Saturday, 6 June 2020

Friday of Week 12 Year 2

How many of us can really rely on our leaders or even kings and royalty in our country? If there is trouble and our country is on the verge of being overrun or conquered by enemy forces, would our leaders, kings or royalty be willing to stick with us and defend our country to the very end? Quite likely, our leaders, kings or royalty would flee, leaving others to defend our country as best we can. It seems as though one's own survival and personal interest takes precedence over the interest of the country, as far as some leaders, kings or royalty are concerned.

In today's reading, we see an example of a king who took more interest in his own survival, and not so much on the interest of the kingdom. In the reading: "...the king made his escape under cover of dark, with all the fighting men, by way of the gate between the two walls, which is near the king’s garden – the Chaldaeans had surrounded the city – and made his way towards the Arabah. The Chaldaean troops pursued the king and caught up with him in the plains of Jericho, where all his troops deserted. The Chaldaeans captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. He had the sons of Zedekiah slaughtered before his eyes, then put out Zedekiah’s eyes and, loading him with chains, carried him off to Babylon."

From the reading, we see two examples where one's personal interest takes precedence. Firstly, King Zedekiah was not bothered about the city and more concerned about his own survival, and he made his escape with his fighting men. Then when the Chaldaen troops caught up with him in the plains of Jericho, his own troops deserted him, leaving him to his fate. This shows that at the end of the day, not everyone who claims to be our leaders have the interest of our city or country at heart, since at times, personal interest takes precedence. However, we do have a leader or king who would not desert or abandon us. That King is our loving God. Shouldn't we then pay more attention and hope on our loving God, knowing that He would protect and care for us, and not abandon us?

Immaculate Heart of Mary

I believe many of us would have tried our level best to remember by heart the many things we learnt at school, such as certain phrases in a language, or certain mathematical formula, or some other matter, especially when we were told that such things may come out during the exams. However, more often than not, such things would only be remembered, but not really pondered upon or questioned. Then when we leave school upon completing our studies, how many of us would still remember all those things we had tried to remember by heart?

Our mother Mary, whose feast of the Immaculate Heart we celebrate today, did not just remember things; she pondered over the events and experiences in her life. Mary would have pondered over the joy of the first Christmas, and also the sorrow and grief at Calvary. In today's Gospel, it was the worry and anxiety of looking for Jesus and after finding him at the temple, the surprise at the answer He gave, that Mary also pondered in her heart. Mary remembered and pondered in her heart all these events and experiences and much more.

Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we are invited to have a contemplative heart and ponder about the many times we have experienced God in our lives. When we remember and ponder in our hearts, we become more aware of God's presence in our lives, and we begin to deepen our hope and confidence in God, come what may.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Saturday of Week 10 Year 2

One of the challenges we face when dealing with persons of different cultures is that in some cultures, speaking plainly and clearly is expected; whereas in other cultures, the 'face' is so important that persons of such cultures would try their level best not to cause another to 'lose face.' When the 'face' is important, some persons would try to break the news, whether good or bad, in such a way that the other person would not be 'embarrassed', so to speak. Such an approach has led to misunderstandings and even ill-feelings, when different cultures clash.

As Christians, we too have a 'Christian culture' as shown in today's Gospel. The Gospel tells us: "Do not swear: All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no." When we swear, we may be trying avoid another from 'losing face' but in doing so, we may sometimes find ourselves unable to fulfil what we swore; or we may even end up telling lies. May we come to realise the importance of saying what we mean and meaning what we say, and all that we say and do, we give glory to God.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Saturday of Week 9 Year 2

One thing we need to be careful about is when we come across certain church teachings which seem too good to be true, or sound strange. When we come across such teachings, we need to discern whether such teachings end up appealing to our needs, wants and desires, instead of what the church actually teaches. This is because those who teach such so-called church teachings often have got a hidden agenda, and not for the good of the church. Perhaps one key question we need to ponder is this: are such so-called church teaching really what Jesus taught us?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service."

The reading cautions us not to be so easily duped or led astray by such teachings, but remain steadfast to the truth, with patience and with the intention of teaching. May we always choose to preserve the truth, and help others do the same.

Friday of Week 9 Year 2

Being a Christian is never easy. Anyone who claims that being a Christian is easy is either not really living a Christian life, or they may be lying. This is because as Christians the ways of Christ quite often do not agree or do not comply with the ways of the world. For example, as Christians, we are told to love, even to love our enemies; but the world tells us to hate others, or try to put others down to lift ourselves up, and only love ourselves and be concerned only about ourselves.

When we do not follow the ways of the world, and instead follow the ways of Christ, what happens? Today's reading tells us: "You are well aware, then, that anybody who tries to live in devotion to Christ is certain to be attacked; while these wicked impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and deceived themselves You must keep to what you have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

What does this mean to us? It means that following the ways of Christ is not going to be a bed of roses or a walk in the park. We will face many trials and tribulations, and as the reading tells us, we are certain to be attacked in some way. It also means that we must not let ourselves go astray, or give up and end up following the ways of the world. Instead, we must have faith in Christ Jesus, and remain steadfast in such faith. Are we willing to endure much challenges in the world, with hope and trust that Jesus will save us?

Friday of Week 9 Year 2

Among the Jews, the most common title for the 'Christ' was, 'Son of David.' In today's Gospel, the purpose why Jesus then said "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand and I will put your enemies under your feet." (which is actually Psalm 110:1), is to show to the crowds and the Pharisees that the Christ was more than a descendant of David because David calls this descendant of his, “my lord.” This is to show that David views the Christ as his Lord and superior.

So what does it mean to acknowledge Jesus as Lord? To acknowledge Jesus as Lord means that we should owe our full submission and loyalty to Him. If we owe our full submission and loyalty to Him, then He is our Lord and the Master of our lives instead of the many earthly things such as: our passions, the love of money, alcohol, drugs, and so on; which may distract us or which we may pursue as if these things matter more and may have become like our "lord" instead of Jesus. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: do we really give to Jesus our loyalty? Or have we allowed ourselves to divert our loyalty to other 'lords'?

Tuesday of Week 9 Year 2

Growing in holiness is not something we can do in an instant. We may be used to getting so many other things done instantly; such as withdrawing money from an ATM, or making a cup of coffee; but when it comes to growing in relationship with God and growing in holiness, it takes time and effort. We may experience temptations along the way, and some of us may commit sin; but we are constantly reminded to get up, seek forgiveness, move on and use such experiences to help us grow spiritually, as we let our loving God help us and guide us.

In today's reading, we are reminded: "You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come... So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace. Think of our Lord’s patience as your opportunity to be saved. You have been warned about this, my friends; be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, from the firm ground that you are standing on. Instead, go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ."

As the reading clearly tells us, we need to be patient and long for the Day of God to come, and while doing so, we should be living holy and saintly lives. Of course, living holy and saintly lives is not easy, especially when we face so many challenges and temptations in the world. This is why our focus should be on Jesus, and let him take control of our lives. While it is necessary for us to live and survive in the world, we should not let worldly attractions overwhelm us or distract us from our ultimate goal. May we stay focused in our quest to be with Jesus, and help others to do the same.