Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Spiritus Sanctus | Holy Spirit

"When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." — Acts 19:6 (NRSV)

 

  Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash


Dear brothers and Sisters, in today's passage we hear about St. Paul preaching the Word of God to the people in Ephesus. When he reached there, he came across a few believers. He was asking them a question that whether they had received the Holy Spirit, when they received the Baptism and they gave the answer that they had not, because they received the baptism of John the Baptist, which is that of repentance. So St. Paul was baptizing them again in the name of the Lord Jesus. The moment St. Paul laid his hands on them they received the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues and started prophesying.  

We all believe in one true baptism and that is in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Most of us got baptized when we were small and some of us as adults. It is a true fact that we all received the Holy Spirit in our Baptism. But most often we don't realize this fact that God has given us His helper to be with us always. We keep the Holy Spirit in us very dormant and allow Him to sleep. Meanwhile the evil spirit starts to dominate us. We don't realize how powerful a helper we have in us is the Holy spirit who lives in our Souls.

So how can we make the Holy Spirit in us active? What should we do? It is not such a difficult task. You only need to call out to Him and ask Him to come and fill yourself. Call out to him with such a great desire and at the same time when you call out to him make sure that you live a holy life without sin. He is the Spirit of holiness which makes you holy. The Holy Spirit can not come to you when your heart, mind and soul is filled with sin, filth and dirt. So make sure before you call out to Him to clean yourself properly internally.

Once you fill yourself with the Holy Spirit then there is no space for the evil spirit to work inside you because you are already filled with the Holy Spirit. All of your actions will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Then you will experience the peace in your heart always and will be able to do everything according to the will of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus who strengthens you and gives you the courage to face the daily challenges of this life and also helps you to focus on eternal life and not this earthly life which is temporary.  Holy Spirit come into me.

 


Reflection on Acts 19:1-10 by Fr. George Joseph SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Deo Volente | God's Will

"...I will come back if it is God's will."  — Acts 18: 21 (NIV)





Today’s reading just made me focus on just one phrase from today’s verses: “…if it’s God’s will.” I honestly could not focus on what was happening with St. Paul in these verses as I ponder about “God’s will.”

It spoke to me so much as for the past few days, I have been praying for God’s direction on certain pivotal things in my life. I have been asking God, “What is your will for me, Lord?”

And now this verse. It leaves me more questions than answers:

How do I know God’s will for my life?
How do I differentiate if it’s just my voice I’m listening to, or truly God’s promptings?
Does God’s will change, or is it constant?
There are so many questions in my head on this proverbial “God’s will”. St. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest on God. I want to align my heart’s desires to what God wants, but sometimes the two are just polar opposites. I want to follow God’s will, but sometimes I don’t even know what God really wants for me.

I have been given an advice before that to know God’s voice, you have to recognize His voice when He speaks to you. And how do you recognize His voice? If you spend time with Him regularly, intimately. If we sit in the stillness of our room and sit quietly with Him in the morning. If we spend time with God in prayer, then we will come to hear His voice often, and know His voice when He finally speaks to us – His will.

With all these ramblings in my mind, I remember my key takeaway from our little group’s last reflection – do not be afraid. Let us all walk in peace and settle in God’s love – and be not afraid. If God’s will brings us to it, He will get us through it – whatever it may be.

Today, let us spend more time with the Lord, that we may know His voice, and recognize it when He speaks His will to our lives.



Reflection on Acts 18:18-28 by Blessie Sto Tomas
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, May 23, 2022

Noli Timere | Don't be Afraid

“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent…’— Acts 18:9 (ESV)

 

Photo by Pete Nuij on Unsplash



Paul was proclaiming the Truth in Corinth, reasoning in the Synagogue with the Jews and Greeks that the Christ was Jesus. However they opposed and reviled him, to the point that he decided to leave them with their stubbornness alone as he had done his best (v. 4-6). Paul was about to give up when he said, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

No wonder Paul said those words above, as he faced resistance and oppressions in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere. Danger, persecutions, trials and false accusations were so familiar. He left the synagogue and went to Titius Justus’ house, a worshipper of God (v.7). I can imagine, he needs a person with similar visions and beliefs and has some rest from the opposite parties.

Sometimes, we are tired of fighting through challenges and problems which keep on testing our faith. We have done everything but then another thing comes up interfering the situation. Everything seems disappointing and useless. We become weak and want to give up.

Although Paul might feel hopeless, Crispus, the ruler of the Synagogue believed Paul and was converted together with his household. And so did many other Corinthians who then were baptized (v.8). And the Lord came to Paul at night and said, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (v. 9-10).

As long as we live in the Word of God, we will never lose hope. He doesn’t want us to give up or use our own understanding. He himself has arranged everything. He is more than aware of what we are facing, what worries us. Keep going and trust Him, because He is with you although you might not realize it. To God and the Lord Jesus Christ be all the glory. Amen.

 

 Reflection on Acts 18:1-17 by Desire Litaay 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Cum Aviditate | Eagerness

"These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly  and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so." — Acts 17:11 


Image by FotoRieth from Pixabay


In today's Passage we hear about Paul and Silas proclaiming about Jesus in two different communities namely Thessalonica and Berea and both were Jewish communities.  They received two different responses from both the communities. Some happily listened to the word of God and believed it but some did not. They also experienced danger to their life but good believers helped them to escape. Whatever may be they never got tired of what they were doing and even with more enthusiasm and energy they moved to another place as per the command of their master, Jesus.

Whenever the Truth is proclaimed there is always opposition and rejection because the evil cannot bear the Truth and this truth is nothing other than Jesus Christ. In this passage we see, to chase away Paul and Silas the Jews were taking the support of criminals called ruffians. This pattern is seen always whether to kill Jesus Christ or in the Old Testament the evil kings joining together to destroy the good or even in the history of the world that we live in now also we come across this pattern. What these people forget is that the Truth can't be destroyed. The Truth always sets people free. Jesus set the people from the slavery of sin, death and evil. He shed his blood for humanity.

Let us be like the Jews in Berea who eagerly welcomed the message of salvation and always read the Word of God. There is a solution to most of our problems in the word of God but at the same time let us read the Word of God not to find solutions to our daily problems but rather to strengthen our trust and faith in Christ Jesus.

 


Reflection on Acts 17: 1-15 by Fr. George Joseph SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, May 16, 2022

Superstitiosiores | Religious

"You are very religious in all things" - Acts 17:22 (WEB).




There are many people in the world. Many of them do not know Jesus. Sometimes we do have friends who are not Christians. They also look for truth and answers to their questions: Why is there war? Why do people suffer? Why does God allow bad things to happen?

For us Christians, it is much easier to find the answers because we read the Scriptures. There are words of God and we understand more thanks to the Divine Word. In the times of Paul the Apostle the situation was very similar. Paul as a new believer was aware of these problems of humanity. He tried his best to respond with divine grace. First of all, he did appreciate his interlocutors. This is a good lesson for us. We also need to focus on good things in other people and the world. 

As Christians, we do know that God lives in us. He gives us "life and breath and everything" (v.25). He created the beautiful nature around us and "fixed the ordered seasons" (v. 26). For that reason, each person is capable of searching for God and finding him. 

Moreover, the Holy Spirit abides in the human soul. So "we live and move and have our being" (v. 28). Everyone too is his offspring and the child of God (v. 29). This knowledge gives us relief and peace in every circumstance. We can accept the Good News or neglect it. We also can believe in the truth of Jesus or ignore it. The choice belongs to each of us. Let us join Jesus Christ and his followers. In this way, we will become messengers as Paul the Apostle was. 



Reflection on Acts 17:16-34 by J√≥zef Trzebuniak.

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Tacebitis | Keep Calm

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." — Exodus 14:14 (NLT) 



Paul and Silas were thrown into the prison for a false accusation. Some people lost their way to gain money through a fortune teller who suddenly no longer had her ability - as Paul expelled the spirit of divination she possessed (Acts 16:18-21).

They were brought to the market place before the authorities – opening the chance to accept more attack from the crowd. After being blamed for a wrong reason, their robes were torn, they were beaten heavily, they were put in the inner jail, and their feet were fastened in the stocks (v.22-24). Such an extreme unfair consequence for those who proclaim the truth.

But we learn so much from this passage, how Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to praise God. It became a testimony to other prisoners who paid attention to their acts (v.25). The rest was magical. An earthquake occurred, the prison doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened (v.26). Even the jailer and his household were converted and finally they were released honorably (v.30-39).

Are you facing an unfair accusation? Are you suffering because you did the right thing? Even more, are you in danger because of Christ's name? Take heart. Do not lose hope in your faith. Keep praying and singing hymns to praise God. “…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14, NIV).



Reflection on Acts 16:25-40 by Desire Litaay
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Exire | Come out

“But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And it came out that very hour.” — Acts 16:18 (NRSV)




The kingdom of God is in direct conflict with the kingdom of the spirit of this world, which is why when an earthly ministry is winning souls for Christ, the enemies of the cross will come howling like jackals. Just like how after Paul had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the slave girl and delivered her from slavery to her owners, the apostles were immediately brought before magistrates and thrown into jail. However, our LORD Himself had said these words of comfort that even in the midst of intense earthly persecutions that they'll receive a blessing and reward that far exceeds this earthly life:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

And in another gospel, He comforted His Disciples with these Words:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:1-4)

And in yet another gospel account, He comforts them about the troubles they would face after His Resurrection:

“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33) and “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Therefore, as a true follower of Christ, I'm reminded to expect many trials and temptations in this life, yet my true wealth is not measured in what I can amass in this limited lifetime, but how many souls have I helped lead to heaven. Amen.

I came across this beautiful worship song titled "Thank You" by Ray Boltz that had really touched my heart. A timely reminder of my real treasures in life as per, Matthew 6:33 – “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

YouTube: https://youtu.be/1lVzeS5i8WQ




Reflection on Acts 16:16-24 by Chris Tan

Friday, May 6, 2022

Statim | Immediately

"When we had seen the vision, we immediately sought to leave for Macedonia..." — Acts 16:10 (NASB) 






The message of God’s Word today for me is that of openness and of obedience.

While Paul and his companions were travelling and preaching the Word, it was said that “they tried to enter Bithynia but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” How do we hear Jesus? And how do we know it’s Him we’re hearing? I can imagine we have to be really in touch with Jesus to know Him and know His voice when He finally speaks to us. We have to keep conversing with Him everyday, so that we will know His call and His Spirit when He speaks.

But it doesn’t end there - it doesn’t end when we hears the call of God, we have to be obedient to His Word. Further to today’s passages, “After Paul had seen the vision (of a man from Macedonia begging him to speak to them), we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them.” Paul got ready at once! Our openness to God’s Word should be followed by our obedience. As with obedience comes grace.

In the last few passages of today’s Word, it is written that for a woman named Lydia - “She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” In worshipping God and knowing his voice, our hearts and not only our ears are opened to God’s Word. And by God’s grace, we can respond to His call.

I pray that we may all always take our time to talk and commune with God. May it leave us open to His Word, and may this make us ready to respond.



Reflection on Acts 16:6-15 by Blessie Sto Tomas
(Listen to the Podcast here)