Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts & Reflections’ Category

On turning 50

Posted: June 11, 2019 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

On my 50th birthday…

A milestone which calls for celebration? Yes only if I am where I ought to be, according to the will of my heavenly Father. I can finally relate to what St Paul said in Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

How did I get to where I am today? Well I had never in my youth imagined that I would one day speak or even think the way I do now. For Christ was certainly far from me and only because I was the one who kept my distance. I wanted to live life to the fullest, and so searched for pleasures of the world to fulfill the longing to be whole. Only to find that if we want to live life to the full, we can only to do so through life with and in Him. Truly our lives are restless till we rest in Him.

I strongly believe and I have shared this before, that it was through the intercession of both my mum and our Blessed Mother Mary that I found my way back into the fold. And I was indeed blessed that our Lord sent strong spiritual directors to guide me into a deepening of my faith. All would come to naught had I not at the same time made the decision, to respond to His call to be Faithful and obedient unto Him. While it is still a constant struggle to remain so, I have all the necessary graces I need from my Lord through His Holy Sacraments.

So today as I reflect on my life I ask what are my joys having turned 50? Well apart from being blessed with loving parents and a sister, I have a loving family of my own. And most would think that these are all the blessings one could hope for. Not so with God our loving Father because He has blessed me with a huge extended family through the various communities I belong to. And many other sisters and brothers in Christ throughout His church who share a connection with me and the potential to deepen our relationship. All this is possible through Christ our Lord who unites us all in Him.

Thank You Jesus for my life in You.

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: June 11, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Can we not be counted as one amongst many of our dear sisters and brothers who are filled with the Holy Spirit and on fire for our Lord? To be recognised as a disciple with a zeal to share the love of our master with all whom we meet.

St Barnabas is indeed such a great role model who brought many into the faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. He even guided St Paul in such a way, not allowing the fact that St Paul was highly knowledgeable and well read to intimidate him in any way. He was a humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ and truly a light for the world after Christ.

Jesus my Lord may your light shine through me such that all who see my deeds and hear my words will give praise to God my Heavenly Father. Amen

St Barnabas pray for us…

First reading

Acts 11:21-26,13:1-3

A great number believed and were converted to the Lord.
The church in Jerusalem heard about this and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. There he could see for himself that God had given grace, and this pleased him, and he urged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with heartfelt devotion; for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith. And a large number of people were won over to the Lord.
Barnabas then left for Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. As things turned out they were to live together in that church a whole year, instructing a large number of people. It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians.’
In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.’ So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Gospel

Matthew 5:13-16
Your light must shine in the sight of men

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: June 10, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

In John 14:18 Jesus told us that he will not leave us as orphans. He will come to us. And the most tangible way He has come to us is through the Holy Eucharist. He promised and sent us an Advocate the Holy Spirit to journey with us and still His love for us did not end with all these; He gave us another precious gift of His mother to be mother of us all. Just yesterday we celebrated the birth of our One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and today we celebrate the The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and appropriately so. For she continues to intercede for all of us and her maternal love for us protects us from all evil as she leads us to an ever deeper relationship with her Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

She is the new Eve pure, and obedient to God our Father for love of Him. She is the model of holiness for all of us to emulate. She who is a creature just like each and everyone of us, formed by our loving creator shows us the way to His bosom. In her lifetime she endured hardships, sorrows, challenges and so is no stranger to our very own painful sufferings. And so we can be assured that loving mother that she is, she will be there to comfort and pray for us. She who is spouse will send the Holy Spirit to us as needed.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of the Church an mother of mine be with and pray for me. Glory and Praise be to your Son Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen

First reading

Genesis 3:9-15,20 †
‘The offspring of the woman will crush your head’

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.

Gospel

John 19:25-34
‘Behold your son. Behold your mother.’

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.
After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said, ‘I am thirsty.’
A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said, ‘It is accomplished’; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit.
It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: June 8, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

In our own faith journey we might look for a spiritual buddy to accompany us. This is indeed wonderful because there is someone to pray with, encourage us in moments of difficulty and even during spells of spiritual dryness. There is also the ‘ra ra’ effect in which we rally one another to attend formation talks and retreats. However as we progress, individually we might have different calls to mission by our Lord. And so we cannot stick to a motto of “I’ll go if you go with me.” We need to pray and discern and respond to His call for us. Which means we might have go our separate ways if necessary for as long as our mission requires us to.

We are then free to proclaim the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord to anyone who will listen. The most effective way according to our gifts and talents. The Holy Spirit dwells within us who have emptied themselves to receive our Lord most fully so as to glorify Him by our lives. Hence even in solitude we are never alone.

Lord lead me and I will follow. Amen

First reading

Acts 28:16-20,30-31 †
In Rome, Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God without hindrance from anyone

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

Gospel

John 21:20-25
This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and we know that his testimony is true

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: June 7, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Shortcuts are always way easier, many would even say practical. Why travel a more dangerous road when there is a safer alternate route? These may be true in general life situations but not so in the matters of faith.

When we surrender fully to the Lord our God and allow ourselves to be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit we find ourselves led to a deeper loving relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ such that we are willing to endure hardship and great personal challenges to bring Him glory and praise. For we know that come what may, He will always be with us and eventually when the time comes He will lead us home to Him.

Some real life examples are, at a prayer meeting we will not rush through it trying to keep to a timeline. We will not cutout a hymn to safe time or be annoyed when someone leading a prayer takes too long. We will not use battery operated candles unless it is a public function room we booked which has rules against the use of firelit candles. When asked to organise say a feast day celebration we will not stick to tried and tested methods but discern and pray how the Holy Spirit wants us to take it to the next level to lead the parishioners to a greater sense of Communion and by and large greater worship of the Lord our God. Then there are times we would rather be quiet and at peace rather than to speak up for truth or an injustice against someone who cannot defend themselves. This is the time we need to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to use us if He wills, to be an instrument of His grace.

O God Almighty Father let Your Will be done always not my own. May I be led always by the Holy Spirit. Amen

First reading

Acts 25:13-21 †
‘I ordered Paul to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar’

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

Gospel

John 21:15-19
Feed my lambs, feed my sheep

Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: June 6, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

What does it mean to be completely one? Are we one when husband and wife do not come together to pray as one? Are we one when parents and children do not pray together as one? Are we one when ministry members do not come together to pray as one? Are we one when different church ministries or church members do not come together to pray as one outside of the Eucharist? Are we one when we don’t know each other by name or know anything about our individual famililes? How then are we completely one in our Lord Jesus Christ?

We see from the first reading and in our own personal experiences how fragile unity is? Oftentimes it only takes well positioned words to evoke strong feelings which can lead to disunity. Another is gossip which is the number one most poisonous instrument for the death of communities. But why is gossip even allowed to begin? How does it start? Does it not stem from one who is highly insecure about him or herself? It might even be a means to an end, a malicious intent. How will it perpetuate if no one listens? Or is not passed on?

All communities focused and centred on our Lord Jesus Christ, who come regularly together to be nourished by His Word, to pray and to adore Him are those built on rock. These are communities which are completely one for Christ is one with them.

Jesus our Lord and our God, may we truly be one in You as You are One with our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen

First reading

Acts 22:30,23:6-11 †
‘You have borne witness in Jerusalem: now you must do the same in Rome’

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

Gospel

John 17:20-26
Father, may they be completely one

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: June 5, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

O Holy Spirit come! Open our hearts and minds so that we may know the sanctity of our faith in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

There is much evil in the world that seeks disunity amongst Christians, race and religion. And it wants to rob us of our human dignity and our heavenly inheritance as children of God our Father. There are so many varied ways that it tries to do so, by, lies, propaganda, pornography, promises of honour, riches and so on. That is why both Jesus and St Paul reminds us to be on guard that while we live in the world, we are not of the world. Through our baptism we have been made Holy, set apart for the glory of God. And while we will face many difficulties and challenges in holding on to the truth and sharing it with others, we will have the Holy Spirit with us to guide us through. Love of God in our hearts, coupled by our love for brethren put into action by our humble servitude; illuminates His sanctifying grace upon us.

Lord Jesus I consecrate myself to Your sacred heart. Amen

First reading

Acts 20:28-38 †
I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, and its power

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

Gospel

John 17:11-19
Father, keep those you have given me true to your name

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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