As much as family is important, serving God leaves no room for compromise. We cannot avoid the divisions that must come or the hatred of others in our determination to seek first God’s kingdom. Like Jeremiah, we shall surely face persecution but everything we suffer is a form of fire that purifies us from impurities just as gold is purified by fire. Our real enemy is not people but sin.

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Can I say: “With Jesus alone, I am satisfied?” Am I willing to sacrifice all I have, all my friends and connections, all my possessions just for the sake of being part of God’s kingdom? Can I say with the psalmist today that “God is my refuge in the day of my distress?”

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God keeps us alive despite our sinfulness not because He condones sin but just so that we may have the opportunity to repent. We serve a merciful God – let us extend this mercy to our brothers and sisters; especially those who offend us or are still living in the darkness of sin.

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When Jesus says we should carry his yoke, he speaks figuratively referring to those things we must do as his followers. Like a farmer ties a yoke on oxen in order to use them to work on the farm, Jesus wants us to carry His Yoke; be controlled by his teaching; to work in promoting God’s kingdom. Moreover, Jesus went further to add that this yoke is easy and the burden (sacrifices, pains, commitments) that come with carrying the yoke is very light.

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The purpose of our calling as Christians and especially as God’s ministers is to incarnate Christ in our world. As Elijah handed over to Elijah, even the strongest among us would need to be replaced someday. Let us encourage our young ones to respond positively to God’s call. How dark would our world be if there are no ministers or no authentic Christians anymore? However, the truth is that God will never force his calling on anyone. We must also avoid forcing our children into the seminary just for the sake of making a name for our family. It has to come from them. Anyone who has agreed to respond to God’s call must learn to trust God completely and no longer depend on material provisions. This is the symbolic meaning of Elisha’s decision to sacrifice the entire oxen he was working with. And finally, we all have been called to live by the spirit rather than gratifying the desires of the flesh. The minister who fails to practice bodily purity is nothing short of a scandal to the Christian faith preaching one Gospel on the pulpit but preaching something different by his actions.

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Leading others is indeed the most difficult assignment on earth. Without cultivating the habit of personal prayer, no one can ever succeed at it. This is the lesson we learn in today’s first reading. In his prayer, Peter was given a vision wherein he was told not to call anything unclean that God has made clean. He would later understand the meaning of this vision when some men came from Caesarea to fetch him. In the end, a Roman official of high standing, Cornelius along with his entire family was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. This paved the way for the spread of the faith to Rome.

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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 resolve this week to be new in thoughts, new in words, and new in actions. Let us strive to put sin aside, trust God more by obeying his voice to the latter and rise above human pressure. Let us move away from being people-pleasers to God-pleasers.

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Love is kindness to others – a kindness that gives them the freedom to accept or reject; to reciprocate or to hate in return and more importantly, this kindness continues even when the other party responds with hatred.

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In a moment of temptation, don’t negotiate with the devil; act immediately. Secondly, be prepared. No one engages in a battle with bare hands. Like Mattathias who gathered an army in preparation for King Antiochus, we must prepare our spiritual arsenal through daily prayers and meditation and the practice of holiness.

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Love is empty if it doesn’t require anything from you. True love requires sacrificing for others especially for the old. Just as loving God demands our wholehearted worship, loving our neighbours also demands sacrifice on our part.

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Just as no one forced Jephthah to make a vow, no one forced this man into the marriage feast. He came on his own. He was supposed to do just one thing; put on a wedding garment like all the others who were invited freely. But in the end, he got what his actions deserved.

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