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Monthly Archives: April 2019

BARNABAS: THE SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Today’s First Reading: Acts 4:32-37 – 2nd WEEK OF EASTER: Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The nickname “Barnabas” literally means “son of encouragement”, or “encourager”. Barnabas made a generous financial gift to the apostles for the sake of helping the poor members of the Christian community. Perhaps the apostles gave him his nickname because of his generosity. After all, people are encouraged by the example of someone who demonstrate great generosity and dependence on the Lord.

Barnabas was generous not only in material ways; he was also generous in the way he related to other people. He seemed always willing to accept those whom people shunned. For example, after Paul became a Christian, the believers in Jerusalem avoided him because of his reputation as an enemy and persecutor of the Church. But Barnabas was able to persuade them to accept Paul as a genuine disciple (Acts 9:26-28).

Barnabas’ generosity also showed itself in his ability to make allowances for human weakness. When Paul accused Mark, another missionary of being unworthy of the job, Barnabas defended him. True, Mark had abandoned Barnabas and Paul in the middle of their first missionary journey. Taking the unpopular position, Barnabas tried to convince Paul to give him a second chance (Acts 13:13; 15:36-41).

 God want us to take note of Barnabas’ generous example and find ways we can become encouragers ourselves. Acts of generosity to the poor, or gesture of kindness to the lonely, or even the decision to give someone a second chance – all these are ways we can encourage our sisters and brothers in Christ.

There’s nothing more inspiring than the witness of someone who is convinced that Jesus will sustain him in every situation. Such an example helps us believe that we too can take Jesus at His word. We don’t have to be accomplished speakers to encourage other people. We don’t have to be always reminding them of their good  qualities to inspire them. We just need to live a life of trust and surrender to Jesus, as Barnabas did. Then our lives will become sources of hope and encouragement for everyone we meet.

Jakarta, 30 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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PHILIPPIANS 4:13

Jakarta, 30 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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NICODEMUS SOUGHT JESUS AT NIGHT

Today’s Gospel Reading: John 3:1-8 – 2nd WEEK OF EASTER: Monday, 29 April 2019

Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus sought Jesus out at night, possibly to avoid discovery by his peers. He believed that there was something of God’s work in what Jesus said and did, something worth pursuing. Yet, even though he took a risk to meet Jesus, and even though he detected God’s work through this rabbi, Jesus insisted that this noble-minded religious leader be “born anew” (John 3:3) in order to see the Kingdom of God.

“How can a man be born when he is old?” (John 3:4). The statement baffled Nicodemus’ logic. It may even have moved him to reconsider Jesus’ credentials. but Jesus explained that until Nicodemus was “born anew” by the Spirit of God, he would remain bound by the shadowy limitations of human reasoning. Just as he came to Jesus under the cover of physical darkness, he would remain in spiritual darkness without the transforming effect of this new birth.

Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus shows that without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, we can miss out on the fullness of truth. We can be good people with good intentions, but our relationship with Jesus will be determined more by how well we obey the commandments and love others than it will simply by our intentions. But when we seek the transforming power of the Spirit, we become partakers of the very nature of God, empowered by the Spirit not only to obey God, but to become like God.

As Christians, we have chosen to accept the Apostles’ Creed, renounce sin, and receive Christ as our Savior and Lord. Yet every day, we need to acknowledge and live according to the spiritual “new birth” that is ours. We were “born anew” in the Spirit so that we could walk in the Spirit with increasing maturity (Galatians 5:16-25). Let us pursue the Holy Spirit every day in prayer as we experience a living relationship with Jesus, the lover of our souls.

Jakarta, 29 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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MARK 10:27

Jakarta, 29 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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MARK 11:24

Jakarta, 28 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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JESUS CAME AND STOOD IN THEIR MIDST: 2nd Sunday of Easter [Year C] – John 20:19-31

Jakarta, 28 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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MY LORD AND MY GOD

MY LORD AND MY GOD

(A biblical reflection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 28 April 2019)

[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 5:12-16; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,16-18,22-27; Second Reading: Revelation 1:9-13,17-19 

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)

In the resurrection stories in John’s Gospel, the author emphasizes the physical characteristics of Jesus’ resurrected body. He does so because some early Christians questioned the idea of bodily resurrection and said that what the apostles really saw was Jesus’ spirit or ghost, not His physical body. Responding to these beliefs, the author of the fourth Gospel was careful to point out that the resurrected Jesus had flesh and bone and that He ate and drank. He wanted to make it clear that the resurrected body was none other than the crucified one.

Today’s Gospel begins with all of the apostles except Thomas hiding in a locked room in fear that they would be arrested and killed just as Jesus was. Without warning, Jesus appears in their midst even though the windows and doors are bolted shut. The apostles cannot believe it! They saw Him crucified and they saw Him die but now He is alive once again!

When Thomas returns, the apostles excitedly tell him all about their experience with the risen Jesus but he refuses to believe them without first putting his fingers in the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and in the wound in Jesus’ side. Notice that Thomas doesn’t say anything about nail marks in Jesus’ feet, possibly because the Romans may have used ropes instead of nails to affix a criminal’s feet to the cross. Therefore, there wouldn’t have been any nail marks in Jesus’ feet for Thomas to examine.

Thomas didn’t accept what the other apostles told him until he saw Jesus himself. The nail marks and the other wounds were the proof he needed to believe the resurrected Jesus was neither a ghost nor the product of imagination but rather the same Jesus who died on the cross.

Although we will always remember Thomas as the one who doubted, he was actually one of the bravest and most loyal of the apostles. In John 11, there’s a story about Jesus was on His way to Bethany even though He knew there were some men in that city who wanted to kill Him. Thomas recognized the potential danger but didn’t back away from it; he suggested that he and the other apostles go with Jesus so they could die with Him. Whatever Thomas’ faults were, cowardice wasn’t one of them.

Many times we are like Thomas, wanting to see before we believe. Is there anything in Christianity that we (you and I) have difficulty believing? Let’s take our doubts and questions to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to help us believe.

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 260-261.)

Prayer: Jesus, You are my loving Lord and Savior. I long to see Your face. Heal my unbelief, so that I can bow before You and proclaim, “My Lord and My God”. Amen.

Jakarta, 27 April 2019 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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TWO UNEDUCATED, ORDINARY MEN

Today’s First Reading: Acts 4:13-21 – OCTAVE OF EASTER – EASTER SATURDAY: 27 April 2019

Have you ever caught yourself looking down on people less educated than you? In a society that stresses knowledge and power, this can be a common problem. We tend to think that more highly educated people speak with greater authority on most subjects. Yet, in God’s eyes, this “ain’t necessarily so.”

The boldness of Peter and John amazed the religious leaders. These Jewish officials, schooled in the fine points of the Mosaic Law, viewed the apostles as “uneducated and ordinary men” (Acts 4:13). It is easy to imagine the disdain the religious experts might have felt for this relatively uneducated pair. Yet for all their learning, the leaders could not find the words to reply to Peter’s proclamation of Jesus or to contradict the powerful testimony of the healed man standing before them. The apostles were fulfilling the promise that Jesus made: “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict (Luke 21:15).

True wisdom – and the boldness to proclaim it – comes from God. The lives of plain, ordinary people throughout Christian history have demonstrated this truth. St. Bernadette was an extremely poor and barely literate fourteen-year-old girl when the Virgin Mary appeared to her in 1858. In reaction to her remarkable experiences, many well-educated people, including civic and church leaders, tried to discredit her. Yet, through all of the testing and questioning, Bernadette remained steadfast and faithfully told what she had seen and heard. And her humble witness to truth from on high has brought thousands to the Lord.

Don’t you find it both encouraging and refreshing to know that God doesn’t dole out His gifts based solely on the number of hours we spend in a classroom? He gives to those who love him. Each of us can become a source of faith and encouragement to the people around us as we immerse ourselves in His love and His word. Jesus has promised that He will be with us always. Let’s turn to Him right now and let Him fill us up and send us out into the world.

Jakarta, 27 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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JAMES 4:4

Jakarta, 27 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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BOLD AND COURAGEOUS FAITH

Today’s First Reading: Acts 4:1-12 – OCTAVE OF EASTER – EASTER FRIDAY: 26 April 2019

The person who lives in the region of faith dwells in the realm of miracles! That’s why Jesus told His disciples that if we say to a mountain, with faith. “Be taken up and thrown into the sea”, it really will happen. It’s also why He said that if we believe we have received what we ask for in prayer, it will be ours (Mark 11:23-24).

Peter and John had this kind of bold faith as they healed a lame man and courageously faced the Sanhedrin. They even tried to evangelize their accusers! Imprisoned overnight and now facing the possibility of further punishment, Peter boldly proclaimed the truth that salvation is in Jesus alone.

God wants us to know that we can have the same kind of courageous faith the apostles had. We can have the same faith that Mother Teresa had when she picked up the first dying person on the streets of Calcutta. She didn’t know what God had in store for her, but believing that He had called her to India, she responded. Then, as she stepped out in faith, more and more extraordinary things happened, to the point that an entire religious order was born to minister to the poorest of the poor. All because of one act of faith, Mother Teresa became a living witness to the power of the Gospel.

How will you witness to God today? Maybe by reaching out to a lonely neighbor, or by maintaining a peaceful disposition in a chaotic situation? Will it be by expressing words of kindness or encouragement to a friend at work or in your neighborhood? If these things are already part of your daily approach, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how your witness an broaden and extend to even more people. Perhaps you might visit someone who is sick, or take on some new form of service in your parish or your community. Whatever you do, let the Holy Spirit lead you and fill you with the courage and boldness of Peter and John.

Jakarta, 26 April 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2019

 

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