Love that hurts but ..

In a world where we encounter all kinds of love, let us experience His divine love that might hurt but …

Gospel – John 15:1-8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. – The Gospel of the Lord 

Reflection

I recall my Mom who used to lovingly tend to her money plant in her former home in Mumbai. She spent hours taking care of the plant and ensuring it got all necessary nutrients and sunlight. She washed and cleaned all the dirt around the place, removed the dried leaves and made way for fresh new growth. She did all this because she treated the plant like her own child and showered her love on it; in response it grew beautifully and the lush green leaves decorated our balcony. Her love and affection shone through its beauty.

In today’s lovely Gospel passage, we see God our Father as the Vine grower, Jesus the Vine and we the branches of this vine. From time to time God prunes us through tough life experiences whereby He gets rid of unnecessary baggage, unclutters our life and purifies, heals and cleanses us. As we endure this long, unpleasant, hurtful process, it feels like He is distant and just doesn’t care. But actually our loving Father is watching over us at every step and strengthening us as we struggle and find our way through. Looking back, we then later realize how this seemingly excruciating process fulfills His wonderful plan and purpose for our life. (See Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)

We often dread this pruning process and attempt to bypass it using all kinds of shortcuts. But wait, let us remember His promise ‘No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13) Yes indeed He provides us a way out, the grace to endure whatever comes our way. This happens through Jesus the Vine, which is why He asks us to abide in Him at all times and to cling to Him tightly. As He aptly reminds us ‘Apart from me, you can do nothing’. 

How do we abide in Him? “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  (John 15:12)

God is Love and when we cling to Him and to His Son Jesus, this love naturally flows in and through us. It nourishes, cleanses and purifies us from within, helping the Holy Spirit to work inside us and manifest the fruits that will glorify God the Father. And through this, His love comes shining through. ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20a)

His love might hurt but it will never ever abandon.

(Reference verses: Job 5:17-18, John 6:56, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Galatians 5:22-23a, Colossians 2:7, 1 John 4:16)

Let us pray 

Dear Lord, thank you for your invitation to be nourished in your love. Forgive us for the times we dread the pruning process and separate ourselves from you thereby going astray and withering away. With total faith and trust, help us to cling to you the true Vine and to abide in your steadfast love at all times. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen!

God bless you! 

Love that hurts but..

Audio Credit: Ms. Anita Lewis

Words of Life?

We are blessed with an amazing gift; let’s be mindful and use it responsibly to build others and to spread love.


Gospel – John 12:44-50
Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.” – The Gospel of the Lord


Reflection
Have you come across people cracking a joke at someone’s expense, saying everything they want to say and then casually shrugging it all off with “I was just joking!” A joke can be like a thorn and it’s not always funny; we will never know the real impact ‘a joke’ may have on someone’s heart or mind.

It is said that a spoken word is like an arrow; once it is released, it can never be pulled back. Hence we have to be sensitive and mindful about our words. The manner and tone in which we speak can also make a world of difference. An arrow shot without proper aim can cause irreparable damage; so also, harsh careless words can grievously wound a person’s mind and heart. Though the impact of sarcastic or unkind words cannot be seen, if closely observed, the pain is clearly visible in the eyes of the person at the receiving end. These silent wounds are dangerous as they can fester and destroy the spark of life and joy within someone. As James says, Does anyone think he is religious? If he does not control his tongue, his religion is worthless and he deceives himself. (James 1:26)


In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that His words are not his own but the words of His Heavenly Father. We know that Jesus always submitted to the will of His Father due to which his actions and his words were always aligned to Him. And as Peter declared, Jesus had the life giving words of eternal life. (See John 6:68, 1 John 4:7-8)


Being disciples and ambassadors of Christ in this world, how do we use our words? Are they hurtful or are they life giving? Jesus says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks?” (Matthew 12:34b) God is love, so being aligned to God will ensure His love flows through all that we do and say. If God lives in our heart then our words will always echo his virtues.


The tongue has the power to bless and to wound. With the same mouth that praises the Lord, we cannot curse the ones He has created. And still worse, we must not do or say anything that defiles or hurts the sacred Spirit that resides in us. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. (James 3:10) “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37)


We are blessed with the gift of speech. Guided by the wisdom and discernment of the Holy Spirit let us use this gift responsibly to bring praise and glory to God. The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me His word is upon my tongue. (2 Samuel 23:2)


Let us pray
Dear Lord, thank you for blessing us with the ability to speak. Forgive us for the times we have taken this gift for granted or misused it to hurt others, knowingly or unknowingly. Help us to strive to use our words wisely and sensibly with your grace and through them reflect your love to others. May our speech build and uplift others. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen!
God bless you!

(Reference verses: Matthew 10:19-20, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Ephesians 5:4, Colossians 4:6)

https://youtu.be/r_2u_khbeVY

Audio Credit: Ms. Anita Lewis

Meal Forever

We toil all through life to satisfy our basic physical needs. However in all this let us not lose focus on our more important spiritual sustenance that comes from the source of it all.


Gospel – John 6:35-40
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” – The Gospel of the Lord


Reflection
There is a quote that says ‘Give someone a loaf of bread and feed the person for a day. Teach someone to bake bread and feed them for a lifetime.’ Jesus was trying to explain something similar to the people who sought him after they witnessed him multiply the bread and fish to feed the five thousand.


Yes indeed, bread (symbolising nourishment) is our basic sustenance that we require to survive and to thrive. However Jesus was asking the people to shift focus on something way above physical needs. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27) He also refers to this in the wilderness when tempted by the evil one to turn stone into bread and satisfy His hunger “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)


Jesus today refers to Himself as the Bread of Life, living bread that has come down from heaven sent by the Father to feed us. Manna and all kinds of earthly bread may perish but He is the imperishable Bread of Heaven and He urges people to seek this bread. For when we seek Jesus the Bread of Life, we will never hunger or thirst again.


Does this mean we should stop eating earthly food, stop working, stop going about our daily responsibilities and just sit back and wait for God to do everything? No; what it means is to shift our focus from all these things to Him.

Let us recall the Lord’s Prayer where we say ‘Give us today our daily bread’ which is not asking for food and other daily needs but praying that God gives us Himself. We don’t seek the provisions, but the provider Himself. Jesus reminds us not to be worried about what we will eat or drink or the clothes we will wear. He assures us that Our Heavenly Father knows what we need; after all He created us, so He will obviously take care of us right? What we need to do is to seek Him above everything else and trust that He will take care of the rest.


“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21) When we realign and reset our priorities, our focus shifts to the very source of life. The world may satisfy us temporarily but Jesus offers us Himself and He is beyond our physical existence here on earth.


‘Very truly I tell you whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of life.’ (John 6:47-48) “This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29) Jesus presents us such a beautiful gift today and all He asks is for us to believe, but do we believe? Like people in this Gospel chapter who misunderstood Him and left Him, let us not turn back but strive to understand the depth of His words. Then we too can consume this divine meal of life and be fed forever.


Let us pray
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us yourself and for feeding us in the form of your own body and blood. Forgive us for the times we try to satisfy the hunger of our soul with fleeting material pleasures. Help us to set our mind and hearts in you and seek you first, always trusting that in you we will lack nothing. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen! God bless you!

(Reference verses: Deuteronomy 8:3, Luke 4:4, Matthew 6:11, 6:25-33, John 6:26, 33, 49, 66)

Video link:

https://youtu.be/3a2B9Qri3GY

Audio Credit: Ms. Anita Lewis

A secret no more

Knowing about someone is very different from knowing someone. What is our approach when it comes to knowing Jesus? And what impact does it have on us?

Gospel – John 3:16-21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” – The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

Today’s gospel reading is an excerpt from the lovely passage about Nicodemus the Pharisee who was intrigued about Jesus, having seen the many signs he had performed. He was trying to understand if Jesus was the promised Messiah, something the rest of the Pharisees could not (or maybe did not want to) acknowledge. So he chose to meet Jesus and learn more about him to confirm if what he perceived was indeed true.

It is during this discussion that Jesus shared the central message of his mission – the life transforming message that is the foundation of our faith. It demonstrates God’s priceless gift for the world in the form of His Son – a gift wrapped with love. While God offers this gift to everyone, only the ones who choose to believe can unwrap it and thereby obtain the fruit of eternal life.

There are two aspects to this crucial meeting of Nicodemus with Jesus; one, his doubts which he sought to clarify and second, his fear of peers and authorities, which is evident as he came to meet him at night. Jesus was well aware of the circumstances in which he had approached him and through his interaction he sought to address both aspects.

Firstly, Jesus used references from the Old Testament to help Nicodemus connect the dots. As a part of his explanation, Jesus pointed out how the Son of Man would need to be lifted up in order to fulfill his mission and that only those who believed in him would obtain salvation. Being a learned man, an expert in the Scriptures, it wouldn’t have taken him time or effort to understand that Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of the many prophecies made in the past.

Secondly, Jesus pointed out how He, the Light, had come into the world yet the ones who chose to continue living life on their own terms failed to recognize or accept Him. Through this analogy, Jesus encouraged Nicodemus to overcome his fear, move out of darkness and come into the light of His presence.   

We don’t know the immediate impact this meeting had on Nicodemus. But we do know that he slowly but surely began to overcome his fear. Though he remained his secret disciple, he mustered the courage to speak up to the authorities who sought to condemn Jesus. And when the Son of Man was lifted up on the cross, Jesus’ words to him would have echoed in his ears and all his doubts and fear departed. He then boldly accompanied Joseph of Arimathea in the burial ritual of Jesus; this time it was not in the night but during the day. (See John 7:50-52, 12:32, 19:38-42)

He had finally accepted Jesus’ invitation to move from the darkness into His Light. “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24)

Nicodemus’ story is a journey of knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus. No matter how our story begins, it is the end that matters, the end which is actually the beginning of a new life in the light of Christ. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined (Isaiah 9:2)

(Reference verses: Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 2:7,11-12, 49:15, 60:5, Proverbs 30:4, John 3:14-15, 8:28, 12:27-36, 44-45, 1 Peter 2:9)

Let us pray

Dear Lord, thank you for your unconditional love you poured out for us in the form of Jesus. Forgive us for the times doubts cloud our faith and when in fear we fail to acknowledge you. Help us to remember your great love for us and that you spared nothing to secure our salvation. Give us the grace and strength to stand up for you and boldly proclaim our faith at all times. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen!   

God bless you!

A secret no more

Audio Credit: Ms. Anita Lewis

The powerhouse

What role does the word of God play in our life? Is it just another book we refer to when we need some advice or is it something deeper? Reflect on this.

Gospel – Luke 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

Do we treat the Bible like a self-help tool, or a reference manual or maybe a moral science textbook? Perhaps we feel that it contains a list of helpful tips, dos and don’ts, instructions and guidelines that help us to lead better lives. Yes of course, all of this is true, but is that all there is to it?

One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament is found in Nehemiah 8:1-12. It describes how all the people gathered and from morning to midday the word of God was read out, explained and interpreted to them. They stood up, their ears were attentive, they answered Amen, lifted up their hands and bowed down and worshipped God. And then it says, “For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law.” That was the powerful impact of the word of God. “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”(Hebrews 4:12)

How many of us today are moved and transformed when Scripture is proclaimed?

We see in today’s beautiful Gospel passage of the walk to Emmaus where two followers of Jesus also experienced this powerful influence of the word of God. They walked sadly, dejected and confused at all the recent events that led up to the death of someone whom they thought was going to be their king. Whatever happened did not make sense, it all seemed a waste and left them feeling discouraged and disheartened. They lost that little spark of hope they had felt in Jesus’s presence and decided to go back to their former way of life. 

At this point, we find that they were not abandoned, they weren’t left feeling lost and hopeless. Jesus himself draws near to help them join the dots and to make sense of everything that seemed senseless. He did that using Scripture, explaining and interpreting to them all that was contained in the old scripture texts that ultimately pointed out to Jesus and His mission. On our own, if we navigate through the Old Testament, it is like walking through darkness with a tiny flashlight, everything seems dim and hazy and nothing is clear. But when the Light of the world enters this darkness, His Light shines in every nook and corner dispelling every form of darkness. What we know in part is revealed in full when we come face to face with Him. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

In word, as He explained the Scripture and in deed, as He broke the bread, He revealed Himself and opened their eyes and their hearts. Their initial sadness was wiped away and they were filled with inexplicable joy. They understood the burning sensation they had felt within them as they listened to His word. Everything fell into place and they rushed to proclaim what they understood. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The word of God is not just another book with a bunch of words stringed together. It is the sword of the spirit, a divine revelation, the source of hope and encouragement, fulfilling the purpose for which it is sent out and capable of healing and transforming lives forever.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get down to reading and meditating on this powerhouse and make it the foundation of our life.

(Reference verses: Psalm 119:105, Isaiah 55:11, Luke 6:48, John 15:5, Romans 8:28, 15:4, Ephesians 3:17, 6:17, Colossians 2:6-7, Revelation 1:16, 21:4)

Let us pray

Dear Lord, thank you for your precious word and the treasure it contains. Forgive us for the times we fail to spend time reading your word or make excuses about not being able to understand it. Help us to call out to the Holy Spirit within us to open up the Scripture and to light up our hearts and our minds with your truth. Help us to stay rooted to your word and thereby draw closer to you each day. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen!          

God bless you!

The powerhouse

Audio Credit: Ms. Anita Lewis

A.S.A.P.

Hello and welcome to the Lenten series ‘The Cross Speaks’.

Today is Friday, the 15th of April, 2022 the seventh Friday of Lent, Good Friday.  

Gospel – Luke 23:44-46

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. – The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

In today’s many lists of abbreviations and short forms, I recall that A.S.A.P. stands for ‘As Soon As Possible’. I later discovered another extension for it which is more beautiful and can become an acronym for us to follow, where A.S.A.P. stands for ‘Always Say A Prayer’.

If we follow the life and ministry of Jesus, we observe that he was always immersed in prayer; He did nothing without praying about it first. He prayed when he was baptized, he prayed at the beginning and end of each day that involved preaching and ministering to people, he spent an entire night in prayer before choosing the twelve apostles, he gave thanks and prayed before feeding the five thousand, he went up the mountain to pray when he was transfigured, he rejoiced and prayed when the seventy returned from their successful mission.

We find Him praying at the beginning of his passion at the garden of Gethsemane – there was no pretense or pride in his prayer, just pure honesty, humility and faith. He also prayed at the end of his life on the cross submitting his spirit and surrendering himself to God’s will, trusting His steadfast love and divine plan. Love and surrender are synonymous, hence here His surrender did not signify defeat, like in a war, but it meant offering up and emptying Himself to the One He loved and trusted completely.

Jesus prayed in every kind of situation because He felt God’s love and presence in everything. And each time he prayed, He united himself with the Father and the Holy Spirit who guided and strengthened Him. Performing the will of God became the signature of the Son of God only through the power of prayer.

How different Jesus must have seemed to the crowds and to all Roman soldiers around! After all the cruel torture, humiliation and pain they inflicted upon him, he did not curse or abuse them but instead He prayed for them and forgave them. All of this touched and transformed the heart of the centurion who landed up praising God and testifying that Jesus was innocent and indeed the Son of God! How powerful was His prayer on the cross that tore down the curtain of hatred and became a bridge of love, faith and hope for all humanity!

If we only discover the power of prayer, we will rid ourselves of needless fear, worry, heartache and complications in life. Prayer does not promise to take away our pain and struggles; like Jesus we too must go through them. But prayer does promise to be a channel of hope, strength, direction and wisdom that helps us to handle and navigate through all that life has in store.

Not just today on Good Friday, but in every situation of life, let us look to the cross and we will find our answer – it will guide us to pray and to surrender ourselves to the will of God. And in that surrender, we will find His peace, strength and grace.

So then, let us remember to Always Say A Prayer!   

During this season of Lent, I thank you for journeying with The Cross Speaks, where we discovered that the C.R.O.S.S. stands for ‘Christ’s Resurrection Our Salvation Story’. Let us now await His resurrection with joy and hope.

God bless you!

(Reference: Mark 1:35, 15:39, Luke 3:21, 5:16, 6:12-13, 9:16, 9:28-36, 10:21, 22:39-46, 23:47, Philippians 4:6-7) 

A.S.A.P.

Audio Credit: Ms. Kimberly Corneille & Ms. Melissa Dixon

Price-less?

What is the price we set for a treasure that is actually priceless? Let’s reflect and find out.

Gospel – Matthew 26:14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.” The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

We will recall the parable where a person discovered a treasure hidden in a field, and sold all that he had to buy that field and own that treasure. The Kingdom of Heaven is compared to that treasure which is priceless and worth more than anything we might possess. And then in complete contrast, we see in today’s Gospel where being in the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is Jesus himself, Judas chooses to give it all up for a meager sum of money.

How difficult it must have been for our Lord to choose Judas as his disciple, work and live with them, knowing that eventually he would betray him. More than anything the kiss with which Judas betrayed him leading to his arrest would have hurt Jesus the most. A sign of affection became a sign of betrayal. Strangers may bring us joy and sorrow and we learn to deal with them as a part of life. But the pain caused by the ones who are close to us hurt the most. Despite having been with Jesus for 3 years and witnessing firsthand everything He said and did, Judas chose 30 pieces of silver over Jesus. His happiness at the money he earned however was short lived when he realized what he had done; he couldn’t live with it and killed himself. He chose to betray Jesus and he chose to end his life.

This reminds us how life is all about the choices we make in every situation. Every choice has its consequences and every choice is based on our core values and beliefs. It is so easy to point fingers at Judas, condemn his choice and hate him but what about us? Have we never done anything in life that amounts to betraying Jesus? If we look back and reflect on the choices we have made, aren’t there occasions when we have exchanged our moral and ethical values to obtain some kind of temporary gain? How often have we ignored the explicit commands contained in the word of God and done our own thing, to suit our convenience? How often have we ignored the voice of the Holy Spirit and gone our own way, only to land up in a mess?

Let us reflect today on what is the price we set for Jesus. What is it that will make us give Him up? What to us is more precious than Jesus, the One who gave His everything for us on the Cross?

It is never too late for a change of heart, for a complete turnaround in life. Judas realized his mistake but he chose to go back to the authorities which led him to a dead end. We have the choice to realize our mistakes, go back to the Cross, humbly seek His forgiveness and obtain the priceless gift of eternal life.

(Reference verses: Jeremiah 7:22-24, Zechariah 7:12, Matthew 10:1-4, 13:44, 26:49, 27:3-5, 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

Let us pray

Dear Lord, we thank you for being our precious treasure and for what you did for us on the cross. Forgive us for the times we have made compromises and given you up in exchange for material gains that don’t really matter. Let the light of your love dawn in our hearts and help us turn back to you, knowing you will accept and forgive us and make us a new creation in you. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen!       

God bless you!

Price-less?

Audio Credit: Ms. Melissa Dixon

Finish right

Hello and welcome to the Lenten series ‘The Cross Speaks’. Today is Friday, the 8th of April, 2022 the sixth Friday of Lent.

Gospel – John 19:28-30

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

There is a story where a child asked Jesus, “How much do you love me?” and Jesus replied, “I love you this much” and He stretched His arms on the cross and died. When the reality of this truth sinks into our heart and soul, it becomes a defining moment of our faith. Think about it, He loves you and me so much that He felt we are worth dying for!

When Jesus came upon the earth, He came to fulfill the mission entrusted to Him by His Father. Through the faultless life He lived, His death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection that destroyed death and secured for us the gift of salvation, He completed His mission. On the cross, when He said, “It is finished”, it signified that the mission was accomplished in its entirety, with no loose ends left. He had earlier said to His disciples “I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer”. (John 16:10b) If any part of his task had been left unfinished, He would have needed to come back to finish it. But our God is absolute and all His actions are absolute and complete.In His righteousness and in His total obedience to the will of His Father, we have the perfect and complete sacrifice.

When the evil one tries to attack us by bringing up our past, when we drag ourselves around unable to forgive ourselves, live like we are inferior, feeling unworthy or not good enough, we make our Lord’s supreme sacrifice all a waste. That’s when the Holy Spirit within us points us to the cross and reminds us of what Jesus did for us. Through our Lord’s most precious sacrifice, we are washed cleaned completely; there are no dirty spots or stains of sin left anywhere, so we need not live in fear or self-doubt anymore. We can walk with confidence with our head held high and live complete lives; that is in fact what He intended “I came that they have may life and have it abundantly” in all its fullness (See John 10:10b)

In His journey towards His mission, there was nothing he spared, he took no shortcuts, made no excuses, no hollow words, no distractions, no bargaining and nothing he did was superficial or halfhearted. He gave us His everything down to the last drop of his blood on the cross, once and for all, full and final – it was completed to perfection by the only One who is perfect. (Hebrews 10:10-14, 1 Peter 1:18-19) Like a candle consumes itself totally to give light to others, He gave Himself completely to give life to others.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8a) So how can we possibly respond to such a lavish, perfect and complete gift of love and grace we have received?

Perhaps we can reflect: In response to Everything He gave us, do we make excuses and seek shortcuts in our relationship with God? Do we try to keep aside some part of us and avoid a full commitment? Do we try to bargain with God and try to fit Him into our lives as per our comfort and convenience? Do we fulfill our responsibilities halfheartedly or with zeal and passion? Or then do we put Him first, surrender to him completely and live our life aligned to His will? If the latter is yes, then we will be able to ‘finish’ our life journey, with the assurance of receiving the crown of righteousness in His eternal Kingdom. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)   

How we begin our faith journey is not important; let us strive to ensure that we finish right.

Have a blessed Lenten journey!

(Reference verses: Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 9:23-25, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 10:26)

Finish right

Audio Credit: Ms. Kimberly Corneille & Ms. Melissa Dixon

Moment of Truth

Why do we go to great lengths to conceal the truth of our life? Do we always have to live worried or afraid about ‘what will people say if they know my truth?’ Perhaps the ultimate Truth can show us the Way out.

Gospel – John 8:31-42

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. – The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

We might recall the television program ‘The Moment of Truth’ where participants had to face a series of questions, a lie detector determined if their answers were right or wrong and flashed it on screen. That must have been a quite a scary experience for people risking everything being out in the open for the world to know.

Come to think of it, what is it about our truth being revealed that makes us so nervous or fearful? What is it that we conceal deep inside the dark corners of our life never allowing light to fall upon it? What are we so afraid of and why do we do everything possible to hide the truth? Strange fears might accompany the truth of our life and keep us bound: maybe fear of a painful past or of an unknown future, fear of failure, rejection or ridicule, perhaps fear of being misunderstood or not accepted, of being manipulated or abused, of being judged or labeled, what will people say and so on.

“The truth will set you free” was something my Dad often quoted. His words would make me anxious as I struggled to figure out the truth myself at that point. I kept encountering different versions of it that varied as per worldly standards. But once I discovered the pure perfect ultimate unchanging Truth, that is Jesus, all doubt, confusion and fear disappeared.

Once we realize that there is nothing about us hidden from Him, that we are accepted and forgiven for everything, that He loves us unconditionally just as we are, and that we belong to Him and we are overcomers through Him who defeated death, then negativity no longer has a hold on us. His perfect love, His truth indeed sets us free as we have nothing and nobody to be afraid of anymore. We find that He is not a policeman waiting to catch and punish us for our many mistakes, but a merciful Savior patiently waiting to embrace us with tender love and forgiveness, if we only turn to Him with repentance and faith. The world may condemn or misunderstand us but in His court we are always loved.

Right at the start of His ministry, Jesus had declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-3) We are all captives bound by the chains of sin, oppressed by the negative dark forces of this world that manifest in different ways. As long as we feel helpless and hopeless, struggle to keep things hidden and put on false faces pretending ‘all is well’, we remain in fear and bondage. Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, offers to set us free today.

Jesus says “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) He urges us to throw open every hidden area and allow His light to shine in the darkest corners of our life. And when that happens, we will experience a sense of freedom, peace and courage that cannot be explained in words.  

This lent, let us hand over to Him the key to our heart, invite Him in to stay and experience His priceless ‘Moment of Truth’.

Let us pray:

Dear Lord, we thank you for revealing to us the ultimate truth of your love. Forgive us for the times we have failed and faltered in our faith and attempted to conceal the truth. Help us to live our life fearlessly aligned to your word to ensure that we always abide by your truth. We ask this in the mighty, holy and precious name of Jesus – Amen!   

God bless you!

Moment of Truth

Audio Credit: Ms. Melissa Dixon

Cup of Love

Hello and welcome to the Lenten series ‘The Cross Speaks’.

Today is Friday, the 1st of April, 2022 the fifth Friday of Lent.

Gospel – John 19:28-29

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. – The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection

It is said, ‘Love is a thirst – a need as vital to the soul as water is to the body’. Water as we all know is a basic necessity of life and we don’t need to get into the long list of reasons that explain why water plays such a significant role in our life. Our body will simply wither away lifelessly without water; and love plays a similar role to the life of our soul.

So if love is a thirst, a core basic need, how are we going to quench that thirst of love in us? “On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the Scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” And again, He says, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 7:37-39, 6:35)

Not only does he satiate our physical thirst, like he did for the Israelites in the desert and provided for prophet Elijah during the drought, He satisfies the deep thirsting and longing of our soul. We only need to believe in Him and He promises to quench this thirst forever. We need to turn away from our way of life and believe in His way, and we will never thirst again. The water that He gives us will become in us a spring of water gushing up to eternal life, a spring that never runs out, never dries up. This is the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into our hearts – the very source of endless love.

So when Jesus himself promised us unending streams of life-giving water, why then does He cry out on the cross saying ‘I am thirsty?’ What or who is He thirsting for? He thirsts for you, for me and for all humanity. He thirsts for us to experience His love, the steadfast love that is accepting, forgiving and self-sacrificing – love that welcomes us with open arms just as we are. We don’t need to be different to go to Him it is He who makes us different with His love. Washed and cleansed in his love that was lavishly poured out for us on the cross in the form of his precious blood, we automatically become a new creation in Him.

Where can we find a God who loves us so much that He himself thirsts for us? who did not hesitate to drink the cup of suffering with all its bitterness and pain on the cross for us? the Good Shepherd who came looking for us – lost sheep struggling to find ourselves in this world – the One who promises to lead us to His eternal pasture of love, cleanse us, heal us and restore our soul.

Jesus expressed His thirst to the Samaritan woman at the well and in the process gave her new life. So today when He is thirsty and calls out to us, can we not go running to Him and give Him our cup of love, our heart? This is in fact all that He wants.

(Reference verses: Exodus 17:1-7, 1 Kings 17:2-6, Psalms 23:1-3, 37:4, Isaiah 54:10, 58:11, Matthew 20:22, 26:39, John 3:16, 4:7-42, Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 3:1, 4:7)

Have a blessed Lenten journey!

Cup of Love

Audio Credit: Ms. Kimberly Corneille & Ms. Melissa Dixon

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