4:10-17/Ps 148:10-13, 17, 18/Lk 10:1-9
Oct 19, 2018 (Fri) – Eph 1:11-14/Ps 33:1, 2, 4, 5, 12, 13/Lk 12:1-7
Oct 20, 2018 (Sat) – Eph 1:15-23/Ps 8:2-7/Mk 10:35-45

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

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WSC Circle – October 7, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
October 7,2018 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Those who are poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Theme: We inherit the Kingdom of God when we possess childlike humility andobedience.
Promise: “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!” (Ps 128:1)

Reflection:
Jesus declared: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Mt 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who are lowly and reverent before God. It does not matter if they are materially rich or poor, but they acknowledge in the depth of their being that they depend completely on God. In the words of Jesus, the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven” is the person who humbles himself like a child. He attributes his life – who he is and what he does, as God’s gift to him. Obedience, humility and dependence are characteristics of children who are worthy of the Kingdom.

Children are always presented as examples of the “little ones.” They are powerless and vulnerable and they are able to trust and depend totally on others for their well-being and guidance. Jesus sees children as having unique qualities that can teach deep lessons to the rest of us and He shows children reverence. He lays hands on them and blesses them. It is the childlike humility and obedience of the “little ones” that we are asked to emulate in our theme – We inherit the Kingdom of God when we possess childlike obedience and humility.

Jesus humbled Himself many times and in many ways during His life on earth. At the age of twelve, He humbly obeyed His parents by leaving the temple and His “Father’s business” to return home with them (Lk 2:41-52). He humbled Himself when He was baptized by John, fulfilling all righteousness (Mt. 3:13-17). There was, however, no greater example of humility than that of Jesus’ obedience to death on the cross. Jesus humbled Himself in perfect obedience to the Father. He wasn’t afraid to ask that the cup be taken from Him, that God would perhaps deliver Him from suffering. But in the end, Jesus surrendered His will. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will,”(Mt 26: 39).

Humility and obedience go hand in hand. Without one, the other is nearly impossible. It’s like the example of a child, who, when told to clean his room, grumbles and slams the door. Eventually, the child will have a choice. He can either humbly accept the parent’s instruction to clean his room or he can remain stubbornly defiant. We, too, have a choice. When called by God to do something difficult, like forgiving someone who hurt us, we can cross our arms in defiance or we can humbly accept the command. It may take some wrestling through prayer, just as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane, but ultimately, true obedience will follow humility.

Let us be child-like and Christ-like, humble, obedient and steadfast in submitting to the will of God in all things. Like Jesus, we can always choose to have the right attitude and actions in life. By doing so, we may be assured of His promise: “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!” (Ps 128:1).

Prayer:
Lord, grant me the virtue of humility, perfectly exemplified by Your Son, Jesus, that I may claim the riches of Your grace. May I obey Your commands and be filled with Your mercy that I may be Your authentic witness to the people You have asked me serve. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. In what area in your life are you struggling the most with humility? In what ways are you overly self-focused with pride, insecurity, or self-promotion?

2. What aspect in your life is competing with obedience to God or the duties He has given you?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Oct 7, 2018 (Sun) – Gn 2:18-24/Ps 128:1-6/Heb 2:9-11/Mk 10:2-16
Oct 8, 2018 (Mon) – Gal 1:6-12/Ps 111:1, 2, 7-10/Lk 10:25-37
Oct 9, 2018 (Tue) – Gal 1:13-24/Ps 139:1-3, 13-15/Lk 10:38-42
Oct 10, 2018 (Wed) – Gal 2:1-2, 7-14/Ps 117:1, 2/Lk 11:1-4
Oct 11, 2018 (Thu) – Gal 3:1-5/Lk 1:69-75/Lk 11:5-13
Oct 12, 2018 (Fri) – Gal 3:7-14/Ps 111:1-6/Lk 11:15-26
Oct 13, 2018 (Sat) – Gal 3:22-29/Ps 105:2-7/Lk 11:27-28

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

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WSC Circle – September 30, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
September 30, 2018 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Honoring God’s commandments bring peace to our hearts
Theme: There is peace in our hearts when we do not allow sin to separate us from the love of God.
Promise: “… because you belong to Christ …you will surely not lose his reward.” (Mk 9:41)

Reflection: 
Sin is described in the Holy Scripture as a transgression of the law of God (1Jn 3:4). Sin is simply doing what is wrong (or sin of commission), or not doing what is right (sin of omission) according to God’s laws. The Ten Commandments was expanded into 613 Jewish laws. In contrast, Jesus simplified it in Matthew 22: 37-40: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” This is the law of love. Those who transgress these commandments go against the love of God.

The law of love is the foundation of the doctrine of the Cross. A cross is formed by two lines. The vertical line corresponds to our relationship with God and the horizontal line corresponds to our relationship with man. Our relationship with both God and man must be our way of life. John 14:16 states, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” The Holy Spirit is our Helper who enlightens us to know what is good and what is bad. The Holy Spirit enables us to obey God’s laws and experience the joy of living in accord to God’s will. In our faithfulness to Him, we experience true happiness of being filled with peace and surrounded with His love and mercy. The law of love is the centerpiece of life.

We are all invited to experience God’s love. But there are times that we reject this invitation and we choose to live in sin. The reality is that God does not separate Himself from us. In fact, God patiently offers His forgiveness to those who ask for it. He wants us to reconcile with Him. Regrettably, knowing that we sinned against God, we are filled with shame, guilt, anger, or pride that we do not see His loving mercy and hear His call for us to repent. We are so consumed with the effects of sin that we separate ourselves from God even more.

God constantly reminds us to avoid sin at all times so that we might feel His love. Most of all, God strongly warns us not to be the cause for others to commit sin. He asks us to reflect on our life and identify the things that cause us to sin. He exhorts us to leave these things and cut them off, for they are not worth keeping if they cause us to lose our chance of being in God’s loving and holy presence. Keep yourself pure, live holy lives and resist evil. “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good,” (Rom 12:21).

In the gospel reading this Sunday, the disciples are envious of the one who drove out demons in the name of Jesus because he is not part of the inner circle of Jesus. But even if he is not a disciple, he already has a strong faith and relies in the power of Jesus. Doing mighty deeds is not exclusive to a person or certain group. Jesus does not want others to be treated as “outsiders” and exhorts us to look beyond ourselves and realize our mission to bring more people to Him. Doing good to others assures us of His promise, “Anyone who gives a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward,” (Mk 9: 42). We will surely experience peace in our hearts when we remain pure of hearts and do what is right in God’s presence.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, open the eyes of my soul that I may see my weaknesses and my sins. Convict me of my sinful nature and guide me to avoid sin at all times. I desire to be holy like Jesus, totally obedient to Your Holy Will. Restore me to be your child that I may always feel Your peace and presence in my life. Amen.

Reflection Questions: 
1. What do you do when you are tempted to sin, especially sin that you have difficulty overcoming.
2. What are the obstacles that hinder you from doing good deeds? How steps can you take to overcome these challenges?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Sept 30, 2018 (Sun) – Nm 11:25-29/Ps 19:8, 10, 12, 13, 14/Jas 5:1-6/Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47, 48
Oct 1, 2018 (Mon) – Job 1:6-22/Ps 17:1-3, 6, 7/Lk 9:46-50
Oct 2, 2018 (Tue) – Ex 23:20-23/Ps 91:1-6, 10, 11/Mt 18:1-5
Oct 3, 2018 (Wed) – Jb 9:1-12, 14-16/Ps 88:10-15/Lk 9:57-62
Oct 4, 2018 (Thu) – Jb 19:21-27/Ps 27:7-9, 13, 14/Lk 10:1-12
Oct 5, 2018 (Fri) – Jb 38:1,1-21,40:3-8/Ps 139:1-3,7-10,13,14/Lk 10:13-14 
Oct 6, 2018 (Sat) – Jb 42:1-3, 5, 6, 12-17/Ps 119:66, 71, 75, 91,125,130?Lk 10:17-24

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

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WSC Circle – September 23 – 25, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
September 23, 2018 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Honoring God’s commandments bring peace to our hearts
Theme: There is peace in our hearts when we surrender our selfish ambition as we serve Jesus.
Promise: “God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life.” (Ps 54:4)

Reflection:
The theme for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us: There is peace in our hearts when we surrender our selfish ambition in serving Jesus. When we surrender our whole being to God, we “put to death” all our cares, our desires, our dreams, our ambitions, all that we are and all our situation and place them under God’s full control and power. Rather than following our own inclination and will, we let them go and we choose to follow and serve Christ, our Lord and Savior. This act of total surrender brings us peace that surpasses all understanding, no matter what circumstances we may be in, for we know in our hearts that His plan is always for our own good and best interest. As the Lord declares in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Thus, St. Paul admonishes the Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others,” (Phil 2:3-4). Selfish ambition means to be gloriously vain and self-seeking, always looking after his own, above the interest of anyone else. People who are selfishly ambitious are those who want to achieve position, gain authority and possess power by making themselves appear they are in control and put their own interest above others by trickery and deceit. But while they may reach their dreams and be applauded by many, they will never attain genuine peace in their hearts.

It is but human to desire personal happiness, comfort, prosperity, and security; to want good health and fulfilling experiences, and to achieve our full potential. In the process of trying to obtain all these, we tend to rely upon our natural and physical strength and often, ignoring to discern what God wants for us. We should be reminded that surrendering to God leads us to a deeper intimacy with and more powerful service to Him. The more areas of our lives we yield to God, the more room we give the Holy Spirit to empower us. And as we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the clearer we see God’s will, our life’s purpose, our responsibilities, and the task we ought to accomplish for Him in His plan for our future.

Indeed, it is a choice between “us” – with our superficial power, foolish intelligence and limited strength, – and our God who is almighty, omniscient and infinitely perfect. When we yield to God’s perfect knowledge and wisdom to guide us in our life’s journey, we can be assured of His promise: “God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life,” (Ps 54:4). His divine power will flow through us, making us right in the tasks that He calls us to do for His glory. And the reward that we will receive for serving Him faithfully in this world is our life of eternal peace with Him in heaven. The temporary benefits that we are gaining through our personal efforts are nothing compared to the reward of eternal life where we will be one with the Blessed Trinity in their perfect love. Only by our total surrender to God’s will can we hope to achieve this in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:
Father God, You know the things that I do to gain control over my life. I resist the things that I don’t understand and I fight to change those that I do not like. Please forgive me for being self-centered, foolish and ambitious. Grant me peace in my heart as I trust You for the things that I cannot change. Good and loving Father, please give me the strength and wisdom I need to surrender completely to You. This I pray in the might name of Jesus and with the intercession of Mama Mary. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What are the areas in your life that you hesitate to let go, knowing these are not in accord with God’s will for your life? Do you feel that sometimes you are disobedient to what God is telling you to do?
2. How does it make you feel when you offer your desires and everything else in your life to Jesus to handle and control?
3. Share your experience when your faith was tested and what happened when you place your total trust in the Lord’s will and plan?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Sept 23, 2018 (Sun) – Wis 2:12, 17-20/Ps 84:3, 4, 5, 6, 8/Jas 3:16-4:3/Mk 9:30-37
Sept 24, 2018 (Mon) – Prv 3:27-34/Ps 15:2-5/Lk 8:16-18
Sept 25, 2018 (Tue) – Prv 21:1-6, 10-13/Ps 119:1, 27, 30, 35, 44/Lk 8:19-21/
Sept 26, 2018 (Wed) – Prv 30:5-9/Ps 119:29, 72, 89,101,104,163/Lk 9:1-6
Sept 27, 2018 (Thu) – Eccl 1:2-11/Ps 98:3-6, 12-14, 17/Lk 9:7-9
Sept 28, 2018 (Fri) – Eccl 3:1-11/Ps 144:1-4/Lk 9:18-22
Sept 29, 2018 (Sat) – Dn 7:9-10, 13, 14/Ps 138:1-5/Jn 1:47-51

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

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WSC Circle – September 16 – 24, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
September 16, 2018 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: Honoring God’s commandments bring peace to our hearts
Theme: There is peace in our hearts when we deny ourselves and follow Christ.
Promise: “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8:35b)

Reflection:
As Christians, we know that our earthly journey is a journey of faith towards our eternal destiny of greatest joy that is, Heaven. But “the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” (Mt 7:14). Why is this so? Paradoxically, in today’s Gospel, Jesus defines the true disciple: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,” (Mk 8:34).

At this point in Jesus’ ministry, he asks his disciples: “…who do you say I am?” To which Peter answers: “You are the Christ,” (Mk 8:29). Jesus wants to take this opportunity to let his disciples know that the Christ who has been performing miracles and teaching about the kingdom of God will have to suffer greatly, be rejected by men, and rise after three days. He wants them to understand that if they are to be his true disciples, they have to undergo the same suffering if they are committed to follow him and preach the gospel. St. John Paul II describes it this way, “When the cross is embraced, it becomes a sign of love and of total self-giving. To carry it behind Christ means to be united with him in offering the greatest proof of love.” It is love that motivates a person to follow the Master, but self-denial and the willingness to share the burden of His cross are proofs of that selfless love.

If anyone wants to follow Jesus to be his disciple, then he must do two things daily: to “deny himself” and “take up his cross.” To deny oneself means to say “no” to yourself and “yes” to God. The process of denial is to humbly submit one’s will to God’s will, which is what we pray when we recite the “Lord’s Prayer” – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (Mt. 6:10). When Jesus tells us to pick up our cross, what he means is for us to be ready to face and bear with perseverance, the trials and difficulties that may come our way. We contend with all kinds of challenges: conflicting schedules between work and community service, family issues and financial problems, illnesses and infirmities. There are occasions when we face rejection and ridicule, not only in our mission field, but also among our friends and family, when we bring the gospel to them, or for choosing to serve the Lord, over the pursuit of fame and fortune. Carrying the cross of Jesus involves the willingness to stand up for the Truth we believe in.

Our Lord does not ask us to give up living when He invites us to “die to ourselves.” All He wants is for us to accept the newness and fullness of life that only He can give. As human beings, we have a tendency to think only in terms of ourselves and our interests. We tend to imagine that our world revolves exclusively around us, our concerns and our interests. Self-denial requires the surrender of our right to do as we please, and to place our life and our will in the hands of God. It requires the surrender of control to Christ. When someone hurts us, our natural reaction is to lash back in anger. But the path of discipleship is to remember the words of Jesus: “Not my will but yours.” Instead of getting angry or vengeful we realize that God is calling us to forgive even our enemies. Jesus is asking us to deny ourselves of the fleeting pleasure of sin which robs us of peace of Christ in our hearts.

The struggles and challenges we face in our journey through life are sources of strength and power for as long as we look up to Jesus on the cross and join our suffering with his. Everyday we have to die to ourselves, to die to our selfish ways and ambitions and to die to our sins and live for God. When we suffer for and with Christ, we experience his powerful and abiding presence in our lives as we are assured by these words: “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8:35b). Like Christ, we will rise in glory and gain eternal life in God’s kingdom.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we know that denying oneself and carrying our cross daily is not an easy thing to do. Because of our fallen nature, we have the tendency to follow our instincts rather than do your will. Merciful Jesus, grant us the grace to always seek your Holy Will in every challenge and difficulty that we face in our earthly journey. Following you, Jesus, more closely and loving you more dearly give us the strength to die to ourselves, and fill our hearts with peace, knowing that you are always beside us and you will never ever leave us.

Reflection Questions:
1. Do I understand well the consequence of my baptism as a Christian and follower of Christ?
2. What are some situations I am facing at the moment that I need to surrender to God and follow His will for my life?
3. Am I ready to give up my attachments to worldly possessions, priorities and ambitions and instead focus more attention to loving God and others?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
Sept 16, 2018 (Sun) – Is 50:5-9/Ps 116:1-6, 8, 9/Jas 2:14-18/Mk 8:27-35
Sept 17, 2018 (Mon) -1Cor 11:28-26, 33/Ps 40:7-10, 17/Luke 7:1-10
Sept 18, 2018 (Tue) – 1Cor 12:12-14, 27-31/Ps 100:1-5/Lk 7:11-17
Sept 19, 2018 (Wed) -1Cor 12:31-13:13/Ps 33:2-5, 12, 22/Lk 7:31-35
Sept 20, 2018 (Thu) – 1Cor 15:1-11/Ps 118:1, 2, 16, 17, 28/Lk 7:36-50
Sept 21, 2018 (Fri) – Eph 4:1-7, 11-13/Ps 19:2-5/Mt 9:9-13
Sept 22, 2018 (Sat) – 1Cor 15:35, 36, 37.42-49/Ps 56:10-14/Lk 8:4-15

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

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