Archive for April, 2012

April 30th 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 27, 2012 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible 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.


Yes I know this is long overdue since we are now in the third week of Easter celebrations already, but I have been kept pretty busy doing both the Lord’s work and work at the office.  On the onset I must say that my Lenten journey this year has been rocky and painful but I have learnt much and have yet more to learn!  I will be as brief as possible and share only the most important points/lessons that I have learned and experienced.

Many observe the Lenten fast or abstinence in their own way i.e. according to their own faith level and even physical constitution.  For me, I did a 12 hour fast from food and water beginning each they at 5 am the fast started from 6am till 6pm in the evening.  The first few days were the toughest since the body wants what is wants but soon enough it adjusted and I could concentrate on why I was emptying myself and let the Lord fill me with His love.  To realise that our bodies does not actually need that much food or drink to survive, and that discipline of the body aids in spiritual discipline as well.

The closer I got to the Lord my God in the journey, the greater too the temptations to stray.  And when I could no longer attend daily Mass since my wife returned to work after her maternity leave was over, I found myself not only hungering and thirsting for the Eucharist but my propensity to sin increased.  The Eucharist is indeed a great gift of Love for us, the nourishment we need to resist sin and to remain in communion with our one Triune God and His children our brothers and sisters.  Another great gift of Love is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God receiving us close to His bosom even though we had strayed, freeing us from the bondage of sin and allowing His peace and Love to flow through our very being.  I experienced His love for me even when I could not go for the sacrament till six days later, He knew I had fallen once again but with a contrite heart I cried out to Him and He heard me.  He gave me consolations of peace and love till I manage to embrace Him once again in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The height and summit of the Lenten journey for me started on Maundy Thursday evening.  I had been tasked to prepare and lead the adoration prayers for the Altar of Repose immediately after the Maundy Thursday Eucharistic Celebration, and through much prayer and with the power of the Holy Spirit the adoration touched many who attended.  Also the presence of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ our Lord was greatly felt by most who later attended the Lenten Vigil which followed from midnight to 6am Good Friday morning.  I am certain that most, if not all who attended grew very much closer to God in prayer and worship.  The team did a fantastic job, with videos of the passion of Christ, Praise and Worship sessions, meditation on the sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, Meditation on the powerful healing in uniting our sufferings with the Passion of Christ, Mediations on the Lord’s Supper and the stations of the cross.  Again I am very thankful for being able to participate and contribute in two of the meditations that morning.  It is indeed a powerful testament to witness God’s hand and to feel His presence throughout the Vigil, this only happens when we allow ourselves to be led and allow Him to work through us. Praise Be To God! Allelulia, Allelulia, Alleluia!

 

 

April 22nd 2012 – Third Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 21, 2012 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

Understanding the Scriptures

Readings:
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-9
1 John 2:1-5
Luke 24:35-48


Jesus in today’s Gospel, teaches His apostles how to interpret the Scriptures.

He tells them that all the Scriptures of what we now call the Old Testament refer to Him. He says that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in His passion, death, and resurrection. And He tells them that these Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church – to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning at Jersusalem.

In today’s First Reading and Epistle, we see the beginnings of that mission. And we see the apostles interpreting the Scriptures as Jesus taught them to.

God has brought to fulfillment what He announced beforehand in all the prophets, Peter preaches. His sermon is shot through with Old Testament images. He evokes Moses and the exodus, in which God revealed himself as the ancestral God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Exodus 3:6,15). He identifies Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who has been glorified (see Isaiah 52:13).

John, too describes Jesus in Old Testament terms. Alluding to how Israel’s priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for the people’s sins (see Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9-10), he says that Jesus intercedes for us before God (see Romans 8:34), and that His blood is a sacrificial expiation for the sins of the world (see 1 John 1:7).

Notice that in all three readings, the Scriptures are interpreted to serve and advance the Church’s mission – to reveal the truth about Jesus, to bring people to repentance, the wiping away of sins, and the perfection of their love for God.

This is how we, too, should hear the Scriptures. Not to know more “about” Jesus, but to truly know Him personally, and to know His plan for our lives.

In the Scriptures, the light of His face shines upon us, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We know the wonders He has done throughout history. And we have the confidence to call to Him, and to know that He hears and answers.

Christ’s Power And The Bread

Posted: April 20, 2012 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

Sometimes Christ comes with such great majesty that no one could doubt but that it is the Lord himself.  Especially after receiving Communion – for we know that he is present, since our faith tells us this – he reveals himself as so much the lord of this dwelling that it seems the soul is completely dissolved; and it sees itself  consumed in Christ. O my Jesus! Who could make known the majesty with which you reveal yourself! And, Lord of all the world and of the heavens, of a thousand other worlds and of numberless worlds, and of the heavens that you might create, how the soul understands by the majesty with which you reveal yourself that it is nothing for you to be Lord of the world!

In this vision the powerlessness of all the devils in comparison with your power is clearly seen, my Jesus; and it is seen how whoever is pleasing to you can trample  all hell under foot.  In this vision the reason is seen why the devils feared when you descended into limbo and why they would have preferred to be in another thousand lower hells in order to flee from such great majesty.  I see that you want the soul to know how tremendous this majesty is and the power that his most sacred humanity joined with the divinity has.

Saint Teresa Of Avilla +1582


“when I speak, only the faithful hear my voice. To be faithful is to listen to my Word and obey my commandment to love. “

Divine Mercy Sunday

Posted: April 14, 2012 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections with Dr. Scott Hahn

The Day the Lord Made

Readings:
Acts 4:32-35
Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31


 

Three times in today’s Psalm we cry out a victory shout: “His mercy endures forever.”

Truly we’ve known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ pierced side (see John 19:34), we’ve been made God’s children, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

Yet we never met Jesus, never heard Him teach, never saw Him raised from the dead. His saving Word came to us in the Church – through the ministry of the apostles, who in today’s Gospel are sent as He was sent.

He was made a life-giving Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) and He filled His apostles with that Spirit. As we hear in today’s First Reading, they bore witness to His resurrection with great power. And through their witness, handed down in the Church through the centuries, their teaching and traditions have reached us (see Acts 2:42).

We encounter Him as the apostles did – in the breaking of the bread on the Lord’s day (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

There is something liturgical about the way today’s Gospel scenes unfold. It’s as if John is trying to show us how the risen Lord comes to us in the liturgy and sacraments.

In both scenes it is Sunday night. The doors are bolted tight, yet Jesus mysteriously comes. He greets them with an expression, “Peace be with you,” used elsewhere by divine messengers (see Daniel 10:19; Judges 6:23). He shows them signs of His real bodily presence. And on both nights the disciples respond by joyfully receiving Jesus as their “Lord.”

Isn’t this what happens in the Mass – where our Lord speaks to us in His Word, and gives himself to us in the sacrament of His body and blood?

Let us approach the altar with joy, knowing that every Eucharist is the day the Lord has made – when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes.