Tuesday, 29 April 2014

7th Sunday of Easter Year A

What does the word "glory" mean to you? For some, it could mean to become famous, to be popular, to be accepted publically as someone important or significant, or perhaps to have a good name. For others, it may be to be in a position where people would admire, praise and look up to you, and perhaps treat you as a role model or a VIP. But what is the Christian understanding of glory?

To glorify as a Christian means to be willing to embrace the cross. The cross to some may be a symbol of shame, rejection and death but for us Christians, it is a symbol of victory, glory and life. When we are going through suffering, rejection, persecution, or even faced with the possibility of being put to death, we are glorifying God and we are experiencing true glory. St. Peter in today's second reading writes: "Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." How many of us can happily, truly and wholeheartedly rejoice in such a situation?

Today, if you are suffering because of your faith, rejoice and be glad. St. Peter reminds us that "whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name." Being glorified in Christ is not about how great or wonderful we are, but about our perseverence, commitment and enthusiasm in bringing the Good News to all, even if we are to suffer. Ultimately, our glory is not of this world and let us rejoice and be glad, for God is there to help us and lead us back to Him.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Housekeeping - 6th Week of Easter

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

25 May 2014 - 6th Sunday of Easter Year A
26 May 2014 - Monday of the 6th Week of Easter
27 May 2014 - Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter
28 May 2014 - Wednesday of the 6th Week of Easter
29 May 2014 - The Ascension of the Lord
30 May 2014 - Friday of the 6th Week of Easter

Friday of the 6th Week of Easter

When we are faced with difficulties, challenges, persecution, or even the possibility of being put to death, would we be able to be steadfast in our faith and continue to trust in God's providence? Giving up or running away seems like a tempting option, but today's reading should be a reminder to us that God is on our side and watching out for us: "Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you." If God can protect and care for Paul, surely He can do the same for us.

Even Gallio who was proconsul of Achaia refused to get involved with petty things the Jews were coming up against Paul. Here, we can clearly see the envy and jealousy the Jews had towards Paul. Jealousy and envy can cause us to commit great sins and in our blindness, we may even do stupid things. Let us be on our guard against falling into the trap the Jews were in, and continue our efforts and vigour to proclaim the Good News. As the Letter to the Romans remind us: "If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)"

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Ascension of the Lord - Mass of the Day

Saying goodbye or farewell is never easy. In some cases, we may get to see the person again only after a long time. In other cases, we may never get to see the person again. Some of us become so attached to the person who is leaving, that it becomes all the more harder to let go. Some may try all sorts of tricks and antics, hoping that the person would change his or her mind and stay. But the reality is, when it is time to leave, it is time to leave.

For forty days, Jesus continued to appear to the disciples to tell them about the kingdom of God. He gave them lots of encouragement and prepared them for His departure. He even assured them: "John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit." Eventually, the day came where Jesus was "lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight."

When Jesus left them, the disciples were still in a daze. They had not fully comprehended the reality that Jesus was physically gone. The first reading tells us: "They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’" Once again, the disciples were being reassured that Jesus had left but He would return.

With Jesus gone, the Holy Spirit could come. The pain of separation would soon be replaced with the joy which the Holy Spirit gives us. In today's Gospel, Jesus told his disciples: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time." This is the mission which Jesus entrusted to His disciples; this is the same mission He is entrusting to us now. We are now sent to go forth and proclaim the Good News, but we are not left alone. Jesus is with us always, and the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us. Are we ready to fulfil our destiny as bearers of Good News to all? Let us be not afraid, for God is with us.

Wednesday of the 6th Week of Easter

Understanding our faith, what we believe in, is not something we can fully comprehend or accept all in one go. Sometimes we need time to slowly digest what we have heard, what we have learnt. Other times, we need to trust and believe, since not everything can be fully explained or understood.

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us: "I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now. But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from himself but will say only what he has learnt; and he will tell you of the things to come." The Spirit of truth is with us, from the time we were baptised and confirmed. The question is: are we patient and persistent enough to let the Spirit guide us? Are we humble enough to trust and believe, even when something seems difficult to accept or comprehend? Let us open our minds and hearts happily and willingly, and let the Spirit lead us.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter

Each of us (especially those who were baptised as adults) would have had some sort of conversion story. Some stories could be spectacular, others may sound nothing out of the ordinary. However, a conversion story is nevertheless still a grace from God and an opportunity for all to give praise and thanks for God's love and mercy. Sometimes a conversion story could inspire others who have not been baptised to seriously consider doing so; and also strengthen the resolve and conviction of those already baptised.

In today's reading, the gaoler had an amazing conversion story. We read: "Late that night Paul and Silas were praying and singing God’s praises, while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly there was an earthquake that shook the prison to its foundations. All the doors flew open and the chains fell from all the prisoners. When the gaoler woke and saw the doors wide open he drew his sword and was about to commit suicide, presuming that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted at the top of his voice, ‘Don’t do yourself any harm; we are all here.’ The gaoler called for lights, then rushed in, threw himself trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas, and escorted them out, saying, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’" What could have turned out to be the gaoler's untimely death due to suicide, was transformed into a death to his old self and a birth to his new self. The gaoler and all his household were baptised. What an amazing turn of events!

Do we still remember our conversion story and continue to remain in our new selves? Or have we slacken and gradually returned to our old selves? At our baptism, we were enthusiatic and excited to become a child of God, a new creation. Let us not wane in such gusto and enthusiasm.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Monday of the 6th Week of Easter

As witnesses of Christ, we often face lots of challenges, hardships, difficulties and even dangerous situations. Some of us may find the obstacles too much to handle and may be tempted to give up. Humanly speaking, it is not easy for us to hold on for a long time. However, with God's help and continuous guidance, we will be able to persevere.

In today's Gospel, Jesus assures us that He is sending the Advocate (Holy Spirit) to us from the Father. Jesus says: "When the Advocate comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness. And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset. I have told you all this that your faith may not be shaken..." With the Advocate protecting us, there is no reason for us to fear or take flight. So, let us take courage and continue sharing the Good News, knowing that God will be with us all the way.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

6th Sunday of Easter Year A

Supposing one day you receive a letter and in that letter you discover that you had won a prize for a competition you had participated and had forgotten about. How would you feel? Surely you would want to tell your family members and close friends. Or supposing you are a woman and you have been trying for quite a while to conceive, and one fine day you do a pregnancy test and discover that the result is positive, and later confirm the result with the doctor. What would your reaction be? Surely you can't wait to share the joy with your husband and loved ones.

Good news is not meant to be kept to ourselves. Often we would be happy and eager to share good news with others and invite them to rejoice with us. But what about the Good News of Jesus Christ? All of us, regardless whether we are priests, religious, or lay people, are called and sent forth to preach the Good News. In today's first reading, we see how Philip took action and went to Samaria to preach the Good News, while working many miracles there. As a result, "the people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves." In today's second reading, we are are reminded to "always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience..."

The question is this: Are we eager and gung-ho in going forth to preach the Good News? Are we not aware that we should be missionaries of Christ wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we are in? Do we expect only certain folks like our religious and priests to do the work and we take things easy? Being Christian is certainly not easy, and preaching the Good News is also not so easy or straightforward. We may face many obstacles and suffering. However, let us trust in God's help and as the second reading tells us: "if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one." Are you happy and proud to be a Chrisian, and full of zeal to go forth and preach the Good News?

Friday, 18 April 2014

Housekeeping - 5th Week of Easter

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

18 May 2014 - 5th Sunday of Easter Year A
19 May 2014 - Monday of the 5th Week of Easter
20 May 2014 - Tuesday of the 5th Week of Easter
21 May 2014 - Wednesday of the 5th Week of Easter
22 May 2014 - Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter
23 May 2014 - Friday of the 5th Week of Easter

Friday of the 5th Week of Easter

Do we truly and really love? Or do we merely "like" or "enjoy" under the appearance of love? Sometimes we come across people who genuinely love others and just as today's Gospel tells us, they would even be willing to "lay down his life for his friends." Other times, we come across individuals who love because it is convenient or advantageous to them, or provides self-gratification, but deep down in their hearts there is no love. What about you? Where do you stand?

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us that we are His friends if we do what He commands us. What did He command us to do? Jesus tells us in the Gospel: "What I command you is to love one another." Moreover, Jesus has chosen us; and commissioned us to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last. Are we loving others and sharing Jesus' love with others, just as Jesus loves us? Or are we hoarding love only for ourselves? Is our love genuine? Or has our love become more and more selfish or self-centered? We may appear to be able to hide our true intentions or true self, but we cannot run away from the "fruit" of our "love."

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter

Being a Christian in this world is not easy. On the one hand, we want to succeed and prosper. On the other hand, we are reminded time and time again to keep God's commandments. Sometimes the things we are asked to perform in the world may be in conflict with God's commandments. If we choose to perform the task, we would be breaking a commandment of God. If we choose not to perform the task, we may lose our status, our popularity, our financial security, our prosperity, and even our lives. If faced with such a situation, what would you do?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples: "Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete." What do we want? Eternal joy or eternal sadness? The joy we experience in this world is only temporary. After a while, we would need to find other ways and means to remain joyful. In fact, we may never attain complete joy. However, Jesus is offering a kind of joy which is complete. We can receive this joy which He offers us if we keep God's commandments and remain in His love. If that is so, why do we still stubbornly insist in seeking temporary things of this world while slacking in seeking eternal things out of this world? Don't we value and want the joy Jesus offers us?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Wednesday of the 5th Week of Easter

Are we part of Jesus' vine? Or have we drifted away from Him. Some of us think that we are part of Jesus' vine, but the reality is that some of us have chosen to be apart from Him, or we have drifted away from Him due to our neglect, or due to our attitudes and behaviour. In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us: "Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing." We may appear to be doing good or charitable things, but we could still be apart from Jesus. We could appear to be respectable people, but we could still be cut off from Jesus. How so? By looking at the fruits and motivation of what we are doing and why we are doing such things. Some of us are doing things for our own glory or for our own personal gratification, under the pretense of appearing helpful, respectable, good or charitable.

Ultimately, whether we are remaining in Christ or otherwise can be summed up in what Jesus tells us: "It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples." The glory is to God, not to ourselves. The question is: are we really remaining in Jesus?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Tuesday of the 5th Week of Easter

Suffering and hardship are some of the many things we may experience as Christians. Some of us may not necessarily experience major suffering or hardship in our lifetime, but we may experience some sort of suffering and hardship, especially in countries where Christians are persecuted or mistreated. Some countries may not necessarily cause suffering and hardship explicitly or directly, but through various subtle ways and means, Christians in those countries may still experience suffering and hardship.

In today's reading, Paul and Barnabas "put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’" Despite the many difficulties, sufferings and hardship we may face, are we willing to persevere in the faith as Paul and Barnabas encouraged all of us to do so? It is tempting and seems easy to just run away or abandon our faith. But let us not lose heart; let us remain strong and hopeful for God will care for us.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Monday of the 5th Week of Easter

Are we all the same? Some of us think that we are better or smarter than others, and we differenciate among ourselves according to status, rank, the amount of wealth we have, etc. When we go to a function or to a store, do we see equal treatment? More often than not, we see those who are in power or who have influence or wealth receiving special or VIP treatment. However, when we go down to the basics, aren't we all the same?

Today's reading tells us that "when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening they tore their clothes, and rushed into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, what do you think you are doing? We are only human beings like you...'" Barnabas and Paul shows us that, despite all the wealth, power, capabilities, intellect, etc. we may have, ultimately we are only human beings. All that we have, all that we are, all that we value here on earth are only temporary and there will come a time when we could lose all these, especially when we die. Thus, shouldn't we be focusing more of what is permanent or eternal?

Sunday, 13 April 2014

5th Sunday of Easter Year A

What is more important to our spiritual growth? Action? Prayer? Some of us may think that we need to do something for our spiritual growth. We get involved with all sorts of activities, we do charity here and there, we get into different aspects of church life. Over time, we become more and more preoccupied with doing things. We begin to think that our spiritual growth is tied to the amount of things we are capable of doing, as well as the number of activities we are involved or have been involved in.

However, is action more important or the only thing that matters? Would we be branded as useless or hopeless if we do not get involved so much? In our busyness and running around doing things, we become less and less hardworking in our prayer life. We neglect our conversations with God and begin to find it more and more challenging keeping still. After all, we are so used to activities, things going on around us, that we may have failed to listen to the promptings of God within us.

St. Peter in the second reading reminds us that we are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light." Here, we are reminded to give praise to God through our words and actions. In the first reading, seven deacons were appointed to help in the distribution of goods so that the apostles "can continue to devote themselves to prayer and to the service of the word." When we look at these readings, we can begin to realise that we need to look carefully at our prayer life. Our actions must flow from our prayers and praying helps us to remain focused on God. Prayer reminds us that we are doing God's work and not our own. Prayer reminds us that ultimately, God is in control.

Jesus tells his disciples at the beginning of today's gospel: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me." When we trust in God and in Jesus, we begin to realise that we cannot do everything. We realise that we are not superman or superwoman, and there are certain things and certain situations which we need to let God take care. When we pray, we are not saying that we are incompetent or incapable, but we are aware of our limitations and we trust that God, who is limitless, will do what is best for us and for the situation.

Today, let us increase our efforts in prayer and reflection. Let us let God be God and trust in Him, knowing that He will take care of things. Let us listen to His voice, and let Him take control. Let us remember that we can never do it alone, as all things are possible only with God.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Housekeeping - 4th Week of Easter

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

11 May 2014 - 4th Sunday of Easter Year A
12 May 2014 - Monday of the 4th Week of Easter
13 May 2014 - Tuesday of the 4th Week of Easter
14 May 2014 - Saint Matthias, Apostle - Feast
15 May 2014 - Thursday of the 4th Week of Easter
16 May 2014 - Friday of the 4th Week of Easter

Friday of the 4th Week of Easter

How much do we trust God? How much do we trust Jesus? We say we trust, but sometimes some of us resort to other ways to get what we want or to reassure or comfort us. Some of us go for feng shui, bomohs, shamans, medicine men, astrologers, etc., thinking that perhaps these may be able to help us, only to be disappointed later or we may end up worse than we initially were.

In today's Gospel, Jesus reassures us: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me." No matter how difficult or challenging the situation, Jesus can help us. We may not get the sort of help we expect or we may not get the help so quickly, but we will be helped according to what is best for us, since sometimes what we expect is not necessarily suitable or helpful. The question is: are we willing to let God take care of things, or are we always trying to be in control?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Thursday of the 4th Week of Easter

Are we doing our own thing, or are we doing God's thing? Are we building our own kingdom, or are we building God's Kingdom? Sometimes we may be doing things which may appear to glorify God, but in reality we are doing such things for our own benefit or to glorify ourselves. Today's Gospel reminds us of who we ought to be: "I tell you most solemnly, no servant is greater than his master, no messenger is greater than the man who sent him. Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly."

Sometimes in our lives, we may be behaving more like the master than the servant. When we treat others with contempt; when we lord it over others; when we think we are smarter, wiser or superior compared to others; when we misuse our authority; when we are biased towards certain people; then we may be doing our own thing instead of truly and unreservedly glorifying God. Let us discern and discover who we are and ought to be; and behave accordingly to gain true happiness.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Saint Matthias, Apostle - Feast

There are certain things that we do in church which require a certain amount of authority. For example, a church organisation such as the Liturgical Committee or RCIA team ought to have a chairperson or leader, so that the organisation would be properly represented in the church structure. If there are any matters concerning a particular organisation, the leader or chairperson would be informed, so that other members could also be informed.

This idea of proper authority and structure was also evident in ancient times. In today's reading, we see how the apostles eventually appointed Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot: "We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection."

Being an authority in church is certainly not easy, as one is called and chosen to be even more zealous in proclaiming the Good News. Notice here that one is not an authority through self-appointment. There is a danger that when a person is self-appointed, that person could be doing so for personal glory, personal gain, or personal gratification (syiok sendiri, as what some would say in Bahasa Malaysia).

In today's reading, we see how a person is chosen to a position of authority. In the reading: "Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles."

Notice here in the reading:
  1. There is nomination: The candidates are nominated, not self-appointed.
  2. There is prayer: Prayer is necessary so that a wise decision is made
  3. There is drawing of lots: voting or undi is performed. We hope and pray that this is done fairly and after proper discernment, and not because the candidate is a friend or advantageous to certain persons.
  4. There is listing or acceptance: The person who has received the most number of votes fairly is then listed as the person of authority.
Thus, let us be mindful of how we choose persons to positions of authority. Let us properly discern and seek God's help, so that those who are truly worthy to be in positions of authority are appointed. Such persons are appointed not to please others or for personal gain, but for the greater glory of God. May those among us chosen to be in positions of authority be continuously and consistently tireless in serving all and building God's Kingdom.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tuesday of the 4th Week of Easter

Do we belong to Jesus? Are we the sheep that belong to Jesus? Sometimes our attitudes and behaviour towards others seems to show that we belong to an exclusive group and only members of our group are significant or important. But today's Gospel reminds us, where Jesus said: "The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me." Jesus did not say, "the sheep that belong to me from a particular group..." So, if this is the case, all of us can be part of the sheep that belong to Jesus. Even in today's reading, we see how: "Some of them, however, who came from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch where they started preaching to the Greeks, proclaiming the Good News of the Lord Jesus to them as well. The Lord helped them, and a great number believed and were converted to the Lord."

Seeing that all of us are in equal footing in being the sheep that belong to Jesus, we should examine ourselves. How are we treating others who are different from us? Do we behave as brothers and sisters in Christ, as one children of God? Do we care and help others, without favouring particular persons, groups, etc.? Are we working together in building God's Kingdom?

Monday of the 4th Week of Easter

Some of us may be quite strongly entrenched in our ethnic group, tribal group or in some form of association, that our loyalty and obedience towards that group may be quite strong. This could lead to great clashes of differences between groups. Even among Christians, we still see some remnants of such segregation and allegience of groups in certain countries.

However, today's reading reminds us that as Christians, we should no longer be in division and allegiance to a particular group. We as Christians should be brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all God's children regardless of who we are and which ethnic group come from. Today's reading shows us that the Jews had come to a realisation that even pagans could be saved. The reading tells us: "This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God. ‘God’ they said ‘can evidently grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to life.’"

If God can grant repentance to all, why are some of we still stubbornly holding on to our ethnic group? Let us change our attitudes and behaviour towards others and live in unity with diversity as children of God, for God loves and cares for all.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

4th Sunday of Easter Year A

At some point or another, we may have strayed and gotten ourselves into a mess. Sometimes, we get ourselves into a bigger mess than we can handle. But no matter how bad the situation may seem, we have a shepherd whom we can turn to for help. Today's second reading reminds us that "Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow the way he took." Also, we are reminded that "you had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls." Christ is our shepherd and it is His voice that we should follow, since it is His voice that we ought to recognise.

Today's Gospel also reminds us that Christ is "the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture." The question is, are we listening to His voice and following only His voice? Or have we allowed ourselves to be distracted with other voices? Are we going through Christ, our gate? Or are we trying to take other shortcuts or routes, which could lead to dangerous situations?

Sometimes in life we may be tempted to listen to the various voices of the world. The world tells us different things, sometimes conflicting things, to confuse and subdue us. The world also gives us paths, routes and other avenues which may appear to be just as good as what Christ offers us, and yet, such other "gates" could only lead to our destruction. Are we still restless and stubborn, trying to find our own way? Or have we learnt be humble and open enough to listen to His voice, and go through His gate, where we will find rest and security for our souls?

Housekeeping - 3rd Week of Easter

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

4 May 2014 - 3rd Sunday of Easter Year A
5 May 2014 - Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter
6 May 2014 - Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Easter
7 May 2014 - Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter
8 May 2014 - Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter
9 May 2014 - Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Some of us may have experienced a conversion at some point of our lives. We may have been born in a family of a different faith, and due to some incident, occasion or experience, we may have decided to inquire further of the Christian faith. Then, after much study and reflection, some of us may have decided to be baptised.

Perhaps not many of us would have experienced the sort of conversion which Saul did in today's reading. Perhaps our conversion story may not have been so dramatic or phenomenal. But the fact is our conversion story must have been so significant or impacted our lives so much that we decided to eventually be baptised, or we may have decided to change our lives and live in a different way, hopefully closer to God. When we experienced a conversion, how did we feel? Were we excited and enthusiastic about the experience? Were we ready and willing to share our experience with others, with the hope that they too may experience conversion in their own way?

When we feel bogged down with challenges in life, perhaps we could recall our conversion stories as a source of inspiration, reminding us that God is moulding us and helping us to grow spiritually. Life is a struggle, but when we recall how God guided us to change our lives, we know that we can depend on His providence. Let us continue to trust and depend on Him. After all, if He can change Saul from a persecutor into a defender of the faith, how much more He can transform us into something better, if we offer ourselves to Him with trust and sincerity.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter

When we were baptised, how many of us rejoiced in receiving baptism? For those of us who were baptised as babies, perhaps we may not have been fully aware or understood what was going on. But for those who were baptised as adults, were we excited, joyful, happy, or enthusiastic? Today's reading tells us about the eunuch who was an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia. This eunuch went on his way rejoicing after receiving baptism from Philip. We may not know what happened to the eunuch after this, but from his joyful exuberance, we could guess that he would have continued to spread the Good News in his homeland Ethiopia.

We too are called to go forth to preach the Good News, since our baptism makes a children of God and surely we should be excited to share this Good News with others. Our baptism is not meant to be kept for ourselves only, but we should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world so that others would come to know and accept Jesus. Are we doing our part? Or have we allowed ourselves to slack and become complacent towards our duty?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter

When we are faced with bitter persecution, what would we do? Would we continue to keep the faith and stand our ground? Would we continue to keep the faith but go elsewhere to proclaim it, since it would have been not possible to continue proclaiming it in one's present location? Or would some of us abandon our faith to save our skin and protect our interests?

In today's reading, we read "a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria." At first instance, we may think that only the apostles were still keeping the faith. But if we read further, we would discover that "those who had escaped went from place to place preaching the Good News." The disciples may have made a run for it, but they were doing so, so that the faith could be preserved and taught elsewhere, despite facing persecution. If we are faced with similar persecution, would we still be fervant and steadfast just as these disciples and the apostles were, some remaining to keep the church alive in Jerusalem, others going elsewhere to spread the Good News?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Easter

It seems strange that some of us would go through great effort to find the best or most delicious food or drink in this world. Some of us would travel many great distances just to taste and enjoy something which only lasts for a short while. No matter how wonderful or delicious or tasty the food or drink may be, we will eventually be hungry or thirsty again. The food which we get to nourish our physical bodies will not last.

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us of a different kind of food and drink. He says: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst." This kind of food is able to satisfy us completely, not just physically, but especially spiritually. Some of us may have been running around trying to satisfy only our physical needs, but how much effort have we been making to satisfy our spiritual needs? Which is ultimately more important to us? Let us be prudent and wise in doing what is necessary so that we will never be hungry or thirsty.

Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Lies and jealousy are sins which some may have committed due to personal pride. Some of us feel insecure and do not want to lose out or want to appear to be greater than we really are. Some of us may become extremely jealous of other people's accomplishments or abilities, and we may begin to spread lies or other forms of false information just to belittle or put down others. This is exactly what happened to those certain people in today's reading, who came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom and what did they do? They procured some men to bear false witness against Stephen; then having in this way turned the people against him as well as the elders and scribes, they took Stephen by surprise, and arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. People can do evil and despicable things, when they are blinded by jealousy and lies.

Are we just as guilty in being jealous and spreading lies in this way, just to make ourselves look good and to protect our interests? Is our face or pride more important to us in this temporary life? Sometimes the truth may come out and the lies we spread would be exposed, and to try and cover up further, we may end up lying more or committing even greater sins. How much more can we avoid the truth? May we be wise enough to finally accept ourselves as we really are, and be humble enough to be truthful to ourselves and to others

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

3rd Sunday of Easter Year A

Giving up seems to be the easiest thing to do for some people. People give up due to a number of reasons. Some do so because they lack confidence or strength. Some because of circumstances which they think are beyond their control. Some feel that the effort is just not worth it in the long run. Others feel dejected, and may even despair, thinking that all hope is gone. However, if we examine the motives of some people as to why they give up, we may begin to discover that some of the real reasons why they do so may be because they do not want to take responsibility for the situation or task, or perhaps they feel that their pride is at stake, or that their reputation is more important to them, and would rather salvage what they can instead of risking things further.

The two disciples on the way to Emmaus in today's Gospel were walking away from Jerusalem, walking away from the situation at hand. They were giving up, thinking that there was nothing left for them to cling on to. But even though they had given up on Jesus, Jesus did not give up on them. Jesus walks along with them and helps them slowly but surely to realise that there is hope. Eventually, the fire within them which at first seemed to have sizzled out started burning again. They became aware again of their mission and they responsibilities to bear witness to the Good News.

We may at some point of our lives felt abandoned due to our failings, due to the many sins we may have committed. Some of us may begin to think that we are unworthy and therefore start missing Mass. However, it is at the Mass, which we try to avoid, that we are actually healed and strengthened. It is at the Mass that Jesus speaks to us from the readings in the bible; that Jesus breaks bread and opens our eyes to his presence in the Eucharist and in all around us; that Jesus will strengthen us and send us forth to bring the good news to all. It is at the Mass that we become aware that Jesus is always there walking next to us, guiding us and giving us hope.

If some of us are feeling like giving up, like there is no hope, remember this: Jesus is there. We may not see Him, but He is there. He is there at the Mass and He is inviting all to come and be nourished and strenghtened. He wants you to come closer to Him and let Him heal you and rekindle the fire in your hearts. Do not be afraid. The hearts of the two disciples at Emmaus were set aflame with new vigour, new zeal, new enthusiasm, because they opened their hearts to Jesus. Let us too open our hearts to Jesus.