HE SHALL BUILD A HOUSE…

THE FEAST OF ST JOSEPH

2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14,16

4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 

16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'” 

Romans 4:13,16-18,22

13 The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants– not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” –in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.” 22 That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” 

Matthew 1:16,18-21,24

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. 

20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,

MEDITATION

NATHAN THE PROPHET is instructed to appoint David the shepherd son of Jacob to build a house made of cedar,because God desired that He reside in a permanent “dwelling” place, no longer in a tent which was prone to the onslaught of the enemies of God. David also received the promise that from His offspring shall the permanent kingdom of God be ushered in. 

St PAUL writes that the Abrahamic promise made by God came to fulfilment because of Abrahams “righteousness,” that  was born out of his faithfulness to God. Faith is a root word that describes spiritual virtues of trust,reliance,hope and confidence in the Divine providence of God. Faith is a product of God’s sanctifying grace that is ordered to perfect the person of God making us a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17) in right standing with the Father. 

St MATTHEWS GOSPEL account recognize God’s faithfulness in the Abrahamic promise to fulfill the prophecy that from the Davidic lineage will be born the Messiah.Matthew is clear in his discription that Joseph was the husband of Mary when he became aware that she was “with child!” Joseph, knowing that both he and Mary had made a public special Nazarite vow “to not come together” in the conjugal act (Num 30:1-7), was not sure what to make of her pregnancy which motivated his virtues act of charity to spare her the shame of being being stoned to death if she committed adultery,hence he thought it wise to send her away! 

It took an angel of God to reveal to Joseph (1) that he was of the lineage of David. (2) That his offspring shall establish God’s kingdom. (3) His offspring shall build a permanent house wherein God shall dwell forever and (4) God had overshadowed Mary which is the fulfilment of His promise to establish His Kingdom! Joseph’s obedience, faith and trust in God’s Divine Providence spurred him to now unquestionably embrace Mary because he believed God’s word! St Joseph exemplify the faith and obedience of his forefather Abraham, who took God at his word once he received the revelation. Just like his forefather, he received God’s message in a “dream” but without any further enquiry or investigation or doubt as to the implications of the relevation, he took up his ‘cross’ and embraced the Mother and Son of God! 

God desire to establish His home in you and me. Whatever trail or decision you may face today, listen and respond to the voice of reason and Truth with fortitude trust in God’s Divine Providence!

LET US PRAY: Psalms 89:2-5,27,29

2 For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens. 3 Thou hast said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations.'” 5 Let the heavens praise thy wonders, O LORD, thy faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth. 

29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens. 

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast

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YOU REFUSE TO COME TO ME…

Exodus 32:7-14

7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'” 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; 

10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation.” 11 But Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does thy wrath burn hot against thy people, whom thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 

13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thine own self, and didst say to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.'” 

14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people. 

John 5:31-47

31 If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; 32 there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. 

33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 

35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 

41 I do not receive glory from men. 

42 But I know that you have not the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. 

46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

MEDITATION

THE FIRST READING recounts the story of a restless stubborn people who were disenchanted about Moses’ drawn out visit to God that left them with no sense of purpose. The saying that an “idle mind is a devil’s workshop” came true in this instance when the Israelites succumbed to ennui and requested Aaron to fashion a golden calf for them to practice some form of worship. The crime of Aaron and the people is that they gave honor to their created false god for saving them from the Egyptians   which elicited the wrath of God! 

Moses interceded and sought Gods mercy for the people. He posited that if indeed God punished the people, the Egyptians would lick their lips at the expense of the Israelites whose escape from their clutches would have been in vain.

THE GOSPEL sees Our Lord being at pains to provide corroborated evidence that He is the Son of God, the fulfilment of the prophets and Moses as testified by John the Baptist! Jesus unequivocally affirms that He is the “form” of God, meaning He bears God’s image,revealed to man so that we may be reconciled to God! The Nicene Creed promulgated by the Church at the First Council of Nicaea in 325AD affirm Jesus’ words in our confession of faith: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man…” 

Today’s reading is akin to a legal counselor who presents his closing arguments to a jury or judge that intends to seek mercy for His clients to be spared and not convicted because of the sins they have committed. We are, and or will be the convicted parties if we do not have the love of God within us says Jesus! To “believe” is to give assent to God and allow the Holy Spirit to permeate our lives and live out the Gospel message. 

Our Lord is cognitive of the fact that He did not provide his audience with a written document, deliberately so (v 47), because Moses did provide a written document and yet the people refused to heed his message. Jesus intended that His words be written on our hearts and be lived out in deeds and words and not merely be confined to be a ‘paper god’ to use as evidence of our beliefs! Christ’s oral teaching was received by the Apostles who have handed the ‘deposit of faith’ to us through His Church that we may appropriate and fulfill God’s words and be saved on the last day.  

LET US PRAY: Psalms 106:19-23

19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. 

20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 

21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, 

22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea. 

23 Therefore he said he would destroy them– had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them. 

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast

MY FATHER IS WORKING…

Isaiah 49:8-15

8 Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered you, in a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; 9 saying to the prisoners, ‘Come forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways, on all bare heights shall be their pasture; 10 they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. 11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be raised up. 12 Lo, these shall come from afar, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.” 

13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted. 14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” 

15 “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 

John 5:17-30

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” 

18 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 

22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, 27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. 30 “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

MEDITATION

THE FIRST READING describes a zealous, concerned,observant,caring Father who day in and day out concerns Himself with the daily and hourly needs of a people who desire to return and please the Father. To be sure, God the Father is the perfect five star maître d’ whose work of love is greater than a caring mother’s love for her child who desires to provide more than the basic needs,but to usher man into an eternal place of joy! 

St JOHN’S GOSPEL follows on from our Lord’s work of mercy and healing on the Sabbath which was punishable by death since the Torah forbade any Jew from doing any form of manual work on that holy day of obligation. Ex 31:14 Jesus responds to this deadly sentence that has been placed on Him and provides unobtrusive evidence of His divine nature! This matter is settled when we consider the objections leveled at Jesus’ when He forgave the sins of the paralytic. Mt 9:1-3;Jn 5:13 The Father and Son’s ‘oneness’ is undoubtedly revealed in our Lord’s words (vv 17-20) which nullify the accusation that Jesus profaned the Sabbath because God is continuously ‘working’ for the salvation of His people with and through His Son!

Moreover our Lord declares that His Father is not only concerned with the wellbeing of the living on earth to whom He offers His prevenient grace, but He is also concerned with those who died in a state of grace.To be sure, Jesus testify that beyond His death and resurrection the Father and He will ‘work’ and “speak to” the dead in an effort to release those who have died imperfectly in a state of grace. The rule that shall apply to separate the saved and damned is the evidence of their “good” versus “evil” works that were committed by us during our lifetime! We can confidently draw the inference that God is ‘working’ to release those who are in a state of purgation because of the prayers offered by the living Church on earth and the “cloud of witnesses” in heaven who participate in the prayers offered during the daily Eucharistic Celebration. Heb 12:1; Rev 8:3,4

LET US PRAY: Psalms 145:8-9,13-14,17-18

8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. 13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds. 

14 The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. 

17 The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. 

18 The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. 

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast

HOUSE OF MERCY…

Ezekiel 47:1-9,12

1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 

2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side. 3 Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins. 5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back along the bank of the river. 7 As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. 9 And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” 

John 5:1-16

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. 4 * Other ancient authorities insert, wholly or in part: waiting for the moving of the water 5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 

6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 

7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath.

MEDITATION

EZEKIEL PROPHECY the mode and trajectory of how the people of God shall be renewed beginning with the waters of baptism starting at the entrance of the temple in the baptismal font or mikvah where man is washed.The murky filthy water then passes through the altar at the sanctuary where it mingle with the blood of the Sacrificial lamb that flows into the Dead Sea and finally pass through the freshwater lake where it is made clean, purified and renewed.

The observant reader will have noticed the typological elements that prefigured Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this prophecy: We sign ourselves with holy water when we enter the church; After hearing the word we make the act of faith; We ask God’s pardon for our sins; The Sacrificial lamb is offered as we observe on bended knee how bread and wine is transformed into flesh and blood for the edification and healing of the repentant sinner who is in a state of grace!

St JOHN IN HIS DISCOURSE takes us to the entrance of the temple pool known as Bethsaida also known as the “house of mercy” where the afflicted awaits the ‘moving’ of the waters to effect their healing! Our Lord’s attempt to elicit an answer from a man who has been visiting the pool for thirty eight years,  receives a response that appears to be an excuse for his reticence to be healed. Christ identified that sin was the cause of this man’s debilitated condition. Without any further ado Jesus instructs the man to rise up and walk. This merciful intervention of our Lord raised the ire of the jews who sought to persecute Him for ‘working’ on the Sabbath!

The story of this paralyzed man reminds us of the proverb: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. More often than not we exemplify the mind and attitude of this unknown man who refuses to take one more step to secure our transformation away from sin. Our diatribe that seeks to excuse and blame our shortcomings on historical events and or other parties is very obvious to Christ who desires to heal us. What partly saved the debilitated man from his sinful condition, was his steadfastness to present himself daily at the temple. Healing awaits those of us who unrelentingly visit the confessional because some tough stains of sins require deep cleaning at the house of mercy where Christ awaits the broken sinner who desires to be healed and their sins washed away by His priest ‘in persona christi’ with the proviso that we don’t replace one bad condition with a new deliberating sin, as one penitent was advised by the priest! 

LET US PRAY: Psalms 46:2-3,5-6,8-9

2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 

3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early. 

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has wrought desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, he burns the chariots with fire! 

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast

YOUR SON WILL LIVE…

Isaiah 65:17-21

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 

18 But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 

John 4:43-54

43 After the two days he departed to Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 

45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. 

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.

And at Caperna-um there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 

48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 

50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. 

51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

MEDITATION

ISAIAH PROPHECY the establishment of a new heaven in Jerusalem (Rev 3:12) which St John gave witness to and affirm in his vision.This is a time to rejoice and be glad when tears, weeping and distress will be transformed into a time of joy because Satan’s power will be curbed.

St JOHN RECORDS Jesus’ departure from Samaria to His hometown in Galilee where He received a warm welcome. On this occasion a Roman official travelled seven hours to Galilee and approached our Lord to heal his son who was critically ill in Capernaum.  Jesus tells this father that his son will live and advise him to go home knowing that this man will not believe unless he sees signs of wonder! 

At face value the Roman officer appears to have had a strong faith in Christ when he travelled seven hours to Galilee to seek healing for his son, but alas the long journey he embarked upon to meet Christ did not necessarily enrich or build up the man’s faith in Christ’s power to perform miracles! 

Catechism 2088 “Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.” 

The official’s scepticism of Jesus’ promise to heal his son comes to light when he enquired from family members what time his son was healed! Only upon him correlating the time of healing and the time he spoke with Christ, did he fully believe in Christ’s power to heal?! May we guard against being in a state of spiritual blindness based on our personal false interpretation of or misunderstanding of scripture by submitting ourselves fully to Christ and His Church who is endowed with the power to teach, heal, bind and loose (Mt 18:17-18) us from our deafness and afflictions through the holy sacraments so we may rejoice on the last day.

LET US PRAY: Psalms 30:2,4-6,11-12

2 O LORD my God, I cried to thee for help, and thou hast healed me.4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 

6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, 12 that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever. 

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com   

Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world

THE LIGHT HAS COME…

2 Chronicles 36:14-17,19-24

14 All the leading priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; 

16 but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged; he gave them all into his hand. 19 And they burned the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels.

20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfil seventy years. 22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 

23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.'” 

Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 

5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 

6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — 

9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

John 3:14-21

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 

20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

MEDITATION

THE FIRST READING chronicles the unfaithfulness and disobedience that prevailed in Jerusalem to the extent that even the temple was polluted. In an effort to reconcile the people to God who send the prophets, but not even they were spared being percecuted by the people!

A remnant escaped the tarrany of destruction that saw the rebuilding of the kingdom in Persia where the people continued to keep the Sabbath! Finally King Cyrus “was moved” by the prevailing events which gave rise to his proclaimation to build a new temple in Jerusalem. This story examples God’s continues commitment to the promise to deliver the people and not give up on them.

St PAULS EPISTLE beautifully illustrate God’s mercy and forgiveness which emanate from His eternal love of us His children. We have been saved by grace which is a free gift of God that occured when Jesus offered His life for us. Paul wish to emphasize that our being saved has nothing to do with our “works,”lest any man should boast that they orchestrated that God send His Son!

Paul emphasize that God did not send His Son because of ‘fruits’ of the 613  “works of the law” rules that  the Israelites mandated. God desired that His people be obedient and walk in His way, therefore He send His Son to redeem us. Thus when we submit to Christ, we are recreated and reformed “for good works” (v10) in and through Him by walking not in our ways, but in His ways! 

St JOHN’S GOSPEL takes us back to the event when the people “spoke against God and Moses” apparently because there was “no food and water” which contradicted their follow on statement whereby they denounced the food they had! (Num 21:5) which led to the invasion of fiery serpents that caused many deaths! Finally, to reverse the calamitous situation, Moses was tasked to fashion a bronze serpent that became an instrument of healing and reconciliation to all who looked upon it!

St JOHN holds up Christ as the light of the world for those who desire mercy, forgiveness and His eternal love. The crucifix that hangs above the sanctuary in every Church around the world purposely bears the six holy wounds of Christ that was inflicted as a result of our disobedience and sinfulness. By looking up to the cross and prayerfully meditating on each of the wounds, we are called to reorder our lives and reverse our disparate way of reasoning and living which led to our state of sin and suffering! The cross of Christ is also a sign of suffering, repentence,  healing, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation that intends to dispel a life of darkness and move us to a rebirth in and through the light of Christ Jesus alone, which we receive in the Holy Sacraments our Lord instituted! 

LET US PRAY: Psalms 137:1-6

1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 

4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! 

6 Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world

BE MERCIFUL TO ME…

Hosea 6:1-6

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. 

2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. 3 Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” 4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. 

5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. 6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. 

Luke 18:9-14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

MEDITATION

HOSEA THE PROPHET offers balm for the afflicted soul who has wrenched the heart of God caused by harlotry. Hosea wishes to emphasize that sacrifices and burnt offerings is of no avail when the hearts and minds of the soul making the offering are devoid of sincere love! 

Hope is at hand for the repentant dry soul who has offended God.Verse two is a prophecy that points to the Son of God who shall offer his life, die and rise on the third day to reunify the repentant sinner to the Father.

St LUKE’S GOSPEL features a parable that must give pause to the believer who is of the view that because he or she have been “saved by the blood of Christ,” they are necessarily in right standing with God? The parable juxtaposes the prayer of a self acknowledged sinner and a self-righteous man who conclude that his bed is made in heaven!?

A paraphrase from the Council of Trent: Baptism is the ‘first spotless robe’ given by Christ to us His prodigal sons and daughters (Lk 15:22) that begins our walk with Christ whereby we are made righteous by and through His meritorious grace working through faith that prepare the impious sinner to be freely justified which is not merely a remission of sins, but is accompanied by sanctification and the renewal of the inward man by and of the gifts, whereby the unjust man becomes just. 

We are being saved-a work in progress- and receive God’s favour “day by day” when we humbly partake in the breaking of bread in the Holy Eucharist (Acts 2:46,47) and the sacrament of reconciliation when we beat our chest ‘Mea culpa,Mea culpa,Mea culpa!’ an acknowledgement of our state of sinfulness. You and I are an ongoing work of God’s mercy and grace. Our Lord is unambiguous in His admonition that if we exalt or elevate ourselves to the extent that we imply that we are a personification of righteousness, then we shall be found wanting on the last day! 

LET US PRAY: Psalms 51:3-4,18-19

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment. 18 Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, 19 then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar. 

catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world.

YOU ARE NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM…

Hosea 14:2-9

2 Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In thee the orphan finds mercy.” 4 I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. 5 I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar; 6 his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. 

7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon. 8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit. 9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. 

Mark 12:28-34

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.

MEDITATION

THE PROPHET HOSEA tempers his language that was predominantly critical of the disobedience of Israel whom he referred to as a “harlot” who chased after false lovers! An olive branch is offered to a people who were faithless false lovers, calling them to discern a new tranquil way of living with imagery reminiscent of the garden of Eden.This garden is a place where God shall overshadow His people that shall see the harvesting of good fruit and wine, but alas the unwise and transgressors shall not be allowed to take root.

St MARK’S GOSPEL continues with the theme of love between we the people and God which is to be a relationship that continues beyond the grave. Christ answers a question on the hierarchy of love in so far as it places God at the top followed by our love of neighbor being equal to how much we love ourselves. It follows that our degree of love for God will manifest or evidence the measure of our love for our neighbor and how we love ourselves! 

Three benchmarks are noted by our Lord to most perfectly harness our love relationships. Firstly, the ‘heart’ is the repository where virtues such as: patience, pity, empathy, consciousness, charity,care and kindness amongst others exist. The heart is the depth of our being where we decide for or against God. Secondly the mind refers to our sense and sensibilities to reason and discern between right and wrong which gives birth to the four cardinal virtues:Prudence; Justice; fortitude and temperance.

Finally the soul implies that we are God’s ‘imprint!’ The catechism says it best:366 “The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235″ If we do submit ourselves and listen to the Church our Lord established on St Peter which is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1Tm 3:16), then we are not far from the kingdom of God!

LET US PRAY: Psalms 81:6-11,14

6 “I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. 

7 In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! 9 There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 10 I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would have none of me. 14 I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their foes. 

Catholic Witness Apostolate             catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world.

THEY DID NOT OBEY…

Jeremiah 7:23-28

23 But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26 yet they did not listen to me, or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 27 “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips. 

Luke 11:14-23

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Be-elzebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. 

17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Be-elzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Be-elzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; 22 but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. 23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

MEDITATION

JEREMIAH THE PROPHET issues a stern warning to the people of Jerusalem who have turned a deaf ear to God,departed from His teachings, became stubborn and to top it off they have regressed from good to bad! Furthermore because of their indifference and stiff-neck uncompromising approach they became a law unto themselves.The devolved state of the people is as a result of their wilful disobedience, indiscipline and the abandonment of objective truths.

St LUKE continues our Lord’s teaching that demonstrates the effects of the Father’s love for the good of His children. Jesus healed a man who was under demonicial possession that disabled his speech faculties. Despite the evidence of transformation that caused the man to speak and reason, the naysayers wanted a “sign from heaven” to prove Christ’s divinity! Christ questions the authority and source of His interlocutors (vv 18-20) ‘powers’ to cast out demons, and warns that these diabolical powers will ultimately be their “judges!” 

Catechism: 1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. “Structures of sin” are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a “social sin.” 

Tertullian a Catholic priest who converted from paganism to Christianity in 197AD had this response on the matter of dealing with the diabolical: “All the authority and power we have over them is from our naming of the name of Christ and recalling to their memories the woes with which God threatens them at the hands of Christ as Judge and which they expect one day to overtake them. Fearing Christ in God and God in Christ, they become subject to the servants of God and Christ. So at our touch and breathing, overwhelmed by the thought and realization of those judgment fires, they leave at our command the bodies they have entered.”

The infamous question of Pilate (Jn 18:38) in the matter of ‘truth’ is again under the spotlight with manifestations of the diabolical that contradict sacred scripture causing division and strife. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that we are in a battle against the “dictatorship of relativism,” a willful disobedience that induces sin which is an act contrary to reason that seeks to undermine objective truths. This is a time that calls all Christians to earnestly unite in prayer against that which is evil and untrue!  

LET US PRAY: Psalms 95:1-2,6-9

1 O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 

7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would hearken to his voice! 8 Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 

Catholic Witness Apostolate             catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world.

KEEP THEM AND DO THEM…

Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

1 “And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, gives you. 

5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 

6 Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 

7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 

8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day? 

9 “Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children– 

Matthew 5:17-19

17 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. 

18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 

19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

MEDITATION

THE FIRST READING shed light on the need for ordinances and statutes that God has instituted and delivered to Moses. Both Moses and Aaron were the instruments of God who were tasked to lead God’s people out of Egypt away from slavery to the promised land.Ex 6:26 

In other words these men represented God as a temporal authority who engineered a battery of laws, instructions and the mode of worship to conscientize the people’s moral sense and to direct them to God in and through their worship and living practices.Moreover these legal and liturgical prescriptions required some “doing” or execution to deliver fruits of wisdom, understanding and actions that are justifiable and morally correct in guiding the people to the promised land! 

THE GOSPEL READING sees Jesus’ endorsement of the laws that Moses and Aaron instituted that were necessary so that the people may reach and live in the promised land.Duet 4:1 Typologically Jesus is the new Moses sent by the Father to fulfill the promise to deliver the people.Lk 9:30,31 Our Lord clarifies that His mission is to “fulfill” the laws which implies that He is the promised Messiah who gives effect to the laws. 

Our Lord closes the chapter of Moses and the prophet Elijah with Him being the embodiment of a “new covenant” (new testament) with laws and prescriptions that encapsulate the essence and design of God’s plan to save man and reconcile us to Him. The chosen apostles led by Simon Peter an authoritative body who were called to administer, execute and teach the new testament laws which continues to require a “doing” and execution by and with the flock so we may take possession of heaven! Our Lord did not write a book, but left us an oral Tradition that over many years were penned by some first century apostles and devoted followers of the apostles.These writings were eventually collated and promolgated as the authoritive written new covenant document by the Catholic Church after a series of councils in the fourth century.

LET US PRAY: Psalms 147:12-13,15-16,19-20

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your sons within you. 15 He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. 19 He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. 

20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the LORD! 

Catholic Witness Apostolate             catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world.

A NEW COVENANT