Tag Archives: Sunday

2nd Sunday of Easter

Today is the second Sunday of Easter; and with it we conclude the Octave of Easter.

On this day we celebrate the Divine Mercy: Years ago, in the 1930s, Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska and promised her that He would bestow His Divine Mercy on any sinner, who would repent his sins, no matter how grave they were. He promised He wouldn’t refuse any soul that would seek His mercy. He also asked Sister Faustina, on numerous occasions, that a feast day be dedicated to celebrate the Divine Mercy and that this day be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Jesus the Divine Mercy

On 30th April, 2000 when Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina, he said, “It’s important that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the church, will be called Divine Mercy Sunday’.”

On this day-today-people are asked to reflect on their lives and repent whatever wrongs they have committed, no matter how big. Based on this, the day is also known as the feast of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Today, being the eighth day (one week) since Easter Sunday, Christians are called to reflect on the mysteries of Easter; how Christ’s death and resurrection has impacted our lives:

Why Sunday; genesis of Sunday as the day of worship

After His resurrection, Jesus made His first appearance on Easter Sunday, when He appeared to Mary Magdalene and later His disciples. Thomas, also known as ‘the twin’ wasn’t with them at the time. When the rest of the disciples told him Jesus had appeared to them he refused to believe.

Eight days later, when the disciples were gathered in a closed room, afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus appeared to them. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus asked him to feel the scars on His hands and on His side. It’s only after that experience that Thomas believed He truly was the risen Christ. (John 20: 11-28).

On both occasions, Jesus appeared to His disciples on the first day of the week; which on the current calendar is translated as a Sunday. Before His death and resurrection, the Sabbath-Saturday-was observed as the holy day. That’s why the authorities faulted Jesus for healing people on the Sabbath; which was against the law as the commandments handed down to Moses said to keep the Sabbath day holy.

After He resurrected, the first day of the week-Sunday-was interpreted to be the day of meeting with the Lord. And from then, Sunday is celebrated as the Holy day.

Faith as communitarian; importance of going to church

We’re told Thomas wasn’t in the room the first time Jesus appeared to His disciples. One would wonder, “Where was he?” In the bible it’s not mentioned where he was at the time. Again, one would imagine the state he was in after learning of Jesus’ resurrection. Excitement and fear maybe? Chances are he was out there trying to confirm if there was any truth to the rumours being circulated about Jesus’ resurrection.

Wherever he was, he didn’t see Jesus. That’s why he had a difficult time believing the other disciples. Alone, he didn’t find the resurrected Christ. It was only when he was together with the other disciples, gathered behind locked doors that Jesus appeared again.

From this we see that when it comes to matters faith, one might not find Christ on a lone journey; but it’s evidently clear that where people are gathered in prayer, the Lord is ever present. Due to this, people are encouraged to pray as a community; as a church.

Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe

Jesus told Thomas, “You have believed me because you have seen me. Happy are those who haven’t seen me and yet believe.”

A Christian’s life is all about believing the unseen; believing in a God we have never seen. We’re told faith is a gift. This is simply because one can’t buy it from a mall etc. It’s something that should be felt; something we receive from God’s Holy Spirit. Like the air we breathe; we don’t see it, but we know it’s there. It’s the same with God. Should we refuse to believe He exists just because we have never seen His face? Only the Son knows how His Father looks like. But should that stop us from believing?

In John 8: 55, Jesus told the Pharisees, “You have never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I obey His word.”

We believe in God the Father, because we believe in the God the Son.

Thomas is a symbol of all those who doubt Christ. It’s okay to have doubts because it’s only by trying to clear the doubts that we find answers, which in turn strengthen our faith. However, in this day and age, God doesn’t make ‘dramatic’ appearances like He used to in the olden days. For the Christians of today, we believe because of the experiences written in the bible. If one waits to believe when they actually see God, the day might never come, so they’ll die without believing.

From my own experiences though, I can say confidently; God is always there with us. We only have to let ourselves feel His presence in our lives. Call Him today; He will answer. And if He doesn’t come immediately, don’t lose hope. Jesus took eight days to appear; to prove His resurrection to doubting Thomas. It’s all about Faith and Hope. That is what Easter gives us.

 

 

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How to be happy

Smiley face

Yesterday being the third Sunday of Advent was Gaudete Sunday. It’s the Latin word for rejoice.  Christian’s all over the world are rejoicing because Christmas is drawing near. The Lord is near; Christ’s about to be born. From a deeper perspective though, Christ’s second coming is nearer than when we first believed.

The world is filled with many problems. It’s almost impossible for a day to pass by without one feeling like something is wrong; like one needs to achieve something so they can be happy. Well, sad thing is, it’s impossible to have everything perfect in life. That’s just the way things are. Good news is, we can be happy everytime, if we will it. During mass, in the spirit of rejoicing, the priest shared a few tips on how to be happy that I felt I should share.

To be happy (in no particular order), one needs to:

Think happy; our thoughts determine how we perceive things. Adopt a positive mentality when handling situations.

Rejoice in those small things; as petty as they seem/feel.

Let go off grudges; grudges dampen our mood; they hinder us from seeing the good in others and they make us bitter.

Let go off the past; how does one move on if they can’t forget what happened in their past? Holding on to the past only prevents us from seeing the beauty of the present.

See the goodness in people; sometimes we feel inclined to focus on other people’s negative sides, and as a result that makes us negative. It’s easier to see the bad in people, but if we tried just a little harder, we would see the good in them. I believe even the worst person has something good in them; if you ask me, no one’s 100% bad.

Keep yourself busy; when one is busy they won’t have enough time to mope about the things happening in their life. Trying to be productive keeps one focused.

Don’t create problems; there are already too many problems in the world. Trying to imagine what could possibly go wrong when things are okay is just one of the biggest reasons people can’t fully be happy. If things are okay at the moment, be happy. Don’t be anxious about the future. You’ll cross that bridge when you get there.

Help others- those in need. You’d be surprised how good it feels to know you helped someone else get over some difficulty-big/small.

Don’t take life too seriously; remember to smile. When you smile the whole world smiles with you. It’s referred to as the ‘law of attraction’.

Don’t try to be like your neighbour. God blesses each one of us differently, in His own special way and at His own appointed time. Sometimes we fail to realize it, but when we try so hard to compete with others, we only end up feeling dissatisfied with what we have.

Be happy, won’t you?

 

Christ The King

Christ The King

Today we were celebrating the feast of Christ The King. It marked the end of the ordinary church calendar. That means next Sunday God willing will be the first Sunday of Advent; when we start preparing for the birth of Christ. It’s still hard to believe Christmas is just days away. If you ask me, the year has flown by. Today also marked the official close of the year of faith. It might not sound appropriate that I judge myself, but I feel I’ve learnt a lot-pertaining to matters faith-this past year.

As I listened to the priest giving the homily, he gave me a lot to reflect on.

He said many people leave the church because they don’t understand the whole concept of faith. Many churches preach about prosperity, but that’s not all there is to faith. If someone tells you to run away from your problems, that is not faith. It’s cowardice. True faith is about embracing those problems we encounter, because it’s only by facing them that we find our strength.

Jesus was a king, long before He died on the cross. But He, unlike other kings wasn’t all about money and wealth. Soldiers mockingly inscribed the letters INRI on the cross, which meant ‘The king of Jews’. When He was crucified on the cross with the two thieves, the one on his right didn’t understand what Jesus represented. He mocked him, but the other one on his left understood it all. He asked Jesus to remember him when He went into His kingdom (Luke 23:35-43).

In His open arms, nailed to the cross, He embraced everyone who came to Him, without discrimination. He was-still is- the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, yet He agreed to die a shameful death, crucified on the cross, naked. He had the power to punish all those who tortured and killed Him, but instead He forgave them. He is love and kindness embodied. According to my Christian faith, those who killed him already died because this happened years ago, and I’m imagining that it was only in death that they understood that Jesus was indeed a King. His kingdom will still be in existence even when this earthly world is no more.

He conquered death, therefore giving us hope that death is not the end, but the beginning of something more beautiful. If He could conquer death, there’s nothing else that He can’t. Bearing this in mind, we should take our fears to Him; entrust Him with our lives. He can help us conquer even the most impossible of issues. Some people have been debilitated by their own fears. They live each day, afraid that someone they are at odds with could annihilate them.

I know it sounds cliché, but Jesus Christ is the answer. It’s all about believing that He can help us overcome even the greatest obstacle. And the good thing is, when one entrusts his/her life to Him, He never fails them. He didn’t promise we wouldn’t have crosses to carry, but He did promise to help us carry them. Suffering is an integral part of a Christian’s life; however, the suffering isn’t meant to destroy us, but to strengthen us.

When concluding his homily the priest asked, “Is Christ the King of your heart? If not, why isn’t He?”

 

Of Christianity and voicing opinions

speak up

Of my parents, the one who seems to understand how my mind works more is mom, not because she always gives me time to explain myself, but because when we’re not arguing we have a tight relationship. Even when I’m being purely hormonal she’ll even try to pacify me so I don’t throw a fit; but that’s mostly when she knows she’s the one at fault. Don’t mistake me for a brat though; I’m many things but that ain’t one of them.

I don’t get to spend much time with dad, even when we’re both home he’ll probably be in the living room reading the paper and I’ll be in a different part of the house doing something else. Most of the time we get to ‘converse’ is when he’s drunk and we’re arguing, our voices raised, because that’s just how it is. The only difference is that it’s more of a monologue because he doesn’t let anyone else speak when he’s ‘airing his grievances’.

Naturally, I have this policy, ‘If I’m not getting a chance to talk, I won’t listen either’. I don’t always practice it in every occasion because sometimes the best option is to just listen, but when it’s about matters of voicing opinions, I just find it unfair if I have to listen to someone going on and on about what they feel about something yet they deny me the chance to share my opinion. I believe it’s called a dialogue because it consists of atleast two people. If it’s a monologue, I won’t be a party to it.

If one was to ask my dad, he’d say I’m a very opinionated person. I find that ironic, given that he hardly gives me the chance to talk. I’m guessing he knows that because he finds the most trouble trying to shut me up.

One thing I particularly find trouble with is a statement he’s repeated severally, “Yet you go to church every Sunday.” He gives me the impression that just because I’m religious, I should be submissive, letting him get away with things anyone would consider repulsive. I’m a Christian, true, and my faith is something I take very seriously because that’s what my life is founded on; nonetheless, I feel there’s one thing people misconstrue. Being a Christian doesn’t mean one doesn’t get offended; being a Christian doesn’t mean one should be denied the chance to voice their opinion; my faith doesn’t automatically gag me; it only means, by being a Christian I should practice more self-control, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, when dealing with people.

My faith in God doesn’t mean I should be submissive, watching wrong things happen stoically because I don’t want to step on people’s toes; it just means I should be more understanding; I should learn to tell the difference-when to remain silent and when to act, but by no means should I let people walk all over me just because I’m a Christian. I would even feel like I’m letting God down, because I believe He, in His mercy, has given me the wisdom to discern when something is wrong or right.

Tribute to grams

I’ve been away from this blog for the past three weeks, even though it feels like forever. I apologize to any of my readers who I may have inconvenienced in any way. It really does feel like forever; so much has happened. When I wrote my last post last month, my family and I had just been invited to my uncle’s birthday party. At the time mom hadn’t made up her mind if she wanted to attend the party or not, but in a weird twist of fate, nature intervened; we all went to my uncle’s that Sunday.

Mom was stressed up at the time because her mom was admitted in hospital. She couldn’t contemplate going to a party when her mom was lying on a hospital bed. It all happened so fast. Grams fell ill and was taken to hospital by two of mom’s siblings on a Wednesday. They called her from upcountry to inform her. Thursday, mom was so distraught when she went to work because she had never seen her mom admitted in hospital all her life.

I overheard a conversation she was having with one of my cousins on phone that evening; she was telling him how much she’d cried while at work. I bet she didn’t know I heard, and she carefully avoided telling my sisters and I. Somehow, she acted all cool, downplayed grams’ illness so it didn’t even seem like it was anything serious. Friday morning, she left home, not for work, but to visit her mom in hospital. It was entirely unprecedented. I doubt she’d notified any of her bosses she’d be skipping work that day.

In the afternoon I called to ask how grams was doing and she told me she was still recuperating in hospital. I couldn’t hear her clearly, so I texted her, telling her not to worry because grams would be well in no time.

Later that day, when she came back home, my big sister hadn’t come from school yet. Pokerfaced, mom asked what time she’d be arriving and I told her she’d be getting back home after ten. It was only thirty past seven in the evening.

“I don’t think I can wait that long, so if you don’t mind I’ll just tell you how my day was,” she said. I didn’t think there was much to the story as we’d been texting during the day, and generally she seemed okay, relatively. My small sister took a sit on the couch adjacent to mom’s. Dad was sitted on the one opposite mom’s but since I didn’t think she would take much time I remained standing, behind my small sister’s couch.

With a straight face, mom told us how she’d arrived at the hospital. When she walked into the ward grams was admitted in, she saw her mom lying there, frail. She was on drip. Mom’s elder sister was in there too. Quietly, she walked over to gram’s bedside, saying, “Mom, it’s me.” Grams didn’t open her eyes, instead, she just turned her head to the opposite direction, and she heaved, breathing her last.

At first mom thought grams was just too weak to talk, so she asked her sister to go get a doctor. It was only afterwards that the doctor revealed to them that grams had just passed away. When mom dropped that bombshell, she did it so calmly, my sister and I didn’t get it at first, then when what mom had just said hit us we asked simultaneously, “Grams died?”

The days that followed were difficult for everyone. Mom seemed composed but deep inside I knew she was shattered; she was barely holding on. She only put a brave face for my sisters and I, so we didn’t get too affected by grams’ passing. That entire period, during the burial arrangements and all, I never saw mom shed a tear. One of her sisters-in-law supported her all through. Other relatives did too, but this one was outstandingly supportive. Before then I didn’t like her much because normally we just don’t click, but after seeing the support she offered mom, I was immensely moved.

Our uncle’s party wasn’t postponed because everything had already been put in place. We attended the party, and even though we weren’t really in a partying mood, the happy vibes from the rest of the family and friends helped lessen the grief.

The only time I saw mom cry was when grams was being laid to rest. She actually wailed, and as she did, my aunt, mom’s sister-in-law, looked relieved that mom had finally cried because she was afraid mom was in denial about her mom’s passing. Naturally, it was a very tearful affair.

Mom is still getting by, taking one day at a time, and everytime I look at her I just thank God that He gave her the strength to get through the whole affair, because knowing her and all, I can attest that in all honesty that was Him at work.

After the burial I was anxious about my end of semester exams; I hadn’t revised much with all that had been happening, but again, by God’s grace I sat my exams. Now as I look at this past few weeks, I feel so much has happened, and at the moment, I can’t help but thank The Almighty because I can safely say I’ve seen His hand in everything.

God's hand

The Narrow Door

narrow door

Jesus went through towns and villages, teaching the people and making His way to Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, “Sir, will just a few people be saved?”

Jesus answered him, “Do your best to go in through the narrow door; because many people will surely try to go in but will not be able. The master of the house will get up and close the door; then when you stand outside and begin to knock on the door and say, ‘Open the door for us Sir!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from! Then you will answer, ‘We ate and drank with you; you taught in our town! But He will say again, ‘I don’t know where you come from. Get away from me you wicked people!’ How you will cry and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, while you are thrown out! People will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down at the feast of God. Then those who are now last will be first, and those who are now first will be last.” Psalms 13: 22-30

In not so many words, this verse emphasizes that not everyone who calls themselves a believer will enter the kingdom of God.

Faith is like a two-sided coin. One side of faith is where one sings, praises God, attends mass/service and tithes… And the second side of faith is doing works of mercy: clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, taking care of the sick…etc.

For one’s faith to be deemed ‘complete’, one must practice both sides; serve God, worship Him, and extend a helping hand to others; preach what one learns in church/from the scriptures. In the bible verse above, Jesus refers to the entrance to heaven as the narrow door, and He goes further to explain that not many will be able to go in.

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says, “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what My Father in heaven wants them to do.” This is because, when it comes to matters faith, many practice only one side; attending mass every Sunday, but the instant one leaves the church premises they forget everything they learned. For instance, one could be so faithful when it comes to tithing, but if a hungry man was to walk up to them asking for food, they would chase them away heartlessly. This is why Jesus calls it the narrow door.

Jesus asks us to go through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it, whereas the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard and there are few people who find it (Matthew 13-14).

Faith is all about synchronizing one’s action with their firm belief in God. In 1 John 4:20-21 he says, “If someone says he loves God, but hates his brother, he is a liar. For he cannot love God, whom he has not seen, if he does not love his brother, whom he has seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: Whoever loves God must love his brother also.” We are asked to love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves, but above all, to love God with our whole being; that is the definition of a true believer.