On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 17, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Are we exclusive or are we inclusive with our circle of family and friends? What about the strangers amongst us? Do we prejudge people according to our own standards?

If our Lord Jesus Christ were to use our various standards of measuring people up, where would we ourselves be? For none of us is without sin. We therefore need to be merciful and loving as our Lord Jesus is towards us.
Only then can His light shine through us. Only then can we say we are His disciples.

Give me the courage Lord to be more accepting of those I am not comfortable with. To embrace them as fellow children of God. For we all need Your mercy and grace in our lives. To become who You want us to be. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 58:9-14
You will be like a spring whose waters never run dry

The Lord says this:

If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you, giving you relief in desert places.

He will give strength to your bones and you shall be like watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.

You will rebuild the ancient ruins, build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’, ‘Restorer of ruined houses.’

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day, if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’,
and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’, if you honour it by abstaining from travel, from doing business and from gossip,
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord
and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Gospel

Luke 5:27-32
Jesus comes not to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance

Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.
In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 16, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

What is the purpose of our Lenten observances if it does not change us to become more loving, merciful, and Holy? If we do not empty ourselves of pride, greed, envy, our tempers and disordered sexual desires? How then can we expect to be filled with our Lord’s grace when we are still full of ourselves, our whims and fancies. When our observances are shallow.

Our fast, sacrifices, almsgiving adds nothing to the Lord our God’s glory. We do them to become more like Jesus, to become closer to Him. To love and live as He did. For He was showing us the way to true joy with life in Him.

Tending to those who cannot care for themselves or have the means to do so. To share what we can with them and to bring the message of His love and hope to all. This is what is pleasing to the Lord.

Jesus, help me become more like You. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 58:1-9
The sort of fast that pleases me

Thus says the Lord:

Shout for all you are worth, raise your voice like a trumpet. Proclaim their faults to my people, their sins to the House of Jacob.

They seek me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the law of its God.

They ask me for laws that are just, they long for God to draw near: ‘Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?’

Look, you do business on your fast-days, you oppress all your workmen; look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks –to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

Gospel

Matthew 9:14-15
When the bridegroom is taken from them, then they will fast

John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 15, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

We have but one precious life to live. No one knows exactly how long they will live for, apart from the gravelly ill who can only guess. So we have a choice to make. To live a sinful life separated from the Lord our God, which eventually leads to permanent death? Or to live a grace filled life in the Lord our God?

Make no mistake the latter choice is not easy. It is one of love which demands sacrifice. To live our lives not for ourselves but for the good of others. And to live it for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord who died for us so that we might have eternal life with Him. This life choice is one which bears fruit.

Lord Jesus I choose to take up my cross and follow You. Be with me always I pray. Amen

First reading

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
I set before you today life or death, blessing or curse

Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’

Gospel

Luke 9:22-25
Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said:
‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 14, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Ash Wednesday

Today while the world awakes to just another day, we awake to new beginnings. The start of our Lenten journey towards greater holiness, mercy, love and compassion.

We turn our backs to sin, recall what we have done; how we have failed to live our faith and to do the Lord’s will. We turn to the Lord for His mercy, strength and grace as we pledge to start living new lives in Him this Lenten journey.

Lord fill our hearts with Your love and compassion, so that we may serve the least of our brothers and sisters well. Help us on this journey to Holiness, open our hearts and minds, to be attentive to Your call; and will for us. As we strive to remain faithful to the Gospels. Amen

First reading

Joel 2:12-18
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –
come back to me with all your heart,
fasting, weeping, mourning.’
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn,
turn to the Lord your God again,
for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in graciousness,
and ready to relent.
Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent,
will not leave a blessing as he passes,
oblation and libation
for the Lord your God?

Sound the trumpet in Zion!
Order a fast,
proclaim a solemn assembly,
call the people together,
summon the community,
assemble the elders,
gather the children,
even the infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom
and the bride her alcove.
Between vestibule and altar let the priests,
the ministers of the Lord, lament.
Let them say,
‘Spare your people, Lord!
Do not make your heritage a thing of shame,
a byword for the nations.
Why should it be said among the nations,
“Where is their God?”’

Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land,
took pity on his people.

Second reading

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Be reconciled to God

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.

Gospel

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 13, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Too often when trouble assails or trials come we hear some say it is God testing us. Likewise when they succumb to sinful desires it was the Lord who sent too great a temptation. What sort of faith is that?! Who is this God they have a ‘relationship’ with?

The Lord our God is Holy and pure and Holiness is His will for us. And so on our pilgrim journey back to Him, we seek to grow in holiness by praying, listening and living His Word for us. To be examples for one another. We need to stand guard against those who would try to lead us astray.

Let us always seek His way and His truth. To see and perceive all things through the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom we love and serve. Amen

First reading

James 1:12-18
Temptation is not from God

Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself, and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Never, when you have been tempted, say, ‘God sent the temptation’; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not tempt anybody. Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.
Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: it is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.

Gospel

Mark 8:14-21
Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod

The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ And they said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ They answered, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ And they answered, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Are you still without perception?’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 12, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

How do you know if you have grown in Your faith? In your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?

It is through trials and challenges that come our way that we know. Despite them we have hope and faith that Jesus is with us through it all. We embrace more tightly a sacramental life of reconciliation and receiving Him through Holy Eucharist. We become more patient and our lives are more fruitful. We strive to dwell in Him as we are assured that He dwells in us. These are the only signs in our own life that we seek. Amen

First reading

James 1:1-11
Your faith is put to the test so that your patience may make you complete

From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.
My brothers, you will always have your trials but, when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing.
If there is any one of you who needs wisdom, he must ask God, who gives to all freely and ungrudgingly; it will be given to him. But he must ask with faith, and no trace of doubt, because a person who has doubts is like the waves thrown up in the sea when the wind drives. That sort of person, in two minds, wavering between going different ways, must not expect that the Lord will give him anything.
It is right for the poor brother to be proud of his high rank, and the rich one to be thankful that he has been humbled, because riches last no longer than the flowers in the grass; the scorching sun comes up, and the grass withers, the flower falls; what looked so beautiful now disappears. It is the same with the rich man: his business goes on; he himself perishes.

Gospel

Mark 8:11-13
No sign shall be given to this generation

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 10, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Made Clean: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:
Lv 13:1–2, 44–46
Ps 32:1–2, 5, 11
1 Cor 10:31–11:1
Mk 1:40–45

In the Old Testament, leprosy is depicted as punishment for disobedience of God’s commands (see Numbers 12:12–15; 2 Kings 5:27; 15:5).

Considered “unclean”—unfit to worship or live with the Israelites, lepers are considered “stillborn,” the living dead (see Numbers 12:12). Indeed, the requirements imposed on lepers in today’s First Reading—rent garments, shaven head, covered beard—are signs of death, penance, and mourning (see Leviticus 10:6; Ezekiel 24:17).

So there’s more to the story in today’s Gospel than a miraculous healing.

When Elisha, invoking God’s name, healed the leper, Naaman, it proved there was a prophet in Israel (see 2 Kings 5:8). Today’s healing reveals Jesus as far more than a great prophet—He is God visiting His people (see Luke 7:16).

Only God can cure leprosy and cleanse from sin (see 2 Kings 5:7); and only God has the power to bring about what He wills (see Isaiah 55:11; Wisdom 12:18).

The Gospel scene has an almost sacramental quality about it.

Jesus stretches out His hand—as God, by His outstretched arm, performed mighty deeds to save the Israelites (see Exodus 14:6; Acts 4:30). His ritual sign is accompanied by a divine word (“Be made clean”). And, like God’s word in creation (“Let there be”), Jesus’ word “does” what He commands (see Psalm 33:9).

The same thing happens when we show ourselves to the priest in the sacrament of penance. On our knees like the leper, we confess our sins to the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm. And through the outstretched arm and divine word spoken by His priest, the Lord takes away the guilt of our sin.

Like the leper we should rejoice in the Lord and spread the good news of His mercy. We should testify to our healing by living changed lives. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we should do even the littlest things for the glory of God and that others may be saved.