Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed. Luke 2:34Today Jesus was presented to God in the Temple. Simon's startling prophecy that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction prepared Mary to meet the hostility with which Christ and His Message was to be received by Israel. May this prophecy prepare us not to be overcome when the world opposes the Truth of the Gospel in our own times.
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy: though I have fallen I shall rise; though I live in darkness, the Lord is my light.” Micah 7:8Sometimes it is quite possible that we may experience being temporarily overpowered or outwitted by the Devil. But this does not mean that we should give in to despair. In such situations, let us like the Psalmist look towards the Lord, Who is the Lord of the Battle with trust and hope. He is able to give strength to our tired arms to make them victorious in battle; He is the One who can adorn us with His invincible armor to resist and overpower our Enemy.
“You are my friends, if you do what I command you.” John 15:14Grace and Peace! In the Old Testament, only one person was given the privilege of being called ‘friend of God’ - that person was Moses. In the New Testament, Jesus gives each one of us the privilege to become His friends. Now, let us reflect on the friends we may have on earth. If a friend asked us to do something for them, we would surely try our best to do it for them because we sincerely love and care for them. So then, Jesus was not being demanding when He said ‘You are my friends, if you do what I command you’ - in fact, He was simply stating the natural law of friendship. If we love Him, we will be glad to do whatever He asks us, we will be glad to obey His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome - His commandment is Love! You cannot imagine what great treasures of Divine Grace our Lord bestows on His friends! Let us be true friends of Jesus and love as He loves! Praise God!
“Unload all your burden on to him, since he is concerned about you.” 1 Peter 5:7Grace and Peace! All of us have burdens, all of us carry our share of anxieties, worries, tensions and fears. But here is a gentle God Who invites us, “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” Listening to this gentle and kind invitation, encouraged by the words of an Apostle who was close to Him, who knew His tenderness, let us lay down all our fears at the feet of Christ, Who will allay them and grant us rest. Praise God!
“Whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it is also peaceable, kindly and considerate; it is full of mercy and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it.” James 3:17Grace and Peace! Saint James outlines for us eight characteristics of the 'wisdom from above'. Essentially, it is something pure. God offers this wisdom through zealous, devout and humble meditation of the Scriptures on all who ask Him with faith. Praise God!
“He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the land.’” Mark 4:26Grace and Peace! The Kingdom of God grows mysteriously within us once we accept the seed of the Kingdom, which is the Word of God. Night and day, whether we are sleeping, up or about, the Kingdom continues to grow, and in the course of time the crop appears, ready for harvest. All that is asked of us is to accept the Word, hold it fast in a good and obedient heart, and bear fruit with perseverance. Praise God!
“The Lord has appeared to me from afar; I have loved you with an everlasting love and so I still maintain My faithful love for you.” Jeremiah 31:3Grace and Peace! God does not love us as we love Him. He tells us that He loves us with an everlasting love. What a comforting message! What hope this message gives us in times of sin, darkness, trouble and despair! This means we can always turn to God no matter how far away we are. Therefore, let us turn to our loving Father in Heaven with confidence, knowing that He will never abandon us. Praise God!
“As for you, my dear son, take strength from the grace which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1Grace and Peace! Like Timothy and Titus, the faithful spiritual children of Saint Paul, let us too take strength from the gift of God's grace which He freely lavishes upon us everyday. This gracefilled strength knows neither weariness nor defeat, and we receive this grace through our faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise God!
“The Lord replied, 'Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel;I myself will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:15-16Grace and Peace! The Apostle Paul became the ‘Chosen Instrument’ in the hands of Jesus to witness to His Name before an incredulous world. Drawing strength from his own experience of Christ’s love, mercy and grace, this ‘persecutor turned apostle’ faithfully completed the mission that the Lord entrusted to him. Saint Paul’s letters are a constant source of wisdom in guiding believers of every age to a mature faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!
“With my lips I have repeated all the judgements You have given.” Psalm 119:13Grace and Peace! Repeating the Word of God with our lips has tremendous power, especially if what we utter with our lips is accompanied with meditation in our hearts. Repeating the Scriptures to ourselves sanctifies our tongues and our hearts. Therefore let us daily set apart time to repeat the Scriptures to ourselves, that we may be sanctified by the Word of God. Praise God!
“Whoever acquires sense wins profit from it, whoever treasures understanding finds happiness.” Proverbs 19:8Grace and Peace If we invest our time wisely in acquiring wisdom, we only stand to gain from our investment. On the other hand, if we do not value wisdom nor approach the wise to gain understanding, we will be the losers. Therefore, at every opportunity that presents itself, let us do our best to gain understanding and sense. Praise God!
“And the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and the holy God shall be sanctified in justice.” Isaiah 5:16Grace and Peace! The Lord wins respect from His creatures very differently from how human beings win respect for themselves. God wins respect by His merciful judgements, and by overlooking fault, crime and sin. Yet He lets nothing go unchecked, correcting human beings gradually so that they may repent. God’s holiness lies in being unprovoked by human wickedness, displaying great patience with even the most wicked sinners. Praise God!
“and in Your wisdom have fitted human beings to rule the creatures that You have made, to govern the world in holiness and saving justice and in honesty of soul to dispense fair judgement.” Wisdom 9:2-3Grace and Peace! These verses from the Book of Wisdom reveal that each one of us is responsible to look after the people and possessions which are entrusted to our care - these may be our family members, material goods or co-workers. To fulfill our mission as the Lord’s stewards, we need two important virtues - holiness and righteousness. Without these virtues, we will fail in preserving a sincere heart and integrity of character, and we will end up ruining our lives and the lives of many others. Therefore, with all our heart, let us daily pray that we may be holy and upright so as to carry out the mission entrusted us in our family, community and workplace. Praise God!
“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13Grace and Peace! We human beings, in spite of all the evil that we do, still try to give our own children what is good. The Lord invites us then, to have confidence in the Father from whom all fathers in heaven and on earth take their name - the Heavenly Father. He is so loving that He freely bestows His Spirit in plentiful and overflowing measures to those who ask Him. Let us therefore, have confidence and ask! Praise God!
“Listen, my child, to your father’s instruction, do not reject your mother’s teaching: they will be a crown of grace for your head, a circlet for your neck.” Proverbs 1:8-9Grace and Peace! From the rich experience of their lives, God-fearing parents are expected to teach their children about how to live according to God’s Will. This wise teaching and instruction which we receive from our parents and elders will become like a beautiful crown or garland for us to wear. Let us try to imitate the Our Lord and our Blessed Mother by instructing our children in the Word of God and by being a good example to all the children who look up to us. How happy we are if we have the privilege to receive spiritual instruction and wear a crown of grace, and how happy will our own children be if we can give them such gracefilled adornment! Praise God!
“Praise the Lord - it is good to sing psalms to our God - how pleasant to praise Him.” Psalm 147:1Grace and Peace! Praise is an exclamation of wonder from within our soul when we experience the Lord’s touch, His presence in our life. The touch of God is so powerful because He Love personified. His touch lifts us far above the worries and problems of our daily lives. Let us be assured that the Lord is with us at every moment of our life, let us allow Him to touch us. When we read the Psalms, we too will be able to taste the sweetness in praising God - taste and see that the Lord is good! Praise God!
“Let the wise listen and learn yet more, and a person of discernment will acquire the art of guidance.” Proverbs 1:5 Grace and Peace! The truly wise recognise the vastness of wisdom - the more they learn, the more their awe of the infinite wisdom of God. The wise constantly seek the way of wisdom and have their eyes, ears and heart alert and attentive lest they stray from the path of Eternity. The fool, on the other hand is shortsighted and knowing a little, he believes that he knows everything there is to know.The eyes of a person of discernment cut through what is seen externally to see the reality, which is the world of the spirit. Such a person alone can act as a guide for others, training them to discern the truth behind everything. Praise God!
“In the daytime God sends His faithful love, and even at night; the song it inspires in me is a prayer to my living God.” Psalm 42:8Grace and Peace! If we become His children by receiving Jesus and believing in His Name, God takes care of us like no earthly parent ever can. In the daytime, He sends us His faithful love which irrigates our soul like a flowing stream. This divine stream does not stop its flow even at night! Let us keep our hearts holy and humble in order to receive these heavenly streams. If we allow these streams to refresh us, we will find songs of love, praise and thanksgiving gushing forth from within our hearts throughout the day - these are the Psalms, which form a prayer to the living God. Praise God!
“'For the whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19Grace and Peace! In a very mysterious way, the whole creation shares in the holiness or in the sinfulness of man. We may find it a bit terrifying to realise that every act, no matter how insignificant it is affects the whole universe. The smallest act done out of love for God has the power to light up the Heavens and the earth. If we spend every moment of our lives in the love of God, then we are truly children of God. Therefore, let us keep in mind our exalted vocation - to be children of God, bearers of Eternal Life to the whole of creation. Praise God!
“The Lord is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full of faithful love.” Psalm 145:8Grace and Peace! Have we experienced the tenderness and the pity of the Lord? We can if we wish to. If we wish to do so, let us cease running away from Him. How do we run away from Him? By refusing to acknowledge our sins and by continuing to live in them. Instead, let us take a few steps towards Him. How can we do that? By turning to Him. And how do we turn to Him? By acknowledging our sins in the presence of God. The moment we acknowledge our sins, we are like a sick patient who visits a physician in the hope of healing; we are like a wounded child running to its mother. O, with what tender care will the Lord take care of us, how mercifully will He treat our wounds, with what patience will He deal with our failings, with what measure of faithful love will He deal with those who come to Him. Therefore, dearest brothers and sisters, let us draw near to our good God through the Lord Jesus Christ, our merciful Saviour! Praise God!