Archive for December, 2018

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 31, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

The almighty and ever living Word of God was born to us in a lowly manger. He became for us the bread of life, the wine of our salvation! So that His life flows through us, nourishes and brings to birth new life in Him.

It is His Word alone that unites everyone to the truth
Those who would have His word distorted seek only to cause divisiin. They are not of the light as we children of God our Father are of the light. For we the children of God carry the light within us to manifest His glory, through Christ our Lord.

May the grace and love of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, reign in our hearts now and forever. Amen

First reading

1 John 2:18-21
You have been anointed by the Holy One

Children, these are the last days;
you were told that an Antichrist must come,
and now several antichrists have already appeared; we know from this that these are the last days.
Those rivals of Christ came out of our own number, but they had never really belonged; if they had belonged, they would have stayed with us; but they left us, to prove that not one of them ever belonged to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and have all received the knowledge.
It is not because you do not know the truth that I am writing to you
but rather because you know it already
and know that no lie can come from the truth.

Gospel

John 1:1-18
The Word was made flesh, and lived among us

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John. He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him. He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh
or will of man but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims: ‘This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me ranks before me because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –
yes, grace in return for grace, since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Feast of the Holy Family

Posted: December 29, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Our True Home: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Holy Family

Readings:

Sirach 3:2–6, 12–14
Psalm 128:1–5
Colossians 3:12–21
Luke 2:41–52

Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God’s plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16–18).

In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We’re to live as His children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it.
The family advice we hear in today’s readings—for mothers, fathers, and children—is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in today’s Psalm. But the liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth.

Jesus shows us this in today’s Gospel. His obedience to His earthly parents flows directly from His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. Joseph and Mary aren’t identified by name, but three times are called His “parents” and are referred to separately as His “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is all on their familial ties to Jesus. But these ties are emphasized only so that Jesus, in the first words He speaks in Luke’s Gospel, can point us beyond that earthly relationship to the Fatherhood of God.

In what Jesus calls “My Father’s house,” every family finds its true meaning and purpose (see Ephesians 3:15). The Temple we read about in the Gospel today is God’s house, His dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it’s also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19–22; Hebrews 3:3–6; 10:21).

In our families we’re to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Until He reveals His new dwelling among us, and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be My son” (see Revelation 21:3, 7).

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 29, 2018 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

The light of the world, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ came to take the darkness of sin away. He forgave us from the cross in which He hung, for the many sins which hurt Him;how then can we withhold forgiveness from those who have hurt us? How can we say we are in union with Him if we do not consecrate our hearts unto Him?

Let us therefore stand before our Lord, with love and mercy in our hearts. So that we can be made Holy unto Him through the forgiveness of our sins. To love and serve Him and our brethren with joy. Amen

Blessed Mother pray for us…

First reading

1 John 2:3-11
Anyone who loves his brother is living in the light

We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him.
We can be sure that we are in God only when the one who claims to be living in him
is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
My dear people, this is not a new commandment that I am writing to tell you, but an old commandment that you were given from the beginning,
the original commandment which was the message brought to you.
Yet in another way, what I am writing to you, and what is being carried out in your lives as it was in his,
is a new commandment; because the night is over and the real light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the dark.
But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light and need not be afraid of stumbling; unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness, not knowing where he is going, because it is too dark to see.

Gospel

Luke 2:22-35
‘You have prepared a light to enlighten the pagans’

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 28, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

We children of God our Heavenly Father are called to love and to be witnesses of His great love for us, the sign of our redemption; our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

God Himself came down to the pits of our earthly existence to elevate us to divine life with Him. The Holy Innocents bear witness to this love for they adore Him together with the Saints in Heaven. The light of the world shone on their innocent faces. And they have become beacons by their death for Him.

Let us likewise become beacons of His light and love by turning to Him for the grace to overcome all sin and to live more fully in His love. To proclaim our liberation from sin through our Lord Jesus Christ and to share the joy of His Word that gives us Life. Amen

First reading

1 John 1:5-2:2
The blood of Jesus Christ purifies us all from sin

This is what we have heard from Jesus Christ,
and the message that we are announcing to you: God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.
If we say that we are in union with God while we are living in darkness, we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light, as he is in the light, we are in union with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins,
then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong.
To say that we have never sinned is to call God a liar
and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning; but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.

Gospel

Matthew 2:13-18
The massacre of the innocents

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

I called my son out of Egypt.

Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted because they were no more.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 27, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Why do we proclaim with great fervour that Jesus Christ is Lord? Because He is the living God made flesh to save us, so that we have eternal life with Him.

This is a fact for all ages. Through and by His Resurrection witnessed by the Martyrs and the Saints we have life and to the full. This truth, our faith unites all Christians. With burning zeal and love for our Lord Jesus Christ, we share His love with all. To unite all God’s children so that stand one with and in Him. Now and forever. Amen

St John the Apostle pray for us….

First reading

1 John 1:1-4
The Word, who is life – this is our subject

Something which has existed since the beginning, that we have heard, and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life –
this is our subject.
That life was made visible:
we saw it and we are giving our testimony, telling you of the eternal life which was with the Father and has been made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard we are telling you
so that you too may be in union with us, as we are in union with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.

Gospel

John 20:2-8
The other disciple saw, and he believed

On the first day of the week Mary of Magdala came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 26, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

You and I are called to bear witness to the truth, the light and the way. To be a light within the world so as to bring the joy of heaven to God’s children who have lost their way. To share in the salvation to be found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Many will refuse to listen and some of us might face danger and hardships in bearing the truth. We take comfort that we will never be alone through it all. For the Lord will be with us every step of the way. We are destined for eternal life with Him, so what have we to fear?

St Stephen Holy Martyr for Christ, pray for us. Amen

First reading

Acts 6:8-10,7:54-59
The martyrdom of Stephen

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’

Gospel

Matthew 10:17-22
The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.
‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.’

Christmas Day

Posted: December 25, 2018 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

The Bread of Life was born in bet ˈleχem, “House of Bread”
Bethlehem Ephrathah,
the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel. He himself will be peace.

O Prince of Peace rule in my heart! You have set me free from all sin, made me Holy and set me apart. Today I honour, praise and worship You. Today I remember the Son of the living God was born to save me and my brethren.

Happy Birthday Jesus! My lord and my God. Amen

Merry Christmas

Posted: December 25, 2018 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Having embarked on the solemn journey of staying awake and preparing the way of our Lord Jesus Christ through Advent, we can now fully rejoice that Emmanuel, The Prince of Peace reigns most profoundly in our hearts. We stand ready to greet Him with shouts of joyful praise and Adoration when He comes again.

Merry Christmas everyone, may His light shine on you and your loved ones. Now and forever. Amen

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 24, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Let us humble ourselves before the Lord our God always. And never assume or presume that all we say and do will be pleasing to Him. Instead let us be fervent in our prayers striving to discern always His will for us and being obedient in carrying out His will for us.

For we have a faithful God that has kept all His promises. In the canticle of Zechariah we hear of the faithfulness of the Lord our God which fills our hearts with hope and joy. It also encourages us to prepare the hearts of others so that they to too can receive our Lord Jesus Christ and be filled with the same love, hope, peace and joy we have received.

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

First reading

2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16
Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me

Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’
But that very night 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 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. 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. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

Gospel

Luke 1:67-79
‘You, little child, shall be the prophet of the Most High’

John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel for he has visited his people, he has come to their rescue and he has raised up for us a power for salvation in the House of his servant David, even as he proclaimed,
by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times,
that he would save us from our enemies and from the hands of all who hate us.
Thus he shows mercy to our ancestors, thus he remembers his holy covenant the oath he swore to our father Abraham
that he would grant us, free from fear, to be delivered from the hands of our enemies, to serve him in holiness and virtue in his presence, all our days. And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins;
this by the tender mercy of our God
who from on high will bring the rising Sun to visit us,
to give light to those who live
in darkness and the shadow of death
and to guide our feet
into the way of peace.”

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 22, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A Mother’s Greeting: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Micah 5:1–4
Psalm 80:2–3, 15–16, 18–19
Hebrews 5:5–10
Luke 1:39–45

On this last Sunday before Christmas, the Church’s liturgy reveals the true identity of our Redeemer.
He is, as today’s First Reading says, the “ruler . . . whose origin is from . . . ancient times.” He will come from Bethlehem, where David was born of Jesse the Ephrathite and anointed king (see Ruth 4:11–17; 1 Samuel 16:1–13; 17:1; Matthew 2:6).

God promised that an heir of David would reign on his throne forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11–12).

Jesus is that heir, the One the prophets promised would restore the scattered tribes of Israel into a new kingdom (see Isaiah 9:5–6; Ezekiel 34:23–25, 30; 37:35). He is “the shepherd of Israel,” sung of in today’s Psalm. From His throne in heaven, He has “come to save us.”

Today’s Epistle tells us that He is both the Son of David and the only “begotten” Son of God, come “in the flesh” (see also Psalm 2:7). He is also our “high priest,” from the mold of the mysterious Melchisedek, “priest of God Most High,” who blessed Abraham at the dawn of salvation history (see Psalm 110:4; Genesis 14:18–20).

All this is recognized by John when he leaps for joy in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth, too, is filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. She recognizes that in Mary “the mother of my Lord” has come to her. We hear in her words another echo of the psalm quoted in today’s Epistle (see Psalm 2:7). Elizabeth blesses Mary for her faith that God’s Word would be fulfilled in her.
Mary marks the fulfillment not only of the angel’s promise to her, but of all God’s promises down through history. Mary is the one they await in today’s First Reading—“she who is to give birth.” She will give birth this week, at Christmas. And the fruit of her womb should bring us joy—she is the mother of our Lord.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 22, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

For the greater glory of God! Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

This is what we do when we are born again into loving service of God and neighbour through our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

Everything we say and do has only one purpose. Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus. That in all things God may be glorified.

Let us then be sent to glorify the Lord our God by our lives. Amen

O Blessed Mother pray for us…

First reading

1 Samuel 1:24-28
This is the child I prayed for: he is made over to the Lord.

When Hannah had weaned the infant Samuel, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’
There she left him, for the Lord.

Gospel

Luke 1:46-56
The Almighty has done great things for me

Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy – according to the promise he made to our ancestors – of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 21, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Oh what joy it is to bring Christ our Lord to others. And we do so when we share His Word and rejoice in His presence.

Oh what joy it is when our hearts are ready to receive Him! For our hearts leapt with joy at His presence. We sing His praise and share most profoundly in His love. We embrace and cherish the loving exchange of dwelling in His love.

O blessed Mother you brought joy into the world when you said yes to the will of God our Father. Pray for us, that we too may be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit so as to bring the joy of Christ Jesus our Lord into the world. Amen.

First reading

Song of Songs 2:8-14
See how my Beloved comes, leaping on the mountains

I hear my Beloved.
See how he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hills. My Beloved is like a gazelle, like a young stag.

See where he stands
behind our wall. He looks in at the window, he peers through the lattice.

My Beloved lifts up his voice,
he says to me, ‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. For see, winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth. The season of glad songs has come, the cooing of the turtledove is heard
in our land. The fig tree is forming its first figs and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.
Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock, in the coverts of the cliff, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.’

Gospel

Luke 1:39-45
Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 20, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

If we say we love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, our soul and strength then obedience to His will for us is key. It unlocks for us the graces we need and the courage to be His instruments of His great love for us.

Emmanuel indeed! In all things at all times!

O blessed Mother you inspire us be faithful and obedient unto the Lord our God. Continue to pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ your Son. Amen.

First reading

Isaiah 7:10-14
The maiden is with child

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’

Gospel

Luke 1:26-38
‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 19, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

We are all precious children of God our Father. Each one of us are given unique gifts and talents. So that we may live life to the fullest through service of one another and for His greater glory.

It is through the grace of God alone that our barren lives are filled with His peace and joy. He graciously rewards His faithful who are obedient unto Him. And it is His will that we lead and bring back those who have lost their way back to Him. To unite His flock, so that we can become one with and in Him.

Lord let it be done according to Your will for me. Amen

First reading

Judges 13:2-7,24-25
‘You will conceive and bear a son’

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child. But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’ Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me. But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”’
The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him.

Gospel

Luke 1:5-25
‘Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son’

In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.
Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.
Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’
Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.’ Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.
When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. ‘The Lord has done this for me’ she said ‘now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 18, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

God is dwelling in my heart! He and I are one. Can you truly utter this and remain true? That others may see the fruits of the in-dwelling, the union?

St Joseph our great model, emptied himself of all worldly thoughts and sense of justice. He prepared room in His heart to welcome the Lord our God. He was open to witness God’s wisdom unfold even though He may not have fully understood. He placed all His trust in the Lord. God was truly with Him. For Emmanuel was entrusted into His loving care.

How then have you prepared room for our Lord in your heart? Does He dwell within you?

Lord let me be a beacon of your love. Amen

First reading

Jeremiah 23:5-8
I will raise a virtuous Branch for David

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David, who will reign as true king and be wise, practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called: The-Lord-our-integrity.

So, then, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when people will no longer say, “As the Lord lives who brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt!” but, “As the Lord lives who led back and brought home the descendants of the House of Israel out of the land of the North and from all the countries to which he had dispersed them, to live on their own soil.”

Gospel

Matthew 1:18-24
How Jesus Christ came to be born

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

The Benedictus

Posted: December 17, 2018 by CatholicJules in Meditations, Prayers

The Benedictus which is recited at every Lauds is one of the most precious prayers we have.

It is a prayer which fills me with hope and reminds me of God our Father’s great love for us and His promise fulfilled through our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. It beckons me to prepare the way for Him, so that He can enter into the hearts of those without hope, peace, joy and love.

I am also grateful to Father Frederick Quek who taught us the way to sing it. Here is my rendition of it… 🙏🏼❤️

https://soundcloud.com/julian-tan-22/the-benedictus-mp3

On Today’s Gospel

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

The hope of a promise carried over centuries was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.

What joy must have filled the hearts of them who patiently waited to receive Him! Those who had prepared Him room in their hearts by emptying themselves of worldly cares and turning away from sin. Blessed are those who rendered obedience to the king of peace. For His peace reigned in their hearts.

Are we then prepared today? To receive Him when he comes again? Does His peace reign in our hearts?

Come Lord Jesus, come reign in my heart. Amen

First reading

Genesis 49:2,8-10
Until he comes, the sceptre will not pass from Judah

Jacob called his sons and said:

‘Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen; listen to Israel your father.
Judah, your brothers shall praise you: you grip your enemies by the neck,
your father’s sons shall do you homage, Judah is a lion cub, you climb back, my son, from your kill; like a lion he crouches and lies down,
or a lioness: who dare rouse him?
The sceptre shall not pass from Judah, nor the mace from between his feet, until he come to whom it belongs,
to whom the peoples shall render obedience.’

Gospel

Matthew 1:1-17
The ancestry of Jesus Christ, the son of David

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother, Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother, Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Azariah, Azariah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah; and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place. After the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob; and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.

Third Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 15, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

What Do We Do?: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Zephaniah 3:14–18
Isaiah 12:2–6
Philippians 4:4–7
Luke 3:10–18

The people in today’s Gospel are “filled with expectation.” They believe John the Baptist might be the Messiah they’ve been waiting for. Three times we hear their question: “What then should we do?”
The Messiah’s coming requires every man and woman to choose—to “repent” or not. That’s John’s message and it will be Jesus’ too (see Luke 3:3; 5:32; 24:47).
“Repentance” translates a Greek word, metanoia (literally, “change of mind”). In the Scriptures, repentance is presented as a two-fold “turning”—away from sin (see Ezekiel 3:19; 18:30) and toward God (see Sirach 17:20–21; Hosea 6:1).
This “turning” is more than attitude adjustment. It means a radical life change. It requires “good fruits as evidence of your repentance” (see Luke 3:8). That’s why John tells the crowds, soldiers, and tax collectors they must prove their faith through works of charity, honesty, and social justice.
In today’s liturgy, each of us is being called to stand in that crowd and hear the “good news” of John’s call to repentance. We should examine our lives, asking from our hearts as they did: “What should we do?” Our repentance should spring not from our fear of coming wrath (see Luke 3:7–9), but from a joyful sense of the nearness of our saving God.
This theme resounds through today’s readings: “Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all,” we hear in today’s Epistle. In today’s Psalm, we hear again the call to be joyful, unafraid at the Lord’s coming among us.
In today’s First Reading, we hear echoes of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary. The prophet’s words are very close to the angel’s greeting (compare Luke 1:28–31). Mary is the Daughter Zion—the favored one of God, told not to fear but to rejoice that the Lord is with her, “a mighty Savior.”
She is the cause of our joy. For in her draws near the Messiah, as John had promised: “One mightier than I is coming.”

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 15, 2018 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

How well have we prepared ourselves and others for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ this Advent? Is there joy in our hearts?

Nothing is more precious then souls who have turned back to the Lord our God. Conversion taken place from deep within. Such is the desire of our Lord that we are one united in Him. Happy are we who dwell in His presence!

Emmanuel…

First reading

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4,9-12
The prophet Elijah will come again

The prophet Elijah arose like a fire,his word flaring like a torch.
It was he who brought famine on the people, and who decimated them in his zeal.
By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens, he also, three times, brought down fire.
How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah! Has anyone reason to boast as you have?
Taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses; designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob,
Happy shall they be who see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love.

Gospel

Matthew 17:10-13
Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him

As they came down from the mountain the disciples put this question to Jesus, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True;’ he replied ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist.

On Today’s Gospel

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

Children of God our Father listen and be obedient unto Him. For He loves us all dearly and only wants the best for us.

Do not be stubborn for it only leads to doom and gloom! See for yourselves where has it led you? Do you live with joy in your hearts? Does it carry throughout the day and night? Do you have peace of mind?

Come Lord Jesus, come. Come into my heart dear saviour. Wash me clean and I will be white as snow. Let me live fully in your love. Now and forever. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 48:17-19
If you had been alert to my commandments, your happiness would have been like a river

Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you,
I lead you in the way that you must go.
If only you had been alert to my commandments, your happiness would have been like a river, your integrity like the waves of the sea.
Your children would have been numbered like the sand, your descendants as many as its grains.
Never would your name have been cut off or blotted out before me.

Gospel

Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘What description can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place:

“We played the pipes for you,
and you wouldn’t dance;
we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t be mourners.”

‘For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He is possessed.” The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions.’

On Today’s Gospel

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

O that you would listen to my word, harden not your hearts! Open your ears and listen. Says the Lord!

Yet we are indeed a stubborn lot! We hear only what we want. We choose to obey what we think makes the most sense. And we let our salvation pass us by!

The promises of the Lord our God has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus our Lord. We have new life in and through Him. So unless we are in communion with Him through our fidelity we have nothing. Let us open our minds and turn to Him. Let the living word of God transform our hearts. Listen and be saved. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 41:13-20
I, the Holy One of Israel, am your redeemer

I, the Lord, your God, I am holding you by the right hand;I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid, I will help you.’

Do not be afraid, Jacob, poor worm, Israel, puny mite.’
I will help you – it is the Lord who speaks – the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer.

See, I turn you into a threshing-sled, new, with doubled teeth;you shall thresh and crush the mountains, and turn the hills to chaff.

You shall winnow them and the wind will blow them away,
the gale will scatter them.
But you yourself will rejoice in the Lord,and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The poor and needy ask for water, and there is none,
their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them, I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.

I will make rivers well up on barren heights,and fountains in the midst of valleys;turn the wilderness into a lake,and dry ground into waterspring.

In the wilderness I will put cedar trees, acacias, myrtles, olives.
In the desert I will plant juniper, plane tree and cypress side by side; so that men may see and know, may all observe and understand that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Gospel

Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm. Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading; and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!’

On Today’s Gospel

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

True Christians possesses joy in their hearts. For they carry with them the peace and joy of the Risen Lord in their hearts. They never tire or grow weary while doing His Will for them. For the Lord’s strength is upon them. It is He whom they turn to and are renewed, nourished.

So turn to Him indeed all you who labour and are overburdened and our Lord Jesus Christ will give you rest. He will restore you and grant you peace. His love will flow through your very being bringing life. Such is the love of our Lord. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 40:25-31
The Lord strengthens the powerless

‘To whom could you liken me
and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look.
Who made these stars if not he who drills them like an army, calling each one by name? So mighty is his power, so great his strength, that not one fails to answer.

How can you say, Jacob,
how can you insist, Israel,
‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord, my rights are ignored by my God’?
Did you not know?
Had you not heard?

The Lord is an everlasting God, he created the boundaries of the earth.
He does not grow tired or weary, his understanding is beyond fathoming. He gives strength to the wearied, he strengthens the powerless.
Young men may grow tired and weary, youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire.

Gospel

Matthew 11:28-30
My yoke is easy and my burden light

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 11, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Do you realise just how much God our Father loves you? How precious you are to Him? Such is His love for you that it defies logic and human understanding. Would you a Shepherd leave ninety nine of your sheep to go in search of the one who strayed away? Yet it is the Lord himself who comes looking for you. Tenderly He picks you up, cleans you up and restores you fully. No anger, no resentment, pure joy! You were once lost but now are found.

Come now people be humble and turn to the Lord your God. For He only desires the best for you. Let us turn our hearts to Him and be filled with His grace. So that we may be one with Him as He is one with us. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 40:1-11
Consolations from the heart of Jerusalem

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley;then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice commands, ‘Cry!’
and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”– ‘All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on them. (The grass is without doubt the people.) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains for ever.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah,‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Gospel

Matthew 18:12-14
The one lost sheep gives him more joy than the ninety-nine that did not stray

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 10, 2018 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Many of us live in ivory towers above the smells of poverty and despair. We are blind to the needs of the sick and downtrodden. So unless we belong to a Christian community grounded in Christ Jesus our Lord. We will go on our merry way thinking all is good in the world.

Our faith opens our eyes to see the least of our brethren. We tend to them the best we can. We see to their immediate needs. Most of all we lead them all to Christ by our love. For He alone can set them free from sin and restore them to life in the fullest. For He wills the good in us to shine forth. To be beacons for others.

Lord lead us to be a community of disciples ready to serve the needs of those starved of Your love and mercy. Seeing our faith in action may Your saving grace be upon them. Through Your most Holy name,Jesus. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 35:1-10
The return of the redeemed through the desert

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.

‘Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming, the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy; for water gushes in the desert, streams in the wasteland, the scorched earth becomes a lake, the parched land springs of water.

The lairs where the jackals used to live become thickets of reed and papyrus…

And through it will run a highway undefiled
which shall be called the Sacred Way; the unclean may not travel by it,
nor fools stray along it.

No lion will be there
nor any fierce beast roam about it, but the redeemed will walk there, for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces;joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.

Gospel

Luke 5:17-26
‘Your sins are forgiven you: get up and walk’

Jesus was teaching one day, and among the audience there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing. Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on to the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed man – ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’ And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
They were all astounded and praised God, and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

Second Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 8, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Road Home: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Advent

Readings:

L

Today’s Psalm paints a dream-like scene—a road filled with liberated captives heading home to Zion (Jerusalem), mouths filled with laughter, tongues rejoicing.

It’s a glorious picture from Israel’s past, a “new exodus,” the deliverance from exile in Babylon. It’s being recalled in a moment of obvious uncertainty and anxiety. But the psalmist isn’t waxing nostalgic.

Remembering “the Lord has done great things” in the past, he is making an act of faith and hope—that God will come to Israel in its present need, that He’ll do even greater things in the future.

This is what the Advent readings are all about: We recall God’s saving deeds—in the history of Israel and in the coming of Jesus. Our remembrance is meant to stir our faith, to fill us with confidence that, as today’s Epistle puts it, “the One who began a good work in [us] will continue to complete it” until He comes again in glory.

Each of us, the Liturgy teaches, is like Israel in her exile—led into captivity by our sinfulness, in need of restoration, conversion by the Word of the Holy One (see Baruch 5:5). The lessons of salvation history should teach us that, as God again and again delivered Israel, in His mercy He will free us from our attachments to sin if we turn to Him in repentance.

That’s the message of John, introduced in today’s Gospel as the last of the great prophets (compare Jeremiah 1:1–4, 11). But John is greater than the prophets (see Luke 7:27). He’s preparing the way, not only for a new redemption of Israel, but for the salvation of “all flesh” (see also Acts 28:28).

John quotes Isaiah (40:3) to tell us he’s come to build a road home for us, a way out of the wilderness of sin and alienation from God. It’s a road we’ll follow Jesus down, a journey we’ll make, as today’s First Reading puts it, “rejoicing that [we’re] remembered by God.”

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 8, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Fully human, born without sin, Holy, spotless, blameless, pure, set apart. To be the tabernacle of our Lord Jesus Christ. For through God alone all is made possible. By Mary our mother’s fiat we have the Incarnation. Light brought forth into the world.

We too by our baptism have been set apart made Holy. If we model ourselves after our Blessed Mother then our yes too will bring the light of Christ to all that we meet. By His grace we can do this and so we must come before Him often to be renewed and restored. So that by His grace we can live fully in His love and be a blessing for others.

O most Holy Immaculate conception, Mary our mother pray for us…

First reading

Genesis 3:9-15,20
‘The offspring of the woman will crush your head’

After Adam had eaten of the tree the Lord God called to him. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this,

‘Be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts.
You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust every day of your life.
I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring.
It will crush your head
and you will strike its heel.’

The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all those who live.

Second reading
Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12
Before the world was made, God chose us in Christ

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.
Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence,
determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ
for his own kind purposes,
to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved,
And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things
as he decides by his own will;
chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.

Gospel

Luke 1:26-38
‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 7, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

If I have peace and love in my heart it is because of You alone my loving Saviour. You who took pity on me, opened my eyes to see You. And the wonders of Your mercy and love. I was so blind before stood before You O Lord! Blind to the needs of others. Blind to the hungry and those starved of attention. Blind to the community around me. Blind to everyone and everything other than to my own selfish needs and wants.

Ever since You restored my sight, how can I be quiet? How can I not sing Your praises with my hands and feet put to service for You and my brethren? How can I not shout from the mountain top that You Jesus are my Lord and God! How can I not work for Your greater glory? For Your peace and love reigns in my Heart now and forever. Amen

St Ambrose pray for us…

First reading

Isaiah 29:17-24
In a very short time, the deaf will hear and the eyes of the blind will see

The Lord says this:

In a short time, a very short time, shall not Lebanon become fertile land and fertile land turn into forest?
The deaf, that day, will hear the words of a book and, after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.

But the lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel; for tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish, and all be destroyed who are disposed to do evil:those who gossip to incriminate others, those who try at the gate to trip the arbitrator and get the upright man’s case dismissed for groundless reasons.

Therefore the Lord speaks,
the God of the House of Jacob, Abraham’s redeemer:
No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale, for he shall see what my hands have done in his midst,
he shall hold my name holy.
They will hallow the Holy One of Jacob, stand in awe of the God of Israel.
Erring spirits will learn wisdom and murmurers accept instruction.

Gospel

Matthew 9:27-31
‘Take care that no-one learns about this’

As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting, ‘Take pity on us, Son of David.’ And when Jesus reached the house the blind men came up with him and he said to them, ‘Do you believe I can do this?’ They said, ‘Sir, we do.’ Then he touched their eyes saying, ‘Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you.’ And their sight returned. Then Jesus sternly warned them, ‘Take care that no one learns about this.’ But when they had gone, they talked about him all over the countryside.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 6, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Why is it that we pray fervently, call upon the Lord only in times of great distress and need? Then go about our daily lives and routines after the need is met and peace restored. Where then is the exchange of love between the Lord our God and us? What right relationship do we have with Him?

Many still do not realise that the only way to grow deep in our relationship with the Lord our God is to do His will. This has been revealed to us time and time again. But it is our own wills we heed! Too difficult, bothersome first to know and understand His will for us, then to follow through! Hence we reap what we sow! What do you think will happen when our bond with our Lord Jesus Christ is paper thin?

To know His word and will for us; And to do it is to have laid a great foundation built upon His love. Come what may He is always by our side. We are never more safe and secure then when we are in His loving embrace. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 26:1-6
Open the gates; let the upright nation come in

That day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city; to guard us he has set wall and rampart about us.
Open the gates! Let the upright nation come in, she, the faithful one whose mind is steadfast, who keeps the peace, because she trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord for ever,
for the Lord is the everlasting Rock; he has brought low those who lived high up in the steep citadel; he brings it down, brings it down to the ground,
flings it down in the dust: the feet of the lowly, the footsteps of the poor trample on it.

Gospel

Matthew 7:21,24-27
The wise man built his house on a rock

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 5, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

While we prepare our hearts for our Lord’s second coming, let us reflect on how through His great love for us He has never left us!

For while He sits on His Holy mountain in the highest heavens He is present to us in the Blessed Sacrament, the most Holy Eucharist. He is present to us in our Advent reflections, prayer meetings. He is present to us in the Sacrament of reconciliation and all Holy sacraments of the Church. To this very day He brings healing to the sick and restores the crippled and blind; physically and spiritually.

Do we then possess that loving humility of our Lord Jesus Christ? Who came to die for us. He who never tires of lending a listening ear. Of tending to the sick and distraught. Who had the heart for His people and worried for their will being, spoke up for them and then put His plans into action to care for them.

What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (ps8:4) We are grateful Lord, we are eternally grateful. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 25:6-10
The Lord will prepare a banquet for every nation

On this mountain,
the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines,
of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.
On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
he will take away his people’s shame everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that he has saved us; for the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain.

Gospel

Matthew 15:29-37
The crowds praised the God of Israel

Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he went up into the hills. He sat there, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.
But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples, who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 4, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Only in deep and profound reflection and understanding that I am truly a child of God so loved by my heavenly Father can I begin to bask in His love. Abundant is His love for me, that there is no room whatsoever to feel envious of another. So rich and tender it draws me to love the same way. Only His peace and joy reign in my heart. I am moved to love His children, my sisters and brothers the same way He loves us. This is His wisdom revealed to us who humbly hear His call with the openness and innocence of a childlike heart. He is Abba, our Father who will never abandon us and who loves us ever so dearly.

Our Lord Jesus Christ His son had come so that we can once again be reunited with our loving Father. So turn back to Him all you who have lost your way. Fear no more, come and be healed. Come and be restored. Come so that you sin no more. And together hand in hand we will sing His glory!

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

First reading

Isaiah 11:1-10
A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots: on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked.

Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion feed together, with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand. They do no hurt, no harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters swell the sea.

That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples. It will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.

Gospel

Luke 10:21-24
No-one knows who the Son is except the Father

Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said:
‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.”

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 3, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

What faith will You find me in when You come oh Lord?

A faith which can move mountains? Or one that leads nowhere but despair? One that thrives on the living Word of God in the life lead or one one moving from one day to the next listless and dry? One who serves the least of His brethren through Your love and love for You? Or one that lives only for himself/herself?

Our faith comes from You Lord. Let it be an ever growing faith deepening through the journey in Your love this Advent. Lord Jesus You were born to bring light into darkness, let us be beacons of Your light. Amen

St Francis Xavier pray for us…

First reading

Isaiah 2:1-5
The Lord gathers all nations together into the eternal peace of God’s kingdom

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills.
All the nations will stream to it, peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the Law will go out from Zion, and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Gospel

Matthew 8:5-11
‘I am not worthy to have you under my roof: give the word, and my servant will be healed’

When Jesus went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘my servant is lying at home paralysed, and in great pain.’ ‘I will come myself and cure him’ said Jesus. The centurion replied, ‘Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.’

Thank You Lord

Posted: December 1, 2018 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Memory Book

What a wonderful way to end the liturgical year! Thanksgiving Eucharist with Gloria Patri Ministry leading the way from one year into the next urging us all to embrace our cross and follow Jesus.

Memorable too because my wife proclaimed the first reading for the first time from the pulpit. Then our Lord blessed me too with an opportunity to serve Him as an Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. This brought a tear to my eye for I felt His endearing love for me. He knew that I would always be willing to serve Him in any capacity. Even if it meant doing something I was uncomfortable with. I only pray that as we enter into the new year, Holy Spirit Lord will guide my steps and guard my heart. Amen

Blessed Advent everyone!

First Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 1, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Heads Up: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Jeremiah 33:14–16
Psalm 25:4–5, 8–10, 14
1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2
Luke 21:25–28, 34–36

Every Advent, the Liturgy of the Word gives our sense of time a reorientation. There’s a deliberate tension in the next four weeks’ readings—between promise and fulfillment, expectation and deliverance, between looking forward and looking back.
In today’s First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah focuses our gaze on the promise God made to David some 1,000 years before Christ. God says through the prophet that He will fulfill this promise by raising up a “just shoot,” a righteous offspring of David, who will rule Israel in justice (see 2 Samuel 7:16; Jeremiah 33:17; Psalm 89:4–5; 27–38).

Today’s Psalm, too, sounds the theme of Israel’s ancient expectation: “Guide me in Your truth and teach me. For You are God my Savior and for You I will wait all day.”
We look back on Israel’s desire and anticipation knowing that God has already made good on those promises by sending His only Son into the world. Jesus is the “just shoot,” the God and Savior for Whom Israel was waiting.
Knowing that He is a God who keeps His promises lends grave urgency to the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel.

Urging us to keep watch for His return in glory, He draws on Old Testament images of chaos and instability—turmoil in the heavens (see Isaiah 13:11, 13; Ezekiel 32:7–8; Joel 2:10); roaring seas (see Isaiah 5:30; 17:12); distress among the nations (see Isaiah 8:22, 14:25) and terrified people (see Isaiah 13:6–11).
He evokes the prophet Daniel’s image of the Son of Man coming on a cloud of glory to describe His return as a “theophany,” a manifestation of God (see Daniel 7:13–14).
Many will cower and be literally scared to death. But Jesus says we should greet the end times with heads raised high, confident that God keeps His promises, that our “redemption is at hand,” that “the kingdom of God is near” (see Luke 21:31).

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 1, 2018 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

We can only imagine how glorious it would be to bask in the love of our God and to see Him face to face. To have His light shine upon us. No more sufferings! Only Peace and joy in our hearts.

And so must strive for Holiness together, to remain steadfast and obedient unto Him. To be a loving, life giving community of disciples helping one another and all who come to us ;grow in the love and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Together we will stay awake to see the glory of God. Amen

First reading

Apocalypse 22:1-7
The Lord God will shine on them; it will never be night again

The angel showed me, John, the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the pagans.
The ban will be lifted. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in its place in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever.
The angel said to me, ‘All that you have written is sure and will come true: the Lord God who gives the spirit to the prophets has sent his angel to reveal to his servants what is soon to take place. Very soon now, I shall be with you again.’ Happy are those who treasure the prophetic message of this book.

Gospel

Luke 21:34-36
That day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’