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WSC Reflection – June 17, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
June 17, 2018 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II):

Community Word: God’s great mercy keeps us in communion with Christ
Theme: We are in communion with Christ when we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts
Promise: “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be.” (Ps.92: 15)

Reflection:
Our community theme for this week tells us that – We are in communion with Christ when we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts. The parables in the gospel compare the Kingdom of God to a seed planted in the ground that would naturally sprout and grow, and no matter how small that seed is, just like a mustard seed, over time it grows into a huge tree with large branches. But just like any seed, growing will not happen unless such seed is sown and allowed to grow into a full tree. The same is the case with the word of God that needs to be planted in our hearts to take root from there and become fruitful for God’s kingdom.

Spiritual growth does not happen instantaneously for everyone. Some receive what is planted within them, but nurturing and growing takes a while. Some are committed in allowing God’s word to take root in their hearts, while others struggle with many concerns that distract them from focusing their hearts and minds to God’s word. But what really matter is to acknowledge that God is the author and initiator of our spiritual growth, for with God everything is possible. It is by God’s grace that our small faith becomes stronger and we become open to God’s will and plan for our life. We must allow ourselves to bloom where we are planted, letting God’s word to grow and guide our life so that we can give glory to God and share our growth experiences with others.

This week, we take inspiration from God’s word in our scriptural readings. In the 1st reading, the prophet Ezekiel proclaims that God can take a tender lowly shoot, plant it elsewhere and it will grow into a lofty tree. God can make the most out of a humble servant when He choose him for God’s purpose. In Psalms, when the Lord plants us where we should flourish to honor His kindness and faithfulness, He will grant us this promise: “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be,” (Ps 92: 15). Needless to say, God can sow greatness and positivity from what may seem insignificant in our life. He is able to expand our spiritual horizon to many possibilities and use our hidden capabilities when we allow Him to work in our everyday life that we might love and serve Him more.

The 2nd reading clearly speaks about how God will evaluate the positive growth and fruit of a Christian who seeks to do what He wants. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil,” (2Cor 5: 10). St. Paul, nearing the end of his life, looks towards the day when he would complete his earthly mission and be able to experience the blessings for all his labor in the heavenly home of God.

God is the giver of life and source of all positive growth and spiritual transformation. Like branches, we must continue to be firmly attached to the source of a life-giving vine. Jesus is the Vine and from Him we receive what we need to grow spiritually and produce good fruit. Jesus points out that once a seed is sown in the ground, God allows that seed to grow and eventually produce a rich harvest, many times the original seed. And so with us His children, God allows growth to take place in us as we ground ourselves in His word, letting it to take root in our hearts, and from its fullness, we become sharers of His word to other people.

Let us then reflect on these realizations: 1) God alone gives us the grace to grow in our spiritual life, 2) with God’s word, a small seed of faith can grow and expand to much stronger faith not only for us but also for others in God’s Kingdom, and 3) we should not grow weary in our struggles, for God will always nurture our faith with hope and love and bring us to our full potential as followers of Christ. And just like the small mustard seed, what small thing we do for the least of our brothers and sisters with love, is already a huge step in prospering the Kingdom of God till the end of times.

Prayer:
Blessed are You Lord God, by Your goodness You continue to empower us to grow spiritually so we can share who we are and what we have with others. Pardon us for the times we failed to grow in the ways You expect from us with our sins and imperfections. Thank you for reassuring us of Your love in Your desire for us to grow into that person You want us to be. We lift this prayer through Christ our Lord in unity with the Holy Spirit, One God forever. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Have I allowed the word of God to grow and prosper in my heart? What areas in my life have I allowed spiritual transformation to happen and become more like Christ?

2. How can I reach out to others and help them grow spiritually?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
June 17, 2018 (Sun) – Ez 17:22-24/Ps 92:2, 3, 13-16/2Cor 5:6-10/Mk 4:26-34
June 18, 2018 (Mon) – 1 Kgs 21:1-16/Ps 5:2-3, 4-6, 6-7/ Mt 5:38-42
June 19, 2018 (Tue) – 1Kgs 21:17-29/Ps 51:3-6, 11, 16/Mt 5:43-48
June 20, 2018 (Wed) – 2Kgs 2:1, 6-14/Ps 31:20, 21, 24/Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
June 21, 2018 (Thu) – Sir 48:1-14/Ps 97:1-7/Mt 6:7-15
June 22, 2018 (Fri) – 2Kgs 11:1-4, 9-18, 20/Ps 132:11-14, 17-18/Mt 6:19-23
June 23, 2018 (Sat) – 2Chr 24:17-25/Ps 89:4, 5, 29, 30, 31,-34/Mt 6:24-34

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

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WSC Reflection – June 10, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
June 10, 2018– 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: God’s great mercy keeps us in communion with Christ
Theme: We are in communion with Christ when we draw others to Him.
Promise: “…more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” (2Cor 4:15b)

Reflection:
Grace is a favor from God to us who are undeserving. Mercy is God’s decision not to pour out wrath when we sin, but rather His forgiveness. Indeed, God is gracious and merciful because we can always count on Him for His grace, mercy and forgiveness. We are created for the glory of God (Is 43:7), and by nature since the entry of original sin, no man has any communion with God, for we are sinners and God is infinitely holy. But God Himself took the initiative to be reconciled with His people by sending His only Son to bear the curse that we deserved from God, be reconciled to Him, and thereby enjoy peaceful and loving communion with Him. Now, we are able to be in communion with our Lord God when we turn from our sins, repent for offending Him, believe in His promises and follow Him.

Our theme for the week expands this further to: We are in communion with Christ when we draw others to Him. It is easy to get self-consumed and self-centered in life. But authentic Christian love is selfless, concerned more with the needs of others than with one’s own, always focused on the Lord, points others to Jesus, and draws the lost back to Him.

This Sunday’s Gospel shows a fast-moving account of a complex episode in Jesus’ ministry – from His family and from the scribes. His family comes to take Him away because they think He is out of His mind and the scribes think that He is possessed by and in collusion with the devil. But Jesus pointed to them the absurdity of their thinking and concluded with a brief saying about forgiveness of sins. He told them, “Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin,” (Mk 2: 28-19).

There are actually four (4) sins against the Holy Spirit: 1. Despair concerning the possibility of salvation; 2. Presumption of God’s mercy and forgiveness; 3. Denial of the truths of faith; and 4. Final impenitence and refusal to turn to God. Our omnipotent God knows everything. God knows all our sins and often does it with a little nudge to our conscience. He also wants us to verbalize our iniquities so that we will be aware and are sure that we know what these sins are. It is always God Himself who makes the invitation to confess our sins to Him, thru His priests. However, when free human choices cause things to go awry or wrong, God does not turn away from us or from the situation, but He comes and continues to search for and calls us back.

Putting evil in its place and naming sin for what it is, Jesus reminds us that sin and evil must be confronted. The relationship we were meant to enjoy with God will be restored when we learn to do as Jesus did, to do the will of God in all that we are and in all that we do. Therefore, we should spend much time in prayer, reading and studying the word of God in the bible, regularly go to Mass and do God-given opportunities to share with those whose hearts have been prepared by the Lord to hear His message of salvation. Moreover, the solidarity with God in Jesus Christ, which has been extended to each of us, enables us to find courage in the struggle and in our faith journey. In Christ, we have been assured that goodness will never be overcome by evil.

St. Paul points out, God’s grace is bestowed in abundance in order that we may not lose heart as we struggle, as the Promise for this week says: “…more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God,” (2Cor 4:15b). By faith, we are assured of God’s continuing help and with graces bestowed by Him in abundance, we become capable of facing the demands of life with calmness of mind and heart and of enjoying abundant life with gratitude. And as we witness to Christ and draw others to Him, we are enabled to let our light shine in such a way that others will recognize the power of God in us and glorify our Heavenly Father.

Prayer:
O eternal loving and merciful Jesus, let your Light look upon our weaknesses, fall upon our wrongful and sinful ways and disturb us to resolve to sin no more. Please equip and empower us to overcome temptations and to turn away from all of these. Infill us with your Holy Spirit and plant the word of God into our minds and hearts and by the fear of and love for the Lord, we may depart from evil, confess our sins and be one with you always and forever. We pray that our lives will be in accord to your divine way and holy will. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How can we be effective witnesses to Christ in the present world that we live in?

2. Share some ways of increasing your life’s witnessing for Christ and thereby drawing your family or community members closer to our Lord God.

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
June 10, 2018 (Sun) – Gn 3:9-15/Ps 130:1-8/2Cor 4:13-5:1/Mk 3:20-35
June 11, 2018 (Mon) – Acts 11:21-26, 13:1-3/Ps 98:1-6/Mt 5:1-12
June 12, 2018 (Tue) – 1Kgs 17:7-16/Ps 4:2-5, 7, 8/Mt 5:13-16
June 13, 2018 (Wed) – 1Kgs 18:20-39/Ps 16:1-5, 8, 11/Mt 5:17-19
June 14, 2018 (Thu) – 1Kgs 18:41-46/Ps 65:10-13/Mt 5:20-26
June 15, 2018 (Fri) – 1Kgs 19:9, 11-16/Ps 27:7-9, 13, 14/Mt 5:27-32
June 16, 2018 (Sat) – 1Kgs 19:19-21/Ps 1, 2, 5, 7-10/Mk 5:33-37

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

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WSC Reflection – June 3, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
June 3, 2018 – Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Cycle B, Year I)

Community Word: God’s great mercy keeps us in communion with Christ
Theme: We are in communion with Christ when we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice.
Promise: “…those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:15b).

Reflection:
The Feast of Corpus Christi is a time when Catholics show their love for Christ in His Real Presence. We honor Him by sharing the gospel and bringing our Lord closer to our neighbors as we show our love for them.

The Eucharist in the mass is very special because it is the celebration of Jesus Himself. At every mass, Jesus joins us and offers Himself to us. It is not only a fellowship, but it is the eternal sacrifice of Jesus that He offers to our heavenly Father in atonement for our sins. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist assures us that God walks with us in all circumstances of our life. Thus our community word for the month expresses that: God’s mercy keeps us in communion with Christ. The Eucharist is heaven on earth and as Catholics we should take advantage of this great gift.

When the mass celebrant or priest elevates the bread and wine while repeating the words of the Lord – “This is my body…this is my blood,” Jesus becomes truly present in this sacrament of love. Ordinary bread and wine are transformed by the Holy Spirit into Christ Himself. Thus, it is essential that we prepare our hearts before receiving Jesus with great joy and reverence. Jesus is truly, substantially and really present in the most unlikely elements and appearance of bread and wine. The continued presence of Jesus in the transubstantiation of bread and wine into His Most Holy Body and Blood is the greatest gift of God to man and the treasure of the Church.

The theme for this week is – We are in communion with Christ when we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. The Eucharist is not reserved for the perfect but it is given to help us all for our life’s journey. Pope Francis reminds us: “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” This is all of us. Thus, when we partake of the body of Jesus thru Holy Communion, we share this gift through our compassion and generosity with those in need. Pope Francis also says: “How many Christians, as responsible citizens, have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated! Where do they find the strength to do this? It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’” Jesus was broken, and today He is broken for us. He asks us to give ourselves and to break ourselves for others.

When we reverently receive Jesus through Holy Communion, we remember that we are the body of Christ, the Church. St. Paul reminds us – “Now Christ’s body is yourselves, and each of you with a part to play in the whole,” (1Cor 12.27). Today’s Feast reminds us that we are the living Church whose head is Jesus Himself. Through our communion with Jesus and with each other, we are called to be “living stones making a spiritual house.”

St. Augustine said “you become what you receive.” If we celebrate the Eucharist with each other and receive Jesus in the form of bread, then we become the body of Christ and are called to be a missionary church. At the end of every Eucharistic celebration we are sent out with this great prayer of mission – Go now to love and serve the Lord! Those who honor and partake Jesus in the Eucharist as frequently as possible awaits the fulfillment of a beautiful promise: “…those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance,” (Heb 9:15b).

Today, on this awesome Feast of Corpus Christi, may each of us be fed, nourished and healed by the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

Prayer:
Lord, may Your Will prevail that every community of disciples eat the body and drink the blood of Your incarnate Word. We pray that we may live the experience of the Last Supper – that just as Jesus offered Himself as the living sacrifice for men, we too may become a community where members give of themselves in the service of one another. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Do I value receiving Holy Communion as often as possible? Share your personal experience on how your life has been nourished and ministered to by Holy Communion.

2. In what way can I demonstrate the Eucharist as a source of unity and love in my family and in my community?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
June 3, 2018 (Sun) – Ex 24:3-8/Ps 116:12, 13, 15-18/Heb 9:11-15/Mk 14:12-16, 22-24
June 4, 2018 (Mon) – 2Pt 1:2-7/Ps 91:1, 2, 14-16/Mk 12:1-12
June 5, 2018 (Tue) – 2Pt 3:12-15, 17, 18/Ps 90:2-4, 10, 14, 16/Mk 12:13-17
June 6, 2018 (Wed) – 2Tm 1:1-3, 6-12/Ps 123:1-2/Mk 12:18-27
June 7, 2018 (Thu) – 2Tm 2:8-15/Ps 25:4, 5, 8, 10, 14/Mk 12:28-34
June 8, 2018 (Fri) – Hos 11:1, 3, 4, 8, 9/Is 12:2-6/Eph 8-12/Jn 19:31-37
June 9, 2018 (Sat) – Is 61:9-11/Ps 71:8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22/Lk 2:41-51

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

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WSC Reflection – May 27, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 27, 2018 – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: God’s love empowers us to make disciples of all nations.
Theme: We make disciples of all nations when we bear witness to the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Promise: “… I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b)

Reflection:
As a community of believers, we profess our faith in the Holy Trinity as a communion of three Divine Persons who are ‘one with the other,’ ‘one for the other’ and ‘one in the other,’ the mystery of perfect love of the living God. These three timeless, united and equal Persons have positions of authority based on their loving relationship with each other. The Father is the begetter, the Son the begotten one, and the Holy Spirit the one emanating from both. The distinctiveness of the three Divine Persons does not dissolve God’s oneness, for they are one nature or substance. In them, there is no contradiction of will, only perfect unity.

In the gospel of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Jesus commands His apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt 28:19). This ‘great commission’ is a huge challenge to His apostles and now to us, His modern-day disciples, as we ought to proclaim the mystery of the Holy Trinity (the Triune God), considered the ‘central mystery of our Christian faith and life.’ There will always be tough questions and apparent persecutions which may come our way to challenge our shared belief in the Truth, and more often, we may experience lack of words to defend it.

Our community theme for the week is – We make disciples of all nations when we bear witness to the glory of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. The best way to evangelize and touch the lives of others is not by words alone, but by living a life rooted in the unity, authority, and intimacy of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Scripture expresses a wonderful comparison between the nature of God and the community we belong. The Three Divine Persons continually collaborate, sharing as one in all their activities – always acting in unity and harmony. They are completely equal with each other, but each one is totally free and possess royal dignity and authority. If members of the Trinity have for all eternity live in self-giving love for each other, Christians in community should be united by mutual love, working together in harmonious consensus and respect for each other’s authority and dignity. The diversity among us should not be a deterrent, but instead it should allow each one to use individual God-given gifts and talents to achieve a common purpose and motivate others to grow spiritually.

Though the persons of Blessed Trinity have different roles in the work of creation and redemption, these does not negate equality of value and nature of each other. They are in perfect community – oneness and intimacy, just as we are expected to exist, not one without others, not above or against others, but one with others and in others. True intimacy is both the mutual expression of love and the willingness to be vulnerable. It is acknowledging weaknesses and allowing others to speak into our lives, whether words of correction or encouragement.

The Blessed Trinity is the source of our beginnings. More so, union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternal life must be our end goal. In bearing witness to the splendor of the Holy Trinity, we endeavor to work hard for unity, submission to proper authority, development of loving relationship with one another in our ‘imperfect’ community. This challenge is indeed tough. But we are assured that we are not alone in our life’s transformation journey because we believe in God’s promise – “… I am with you always, until the end of the age,” (Mt 28:20b).
Prayer:
Almighty and everlasting God, we, Your servants, are grateful to You for giving us the grace to acknowledge and witness to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity with unwavering faith. We thank You for allowing us to worship and bless You, our one true God in three Divine Persons. Keep us steadfast in our faith that we may relentlessly defend our belief against all adversaries. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How can we relate to the unity of the Blessed Trinity in our day-to-day life?
2. What are your struggles in promoting unity and loving relationship in your family and community? How do you plan to overcome them?
3. Have you taken a small step in “making disciples of all nations” by your little action of love and witnessing to others around you?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 27, 2018 (Sun) – Dt 4:32-34, 39-40/Ps 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22/Rm 8:14-17/Mt 28:16-203
May 28, 2018 (Mon) – 1Pt 1:3-9/Ps 111:1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10/Mk 10:17-27
May 29, 2018 (Tue) – 1Pt 1:10-16/Ps 98:1-4/Mk 10:28-31
May 30, 2018 (Wed) – 1Pt 1:18-25/Ps 147:12-15, 19, 20/Mk 10:32-45
May 31, 2018 (Thu) – Zep 3:14-18/Is 12:2-6/Lk 1:39-56
June 1, 2018 (Fri) – 1Pt 4:7-13/Ps 96:10-13/Mk 11:11-26
June 2, 2018 (Sat) – Jude 17.20-25/Ps 63:2-6/Mk 11:27-33

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

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WSC Reflection – May 20, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 20, 2018–Pentecost Sunday(Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word:God’s love empowers us to make disciples of all nations.
Theme: We make disciples of all nations when we use our spiritual gifts to unite the Body of Christ.
Promise:“Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” (Jn 20:22a)

Reflection:
Today, Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the birth of the Church. Happy birthday to all believers in the Christian faith! On the Feast of Pentecost, we experience and celebrate the immense outpouring of gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, upon all followers of the Risen Lord. Pentecost is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that He would not leave us orphans and that He would return to His Father so He can send the Holy Spirit – the Paraclete, the Comforter and Advocate, to bestow His many empowering gifts upon us.

The Holy Spirit is God of love and has the power to create love in our hearts. In Christ Jesus and with faith working through love, our task is to bring all people to God and to work in building His kingdom, as we acknowledge the Lordship of God, our Creator. As disciples of the Lord, we direct our lives to be one with Him, responding to the mission He gave us: “As the Father has sent me, so am I sending you.”

We make disciples of all nations when we use our spiritual gifts to unite the Body of Christ – is the theme for this week. “There is diversity of gifts, diversity of ministries, diversity of works, but the same God works in all. The Spirit reveals His presence in each one with a gift that is also a service,” (1Cor: 7-11). The gifts of the Holy Spirit must be put to good use, otherwise what good are these gifts if they remain dormant? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well…for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ…” (CCC 800). Gifts are received in fullness in our Baptism and confirmed in the sacrament of Confirmation. But they only come to life and stirred up into action when we are baptized in the Spirit, such as what transpires in the LSS.

In today’s feast, we need to ponder deeply on the particular roles that God has given us and the particular contribution(s) we can make to the mission of the church, particularly, through our community. Be it as servants, stewards, teachers, sharers, worship leaders or members of an apostolate or ministry, we all work together in different ways towards one noble spiritual goal. As community members, let us embrace and put to action our BLD vision – “A community of disciples inspired by the Holy Spirit to be living witnesses for transformation in Christ to bring about a world of justice, human development and true peace.” The Holy Spirit is mighty, powerful, convincing and life-changing. He challenges and calls us to change and action. As Pope Francis said, “Go out again and again, without hesitation, without fear and proclaim this joy which is for all people.”

Pentecost happened on that momentous day in the “upper room.” There was the sound of a mighty wind from heaven filling the whole house (indicating the Spirit of God). There appeared tongues of fire which rested on the head of each one present (symbolizing the presence of God) and He breathes on them (giving them Life). When we receive the Holy Spirit, a new life is given to us, making us new creations and giving us a new life in the Spirit. Likewise, just as authority was given to the Apostles, the ultimate mission of the Church (where we are part of) is to bring people back to God. This is specifically expressed in the Promise this week: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven,” (Jn 20:22a). As present-day disciples, anointed and empowered with the Holy Spirit, we pray for and help reconcile those who have become separated from God and lead them to restore or renew their unity with Him. Through and with the Holy Spirit, we are given new hope, new heart and new purpose.

Let us remember that to actualize and experience our spiritual gifts, it is essential to function as one body of Christ. We are united as one body when we serve each other with love, respect and humility.

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, You are the God of life, truth, love, joy and service. Instill in us the fullness of your Spirit. Anoint and empower us that we may fully utilize the gifts you bestowed on us to help us improve our personal relationship with You, and thereby, enabling us to reach out to others and be of service to them, all for the glory of your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What spiritual gifts have you received from the Holy Spirit that you can utilize and can benefit your family, your community and others?
2. What are some possible areas of service that you can undertake to reach out and serve more? What steps can you take to bring more cooperation and unity in your family and your community?
3. Share on what ways the Holy Spirit has helped you lived a righteous life.

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 20, 2018 (Sun)- Acts 2:1-11/Ps 104:1,24,31,34,29-30/1Cor 12:3-7,12,13/Jn 20:19-23
May 21, 2018 (Mon) -Gn 3:9-15, 20/Ps 87:1-3, 5-7/Jn 19:25-34
May 22, 2018 (Tue) – Jas 4:1-10/Ps 55:7-11, 23/Mk 9:30-37
May 23, 2018 (Wed) – Jas 4:13-17/Ps 49:2, 3, 6-11/Mk 9:38-40
May 24, 2018 (Thu) -Jas 5:1-6/Ps 49:14-20/Mk 9:1-50
May 25, 2018 (Fri) – Jas 5:9-12/Ps 103:1-4, 8, 9.11, 12/Mk 10:1-12
May 26, 2018 (Sat) – Jas 5:13-20Ps 141:1-3, 8/Mk 10:13-16

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

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WSC Reflection – May 13, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 13, 2018 – Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: God’s love empowers us to make disciples of all nations.
Theme: We make disciples of all nations when we open ourselves to God’s call in spreading the
Good News.
Promise: “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1:8a)

Reflection: 
As the Resurrection is the turning point of salvation history, so is the Ascension the apex that marked the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was taken up to heaven, and returned to the Father in glory, having fulfillment of His mission on earth. Heaven is also the eternal home to which the Father has destined us, because it is His plan that all of us will be with Him forever.

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord implies that our hope does not consist merely of living in this world, but rather of living in Heaven. God truly wants to share His happiness with all men, and Christ is the bridge to heaven. For where Christ has gone, we hope to follow once our earthly journey is over. This is the joyful hope we share as the safe and sure anchor for our lives. Beyond the boundaries of death and decay, Christ has brought our human nature with Him, and there He now prepares our true home and waits to welcome us, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”

With His earthly mission over, Jesus instructs His disciples, as well as those who believe in Him, to continue the work He began and to proclaim the salvation He has won “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name,” (Lk 24:47). Like His first disciples, we are called to follow Christ and proclaim His message to all. But if we are to do so, we must repent of, and renounce our past mistakes and tendency to sin, and put our own lives in good spiritual order. We are to accept forgiveness, just as we are called to forgive others. As His witnesses, we are tasked to preach repentance that forgiveness may be given, the same way Christ taught us through His own example. We are also to testify to the forgiveness and healing we have received, that others may come to believe that God is a merciful Father, who will wash us clean no matter how scarlet our sins may have become. The words of our Lord are words of forgiveness, even while hanging on the cross. The point of His death is to reconcile us with His Father through the forgiveness of our sins, past, present and future.

Jesus’ final words to His apostles are brief and to the point. “I am with you always. Go, teach all nations.” And before sending them on their way, He arms them with the power to carry out their mission. “You will be clothed with power from on high,” (Lk 49:49b), when “the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Ac 1:8). Christ’s ascension reveals the work we must do in order to be His followers. While He is no longer physically present, His words and instructions remain with us through the Church in whose mission we participate by bringing more people to accept and share the love of God. God gives us the mission to preach the gospel using the gifts and talents He has given us, the time He has allotted for us, and ultimately, the very life He has given us. He gives us the opportunity to help save others for whom He paid so dearly.

As we journey in faith, we hope for the day when we will join Christ in the glory of God, just like the disciples who were gazing intently at the sky when Jesus ascended to heaven. But we have now received the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” (Acts 1:18). Thus, we are to follow Christ and accomplish the work He entrusted to us to be His witnesses, and to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name. Christian witnessing is an occasion for purification and rebirth. It is a wonderful opportunity to continue to discover the newness of God’s presence in our lives, that we may indeed be transformed into new creations, a people with new hearts and spirit. 
Prayer: 
Lord Jesus, You have allowed me to experience the joy of Your great love and the gift of Your Holy Spirit that gives me strength and hope, and newness of life. Help me to be sensitive to Your divine assignment, to respond with eager anticipation to the task You have set before me to share Your gospel to all men. May I be a living witness of Your transforming love. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How have I responded to the call of the Lord in spreading His Good News?
2. Have I put to good use my natural gifts and gifts of the Holy Spirit in my daily life? How?
3. Do you share the joy of the Gospel and the hope of new life?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 13, 2018 (Sun) – Acts 1:1-11/Ps 47:2, 3, 6-9/Eph 4:1-13/Mk 16:15-20
May 14, 2018 (Mon) – Acts 1:15-17,20-26/Ps 113:1-8/Jn 15:9-17
May 15, 2018 (Tue) – Acts 20:17-27/Ps 68:10,11,20,21/Jn 17:1-11
May 16, 2018 (Wed) – Acts 20:28-38/Ps 68:29-30,33-36/Jn 17:11-19
May 17, 2018 (Thu) – Acts 22:30;23:6-11/Ps 16:1,2,5,7-11/Jn 17:20-24 
May 18, 2018 (Fri) – Acts 25:13-21/Ps 103:1,2,11,12,19,20/Jn 21:15-19
May 19, 2018 (Sat) – Acts 28:16-20,30,31/Ps 11:4,5,7/Jn 21:20-25

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

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WSC Reflection – May 6, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
May 6, 2018 – 6th Sunday of Easter (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: God’s love empowers us to make disciples of all nations.
Theme: We make disciples of all nations when we bear much fruit that will remain
Promise: “…whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (Jn 15:16b)

Reflection: 
Do you want your prayers answered? The reply would of course be, yes! But many of us wonder why at times our prayers don’t seem to reach God’s ears. Then we fall into unbelief, we grumble, become angry, or rebel against God, and proceed to do things our own way, laying the blame for our disappointment on other people or circumstances. We behave contrary to the heart and character of Jesus Christ, as we ran short of love.

The scriptural readings for the 6th Sunday of Easter speaks mainly of love – God’s love. Not that we have loved God, but that God is love, and has loved us first. Every act and spoken word of God expresses His love for us, His children. In the First Reading, Peter tells us that God shows no partiality, “The man of any nation who fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him,” (Acts 10). God does not judge by creed, color or race. All are equal in the sight of God, for He looks at the thoughts and motivations of our hearts.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments given to Moses into two: “Love God above all and your neighbor as you love yourself.” This, He says, is the whole of the law and the prophets. It is a command to act in the righteousness of God, as exemplified by Jesus Himself. It mandates the kind of love that goes beyond the self and self-interest, a love that transcends the boundaries of our comfort zones, a generous, selfless love that honors God. Remember that God the Father surrendered His only Begotten Son, Jesus, to ransom us from our sins and restore us as sons and co-heirs of the Kingdom. The Second Reading exhorts us, “Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God. Everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God,” (1 Jn 4: 7).

The Gospel Reading summarizes the order of priority in loving: first, the Father loves the Son, and the Son the Father. Then, the Son loves the believer, and finally, the believer is commanded to love others, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus Himself provides the best example of love goes beyond all limitations. He laid down His life to buy our freedom and earn for himself the rather unworthy privilege of being able to call the likes of us human beings, as ‘friends’ – no longer slaves or servants – but ‘friends’ that He may generously invite us to come follow Him and receive the reward of eternal life.

Therefore, any act of love we do is a testimony of our faith in God. As we walk in His righteousness, we become living proofs of His love, a love that is intended for our own good. For as we follow His way of loving, we reap a harvest of God’s blessings. The Gospel itself speaks of this promise, that as we endure in loving each other, “…whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you,” (Jn 15:16b). God wants us to be happy. He wants us to have His joy. As we follow Jesus’ command to love one another, our joy will be complete. What more can we ask for? Once we experience that joy in our hearts, all our wish lists will become unnecessary. God’s love will completely fill the vacuum in our lives.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You have shown me Your kind of love. And I am one of those many recipients of Your love, because You have called me back to Your fold despite my sinfulness. Lord, I ask for the grace to be able to love more fully, more unconditionally, and find joy in serving beyond my comfort zone, loving each person you send my way, and even those I do not know, for that is what You would do Lord, for everyone is equal in Your eyes. Help me to trust You more as I learn to love more fully, knowing that You provide all my needs. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What is my present need and what stops me from experiencing joy in my life? Have I loved enough, or is there someone in my life I find difficult to love?
2. In my own circumstances, in what ways can I imitate the kind of love of Jesus which requires me to die to self?
This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
May 6, 2018 (Sun) – Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48/Ps 98:1,5-3,3-4/1Jn 4:7-10/Jn 15:9-17
May 7, 2018 (Mon) – Acts 16:11-18/Ps 149:1,2,3-4,5-6,9/Jn 18:26-16:4
May 8, 2018 (Tue) – Acts 16:22-34/Ps 138:1-3, 7-8/Jn 16:5-11
May 9, 2018 (Wed) – Acts 17:15, 22-18:1/Ps 148:1, 2, 11-14/Jn 16:12-15 
May 10, 2018 (Thu) – Acts 18:1-8/Ps 98:1-4/Jn 16:16-20 
May 11, 2018 (Fri) – Acts 18:9-18/Ps 47:2-7/Jn16:20-23 
May 12, 2018 (Sat) – Acts 18:23-28/Ps 47:2, 3, 8-10/Jn 16:23-28

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

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WSC Reflection – April 29, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 29, 2018– 5th Sunday of Easter (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: The resurrection of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith.
Theme: Our faith is strengthened when we bear much fruit for God’s kingdom.
Promise: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (Jn 15:7)

Reflection:
Authentic Christian life is a life in relationship with Jesus and the Father under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is a challenge to truly recognize the presence of Jesus, giving us the breath of new life and the capacity to bear fruit. It is not enough to believe that we have received new life in the Spirit by remaining attached to the vine which is Jesus. Our lives as the branches have to produce fruit. Just as the branch receives its life from the vine, we, individually and as members of the community of believers, receive life from Jesus, united with him in love, the love he also shares with his heavenly Father.

Jesus invites us to remain in him because apart from him we are nothing. By ourselves we cannot receive the gift of divine life nor can we pass it to others. To realize this makes us humble and keeps us from over-estimating our worth and abilities. To remain in oneness with Jesus is the starting point and goal of Christian life. It is also the source of our fruitfulness. By remaining in Jesus, we can bring to reality our potentials, big or small. Our continuing relationship with him is the true and only source of fruitfulness.

To abide in Christ means to be in communion with him so that our lives will be pleasing to Jesus. We know that we are abiding when the Father prunes us so that we can produce the best fruit that we can be. This is articulated in our theme for this week – Our faith is strengthened when we bear much fruit for God’s kingdom. Jesus is saying to us: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you,” (Jn 15:4). We maintain and cultivate our relationship with Christ through the study of God’s word and living it.

When Jesus tells us to remain in him, he wants us to be open and sincere. Our relationship with him must be intimate and receptive. But oftentimes, we wander away when we become surrounded and are influenced by worldly ways. While we profess our faithfulness to the Lord, we are still the master of our lives. When it comes to choices and priorities, our preferences prevail, following our own will, not the Lord’s will. But God’s love and care for us brings us back to Jesus. He prunes us of what is not useful to make us more effective and productive disciples of Christ. In the process of trimming off the excesses of our lives, there may be painful detachment, disengagement from people and things, discomforts, inconveniences and sacrifices. But these are all necessary to keep our relationship and faith in Christ clean, pure and fruitful. The word of the Lord is our “spiritual antiseptic” that prevents spiritual infections of resentment, self-centeredness, pride and envy from setting in. We are constantly “pruned” to prevent us from growing into a life of sinfulness and self-righteousness.

How do we manifest that our lives are fruitful in the kingdom of God? It is when we remain in Christ and bear fruit of love and service for others. Do we inspire others to draw near to the Lord by our genuine witnessing? Does our relationship with Jesus blossom into a good relationship with others when we are concerned about them and help them in their struggles and sufferings? The love of God as shown through our care and love for one another in words and actions is a clear sign that we are truly disciples of Jesus; that “he is the vine and we are the branches.”

We are indeed called to play a significant role in the kingdom of God by allowing our life to be lived through and in Christ. For as he says, “apart from me you can do nothing,” (Jn 15:5). We can accomplish many things in life, even the impossible, if we are united with the Lord. For He is greater than our hearts, our sinfulness, our intentions, our dreams, and our ambitions. In our faith journey, let us do our utmost to walk in the path of righteousness, humility, obedience and commitment and be Christ’s servants for other. Our consolation comes from the Lord’s promise in John 15:17: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”

Prayer:
Compassionate and loving Jesus, may I always be in union with You, with my heart in Yours. Remain in me and be with me at all times. Hold me closely and never let me go. Embrace me tightly and stay intimately with me in all situations, especially in times of trials and temptations. This I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. What situations have you experienced when you felt that you were away from Jesus? How did you feel when these happened?

2. How do you sustain your relationship with Jesus in terms of serving others?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
April 29, 2018 (Sun) – Acts 9:26-31/ Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31, 32/ 1Jn 3:18-24/ Jn 15:1-8
April 30, 2018 (Mon) – Acts 14:5-18/ Ps 115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16/ Jn 15:21-26
May 1, 2018 (Tue) – Gen 1:26-2:3/ Ps 90:2-4, 12-13, 14, 16/ Mt 13:54-58
May 2, 2018 (Wed) – Acts 15:1-6/ Ps 122:1-5/ Jn 15: 1-8
May 3, 2018 (Thu) – 1Cor 15:1-8/ Ps 19: 2-3, 4-5/ Jn 14: 6-14
May 4, 2018 (Fri) – Acts 15:22-31/ Ps 57:8-9, 10, 12/ Jn 15:12-17
May 5, 2018 (Sat) – Acts 16:1-10/ Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5/ Jn 15:18-21

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

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WSC Reflection – April 22, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 22, 2018 – 4th Sunday of Easter (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: The resurrection of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith.

Theme: Our faith is strengthened when we serve others in self-giving sacrifice.

Promise: “… we are God’s children now; what shall be revealed is … we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1Jn 3:2)

Reflection:
The 4th Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. In the gospel of John, Jesus declares: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this, I give my life for my sheep,” (Jn10:14-15). To this day and until the end of times, Jesus remains the one true and divine Shepherd of mankind. And He wants to share this mission with His chosen disciples. Through the shepherds He sends us, He gives us visible and continuing signs of His love and care for His people.

In the readings, Jesus exemplifies the true shepherd, showing us how a devoted shepherd should take care of his flock. A true and good shepherd knows his flock, loves and protects, guides and leads them to good pasture and fresh waters. He does not mislead or mistreat his flock. When we joined our BLD Community, we made a decision to follow the Good Shepherd. Given the freedom to make our personal choice, our presence here proves that we opted to follow the Good Shepherd through this community and its under-shepherds. But how well are we doing in responding to our Lord’s call?

To be true to our calling, we should be guided by this week’s theme: Our faith is strengthened when we serve others in self-giving sacrifice. Like Jesus we need to die to ourselves, to our self-centeredness and self-indulgence, and devote more time and attention to helping meet the needs of people under our care. To lead, guide, and protect our loved ones and those entrusted to our care is not a matter of personal choice or option, but a commitment and responsibility. Though we ourselves may be struggling, Jesus expects us to be like Him in shepherding the flock entrusted to our care, be it our immediate family members, members of our community or even strangers. If we want to reap God’s promises to us, we have to follow His ways; there is no other way.

When we face our Good Shepherd and Divine Judge at the end of time, our eternal happiness will depend largely on how much we gave of ourselves, and how we have loved and served our brothers during our lifetime. Our God will judge us on our sincerity and by the love and service we gave to his flock and by the kind of life we lived. We are saved bygrace through Christ’s great sacrifice on the cross. But we can lose this grace by our hardness of heart in the way we deal with the people around us, especially the last, the least and the lost. We will be held to account for our failure to respond to His call to holiness, justice and mercy.

And just as there are false prophets, there may also exist false shepherds who would simply be going through the motions, appearing to serve God, but are really ravenous wolves interested only in lording over their lambs. These false shepherds are unable to forego personal comfort and convenience. They are the ones of whom the Lord says: “I myself will tend my sheep … I myself will give them rest … I will shepherd them in judgment,” (Ez34; 11-16).

Properly shepherded, “lambs” may know and experience the mercy and compassion of Jesus and be led to the pasture of eternal life, where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more hunger, and no more thirst. It is to them and for all faithful under-shepherds that the Lord has promised: “… we are God’s children now; what shall be revealed is … we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1Jn 3:2)

Prayer:
Lord forgive us, when we don’t measure up to the ideal of a good shepherd, like You. We know Lord that you suffered and died, as the Paschal sacrifice for us, your lambs. But for us, we fall short of the small sacrifices required of us when we leave the comforts of home and undertake mission to help those whom we don’t even know. Grant us Lord, the spirit of self-sacrifice and compassion that we may be more and more like you, the Good Shepherd. Thank you for never giving up on us, for leading us and protecting us from harm. Above all for showing us the way when we were lost, and leading us back to the fold when we went astray. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Is Jesus the Lord of every aspect of my life? What areas in my life that I’m struggling with, but I do not allow the Lord to guide me through?

2. How can I show my appreciation to Jesus for all He has done in my life?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:

April 22, 2018 (Sun) – Acts 4:8-12/Ps 118:1,8,9,21-23,26,28,29/1Jn 3:1,/Jn 10:11-18
April 23, 2018 (Mon) – Acts 11:1-18/Ps 42:2, 3; 43:3-4/Jn 10:1-10
April 24, 2018 (Tue) – Acts 11:19-26/Ps 87:1-7/Jn 10:22-30
April 25, 2018 (Wed) – 1 Pt 5:5-14/Ps 89:2, 3, 6, 7, 16, 17/Mk 16:15-20
April 26, 2018 (Thu) – Acts 13:13-25/Ps 89:2, 3, 2, 22, 25, 27/Jn 13:16-20
April 27, 2018 (Fri) – Acts 13:26-33/Ps 2:6-11/Jn 14:1-6
April 28, 2018 (Sat) – Acts 13:44-52/Ps 98:2-4/Jn 14:7-14

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

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WSC Reflection – April 15, 2018

Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
April 15, 2018 – 3rdSunday of Easter (Cycle B, Year II)

Community Word: The resurrection of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith.
Theme: Our faith is strengthened when we open our hearts and minds to God’s word.
Promise: “… whoever keeps his word the love of God is truly perfected in him.” (1Jn 2:5)

Reflection:
“He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” (Lk 24:45). His disciples were still fearful, troubled and unbelieving so Jesus had to prove to them that he was not a ghost, but truly resurrected in “flesh and bones” leading them tobelieve that he indeed rose from the dead. It takes the Lord’s wisdom and authority to help them understand and accept the truth of his word.Jesus enlightened them and opened their minds to the understanding of what the Scriptures had foretold and meant regarding the Messiah. The Risen Christ guided his disciples then and he continues to lead us to a fuller knowledge of faith. As the community word for the month declares – The resurrection of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith.

“Our faith is strengthened when we open our hearts and minds to God’s word,” is our theme for the week. By his words in the scriptures, Jesus continues to widen our understanding and build up our reason that our spiritual convictions may be strengthened. As our Messiah, he offered the perfect sacrifice for us in order that the gates of heaven would be opened again, surpassing every human expectations. Now, all we need to do is to allow Jesus to enter our hearts and open our minds so that in turn we may have the light and truth of our salvation through his word, and in all his works and promises.

In fulfillment of the Scriptures, Jesus told his disciples: “You are witnesses of these things,” (Lk 24:48) and told them to preach in his name to all nations and they were to do this as witnesses. We, too, are to witness to others that we who believe in the Risen Christ will also rise again with him on the last day. Because of this, we are to live not only for this world but for the next one as well. We are to be witnesses to Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, the bread that was broken and given for us to partake. The Risen Lord lives in us and helps us to serve one another, to lighten their burdens as we help them, give them words of encouragement and heal them with our prayers.

Our mission to proclaim our Risen Lord is urgent because more people are putting their faith in matters other than God. The influences of technology, media, worldly ideas and ideology are distracting many from the godly truth. In the midst of these earthly challenges, we are to be God’s witnesses by our own lives despite our weaknesses. We can still live our faith. Jesus approaches us in our humanness with our ups and downs. Our encounter with Jesus is filled with deep emotions and love, given and received, and are committed with care, forgiveness and love beyond measure. We encounter him in the community of faith that gathers to celebrate the Eucharist.We encounter him in a mystifying experience when we reflect on God’s word because God speaks to us here. That is why it is so important to read and meditate upon the holy words. It is the way by which God tells us to cleanse our life and come to know Him in an intimate way.

It is easy to be lost in expectations, thinking that the world is open in entirely material manner and believing that only in this way can we have complete joy. But we have learned of the possibility of eternal life and that’s the only triumph that truly matters in the end. Sometimes, unbelief and doubt overwhelm the heart and weaken our faith that God is truly present in our life. But we have the assuring promise that “… whoever keeps his word the love of God is truly perfected in him,”(1Jn 2:5).

Prayer:
Almighty God, You are omniscient and all-loving. Touch our hearts and our minds that we remain strong and steadfast in our Catholic faith. Give us the grace that allows us to encounter You always in the many ways that You seek to encounter us. Help us to grow in Your abundant love and to share that same love and encounters with You with our sisters and brothers in community. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. How do you deepen your understanding of the Scriptures to strengthen your faith?
2. How can you testify that God is truly present in your life after your renewal experience?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
April 15, 2018 (Sun)- Acts 3:13-15, 17-19/Ps 4:2, 4, 7-9/1Jn 2:1-5/Lk 24:35-48
April 16, 2018 (Mon) -Acts 6:8-15/Ps 119:23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30/Jn 6:22-29
April 17, 2018 (Tue) – Acts 7:51-8:1/Ps 31:3,4,6,7,8,17,21/Jn 6:30-35
April 18, 2018 (Wed) – Acts 8:1-8/Ps 66:1-7/Jn 6:35-40
April 19, 2018 (Thu) -Acts 87:26-40/Ps 66:8, 9, 16, 17, 20/Jn 6:44-51
April 20, 2018 (Fri) -Acts 9:1-20/Ps 117:1, 2/Jn 6:52-59
April 21, 2018 (Sat) – Acts 9:31-42/Ps 116:12-17/Jn 6:60-69

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

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