Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Wednesday Week 2 Year 2

There are times God appears to have an interesting sense of humour. In today's reading, we see this sense of humour appearing in a subtle form.

Since the Israelites had rejected God as their King, they were allowed to have Saul as their king. It is obvious that Saul was not doing so well as a king, since the battle with the Philistines was not going in the Israelite's favour. Saul even relented to let David go fight Goliath, hoping that perhaps God would be with the boy. Perhaps Saul realised that he did not have any other option, since none of his other warriors wanted to take the risk and challenge Goliath.

So David goes forth to challenge Goliath. In the reading, he says: "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have dared to insult..." Here, we see the subtle form of God's humour. It's like saying; the Israelites chose Saul and what did they get? A person whom they thought could help them win battles, only to find that the person is not up to the task. On the other hand, God wins battles and His track record has been great. In this case, David slew Goliath with the help of God. Saul would not have been is able to do so on his own. So who is the real king the Israelites should have been faithful to, obeyed and followed?

In our lives, we too may have tried to win battles on our own and failed miserably. Let us not solely depend on our own strength, but on God's help and providence, for it is He who can really help us.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Tuesday of Week 2 Year 2

When we go for a job interview, often the interviewer would look at the type of qualifications the interviewee has obtained. The interviewee's mannerisms, attitude, behaviour, appearance and other factors may also play a part on whether the interviewee is successful or not. Even in a relationship, some people seem to look more at the externals of a person, thinking that the more attractive ones are more desirable.

However, God looks at us differently. Today's reading tells us that "God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart." Our innermost being, often what many of us may overlook, is what God sees. Some of us may play games in the presence of others and appear to get away with it, but we cannot hide from God. Let us thus be genuine and true, for it is better to be who we are, rather than living a lie.

Monday of Week 2 Year 2

If God were to instruct you to do something, would you do it? Most of us would say yes immediately, but whether we follow through with what we say and get the task done is a different matter. Sometimes God may be asking us to do something which we find unpleasant or not according to our hopes and dreams. When such a situation happens, how would we respond? It is easy to say that we love God and would obey Him, but in reality, how many of us really and honestly do so?

In today's reading, Samuel warned Saul that Saul had disobeyed God's command. Samuel said: "Is the pleasure of the Lord in holocausts and sacrifices or in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice, submissiveness better than the fat of rams. Rebellion is a sin of sorcery, presumption a crime of teraphim." Because of Saul's disobedience, God rejected Saul as king, since Saul had rejected the word of the Lord. We too could fall into the same situation if we refuse to listen and obey God's command. Are we ready to change our stubborn ways and walk humbly in God's presence? Or have our hearts become so hardened and obstinate?

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Housekeeping - Week 1 Year 2

For your easy reference, the following is a list of weeks and years with their corresponding date:

13 January 2014 - Monday of Week 1 Year 2
14 January 2014 - Tuesday of Week 1 Year 2
15 January 2014 - Wednesday of Week 1 Year 2
16 January 2014 - Thursday of Week 1 Year 2
17 January 2014 - Friday of Week 1 Year 2

Saturday, 28 December 2013

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

As leaders of different ministries in church, some of us may begin to think that the ministry we are in or even the church we serve would collapse if we are not around. Some people think that it is their God-given right to be the leader of a particular ministry. Some even think that their point of view and ideas are the only ones which should be noted.

However, today's Gospel shows us a different attitude towards ministry. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to his own disciples, saying: “Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” By doing so, John revealed his humility as he knew who he was and he was willing to step aside and let Jesus take over. Humility is not putting oneself down, but knowing one's purpose and knowing when to lead and when to let go and move on.

As we reach a certain stage in life, we should follow the example of John the Baptist. There comes a time when we are no longer spring chicken and can no longer do certain things. Our purpose is to be witnesses for Christ. We need to point others to Jesus and not draw attention to ourselves. We should not treat our being in ministry as a popularity contest. Humility means knowing our identity and mission, and knowing how to help others grow and eventually take over. We must remember that we are not the Master, but merely servants. We are apostles and not the Saviour. Let us be humble and gracious enough to do our part, so that God's Kingdom, not ours, will grow and prosper.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Friday of Week 1 Year 2

"Be careful what you wish for" is an English idiom which warns us that if you get things that you desire, there may be unforeseen and unpleasant consequences. In the case of today's reading, this idiom is clearly relevant.

The Israelites were not happy and not content with Samuel leading them, and as a result were not happy to be ruled by God. They wanted an earthly king, despite the fact that they had God, a much more powerful and dependable king. Samuel was not happy with their request and even warned them of the consequences of seeking an earthly king, but they just did not want to listen. The Israelites still wanted an earthly king. So Samuel, with the permission of God, gave them a king. The rest, as we know it, is history. Time and again we see how many of the Israelite kings failed in their responsibilities and brought grief to the nation, even leading them into exile.

What about us? Are we letting ourselves be ruled by an earthly king? Or have we learnt to depend on our eternal king? Are we still stubborn in thinking that our earthly kings can really help us grow and prosper? Or are we willing to humbly walk in the presence of our eternal king, who we can depend on in this world and in the next? Indeed, "be careful what you wish for," for sometimes what we want may not necessarily be good for us.
If you get things that you desire, there may be unforeseen and unpleasant consequences.
Read more at http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/be+careful+what+you+wish+for.html#eoTBbcEjLkFO0hEH.99

Thursday of Week 1 Year 2

Sometimes we ask God for things, and when we don't get what we want, we begin to try to bargain with God. Some of us may even resort to other forms of help, including bomohs, feng shui, divinations, seances, etc, hoping that we would still get what we want. Some of us may get angry and upset that God seems mean or stingy, not wanting to help us. However, the point is this: are we trying to control God? Must God grant our desires at all times? Because if we expect God to do our bidding, then we become a god. We become more powerful than God.

Today's reading shows us that Israel tried to force God to help them win their battles against the Philistines. They brought the ark of God to their camp, thinking that God will have no choice but to protect them and help them. However, as we see at the end of the reading, God will not kow tow to their bidding. God helps them according to His terms, not according to their demands. Even if the ark is captured at that point of time, God is not perturbed. What about us? Are there times we have been guilty in trying to make God answer our prayers? Have we forgotten who we are? Let us take heed and let God be God, fully trusting that He loves us and knows what is best for us.

Wednesday of Week 1 Year 2

Are you being called by God to a particular way of life? Some of us may be called to married life, some to religious life, others to the priesthood. How do we know that we are being called? Today's reading shows us one way that God may call us. Here, God called Samuel 3 times. At first, Eli did not have a clue who was calling the boy Samuel, and Samuel himself too did not have a clue, for "Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him." It was only at the third time that "Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy."

God may be calling us to a particular way of life, just as He called Samuel. Have we discovered which way of life is God calling us to? Have we spoken to others who may be able to advise us? Are we ready to respond, like Samuel: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." In this world with so many distractions and attractions, it may be difficult to hear the voice of God calling us. Let us open our hearts and listen earnestly, that we may discover His call.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Tuesday of Week 1 Year 2

Exorcisms should not be taken lightly. We sometimes hear people claiming to be able to cast out evil spirits, but they may not necessarily be ready or able to do so. One needs to have a certain "authority" to be able to perform exorcisms. Sometimes, what we think is a manifestation of an evil spirit may not necessarily be the case. Evil exists, but we should not jump into conclusions whether a person is truly possessed or not. One needs to verify genuine cases from merely psychological or medical-based ones, and also one needs to be fully and properly prepared physically and especially spiritually, before any exorcism is attempted. In other words, one should not play play with such matters as it could mean a matter of life or death.

In today's Gospel, Jesus not only taught with authority, but he also had authority over unclean spirits. If we are to be genuine and with "authority" to perform exorcisms, then we should follow Jesus example closely and ensure that we are physically and spiritually ready at all times for any situation. Being God's instrument in casting out evil spirits is not a simple matter. Are we honest and humble enough to trust the Lord and be prepared to face any consequences? Are we performing such exorcisms for the glory of God? Let us examine ourselves carefully and not be blinded with personal intentions or personal gratification.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Monday of Week 1 Year 2

In certain societies, a woman may be showered with lots of affection and gifts from her husband, but if she is unable to bear him a child, she may be looked down upon or ridiculed. Even though her husband may not be bothered about her condition and love her nonetheless, the ill-treatment by others around her can be quite demeaning and painful to bear. Hannah in today's reading was facing such a situation. Some other women may have despaired due to their situation, but Hannah chose to cry out to the Lord and the Lord was mindful of her, and she conceived and gave birth to a son.

Sometimes in our lives, we too may face difficult situations similar to what Hannah faced. Are we able to continue to hold our heads up high and depend on the Lord's mercy and providence, knowing that the Lord would provide for us in His time, just as He provided for Hannah? Perhaps our prayer may not be answered quickly or in the manner we expect, but let us persevere and not lose heart, knowing that God would be mindful of us and help us.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Baptism of the Lord

Why was Jesus baptised if He had never sinned? Jesus never sinned and did not need baptism for the forgiveness of sin. However, Jesus chose to be baptised to unite himself and share fully in the expectations and hopes of all men and women. It is not humankind that goes to Him, but He goes towards humankind for whom He came to redeem from sin.

Jesus' baptism also became the starting point of his ministry. His ministry was affirmed when "the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.'" This shows that Jesus had a close relationship with God and we too should follow Jesus' example by maintaining a close relationship with God, and by always doing what is right for the glory of God.

When we were baptised, we died to our old sinful ways and began a new life in Jesus. Have we truly understood the significance of our own baptism? Have our lives changed and have we been faithful in our ministry and giving glory to God? Let us not neglect our responsibilities and remain faithful in doing the will of God.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Friday after Epiphany

Some of us would have been in active ministry for quite a while. Throughout our ministry, we would have experienced joy, sadness, challenges, difficulties, etc. If we are to continuously work and do things for others, there may come a time where we may feel tired, fed up, or burned out. This is where we ought to follow Jesus' example. In today's Gospel: "His reputation continued to grow, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their sickness cured, but he would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray."

Notice that Jesus wasn't working or doing things all the time. He would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray. This shows us that we need to take time off for rest, reflection and recreation. Let us not overdo things, but take opportunities to spend time with the Lord in silence and prayer, while recharging our "batteries" as well.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Thursday after Epiphany

For many of us, loving God seems easy. We do not actually see Him, we do not feel Him directly, and we experience His continuous care in one form or another, without us even having to ask at times. However, when it comes to loving our neighbour, that becomes a great hurdle for some. Our neighbour could be our spouse, children, parents, in-laws, out-laws, friends, associates, acquaintances, un-friends, enemies, etc. We may find it easy to love those who love us, but loving those who hurt us, belittle us, irritate us, anger us, betray us; that seems a tough thing to do.

Today's reading reminds us that: "Anyone who says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen. So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother." Are we selective in our love towards others? Or do we genuinely love all, regardless of how they treat us? Loving indeed is not easy, but we should remember that God loved all and sent His Son to save all. Are we willing to follow Jesus' way in loving all?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Wednesday after Epiphany

In life, we face all sorts of challenges and obstacles. As time goes by, some of us may feel worn out, discouraged, anxious, afraid, etc. However, Jesus in today's Gospel assures us: "Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid." Jesus can help us as we struggle along in life and with Him as our guide, we do not need to fear or worry any longer. Storms may come and go, but Jesus is there to protect us and help us weather the storm. Are we willing to let Him take control and care for us? Do we really and truly trust Him with our lives?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Tuesday after Epiphany

When we hear of some people loving others without any hidden agenda or condition, we call that unconditional love. However, we sometimes come across people loving others because it is beneficial to them, and such love would be advantageous to them in some way. What about us? What sort of love do we have and practise?

Today's reading reminds us that love comes from God "and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God." Also, today's reading tells us of God's unconditional love, where He "sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him..." We also see in today's Gospel how Jesus loved the crowd by not only teaching them, but also feeding them by performing the miracle of the multiplication of five loaves and two fish. Do we really know God and are willing to love unconditionally just as God loves us unconditionally? Are we following Jesus' example in loving all?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Monday after Epiphany

Every once in a while we hear someone preaching something which seems to be about Christ. They appear to be gaining lots of followers and soon they have megachurches or big buildings, property and land to be used for so called evangelisation. However, today's reading warns us to be careful and not be easily influenced by such people. The reading tells us:

"It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust; test them, to see if they come from God, there are many false prophets, now, in the world. You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you were warned about."

Not everything which people do in Jesus name is true. Sometimes there is deception in what appears to be true, so we need to discern carefully and see whether these people are genuine or just trying to lure us away from the Gospel. Many tragedies, forms of cheating and other evil have been committed, under the pretext of preaching the Gospel. Let us be careful and not be so easily influenced.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Epiphany

Some of us like to follow stars. Some like to follow movie stars, singing stars, successful stars, wealthy stars; hoping perhaps that one day we would be like the stars we follow. The wise men in today's Gospel were also after a star. However, this star is not just any ordinary star. This star is the true star which we should follow: Jesus Christ, King of kings.

To further affirm that Jesus is the true star, even the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh which the wise men brought have great significance. The gift of gold symbolises the kingship of Christ. Jesus Christ is a king, not of this world, but one of justice, peace and love. The second gift is the gift of frankincense. This gift symbolises the divinity of Christ. Christ is no mere human person. He is God made man. He is God with us. Finally, we have the gift of myrrh which points to the passion of Christ. Christ must suffer and die to save us. We must also be prepared to follow his ways and eventually on the way to the cross.

Today, let us choose to follow the one true star that really matters: our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. All other stars come and go, but Jesus is here to stay and He is leading and guiding us to be with him eternally. Are we willing to follow Him earnestly?

3 January

Sin and God are incompatible. So if we sin, we are distancing ourselves from God. Sometimes we find it difficult to stay sinless, because of all sorts of temptations and attractions of the world. However, we have much opportunities to cleanse ourselves from sin by going for confession. The question is: have we been regular for confession? Do we value this precious sacrament?

Today's reading assures us that "we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is." The reading also admonishes us by reminding us that "Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ. Anyone who sins at all breaks the law, because to sin is to break the law." If we want to remain in Christ, we must make every effort to avoid sin. If we sin, we must purify ourselves by going for confession. Let us not be shy or procrastinate, as our time is short. We do not know when the Lord will call us, so we should always try to remain ready, clean and pure to meet him.

Monday, 16 December 2013

2 January

Most of us would have been taught about the faith as children or as adults, depending on whether we were baptised as infants or as adults. However, regardless of when and how we were taught, we are reminded in today's reading to "Keep alive in yourselves what you were taught in the beginning: as long as what you were taught in the beginning is alive in you, you will live in the Son and in the Father; and what is promised to you by his own promise is eternal life."

As we go on in life, we may face various challenges, persecution, temptation, etc. However, we should make every effort to remain faithful to Christ and to God. As the reading also reminds us: "You are anointed with truth, not with a lie, and as it has taught you, so you must stay in him. Live in Christ, then, my children, so that if he appears, we may have full confidence, and not turn from him in shame at his coming." Have we been taking heed to these words and remain in Christ? It may not be an easy task, but let us persevere and trust in God, knowing that God will care for us and not abandon us.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mary, Mother of God - Solemnity

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. More importantly, we celebrate God becoming man. Because of Mary's yes to God, God became man and we have Jesus Christ our Lord. Salvation is the result of the cooperation between God and man, and Mary's cooperation made this possible.

God sent his Son to redeem us and to enable us to be adopted as sons. As the second reading tells us: "The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir." Are we aware of our being adopted sons of God? Are we appreciative and humbled that we have been made heirs? Sometimes in life, we may forget who we are and may go astray. However, God is always waiting patiently for us to come back to Him, just as the father waited for the prodigal son to come home.

Let us thus, like Mary, treasure all these things and ponder them in our heart, for God has given a wonderful gift to us, the gift of His Son. As we also celebrate World Day of Peace, let us bring the peace Christ to all and continue to dwell in His presence.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

7th day within the octave of Christmas

Are we children of God, friends of Christ? Or are we rivals of Christ? This may seem a simple question. After all, who wouldn't want to be a child of God, a friend of Christ? But sometimes our way of life, our behaviour, our actions, our attitude, may cause us to be rivals of Christ instead of friends of Christ.

Today's reading tells us that "Those rivals of Christ came out of our own number, but they had never really belonged; if they had belonged, they would have stayed with us; but they left us, to prove that not one of them ever belonged to us." What exactly does it mean to belong? If we say that we love God and neighbour, then it may seem that we may belong. However, saying we love God and neighbour is not enough. We need to show that we love God and neighbour. It is through our actions that others will see that we are Jesus' disciples. Talk is cheap, action speaks louder than words.

Thus, let us seriously ponder. Are we really belonged? Or have we gone astray? Let us choose wisely, and do what is necessary if we want to belong.

6th day within the octave of Christmas

Some of us would have struggled through life to be in good relationship with God. Sometimes, we may feel as if our efforts are not bearing much fruit; or being and staying good seems like an uphill task. However, today's reading is a great source of inspiration and comfort for us:

"You must not love this passing world or anything that is in the world. The love of the Father cannot be in any man who loves the world, because nothing the world has to offer – the sensual body, the lustful eye, pride in possessions – could ever come from the Father but only from the world; and the world, with all it craves for, is coming to an end; but anyone who does the will of God remains for ever."

Do we have the love of the Father within us? Or have we begun to love the world more? Though we need to survive in this world, let us not be overwhelmed and seduced by its embrace. Though we do not know when the world would actually come to an end, let us not be caught offguard. Our goal ought to be to remain forever with God.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Holy Family

Where do we get most of our education from? Some may say from kindergarten. Others may say from primary or secondary school. Others may even say at college or university. However, all these forms of education can only be beneficial to us if we have learnt the basics, and the basics are (hopefully) taught to us at home, at a very young age. It is in the family that we learn to be a person, a citizen, a Christian, and God’s children.

However, the family is under threat. We see more and more families becoming broken. We see lack of communication taking place; husbands and wives not talking to each other; children not talking to their parents or siblings. We see greater increase in divorce rates, because some people are not happy in their marriages and look elsewhere for love and comfort. We see children being left alone at home or under the care of grandparents, maids or babysitters, as parents work late or prefer to live and enjoy their lives outside. We see elderly parents being abandoned or placed in nursing homes and rarely visited, because some people find it inconvenient to care for them (it seems strange and unfortunate that our parents were making sacrifices to care for us when we were young, but some of us are unwilling to do the same when they are old). Some parents have even given up or lack patience to teach their children, preferring to wash their hands and let others do their dirty work. I remember hearing a parent approaching a teacher and asking the teacher to control his son who is very "naughty." The teacher said: "If you cannot control your son at home, where you see him daily for several hours, how do you expect me to control him, when I see him only twice a week for about 30 minutes each?"

All these things may sound like a hopeless situation. But it need not be, if we are prepared to make God and our faith the centre of our lives again. The Holy Family, whose Feast we celebrate today, reminds us that it is not hopeless. The Holy Family was not a perfect family. They too had their problems. But what sets them apart from other families is their faith in God. They understood that a family is never truly a family unless God is made the centre of it. Does this mean that once we make God the centre of our lives, we will not have any problems? No. But we know that God will care for us and not abandon us. The problems we face become easier to manage, if we let God take control and help us, for he will not abandon us.

Whatever obstacles and problems we face in our lives and in our families, let us not despair or give up. God can and will help us. The question is: are we humble enough to walk in His ways and let Him guide us and our families? Do we offer ourselves and our families to God, so He can transform us into something better?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dec 28 - The Holy Innocents, Martyrs - Feast

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Like St Stephen whose Feast we celebrated on Dec 26, the Holy Innocents were martyred or killed. Their deaths were a consequence of Jesus fleeing to Egypt. Why did they have to die? King Herod was a paranoid and insanely jealous man. He did not want anybody coming between him and his throne. He saw Jesus as a threat to his sovereignty and power. So, in his mind, the best solution would be to kill Jesus. Since he did not know what Jesus look like and where Jesus was, the simple option would be to kill any babies around, with the hope that one of them would turn out to be Jesus.

Some of us too can sometimes be paranoid or jealous about something. As a result, great sins could be committed to protect what we think is rightfully ours. Are we forgetting our ultimate purpose to be in good relationship with the Lord and eventually dwell in His presence? Have worldly pleasures and riches blinded us? Let us choose wisely for our eternal future.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dec 27 - Saint John, Apostle, Evangelist - Feast

Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostle John. He is accredited for writing the Gospel according to John. He was the only apostle who was not martyred. We also know that John was given the responsibility to care for Mary by Jesus, when Jesus was about to die. He is known as the "beloved disciple." Throughout his life and writings, he had one simple message: "My dear children, love one another." God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. John followed God's example in sharing love with others through his example and in his writings.

What about us? In this world where love seems more and more superficial, are we following St. John's example in spreading true love to all? Let us take heed what St. John taught us about love: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:7-12).

Dec 26 - Saint Stephen, the first Martyr - Feast

Most of us are still in a merry mood, as this is the season of Christmas. All of a sudden, the church brings in this feast of St. Stephen. Some of us may feel that this feast seems out of place, or seems to spoil the mood. However, we must not forget the real purpose of Jesus coming.

St. Stephen whose feast we celebrate today reminds us of the ultimate sacrifice we ought to make. If we are challenged to give up our faith, or if we are threatened with death if we do not commit sacrilege, would we be willing to die for the faith? This ultimate sacrifice is not easy to do, especially since some of us may value our lives and may find it difficult to just let it go for the greater glory of God. However, should we be put in such a situation, what would our response be?

This feast of St. Stephen reminds us that Jesus came to offer His life for our salvation, and on the cross he did just that. Would we be able to put aside our fear and doubt and offer our lives as a pleasing sacrifice for the faith? May God give us strength and courage to do what is right when the time comes.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas Day - Mass During the Day

Nowadays we hear the word "love" being used and misused rampantly. People sometimes interchange the word "like" or "enjoy" with the word "love." For example, a person may say "I love ice-cream" but actually mean "I like or enjoy eating ice-cream." Or perhaps a person may say "I love shopping" but actually mean "I like going shopping." The word "love" is too often used instead of the word "like" or "enjoy," for things which are merely pleasing, but evoke no great warmth of feeling or desire. This habitual use of the word "love" to express other feelings minimises and cheapens the real meaning and potential of love in its true sense.

While some of us may not fully understand or appreciate the word "love," God has shown us in many ways the true meaning of the word "love." Today we celebrate Christmas Day and today, "The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth." This "Word" is Jesus Christ who came because "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." What about us? Are we willing to love others with all sincerity, just as God loves us unconditionally? Let us bring the joy of Christmas, spreading peace, love and goodwill to all persons.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Christmas Eve - Midnight Mass

Most of us would not want to be alone during the Christmas season. We would like to be with our families, friends, loved ones and share the joy of Christmas with them. However, there are some of us who, for some reason or another, may not have opportunity to be with our families, friends, loved ones. When we are alone during this time, how would we feel?

When Jesus was born, He too was alone. Only His parents were there to welcome Him. The first people to know about His birth were the shepherds, who were also alone out in the fields with their flock. Shepherds were considered unclean, according to Jewish law, as they had contact with all sorts of animals. However, what is surprising is that the angels came to announce the birth of the King of kings to them. We often think that such an announcement should have been made to kings, the powerful, the rich... But to shepherds? Yet, these shepherds were the first to know and the first to visit our new born King.

Look around us... Do we see people who are alone around us? Do we invite them to share the joy of Christmas in our homes? Do we bring the joy of Christmas to them, if they are unable to come join us? We may have received many gifts or presents for Christmas. Are we willing to offer gifts and presents to others around us, especially those who are alone, marginalised, suffering, etc.? In our merry-making and joy, we may forget those around us who are alone. We may even forget the real meaning of Christmas: the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We may have been influenced by worldly distractions such as giving gifts to each other, santa claus, santarinas, frosty the snowman, etc. "Today a saviour has been born to us, he is Christ the Lord." Let us bring the joy of Christmas to all around us and we as one faithful rejoice His birth.