Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

You-nique

First Reading
IS 11:1-10

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
The Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
He shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Gospel
LK 10:21-24

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

______________________________________

REFLECTION

images

When I received the assigned readings that I’ll be doing in God’s Speaks a couple of months ago, I was eager to share my reflections. But for the reflection on this specific day, I became speechless. I became “blank”. And somewhat, God’s ways are really different from my own. And thus my personality runs through in writing this reflection.

 

My personality is Melancholic-Phlegmatic. (You may check the different personalities here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_temperaments) Some of my close friends would agree to that. But some of my friends in the ministry and at work are surprised that my personality is like that. People would see me laughing hard, talking loudly and being dominant because of my physical stature. But at the end of the day, people don’t know that I wanted to be alone, to be quiet, and just to think all the blessings and ideas that I have in mind. It is very contrary to what people think about me. And I’m embracing my own personality with all my heart, mind and strength.

 

Today’s gospel shows that Jesus, even if he is the Messiah & the Son of God, has indeed its unique personality. Even if he always preaches and always a head-turner to the crowd, he has the trait of being himself by being alone at times or spending time with his disciples. He talks to his disciples in private in order to connect to them in an intimate and responsive way. That’s a unique personality that I admire Jesus: that He’ll listen and speak to you no matter what.

Friends, embrace your own personality. Love yourself for the way that God has made you to be. Be like Jesus that has its unique trait and personality. For you are amazing, just the way you are. – Mark Ballesteros (mark.anthony.ballesteros@gmail.com)

 

Prayer: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Ps 139:14)

 

Reflection Question: Do you embrace your own unique personality and thank God for that?

Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

I Will Follow

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.”

__________________________________________________________________________

follow

REFLECTION

“Follow me.” – Mt 9:13

I’ve always been a follower all my life. At home, I always follow my parents and my kuya in all the tasks that they gave me. At school, even if I’m bigger (both in height and in width!), I tend to follow my classmates in all cases. At the work place, I follow instructions from my direct superiors and bosses. In the community and ministry life, I’ve always followed my leaders, mentors and friends in serving. In every aspect of life, I’ve been a follower. And you know what, it’s a great thing to follow all the time.

Today’s gospel shows that Jesus called his first apostle, Matthew, by just saying “Follow me”.  Even if Matthew was a tax collector, He still calls him to be one of His followers. That act means that Matthew’s life is changed forever. From a tax collector, he became a Saint and one of the authors of the Gospels, plus one of the Twelve Apostles.

Friends of God, may we always follow Christ at all times. It may be that this is the calling that every one of us has. And for sure, you made the greatest decision that you can make in our life. It is for the sake of the call that we follow our God. And in time, greatness will reward you by just simply following him. – Mark Ballesteros (mark.anthony.ballesteros@gmail.com)

Prayer

Thank you Lord for calling me to follow you. May we continue to follow you all the days of our lives.

Reflection Question

What are you willing to do to follow Christ?

Photo Source: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com

Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

Scandalous Grace

First Reading
Ex 32:7-11, 13-14

The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’
“I see how stiff-necked this people is, ” continued the LORD to Moses.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’”
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
R. (Lk 15:18) I will rise and go to my father.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. I will rise and go to my father.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. I will rise and go to my father.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. I will rise and go to my father.

Second Reading
1 Tm 1:12-17

Beloved:
I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel
Lk 15:1-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Then he said,
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns,
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Or
Lk 15:1-10

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

grace

REFLECTION

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Tim 1:14

Have you ever experienced receiving a blessing that you never asked for or that you never imagined giving to you by God and in any aspect of life? I’m sure all of us in our lifetime encountered that moment. At first we would be able to say to ourselves: “I’m I that worthy to receive it?” or “Why did I get that kind of thing, when I ask for another or the opposite?” I can call that kind of experience a “Scandalous Grace”.

In our lifetime, we might think of ourselves as unworthy and frail and weak and sinful, but by Grace, things turn differently. We receive an unlimited, overflowing and abundant blessing from God and we can’t even describe it by words. Only thing that we can say is “Thank You”. And that’s just enough words to say to God about the grace he has given us every day. For as the song goes:  “If grace is an ocean, were all sinking.”

Friends of God, thank God every day for giving to us the scandalous grace in our lives. Thank Jesus for he is the one who started this scandal of grace: To die in our place so that we may live. By his Grace, there is no one beside him and he’ll be forever in our heart. – Mark Ballesteros (mark.anthony.ballesteros@gmail.com)

Prayer

Thank you Lord for your grace. No other words can describe how thankful we are for giving us such gift to us. May your grace be with us in every step we take in this world.

Reflection Question

What are the things, events or blessings that we are thankful to God that he gives to us even if we don’t ask for it?

Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

Give and It Will Come Back to You

FIRST READING
2 Tm 1:1-8

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.
I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears,
so that I may be filled with joy,
as I recall your sincere faith
that first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and that I am confident lives also in you.

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

Or

Ti 1:1-5
Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ
for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones
and the recognition of religious truth,
in the hope of eternal life
that God, who does not lie, promised before time began,
who indeed at the proper time revealed his word
in the proclamation with which I was entrusted
by the command of God our savior,
to Titus, my true child in our common faith:
grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

For this reason I left you in Crete
so that you might set right what remains to be done
and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10
R. (3) Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Gospel
Mk 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket
or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible;
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

REFLECTION
“To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” –Mk 4:25

When an opportunity comes my way, whether in community service or at work, I grab it and turn the opportunity into reality. This is my way of thanking God for all the chances He gives me everyday. Though there may be trials and hurdles along the way, I keep my faith up because I know that He is blessing my life in other ways. For example, I don’t have work but He gives me endless ministry tasks to attend to. I am short in budget most of the time but He never fails to supply my every need. What’s important to God is whatever little you have, if you offer it all up to Him, He will reward you a thousand fold!

Friends of Christ, let us appreciate everything that we have in our lives right now. We might be experiencing many trials but always remember that God has set us up for abundance. Share what you have and use your talents to serve Him. Generous hearts receive blessing upon blessing upon blessing; siksik, liglig at umaapaw! -Mark Ballesteros. YLSS#20

Prayer:
“Lord, teach me to be generous. I pray that as I offer up my talents, my time, my money and my all, I claim that I am being blessed because of your love, Amen.”
——————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Looking for love? Be part of BLD Youth’s Concert Project for a cause. Now is the time to go straight to the source of all the love in the world. LOVE IS: A Worship Concert, 3.3.12!
For More information, visit the Love Is Facebook page here.

Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

Tehillah

FIRST READING
1 Sm 18:6-9; 19:1-7

When David and Saul approached
(on David’s return after slaying the Philistine),
women came out from each of the cities of Israel to meet King Saul,
singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and sistrums.
The women played and sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”

Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought:
“They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me.
All that remains for him is the kingship.”
And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David.

Saul discussed his intention of killing David
with his son Jonathan and with all his servants.
But Saul’s son Jonathan, who was very fond of David, told him:
“My father Saul is trying to kill you.
Therefore, please be on your guard tomorrow morning;
get out of sight and remain in hiding.
I, however, will go out and stand beside my father
in the countryside where you are, and will speak to him about you.
If I learn anything, I will let you know.”

Jonathan then spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him:
“Let not your majesty sin against his servant David,
for he has committed no offense against you,
but has helped you very much by his deeds.
When he took his life in his hands and slew the Philistine,
and the LORD brought about a great victory
for all Israel through him,
you were glad to see it.
Why, then, should you become guilty of shedding innocent blood
by killing David without cause?”
Saul heeded Jonathan’s plea and swore,
“As the LORD lives, he shall not be killed.”
So Jonathan summoned David and repeated the whole conversation to him.
Jonathan then brought David to Saul, and David served him as before.

Responsorial Psalm:
Ps 56:2-3, 9-10a, 10b-11, 12-13
R. (5b) In God I trust; I shall not fear.

Have mercy on me, O God, for men trample upon me;
all the day they press their attack against me.
My adversaries trample upon me all the day;
yes, many fight against me.
R. In God I trust; I shall not fear.
My wanderings you have counted;
my tears are stored in your flask;
are they not recorded in your book?
Then do my enemies turn back,
when I call upon you.
R. In God I trust; I shall not fear.
Now I know that God is with me.
In God, in whose promise I glory,
in God I trust without fear;
what can flesh do against me?
R. In God I trust; I shall not fear.
I am bound, O God, by vows to you;
your thank offerings I will fulfill.
For you have rescued me from death,
my feet, too, from stumbling;
that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
R. In God I trust; I shall not fear.

Gospel
Mk 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

REFLECTION
“Singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and sistrums.” –1 Sm:18:6

At the end of every community service, whether it’s a seminar or a retreat, every activity is ended with a tehilla, or a celebration. Joyful songs are sang and danced to during this time as the whole community claim victory and shout thanksgiving. Everyone is high in Spirit: The vocals ministry sings joyfully, the band plays excellently, and the dancers move with praise! All members sing and dance and just marvel in God’s glory. Though it maybe physically tiring at the end of the day, everyone goes home happy and contented.

Let us also have the same disposition in our everyday lives. Despite every trial or battle we encounter everyday, at the end of it all, victory and joy awaits us. It’s true that God would turn the ugly to something beauty, mourning into dancing, and anguish into songs of praise! He doesn’t promise life to be easy, but He assures us that there is always a heaven waiting for us in the end.

Friends in Christ, may we be able to praise our God with all our might. God’s victory is upon us so we can sing of his love forever.-Mark Ballesteros. YLSS#20

Prayer:
“Lord, may our song of joy be an offering of praise and thanksgiving to you. I pray that we continue to experience Your great love for us everyday. Amen.”
——————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Looking for love? Be part of BLD Youth’s Concert Project for a cause. Now is the time to go straight to the source of all the love in the world. LOVE IS: A Worship Concert, 3.3.12!
For More information, visit the Love Is Facebook page here.

Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

Share the Blessings

FIRS READING
1 Sm 4:1-11

The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel.
Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer,
while the Philistines camped at Aphek.
The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel.
After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines,
who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield.
When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said,
“Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today
by the Philistines?
Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh
that it may go into battle among us
and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”

So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there
the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim.
The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God.
When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp,
all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded.
The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked,
“What can this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?”
On learning that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp,
the Philistines were frightened.
They said, “Gods have come to their camp.”
They said also, “Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us!
Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?
These are the gods that struck the Egyptians
with various plagues and with pestilence.
Take courage and be manly, Philistines;
otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews,
as they were your slaves.
So fight manfully!”
The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated;
every man fled to his own tent.
It was a disastrous defeat,
in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.
The ark of God was captured,
and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25
R. (27b) Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.

Yet now you have cast us off and put us in disgrace,
and you go not forth with our armies.
You have let us be driven back by our foes;
those who hated us plundered us at will.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
You made us the reproach of our neighbors,
the mockery and the scorn of those around us.
You made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Why do you hide your face,
forgetting our woe and our oppression?
For our souls are bowed down to the dust,
our bodies are pressed to the earth.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.

Gospel
Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

REFLECTION
“Moved with pity” – Mk 1:41

When I was still working part-time in a pharmaceutical company, I was blessed to receive many perks from the company. Aside from receiving a daily allowance, employees were given freebees like food and souvenirs to take home. I was very fortunate.

One morning when I rode the MRT to work, I saw this old beggar at the foot of the stairs. She was really frail. She begged passers-by for money or food so she could survive. She stayed at her post until late afternoon, so I would see her again when I was on my way home. One day before going home, I had extra food in my bag. I thought of the old beggar so I looked for her around the area. When I saw her, I said, “Lola, eto po, pagkain. Kumain na po kayo at umuwi.” She received the food I gave and smiled.

Friends, when we are blessed with more than enough, remember that we are called to share it with others. This is God’s challenge to us today. I pray that all of will be able to share our blessings to those in need everyday. God will for sure bless us even more! -Mark Ballesteros. YLSS#20

Prayer:
“Lord, teach me to share your blessings to others. You have made me abundant so I can share your love to others. Give me a generous heart everyday. Amen.”

Little Whispers, Mark Ballesteros

Come and See

FIRST READING
1 Jn 3:11-21

Beloved:
This is the message you have heard from the beginning:
we should love one another,
unlike Cain who belonged to the Evil One
and slaughtered his brother.
Why did he slaughter him?
Because his own works were evil,
and those of his brother righteous.
Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love
was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means
sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion,
how can the love of God remain in him?
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.

Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5
R. (2a) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
The LORD is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Gospel
Jn 1:43-51

Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip.
And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.
Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

REFLECTION
“Come and See” –Jn 1:46

I was invited to attend the Youth Life in the Spirit Seminar when I was still very young. I didn’t want to go because of so many reasons. “Baka pag pumunta ako dun, parang nasa school lang din”, I said to myself. But when my brother and some parish friends insisted, I finally went. “Wala naman mawawala sakin pag umattend ako eh!” Looking back, I am very thankful that I said YES to attend!

Since then, I have learned that in order for me to experience God’s greatness in my life, I always need to come and see. You see, the phrase, “to come and see” requires me to give up all my apprehensions and worries to give room for the Lord to surprise me! I would gather my strength and courage and try my best to trust His power and plans.

Friends in Christ, this New Year, I pray that we may be able to Come and See all the blessings, abundance, and grace that our God is offering us. May it be in our relationships, in our career, or in our community life, let us be excited to see His great and glorious plan for our lives. –Mark Ballesteros. YLSS#20

Prayer:
“Lord, let me experience Your presence more. I am excited to see the great things you have in store for me this year. Amen.”