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Traditions and BeliefsDiscussions about local culture, ethnicity, superstition, urban myth, custom, or anything related to traditions and beliefs.
16 FRIDAY M A R C H
Psalm 81:6-8, 8-9,
10-11, 14, 17
the kingdom of
heaven upon our
death, but the
kingdom of God
starts here on earth.
I love You, Lord.
Show me the way
to let others know I
love them, too.
St. Abban, abbot,
pray for us.
KINGDOM BUILT ON LOVE
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind and with
all your strength. – Mark 12:30
My dear friend Jed died at a young age from
a terminal disease. I wrote him a letter and
now I wish to share with you a part of it.
One of the things that I firmly believe in
since I became a Christian is that every single
thing that happens in life is part of God’s plan.
Do you know what the final goal of such a
plan is? He wants us to build a community
filled with love for Him and for each other.
Take your sickness, for example. It may be a
burden, but through it, what do you receive?
Not accusations or condemnations, but only
forgiveness, love and unconditional support
from your loved ones. Surprise! What you
actually have is heaven on earth! We might
not have the perfect conditions they have in
heaven, but we do have the perfect love to
transform us. You hold the key to making all
Yes, even with all our imperfections, our
bickering, our hardships, and our sufferings,
we can still claim that we are living in God’s
kingdom. All it takes is for each of us to love
God and to show our love for each other. It’s
that simple. Really. Cecille L.
NO GREATER COMMANDMENT
What Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says is probably the most important
Scripture passage among the Jews. It states, “Hear, O Israel: The
Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
It is known as the Shema, literally “Hear!” from the first word of
the verses. These passages are so important that Jews write these
on small sheets of paper and roll them to fit in crevices on top of
windows and doors—to remind them of their obligation to love God
in every place they go to. They place those papers in tiny
phylacteries and hang them on their foreheads and sleeves of their
gowns to remind themselves that they need to always call to mind
those most important passages in the Torah.
Jesus, however, adds another dimension, that of love for
neighbor as one loves himself. He reiterates by saying, “There is
no other commandment greater than these.” Indeed these two
commandments should go hand in hand.
No one on earth has seen God. So how can this love for an
invisible God be made more concrete? By loving our neighbor.
We can never really claim that our love for God is true and real
unless we are able to love our brothers and sisters.
This is precisely the reason why in one of Christ’s teachings he
mentions how a man who is about to offer something to God in the
temple and who remembers that he has done something wrong to a
brother should first reconcile with that brother before he continues
with his oblation. His offering will be devoid of any meaning unless
he loves his fellow human being on whom God’s image is imprinted.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are our offerings pleasing to God?
Embrace me in Your love and may I learn to embrace others in the same way.
Fr. Sandy V. E.
The two fundamental bases of the life of holiness are love of God and love of neighbor.
Every other law is dependent upon these two. St. Alphonsus Ligouri even reduces it purely to love of God when he says, “Love God and do what you please!” This is perfectly good advice as
if we love God and allow that love to be the basis of everything we do, then all that we do
will be pleasing to God precisely because it is done out of love for Him!
G O S P E L
28 One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them
disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?” 29 Jesus replied, “The first
is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is LORD alone! 30 You shall
love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all
your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall
love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater
than these.” 32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in
saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 33 And ‘to love him with
all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to
love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and
sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding,
he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one
dared to ask him any more questions.
Hosea knows the truth – it is only God who can save Israel from its enemies. The
same is still true today. God is the only one who can save us from our sins. There are
times when we look elsewhere for salvation and get caught up in various forms of selfhelp
and mere human techniques to manipulate our world. These can be helpful to a
point, but ultimately we must go back to the grace of God if we want victory over sin and
2 Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through
your guilt. 3 Take with you words, and return to the LORD; say to him,
“Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as
offerings the bullocks from our stalls. 4 Assyria will not save us, nor shall
we have horses to mount; we shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of
our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.” 5 I will heal their
defection, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.
6 I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; he shall
strike root like the Lebanon cedar, 7 and put forth his shoots. His splendor
shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
8 Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; They shall blossom
like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
9 Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I
will prosper him. ‘I am like a verdant cypress tree’ — because of me you
bear fruit! 10 Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is
prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just
walk, but sinners stumble in them.
P S A L M
Psalm 81:6-8, 8-9, 10-11, 14, 17
R: I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
5  An unfamiliar speech I hear: 6  “I relieved his shoulder
of the burden; his hands were freed from the basket. 7  In distress
you called, and I rescued you.” (R) Unseen, I answered you in
thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 8  Hear, my people, and I
will admonish you; O Israel, will you not hear me? (R) 9  There shall be
no strange god among you nor shall you worship any alien god.
10  I, the LORD, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt.
(R) 13  If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways,
16  I would feed with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I
would fill them.” (R)
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire...” – Hebrews 10:5
“They’re not my friends. They’re just my brothers and sisters.”
You can almost imagine a messy puddle forming quickly on the floor as sarcasm drips from every word that Harold spoke. Who was he referring to with such bitterness and scorn? His “leaders and co-members” in community.
You see, as most wounded souls go, Harold sought refuge in a community of men and women he believed would help him with his struggles. In his case, he wanted to pry himself from the grip of his homosexual activities. At the onset, he felt secure given the warmth and friendliness that the members showed during the open seminar. Yet as he slowly revealed to them his true self in the months that followed: his effeminate mannerisms, his preferences, his escapades – people gradually gravitated away from him. On several occasions, he even overheard some mimicking his manner of speaking. He ended up leaving the community.
Our Gospel today encourages us to be mindful of what we consider sacrifice and offering. When someone starts to consider us just as a brother or sister and not a real friend, we’re in trouble. We’re probably too focused on the externals and have forgetten to genuinely love. Remember, a brother or sister should care more than a friend. Roy M.
Who are the least of the brothers and sisters who need your support now?
For the times that I failed to show support and instead judged, forgive me, Lord.
HEAVEN AVAILABLE AGAIN
Today, we commemorate the beginning of another chapter in the story of humanity—the moment when heaven was again made available to man. In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed
to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. Thus the story begins. Now it goes on to say that after hearing the wonderful message of the angel, Mary allowed it to be done to her according to God’s word. Now man’s fate has been changed, the Redeemer has been made one like us and was conceived in the womb of Mary to eventually bring to completion the plan of the Father for humanity.
I just cannot imagine how elated Mary must have been at being chosen to receive such a wonderful privilege from God. That singular grace surely strengthened her faith in the benevolence of God—a lowly servant like her has been chosen to become a major player in man’s salvation history. Her constant communion with God and her life of perfect fidelity to His will truly made her life an exemplar in Christian living.
But Mary’s faith was put to test several times. The angel said that the Son that she would bear would be called the Son of the Most High. But that Son was born in a cave and was laid in a manger. The angel said that the Lord God would give to him the throne of his father David but he worked most of his life in a lowly village as a carpenter. The angel said that he would reign over the house of Jacob for ever but he was raised not on a magnificent and royal throne but on the cross of humiliation. Surely Mary struggled with all these realities that she had come to witness in her Son. But in all these she never wavered in her faith. She still believed in the words that the angel gave her and held on to them until the very last minute, even when her Son was laid on her lap after being brought down from the cross.
Life gives us a lot of things that will surely shatter our faith. But we need to know that our Blessed Mother has been through all those experiences even before us. She held on and did not flinch a bit. So must we do the same if we are to expect the same justification that Mary received in the hands of God. She has been called blessed by all generations then, indeed until now and forever. Fr. Sandy V. E.
REFLECTION QUESTION: When things don’t go your way, do you persevere?
We look to Jesus and to Mary as examples, Lord, of endurance. Thank You for
giving them to us.
St. Margaret of Clitherow, pray for us.
God has always sought to bring salvation to His people in many and varied ways. Here we have the promise of deliverance from a besieging army within the next nine months. As such, the Fathers of the Church, as well as Matthew the Gospel author, have seen in this prophecy something foreshadowing the role of Mary in the work of salvation. Whether it is the literal or prophetic meaning of the text that we reflect upon, let us pray that we will have the faith of Mary to say, “Yes” to whatever God asks us to do for him.
10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” 12 But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” 13 Then he said: “Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God? 14 Therefore the LORD himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
P S A L M
Psalm 40:7-8, 8-9, 10, 11
R: Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
6  Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; 7  then said I, “Behold I come. (R) In the written scroll it is prescribed for me. 8  To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!” (R) 9  I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know. (R) 10  Your justice I kept not hid within my heart; your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of; I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly. (R)
Obedience is far better than holocaust or sacrifice because true obedience comes from the heart and indicates that the work of salvation is in progress. It must have been difficult for the Jews to fully understand this given their focus on blood sacrifices in the Temple. In just the same way it can be difficult for us to accept that God offers us salvation as a free gift given our focus on earning respect and what we have. Let us pray for the grace to vercome our pride and arrogance of thinking that we could be able to save ourselves through our own actions.
4 It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. 5 For this reason, when he came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. 7 Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.’” 8 First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. 9 Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
G O S P E L
Mary is probably the best scriptural example of complete obedience. Other figures, David, Abraham, Moses etc, all have their moments of disobedience. Mary, however, is a picture of perfect surrender to God in every aspect of the meaning of the Word. Let us look to her life and seek to imitate her obedience and surrender as this will put us firmly on the path to eternal life.
26 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
think: Obedience is far better than holocaust or sacrifice because true obedience comes from the heart and indicates that the work of salvation is in progress.
Saint Matilda, born during the late ninth century, was the daughter of a German count. She was betrothed to a nobleman named Henry. When Henry became king, Matilda lived a simple lifestyle. The new queen devoted her time in daily prayer. She comforted and cared for the sick, helped prisoners, and reached out to those in need.
King Henry loved his wife very much. He allowed her to use the treasures of the kingdom for her charities. After twentythree years of marriage, the King died in 936. Saint Matilda grieved for her loss. Thus, she decided to live the rest of her life for God and in practice of charity and penance. To express her sincerity, the Queen gave the jewels she was wearing to the priest who celebrated mass for the soul of King Henry.
One mistake the Queen committed was when she favored her son Henry more than her son Otto in their struggle to succeed the throne. She was repentant. In consequence, Matilda whole-heartedly accepted the sufferings that came her way.
Saint Matilda died in 968. Her body was buried beside her husband.
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Saint Julian of Antioch
Julian of Antioch, or Julian of Anazarbus, was born during the early 4th century in Anazarbus, Cilicia. Julian served as a senatorial rank under Diocletian. He was one of the Christians who suffered under his persecution. According to reports, the saint was subjected to brutal punishments. For the entire year, he was paraded daily. And to end the torture, Julian was sewn up in a sack half-filled with scorpions and vipers, and was thrown into the sea to drown. Antioch claimed that the remains of the saint were recovered and enshrined in the city s basilica.
“We are disgusted with this wretched food!” – Numbers 21:5
The mere fact that we are able to wake up each morning is already such a blessing beyond compare; it is a miracle.
Just how blessed are we indeed to be able to bathe ourselves with hot and cold running water (while others have to fetch for it), to have food on the table during breakfast (while others still have to look for what to eat the next day), to have a car to bring us to our work place (while others have to walk a mile or two to reach their destination), to be in an airconditioned room while we work (while others have to toil amidst sunshine and rain), to have hot meals for lunch (while others have no choice but to eat whatever is available), to be able to take power naps and coffee breaks (while others don’t have this kind of luxury), to have dinner with the family and watch TV as we recline and call it a day (while others don’t even have a TV so they go ahead and sleep the night away to wake up to another day).
How blessed are we really. So, let’s count our blessings instead of complaining. Henry Y.
Have you counted your blessings today?
For the times we grumble and fail to praise You, forgive us.
Remember John 3:18 where Jesus said, “Whoever does not believe has already been condemned”? Well, the truth is, Jesus doesn’t need to judge us anymore. By our rejection of His grace and love, and our refusal to be converted and to believe in Him as the Light of the World, we already bring judgment upon ourselves.
Jesus does not condemn. Even the Last Judgment scenario in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25) shows this truth clearly. It’s our selfish acts that bring us judgment and condemnation. But Jesus came that we may have life, and have it to the full.
In order for us to attain this life, He provides us with means to find our way to his life that He offers. He bids us to walk in the light. But as the third chapter of John records, human beings love darkness. Even if the light came into the world, they preferred darkness because their works were evil (John 3:19). So again, it’s not Jesus but our acts that bring us condemnation.
In contrast, we, who by believing in Jesus are given a reprieve from the punishment due our sins, are prone to judging others. And not only do we judge them quickly, most of the time, we base our judgment on appearances. This happens when we continue to live in darkness.
But today, our Lord calls on us to believe in Him as the light of the world and the light of our lives. That means following Him and not walking in the darkness of sin, ignorance, selfishness and unbelief again.
This way, our lives would become living testaments to the life and the Gospel of Jesus, and to the One who sent him — His Father in heaven. Fr. Toni N.
REFLECTION QUESTION: In what way have I experienced Jesus as the Light of the World and the Light of life?
Lord, be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Let me never walk in darkness
The Old Testament has a very simple message of reward and punishment for the things that we do or fail to do. Fiery serpents have been set loose in the Israelite camp because of their sin and grumbling – their lack of faith and trust in God. Moses, the great intercessor, has gone before God and received the promise that those who look upon the standard that he makes will be healed. This echoes the New Testament understanding that all who look upon Christ lifted up on the cross will be healed of their sins.
4 From Mount Hor they set out on the Red Sea road, to by pass the land of Edom. But with their patience worn out by the journey, 5 the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” 6 In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, 8 and the LORD said to Moses, “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover.” 9 Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
P S A L M
Psalm 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
R: O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
1  O LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. 2  Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily. (R) 15  And the nations shall revere your name, O LORD, and all the kings of the earth your glory, 16  when the LORD has rebuilt Zion and appeared in his glory; 17  when he has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer. (R) 18  Let this be written for the generation to come, and let his future creatures praise the LORD. 19  “The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, 20  To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.”
G O S P E L
Jesus is in confrontation mode with the Jewish leaders. He is not going to take a step back and compromise what He knows to be true. Sometimes it is essential that we have the same fortitude as Jesus when it is a moral principle at sake. Giving in to something that we know to be wrong is never the right thing to do – it is a betrayal of the truth, a betrayal of all that Jesus stands for in the Gospel.
21 He said to them again, “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he? Because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. 24 That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. 28 So Jesus said [to them], “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30 Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
think: Giving in to something that we know to be wrong is never the right thing to do – it is a betrayal of the truth, a betrayal of all that Jesus stands for in the Gospel.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will really be free.” – John 8:36
A friend of mine — let’s call her Natasha — shared a secret with me. She made me promise not to tell anyone because she wasn’t ready to share yet. I gave her my promise, and I did keep her secret. For a while, that is. Because when a mutual friend of ours asked me about it, I automatically told him the truth because I assumed Natasha had told him too.
At first I pretended that it didn’t happen. They were friends anyway, so I figured Natasha wouldn’t mind.
Another big mistake.
After a while, Natasha forgave me, but I was having a hard time believing that she had.
I always have the same reaction whenever I sin. I know all about the consequences of sin and yes, also forgiveness. However, when I sin, I feel only either apathy or guilt — two emotions I don’t like. And when time comes that I ask forgiveness from God, I still can’t shake the feeling of guilt or lose the echoes of “you should have known better” in my mind. I feel like God keeps a record of my sins up there and when I die, it would all be dished out on me.
That’s my biggest mistake. Tina M.
Do you know that the Son has set you free?
Help me learn to forgive myself more easily, because I know that You have forgiven me and set me free.
Watch practically all of the TV commercials today and you’ll see just about every lie that the world dictates we should accept as truth. One commercial promotes a shampoo that would help one have shiny hair to look good. Another, a lotion for white flawless skin, again, to look good. And another one, a certain drink to have a lean body, then again, to look good. So how do those commercials make you feel as you look at yourself? They make you feel bad for they are actually telling you that unless you are not what the world wants you to look you are ugly. Now tell me if that is not a lie.
Jesus in today’s Gospel makes a connection between truth and freedom. He says that unless we know the truth we will not experience freedom. But what is the truth? Truth according to Jesus is abiding in God’s word. And we know that God’s word helps us see through the deceptions of the world. The world says that life is short so we need to enjoy it in any way we can, so we go partying and consuming our own lives with ephemeral things. But Jesus says life is indeed short but there is a life that awaits us in the next that is eternal so we need to make use of this life to attain that everlasting life. The world dictates that the only ones blessed are the beautiful. So we give in to all forms of vanity and pamper ourselves with all sorts of products to make ourselves look better. But God says everyone has an imprint of His image in him and as such all are beautiful in his eyes. The world says blessed are the rich, so we do just about anything, even step on other people along the way, to reach the top of the financial ladder. But God says that it would be easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. The world dictates that the world is ruled over by the learned so we enrich ourselves with all the knowledge that this world can provide even if it means selling ourselves out. But Jesus says He is thankful to the Father that God’s wisdom has been revealed by Him to the dumb instead of the learned.
The world can provide illusions. Unfortunately some of us have been held captive in such illusory world. But Jesus offers us a way out of it. He gives us His word, and His words are truth. And indeed, only such truth shall set us free. Fr. Sandy V. E.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you beautiful?
I am beautiful, I am loved, I am forgiven by the mercy of God. – St. Catherine.
The three faithful men are not about to throw away their principles for the sake of their lives. This is an extremely honorable position to take as death by fire cannot be a very comfortable way to die! However, God decides to stand beside the three in the midst of the fire and they are protected, leading to a semi-conversion of Nebuchadnezzar. It is in the fires of testing that our faith is purified; it is in the same place that our witness to God is the strongest!
14 King Nebuchadnezzar said: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? 15 Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God that can deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! 18 But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.” 19 Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual 20 and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the whitehot furnace. 24  King Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Assuredly, O king,” they answered. 25  “But”, he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like an angel.” 28  Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
P S A L M
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
R: Glory and praise for ever!
29 [Dan 3:52] “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; and blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.” (R) 30 [Dan 3:53] “Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.” (R) 31 [Dan 3:54] “Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” (R) 32 [Dan 3:55] “Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” (R) 33 [Dan 3:56] “Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever.” (R)
G O S P E L
The Word of God is the true home of a disciple of Jesus. The first place that we will look for answers to the questions of life should be the Word of God. The first place we turn for consolation should be the same. It is in the Word of God that all that is necessary for the sake of our salvation is revealed to us. Let us not ignore such a wonderful source of grace for our salvation.
31 Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. 36 So if a Son frees you, then you will truly be free. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. 38 I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” 39 They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, “We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
think: It is in the fires of testing that our faith is purified.
Saint Heribert of Cologne was the son of Duke Hugo of Worms. He was born in Worms, Germany in 970. The young Heribert was educated in the monastery at Gorze in Lorraine. On his return home, he was given a canonry then was ordained priest. Heribert was active in both secular and church affairs, such that in 994, he became chancellor to King Otto III and in 998, archbishop of Cologne.
As imperial chancellor, he accompanied Otto III to Italy. He was with the king until his death at Paterno. Saint Heribert was not in good conditions with the successor of the throne, King Henry II. But in the end, the new king learned to acknowledge the saint s wisdom and uprightness that he too appointed him his chancellor.
As archbishop and pastor of his flock, Saint Heribert divided his income between the church and the poor, keeping only what was enough to provide for his own needs. The archbishop, even during his lifetime, was already looked upon as a saint. He was an active peacemaker and was known to have performed miracles.
It was reported that during a severe drought, the bishop invoked rain. This caused a heavy rainfall to end the drought. The archbishop also built the Benedictine monastery at Deutz and was reputed for maintaining a strict clerical discipline.
Saint Heribert died on March 16, 1021 in Cologne, Germany and was canonized in 1075 by Pope Gregory VII.
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Saint Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy Israelite owner of tin mines during the first century. He was a disciple of Jesus but remained undeclared because of his fear of the Jews.
After the Lord s crucifixion, Joseph requested from Pontius Pilate that he get the Body of Jesus. With the help of Nicodemus, he wrapped His Body in fine linen and grave bands and laid it in his tomb.
The feast of Saint Joseph of Arimathea is celebrated by the Greek Church on July 31 and by the Roman Church on March 17.
On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant... – Genesis 17:9
Way back in college, we had this requirement in Basic Accounting to submit a fully accomplished Practice Set. A Practice Set is a compilation of different accounting documents. We were tasked to perform an actual recording of transactions based on these documents and prepare financial statements. The Practice Set formed part of our final grade.
Doing the Practice Set was not that easy but it was manageable. I was able to finish it ahead of schedule and my classmates knew that. Some of them would ask for my help in solving the problems they encountered while doing the Practice Set. However, there was this one classmate of mine who wanted to copy everything that I did. I refused.
She resented me for that.
To be able to get a passing mark, one has to work for it. The professor cannot give us a good grade if we do not do our part. God made a covenant with the Israelites. He told them what He would do for them (Genesis 17:4-8) if they kept their part of the bargain also and that was to keep His covenant. Are we doing our part? Judith C.
What can you do today to make a difference?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death” (Jn 8:51).The guarantee of everlasting life for anyone who believes in Him is a constant theme in Jesus’ teaching. As Christians we all know that the moment we receive Christ we are already assured of life eternal. But life that has no end is not just something that can be confirmed when we pass from this life to the next. There are human experiences on earth that are clear proofs that when we keep the word of God we really gain life. Take the issue of forgiveness for example. Haven’t you noticed how those who refuse to forgive suffer some sort of “death”? I met a man who came to me after being released from prison a few years back. He said the first years inside the prison were the most difficult—not because of the seclusion, but because during all those times he had nothing in his heart but hatred and evil plans against the ones responsible for his wrongful incarceration. And that somehow made his life really miserable. Can you imagine living your life with nothing but hatred in your heart? That must really be very difficult—for the person himself and the ones around him. When his moment of conversion came—when he heeded Jesus’ exhortation, he said, “I started to live again when I decided to forgive.”
The same is experienced by someone who refuses to listen to Jesus’ words regarding storing riches on earth. A principle that is characterized by accumulation where one is out to acquire as much as he can get is a recipe for a difficult life. For much of his supposed life he would just find ways how to protect what he has stored for himself. Can you imagine living a life in constant fear of people who may be out to get what you say you have worked so hard to accumulate? There would definitely be sleepless nights just worrying about how to set your security measures. A wonderful and liberating life can only be possible if one goes by the norm of Christ whose principle is radical sharing “where no man dares to have too much while others have too little, where every man must get only to give away” (W. Barclay).
Jesus’ words provide us with ways how to attain life. Heed his commands and you will surely and really live. Fr. Sandy V. E.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you truly living?
Teach me Lord to live life to the full and to never experience death.
The change in name of Abram to Abraham is already a sign that the salvation that God will eventually bring to the earth in His Son, Jesus, is not just salvation for the Jews, but salvation for all people. How do we see this? Simply by looking at the name change for ‘father of a (singular)’ nation to ‘father of the (many) nations’. It could not be any simpler than that!
3 When Abram prostrated himself, God continued to speak to him: 4 “My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. 5 No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. 6 I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings shall stem from you. 7 I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.” 9 God also said to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”
P S A L M
Psalm 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R: The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
4 Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. 5 Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered. (R) 6 You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! 7 He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail. (R) 8 He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations — 9 which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac. (R)
G O S P E L
The only true glory is the glory attached to the Kingdom of God. After all, if we are not ultimately members of the Kingdom of God, our life is going to be totally devoid of all glory that matters. So many people today seek the acclaim of others and the glory of the world. This is all passing away and ultimately meaningless. The only thing that matters is whether or not we are preparing ourselves for life in the Kingdom of God.
51 “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” 52 [So] the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
think: The only true glory is the glory attached to the Kingdom of God.
I have thrown many rocks in my life. Worse, I have thrown them at Jesus and the people around me. And even at myself.
My big rocks include not trusting God enough during the hard times, dislodging Him from the driver’s seat of my life, not obeying His will, not loving and caring for my family as I should, and sometimes not trying hard enough to reach out to those who may be in need. Oh, yes, rocks of pride, too... lots of it. I have medium-sized rocks, too, like not being faithful to my friendship with God, or talking about other people behind their backs, being too critical and judgmental of them, or not being a good steward of God’s resources. Carelessly, I have thrown many tiny rocks, like telling white lies and not fulfilling my promises and commitments.
The rocks may be big, medium-sized, or tiny ones, but they can hurt the people they’re thrown at. I shudder at how much hurt I have caused Jesus. By now, He could be bruised all over with the great number of rocks I’ve thrown at Him. Still, He continues to endure them for the love of me, always waiting for me to offer Him a bouquet of good deeds instead of rocks! TessVA.
What are your rocks?
Lord, please help me to restrain myself from throwing rocks – at Jesus, at other people, at myself.
Why do some Christians choose to remain silent while there are so many bad things happening around them? We are aware that the challenge for us is to speak against the evils of this world so that evil may not flourish. But most of us still find it difficult to do because we know what happens to those who choose to become prophets. Most of the prophets of old died a martyr’s death. And we just wouldn’t want to play along those dangerous lines.
A factory worker discovered an anomaly in their company. He was surprised to find out that some of his closest friends were involved in it. He immediately called the attention of his friends out of concern for them. But they took offense of him for his supposed holier than thou attitude. He was ostracized by his friends to the point of losing their friendship entirely.
A group of teenagers decided to have some clean fun. But one of them suggested that they ought to become more adventurous and daring that time. He suggested they go to a girly bar. Through that person’s prodding all of them agreed except for one who said it’s not right. Quite suddenly, although expectedly, he’s been regarded as “uncool” by his friends. Prophets have to put up with ill-treatments from others despite the fact that they are doing the good thing.
Jesus said to the Jews, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?” (Jn 10:32). All of us know that Jesus did nothing but good works, but he was still persecuted. Nonetheless that did not stop him from pursuing still what is right. He kept on performing miracles and speaking against the iniquities of this world.
Looking at what Christ did, we know that even if he suffered for what he did that is still the right thing to do. The Father vindicated Christ. Like Christ, Christians need not be discouraged in engaging in works of a prophet. For we know that that is the essence of our faith—to reflect the light of Christ in our life that people may be drawn to a life of holiness. Persecutions may come but God will surely vindicate us in the end. Fr. Sandy V. E.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you ready to stand up for the truth?
Strengthen my resolve, Lord, to do Your will.
St. Zosimus, bishop, pray for us.
Jeremiah struggled against many persecutors for much of his ministry as a prophet. He grumbled and complained about his lot in life but was always faithful to the command of the Lord. God is not really interested in whether or not we like what He asks us to do. He is interested in our obedience to His Word. Let us pray that we can overcome any reluctance to follow His will through knowing that it is through obedience that we will inherit the gift of eternal life.
10 I hear the whisperings of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce! Let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. “Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.” 11 But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. 12 O LORD of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. 13 Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!
P S A L M
Psalm 18: 2-3, 3-4, 5-6, 7
R: In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
1  I love you, O LORD, my strength, 2  O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. (R) My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! 3  Praised be the LORD, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies. (R) 4  The breakers of death surged round about me, the destroying floods overwhelmed me; 5  the cords of the nether world enmeshed me, the snares of death overtook me. (R) 6  In my distress I called upon the LORD and cried out to my God; from his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. (R)
G O S P E L
Jesus seems to be able to elude the Jews when He needs to. I think that this is part of John’s literary plan demonstrating that Jesus will submit to His Passion and Death when the time is right. This is not yet the case, so Jesus eludes capture and stoning. There are times and seasons of grace in our own lives. Let us seek to be attentive to them and embrace them when they come as the gifts from God that they are leading us deeper into relationship with him.
31 The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, I said, ‘You are gods’? 35 If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; 38 but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize [and understand] that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 [Then] they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. 40 He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. 41 Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” 42 And many there began to believe in him.
think: God is not really interested in whether or not we like what He asks us to do. He is interested in our obedience to His Word.
I pity those girls named Martha. It’s not only Martha Stewart that has given them a bad name (no pun intended), but even the Gospel of today has given them the reputation of not being prayerful, of being petty, of being envious! Not to mention having chosen the lesser portion.
Well, I am a Martha. And happy to be one, I might add. I’m the type you’ll see more on her feet than on her knees. I’ll most likely be carving the turkey (or chopping the lechon, to be more Filipino about it) rather than being the hostess with the listening ear.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t pray. I find that the service that I do is my love language. And what is prayer if not a dialogue of love? However, I do know that being a Martha has its downside… just as being a Mary does, too. As a Martha I have to accept that my strength is in execution and that one of my weaknesses is being resentful of those who reap the glory of being in the limelight. More and more, though, I’ve begun to realize that if being in the background suits me more, then what have I to be envious for? Ever since, I’ve just been happy to have been created Martha. Victoria L.
Martha, Martha, Martha. Stop. Know who you really are and accept that person. Let Mary be Mary.
When the Martha in me screams for attention, Lord, calm me with a whispered reminder to stop… even just for a moment… to recall that I am happy to be doing what I do. That little rest is enough Mary for me.
EXAMINING OUR REACTIONS TO EVENTS
Sometimes the truest reaction we have to a situation, the one that reflects our attitudes and feelings the best, is the initial one. This initial reaction is often unreflected and indicative of our present state of heart. As such it can provide insight into where our heart is as regards our relationships with God and others. In today’s Gospel we see in Judas’ reaction (to the anointing of Jesus with a very costly ointment) an indication that his heart is far from where it should be as a disciple of Jesus.
Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus tells us that where our hearts are, there we will follow, indicating the need to be attentive to the state of heart as it can easily lead us astray. Jeremiah the prophet confirms this when he informs the Israelites that our hearts are deceitful above all other things. We often hear in the common wisdom of many cultures of the fickle nature of the human heart.
We have begun our walk with Jesus in the final days of His life. It is important that we examine the state of our hearts in case they need purification through repentance and conversion in order that we may more worthily celebrate His resurrection from the dead on Easter Day. Holy Week should be a time of deep and honest reflection on the state of our relationship with Jesus and whether or not there are aspects of it that we need to change. Jesus Himself calls us all to a deeper conversion and commitment to the Gospel so that the grace of salvation He offers us will be let loose in our lives more fully to bring about deeper conversion and transformation. This process is at the heart of the Gospel and a necessary aspect of our lives. If we are not moving forward in our relationship with God, then we are neglecting the responsibilities of our faith. Let us choose to open our hearts more fully to God at this time and to surrender more deeply to Him our hearts, our dreams and our desires. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: What area of my life do I need to surrender more deeply to Jesus?
Father, You sent Jesus to redeem me from my sins. Help me to turn away from sin and back to You this Easter.
St. Mary of Egypt, hermitess, pray for us.
One of the most admirable qualities in any person, if they have it, is mercy. Isaiah speaks about ‘someone’ who ‘does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.’ He refers to the person, struggling in their life and faith, and tells us that the ‘servant of God’ will minister to this person respecting their fragility and ensuring that nothing is done to damage them further. This is the way that God ministers His love to us. It does not mean that He will not challenge us if necessary but that all He does will be for our ultimate benefit.
1 Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, 2 not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, 4 until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. 5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spreads out the earth with its crops, who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it. 6 I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
P S A L M
Psalm 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
R: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? (R) 2 When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies themselves stumble and fall. (R) 3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust. (R) 13 I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. (R)
G O S P E L
There is never a time when we can legitimately say that we do not have an opportunity to put our faith into action. Jesus tells us that the poor are always with us. This clearly places before us the challenge to see that we exercise our faith in such a way that we recognize their cry for help. Faith without action is dead. Faith with action proclaims the truth of God’s love unequivocally to an unbelieving world.
1 Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. 3 Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 4 Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, 5 “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” 6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. 7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 [The] large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, 11 because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
think: Faith with action proclaims the truth of God’s love unequivocally to an unbelieving world.
Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” – John 13:37
I once had a framed cross-stitch work that hung above my office desk. It said, “Christ died for me. I live for Him.” It was a succinct testament to what my life should be. It was also a blatant reminder of how I should live day by day.
I came to the conclusion that it would have been much easier if it had said, “Christ died for me. I will die for Him.”
Dying is a one-time event. In fact, our faith teaches that “red martyrs”— those who shed blood because of their belief in the Lord — go straight to heaven. Few Christians in our day and age would be called to witness to our faith in this way.
Most of us are called to be “white martyrs”— to exchange our comforts for the cause of the Gospel. It may mean giving up a well-paying job to serve in a ministry full-time. It may be donating a large chunk to charity. Or it may be overcoming our fear of rejection or stage fright to talk to others about the faith. Whatever it is, it’s not a one-shot deal but something that we do day-to-day.
Peter didn’t fully understand what it meant to lay down his life for Christ. That’s why, not long after he had made his bold proclamation, he was denying that he even knew Him. But Peter was quick to learn. And in his lifetime, he made up for those times that he failed Christ. In the end, he even died a red martyr’s death. Rissa S.
How can I live for Christ today?
Dear Jesus, teach me to exchange my temporary comforts for Your eternal cause. Amen.
WELL-MEANING INTENTIONS ARE NOT ENOUGH
We have all probably heard the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” We would do well to reflect upon it for a moment this Easter. Far be it for me to accuse anyone of anything in this regard as I am probably among the biggest subscribers to the Association of Those Who Have Many Good Intentions but Fail to Carry Them Out!
It is all very well to intend to good, like Peter in today’s Gospel, but, as they say, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating!’ In other words, have we the courage and commitment to see the good intention through to the end in the right way?
The moral teaching of the Church is that for an act to be morally good there are three necessary requirements – if one of them is lacking then the action as a whole lacks moral goodness. The three requirements are that the act be objectively good; that intention be subjectively good and that the circumstances for the act be appropriate or suitable. For example, it would be entirely inappropriate to have a lavish birthday celebration in the midst of extreme poverty without giving proper attention to the plight of the poor first.
However, we want to focus here on the transformation of an intention into reality. It is easy to intend to do well; it is far more difficult to actually do well! It is in this process that we discover the level of commitment of an individual to his/her faith and their willingness to make the necessary sacrifices in order to see their intentions through to the end.
It was not easy for Jesus to accept that the Father was calling for Him to die on a cross. We will reflect upon Jesus’ anguish at the decision He had to make to submit to His father’s will on Friday. It is this sort of commitment that we are called to embrace every day as we seek to bring to fruition the call God has on our lives. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: How committed am I to bringing to fruition my intentions and the plans God has for me in my life?
Lord Jesus, help me to walk with You in Your Passion to be able to draw strength from You when I need it most in my own struggles.
St. Nicetas, abbot, pray for us.
Sometimes men and women of faith are the best-kept secret of the Church. What I mean by this is that many people find it difficult to give expression to their faith in such a way that it will be evangelistic. We should be seeking ways to unlock the power available to the Church in the lives of such people by encouraging one another to use the gifts that God has given us to build up the Kingdom of God. Are you and I doing all we can in this regard?
1 Hear me, O islands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. 2 He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. 3 You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. 4 Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. 5 For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! 6 It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
P S A L M
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
R: I will sing of your salvation.
1 In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. 2 In your justice rescue me, and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. (R) 3 Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4 O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. (R) 5 For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth. 6 On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength. (R) 15 My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. 17 O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. (R)
G O S P E L
John 13:21-33, 36-38
The words, ‘Night had fallen,’ seem to have an air of prophecy about them. Judas leaves the room and darkness descends outside. He goes off into the dark to do what he has to do in order to betray Jesus to the authorities. Then Jesus prophecies the denials of Peter. Things are closing in on Jesus. We get a heightened sense that something dramatic is about to occur. The scene is set for the climax of the ministry of Jesus. Let us allow ourselves to feel the tension as we travel with Jesus in His Passion.
21 When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. 23 One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. 24 So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. 25 He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. 27 After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 [Now] none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. 30 So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. 31 When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 [If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. 33 My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.” 36 Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” 37 Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
think: We should be seeking ways to unlock the power available to the Church in the lives of such people by encouraging one another to use the gifts that God has given us to build up the Kingdom of God.
“The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” – Isaiah 50:4
May you be uplifted by these words:
...worried? You are big in God’s Eyes!
Matthew 6:25-26 says, “I tell you, do not worry about your life. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
...bankrupt? You are rich beyond measure!
John 15:5, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”
...tir ed? Find rest in Jesus!
Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
...afraid? You are loved!
1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”
...lost? Find yourself in Jesus!
Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his ways.”
...lonely? You are never alone!
John 16:32, “Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” Arun G.
Say this three or more times every day - “I am special, Jesus loves me.”
Holy Spirit, may I speak words of life to everyone I meet.
ALL SIN IS A BETRAYAL OF GOD’S LOVE
There is always the ever-present danger that we become insensitive to the level of sin in our lives. One pointer to the existence of such an attitude in our hearts and minds is if we find ourselves using the reason, ‘well, everyone else is doing it, so I may do it as well!’ This is a subtle form of insensitivity to sin and it can only lead to greater and more serious sin in the long term.
Sin is an evil thing – it is unjust and it never plays fair. This is why we can never afford to give it any latitude in our lives. Otherwise, we will very uickly find ourselves in a position that is not only untenable morally speaking but outrightly dangerous to our spiritual lives, not to mention the lives of others.
We see in today’s Gospel Judas preparing for an act of outright betrayal of Jesus. Before we become overly judgmental of Judas, let us first look into our own lives and see what sorts of levels of sin exist in our hearts. We may not be deliberately setting out to betray Jesus but any act of sin is a betrayal of His love and forgiveness which He paid for so dearly through the cross.
As we journey with Jesus in His Passion, let us seek the sensitivity to be aware of our sin, so we can act against it and purify our hearts for the upcoming Feast of Easter. Jesus calls us all to holiness and repentance this week. Let us seek out a priest and cleanse our hearts through the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we will be better able to receive and appreciate the grace of salvation God offers us through the Easter celebrations. The essence of holiness is not found in our ability to achieve salvation on our own terms but in our willingness to surrender all to the grace of God and thus appropriate all that Jesus has won for us through His life, death and resurrection which we celebrate at this time. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: How attuned am I to the celebration of Easter this year? Is my mind still caught up in the demands of the world around me or have I been faithful in putting time aside to truly reflect upon the Easter mysteries?
Holy Spirit, come and change my heart so that I will be able to go deeper into the celebration of God’s love for me this Easter.
St. Hildebert, abbot and martyr, pray for us.
Each of us has been given a disciple’s tongue. There is no doubt in my mind that all of us are capable of sharing the Gospel with others. It is not a matter of leaving evangelization up to the experts unless we are going to define an ‘expert’ as anyone who has faith. We have all experienced the power of God at work in our lives. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to share this truth with others.
4 The LORD GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; 5 and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. 6 I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. 7 The LORD GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. 8 He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. 9 See, the LORD GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?
P S A L M
Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
R: Lord, in your great love, answer me.
7  For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. 8  I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons, 9  because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me. (R) 20  Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak, I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for consolers, and not one could I find. 21  Rather they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (R) 30  I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving; 32  See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! 33  For the LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not. (R)
G O S P E L
So often the response of Judas to sin is our response. We deny that we are really in sin; we rationalize that what we are doing is not really ‘sin’ in the real sense of the word. This process is totally under the guidance of the devil. This is exactly what he wants us to do because if we do not recognize something as sin, when it is really sin, we will keep on doing it and consequently keep distance between ourselves and God.
14 One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, 16 and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. 17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.’” 19 The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” 23 He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”
think: Each of us has been given a disciple’s tongue.
Join Jesus This Holy Thursday. Today is Holy Thursday. May you learn from Jesus and wash the "feet of your friends" each day of your life through service and love.
This Thursday, remember that He knows you and loves you.
Praying for you,
OUR WASHING OF THE FEET
“Unless I wash you...” – John 13:8
In our prayer community, we have a very special tradition that we call the “Washing of the Feet.” It involves someone being “washed” by words of affirmation and love, as the community members sit him on a chair, and one by one, tell him about his uniqueness as a person. How he has touched our life. How she has blessed us personally. It is always memorable to watch. There are always lots of tears. Looking at the object of the affirmation, you see so much love. Looking at the giver, you see so much humility. Anyone can live a lifetime on words of love.
I can only imagine the intense love Jesus must have felt that night of the Last Supper. As he rose and took off his outer garments, taking the towel and tying it around his waist... as he poured the water into the basin and washed every dirty foot... as he wiped them all dry, holding them, looking at them. “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand later....”
This set the stage for the ultimate act of love done to mankind.Words of Love. Acts of Love.
Let us dwell on how we can give more of these. Lallaine G.
How loving are my words? How loving are my actions?
Wash me clean Lord! May the River of Living Water flow through me and make me love more and more. Amen.
Let us reflect for a moment on the gift of the Eucharist as we celebrate its institution nearly 2000 years ago. The Vatican Documents teach us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Catholics. As such, the Eucharist ought to be the wellspring from which we draw the strength to live our daily Christian lives. It is also the end to which we direct all our actions as it is the celebration of our salvation.
There is no mystery more profound than that of the Eucharist as meal where we eat Christ’s Body and drink His Blood. How can this be the case? It is part of the mystery of God’s gracious provision for the lives and strength of His people. Through the mystery of transubstantiation, what seems to be bread and wine takes on the reality or essence of the Body and Blood of Christ! We cannot explain this scientifically, but in faith we believe it and partake of it. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is made present to us in a sacramental form and we are able to enter into the mystery of our salvation in a way that is so profound that very few, if any of us, really understand its significance!
The challenge we face today is not so much the challenge to be able to explain this mystery but our willingness to surrender our lives to it. Here lies the essence of holiness: surrender to the grace of God and His power to transform us into His own image and likeness.
When I read the lives of the saints I rarely wonder at the intellectual profundity of their writings; I am far more in awe of their willingness to let their faith and trust in God do the talking and living in their lives. What I mean by this is that the grace of surrender to God in and through faith is a far more important and profound reality than the ability to be able to explain the same in words. In fact, I doubt the latter is even possible to the extent that such an explanation will fully capture the reality of what we mean by our faith response to God. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do I struggle fruitlessly to try and understand the things of faith that are really only understandable through the submission of my mind and heart to my faith?
Lord Jesus, give me the grace to let go of the need to understand and a greater willingness to surrender to the gift of faith.
St. Zeno, martyr, pray for us.
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
The Passover of the Chosen People of God celebrates their deliverance from slavery in Egypt to becoming free citizens in their own land. Unfortunately we are all aware that the Jews continually fell back into all sorts of different slavery, the same as we do today with sin. I wonder when we will ever learn to deny sin a place in our hearts and lives? As we reflect upon the Jewish reality of Passover, let us honor the work the Lord did then, and pray that He will continue to draw the Jewish people to Himself.
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel, “On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. 4 If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. 5 The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. 7 They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. 8 That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. 12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first-born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt — I, the LORD! 13 But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. 14 This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”
P S A L M
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
R: Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
12 How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? 13 The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD. (R) 15 Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones. 16 I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds. (R) 17 To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people. (R)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
St. Paul knows what it is to be entrusted with the Good News. He passes on to others what has been handed to him. This is the essence of tradition – the process by which we maintain what is essential to our faith and keep it alive in the hearts of the faithful. This is not an easy task and requires that we constantly attend to the call to submit our lives to the truths revealed to us and discerned by the Church to be authentic.
23 I received from the LORD what I also handed on to you, that the LORD Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, 24 and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the LORD until he comes.
G O S P E L
I believe that this is one of the most poignant and powerful teachings of Jesus. He demonstrates one of the essences of humility, namely the willingness to lay down His life in the service of others. This is a text that all in leadership should reflect upon often. Without service, leadership is prone to and very quickly becomes a dictatorship. Let us pray that the desire to serve others will always increase in our lives and that we will respond to it often.
1 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, 3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” 11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? 13 You call me ‘teacher’ and’‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. 14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
think: When will we ever learn to deny sin a place in our hearts and lives?
Pedro Calungsod, born in 1655, was a native from the Visayan region of the Philippines. As a young catechist, he joined the Spanish Jesuits in the Ladrones Islands to evangelize the Chamorros.
Many were converted in faith. This brought a Chinese quack, named Choco, to be envious of the prestige of these missionaries. He spread rumors that the water used by the group in baptism was poisonous. Since there were baptized infants who died, many believed Choco and apostatized.
This resulted in the martyrdom of Pedro Calungsod and Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores, the superior of the mission, on April 2, 1672. The two went to the village of Tomhom in the Island of Guam. They were told that a baby was recently born in the village. They asked the infant s father, Matapang, for the infant to be baptized. The man refused because of fear his daughter might die. He sought the help of another villager, Hirao, for them to kill the missionaries. While gone, Padre Diego and Pedro were given permission by the child s mother to baptize her baby. This made Matapang more furious. He and Hirao brutally assassinated the missionaries. Pedro was hit by a spear at the chest in protecting his Superior. Padre Diego, after giving the boy the sacramental absolution, was also killed. Their bodies were thrown into the sea and were never recovered. Pedro Calungsod was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 5, 2000 at St. Peter s Square in Rome.
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Saint Albert of Montecorvino
Saint Albert was born in Normandy in the late 11th century but his family moved to Montecorvino, where he became bishop. Later in life, Albert lost his sight. He was given a coadjutor who treated him with indignity and cruelty. The saint, however, bore all this with patience.
Before he died in 1127 in Apulia, Italy, Albert became known for his visions and miracles.