Jesus’ question to the Scribes and Pharisees is one that deserves some pondering. Jesus did not ask, “Why are you thinking I can’t forgive sins?” Instead, he asked: “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Lack of Faith in God is itself a great evil we must tackle in our lives. To underestimate God or to belittle God’s power and authority is just as bad as any sin we can think of.

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if you still believe in the power of prayers, that is, if you still have faith in God, then this is time to increase your prayers. God has rescued his children from worse things than what we are facing today. It may seem as if God is sleeping but we know that He cannot sleep. Let us pray until something happens. Let us pray until Jesus gets up to say to the storms around us: “Be Still.” Let us pray like that woman who kept going back to the judge demanding justice until she got an answer. (Cf. Luke 18:1-8). Let our faith be large enough to swallow our fears.

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You are light; you lead, not copy. You do not follow the trends, you create trends. Light bulbs do not need speakers, they speak by doing their jobs. They don’t pretend. If you turn a light bulb on, it would continue to shine even if no one is in the room. Stop living a fake Christian life – actions speak louder than words. Shine even if no one is clapping. The widow of Zarephath didn’t have much but she had faith. She obeyed the command of Elijah even when it didn’t make sense and God rewarded her faith. Do you believe there is any value in being salt of the earth and light of the world today? Are you willing to obey God when it seems as if you have nothing to live on? Would you rather chase money or chase holiness? The choice is yours to make.

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Brothers and sisters, there is no easy ticket to heaven. Being circumcised will not guarantee salvation. If there is anything that assures us of eternal life, it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself,” says Jesus. Nevertheless, faith in the sacrifice of Jesus without corresponding works on our part is useless. St. James would say, faith without works is dead.

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The same Paul and Barnabas who fled from Iconium went to Lystra to preach the Gospel. There was a cripple there who could not use his feet from birth. Seeing that this man had faith, Paul said to him: “Stand upright on your feet.” The cripple sprang up and walked. Truly speaking, as Jesus taught us, “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:20)

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Have you ever tried to tell someone what you believe only to realize you are pouring water on a stone? This was the situation Jesus found himself in with the Jews. There was just nothing that Jesus would say to them that would make them believe He is the Christ. Even when they saw all the works He did. “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe.”

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Do you feel like abandoning your faith because it has become too difficult for you to continue practicing Christian virtues (keeping the commandments of God)? Reflect on St. Paul’s words in today’s second reading. Jesus obeyed even to the point of accepting death but today, the name of Jesus is above every name in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess and Jesus Christ is God. Obedience to God might be difficult but the reward is worth more than all the sacrifices.

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Let us put ourselves in the shoes of Abraham. You have prayed for something for so many years and it has not come to pass. Would you continue to believe in God? Consider the Jews who were Jesus’ audience, a man in his thirties says to you, “I existed over a thousand years ago.” Would you believe it? It takes the eyes of faith to come to terms with certain truths especially when the visible facts appear to contradict that truth.

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Christians who see the Christian faith as a shortcut to success, comfort, and prosperity cannot withstand trials. When they don’t get what they expect, they rush to wherever they expect solutions. They are not afraid of God; for them, God is just a tool, an option among many providers.

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Child of God, you do not need the display of signs and wonders to believe. Place your complete trust in Jesus and not in any man or woman of God. If truly you believe that your prayers would be answered, God who sees your heart will reward your faith and grant what you ask.

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We remember St. Patrick today, a man who like Peter fully explored his spiritual potential making such a huge catch of souls in Ireland.

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Prayer is not just about asking, it also involves doing. Jesus makes clear the point: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

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