Saturday, 24 March 2018

Saint Matthias, Apostle - Feast

Not many of us realise the implications of what love means. Some of us think that we are loving the way God loves us, but actually more often than not, our love has got strings attached. Our love tends to be a selfish love, a "what's in it for me" love, or a love with conditions attached. For example, some of us say that love a person or something, but what we really mean is we like the person or thing, because the person or thing is good to us; or beneficial or advantageous to us in some way. But how should we as Christians truly love?

As Christians, we can truly love when we remain in Christ’s love, and we can remain in Christ’s love when we keep his commandments, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel: "Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love,” Not only that, our love needs to be unconditional, even to the extent of sacrificing our lives, as the Gospel reminds us: "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends."

The question we need to ask ourselves is: are we wiling to love totally, unconditionally, willingly and happily? Are we willing to truly love the way God loves us, so that Jesus' own joy may be in us, and our joy be complete? May we be docile, willing and humble in set ting aside our pride, our ego, and our prejudices, and love all completely, just as Jesus loves all completely.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Saturday of Week 7 Year 2

I sometimes come across people who appear to be praying fervently, and when asked why they are praying this way, one reason I hear is because there is some sort of trouble or sickness involved. Praying for God's help when trouble or sickness is involved, is fine, but what about times of happiness and joy? Also, what about praying for the needs and intentions of others, especially people who we don't like, or who have hurt us, or who are our enemies? Do we pray only for ourselves and those who are good to us?

Today's reading reminds us of who we should pray for and why we should pray: "If any one of you is in trouble, he should pray; if anyone is feeling happy, he should sing a psalm. If one of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."

Whether we are happy, sad, sick, or even healthy, we should pray at all times, not just for ourselves, but for others also. Not only we should pray at all times, we should also pray with faith, confident and trusting that God would help us and do what is best for us, according to His time and His purposes. Would we be willing to come humbly before Him in prayer, and let Him take control, so that His will be done?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Saturday of the 7th Week of Easter

We know that our primary duty as Christians or followers of Christ is to proclaim the Good News. Sometimes we may have become distracted or diverted from our duty, due to various circumstances, such as family matters, sickness, a recent loss of a family member, issues at work, issues at church, and so on. However, such various circumstances ought to be seen as learning experiences to depend more on God's providence and not on our own strength.

In today's reading, St. Paul did not lament about being in chains despite his innocence, but he took the opportunity to proclaim the Kingdom of God despite wearing those chains. St. Paul stayed focused on Jesus, doing His will, and depending on His providence instead of his own strength, and avoided wallowing in his predicament or unfortunate situation.

What about us? Would we be humble and willing to stay focused on Jesus and do His will, come what may? May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by the ways of the world or by the situation we are in, and focus on the ways of Christ, as we continue to depend on His providence and love.

Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter

For a message to be clear, accurate and effective, a person must not only get the facts right and accurate, but also the person must receive such facts from a reputable source. This is because, as we know, all sorts of so called facts are circulating around, and much of such so called facts could turn out to be mostly true but with some slight inaccuracies; or entirely false, or even true but needing additional support to make such facts rock solid.

In today's reading, we come across Appolos who "though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John."Appolos may have had his facts accurate, but he needed additional coaching and instruction about the Way from Priscilla and Aquila, so that he had a reputable source to depend on and refer from. Not only that, the reading also tells us that Appolos "was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." This shows that, not only does a person need to have accurate facts with reference from a reliable and reputable source, the person also needs God's grace to make such facts rock solid.

What can we learn from this? We can realise that at the end of the day, mere facts alone are insufficient. We need supporting evidence to reinforce the facts, and such supporting evidence comes from reliable and reputable sources. However, this is not enough. We also need God's help, so that the facts being preached are ultimately from His grace and for His glory.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

Some of us find it difficult to let go of control. We want to be in charge of our destiny and to build our lives according to certain ideals which we may have, some of which may have been influenced by our family, friends, peers and society. However, as followers of Christ, we cannot always have control, especially when it comes to where we are supposed to serve. This is because we are to serve where the Holy Spirit leads us, where we are most needed, not where we would be comfortable in, or where it would be convenient to us.

In today's reading, we are told that Paul and Barnabas "travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas. One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News."

As we can see from the reading, Paul and Barnabas had no control over where they were being told to preach, and that they had to change course according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Yet, Paul and Barnabas were willing to be humble, docile and obedient, going where they were told to go, and not according to where they pleased.

What about us? Would we be willing to let go of control and let God lead us? Would we be willing to listen to God's promptings and do His will, not ours? May we, like Paul and Barnabas, be docile and humble enough to go where we are told, so that we could be used as His instruments to bring the Good News to others, and to glorify Him.

Saturday of the 4th Week of Easter

Among the many sins a person could commit, one which is quite dangerous and could lead to even greater sins, is the sin of jealousy. A person can become engulfed in jealousy due to thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and envy over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value. As a result, a person who is jealous could become blinded in pursuing what one lacks, even to the point of committing great evil or despicable acts.

In today's reading, we are told: "When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said." Not only that, the Jews were so jealous that they "worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory." Great evil was committed, just because the Jews were jealous that Paul and Barnabas were attracting a bigger crowd than they could muster.

What about us? Have we allowed jealousy to run our lives and blind us to what is true? Have we become so jealous that our pride and ego is more important than doing the will of God? May we take caution and guard ourselves against being blinded with jealousy, since all we say and do ought to be for the glory of God.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Most of us are fortunate to be living in a place where there is generally peace and security. When we are experiencing such peace and security, what do we do? Do we use such peace and security to better ourselves or take necessary steps or precautions to ensure that peace remains? Or have we become complacent, taking such peace and security for granted, and possibly losing our alertness or preparedness for possible incidences?

In today's reading, we are told that the churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were left in peace. However, these churches did not become lax or take things for granted. Instead, they were building and fortifying themselves; they were living in the fear of the Lord, with full faith in Him; and they were filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit while remaining in His guidance.

What about us, especially when it concerns our spiritual lives? Are we building and fortifying ourselves by growing closer to God? May we not procrastinate and be caught off-guard or unprepared, and make every effort to remain alert and prepared as best as we can, while remaining in the Lord's guidance.