Sunday, 31 May 2015

Housekeeping - 1st Week of Lent

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

14 Feb 2016 - 1st Sunday of Lent Year C
15 Feb 2016 - Monday of the 1st Week of Lent
16 Feb 2016 - Tuesday of the 1st Week of Lent
17 Feb 2016 - Wednesday of the 1st Week of Lent
18 Feb 2016 - Thursday of the 1st Week of Lent
19 Feb 2016 - Friday of the 1st Week of Lent

1st Sunday of Lent Year C

Most of us know that the ways of the world and the ways of God are different. For example, what the world sees as success is different from what God sees as success. According to the world, a person is successful if one has tremendous amounts of money, property and wealth, as well as power and popularity. People in the world would generally hardly take notice of you if you are poor, weak or unpopular, since in their mind, you would not have anything to offer them or you are of no use or advantage to them.

In today's Gospel, we see the contrast between the ways of the world and the ways of God. Jesus was tempted by the devil to succumb to possessions, power and popularity, all of which are worldly matters. The devil tried to tempt Jesus to change the stones into bread, which is the temptation to place one's trust in riches, possessions and objects, as if such things are all that matters in our lives. The devil tried to tempt Jesus with power, by giving the impression and illusion that if we are in control of our lives, control of organizations, or control of other people; basically if we are in control generally, then we would be somebody important. The devil also tried to tempt Jesus with popularity, by doing things or performing feats which would attract the crowd and make one seem famous. But as we would later note, Jesus did perform miracles but never to show off or to make himself popular.

Such temptations are certainly challenging to overcome, but Jesus rejected all these temptations because none of them could take away the fact that He is the Son of God. Jesus is showing us that God loves us no matter who or what we are. We do not need to prove our importance by acquiring riches, power and popularity. Being God's sons and daughters is all that we would ever want and need. In the first reading, Moses reminded the Israelites of their history and their identity. They were 'nobodies' or 'slaves.' But God gave them an identity by saving them, giving them a land which they could call home and made them His people. Without God they had no identity, no freedom, no riches, no importance. Only with God did they and us too become sombodies. Only with God would we find happiness and contentment.

Thus, if we are still caught up with the ways of the world, let us pray that we would learn to let go and let God be in control. Let us pray for God's grace to resist all forms of temptations, knowing that they can never grant us eternal happiness. What matters is we find happiness and everlasting life in our loving God.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Housekeeping - Week 5 Year 2

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

7 Feb 2016 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
8 Feb 2016 - Monday of Week 5 Year 2
9 Feb 2016 - Tuesday of Week 5 Year 2
10 Feb 2016 - Ash Wednesday
11 Feb 2016 - Thursday after Ash Wednesday
12 Feb 2016 - Friday after Ash Wednesday

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

In life, we often come across different situations where some level of risk is involved. For example, when we buy shares or unit trusts, we are taking a risk with our money, since the shares or unit trusts could increase in value, or even go bust totally. When we get into a relationship, we are also taking some risk, since we would not be able to tell whether such a relationship will lead to a life-long one or would eventually lead to a break-up. It does not matter how big or small the risk may be, but most of us would need to face some form of risk in one way or another. The problem is, we do come across some people who are afraid of taking risks. It seems much easier doing things that are familiar than it is to do something which is new. Why are some people so afraid to take risks? Because what some of us actually fear is failure. We fear that we will not be able to finish what we have started; or we will not get the results we desired; or that others will laugh at us for our stupidity or incapabilities; or that if we fail in this task, we would also fail for the rest of our lives.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is inviting all of us to take courage and take risks. In the Gospel, Jesus told Peter to "put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch." Peter would have found such an instruction difficult to follow, since he had already failed to catch any fish after trying so hard. After we have failed, some of us often are hesitant to try again and become discouraged. We try to avoid making the same mistakes and try to do something else which we believe would lead to a better chance of success. However, Peter chose to take the risk again, and as a result, he succeeded in catching so many fish that two boats were filled to sinking point. What does this mean to us? It means that being a Christian means being willing to take risks. When people are invited or asked to become a catechist, a BEC coordinator or a leader in some ministry, many often decline, giving all sorts of excuses or reasons. Some say that they have no time; or they feel that they have enough responsibilities (even though in reality, they are not doing anything for the church); or that they do not have the necessary abilities. But the real reason is the fear of failure and being unwilling to take risks. If we are going to avoid taking risks, are we making ourselves armchair Christians, only knowing how to comment or criticise but afraid and refusing to do our part? Is this what Christianity is really all about to some of us?

Today, we are called to discipleship. It is not enough to just be a Sunday Christian and not get involved. It is not enough just to come to Church or to pray. All of us are called to be disciples, not just a select few. Contrary to what some of us may think, a disciple is not one who doesn't make mistakes, since he does make mistakes from time to time; he or she is not someone who will always succeed in everything that he or she does, since a true disciple experiences failures just like everyone else; he or she is not perfect, but far from perfect, since he or she has many weaknesses and struggles just like everyone else. Instead, a disciple is one who is prepared and able to take risks because he has developed a deep relationship with Jesus. He or she trusts Jesus enough to be able to place his or her own fate in the hands of the Lord. A disciple may be weak or seem not so skilful or qualified, but believes and has confidence that all is possible with the grace and help of God. A disciple constantly turns to God for forgiveness and mercy, and recognises his or her own sinfulness. In other words, a disciple is willing to give his or her all, come what may, because he or she trusts and depends on God for His help and providence. Today, Jesus is calling us and telling us: "Do not be afraid, from now on it is men you will catch." Are we willing to take the risk and follow Him?

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Housekeeping - Week 4 Year 2

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

31 Jan 2016 - 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
1 Feb 2016 - Monday of Week 4 Year 2
2 Feb 2016 - Presentation of the Lord
3 Feb 2016 - Wednesday of Week 4 Year 2
4 Feb 2016 - Thursday of Week 4 Year 2
5 Feb 2016 - Friday of Week 4 Year 2

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Throughout sacred scripture, we have come across many different prophets. Some of us may recall them by name and even quote some of the things they may have said. Even today, we come across some people who claim to be prophets. Sometimes their claims are true, other times their claims turn out to be false. But if we consider a moment: who is a prophet? How do we discern whether a person is a prophet or not? A prophet is a messenger, mouthpiece or spokesman of God. He comes to recognise the will of God for his time, that is, what God is trying to say to His people in a certain time, under certain circumstances and in a certain place. A prophet is not one who keeps silent, but is expected to receive and proclaim the message of God. If the prophet fails to proclaim the message or shirks his responsibility, God will raise other prophets to undertake the task.

Being a prophet is not easy and is certainly not a joke or a laughing matter. Sometimes, the prophet is asked to give a message of hope and encouragement to God's people. Other times, the prophet is given the task to challenge and condemn the people for their sinfulness, by being the conscience of the nation. This causes the prophet to face opposition and rejection, since everyone likes to hear praises and words of encouragement and no one likes to hear criticism. But such criticism is necessary for us to grow. If we are not open to criticism and are not honest with ourselves, we would then be blind to where God wants to lead us.

When we look at today's Gospel, we are reminded that Jesus speaks of the many prophets in Israel's history who were rejected by their own people and sometimes welcomed by others. Jesus too is such a prophet, and since He chose to reprimand his listeners in today's Gospel, Jesus too is rejected. The Word of God is a double-edged sword which cuts both ways. We must be prepared to hear words of encouragement as well as words that would challenge our present way of life. But are we willing and humble enough to do so?

Fulfilling a prophetic role is certainly difficult, since no one wants to be the bad guy. It seems much easier to talk about people behind their backs then to confront them. As a prophetic people, we are called to confront and challenge each other. Confrontation does not mean that we have no love. Instead, love is the reason why we must confront and act the prophet. In the second reading, we are reminded that love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, never boastful or conceited, or rude or selfish. A prophet is not someone who is harsh, mean, wicked and heartless, but so full of love for God and His people that he is prepared to risk being rejected by his own people and face the consequences of speaking the truth. May we willingly, patiently and humbly accept the challenge to become prophets, with love as our motivation, since without love, we cannot be true prophets, but we may only end up as complainers and critics. Let us pray for the strength and courage to speak the truth with love.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Housekeeping - Week 3 Year 2

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

24 Jan 2016 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
25 Jan 2016 - Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle - Feast
26 Jan 2016 - SS. Timothy & Titus, Bishops - Memorial
27 Jan 2016 - Wednesday of Week 3 Year 2
28 Jan 2016 - Thursday of Week 3 Year 2
29 Jan 2016 - Friday of Week 3 Year 2

SS. Timothy & Titus, Bishops - Memorial

Many of us became Christians when we were baptised as babies. Some of us became Christians when we were baptised as adults. But whatever the circumstances may be, we are Christians and as Christians, Jesus has commissioned us to go forth and proclaim the Good News. This is not merely a request, but a command, an order, a duty. We should not be shy or timid in fulfilling our duty, as St. Paul in today's reading reminds us: "That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy."

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Have we become complacent or comfortable with our lives, that proclaiming the Good News has become less and less important? Have we become more and more attracted to the ways of the world, and forgotten or ignored or feel ashamed of witnessing to the Lord? May we with renewed zeal and vigour fan into a flame the gift that God has given us, and fearlessly and enthusiastically share His Good News with all around us, remembering that ultimately, our lives are meant to give glory to God.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle - Feast

Whenever we encounter a person who is known to be notorious for persecuting Christians, what would we do? Perhaps some of us may try to avoid such a person at all costs. Some of us may pray that God would protect us from such a person. Some of us may even petition to God that such a person have a change of heart and stop such persecutions.

But sometimes, God can do something beyond our expectations. In the case of Saul, whose conversion we celebrate today, he was transformed from a fierce persecutor of Christians, to a fierce defender of the Christian faith. Saul became known as Paul, and he suffered much to bring the Christian faith to the gentiles, the very Christian faith he had once so enthusiatically persecuted.

If God can change a person from a monster to a saint, just imagine what He can do to us. We have seen the wonders He has done time and again, transforming people who many thought to be beyond hope, to something better for His glory. May we have faith and trust in our loving God, knowing that He will take care of things for us, for His glory.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

It is interesting to observe how some families arrange their family altars at their homes. They would usually have a statue of Mother Mary or Jesus at a prominent place on the family altar, some rosary beads, and quite often a bible placed prominently on a stand, opened to a particular chapter and verse which may be the favourite of the family members. But the bible is not meant only to be a decorative item on the family altar, or to be kept in the study. The bible is meant to be read, and its words are meant to nurture us spiritually.

When we go for Mass, we are not only going for nourishment from the Eucharist during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are also receiving nourishment from God's Word during the Liturgy of the Word. The question is: Do you really pay attention to the readings or are you just waiting to receive Holy Communion? If we have not paid attention to the readings during the Liturgy of the Word or taken the trouble to read and study the bible, we may have left out an important aspect of the Mass, that is the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of the Word is no less important than the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as both are equally important. Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament as well as in the word proclaimed during the first half of the Mass.

In today's Gospel, we are reminded that Jesus is the Word of God who has come "to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour." If we have not paid attention to the readings every Sunday, we may have lost out on these promises. If we are not making effort to hear God's word, we may be hearing only 'bad news' which society and our experiences choke us each day. The Good News is that in spite of all the evil that we see, hear and experience around us, God's salvation is far greater; and that Jesus, the Word of God, has conquered evil and death. Those who fail to listen to God's word continue to be imprisoned by fear and uncertainty; but Jesus promised us that He has come to proclaim liberty to the captives, and He can free us if we listen to Him. Those who fail to listen to God’s word will continue to be blind to our own mistakes and our sinfulness; but Jesus has come to set us free and give us back our sight if we cling on to His words. We are free and are able to see, if we listen to God's word and act upon it.

So what does this mean to us? It means that we should make more effort to pay attention to the Word of God. The Word of God must have a central and prominent place within the community and also be the basis of our lives. It is not enough to merely recite prayers and attend Mass. We must read and study the bible, and listen attentively to the Word of God at Mass, so that the Word of God can become our daily guide and find fulfillment in our lives. May we find spiritual nourishment from Jesus through His Word and through the Eucharist, and share His Good News to all around us.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Housekeeping - Week 2 Year 2

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

17 Jan 2016 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
18 Jan 2016 - Monday of Week 2 Year 2
19 Jan 2016 - Tuesday of Week 2 Year 2
20 Jan 2016 - Wednesday of Week 2 Year 2
21 Jan 2016 - Thursday of Week 2 Year 2
22 Jan 2016 - Friday of Week 2 Year 2

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Each and every one of us have got abilities and talents which are unique to us. We do not have any duplicates as we are made different and special in the image of God. As St. Paul in the second reading tells us: "There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people; it is the same God who is working in all of them." This means that, no matter how much talent or how little talent we may have, all these talents are meant for us to glorify God, not to be kept to ourselves. But the question is: Do we see a variety of gifts manifested in different ways in our parish? Do we see God's spirit working in our parish through the many people who volunteer for ministry? Are you using your gift for the service of the community and the church?

God has given each and every one of us talents and abilities to help the church and the Christian community grow and mature. The issue is, we sometimes fail God and the community, especially when we do not acknowledge our gifts and the gifts of others in the community. A community can only flourish if its members are able to recognise their own gifts and affirm the gifts of others. A community is in danger of disintegrating when its members are only always expecting something from others and are not prepared to give or share; when its members are constantly criticising and finding fault with one another; when the gifts of its members are suppressed rather than identified and nurtured; and figuratively speaking, when the wine runs out.

In today's gospel, we are reminded of the story of the wedding at Cana. This joyous occasion nearly ended in disaster because they ran out of wine. Sometimes in our churches, we see the same people serving in church year in year out without any successor, any change or new blood. We begin to think that the wine is also running out as there seems to be no new leaders and no new members. In the old testament, the Israelites also thought that the destruction of their country meant the end of everything. But such thinking is wrong, since Isaiah in the first reading gives a message of hope. All is not lost because God will redeem them. This led the Israelites to realise that glory and blessings came from God alone. Only God can ensure that the wine will never run out.

So what do we need to do? We should realise that our Christian community still has plenty of chances to grow and become stronger. We must recognise that we need a conversion of heart. We need to put God back into the center of our lives. If we have become complacent and satisfied with what we have, its time to wake up. It’s not enough to maintain the things that we have or remain as status quo. The community and the church must grow, and we must encourage and nurture new leaders and new members to eventually take over; otherwise, our community will eventually die. Let us pray that our community will be renewed by the Holy Spirit and that we will recognise our gifts and the gifts of others, and how we can use these gifts to serve the church and for the glory of God.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Housekeeping - Baptism of the Lord & Week 1 Year 2

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

10 Jan 2016 - Baptism of the Lord
11 Jan 2016 - Monday of Week 1 Year 2
12 Jan 2016 - Tuesday of Week 1 Year 2
13 Jan 2016 - Wednesday of Week 1 Year 2
14 Jan 2016 - Thursday of Week 1 Year 2
15 Jan 2016 - Friday of Week 1 Year 2

Housekeeping - Epiphany

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

3 Jan 2016 - Epiphany
4 Jan 2016 - Monday after Epiphany
5 Jan 2016 - Tuesday after Epiphany
6 Jan 2016 - Wednesday after Epiphany
7 Jan 2016 - Thursday after Epiphany
8 Jan 2016 - Friday after Epiphany

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Epiphany

Great events come and go, and sometimes the people who should be aware and recognise such great events end up ignoring or failing to recognise such great events. One reason why they fail to do so is because of their mentality or way of thinking. Some people think that great events only happen in great or important places. Such people are unable to comprehend or accept such great events happening in what they perceive to be lowly or insignificant places. But sometimes, great events do happen in the most unlikely or least expected places.

We know that the Jews were supposed to be God's chosen people. They were supposed to have been aware of the events that took place in the scriptures and the various prophecies foretold. However, it was the gentiles, the Magi, who recognised a great event instead. The Jews were ignorant and failed to recognise such a great event, possibly because they were so used to thinking about their religion in fixed ways. In their mind, God is found on sacred mountains, in the Temple and in holy places. The Messiah being such a great figure in the prophecies must be born into wealth and power. They were not prepared to accept the fact that God may choose to be born in a stable. Sometimes we too may be so fixed in our ways of thinking and are not open to new ideas. Whenever someone has an idea or suggestion, we shoot it down with our pessimism. Because of this attitude, we stifle growth and change and also put obstacles in the way God is trying to reveal His will to us.

Today's Gospel challenges us to recognise the stars, especially the star that led the wise men or Magi to Jesus. Our God is a God of surprises and we must be open to Him choosing the way in which He wishes to reveal Himself. Whenever we follow the star, a sign from God, a new idea or a new direction, we may not know where it will lead us. Instead, we are asked to walk by faith, knowing and trusting that God will be there to help and guide us along the way. There may be times that we feel like giving up or we may encounter other distractions. But if we get lost, there is always the star to remind us of our direction and destination. The star isn’t our destination but points to us the way to Jesus, the Light of the World, who has come to show us the way to the Father. May we humbly and joyfully follow Jesus, our star, and remain in His care and love.

Housekeeping - Holy Family & Christmas Octave

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

27 Dec 2015 - Holy Family
28 Dec 2015 - The Holy Innocents, Martyrs - Feast
29 Dec 2015 - 5th day within the octave of Christmas
30 Dec 2015 - 6th day within the octave of Christmas
31 Dec 2015 - 7th day within the octave of Christmas
1 Jan 2016 -  Mary, Mother of God - Solemnity

Friday, 22 May 2015

5th day within the octave of Christmas

We live in a world where things are changing in an alarming rate. We have become so used to having things done quickly, that when something breaks down or slows down due to some reason or another, we become quite agitated and impatient. Some of us begin to grumble and even curse, thinking that such delays would ruin our timing. "Hurry!" "Quickly!" "Get out of my way!" These are some of the expressions we use, in our effort to get things done or get what we want. But life is such that sometimes, we have no choice but to wait or slow down, since there are many other things in life that we cannot rush. For example, we cannot rush through a pregnancy, since it takes time for a foetus to grow and develop into a baby. Also, we cannot rush through earning a degree, since it would be impossible for us to learn everything at one go.

In today's Gospel, we come across another example of learning the meaning of patience and perseverance in waiting. Simeon was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. Even though Simeon was already quite old, he would not see death and had to wait until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Instead of getting all worked up and impatient, Simeon waited with confidence and humility, and when he finally had the chance to see Jesus, he took Him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: "Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel."

Are we willing to be patient and wait just like Simeon did? Sometimes the waiting could result in a better outcome or experience. It is a question of how much we trust in God and how humble and willing we are to let Him be our help and guide.

Dec 28 - The Holy Innocents, Martyrs - Feast

Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. Sometimes, paranoia can cause a person to commit greater sins such as to kill, either through character assassination or even physically, in an attempt to get rid of what one irrationally perceives to be threat.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The Holy Innocents were martyred or killed because King Herod was a paranoid and insanely jealous man. He was constantly worried and paranoid that he would lose his throne, since the Romans had given him the throne as a gift, and the Romans could just as easily take it away and give it to someone else. This led King Herod to irrationally see Jesus as a threat to his sovereignty and power, and Jesus had to be exterminated to protect his interests. Since he did not know what Jesus look like and where Jesus was, he decided 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. Have we forgotten that our ultimate purpose is to glorify God in all we do? Why are some of us so easily paranoid and jealous? May we come to realise that our paranoia and jealousy stems from our ego and pride, and learn to walk humbly in God's presence.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Housekeeping - 4th Week of Advent & Christmas

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

20 Dec 2015 - 4th Sunday of Advent Year C
21 Dec 2015 - 21 December - Season of Advent
22 Dec 2015 - 22 December - Season of Advent
23 Dec 2015 - 23 December - Season of Advent
24 Dec 2015 - Christmas Eve - Midnight Mass
25 Dec 2015 - Christmas Day - Mass During the Day

Christmas Day - Mass During the Day

In ancient times, people were not able to communicate effectively and clearly because they depended on basic sounds and symbols. Later, words were formed and eventually, languages emerged. This made it much easier for people to express themselves and share ideas, thoughts and other things. Words enable us to learn about things that we have never seen and about places that we have never been. In other words, words give us new life.

Today, we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Today’s Gospel tells us about the Word being the "true light." Since Jesus is the Word, He is therefore that true light of hope, knowledge, justice and peace that enlightens all men. He is the light and the Word that has come into the world and has overcome the darkness of our selfishness, ego, pride, violence, hatred, anger and sin that is in the world.

Let us therefore give thanks to God for the Word has become flesh, God has become man, so that we have life in Him. Let us not keep this Good News of this Word to ourselves, but go forth and proclaim it and share it with others, since as the Gospel tells us: "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." May we joyfully and enthusiastically His witnesses and give Him the glory.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Christmas Eve - Midnight Mass

Are you really interested in the nativity of Jesus? Many of you may say you are, but how do you show that you are interested? Some of us may have been busy with our work, clearing up end of the year matters. Some of us may have been busy looking for nice and expensive presents at shopping malls, sometimes spending hours searching and identifying gifts for our friends and loved ones, and then having to endure long queues to pay for such gifts. Some of us may have been busy cooking and cleaning the house, so that there would be a nice meal for our families to enjoy and the house is spic and span. How many of us have been busy growing in our spiritual lives, and being loving and charitable towards the poor, the marginalised and others in need?

In the midst of all our busy-ness and the hustle and bustle going on around us, we may have forgotten the main reason why we are celebrating Christmas. We may have not noticed the poor, the marginalised, the sick, those facing persecution, and many others that society seems to avoid. If Jesus were to be born today, He would not be found in a palace, or some big hospital, or among the glitter and decorations at the shopping malls, or some other fancy place. Nobody would notice Jesus in such places anyhow, since there are so many other distractions and attractions around, and the rich and the powerful are too busy with their own affairs to actually take notice of an event such as this. It is the poor who take notice and recognise Jesus' coming because their daily lives depend on God’s providence. Have we learnt to be like the poor and noticed the nativity of Jesus, or have we become more and more like everyone else, concerned with ourselves and our loved ones?

Today, the angels proclaimed a beautiful message to all of us: "Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord … Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour." If our lives are so cluttered up by riches, ambition, greed, pride, or power, it is quite possible that we will be deaf to the song of the angels. But if today you also come to recognise that you are poor, that you are also broken, that you are weak, and that you need God, then you may not only listen to the message of the angels, but you would also be overjoyed and excited to share this wonderful message with others. May we refocus our lives towards Jesus, and bring the joy of Christmas to all around us.

22 December - Season of Advent

Some of us like to be recognised for what we have accomplished. When we have done our work well or met certain targets, we expect to be amply praised and rewarded. Some of us like to take credit for even those things we have not anything, but just because we may have had some say, no matter how small it may be, we expect to be acknowledged. Some even go so far as to claim credit for helping another person make it in the world, even though in reality, the person may have gotten to where he or she is without help or advice from others.

But today's Gospel gives a quite a different picture of giving credit and recognition. In the Gospel, Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid." Here, Mary was giving credit entirely to God. She recognised that she was nothing without God's providence and help, and she gave glory to God instead of trying to take credit for saying "yes" to God. What about us? Could we ever be like Mary, giving all glory and honour to God?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

21 December - Season of Advent

In Facebook or Instagram or one of those social media sites commonly used today, we sometimes come across pictures of people leaping for joy into the air, with their hands raised and their feet off the ground. Usually such people who attempt such feats are young people, who are able to do so without fear of injury. Nevertheless, it is quite interesting to see such young people doing such things, as it portrays great joy or exuberance, possibly over some significant event, though at times, some young people just go ahead and do it for fun.

In today's Gospel, the child in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, as soon as Elizabeth heard Mother Mary's greeting. Even in the womb, this child whom we would later be introduced as John the Baptist, was already aware of Jesus' presence, long before any of them was born. If such unborn could recognise God's presence, what about us? Do we leap for joy when we are in the presence of God? Or have we taken for granted His presence? May we rediscover and recognise the significance and sacredness of God's presence in our lives, and continue to leap for joy for the Lord is here to help and guide us.

4th Sunday of Advent Year C

As humans, I believe most of us long or desire for peace, peace not only in our families, society and the world, but also peace in ourselves. But the reality is that we live in a world where conflicts and misunderstandings are becoming part and parcel of life. As time goes by, we seem to see more and more violence, hatred and wars, as well as problems occurring not only in society but also in our own families. Some of us may start to think that peace is only a dream or an illusion, and that peace can never be attained.

But let us ask ourselves sincerely: Do we really understand what peace means? Peace is not merely an absence of violence and conflict. Peace is possible even in the midst of conflict, since peace is not only what we experience externally but something that must take root in our hearts. If there is no peace in our hearts, we can never experience peace outside of ourselves. We experience conflict in our hearts, simply because we constantly want to have things according to our ways, in other words, we want to be in control. The problem with wanting things according to our ways is that sometimes we are never in control of the situation. When we don’t get things our way, we become unhappy and won’t have peace in our hearts. The only way in which we can find peace is to allow God to take control of our lives. In the second reading, we are reminded of Christ, who came to obey the will of God the Father. When we come to realise that God's ways are not our ways, and we are willing to surrender our lives to God, then we will have peace in our hearts.

So how do we start having or initiating peace? One way could be found in today's Gospel: by offering and accepting hospitality. When we offer hospitality to one another just like Mary and Elizabeth offered hospitality and friendship to one another, peace takes place. It is when we refuse to offer hospitality to another person or when we refuse the hospitality given by another person that causes the lack of peace. We don’t need to accomplish great things or wait for great events that cause peace to take place. Peace can be a possibility today, when we are willing give or receive a simple word of encouragement, a kind act, a loving offer of help. Peace begins when each and every one of us believe we can make a difference, beginning with ourselves, and we are humble and willing to let the Lord be our help and guide, since as the first reading reminds us: "He himself will be peace."

Some of us may feel overwhelmed, thinking that we are only one person. What can one person do, some may ask. What is important to note here is that we should not worry or fret. We can make a difference, especially when we allow God to take control of our lives, when we are willing to surrender our lives to Him. When we do this, we will find peace, peace even in the midst of problems and difficulties. As we prepare to welcome Jesus, our Prince of Peace, this coming Christmas, may we continue to depend on God's care and providence, and experience true peace only He can give.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Housekeeping - 3rd Week of Advent

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

13 Dec 2015 - 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C
14 Dec 2015 - Monday of the 3rd Week of Advent
15 Dec 2015 - Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Advent
16 Dec 2015 - Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Advent
17 Dec 2015 - 17 December - Season of Advent
18 Dec 2015 - 18 December - Season of Advent

Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Advent

When a person is imprisoned in a dark cell for quite a while, the person may sometimes lose track of reality or what is actually taking place outside. Sometimes, the person's mind could start playing tricks on him or her, and it could be quite a challenge to remain sane and cheerful. This may have been the case with John the Baptist, to the point that he began to wonder whether Jesus is really the messiah or not. Perhaps John the Baptist may not have fully understood what sort of messiah Jesus really was, so that is why he summoned two of his disciples, and sent them to the Lord to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?'

Jesus reassured John that He is the messiah by giving this response to John the Baptist: "Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me." Jesus is not the kind of messiah which some may have expected, certainly not a political messiah which some may have hoped would rescue Israel from Roman oppresion, but Jesus is the kind of messiah which brings salvation and forgiveness of sins to the world. In a way, Jesus was helping John to understand that John had prepared the way for spiritual salvation to all, and not wonder, lose faith or doubt any longer, but trust and believe in Him.

What about us? Have we had doubts or wondered whether Jesus is really going to save us from our sins? When we face difficulties, persecution or problems, some of us may have been tempted to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?' Let us set aside any doubts in our minds, and put our trust and confidence in Jesus, knowing that He is truly our messiah and He will be our help and guide.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Advent

Throughout our lives, we have been given plenty of opportunities to change and experience a conversion, so that we may grow closer to God. However, we are not forced to change, since we have a choice to grow closer to God, or to remain as we are. Of course, we should know that our time on this earth is short, and we do not know when we would be called to face the Lord. No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape judgement, and hopefully during our lifetime on this earth, we had been maintaining a good and healthy relationship with God and with others.

However, there are still some among us who seem to think that we have plenty of time to change, or that we have become so preoccupied with earthly things, that we have neglected our spiritual life and our soul. This is where prophet Zephaniah in today's reading warns us: "Trouble is coming to the rebellious, the defiled, the tyrannical city! She would never listen to the call, would never learn the lesson; she has never trusted in the Lord, never drawn near to her God." Let us not be caught unprepared or under the illusion that all would be well, since trouble will come to us if we are not ready to meet the Lord. Are we risking our eternal future through our neglect or "tidak apa" or "don't care" attitude?

3rd Sunday of Advent Year C

Christmas is soon to come and many of us may be increasingly joyful, hopefully not because of the gifts we may soon receive, nor because of the delicious food and drink we may soon savour and enjoy, but because the Lord is very near and our salvation is near. This is emphasised by St. Paul in the second reading, where he tells us: "I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near." Waiting for the coming of Lord does not mean we should sit around being idle or lazy, but we need to take action and experience a conversion. The different groups of people in today's Gospel had asked John the Baptist what they must do, and he told them and us too, that we must share with those who are needy; be just and fair in our dealings; refrain from intimidation and extortion to acquire what we want; and be satisfied with what we have. This means that, while we await the coming of Christ, we should not be aloof, selfish or greedy and think only of ourselves or our own needs and wants. Instead, we as Christians are called to put others first before ourselves.

But sometimes, some of us find it difficult to be generous or to share. We are reluctant to share, possibly because we are worried that there may be not enough for us. This is where St. Paul once again reminds us "that there is no need for worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus." This means that God will take care of us and be our providence, and we will always have enough, since God can fulfil our every heart's desire, fill the emptiness in our hearts, and satisfy our deepest longings. Only God can be our source of eternal joy.

Let us therefore allow God to fill our lives with His love, joy and peace. In the first reading, the prophet Zephaniah reminds us that our God is "a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival." When we let God be the center of our lives, nothing can take away the joy of being his son and daughter. Let us also bring this joy to all that we meet, so that all may know true joy and give praise to God.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Housekeeping - 2nd Week of Advent

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

6 Dec 2015 - 2nd Sunday of Advent Year C
7 Dec 2015 - Monday of the 2nd Week of Advent
8 Dec 2015 - The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Solemnity
9 Dec 2015 - Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Advent
10 Dec 2015 - Thursday of the 2nd Week of Advent
11 Dec 2015 - Friday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Monday of the 2nd Week of Advent

How many of us have got steadfast and great faith that Jesus would be able to help us and heal us? Some of us say that we have faith, but when help or healing does not happen, we begin to doubt and begin to look for other ways or means of help. Some of us say we have faith, but in our minds we are already having a defeatist attitude, thinking that we are only kidding ourselves. How many of us are willing to be patient and let Jesus do what is best for us, for the glory of God?

In today's Gospel, the paralysed man was fortunate to have friends who had great faith in Jesus. They had so much faith in Jesus that they were even willing to take the trouble and: "went up on to the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus." This is because "the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in." Because of the great faith of such friends, the paralysed man was cured.

If people could have such great faith in Jesus and go through so much trouble to help the paralysed man be cured, what about us? Are we willing to put aside our fears, our doubts, and our insecurities and let Jesus be our help and guide? Do we not trust in God's providence? Let us be persistent and consistent in trusting God, since He can help us according to His terms and for His glory.

Friday, 15 May 2015

2nd Sunday of Advent Year C

There are some among us who have used the words "happiness" and "joy" so often, that the meaning may have become lost in translation. There is actually a huge difference between joy and happiness. You can experience joy without feeling happy, but you can’t experience happiness without being joyful. Happiness is a feeling that changes with the emotions we have in a day, but joy is a constant state of being that we choose. Happiness is an outward expression of a feeling we have inside, while joy is an inward peace and contentment that expresses itself through our responses and reactions. So, though we may be experiencing trials and sufferings in our faith life, we can still experience true or perfect joy, which we also call as Christian joy, since as the second reading tells us, God "who began this good work in you will see that it is finished when the Day of Christ Jesus comes." It is a joy based on what God can do instead of what we can achieve.

Christian joy is a choice, a decision based on faith and hope, knowing that God will not abandon us, no matter what happens. God did not promise us an easy life, but that He will be with us at all times, and God is faithful to what He has promised. In today's Gospel, we read the fulfillment of one such promise, where "All mankind shall see the salvation of God." Jesus is the salvation of God, promised from of old and He is the source of our joy and our hope. If we believe that Jesus is our salvation, then we should remain joyful, and not live lives as if we are defeated or victims of tragedy. Though we may have undergone failure, experienced pain, disappointment, challenges and encountered all sorts of other difficulties or problems, our joy lies in knowing that God has won the victory for us. We may not see the signs of God’s victory at the moment, but it is there. This is God's promise and He is always faithful.

So we cannot just sit down and sulk or do nothing. We must do our part. We must prepare a way for the Lord, by having a conversation in our lives. St. Paul in the second reading prays that "your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognise what is best. This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God." This too should be our prayer. May we grow and become ever more joyful in the Lord, and share this joy with all we meet.

Housekeeping - 1st Week of Advent

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

29 Nov 2015 - 1st Sunday of Advent Year C
30 Nov 2015 - Saint Andrew, Apostle - Feast
1 Dec 2015 - Tuesday of the 1st Week of Advent
2 Dec 2015 - Wednesday of the 1st Week of Advent
3 Dec 2015 - Saint Francis Xavier, Priest - Patron of Missions - Feast
4 Dec 2015 - Friday of the 1st Week of Advent

Monday, 11 May 2015

Saint Francis Xavier, Priest - Patron of Missions - Feast

How do we transmit the Good News to others? Some of us think that we can get information about faith from the internet, from others who teach about faith, from our Christian friends or relatives, from books and magazines, and many other sources of information. While all these methods or means of are fine and good, we also need to do our part so that the Good News be heard by others.

This is why, in today's Gospel, Jesus commands us: "Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation." As Christians, we are commissioned to preach the Good News to all around us, as best we can. We cannot just sit back and relax, expecting others to do it, since each and every Christian has a duty to preach the Good News. Have we been making effort and doing our part in sharing and promoting our Christian faith, just as Jesus has commanded us to do?

Wednesday of the 1st Week of Advent

How much do we really care about others? Do we care about the people around us? Do we care about the people in our neighbourhood? Do we care about what is going on in our country? Many of us may say we care, but how much do we care? Just a little? A bit more? A lot? Saying that we care is easy, since words are cheap. But what have we done or are doing to show we care? Sometimes, some of us may just give a few Malaysian ringgit or dollars for the needs of people around us, but is that all we are willing to do? Or are we willing to do much more than that? How many of us are willing to give not only financial help, but also our time and talents so that others may learn to grow and change? Are we willing to even give all that we have, for the glory of God?

In today's Gospel, Jesus not only cured the lame, blind, crippled, dumb and many others, He also fed them. Jesus shows us what it means to go that extra mile for another person, instead of just dealing with the person's immediate needs and be done with it. May we be willing to learn from our loving Lord, and be loving and caring to others, just as He is loving and caring to all of us.

Wednesday of the 1st Week of Advent

Nowadays, we are seeing more and more people becoming more and more concerned only about themselves. It seems as if "the survival of the fittest" is becoming more and more important than being in community or even being in family. In certain countries, the situation has come to such a state where even the parents are given a legislation where they could sue their children for maintenance and upkeep, as some of such countries have seen an increasing number of people abandoning or ignoring their parents. What is happening to such countries? Have people forgotten about being human, being a family, or even being a community? Has the attitude of "me, myself and I" become more important?

In today's Gospel, we see a contrast between Jesus and His disciples. The disciples seemed to be more concerned about their needs, but Jesus was more concerned about the crowd, not only by teaching and healing them, but also in seeing to their welfare by giving them something to eat. Logistically speaking, the disciples seemed to be in a nightmarish situation, since realistically, it seemed impossible to feed so many. But what the disciples failed to realise is that Jesus is not just any ordinary preacher, and He showed them the true meaning of love and compassion by taking that extra step in giving the crowd something to eat.

What about us? Would we be willing to take that extra step and feed the multitude, not only spiritual food, but also physical food? Or have we become so concerned only about the costs and about ourselves? May we do our best to be like Jesus in the way He loved and served the crowd, so that others would know we are Christians by our love.

Tuesday of the 1st Week of Advent

Some of us may have grown up entertained in a world of make believe, especially when we were children. We may have fantasised about fairy tales, imaginative heroes and imaginative villians, imaginative friends, and many other forms to keep ourselves happy, occupied and entertained. But what happens when we grow up, when we grow older? Quite possibly, we may come face to face with reality, that what we imagine or fantasise is not likely to happen, or we may begin to become more and more realistic about life, and set aside the many forms of imagination which we once had.

In today's reading, what we hear from the prophet Isaiah seem to be like a fairy tale or figments of our imagination. The wolf lives with the lamb, the lion eats straw like the ox, the infant plays over the cobra's hole: all these seem to portray a picture of serenity, peace and harmony. But could such things ever happen in the real world? Those of us who remain sceptical or realist in our thinking may say that such things are mere fairy tales or imagination. But God can make the impossible possible, and His ways are not our ways. What we thought to be imagination could be made real by God. So let us not remain doubtful or sceptical, but become like mere children as mentioned in the Gospel, knowing that our God can do wonders beyond our imagination and expectation. Let us learn to be more dependent in Him, and walk in His ways, while doing our part in promoting peace and harmony.

Saint Andrew, Apostle - Feast

Some of us may be able to learn certain subjects through the internet these days. The internet has become so full of resources that we can get information about a certain topic or subject, and learn much about it with ease. However, we also know that the information available on the internet is not always accurate or reliable. We need to be cautious about what we read, because what we sometimes get could be false or inaccurate.

What about information concerning faith? Can we learn about faith through the internet? To some extend, we may glean some information there, but once again, we need to be cautious and verify that the source of such information concerning faith is reliable and reputable. That is why it is sometimes better to learn about faith from a person or persons who has been properly trained and qualified in teaching about faith to others. As St. Paul reminds us in today's reading: "Faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ." May we be alert and cautious not to be misled by false information or false doctrine, but go and seek those who can preach it to us, those who really know their stuff and teach what the church teaches.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

1st Sunday of Advent Year C

Every year, many of us would celebrate the new year to remember and give thanks to God for all the blessings of the past year and also take the opportunity to pray for a good year ahead. But today's readings and Gospel seems to give us a different way of how Christians should celebrate the new year. What is this different way all about? This different way is that we celebrate the new year not by looking to the past or to the following year but to focus on the end of time or on the end of the world. It seems strange for us to focus on the end of time, so why should we do so, since some may find the end of time a not-so-pleasant topic?

Today's Gospel appears to give us a frightening picture of the end of the world: "There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken." For some, such natural disasters may seem scary or frightening, but science has shown us that such natural disasters mean that the earth is growing and evolving, which are signs of life instead of death. Planets that no longer have such natural disasters like earthquakes, storms, or volcanoes have no life, in other words, they are dead. Jesus gives us examples of such natural disasters to describe the end of the world and tell us that something new is about to take place. This means that, from this point of view, we should see the end of the world as a celebration of hope instead of fear.

Some of us may be wondering: when and how will all these take place? When and how is not important, but what we should do in preparation for such an event should be our focus. To begin with, even if there is confusion in our lives, even if things don't go according to plan, nobody should lose heart, as Jesus reminds us: “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” Also, we may be tempted to run away or look for excuses or other solutions when faced with problems and challenges in the world, but we should instead watch ourselves and stay alert and ready, as Jesus reminds us: "Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap." Moreover, we must "stay awake and pray." This means that we must take our spiritual growth seriously, as St. Paul in the second reading urges each and every one of us to continue growing in our faith life.

So what does this mean to us? It means that we cannot rest on our laurels and think that we have plenty of time to grow closer to God. Instead, we should be consistent and persistent in our efforts to grow in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God and with others, as St. Paul advises us in the second reading: "We urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it." May we do our best and stay alert and prepared, with hope and confidence that God will be our providence and guide.

Housekeeping - Week 34 Year 1

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

22 Nov 2015 - Christ the King Year B
23 Nov 2015 - Monday of Week 34 Year 1
24 Nov 2015 - Tuesday of Week 34 Year 1
25 Nov 2015 - Wednesday of Week 34 Year 1
26 Nov 2015 - Thursday of Week 34 Year 1
27 Nov 2015 - Friday of Week 34 Year 1

Friday of Week 34 Year 1

One fact that we should never forget as we journey in this life is that many things around us, many things we hold dear, will not last. Today we may have a young family, tomorrow the children would have gone and left the nest. Today we may be healthy and fit, tomorrow we may be not so well and some may be struggling to live.The qualifications we have attained may be relevant today, but may be obsolete tomorrow. Even the cars we drive, the computers and gadgets we own, will eventually become obsolete or redundant, as technology progresses and new and better products come out. Sounds like a not so exciting picture of life, isn't it? But that is the way things are here on earth, and we need to set our priorities right and focus on what really matters, while we have time and opportunities to do so.

In today's reading, we are reminded of One who will never disappear or fade away. The reading tells us: "His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed." No matter what happens, be it good or bad, Jesus will always be there for us. So we should make more effort to grow closer to Him and let Him be our guide, since all other persons and things will sooner or later go away, but Jesus will always be around.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Thursday of Week 34 Year 1

Difficulties and problems crop up in our lives every once in a while, and sometimes these problems and difficulties could lead to severe persecution or even death. When we are faced with such problems and difficulties, especially if it involves our faith, some of us may be tempted to protect ourselves by distancing ourselves from our faith, or even abandoning it altogether. But how many of us would hold steadfast to our faith in such situations, with trust and confidence in God's help and providence? How many of us would truly and unreservedly be willing to die for our faith?

In today's reading, king Darius had gotten himself into a mess, since he had signed an edict which, for the next thirty days, demanded that all pray to no other than him. Daniel refused to do so, and even though king Darius favoured Daniel much, he had no choice but to throw Daniel into the lion's den, since such an edict could not be altered even by the king. Daniel's enemies thought they had finally gotten rid of Daniel, but Daniel held steadfast to his faith and was even prepared to die, and God's angels came to seal the lion's jaws and protect Daniel from harm. In the end, it was Daniel's enemies and their families who were killed by the lions.

Daniel had great faith in God's help and providence to protect him from danger. What about us? Are we willing to risk it all, even our lives, and let God be our help and guide? If God can protect Daniel from mortal danger, surely He would do the same for us, if we have trust and confidence in Him.

Wednesday of Week 34 Year 1

Some of us may be experiencing some form of religious persecution, depending on where and which state or country we live in. In some countries, Christians are being enticed with riches, power and popularity, to abandon their faith and join another faith. Sometimes, such countries would also begin to drive fear into the hearts of others by putting to death anyone who refuses to embrace another religion. If we are confronted with such persecution, including the possibility of death, how would we respond? Would we be courageous enough to face such persecution, or would we abandon our faith to save our skin?

In today's Gospel, we are reminded: "You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives." If we have trust and confidence in God, then we have no reason to fear or despair. May we continue to face such persecution bravely and courageously, and let God be our help and guide.

Tuesday of Week 34 Year 1

Some people seem to be quite preoccupied with doomsday or the end of the world. Even on television, we sometimes come across documentaries about how some people would try to stock up and be prepared should the end of civilisation as they know it happens. To some people, the end of civilisation is like the end of the world, and they believe that chaos would reign and the only way to survive would be to have sufficient food, water and defences. But all these preparations are only for an earthly existence. What about preparations for life after death?

In today's Gospel, we are told: "'Take care not to be deceived,' he said 'because many will come using my name and saying, "I am he" and, "The time is near at hand." Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.' Then he said to them, 'Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.'" If we have been consistent and persistent in our spiritual preparations for life after death, then all the so called claims made by others about the end of the world coming, as well as all the seemingly heavenly signs happening, should not concern us. What should concern us is that we are prepared at all times as best we can, knowing and trusting that God will care for us no matter what happens. Let us not become paranoid or fearful, but have continue to have confidence and trust in God.

Monday of Week 34 Year 1

When you come to church to attend Mass, how many of you would offer all the money you have on you for the church? Quite likely, many of you would put a few dollars or a few Malaysian ringgit into the offering bag, while some of you may offer what you can spare. Some may put in more if they are rich and can afford it, but how many of us would be willing to put everything that we have by emptying our pockets of cash? Some of you may say that it would be crazy to offer everything we have to God, since we would need money for food and other things after the Mass.

But if we consider a moment, today's Gospel tells us of a poverty-stricken widow who put in all she had to live on, as Jesus tells us: "I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; for these have all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on." When we put money in the offering, it is not the amount that counts, it is how generous we are willing to be. Remember that all that we have comes from God, and God has been generous to us in many ways. Are we not willing to be just as generous in our contributions and in offering our talents for the church?

Friday, 8 May 2015

Christ the King Year B

Many of us seem to be quite caught up with attaining various types of qualifications these days. When we have completed a course or studies, we expect to receive a diploma, degree or some form of paper stating the kind of qualification we have achieved. Such paper is called a certificate, and some of us may even frame it and place it on the wall, either in some prominent place in our home, or at our office, to show others how qualified or learned we are. When we go to the hospital for a checkup, some of us may also receive a certificate of fitness, to show that we are healthy. Such a certificate of fitness is sometimes required when we apply for a job, or when we apply to go for studies in a college or university or some other institution of learning. But all these certifications here are only temporary and useful while we are on earth.

As we know, the ways of God are not the same as the ways of the world. When it comes to being a king, God's idea of being King is quite different from the worldly idea of being king, as Jesus tells us: "Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind." Jesus also adds: "Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice." So, just as God's understanding of being King is quite different from worldly understanding of being king, God's understanding of what is required to gain some sort of "certification" with Him, is quite different from the worldly understanding of certification. Of course, God's certification does not come in the form paper, rather it involves certain attitudes, behaviour, way of life, in other words, things that really matter to God, so to speak.

So what things could really matter to God? What really matters would be whether we have been faithful to God, faithful to being Jesus' disciples and faithful to Jesus' teachings; whether we have been focused in being of service like Jesus the servant King, by serving others without expecting anything in return, instead of being like an earthly king who lords it over others; and perhaps by allowing change and conversion to take place in our lives. Thus, instead of being so concerned with worldly qualifications which many do, we should change our focus towards eternal qualifications which would bring greater and longer lasting benefits to us.

Thus, let us let Jesus be our King and our guide, since as the second reading tells us: "Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the First-Born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever." May we follow His ways and concentrate on what really matters to God, on His "certifications," for our eternal future and happiness.

Housekeeping - Week 33 Year 1

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

15 Nov 2015 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
16 Nov 2015 - Monday of Week 33 Year 1
17 Nov 2015 - Tuesday of Week 33 Year 1
18 Nov 2015 - Wednesday of Week 33 Year 1
19 Nov 2015 - Thursday of Week 33 Year 1
20 Nov 2015 - Friday of Week 33 Year 1

Friday of Week 33 Year 1

Is it wrong to sell things in the church compound? If items such as religious items like rosaries, prayer books, statues of saints and other relevant items are being sold at a reasonable price to promote faith and prayer; or if food stuff is sold at a reasonable price to promote fellowship and friendship, then such items and food stuff may be tolerated, provided that the parish priest is in agreement with such an activity, and he has given proper permission. This is necessary to prevent abuses, as there are people who claim to be selling things, but with the intention of making money for themselves. This is where parishioners should notify and clarify with the parish priest, especially if they notice someone unknown or unfamiliar selling items. Otherwise, our church compound and in some cases, even within our church, may become a "robbers den," since what is supposed to be sacred space and treated with proper reverence has become another marketplace or supermarket, where there is always a possibility of cheating and swindelling going on.

In today's Gospel, "Jesus went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling. 'According to scripture,' he said 'my house will be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a robbers' den.'" The Temple was becoming a place where cheating and swindelling was going on, and to make matters worse, the chief priests and the scribes were the ones permitting such acts to happen. How do we know this? The Gospel also tells us that "the chief priests and the scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they did not see how they could carry this out..." If the chief priests and the scribes were sincere in maintaining the Temple as a sacred space and to be treated with proper reverence, they would have not gotten so worked up when Jesus chased those sellers away. The fact that they tried to do away with Jesus shows that they have got something to hide and do not want to lose the sellers' business.

What about us? Are we just as guilty like the chief priests and the scribes? Have we treated our church as a place where business could be done and sellers could do whatever they please, as long as we get a "cut" from such activities? May we come to realise and appreciate the sacredness and significance of the church, and treat it properly.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Thursday of Week 33 Year 1

Some of us may have experienced some form of regret in our lives. For example, there are people who have regretted not being hard working enough in their studies or at work, and as a result, they did not do so well in their examinations or they missed opportunities for career advancement or an increase in salary. There are people who may also have regretted not being bold enough or have not made enough effort in a relationship, and they lost a good opportunity to marry and settle down. Do you have a regret haunting you?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said: "and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!" God had given many chances and opportunities for the Jews to change their ways, but all these chances and opportunities were lost as the Jews were stubborn and obstinate, preferring to remain as they are. We too could be in the same situation, if we refuse to change our ways and grow closer to God. May we not end up with regret, with lost opportunity to grow closer to God, because when death comes, it may be too late.

Wednesday of Week 33 Year 1

Some of us seem to take for granted the gifts and talents that God has given us. Sometimes, some of us may begin to think that our talents or gifts are for ourselves or for our benefit, and some of us are unwilling to share our talents or use our talents to help in church and for the glory of God. But what happens if we try to keep our talents to ourselves? If we neglect to use our talents or to practise them, we may lose such talents eventually. Is this what is expected of us as Christians?

In today's Gospel, ten servants were given one pound each. The first two servants promptly went and invested the money entrusted to them, benefiting their master with even more talents. The third servant claimed to be afraid of the master, but from the way he tried to explain himself, he was actually not interested in using his talents for his master's benefit after all, and in the end, he was condemned and even lost the pound he had. This is why Jesus said: "I tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

What can we learn from this? Remember that all that we have: our wealth, our talents, our abilities and our gifts are from God. What God has given us, He can easily take away. That being said, shouldn't we be using what we have for the good of all and for His glory? Why are some of us being so stingy or selfish with what we have? May we realise we are merely stewards of what we have, and may we be prudent and generous in how we use them.

Tuesday of Week 33 Year 1

How excited are we to see Jesus? Some of us say we are excited, but we do not seem to make much effort to see Jesus, especially each day at Mass or in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Some of us do not seem to see Jesus in others, especially with the way we treat others or how behave towards them. This begs the question: are we really excited to see Jesus? Do we acknowledge His presence? Do we want to become closer with Him and walk in His ways? We say we do, but do our words and actions show what we say?

In today's Gospel, we come across Zacchaeus who wanted to see Jesus. Despite his height, He made much effort to even "climb a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way." When Jesus asked to stay at Zacchaeus' house, Zacchaeus was so happy, that he was even willing to change his ways and made amends if he had cheated anyone. This led Jesus to say: "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost."

What about us? Are we like Zacchaeus, so excited and enthusiastic to see Jesus, that he even made a firm decision to change his ways? Do we value a relationship with Jesus like Zacchaeus did? Or have we become complacent with our relationship with Jesus, thinking that we are okay and there is nothing else for us to improve on? May we be humble enough to realise that, like Zacchaeus, we need Jesus to be our constant guide and help.

Monday of Week 33 Year 1

How consistent and determined are we to ask God for something? Sometimes we ask God for something and we do not get it straight away, what happens? Some of us may begin to pout and throw a tantrum, demanding that God answers our request. But more often than not, God does not seem to give us what we want, even when we are behaving in this way, then what happens? Some us may give up, thinking that God would not listen to us anyway; some of us may be tempted to seek other forms of help; but how many of us are willing to patiently, persistently and consistently ask God for help?

In today's Gospel, we come across the blind man who wanted Jesus to heal him. The blind man said: "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me." Even though people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, he shouted all the louder, "Son of David, have pity on me." Eventually, the blind man was healed, because he had faith in Jesus. What about us? Do we have faith in Jesus like the blind man has? Are we willing to be patient, persistent and consistent in asking Jesus for help? May we not be so easily defeated but persevere and trust in God, knowing that He will do what is best for us.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Everything that we say and do here on earth has got a consequence or a result or effect. Sometimes we are able to experience the consequence almost immediately, sometimes the consequence occurs later in life. For example, if you purposely hit a dog, the dog may respond there and then by biting you. On the other hand, if you regularly eat fatty food or extensively processed food, you may experience the effects of such eating habits later in life, where certain body organs may deteriorate or fail. Then you may end up being saddled with hefty medical bills and you may also go through suffering and pain as a result of certain medical treatment or procedures.

In the same way, there are consequences which we may not experience while we are alive on earth. When we sin, it does not matter whether we have committed venial or mortal or serious sin, our soul is slowly soiled. We begin to lose connection with God. We think that we can get away with what we have said and done, or sweep it under the carpet and pretend that everything is fine, but we fail to realise that the consequence of our words and action will happen when we are called to account for our every action or omission. Many people live lives thinking that we can get away with what we have said or done, because we may not see the consequences of our negative words and actions in our present life. But unless we wake up to the truth that we shall be accountable for our every word and action, we will die without the opportunity or any chance to mend our ways. All will face judgement on the Last Day. All our actions, our mistakes, our good and bad deeds, our sins, our failures, our successes would be made clear on that day. Although God is loving and merciful, no one can escape judgment. No one can run away and hide.

In the first reading, we are cautioned: "Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. The learned will shine brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity." Would we be among those who are granted everlasting life? Or would we face shame and everlasting disgrace? What is going to happen to us then? Do we know? Jesus in today's gospel warns us: “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father." Are we going to be caught off-guard and face the possibility of eternal damnation, or have we been consistent and persistent in our preparations, with hope of eternal and everlasting life? Do we want to risk waiting until it is too late?

All is not yet lost. There is still time to amend our ways now. Let us not wait till tomorrow or next month or next year. Let us not procrastinate further and fool ourselves into thinking that we are still young or healthy and have plenty of time. God can call us at any time and at any moment to give an account of your life. Are you still stubbornly or obstinately taking things for granted and taking things easy?

Housekeeping - Week 32 Year 1

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

8 Nov 2015 - 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
9 Nov 2015 - Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
10 Nov 2015 - Tuesday of Week 32 Year 1
11 Nov 2015 - Wednesday of Week 32 Year 1
12 Nov 2015 - Thursday of Week 32 Year 1
13 Nov 2015 - Friday of Week 32 Year 1

Friday of Week 32 Year 1

There are many things in this world which could be explained by science. What was once thought to be the consequence of malicious creatures or evil, or even divine retribution, could be scientifically proven. However, there are also many things in this world which science is still unable to explain or discover. For example, science has yet to fully understand or explain when and how exactly does conception take place or even when and how exactly we would die, since such things can happen at moments beyond our expectation.

This is why today's reading tells us: "Naturally stupid are all men who have not known God
and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is,
or, by studying the works, have failed to recognise the Artificer... if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge to be able to investigate the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?" Some people seem to think that science can solve or explain many things, but time and again we come across situations which cannot be explained with our intellect or with science, but with faith and trust that God is in the equation. May we learn to discover those things which science can explain and help us understand, while being firmly rooted in faith that God is there to guide us and be our help.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Thursday of Week 32 Year 1

Some of us get very excited easily over the smallest things or incidences. For example, we are driving on the road and we notice a massive traffic jam ahead of us, and we later discover that the traffic jam is caused by onlookers and other folks who just have to slow down to see the result of an accident which has occurred at the opposite side of the road, some of us would slow down too. Some of us just cannot resist the urge to gaze at what is taking place at the accident site, even though the relevant authorities are already at the scene and are desperately trying to get folks to move on quickly instead of causing unnecessary congestion.

In the same way, some of us get very excited about whether we would be with God in heaven or otherwise. Some of us would begin to fret and worry about what is going to happen to our eternal future. At the other extreme, there are some who worry about hell, and become paralysed with fear that they may have done something wrong that would cause them to be thrown into hell. But Jesus in today's Gospel tells us: "The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation... They will say to you, “Look there!” or, “Look here!” Make no move; do not set off in pursuit..." If we have been consistent and persistent in building our spiritual lives and our relationship with God, if we have been regular in attending Mass and going for confession, then we have no need to be easily excited. It does not matter when the Kingdom of God comes, nor does it matter what would happen to us, if we have done our part and done our best. Do we not trust in God and His providence, help and mercy?

Wednesday of Week 32 Year 1

I sometimes wonder whether some of us have begun to take a lot of things for granted. Have we ever thought about the farmers who work hard to plant crops so that we would have food on our tables; the many people who have to treat our sewage and waste so that our homes and surroundings would be clean; the many people who sweep the roads and cut the grass so that our roads and highways are clean, tidy and safe from debris; the teachers who have spent many hours preparing for classes so that we and our children would be well educated; the list goes on. When things are not done right, we complain and make a big fuss, but when things are done well for our comfort and safety, are we appreciative, thankful and grateful?

In today's Gospel, we see a good example of being appreciative, thankful and grateful for what has been done for us. In the Gospel, ten lepers were cured by Jesus, but only "one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him." Have we learnt to be like that one leper, who was appreciative, thankful and grateful for being cured? Or are we still taking things for granted, thinking that we had paid for it, or we deserve or are entitled to such help, or we are only interested in ourselves and our needs? Remember that all things come from God and are gifts to us. May we give Him the glory for His generous providence and care.

Tuesday of Week 32 Year 1

What do you look for in life? Some look for wealth, some look for fame and popularity, some look for recognition and titles, some want to be seen as persons of power and authority, but how many of us are willing to be looked as a lowly servant? All around us, we see people going for the ways and attractions of the world and they are driven by ambition, self-interest, pride, personal gratification and even self-preservation. Being seen as a lowly servant and seen as insignificant is, according to the ways of the world, a disadvantage or a weakness. But this is where we need to choose, we cannot have it both ways: do we choose the ways of the world, or do we choose the ways of Christ?

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us about what it means to be a lowly servant: "When you have done all you have been told to do, say, "We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty."" What does this mean? It means that in all we do, we are doing it for the Lord, for His glory, for His Kingdom to come. It also means that at the end of the day, we realise that what we get from the ways of the world is only temporary and would be lost sooner or later, and that it makes more sense to focus on that which is permanent. Are we willing to redirect our focus for our eternal future?

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Today we celebrate the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome because it is the head and mother church of all churches in the world. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the Pope’s cathedral because St. John Lateran's Basilica is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, where the Pope is also known as Bishop of Rome.

The dedication of this Church is a feast for all Roman Catholics because St. John Lateran is the parish church of all Catholics since it is the pope's cathedral. In celebrating the dedication of the Pope’s cathedral, we show our unity with the Pope and our love and respect for him, as well as our obedience and faithfulness to the teachings of the Catholic Church. It also shows that we are united with each other in the Universal Catholic Church. St. Paul described this unity in the Church in the 2nd reading as "God's Temple with the Spirit of God living among us."

Thus, we must be united in heart and mind, and worship in Spirit and truth, so that the Church would be like what is described as the Temple in the 1st reading: with living waters flowing out to bring about healing and reconciliation, and bearing fruits of life and love.

Monday, 4 May 2015

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Some of us spare no expenses or effort when we want or desire something. We would make much effort to save, work hard and work smart, so that we would hopefully and eventually achieve or attain what we want or desire. For example, if what we want or desire involves a life-long marital relationship, we would find ways and means to impress the other person, and show how much we care and how much we are willing to sacrifice for that person, with the hope that one day, the person would accept our proposal to be our spouse. If we want to attain a degree or higher qualifications, we would work hard and drive ourselves hard to attain it.

But if we step back and ponder for a moment: all these efforts are to satisfy our own needs and wants. The question is: how much are we willing or prepared to give to God, be it our time, our talents or our wealth? We often forget that all that we have is a gift from God. God has given us everything that we need and yet we often find it so hard to give back to Him. There are countless ways we give back to God, some of which include monetary contributions to the church, by helping the poor, by sacrificing our time and effort to further the Church's mission, by getting involved in various church ministries, the list goes on. But let us ask ourselves honestly, are we really giving, or are we merely offering what we can spare?

Today’s readings challenge us to give our all to God, to give our best and to give our lives to Him. In the first reading, we come across the non-Jewish widow who is asked to share her last meal with the prophet Elijah. God rewards her generosity by allowing her food to never be totally spent. In the Gospel, the poor widow puts in only two small coins, an insignificant amount to some, and nothing compared to big sums donated by the rich. And yet Jesus praises her action because “she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” The poor widow shows us what total self-giving means.

Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice so that we may be saved. Jesus has given his 100%, He has held nothing back.What about us? How much are we prepared to give to God? Are we being very calculative? Are we trying to hold back many things because they give us security? Let us reflect over our own willingness or unwillingness to make sacrifices for God, and may we be willing and humble enough to give our all to God, just as Jesus has given His all to us.

Housekeeping - Week 31 Year 1

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

1 Nov 2015 - All Saints Day
2 Nov 2015 - All Souls Day
3 Nov 2015 - Tuesday of Week 31 Year 1
4 Nov 2015 - Wednesday of Week 31 Year 1
5 Nov 2015 - Thursday of Week 31 Year 1
6 Nov 2015 - Friday of Week 31 Year 1

Friday of Week 31 Year 1

There is nothing wrong with having money and possessions, since we need to survive and prosper in this world. But what becomes wrong is when we become focused only in using such money or possessions in a wasteful manner, or in a way which contradicts the values of the Gospel. Instead, we should be using our wealth and possessions for our spiritual growth and for the glory of God, since that would bring about growth in our relationship with God and with others.

In today's Gospel, Jesus praised a steward who misused his master's money. The dishonest steward is praised not for mishandling his master's wealth, but for his shrewdness and foresight in avoiding personal disaster while securing his future livelihood. What Jesus is trying to teach here is not so much on how to prevent a personal financial or economic crisis. Instead, He is more concerned that we use our shrewdness and foresight to prevent a spiritual and moral crisis.

May we make more effort in spiritual matters which have eternal consequences, instead of only focusing on making much effort in earthly matters which have temporary consequences, so that we would be better off in this life and in the next.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Thursday of Week 31 Year 1

Each and every one of us has an impact on others in one way or another, whether we like it or not, and whether we are aware of it or not. For example, a child would follow or imitate your habits, words and expressions, and after a while, the child would become accustomed or used to such things. The expression "a chip of the old block" may apply to a certain extend here. That is why in matters of faith, parents are responsible to pass on the basics of faith, good conduct and virtues to their children. If the parents themselves are not bothered about their faith, then their children may follow suit, though by the grace of God, some of such children may rediscover God and faith later in life.

That is why St. Paul cautions us in today's reading: "The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. This explains why Christ both died and came to life, it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. This is also why you should never pass judgement on a brother or treat him with contempt, as some of you have done." We ought to be careful how we conduct ourselves and how we behave, since some others may get the right or wrong understanding or impression of Christianity, depending on our words and actions. May we be prudent and good examples to others, so that we may truly be light of the world and salt of the earth.