10th May 2021

Daily Meditation: "Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to  all creation" (Apr 25, 2016)

 

  

MONDAY, SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER

 

Reading 1: Acts 16: 11-15 Today Paul and Luke are at Philippi where Paul converts Lydia and accepts her invitation to make his headquarters at her house.

Gospel: Jn 15:26 – 16:4 Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit upon his apostles so that they may be able to bear witness to him.

 

  

GOING OUT TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS

The first reading seems to indicate that Luke, the author of the book of Acts, is travelling with Paul and his companions. They are constantly on the move, introducing people to the teachings of Jesus. In Philippi, Paul meets a businesswoman, Lydia, who found Jesus’ message relevant to her life. Scripture describes it thus: “The Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying.” Conversion not only needs to be convinced in the mind but also requires a change of heart. True and lasting conversion can happen only when the truth is accepted by the heart.

Today, amidst the pandemic, fear plagues a large segment of humanity. None of us can expect to be completely free of this fear and anxiety about the future of the world. However, all who experience the love of God, like Paul and his companions, are called to spread this love and peace, to let people know that God is a refuge and a bulwark in times of trouble.

The Church today needs to reach out into areas of commerce, politics and the media, and also to refugees, victims of trafficking and people with gender dysphoria, with love. For this we need help, and Jesus promises it to us in the Gospel through the Holy Spirit. The apostles needed to hear those reassuring words. We too can draw our strength from these words – we are not alone, the Spirit will bear witness and help us to bear witness to the Father and to Jesus, who is the only answer to all our fears.

Jesus also goes on to predict the sufferings they will have to undergo in their apostolate. Are we willing to get out of our comfort zones and stick out our necks to bring God’s love and peace to those around us? Then, we have to be ready to face persecution and rejection. Said St Teresa of Avila: “I desire to suffer, Lord, all the trials that come to me, and esteem them as a great good enabling me to imitate you in something” (Way of Perfection 26:6).


Resp. Psalm: Ps 149: 1-6, 9 The Lord takes delight in his people.


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9th May 2021

John 15:12 Love One Another - Free Bible Verse Art Downloads - Bible Verses  To Go


SUNDAY, SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER

 

Reading 1: Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48 We hear of a dramatic opening of Christianity to the Gentiles and how the Holy Spirit comes upon Peter’s audience. Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, became the first pagan to receive the grace of Baptism. God is not selective in his love. His salvation is offered to all.

Reading 2: 1 Jn 4: 7-10 John tells us that we must love one another because God is love. One cannot know anything of God if he/she knows not love.

Gospel: Jn 15: 9-17 Jesus is talking to his friends the night before he died. He leaves them his supreme commandment: “Love one another, as I have loved you”.


 

THE LOVE OF GOD POURED OUT FOR US

 

It is said there will be two surprises when we enter heaven. The first will be finding people we never even imagined would make it to heaven and the second will be finding ourselves there. God is merciful, kind and extremely loving. He manifests himself to whomever he wants. His love has no boundaries. For comparison within our human experience, it is like the ocean below and the sky above. So vast, so rich, so marvelous.

All the readings today speak of love. In the first reading, we hear Peter proclaiming that God has no favourites and that whoever fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him. The reading also presents how the Holy Spirit descended upon the pagans as well, something that until then was never imagined possible. It was a sure sign that God embraces everyone. No one is excluded from God’s love. St Paul, writing to the Galatians, says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

We are all God’s children. Each one of us is loved, is cared for and each is precious in the eyes of God. The responsorial psalm also sheds light on the same theme: “The Lord has shown his deliverance to the nations.” In the second reading, we hear John urging Christians to love one another. When God has no favourites, how can we? Love comes from God, and whoever knows God, loves as God loves. If one fails to love one another it means that she/he does not know God. Our love for God can never be complete without love for one another. St John of the Cross says that the soul that walks in love wearies not, neither is it wearied. The soul that is in love is always filled.

In the Gospel, the Lord invites the disciples to remain in his love. Jesus loved them as he was loved by the Father. And he desired that all his disciples remain in that love and be saved. Jesus’ invitation to love one another reached its culmination on the cross when he offered his life for the salvation of humankind. What an expression of true love! Jesus invites us today to remain in this love.

St John of the Cross has something interesting to say when speaking of the love for God. “Hair that is combed with frequency is untangled, and there will be no difficulty in combing it as often as one desires; and the soul that, with frequency, examines its thoughts, words, and deeds, which are like the hair, and that does all things for love of God, will find that its hair is quite free from entanglement. Then the Spouse (God) will look upon the neck of the Bride (the soul), and will be captivated by it, and will be wounded by one of her eyes, namely by the purity of intention wherewith she performs all her acts. We begin to comb our hair from the crown of the head if we desire it not to be tangled; all our works must begin from the crown – that is, from the love of God – if we wish them to be without entanglement and pure.”

Remaining in the love of God would mean doing everything for the love of God. St Ignatius of Loyola would call it, “Doing everything for the greater glory of God.” Love of neighbour should be in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Only then our love for the neighbour will be complete and perfect. In the evening of our life, we will be judged on how much we have loved with a love like Christ’s. And to love this way is to be transformed into what we love; i.e., to love God is to be transformed into God. To love God is to know God. To know God is to love everyone.


Resp. Psalm: Ps 98: 1-4 The Lord has shown his deliverance to the nations.


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8th May 2021

Pin on Bible Verses and Inspirational Quotes - www.FeedingWithLove.Org


SATURDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

 

Reading 1: Acts 16: 1-10 The author of Acts continues his narrative of the activities of Paul and Timothy throughout the Mideast.

Gospel: Jn 15: 18-21 Jesus warns his disciples that they will be persecuted by the world because they bear his name.


 

CHOSEN BY JESUS FROM THE WORLD

 

The opening words of today’s Gospel passage from John can be a bit startling. Jesus is talking to his disciples about the world. He tells them: “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me first.” Jesus uses the word “world” to describe the people who reject him and those who will persecute his followers, just as they did him. Jesus tells the disciples that they do not belong to the “world.” And for this reason, the “world” will hate them. He wants to impress upon them that he has chosen them out of the world to follow him and his example.

Jesus in the previous verses of the gospel, was urging his disciples to love all those around them as a sign of their love of him. Today he warns them that there is no guarantee that they will be loved in return. The path of following Jesus is a difficult one. Are we truly ready to take it? This is more than simply giving ‘lip service’ to his teachings. If we consciously choose to follow Jesus, we may have to make difficult choices and, in that process, we may alienate some of the people in our lives. Furthermore, we too will most likely experience rejection or perhaps even hate.

Jesus was counter-cultural in his time. We too have to be prepared to be counter-cultural in our beliefs and choices. Choosing to follow him rather than the crowd is a daily task. We have to be willing to deal with anger, rejection and alienation if we make choices that are according to the Gospel, that are according to the mind of Christ. Finally, we must trust that the Lord will walk with us every step of the way, strengthening and showering his grace upon us.

The “world” is not an easy place to live. Each day we have the opportunity to make a variety of choices. We must choose to follow Jesus and act as Jesus would act. Only then do we put on Christ in our life. Our lifestyle must mirror that of Jesus. Only then will the ‘world’ know that we belong to him.


Resp. Psalm: Ps 100: 1-3, 5 Cry out with joy to the Lord all the earth.


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7th May 2021

Becoming Friends with God | Wellspring of Life


FRIDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Reading 1: Acts 15: 22-31 The Jerusalem Council decides to send messengers to Antioch to tell them they need not observe the Mosaic law to be Christians.

Gospel: Jn 15: 12-17 In today’s gospel Jesus calls us his friends and commands us to love one another, “as I have loved you.”


 

 CALLED TO BE FRIENDS OF GOD

 

Friends are people with whom you can be truthful and honest. You can be yourself, can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand the contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them, you can breathe freely. You can cry with them, sing with them, laugh with them and pray with them.

In the gospel passage today, Jesus says “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” What we see here is that true friends not only share love, but they also share secrets and intimate knowledge. Love leads to a community of will and thought. That means, I wish to know what my friend is thinking and desiring so that I can share those thoughts and even help fulfill those desires.

The love story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God’s will increasingly coincide: God’s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will based on the realization that God is, in fact, more deeply present to me than I am to myself. That is the touchstone of the genuineness of our love for God.

We experience his love for us as an ongoing reality each time we receive the sacraments, but also each time we reflect on the fact that he is keeping us in existence. This personal experience enables us both to understand love and want to share it. May the Lord awaken in us an awareness of his ever-enduring friendship, that we may be inspired to love without measure, without distinction of persons, without fears of losing all that is less than love.


Resp. Psalm: Ps 57: 8-12 I will praise you, Lord, among the peoples.


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6th May 2021

Jesus' Commandments: The Father's Love for his Son and his Love for Us -  The Southern Cross


THURSDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER (Memorial of St Dominic Savio)

 

Reading 1: Acts 15: 7-21 The Council of Jerusalem decides that new converts need not submit to Mosaic laws and customs in order to become Christians.

Gospel: Jn 15: 9-11 Jesus continues his teaching on the primacy of love. He has loved us, so he asks his followers to “Live on in my love.”


 

REMAIN IN HIS LOVE

 

Love is the substance that binds the Holy Trinity. It is in love that God gave his only son to the world, and only in loving this son can we have eternal life and return to the Father. We profess our love for God by following his commandments. Jesus gives us the greatest commandment – to love one another just as he loves us. It is easy to love the people who love us, but quite difficult to love the ones who do not love us back. If we fill our lives with the unconditional love of Jesus, it will be easier to love those around us without any discrimination. Paul speaks of the love of God which is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us. We just need to experience it.

Jesus does not lose any of his sheep. He does not abandon us because he loves us very much. If Jesus loves us, sinners that we are, who are we not to love our neighbours? Jesus speaks of the love that he and his Father have, for those who belong to his flock. He loves us without measure, and our love for him is a response to his exceeding mercy and kindness towards us. Jesus, through his disciples, asks us to abide in him by keeping his commandments, just as he abides in the Father, through his obedience.

The love of God has to be recognised, responded to and passed on. It is not just a ‘given’. Christians should be people of Love. Saint Dominic Savio, the teenage saint whom we celebrate today, desired to be close to Jesus, follow his teachings and become a saint at a young age. He was a person dedicated to prayer and shared his love, knowledge and awareness of God with all those he came across. Like St Dominic Savio, let us be loving branches who are always attached to Jesus, the vine. Let us enkindle our hearts with a love for Jesus and his teachings, and compassion for our neighbour. May no attachment or desire in our lives hinder us from loving God and our neighbour.

 


Resp. Psalm: Ps 96: 1-3, 10 Tell among all the peoples the wonders of the Lord.


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5th May 2021

Abide In Him – Pastor Darryl Baker


WEDNESDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Reading 1: Acts 15: 1-6 Because of dissension that disturbed some of the first Christian communities, Paul goes to Jerusalem to consult with other apostles.

Gospel: Jn 15: 1-8 Jesus compares his Church to a vine and its branches. He is the vine, we are the branches, so intimate is our union with him.


ABIDE IN CHRIST, LIBERATE THE MEMORY

We find a connection between today’s readings and the doctrine on memory by St. John of the Cross. Human beings created in God’s image are purely innocent. But, when they become part of history and acquire socio-cultural and religious ideologies and customs, the memory is manipulated by these perceptions and is unknowingly subjugated. Society defines him by a pseudo-identity, which enslaves him and distorts the truth.

The Judean converts in the first reading who proposed circumcision were naturally led by their enslaved memory, which followed the Law and Jewish customs. They were baptized into Christ, but were still enslaved to their memory. Only in Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, can the memory be purified. By baptism, we are attached to Christ, the true vine. Unless our memory is emptied of all its collected baggage, it will obstruct our new life of Christ. Otherwise, we will be attached to Christ through customs and practices but may dry up spiritually.

Once emptied of the old, we must ‘abide with Christ’ (Jn 15:7) in our memory. We do this by prayer, studying the scriptures and the teachings of the Catholic Church, allowing them to influence our mind and attitudes. This renewed memory will then be guided by the living hope of the coming of the kingdom of God not only in the future but also in this present life. This hope will enable us to move forward towards our heavenly goal with a vision that helps us see God’s perspective in all the events of this present life including our sufferings.

Abiding in Christ helps to unearth our real identity as children of God. By participating in the mystery of God, we become ‘another Christ’ to our neighbour. Thus, salvation is realized in us. We bear abundant fruit of virtues and experience true freedom. Our life itself gives glory to God

 


Resp. Psalm: Ps 122: 1-5 Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord


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4th May 2021

LifeSongs Uplifting Word: "Peacemakers who sow in peace re… | Flickr


TUESDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER  

 

Reading 1: Acts 14: 19-28 despite persecution Paul continues to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.  

 

Gospel: Jn 14: 27-31 Jesus promises peace to his disciples and reiterates his own total obedience to the Father’s will.


 

HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE

 

The life of St. Paul never ceases to inspire, especially his perseverance and zeal in proclaiming the good news. Although he had to suffer much for the sake of the Gospel (cf. 2 Cor 11:23-28) he never became discouraged. His fervour and love for Christ grew stronger each day. What kept him going during his most difficult times? His experience of the kingdom of God. What is this experience like? Paul explains that the kingdom of God consists in experiencing the righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 14:17). No matter what trouble or suffering one undergoes, if rooted in the kingdom of God, nothing will be able to take away his inner peace and joy.

 

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus giving his disciples the gift of peace. He tells them not to allow their hearts to be troubled. He assures them that there is nothing to be afraid of. The same gift of peace Jesus gives us today. The peace of Christ truly surpasses all understanding (cf. Phil 4:7). If the peace of Christ dwells in our hearts, we will perceive the mundane things of everyday life in a new light.

 

The letter to the Hebrews speaks about reaping a harvest of righteousness and peace (cf. Heb 12:11) because from this peace flows patience, endurance, strength, love, joy and righteousness. The things that once made us angry will no longer disturb us. We will experience tender compassion for the very persons who made us impatient. The sufferings that we dreaded will no longer frighten us. We will realize along with Paul that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (cf. Rom 8:35-39).

 

To experience this inner peace and serenity we need to spend some time each day in silent prayer and in reading the word of God. In addition to this, all we have to do is surrender ourselves completely to Jesus with faith and confidence.


Resp. Psalm:  Ps 144: 10-13, 21 Your friends make known O Lord, the glory of your reign.


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3rd May 2021

Our Patron, Apostle Philip | St. Philip Orthodox Church


MONDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Feast of Saints Philip & James, Apostles

 

Reading 1: 1 Cor 15: 1-8 Focusing on the saving Gospel preached, Paul claims to have received the appearance of the Resurrected Jesus, like he appeared to James and the other apostles.

 

Gospel: Jn 14: 6-14 Philip asks Jesus, to show the Father to the apostles. Jesus claims oneness with the Father and assures the apostles saying: to have seen me is to have seen the father.


 

JESUS IS THE WAY TO THE FATHER

 

James, also called ‘son of Alphaeus’, and ‘James the Less’ though one of the Twelve, is not to be confused with James, one of the two sons of Zebedee, or with James, son of Clopas mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, a “brother” (cousin) of Jesus. Philip hailed from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. We see Jesus calling him directly, whereupon he went in search of Nathanael and told him regarding the “one about whom Moses wrote” (Jn 1:43-45). Philip comes across as someone who is rather innocent and naïve and one who takes some time to acknowledge the full identity of Jesus.

 

In the Gospel passage today Jesus tells Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, then you would have known my Father also. ” This is incomprehensible for Philip, and he requests Jesus, “Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” One can almost hear the sigh in Jesus’ voice as he affirms, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

 

Jesus’ reply asserts that he is the ‘way’ to the Father. To know the inner meaning of Jesus’ life and to make it our own is to know the Father because Jesus is the embodiment, the incarnation, and the visible face of the Father. There is no other way to God except through him and with him. To be like Jesus, then, is to be like God through our humanity. This is something not just for Christians, rather the Way for every human being who seeks a truly meaningful life.

 

The example of Philip and James should be a lesson to us of how God can carry out his plans through people. By preaching the gospel everywhere, the apostles sowed the seed of a worldwide community, against which the ‘gates of hell’ would not prevail. It is a message to each one of us that, no matter what our gifts or lack of them, we too are called to pass on the Good News of Christ to show others the ‘way’ to the Father.

 


Resp. Psalm: Ps 18: 2-5 Their sound goes forth through all the earth


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2nd May 2021

PRACTICE LOVE - PART 2 - Pocket Fuel - Daily Devotional


SUNDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

 

Reading 1: Acts 9: 26-31 Barnabas introduced the converted Paul to the Christians living in Jerusalem. They accepted him but the Jews tried to kill him.

Reading 2: 1 Jn 3: 18-24 If we wish to live as God wants, we must keep his commandments, especially the commandment to love one another.

Gospel: Jn 15: 1-8 Using the imagery of the vine and the branches, Jesus describes the intimacy of his relationship with us.


 

LET US LOVE IN DEED AND TRUTH

 

Some consider it a great burden to be a good Christian. God seems to ask so much – participation in the sacraments, other religious activities and devotions, faithfulness to various prayers and penitential practices, as well as reverence to a variety of religious articles such as rosaries, scapulars, relics of different saints, etc.

In what does the measure of the Christian life truly lie? In the life that is lived, in the daily choices that are made, in the love that is shared. And at the core of it all is the strength of one’s personal relationship with the Lord. All the above mentioned religious activities and aspects are beneficial to growth in the spiritual life. However, one’s “Christianness”, is not measured by external objects but by living a life of faithful commitment, of persevering in God’s love.

Many are familiar with the words often times attributed to St Augustine, “The measure of love is loving without measure.” Today’s second reading from the first letter of John, gives us another expression with the same message: “Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” One of the criteria by which we can determine if love is authentic, is in its relationship to the truth, and the coherence of our actions.

In the Gospel, Jesus offers what must have been a familiar image to his listeners, to explain what it means to live in his love, and how we can “measure” the love that gives us life. “I am the vine, and you are the branches… Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” This text comes from the moving and intimate dialogue that Jesus shares with his disciples at the Last Supper.

Until now (in John’s gospel), the images or metaphors that Jesus used to express the concept of receiving life from him were external actions: drinking the life-giving water (Jn 4); eating the bread of life (Jn 6). But now, in the context of this final supper shared with his disciples, he offers a much more intimate connectedness that expresses in a very deep way the necessity of living in constant union with him, as the branches are united to the vine and receive their life from it.

Certainly, the image of the vine is an allusion to the people of Israel. (cf. Ps. 8; Hos 10:1, etc.). Jesus takes that same image and applies it, we might say, to the life of each one of his disciples, as well as to the community of his followers. Those who hear his words are the new vine, the new People of God. The community will have life only in as much as it is fully connected to the source of life, the true vine. But as he says this, Jesus also says some things that are a warning to his listeners: “If the branches do not remain on the vine, they cannot give fruit.” Christ is our ‘life-line’, the only way we can truly find life, be fruitful, and give life to others. If the branches do not bear fruit, they are cut off from the vine. And to produce more fruit, the Father prunes the vine. These are powerful images of the relationship between the Father and Jesus, and with each of the branches, the members of the Church.

To be faithful as Christians, in the world as we know it today, requires a vital, life-giving experience of encountering Christ, as well as a sense of commitment to the cause of the kingdom. We may be occupied by many things, distracted by less important activities, involved in undertakings that make it difficult to remain “attached to the vine.” And yet what is essential is that we remain united with Christ. “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us” (1 Jn 3:18).

 


Resp. Psalm: Ps 22: 26-28, 30-32 You are my praise, Lord, in the great assembly.


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1st May 2021

St. Joseph the Worker - Davao Catholic Herald


SATURDAY, FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER

Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gen 1:26-2:3 or Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24; Ps 90:2-4, 12-14, 16-17; Mt 13:54-58.)

 

Reading 1: Acts 13:44-52 Paul and Barnabas run into opposition in the Antioch synagogue, as a result they delight the Gentiles by promising to come to them.

Gospel: Jn 14: 7-14 Jesus claims oneness with the Father and assures the apostles that anything they ask in his name he will do.


 

JOSEPH, FULFILLER OF THE DIVINE PLAN

 

Being the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, this year has been dedicated to St Joseph by Pope Francis. For this occasion, the Holy Father has written an apostolic letter, Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) in which he brings out some of Joseph’s beautiful qualities. The Pope says, “Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.” Today we celebrate International Labour / Workers Day and honour St Joseph. He was declared as ‘Patron of workers’ by Pope Pius XII on 1st May 1955.

Though there is the common dictum “work is worship”, for us Christians, work and worship are not the same. Worship belongs to God alone: therefore, it cannot be equated with any work however great it might be. Nevertheless, the work we do with love and dedication can be a means not only for the betterment of the world but also for our salvation. For us, work is not just a means to earn our daily bread, but a way through which we collaborate with God in the very act of creation. Hence, it is sacred, honourable, and dignified.

Scripture refers to Joseph as “a just man” (Mt 1:19). Like any of us, Joseph was weak, vulnerable and fearful. However, he did not allow his fears, weakness and vulnerability to overpower his faith. Despite finding many hurdles on the way, he surrendered himself to the divine plan. Instead of praying for his gain, he lived every moment to fulfil the task that God had entrusted him with.

“Lord, I was born for you. What do you want of me?” was the constant prayer of St Teresa of Avila. May we not rest satisfied by working for our benefit, but strive constantly to actively commit ourselves to carry out the divine plan for us. May St Joseph, the patron of workers, intercede for us

 


Resp. Psalm: Ps 98: 1-4 All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.


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