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Daily Reflection: November 28, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:

JOKES: 1) Visiting a big city, a Christian farmer entered a fancy restaurant for lunch. When his meal was served, he bowed his head and quietly gave thanks to God for the food. There was a group of rowdy teenagers at a nearby table, and one of them taunted him in a loud voice: “Hey farmer, does everyone do that where you come from? The old farmer looked at the young man and calmly said: No, no son, the pigs don’t.

2) The last rites given to a sick Catholic include a final blessing called the Apostolic blessing or “the Pope’s blessing.” Father Thomas McBride, a missionary in Bolivia, anointed an old Indian on his sick bed and then added that he would give the man the Pope’s blessing. This was duly translated by an Indian interpreter to the old man. The old man murmured something. “What did he say?” the priest asked the interpreter. He said, “thank you,” but he wants to know how the Holy Father knew he was sick.


Today is a day of national thanksgiving in the United States of America. We are thankful to God for all the blessings and protection He has so graciously given to us. We are thankful to God for the democratic government and the prosperity we enjoy. We are thankful to God for our freedom of speech and religion and we are thankful to God for the generosity and good will of our people. We are thankful for the gift of life and light, for our family members and loved ones, for all our seasons, for the animals and the grass that feed and sustain them.
The winter of 1610 at Jamestown, Virginia, had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors had prayed for help without knowing when or how it might come. When help eventually came in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a thanksgiving prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. During the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday to express our thanks to God. On November 26, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill declaring that Thanksgiving should be observed as a national holiday on the 4th Thursday of every November.

Today’s gospel passage describes how one of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, a Samaritan man, came back to express his gratitude and thanks to Jesus. On the other hand, the nine Jewish lepers who were healed together with him did not return. This prompted Jesus to ask the question, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine others, where are they?” This is one of the passages in the Sacred Scriptures that portray man’s ingratitude to God the Author of life and all blessings. It is possible to receive God’s gracious gifts with an ungrateful spirit—nine of the ten lepers did. We often do so as well. Only the thankful man however, learned that his faith had played a role in his healing and came back to show appreciation. Only Christians who are grateful for the blessings and favors they receive understand God’s grace and how it works. In sharing this miracle of healing by Jesus, the evangelist Luke is pointing out to us that God’s grace is for everybody.   

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us form the habit of being thankful to God for all the many blessings and favors He has continued to bestow on us. “If you cannot thank God for what He has done for you, thank Him at least for what He has saved you from.” The Eucharistic celebration is the most important form of thanksgiving prayer for all Catholics. The Greek word ‘Eucharistein’ means thanksgiving. During the Holy Mass, devoted Catholics offer to our Heavenly Father as an act of offering to Him, the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Only begotten son made present on the altar. As we do this, we are surrendering our lives to Him on the altar with repentant hearts, and we present to Him all our needs, asking for His blessings. As we celebrate this special day of thanksgiving, let us be thankful to God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. Let us be thankful to God for our parents—alive or dead. For the gift of life and Christian upbringing and good exemplary lives they gave to us. Let us be thankful to God for our relatives, loved ones and friends for their loving support, timely help and encouragement we have always received from them. Let us be thankful to God for our pastors, teachers, doctors, farmers, soldiers, police, fire fighters, nurses, government officers etc. for the sincere services they render to us each passing day.

May you have a magnificent and truly awesome day as you celebrate thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones.
God loves you and so do I


Daily Reflection: November 30, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ: 

The Church celebrates today the Feast of St Andrew, Apostle and Martyr. Andrew whose name means ‘manly’ was the son of Jonah and was the brother of Simon. Andrew plied his trade as a fisherman at Capernaum with Simon his brother on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He used to be a disciple of John the Baptist until Jesus was pointed out to him as the Messiah and Savior of the world. He immediately sought out his brother Simon and with a sublime faith that needed no miracles to convince brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus on welcoming them appointed them His apostles. Thus, Andrew became the first to answer the call to be an apostle. After the resurrection, St Andrew preached the gospel in western Asia Minor—modern day Turkey and among the Scythians. He was martyred during the reign of Nero at Patras on November 30, in the year 60 AD. He was tied to a cross made like the letter X. This was done to prolong his suffering and in fact, St Andrew was known to have continued to preach to the faithful for two days before he finally expired. He is the patron saint of Russia, Scotland, fishermen and spinsters.
In today’s gospel passage, we read about the beginning of Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry and the calling of the first set of apostles. Jesus started His public ministry immediately after John the Baptist was arrested. Jesus went about preaching and announcing the Good News of salvation—the Good News of the kingdom of God. In the Good News, Jesus preached that God is a loving, forgiving, caring, and merciful Father who wants to liberate us and set us free from the shackles of sin and death. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, we are told that Jesus selected four fishermen, Andrew and his brother Simon together with James and his brother John sons of Zebedee while they were in the boat catching fish. Jesus appointed ordinary, hard-working people as assistants for the ministry because they were very responsive instruments in the hands of God.

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that just like the apostles were called from being fishermen to fishers of men, we also have been called to Christian discipleship and service. The apostles left everything to follow Him. The call of Jesus motivated these men to get up and leave everything even their jobs to follow Him. They did not make excuses about why it was not a good time. They left at once and followed Jesus. Jesus still calls each of us every day to follow Him. When Jesus calls us to serve Him, let us be like the apostles and follow Him immediately without rationalization. Let us give priority to Jesus and His ideals in our vocation in life. In order to be effective instruments in the hands of God and to continue Jesus’ preaching, healing and saving ministry, we too need to repent of our sins and renew our lives by relying on the power of God.

Wishing you a Spirit--filled and Grace filled day!

God loves you and so do I


Daily Reflection: December 1, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:

JOKES: 1)Shirt over the wings: Grandma Martha was scolding her little grandson on his failure to go to church on a Sunday. “You will never get into Heaven the way you are going today,” she told him. “Well, Granny, the reason that I don’t go is I got a problem. I can’t for the life of me figure how I’m gonna get my shirt on over those wings I’ll have on my way to Heaven.” “Never mind about shirts,” said the grandma. “The question in your case is how are you gonna get your hat on over those horns which the bad boys get when they are taken to hell?”

2) They have plenty of time! Student devils were being dispatched to the earth to finish their training. Satan interviewed them. To the first: "How will you operate?" Said he: "I will instruct people God does not exist." The Devil shook his head: "Most know our Enemy exists." The next said: "I will argue Hell does not exist." Satan was annoyed: "After millions of abortions, people know Hell exists." The last said: "I will tell all they have plenty of time." Satan beamed: "Good woman. Do that and you'll bring people down here by the billions. Why can't these male devils be as clever as you.?"

Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent. The word Advent is from the Latin “advenio” which means “come to.” Advent therefore is a time of waiting, anticipation and hoping for the coming of the Messiah. It offers us an opportunity to renew our trust in God and His merciful love and care for us His children. An opportunity to reflect on the several occasions He has continued to come into our lives through His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. We reflect on His first coming as Man—He came as our Redeemer, Savior and Messiah and was born of a humble beginning. We reflect on His coming into our lives daily through our prayers, the Sacred Scriptures, in the Sacraments especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist—the Mass. He comes to us daily in the people we meet every day, be it at work, at home, in the church, on the streets, in the hospitals, in the prison etc. and most importantly, reflect on His coming again in glory as our Judge—when He will come to bring reward and eternal life to all who honor and believe in Him.
In today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we read how God showed to the prophet Isaiah what will eventually happen to Jerusalem. The Book of Revelation chapter 21 depicts the glorious fulfillment of this prophecy in the New Jerusalem, where only those whose names are written in the Book of the Lamb will be saved and allowed entrance into God’s presence. God made a covenant with His people and will never break it. Thus, God’s faithfulness gives us hope for the future. It describes the moment of peace when instruments of war will be tamed and when we will be taught by God’s law and how to obey it. In today’s second reading, St Paul reminds us what it means to put on the Lord Jesus Christ while making no provision for the flesh. First, we must identify with Jesus by being baptized. In doing this, we show our solidarity with other Christians and with the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Second, we must exemplify the qualities that Jesus showed and taught us while He was on earth—love, humility, truth, humble service, and forgiveness. We must not give our inordinate desires the opportunity to lead us into sin.
In our gospel reading today, we are reminded to stay awake, prepared and vigilant for we do not know when the Son of Man will return in glory. It is very interesting that we have do not know the exact date when Jesus Christ will return in glory—for if we knew the precise date, we might be tempted to be lazy in our work on earth. Worse still, we might plan to keep sinning and then turn to God right at the very end of our lives. Heaven should not only be our goal; we have work to do for Him here. And we must keep working until we see the unmistakable return of our Savior. The second coming of Christ will be swift and sudden. There will not be any opportunity for last minute repentance or bargaining. The choice we have already made will determine our eternal destiny. The purpose of Jesus for telling us about His return is not to stimulate predictions and calculations about the date, but to warn us to be prepared. Will you be ready? The safest choice is to repent of our sins, obey Him and do His will today.       

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us be motivated by the Good News that our Savior will return some day to take us to Himself—thus, let us be prepared. Let us not live irresponsibly sitting and waiting, doing nothing, seeking self-serving pleasure, being lazy and complacent, and living ungodly lives. We have no excuse not to work hard to help build up the Kingdom of God. We will gain nothing by developing a false security based on precise calculations of events or letting our curiosity about the end times divert our attention from doing the work of God. Let us always be at our best behavior when Jesus returns to take us to heaven. Spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. Our relationship with God must be our own. 

God loves you and so do I.


Daily Reflection: December 2, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:
In today’s gospel passage, we read about faith as demonstrated by a Centurion who implored Jesus to heal his servant. Without any dialogue, Jesus promised that He was going to come and heal his son. The Centurion’s amazing response to this promise of Jesus is what we respond shortly before we receive Holy Communion every day at Mass: “Lord I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, but just say a word and my servant will be healed.” A Centurion was a career military officer in the Roman army with control over 100 soldiers. Roman soldiers of all people were hated by the Jews for their oppression, control and ridicule. Yet, this man’s genuine faith proved amazing to Jesus. This Centurion’s enormous faith in the healing power of Jesus Christ put to shame and ridicules the stagnant piety of many of the Jewish religious leaders. The Centurion could have allowed many obstacles to stand between him and Jesus—pride, doubt, money, language, distance, time, self-sufficiency, power, race etc. But he didn’t. If this foreigner from the Jewish context did not allow any of these barriers and obstacles to stop him from approaching Jesus and asking Him for a favor, we too do not need any barrier or obstacle to stop us—because He came for the sole purpose of saving us and He died to set us free from tyranny of sin, evil and deceit of the evil one.

Dear friends, as we face God today on this first week of the season of advent, let us quickly identify and leave behind those or any obstacle that might draw us apart from our loving Savior’s embrace. As the Centurion did by demonstrating his trusting faith in the Messiah not minding any reproach or criticism from people, we too can approach Jesus with trusting faith and ask Him to take care of our needs, worries, concerns, struggles, challenges and issues in life. Remember that He is never ashamed to listen to us and take care of us. He Himself made this abundantly clear in the gospel of John 10: 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus came into the world to teach us about the love, goodness and mercy of God which endures forever. He came to set us free from slavery to sin, to liberate us from the shackles of evil and death and to lead us joyfully to the eternal banquet of heaven (Isaiah 25: 6-9). The Centurion in today’s gospel passage did not allow any man-made obstacle to stand between him and the healing he so much desired to receive from Jesus. We too should not allow anything to distance us from the love of Jesus who loved us even to the point of laying down His own life for our salvation and the salvation of the world. What keeps you away from the love of Jesus Christ? The advent season offers you a wonderful opportunity to address this in your life.

Wishing you an amazing and awesome day. 

God loves you and so do I


Daily Reflection: December 3, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:

Saint Francis Xavier was born in Navarre Spain and studied in Paris where he became one of the original seven members of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Society of Jesus—The Jesuits. The thought that in God’s providence he would become one of the Church’s greatest missionary saints, comparable to Saint Paul, never entered the mind of the young Basque nobleman Francis whose only ambition was to become a distinguished scholar and Doctor of Philosophy. But at the famous University of Paris, the young Francis fell under the spell of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who during two years of companionship never ceased to admonish him thus: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, if he suffer the loss of his own soul?” Francis was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood at the age of 31 and after a rigorous 40-day fasting and spiritual preparation, celebrated his first Holy Mass. After a while, he became sick and could no longer preach at Bologna—Italy. Later, while serving St Ignatius as his personal Secretary a call came from King John of Portugal for Jesuit missionaries to be sent to the East Indies. After only a day’s notice, Francis set out with the Portuguese ambassador on the three months trip across the Alph and Spain to Lisbon. While on board the ship for the 11,000-mile sea voyage, Francis nursed and comforted the sick, preached and taught catechism to fellow passengers. Amid many spiritual and pastoral accomplishments and zeal for the conversion of souls, Francis succumbed to fever on December 2, 1552 only 46 years of age. When he finally died, his body was taken to Goa in 1553 and has remained incorrupt to the present day. He was canonized by Pope Saint Gregory XV in 1622. He is regarded as the apostle of the Indies, the patron saint of the Propagation of faith and of all missions of India, Japan, China and Australia where he fervently preached and brought more than 30,000 souls to Christ.
In the previous passage, we read how Jesus sent out seventy two disciples to preach, teach and heal in all the territories He Himself was going to visit. They were to preach about the coming kingdom and repentance from sin in preparation for the coming of the glorious kingdom of God. On their return from this mission, the seventy-two disciples shared the story of their accomplishments with Jesus and rest of the disciples. They shared how at the mention of the name of Jesus, Satan and his emissaries were subdued. Today’s gospel passage shows us Jesus’ response to the success story of His disciples’ ministry among the people. Jesus offered thanks and praise to God and explained that spiritual truth was indeed for everyone and not just for the elite. Many of the rewards received in life go to the intelligent, the rich, the powerful, the good-looking, the wealthy, but on the contrary, the Kingdom of God is available to all, regardless of a person’s position, status or abilities. We come to the presence of Jesus not through our strength or brains or intelligence, but through childlike faith and trust. But by no means is Jesus opposed to those who engage in scholarly pursuits and power, instead, He is opposed to people who harbor spiritual pride. It was obvious the disciples had a fantastic time in their relationship and association with Jesus—they were eyewitnesses of Christ the only begotten Son of God. For several months, in the course of their association with Jesus, they took Him for-granted, not really listening to Him, obeying or understanding Him. They realized and understood His mission after His suffering, death and resurrection from the dead. That same Jesus is with us today and always, His name is Emmanuel—God is with us.

Dear Friends, as we face God today, let us remember that we ourselves—the Christians and believers in His name are in a privileged position. With knowledge of over 2,000 years of Church History, with the Sacred Scriptures in hundreds of languages and translations to guide us, and with the presence of the Lord in the Sacraments especially in the Blessed Eucharist, we have been equipped adequately for the position of ministry and service as His disciples. But often, we take things for-granted. As we begin our advent journey which will culminate in our celebration of Christmas—the birth of our Messiah, let us remember that with privilege comes responsibility. Because we have been privileged to know so much about Jesus Christ, we must be prepared to follow Him unreservedly with our whole heart. We must be prepared to joyfully announce and share His goodness, love and mercy everywhere. Like John the Baptist, let us be messengers of peace as we prepare our hearts and lives for the celebration of one of the greatest mysteries of our salvation.  

Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us.

God loves you and so do I


Daily Reflection: December 4, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:
In today’s gospel passage, we read about Jesus’ miraculous feeding of about four thousand people in a deserted mountainous area. At the end of their day’s ministry, Jesus and His disciples retired to the deserted place to rest for a while. However, a huge number of people followed them bringing to Him the sick—the lame, the blind, the mute and many others who were suffering from various kinds of diseases and ailments. They laid them down at the feet of Jesus and moved with pity and compassion, He healed them all thereby drawing astonishing admiration and approval from the crowd. Filled with joy and appreciation, they gladly offered praise and thanks to God for the miraculous healing that was made manifest in their presence. In the end, Jesus felt pity for the crowd because they have been with Him for days and have had nothing to eat. Thus, He instructed the disciples to give them something to eat. The disciples could only provide seven bread and a few fish. Jesus offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God on the bread and fish and instructed the disciples to share them to the people. The people were instructed to sit on the grass and eat the bread and fish. The disciples did as He commanded and, in the end, He asked them to pick up the fragments of leftovers. They went ahead to pick up the fragments--seven baskets full. Jesus had already fed more than 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish in a separate incident. Here, in a similar situation, the disciples were again filled with wonder and admiration. 

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that Jesus Christ is still in our midst as our teacher, preacher and healer. He heals all our sicknesses and infirmities at no cost—above all He heals us from spiritual illness and sin. Jesus is still able to heal broken lives, broken marriages and relationships, broken hearts and spirits, and indeed all brokenness in life. He can fill and fix all our emptiness and dryness, He alone can fix the puzzles that worry, trouble and stress us up daily but we need to give Him all the pieces of the puzzle through prayer. We can as well bring suffering people and situations to Him and He will certainly restore them to fullness of life and peace. Who do you know that needs Jesus’ healing touch today? You can bring them to Jesus through prayers or even through mere explanation to them about what Jesus can do for them—about how Jesus can transform their lives, about the goodness, love and mercy of God. How He alone can make them whole and strong again. When you have done your part, then allow Jesus to do the rest. Unfortunately, like the disciples we easily throw up our hands in despair and surrender when difficult situations confront us. We often forget that if God cared for us in the past, He will as well care for us now and even more. So, when faced with difficult situations remember how God cared for you and trust Him again and He will certainly go beyond your expectation and imagination.

Have a faith—filled and spirit—filled day.

God loves you and so do I


Daily Reflection: December 5, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:

Today’s gospel passage is the concluding part of the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus issues stern warning to His followers by saying that not everyone who talks about heaven belongs to God’s kingdom. Jesus is more concerned about our walk than our talk. It is more important to Him that we do what is right and not just say what is right. We must match our profession of faith with actual obedience to the will of God. This we can accomplish when we build our lives on the firm foundation of His teaching. To worship God without making a serious commitment to Him is mere hypocrisy. A Christian believer’s sincerity can be determined not by what he or she says but by what he or she does. No wonder St. James admonishes us thus: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1: 22). A Christian cannot use fine words as a substitute for fine deeds. What we do as Christians cannot be separated from what we believe. Jesus in today’s gospel passage exposed people who sounded religious but had no personal relationship with Him. On the Day of Judgment, only our relationship with Christ—our acceptance of Him as our personal Lord and Savior and our obedience to Him will matter. Many people are confused thinking that if they appear to be good and say religious things, they will be rewarded with eternal life. My brothers and sisters in Christ, it really doesn’t work that way. Using the example of a man who built his house on firm rock and solid foundation, Jesus contrasts the fool who built his house on loose sand in the summer. The former is a wise man who practices what he believes while the latter is a fool who does not practice his religious beliefs. To build on solid rock refers to a hearing and responding disciple as opposed to a phony and superficial disciple who built on sand. Thus, only a house constructed with solid and firm foundation can resist the flood and storm. In like manner, only a Christian whose life has a very strong spiritual foundation can stand the test of the evil one. The example with the two builders teaches us about the two ways in life—the way to perfect righteousness and the way to self-righteousness. On the Day of Judgment, the former will stand while the latter will perish. To practice obedience is therefore the solid foundation that the Christian needs to overcome the storms of life.

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, we need to put into practice what we profess by word of mouth. At the end of every Mass, the Church sends us out into the world by saying: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”. The Church sends us out as ambassadors of Christ to preach and announce His gospel message of salvation as well as His goodness everywhere—in our places of work, at home, at school, in the grocery stores and malls etc. The true test of our Sunday worship therefore is the effect it has in us as we relate to people in the course of our daily activities. The care and compassion, the kindness and support we offer to our neighbors and friends, colleagues and loved ones speak volumes about who we truly are. We need to build up our families on the strong foundations of faith and in accord with the teachings of Jesus Christ. There cannot be any great marriage, any great family, and any great children without solid foundations in Jesus Christ who admonished us thus. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 4-5). 

As followers of Jesus Christ, God has given us authority, therefore we can confidently speak and act on His behalf because He has authorized us.

God loves you and so do I.