Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

In the world, people often look at qualifications and experience when hiring a person. When a candidate is being chosen for elections, he or she may not necessarily have the proper abilities, but may be chosen because of his or her popularity or clout among important or powerful figures in the political party. Looks, popularity, having close relationship with powerful figures, qualifications and experience are some of the criteria when it comes to choices made in the world.

That is why, if we look at today's Gospel, the scribes did not recognise John the Baptist as Elijah who has come to see that everything is once more as it should be; but treated him as they pleased, since he did not meet their wordly criteria, since Elijah preached doom and destruction, but John the Baptist preached about baptism and personal conversion, which was not what the scribes expected. But what the scribes failed to realise is that God's ways are not their ways, and His choices need not meet their expectations. Would we end up like the scribes, expecting choices to be made according to our terms, or would we put our trust in God, and let Him decide what is best for us?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent

We often take for granted the many things that God has given us. Sometimes, we even forget to say thank you to God, or pray before a meal, giving thanks for the food we are about to receive. But just imagine for a moment... if God were to start charging us for each and every blessing or gift He gives us... would we be just as grateful or thankful, since we are paying instead of getting it free? Fortunately for us, the God we know is a loving and generous One. He does not need all these material things and money. He even created us out of nothing.

In today’s gospel, Jesus teacher us: “Without cost, you have received; without cost you are to give.” Jesus lives this teaching because He himself cures the sick; lets the blind see, expels demons, feeds the hungry with His words and material food; restores the dead to life; cleanses the lepers and so on  without asking for any payment. Jesus shows us that the very nature of God is to give. God is a Giver. Because He is a Giver, we have received many things. Likewise, we too ought to follow God's example and be givers, instead of hoarding things only for ourselves. May we receive without cost, and also give without cost, and give God the glory.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

There are times our understanding of the right person for the task at hand may not necessarily be the right person to God. For example, we sometimes wonder why a priest is posted to a particular parish, especially where the priest seems less energetic than previous parish priests. Or perhaps some may wonder why a certain person was chosen to become the bishop, even though there seem to be other candidates who seem better qualified or experienced. But as we know, God's ways are not our ways, and he choices turn out to be for the better in the long run.

In today's Gospel, we come across another example of how our understanding of the right person differs from God. According to the scribes, members of a learned class in Jesus’ time, the prophet Elijah is the right person to prepare the coming of the Messiah. Elijah’s return to earth is the great sign that the expected Savior is coming as prophesied by another prophet named Malachi, who prophesied that the precursor of the Messiah is a terrible man preaching doom and destruction. John the Baptist came and announced the coming of the Messiah, somebody greater than him, but the scribes rejected John the Baptist, since he preached about baptism and personal conversion, not about the terror that will go with the day of the Lord. What the scribes failed to realise is that, as already mentioned, God's ways are not their ways, and in fact, John the Baptist was Elijah, who came to prepare the way for the Lord.

What can we learn from this? At the end of the day, we must realise that God has a plan and purpose for persons chosen. His choices may not jive with our choices, but His choices are best. Would we still doubt His choices, just like the scribes did, or would we trust in Him and let Him be our guide?

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent

When we were young and we did something wrong, our parents may punish us or scold us. Some of us may have even received a caning or a whack on the hand or butt. When our parents punish or scold us in this way, does that mean they hate us? Of course not! They punish or scold us because they love us, and in some cases use disciplinary actions to teach us the consequence of what we did. In this way, we would learn not to repeat the same wrong doing again, since we know what the outcome could be.

Likewise, when God punished His people, and us too, He is doing so not because of hate. He does so because He loves us and disciplines us so that we would walk in His ways. In today's reading, we see the kind of God we have, who "On that day the Lord dresses the wound of His people and heals the bruises His blows have left." Even though God had dealt blows to His people, He was kind and compassionate in dressing the wounds and healing the bruises inflicted. So what does this mean to us? It means that God is a loving God, who disciplines us so that we may become better persons. May we make every effort to walk in His ways, and let Him be our help and guide.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Saturday of Week 34 Year 1

Death is something which will happen to all of us one day, but as to exactly when and how we will die, we do not know. All we know is that death will come "like a thief in the night," so sudden and so unexpected. It can be quite an unnerving and a shocking feeling and experience, where you are just talking and joking with a person one minute and the next minute the person suffers a stroke and dies. You become numb and you could hardly believe what has happened. The person was just so alive and kicking a few moments ago and now the person is gone forever. Yes, that is how fast and how sudden death can be.

This is why, in today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we should always be ready and prepared. We should not be caught off-guard when the Lord calls us. Yet, how do we prepare for something which is so unpredictable as death? Perhaps one way we could prepare for death is to live a good life, so that we would, as far as possible, be ready for a good death. Living a good life does not mean things would be easy or straightforward, but what is important is we keep on trying and remain as consistent as possible, relying on God's grace and strength to guide us through. May we not waste the many opportunities God gives us to live good lives, and remain in His love and care.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Saturday of Week 33 Year 1

In life, we all have expectations. Some of us may have great expectations, some of us may have smaller expectations. But no matter what, we would have some form of expectation, according to the present situation. For example, as babies, we would have expectations of love, food and comfort from our parents, especially from our mother. When we do not seem to get such expectations, what do we do? We cry, hoping that our mother would meet our expectations by feeding or comforting us.

But sometimes, our expectations are not met, either partially or entirely. When that happens, what do we do? Some of us may just shrug off such unmet expectations and carry on our merry way, thinking that it is not that big a deal. Some of us may pout or throw a tantrum, hoping to get what we expect. On the other extreme, some of us may end up bitterly disappointed, like what happened to king Antiochus in today's reading. In the reading, we are told that king Antiochus threw himself on his bed and fell into a lethargy from acute disappointment, because things had not turned out as he had planned. He had planned and achieved many things, and even planned to conquer the city of Elymais and sack its renowned riches. He had high expectations that all his plans would be fulfilled and that nothing could stop him. Unfortunately for king Anthiochus, his plans failed, and he suffered from deep and recurrent fits of melancholy, until he understood that life was slipping away from him, in other words, he was dying. King Anthiochus' life of great worldly expectations, ended up in great disappointment.

As Christians, our expectations ought to be not of this world, but of the other world, in God's presence. If we focus only in fulfilling our expectations in this world, we may find ourselves bitterly disappointed, since we may never satisfy our expectations. May we come to realise what is true, lasting and worthwhile expectations, and strive to move towards such expectations, which won't result in a disappointment.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Saturday of Week 32 Year 1

There seems to be many things in life which we do not seem tired of doing. For example, we do not seem to get tired of watching tv, going for a movie, eating good food, surfing the internet, shopping, travelling, going for a holiday, socialising with friends, going for a party, attending a music concert, playing sports, and much more. All these things are fine and good, but when it comes to praying and growing in our spiritual life, how many of us are just as enthusiastic and not tired in doing so?

In today's Gospel, Jesus taught His disciples to "pray continually and never lose heart." Jesus reminded them, and us too, of the importance of prayer and perseverance in faith. When we are not tired of prayer and presevere in faith, then Jesus assures us: "Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily." The question is: would we "berazam" or remain steadfast in our prayer and perseverance of faith, knowing that God would help us according to His time and for His glory?