Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts & Reflections’ Category

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 16, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Jesus lovingly seeks us sinners out, to offer us freedom from the bondages of sin and an opportunity to walk in His light. And the only response He requires from us is to follow Him; not simply in word but in action. That is to follow Him as His disciple so as to lead others to Him by our example.

How can we ask anyone to follow us if we lead lives of duality even duplicity?

We wear our Christian ‘hat’ in church and take it off to wear another outside of church. We lead double lives one for our church friends to see while another is seen by family and friends. We might again exhibit another different behaviour when it comes to strangers. We tend to forget that the Lord our God sees and knows everything! “No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.”

Let us simply be identified as a child of God so loved by our Heavenly Father to one and all. That we who are so loved by Him have been inserted into the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ by Baptism. We are therefore His One Body, His disciples on mission to make disciples of all nations. And such we are always confident in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from Him and find grace when we are in need of help. Amen. Allelulia!

First reading

Hebrews 4:12-16

Let us be confident in approaching the throne of grace

The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.

    Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

Gospel

Mark 2:13-17

Your light must shine in the sight of men

Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

    When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’


The power to forgive comes from God’s love. In and through God’s love forgiveness is its powerful witness, for it liberates, heals and bestows His peace, love and joy.

Jesus came to save us through forgiveness of our sins. In His great love for us, He conferred the power to forgive sins to His Apostles; this anointing continues through the ages through His priests. Let us not take this for granted and go as often as it takes to prepare us for our Heavenly inheritance and eternal rest in God our Heavenly Father.

This wonderful gift is not just for life thereafter but for now, as we walk in His presence and rest in  His peace, love and joy. Amen

First reading
Hebrews 4:1-5,11 ·
None of you has come too late for God’s promise

Be careful: the promise of reaching the place of rest that God had for the Israelites still holds good, and none of you must think that he has come too late for it. We received the Good News exactly as they did; but hearing the message did them no good because they did not share the faith of those who listened. We, however, who have faith, shall reach a place of rest, as in the text: And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them. God’s work was undoubtedly all finished at the beginning of the world; as one text says, referring to the seventh day: After all his work God rested on the seventh day. The text we are considering says: They shall not reach the place of rest I had for them. We must therefore do everything we can to reach this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of disobedience and be lost.


Gospel
Mark 2:1-12
The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’ Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he turned to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 14, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Most of us in this day and age have little understanding what leprosy is or how terrible and dreaded the disease was when there was no known cure. Infectious slow growing bacteria which spreads leading eventually to loss of limbs, sensitivity to light, loss of sight, disfigurement of the face and body and more until death. This is what Sin in our life does to us Spiritually! With effects that manifest physically as well.

Yes we must make every effort to resist sin and temptation and master our body, mind and spirit. But do not make the mistake of thinking we can overcome it on our own! Especially when dealing with habitual sin, the evil one will whisper in your ear things like, “What will the priest think of you?” “You can and must overcome it first before confessing otherwise you will have to keep on confessing the same sin over and over again.” We need the grace, mercy and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we need to come into His presence often, through the Sacraments,  in reading and living the Word, steadfastness in prayer; and to be part of His one Body through community. We are therefore accountable to one another to grow in Holiness.

Forgive me Lord for the many times I have given in to sin. If You want to Lord I know You can take away and release me from all habitual sins. I entrust my life into Your loving care. Amen

First reading
Hebrews 3:7-14 ·
Keep encouraging one another

The Holy Spirit says: If only you would listen to him today; do not harden your hearts, as happened in the Rebellion, on the Day of Temptation in the wilderness, when your ancestors challenged me and tested me, though they had seen what I could do for forty years. That was why I was angry with that generation and said: How unreliable these people who refuse to grasp my ways! And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them. Take care, brothers, that there is not in any one of your community a wicked mind, so unbelieving as to turn away from the living God. Every day, as long as this ‘today’ lasts, keep encouraging one another so that none of you is hardened by the lure of sin, because we shall remain co-heirs with Christ only if we keep a grasp on our first confidence right to the end.

Gospel
Mark 1:40-45
The leprosy left the man at once, and he was cured

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 13, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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We should contemplate more deeply on just how much and how deeply God our Father loves us. Such that He always desires a deeper relationship with us. He knows how we cannot fathom His infinite wisdom, power, mercy and love. And so He allowed authors of His Word portray His feelings and emotions even though His mercy and love is constant, enduring forever. He shared in all our emotional states, even our physicality, our strengths as well as our weakness through our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Who came to heal, forgive and free us from the bondages of evil and sin. But most of all to share God our Father’s love with one and all. By turning away from and repenting of our sins, we have hope of eternal life in God our Father’s Kingdom, He desires to embrace each and everyone of His Children.

Thank You ABBA Father for loving me. Through the example of Your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ; I endeavour to seek a quiet place to enter daily into Your presence through prayer. Let Your Will be done in my life. Amen

First reading
Hebrews 2:14-18 ·
He took to himself descent from Abraham

Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.


Gospel
Mark 1:29-39
He cast out devils and cured many who were suffering from disease

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.
    That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
    In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devil’s.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 12, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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How arrogant and shameful am I?

The Son of God who did not cling to equality with Him, humbled Himself and took on our humanity as a servant to save us from eternal death. And in His great love for us, suffered, died by our hands and was buried. Through His Resurrection, He elevated us to be co heirs to share in His divinity. This is our God!

Yet still I will not yield and obey His Will for me and to subject myself to His authority. He who creates and is the source of all life. Even the damned recognise Him as the Holy one of God and are subject to His commands. Still I think I know better, what is best for me and so using my free will I choose my very own way. Instead of acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with the Lord my God.

Lord Jesus I am truly sorry for the many times I disobeyed Your Will for me. I submit myself to Your Holy Will and docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit may I bring You glory in all that I say and do. Amen

First reading
Hebrews 2:5-12
The one who sanctifies and the ones who are sanctified are of the same stock

God did not appoint angels to be rulers of the world to come, and that world is what we are talking about. Somewhere there is a passage that shows us this. It runs: What is man that you should spare a thought for him, the son of man that you should care for him? For a short while you made him lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and splendour. You have put him in command of everything. Well then, if he has put him in command of everything, he has left nothing which is not under his command. At present, it is true, we are not able to see that everything has been put under his command, but we do see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.
    As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers in the text: I shall announce your name to my brothers, praise you in full assembly.


Gospel
Mark 1:21-28
Unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
    In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.


Jesus became fully man to unite us fully with God our Heavenly Father. And through Him God our Father embraces each and every one of us as His very own sons and daughters.

Sharing in His life Jesus invites as co-heirs in Him, to go out into the World to make disciples of all nations. So that too can in our Heavenly inheritance as children of God our loving Father.

Let us leave the ‘nets’ that holds us back from our mission of love to follow Jesus. Amen

First reading
Hebrews 1:1-6 ·
God has spoken to us through his Son

At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.
    God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father; or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Again, when he brings the First-Born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.


Gospel
Mark 1:14-20
I will make you into fishers of men

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
    As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
    Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Baptism of the Lord

Posted: January 9, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

The Anointing: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Readings:
Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10
Acts 10:34–38
Luke 3:15–16, 21–22

The Liturgy last week revealed the mystery of God’s plan—that in Jesus all peoples, symbolized by the magi, have been made “co-heirs” to the blessings promised to Israel. This week, we’re shown how we claim our inheritance.

Jesus doesn’t submit to John’s baptism as a sinner in need of purification. He humbles Himself to pass through Jordan’s waters in order to lead a new “exodus”—opening up the promised land of heaven so that all peoples can hear the words pronounced over Jesus today, words once reserved only for Israel and its king: that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God (see Genesis 22:2; Exodus 4:22; Psalm 2:7).

Jesus is the chosen servant Isaiah prophesies in today’s First Reading, anointed with the Spirit to make things right and just on earth. God puts His Spirit upon Jesus to make Him “a covenant of
the people,” the liberator of the captives, the light to the nations. Jesus, today’s Second Reading tells us, is the One long expected in Israel, “anointed . . . with the Holy Spirit and power.”

The word Messiah means “one anointed” with God’s Spirit. King David was “the anointed of the God of Jacob” (see 2 Samuel 23:1–17; Psalm 18:51; 132:10, 17). The prophets taught Israel to await a royal offshoot of David, upon whom the Spirit would rest (see Isaiah 11:1–2; Daniel 9:25).

That’s why people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to John. But it isn’t John they’re looking for. God confirms with His own voice what the Angel earlier told Mary—Jesus is the Son of the Most High, come to claim the throne of David forever (see Luke 1:32–33).

In the Baptism that He brings, the voice of God will hover over the waters as fiery flame, as we sing in today’s Psalm. He has sanctified the waters, made them a passage—a way to healing and freedom—a fountain of new birth and everlasting life.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 9, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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With all the knowledge we possess and with all our accomplishments in life. How many souls have we saved? How many have turned away from sin and now live in the joy of our Lord through us? How many have we led to greater Holiness? How many more have we invited as instructed, to the wedding feast that awaits us all?

Lord I have been prideful and let the ways of the world blind me to….

† my higher calling as Your disciple.

† my responsibility in leading my sisters and brothers, fellow children of God our Heavenly Father back home to Him.

† the fact that I fear rejection for proclaiming Your gospel truths to all because I placed all other priorities ahead, of growing in my faith and love of You.

† the needs of my community and to the deeper realisation that I need them just as they need me.

Jesus our Lord our God, we implore Your mercy for our many shortcomings. Grant us Your grace, strength and spirit to always carry out Your Will in humble servitude and love of You. May we Your Best Men and bridesmaids stand ready in joyful anticipation to hear Your voice when You come again. Amen

First reading
1 John 5:14-21 ·
If we ask for anything, he will hear us


We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him.
If anybody sees his brother commit a sin
that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death, and I will not say that you must pray about that.
Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.

We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.
We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.
We know, too, that the Son of God has come,
and has given us the power to know the true God.
We are in the true God, as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, this is eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against false gods.


Gospel
John 3:22-30
‘He must grow greater and I must grow smaller: my joy is complete’

Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. At the same time John was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there to be baptised. This was before John had been put in prison.
    Now some of John’s disciples had opened a discussion with a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, ‘Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now; and everyone is going to him.’
    John replied:

‘A man can lay claim
only to what is given him from heaven.

‘You yourselves can bear me out: I said: I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him.

‘The bride is only for the bridegroom;
and yet the bridegroom’s friend,
who stands there and listens,
is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.
This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.
He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 8, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Lord Jesus if You want to You can cure me.

Of my habitual sins and my addictions which robs me from fullness of life in You.

Lord Jesus if You want to You can cure me.

Of Spiritual blindness when I cannot see the wonders of Your love and glory. When I fail to see and tend to those in need.

Lord Jesus if You want to You can cure me.

Of my prideful ways that prevents me from serving You and my brethren in humble servitude and love, for Your greater glory.

Lord Jesus I know that You want cure me, but it is I who have resisted Your loving embrace. I who thought too highly of myself to pay You proper homage. Lord Jesus I lay prostrate before You. In Your mercy and love, heal me, make me whole; that I may serve and honour You all the days of my life. Amen

First reading
1 John 5:5-13
There are three witnesses: the Spirit and the water and the blood


Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth – so that there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and all three of them agree.
We accept the testimony of human witnesses, but God’s testimony is much greater, and this is God’s testimony, given as evidence for his Son.
Everybody who believes in the Son of God
has this testimony inside him; and anyone who will not believe God is making God out to be a liar, because he has not trusted the testimony God has given about his Son.
This is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son; anyone who has the Son has life,
anyone who does not have the Son does not have life.

I have written all this to you so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God may be sure that you have eternal life.


Gospel
Luke 5:12-16
‘If you want to, you can cure me’

Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them.’
    His reputation continued to grow, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their sickness cured, but he would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 7, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Having entered into sonship and daughterhood by our Baptism we have become God our Father’s beloved children. And the gift of faith that unites all is to be found in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Therefore we are one Body In Christ. How then can we not love our brother or sister? How can we say I want nothing to do with him or her? Unforgiveness leads to our own separation from Christ Jesus. Therefore we should always turn to Jesus who was fully man as He was fully God, and so we turn to Him with our weakness and shortcomings. He will give us the strength and grace we need to love and forgive. For our Saviour came to take away the sins of the world, so that we can live free in Him love. Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.

‘This Gospel text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ because Jesus our Lord is very much present to us in 2021 as He was in yesteryears! The victory won! We have life to the full in Him… This is our Faith! Amen

First reading
1 John 4:19-5:4
Anyone who loves God must also love his brother


We are to love,
because God loved us first.
Anyone who says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen.
So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot him loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith.


Gospel
Luke 4:14-22
‘This text is being fulfilled today, even as you listen’

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
    He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.


I love you despite your many shortcomings, in spite of your many imperfections. I love and care for you even though you may not love or care for me. Can we say this to another and mean it? Yet as Christians we are called to love as such. What prevents us from doing so?

Fear of rejection? Fear of being hurt later? Anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love. It is when we love others with the love of Jesus Christ our Lord that our love can be perfected through and in Him. This can only come about through an ever growing, ever deepening relationship with Him. To dwell daily in His love, (through His Word and prayer) knowing just how truly loved we are by Him. The only fear we might have is fear of disappointing or displeasing Him. We walk unafraid through any storm, for we know our Lord walks with us. Filled with His love and grace, we love others as He loves us.

The Lord our God is saying this to all of us this day, “I love you despite your many shortcomings, in spite of your many imperfections. I love and care for you even though you may not love or care for me.” “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Amen

First reading
1 John 4:11-18 ·
As long as we love one another God’s love will be complete in us


My dear people,
since God has loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us
and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him
and he is living in us
because he lets us share his Spirit.
We ourselves saw and we testify
that the Father sent his Son
as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in him, and he in God.
We ourselves have known and put our faith in
God’s love towards ourselves.
God is love
and anyone who lives in love lives in God,
and God lives in him.

Love will come to its perfection in us
when we can face the day of Judgement without fear;
because even in this world
we have become as he is.
In love there can be no fear,
but fear is driven out by perfect love:
because to fear is to expect punishment,
and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love.


Gospel
Mark 6:45-52
His disciples saw him walking on the lake

After the five thousand had eaten and were filled, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. He could see they were worn out with rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the lake. He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But he at once spoke to them, and said, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind dropped. They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.

..

Posted: January 5, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections, Photos

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 5, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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God our Father’s love for His children has from the very beginning been one where His living Word is put into action. His Will ordered for our good. The greatest expression of His love, God sent His only Begotten Son as a sacrifice to redeem us.

Love one another as I have loved you was His commandment. And I am reminded of this in today’s Gospel on how I should love…

* ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’
* ‘Go and see.’
* get all the people together in groups on the green grass
* They collected

Pondering on each line leads me to dwell more deeply on His Word and what I must do…

Lord Jesus Bless my acts of love lifted up for You and my brethren today. That it may bear fruit for Your glory. Amen

First reading
1 John 4:7-10 ·
Let us love one another, since love comes from God


My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.


Gospel
Mark 6:34-44
The feeding of the five thousand

As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late. So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ ‘How many loaves have you?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 4, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
Tags:

We live in a world in which darkness looms. Too many distractions readily available to take away our focus from the light of the world; our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Sexually suggestive and immodest advertisements, pornography are rampant and easily accessible. More and more people are confused and then later convinced that Christians are wrong about the pride movement and abortion. Eventually they become blinded the world and Christ no longer holds dear to them. They forget the many times He was alongside them in their greatest trials and tribulations. How He comforted them and poured out His love and grace upon them and their family. Even led them to a community of disciples to journey on with them. They have allowed the antichrist of the world free reign in their lives.

What must we the faithful do? We are to keep our focus on the reign of God so as to  lead others who have lost their way back into His Kingdom. Therefore it is imperative that we always start our day with the Word of God. We need to put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Only then in holiness can we walk alongside those who have been mislead, so as to lead them back to the path of life. The attack on the family and the sacredness of the family is a real and present danger! It is an attack on the Holy family of God and so we must stand ready to do battle for the sake of our humanity as beloved children of God our Heavenly Father. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. .

First reading
1 John 3:22-4:6
The Son of God has come and given us the power to know the true God

Whatever we ask God, we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.

It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust; test them, to see if they come from God, there are many false prophets, now, in the world.
You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you were warned about.
Well, now he is here, in the world.
Children, you have already overcome these false prophets, because you are from God and you have in you one who is greater than anyone in this world; as for them, they are of the world, and so they speak the language of the world and the world listens to them.
But we are children of God, and those who know God listen to us; those who are not of God refuse to listen to us.
This is how we can tell the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.

Gospel
Matthew 4:12-17,23-25
The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
    He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them. Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and Transjordania.


Many of us through Advent had struggled to break away from habitual sin and temptation. Some realised that in order to do so in this extraordinary times, that they needed to journey on with a community and so either rejoined one or joined one striving to be faithful to Christ. Many of us went to great lengths to go for the Sacrament of reconciliation so as to prepare room in our hearts for our Saviour this Christmas. Having Him ‘reborn’ again in our hearts many had even decided to surrender the tradition of the past: that is of drunken revelry to welcome the new year. And so we all received the Blessings at the start of the year mentioned in the first reading of the Solemnity of Mary mother of God.

Today we are reminded to hold fast to our anointing received at our baptism where we became God our Father’s children. Having been fully united with Him through our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ we are called to be Holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. And so having entered into the new year, St John in the first reading reminds us to stay awake and alert, “Live in Christ, then, my children, so that if he appears, we may have full confidence, and not turn from him in shame at his coming.”

O Holy Spirit, great counsellor and guide, One with the Father the Son; take us by the hand and lead us on in this new year. Amen

First reading
1 John 2:22-28 ·
The anointing he gave you teaches you everything


The man who denies that Jesus is the Christ – he is the liar,
he is Antichrist; and he is denying the Father as well as the Son, because no one who has the Father can deny the Son, and to acknowledge the Son is to have the Father as well.
Keep alive in yourselves what you were taught in the beginning: as long as what you were taught in the beginning is alive in you,
you will live in the Son and in the Father;
and what is promised to you by his own promise is eternal life.
This is all that I am writing to you about the people who are trying to lead you astray.
But you have not lost the anointing that he gave you, and you do not need anyone to teach you; the anointing he gave teaches you everything; you are anointed with truth, not with a lie, and as it has taught you, so you must stay in him.
Live in Christ, then, my children, so that if he appears, we may have full confidence, and not turn from him in shame at his coming.


Gospel
John 1:19-28
‘One is coming after me who existed before me’

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: January 1, 2021 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

The radiant face of the Lord our God for which Blessings and grace flows upon us came to dwell with us through a perfectly created woman of whom Emmanuel called mother. Fully man and fully God, He dwelled safely in her womb till it was time for the lifespring from whom living waters flow to enter into the world.  Blessed among all women, Mary was gifted to us by Her Son our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ to be Mother of us all!

Loving mother who would have gladly laid down her life for her son, bore all sufferings and hardships in her heart; in loving sacrifice and obedience to the Will of God. Our dearest mother who now willingly bears all our sufferings when we turn to her. She will never abandon any of her children and lovingly intercedes for all us till we are reunited in Heaven.

Mother of God, our Blessed and dearest mother take our hands and lead us through the year and the years to come as we journey  back to Your Son our Lord and Saviour. Amen

First reading
Numbers 6:22-27
They are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’


Second reading
Galatians 4:4-7 ·
God sent his Son, born of a woman

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.

Gospel
Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found the baby lying in the manger

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.
    When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 31, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
Tags: , , ,

How fitting that the year 2020 ends with Today’s readings. As we look back we will always remember the challenges and hardships we faced. Many dreams and hopes were extinguished due to the pandemic. Many lost their lives while others their livelihood. Shall we not think about the many spiritual deaths that occurred as well? How many who were anointed at their baptism have lost their faith? Stripped of the Sacraments they plunged into darkness and despair unable to steer their way in new unchartered waters. Many who called themselves disciples of Christ had abandoned Him!

Yet Jesus has never abandoned us! Through the Gospel of today, we hear the powerful testimony of God’s love for His creation and purpose. God our Heavenly Father has given us an eternal light through the Incarnation of His Son our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. And so with eyes of faith we have seen His light in new ways as new doors were opened by Him throughout the year in passing.

And so sisters and brothers as we move into 2021, let us stay alert, awake and ready to meet Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us remain steadfast in His truth and in His love. Let us bring the hope and joy that we have to all that we meet in the year ahead; to bear witness to the Light, His life, death and Resurrection. Amen

Merry Christmas and Blessed New year ahead! xxxoooxxx

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Many of us have children of our own now some perhaps even grandchildren. While others perhaps are young adults now earning our own keep. When all of us look back, we begin to realise how quickly time have flown by. However in the early years it seemed like a ‘forever’ struggle to grow up and learn how to lead independent lives. Slowly we gave up the notion of having one which is carefree or even worry free. How we have matured! We are responsible, disciplined and contribute to the greater good of society for God and country!

Can we say the same for our spiritual life as children of God our Heavenly Father? Have we grown and matured by the same degree? Do we listen to Him through His Word daily? Do we guard ourselves against temptation, evil and sin through frequent reception of the Sacrament of reconciliation and Holy Eucharist? How is it then that many of us still have the faith and understanding of a toddler or perhaps that of pre-teens? Many cannot give an accurate account of the parables in the Bible let alone quote scripture. If we say quoting the word of God is not as important living the word of God in our lives then what do we have to show for it? Are our families prayerful and living Holy lives? Are we loving, merciful and actively reaching out to the poor, needy, hungry, the orphans and the aged? Are we building communities for the reign and Kingdom of God? How many souls have we touched and saved in Jesus’s name?

Like Anna in today’s Gospel let us live in the Holy presence of the Lord our God observing always His Will for us. Growing in maturity of faith and love of Him, we will actively testify to glory of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

First reading
1 John 2:12-17
Observance of the will of God


I am writing to you, my own children,
whose sins have already been forgiven through his name;
I am writing to you, fathers,
who have come to know the one
who has existed since the beginning;
I am writing to you, young men,
who have already overcome the Evil One;
I have written to you, children,
because you already know the Father;
I have written to you, fathers,
because you have come to know the one
who has existed since the beginning;
I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong and God’s word has made its home in you,
and you have overcome the Evil One.
You must not love this passing world
or anything that is in the world.
The love of the Father cannot be
in any man who loves the world,
because nothing the world has to offer
– the sensual body,
the lustful eye,
pride in possessions –
could ever come from the Father
but only from the world;
and the world, with all it craves for,
is coming to an end;
but anyone who does the will of God
remains for ever.


Gospel
Luke 2:36-40
Anna speaks of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem

There was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
    When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.


The key to our Heavenly Father’s heart is mercy.

Without mercy in our hearts there is no true love and as such we cannot hope to consecrate ourselves fully to the Lord our God. There can be no communion with Him!

How can we love one another as Jesus loved us if we refuse to forgive our brother, sister, mother, father, aunt, uncle, in laws, colleagues, friends, priest, community members let alone the least of our brethren. What could we ever have done to merit our salvation? When we had committed many grievous sins against His Holy and immaculate heart. But God proved His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Let us therefore walk in His light always by forgiving everyone who have trespassed against us. And let us exercise love by mercy through Christ our Lord. Amen

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


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

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the dark.
But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light and need not be afraid of stumbling; unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness, not knowing where he is going, because it is too dark to see.

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

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

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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 28, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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How do we see innocent children who died in place of Jesus Christ our Lord whom they did not know, as martyrs for Him?

Perhaps if we dwell a little into this mystery we shall see that they died in place of the source of life itself. Who came to take away the sins of the world.  Sin of which claimed innocent lives! Jesus our Lord’s birth was the promise of new life in Him fulfilled. Therefore their shortlived lives brought them eternal rewards purchased by the blood of the lamb (of God).

If we do not acknowledge our sinful nature, renounce sin and strive always to live in the light of Christ, then we risk losing our lives permanently. We will not see that the fight against sin and evil is ours collectively as one Body In Christ. How can we recognise the other evil acts of satan? If we continue to be blind to the fact that abortion is the continued killing of Innocents!

Save us saviour of the world, for by your cross and Resurrection! You have set us free. Amen

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


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

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

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

Gospel
Matthew 2:13-18
The massacre of the innocents

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

I called my son out of Egypt.

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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 26, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
Tags: ,

How can it be that the world has seen a great light on Christmas day and the very next day is plunged into ‘darkness’? How do we move from the birth of Jesus to the birth of the first Martyr?

If we are true witnesses of the light of Christ who has been reborn in our hearts this Christmas; then like St Stephen we know that until such time we are reunited in Heaven we will have to face the challenge, hardships of witnessing our faith amidst great opposition! For we live in a world riddled with sin! Where men and women are easily blinded by temptation. Christmas for many in this trying time of the pandemic is a welcome distraction! Hope is in the air… Time to party! We can sober up tomorrow! Prayer? What prayer? Reflect and share the word of God this Christmas? Are you joking? Family prayer time? Bah humbug! Did you expect me to respond to call for a zoom prayer meeting during this festive season? Too busy with family and social activities, I’ll start (try) again after the new year has begun!

What if St Stephen gave up? And adopted the “Can’t beat them, let’s join them?” attitude. Or make peace and live to fight another day? Well then I reckon he would not have been filled with the Holy Spirit, his eyes would have been downcast and so would not have seen the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand.

We all may not have to face the physical death of a Martyr but we can all experience spiritual death if we refuse to stand up for the truth to be found in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Amen

St Stephen pray for us…

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

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

Gospel
Matthew 10:17-22


The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

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

Christmas Message Of Love

Posted: December 25, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 24, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

This is my desire Lord Jesus, to serve You in holiness and virtue in Your presence, all my days.

You O Lord are my salvation, You have freed me from the bondage of sin to live in Your light.

This is my desire Lord Jesus, to serve You in holiness and virtue in Your presence, all my days.

Let me bring Your light which shines ever brightly this Christmas into the homes of those who live in darkness.

This is my desire Lord Jesus, to serve You in holiness and virtue in Your presence, all my days.

May Your peace reign forever in my heart and in the hearts I bring into Your Holy presence.

This is my desire Lord Jesus, to serve You in holiness and virtue in Your presence, all my days. Amen

First reading
2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16 ·


Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me

Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’
    But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:
    ‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’


Gospel
Luke 1:67-79


‘You, little child, shall be the prophet of the Most High’

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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 23, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Are we living up to our calling? Are we living up to our name? Many have never given a second thought on how they were named or if it matters at all that their names mean something or not. Others may only be concerned of how their names look on their office doors or on the plaques of their firms. In fact in many cultures, the family are more concerned about the last names or rather of how the family name is carried forward!

What about our baptismal name? As Christians should we not have the same high regard for our baptismal names as those newly baptised into the faith? After all is it not the name we bear for Christ? And if so when are our names are called to mind, will others remember us as followers of Christ? As His disciples? As loving and caring individuals after the heart of our Lord and Saviour?

Jesus my Lord grant me the grace to serve You and my brethren well, that through my love of You put into action they will say; indeed the hand of the Lord was with him (her). Amen

First reading – Malachi 3:1-4,23-24

Before my day comes, I will send you Elijah my prophet

The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.

    Know that I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before my day comes, that great and terrible day. He shall turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of children towards their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.

Gospel – Luke 1:57-66

‘His name is John’

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

    Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.


When we look back into our very own lives to see how the Lord our God had touched it with His great mercy and love, then we can fully relate to Hannah in today’s reading. How she is able to fully entrust her 3 year old to the service of God our Heavenly Father.

Hannah had lived her life bitterly in despair and desolation unable to see any semblance of God’s grace even though His grace was clearly present. In her desperation she cried and poured everything out to Him and promised to offer her child up should her prayer be answered. And for her the ‘impossible’ happened she conceived and bore Samuel. In loving obedience (http://bit.ly/4sunad) she gave her child over to the Lord our God. No longer was there any hint of despair for she knew with all her heart and had witnessed the power, glory and love of God in her own life. She could sing His praises for her heart exults in Him! (1 Samuel 2:1)

We do not hear of any prior bitterness in Mary our Mother’s life neither do we ever hear, her despair. For the Lord was always with her. And no matter how difficult or how hard her life must have been, she glorified the Lord our God by accepting the hardships in grace. Her love for God was not only on her lips but in her heart and in everything she did.

O Blessed mother, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen

First reading 1 Samuel 1:24-28

This is the child I prayed for: he is made over to the Lord.

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

    There she left him, for the Lord.

Gospel Luke 1:46-56

The Almighty has done great things for me

Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my saviour;

because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.

Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,

for the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is his name,

and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.

He has shown the power of his arm,

he has routed the proud of heart.

He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.

He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy

– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –

of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 21, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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(Picture – Jump For Joy by Corby Eisbacher)

I have often dwelled on the 2nd joyful mystery ‘The Visitation’ like a 3rd Party witness to it. How wonderful it is to see the exchange between our Blessed Mother and Elisabeth and to experience the joy that permeates the air. Mary our mother had brought Jesus the light of the world with her!

Can we not share a first party account of it? What do I mean? Well can we not share testimonies of bringing Jesus into the lives of others when we visited them? Can we not share the joy and healing that took place as we brought the love of Jesus with us?

When I was an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion I remember distinctly the joy on the faces of those present as I literally brought Jesus into the midst of the households I visited for homebound communion. That is why I looked forward to each and every visit even though there were trying days in which I had to battle the weather or postpone a personal engagement. On one such occasion of bringing Jesus with me for the first time to a home, the air was filled with gloom as the father lay counting down the days he would return home to our creator. However sick and worn out he felt, his face lit up as he listened to the Gospel message and later received Jesus in Holy Eucharist. Even the somewhat introverted family members, began to slowly open up on the challenges they were facing. Little did they know that our saviour was going to be very much more present this day and everyday in their lives through the community and would see them through the darkness which lay ahead. Then there was another time I responded to the desperate call by a family of church parishioners who requested for me to bring communion to their mother in the hospital, they were touched that I dropped everything to do so but most importantly their mum had an opportunity to receive Jesus physically for the last time! Jesus brought joy and forged new friendships all because we were obedient to His call. I can recall many more fond memories of such encounters during this wonderful journey in serving in this capacity.

When I left the ministry to do more and prayerfully make a difference in another, I was a little sad that I was no longer able to bring the physical presence of Jesus to those in need. It took a while before I came to the resolve that I would bring Jesus into the homes of those I visited even if it had to be in obscure and little ways. In some I would simply take the opportunity to lead in grace before meals even if it was not the norm to do so in that household, say a prayer of thanksgiving in another, an invocation for birthday blessings or prayer for healing in yet another. Otherwise I would seize every opportunity when it presented itself to speak about Jesus, the sacraments He instituted and His loving grace outpoured in my life and in the communities He has guided me to lead. Every ordinary meeting or fellowship is changed by His presence, I have witnessed hope, joy, peace, even healing take place! And now in 2020 the same has taken place even in zoom prayer meetings! Glory to You O Lord Jesus Christ!

So my dear sisters and brothers together with our Dearest Blessed Mother Mary let us bring Jesus with us everywhere we go. Amen

First reading
Song of Songs 2:8-14


See how my Beloved comes, leaping on the mountains
I hear my Beloved.


See how he comes
leaping on the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My Beloved is like a gazelle,
like a young stag.
See where he stands
behind our wall.
He looks in at the window,
he peers through the lattice.
My Beloved lifts up his voice,
he says to me,
‘Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
For see, winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth.
The season of glad songs has come,
the cooing of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree is forming its first figs
and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.
Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock,
in the coverts of the cliff,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet
and your face is beautiful.’

Gospel
Luke 1:39-45


Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?


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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 19, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Have we dedicated ourselves to the Lord our God? Have we consecrated ourselves to the sacred heart of Jesus? I have often reminded myself that I must strive for Holiness and lead my family and others to do likewise. How have I progressed in this regard? In the office we have year end appraisals to see if we have met the goals we set out early in the year, have we had our yearly appraisal with Jesus?

What efforts have I made? How have I responded to my Lord’s call? With doubt in my heart or have I responded in faith to glorify Him by my life? Have I done more to listen to Him through His Word? Have I spent more time in His presence discerning His Will for me? Have I abstained from the distractions of the world that makes me lose focus on Him? Have I grown in fraternal love for my sisters and brothers in Christ? Have I made a difference in my home, office, ministry, community and church? How many have come to know Christ or have had a deeper experience of Him through me?

Through you O loving Lord and Saviour my barren life has been changed. You have filled me with hope, peace, love and joy. Help me dear Lord to remain steadfast in Your love. Let me share the joy of Christmas which is to be found in You alone, with all that I meet. So that they too can experience what it is to lead grace filled lives. Amen

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

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

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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 18, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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I chose Joseph (after St Joseph) for my confirmation name and again Joseph as middle names for both my sons. As for my daughter her middle name is Marie. (after our Blessed Mother Mary) This I had hoped would serve as reminders for us to emulate the Holy Family so as to grow in Holiness in the presence of the Lord our God.

Personally I had not dwelled enough on the life of Saint Joseph to merit the honour of following in his gentle footsteps. And so it is my desire now to dwell a little more starting today, so that my patron saint can guide me on my pilgrim journey ‘home’.

Not a single word in scripture is quoted, as having been spoken by him and yet he speaks volumes of his love for the Lord our God put into action. A righteous man after the heart of God, for he certainly would have dwelled in His presence daily in prayer and in His Word. For whether awake or asleep he remained faithful to God, that is why he could trust that his dreams would not betray him. For he knew the Lord-our-integrity his ‘Saving Justice’ on a deep personal level even before He came to be and so was made righteous through His grace. A simple carpenter by trade who cared, provided for and protected his family.  A loving, patient, devoted husband and father.

Guide me St Joseph that I may be made worthy of the promises of Emmanuel. Amen

First reading – Jeremiah 23:5-8

I will raise a virtuous Branch for David

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –

when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,

who will reign as true king and be wise,

practising honesty and integrity in the land.

In his days Judah will be saved

and Israel dwell in confidence.

And this is the name he will be called:

The-Lord-our-integrity.

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

Gospel – Matthew 1:18-24

How Jesus Christ came to be born

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

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son

and they will call him Emmanuel,

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 17, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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It is important to look back from time to time on our very own personal salvation history. Where did we come from? Where are we now? and Where we are heading? Where are we in our faith? In other words where was our Lord Jesus Christ in our past, where is He in our present and where will He be in our future?

Can I today 17 Dec 2020 proclaim that Jesus is my Lord and I pay Him homage by the way I live my life. I am a child of God my Heavenly Father so loved by Him. I am an obedient son (daughter) who strives each and everyday to grow in Holiness. I will fight all evil to protect and defend my lineage to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I will remain connected forever to the Vine the source and summit of my life! Amen Alleluia!

First reading

Genesis 49:2,8-10

Until he comes, the sceptre will not pass from Judah

Jacob called his sons and said:

‘Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen;

listen to Israel your father.

Judah, your brothers shall praise you:

you grip your enemies by the neck,

your father’s sons shall do you homage,

Judah is a lion cub,

you climb back, my son, from your kill;

like a lion he crouches and lies down,

or a lioness: who dare rouse him?

The sceptre shall not pass from Judah,

nor the mace from between his feet,

until he come to whom it belongs,

to whom the peoples shall render obedience.’

Gospel

Matthew 1:1-17

The ancestry of Jesus Christ, the son of David

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

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,

Perez was the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram was the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,

Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,

Obed was the father of Jesse;

and Jesse was the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,

Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,

Joram the father of Azariah,

Azariah was the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah;

and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.

Then the deportation to Babylon took place.

After the deportation to Babylon:

Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,

Abiud the father of Eliakim,

Eliakim the father of Azor,

Azor was the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Achim,

Achim the father of Eliud,

Eliud was the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,

Matthan the father of Jacob;

and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;

of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 16, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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We have an all powerful ever living God who can level mountains if He so chooses and yet in His great tender love for us; He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and dwelled as one of us. A bruised reed He did not break neither a smoldering wick He would not snuff out, instead He came to heal and restore. To give us life and life indeed to the full! When questioned if He was the one that was prophesised to come His answer was how His love for us was already set in motion!

Instead of getting down on our knees as we should to worship Him, confessing that Jesus is our Lord by putting our love for neighbour into action as He had commanded us; Are our hearts still filled with doubt? What faith will He find in us when He comes again?

You Lord Jesus are the rock of my salvation and I place all my faith and trust in You. Lead me know and forever. Amen

First reading
Isaiah 45:6-8,18,21-25
I, the Lord, shall create deliverance

Apart from me, all is nothing.
I am the Lord, unrivalled,
I form the light and create the dark.
I make good fortune and create calamity,
it is I, the Lord, who do all this.

Send victory like a dew, you heavens,
and let the clouds rain it down.
Let the earth open
for salvation to spring up.
Let deliverance, too, bud forth
which I, the Lord, shall create.

Yes, thus says the Lord,
creator of the heavens,
who is God,
who formed the earth and made it,
who set it firm,
created it no chaos,
but a place to be lived in:

‘I am the Lord, unrivalled:
there is no other god besides me.
A God of integrity and a saviour:
there is none apart from me.
Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth,
for I am God unrivalled.

‘By my own self I swear it;
what comes from my mouth is truth,
a word irrevocable:
before me every knee shall bend,
by me every tongue shall swear,
saying, “From the Lord alone
come victory and strength.”
To him shall come, ashamed,
all who raged against him.
Victorious and glorious through the Lord shall be
all the descendants of Israel.’

Gospel
Luke 7:19-23
‘Are you the one who is to come?’

John, summoning two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?’ When the men reached Jesus they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you, to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or have we to wait for someone else?”’ It was just then that he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits, and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind. Then he gave the messengers their answer, ‘Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’

xxxoooxxx

Posted: December 15, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 15, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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There was a time when I was a little envious of the newly baptised. They were so alive in their new found faith in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Such that they were often seen in many if not all our parish activities! Those well formed by dedicated disciples and spirtual directors in their RCIA journey would readily share their conversion stories with all they came into contact with. And if you spend time listening to their own personal conversion stories many were like the first son in today’s Gospel. Very rarely did any one of them have an instant conversion experience like St Paul. Often they rejected the idea of Jesus, some led rather sinful lives while others felt their lives were meaningless and empty. And again others tried looking for peace, love and joy in the world but never found it. In an obscure sense they were like prodigal sons and daughters. Then some thought better of it while some were touched by the lives of the faithful and decided to follow Jesus, they now lovingly work for joy in His vineyard!

What about us? Are we not the 2nd son? We say Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes YES LORD! But what do we have to show for ourselves? How much have we grown in our faith and love for our Lord Jesus Christ? How much have we grown in our fraternal love for one another? How many lives have we touched through our corporal and spiritual acts of mercy? How many souls have we saved? How can we be fruitful for Him when we refuse to work in His Vineyard?

Sweet saviour our Lord Jesus we thank you for the opportunity to work in your vineyard through which we remain fully connected to You. For you have told us that you are the Vine and we are Your branches. Through Your loving grace shall be fruitful for Your Kingdom. Amen

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First reading
Zephaniah 3:1-2,9-13
All peoples shall invoke the Lord’s name and serve him

Trouble is coming to the rebellious, the defiled,
the tyrannical city!
She would never listen to the call,
would never learn the lesson;
she has never trusted in the Lord,
never drawn near to her God.

Yes, I will then give the peoples lips that are clean,
so that all may invoke the name of the Lord
and serve him under the same yoke.
From beyond the banks of the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants
will bring me offerings.

When that day comes
you need feel no shame for all the misdeeds
you have committed against me,
for I will remove your proud boasters
from your midst;
and you will cease to strut
on my holy mountain.
In your midst I will leave
a humble and lowly people,
and those who are left in Israel will seek refuge in the name of the Lord.
They will do no wrong,
will tell no lies;
and the perjured tongue will no longer
be found in their mouths.
But they will be able to graze and rest
with no one to disturb them.

Gospel
Matthew 21:28-32
Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 14, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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If you are a child of proper upbringing could you ever fathom telling your father or mother as you were growing up, “Why should I listened to you?!” or “Mind your own business! this is my life!” Now all grown up as an adult would you be able to say utter such words? or perhaps you might tone it down as much as possible to simply say something like “Thank you for your love and concern however I will make and live by my own decision in this matter or that one.” Yes we do not in a sense owe our parents our lives but we have to love, honour and respect them nonetheless for they were instruments of God our Father’s grace that we have life. Are we then to question, the Lord our God, the author of life Himself?

If we say that He is truly the Lord of Lords, King of kings in our lives? How so? If we place ourselves above Him in all that we say and do? Family and friends are likely to take priority next then perhaps our careers and so on. When we refuse to pray, listen to His Word or Will for us? When we neglect the community and exclude ourselves from anything spiritual after all that is reserve only for an hour on Sundays. Even then we are relieved that we can just sit back, relax and watch an online mass while fiddling on our mobile phones or walking in and out of the rooms to take stuff we urgently need in that hour! How different are we from the chief priests and elders who rejected the authority of Jesus? They were so blind that they only recognised themselves as Authority figures for others.

So sisters and brothers we can choose to submit to the Authority and Will of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and be a source of Blessings for all, as the Spirit of God dwells within us to lead and guide us. Or we can choose to remain where we are stubbornly, holding on the believe that we are in control, in charge and make decisions that lead us and others further from the truth, peace and joy to be found in Jesus.

I submit my intellect and my Will to You my Lord and my God! Let me be consecrated fully unto thee. Amen

First reading Numbers 24:2-7,15-17

The oracles of Balaam

Raising his eyes Balaam saw Israel, encamped by tribes; the spirit of God came on him and he declaimed his poem. He said:
‘The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,
the oracle of the man with far-seeing eyes,
the oracle of one who hears the word of God.
He sees what Shaddai makes him see,
receives the divine answer, and his eyes are opened.
How fair are your tents, O Jacob!
How fair your dwellings, Israel!
Like valleys that stretch afar,
like gardens by the banks of a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
like cedars beside the waters!
A hero arises from their stock,
he reigns over countless peoples.
His king is greater than Agag,
his majesty is exalted.’
Then Balaam declaimed his poem again. He said:
‘The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,
the oracle of the man with far-seeing eyes,
the oracle of one who hears the word of God,
of one who knows the knowledge of the Most High.
He sees what Shaddai makes him see,
receives the divine answer, and his eyes are opened.
I see him – but not in the present,
I behold him – but not close at hand:
a star from Jacob takes the leadership,
a sceptre arises from Israel.’

Gospel
Matthew 21:23-27

‘I will not tell you my authority for acting like this’
Jesus had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, ‘What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?’ ‘And I’ replied Jesus ‘will ask you a question, only one; if you tell me the answer to it, I will then tell you my authority for acting like this. John’s baptism: where did it come from: heaven or man?’ And they argued it out this way among themselves, ‘If we say from heaven, he will retort, “Then why did you refuse to believe him?”; but if we say from man, we have the people to fear, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So their reply to Jesus was, ‘We do not know.’ And he retorted, ‘Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.’

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On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 12, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

“Let us come together for Advent Reflections so we can prepare our hearts to receive more fully his Christmas.” “Turn back to Jesus who loves you dearly and wants to set you free to live fully in His love. Make every effort to go for the Sacrament of reconciliation.” “In this trying and challenging times we must do all we can to attend the Holy Eucharist so as to receive Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity into our very being. For after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

How many of us have failed to recognise ‘Elijah’ in the voices above? Calling us back to fidelity to God our Heavenly Father. To turn the hearts of fathers towards their children. To restore God our Father’s children to their rightful inheritance through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus open my ears to hear You, my eyes to see you and with open hands I lift them up to receive what I need to serve You and brethren more fully. Amen

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


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

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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 11, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Uniting my Will with God my Heavenly Father does not mean I give up my freedom, on the contrary I am never more free to live fully in His love, peace and joy. Is it easy to stay awake and alert to His commandments and more importantly His Will for me? Well in a sense no, it takes discipline and true love for Him. I need to seek Him daily through His Word and to be still in His presence. To dwell in the mystery and revelation of my salvation through my Lord and saviour Jesus Christ!

I will not want the luxury to say, “Lord I’m tired not today, I don’t feel up to it.” Even if it is a late day for me, I am never fully awake till I rise to hear His voice. And to hear what He desires for me to share with my sisters and brothers. I remain hopeful and elated that someone who hears His voice through me will be touched by His great mercy and love. They too will heed His call to grow in Holiness and love. And together we will praise His Holy name!

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

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

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

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


Gospel
Matthew 11:16-19
They heed neither John nor the Son of Man

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

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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 10, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Whose hand are you holding?

As we draw closer to the end of this rather difficult year in which unprecedented challenges led nations out into the wilderness. How have we lived as children of God our Heavenly Father? Have we kept the faith? Hope? Have we been charitable with one another especially with those most affected? Have we held on to the hand of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ who will lead us out of the desert into the land of milk and honey?

Whose hand are you holding?

Holding up our right hand, touched by grace and clasped in love; whose hand are we holding in our left to gently lead into His Kingdom? For we are called to turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents. To lead the children of God our Heavenly Father back to Him.

Whose hand are you holding?

Take my hand Lord Jesus and lead me. Amen

Our Lady of Loreto pray for us…

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

In the wilderness I will put cedar trees,
acacias, myrtles, olives.
In the desert I will plant juniper,
plane tree and cypress side by side;

so that men may see and know,
may all observe and understand
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.


Gospel
Matthew 11:11-15
A greater than John the Baptist has never been seen

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


Everyday can be a struggle to wake up to face the challenges of the day. To know that the battle with evil and temptation never ends. And on top of it all we have our mission as disciples of Christ to fulfil. Yes indeed it is a heavy burden to bear alone! And so many give up or make choices to live according to their own will. Seeking happiness and love in their own way, in their own time. They are convinced that they are at peace with their decision.

However those who have decided to carry their cross daily to follow Jesus because of the ever growing love for Him, know that they never bear any burden whatsoever alone! He is always there alongside, to shoulder the weight with them. Living life in His presence fills them with peace, love and joy which the world can never give.

I come before You this day and every day my Lord, my God. To dwell in Your presence and loving embrace. Be with me now and forever. Amen

First reading
Isaiah 40:25-31 ·
The Lord strengthens the powerless


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

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

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


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

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


From the beginning it was God our Father’s Will that we be spotless, perfect as He is perfect, Holy as He is Holy. And so Mary our mother’s immaculate conception, Today’s solemnity has a deeper meaning for us. She like our first parents, Adam and Eve was conceived without original sin. Created pure and Holy in the likeness and image of God our Heavenly Father.

Through our baptism original sin was removed from us, though for us we still have to struggle with concupiscence. And so it must be our daily resolve to follow Mary our mother’s obedience to the will of God our Heavenly Father; her steadfast desire to always remain in His presence through prayer and a life lived in Holiness. Mary our mother’s life is a model of how the beatitudes is lived out. Through the grace of her Son our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ we too can likewise live out of lives fully in His love.

Through our Blessed Mother let us consecrate ourselves to the sacred heart of Jesus her son. Now and forever. Amen

Hail mary full of grace….

First reading
Genesis 3:9-15,20 ·
The mother of all those who live

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 7, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Like Lent before Easter, Advent is an opportunity to go out into the desert, that is to free ourselves from all that weighs us down and holds us back from being fully reconciled with God our loving Father. To make straight the path so that Jesus can come deep into our hearts. We are healed, restored, liberated such that we can leap for joy as we praise and worship the Lord our God. Through this journey we will arrive at the oasis that awaits us. An oasis only to be found in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Come Lord Jesus, come… Amen

Bishop St Ambrose pray for us…

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

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

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

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

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

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;

for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Second Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 5, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Straighten the Path: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Advent

Readings:
Isaiah 40:1–59–11
Psalm 85:9–14
2 Peter 3:8–14
Mark 1:1–8
 
Our God is coming. The time of exile— the long separation of humankind from God due to sin—is about to end. This is the good news proclaimed in today’s liturgy.

Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s future release and return from captivity and exile. But as today’s Gospel shows, Israel’s historic deliverance was meant to herald an even greater saving act by God—the coming of Jesus to set Israel and all nations free from bondage to sin, to gather them up and carry them back to God.

God sent an angel before Israel to lead them in their exodus towards the promised land (see Exodus 23:20). And He promised to send a messenger of the covenant, Elijah, to purify the people and turn their hearts to the Father before the day of the Lord (see Malachi 3:123–24).

John the Baptist quotes these, as well as Isaiah’s prophecy, to show that all of Israel’s history looks forward to the revelation of Jesus. In Jesus, God has filled in the valley that divided sinful humanity from Himself. He has reached down from heaven and made His glory to dwell on earth, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

He has done all this not for humanity in the abstract but for each of us. The long history of salvation has led us to this Eucharist, in which our God again comes and our salvation is near. And each of us must hear in today’s readings a personal call. Here is your God, Isaiah says. He has been patient with you, Peter says in today’s Epistle.

Like Jerusalem’s inhabitants in the Gospel, we have to go out to Him, repenting our sins, all the laziness and self-indulgence that make our lives a spiritual wasteland. We have to straighten out our lives so that everything we do leads us to Him.

Today, let us hear the beginning of the Gospel and again commit ourselves to lives of holiness and devotion.


Does God our Father mean for His children to suffer or to be in distress? If you believe this to be true then “God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in shall have eternal life” will have little or no meaning for you. It is due to our fallen nature that sin, suffering, distress, sickness exists in the world. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He dresses our wounds and tenderly nurses us back to fullness of life in Him. He permits some suffering in order for us to be purified, so that the proven genuineness of our faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

So then sisters and brothers in Christ, having decided to take up our cross to follow Him; are we ready to go out into the world to be instruments of His grace? To cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. For we have been endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and it is time to put our living faith into action! Amen

First reading
Isaiah 30:19-21,23-26 ·
The Lord God will be gracious to you and hear your cry

Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
    People of Zion, you will live in Jerusalem and weep no more. He will be gracious to you when he hears your cry; when he hears he will answer. When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the water of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer, and you will see your teacher with your own eyes. Whether you turn to right or left, your ears will hear these words behind you, ‘This is the way, follow it.’ He will send rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the bread that the ground provides will be rich and nourishing. Your cattle will graze, that day, in wide pastures. Oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat a salted fodder, winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain, on every high hill there will be streams and watercourses, on the day of the great slaughter when the strongholds fall. Then moonlight will be bright as sunlight and sunlight itself be seven times brighter – like the light of seven days in one – on the day the Lord dresses the wound of his people and heals the bruises his blows have left.


Gospel
Matthew 9:35-10:1,5,6-8
The harvest is rich but the labourers are few

Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness.
    And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’
    He summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows: ‘Go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge.’


Today and everyday the Lord makes all things new. For those who have trust and faith in Him, they will have their vindication. They will walk blameless in His sight. He will bring about physical as well as spiritual healing. Having received His loving touch shall we not praise and glorify His name? Shall we not do the same by our actions? Shall we not likewise touch the lives of others so that they too might see Him through us?

Yet those who are in power and have misused it to oppress, who turn God our Father’s children away from Him should cower in fear. Likewise those who gossip, for these murderous lot have killed the reputation of many and have always thought themselves innocent shall be held accountable by the Lord our God! Repent! Seek His forgiveness, wisdom and His Will for you; while the Lord is still patient and merciful, for there will soon come a time that you will remain in permanent darkness.

Open my eyes to see You Lord, now and forever. Amen

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

The Lord says this:

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

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

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



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

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


Many of us are a fickle, stubborn lot. While it is our desire to grow in holiness, in our prayer life and so on. We often say we will do it!… But maybe tomorrow, or we might start working at it then give up quite readily after a few days. Are we not the folks in Today’s Gospel going, “Lord, Lord,”? How will we ever hope to remain steadfast in our faith especially in times of great struggles and challenges? When we will not start building our relationship upon the solid foundation of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ!

It is only through our righteousness and fidelity to the Word and Will of God our Heavenly Father, that we will enter into His Kingdom. So let us dear sisters and brothers in Christ, having entered into the new liturgical year this Advent; build upon our Rock Jesus! Having tasted His living water, we will not want (for anything). Amen

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


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


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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 2, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Can I a Christian claim that I do not what the good news is? Or that I do not what or how to share it with others? Listen with your heart the message of the good news revealed to us through the prophet. And again the full revelation of the good news in Mathew’s Gospel to be found in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

Jesus was the hope of all nations in the thousand years of ‘Advent’ leading to His birth what we now call Christmas. The light which dispels the darkness! The bondage of sin and death broken through our journey of ‘Lent’ leading to His Resurrection which we now call Easter. Our Lord God came and dwelled among us. In His mercy, grace and love; He healed, liberated us from us all sin, brought everlasting peace, love and joy into our hearts. Through the most precious gift of Himself in Holy Eucharist He eleavates us through His divinity to be One in full communion with Him.

Is this not above and beyond ‘Good News’. This is the truth we must share with one and all! Amen

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

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


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

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: December 1, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Jesus is inviting us once again to enter into that deep personal, intimate relationship He has with God our Heavenly Father. To be One with Him, to see as He sees, to hear as He hears. We had first responded to this invitation through our baptism where we had been bestowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we entered into sonship and daughterhood. In this first week of Advent we are invited to enter into a deeper loving relationship. What is your response?

Thank You Lord for loving me. Guide and teach me Your ways. That I may love You and my brethren in the same way that You love me. Amen

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


You would expect that being invited to a Christian home, that would be grace before and after meals. Then during the meal or at some point of having drinks later there will surely be talk of Jesus, His Word and how He is wonderfully present in the lives of those gathered. This is often and Very often I might add not the case! Why? “Oh guests might be uncomfortable, don’t want others to think that we are ‘holier than thou’, this is a gathering to catch up with friends and family not for churchy stuff” How is this not the same as leaving Jesus outside of the door knocking? How can we be ready to greet Him when He comes? How are we ever going to share Him with others who do not yet know Him? Will we be shocked when we knock at our Lord’s door saying,  ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you. 

We need to take the love we profess for Him to the next level! We need to fall deeply in love with Him by not just wanting to but actually making time to be in His presence, listening to Him speak to us through His Word, increasing and deepening our prayer life. Because the simple truth is this, if we cannot openly speak about our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ then we do not truly love Him. If we do not truly love Him how will we ever share Him with others?

Jesus my Lord, I love You and I am here to follow You. Lead me Lord. Amen

St Andrew pray for us…

First reading
Romans 10:9-18 ·
Faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ

If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
    But they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news are a welcome sound. Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed? So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ. Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear? Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the world.


Gospel
Matthew 4:18-22
‘I will make you fishers of men’

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: November 28, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Let me share a sobering truth with you, there are many in this world who are troubled by the cares and wiles of the world. And so they turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, food, gaming as their form of escapism. Many of these do not yet know Jesus, many do but have a lukewarm compartmentalised faith; while others who claim to know Him even openly ‘show’ others that they do, in reality have a shallow relationship with Him for they often take the Lord their God for granted. They will stick to their routine timing for prayers often devotionals, more as a means to strike off their todolist That is why they would rather seek the company of friends than spend time with Him alone or with Him present in a community of disciples.

For true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ who have a deep relationship with Him know without reservation that the peace, love and joy which the world seeks is to be found in Him alone! Therefore they seek each and everyday to remain awake in His presence, and to grow in their faith and love of Him. To love and honour Him, they strive to share in His love by putting said love into action; in service of others especially those who do not yet know Him. To see His face in those they serve, the sick, the downtrodden, especially those who are very difficult to love! For God our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom is at hand and we journey as One carrying one another on our backs if we have to, so that all of us can enter through the saving grace of His Son our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

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

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

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

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


The readings of the ‘end times’ as we journey towards the start of Advent is not meant to fill our hearts with doom and gloom. It is to awaken us from our slumber and call us to action. We are afterall children of the Resurrection, the light!

Have we allowed our light to grow dim? To be snuffed out by the cares and worries of the world? Have we concerned ourselves with things that will not last? Or as children of the light, we have heard our call to holiness and are journeying in the love of God our Father; saving souls as we go along and leading them to our eternal rest with Him?

In our lifetime we were blessed to have witnessed the lives of our fellow saints living in the light of the Resurrection; Pope John Paul II, Theresa of calcutta, Carlo Acutis to name a few. These were ordinary men and women transfigured by living in the presence of our Lord according to His Word and Will for them. You and I should desire to live likewise.

Lord Jesus be with me Amen

First reading
Apocalypse 20:1-4,11-21:2
The book of life was opened, and the dead were judged

I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven with the key of the Abyss in his hand and an enormous chain. He overpowered the dragon, that primeval serpent which is the devil and Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and shut the entrance and sealed it over him, to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until the thousand years had passed. At the end of that time he must be released, but only for a short while.
    Then I saw some thrones, and I saw those who are given the power to be judges take their seats on them. I saw the souls of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus and for having preached God’s word, and those who refused to worship the beast or his statue and would not have the brand-mark on their foreheads or hands; they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Then I saw a great white throne and the One who was sitting on it. In his presence, earth and sky vanished, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of his throne, while the book of life was opened, and other books opened which were the record of what they had done in their lives, by which the dead were judged.
    The sea gave up all the dead who were in it; Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged according to the way in which he had lived. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the burning lake. This burning lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the book of life was thrown into the burning lake.
    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband.


Gospel
Luke 21:29-33
My words will never pass away

Jesus told his disciples a parable: ‘Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’


Evil has no hold over us, for victory is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ! Happy are we who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

We have no time to mope and complain of how difficult our life is and to make excuses for our inertia. Neither have we the luxury of looking to our distractions from the burden of carrying our cross to follow our Lord. For if we continue to behave this way, then the choices we make will leave us behind in desolation!

Arise and stay awake! Prepare for His coming! Then we will take our rightful place together with the Angels and the Saints praising God our Heavenly Father.

For Evil has no hold over us, victory is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ! Happy are we who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Amen Alleluia!

First reading
Apocalypse 18:1-2,21-23,19:1-3,9
Babylon the Great has fallen

I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven, with great authority given to him; the earth was lit up with his glory. At the top of his voice he shouted, ‘Babylon has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, and has become the haunt of devils and a lodging for every foul spirit and dirty, loathsome bird.’ Then a powerful angel picked up a boulder like a great millstone, and as he hurled it into the sea, he said, ‘That is how the great city of Babylon is going to be hurled down, never to be seen again.

Never again in you, Babylon,
will be heard the song of harpists and minstrels,
the music of flute and trumpet;
never again will craftsmen of every skill be found
or the sound of the mill be heard;
never again will shine the light of the lamp,
never again will be heard
the voices of bridegroom and bride.
Your traders were the princes of the earth,
all the nations were under your spell.

After this I seemed to hear the great sound of a huge crowd in heaven, singing, ‘Alleluia! Victory and glory and power to our God! He judges fairly, he punishes justly, and he has condemned the famous prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication; he has avenged his servants that she killed.’ They sang again, ‘Alleluia! The smoke of her will go up for ever and ever.’ The angel said, ‘Write this: Happy are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb’, and he added, ‘All the things you have written are true messages from God.’


Gospel
Luke 21:20-28
There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate. Then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains, those inside the city must leave it, and those in country districts must not take refuge in it. For this is the time of vengeance when all that scripture says must be fulfilled. Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come!
    ‘For great misery will descend on the land and wrath on this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every pagan country; and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the pagans until the age of the pagans is completely over.
    ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: November 25, 2020 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Is it easy to remain steadfast and to grow in holiness everyday? No It is not! Not even if you were saintly, maybe even worse for you if you were. I for one struggle each and every day because there are distractions everywhere and innate desires within that when left unchecked can grow out of control. Loved ones and often it is those closest to me are the ones who will try my patience and my faith in my Lord. So why even bother when it is so much easier to do as I please? Well simply put, it is because I have had a foretaste of the kingdom of God, of walking in His presence, living in His peace and love. And there is nothing more precious in this world!

So even when I fall and I do so many times! Wanting to kick myself for repeating the same mistakes; I pick myself up and fall on my knees before my Lord, plead for forgiveness and the grace to do better. Then I continue strive each time to improve. It is a marathon and as the Lord reminds us today, endurance will win us eternal life with Him.

Lord forgive me a sinner, help me to remain steadfast in Your love and in your presence. Teach and guide me in all that I must say and do. Amen

First reading
Apocalypse 15:1-4 ·
The victors sang the hymn of Moses and of the Lamb

What I, John, saw in heaven was a great and wonderful sign: seven angels were bringing the seven plagues that are the last of all, because they exhaust the anger of God. I seemed to see a glass lake suffused with fire, and standing by the lake of glass, those who had fought against the beast and won, and against his statue and the number which is his name. They all had harps from God, and they were singing the hymn of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb:

‘How great and wonderful are all your works,
Lord God Almighty;
just and true are all your ways,
King of nations.
Who would not revere and praise your name, O Lord?
You alone are holy,
and all the pagans will come and adore you
for the many acts of justice you have shown.’


Gospel
Luke 21:12-19
Your endurance will win you your lives

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’