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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Take away faithfulness marriage/religious life becomes a caricature. An unfaithful spouse does great damage to his/her family just as an unfaithful celibate does great damage to their flock.

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There is an extent to which our worship of God becomes reduced to the mere observation of rules. This was the problem of the Pharisees.

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Abraham went to the extent of tying Isaac on the pile of wood because he believed that God was capable of giving him more sons. Four men opened the roof of the house where Jesus was to bring in their paralytic friend because they believed that an audience with Jesus was all he needed to be healed. The question is: “What do your actions say about your faith?”

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“Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed… glorify the Lord generously… with every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Give to the Most High as he has given, and as generously as your hand has found. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.” (Sirach 35:4-11).

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Although friendship with God comes at a cost, there is a great prize/reward for it. Jesus says: “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16).

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Washing one’s feet was a task allotted to slaves in the Jewish culture, it was the most humiliating task anyone would do for another. The disciples were shocked. Peter even tried to protest Jesus’ action but Jesus explained: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

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As the scribe said: “to love our neighbour as ourselves is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” If the love of God is not in our hearts, if there is hatred against others in our hearts, then our singing and dancing in church, our rolling up and down, our speaking in tongues and so on, are all useless.

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In today’s First Reading, we are presented with the story of Abraham our Father in faith. Interestingly, just as Noah offered a sacrifice to God that pleased God so much, we find Abraham offering a very huge sacrifice; the sacrifice of his only begotten son, Isaac – the same Isaac that was born to him after twenty-five long years of waiting.

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We should never be discouraged to carry out this type of fasting because as much as it is a huge risk to help others, it is even a greater risk to care only for yourself. Do you remember the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus? Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

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