Saturday, 18 August 2018

Saturday of Week 31 Year 2

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organisations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets.When it comes to our spiritual life, we also have a form of KPI which we need to watch out for. What sort of KPI are we talking about?

In out spiritual life, one KPI of our spiritual condition and relationship with God, is connected to our relationship wirh money: do we use money or do we serve money? One good example of how one should use money and not serve money is St. Paul. In today's reading, St. Paul tells us: "I have learnt to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength."

What about us? Have we learnt to be like St. Paul and use money for the glory of God? Or have we allowed ourselves to become enslaved by money and serve money? May we come to realise our spiritual situation, and do something while we have the time and opportunity to do so.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Wednesday of Week 31 Year 2

Some people think that following Jesus is easy. Such persons are taught that all they need to do is to accept Jesus as their personal saviour and that is all: no challenges, no suffering, and they think that they have gotten a lifetime membership with Jesus. But the reality is that following Jesus is not as easy as it seems. There are certain conditions attached to following Jesus.

In today's Gospel, Jesus puts three conditions for those who want to follow Him. They are: 1) "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and his mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple," 2) "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple," 3) "anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." The first condition means that we should never love anyone else or even ourselves more than Him. The second condition gives new meaning to the word "cross," where it means 'suffering. 'Bearing one's own cross' means to be willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus. The third condition does not mean we cannot have wealth, but it means we must not allow the accumulation and possession of things to come between us and God.

All these conditions sound impossible to observe, doesn't it? That is why, as the Gospel also tells us, we need to count the cost and think carefully before we commit to becoming Jesus' disciples. Being a disciple would be difficult, and some of us may be tempted to give up. But let us not give up or despair, as we have Jesus to help and guide us. Let us persevere as Jesus' disciples, as the rewards are out of this world.

Tuesday of Week 31 Year 2

We sometimes come across people who think that their qualifications or social status gives them the right to certain privileges or benefits. Some of such persons even go to the extent of belittling others, or look down on others, just because they think others are not up to their standards or expectations. By behaving in such a manner or having such attitude, are we showing good example as Christians? What sort of attitude should we have as Christians?

In today's reading, St. Paul tells us about Jesus: "His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross." Even though Jesus was God, he chose humility and to serve others, instead of lording over others and behaving in a proud or conceited manner. Are we willing to be humble and follow Jesus' ways?

Saturday of Week 30 Year 2

What is a dilemma? A dilemma is a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable. For example, we may have heard of the expression, "between the devil and the deep blue sea," or "between a rock and a hard place," where either choice would lead to undesirable results, but at the very least, one result could be less difficult to accept compared to the other.

In today's reading, St. Paul spoke of a dilemma. But St. Paul's dilemma was of a different kind, where there were two options or possibilities and both of which were good for him. St. Paul's dilemma, was like a best case scenario or even a "happy" dilemma, where remaining alive would enable him to guide and strengthen the community, while remaining in Christ; or facing death which would mean that he would be forever with Christ. Though St. Paul would have wanted to be forever with Christ, he also realised that to stay alive on this earth would be a more urgent need for the sake of the community. So, St. Paul chose to survive and stay, and continue to serve for the the good community and glorify God.

What about us? If we were to face a "happy" dilemma like St. Paul, would we be willing to set aside our personal desire to be forever with Christ, and continue to guide the community entrusted to us? May we continue to humbly walk in God's ways, and help others to do the same.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Tuesday of Week 30 Year 2

We sometimes take for granted small things or small matters in life. We think that such small things or small matters are not worth our time or attention. But sometimes, small things or small matters could later turn out to be big things or big matters. For example, a child misbehaves and throws a tantrum to get what he or she wants, but the child's parents think that it is a small matter, and lets the child have his or her way. Then when the child is already grown up, the parents later realise how rude or demanding the child is, and they are at a lost as to why their child has become like that. But the reality is, by giving in to the child's demands, the parents had sown the seeds of selfishness, entitlement, pride and ego into their child. By then, it is already too late, and the child's attitude and behaviour could not be changed.

Today's Gospel talks about mustard seed and yeast, which at first appear to be small things. The tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree and attracts numerous birds seeking food and shelter. Yeast is a powerful agent of change, and when it is added to dough, transformation takes place and produces rich wholesome bread when baked. God’s kingdom also works in a similar way, starting what seems small in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word.  It works unseen and causes transformation from within.

What do we learn from this? We learn that small things can become great, when we cultivate patience, fortitude and hope. We must be patient and hopeful and with God's grace, wait for the planted seed to grow and gradually become a tree. May we do our part in building God's kingdom, no matter how small our part may be, so that God could transform what seems small into something great, for His glory.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Saturday of Week 29 Year 2

Some people think that they can buy their way to heaven. In certain so-called Christian sects, such persons are taught that the more they give their wealth and property, the more blessings they would get from God, and the more wealthy they would become. Such teaching seems to imply that the poor and the destitute would never have a place in heaven, since heaven seems reserved only for those who have the wealth and clout. But is this true Christian teaching? Does God favour only those who are rich and wealthy?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love."

The reading reminds us that it is through living by the truth and love that we shall grow in all ways into Christ. The reading also cautions us not to be so easily tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. What this means is we should take care to follow the ways of Christ, and not allow ourselves to be influenced by certain so-called Christian sects, who preach contrary to the Gospel. May we be prudent and walk in Christ's ways, glorifying Him in all we do.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tuesday of Week 29 Year 2

Some people think that having patience refers to how long someone can wait, but perhaps another way of looking at patience is about how well someone is able to behave and conduct themselves with integrity and with justice and fairness, while they wait. For example, supposing two persons are planning to get married, and one needs to go away for work or for some important reason for quite a while. While waiting, one or even both persons could get involved in another relationship, or flirting may occur, or even cheating may take place. On the other hand, if both persons are serious about their relationship and serious about marriage, then they would lovingly keep on waiting with patience until the loved one returns.

In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches us the meaning of true patience: "See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes." By waiting faithfully and lovingly, the servants would later discover a reward beyond their expectation - their master will even serve them upon his return.

If those who are faithful to Jesus are rewarded beyond their expectation, then how do we treat those who have been faithful to us? Do we reward them beyond their expectation, and also be just as loving and faithful to them? Or have we taken them for granted, or even taken advantage of them?