April 26th 2015 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 25, 2015 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Reflections with Dr Scott Hahn

The Shepherd’s Voice

Readings:
Acts 4:8-12
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 29
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.

He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10-13, 23-31).

His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.

In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15-17).

Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10-13; 1 Peter 2:4-7).

Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.

In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did—as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22-23; Revelation 21:7).

Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 25, 2015 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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One of the many things I love about my Parish is that we wish each other “Peace be with you” and for most we will follow up with a hug. Very much in line with St Peter’s call to greet one another with a kiss. For it is an external expression of an internal love with have for one another through the body of Christ Jesus.

Who else would want such love and peace destroyed then the devil! And he patiently waits and tries to poisons our minds with worldliness. A desire to be recognised for our efforts, seeking rewards. Putting others down while we force our views and thoughts on others. However It is only when we serve with humble hearts and tireless sacrifice that we can truly experience the Lord in our lives. The peace, joy and fruits that can only come from serving Him.

By growing in our relationship and our faith in Jesus, we see the power He bestows upon us to do His Will. We can heal, we can deliver from oppression, we can intercede and we can proclaim the Gospel.

Lord Jesus I long to serve You humbly always! Amen

Saint Mark, Evangelist – Feast
First reading
1 Peter 5:5-14

All wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other, because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God now, and he will raise you up on the appointed day; unload all your worries on to him, since he is looking after you. Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things. You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.
I write these few words to you through Silvanus, who is a brother I know I can trust, to encourage you never to let go this true grace of God to which I bear witness.
Your sister in Babylon, who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son, Mark.
Greet one another with a kiss of love.

Gospel
Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 24, 2015 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Are we guilty of blind zeal in serving our God? Do we not take time to fast and discern His Will for us easy especially when on a mission that will affect God our Father’s children?

Before we embark on any journey let us ensure it is a Christ centred one. Let us remember that the message of Jesus is for all of God’s children and not only those whom we know.

And because we have experienced intimately the joy of the source and summit of our faith. Let us invite everyone and prepare them for the Eucharistic feast in which they too can partake; receive Jesus our Lord and be received by Him. Amen

First reading
Acts 9:1-20

Saul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord’s disciples. He had gone to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he could find.
Suddenly, while he was travelling to Damascus and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he asked, and the voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.’ The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but even with his eyes wide open he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight, and took neither food nor drink.
A disciple called Ananias who lived in Damascus had a vision in which he heard the Lord say to him, ‘Ananias!’ When he replied, ‘Here I am, Lord’, the Lord said, ‘You must go to Straight Street and ask the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus. At this moment he is praying, having had a vision of a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to give him back his sight.’
When he heard that, Ananias said, ‘Lord, several people have told me about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your saints in Jerusalem. He has only come here because he holds a warrant from the chief priests to arrest everybody who invokes your name.’ The Lord replied, ‘You must go all the same, because this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name.’ Then Ananias went. He entered the house, and at once laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on your way here so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately it was as though scales fell away from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. So he was baptised there and then, and after taking some food he regained his strength.
He began preaching in the synagogues, ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’

Gospel
John 6:52-59

The Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’
He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 23, 2015 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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To know the Word of God is to Love the Word of God. And the time we take to grow in our relationship with Him, deepens our relationship and knowledge of Him.

Can we still say these days we have no one to guide us? I suppose in some remote areas of the world yes. But what about the rest of the world? We have the writings of the early church fathers, we have numerous resources of bible commentaries and books written by great Catholic scholars. And most precious of all, the greatest guide the Holy Spirit!

To take us yet further and deeper in our relationship with Him. Jesus invites us everyday to receive Him, Body, Blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion. So that He may dwell in us and we in Him.

How great is our God! Amen

First reading
Acts 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey. Now it happened that an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia, and was in fact her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and meet that chariot.’ When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ ‘How can I’ he replied ‘unless I have someone to guide me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this:
Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a lamb that is dumb in front of its shearers,
like these he never opens his mouth.
He has been humiliated and has no one to defend him.
Who will ever talk about his descendants,
since his life on earth has been cut short!
The eunuch turned to Philip and said, ‘Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or someone else?’ Starting, therefore, with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the Good News of Jesus to him.
  Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptised?’ He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.

Gospel
John 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowd:
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 22, 2015 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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In times of difficulty and trouble as foreboding danger lurks. The instinctive response will be to run and hide. Sometimes giving in to darkness and accepting oppression as fate. The light that once was is extinguished within us.

True mark of Christians are that they are only focussed on one thing and that is to do the Will of God our Father. They bear their crosses willingly and are unafraid to face persecution for they know Jesus will liberate them, even from death. Through their heroic faith they liberate souls from sin and evil and bring healing and comfort to all who are in need. They bring Jesus to all with His loving message of salvation.

Jesus my Lord. Have mercy on me for the many times I had given in to my weaknesses. You O Lord are life! Help me that I may live my life with and in You. Amen

First reading
Acts 8:1-8

That day a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria.
There were some devout people, however, who buried Stephen and made great mourning for him.
Saul then worked for the total destruction of the Church; he went from house to house arresting both men and women and sending them to prison.
Those who had escaped went from place to place preaching the Good News. One of them was Philip who went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. As a result there was great rejoicing in that town.

Gospel
John 6:35-40

Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.
But, as I have told you,
you can see me and still you do not believe.
All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away;
because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will,
but to do the will of the one who sent me.
Now the will of him who sent me
is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me,
and that I should raise it up on the last day.
Yes, it is my Father’s will
that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life,
and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 21, 2015 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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How frustrating it is to have the answer to a peaceful, joy filled, full life in front of you and not being able to see it. Because rage and hate, coupled with sinfulness has blinded you. Never questioning why love seems to be missing in your life. So it is fitting then that you hold on dearly to this life. Fighting with all your might to hold on to it for it is the only one you know.

Jesus is the answer then and Jesus is the answer now! All we need do is to come before Him and with a contrite heart say, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” He will open up to us the wellsprings of life so that we can draw from Him and have new life. All we will ever need, will come from Him.

Lord let me love with Your love, let me live with Your life. That I may one day rest eternally with You. Amen

First reading
Acts 7:51-8:1

Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’
  They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.
  But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.

Gospel
John 6:30-35

They people said to Jesus, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 18, 2015 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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How do I know if I am living a life of holiness? The way I am called to do? If I have deepened my relationship with God?

For one, I won’t be reflecting on these questions I would be too busy doing the Lord’s work. Reflecting only what His Will is for me next. I will speak the truth always even in the face of adversity. And I know that whenever I am burdened and a little overwhelmed, He is there to give me rest and nourishment.

I will give Him thanks and praise by my deeds as well as through my words. People will see the glow about me for Christ dwells within.

Lord Jesus I believe in thee do thou increase my faith. Amen

First reading
Acts 6:8-15

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. So they procured some men to say, ‘We heard him using blasphemous language against Moses and against God.’ Having in this way turned the people against him as well as the elders and scribes, they took Stephen by surprise, and arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. There they put up false witnesses to say, ‘This man is always making speeches against this Holy Place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene is going to destroy this Place and alter the traditions that Moses handed down to us.’ The members of the Sanhedrin all looked intently at Stephen, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.

Gospel
John 6:22-29

After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water. Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’