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Daily Reflection: September 20, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today is the memorial of the Korean martyrs. Today’s memorial honors a group of 103 martyrs from Korea, who gave their lives during several persecutions in the 19th century. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean priest, born in Seoul to convert to the Faith. He traveled 1300 miles to the nearest seminary in South China for his priestly formation and training. Prompted by his faith in God and his love for the Christian people, he found a new way to achieve the difficult task of making a missionary enter Korea. However, just one year and a month after his priestly ordination, he was put to death by the sword when he was barely 26 years old while the sacred oil of ordination was still fresh in his hands. One of his companions Paul Chong Hasang was a lay missionary. Paul and Augustine Yu Chin-gil and Charles Cho Shin-Chol made several visits to Peking in order to find new ways of introducing missionaries into Korea. Since the persecution of 1801, there had been no priest to care for the Christian communities. Finally, they succeeded in opening a new chapter in the history of the extension of the Church in Korea with the arrival of a bishop and some priests of the Paris Foreign Mission Society. Among those who were martyred were three Bishops and seven Priests. The rest of the group members were composed of heroic lay people of all ages. Pope Saint John Paul II canonized them in 1984, during his visit to Korea.

In today’s gospel passage, we read about the women who accompanied Jesus and His apostles in His preaching and teaching ministry. In the ancient times, strict rabbis would not speak to a woman in public and the very strict ones would not speak even to their wives in the streets or public places. So, in doing this, Jesus lifted women up from the agony of degradation and servitude to the joy of fellowship and service. In the Jewish cultural context, women were not supposed to learn from rabbis. By allowing these women to travel with Him, Jesus was showing that all people are equal in the sight of God. These women supported the ministry of Jesus with their personal money, gifts and talents. They owed a great debt to Him because from some of them He had driven out demons and the rest He had healed of various infirmities. Through this gospel passage, we get to see and know few of the people behind the scene during the public ministry of Jesus.  

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that the work of evangelization handed over to us by Jesus through His apostles is for all believers to share in—whether as a clergy or a lay faithful. The Korean martyrs sacrificed their lives for the sake of the gospel message in a country that didn’t want to have anything to do with Christianity. Now they enjoy the eternal banquet prepared for all of us in heaven. In today’s gospel passage, we see a list of women whose help were very practical in the life and ministry of Jesus. Being women, they were not allowed to preach in the Jewish cultural context of that time, but they gave the gifts and talents they had in order to help in the growth and spread of the gospel message. There is no gift or talent which cannot be used in the service of Jesus Christ and His Church. Many of His greatest servants are in the background, unseen but essential to His cause. Can He count on you today to be one of the unseen hands that work behind the scene in the spreading and propagation of His gospel message in your community and Church?   

 God loves you and so do I

 

Daily Reflection: September 21, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Matthew; he was an apostle and an evangelist. Originally named Levi, he was a publican and a collector of customs duties for the Roman government when Jesus called him to be His follower. Filled with great joy he organized a great feast in his home for Jesus and His disciples as well as his fellow tax collectors. It was natural for Matthew to rejoice in his new calling and vocation by celebrating with his friends who were considered outcasts in the eyes of the people. As a result of this, the Pharisees were filled with anger when they saw Jesus and His disciples eating and drinking with these despised publicans, extortionists and traitors. Aside these few facts however, not much was known about this great apostle Matthew. It was obvious that he knew Greek language and was accustomed to writing in Greek for he had certain amount of education. The name Matthew (Mattija meaning ‘Gift of Yahweh’) was probably given to him by Jesus. He became one of the first apostles who sat down to put into writing the essential events of our Lord’s life and discourses as he himself had witnessed them and as have been taught orally by the apostles. His gospel was written in Aramaic which was the language widely used by many Jews and others at the time of Christ. The gospel of Matthew was written not just as a complete biography of Jesus but as a means of consolidating the faith of the Jewish Christians, who were still exposed to the strong Judaic influences. The gospel was also written to persuade his still unconverted Jewish brethren to accept the Good News of Salvation which Jesus brought for the salvation of all. 

In today's gospel passage, we read how Jesus called Matthew to the apostolic service. Jesus spoke two words: “Follow Me” and Matthew got up and followed Him. This calling of Matthew as an apostle reminds us of the immensity of God’s love for us sinners and challenges us to put into practice this same love shown to us by God in our relationship with others. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus and so they thought His association with these lowlifes was the perfect opportunity. They were more concerned with their own outward appearance of holiness than with helping people; with criticizing people than offering encouragement and support; with outward respect from people than practical help. On the contrary, God is concerned for all people both the hurting and the sinful. The Christian life is not a popularity contest. To be able to follow Jesus’ example, we must be ready to share the gospel message with the poor, immoral, lonely, outcast, etc. and not only the rich, the popular and the powerful.    

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that when God calls us to His ministry, we must follow or obey Him, like Matthew did in today’s gospel. Matthew got up and followed Him leaving behind his lucrative career and job. Sometimes, the decision to follow Jesus requires difficult and painful decisions on our part but like Matthew we must be open to accept Him wholeheartedly. When Jesus visited Matthew with His disciples, He hurt His own reputation before the Jewish Religious leaders. Matthew was a tax collector, generally considered a public sinner by all Jewish people but Jesus found and changed his life. We too should not be afraid to reach out to people who are living in sin—the Good News from God can change even the worst sinner. Let us listen to His voice today as His words resound in our ears: "Follow Me." 

God loves you and so do I
 
 
Daily Reflection: September 22, 2019

JOKES: 1) Trustworthy with dishonest wealth?  Abraham wanted a new suit, so he bought a nice piece of cloth and then tried to locate a tailor. The first tailor he visited looked at the cloth and measured Abraham, then told him the cloth was not enough to make a suit. Abraham was unhappy with this opinion and sought another tailor. This tailor measured Abraham, then measured the cloth, and then smiled and said, "There is enough cloth to make a pair of trousers, a coat and a vest, please come back in a week to take your suit." After a week Abraham came to take his new suit and saw the tailor's son wearing trousers made of the same cloth. Perplexed, he asked, "Just how could you make a full suit for me and trousers for your son, when the other tailor could not make a suit only?" "It's very simple," replied the tailor, "The other tailor has two sons."

2) Estate Planning: Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune. One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. "I may look like just an ordinary man," he said to her, "but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit 20 million dollars." Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later she became his stepmother. Are crooked women so much better at estate planning than crooked men?

    

My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today’s readings speak to us about the need to be faithful stewards of the gifts given to us by a loving and merciful God. In our first reading today, the Prophet Amos one of the minor and writing prophets who prophesied in Israel about 8th century BC speaks to us about Social Justice. As God’s children, we all are called to practice justice and mercy towards all because God’s mercy is upon the just and the humble but His anger blazes against those who oppress others especially the poor, the needy and the hungry. In today’s second reading, St Paul calls on every one of us to be intercessors. We are to pray and intercede for our leaders, for those in authority and especially for everyone. Such intercessory prayers can help us to live exemplary lives and to do things that are pleasing to God that we may be saved on the Last Day.
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus seemed to be praising an unjust steward for being crooked and for doing dirty business. Saint Augustine once said, “I can’t believe that this story came from the lips of our Lord.” The steward was a complete rascal, but his master praised him for his shrewdness because he acted with foresight. He was faced with the sudden return of his master and the inevitable audit of the accounts, but he cleverly converted his master’s debtors into his debtors and friends. In doing this favor to the tenants, he made his master look good in their sight while buying himself favors from the debtors. The gospel challenges us to use our God given talents so wisely so that they will serve for our eternal good in eternity. In telling this parable, Jesus reminds us that our earthly resources will eventually run out and rot away. We should therefore use our material resources, talents, gifts and time for the good of others in order to cement our place in the real and permanent life of eternity. We must use our God given gifts to help the poor, the hungry, the starving and the needy and in doing so, we become friends with God. A man’s true wealth does not consist in what he owns but in what he gives away.

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember the practical advice today’s parable gives us. All of us are stewards to whatever gifts, talents, treasure that God has so generously entrusted into our care and we must someday give Him account of our use of those resources. So many of us are forever busy preparing ourselves for all kinds of things most of which will never happen. But are we truly preparing ourselves for that which will certainly happen one day—death and judgment? “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5: 10). We must remember that we are only caretakers of our earthly goods and God alone is the owner. The steward in today’s gospel used all the resources at his disposal to secure his future. He knew for certain that his master would fire him, so he made a very quick arrangement with his master’s debtors who would be grateful to him and then support him when eventually he is fired. We must therefore stride into the future with confidence—not really in ourselves or our abilities, but in the power and grace of God as we use our God given talents, gifts and treasure to serve Him in serving His people.

Have a magnificent and awesome day!
God loves you and so do I

 

Daily Reflection: September 23, 2019

My Dear Friends in Christ:
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus reminds us of our Christian vocation and duties. Our principal duty as Christians is to be the light of Christ in our world—a light that shines amid darkness. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house…” (Matthew 5: 14-15).  This light is supposed to light up our hearts thereby radiating through us the mercy, love, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion of God to others. In today’s gospel, Jesus used proverbial wisdom to impress on His disciples and indeed on all of us that the word of God which they have heard from Him must be shared with others. People make use of the lamps to see and navigate their way through darkness and to do other chores like reading or working at night. Light thus prevents people from stumbling and falling. In the Jewish cultural context, light represents the truth, inner beauty and goodness of God. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall, I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27: 1). Jesus Himself claimed to be the light of the world. “Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8: 12). If we respectfully listen to the words of Christ and allow them to grow in our hearts, we will certainly gain His wisdom and understanding, and this will help us to grow in His love and love of the Father. But if our hearts are closed to Him, we will lack understanding and whatever wisdom we think we have gained will be lost completely. Jesus wants us to be personally connected with God His heavenly Father because if we are deeply connected with God our spirits will flourish and grow richer and richer. We will gain wisdom of heart. On the contrary, if our connection with God is not deeply rooted or is superficial, it will not grow and it will suddenly wither away and die.

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, may we always remember that we have the Christian duty to share His light and blessings with our neighbors. When the light of truth about the goodness of God, His mercies and kindness illuminate us, it is our duty to shine that light that others may see. We must not keep to ourselves the benefits we graciously receive from God but must share and pass them to others. In order to be helpful, we need to be well placed. May we continue to seek opportunities to be present when unbelievers, the brokenhearted, the addicted, and those who are lost seek or need assistance. Sharing and applying God’s word helps us to grow more in the knowledge of Him—this is a principle of growth in physical, mental and spiritual life. For instance, a muscle when exercised will continue to grow stronger, but when it is not exercised it grows weak and flabby. In like manner, if you are not growing stronger in your faith day by day, you are indeed growing weaker. How are you using what God has taught you to spread His light in the world that is seemingly shrouded in darkness of sin?  

God loves you and so do I