Daily Archives: June 2, 2019

3 Jun, Monday – Faith sees the God who can handle the problem

3 Jun – Memorial for St. Charles Lwanga & companions, martyrs

One of 22 Ugandan martyrs, St. Charles Lwanga is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. He protected his fellow pages aged 13 to 30 from the homosexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands.

For his own unwillingness to submit to the immoral acts and his efforts to safeguard the faith of his friends, Charles was burned to death at in 1886, by Mwanga’s order. When Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs in 1964, he referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.

http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintOfDay/default.asp?id=1403

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Acts 19:1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul made his way overland as far as Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. When he asked, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ they answered, ‘No, we were never even told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then how were you baptised?’ he asked. ‘With John’s baptism’ they replied. ‘John’s baptism’ said Paul ‘was a baptism of repentance; but he insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after him-in other words Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of these men.

He began by going to the synagogue, where he spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. He did this for three months.

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John 16:29-33

His disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them:

‘Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come – in fact it has come already –
when you will be scattered,
each going his own way and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.
I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave: I have conquered the world.’
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But take courage, I have conquered the world 

An evangelical protestant pastor once shared in one of her videos on Youtube that as each new day dawns, she would always get all fired up and eager to face the day. She would look forward to doing great things for the Lord and for humanity that day — to bring many to the Lord and all other sorts of good works, and be a blessing to everyone. But her punchline was that the minute she actually stepped out of bed and her feet touched the floor, all her courage and enthusiasm went out the window as reality hit her in the face.

That story provided more just than just a smile to me – it was actually quite a sobering thought. It brought home to me how frightening this world we live in can be. I have to confess…it takes a lot for me to find strength and courage to go out into the world each day. I need a long period of prayer and receiving the Eucharist each morning in order to find strength to face the day. I am conscious, perhaps overly so, that we live in the ‘valley of tears’. That evil is ever present and ever dominant in the people and circumstances we meet each day. That we live in a very broken and wounded world where sin, injustice, indifference, selfishness, the pressure to perform, where the weight of duty and responsibility towards our loved ones and towards God, can make life frightening and burdensome. The weight of the cross can be crushingly heavy. And then there is also the weight of the guilt we carry. More often than not, I am a huge part of all that evil and sin and have myself caused the deepest hurts and wounds to my own loved ones and others around me.

Pardon me if all this sounds somewhat depressing and pessimistic. I am only too conscious how weak my faith really is. Indeed, there are days when we really don’t want to get out of bed and go ‘out there’. I have come to accept that evil, suffering and strife are real and a part of our daily reality. The Bible has reminded us often to expect this.

However, I have also come to accept that this does not in any way mean that God is subservient to this evil and that He is powerless in our lives. Indeed not. In fact, I prepare to do battle every day. Not to sound overly dramatic, but to me the need for ‘daily martyrdom’ is very real.  This means, each day, we learn to die to self and to lean on Jesus and His Blessed Mother to take us through each day ‘safely’. But as Christians, we confront each day with hope, surrender and trust. In Revelations, through our Resurrected Saviour, we are already guaranteed final victory. It reminds us what today’s reading has pointed out — that our God has already conquered not only death, but He has conquered this sinful world.

Christ’s conquest over this world means this:

  • That we learn to lean not on ourselves but on Him
  • That we do not let the spirit of this world oppress us into submission to fear, anger, lust, pride, selfishness, self-sufficiency, injustice and anything else that does not come from the Holy Spirit
  • That we allow the Holy Spirit to take lordship over our feelings and thoughts so that the devil cannot manipulate, deceive and frighten us but learn to trust God’s love and care for us and our loved ones by faith
  • Cling on to God, to faith, to our Blessed Mother and to the Catholic Church even if by your fingernails.

We need to learn, often painfully and very slowly, to shift our focus away from this world and all its problems, pressures and brokenness towards the one who has the power to handle all these things. To allow Christ’s victory over our lives is to say to the devil, “I don’t have the answers to all these problems, obstacles and discouragements you have placed in my path, but I do know the ONE who has all the answers. I am weak, sinful and unworthy but Jesus is almighty, sinless and worthy. And in Him, I too will conquer”.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. This earthly journey often takes us through a valley of tears. There are many big things looming out there that frighten and discourage us. The people around us are difficult, selfish, demanding, unforgiving. Every day is a battle to cling on. And many of us are bone weary. Help us Jesus. Help us, Mother Mary.

Thanksgiving: Father, help us always remember that you are God and we are mere creatures. Thank you for the gift of hope and for binding all the wounds that this sinful world has inflicted on us. For each day that you have led us through and kept us safe, you have done so out of the immensity of your love and care for us. Thank you for giving us your Son and Our Blessed Mother to show us the way to rise above this world and to conquer it.

2 June, Sunday – Will you be ready?

2 June 2019

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Acts 7:55-60

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.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep.

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Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.

The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.

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John 17:20-26

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.’
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Behold, I am coming soon

At the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus rose heavenward, the apostles were literally dumbfounded. If we take a moment to visualize the scene, it can be awe-inspiring and yet perhaps a little humorous when we see the reaction of the apostles. Their jaws must have literally dropped. To be fair, if it were me, I don’t think I would have fared differently. At that scene in Acts 1: 10-11 “… two men in white robes suddenly appeared asking the disciples,  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

In the drama of the Ascension, we may inadvertently think that it’s all about Jesus returning to the Father and it may be easy to miss the more poignant, salvific event — that the Lord will one day return. It is the Second Coming of Christ that we need to be vigilant about. The Second Coming of Christ will signal the end times, the final judgement, the final battle between evil and good, death and resurrection. It will also be the time when the victory of Christ will be final and complete. There will be that historic end-time event or when Christ comes to us at the end of our own personal journey. Regardless when, whether it be to all of humanity or just to us at our own appointed end time, it will come.

The reaction of those around Stephen at his martyrdom also tells a lot about how unprepared many, if not most of us, would be when Christ comes again. How many of us would similarly ‘cover our ears’ when discipleship gets too demanding, or truth gets too inconvenient or God’s will gets in the way of our own?  Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen. It took an equally dramatic event for Saul’s own conversion to occur when on the road to Damascus. That conversion was also part of the salvific plan of God for Paul, who then went on to become one of the, if not, the greatest instrument of evangelization by which God calls His people to know Him, to love Him and to be ready for the day of reckoning when we will all, bar none, come face to face with Him.

Are we ready now? If not, will we be ready? If not, when will we want to be ready? Will we be able to respond as the Psalmist did to Christ when he said, “Yes, I am coming soon”. Can we too say, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus. I am ready!”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father help us. Keep us focused on what is truly important – your will that we all become One as you are one with the Father. How often we fail to know the truth of our oneness with God for we are often lost in the midst of our divisions, our sin and indifference to the eternal truth that we are your children created by You, to be one with you.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for never giving up on us. For you hold on to your oneness with us despite our failure to hold on to our oneness with you. Prepare us for when your Son returns and help us to be ready to say, Come Lord Jesus, we are ready. We are one.