Archive for May, 2019

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: May 31, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

In my life I have had countless visits by our Blessed Mother Mary. She has always been with me through all my difficulties, trials and challenges. Comforting me and always giving me hope in moments of despair. At an early age I was taught by mum to say three Hail Mary’s to invoke her help, whenever I was faced with difficulty; however that did not really sink it till much later. It was only in my teens that I began to feel and know she was present, and painful moments was soothed away by her loving presence. She was there when I was bullied, when I got into fights, when my heart was broken by my first girlfriend and especially when I questioned by faith and beliefs as a young adult. Loving mother that she is, her greatest desire was for me to grow in love of her son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that it is through the loving intercession of both my maternal mother and my blessed Mother in Heaven that I am where I am today. A man of God, constantly striving to grow in love and Holiness. So as to lead others to do likewise.

Sisters and brothers in Christ. Our Blessed Mother was given to us by our loving Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to accompany us on our arduous journey home to Him. We have been given the great gift of the Holy Rosary to help us grow in faith, love and to guard us against evil. So let us pray the Rosary often and fervently, so that together with our Blessed Mother we will magnify and glorify the Lord our God in all that we say and do. Amen

First reading

Zephaniah 3:14-18 †
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart,
daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has repealed your sentence;
he has driven your enemies away.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;you have no more evil to fear.

When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:Zion, have no fear,do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.

Gospel

Luke 1:39-56
The Almighty has done great things for me

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.’
And 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.

Ascension of the Lord

Posted: May 30, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Good News: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Ascension of the Lord

Readings:

Acts 1:1–11
Psalm 47:2–3, 6–7, 8–9
Ephesians 1:17–23 or Hebrews 9:24–28; 10:19–23
Luke 24:46–53

In today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and He has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.

The truth of this feast shines forth from the Letter to the Hebrews, where we read of the great high priest’s passing through the heavens, the sinless intercessor’s sacrifice on our behalf (see Hebrews 4:14–15).

Indeed, His intercession will lead to the Holy Spirit’s descent in fire upon the Church. Luke spells out that promise in the First Reading for the feast of the Ascension: “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). The Ascension is the preliminary feast that directs the Church’s attention forward to Pentecost. On that day, salvation will be complete; for salvation is not simply expiation for sins (that would be wonder enough), but it is something even greater than that. Expiation is itself a necessary precondition of our adoption as God’s children. To live that divine life we must receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit we must be purified through Baptism.

The Responsorial Psalm presents the Ascension in terms familiar from the worship of the Jerusalem Temple in the days of King Solomon: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord” (Psalm 47). The priest-king takes his place at the head of the people, ruling over the nations, establishing peace.

The Epistle strikes a distinctively Paschal note. In the early Church, as today, Easter was the normal time for the baptism of adult converts. The sacrament was often called “illumination” or “enlightenment” because of the light that came with God’s saving grace (see, for example, Hebrews 10:32). Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians, speaks in terms of glory that leads to greater glories still, as Ascension leads to Pentecost: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,” he writes, as he looks to the divinization of the believers. Their “hope” is “his inheritance among the holy ones,” the saints who have been adopted into God’s family and now rule with Him at the Father’s right hand.

This is the “good news” the Apostles are commissioned to spread—to the whole world, to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem—at the Ascension. It’s the good news we must spread today.


How difficult is it to share with someone the relationship you have with a beloved one? Parent, child, spouse? Not difficult at all! As most of us would definitely say. Why then would it be or is, that it is difficult to share about our relationship with the Lord our God? Isn’t the big word Evangelization a title in which we actively share our loving relationship with Jesus with others?

We are all children of God our Heavenly Father and because of His great love for us, He sent His only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ. To gather all of us into Himself, to liberate us from all sin so that we can live life to the full in Him. By His own life, death and Resurrection we have hope of eternal life with Him. Now this proclamation of the salvation of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ is the kerygma.

So frankly the only reason for not being able to share Jesus with anyone or everyone is because you do not have a loving relationship with Him at all. It does matter if you attend mass every Sunday, are generally good to others and so on. Because, not having a deep personal relationship with Jesus rooted on His Word and prayer does not change you inwardly. You won’t have ever growing faith stories of loving encounters with Jesus to share with others.

It is not too late! So long as you live and breathe, pray to the Holy Spirit to guide you. The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truth. And then you will be able to proclaim without the slightest hesitation that Jesus is the Lord of your life and that He loves everyone. Jesus is for everyone. Amen

First reading

Acts 17:15,22-18:1
I proclaim the God you already worship without knowing it

Paul’s escort took him as far as Athens, and went back with instructions for Silas and Timothy to rejoin Paul as soon as they could.
So Paul stood before the whole Council of the Areopagus and made this speech:
‘Men of Athens, I have seen for myself how extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters, because I noticed, as I strolled round admiring your sacred monuments, that you had an altar inscribed: To An Unknown God. Well, the God whom I proclaim is in fact the one whom you already worship without knowing it.
‘Since the God who made the world and everything in it is himself Lord of heaven and earth, he does not make his home in shrines made by human hands. Nor is he dependent on anything that human hands can do for him, since he can never be in need of anything; on the contrary, it is he who gives everything – including life and breath – to everyone. From one single stock he not only created the whole human race so that they could occupy the entire earth, but he decreed how long each nation should flourish and what the boundaries of its territory should be. And he did this so that all nations might seek the deity and, by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him. Yet in fact he is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live, and move, and exist, as indeed some of your own writers have said:

“We are all his children.”

‘Since we are the children of God, we have no excuse for thinking that the deity looks like anything in gold, silver or stone that has been carved and designed by a man.
‘God overlooked that sort of thing when men were ignorant, but now he is telling everyone everywhere that they must repent, because he has fixed a day when the whole world will be judged, and judged in righteousness, and he has appointed a man to be the judge. And God has publicly proved this by raising this man from the dead.’
At this mention of rising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing; others said, ‘We would like to hear you talk about this again.’ After that Paul left them, but there were some who attached themselves to him and became believers, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman called Damaris, and others besides.
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Gospel

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself but will say only what he has learnt; and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,since all he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said: All he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: May 28, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

When my Spiritual director had left to go on his new ‘mission’ to be faithful and obedient to God our Father. I felt that it was too soon, so much I was not prepared for. The leadership team still in its infancy needed more guidance and someone very strong to hold them together. Then changes came fast and furious. Many were trying to find good in them whilst many others looked on in dismay, as we watched the foundations we had built collapse. I was among the latter and decided to serve in a different capacity, my beloved Parish would be entrusted to the former, the hopefuls.

In all that had taken place and in the chaos, I had somehow forgotten we had a powerful advocate, the Holy Spirit. Unless Jesus our Lord and Saviour left He would not come. I began to slowly understand this better and more clearly in my own reality. Instead of holding on tightly to my Spiritual director and the legacy he left behind, I should have allowed the Holy Spirit to come fully into my being and convict me in my service to the Lord my God. He is the one to continue to guide me and set my heart aflame. He will even send me the Spiritual directors I need when I need them. I have the great and powerful Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist to renew, refresh, nourish and strengthen me.

Thank you Lord for the ‘earthquake’ that rocked my foundation. Otherwise it would not have fully been built on the rock of my faith in God my Father, His Son my Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen

First reading

Acts 16:22-34 †
Become a believer and you will be saved, and your household too

The crowd joined in and showed their hostility to Paul and Silas, so the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be flogged. They were given many lashes and then thrown into prison, and the gaoler was told to keep a close watch on them. So, following his instructions, he threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Late that night Paul and Silas were praying and singing God’s praises, while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly there was an earthquake that shook the prison to its foundations. All the doors flew open and the chains fell from all the prisoners. When the gaoler woke and saw the doors wide open he drew his sword and was about to commit suicide, presuming that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted at the top of his voice, ‘Don’t do yourself any harm; we are all here.’ The gaoler called for lights, then rushed in, threw himself trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas, and escorted them out, saying, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They told him, ‘Become a believer in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, and your household too.’ Then they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all his family. Late as it was, he took them to wash their wounds, and was baptised then and there with all his household. Afterwards he took them home and gave them a meal, and the whole family celebrated their conversion to belief in God.

Gospel

John 16:5-11
Unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Now I am going to the one who sent me.
Not one of you has asked, “Where are you going?”
Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this.
Still, I must tell you the truth:
it is for your own good that I am going
because unless I go,the Advocate will not come to you;but if I do go,
I will send him to you.
And when he comes,he will show the world how wrong it was,about sin,and about who was in the right,and about judgement:about sin: proved by their refusal to believe in me;
about who was in the right: proved by my going to the Father and your seeing me no more; about judgement: proved by the prince of this world being already condemned.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: May 27, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

In a recent community sharing on the Gospel reading for Easter, we touched a little on being a more inclusive community. It dawned on us that we were actually a very inclusive community striving to be better disciples. However who if any in our community were being excluded? The real problem and this happens in many communities and ministries is that the folks who are excluded have in actual fact excluded themselves! They chose not to come and be in the presence of our Lord for prayer meetings, fellowship and formation. To be in communion with their fellow members so as to grow in faith, love even charity. How can they then expect to the Holy Spirit to touch their hearts? The way He did Lydia in today’s first reading who was sincere and had a desire to be open to our Lord’s promptings.

Our faith is never a private one just between ourselves individually and the Lord our God. Otherwise our being one Body in Christ has no meaning for us. How then can we be witnesses to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as we are called to be?

Sisters and brothers it is time to wake up to the reality of our faith in Him who loves us ever so dearly. It is time to make straight our paths by seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the nourishment, the grace and divinity of our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. So that we can be better disciples who strive to come often together to be in His presence;to be witnesses of His love to one another and then go out to share the Gospel message of His love to one and all. Amen

First reading

Acts 16:11-15 †
The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to accept what Paul was saying

Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that particular district of Macedonia. After a few days in this city we went along the river outside the gates as it was the sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptised she sent us an invitation: ‘If you really think me a true believer in the Lord,’ she said ‘come and stay with us’; and she would take no refusal.

Gospel

John 15:26-16:4
The Spirit of truth will be my witness

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘When the Advocate comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness.
And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset.
‘I have told you all this that your faith may not be shaken.
They will expel you from the synagogues, and indeed the hour is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy duty for God.
They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or myself.
But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you.’

On Servant Leadership

Posted: May 26, 2019 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 25, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Counsel of Jerusalem: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 15:1–2, 22–29
Psalm 67:2–3, 5–6, 8
Revelation 21:10–14, 22–23
John 14:23–29

The first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem we hear about in today’s First Reading, decided the shape of the Church as we know it.

Some Jewish Christians had wanted Gentile converts to be circumcised and obey all the complex ritual and purity laws of the Jews.

The council called this a heresy, again showing us that the Church in the divine plan is meant to be a worldwide family of God, no longer a covenant with just one nation.

Today’s Liturgy gives us a profound meditation on the nature and meaning of the Church.

The Church is one, as we see in the First Reading: “the Apostles [bishops] and presbyters [priests], in agreement with the whole Church [laity].”

The Church is holy, taught and guided by the Spirit that Jesus promises the Apostles in the Gospel.

The Church is catholic, or universal, making known God’s ways of salvation to all peoples, ruling all in equity, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

And the Church, as John sees in the Second Reading, is apostolic—founded on the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

All these marks of the Church are underscored in the story of the council.

Notice that everybody, including Paul, looks to “Jerusalem [and] . . . the Apostles” to decide the Church’s true teaching. The Apostles, too, presume that Christian teachers need a “mandate from us.”

And we see the Spirit guiding the Apostles in all truth. Notice how they describe their ruling: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.”

Knowing these truths about the Church, our hearts should never be troubled. The Liturgy’s message today is that the Church is the Lord’s, watched over and guarded by the Advocate, the Holy Spirit sent by the Father in the name of the Son.

This should fill us with confidence, free us to worship with exultation, inspire us to rededicate our lives to His Name—to love Jesus in our keeping of His Word, to rejoice that He and the Father in the Spirit have made their dwelling with us.