Archive for August, 2019

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 31, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

To Go Up Higher: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Sirach 3:17–18, 20, 28–29
Psalm 68:4–7,10–11
Hebrews 12:18–19, 22–24
Luke 14:1, 7–14

We come to the wedding banquet of heaven by way of humility and charity. This is the fatherly instruction we hear in today’s First Reading, and the message of today’s Gospel.

Jesus is not talking simply about good table manners. He is revealing the way of the kingdom, in which the one who would be greatest would be the servant of all (see Luke 22:24–27).

This is the way, too, that the Father has shown us down through the ages—filling the hungry, sending the rich away empty, lifting up the lowly, pulling down the proud (see Luke 1:52–53).

We again call to mind the Exodus in today’s Psalm—how in His goodness the Lord led the Israelites from imprisonment to prosperity, rained down bread from heaven, made them His inheritance, becoming a “Father of orphans.”
We now have also gained a share of His inheritance. We are to live humbly, knowing we are not worthy to receive from His table (see Luke 6:7; 15:21). We are to give alms, remembering we were ransomed from sin by the price of His blood (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

The Lord promises that if we are humble we will be exalted and find favor with God; that if we are kind to those who can never repay us, we will atone for sins and find blessing in the resurrection of the righteous.

We anticipate the fulfillment of those promises in every Eucharist, today’s Epistle tells us. In the Mass, we enter the festal gathering of the angels and the firstborn children of God. It is the liturgy of the heavenly Jerusalem in which Jesus is the high priest, the King who calls us to come up higher (see Proverbs 25:6–7).

On Today’s Gospel

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

Put your love for God and the love of God into action!

God our Father loves us so much that He pours out His graces upon us ever so lavishly. All of us by virtue of our Baptism have been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit and as we grow in our love and relationship with the Lord our God, much more gifts, talents and wisdom are added on; for we would have already put whatever we had received into action for building of His kingdom. The Spirit we received is certainly not one of timidity but one that is bold to proclaim His love to all.

True servants after the heart of God know that all what we have received according to our Lord’s will must be put to use, invested, shared. For only then we will harvest abundant fruits which are profitable for Him. The only fear a disciple should have is Holy fear, fear of disappointing our all merciful and loving Lord and God.

Lord Jesus let all that I do and say bring You glory, now and forever. Amen

First reading

1 Thessalonians 4:9-11 ·
You have learnt from God how to love one another

As for loving our brothers, there is no need for anyone to write to you about that, since you have learnt from God yourselves to love one another, and in fact this is what you are doing with all the brothers throughout the whole of Macedonia. However, we do urge you, brothers, to go on making even greater progress and to make a point of living quietly, attending to your own business and earning your living, just as we told you to.

Gospel

Matthew 25:14-30
You have been faithful in small things: come and join in your master’s happiness

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”
‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’


Time and time again we are called to Holiness for the good of the Lord our God? Nay sisters and brothers for our own good. So that we may partake fully in the Lord’s goodness. Holiness demands sacrifice and a will bent on resisting sin at all cost. So then are we at this very moment reflecting the image and likeness of God of whom we are created from? Are we living authentic lives of love and service of and for one another?

Next to the sin of pride, one of the most heinous and prevalent sin in our society is the sin of lust. It does not help that social media, television, movies, games and soundtracks are filled with ideas of loose living, immoral activities and creative ideas for immodesty! Human dignity is stripped and the person is one to be objectified. Other Sins easily follow to fill us up to the point of our own destruction.

So let us make a decision this very day if we are going to leave our ‘lamps’ empty of the love of God? Devoid of His mercy and grace? Do we continue to live selfish meaningless lives? Or do we choose instead to fill our lamps with the ‘oil’ of His love, filled with corporal and spiritual acts of mercy for one another. Filled with the Holy Spirit such that we love as we are called to love and to lead one another home to Him. Surely He will take us by the hand and lead us into His heavenly kingdom.

Oh Holy Spirit sanctify me, that I may be a worthy instrument of Your love. Amen

First reading

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 ·
What God wants is for you all to be holy

Brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.
What God wants is for you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral; in other words, anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Gospel

Matthew 25:1-13
The wise and foolish virgins

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’


Who are the Herodias’ in our lives that keep us rooted in our sins? Who keeps us living in a fog of obscurity? Who feeds us with evil thoughts as we give in to our base inclinations? How easy it is then that as a result’ the Salomes’ of the world can entice us such that we are willing to forgo our souls! Who is it that will actually lose their head for all eternity? For God’s justice will prevail always!

We only have ourselves to blame if we Do Not CHOOSE to walk blameless before the Lord our God. If we refuse to hear His call to repentance so as to grow in Holiness. To rid ourselves of all evil thoughts and desires by living according to His Word. We most certainly can overcome all obstacles, challenges and evil; Through and by the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who desires that we be with Him for all eternity. For He conquered death and sin so that we might live life to the full in Him.

Let us strive then to live our lives with and in His grace. Let us encourage one another to grow in love and holiness as we journey on home to Him. May He so confirm our hearts in holiness that we may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all His saints.

Lord You are my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want. Amen

First reading

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 ·
Now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord

Brothers, your faith has been a great comfort to us in the middle of our own troubles and sorrows; now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account? We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.
May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make it easy for us to come to you. May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

Gospel

Mark 6:17-29
The beheading of John the Baptist

Herod sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him; but she was not able to, because Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.
An opportunity came on Herod’s birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.’ And he swore her an oath, ‘I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ The girl hurried straight back to the king and made her request, ‘I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.’ The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. So the king at once sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Not easy to listen and hear the Word of God which pierces the hearts of many so that change might take place from within. So much so that some have chosen to preach only about the Saints whose feast day we celebrate in hopes perhaps that more will be moved to change by emulating their lives.

Yes those who choose to live only exterior lives of Holiness, piety but have little or no true love of God or His people will bring about curses upon themselves by their actions whether or not they are concealed! For God sees within us all. In this day and age murder of the prophets as spoken in the Gospel does not and will not take place you might say. What about character assassination? Defamation? Do they not murder the spirit of their intended targets or the Holiness of the community? How many priests and modern day prophets have suffered at the hands of those who gossip and plot against them? How many who speak up for truth were silenced or dealt with by the higher echelon?

St Paul reminds us how to live according to the teachings of Christ who once said that the greatest among you must be your servant. Any one who exalts himself will be humbled and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted. That we should work hard and not rely on anyone as to be obligated in such a way that we are not free to proclaim the Good news and work for the glory of the Lord our God. Having heard the Word of God we must live our lives worthily and in the Spirit, whose power will effect change in our lives as well of those who will come to believe. For the Lord draws His faithful unto Himself. Amen

St Augustine pray for us….

First reading

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 ·
We slaved night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you

Let me remind you, brothers, how hard we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming God’s Good News to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, that our treatment of you, since you became believers, has been impeccably right and fair. You can remember how we treated every one of you as a father treats his children, teaching you what was right, encouraging you and appealing to you to live a life worthy of God, who is calling you to share the glory of his kingdom. Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.

Gospel

Matthew 23:27-32
You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of holy men, saying, “We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our fathers’ day.” So! Your own evidence tells against you! You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your fathers began.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: August 27, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Recently our archbishop wrote about his encounter with a few young people who were sporting studs and tattoos. He shared they were wonderful, good natured, talented and hard working. Prayerfully no one read it and decided that they too would get tattoos *grins* And I too have encountered similar folks in my own parish. I remember distinctly giving a talk one year on encountering God through prayer for some primary 4 (junior) parents and at the very end of the talk only one pair came up to me to thank me for the talk and they were the ones who had tattoos all over. Today’s Gospel says it all! It is what is on the inside that counts. How the Lord our God had changed us from within and is continuing to work in us through His grace.

Many are still very much more concerned with appearances. Even church leaders are not exempt from this form of insecurity. They want to be respected and carry an air about them which they mistake to be spirit filled. St Paul reminds us however that we should be unassuming in our disposition with hearts only after our Lord Jesus Christ. So that in all things we bring glory alone to Him. Let us strive therefore to continually renew ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit and to frequent the sacraments. So that docile to His promptings we give glory to God in all we say and do.

Jesus I am Yours. Amen

St. Monica pray for us…..

First reading

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 ·
We were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives

You know yourselves, my brothers, that our visit to you has not proved ineffectual.
We had, as you know, been given rough treatment and been grossly insulted at Philippi, and it was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim his Good News to you in the face of great opposition. We have not taken to preaching because we are deluded, or immoral, or trying to deceive anyone; it was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we are not trying to please men but God, who can read our inmost thoughts. You know very well, and we can swear it before God, that never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery, or a cover for trying to get money; nor have we ever looked for any special honour from men, either from you or anybody else, when we could have imposed ourselves on you with full weight, as apostles of Christ.
Instead, we were unassuming. Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well.

Gospel

Matthew 23:23-26
Clean the inside of the cup first, so that the outside may become clean

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who pay your tithe of mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law – justice, mercy, good faith! These you should have practised, without neglecting the others. You blind guides! Straining out gnats and swallowing camels!
‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who clean the outside of cup and dish and leave the inside full of extortion and intemperance. Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well.’


You can see the stark contrast between the worshippers of the Lord our God in the first reading and those spoken of in the Gospel. The first have surrendered their all to Him, have built up their relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through prayer, the Word lived out in their lives and the sharing of His love with the community. Then each new community is built upon the teachings and foundation of the old. The Lord Himself adds to their numbers.

The latter however have only an idea of who the Lord their God is and how they think they should live out their faith in Him ritualistically. There is no depth of understanding neither is there the required love that goes into the worship of the Lord their God. What lessons then will they have taught their followers in the ways of God? What would their children have learnt? How then can the Love for God grow in their hearts? How can they love one another as they ought to when they have not experienced His love the way they are meant to? They have shut themselves out from encountering Him in the deep personal way that He wants them to. Do we not have such leaders or parishioners in our Church today?

Lord Jesus be my guide in all I say and do, let my heart burn for love of You; such that the fire of Your love will spread to all You have sent my way. Amen

First reading

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10 ·
You broke with idolatry when you were converted to God

From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction. And you observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.

Gospel

Matthew 23:13-22
Alas for you, blind guides!

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to.
‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when you have him you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.
‘Alas for you, blind guides! You who say, “If a man swears by the Temple, it has no force; but if a man swears by the gold of the Temple, he is bound.” Fools and blind! For which is of greater worth, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? Or else, “If a man swears by the altar it has no force; but if a man swears by the offering that is on the altar, he is bound.” You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred? Therefore, when a man swears by the altar he is swearing by that and by everything on it. And when a man swears by the Temple he is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it. And when a man swears by heaven he is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.’