Spiritual probings

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6.
Psalm: 72:1-7, 10-14.
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:1-12.
Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 2:2
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12.

Have you ever suffered humiliating defeat? Have you ever been agonised by shame and guilt that you would wish the world to open up and swallow you alive? Have you ever wasted or missed a golden opportunity that all you want is to sleep into oblivion? 
Have you ever been caught red-handed on an incident that has sealed your fate? Have you ever made a mistake or committed a crime that has gone to invalidate all your good works and given you a bad reputation? Has the media ever tarnished your good standing? Have you ever dug yourself into a hole that the more you try to come out of it is the more you keep sinking? Have you ever been guilty or felt ashamed of something that only you or a few people know? Have you ever been terrorised by an unbearable weight of guilt and shame that has destroyed your taste of life and diluted your love for prayer? Have you ever reached the end of your tether and given up?
We have all suffered from something that has impaired our vision of life, adulterated our innocence, and made us feel unworthy of God. Many have also reached points where their bridges to success have been burned beyond repair. Most of us have suffered from a misfortune that has soiled our soul, broken our spirit and adulterated our innocence. 
Jesus is the light that has come into a world covered in darkness and to a people whose eyes are clouded with blindness. A world that is freezing in abandonment – feeling cut off from its Creator because of its sinfulness. 
Like light that attracts insects and living creatures to it, Jesus is the light whose magnetism is attracting the Wise Men from the East to its centre. A light whose radiance and splendour is lifting the veil of shame and the weight of guilt. This light is unshackling the world from the chains of inertia. A people living in the bondage of darkness is being pulled into the heart of this radiant light. 
In the presence of Jesus Christ, the light of God, he who was trapped in guilt has been rescued and restored to innocence. She who was covered in the ashes of shame has been washed clean and restored to pristine beauty. They that were defeated have been made victorious. The stone that was rejected by the builders has been made the cornerstone. The marginalised, have been brought from the periphery to the centre. And the unqualified have been qualified. 
Deep in our affliction, we have been surprised by joy. Great men and women of honour and opulence come to pay us homage with expensive gifts of royalty! God has listened to the cries of our bruised spirits and responded resoundingly and unequivocally! 
What was once a laughingstock, has become a source of joy and attraction. What once made us guilty, has become the touchstone of God’s grace. What formerly drowned us in shame, has become our rallying point for confidence in God. Like an alchemist who turns raw metal into gold, Christ, the King, has turned our failure into success, and has moulded our darkest experiences into a royal crown. Indeed, he is a God of second chances! In him, through him and with him, our fortunes are restored.   
Nations will come to your light; kings will come to the brightness of your sunrise. (Isaiah 60:3)
-       As the three kings bring gifts to Christ, what gift(s) do I also want to give Christ? 
-       What are the three Kings seeing in little baby Jesus, that makes him a source of attraction? 
-       How is Jesus’ greatness disguised in humility? 
-       What have I done for Christ? 
-       What am I doing for Christ? 
-       What ought I do for Christ? 
GLORY be to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY SPIRIT. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, AMEN 🙏🏿 


01 JANUARY 2023
FIRST READING: Numbers 6: 22- 27
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: 67: 2-3, 5, 6, 8
SECOND READING: Galatians 4: 4-7
GOSPEL: Luke 2: 16-21
As we commence a new calendar year, we must prepare ourselves to be aware of God’s presence in our life and be willing to say “Yes” to whatever God has instore for us. Mary, the Mother of God, is our role model when it comes to prioritizing God as the center and following his will. Celebrating her Feast on this day, the first day of the year, is quite fitting as it gives us someone to emulate. 
There is nothing wrong in having resolutions and planning for the future. However, words of the Psalmist give us wise guidance: “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good” (Psalm 127:1). In addition, in as much as we have personal goals, our success is guaranteed when we align these goals with God’s will for us. 
Our Gospel gives us the account of the shepherds approaching the newborn baby Jesus.  Their report astonishes everyone who hears of it.  The Gospel continues by relating that Mary treasures all these things and reflects on them in her heart.  And on the eighth day, Jesus is circumcised, according to the Jewish rite, and he is given the name Yeshua, Jesus, “God saves.” The key phrase on this Feast day of Mary the Mother of God is “Mary treasured all these things in hear heart.” The magnitude of the events that had happened in her life were beyond simple comprehension.  It is only as she reflects on them that she realized the overwhelming importance of what had happened. 
The same with us. If we are to look at how God has been magnificent to us in the past year or in years past,  and the difficulties we have gone or are still going through, we are overwhelmed and are unable to comprehend. However, if we can treasure all these things in our heart, like Mary, we can forge ahead into the New Year, knowing that the God who has been gracious to us in the past is able to do even greater things. If God has been faithful to us in small matters, he will definitely give us the capacity of succeed in even greater things
 The title of “Mother of God” is reflected in the term used by the Council of Ephesus (431).  At that time Mary was officially called  THEOTOKOS or “God-bearer.”  She was the one who bore God Incarnate (God in flesh).  Mary is honored for her role in the plan of salvation.  She gave birth to Jesus, true God and true Man.  Her complete obedience to God’s will places her at the top of the list of humans who are to be role models for us. Mary did not just say “Fiat – Let it be” once, when the Archangel Gabriel visited her.  As she treasured each of her encounters with God, and continually reflected on the purpose of her role, she was able to continually say “Yes - Let it be” to God’s plan. Such obedience was rooted in deep faith and love for God. 
As you reflect on your situation, may your “Yes” to God be based on trust and not fear or resentment. As you encounter God, may you also encounter your life’s purpose and the reason you were created. 
“Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38)
-       As I make a transition into 2023 I take some significant time to reflectively ask myself the following key questions: 
-       (1) How was the year 2022 like for me? (What were my struggles and what were my blessings?)
-       (2) What is going on inside me now? (What are my current thoughts and feelings)
-       (3) What are my hopes and desires for the coming year?
-       (4) Where do I want God to meet me? 
-       (5) How do I want my relationship with God to be? 
Hail, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you amongst women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. 
Amen. (Ref Luke 1 : 26-45)

30 DECEMBER 2022
We account for what God gives us by offering it for his praise and service. Our gifts are there to glorify God and not to make us look down upon others. Does this mean that God is autocratic and does not want us to have it our own way? Would it mean that when we serve and glorify God through our very own lives, there is nothing left for us to cherish?
Unlike dictators we know and unlike slave drivers and taskmasters that many have grown accustomed to, God has created us in such a way that in glorifying his name through our gifts and talents, we glow, and we thrive. Outside God, our lives are good for nothing, a mere road to perdition. As Christ says, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing. If any do not remain in me, they are like a branch that is thrown away and then dies” (John15: 5-6). 
Therefore, doing things our own way, outside the realm of God, can lead to a burnout. Like a branch cut off from the vine, the heated moments of life can make us whither.
Children are gifts that God entrusts parents. The role of parents, however, is to nurture and prepare children for a future that God has in store for them. As parents, we hand over our children to God, when we allow them to become what God has called them to be. What God has called our children to be can be seen through their giftedness. 
God has made us in such a way that we thrive when we place ourselves in the realm of our calling. Being in our proper calling is like a plant being in its natural habitat, where all conditions are suitable for its growth, endurance and prosperity. 
One of the major causes of discontentment and sadness in our world is that many people are not living the lives God has called them. As a result, their dis-ease becomes a cancer to their happiness. We are all called! The key therefore, is to respond to what God has called us to be! 
As Parents, Mary and Joseph do not block Jesus from his destiny. Even when they did not understand, what the boy Jesus was up to, they still played the role of faithful guardians. As the Holy Family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus are the supreme model for all families. Through the inspiration of the Holy Family, our goal is to make our families places where each member is free to discover what God is calling them to become. 
It is sad, however, to note that there are many parents in this day and age who suffocate and kill their children’s dreams by clinging on them. Through overprotection, possessiveness and inordinate love, such parents impair their children from making a healthy and proper discernment of what God is calling them to be. 
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
-       How have your family, guardians, mentors and friends contributed to the person you are today? 
-       How does the Holy Family inspire our families to become places we are given the capacity to prosper in life? 
-       As a parent, son, daughter, brother or sister, how is God calling you to help those in your family?