Archive for May, 2020

Pentecost Sunday

Posted: May 30, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A Mighty Wind: Scott Hahn Reflects on Pentecost Sunday

Readings:

Acts 2:1–11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34
1 Corinthians 12:3–7, 12–13
John 20:19–23

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15–21; Deuteronomy 16:9–11).

In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2–8; Romans 8:2).
The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today’s Epistle (see also John 7:37–39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a “new creation” in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity—fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.


Does the Lord our God love you more than He loves me? Why then do I have more hardships and challenges than you? Do we not hear similar undertones when Martha spoke to Jesus about Mary? When the disciples question who among them was the greatest? Or here when Peter questions Jesus on the fate of John?If we strive to live in the Spirit and seek only to be guided by the spirit of truth then we already know the answer. God our Father loves all His children equally and has no favourites. Through His son our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ we have been redeemed. Some of us are called to suffer a little more than others because we have been blessed to be able to handle more and because of our resolute faith in our Risen Lord we have been given the opportunity to glorify Him either in this life or in death that comes for a spell, before we fully rise with and in Him.Led by the Holy Spirit I shall be life-giving to others. Amen

First reading

Acts 28:16-20,30-31 ·
In Rome, Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God without hindrance from anyoneOn our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.
After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.’
Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

Gospel

John 21:20-25
This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and we know that his testimony is truePeter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’
This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.
There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.


Loving You in my heart Lord is not enough. For anyone can love and honour You by their lips. I know I am being challenged to prove my love for You by feeding Your lambs. Not only by feeding your lambs but looking after and feeding Your sheep.

Where are your lambs Lord? Are they to be found in the toddlers, the young, the youths of my community? What shall I nurture them with? How shall I guide them? Shall I teach them that they should lead chaste, Holy lives? That loving You is to love Your Word which gives us life to the full. Shall I teach them to pray so that they might enter into Your presence and fall into Your loving embrace? How different should I care for Your sheep? Likewise and more? Shall I seek out Your other sheep not of our flock? In order to feed both Your lambs and sheep I must ensure they are well and healthy enough to be fed, which means tending to the sick and those who cannot care for themselves.

It is indeed a daunting task that lies ahead; Still if You lead me Lord, I will follow. Amen

First reading

Acts 25:13-21 ·
‘I ordered Paul to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar’King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king. ‘There is a man here’ he said ‘whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.’

Gospel

John 21:15-19
Feed my lambs, feed my sheepJesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.‘I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’


Why do we allow our differences to divide us? Salt and pepper are vastly different and yet when put together they bring about a flavourful excellence. We are so much more than that! We are all God our Father’s children regardless of race, culture, language, financial status and so on. Our uniqueness and the gifts we possess when brought together for love one another, are that which give Him glory.And through the power of our resurrected Lord who died for our sins, we are able to be completely united as One with and in Him. Let us therefore unite ourselves more fully with our Lord Jesus Christ and always be ready to share His love and mercy with one another. Amen

First reading

Acts 22:30,23:6-11 ·‘You have borne witness in Jerusalem: now you must do the same in Rome’Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’

Gospel

John 17:20-26Father, may they be completely oneJesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these,but for those also who through their words will believe in me.May they all be one.Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.I have given them the glory you gave to me,that they may be one as we are one.With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.Father, I want those you have given meto be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.’


Whether we are lost or not is our choice. For our Lord Jesus Christ wills that not one of us is lost. All of us have been consecrated to the truth, the way and the life by our baptism. And our calling is lead Holy sanctified lives to the full in the love and mercy of Christ our Saviour.St Paul reminds us therefore to remain steadfast and rooted to the word of God; to the word of His grace that has power to build us up and to give us our inheritance among all the sanctified. This is how we will stand fortified against the evil that seeks to rob us while we are making our pilgrim journey back home to our Heavenly Father.Come Holy Spirit come! Be our guide, our ally! Grant us what we need to be powerful Evangelisers of the love of God and the joys, peace and love of living the Gospel truths. Amen

First reading

Acts 20:28-38 ·
I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, and its powerPaul addressed these words to the elders of the church of Ephesus:
‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood. I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.
‘I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’
When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms round Paul’s neck and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.

Gospel

John 17:11-19
Father, keep those you have given me true to your nameJesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them, and the Holy world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’


Have you prepared your farewell speech before passing on? Would you even have to? Or would the way you lived your life speak volumes for you? Have you glorified the Lord Your God by your life? Have you suffered for Christ’s namesake? Or has it only been about you and your own sufferings? How many souls have You saved? How many strays have you brought back home to God Your Heavenly Father? How many have experienced your acts of love and mercy?

Jesus loves and prays for you. He wants you to be the best version of yourself for you and for others. Listen to Him speaking to you in today’s Gospel. Replace the word ‘them’ with your own name and see just how much the Lord our God loves you! Amen

St Philip Neri pray for us….

First reading

Acts 20:17-27 ·
I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them:
‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.
‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecution await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.
‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’

Gospel

John 17:1-11
Father, it is time for you to glorify me

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this: to know you,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you before ever the world was.
I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’


Jesus has conquered the world! Do we realise how awesome this is and what it means for us? Yes we have it in mind that Jesus died for us to save us from sins and that we have hope of eternal life with Him. However we often overlook the fact that because Jesus conquered the world, we too can conquer the world through Him! This means we can live fully liberated in His love and in the spirit of truth.Our call then as children of God our Father is to live Holy chaste lives. While not all of us will be chosen to have anointed venerable hands like our shepherds in Holy orders; we are all chosen people, a royal priesthood! And so are called to lead others into a deeper conversion, by their repentance and reconciliation to God our Heavenly Father. Those of us who are willing to sacrifice for our Lord’s namesake and for our brethren will be given the grace to lay hands amongst other things. For our Lord promised “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.” John 14:12 Amen

First reading

Acts 19:1-8 ·
The moment Paul laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on themWhile Apollos was in Corinth, Paul made his way overland as far as Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. When he asked, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ they answered, ‘No, we were never even told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then how were you baptised?’ he asked. ‘With John’s baptism’ they replied. ‘John’s baptism’ said Paul ‘was a baptism of repentance; but he insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after him – in other words, Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of these men.
He began by going to the synagogue, where he spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. He did this for three months.

Gospel

John 16:29-33
Be brave, for I have conquered the worldHis disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them:‘Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come – in fact it has come already – when you will be scattered,
each going his own way and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world.’

Seventh Sunday in Easter

Posted: May 24, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Knowing God: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventh Sunday in Easter

Readings:

Acts 1:12—14
Psalm 27:1, 4, 7—8
1 Peter 4:13—16
John 17:1—11

Jesus has been taken up into heaven as we begin today’s First Reading. His disciples—including the Apostles and Mary—return to the upper room where He celebrated the Last Supper (see Luke 22:12).
There, they devote themselves with one accord to prayer, awaiting the Spirit that He promised would come upon them (see Acts 1:8).
The unity of the early Church at Jerusalem is a sign of the oneness that Christ prays for in today’s Gospel. The Church is to be a communion on earth that mirrors the glorious union of Father, Son, and Spirit in the Trinity.

Jesus has proclaimed God’s name to His brethren (see Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 22:23). The prophets had foretold this revelation—a new covenant by which all flesh would have knowledge of the Lord (see Jeremiah 31:33–34; Habakkuk 2:14).

By the new covenant made in His blood and remembered in every Eucharist, we know God as our Father. This is the eternal life Jesus promises. And this is the light and salvation we sing of in today’s Psalm.

As God made light to shine out of darkness when the world began, He has enlightened us in Baptism, making us new creations (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), giving us knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (see Hebrews 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Our new life is a gift of “the Spirit of glory,” we hear in today’s Epistle (see John 7:38–39). Made one in His name, we are given a new name—“Christians”—a name used only here and in two other places in the Bible (see Acts 11:16; 26:28). We are to glorify God, though we will be insulted and suffer because of this name.

But as we share in His sufferings, we know we will overcome (see Revelation 3:12) and rejoice when His glory is once more revealed. And we will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.


I believe my biggest misconception was that I needed to ‘do’ certain things and wait for an appropriate date and time for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in order to experience a renewal or a more in depth faith experience. When in actual fact it has always been about my very own personal relationship with the Lord my God. I had already received the Holy Spirit at my baptism where I was confirmed a child of God our Father for all eternity. Through prayer and knowing His will for me through His Word, I am living in the Spirit. And so if there are times when I lack the confidence to share about a certain faith topic, reading, or faith formation, I simply pray for guidance from the Holy spirit and start speaking. He will take all I had prepared to yet another level! He fills the gaps and the void.So sisters and brothers in Christ let us start this very day in building and strengthening our relationship with our one triune God; through constant prayer, scripture and being docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to put mercy and love in action for the least of our brethren. Amen

First reading

Acts 18:23-28 ·
Apollos demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the ChristPaul came down to Antioch, where he spent a short time before continuing his journey through the Galatian country and then through Phrygia, encouraging all the followers.
An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they took an interest in him and gave him further instruction about the Way.
When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote asking the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Gospel

John 16:23-28
The Father loves you for loving me and believing that I came from GodJesus said to his disciples:‘I tell you most solemnly,
anything you ask for from the Father he will grant in my name.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.
I have been telling you all this in metaphors,
the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in metaphors; but tell you about the Father in plain words.
When that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you, because the Father himself loves you for loving me and believing that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I leave the world to go to the Father.’


Why do we allow ourselves to be silenced when sharing the joy of our faith with others? Especially with family members? I am not suggesting that we should ‘force’ them to listen when they shut their ears. But why are we even reluctant to try or even proceed with the norms of our very own homes when we have guests? What do I mean? Well for instance if we decided to invite folks over for a dinner in our homes for Easter and the guests include a few who are not Christians or are Christians of a different denomination. Why are many uncomfortable to proceed with grace before meals? And if they do decide to pray, why do they not begin with the sign of the cross? Why are they unwilling to share the joy of having the risen Lord in their lives in conversation or to share why is Easter special and why do we celebrate it over fifty days??Is the same Risen Lord not present with us today as He was with St Paul? Why are we fearful of being seen as Holy? Are we afraid that by being seen as holy men and women we give the impression we are not fun loving or are suddenly stiff necked? If we are seen as such then perhaps it is because we are not living fully ourselves in the presence of our Risen Lord through prayer and His Word. We have not grown in our own relationship with Him. Perhaps we have not been outward reaching in our faith by being prepared to suffer for Him and for the least of our brethren? For if we are living fully in the presence of our living Lord and God then everyone we meet should see the joy on our faces which reflect what is in our hearts. They will experience our Lord Jesus Christ, His love and mercy through us. Amen

First reading

Acts 18:9-18 ·
‘I have many people on my side in this city’At Corinth one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.’ So Paul stayed there preaching the word of God among them for eighteen months.
But, while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. ‘We accuse this man’ they said ‘of persuading people to worship God in a way that breaks the Law.’ Before Paul could open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘Listen, you Jews. If this were a misdemeanour or a crime, I would not hesitate to attend to you; but if it is only quibbles about words and names, and about your own Law, then you must deal with it yourselves – I have no intention of making legal decisions about things like that.’ Then he sent them out of the court, and at once they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue president, and beat him in front of the court house. Gallio refused to take any notice at all.
After staying on for some time, Paul took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut off, because of a vow he had made.

Gospel

John 16:20-23
Your hearts will be full of joy that no-one will take from youJesus said to his disciples:‘I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.
A woman in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering in her joy that a man has been born into the world.
So it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you.
When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.’


How can we fathom the depths, wisdom, power but most of all the love of God our Father for us His children. That He would allow and thus give us free Will to reject Him; or to choose to love and honour Him by our lives. Even then when many had chosen to reject and dishonour Him by their heinous sins, He gave us His only Begotten Son Jesus to save them together with all of us that is all His children. He chose once again not to abandon any of us. By the rising of Jesus from the dead, we have hope of eternal life with Him.And so the Spirit of truth reveals to us that we should repent and turn our hearts back to Him. For the choices we ultimately make will determine if we will have our heavenly inheritance or not. The reality of it all is that our lives on earth are shortlived! Let us choose then to live our lives to the full in the Lord our God’s mercy and love. Amen

First reading

Acts 17:15,22-18:1I proclaim the God you already worship without knowing itPaul’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 16:12-15The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truthJesus 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 19, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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It is though the Holy Spirit we feel and know that Christ is present in our midst. It is the Holy Spirit that steers us away from sin and temptation. The one who keeps us liberated to live in the love the Lord our God, and empowers us to bring the joy of the Gospel to all.And so sisters and brothers in Christ, as we count down to pentecost, let us pray fervently in the Spirit, singing God’s praises as we prepare our hearts to receive a fresh outpouring; so that together we will renew the world by our faith, love, and actions for love of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

First reading

Acts 16:22-34 ·
Become a believer and you will be saved, and your household tooThe 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 youJesus 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 18, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Everyone and anyone must be accorded the same privilege of the good news of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. It is the Lord Himself who can open the heart of those listening to receive and accept His word. For our part we are simply called to live in the Spirit so as to share the spirit of truth who will bear witness to our loving saviour.

For as many hearts are converted to our Lord, we must be prepared that double or triple that number will reject the message of love. Still every soul is precious in His eyes, and so we must endeavour to touch as many lives as we can on our pilgrim journey back to Him.Come Holy Spirit dwell in my heart, let the fire of my Lord’s love consume me that I may be a powerful instrument of His grace. Amen

First reading

Acts 16:11-15 ·
The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to accept what Paul was sayingSailing 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 witnessJesus 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.’

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 16, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Alive in the Spirit: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 8:5–8, 14–17
Psalm 66:1–7, 16, 20
1 Peter 3:15–18
John 14:15–21

Jesus will not leave us alone. He won’t make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us “orphans,” He assures us in today’s Gospel (see Romans 8:14–17).
He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.
We see the promised gift of His Spirit being conferred in today’s First Reading.
The scene from Acts apparently depicts a primitive Confirmation rite. Philip, one of the first deacons (see Acts 6:5), proclaims the Gospel in the non-Jewish city of Samaria. The Samaritans accept the Word of God (see Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) and are baptized.

It remains for the Apostles to send their representatives, Peter and John, to pray and lay hands on the newly baptized—that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of our sacrament of Confirmation (see Acts 19:5–6), by which the grace of Baptism is completed and believers are sealed with the Spirit promised by the Lord.

We remain in this grace so long as we love Christ and keep His commandments. And strengthened in the Spirit whom Jesus said would be our Advocate, we are called to bear witness to our salvation—to the tremendous deeds that God has done for us in the name of His Son.

In today’s Psalm, we celebrate our liberation. As He changed the sea into dry land to free the captive Israelites, Christ suffered that He might lead us to God, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

This is the reason for our hope—the hope that sustains us in the face of a world that cannot accept His truth, the hope that sustains us when we are maligned and defamed for His name’s sake.

Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit, Paul tells us today. And as He himself promises: “Because I live, you will live.”


It is one thing to be disliked, quite another to be hated. What does it mean to be hated? Total rejection! Such that anything spoken or thoughts of what might be spoken causes irritation and disgust. Out of sight! Otherwise out of mind retaliation sets in? But why Lord? Why is there hate in the world and especially for us Christians?The truth as spoken is that we are created in the image and likeness of God our Heavenly Father. And so we are not products or rather children of the world, we belong to God our Father. Therefore there is no room for sin or evil in our hearts, of which such thrives in the world. And so long as we are living in the world, striving to avoid all sin and to be loving after the heart of God, we will be hated. I’m sure some of you might have had this experience, where there was a group of friends you hung out with partying without consequences or care. Then one day when you decided to follow Jesus the same group of ‘friends’ treated you like an outcast and avoided you like the plague! Well this is to be expected says our Lord in today’s Gospel. We can only pray that one day our friends too will experience the joy of the Risen Lord in their lives.For now let us live in the spirit, sharing the joy of the Gospel with all whom will listen and living out the Gospel truths in our very own lives. Amen

First reading

Acts 16:1-10 ·
‘Come across to Macedonia and help us’From Cilicia Paul went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra. Here there was a disciple called Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess who had become a believer; but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy, and Paul, who wanted to have him as a travelling companion, had him circumcised. This was on account of the Jews in the locality where everyone knew his father was a Greek.
As they visited one town after another, they passed on the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, with instructions to respect them.
So the churches grew strong in the faith, as well as growing daily in numbers.
They travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas.
One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News.

Gospel

John 15:18-21
The world hated me before it hated youJesus said to his disciples:‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you do not belong to the world, because my choice withdrew you from the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well.
But it will be on my account that they will do all this, because they do not know the one who sent me.’


How can we fully understand the loving nature of the Lord our God? Was it not enough that God Himself would come in the flesh, in the person of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ to save us from eternal death? How are we expected to grasp the idea of God identifying Himself as our friend? Not of being in a subservient relationship but one of equal standing? One in You as You are one in me? How is that even possible? Me a sinner with a whole lists of blots and blemishes, yet a friend of Jesus? Why would you choose me Lord to bear fruit? How is it you see the potential in me that I may not see in myself let alone others?The same kind of extraordinary love and friendship that comes from the Lord our God is portrayed in the acts of the Apostles. How guided my the Holy Spirit they were very concerned and took extra care in dealing with the new Christians of pagan birth. Church fathers and leaders extending a warm welcome and friendship and embracing the differences in culture while still guiding the flock to the way, the truth and the life to be found in Christ alone. This is our Church, this is our God, and with one voice we acclaim….What a friend we have in Jesus! Amen

First reading

Acts 15:22-31 ·
It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by us not to burden you beyond these essentialsThe apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:
‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
The party left and went down to Antioch, where they summoned the whole community and delivered the letter. The community read it and were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

Gospel

John 15:12-17
What I command you is to love one anotherJesus said to his disciples:‘This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me: no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’


We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) We may think that we had chosen Jesus, but in reality Jesus chose us and even commissioned us to bear fruit with a trust that we will indeed bear much fruit. Yes it is the Lord our God who is the first to love and to be merciful and we may never fully grasp the extent of His love for us in our lifetime.Still if we declare that we love Him then we must do our best to revere, honour and glorify Him by our lives through our love and actions for Him and for one another. We must be reverent in our approach in appointing leaders through prayer and discernment guided by the Holy Spirit afterall the leaders we appoint will be shepherds after our own. Every leader chosen in a sense must be prepared to lay down His life for the ones under His care.Whether or not we are called to be leaders ourselves, the priority for each and everyone of us is to love! Love one another as Jesus loves us. AmenSt Matthias pray for us….

First reading

Acts 1:15-17,20-26 ·
‘Let someone else take his office’One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:Let his camp be reduced to ruin,
Let there be no one to live in it.And again:Let someone else take his office.‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’
Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

Gospel

John 15:9-17
You are my friends if you do what I command youJesus said to his disciples:‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me: no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’


How connected are you to Holy mother Church at this time? Especially with all that is going on in the world and drastic changes to the way we now worship and praise God had taken place. Did you choose to adapt and stay connected to our Lord Jesus Christ? Or did you decide that No! I do not agree with all that is going on and will simply wait till everything is restored as it should be?The problem with the latter and consequence of it, is as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, “Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.” And so we must strive especially in this time of uncertainty to cling more tightly to our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer and the guidance of His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Through the Holy Spirit, our eyes are opened to the reality that we are being pruned at this time, and will surely bear much fruit.Praise and glory be to our Risen Lord. Alleluia!

First reading

Acts 15:1-6
They were to go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and eldersSome men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.
But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.

Gospel

John 15:1-8
I am the vine, you are the branchesJesus said to his disciples:‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.’


What can we learn from the readings of today? For me I see that you are only a great leader if you actually have people who will follow your lead. No one can lay claim to leadership otherwise. And so a leader must belong to a community. Not one looking from the outside of one, but of being One with the community. Both St Paul and St Barnabas exemplifies what this means that is to be in full communion, one Body In Christ. The same peace, love and encouragement they received from Christ Jesus Himself was shared with their fellow disciples. The message was clear for them as it is for all of us, Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. For Jesus is with us at every step, He is the Way, the Truth, and the life.So sisters and brothers even if we should be brought down to the ground by those with malicious intent. Let us pick ourselves up as we move forward with the peace of Jesus in our hearts. To love and serve the Lord by our lives. Sharing the good news of our Risen Lord with everyone. Amen

First reading

Acts 14:19-28 ·
They gave an account of how God had opened the door of faith to the pagansSome Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and turned the people against the apostles. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the town, thinking he was dead. The disciples came crowding round him but, as they did so, he stood up and went back to the town. The next day he and Barnabas went off to Derbe.
Having preached the Good News in that town and made a considerable number of disciples, they went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.
They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans. They stayed there with the disciples for some time.

Gospel

John 14:27-31
A peace the world cannot give is my gift to youJesus said to his disciples:‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.
I shall not talk with you any longer,
because the prince of this world is on his way.
He has no power over me, but the world must be brought to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: May 11, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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There is nothing wrong in seeking to be healed whether by attending a healing service, praying hard for it or seeking medical help even if it means going from one doctor to the next. Afterall we want to be made whole again and perhaps more importantly to be liberated from that which weighs us down heavily.Question is do we seek healing from our Lord as a last resort? Where was our faith and trust in Him before? Or is it a test? To know if He is real and truly loves us? Is the healing I seek solely for my well being or is it to glorify the Lord my God more fully by my love for others? What does it mean when St Paul saw that the man had faith to be cured? Could I have such faith that others can see just by looking upon my face? Perhaps just by looking at me they can see that I live in the joy of the Risen Lord! I trust fully in Him, that whether I am healed or not makes no difference; for I will continue praising the Lord my God and loving Him with all my heart and seek to always glorify Him by my life. Amen

First reading

Acts 14:5-18
We have come with good news to turn you to the living GodEventually with the connivance of the authorities a move was made by pagans as well as Jews to make attacks on the apostles and to stone them. When the apostles came to hear of this, they went off for safety to Lycaonia where, in the towns of Lystra and Derbe and in the surrounding country, they preached the Good News.
A man sat there who had never walked in his life, because his feet were crippled from birth; and as he listened to Paul preaching, he managed to catch his eye. Seeing that the man had the faith to be cured, Paul said in a loud voice, ‘Get to your feet – stand up’, and the cripple jumped up and began to walk.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in the language of Lycaonia, ‘These people are gods who have come down to us disguised as men.’ They addressed Barnabas as Zeus, and since Paul was the principal speaker they called him Hermes. The priests of Zeus-outside-the-Gate, proposing that all the people should offer sacrifice with them, brought garlanded oxen to the gates. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening they tore their clothes, and rushed into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, what do you think you are doing? We are only human beings like you. We have come with good news to make you turn from these empty idols to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that these hold. In the past he allowed each nation to go its own way; but even then he did not leave you without evidence of himself in the good things he does for you: he sends you rain from heaven, he makes your crops grow when they should, he gives you food and makes you happy.’ Even this speech, however, was scarcely enough to stop the crowd offering them sacrifice.

Gospel

John 14:21-26
The Advocate, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everythingJesus said to his disciples:‘Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him.’Judas – this was not Judas Iscariot – said to him, ‘Lord, what is all this about? Do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied:‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own: it is the word of the one who sent me.
I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.’

Happy mother’s day

Posted: May 10, 2020 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Memory Book

Dearest Blessed Mother of Christ, our Beloved mother, we are grateful for your unending love and intercession for us. We your children love you with all our hearts… Happy Mothers day!May the loving grace of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, be upon all mothers this day and everyday . Amen


The Word of God is alive and active. The Word of God gives life and life to the full. The Word of God is Jesus and through Him we have eternal life. Why on earth then would people reject the Word of God?Let us ponder a little bit on the whys? Fundamentally I suppose we could say it is a result of free will. The same way we have free will to accept the word of God, we also have the free will to reject it. Some might say the word of God is of human construct till our course one day they encounter the Risen Lord themselves. Just like St Paul himself did on the road to Damascus. Others perhaps choose the path of least resistance, that is what they are confortable with; which is pretty much in line with the rest of the world. For the demands of living the Christian life seems all too altruistic, never mind the tomfoolery of it all in choosing narrow paths and carrying of crosses!We however have a strong faith in our Risen Lord because we live in the joy of His presence in our lives. We have seen the Lord! And so we have seen the Heavenly Father also. Why then should we fear rejection for speaking the truth and sharing it with others.
Let us be bold in the Spirit of truth as we share Jesus with all who will listen. Amen

First reading

Acts 13:44-52 ·
Since you have rejected the word of God, we must turn to the pagansThe next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:I have made you a light for the nations,
so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.
But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Gospel

John 14:7-14
To have seen me is to have seen the fatherJesus said to his disciples:‘If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’
‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him, ‘and you still do not know me?‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it.’


Jesus our Risen Lord is the way, the truth and life to the full. And others should see this truth in us, by the way we live our lives full of joy and in His love. We do not then need to go out and proselytize. For the beauty and truth of God’s endearing love for us is attractive enough to captivate hearts.We daughters and sons of the living God have already been raised to new life through Jesus Christ by our baptism. And so we already have hope for life eternal with God our Heavenly Father when we pass from this world. Shall we not share this joy of the Risen Lord we possess within of hearts with others. So that they too will not let their hearts be troubled for they will trust in our Lord as we do, now and forever. Amen

First reading

Acts 13:26-33 ·
God has fulfilled his promise by raising Jesus from the deadPaul stood up in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you. What the people of Jerusalem and their rulers did, though they did not realise it, was in fact to fulfil the prophecies read on every sabbath. Though they found nothing to justify his death, they condemned him and asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree and buried him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem: and it is these same companions of his who are now his witnesses before our people.
‘We have come here to tell you the Good News. It was to our ancestors that God made the promise but it is to us, their children, that he has fulfilled it, by raising Jesus from the dead. As scripture says in the second psalm: You are my son: today I have become your father.’

Gospel

John 14:1-6
I am the Way, the Truth and the LifeJesus said to his disciples:‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said:‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’


Ah if only I had the wisdom, confidence and eloquence of St Paul to stand before the crowd, to give them hope in the good news of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. To share God our Father’s unending love throughout our salvation history.To be a priest after Jesus’s heart to offer sacrifices and to reconcile everyone to God our Heavenly Father. And it does not matter whether we belong to the ministerial priesthood or the common priesthood. Our role is in servitude not in the dignity of titles. It is about getting down on our knees to love and to serve.While I am not quite there yet, it is about staying on track, remaining steadfast on the journey. Afterall the race to the end is a marathon not a sprint. So pray for me as I will pray for you so that together we will one day be reunited in Heaven. Amen

First reading

Acts 13:13-25
God has raised up one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as SaviourPaul and his friends went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. After the lessons from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message: ‘Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, do so.’ Paul stood up, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out, and for about forty years took care of them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”’

Gospel

John 13:16-20
Whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes meAfter he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.‘I tell you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe that I am He. I tell you most solemnly, whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’


Am I obedient to the Holy Spirit? Who has set me apart to share God’s love with family, my friends, colleagues, even the strangers I meet each day. How can I if I do not recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit? How then can I claim to know Jesus? For Jesus, God my Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit are one.Therefore if I hear my Lord’s voice then I will most certainly hear the soft promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is imperative that each morning I wake with a disciple’s heart to listen to His voice so that I may know my Lord’s Will for me through His Word, prayer and being still in His presence. Then surely my day will be grace filled as I live fully in His love and sharing it with all. It will not matter what challenges or difficulties lie ahead for the Holy Spirit is with me through it all.Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning its now and ever shall be world without end. Amen

First reading

Acts 12:24-13:5 ·
‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart’The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task and came back from Jerusalem, bringing John Mark with them.
In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.’ So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.

Gospel

John 12:44-50
I, the light, have come into the worldJesus declared publicly:‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me
but in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me, sees the one who sent me.
I, the light, have come into the world, so that whoever believes in me need not stay in the dark any more.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully, it is not I who shall condemn him, since I have come not to condemn the world, but to save the world.
He who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already: the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For what I have spoken does not come from myself; no, what I was to say, what I had to speak, was commanded by the Father who sent me, and I know that his commands mean eternal life.
And therefore what the Father has told me
is what I speak.’


Why must we share the good news of the Risen Lord with others? Well simply apart from it being commanded by Jesus our Lord to go make disciples of all nations; if our Lord Jesus has touched Your heart as He has mine and filled it with His love, peace and joy. Then it is not only our duty but because His love had transformed us in such a wonderful way that we want to share it with the rest of the world. This conviction is what filled the hearts of the early disciples that they preached the good news boldly. And they did not do so alone for it is written that the Lord helped them, and a great number believed and were converted to the Lord.How truly wonderful is the news of God’s love for us. That through our faith and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ we have hope of eternal life with Him and God our Father; who wills that not a single one of us is lost. Tender, loving and merciful is God our Father towards us all His children. Amen

First reading

Acts 11:19-26 ·
They started preaching to the Greeks, proclaiming the Lord JesusThose who had escaped during the persecution that happened because of Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, but they usually proclaimed the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, who came from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch where they started preaching to the Greeks, proclaiming the Good News of the Lord Jesus to them as well. The Lord helped them, and a great number believed and were converted to the Lord.
The church in Jerusalem heard about this and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. There he could see for himself that God had given grace, and this pleased him, and he urged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with heartfelt devotion; for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith. And a large number of people were won over to the Lord.
Barnabas then left for Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. As things turned out they were to live together in that church a whole year, instructing a large number of people. It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians.’

Gospel

John 10:22-30
The Father and I are oneIt was the time when the feast of Dedication was being celebrated in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple walking up and down in the Portico of Solomon. The Jews gathered round him and said, ‘How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus replied:‘I have told you, but you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name are my witness; but you do not believe, because you are no sheep of mine.
The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father. The Father and I are one.’


Does our Lord love the Jews more than us Christians? Does He love Christians more than Muslims, Hindus, or even Atheists? If we start comparing or even entertain such notions then in truth we do not know Jesus nor will we ever draw closer in knowing God our Father. For the Lord our God has no favourites and Jesus had said it clearly, “And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.”Do we ourselves even hear the voice of our beloved Shepherd speaking to us as He does so daily? If we do not, then how will we ever hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit to be instruments of God’s grace for the unbelievers of the downcasts?Jesus laid down His life for love of us; God’s children. All of us are God’s children. By our baptism our hearts are opened to the awareness that we have entered into eternal sonship and daughterhood of God our Heavenly Father. So then let us lead the rest of God’s children into the same gate by which we have entered; through our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

First reading

Acts 11:1-18
God can grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to lifeThe apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that the pagans too had accepted the word of God, and when Peter came up to Jerusalem the Jews criticised him and said, ‘So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them, have you?’ Peter in reply gave them the details point by point: ‘One day, when I was in the town of Jaffa,’ he began ‘I fell into a trance as I was praying and had a vision of something like a big sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners. This sheet reached the ground quite close to me. I watched it intently and saw all sorts of animals and wild beasts – everything possible that could walk, crawl or fly. Then I heard a voice that said to me, “Now, Peter; kill and eat!” But I answered: Certainly not, Lord; nothing profane or unclean has ever crossed my lips. And a second time the voice spoke from heaven, “What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.” This was repeated three times, before the whole of it was drawn up to heaven again.
‘Just at that moment, three men stopped outside the house where we were staying; they had been sent from Caesarea to fetch me, and the Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going back with them. The six brothers here came with me as well, and we entered the man’s house. He told us he had seen an angel standing in his house who said, “Send to Jaffa and fetch Simon known as Peter; he has a message for you that will save you and your entire household.”
‘I had scarcely begun to speak when the Holy Spirit came down on them in the same way as it came on us at the beginning, and I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” I realised then that God was giving them the identical thing he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and who was I to stand in God’s way?’
This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God. ‘God’ they said ‘can evidently grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to life.’

Gospel

John 10:11-18
The good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheepJesus said:‘I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.‘I am the good shepherd;
I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep I have
that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.‘The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’


What Are We To Do?: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday in Easter

Readings:
Acts 2:14, 36–41
Psalm 23:1–6
1 Peter 2:20–25
John 10:1–10

Easter’s empty tomb is a call to conversion.
By this tomb, we should know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah, as Peter preaches in today’s First Reading.

He is the “Lord,” the divine Son that David foresaw at God’s right hand (see Psalm 3; 110:1; 132:10–11; and Acts 2:34). And He is the Messiah that God had promised to shepherd the scattered flock of the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:11–14, 23; 37:24).

As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus is that Good Shepherd, sent to a people who were like sheep without a shepherd (see Mark 6:34; Numbers 27:16–17). He calls not only to the children of Israel, but to all those far off from Him—to whomever the Lord wishes to hear His voice.

The call of the Good Shepherd leads to the restful waters of Baptism, to the anointing oil of Confirmation, and to the table and overflowing cup of the Eucharist, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Again on this Sunday in Easter, we hear His voice calling us His own. He should awaken in us the response of those who heard Peter’s preaching. “What are we to do?” they cried.
We have been baptized. But each of us goes astray like sheep, as we hear in today’s Epistle. We still need daily to repent, to seek forgiveness of our sins, to separate ourselves further from this corrupt generation.
We are called to follow in the footsteps of the Shepherd of our souls. By His suffering He bore our sins in His body to free us from sin. But His suffering is also an example for us. From Him we should learn patience in our afflictions, to hand ourselves over to the will of God.

Jesus has gone ahead, driven us through the dark valley of evil and death. His Cross has become the narrow gate through which we must pass to reach His empty tomb—the verdant pastures of life abundant.


Many of us are still living for ourselves and our loved ones. Very few if any are living as we are called to, that is a life of prayer and in the Spirit through a deep personal connection with our Lord Jesus Christ. Thereafter enlivened we would not delay in our mission to proclaim the Good News of our risen Lord. Hence we are not using the many gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us and that is why we are witnessing very few signs and wonders of God’s glory in our time.

It is truly the Spirit that gives live for it was sent by the source of life itself, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us therefore live in the Spirit and reclaim the gifts by which we will bring the light of Christ to those who live in darkness in these trying times.O Holy Spirit fall upon me and enkindle in my heart a Holy zeal for greater discipleship in my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

First reading

Acts 9:31-42 ·
The churches grew and were filled with the consolation of the Holy SpiritThe churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.
Peter visited one place after another and eventually came to the saints living down in Lydda. There he found a man called Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you: get up and fold up your sleeping mat.’ Aeneas got up immediately; everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they were all converted to the Lord.
At Jaffa there was a woman disciple called Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek, who never tired of doing good or giving in charity. But the time came when she got ill and died, and they washed her and laid her out in a room upstairs. Lydda is not far from Jaffa, so when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two men with an urgent message for him, ‘Come and visit us as soon as possible.’
Peter went back with them straightaway, and on his arrival they took him to the upstairs room, where all the widows stood round him in tears, showing him tunics and other clothes Dorcas had made when she was with them. Peter sent them all out of the room and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to the dead woman and said, ‘Tabitha, stand up.’ She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up. Peter helped her to her feet, then he called in the saints and widows and showed them she was alive. The whole of Jaffa heard about it and many believed in the Lord.

Gospel

John 6:60-69
Who shall we go to? You are the Holy One of GodAfter hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?‘It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.
Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’


Stop nagging, stop complaining, stop finding fault, stop being self righteous! Simply choose to love and be merciful. Be life giving like our risen Lord and saviour Jesus Christ instead of ‘life taking’ as Saul before His conversion experience in the presence of Jesus. For our Lord did say to us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” And it is for that very reason he asked Saul why was he persecuting Him? So then shall we go on persecuting our family members, friends, colleagues even strangers? Or do we offer instead, mercy and love in our Lord Jesus Christ?In this trying times, we need to connect more fully with Jesus through His Word and deeper prayer; as we wait the Blessed hope of receiving Him again most fully in Holy Eucharist. Nonetheless the full extent of His grace will be conferred upon us when we cry out to Him our heart’s desires to be in full communion with Him.Jesus my Lord, let me be an instrument of Your grace and love. Amen

First reading

Acts 9:1-20 ·
This man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the pagansSaul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord’s disciples. He had gone to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he could find.
Suddenly, while he was travelling to Damascus and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he asked, and the voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.’ The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but even with his eyes wide open he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight, and took neither food nor drink.
A disciple called Ananias who lived in Damascus had a vision in which he heard the Lord say to him, ‘Ananias!’ When he replied, ‘Here I am, Lord’, the Lord said, ‘You must go to Straight Street and ask the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus. At this moment he is praying, having had a vision of a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to give him back his sight.’
When he heard that, Ananias said, ‘Lord, several people have told me about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your saints in Jerusalem. He has only come here because he holds a warrant from the chief priests to arrest everybody who invokes your name.’ The Lord replied, ‘You must go all the same, because this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name.’ Then Ananias went. He entered the house, and at once laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on your way here so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately it was as though scales fell away from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. So he was baptised there and then, and after taking some food he regained his strength.
He began preaching in the synagogues, ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’

Gospel

John 6:52-59
My flesh is real food and my blood is real drinkThe Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:‘I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.