Sunday, 24 June 2018

Monday of Week 21 Year 2

What is the difference between hurting someone and harming someone? Some of us think that there is no difference and the two mean the same thing, but actually, there is a difference between the two. For example, if a person stabs you at your abdomen with a knife, then that person not only hurts you but also harms you; but if a surgeon is handling that knife, then it might hurt you, especially when you wake up from anesthesia, but it will not harm you. In our spiritual growth, telling someone a hard truth with the intention of fraternal correction might hurt that someone, but will not harm him or her, and it would actually be helping that someone.

In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus calling the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and blind. Was Jesus hurting them? Surely. Was he harming them? Not at all. Jesus was actually giving the scribes and Pharisees a shock treatment, with hope that they may see the error of their ways and repent. But did the scribes and Pharisees get Jesus' point and change their ways? No, because they had become so obstinate, proud and conceited, so much so that they had become indifferent and oblivious to the hurt.

When we become indifferent and oblivious to the hurt like the scribes and Pharisees, we may actually be harming ourselves. How so? We may be harming ourselves spiritually, and slowly drift away from God's ways and end up doing our own thing. May we take notice of the hurt we experience in our spiritual journey, and let God transform us for our spiritual good.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Saturday of Week 20 Year 2

I find it amusing listening to people who seem to have so many ideas and suggestions to make, and yet when they are asked to carry out such ideas and suggestions, they would suddenly back off and say that they are too busy, no time, unqualified and so many other excuses made. For example, there are people who have suggested that the church needs to have a better car park system, and they even suggest that a multi-storey car park should be built to accommodate the number of parishioners cared by the church. However, when such persons are asked to take charge of such a project and see it through, they all of a sudden have cold feet and try to push the task to others. Indeed, preaching ones ideas and suggestions is easy, but carrying them out is a different matter.

In today's Gospel, Jesus told the people to listen to what the scribes and Pharisees tell them since they occupy the chair of Moses, but not to be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach. The scribes and Pharisees knew how to talk, and everything they did was to attract attention and make them appear as if they were holy and pious. But being holy and pious is not just about words, but more so about action, or action speaks louder than words, or walk the talk, so to speak.

What about us? Do we know only how to talk and make suggestions and demands? Or are we willing to do our part in seeing that the task at hand is done? May we learn to be humble and zealous in doing what is right, and glorify God in all we do.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Monday of Week 20 Year 2

When we meet with an accident or have a bad fall, we may fracture our hand or leg. Such a fracture could cause tremendous pain, and we may require surgery and even have the affected leg or hand be put in a cast to enable the fracture to heal. Sometimes the fracture may take quite some time to heal, and we need to bear the pain while healing takes place. However, when we sin, do we feel the pain of a fracture in our relationship with God? Do we make effort to put our sinful ways in a cast, especially by going for confession and doing penance, so that the fracture in our relationship with God could heal over time?

In today's reading, God told the prophet Ezekiel that he was about to lose his wife but he was not to mourn or grief. The reading also tells us that God had said: "I am about to profane my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes, the passion of your souls." In other words, God will allow His Temple to be destroyed by enemies and the people were also not to mourn or grief. Why were the people not to mourn and grief? Precisely because they had sinned, and Ezekiel would be a sign to them that a fracture has occured in the relationship of the people with God, and the people would experience the pain of this fracture and learn that the Lord is God.

Just as a fracture of our hand or leg causes us tremendous pain, do we feel the pain of a fracture in our relationship with God, or have we become numb or even indifferent towards the pain? May we take responsibility for the many fractures that occur in our relationship with God, as a result of our sins, and be willing and humble to be healed by our loving Lord, even if much pain may be experienced, for the good of our eternal future.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Friday of Week 17 Year 2

It is not easy for us to stand alone when it comes to upholding truth, righteousness and good principles. We may find ourselves isolated, shunned or even despised by those around us, since we have chosen to do what is right, instead of what is popular or agreeable to others. But if we look at our lives and purpose as Christians, are we called to be accepted and popular, and in doing so commit sin? Or are we willing to stick to following God's ways, even if it means being treated as an outcast, persecuted, or even face the possibility of being put to death?

In today's reading and Gospel, we see two examples of what it takes to stand alone for what one believes in and what is right. In the reading, the prophet Jeremiah was not accepted because he only had "bad" news for the people. Even though the priests and prophets in the Temple of the Lord wanted the prophet Jeremiah dead for what he said, the prophet Jeremiah refused to budge from saying what is right. The "bad" news the prophet Jeremiah told the people was for their own good, with hope that they would change their ways and return to the ways of God. In the Gospel, Jesus highlighted that a prophet is not accepted among his own people. He too had to stand alone in the face of rejection and even opposition.

But when we stand alone for what is just and right, we are actually not alone, since God is with us. May we remain steadfast in doing what is just and right, even if it means being alone in such a task, since what we do is not for our own gratification, but for the glory of God.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Monday of Week 17 Year 2

We all know that personal hygiene is important to ensure that we live healthy lives. One aspect of personal hygiene that we pay attention to is clothing, more so when it comes to undergarments. We would ensure that we wear fresh and clean undergarments, and ensure that those that have been worn or soiled are washed and dried. Wearing used or soiled undergarments would not only cause unpleasant smells to be released, certain diseases as a result of using such used or soiled undergarments may even occur. Moreover, when we do not wash such used or soiled undergarments, such undergarments may eventually end up useless or unusable, since the dirt or soiled parts may eventually become too entrenched in the fabric to be removed. The only thing that one could do when this happens is to throw away such undergarments, since such undergarments have become spoilt, good for nothing.

In today's reading, the Lord ordered Jeremiah to get a loincloth, wear it and without washing it, hide it among some rocks and then after a time take it out. By doing so, such loincloth had obviously not only become soiled, but also unusable, spoilt, good for nothing. The reading tells us that God chose His people to be His own and He bound Himself close to them, just like a loincloth is bound close to a person. Yet they did not listen to Him and followed the dictates of their own hearts and in doing so, became corrupted like the loincloth, spoilt, good for nothing.

What about us? Are we slowly becoming like that loincloth, eventually becoming soiled, unusable, spoilt, good for nothing? May we make every effort to change our ways and grow closer to God, instead of following the dictates of our own hearts, and risk jeopardising our eternal future.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Friday of Week 16 Year 2

How loyal are we in our lives, when it comes to our family, our spouse, our workplace, in society, and even in a country? Do we seek only benefits, perks and advantages when it befits us, and when things are not to our liking or not going our way, we run away or look for alternatives? For example, if our spouse is stricken with a serious disease, would we remain loyal to him or her, or would we start looking elsewhere for gratification? When the company is facing difficult times, do we care only about ourselves and leave, looking for better prospects, or are we willing to stay and weather out the storm? When our country is going through turmoil and corruption, do we stay to do what is right and help rebuild the country, or do we run away and look for greener pastures?

It is easy for some of us to become disloyal, especially when we are more concerned only about ourselves, and perhaps our loved ones. But how many of us are willing to set aside our ego, our pride, our need for personal gratification, and remain loyal, come what may? Even when it comes to our faith, do we remain loyal when certain teachings or practices are not to our liking? Or do we run away and look for some other faith which benefits us?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Come back, disloyal children – it is the Lord who speaks – for I alone am your Master." Ultimately, we need to choose where our loyalties lie. If we choose to remain loyal to God, then we need to come back to Him and walk in His ways. May we choose wisely and not end up following the dictates of our hearts, and in doing so, risk our eternal future.

Saturday of Week 19 Year 2

Some cultures and persons seem to think that sins committed by their parents and ancestors would cause them to be punished or greatly affected, as if such sins would be passed down throughout generations. Such cultures or persons begin to think that there is nothing they can do about it, and that the sin is beyond their control; and some begin to blame others for the situation they are in, instead of taking responsibility for themselves and striving towards change and conversion.

But the reality is this. today's reading makes it clear that God holds each individual responsible for his or her own sin. The reading tells us: "Why do you keep repeating this proverb in the land of Israel: “The fathers have eaten unripe grapes; and the children’s teeth are set on edge” 'As I live – it is the Lord who speaks – there will no longer be any reason to repeat this proverb in Israel. See now: all life belongs to me; the father’s life and the son’s life, both alike belong to me. The man who has sinned, he is the one who shall die.'" The reading also adds: "House of Israel, in future I mean to judge each of you by what he does – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!"

So what does this mean for us? It means that we cannot find a scapegoat or put the blame on others for sins committed. We are responsible for our spiritual growth and well-being and we can choose to avoid all occasions of sin, with God's grace and help. May we make every effort to break the vicious cycle of blaming, and instead take responsibility for our words and deeds, and glorify God in all we say and do.