February 18, 2018/ Sunday
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15
The Temptations of Jesus
As an example to us, Jesus shows us that temptations came to Him just like it comes to us. He allows these to come to us as a means to purify us, as a challenge us to strive for holiness, to strengthen and polish us. “
Blessed is he who endures trial” said St James the Apostle, “for when we have withstood the test, we would be ready for the crown of glory from God.” We need not go through what Jesus did, but it is accepting our difficulties with peace and joy. We need to develop that toughness, savour the hardships, reject the temptation to shortcut, or do away with ethics, or find the easy way out....
“and lead us not into temptation” ....
Let us ask for God’s grace to make us strong, give us the weapons to be fight off this battle with all humility. Let us ask Mama Mary, Refuge of Sinners and the Afflicted, to help us in our journey this Lent.
February 17, 2018/ Saturday
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not called the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
This occasion is when Jesus called Levi, the tax collector, to follow Him. And the Pharisees ask “why He is eating and drinking with sinners?” Jesus calls all of us, He doesn’t choose us by race, color or economic standing. He calls everyone; He looks for us just like the lost sheep. He calls us each time we stray and pulls us back on track.
It is now up to us to take on His challenge, to turn our backs on our weaknesses, and avoid occasions of sin. He asks us to Reconcile with Him by going to the priests, reflect on our lives and be humbled by His call. Reconciliation is the medicine for our ailments; it gives us hope for a new life with Christ. Amen.
February 16, 2018/ Friday
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answers “When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast.”
Fasting is a way of penance, a way of cleansing the mind and body, a way of disciplining ourselves, with all humility as an offering to God. Fasting is good for the body, since it is given time to clean up the toxins,(a way of detoxing) and give rest to the heavy eating we did during the holidays. Eat like a pauper, they say; exercise restraint in our wants and needs, and train the mind over appetite. Maybe it’s about time we do something about our weight...Fast for 40 days, not just on Fridays ....
So during this Lent, let’s do it for Jesus!! We want to look good and feel good when He comes in Easter....fasting on harsh words and thoughts, instead give more praises and kind words; rising earlier to do more chores; smiling through discomfort...finding joy in inconvenience and giving up on the sugar. Amen.
February 15, 2018/ Thursday
Gospel: Lk 9:22-25
“....deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow me!....”
“What does it profit you to gain the whole world, if you destroy or damage yourself.”
The daily cross, not a single day that we do not shoulder the Cross. Many of us carry the Cross in great and difficult challenges: illness in the family, financial problems, death of a loved one. However, these may come in little instances too: an irritable parent, a difficult officemate or boss, traffic in EDSA, the noisy dog of our neighbor....
Sometimes, the Lord gives us loneliness, moments of despair, disappointments...we lose joy when we are bombarded continually with frustrations. Thus we need to know how to face up to these trials beforehand, otherwise we succumb to emotional weakness, physical sickness and mental illness, . . We have our duties and responsibilities to fulfill at home and at work. Let’s not be paralyzed by these. Otherwise we die internally even before we leave this earth.
Let us ask Jesus and Mary to help us in our preparation to follow Him, carrying our Cross each and every single day.
Let’s learn to offer our pain for another person’s intentions; sacrifice a meal for a dear beloved’s illness; deny your daily expensive cup of coffee for a poor homeless person. There’s joy in giving someone else an offering, without him knowing about it.
Let us make a plan for Lent. Let’s build up our armor of courage; our scorecard in heaven will be balanced and in proper order.
February 14, 2018/ / Wednesday
Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
“When you fast, do not put on a gloomy face.”
“A pure heart create in me, O God, put on steadfast spirit within me.”
We enter now the Lenten season, a time for penance and interior renewal to prepare for Easter. The Church calls us to purify our hearts, minds, souls and whole being to begin again.
“Yet even now, return to me with your hearts, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful.”
We sometimes forget that without God, we are nothing. The ashes remind us that we are dust, and we will return to dust. We are reminded to unload our attachment to the things of the earth, abandon sin and return to Him.
We are asked to do penance by fasting and abstinence, frequent confession, mortifications and alms-giving. All these strengthen our spirit as we negate conveniences and physical comfort. These raise our souls to God, as we become closer to Him.
We do not exhibit our sacrifices by displaying a gloomy face while fasting, nor announce our charitable acts, much like hypocrites. But rather we express joy in being cleansed and face the Lord and others, with a peaceful countenance.
Mama Mary, help us look at this Lenten season as a time for change and hope, and still be cheery about it. May we feel the suffering of Jesus as payment for our sins.
February 12, 2018/ Monday
Gospel: Mark 8:11-13
“Why does this generation seek a sign?”
It is a common belief among us to look for a sign, a symbol of hope that the answer to our problem is at hand, or a symbol of doom, a superstition connoting a bad thing will happen like a black cat or a butterfly inside the house (omen for death)....
I personally used to believe that when I see white roses, or receive one, my prayer will be answered. Is this how our faith is proven? Our belief in the Lord strengthened by a physical sign? Wow how shallow! When our prayers are not answered, do we feel like the Lord let us down? These are but humps and detours, temporary at that, which pushes us, challenges us to be more persevering.
What are your moments of unbelief? Why do you turn away from Him during these moments of weakness? Pride? Feeling lost and confused? Discouraged? Doubtful?
The only sign we need is the peace that deep faith produces in us, no matter the outcome of our prayer. In our moments of weakness, “for you, Lord, are my strength.” Knowing and believing in Him, will ultimately give us joy even in moments of sadness.
Mama Mary, help us to be like you, our model of quiet strength, and belief in the Lord.
February 11, 2018 - Sunday
In the time of Jesus, those infected with leprosy were somehow cut off from their community because they were considered unclean. Even so, the leper in our gospel today did not stay where he is. He asked Jesus to heal him if He wanted too. And without hesistation, Jesus touched Him and he was cured!
Too often, when we feel unclean because of our sins, we are ashamed to go to Jesus. But the leper reminds us that it is the time that we are more in need of Him. We can always come to Jesus in confession because He is more than willing to pour His mercy on us, more than willing to touch and embrace what we do not like in ourselves.
Today, we are not only invited to look up to the leper's courage when coming to Jesus even when he feels unclean. More so,we are called to be like Jesus who is always willing to reach out, touch, and embrace people . . . even those who seem hard to love for us.
February 10, 2018 - Saturday
In today's gospel, we are brought to another miracle--Jesus feeds the 4000 who were with Him in a deserted place. This time, Jesus did not wait anyone's cry of hunger. Moved by compassion, He himself takes the initiative to give the people something to eat. And with all that they had--seven loaves and two fish--Jesus was able to feed the crowd.
At times, we struggle in thinking that we are not enough, we cannot give or haven't accomplished anything yet in life. Jesus assures us that in those moments, we need not to look for worldly things or do great shows to feel adequate. Just like how He was with this large crowd, He too, is the one to suffice us with even more than what we need.
Do you have something to offer to Jesus today? Whatever it may be --- whether a grateful or broken heart, affirmations or insecurities, a minute or hours of time, give it to Him. And surely, Jesus would be happy to accept it and bring life through it. For Him, you have always been enough. Trust. He is in charge.
February 9, 2018 - Friday
This was the word Jesus uttered to heal the deaf mute man. The same word that Jesus is inviting us to live by in today's gospel --- be opened!
Jesus became flesh that we may be able to listen to the voice of truth and love and speak this same language. Do we listen to Him in prayer when He says that we are loved? Do we lend our ears to the needs of our brothers and sisters? Do we speak words of encouragement to others?
More than physical impediment, we experience greater infirmity when we refuse to listen Christ and speak His Word. That is why today, just like the man in the gospel, we can allow Jesus to take us away from the crowd and bring us in dialogue with Himso that our hearts may be opened again not just to listen to Him, but to speak of Him as well.
February 8, 2018 - Thursday
In the gospel these days, we have seen Jesus saying or doing something that allows people to foster and demonstrate their faith. Not that He wants to test them, but because He wants them to see and experience by themselves what faith can do.
Today's Good News is another account on this. There was this Greek woman who asked Jesus to take away the demon that possessed her child. But Jesus' answer was "Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." That time, it is usual that the Jews used the expression "dogs" to refer to the Gentiles. And these words might be discouraging for the woman.
BUT, this woman still come to Jesus full of trust not on what He does but on who He is. Full of persistence, she did not stop begging to Jesus. And full of humility, she willed to accept even the food scraps offered to her. Amazed by the woman's disposition, Jesus healed her child! How do you come to Jesus? Do you always approach Him the way the Greek woman did -- humble enough to acknowledge your need of Him, but persistent and confident at the same time that His promise in your life will be fulfilled?
Reflections of Faith
Read and be inspired by a reflection based on today's Gospel made by members of the Verbum Dei Family in Manila.