“Do not lose your fearlessness now, then, since the reward is so great.” Hebrews 10:35Fearlessness characterises a genuine disciple, who courageously follows the Crucified Christ, mostly all alone, being deserted by family and friends. But he walks the royal road of the Cross like a prince behind his King, and his joy and peace do not falter. But as struggles press on, it could happen that his resolve become weary. The Apostle encourages us, as true disciples of Christ, never to lose our fearlessness, reminding us that if we succeed in resolutely overcoming trials, persecutions and slander with the help of our faith, the reward which is kept for us in Heaven is something very great indeed. How happy we are if we are deserted by all, and yet fearlessly able to follow the Crucified Christ!
“When wisdom comes into your heart and knowledge fills your soul with delight, then prudence will be there to watch over you, and understanding will be your guardian.” (Proverbs 2:10-11)There are many gifts which God bestows on those who win His favour. The first is the wisdom from above, which proceeds from fear of the Lord. The second is holy knowledge which is bestowed on those with wisdom and fills us with heavenly delights. Those with wisdom and knowledge further receive prudence, which keeps a strict watch over every external and internal movement proceeding from human thought, intellect or will - nothing escapes the prudent. Finally, understanding crowns those with wisdom, knowledge and prudence and guards the soul, ensuring all it’s precious treasures and jewels of wisdom and knowledge are always kept secure.
“Such a one is like a tree planted near streams; it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither, and every project succeeds.” Psalm 1:3The Word of God is a running stream, bringing the graces and blessings of God in whatever land it flows. The tree planted by the side of this river of blessings is one who meditates daily on the Word and makes it his delight. Such a person will bear the fruit of the Spirit in due time. His leaves of faith, through which he draws in the abundance of God’s grace never wither, and the blessing of God is upon His every undertaking.
“Be steady in your convictions, and be a person of your word.” Sirach 5:10Today’s Scripture invites us to become people with steady convictions. Such convictions are a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who stamps eternal truths indelibly within our souls. Once we become people with convictions brought by the Holy Spirit, both our words and actions will be steady and well-ordered. Our actions will then follow our words and prove their authenticity.
“Who has been through this test and emerged perfect? He may well be proud of that! Who has had the chance to sin and has not sinned, had the chance to do wrong and has not done it?” Sirach 31:10While we are in the world, we are offered a chance to become perfect. This is by firmly refusing to commit sin in spite of the many opportunities that may present themselves to us through various means and ways. We can boldly pass through this test if we have the Grace of God, and if God’s love is in us, we will never give in to the temptations of the Evil One.
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge.” Psalm 18:2What an impregnable and invincible source of strength and refuge was the Lord for the Psalmist! The Lord was his rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, saving strength, stronghold, place of refuge and more. We need to ask ourselves if we too experience the protection and power of God in our lives. We will indeed experience His deliverance if we cling to Him in love and acknowledge His Name while passing through the fiery trials of life.
“How blessed are those who live in Your house; they shall praise You continually.” Psalms 84:4One of the greatest blessings we can ever receive is the invitation to spend our days in the House of the Lord. The blessings and happiness that accompany such a beautiful and exalted vocation are immense - the Psalmist describes them in this beautiful verse! The praise that they sing in the Lord’s House continues till the end of their lives here on earth, and afterwards continues till the end of time!
"And it happened that as they were talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side.’’ Luke 24:15The journey to Emmaus happens in our lives everyday. The two men who walk together are our mind and our heart. If our mind and heart are constantly engaged in innocent, pious and god-fearing conversation and considerations, there will come the Lord Jesus to our side - the One who listens to our inmost thoughts - to walk at our side through this journey through life, speaking to both these our faculties, enlightening and encouraging them.
"My constancy and faithful love will be with him, in my name his strength will be triumphant.” Psalm 89:24God gave David irrevocable blessings - the greatest being the assurance of His permanent favour. How did David the Shepherd King win the great grace of meriting the constancy and faithful love of the Lord? We read about David that the Lord found David a man after His own heart, a gentle and humble man. This man was raised by God to be the most powerful King on earth, whom no enemy could outwit or subdue. We too will be blessed with God’s faithful love if we are gentle and humble of heart.
"Fix your gaze on Yahweh and your face will grow bright, you will never hang your head in shame.’’ Psalms 34:5The face of Jesus radiates tremendous light on those who behold Him. The instant we behold His countenance, we are made aware of the darkness within us, our sins. If we fix our gaze on Him, something even more amazing takes place within us - all our sins will be cast out, as they find no place in the presence of this Divine Light, and our minds and faces which were once dark now begin to glow with a divine brightness. This light begets holiness, which in turn begets boldness in the Lord, thus removing our sin, guilt and shame forever.
"In my estimation, all that we suffer in the present time is nothing in comparison with the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us.” Romans 8:18
"what is sown is contemptible but what is raised is glorious; what is sown is weak, but what is raised is powerful” 1 Corin 15:43If we perhaps think that some people are beautiful, glorious or powerful to behold in all their fine raiments and physical might, St Paul invites us to look further. The Bible well calls the human body contemptible and weak, because no sooner has the God-breathed soul left it than it becomes a corpse, abandoned in the earth and food for worms. But what beauty, what glory belong to those whose souls are raised and clothed with heavenly bodies! Who can stop marvelling at their beauty, their power and their splendour which has been bestowed on them by their God?
"But Peter said, 'I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ ” Acts 3:6The lame man, to whom these words were addressed, was the first to experience the power of the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, thus proving to the world that the Resurrection of Jesus was not an idle tale woven by the Apostles, but a real event that took place on the Sunday after His crucifixion. When spoken with faith, the Name of Jesus, the greatest of all names in heaven, earth or the underworld, still continues to work the most amazing miracles, still testifying to the world that Jesus Christ lives!
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it.’’ John 15:7What does remaining in Jesus mean? It means to have an intimate union with the unchanging Son of God who existed before all things and in Whom we live, move and exist. How do we remain in Jesus? We remain in Him only by abiding in love, because He is love which is constant, patient, forgiving and full of compassion. We abide in His love when we keep His Words - indeed, without treasuring His Words in our hearts, we can never hope to possess love. If we remain in Him and treasure His Words, Jesus assures us we can ask of Him anything we desire, it is certain to be granted to us.
"Blessed those who find their strength in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.’’Psalms 84:5God is power and nothing is impossible for Him. The Bible witnesses that the Lord does not grow tired or weary - instead He gives strength to the powerless. How happy we will be if we have found the source of strength - Who is none other than Christ Crucified! With our hearts set on pilgrimage, in other words, a journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem which is above, let us travel in the joyful company of the saints, singing praises to the Lord.
"Jesus answered them: I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst.’’John 6:35The hunger of our body can be satisfied with bread. But the hunger of our soul for love, for the infinite, for true beauty and true life is not easily satisfied. To satisfy this hunger, Jesus gives Himself as the Bread of Life to humanity, partaking of which the spiritual hunger of man is miraculously satisfied. The nourishment the soul draws from this bread is entirely based on faith. The believing soul experiences constant nourishment from this Living Bread, driving out it’s hunger and thirst forever.
"Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.’" Luke 9:62These words of our Lord bring to mind two incidents - the first is the burning of the plough which was a sign of his former way of life, by the prophet Elisha when he answered God’s call. The second is the turning back of Lot’s wife to look at the remains of the sinful city they were fleeing from despite the Lord’s command to the contrary. Elisha was rewarded for his resolution by a double share of the Spirit, but Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt for her lack of faith.
"Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? 'Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father, so how can you say, "Show us the Father"? John 14:9Philip, who had been with Jesus for three years was constantly hearing about ‘God the Father’. He was wondering where the Father was and longed to catch a glimpse of Him. But Jesus reveals to Philip and also to all of us who have not yet penetrated the mystery of His Divine Person the great truth that in Himself dwells the Divinity in all it’s fullness - in Him alone is the invisible Creator made visible to all humanity.
“and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Rom 5:5What differentiates true Christians from others is their hope, a hope which refuses to bend before weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress. Their hope always keeps them smiling and cheerful. They have experienced something different - they feel loved by God as tenderly as a Father does his dear child - the Spirit irrigates their heart with this love constantly through day and night .
“Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as done for the Lord and not for human beings, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24It is the Heavenly Father’s will that every human being sanctify himself through work. Every kind of work, every profession from what the world considers least, to what the world considers greatest has equal dignity in front of God and will be rewarded by God, provided we do our work in a way that pleases the Lord. Let us imitate Saint Joseph, the humble carpenter from Nazareth, whose work as a carpenter was found so praiseworthy by God - it was not the trade in itself, but the way in which he worked that pleased God. Therefore, let us take great care to do our work with enthusiasm and perfection that God may be glorified in our work.