Saturday, 15 December 2018

Saturday of Week 1 Year 1

Every once in a while, we come across people who have mastered the art of putting on an appearance or seem to have a "poker face," where real thoughts and emotions are hidden or buried, and what is shown is merely an illusion. For example, such a person may be angry with someone or something, and the person may be fuming or seething with rage, but because the person does not want others to see the true self, the person may appear calm and pretend as if everything is fine, though in reality, the anger is eating him or her from the inside.

While we may be able to appear in a certain way and give others a false impression, one thing we ought to realise is we cannot fool God. Today's reading reminds us of this fact: "The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves."

So let us not be naive to think that nobody knows our thoughts and actions, since God is watching us. Instead, let us cast aside our falsehoods and be real and genuine, while doing our best to remain in God's care and guidance, for the betterment of our eternal future.

Monday of Week 1 Year 1

It is not easy for some of us to let go of something. For example, some of us find it difficult to let go of our wealth and property; some find it difficult to let go of our children or loved ones; some find it difficult to let go of our habits or certain ways of doing things; others find it difficult to let go of their pride, prejudices or pre-conceived notions. But what do we Christians need to let go of?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew: ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. Jesus also called James son of Zebedee and his brother John at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him. Notice that when Jesus called, these men were willing to let go of all, including their families, relations and livelihood to follow Jesus.

What about us? If Jesus were to call us to follow Him, are we willing to let go of certain things, even to the extent of letting go of all, or are we still clinging on to certain things, come what may? May we be willing to let go of our old lives, and put on a new life in Christ, trusting in His providence and care, and glorifying Him in all we say and do.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Saturday after Epiphany

How many of us have trust and confidence that God listens to our prayers? Perhaps we may say that we have trust and confidence, but how many of us would have trust and confidence that God would answer our prayers? Perhaps this is where our trust and confidence may be tested, since God does not necessarily answer our prayers according to our expectations or demands, but according to His will and for His purposes. When God answers our prayers in a way quite different to what we hope for or expect, would we still let His will be done?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him." The reading tells us that God listens to our prayers in accordance with His will, not ours, and that if we ask for something in accordance with His will, then we can be confident that He will hear us. The question is: are we asking in accordance with His will, or is what we are asking for laced with self-interests and self-centered desires?






Saturday, 13 October 2018

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Years ago, I recall receiving an e-mail about a lady who was looking for a Mr. Right. In other words, the lady was fishing for a husband. It so happened that the lady came across a building with a sign saying: "Search a Husband Here." Also, there was another sign saying: "You can enter this building only once and stop at each floor only once." The building had 7 floors and the lady excitedly entered the lift at the ground floor. When the lift reached the first floor, the doors of the lift opened and the lady saw a sign in front of her saying: "Enter here for a husband who is handsome and strong." The lady decided to remain in the lift, curious to know what the next floors would be. At the second floor, the sign in front of her said: "Enter here for a husband who is handsome, strong, and a good cook." The sign at the third floor said: "Enter here for a husband who is handsome, strong, a good cook, and loves children." The lady became more and more curious and excited, and she decided to remain in the lift and see what the other floors would reveal. As she reached the fourth, fifth and sixth floor, the sign in front of her on each floor revealed even more fantastic capabilities and attributes of the men supposingly to be found at each floor. Finally the lady reached the seventh floor and when she got out of the lift, all she saw was a flight of stairs going down, and a sign which said: "No men can be found here, since no men could ever meet your expectations at this level."

Today’s gospel tells us about a Mr. Right, the right man to foretell the coming of the Messiah. According to the scribes, the prophet Elijah is the right person to prepare the coming of the Messiah, since they believed that Elijah was the precursor of the Messiah, and that Elijah was a terrible man preaching doom and destruction. Yet when John the Baptist came and announced the coming of the Messiah, somebody greater than him, the scribes did not accept him as Mr. Right. For them, John’s person and message was not up to their expectations. He preached about baptism and personal conversion, not about the terror that will go with the day of the Lord. For them John was not Elijah, not Mr. Right. Yet, the irony is, John actually turned our to be Mr, Right, not according to our expectations, but according to God's plans.

What about us? Have our expectations clouded us and prevented us from accepting the message of John the Baptist, the actual Mr. Right, and prepare the way for the Lord? May we open our eyes, ears and hearts, so that we would be able to let the message of John the Baptist change us, so that we would learn to walk in God's ways and glorify Him in all we do.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

When we were young, some of us may have seen movies concerning the 10 commandments. We were also reminded in Catechism classes, during Mass and in various church activities about the 10 commandments, and how the 10 could be categorised into two, as Jesus mentioned in today's Gospel: "This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."

However, if we examine today's readings and Gospel carefully, we would realise that actually, there is really only one commandment: “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is the greatest and only commandment. All other commandments flow from this great commandment, the source of all commandments. If we are able to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength, then we don’t have to worry about the others, since we would naturally obey and follow the other commandments.

But are we really following this great commandment? If we examine our lives, we may come to realise that we may be actually breaking the first commandment of loving God. How so? Whenever we are hit with misfortune, some of us may have run to temples. Others resort to feng shui, or divination and crystals to ward off bad luck or for protection, instead of depending on and trusting in God's help. Also, some of us have made other objects our gods. For some it could be money, while for others possession. There are some who consider power as their god. Whenever, we do any of these, we have broken the first commandment.

So what do we do? Remember what the wise scribe had to say to Jesus in today’s gospel: “To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.” Total unconditional and undivided love for God is what is required of every person. In other words, we let God to be God of our lives.

What about the second commandment then – to love our neighbour as ourselves? We need to realise that it is impossible to love others as ourselves; to love others unconditionally; unless we love them with the love of God. It is only when we place all our love unconditionally with God will we be able to love others as God loves them. Thus, let us pray that we will listen to Jesus' voice, inviting us to love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, so that we may truly love our neighbour as ourselves.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Friday of the 1st Week of Advent

I once sat next to a blind beggar and observed him as he was trying to beg for a few ringgit. I was quite amazed at how this blind beggar had developed a heightened sense of touch, hearing and smell, even though he could not see. Just by the sound of a coin dropping onto his bowl, he could decipher correctly how much it was. By feeling the paper money, he could tell a RM1 note from a RM5, RM10 or RM100.

Today’s Gospel tells us about two blind men following Jesus and crying out. They might not see Jesus, but their heightened sense of hearing led them to Jesus. When Jesus entered a house, they approached him there, since their heightened sense of hearing and smell helped them encounter Jesus directly. Not only that, when Jesus asked if they had faith in him to heal them, they responded positively. Because the blind men had complete trust and faith in Jesus, they were healed of their blindness and their sight returned.

What about us? Would we have faith and trust in Jesus to heal us, especially from our spiritual blindness? Even though we may be able to see clearly, we may be spiritually blind, especially when we sin, when we have ego and pride in our hearts. May we, like the beggars in today's Gospel, have complete faith and trust in Jesus, and be regular in going for confession and receiving Him daily at Mass, so that Jesus can heal us and enable us to physically and spiritually see clearly once again.