Hakee Aliwate

In God’s Time

First Reading
JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.’”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17
R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Gospel
LK 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”


timing

But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time. (Luke 1:20)

REFLECTION
Too often have I heard the words “in God’s time” being told like an infallible promise, and each time I’m left wondering what it truly means. Is it when I’ve received the answer to my prayers? Or is it the moment I’ve come to accept the fact that God’s plan for me just doesn’t match mine? I can’t bring myself to comprehend something I haven’t really experienced. And so I wait and wait for that perfect time to come.

But you know what?

I didn’t realize that God’s time is not a single point in time, but a series of seconds, minutes, and hours perfectly put together by God Himself. I was so busy waiting for God’s time to happen that I didn’t see it unfold right in front of me. I was so sure that I should expect it later that I never thought it could happen now.

So I think about all those times I’ve been hoping for God to grant me true happiness and I remember the last time I laughed with my family and friends. I think about when I prayed for peace of mind and heart and I remember my Youth Encounter just a month ago when much of my burdens were lifted by a solemn confession and a genuine hug from a new friend. And I think about when I prayed for an assured good future and I remember how passionate I’ve been working for the different organizations I’m a part of, and I knew I would be okay.

People keep telling me that all these things that I hope and pray for are all in God’s time. I would love to ask them what they mean, but I’d rather tell them what I know now: God’s time was yesterday, today, and tomorrow’s promise and prayer fulfilled. So if you’ve been waiting for it to come like I have, I’d love to tell you that it’s already here.

Prayer
Almighty Father, thank You for every prayer You’ve answered and every promise You continue to fulfill. May I never cease to trust that You are always by my side, working to fulfill Your great plans for me. Amen.

Author

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Hakee Aliwate, Little Whispers

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

First Reading
WIS 2:23–3:9
God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made them.
But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world,
and they who are in his possession experience it.

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
R. (2a) I will bless the Lord at all times.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.

Gospel
LK 17:7-10
Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”


“Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.” (Wisdom 3:5)

REFLECTION

It’s that time of the school year again. Another semester is about to close and a long list of deadlines is chasing us to the finish line. Piles of papers that haven’t been read and projects that we haven’t started doing are like time bombs that haunt us everyday. It’s a good time to feel like flipping tables and walking away from everything. It’s a good time to feel like giving up.

So this reflection is for all of us who feel like we’re standing at the brink of our horizons, with dark clouds of doubt and fear of disappointment hovering above us. God has a very important message for us today.

You and I are greatly blessed.

There is no reason to fear what failure lies in the future. From the very beginning, God has graced us with the strength to conquer any challenge that may come our way. He allowed you and me to face these trials that we are experiencing right now because He believed and will always believe that we can overcome them.

“God made man imperishable; the image of his own nature he made them.” (Wis 2:23) He made you and me imperishable. And He continues to bless us with many things that we can easily overlook in times of stress. God blesses you with friends that make you laugh and feel a little less alone in times of difficulty. God blesses you with a family that cheers you on when you win, and are ever-ready to embrace you with love and comfort when you lose. But above all, God has graced you and me with wonderful opportunities, disguised as scary trials, that are meant to help us grow and be closer to Him.

It’s that to time of the school year again. Another semester is about to close and a long list of deadlines is chasing us to the finish line. It’s a good time to feel like giving up. But it’s the best time to feel the rain of God’s blessings.

Reflection Song

Author

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Hakee Aliwate, Little Whispers

First Born

First Reading
IS 53:10-11

The LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness
of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Second Reading
HEB 4:14-16

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Gospel
MK 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Or
MK 10:42-45

Jesus summoned the twelve and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


king

“… Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 43-45)

REFLECTION
Being the first-born in the family was so much fun when I was a kid. Aside from being the first one to learn how to ride a bike, I was also the first heir to the parental throne, which meant I had almost as much power as my parents’ to order my younger siblings around. It was very easy to feel like the king in my own little world.

As I grew older, however, I learned that being “king” wasn’t any simpler than being the first one to learn how to ride a bike. Because being the first one to learn meant that I was also the first one to fall and teach my younger siblings to do better. And being the next responsible person at home meant that I was also the next person to be strong for my younger siblings when times get tough. Suddenly, I was no longer a king but a servant in a bigger world where my purpose is to guide those who follow me.

In today’s Gospel, God reminds us of what being a true king means through Jesus. Jesus, the prince of heaven, came down not to be glorified or served, but to serve the world instead. And that is exactly what we must do.

Prayer
Almighty Father, thank You for constantly guiding and leading us by example. May we always remember to live a life for others like You, Father, and shed our light to those who need it most. Amen.

Author

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Hakee Aliwate, Little Whispers

(I’M)POSSIBLE

First Reading
EPH 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 19:2-3, 4-5
R. (5) Their message goes out through all the earth.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Gospel
MT 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”


speechanxiety

“Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt. 9:13)

REFLECTION
I wasn’t always a fan of public speaking, especially when it came to talking about something I believed in. It was simply impossible for me. I was always afraid nobody would care enough to listen, so I avoided the situation at all costs. Until one day, the situation found me.

It was back in 2011 when I was asked by my teacher to prepare a Gospel reflection to share in front of my entire batch. I was mortified just thinking about standing in front of everyone. I had to say “no” unless I wanted to embarrass myself.

But something stronger in me made me take on the task anyway.

As I was writing my reflection the night before my sharing, I had already imagined fifty different ways everything could go wrong. All of them ended with my friends laughing at me. None of them assured me that I was going to be okay.

Until I ended my sharing the following day.

And suddenly there was one less impossible thing on my list.

Now that I look back at that experience, I realize that it’s more than a story about conquering my fear of public speaking. It was a story about being God’s instrument.

When God calls on us to follow Him, no matter how unimaginable it sounds, all we have to do is trust Him. He doesn’t want us to be anything but ourselves because that’s enough. With God by our side, we are graced with perfection and so nothing is impossible.

So as a new week begins, and new challenges come our way, let us be guided by God’s light and love, and witness everything we thought impossible come through.

Prayer
Almighty Father, we praise and thank You for Your unbounded love and faith in us. Guided by the example of Your Son, Jesus Christ, may we always be true to Your Word and hopeful to Your promise. Amen.

Author

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Hakee Aliwate, Little Whispers

Love Language

First Reading
DN 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:

Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened and the books were opened.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw:

One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
R. (1a and 9a) The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Second Reading
2 PT 1:16-19

Beloved:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Gospel
MK 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John,
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.


a295223ae07589344314c9236be566ac

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)

REFLECTION
For a long time, it never made sense to me how silence could ever be the language of God. After all, what can anyone hear in silence? It always took a significant amount of effort to listen to God’s voice as my thoughts race and my heart beats in prayer. And as I prayed, I would always wait to hear a voice – a soft whisper in my ear that would let me know that God was definitely listening to me.

But all I ever got was deeper silence.

One night, I had come into my grandmother’s bedroom to talk to her. I had told her about my day, how I felt about school, and everything and anything under the sun. Unfortunately, and as much as I had wanted her to, my grandmother was unable to respond to me in words because of her illness. So she would simply give me a tender look and a smile to let me know that she was listening.

It had been a silent exchange between us, but every fond and familiar connection we had made was more than enough to keep our conversation going. And even though I was the only one speaking in words, I still had one of the most meaningful conversations with her in the world. Because her silence didn’t mean that she was absent; it only meant that she was present, eager to listen to my little stories.

That moment made me appreciate silence.

Sometimes, we take God’s silence as a sign of absence – as if God didn’t hear us and we couldn’t hear Him. But let us always remember that God constantly envelops us with His loving presence, may it be known to us or not. So open not your eyes, or your ears, or your hands to know that’s He’s there. Only open your heart and it’s all you’ll ever need to feel His love.

Prayer
Almighty Father, thank You for all the blessings that You continue to shower me every day. Draw me in, Father, and bless me with a heart that is ever ready to listen to Your words and feel your everlasting love. Amen.

Author

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Click on the image to find out more about Hakee!

Phot source: tysonmurphy.tumblr.com

Hakee Aliwate, Little Whispers

Rise and Walk

First Reading
GN 22:1B-19

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” he said.
“Yes, son,” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—all this because you obeyed my command.”

Abraham then returned to his servants,
and they set out together for Beer-sheba,
where Abraham made his home.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 115: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (9) I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory
because of your kindness, because of your truth.
Why should the pagans say,
“Where is their God?”
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our God is in heaven;
whatever he wills, he does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the handiwork of men.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They have mouths but speak not;
they have eyes but see not;
They have ears but hear not;
they have noses but smell not.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Their makers shall be like them,
everyone who trusts in them.
The house of Israel trusts in the LORD;
he is their help and their shield.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel
MT 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
:Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.


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When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2)

REFLECTION

There was a significant point in my life when I realized how afraid I should be to talk to God. After more than a decade of formal Catholic education, it had suddenly dawned on me how truly terrifying it is for a person so flawed to stand before a God who can only be perfect and incredibly kind. And being at the lowest point I’d ever been, in the midst of making the poorest decisions I’d ever made, this realization led me to shy away from Him. But it wasn’t because I believed that God could never forgive me; it was because I knew that He wouldn’t even hesitate. And for someone who had never felt more unworthy in her life, I believed I was only wasting God’s time. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before God, through the people He surrounded me with, made me realize what a mistake it was to find comfort in the darkness when I was hiding away from all the light I ever needed.

Today’s readings not only remind us of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, but also shows us how God does not force Himself upon us. He loves us so much that He gave us free will to stay with Him and stray whenever we want to. Abraham didn’t have to follow when God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac but He did. The paralytic could have stopped his friends from bringing him to Jesus but he didn’t. In the same way, I didn’t have to humble myself and trust in God’s unconditional love again but I did. And likewise, God’s words today can mean absolutely nothing to you until you try to understand it.

So allow yourself to rise from all your burdens, thank the people who led you back to God, and go home with a heart that is open to receive God’s grace. Because in the end, we are rewarded, healed, and forgiven for the faith we have in God. – Hakee Aliwate (happyhakee@gmail.com)

Prayer

Thank You for Your unconditional love and forgiveness, Almighty Father. I pray that I may constantly open my heart to listen to Your words so that I may always recognize Your presence and be guided by Your light. Amen.

Reflection Question

Have I listened and followed God’s personal message to me today?

Hakee Aliwate, Little Whispers

#1 Philosophy

First Reading
2 COR 5:14-21

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Gospel
MT 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”


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He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor. 5:15)

REFLECTION

Last semester, I took a leap of faith when I aimed for a perfect grade in my Philosophy 1 class. It was a leap of faith because, for anyone who knew who my professor was, my goal was nearly impossible to achieve – which I believe is the primary reason why I took it in the first place. I was drawn to the idea of achieving the impossible. I craved for the satisfaction of being able to say that I was one of the few people who survived and conquered a class feared by many. Thus I was determined to take on every challenge in order to achieve my goal, even risk disappointment.

During the night before my first major exam, I found myself at the brink of giving up. I was questioning every reason I had to continue pushing myself for that perfect grade I wanted so much. Because as tempting as that bragging right was, it was certainly not enough to keep me going. It was a mistake to ever think that pride would be powerful enough to get me through the most trying times. At that point, I couldn’t even care less about my grades because I just wanted to rest. What I needed was motivation much bigger and stronger than myself. To pursue this goal for my own benefit was simply not a good enough reason to continue.

Fortunately, I was playing worship songs while studying. And when I decided to actually listen to the lyrics, I was happy to find exactly what I needed to hear: “The cross before me / The world behind me / No turning back.” I realized that there wasn’t any reason, or purpose, or dream greater and more important than God. I shouldn’t have forgotten that He was at the center of everything. And when I did remember, all my fears ceased to exist. I didn’t fear failure or disappointment anymore, because I knew my purpose was greater than any of those things. I was aiming for this perfect grade because I wanted someone bigger than myself, my family, and my friends to be proud of me. I wanted God who gave me all of those blessings to be proud of me. Because I believe that the sole reason why I have this life to live is because of God whom I glorify by doing my best in everything that I do – and that’s enough. God alone is more than enough.

God gave up His only Son to save us from our sins because He loved us. Through the same love, Jesus came down, lived, and died for all of us. Acts as great and seemingly impossible as these could never be done for merely one’s sake. Therefore we must always remember that we do not live for ourselves, but for our God who is the reason why we are able to live a life worth living. -Hakee Aliwate (happyhakee@gmail.com)

Prayer

Almighty Father, thank You for forgiving me when I was most unforgivable and loving me when I was most unlovable. I pray that I may become as compassionate and selfless as You, so that I may humbly and fearlessly surrender myself to You. Amen.

Reflection Question

Have I shown genuine selflessness and compassion to the people around me today?