Archive for February, 2020

First Sunday of Lent

Posted: February 29, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Tale of Two Adams: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday of Lent

Readings:
Genesis 2:7–93:1–7
Psalm 51:3–612–1417
Romans 5:12–19
Matthew 4:1–11
 
In today’s Liturgy, the destiny of the human race is told as the tale of two “types” of men—the first man, Adam, and the new Adam, Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:21–2245–59).
Paul’s argument in the Epistle is built on a series of contrasts between “one” or “one person” and “the many” or “all.” By one person’s disobedience, sin and condemnation entered the world, and death came to reign over all. By the obedience of another one, grace abounded, all were justified, and life came to reign for all.

This is the drama that unfolds in today’s First Reading and Gospel.

Formed from the clay of the ground and filled with the breath of God’s own Spirit, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38), created in His image (see Genesis 5:1–3). Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (see Psalms 8:6–891:11–13). He was made to worship God—to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.
Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent’s temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in His hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed—and drove the devil away.

Still, we sin after the pattern of Adam’s transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (see Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God’s promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation.
But the grace won for us by Christ’s obedience means that sin is no longer our master.

As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (see Romans 5:5Hebrews 8:10). As we do in today’s Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence


My Lord You came for me!

Instead of pushing me far away because of the filth of my sins, You O Lord drew me close. You sat and ate with me, my friends were your friends. Mi casa es su casa.

My Lord You came for me!

Who am I that You should love me so? Guilt and shame filled my heart, for deeply offending You by the wrong choices I’ve made. How could You love me still? Then I saw myself through Your eyes.

My Lord You came for me!

Follow me, I heard You call. And I felt Your grace gently flowing and enveloping my very being. I am restored, I was am made whole. I gladly follow You Lord, wherever You lead me so.

My Lord You came for me! Amen

First reading

Isaiah 58:9-14
You will be like a spring whose waters never run dry

The Lord says this:

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon. The Lord will always guide you, giving you relief in desert places.

He will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never run dry.

You will rebuild the ancient ruins, build up on the old foundations. You will be called ‘Breach-mender’, ‘Restorer of ruined houses.’

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day, if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’, and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’, if you honour it by abstaining from travel, from doing business and from gossip, then shall you find your happiness in the Lord and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Gospel

Luke 5:27-32
Jesus comes not to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance

Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.
In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 28, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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What is the purpose of fasting and following the Lenten observances if we do not will our hearts to change, to pray to our Lord fervently to help change them so as to unite ourselves more fully to Him? Can we then continue with unbridled tongues? With allowing our tempers to flare? With a lukewarm faith? With indifference? With feigned ignorance of the poor and the poor in spirit? Can we continue to give in to temptation and sin?

Emptying and surrendering ourselves to Him so that He can fill the voids in our lives with His graces and His very self through the act of fasting is only the first step. There is still prayer and almsgiving which of course includes performing corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. Yes mighty challenging indeed! But think of the prize, the bridegroom Himself! The best part is that He is with us every step of the way in our journey guiding and enriching us with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Oh Lord allow me to always listen to Your voice and my heart will never be hardened. Amen

First reading

Isaiah 58:1-9 ·

The sort of fast that pleases me

Thus says the Lord:

Shout for all you are worth,raise your voice like a trumpet. Proclaim their faults to my people, their sins to the House of Jacob.

They seek me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the law of its God.

They ask me for laws that are just, they long for God to draw near: ‘Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?’

Look, you do business on your fast-days, you oppress all your workmen; look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high. Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me

– it is the Lord who speaks – to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin? Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you.

Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

Gospel

Matthew 9:14-15

When the bridegroom is taken from them, then they will fast

John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 27, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Who in their right mind, able bodied and all would choose death over life? Yet this unconscionable act is chosen over and over again each time we choose sin over life. Yes indeed sin equals death.

Jesus our Lord is the source of all life and so by choosing to sin we distant ourselves further and further from Him by our disobedience. And while it may seem that we are living our lives to the full, passionately fulfilling our base desires; we are in actual fact withering, falling and sooner than later we will die.

To live in the love of Jesus is truly choosing life to the full. By embracing the challenges, hardships and sacrifices we opt to carry the gift of the cross. For by dying in Him, we rise to new life with and in Him.

Lord Jesus Bless and anoint me, that I may faithfully choose to serve You above all else. Now and forever. Amen

First reading

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 ·
I set before you today life or death, blessing or curse

Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’

Gospel

Luke 9:22-25
Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said:
‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 26, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Traditionally today is the day we receive the mark of ashes on our foreheads by the priest or communion ministers as an outward sign that we have chosen to begin our Lenten observances. It has never been a day of obligation, but for many of us it is in the sense that we choose our love for God over everything else and want to be fully united with Him. Some of us this year will not have this opportunity due to the church closure, and so some have opted for a DIY solution by burning their old palms and marking themselves with the ashes.

What is of most importance is our inner disposition. Is today simply a reminder of our Mortality? From Ashes we came from ashes we shall return? Or is it a stark reminder that we are already dead if we do not have a relationship with the Lord our God? For we have not truly lived as we ought to in His love. Is today simply about returning to our God’s good graces? Or is it about truly being sorry and contrite for sins, for having wandered far from Him; and wanting badly to be in His loving embrace.

So sisters and brothers in Christ, if today and through the forty days of Lent, we rend our hearts for our many heinous sins, for what we have done and what we have failed to do. If we are truly penitent and want to start anew. Then we can rest assured that our Lord Jesus Christ will heal and make us whole. And we will live fully in His love and light at Easter!

Let us turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospels. Amen

First reading

Joel 2:12-18 ·
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.
Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent, will not leave a blessing as he passes, oblation and libation for the Lord your God?

Sound the trumpet in Zion!
Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, call the people together,
summon the community,
assemble the elders, gather the children, even the infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom and the bride her alcove.
Between vestibule and altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, lament.
Let them say,
‘Spare your people, Lord!
Do not make your heritage a thing of shame, a byword for the nations. Why should it be said among the nations, “Where is their God?”’

Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land, took pity on his people.

Second reading

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Be reconciled to God

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.

Gospel

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 25, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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All leadership perhaps starts out innocently enough with the sole desire of serving the Lord our God and brethren. But after a while if we do not ground ourselves by focusing both on our crucified Christ and His resurrection thereby carrying our own to cross to follow Him; we will be tainted by the world! It may start subtly with seeking affirmation, approval, then recognition and honour. Truth is withheld to keep the ‘peace’ the unified consensus, never mind that the way of Christ is through the narrow gate. Prayers are written and everyone is encouraged to pray, so that our Lord might listen to the construct of the beautiful words and overlook the agenda we want passed. Are we then serving the Lord? Or is He meant to serve us?

Why does Jesus put His arm around the child and set the child before His disciples? His action spoke volumes even before His words reached their ears! You and I should see ourselves as that child. I am that child so loved by God my Father. My Lord and God’s protective arm is around me. I am under His providence and so desire only that which I can use to build His Kingdom. I bask in His great and complete love for me and therefore seek no other kind of love of which only brings discontent. The more I want to hold on to His love for me, the more I must give it away to my brethren especially the least; that is to the stranger, the widow, the defenseless child, the poor. It is only through the Cross that I carry for love of my God, that I am truly alive in His presence.

Abba I am Your child. I’ve come to do Your will. Amen

First reading

James 4:1-10 ·
Resist the devil and he will run away

Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.
You are as unfaithful as adulterous wives; don’t you realise that making the world your friend is making God your enemy? Anyone who chooses the world for his friend turns himself into God’s enemy. Surely you don’t think scripture is wrong when it says: the spirit which he sent to live in us wants us for himself alone? But he has been even more generous to us, as scripture says: God opposes the proud but he gives generously to the humble. Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Look at your wretched condition, and weep for it in misery; be miserable instead of laughing, gloomy instead of happy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

Gospel

Mark 9:30-37
Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me

Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: February 24, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Lord together with my brethren we have prayed fervently, give us today our daily bread but those perhaps those far wiser than us have decided to deny us direct access to You for a time.

Lord Jesus we do have faith, help the little faith we have!

We are weak Lord and evil surrounds us ready to pounce for we have little left to defend ourselves.

Lord Jesus we do have faith, help the little faith we have!

We want to gather together in the sanctity of our homes to praise, worship and listen to Your Word for us, but fear now rules and keeps us away.

Lord Jesus we do have faith, help the little faith we have!

We humbly submit ourselves to You Holy Will for us, as we embrace this cross we have been given.

Lord Jesus we do have faith, help the little faith we have!

Lift this curse Lord we pray, for everything is possible with You. All our faith and trust we give You Lord.

Lord Jesus we do have faith, help the little faith we have! Amen

First reading

James 3:13-18
Show wisdom and avoid ambition

If there are any wise or learned men among you, let them show it by their good lives, with humility and wisdom in their actions. But if at heart you have the bitterness of jealousy, or a self-seeking ambition, never make any claims for yourself or cover up the truth with lies – principles of this kind are not the wisdom that comes down from above: they are only earthly, animal and devilish. Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also makes for peace, and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear fruit in holiness.

Gospel

Mark 9:14-29
Help the little faith I have!

When Jesus, with Peter, James and John came down from the mountain and rejoined the disciples, they saw a large crowd round them and some scribes arguing with them. The moment they saw him the whole crowd were struck with amazement and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ he asked. A man answered him from the crowd, ‘Master, I have brought my son to you; there is a spirit of dumbness in him, and when it takes hold of him it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and goes rigid. And I asked your disciples to cast it out and they were unable to.’ ‘You faithless generation’ he said to them in reply. ‘How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ They brought the boy to him, and as soon as the spirit saw Jesus it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell to the ground and lay writhing there, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ ‘From childhood,’ he replied ‘and it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water, in order to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’ And when Jesus saw how many people were pressing round him, he rebuked the unclean spirit. ‘Deaf and dumb spirit,’ he said ‘I command you: come out of him and never enter him again.’ Then throwing the boy into violent convulsions it came out shouting, and the boy lay there so like a corpse that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him up, and he was able to stand. When he had gone indoors his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why were we unable to cast it out?’ ‘This is the kind’ he answered ‘that can only be driven out by prayer.’