Archive for January, 2016

I Am Consecrated

Posted: January 31, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

## Jeremiah 1:5 Before you came to Birth I consecrated you.

## Psalm 70:6 From my mother’s womb you have been my help.

How wonderful it is to recognise God’s voice speaking to me during the Eucharistic Celebration. I wrote down the two beautiful lines that struck me to dwell upon them later.

One was from the First Reading today and the other was from the Responsorial Psalm. It did not dawn on me till I was in Adoration that the first line was a confirmation, a Blessed Assurance if you will of His great love for me as a unique child of His. I was consecrated to Him even before I was born! Made Holy set apart. Was I living my life then as my heavenly Father intended for me? How am I going to meet the demands of discipleship? Of sonship?

Then I saw immediately how the second line fit like a glove. It was an acknowledgement of God’s love and mercy. He was with me from my mother’s womb and He will be with me every step of the way.

Jesus my Lord, help me to remain Holy. Let me never forget that by choosing to sin is to deny my heavenly Father’s love for me. Be with me Lord, be my help and guide always. Amen

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 30, 2016 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Prophet to the Nations: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:
Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19
Psalm 71: 1-6,15-17
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Luke 4:21-30

God’s words in today’s First Reading point us beyond Jeremiah to Jesus. Like Jeremiah, Jesus was consecrated in the womb and sent as a “prophet to the nations” (see Luke 1:31-33).

Like the prophets before Him, Jesus too faces hostility. In today’s Gospel, the crowd in His hometown synagogue quickly turns on Him, apparently demanding a sign, some proof of divine origins – that He’s more than just “the son of Joseph.”

The sign He gives them is that of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. From their colorful careers Jesus draws two stories. In each, the prophets bypass “many…in Israel” to bestow God’s blessings on non-Israelites who had faith that the prophets were men of God (see 1 Kings 17:1-16; 2 Kings 5:1-14). “None…not one” in Israel was found deserving, Jesus emphasizes.

His point isn’t lost on His audience. They know He’s likening them to the “many…in Israel” in the days of the prophets. That’s why they try to shove Him off the cliff. As He promised to protect Jeremiah, the Lord delivers Jesus from those who would crush Him.

And as were Elijah and Elisha, Jesus is sent to proclaim God’s gift of salvation – not exclusively to one nation or people, but to all who realize in faith that from the womb God alone is their hope, their rescuer, their “rock of refuge,” as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Prophecies, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, are partial and pass away “when the perfect comes.” In Jesus, the word of the prophets has been brought to perfection, fulfilled in those who have ears to hear, as He declares in today’s Gospel.

Greater than the gifts of faith and hope, Jesus shows us how to love as He loved, to love God as our Father, as One Who formed us in the womb and destined us to hear His saving Word.

This is the salvation, the “mighty works of the Lord,” that we, as the Psalmist, are thankful to proclaim daily in the Eucharist.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 30, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Time and time again I have heard it said that sin is between me and God alone! Many still think that there is such a thing as private sins and public ones. They do not yet understand the nature of sin neither will they understand what it means to be one body in Christ.

Sin has a whirlpool effect it can and often will affect all those around the sinner including family and friends. What may have started as a small sin can become very big and out of control. As in cases of adultery, theft turned murder to name a few.

Do not wait till sin overwhelms us. Do not wait till the weight of the world bears down on us. Turn straightaway to our Lord for mercy and He will save us from our sins. Better yet, work towards remaining faithful always. Reading, reflecting and living the word in our lives. And receiving the sacraments of reconciliation and Holy Eucharist regularly. Amen

First reading
2 Samuel 12:1-7,10-17

The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David. He came to him and said:

‘In the same town were two men, one rich, the other poor.
The rich man had flocks and herds in great abundance; the poor man had nothing but a ewe lamb, one only, a small one he had bought.

This he fed, and it grew up with him and his children,
eating his bread, drinking from his cup,sleeping on his breast; it was like a daughter to him.

When there came a traveller to stay, the rich man refused to take one of his own flock or herd to provide for the wayfarer who had come to him.

Instead he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.’

David’s anger flared up against the man. ‘As the Lord lives,’ he said to Nathan ‘the man who did this deserves to die! He must make fourfold restitution for the lamb, for doing such a thing and showing no compassion.’

  Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man. So now the sword will never be far from your House, since you have shown contempt for me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”

  ‘Thus the Lord speaks, “I will stir up evil for you out of your own House. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. You worked in secret, I will work this in the face of all Israel and in the face of the sun.”’

  David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord, for his part, forgives your sin; you are not to die. Yet because you have outraged the Lord by doing this, the child that is born to you is to die.’ Then Nathan went home.

  The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David and it fell gravely ill. David pleaded with the Lord for the child; he kept a strict fast and went home and spent the night on the bare ground, covered with sacking. The officials of his household came and stood round him to get him to rise from the ground, but he refused, nor would he take food with them.

Gospel
Mark 4:35-41

With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 29, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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We live under God our Father’s providence. And yet many take this for granted; they do not offer thanks and praise. Some hold on to the idea that they alone provide solely for themselves and their family.  Yet cannot account for the weather, the air, temperature, water, nature, night and day.

What we have is free will to choose to be obedient and follow our Lord God’s Will for us.  And He Wills the good in us for one another. To live in His love.

To choose to sin is to deny Him and His love.  The evil of sin which may have started small soon grows and takes on a life of it’s own. Often more sins are committed to cover the older ones.

Let us turn to Jesus straightaway way when we have fallen into sin. For in His love, He came to liberate us from the bonds of death. So that we may be free to listen and live the Word of God in His love. The Kingdom of God is at hand for us and it is the source of life for all. Amen

First reading
2 Samuel 11:1-4,5-10,13-17

At the turn of the year, the time when kings go campaigning, David sent Joab and with him his own guards and the whole of Israel. They massacred the Ammonites and laid siege to Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem.

  It happened towards evening when David had risen from his couch and was strolling on the palace roof, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David made inquiries about this woman and was told, ‘Why, that is Bathsheba, Eliam’s daughter, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers and had her brought. She came to him, and he slept with her. She then went home again. The woman conceived and sent word to David; ‘I am with child.’

  Then David sent Joab a message, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite’, whereupon Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came into his presence, David asked after Joab and the army and how the war was going. David then said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and enjoy yourself. Uriah left the palace, and was followed by a present from the king’s table. Uriah however slept by the palace door with his master’s bodyguard and did not go down to his house.

  This was reported to David; ‘Uriah’ they said ‘did not go down to his house.’ The next day David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk. In the evening Uriah went out and lay on his couch with his master’s bodyguard, but he did not go down to his house.

  Next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Station Uriah in the thick of the fight and then fall back behind him so that he may be struck down and die.’ Joab, then besieging the town, posted Uriah in a place where he knew there were fierce fighters. The men of the town sallied out and engaged Joab; the army suffered casualties, including some of David’s bodyguard; and Uriah the Hittite was killed too.

Gospel
Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

  He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

  Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 28, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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We are all children of the light. And that it is the way it’s meant to be for our children and our children’s children. God our Father has no favourites as it was spoken by Jesus our Lord, “Whoever does the will of God is my mother, brother and sister.”

The Word of God is what enkindles the flame within us. Our meditation, recollection and reflection is what feeds the light of our candle. Without which it will be extinguished.

Such is our light that it must shine for all to see. To illumine the minds and hearts of those around us that lie in darkness. So that their hearts and minds too can be inflamed by the love of God.

Let not the many gifts and talents that our loving Lord has given us be put to waste or taken away. For it is meant to be used for our light to shine brightly for others. So that all may see that it is the light of God that shines through us.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Now and forever. Amen

First reading
2 Samuel 7:18-19,24-29

After Nathan had spoken to him, King David went in and, seated before the Lord, said: ‘Who am I, O Lord, and what is my House, that you have led me as far as this? Yet in your sight, O Lord, this is still not far enough, and you make your promises extend to the House of your servant for a far-distant future. You have constituted your people Israel to be your own people for ever; and you, Lord, have become their God.

  ‘Now, O Lord, always keep the promise you have made your servant and his House, and do as you have said. Your name will be exalted for ever and men will say, “The Lord of Hosts is God over Israel.” The House of your servant David will be made secure in your presence, since you yourself, Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, “I will build you a House”; hence your servant has ventured to offer this prayer to you. Yes, Lord, you are God indeed, your words are true and you have made this fair promise to your servant. Be pleased, then, to bless the House of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your presence; for you, Lord, have spoken; and with your blessing the House of your servant will be for ever blessed.’

Gospel
Mark 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’

  He also said to them, ‘Take notice of what you are hearing. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 27, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Do beautifully adorned altars in our homes represent the presence of God in it? Is it not true that the Lord our God would rather dwell in our hearts? Jesus would rather reside in us and we in Him rather than the tabernacles of any Church.

Jesus the living Word of God came so that we may receive the Word deep in our hearts. So that our lives may be enriched and be fruitful for one and all. And when the time came, the Word will lead us Home to Him.

Those attuned to listening to the heavenly word proclaimed, will receive it in all its fullness. Those attuned to hearing earthly things hears only the similarities in teaching. For even then mercy is granted to those who choose to live in sin. For if they listened and understood straightaway then chose instead to remain in sin; they have damned themselves.

To be able to listen and understand the Word of God, we need to turn away from sin and be loyal to the Gospels. We desire always to remain in a faithful ever loving, ever deepening relationship with the Lord our God. Amen

First reading
2 Samuel 7:4-17

The word of the Lord came to Nathan:

  ‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I have never stayed in a house from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have always led a wanderer’s life in a tent. In all my journeying with the whole people of Israel, did I say to any one of the judges of Israel, whom I had appointed as shepherds of Israel my people: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” This is what you must say to my servant David, “the Lord of Hosts says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

  Nathan related all these words to David and this whole revelation.

Gospel
Mark 4:1-20

Jesus began to teach by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there. The people were all along the shore, at the water’s edge. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen!, Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil and, growing tall and strong, produced crop; and yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’

  When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God is given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again, but not understand; otherwise they might be converted and be forgiven.’

  He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan comes and carries away the word that was sown in them. Similarly, those who receive the seed on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root in them, they do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, they fall away at once. Then there are others who receive the seed in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of this world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing. And there are those who have received the seed in rich soil: they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 26, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Do you have a relationship with God? Ask anyone who is a believer and they will readily say Yes!  But ask them how they nurture that relationship, how close are they or how are they deepening that relationship and you’ll often meet with silence.

What about those who say they have a Familial relationship with God? How are they exemplifying that relationship in their lives? With their families and friends? The people they meet?

Being in a loving, ever growing relationship with the Holy Trinity is beyond words. From the moment one wakes to the time one sleeps; thoughts, words and actions are a prayer to God.  We live in Him as He lives in us. His power, love and peace is upon us. And we can witness to Him with heads held high.

Do not despair if you have not yet encountered Him in a deep personal way. Surely you would have experienced moments of great peace and tranquility either in Adoration,  in a retreat or simply quiet time in prayer. The thing is to desire and want more. Turn away from the old way of life and seek Him our Lord earnestly. And you will surely find Him waiting to embrace you in His love. Amen

St Timothy, St Titus pray for us…

First reading
2 Timothy 1:1-8

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

  Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers; I remember your tears and long to see you again to complete my happiness. Then I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have; it came first to live in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I have no doubt that it is the same faith in you as well.

  That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy.

Gospel
Mark 3:31-35

The mother and brothers of Jesus arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 25, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Today let us reflect on how deep our own conversion of hearts has been. For we are all born sinners and no one baptised and has come to the knowledge of Christ can say there has been no conversion.

In the Lord’s great mercy He sees the good in our hearts. And no matter how grievous our sin, He is ready and willing to forgive. So that by His example we too can be merciful and loving to others. If and when we deserve to be struck down, it is only so He can build us up anew.  He sends messengers our way to guide us on our way and soon we become messengers ourselves for Him.

By our very own baptism we have been sent to share the Good News and have been given the same power and grace given to His disciples. To heal, cast out devils etc.  Why are we afraid or doubt? Why are we not confident in doing likewise? Is is not because our very own conversion is not deep enough? We are content on having a shallow relationship with our Lord and God.

Lord Jesus help and guide me so that I may enter into a deeper, loving relationship with You. Lord I surrender my life to You. Amen

First reading
Acts 22:3-16

Paul said to the people, ‘I am a Jew and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment.

  ‘I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I answered: Who are you, Lord? and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me.” The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said: What am I to do, Lord? The Lord answered, “Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.” The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand; and so I came to Damascus.

  ‘Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Just One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name.”’

Gospel
Mark 16:15-18

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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.’

To Proclaim The Word In Another Church

Posted: January 23, 2016 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

My cousin Sandra who got married today had asked me months ago in October at my God daughter’s wedding dinner; if I would be able to help with the scripture reading for her wedding. Apparently I was auditioning for the part when I read the second reading at my God daughter’s wedding and didn’t even realise it. (I’m kidding of course)

I readily accepted as it would be a unique opportunity to proclaim the word of God in another Church. Only I wasn’t give any details, that is what scripture passage I would be reading, where I was to stand nor at which point I would be doing so. Decided I would play it by ear even though I prefer to have been prepared.

Only after reaching Calvary City Church which is Charismatic evangelical, I found my name in the booklet. The reading was to take place after the praise and worship session. The pastor then came up to me and requested I read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 which just happened to be the same exact reading I proclaimed months earlier. I was thrilled and elated because it is not only one of my favourite scripture passages but because I knew it well. I proclaimed it with all my heart and soul!

The pastor then took over with preaching and the ceremony. At the lunch reception that followed Sandra whispered in my ear that the reading was done perfectly and she thanked me. I praised the Lord immediately! So glad and thankful to have been able to serve Him and to have contributed a little to Sandra’s wedding bliss.

1 Cor 13:1-8

Though I command languages both human and angelic—if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains—if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned—if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever. Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 23, 2016 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

New Day Dawns: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:
Nehemiah 8:2-6,10
Psalms 19:8-10,15
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

The meaning of today’s Liturgy is subtle and many-layered.

We need background to understand what’s happening in today’s First Reading.

Babylon having been defeated, King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the exiled Jews could return home to Jerusalem. They rebuilt their ruined temple (see Ezra 6:15-17) and under Nehemiah finished rebuilding the city walls (see Nehemiah 6:15).

The stage was set for the renewal of the covenant and the re-establishment of the Law of Moses as the people’s rule of life. That’s what’s going on in today’s First Reading, as Ezra reads and interprets (see Nehemiah 8:8) the Law and the people respond with a great “Amen!”

Israel, as we sing in today’s Psalm, is rededicating itself to God and His Law. The scene seems like the Isaiah prophecy that Jesus reads from in today’s Gospel.

Read all of Isaiah 61. The “glad tidings” Isaiah brings include these promises: the liberation of prisoners (61:1); the rebuilding of Jerusalem, or Zion (61:3-4; see also Isaiah 60:10); the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of priests (61:6; Exodus 19:6) and the forging of an everlasting covenant (61:8; Isaiah 55:3). It sounds a lot like the First Reading.

Jesus, in turn, declares that Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in Him. The Gospel scene, too, recalls the First Reading. Like Ezra, Jesus stands before the people, is handed a scroll, unrolls it, then reads and interprets it (compare Luke 4:16-17,21 and Nehemiah 8:2-6,8-10).

We witness in today’s Liturgy the creation of a new people of God. Ezra started reading at dawn of the first day of the Jewish new year (see Leviticus 23:24). Jesus too proclaims a “sabbath,” a great year of Jubilee, a deliverance from slavery to sin, a release from the debts we owe to God (see Leviticus 25:10).

The people greeted Ezra “as one man.” And, as today’s Epistle teaches, in the Spirit the new people of God – the Church – is made “one body” with Him.

 

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 23, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Love, sacrifice and recognition of the good and sacrifice of others.  How rare it is to be found. And yet this is the path of a true disciple of Christ.

Least of all to understand this are family members. Unless they too are on a similar path. And while all of us are given free will; it is should not be surprising to find that others would want to impose their will on us.

Jesus it is You alone I follow, lead me on Lord; lead me on to You! Amen

First reading
2 Samuel 1:1-4,11-12,17,19,23-27

David returned from his rout of the Amalekites and spent two days in Ziklag. On the third day a man came from the camp where Saul had been, his garments torn and earth on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and did homage. ‘Where do you come from?’ David asked him. ‘I have escaped from the Israelite camp’ he said. David said to him, ‘What happened? Tell me.’ He replied, ‘The people have fled from the battlefield and many of them have fallen. Saul and his son Jonathan are dead too.’

  Then David took hold of his garments and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. They mourned and wept and fasted until the evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, for the people of The Lord and for the House of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

  Then David made this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan.

Alas, the glory of Israel has been slain on your heights!
How did the heroes fall?

Saul and Jonathan, loved and lovely, neither in life, nor in death, were divided.

Swifter than eagles were they,
stronger were they than lions.

O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul who clothed you in scarlet and fine linen, who set brooches of gold on your garments.

How did the heroes fall in the thick of the battle?

O Jonathan, in your death I am stricken, I am desolate for you, Jonathan my brother.

Very dear to me you were,
your love to me more wonderful than the love of a woman.

How did the heroes fall
and the battle armour fail?

Gospel
Mark 3:20-21

Jesus went home, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.

A Reflection On God’s Mercy

Posted: January 22, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Each and every time God our Father forgives us, He is saying that His own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that He wants to have with us and create anew.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 22, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Nothing can separate us from the love of God!

Today I am reminded just how much the Lord my God loves me. By my Baptism I have become His precious Child. I have been attached to the Heavenly vine, inserted into the life, death and resurrection of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I have a seal upon me that can never be removed by anyone.

And so I limit myself by my own false sense of inadequacy. I limit myself if I cease to grow in faith, love and charity.

By my confirmation I have been given divine gifts to share the faith, peace, love and mercy I have received.

Glory to God in the highest. Now and forever. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 24:3-21

Saul took three thousand men chosen from the whole of Israel and went in search of David and his men east of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds along the route where there was a cave, and went in to cover his feet. Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave; David’s men said to him, Today is the day of which the Lord said to you, “I will deliver your enemy into your power, do what you like with him.”’ David stood up and, unobserved, cut off the border of Saul’s cloak. Afterwards David reproached himself for having cut off the border of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, ‘The Lord preserve me from doing such a thing to my lord and raising my hand against him, for he is the anointed of the Lord.’ David gave his men strict instructions, forbidding them to attack Saul.

  Saul then left the cave and went on his way. After this, David too left the cave and called after Saul, ‘My lord king!’ Saul looked behind him and David bowed to the ground and did homage. Then David said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen to the men who say to you, “David means to harm you”? Why, your own eyes have seen today how the Lord put you in my power in the cave and how I refused to kill you, but spared you. “I will not raise my hand against my lord,” I said “for he is the anointed of the Lord.” O my father, see, look at the border of your cloak in my hand. Since I cut off the border of your cloak, yet did not kill you, you must acknowledge frankly that there is neither malice nor treason in my mind. I have not offended against you, yet you hunt me down to take my life. May the Lord be judge between me and you, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be laid on you. (As the old proverb says: Wickedness goes out from the wicked, and my hand will not be laid on you.) On whose trail has the king of Israel set out? On whose trail are you in hot pursuit? On the trail of a dead dog! On the trail of a single flea! May the Lord be the judge and decide between me and you; may he take up my cause and defend it and give judgement for me, freeing me from your power.’

  When David had finished saying these words to Saul, Saul said, ‘Is that your voice, my son David?’ And Saul wept aloud. ‘You are a more upright man than I,’ he said to David ‘for you have repaid me with good while I have repaid you with evil. Today you have crowned your goodness towards me since the Lord had put me in your power yet you did not kill me. When a man comes on his enemy, does he let him go unmolested? May the Lord reward you for the goodness you have shown me today. Now I know you will indeed reign and that the sovereignty in Israel will be secure in your hands.’

Gospel
Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up into the hills and summoned those he wanted. So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to preach, with power to cast out devils. And so he appointed the Twelve: Simon to whom he gave the name Peter, James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom he gave the name Boanerges or ‘Sons of Thunder’; then Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the man who was to betray him.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 21, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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How hard indeed it is for the proud hearted to hear the praises of another! For it is often sin that blinds one to the merits and virtues of others. Soon jealousy consumes the whole being prompting, urging towards greater sin.

It is with a grateful heart to God for blessing another; with the gifts to be a blessing for others that we recognise the goodness of God in another. And when we sing his/her praises, we will do so with joy in our hearts. For the Lord is with us. 

Take heed however that to praise one’s greatness in comparison to another is to allow the tongue of the devil an opportunity. For it introduces strife and jealousy. Can a demon then be allowed to sing the praises of God? What good can it do?

Lord Jesus grant me the humility of heart to love and serve You and others according to Your Will. So that I may give rightful glory and Praise to our Heavenly Father. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 18:6-9,19:1-7

On their way back, as David was returning after killing the Philistine, the women came out to meet King Saul from all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing to the sound of tambourine and lyre and cries of joy; and as they danced the women sang:

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.’

Saul was very angry; the incident was not to his liking. ‘They have given David the tens of thousands,’ he said ‘but me only the thousands; he has all but the kingship now.’ And Saul turned a jealous eye on David from that day forward.

  Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants of his intention to kill David. Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, held David in great affection; and so Jonathan warned David; ‘My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you,’ he said ‘so be on your guard tomorrow morning; hide away in some secret place. Then I will go out and keep my father company in the fields where you are hiding, and will talk to my father about you; I will find out what the situation is and let you know.’

  So Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father; he said, ‘Let not the king sin against his servant David, for he has not sinned against you, and what he has done has been greatly to your advantage. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw it yourself and rejoiced; why then sin against innocent blood in killing David without cause?’ Saul was impressed by Jonathan’s words and took an oath, ‘As the Lord lives, I will not kill him.’ Jonathan called David and told him all these things. Then Jonathan brought him to Saul, and David attended on him as before.

Gospel
Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lakeside, and great crowds from Galilee followed him. From Judaea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, Transjordania and the region of Tyre and Sidon, great numbers who had heard of all he was doing came to him. And he asked his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, to keep him from being crushed. For he had cured so many that all who were afflicted in any way were crowding forward to touch him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw him, would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he warned them strongly not to make him known.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 20, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Oh I’m not that knowledgeable about my faith. I’m not good enough. I don’t have the necessary resources. I’m just an ordinary boy /girl. I’m weak and fearful.

Are you not an anointed child of God? Are you not created in the image of God? If God is all pure, good and all goodness comes from Him; and you are created in His likeness, which part of you then is not good enough?

If we strive each and every day to follow our Lord’s will for us, we can be sure that He is with us.  And if He our Lord is with us, who can stand against us?

Let us go forth in courage to love and serve others as the Lord Wills. To be merciful as He our Lord is merciful. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 17:32-33,37,40-51

David said to Saul, ‘Let no-one lose heart on his account; your servant will go and fight the Philistine.’ But Saul answered David, ‘You cannot go and fight the Philistine; you are only a boy and he has been a warrior from his youth.’

  ‘The Lord who rescued me from the claws of lion and bear’ David said ‘will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.’ Then Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you!’

  He took his staff in his hand, picked five smooth stones from the river bed, put them in his shepherd’s bag, in his pouch, and with his sling in his hand he went to meet the Philistine. The Philistine, his shield-bearer in front of him, came nearer and nearer to David; and the Philistine looked at David, and what he saw filled him with scorn, because David was only a youth, a boy of fresh complexion and pleasant bearing. The Philistine said to him, ‘Am I a dog for you to come against me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come over here and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.’ But David answered the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have dared to insult. Today the Lord will deliver you into my hand and I shall kill you; I will cut off your head, and this very day I will give your dead body and the bodies of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that it is not by sword or by spear that the Lord gives the victory, for the Lord is lord of the battle and he will deliver you into our power.’

  No sooner had the Philistine started forward to confront David than David left the line of battle and ran to meet the Philistine. Putting his hand in his bag, he took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead; the stone penetrated his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone and struck the Philistine down and killed him. David had no sword in his hand. Then David ran and, standing over the Philistine, seized his sword and drew it from the scabbard, and with this he killed him, cutting off his head. The Philistines saw that their champion was dead, and took to flight.

Gospel
Mark 3:1-6

Jesus went again into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up out in the middle!’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?’ But they said nothing. Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was better. The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.

Wait On The Lord

Posted: January 19, 2016 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

I was requested to lead the opening Prayer and introduce the new leadership at our first meeting held yesterday. I had agreed a few days earlier but as the time drew near I found myself heavy hearted and reluctant to do so.

In a very short period of time, the new team out of zeal or unfettered enthusiasm decided to make swift changes. So swift in fact that they did not even accord the members affected any notification, even though I had assumed they had done so. But it was on another decision they had decided to enforce which weighed heavily on my mind. They had decided to override a decision made earlier by our Spiritual Director of which I had already announced to the rest of the members. Even though they managed to convince the Spiritual Director to change it, I felt the implications of what they wanted to do was going to be damaging.

I spent a good part of the day praying for a way out. Even searching for Spiritual direction from a few books. I could not miss the meeting because I had invited a new member to join. But at the same time I felt I could not bring myself to lead the opening Prayer with such a heavy heart. Then as I opened a page to a book I was reading, it read :

‘The ego cannot be allowed to be totally in charge throughout our early years, or it takes over. The entirely open field leaves us the victim of too many options, and the options themselves soon push us around and take control. Law and structure, as fallible as they often are, put up some kind of limits to our infantile grandiosity, and prepare us for helpful relationships with the outer world, which has rights too.’

Keywords such ‘ego’ and ‘infantile grandiosity’ rang loudly in my ears. And I decided to wait humbly on the Lord for direction in Adoration which was to take place later that evening before moving off for our meeting. When I stepped into the Adoration room and knelt down before Him, I began to feel His love embrace me. And as the Adoration progressed, coupled with the background praise and worship songs which seeped in from Auditorium beside us, I was simply enthralled. Such joy and love filled my heart that I was no longer burdened in the least. Then I began to hear and see not only how I was to lead the opening Prayer but also how I was to introduce the team.

During the meeting proper, the decision to change what they had initially proposed was changed on the spot, to something far better than I could have hoped for. All because I waited on the Lord! Praise the Lord!

While there will be a few expected bumps along the way due to the teething period. And as long as we remain focused on Him, our Lord will lead us on.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 19, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Listen always, attentively to the Lord our God. And be amazed at the result. For His wisdom is beyond our understanding. Let us see through the eyes of our Lord instead of through our own shallow vision. For in communion with Him, He has granted us the grace to do so.

Hold on to nothing in the past be it positions or old ways of doing things. For the Holy Spirit blows where He wills. He will refresh and present new unimaginable ways to witness His glory. Let us never forget that we are the anointed ones of God to be His priests, prophet and King for one another.

Praise and Glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ! May He reign in our hearts forever. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you go on mourning over Saul when I have rejected him as king of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel replied, ‘How can I go? When Saul hears of it he will kill me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and then I myself will tell you what you must do; you must anoint to me the one I point out to you.’

  Samuel did what the Lord ordered and went to Bethlehem. The elders of the town came trembling to meet him and asked, ‘Seer, have you come with good intentions towards us?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ He purified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

  When they arrived, he caught sight of Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed one stands there before him’, but the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Take no notice of his appearance or his height for I have rejected him; God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Jesse then called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel, who said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse then presented Shammah, but Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ He then asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ He answered, ‘There is still one left, the youngest; he is out looking after the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he comes.’ Jesse had him sent for, a boy of fresh complexion, with fine eyes and pleasant bearing. The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on. As for Samuel, he rose and went to Ramah.

Gospel
Mark 2:23-28

One sabbath day Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick ears of corn as they went along. And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing something on the sabbath day that is forbidden?’ And he replied, ‘Did you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?’

  And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 18, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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God our Father so loves us that He wants the absolute best for us. His Will for us leads us in that direction. And so even if it does not make perfect sense to us we should be obedient to follow His commands and statutes.

Problem lies therein when we pick and choose what we want to follow or presume to know the heart of God and do what we like to ‘please’ Him. As a result we sometimes hold on to sin or that which is sinful. Soon that very sin takes on a life of its own and eventually destroys all that is pure and good.

Jesus came so that we might have new life in Him. And with new life we must possess fresh hearts. One which does not hold on to past sins and that is obedient to our loving Lord and God.  Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 15:16-23

Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’ Saul said, ‘Tell me.’ Samuel continued, ‘Small as you may be in your own eyes, are you not head of the tribes of Israel? the Lord has anointed you king over Israel. The Lord sent you on a mission and said to you, “Go, put these sinners, the Amalekites, under the ban and make war on them until they are exterminated.” Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you fall on the booty and do what is displeasing to the Lord?’ Saul replied to Samuel, ‘But I did obey the voice of the Lord. I went on the mission which the Lord gave me; I brought back Agag king of the Amalekites; I put the Amalekites under the ban. From the booty the people took the best sheep and oxen of what was under the ban to sacrifice them to the Lord your God in Gilgal.’ But Samuel replied:

‘Is the pleasure of the Lord in holocausts and sacrifices
or in obedience to the voice of the Lord?

Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice, submissiveness better than the fat of rams.

Rebellion is a sin of sorcery,
presumption a crime of teraphim.

‘Since you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.’

Gospel
Mark 2:18-22

One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’

The Poison Of SIN

Posted: January 17, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Like a disease it can spread rather swiftly to others. For instance when one allows himself or herself to be consumed with rage and starts lashing out others. Soon vulgarities are allowed to flow and self control goes out the window.

People on the receiving end either react immediately to the onslaught with outrage. Or some hold it in with no choice but to allow the venom to fester and soon overwhelm them. Others who seek the Lord for comfort will get it but then over time as the onslaught continues it wears them down. They may choose to seek sinful distractions as a result.

Sin blinds and lures you as far as possible away from God our Father. It opens Pandora’s box to more evil. To keep you further distracted, evil plants doubts, shame even depression. And so most stray further thinking they are not worthy of forgiveness.

Jesus came for us sinners, to free us from such bondages. Let us always turn to Him knowing He is waiting to embrace us in reconciliation. Amen

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 16, 2016 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

In the Wedding: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:
Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
John 2:1-12 (see also “’On the Hour’”)

Think of these first weeks after Christmas as a season of “epiphanies.” The Liturgy is showing us Who Jesus is and what He has revealed about our relationship with God.

Last week and the week before, the imagery was royal and filial – Jesus is the newborn king of the Jews who makes us co-heirs of Israel’s promise, beloved children of God. Last week in the Liturgy we went to a Baptism.

This week we’re at a wedding.

We’re being shown another dimension of our relationship with God. If we’re sons and daughters of God, it’s because we’ve married into the family.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible begins and ends with a wedding – Adam and Eve’s in the garden and the marriage supper of the Lamb (compare Genesis 2:23-24 andRevelation 19:9; 21:9; 22:17)?

Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the covenant relationship God desires with His chosen people. He is the Groom, humanity His beloved and sought-after bride. We see this reflected beautifully in today’s First Reading.

When Israel breaks the covenant she is compared to an unfaithful spouse (seeJeremiah 2:20-36; 3:1-13). But God promises to take her back, to “espouse” her to Him forever in an everlasting covenant (seeHosea 2:18-22).

That’s why in today’s Gospel, Jesus performs His first public “sign” at a wedding feast.

Jesus is the divine Bridegroom (see John 3:29), calling us to His royal wedding feast (see Matthew 22:1-14). By His New Covenant, He will become “one flesh” with all humanity in the Church (see Ephesians 5:21-33). By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to a Husband (see 2 Corinthians 11:2).

The new wine that Jesus pours out at today’s feast is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to His bride and body, as today’s Epistle says. This is the “salvation” announced to the “families of nations” in today’s Psalm. 

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 16, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Can you fathom what an honour, what a privilege, how wonderfully special it was to be anointed by God in the days of the old Testament? To be chosen, to be set apart to be king to rule His people. He makes us worthy whether or not we are worthy to begin with. Saul had the physique, stature even upbringing to be a leader of men. God our Father elevated him and have him a unique opportunity to rule over His people.

The problem lies in our sinful nature to want what we don’t yet deserve and to want it now.  We choose to appoint ourselves as kings. To Lord ourselves over others. We become hungry for recognition.

Soon we lose sight of our  calling. To be Holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. To be set apart to be priest, prophet and King for one another.

Jesus came to call on us sinners. To take away our sins and transform us so that we are made Holy once again. To follow Him and He will lead us home to our Heavenly Father. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 9:1-4,17-19,10:1

Among the men of Benjamin there was a man named Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah; a Benjaminite and a man of rank. He had a son named Saul, a handsome man in the prime of life. Of all the Israelites there was no one more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people. Now some of the she-donkeys of Saul’s father Kish had strayed, so Kish said to Saul, ‘My son, take one of the servants with you and be off; go and look for the she-donkeys.’ They passed through the highlands of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but did not find them; they passed through the land of Shaalim, they were not there; they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.

  When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, ‘That is the man of whom I told you; he shall rule my people.’ Saul accosted Samuel in the gateway and said, ‘Tell me, please, where the seer’s house is?’ Samuel replied to Saul, ‘I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place. You are to eat with me today. In the morning I shall take leave of you and tell you all that is in your heart.

  Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head; then he kissed him, saying, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you prince over his people Israel? You are the man who must rule the Lord’s people, and who must save them from the power of the enemies surrounding them.’

Gospel
Mark 2:13-17

Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

  When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 15, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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How have we faired as kings and queens of our own lives? How have we treated and cared for the people around us? By what conscience, value system or morals do we lead them?

Unless Jesus is the Lord of Lords, KING of kings in our own lives. We have naught! For what we have are fleeting and will never lasts. True treasure in this life and the next comes from Christ alone. It is only through Him will we have our heavenly inheritance.

To truly be able to govern our lives and to care for others, we need for our sins to be forgiven by Jesus. He lovingly does so, when we come by our own volition or are brought before Him. His grace is upon us so that we can stand tall to love, serve Him and His flock. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 8:4-7,10-22

All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. ‘Look,’ they said to him ‘you are old, and your sons do not follow your ways. So give us a king to rule over us, like the other nations.’ It displeased Samuel that they should say, ‘Let us have a king to rule us’, so he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for it is not you they have rejected; they have rejected me from ruling over them.’

  All that the Lord had said Samuel repeated to the people who were asking him for a king He said, ‘These will be the rights of the king who is to reign over you. He will take your sons and assign them to his chariotry and cavalry, and they will run in front of his chariot. He will use them as leaders of a thousand and leaders of fifty; he will make them plough his ploughland and harvest his harvest and make his weapons of war and the gear for his chariots. He will also take your daughters as perfumers, cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields, of your vineyards and olive groves and give them to his officials. He will tithe your crops and vineyards to provide for his eunuchs and his officials. He will take the best of your manservants and maidservants, of your cattle and your donkeys, and make them work for him. He will tithe your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out on account of the king you have chosen for yourselves, but on that day God will not answer you.’

  The people refused to listen to the words of Samuel. They said, ‘No! We want a king, so that we in our turn can be like the other nations; our king shall rule us and be our leader and fight our battles.’ Samuel listened to all that the people had to say and repeated it in the ears of the Lord. The Lord then said to Samuel, ‘Obey their voice and give them a king.’

Gospel
Mark 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’ Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he turned to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’

A Reflection On Leadership In Church

Posted: January 14, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

My little reflection on what it takes to be a leader in the Church we serve…

1. Jesus must reign supreme in your heart, mind and soul. Ponder His Word and live it daily.

2. You must reflect the Lord in everything you say and do.

3. Above all things, you must lead one another closer to Christ.

4. To be an effective leader you must be both ‘Martha’ and ‘Mary’.

5. You must be ready and willing to wash the feet of the one you dislike the most with a merciful heart.

6. Lead always by example, take ownership and walk the talk. Humility is not worn it is lived.

7. You must belong to a community of which you meet with regularly.

There has never been or will ever be a greater leader then our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. All you’ll ever need to learn or know you can and must learn from Him.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 14, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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We should never take the mercy of the Lord our God for granted. Nor rely on Holy objects of faith to protect, save or strengthen us against evil and sin. For it is the one from whom the objects are made Holy that truly saves us. It is our faith, relationship with and in Him; that we have hope, strength and peace.

For it is only when our repentant, contrite sprit cries out to the Lord that His mercy is upon us. He takes away our sins the slow, painful surety of death that awaits us. We are then free to walk with Him in His light.

Such is His liberating love for us that we cry out His praises with joy and thanksgiving.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Now and forever. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 4:1-11

It happened at that time that the Philistines mustered to fight Israel and Israel went out to meet them in battle, encamping near Ebenezer while the Philistines were encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up their battle line against Israel, the battle was hotly engaged, and Israel was defeated by the Philistines and about four thousand of their army were killed on the field. The troops returned to the camp and the elders of Israel said, ‘Why has the Lord allowed us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of our God from Shiloh so that it may come among us and rescue us from the power of our enemies.’’ So the troops sent to Shiloh and brought away the ark of the Lord of Hosts, he who is seated on the cherubs; the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, came with the ark. When the ark of the Lord arrived in the camp, all Israel gave a great shout so that the earth resounded. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, ‘What can this great shouting in the Hebrew camp mean?’ And they realised that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. At this the Philistines were afraid; and they said, ‘God has come to the camp.’ ‘Alas!’ they cried ‘This has never happened before. Alas! Who will save us from the power of this mighty God? It was he who struck down Egypt with every kind of plague! But take courage and be men, Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been slaves to you. Be men and fight.’ So the Philistines joined battle and Israel was defeated, each man fleeing to his tent. The slaughter was great indeed, and there fell of the Israelites thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured too, and the two sons of Eli died, Hophni and Phinehas.

Gospel
Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 13, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Can you hear the voice of the Lord calling out to you? Can you hear Him speaking to your heart? Can you feel His embrace as the gentle whisper of His Word well up within you?

Or has sin clogged your ears to hear? Has the world drowned out His voice with its distractions? With temptations? Has the pursuit of wealth, power and honour taken precedence in your life?

Jesus our Saviour has come to take away all that prevents us from listening to the Word of God our Father. To heal us of our many afflictions. To restore our Sonship and Daughtership in Him. So that we can be free to remain in His love. To Love and serve our Heavenly Father with joy.

Here I am Lord, I’ve come to do Your Will. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 3:1-10,19-20

The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli; it was rare for the Lord to speak in those days; visions were uncommon. One day, it happened that Eli was lying down in his room. His eyes were beginning to grow dim; he could no longer see. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

  The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’

  Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba came to know that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of the Lord.

Gospel
Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

  That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

  In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 12, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Pray to the Lord your God with all your heart from all that binds you. Be it the burden of sin. Be it the foul words, curses, gossip that others use to weigh you down and suffocate you. Be it the splintering from within our souls by the evil we allowed in. Lift up to Him all You have or will have and hold nothing back. And He will set You free!

For Jesus our Saviour has come to gather all of us together. Especially those who have been scattered far and away by evil. For His mercy is on all who cried out to Him. And He will unite us as one body in Him.

Lord Jesus teach us Your ways so that we may always be Holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. Now and forever. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 1:9-20

After they had eaten in the hall, Hannah rose and took her stand before the Lord, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord of Hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.’

  While she prayed before the Lord which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to be in this drunken state? Rid yourself of your wine.’ ‘No, my lord,’ Hannah replied ‘I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.’ Then Eli answered her: ‘Go in peace,’ he said ‘and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.’ And she said, ‘May your maidservant find favour in your sight’; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.

  They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord and then set out and returned to their home in Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with Hannah his wife and the Lord was mindful of her. She conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

Gospel
Mark 1:21-28

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

  In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

Walking In The Garden With My Lord

Posted: January 11, 2016 by CatholicJules in Meditations

At another point of our retreat we were told to go separate ways and find a quiet corner to spend some time in prayer.

I walked past some standalone hostels intending to go as far away as I could. But as I was walking past one, something about a huge bush like tree caught my eye. It had beautiful red and yellow flowers which I found odd. And as I stood there and stared at the oddity and beauty of it, I became more and more mesmerised. And found that I could not tear myself away.

Then the consolations came and I started to reflect on what it must have been like to walk with our Lord in the garden of Eden. How blessed was I in that moment to feel the presence of my Lord.

Then a big black wasp flew past me and I was distracted for a moment. I put it out of my mind and resumed my reflection. All of a sudden a dog started barking in the distance as some workers appeared to clear some rotting jackfruit from the ground unto a lorry which had driven in into the grounds. Even a fellow retreat participant John slowly walked past me. All of it got me feeling a little perturbed then I recalled my earlier encounter with the Lord at the water feature. In which I learnt that the silence can come from within. So I emptied myself so as to continue my meet with the Lord once more.

After a few minutes I turned round and saw that the hostel I was standing in front of had a room number which was also a scripture passage. So I quickly wrote it down in my notebook to look up later. I wanted a remembrance of this whole encounter and so decided to pluck the red and yellow flowers to place between the pages of my notebook; since I didn’t have a camera on me. As I did this I realised the red like flower was actually budding and would turn into the yellow ones fully grown. Wow!

The Scripture passage Luke 17:20-21 I later looked up read as follows :

‘Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was to come, he gave them this answer, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation and there will be no one to say, “Look, it is here! Look, it is there!” For look, the kingdom of God is among you.’

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On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 11, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Each and everyone one of us are called to serve according to the strengths and gifts we have been given.

There will be times when we are made to feel inadequate or lacking. Sometimes the world seems to ridicule and taunt us even. Should we then despair? Should we then ignore the call of our Lord?

Let us turn instead to the Lord our God who called us. For He will provide for all that we need to accomplish His Will for us. It is through our obedience and swift response, that our hearts are filled with hope and joy. His peace and love is upon us. Amen

First reading
1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the highlands of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, one called Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. Every year this man used to go up from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there as priests of the Lord.

  One day Elkanah offered sacrifice. He used to give portions to Penirinah and to all her sons and daughters; to Hannah, however, he would give only one portion, although he loved her more, since the Lord had made her barren. Her rival would taunt her to annoy her, because the Lord had made her barren. And this went on year after year; every time they went up to the temple of the Lord she used to taunt her. And so Hannah wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why are you crying and why are you not eating? Why so sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’

Gospel
Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

  As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

  Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

A Prayer Journey Into His Abounding Love

Posted: January 10, 2016 by CatholicJules in Meditations

Seeking quiet time with our Lord, I was led to a water feature where a small statue of our Lady overlooked some fishes. Then as I bent over I found myself gazing into the eyes of the biggest fish in it. It swam around effortlessly and came up every few moments gasping for air. Then I felt the consolations as it swept over me.

And I just knew that prayer was not meant to be hard. We simply need to take a few long deep breaths and enter into silence so as to meet the Lord. It does not really matter if the rest of the world is noisy for the silence comes from within.

In the middle of the water feature was a mini fountain which showered little droplets into a stone platform hovering just over the water. And I saw in it that I was the platform on which the abounding blessings of our Lord and God was showering on me.

Then as I peered up I saw the statue of our Lady on the rock and just below it was a mini waterfall. I saw in it that, that our Blessed Mother who constantly intercedes for us and who is the spouse of the Holy Spirit; stands upon the rock her Son. Of whom mercy and love is poured out upon us in abundance.

When I returned to see our Lord’s overall message for me through scripture. I was led to this passage John 4:14

“But no one who drinks the water that I shall give will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life. “

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Posted: January 9, 2016 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Anointing: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Readings:
Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7 (or Acts 10:34-38 or Is 40:1-5, 9-11 or Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7)
Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10 (or Ps 104:1-4, 24-25,27-30)
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

The Liturgy last week revealed the mystery of God’s plan – that in Jesus all peoples, symbolized by the Magi, have been made “co-heirs” to the blessings promised Israel. This week, we’re shown how we claim our inheritance.

Jesus doesn’t submit to John’s baptism as a sinner in need of purification. He humbles Himself to pass through Jordan’s waters in order to lead a new “exodus” – opening up the promised land of heaven so that all peoples can hear the words pronounced over Jesus today, words once reserved only for Israel and its king: that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God (see Genesis 22:2; Exodus 4:22; Psalm 2:7).

Jesus is the chosen servant Isaiah prophesies in today’s First Reading, anointed with the Spirit to make things right and just on earth. God puts His Spirit upon Jesus to make Him “a covenant of the people,” the liberator of the captives, the light to the nations. Jesus, today’s Second Reading tells us, is the One long expected in Israel, “anointed…with the Holy Spirit and power.”

The word Messiah means “one anointed” with God’s Spirit. King David was “the anointed of the God of Jacob” (see 2 Samuel 23:1-17;Psalm 18:51; 132:10,17). The prophets taught Israel to await a royal offshoot of David, upon whom the Spirit would rest (see Isaiah 11:1-2;Daniel 9:25).

That’s why the crowds are so anxious at the start of today’s Gospel. But it isn’t John they’re looking for. God confirms with His own voice what the Angel earlier told Mary – Jesus is the Son of the Most High, come to claim the throne of David forever (see Luke 1:32-33).

In the Baptism that He brings, the voice of God will hover over the waters as fiery flame, as we sing in today’s Psalm. He has sanctified the waters, made them a passage-way to healing and freedom – a fountain of new birth and everlasting life.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 9, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Whatever we do in Jesus name, or whomever we serve through Him. Our Prayers will always be answered according to His Will. 

And when witness the fruits and hear the testimonies. We can delight in knowing we were well fashioned use worthy tools in our Master’s hands. No further recognition should be required nor sought after.  For to give Him glory alone is what liberates us from earthly desires.

We who strive to live in Him should encourage one another to do likewise. To pray for one another that our sins may be forgiven. To encourage even sometimes admonish one another so as to seek the Sacrament of reconciliation for the grave sins that will otherwise bring permanent death.

Let us stay awake together as we wait the return of our bridegroom, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

First reading
1 John 5:14-21

We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him.

If anybody sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death, and I will not say that you must pray about that.

Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.

We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.

We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.

We know, too, that the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God.

We are in the true God, as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.

This is the true God, this is eternal life.

Children, be on your guard against false gods.

Gospel
John 3:22-30

Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. At the same time John was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there to be baptised. This was before John had been put in prison.

  Now some of John’s disciples had opened a discussion with a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, ‘Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now; and everyone is going to him.’

  John replied:

‘A man can lay claim
only to what is given him from heaven.

‘You yourselves can bear me out: I said: I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him.

‘The bride is only for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.

This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.

He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’

Luminous Mystery 1

Posted: January 8, 2016 by CatholicJules in Meditations, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

## Baptism of Our Lord

+ Have I prepared myself and others to receive our Lord?

+ Have I decreased and He increased in my life?

+ Do I ponder over the joy of my own baptism? Of becoming a child of God our Father?

+ Of being grafted unto the source of life, the one true vine; my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

+ Who was without sin when he entered the Jordan to be baptised, declaring his love for us by taking on the sins of the world for our sake.

+ Do I pray daily to receive the Holy Spirit descend on me and my life, so that I may live it in a manner pleasing to God my Father?

I pray that one day I will hear my Heavenly Father say, “This is beloved son (daughter) whom I am well pleased. Amen

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 8, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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The water of our baptism, the blood poured out for our redemption all has its source in Christ Jesus our Saviour. And the Holy Spirit proclaims this truth to us, providing the grace of faith to embrace and treasure these gifts.

For it is through the water and blood that flowed from side of Christ that our Church was born. And so it is from the source of life that we bear fruit.

The snares of the world like a flesh eating disease seeks to consume us. And drain the life of out of us. And this is how it is when we are disconnected from the love of God.

Jesus came to restore us and make us whole. If we but cry out to Him in faith, He will heal us. He will give us the Holy Spirit. So that we can glorify our Heavenly Father by living out faithful lives in Him eternally. Amen

First reading
1 John 5:5-13

Who can overcome the world?

Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:

Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness –

since the Spirit is the truth –
so that there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and all three of them agree.

We accept the testimony of human witnesses, but God’s testimony is much greater, and this is God’s testimony,
given as evidence for his Son.

Everybody who believes in the Son of God has this testimony inside him; and anyone who will not believe God is making God out to be a liar, because he has not trusted the testimony God has given about his Son.

This is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life
and this life is in his Son;
anyone who has the Son has life, anyone who does not have the Son does not have life.

I have written all this to you
so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God may be sure that you have eternal life.

Gospel
Luke 5:12-16

Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them.’

  His reputation continued to grow, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their sickness cured, but he would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 7, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Just as oil and water will not mix and will remain separate. So it is with God’s love and hatred. If you want to be separated by God then hold on to your hatred.

For you cannot say you love God and then hate the person that caused you hurt, pain, grief and bitterness. For true children of God who have themselves experienced the mercy of God and His love; are themselves merciful and loving.

And so if you are still holding on to hatred or unforgiveness, bring it to Jesus. For He has come to liberate us from its sinful hold. He will open our blind eyes to see and experience His mercy and love.

Our faith in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ is what keeps us steadfast in His love. And we remain forever children of God our Father. Amen

First reading
1 John 4:19-5:4

We are to love,
because God loved us first.

Anyone who says, ‘I love God’,
and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen.

So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot him loves the child whom he begets.

We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us; this is what loving God is –

keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith.

Gospel
Luke 4:14-22

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

  He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.


A short reflection….

Never take the gift of the Eucharist Celebration for granted. You’ll never know when the chance to receive our Lord may be taken away from you.

Imagine everyone gathered in Church and just as the celebration is about to start, a bunch of soldiers barge in to tell everyone to get out or be killed. And yet while it has happened elsewhere, who is to say that it will never happen where you’re at?

Today at our lunchtime EC where everyone was gathered. Our equipment and Mass Kit was kept in the storage area of another meeting room where an important business meeting had gone on since morning.

One worker on behalf of the convention centre went in unannounced, all the way through to the storage area and was severely reprimanded and told to leave. Needless to say the Business folks in there were no longer interested to hear our plea through the Convention centre management to allow us to quickly get our stuff. Hence all we could do was to continue with a service of the Word. The celebrant who happened to be my Parish priest led us through it.

So this just goes to show you that we should cherish every Eucharistic celebration we get to attend in which we are able to receive the Lord our God in Holy Communion.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 6, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Many who have not entered into a relationship with our Lord and God have either an irrational fear of Him or no reverent fear at all.

The former thinks that God is angry and vengeful, so it is better to tread carefully. While others are afraid that God will make them do or act on things they do not want to do. They will somehow be made His puppets.

Jesus shows us by example the nature of God’s love for us. How He lived not for Himself but for us. How He sent his tired and worn disciples ahead to rest and recover from serving the 5000. While he alone sent the huge crowd off away bidding them farewell.  He showed us how we can always turn to God our Father in prayer when we are tired and weary. And He will give us rest and strength.

Jesus teaches us to recognise the love of God in our lives. So that we who are God’s children can cry out to Him with great confidence, courage and He will come to us. He will live in us as we in Him. Amen

First reading
1 John 4:11-18

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.

We can know that we are living in Him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.

We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.

God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

Love will come to its perfection in us when we can face the day of Judgement without fear; because even in this world we have become as he is.

In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love: because to fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love.

Gospel
Mark 6:45-52

After the five thousand had eaten and were filled, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. He could see they were worn out with rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the lake. He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But he at once spoke to them, and said, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind dropped. They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 5, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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There is no half measure in our Lord God’s love for us. He loved us to the very end and yet some more. Leaving for us a loving legacy of examples to emulate.

He loved and cared for His flock despite his tiredness. He taught at some length and anyone who has taught knows how draining that can get. He prayed for them constantly. He took it upon himself to feed them and abundantly. To nourish restore and prepare them always in His love.

His whole life was spent nourishing, restoring and preparing us for eternal life with Him. In His great wisdom and love, He gave us the Sacraments of which; The source and summit of our faith is the Holy Eucharist.

Glory to God in the highest! Amen

First reading
1 John 4:7-10

My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.

God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

Gospel
Mark 6:34-44

As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late, So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ How many loaves have you?’ he asked ‘Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 4, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Jesus our Lord was born into an imperfect world. He came so that we might be made perfect through Him, to live in the Kingdom of God.

This truth has been given to us. All who believe and have heeded the call to repentance has encountered Him. Many have been healed, set free to love and serve Him by bringing others to Him.

Even today there are many bringing His love, peace and healing to all.

Be wary however there are also many preaching a different Christ and the focus is often upon them and what they do in His name.

Heavenly Father we thank You for Jesus Your Son. May we always be attentive to His call. And docile to His promptings into the way of life with You. Amen

First reading
1 John 3:22-4:6

Whatever we ask God, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants.

His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another
as he told us to.

Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.

We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust; test them, to see if they come from God, there are many false prophets, now, in the world.

You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you were warned about.

Well, now he is here, in the world. Children, you have already overcome these false prophets, because you are from God and you have in you one who is greater than anyone in this world; as for them, they are of the world, and so they speak the language of the world and the world listens to them.

But we are children of God,
and those who know God listen to us; those who are not of God refuse to listen to us.

This is how we can tell the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.

Gospel
Matthew 4:12-17,23-25

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan, Galilee of the nations!

The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

  He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them. Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and Transjordania.

Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

Posted: January 3, 2016 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A King to Behold: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

Readings:

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:-12,7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise – one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1-3).

Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).

Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth” (see 1 Kings 10:2,25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6,14).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Through The Eyes Of Jesus

Posted: January 2, 2016 by CatholicJules in Meditations

What if I saw myself through the eyes of Jesus? Whom would I see?

A petty fault finding person or He?
Tolerant and merciful.

A foul mouthed person ready to tear to pieces with my words or He?
Gently speaking His Word and building up foundations centred on God our Heavenly Father.

Self centred person seeking personal glory or He?
Ready to wash the feet of others, lay down His life for them; and all for God His Father’s glory?

Indifferent to the needs of others or He?
Compassionate, loving and kind who sought out the poor, the sick and needy.

Sing With Joy As Mary Did

Posted: January 2, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Tired and nursing a little hangover I was inclined to give day 7 of the Christmas Octave a miss. However as it was also a special day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I decided to honour her by attending her Son’s Octave celebration.

As I boarded the bus to church, I noticed this smiley Indian lady who boarded it at the same stop grinning at me. She looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place where I had seen her before. I reckoned she must be a fellow Parishioner and so greeted her with ‘Peace be with you’ she then reminded me that she was standing beside me carolling with the Rondolla group in Church. This was before the midnight Eucharist celebration on Christmas Eve. She further commented that I had a nice husky voice and it was a joy to sing along side me. I laughed and told her that I may have sounded husky because my throat was probably sore from singing with overzealous vigour for our Lord just as she was I’m sure. And that it was a joy for me too, to have been singing along side her. I introduced myself and she did likewise.

I then asked Rina if she was serving in any ministry yet, she replied that wasn’t and jokingly said that her excuse was that she had a young six year old son to contend with. I offered that when she felt ready to serve, to let me know which ministry she was interested in and that I would get her connected. Before parting ways I invited her to stop by for the octave if she had the time as she was on her way to buy some stuff for her son’s birthday party the next day.

The Octave itself was a nice cosy evening reflecting on Jesus through Mary. And the sharing by those who came up to give testimonies to Mary and Jesus was beautifully received. We prayed the rosary together as one loving community and sang some Marian hymns which I am sure many were touched in doing so.

Though we hear little of our blessed Mother in scripture, we know that she did everything with joy in her heart. The magnificat was her greatest song of joy. And so like Mary let us touch others by our singing the praises and wonders of our Lord and God with joy!

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 2, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Many who live in the world are hardened by worldly values. They live for themselves and see that life is only for the survival of the fittest.

Don’t be fooled that only the devil is the Antichrist. Some of those amongst us are Antichrists even without realising it. Those who proclaim our faith as man made. Who prey on the weak and the helpless. Those who believe that they have the power and right to terminate life as they see fit. Those who proclaim other Gods other than the one Holy Trinity. Those who say and believe there is no God.

What a depressing world we live in!

But we need never despair. For while we live in the world, we are not of the world! We know the truth, the way and the life. He and He alone is the one true light. And all darkness retreats into nothingness.

Let us remain steadfast in His love and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. Through His mercy let us reach out to all those who have strayed and lead them home to Him. Let us touch the lives of everyone with His love especially the poor, the sick and downtrodden. Let us stand ready to greet and receive Him when He comes again. Amen

First reading
1 John 2:22-28

The man who denies that Jesus is the Christ –he is the liar, he is Antichrist; and he is denying the Father as well as the Son, because no one who has the Father can deny the Son, and to acknowledge the Son is to have the Father as well.

Keep alive in yourselves what you were taught in the beginning: as long as what you were taught in the beginning is alive in you, you will live in the Son and in the Father; and what is promised to you by his own promise is eternal life.

This is all that I am writing to you about the people who are trying to lead you astray.

But you have not lost the anointing that he gave you,
and you do not need anyone to teach you; the anointing he gave teaches you everything; you are anointed with truth, not with a lie, and as it has taught you, so you must stay in him.

Live in Christ, then, my children, so that if he appears, we may have full confidence,
and not turn from him in shame at his coming.

Gospel
John 1:19-28

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness:

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

An Invitation To Come And See

Posted: January 1, 2016 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Day 6 of the Christmas Octave was a celebration for Jesus and a countdown party for the new year. Dinner was held outside the auditorium before heading in for the festivities.

This year I wanted to do something different and so intentionally ate dinner quickly and went round greeting everyone. Introducing myself to Parishioners not seen before.

Then I spotted a couple in their late fifties about to leave after dinner and invited them to stay. Apparently they were not aware there was a year end party inside the auditorium. They were served with some wine and stayed on throughout the night. They even came down to the dance floor and moved to the upbeat music catered for the youths. Later we chatted and I found that Robert and Muriel were living here alone while their daughter a scientist had settled down with her husband in Canada. It was a warming feeling to have been able to celebrate the new year with a new relationship centred on Christ.

All it took was an invitation to come and see……..

Now if all of us invited one couple or one person…..

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 1, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Dearest Blessed Mother Mary,

Mother of God, my mother I truly love you with all my heart. It is through you that I know your Son my Lord and God intimately. For you have given me the key that has opened the door of my heart to receive Him.  That is a pondering heart that treasures the Word of God.

The light of His face shines brightly upon me. I am truly blessed to have you sweet gentle mother in my life. You never gave up on me even though I strayed, and were always there to pick me up, dust me off and point me towards the embracing arms of your Son my Saviour.

And through Him we are made sons and daughters of God our Heavenly Father. We can cry out with joy Abba! Father… His peace and love is upon us now and forever. Amen

Mary, Mother of God – Solemnity

First reading
Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’

Second reading
Galatians 4:4-7

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.

Gospel
Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

  When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.