Saturday, 29 March 2014

Housekeeping - 2nd Week of Easter

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

27 April 2014 - 2nd Sunday of Easter Year A
28 April 2014 - Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter
29 April 2014 - Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Easter
30 April 2014 - Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter
1 May 2014 - Thursday of the 2nd Week of Easter
2 May 2014 - Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Sometimes in life, we get someone who is willing to talk sense or reason out with others for us. Such people know that it is important to have a balance of head knowledge and heart knowledge, so that we would make choices with some clarity and without prejudiced eyes. One such person in today's reading is a Pharisee called Gamaliel, who was a doctor of the Law and respected by the whole people. Even though the Pharisees were filled with jealousy, Gamaliel was wise enough to caution the Pharisees concerning the apostles: "If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God."

If someone or some people were to go about doing good things and giving glory to God, would we stop them? Sometimes, because such people are doing better than us or they do not belong to our community, we may become jealous of their success and achievements. What some of us fail to realise is that what they are doing is not necessarily for their own glory, but for the Glory of God. If we begin to find ways and means to belittle them or stop them, then we too may become like the Pharisees, who were blinded with jealousy, anger and pride. Ultimately, we may end up being guilty of building our own kingdom when we think that only we can do good and others are prohibited from doing so. Have some of us become so conceited or proud? Aren't we all working in the vineyard of the Lord for His greater glory?

Friday, 28 March 2014

Thursday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Who do you obey? Do you obey God's laws? Or do you obey man's laws? Sometimes we may be asked to do something which is according to man's laws, but by doing that something, we are breaking God's laws. On the other hand, we may be obeying God's laws, but that could cause us to be unpopular or persecuted because we are not going with the flow or joining the crowd. Man's laws are not always just, not always fair, not always right, not always proper, and yet, some of us still obey them, because some of us think that by doing so, we would save our own skin, or perhaps gain an advantage or promotion, or maybe gain respect or recognition from other people.

Today's reading reminds us that "obedience to God comes before obedience to men." Ultimately we need to decide and check our conscience. Are we doing the right and proper thing to remain in good relationship with God? Or are we doing things to please people? Are we looking for eternal rewards, or are we merely satisfied with temporary rewards here on earth? Let us choose wisely for our eternal future.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter

People get jealous for different reasons. Some are jealous in a joking or playful manner: they say they are jealous but they say it in jest. Some are jealous but they do not allow jealousy to get into their head and control them; instead they use their 'jealous' energies to do something positive or good. Others are jealous and allow their jealousy to control their thoughts, feelings and emotions; a good example of this kind of jealousy is found in today's reading, where: "The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol."

When we allow jealousy to take control of our lives, we become slaves to our passion and pride. We see others doing God's work or doing good deeds as a threat to our popularity and power. Great crimes and heineous deeds have been committed as a result of this unhealthy form of jealousy. Have some of us become like the high priest and all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees; jealous of the gifts and abilities of others and refusing to admit or acknowledge God's gifts to them? Or have we learnt to be humble and content, praising God for the gifts of others and the gifts bestowed on us?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Are we generous with our time and our possessions? Some of us may be making much effort to own more and more things, money, property, etc., but are we clinging to these items only for ourselves and perhaps for our immediate family members? Today's reading tells us: "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common."

Looking at society today, we find that more and more of us may be becoming individualistic. What is ours is ours and some of us may find it difficult to share. Our rights seem to be more important than the needs for the common good. However, if we persistently demand for our rights, we may face the danger that nothing will be left. Could we ever become just like the early disciples? Perhaps, due to our present circumstances, we may not be able to live exactly like the early disciples. But perhaps we could learn from their attitude towards possessions. Possessions are meant to be shared as far as possible, not to be hoarded for ourselves. After all, we know that we cannot bring our possessions with us when we die. Are we able to change our attitude on possessions from one of hoarding and attachment, to one of sharing and detachment?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Are you born again? Has you life changed from your old self to a new self? In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us: "I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." At baptism, we were transformed from our old identity, to a new identity filled with the Spirit and given new life.

However, some of us may be baptised and supposingly born again, but the way we live our lives do not seem to bear witness that we have really changed. Some of us continue to behave as we were before, doing things as we have been doing. Jesus reminds us in today's Gospel: "‘I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God: what is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the Spirit is spirit." We may be born of the flesh, but have we really been born of the Spirit? Have we become witnesses and joyful proclaimers of the Good News, or have we been complacent and unappreciative of the gift God has given us? The greatest gift of all has been given to us; are we still looking elsewhere?

Monday, 24 March 2014

2nd Sunday of Easter Year A

What sort of community do we live in? Is our community united? Do we live in harmony, joy, happiness, peace, goodwill, etc. in our community? Do we care and share and love each other genuinely as a community? Today's first reading tells us of a community which "remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers." Does such a community still exist today?

As we read more and more about the early Christian community, we can discover that the early Christian community was not perfect. Till today no Christian community is perfect. We continue to hurt and be hurt by others, because we are not perfect. However, the difference between a Christian community and other "communities" is this: as a Christian community, we are able to forgive others and to receive forgiveness from others. Sometimes some of us try to look for God on our own. But God is present in the midst of the community, no matter how broken or sinful the community members may be. If we keep away from the community, we keep away from God.

Thus, let us make more effort to love and grow in faith in our community. Let us not shy or run away from our community, since Jesus reminds us "where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Our community may not be perfect, but together, we can grow in love and relationship with each other and with our risen and loving Lord, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Housekeeping - 1st Week of Easter

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

20 April 2014 - Easter Sunday
21 April 2014 - Easter Monday
22 April 2014 - Easter Tuesday
23 April 2014 - Easter Wednesday
24 April 2014 - Easter Thursday
25 April 2014 - Easter Friday

Easter Friday

How much do we value our faith? Some of us are Catholics in name, but are we Catholics in practise? If we are interrogated or persecuted, would we still remain firm in faith, or would we run away? If we are sentenced to die, would we remain steadfast till the end, or would we chicken out to save our own skin?

Today's reading tells us of Peter and John, who were talking to the people, much to the extreme annoyance of the priests, who were accompanied by the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees. Peter and John were arrested and interrogated, but they were ever willing to proclaim the Good News when they said: "For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved." Such courage and perseverance has been demonstrated throughout the centuries, where many men and women have offered their lives and gone forth, just as Peter and John did, to proclaim the Good News to all nations.

Today, we are constantly reminded and encouraged to go forth and proclaim the Good News. Are we doing our part for the greater glory of God?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Easter Thursday

When something absolutely amazing and outstandingly wonderful happens, some of us may become dumbfolded. We may become gobsmacked, utterly astonished, astounded, bewildered or absolutely stunned, unable to say or do anything. This is what happened to the disciples when Jesus made His appearance. Perhaps in some of their hearts, they thought they were seeing a ghost. Some may have thought they were dreaming or seeing a vision. Nevertheless, it must have been an indescribable feeling when they saw Jesus. To pacify them and to show that He was for real, "He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes."

If Jesus were to appear to us in the same way as He did to the disciples, would our joy be so great as well? Would we take up the challenge to be His witnesses and go forth and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations? Sometimes in our daily living, we may have forgotten or played down our duty to proclaim the Good News. Jesus Christ is risen and He now commands us to go forth and proclaim the Good News. Do we still need further convincing?

Easter Wednesday

How many of us really care about others? Do we care about others unconditionally, or do we care because there is something we can gain from caring? In today's reading, the people, who put the cripple from birth down to beg every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate, are not mentioned in name. Who are these people? Why were they putting the cripple down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate to beg? Were they using the man to beg so that they could get money by preying on the sympathy of passersby? Were they just being charitable to the man so that he could continue to survive? Could the man's condition be healed, even though the cost could have been quite high? So many questions, so many scenarios.

However, we notice something different. Peter and John did not just give him some money and walk away. They healed him of his crippledness in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. In doing so, they gave back the crippled man his life, his independence, his freedom. He was no longer dependent on others to survive, he could now take care of himself. If you were in his shoes, you would also certainly be walking and jumping and praising God!

It seems easy for us to just give some money and walk away. After all, that seems to be the most convenient way of doing charity. But let us ask ourselves sincerely... Is that enough? Are we really helping, or are we just giving so that the recipient would not bother us further, and possibly to feel and look good? How many of us are willing to go that extra mile, like Peter and John, and help the person more than what is basic or minimum? Are we truly loving others, just as God truly love us?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Easter Tuesday

Simple folks, especially those from the countryside or villages can sometimes be more trusting and dependent on God's providence. Some possible reasons why these folks are like that is because they are not burdened with a lot of information or gadgets and gizmos, they do not have that much fear and anxiety due to their fewer belongings, they are a closer knit community as they practically grew up together and tend to know each other better, etc.

When Peter spoke to the Jews, he was speaking to simple folks who already feared the Lord. His words "cut to the heart... They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised." It did not require that much philosophical and theological explanations to convince them, and "that very day about three thousand were added to their number."

What about us? Are we simple folks or have we become complicated folks? Do we analyse too much before we become convinced? Or are we willing to trust God more? Sometimes in our quest for development and progress, we may have become more and more sophisticated and complicated, and lost our simplicity in life.

Easter Monday

Some people may think that a white lie is ok but other lies are not ok (or some may even think that other lies are ok). However, a lie is a lie, no matter what colour it may be. When a person lies, that person is trying to protect something or someone, or perhaps to save face, or to avoid an embarassing or incriminating situation.

The chief priests and elders in today's Gospel are caught lying to save their own skin. They were more concerned about themselves and their establishment, and were not willing to accept or admit the truth about Jesus. Even the guards who witnessed the resurrection were not willing to put their lives in jeopardy over an itinerant preacher like Jesus, since they could be executed if the truth comes out. So, to muddle up things and to protect their own interests, money is once again involved. Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, and once again He is "betrayed" with a considerable sum of money. Not only were these people guilty of bearing false witness, they were also guilty of greed.

What about us? Are we guilty of bearing false witness and greed today? Are we no different than the chief priests and elders or the soldiers in today's Gospel? Is the truth too difficult to swallow? We may try to hide or cover up the truth, but as a Malay proverb reminds us: "sepandai-pandai tupai melompat, akhirnya jatuh ke tanah juga." (loosely translated in English as: "No matter how good a squirrel is at jumping around trees, in the end it will fall to the ground."). Are we going to wait until we are finally exposed for the lies uttered? Why do some of us imprison ourselves with lies and more lies, only to bring ourselves to ruin or cause ourselves to be worse off later?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Easter Sunday

Some of us may have been running for something throughout our lives. We run for a better life or for a better job. We run for happiness. We run for the ideal girlfriend or boyfriend. Some of us, on the other hand, run away from something. We run away from our brokenness or from our broken families. We run away from our miserableness due to a job or a relationship. We run away from pain and suffering, or from our fears. Some people run to Church to get away from their problems, others may stay late at work to run away from their problems. People seem to be doing quite a bit of "running" these days. However, no matter how much we run for something or away from something, we can never run forever.

Today we celebrate Easter Sunday. Today, God is inviting us to stop running and come back to Him. The empty tomb in today's Gospel is a reminder to us that God has emerged victorious. We do not need to run anymore, since God has won the race for us. Our problems are no longer problems, when we recognise that God is there for us and He can guide and help us, no matter how big or small the problem may be. We may feel entombed by our difficulties and problems, but if we trust in God's love and care, we know that we can be redeemed and freed from our "tombs." Let us thus rejoice, for God is there, He is resurrected.

Housekeeping - Holy Week

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

13 April 2014 - Palm Sunday
14 April 2014 - Monday of Holy Week
15 April 2014 - Tuesday of Holy Week
16 April 2014 - Wednesday of holy Week
17 April 2014 - Maundy (Holy) Thursday
18 April 2014 - Good Friday
19 April 2014 - Easter Vigil

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Easter Vigil

Darkness... reminds us of the darkness of sin, the darkness of evil, the darkness of death, pain and suffering. Sometimes, the darkness seems so overbearing and overwhelming, death seems to be the end. Sometimes, our problems and suffering seem so unbearable that we feel like giving up. Darkness seems to rule us and seems to engulf us in a chasm of doom and despair.

However, this Easter Vigil night, no matter how dark the situation may seem be, no matter how bad things may seem to be, no matter how big the problem, no matter how powerful death and suffering may appear, none of these can defeat the power of the resurrection. Easter is our victory over darkness. Jesus is risen.

Let us therefore not behave like there is no hope, like this is the end, because tonight is a new beginning. Let us with renewed confidence and trust march on, for God is on our side. He has defeated death. He has won a great victory for us. Let us proclaim "alleluia" and share this good news to all the ends of the earth.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Good Friday

Our God is with us at all times. Don't care whether it is good times or bad times, sickness or health, joy or sorrow, life or death, God is there. Today, we are reminded of God who hangs on the cross. The cross was a tool of humiliation, of suffering, of slow and painful death. Extremely bad people were the ones normally crucified on the cross. But here, we have God who hangs on the cross.

Why did God hang on the cross? It is precisely because of His immense love for us. He wants to save us from our sins. He is crucified by our own sinfulness, our indifference, our ambitions, our greed, our selfishness, our inability to forgive, our pride, our anger, etc. The cross is transformed from an instrument of death, to a symbol of God’s unconditional love. The cross shows that God is even prepared to take the place of the worst kind of sinners by being executed like a criminal, so that we can be saved from our sins.

Are we willing to carry our crosses and die to our sins? Are we willing to wholeheartedly and enthusiastically love God and people, regardless of whether they have been good or bad to us? God died on the cross to save all of us. Are we humble enough to follow His example?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Maundy (Holy) Thursday

In today’s liturgy, we are reminded of Jesus' commandment that we are to "love one another as I have loved you. We are also reminded to “Do this in memory of me.” “Do this in memory of me” means that we are to imitate the entire life of Jesus, not just pick and choose what we like. We must love, forgive, show compassion and serve one another as Jesus did to all. We must give up our lives as Jesus did on the cross. Jesus showed us an example of loving one another by washing the feet of His disciples. By doing so, He humbled himself by taking on the role of a slave to serve others, and challenged us to serve as He did.

If we look at our lives, are we following Jesus' commandment to love and serve as He did? Are we humble enough to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us? We ask so much from God, but are we equally generous in giving to others what we have received from His bounty? Let us be genuine and generous in our love and service, as we strive to grow closer to God.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

We sometimes hear of people betraying other people for one reason or another. Sometimes the reason could be personal pride, greed, money, jealousy, rage, etc. What some of these betrayers do not realise is that they may not necessarily get the "reward" promised to them at the end. We hear of cases where a person betrays another for an agreed reward, only to be put to death by those who hired the betrayer, as they may decide to destroy any evidence of involvement and they may not trust the betrayer to keep silent. As some say, dead men tell no tales.

Today, we see Judas receiving 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. We are already reminded in Monday's Gospel that Judas "was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions." So 30 pieces of silver seemed a nice sum for him and something hard to resist. The problem is, is friendship so cheap that it can be sold for 30 pieces of silver, which is the price of a slave? Like Judas, some of us give little thought to the consequences of our sins. Some of us only look at self-gratification and temporary pleasure we get from committing such sins, and never stop to think about its long-term consequences. We are blinded by our personal interests, and we forget that we are selling our souls just for a measly sum. Why do we commit such acts only for temporary gratification but could lead us to an eternity away from God? Do we consider ourselves so cheap and worthless that even that temporary sinful act is enough for us, only to suffer eternal consequences?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tuesday of Holy Week

Each of us experiences our days and our nights. Life is never the same, since we have choices to make, and sometimes these choices will influence how our life turns out. We are given many opportunities to let God steer us closer to Him, but our behaviour, attitude, stubbornness, pride, etc. can cause us to drift further and further away, especially when our minds and hearts remain closed and we choose to avoid His loving embrace. Indeed, it may sound strange or tragic, but there are people who vehemently choose to remain away from God.

Today's Gospel tells us of Judas. Jesus knew what he was up to, and he was given a choice to stay with the group or betray Him. One can imagine the turmoil which may have initially been going on in Judas' heart, but when one is further engulfed in wrongdoing, in sin, in dissatisfaction, etc., one becomes more and more convinced to make an alternative choice. Judas took the bread and then left. Night had fallen. A soul had made its choice.

Which path are we choosing? Are we heading the same direction as Judas chose to go? Or are we choosing to remain in that narrow road whic leads to life? Let us not be distracted or diverted from making a wise choice.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Monday of Holy Week

Some people can be deceptive and cunning. They could appear to be good, but they have hidden motives or hidden agendas. If a situation suits them, they act quickly for their own benefit. If a situation is not favourable, they may lie low and wait for a different time.

Judas Iscariot in today's Gospel is one example of such a person. He was not interested in others. He was interested only in himself. He said: "Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?" He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but he cared only about himself. The Gospel further tells us that Judas Iscariot "was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions."

Another example of such a person are the chief priests, who only cared about themselves. They were more concerned about losing their "crowd" and even had the audacity to "decide to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus."

What about us? Are we doing things for our own benefit? Are we more interested in our wants and needs, even to the extent of lying, cheating, betraying and killing others? Let us not be fooled into thinking that we can get away with such despicable acts. God is watching, and one will be repaid according to one's deeds (Matthew 16:27).

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Palm Sunday

Today's celebration is full of ironies. At the beginning of the celebration, Jesus is cheerfully and warmly welcomed. People are waving palms and Jesus is treated like a VIP. However, when we come to the readings and Gospel in the middle of the celebration, the mood suddenly changes. Jesus is jeered, rejected and put to death.

The people had expected a messiah, but not the kind of messiah Jesus was. They wanted a messiah who would lead them and rescue them from their enemies, especially the Romans. When Jesus turned out to be not the type of messiah they expected, they got rid of Him. Instead of the King of kings, they chose a brigand called Barabbas. Jesus came to save them from their sins, but they were more interested in someone who could save them from their enemies. Jesus came to spread peace and love to all, but the people were not interested in such things. Indeed, so many ironies.

What about us in this present time? Are we also just as guilty in protecting and preserving our own interests by supporting those who could be of use to us? Or are we letting Jesus save us from our sins? Are we making effort to grow closer to God by sincerely and earnestly loving God and neighbour? Or are we no different than these people in the readings? Situations may have changed, but what is our real agenda? Jesus invites us to follow Him, take up our cross and let Him save us. Are we still rejecting and "crucifying" Jesus even today?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Housekeeping - 5th Week of Lent

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

6 April 2014 - 5th Sunday of Lent Year A
7 April 2014 - Monday of the 5th Week of Lent
8 April 2014 - Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent
9 April 2014 - Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent
10 April 2014 - Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent
11 April 2014 - Friday of the 5th Week of Lent

Friday of the 5th Week of Lent

When it comes to the truth, righteousness and fairness, we may sometimes face a situation where people whom we thought are friends may turn against us. Finding genuine friends who would stand by us is certainly not easy, since many a times, we come across people who are not really true friends, more likely acquaintances perhaps. When we are faced with such a situation, what do we do?

Jeremiah in today's reading faced such a situation. His so called "friends" disparaged him and watched for his downfall. Some of these "friends" were perhaps opportunists, being friends only when it suits them. However, the reading tells us: "But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, mastered, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs." Jeremiah had full trust and confidence that God would rescue him and keep him safe. What about us? If we are facing a similar situation like Jeremiah, would we be just as trusting and confident?

Friday, 7 March 2014

Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent

Whenever we experience a life-changing event, a part of us becomes different. We are no longer the person we were before. For example, when we were baptised, we were given a baptism name as a new identity, a new beginning, a child of God, and a member of a Christian community. Our old self dies and our new self emerges.

This was also the case with Abram, who God renamed as Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham to be observed by him and his descendants. Notice here that it is God who takes the initiative and invites us to come closer to Him. God made the covenant with Abraham but He did not force it down Abraham's throat. Abraham had a choice; to follow or not to follow. Most of us would assume that it would be absurd for us to not follow, but it is indeed surprising that some of us choose not to follow. Sometimes, even our attitude, behaviour, way of life, etc. are indications of our choice of whether we want to be close to God or otherwise. Ultimately, we are given free will to choose. May we choose wisely as our choice would be for eternity.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent

How many of us are willing to admit our mistakes or wrongdoing and give glory to God? Some of us may try to hide our mistakes by sweeping it under the carpet, hoping that no one would take notice or take action. Some of us may try to find a scapegoat and avoid taking responsibility. How many of us are willing to take responsibility, say sorry, reconcile and move on?

Today's reading tells us of King Nebuchadnezzar. Even though initially, King Nebuchadnezzar appeared to be quite arrogant and hard headed, and even had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace for defying his order to worship his gods, King Nebuchadnezzar was willing to admit that God is the One True God when he exclaimed: "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: he has sent his angel to rescue the servants who, putting their trust in him, defied the order of the king, and preferred to forfeit their bodies rather than serve or worship any god but their own." This shows that King Nebuchadnezzar was not as arrogant or hard headed as initially thought.

What about us? Are we able to open the eyes of our hearts and recognise our strengths and failings? Are we humble enough to admit our wrongdoings, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and move on while growing closer to God?

Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent

Some people can never be satisfied. You give them an inch, and they want a yard. You give them a room, and they may try to take over your house. You accommodate to their demands, and they may gradually end up taking away your rights completely. Even then, they may still be unsatisfied.

Today's reading shows us how the Israelites lost patience and spoke against God and against Moses. Despite the many things done for them and the many things given to them, they were still not satisfied. When they were afflicted with fiery serpents, they begged Moses to intercede for them and they were rescued. However, did they learn their lesson? No. They became not satisfied over and over and over again. Did God give up on them? No. He continuously cared for them, no matter how ungrateful or dissatisfied they were.

What about us? Are we still not satisfied? Do we expect God and others to "kow tow" or adhere to our demands all the time? When will we ever learn to be grateful and thankful for what we have and what God has given us?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Monday of the 5th Week of Lent

Lust is a dangerous thing. It can lead people to commit lie, cheat, murder, and other hideous sins. The 2 elders in today's reading were filled with lust. They were so blinded with lust that all things proper, just, righteous, fair, and dignified were thrown out of the window completely. They were only determined to seduce Susanna and they were willing to try all sorts of dirty tricks to get their way. Unfortunately for them, Daniel was wise enough to trap them and condemn them with their own words.

We too could be guilty of lust. Even though we may not have committed the act directly, Jesus reminds us that looking at a woman with lust can even cause us to commit adultery in our hearts. Are we not satisfied, contend and faithful with our spouse? Let us be extremely cautious and not allow ourselves to fall into lust, lest we bring ruin upon ourselves.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

5th Sunday of Lent Year A

Death is inevitable. We can try to avoid death for as long as possible, but eventually we will die. Some of us may be blessed with a longer lifespan due to medical advances, good food, good genes, etc. but we cannot escape from death. Our bodies are not designed to last indefinitely. Even the things that we invent and use do not last long.

Today's readings tell us about life and death, however death is not the end but life is. In today's Gospel, Jesus promises life to those who believe in him. Jesus does not promise us long life here on earth, because ultimately our earthly life will end in death. Rather, Jesus is promising something so much better, that is, eternal life. This is why, in the second reading, we are reminded: "People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you."

What sort of life are we ultimately looking for? Are we interested in spiritual things and looking for eternal life with Jesus and with God? Or are we only interested in unspiritual things and looking for earthly life, which will eventually end with death? Let us not squander the many opportunities given to us to grow in spiritual life with God, since no matter what we do or choose not do, the fact remains that we will still die. Are we still looking what is merely temporary which will spoil, fade away or die? Or are we striving for what is eternal?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Housekeeping - 4th Week of Lent

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

30 March 2014 - 4th Sunday of Lent Year A
31 March 2014 - Monday of the 4th Week of Lent
1 April 2014 - Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent
2 April 2014 - Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent
3 April 2014 - Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent
4 April 2014 - Friday of the 4th Week of Lent

Friday of the 4th Week of Lent

Are we blinded with anger, rage and malice? When we are blinded in such ways, we may do things which could only later lead to regret or in other situations, indifference. When we are proud, arrogant, stubborn, or selfish, we could end up being "blind" towards others.

Today's reading cautions us: "This is the way they reason, but they are misled, their malice makes them blind. They do not know the hidden things of God, they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded, they can see no reward for blameless souls." When we are unable to appreciate the goodness in others and their capabilities, when we refuse to admit our faults and shortcomings, when we become self-absorbed with our achievements, then we may become "blind" with jealousy which may lead to malice. We may begin to put other people down because we do not want competition and want to look good. Ultimately, we may end up trying to build our own kingdom. Have some of us fallen into such a state? Let us open our eyes, minds and hearts, and stay on our guard from being dragged into such a state.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent

What sort of approval are we seeking? Are we looking for fame, approval, recognition, status and fortune here on earth? Or are we seeking a closer relationship with God? Sometimes we may be so zealous in one that we forget the other, or we think that one is more important than the other. Some of us think that God is too difficult to please or it takes too much time to have a right relationship with Him. But ultimately, what sort of approval do we really want to achieve?

In today's Gospel, Jesus says: "I have come in the name of my Father and you refuse to accept me; if someone else comes in his own name you will accept him. How can you believe, since you look to one another for approval and are not concerned with the approval that comes from the one God?" The Jews were so zealous in keeping with their customs and traditions, that they forgot the main reason why they were keeping such customs and traditions in the first place. Instead of keeping such customs and traditions so that they could grow in relationship with God, their focus began to sway and such customs and traditions are kept so that others would look up to them. Are we trying to draw attention to ourselves, for our self-gratification, to fuel our pride, to lord it over others? Or have we learnt to walk humbly before God and do things for His greater glory?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent

As we go about in life, we may be tempted to do things our way and for our own benefit. This is especially evident as we climb the career ladder, as we try to impress the boss with hope of getting a promotion, as we go out of our way to gain admiration or approval from our professors or teachers at university or at school, hoping that we would gain better grades. Even in church circles, we see some people trying to curry favour with the parish priest or bishop, hoping that they would gain prominence and perhaps some sort of important position or title.

However, today's Gospel paints us a very different picture. Jesus tells us "I tell you most solemnly,
the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too." Towards the end of the Gospel, Jesus reminds us "I can do nothing by myself; I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me." Are we doing things in obedience to the will of God? Or are we doing things for our own will? In the Lord's Prayer, we are pray: "Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done." Are we making effort and doing our part in building God's Kingdom? Or are we only interested in building our kingdom?