Sunday, February 27, 2022

Magis | Keep Increasing

"But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ." — Acts 9:22 (NASB) 

Often we see someone who once was a ‘sinner’ but now the person has changed a lot. We wonder whether he really has changed. Has he really repented? And thus we stay on guard when we encounter that person. Or, we act normally but question his integrity in our hearts.

That happened in Paul’s early days of repentance. People questioned him in their hearts. As he used to raise havoc in Jerusalem among Jesus’ followers and take them as prisoners to the chief priests (v.21). There was even a conspiracy to kill him (v.23). It’s difficult for them to believe him.

However, when God changes someone’s heart, that person will turn around wholeheartedly. He doesn’t wait long or neglect Jesus’ presence in his life. He shows a progress and the evidence becomes stronger each day. Only days after his eyes had recovered, Paul (that time was still known as ‘Saul’) began to preach in the synagogues about the deity of Jesus Christ (v.20). Even though many people still didn’t believe him, Paul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah (v.22).

We learn 2 things here.

First, a person can change. Even we - ourselves, have changed. Do not judge someone based on his / her past. God might have done marvelous work inside the person. It could also happen to us, that people don’t believe us as a new born person. Don’t lose heart. Saul kept moving forward.

Second, if we do have changed, there must be a progress. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you … “ (2 Cor 13:5). A true repentance changes the whole direction. Yes, we could lose ways sometimes, but it won’t be long. Our longing has changed. Our goal is different now. We want to be holy, and dedicated to please our Lord Jesus Christ.

Keep up the good work. May God bless and help us all. Amen.

Reflection on Acts 9:18-25 by Desire Litaay 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Vas Electionis | Chosen Instrument

"'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.'" — Acts 9:15 (NIV) 

The Word of God for today is simply amazing. No wound is too deep that God cannot heal it, no one is too lost that God cannot find him.

I am altogether amazed, relieved, humbled and truly thankful our God is as merciful and powerful as He is. Truly, He doesn’t only call on the qualified (because who really is?), but he qualifies the called. It gives so much hope to people that - even to someone like me, that God can turn me and myself around should He will it. I stand in awe of His healing love and His capacity to    use anyone He so wished to advance His Kingdom here on earth. 

It is also comforting to know God can use me even if, and despite of being a sinner. What a good God we serve, to see what is possible for me and all others who may have gone astray, through His healing love and restorative power.

If God can use Saul for the purpose of His church, He can certainly do it for us. Keep the faith, friends - God is good, and He heals.

Reflection on Acts 9:10-19 by Blessie Sto Tomas
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Spiritus Sanctus | The Holy Spirit (3)

"Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. 'Do you understand what you are reading?' Philip asked. " — Acts 8:30 (NIV)

In the text it is narrated that there was a eunuch who had gone to Jerusalem to worship. He was an established man, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake Queen of Ethiopia. This is a very extraordinary thing. The eunuch's life had been  established but he went to Jerusalem to worship. Not only that, he also made time to read the Bible. An Ethiopian, but longs to seek the God of Israel. Of course he would have had difficulty understanding the content and context of the Bible he was reading because he was not an Israelite.

But the Holy Spirit helped him. The Holy Spirit helped the eunuch to understand through Philip's presence. The Holy Spirit himself told Philip to go down that road and meet the eunuch (verses 26, 29). Finally the man understood and he willingly asked Philip to baptize him. 

The spirit of this eunuch was extraordinary. We need to emulate the spirit of this eunuch. He persisted in reading even though he did not understand. The Holy Spirit will not remain silent. He through various ways will lead us to understand, as he guided the eunuch.

Let's persevere to read God's Word. It doesn't matter if you don't understand today. The Holy Spirit will always be with us.

Reflection on Acts 8: 26-40 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, February 21, 2022

Lux de caelo | Light from Heaven

"A bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him" — Acts 9:3 (CEV).

Photo by Harpreet Batish on Pixabay 

We engage ourselves in many things. Sometimes we make wrong decisions and commit sins though we do not realize it. The circumstances force us to do something. In any situation of our life, the Lord cares for us. God, the Father, loves us and sends his beloved Son Jesus Christ. 

We can meet Jesus during our journey. It would be better if we find time to pray and meet him. But it often happens that we hurry up and cannot spend much time on prayer. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit touches and enlightens our hearts.

In Saul's case, it was an accident on the road to Damascus. In our case, it can be anything - serious sickness, broken marriage, job loss, etc. When we are lonely and weak, it is the best occasion for the Lord to take an action. As Christians, we usually surrender to Jesus when we experience troubles. We need to know that Jesus comes to our life through good people. We are to acknowledge that we cannot manage everything on our own. We are like children who should be led by the hand. So let's trust in the Lord and in other people whom God sends as his messengers. May the divine light embrace us and set us free from our weaknesses and problems. 


Reflection on Acts 9:1-9 by Fr. Józef Trzebuniak, SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Spiritus Sanctus | The Holy Spirit (2)

"Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!" — Acts 8:20 (NIV) 

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

The apostles got the gift of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to bless people. Pentecost is an event where God pours out the power of the Holy Spirit on them. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, which is received freely, is used freely as a blessing to convert and strengthen people's faith.

One of the places the apostles went to convert was Samaria. In Samaria, they laid hands and poured out the Holy Spirit. Many people believe in this event. But Simon who saw that assumed that the apostles used magical powers. Therefore, he asked the apostles to sell that power to him. Peter considered this a sin because he had insulted the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Peter asked Simon to repent and ask God for forgiveness.

We believe that all those who have been baptized receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. With this power, we are asked to preach the gospel. Gospel means good news. In the midst of challenging situations, conflicts and sufferings, we continue to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, bringing hope to those who are hopeless in life.


Reflection on Acts 8:18-25 by Fr. Aris Mada, SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Friday, February 18, 2022

Spiritus Sanctus | The Holy Spirit (1)

"When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit." —Acts 8:15  

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For believers who have accepted Jesus Christ, the power of God will fully work in him or her so they could serve more people with the power of the Holy Spirit. The twelve apostles, when they were first called to be disciples of Jesus, realized their inadequacy because their profession was fishermen who daily interacted with the sea, with any kind of fish and nets. How could those who were not educated at that time suddenly taught theology and philosophy from village to village, from city to city and even across to foreign islands and countries? 

Moreover, the apostle Peter who was chosen by Jesus became the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, until now. Something absolutely impossible for a human like us to believe in such a life story. No one in this world can understand the mind and will of God. If He has willed, then nothing could run away. We can only surrender and be ready to work together and follow His direction in various occasions in our daily lives.

Actually, we are present in the world because each of us was given a mission, a task and a trust by God. Everything that has happened to us since the beginning of our presence in the world until now, is a mystery. When we were born, were we given the choice to be born into a certain family or to be born into a certain country or city or village? God gives us freedom in many ways, one of which is the freedom to answer His call. God's voice is hard to hear in the midst of the noise. It's easier to hear if we are close to our own hearts through inner silence. How can we know our mission if we don't give room to God's voice and God's will? 

We have been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, let us fully believe that God the Holy Spirit is working within us, so that we are not complacent with worldly matters but also think about the provision of our life in the hereafter, namely the mission of our presence in this world.

Reflection on Acts 8:14-17 by Sr. Yanti Purnawati SFSC

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Friday, February 11, 2022

Gratia Dei | The Grace of God

"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'" — Acts 7:59 (NIV) 

The verses today spoke of the stoning of Stephen. I have read elsewhere that early Christians were indeed persecuted in Rome, and so reading the passages today gave me more insights and somehow allowed me to better understand what is happening at these verses.

What amazes me the most is how Stephen is seemingly filled with peace - despite the commotion around him. Truly, this kind of peace must come only from such an authentic source that it can see Stephen through the persecutions and the stoning. What a blessing it must be to see Jesus amidst all the persecutions. I cannot even begin to imagine what he must be going through at that time. Only the grace of God could have sustained him through his ordeal.

Towards the end, Stephen even managed to pray for the people stoning him. He lifted in prayer that may these persecutions not be held against these people. Truly, truly only through grace, the grace of God can you love despite the hatred thrown against you.

Now, I ask myself - can I stand up for my faith, the same way Stephen did? Can I find peace amidst the troubles and tribulations of this world? Can I genuinely pray for people who persecute me? I honestly don’t know. But the bible also said - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And thankfully so. Because I know in my heart that I can only do those things by the grace of God.

Reflection on Acts 7:54-60 by Blessie Sto Tomas 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Solve calciamentum | Take off your sandals

"Then the Lord said to him, "Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is the holy ground." — Acts 7:33 (NRSV)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In today's reflection, we have the passage about the speech given by St. Stephen after his arrest in front of the High Priest in the Sanhedrin. His speech reminds the Jewish leaders about their failure to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The Jews did not appreciate the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. 

God has been always so good to the humanity and he did at the right time what is to be done. He chose St. Stephen as a role model of all of us. This particular long speech of Stephen has not only created more anger against him by the Jews but even it leads to his martyrdom. This passage also reminds us that when we stand for truth and justice, we will have to face many difficulties and challenges which can even cause our death. 

It is God who gives us the task and we as his instruments need to accomplish this task with utter humility. When I reflected deeply on this passage, I too realized that even I behave sometimes same like the Jews, not able to recognize the presence of Christ in my life. Jesus Christ is the true savior of my life but sometimes I am not able to appreciate the works of salvation he does in my life. 

I realize that unless I accept Jesus  Christ as the true savior of my life, I wont be able to receive the eternal life. I need to hold on to Christ and his teachings and values. His works of salvation to save my soul will be accomplished only if I co-operate with Him. Jesus can work wonders in my life only when I am with him and for him. I also feel that Jesus can do this task even with the help of others. The people around me that I live with can be the task masters in the hands of Christ. I need to surrender myself completely in the hand of God with deep humility.  The moment I surrender myself to Him, I will be able to feel His presence all around me and within me. Through this I can also experience lot of  peace and happiness. 

As Jesus saves my soul, it is also my responsibility to save my neighbor's soul.  I need to be like that of St. Stephen who could face the crowd with confidence and strong faith even in the midst of persecution. He did not waver even a little but stood strong in his belief and convictions and even at the moment of facing death he remained as a strong witness of the love of Christ. It's not an easy task for me but rather challenging but with the strong faith and deep trust in God I can overcome all the difficulties. May God Bless us all with strong faith. 

Reflection on Acts 7: 1-53 by Fr. George Joseph SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, February 7, 2022

Facies Angeli | Face of An Angel

"And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel." — Acts 6:15  
Reflecting on the historical accounts by St. Luke, on the stoning of St Stephen, I find it most amazing that St Stephen was not only able to keep his peace in the kangaroo court that was falsely charging him, but also exuded a holy glow that even his accusers had noticed that he bore the face of an angel. A moment which reminded me of our LORD's own unjust trial prior to His crucifixion, and the pagan Roman officer who exclaimed "Truly, this was the Son of God!", when he witnessed Jesus' death on the Cross. Also as King David had penned in Psalm 8, "What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor." (Psalm 8:4-5)

Surely, all of us are called to bear the image of God. And the only way we can achieve His Glory, is to allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow our hearts and minds, and to see the world through God's eyes, and hearts that beat along with God's Heartbeat, to love a hurting world in need of a Saviour. As St John had written, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John3:16)

I will end my short reflection with the beautiful words of this Hillsong worship song. 

"The Power of Your Love"

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I've found in You

Lord I've come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait

I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me

Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living everyday
By the power of Your love

Reflection on Acts 6:8-15 by Chris Tan

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Hoc Opus | This Duty

"Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty."— Acts 6:3 (ESV) 


As the number of believers increased in the early church of Jerusalem, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (v.1). The apostles summoned the disciples and asked them to choose seven men to serve the table (v.3). They found out that they could not do everything by themselves, as they had to concentrate in prayers and spreading the Word of God to the society (v.2&4). After these men were chosen, the result was awesome. The Word of God increased, the number of disciples multiplied exceedingly, even a great number of (Jewish) priests became followers of Christ (v.7).

A few days ago I read a friend’s status on FB. “A ministry is not a one man show”. Short, but so true, isn't it? That’s why the body of Christ exists. The Lord Jesus himself chose 72 men to go before him, two by two, in a mission. He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:1-2).

We need one another in a ministry. Because everywhere, the workers are few. Even at church. I once read a report of a research, that only less than 10% from the whole church members who are actively involved helping the ministry. We usually find the same people serve in many kinds of church programs. 

The apostles set a criterion to those who will serve – men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom (v.3). Such a high standard. Maybe we are not that good, but when God calls, it is an honor. He needs the workers and he qualifies us. What is your answer?

Reflection on Acts 6:1-7 by Desire Litaay 

(Listen to the Podcast here)