Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Housekeeping - New Year & Christmas Season

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

1 Jan 2017 - Mary, Mother of God - Solemnity
2 Jan 2017 - 2 January
3 Jan 2017 - 3 January
4 Jan 2017 - 4 January
5 Jan 2017 - 5 January
6 Jan 2017 - 6 January

6 January

As Christians, what do we really believe in? We say that we believe in Jesus, but do we really know who Jesus is? Some Christians had fallen into heresy in the past, when they began to think of Jesus as only a man, or only God, whereas Christians believe that Jesus is both man and God, and that He is Son of God. If we call ourselves Christians, then we not only believe in Jesus, but we also have life in Him and we do what He tells us. Are we following Jesus and His ways, or have we drifted away from Him and are doing our own thing?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son; anyone who has the Son has life, anyone who does not have the Son does not have life." Do we have life in Jesus? Or have we allowed sin to rule our lives, and allowed ourselves to go astray? May we come to realise our situation, and return to life in Jesus, walking in His ways and growing in relationship with Him, for the betterment of our eternal future.

5 January

Some of us seem to be using the word love so easily without meaning it or understanding its meaning. When we say we 'love,' we may be actually saying that we 'like.' Some of us love because there is a condition, or strings attached, or there is something we can get out of it. But how many of us are able to love unconditionally, the way God loves us unconditionally? How many of us are willing and able to love those who are difficult to love, those who are our enemies?

In today's reading, we are told that refusing to love makes us murderers. The reading tells us: "This is the message as you heard it from the beginning: that we are to love one another; not to be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One and cut his brother’s throat; cut his brother’s throat simply for this reason, that his own life was evil and his brother lived a good life. You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you; we have passed out of death and into life, and of this we can be sure because we love our brothers. If you refuse to love, you must remain dead; to hate your brother is to be a murderer, and murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life in them."

When we refuse to love, we are dead to the needs of others and dead to our relationship with them. We begin to think only of ourselves and become oblivious to others. We become like murderers, since we are no longer bothered or concerned about others, and we may find ways and means to protect our image, our interests, and feed our pride and ego, even to the point of actually committing murder. This is why as Christians, we may at times be at odds with the ways of the world and the world would hate us, since the world often focuses only on the self, and others or things are merely to be used, abused, exploited and discarded. May we stay alert and be cautious not to fall into the Evil One's trap, but learn to truly love just like God truly loves all of us.

4 January

What sort of life are we living at present? Are we living life according to God's ways? Or are we living life according to the ways of the world? While it is necessary for us to make a living in this world, we sometimes come into conflict with certain practices or policies which could cause us to sin. If we are faced with such a situation, would we continue to do what we are told and commit sin, or would we be courageous enough to avoid sin? It is certainly not an easy decision, but what is it that really matters to us in the end?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "My children, do not let anyone lead you astray: to live a holy life is to be holy just as he is holy; to lead a sinful life is to belong to the devil, since the devil was a sinner from the beginning." In the reading, we are given a choice to live a holy life and grow in relationship with God, or to live a sinful life and distant ourselves from God. Ultimately, may we choose wisely for our eternal future is at stake.

3 January

It is certainly not an easy task to remain in the state of grace, since we face so many temptations each day. This does not mean we have an excuse to sin or give up, but we should make every effort to avoid sinning and if we do, we should make effort to go for confession, do penance and do our very best to not sin again. God gives us plenty of opportunities to change and grow in His love, guidance and friendship, and we need to do our part in maintaining a good relationship with Him.

This is why, in today's reading, we are reminded that we "must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ. Anyone who sins at all breaks the law, because to sin is to break the law." We should not hesitate to seek forgiveness and reconciliation through confession when we sin, since the Sacrament of Reconciliation enables us to purify ourselves from our sins. It is strange that there are people who seem to put off confession to only twice a year, especially during the Advent and Lent confession period. Surely we would not bathe only twice a year or, for those of us who are married, have intimacy with our spouse only twice a year. Surely most of us would keep clean as often as necessary and possible, and those of us who are married would do our best to keep the flame of love and intimacy alive. Thus, let us not procrastinate or make any more excuses, but keep our souls clean, so that we would one day be with our loving God.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Housekeeping - Christmas

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

24 Dec 2016 - Christmas Eve - Midnight Mass
25 Dec 2016 - Christmas Day - Mass During the Day
26 Dec 2016 - Dec 26 - Saint Stephen, the first Martyr - Feast
27 Dec 2016 - Dec 27 - Saint John, Apostle, Evangelist - Feast
28 Dec 2016 - Dec 28 - The Holy Innocents, Martyrs - Feast
29 Dec 2016 - 5th day within the octave of Christmas
30 Dec 2016 - Holy Family

Dec 27 - Saint John, Apostle, Evangelist - Feast

Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostle John. He is accredited for writing the Gospel according to John. He was the only apostle who was not martyred. We also know that John was given the responsibility to care for Mary by Jesus, when Jesus was about to die. He is known as the "beloved disciple" and in today's Gospel, we are told that he went in the tomb; he saw and he believed that Jesus had risen.

Throughout his life and writings, he had one simple message: "My dear children, love one another." God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. John followed God's example in sharing love with others through his example and in his writings. What about us? In this world where love seems more and more superficial, are we following St. John's example in spreading true love to all?

Dec 26 - Saint Stephen, the first Martyr - Feast

Sometimes we come across people who are put to death for varied reasons. More often than not, the excuse is that the person is a menace or dangerous to society and since the person may have committed a hideous crime or committed murder, the person is executed for the so-called good of society. However, we do come across some people who are put to death because they uphold truth or justice. Such people are sometimes called martyrs, especially if they upheld Christian faith and truth, even to the point of being killed, assassinated or murdered.

In today's reading, we come across St. Stephen, who was martyred because he upheld Christian truth and justice. In the reading, we are told that certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, but he was confident in God's help and as a result: "They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him." Enraged by jealousy and refusing to admit the truth, these people eventually stoned St. Stephen to death.

What about us? Are we willing to become martyrs to Christian faith and truth, just as St. Stephen had done? If we are put in a situation where we are given a choice to deny our faith or be executed, would we be steadfast and unwavering in our faith? If we are faced with such a situation, may we be ready and prepared to do what is right and just, for the glory of God.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Housekeeping - 4th Week of Advent

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

18 Dec 2016 - 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
19 Dec 2016 - 19 December - Season of Advent
20 Dec 2016 - 20 December - Season of Advent
21 Dec 2016 - 21 December - Season of Advent
22 Dec 2016 - 22 December - Season of Advent
23 Dec 2016 - 23 December - Season of Advent

21 December - Season of Advent

In today's Gospel we read the story of Mary visiting Elizabeth. What gift did Mary bring to Elizabeth? She gave Elizabeth the gift of her very presence. It is easy to send flowers or a parcel, but to give the gift of ourselves, to make time to be with somebody, that is the gift that many people long for but do not receive. Another point about Mary's gift to Elizabeth is that one should give not according to one's convenience but according to the needs of the receiver. It was not convenient for Mary to travel the lonely, dangerous road from Galilee to the hills of Judea. But Elizabeth needed a helping hand. She was six months pregnant and could no longer to do many things. So Mary, as soon as she learned that Elizabeth was six months pregnant went quickly and stayed with her for about three months, until she gave birth. Mary gave to Elizabeth what she needed when she needed it.

Also, Mary's presence enabled Elizabeth to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and Elizabeth was able to experience the interior peace and joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. Mary's visit was an inspiration to Elizabeth. When we visit people, let us try to bring some inspiration into their lives, let us seek to bring them closer to God, and let us try to share with them the Spirit of God in us, the Spirit of consolation, of courage, of peace and joy, just as Mary did for Elizabeth.

20 December - Season of Advent

Life can sometimes be full of uncertainty, especially when an important or significant event is taking place. For example, a woman who discovers that she is pregnant could be full of hope and doubt at the same time, since she would be concerned about things like whether the foetus would be able to be carried to term, whether the baby born would be healthy, and other concerns which may crop up. Some people would continue to place their hope and trust in God, knowing that He would take care of things. Others may begin to doubt whether God would help, and may turn to other forms of help, only to discover that these other forms are not really helping. As Chrsitians, how do we handle such uncertain or doubtful situations?

In today's Gospel, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and give birth to a son and his name would be Jesus. Certainly Mary would have been fearful of the consequence of having a child in this way, since she could be accused of adultery and stoned to death for becoming pregnant before marriage, as she was only betrothed and not yet married. But the angel assured her that God would take care of things and that nothing is impossible to God, since her kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month. When Mary heard these, she chose to have faith and trust in God and said: "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me."

What about us? Are we willing to put our trust and faith in God, no matter how difficult or challenging the situation may seem? Would we let God take care of things and continue to do His will? May we, like Mary, remain courageous and confident, and do our best, and then leave it in the hands of the Lord.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Housekeeping - 3rd Week of Advent

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

11 Dec 2016 - 3rd Sunday of Advent Year A
12 Dec 2016 - Monday of the 3rd Week of Advent
13 Dec 2016 - Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Advent
14 Dec 2016 - Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Advent
15 Dec 2016 - Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent
16 Dec 2016 - Friday of the 3rd Week of Advent

Friday of the 3rd Week of Advent

There are some people who think that only a certain exclusive group of persons are eligible to be with God in heaven. There people begin a tirade of scary sounding threats and condemnations towards others, saying that unless one joins their group or follow certain ways, one would be condemned to fire and brimstone in hell. More often than not, such persons have got a hidden agenda and one should be careful not to fall for their gimmicks.

In today's reading, we are comforted in knowing: "Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their holocausts and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. It is the Lord who speaks, who gathers the outcasts of Israel: there are others will gather besides those already gathered." This means that being with God is not restricted only to certain groups or if one follows certain ways. May we stop bickering among ourselves and concentrate in serving Him, loving His name and being His servants, knowing that He would care and provide for us.

Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent

God has a plan for us, and He invites us to participate in His plan. His plan is that all of us are to be with Him, and to further strengthen His plan, God even sent Jesus to the world to die on the cross for us and to save us from our sins. But it is interesting and tragic to note that there are people in this world who do not want to be a part of God's plan. Would you want to be part of God's plan, or would you prefer to stay out of it and do your own thing?

In today's Gospel, we come across some people who chose to stick to God's plan, while others chose to reject it. The Gospel tells us: "All the people who heard him, and the tax collectors too, acknowledged God's plan by accepting baptism from John; but by refusing baptism from him the Pharisees and the lawyers had thwarted what God had in mind for them." God did not abandon the Pharisees and the lawyers, and invited them to play according to His plan, but they chose to do things their own way, thinking adamantly that their way was a better way compared to God's plan. It is ironic that the tax collectors, who many hated or disliked, were among the ones who recognised that God's plan was the way to go, whereas the Pharisees and lawyers who were supposed to be good people turned out to be going against God's plan.

Today, may we truly recognise God's plan and seize the opportunity to follow it. God does not force us to be a part of His plan, but we know from history that God's ways are far better than human ways. It is a question of whether we trust in Him and are humble and willing to let Him be our help, providence and guide.

Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Advent

We sometimes forget who we are. We think that a particular property belongs to us, since we had paid for it. We think that the money we have in the bank belongs to us, since we may have worked hard to accumulate the money, or through other investment or other means. We think that our family members belong to us, since we had conceived, given birth and cared for them from young till now. But do we really own all these things, to be used and disposed as we see fit? Can we bring these things with us when we die?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Apart from me, all is nothing. I am the Lord, unrivalled, I form the light and create the dark. I make good fortune and create calamity, it is I, the Lord, who do all this." Everything that we have is actually not ours, not our sole property. We are merely stewards, entrusted which such things and persons, since we will need to leave them behind some day. May we learn not to be possessive or proud of such things and persons, and learn to be detached from them, so that we can learn to be attached to God and let Him be our help, providence and guide.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Housekeeping - 2nd Week of Advent

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

4 Dec 2016 - 2nd Sunday of Advent Year A
5 Dec 2016 - Monday of the 2nd Week of Advent
6 Dec 2016 - Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Advent
7 Dec 2016 - Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Advent
8 Dec 2016 - The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Solemnity
9 Dec 2016 - Friday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Monday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Paralysis can come in many different forms. Some people are actually physically paralysed. Depending on the severity of the physical paralysis, such people may not be able to move or do anything on their own, and would require the help of family and friends to attend to their daily needs. Another form of physical paralysis is the inability to speak or express oneself clearly and concretely. Persons suffering from such a paralysis may find it difficult to communicate and may end up being misunderstood or even rejected. This is why being paralysed physically in one way or another is certainly no laughing matter, since we lose our freedom and independence to care for ourselves, and are at the mercy and generosity of others.

In today's Gospel, we come across a paralysed man who was brought on a stretcher by some men. These men 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, as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in. It was the faith of these men that impressed Jesus and Jesus cured the paralysed man, based on such great faith. The paralysed man may have had faith, but there was no way of telling about the amount of faith he had, since he could not move or express himself. So this paralysed man was lucky and fortunate to have such great friends who had such great faith in Jesus.

Another form of paralysis which we should be extra careful of is paralysis due to sin. When we sin, our conscience and our soul slowly becomes paralysed, until we become unable to differentiate what is truly right or wrong, and our soul is unable to move and reach out to God. We become alienated from God, untul we may even lose all connection or communication with Him. This is why, if we notice in today's Gospel, the first words Jesus said to cure the paralysed man were: "My friend, your sins are forgiven you." Physical paralysis was already bad enough, but what concerned Jesus even more is spiritual paralysis, which can cripple us far worse. Today, let us be on our constant guard against the snare of spiritual paralysis. Let us make every effort to have our sins forgiven through the sacrament of Reconciliation, so that we could be able to "get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home," and return to our loving God's care and guide once again.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Housekeeping - 1st Week of Advent

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

27 Nov 2016 - 1st Sunday of Advent Year A
28 Nov 2016 - Monday of the 1st Week of Advent
29 Nov 2016 - Tuesday of the 1st Week of Advent
30 Nov 2016 - Saint Andrew, Apostle - Feast
1 Dec 2016 - Thursday of the 1st Week of Advent
2 Dec 2016 - Friday of the 1st Week of Advent

Saint Andrew, Apostle - Feast

Letting go of our old life or old ways of doing things is not easy. Some of us have become so fixated or set in doing certain things in certain ways that it seems difficult or impossible to do things differently or begin new ventures. But the fact is, change happens. What used to be relevant or important in the past is no longer the case today. Things and ideas can become obsolete, and it is necessary for us to change or we may lose out in new and better opportunities.

In today's Gospel, "Jesus saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, 'Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.' And they left their nets at once and followed him." Jesus may be calling you today to leave your nets, to change, to move on, and to follow Him. Would you be willing to change and let Him be your help and guide?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 34 Year 2

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

20 Nov 2016 - Christ the King Year C
21 Nov 2016 - Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
22 Nov 2016 - Tuesday of Week 34 Year 2
23 Nov 2016 - Wednesday of Week 34 Year 2
24 Nov 2016 - Thursday of Week 34 Year 2
25 Nov 2016 - Friday of Week 34 Year 2

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate the Memorial of the presentation of Mary in the Temple. The Memorial of the presentation of Mary in the Temple is not found in the Bible but from sources other than the Bible, which we call "Sacred Tradition." It is found in an extra-biblical source called the Infancy Narrative of James. In that text, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne had been childless, but then they received a message from heaven that they would have a child. In thanksgiving, they brought the child Mary to the Temple to consecrate her to the Lord. It is believed that Mary remained in the Temple to be formed and prepared for her role as the Mother of God. This feast shows that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God.

From this Memorial, we are reminded of our presentation, dedication and consecration to God when we were baptised. We were transformed to be God's chosen children, and our duty is to go forth to preach the Good News and to present our lives as an offering that is pleasing to God. Just as Mary fulfilled her mission to bring Jesus Christ into the world, we too are called, chosen and sent to fulfil our mission in bringing His message into the world. Are we following Mary's example and doing our part earnestly, diligently and joyfully?

Monday, 20 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 33 Year 2

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

13 Nov 2016 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
14 Nov 2016 - Monday of Week 33 Year 2
15 Nov 2016 - Tuesday of Week 33 Year 2
16 Nov 2016 - Wednesday of Week 33 Year 2
17 Nov 2016 - Thursday of Week 33 Year 2
18 Nov 2016 - Friday of Week 33 Year 2

Friday of Week 33 Year 2

Truth can be sweet and sour or even bitter at the same time. How so? For those who seek truth, it can be sweet, especially if the truth is what liberates them or exposes the injustice which they have gone through. On the other hand, truth can be sour or even bitter, especially for those who are the guilty party or those who have been doing the persecuting or being unjust. So, truth can affect people in different ways, depending on which side of the truth one is in.

In today's Gospel, Jesus "taught in the Temple every day. 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 because the people as a whole hung on his words." The chief priests and the scribes time and again were unable to get rid of Jesus, since He was on the side of truth, and the people around Him wanted to cling on to the truth. Later, these people managed to get rid of Jesus, or so they thought, but the means used to get rid of Jesus was once again through deception and lies. But Jesus rose again and showed these people that He could not be silenced or disposed of, since the truth will prevail, no matter how hard one tries to hide it or sweep it under the carpet.

In our lives, have we been tasting the sweetness of truth, or have we been tasting its sourness or even its bitterness? Whatever we taste, it all depends on whether we are striving to live the truth, or to continue kidding ourselves and living a lie.

Housekeeping - Week 32 Year 2

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

6 Nov 2016 - 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
7 Nov 2016 - Monday of Week 32 Year 2
8 Nov 2016 - Tuesday of Week 32 Year 2
9 Nov 2016 - Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
10 Nov 2016 - Thursday of Week 32 Year 2
11 Nov 2016 - Friday of Week 32 Year 2

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 31 Year 2

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

30 Oct 2016 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
31 Oct 2016 - Monday of Week 31 Year 2
1 Nov 2016 - All Saints Day
2 Nov 2016 - All Souls Day
3 Nov 2016 - Thursday of Week 31 Year 2
4 Nov 2016 - Friday of Week 31 Year 2

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 30 Year 2

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

23 Oct 2016 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
24 Oct 2016 - Monday of Week 30 Year 2
25 Oct 2016 - Tuesday of Week 30 Year 2
26 Oct 2016 - Wednesday of Week 30 Year 2
27 Oct 2016 - Thursday of Week 30 Year 2
28 Oct 2016 - Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles - Feast

Tuesday of Week 30 Year 2

Nowadays, looking for a man or a woman who is true, genuine, loving and caring is not so easy. This is especially true if one gets to know another through social media or through the internet. We come across many situations where a person appears to be one way online, but could be quite different when met in person. Even when we get to know a person, the person may be putting on a show or a mask to appear different from what he or she really is. This is where we need to be cautious and discern carefully, find out more about the person, before we even consider any serious relationship which may lead to marriage.

Marriage is not something which we play play, since it is a life-long commitment. That is why we should take heed of what St. Paul tells us in today's reading: "Give way to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy... To sum up; you too, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband." May we be properly prepared and discern carefully whether the other person is whom we would want to live with for a lifetime, and may we depend on God for His help and guidance, so that we would learn to love unconditionally, just as He loves us.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 29 Year 2

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

16 Oct 2016 - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
17 Oct 2016 - Monday of Week 29 Year 2
18 Oct 2016 - Saint Luke, Evangelist - Feast
19 Oct 2016 - Wednesday of Week 29 Year 2
20 Oct 2016 - Thursday of Week 29 Year 2
21 Oct 2016 - Friday of Week 29 Year 2

Saint Luke, Evangelist - Feast

When we go for a holiday or a trip, some of us would pack so many things, since some of us feel it is better to have more than enough clothes or accessories so that we would not run out of clean clothes to wear or certain items which we feel may be necessary and may not be so easy to find at the destination we are going, or that purchasing such items could be expensive. But sometimes, we find that we end up using a lot less than we carry, and we may have to lug around so many things, making our journey or trip cumbersome, or we may worry about things going missing or stolen. This is why we should consider only bringing what we really need so that we can enjoy our holiday and trip with minimal distraction or issues.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is asking us not to worry too much about bringing so many things, since He tells us: "Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!" And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house." What is Jesus trying to tell us? He is trying to tell us that our focus is not to be too concerned about what we need to bring with us, but our duty and responsibility in proclaiming the Good News. Jesus is reminding us not to get distracted with other things, since proclaiming the Good News should take all our effort and attention. Are we able to do our part, do our best and leave it in the hands of the Lord, knowing that He will provide for us and care for us?

Housekeeping - Week 28 Year 2

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

9 Oct 2016 - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
10 Oct 2016 - Monday of Week 28 Year 2
11 Oct 2016 - Tuesday of Week 28 Year 2
12 Oct 2016 - Wednesday of Week 28 Year 2
13 Oct 2016 - Thursday of Week 28 Year 2
14 Oct 2016 - Friday of Week 28 Year 2

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 27 Year 2

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

2 Oct 2016 - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
3 Oct 2016 - Monday of Week 27 Year 2
4 Oct 2016 - Tuesday of Week 27 Year 2
5 Oct 2016 - Wednesday of Week 27 Year 2
6 Oct 2016 - Thursday of Week 27 Year 2
7 Oct 2016 - Our Lady of the Rosary, Memorial

Tuesday of Week 27 Year 2

Every once in a while we come across a person who seems bent in creating problems for us as a church, or such a person is going all out to persecute us, like some sort of villain or antagonist who aims at getting rid of us or get the better of us at all costs. Some of us may try to avoid such a person, or even pray that God would do something to change the person's ways, so that we would be left in peace. The funny thing is, God does do such things from time to time, and a person who was once so mean and wicked, could change to become a defender of the faith.

In today's reading, we come across one such person named Paul, who tells us: "You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors. Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans." From a persecutor of the faith, Paul became a great defender of the faith, and even eventually died for the faith.

What does this mean to us? It means that we need to be patient and trust that God will take care of things. We need to be courageous and persistent in sharing our faith with others, just as Paul was after his conversion. If God can change a person like Paul, and use him for His glory, just imagine what God could do for us, if we are humble and willing to let God be in control.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Looking at what is happening around us, in our families, in our communities, in our country, throughout the world; I sometimes wonder... Have people become crazy? Has the world gone insane? Are we heading towards disaster or impending doom? We see innocent children being killed, some even while in the womb, since there are some who think that abortion is a right, they are the victim and the foetus is the aggressor. We see marriages falling apart and in some places, even the definition of marriage is being challenged. We see children being mistreated or even tortured, sometimes due to issues between adults or between their own parents. We see domestic violence, maids being ill-treated, misuse of power or authority, rape, corruption, exploitation, people going on amok or on a rampage, just because they have been so easily influenced by certain irresponsible parties.

Amidst all the mayhem and mess we are facing, we could understand how the Prophet Habakkuk must have felt in the first reading when he said: "Outrage and violence, this is all I see, all is contention, and discord flourishes." Is it any wonder that more and more people around us are experiencing depression, some even to the point of ending it all, due to the madness happening around us. So how do we cope? How do we find meaning in life, when things all around us seems to be falling apart?

The readings today speak of faith. Faith enables us to see that God is in control, even though evil seems to be gaining the upper-hand;  faith gives direction when we are lost; faith helps us to persevere and press on even when faced with the many problems. In the world today, we need faith more than ever if we are to survive. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us that if we have faith "the size of a mustard seed" we could uproot trees and move mountains. What does this mean? Jesus is not telling us that faith in God means God is going to perform something miraculous or spectacular for us, since that would reduce God to merely an entertainer, magician or some sort of wonder worker. Faith is when we believe God will take care of all things and not allow us to come to any harm. Faith is letting God to be God, letting God take control of our lives and do what is best for us, according to His terms and for His glory. It is in this context that, if we trust God, then even a tiny mustard seed could perform wonders way beyond our imagination and expectation, since it is God who allows it to take place. The problem is that some of us feel we must take a greater role, we want to be ones that can move mountains rather than letting God to do this. But if we say that we have 'faith,' then we must be prepared, willing and humble enough to let God have a free hand to do what is best for us.

Today, let us echo the words of the disciple and ask God to "increase our faith." Let us be docile and willing to let God take care of us and do what is best for us, putting on the eyes of faith and knowing and trusting that no matter what happens, no matter how bad the situation may be, we have a God who will not abandon us and will be there for us.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 26 Year 2

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

25 Sept 2016 - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
26 Sept 2016 - Monday of Week 26 Year 2
27 Sept 2016 - Tuesday of Week 26 Year 2
28 Sept 2016 - Wednesday of Week 26 Year 2
29 Sept 2016 - Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels - Feast
30 Sept 2016 - Friday of Week 26 Year 2

Wednesday of Week 26 Year 2

Why do we follow Jesus? Have we decided to follow Jesus, no matter what happens? If disaster strikes, would we still follow Jesus, knowing and trusting that Jesus would be our help and guide? Or would we abandon Jesus and go for some other form of help? Sometimes, we come across people who claim to follow Jesus, only because they think that Jesus could be of use to them. Could some of us have such an attitude, thinking that Jesus is merely a means to satisfy our demands?

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us that following Him comes at a cost. We should be ready to give up everything we hold so dear, take up our cross and follow Him. We should also learn to be detached from people and things, so that we could be free to do God's will. Would we be willing to surrender all to follow Jesus? Or have we become so attached to persons and things around us, and such persons and things have become obstacles preventing us from becoming true disciples of Jesus? May we be true to ourselves and be willing to become true followers of Jesus, letting Him be our constant help and guide, wth trust and hope that we would be with Him for all eternity.

Monday of Week 26 Year 2

I believe most of us would not dare to challenge God or put God to the test. After all, we would want to grow in relationship with God and follow His ways. But there are certain beings which have chosen to go against God. We call such beings the devil or Satan and his fallen angels. We may not see them, but they are there and they are constantly trying to tempt us into following their ways.

In today's reading, we come across Satan challenging God by saying that Job would curse God if Job lost everything he had, including his family and property. In a way, Satan was insulting God by saying that Job was only God-fearing because of property, wealth and family. But at the end of the reading, we can clearly see that this is not the case, since the reading tells us: "In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God."

If we were in Job's situation, what would we do? Would we still have trust in God, come what may? Or would we give up on God or curse God for our misfortune? May we be genuine in our trust and hope in God, and continue to follow His ways, no matter what happens.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Is it wrong to be wealthy or rich? Of course not. It is not so much whether you are rich or poor, but it is how you lived your lives; our words and conduct; as well as what sort of attitude and behaviour you have towards others; these are things that matter. One could be an extremely wealthy person, but at the same time one could be humble, unassuming and generous with one's time and wealth. Also, one could be not too well off, and could pretend to be wealthy, snobbish, rude and aloof.

In today's Gospel, we come across the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus, the poor man, went to heaven, and the rich man went to hell. Did Lazarus go to heaven because he was poor and the rich man ended up in hell because he was rich? Of course not. If that were the case, many rich persons in the world, past and present, would have been condemned to hell already. So why did the rich man end up in hell? The sin of the rich man was not because of his wealth, and not because he was cruel, wicked or selfish. The sin of the rich man was his indifference, his "tidak kisah or tidak peduli" attitude (translated to "don't care or not my problem" attitude). The rich man did not care about what happened to Lazarus, he did not care about what was happening around him, he did not care about anyone else except himself. By the time he learnt to care for someone, his brothers in this case, it was too late. In fact, while he was still alive, the rich man did not even really care about what happened to his brothers. It is ironic that at least the dogs took notice of Lazarus and his condition, whereas the rich man remained indifferent to all around him.

In our lives, some of us may have been thinking that it is better to mind our own business and not poke our noses into other people's business. Some of us think that it is not for us to get involved, even though what is happening is obviously wrong or a serious issue, and something should be done and done quickly. Many people choose to be deaf and blind, and pretend that everything is fine as long as our lives and our family life is not affected. But the fact is, complacency or indifference is one of the greatest ills of our society, since by not getting involved, by not helping, by ignoring the situation; nothing will change, the problem remains, and we could be accomplices to the problem or be a part of the problem. In fact, St Paul in the second reading reminds us that it is not enough to just take care of our own affairs and ignore others, since he writes: "As a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses." This means that we need to do something, we need to take action, we cannot just sit idly and not be bothered. Each of us is called to saintliness and holiness, and we cannot just be mediocre or do the minimum.

Today, let us pray for the grace to be able to see with eyes and hear with ears of compassion. Let us follow Jesus' example in reaching out and helping all in need. May we not waste our eternal future away with our indifference, and end up like the rich man, while we still have opportunities here on earth to do our part and make a difference.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 25 Year 2

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

18 Sept 2016 - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
19 Sept 2016 - Monday of Week 25 Year 2
20 Sept 2016 - Tuesday of Week 25 Year 2
21 Sept 2016 - Saint Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist - Feast
22 Sept 2016 - Thursday of Week 25 Year 2
23 Sept 2016 - Friday of Week 25 Year 2

Saint Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist - Feast

There are certain kinds of people in this world which are difficult for some to accept and like. It could be the person's character or attitude, it could be the person's behaviour, or it could even be the person's job or way of life. For example, how many of us are genuinely willing to show care and concern to prostitutes if one happens to come to us for help, especially when the person is wanting to change to a different and better way of life? Would we be willing to help? Or have we become prejudiced towards such persons and prefer to shun them?

In today's Gospel, Jesus called a tax collector named Matthew to follow Him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Tax collectors were hated and shunned by the Jews, because they not only collected money from the Jews for the Romans, but they were also allowed to collect more (which could range from a bit more to a lot more) for their own survival. But Jesus was not only willing to call Matthew to follow Him, He was also willing to eat with the tax collectors and sinners. Eating with tax collectors and sinners was an unthinkable and shocking thing to the Jews, especially among the scribes and Pharisees, since they thought that people would normally eat only with good friends or close friends. But Jesus reminded them: "It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners."

What about us? Are we willing to offer our time with the tax collectors and sinners around us? Are we willing to eat with them, reach out to them, be a friend to them, and help them out? Or have we become like the scribes and Pharisees, self-righteous and only knowing how to condemn others? Remember that we too are sinners, and if God can be loving and merciful to us, shouldn't we be doing the same towards others?

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Are you a slave? Or are you truly free? Some of you may be thinking: "This padre has really gone nuts or crazy. Of course I am free! How could I possibly be a slave?" But the reality is, unfortunately, many people indeed become slaves of one thing or another. We become trapped or addicted to the thing that we want to be free of. How can this be so? After all, we are free to do many things in this world, so how can we be enslaved even though we think we are free?

God invites us to depend on Him and learn from His ways, but He does not force us to do so. To be his servant, to put our entire trust and faith in him, we must do it freely without compulsion. But when we begin to place our trust in other things or persons other from God, we soon see ourselves losing our freedom to these things. We become slaves to these false gods. They begin to take control of our lives and take away our freedom. Take for example, money and wealth. We need to make a living and we need money to survive and function in this world, but when we begin to make money, some of us may begin to long for more and more of it, to the point that our entire efforts are in making money. We begin to neglect or pay less attention to other things, including our health, our family, even our relationship with God. When this happens, are we not enslaved or slaves to money? Has not money become like a false god to us?

That is why, in today's Gospel, we are reminded that we cannot serve God and false gods at the same time. To serve God is to be truly free, whereas to serve other false gods would mean losing this freedom. We cannot be free and not free at the same time. We must never forget that we were created to know, love and serve God. The attractions of life can draw us away from living as sons and daughters of God, and slowly take away our inner freedom and we become slaves to them; we become addicted, attached and dependent on them, so much so that they have become our false gods. When we allow this to happen, when we become totally immersed to the ways of the world and the attractions of life, then we are actually breaking the first commandment: "I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me."

Today, let us  pray for the strength to truly know, love and serve God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Today's second reading reminds us: "For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all." Let us always remember that we cannot serve two masters, and make every effort to cast off all our false gods and place our trust in God. Let us depend on our God, and regain our freedom to become sons and daughters of God.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 24 Year 2

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

11 Sept 2016 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
12 Sept 2016 - Monday of Week 24 Year 2
13 Sept 2016 - Tuesday of Week 24 Year 2
14 Sept 2016 - Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
15 Sept 2016 - Our Lady of Sorrows, Memorial
16 Sept 2016 - Friday of Week 24 Year 2

Monday of Week 24 Year 2

When we are invited to a house for a meal, would we just barge in, go straight to the dining table and begin eating? Of course not! There is a certain decorum and good manners we follow, since the host has taken so much trouble to invite us and prepare us a meal. When the time comes for the meal to be enjoyed, we would also not just simply seat at the dining table, but wait politely for the host to seat us according to his or her preference, and wait till everyone is present and ready, and then wait until we are invited to begin eating. Surely we are not barbarians or so uncivilised as to embarrass the host with disgusting and unbecoming table manners.

In the same way, when we come for Mass to the Table of the Lord, there is a certain decorum, protocol and table manners to follow. In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us of such decorum, protocol and table manners: "The point is, when you hold these meetings, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you are eating, since when the time comes to eat, everyone is in such a hurry to start his own supper that one person goes hungry while another is getting drunk. Surely you have homes for eating and drinking in? Surely you have enough respect for the community of God not to make poor people embarrassed?... So to sum up, my dear brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another."

What St. Paul reminds us in the reading is still applicable even today. When we come for Mass to the Table of the Lord, we are coming for a banquet with the Lord. Unfortunately, we sometimes see some people appearing to be so famished or lack control, that they have to eat something else while Mass is going on; or they even allow their children to eat something during Mass. Surely we can train ourselves and our children to be patient and wait; and then later eat and drink as we like after Mass. Have we forgotten that we are in the presence of God, and that we should learn to wait till the proper time comes for us as a community to partake in the Lord's meal? Do we not respect and value the Lord's meal, and wait till the Mass is over?

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

People in love have the capacity of doing the craziest things. If you observe a person in love, you would notice the amount of time and effort the person would spend towards the one the person loves. For example, a mother would go through great extent to ensure that her child is well cared for and well provided, regardless whether the child is grateful to the mother or not. A father would not hesitate to rescue his child who fell into a pool, even though he does not know how to swim and may be at risk of drowning. A teacher spends lots of time helping a child to gain a better grasp of his lessons, as the child is a slow learner, and the teacher loves the child and wants him to do well in life, without caring about what others think. Love can certainly make people do crazy things.

In today's Gospel, we see examples of how love can make people do crazy things. In the Gospel, we are told that a shepherd leaves ninety nine sheep to go after the one that is lost. We are also told that a woman goes in search for the lost tenth drachma by "light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it." A person attuned to the ways of the world or a business person may be thinking: "Are you crazy? Have you gone nuts? Why risk losing the other sheep just to look out for one? Why go through all the trouble looking to that one drachma when you already have the other nine?" But the fact is, God's ways are different from our ways. God loves without limit, and He is prepared to go all out and endure suffering, seek and find that one which is lost.

Some of us may think that the best thing to do would be to let these sort of people carry on with whatever they're doing, and we too carry on with our own lives. We wash our hands off such people, because we don't feel it worthwhile or necessary to bring them or rescue them. But this is where God shows us the true meaning of love. God never gives up even when we choose to give up; He never stops working or trying even though we have long ceased all efforts; He never stops loving even when we may feel as if it is impossible to love anymore. Such is our God: the most compassionate, the most loving, and the most merciful. Seeing that we have such a God, what does this tell us? This tells us that each of us is very important; has a special dignity; is unique; is priceless and worth saving. The problem is, we sometimes fail to recognise our own dignity, and we forget who we are. Because of this, we easily get angry with others when we are made to feel small; or become jealous and selfish because we feel that we are not good enough. But the point is, God is telling you: "You are beautiful! You are precious! Why let others put you down? God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for you and to save you from your sins!" Are we doubting God?

Today, let us hold our heads up high, knowing with trust and confidence that God is there to help us and guide us. Each and every one of us is more precious and valuable than anything else, so we should not feel down or give up. Let us always remember that God will never abandon us; that He loves us unconditionally, and that we too should learn to love the way He loves us.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 23 Year 2

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

4 Sept 2016 - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
5 Sept 2016 - Monday of Week 23 Year 2
6 Sept 2016 - Tuesday of Week 23 Year 2
7 Sept 2016 - Wednesday of Week 23 Year 2
8 Sept 2016 - Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast
9 Sept 2016 - Friday of Week 23 Year 2

Monday of Week 23 Year 2

Every once in a while, we come across people who are extremely stubborn and obstinate. No matter what you say or do, such people have become so set or fixated with their ways that nothing can change their thoughts or mind set. It is certainly not easy to deal with such people, and we could only imagine what Jesus went through with the scribes and Pharisees in today's Gospel, who were just as stubborn and obstinate in their ways.

In today's Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees were so extreme in their ways that even curing a man on the sabbath is forbidden, as the Gospel tells us that they "were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him." Jesus was not dancing to their tune or following their strict interpretation of the law, and as a result, the scribes and Pharisees were going all out to get Him. When Jesus went ahead and cured the man with the withered hand, the scribes and Pharisees "were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus."

Perhaps we should look at ourselves and the way we lead our lives: have some of us become so stubborn and obstinate like the scribes and Pharisees, so much so that the letter of the law has become more important than the spirit of the law? Sometimes we forget the purpose of what we do, and do things merely to observe and follow God's law, whereas we should be observing a greater law, which is the law of love. May we have a change of heart and attitude, and learn to be loving and compassionate, just as our God is loving and compassionate to all of us.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Is it easy to follow Jesus and be a Christian? No. There are many things about being a Christian which goes against the ways of the world, and this could lead to misunderstanding, conflict, persecution and even death. That is why we must count the cost before committing ourselves; we must know what we are getting ourselves into; and we cannot follow Christ blindly or be a Christian without considering the serious implications of our call.

So what is so challenging and difficult about following Jesus and being a Christian? Today's Gospel gives us a few points to think about. Firstly, we are told: "Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple." This is difficult teaching especially since many of us are constantly taught that family comes first. But Jesus tells us that if we are asked to choose between what our family wants us to do and what God wants from us, we must always choose what God wants, even if this may go against the wishes of our family members. Does this mean that we should stop loving our family members? No. We must love them, but we must be strong in our commitment to the truth and to what is right. Great sins have been committed to maintain and to safeguard family honour. But being a Christian means our family should not be an obstacle to prevent us from being a good Christian and doing God's will. Secondly, we are told: "No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple." This means that we must be willing to offer our lives totally to God, just as Jesus offered His life totally on the cross to save us from our sins. Thirdly, we are told: "None of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns." This means that if we choose to follow Jesus, then we must change completely our attitude towards the goods of this world. We must be willing to be detached from such worldly and temporary things, and use them not for our own selfish needs or for our personal gratification, but to help others and to glorify Him.

Humanly speaking, these points seem to give us the impression that it seems impossible to be a Christian, if we are only to rely on human reasoning. This is why we need to constantly seek that divine wisdom which the first reading speaks of: "As for your intention, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from above?" It is this divine wisdom which would help us recognise that the things we are prepared to give up in this world are nothing or insignificant, compared with the riches we shall obtain in the kingdom of God.

Today, we are presented with a choice: to remain with the ways of the world, or to follow Jesus and be firm and steadfast to the ways of God. Naturally, it is not an easy or straighforward choice, but we cannot have it both ways. If you are placed in such a situation, may you be prudent and choose wisely, since your eternal future may be at stake.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 22 Year 2

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

28 Aug 2016 - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
29 Aug 2016 - Beheading of St. John the Baptist
30 Aug 2016 - Tuesday of Week 22 Year 2
31 Aug 2016 - Wednesday of Week 22 Year 2
1 Sept 2016 - Thursday of Week 22 Year 2
2 Sept 2016 - Friday of Week 22 Year 2

Beheading of St. John the Baptist

When a crime is committed or a serious sin is committed, what do we do? It is easy for many of us to sweep things under the carpet and let things be; or we may think that it is not our concern or our problem; or we just shrug and say that "life is like that, it is not fair, but what could we do." But how many of us are willing to stand up to the truth, even though we may be ridiculed, face persecution, or even face the possibility of death?

In today's Gospel, John the Baptist had great courage in condemning the marriage of Herod to Herod’s brother’s wife. Because of this, and to please his wife Herodias, Herod had John arrested and put in prison. John stood up for the truth and as a result, he had to pay a price. John's courage in upholding the dignity of marriage and condemning the adulterous relationship of Herod and Herodias resulted in his death by beheading in prison.

If we are put in a similar situation, would we be courageous like John the Baptist and uphold the truth? Or have we become compromising and accommodating, watering down the truth, or even disposing the truth altogether? In the end, who are we trying to please? Do we want to please mere mortals, that which is temporary? Or would we rather please God, that which is eternal?

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

What does it mean to be humble? Being humble is a Christian virtue, but some of us may have confused and misunderstood its true meaning. Some people think that humility means putting oneself down by being very critical of oneself, one's talents and one's achievements. They do not speak about their talents and gifts because they fear that this would appear to be boasting. Others criticise their own talents, abilities and achievements by saying: "I am not holy enough, don't choose me as a leader in this parish;" "my cooking is just so so, I don't think my dishes taste that great" (even though in reality, the dishes are yummylicious and shockalingam); "My voice is not that great, I don’t sing that well" (though in reality, the person sings like a lark). The problem and irony of such statements is: whenever we criticise and put ourselves down, we are actually hoping and expecting others to praise and admire us and our achievements. Such so called humility is not really humility, but is called false humility, which is a disguise for pride.

Instead, in today's Gospel, Jesus is telling us: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted." The first reading reinforces what Jesus is telling us: "My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver. The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favour with the Lord." Today's readings tell us that we should not seek any reward, praise, thanks or honour for what we do. We should not look for positions of honour or for recognition of our achievements, since once we have become addicted and attached to praise and human recognition, everything that we do may be with a hidden motive. When others do not praise or thank us, we become fed up, hurt and angry. Humility is serving and giving without asking or expecting anything in return; without needing to please others; and doing all things for the glory of God.

So what should we do? How should we understand humility? Humility is understanding and appreciating one's strengths and weaknesses. Every person has both strengths and weaknesses. If we learn to accept and live with our strengths and weaknesses, we would then be much happier persons. In the same way, we must also recognise and appreciate the weaknesses and strengths of others. We must always remember that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Also, humility means accepting all others as persons, as brothers and sisters. We should not pick and choose or stick only to certain groups. Instead, we should recognise everyone as precious, important, significant, valuable and deserving equal respect.

Today, let us follow the example of Jesus, who though was Son of God, humbled Himself and chose to become man, and even humbler still, chose to become a servant of all. As Christians, we should follow Jesus and embrace true humility, doing all things to build God's Kingdom and to give Him all the glory.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 21 Year 2

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

21 Aug 2016 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
22 Aug 2016 - Our Lady, Mother and Queen
23 Aug 2016 - Tuesday of Week 21 Year 2
24 Aug 2016 - St. Bartholomew, Apostle - Feast
25 Aug 2016 - Thursday of Week 21 Year 2
26 Aug 2016 - Friday of Week 21 Year 2

Friday of Week 21 Year 2

How prepared are we to face God? If God were to call you right now, would you be ready to meet Him? Or would you begin to go about frantically preparing yourself, even though it may already be a little too late? Sometimes due to one reason or another, some of us may have neglected in preparing ourselves to meet God, only to regret our inaction or procrastination later. Why put ourselves in a spot if we had been given plenty of time and chances to be prepared?

In today's Gospel, we come across ten bridesmaids. Five were foolish, five were sensible. Five chose to take things easy, five got things ready and were prepared for any situation. In the end, the five foolish bridesmaids ended up being left out and locked out. In our situation, would we end up like the five sensible bridesmaids, or would we be left out like the five foolish ones? May we be wise and prudent enough not be caught off-guard, and end up being left out.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

St. Bartholomew, Apostle - Feast

From time to time, some of us may have been guilty of judging others just by looking at them or hearing about them. Sometimes what we see or hear could have been coloured with prejudiced eyes and ears, and unless we are open to the promptings of God's spirit, we may fail to discover and appreciate another person's character, talent and capabilities.

In today's Gospel, St Bartholomew did not initially have a good impression of Jesus or Nazareth. Hearing that Jesus was from Nazareth, he asked, "What good can come out of Nazareth?" He said this because Nazareth was a small, insignificant place, and to the Jews, it seemed unlikely that the Messiah would come from there. St Bartholomew was not despising Jesus or even Nazareth for that matter, but he was just being frank and straightforward, and Jesus recognised that in St Bartholomew when He said that St Bartholomew was incapable of deceit. Not only that, Jesus saw that St Bartholomew was sincere and that he awaited for the coming of the Messiah, since St Bartholomew was found "under the fig tree," at prayer and open to the Lord. Eventually, St Bartholomew was humble and open enough to recognise Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel.

Some of us too may have been like St Bartholomew at some point of our lives. We may have had not quite a good impression of someone initially, because of what we may heard about the person or where the person came from. Let us pray that, like St Bartholomew, we would eventually see the good in others, just as Jesus sees the good in each of us.

Our Lady, Mother and Queen

When we look at a queen, what sort of impression do we get? Some of us think that a queen is a serene figure who gives moral and emotional support to the king. Some of us may have seen or experienced a queen who is the head of the country or the head of the government, and plays an active role in ensuring that the country remains peaceful and prosperous. But what sort of queen do we have in Mother Mary?

In Mother Mary, we have a queen who shows us what it means to be humble and willing to place our trust in God, no matter what happens. Though Mother Mary knew the risks and dangers she would face by agreeing to become the mother of God's Son, Jesus, she still said, 'I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.' We also see later in the Gospel, where Mother Mary showed care and concern for her cousin Elizabeth, by going to be with her and help her in her pregnancy, even though Mother Mary was herself pregnant. Such a wonderful, loving, humble and caring queen we have, a queen of our hearts.

Today, let us follow our Mother Mary's example, by being humble and willing to do God's will. Let us also show our care and concern towards others, just as Mother Mary did, so that others would know that we are Christians by our love.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

What sort of image do we have of God? Some of us seem to think of God as a fierce and strict police officer or judge, just waiting to catch us and condemn us for every little thing we have done. Some of us think that God is like a disciplinarian out to get us and give us a good whacking. But is God really like that? Of course not. Today's first reading shows us that God is not interested in condemning us, but He wants to save all of us, since the reading tells us: "I am coming to gather the nations of every language." Ultimately, God's plan is to save everyone, regardless of race, language or culture.

So if this the case, then how do we understand the parable of the narrow door in today's Gospel? Doesn't this parable seem to imply that God is trying to catch us or make it tough for us to be with Him? Once again, no. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us: "Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed." What does this mean? What Jesus is trying to bring to our attention is not how many people would be saved, rather He is trying to emphasise to us the manner in which we should live our lives. Jesus is reminding us that to be a Christian is not easy. The way of the Christian, the narrow door, is not going to be an easy way. To follow Christ, we must be prepared to accept suffering too, since it means that we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him; it means that we would be misunderstood by others; it means that people would make fun of us, tease us and insult us; and it means that we must not seek positions of honour and power but must be prepared to be servants of others: "the first will be last and the last will be first."

Though being a Christian means we should be prepared to suffer and that we should not be afraid of suffering, it does not mean we should become gluttons of punishment and purposely go looking for suffering. Through his own suffering and death, Jesus gave suffering a new meaning. Suffering is not punishment for our sins. Instead, the second reading assures us that: "Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness." People who have gone through suffering would be more sensitive and caring to others who are suffering. Through suffering, one learns to be more patient and understanding of others.

Calling ourselves Christians is not good enough. Going to church each Sunday is also not good enough. We must put into practice what we profess to believe. Today, let us be courageous and steadfast in suffering for Christ, and pray for the strength and the courage to enter through the narrow gate. Let us also encourage others to persevere, so that together, we would be with our loving God.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 20 Year 2

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

14 Aug 2016 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
15 Aug 2016 - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
16 Aug 2016 - Tuesday of Week 20 Year 2
17 Aug 2016 - Wednesday of Week 20 Year 2
18 Aug 2016 - Thursday of Week 20 Year 2
19 Aug 2016 - Friday of Week 20 Year 2

Friday of Week 20 Year 2

There are several words that we use which could form a sentence in itself. Among these, one word which is quite significant is "why." When we use the word "why," we could be using it as a sentence to question, to interrogate, to wonder, or even to reflect on something. When we use "why" to reflect on something, we come to a deeper understanding of why we do what we do.

In today's Gospel, Jesus responded to the Pharisees question about which is the greatest commandment of the Law: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also." Have you ever reflected on why these two commandments are the greatest? These two commandments actually are the very essence of being human, of being who we really are, and the meaning of our human existence. If we are to abandon or ignore these two commandments, we are actually ignoring our humanity, and by doing so, we become like the dry bones as mentioned in the first reading. We become dead, though we appear to be alive.

Thus, let us learn to love God and neighbour just like God loves all of us equally. Let us not harden our hearts, but let God be our help and guide, so that through our love and example, others would know what it means to be followers of Jesus.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Among the important discoveries of humankind, one which changed many things in our lives is the discovery of fire. By learning how to make fire and use it to our advantage, people gradually abandoned their nomadic life and settle down as farmers, heralding the beginning of villages, town and cities. Fire can be useful or destructive. It can be used to cook our meals or to burn down a house. It can be used to run equipment for industrial use, or to produce weapons of war.

In today's Gospel, Jesus makes use of fire to tell us why He had come: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!... Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." Some of us may find such a statement by Jesus difficult to understand and accept.  After all, He is called Prince of Peace by the prophet Isaiah. Now He is saying that He would set the earth on fire and bring about division. How do we make sense of such a statement then? We need to remember that Jesus, and us too, are not only priest and king, but also a prophet. In the Old Testament, the false prophet is one who tries to please the audience, especially the rulers. Such false prophets have got a personal agenda, such as personal gratification, fame, popularity, wealth or recognition. On the other hand, the true prophet proclaims God's Word, to his contemporaries, regardless of the consequences. The true prophet strives to speak the truth, and his words and warnings are meant to make us look into ourselves and discover that we may be our first and worst enemy, since quite often, it is our evil desires and deeds that may have kept us from living according to God's Word and walk in His ways. It is in this context that Jesus' coming and teachings would set the earth on fire and bring about division.

So what does this mean to us? What it means is that Jesus is now asking us make our choice: For or against Him; to say 'Yes' to God or to say 'No.' There is no in-between, no ifs, maybes or buts. Our choice will have eternal repercussions: Live according to His Word and we would have eternal life; or go against His Word and we will face the consequences, including eternal damnation. But we do not need to go through this alone, since Jesus is there to guide us and help us. In the second reading, St. Paul gives us these words of encouragement: "Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus... For the sake of the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God." With these words, St. Paul is asking us to make Jesus our model as we run the race of life. Jesus endured the cross and its shame in view of the "joy that lay before him," and we too should do the same. Jesus received triumphant glory by His obedience to His Father's will, and we would too, if we live by God's Word.

Let us therefore make our choice for Jesus and reaffirm it daily in thought, word and deed. Let us throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection, so that we would be with Him for all eternity.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 19 Year 2

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

7 Aug 2016 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
8 Aug 2016 - Monday of Week 19 Year 2
9 Aug 2016 - Tuesday of Week 19 Year 2
10 Aug 2016 - Saint Laurence, Deacon, Martyr - Feast
11 Aug 2016 - Thursday of Week 19 Year 2
12 Aug 2016 - Friday of Week 19 Year 2

Friday of Week 19 Year 2

Some of us sometimes forget who we are and where we come from. Some of us become easily upset or angry when someone has hurt us and some of us even begin to curse such persons, or even plot revenge. How many of us have truly learnt to be forgiving, to reconcile, and to move on? Sometimes it is due to our pride, prejudice and ego that makes it difficult for us to forgive, reconcile and move on. That is why we need to learn to have patience and humility, so that we would learn to forgive others their trespasses just as God forgives us our trespasses.

In today's reading, we are reminded of how loving and forgiving God is: "The Lord says this: 'Jerusalem, I will treat you as you deserve, you who have despised your oath even to the extent of breaking a covenant, but I will remember the covenant that I made with you when you were a girl, and I will conclude a covenant with you that shall last for ever... I am going to renew my covenant with you; and you will learn that I am the Lord, and so so remember and be covered with shame, and in your confusion be reduced to silence, when I have pardoned you for all that you have done – it is the Lord who speaks.'" Despite the many sins Jerusalem had committed, God was still willing to be merciful, loving and forgiving. What about us? Are we willing and able to follow God's example and do the same?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Saint Laurence, Deacon, Martyr - Feast

What do you look for in life? Some people seem to be busy trying to gain more riches, property and wealth; some look for power and prestige; some even look for recognition and titles. In our efforts to gain such things on earth, we may have grown more and more distant from God, since we may have spent much time on earthly pursuits, with little or no time for heavenly pursuits. But do all these really matter at the end? What would become of these things when we die? Can we bring them with us? Of course not. We would have to leave them behind. Then what is to become of us then?

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us: "Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life. If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him." Perhaps we should look carefully at the kind of lives we are living, and change our ways, growing closer to God while we have the chance to do so, so that we may be with Him for all eternity.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Different people have got different kinds of fear. Some fear the dark; some fear insects, spiders, lizards (especially those known as geckos or "cicak" in Malay, that reside in houses) or other creepy crawlies; some fear their husbands or wives due to one reason or another; some fear to lose, even in small or insignificant matters; and some fear heights. Among the many reasons people may be fearful of, I believe one which is quite common is the fear of death or dying. Many people do not like to talk about death or think about death. Perhaps, they think that if they do not talk about it or think about it, it would not happen. But the fact is, death will happen, and we cannot avoid death. It can come at any time and at any place.

Since we cannot avoid death, what do we do then? Do we try to run and hide somewhere, trembling and worrying ourselves silly? Of course not! We must, as Jesus tells us in today's Gospel, "stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." We should not be caught off guard but always be prepared and be ready. Jesus also reassures us: "There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom." We shouldn’t be afraid of death,  since death reminds us that there is a beginning and end to our physical life; that we need to pay attention to our relationship with others, especially with our family members and friends, during our short time on earth; that power, riches and popularity are all temporary, and we should remain humble; that we are humans, we are weak and we ultimately need to rely on God for everything; and that we should look seriously into our spiritual life and keep our soul clean and ready to meet the Lord and be with Him.

Moreover, the second reading reminds us that "only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen." Some of us fear death because we fear the unknown, and we do not know what is going to happen to us. But faith gives us the answer. Faith tells us that God will never abandon us and that God will make us a home for us with him in heaven.

Therefore, let us have faith and confidence that God will care for us. If we trust in Him and prepare ourselves consistently and faithfully with hope and humility, then we should not have any reason to fear death, since we are only strangers and nomads on earth in search of our real homeland, a better homeland, our heavenly homeland.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Housekeeping - Week 18 Year 2

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

31 July 2016 - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
1 Aug 2016 - Monday of Week 18 Year 2
2 Aug 2016 - Tuesday of Week 18 Year 2
3 Aug 2016 - Wednesday of Week 18 Year 2
4 Aug 2016 - Thursday of Week 18 Year 2
5 Aug 2016 - Friday of Week 18 Year 2

Wednesday of Week 18 Year 2

How persistent and consistent are we in asking God for help? Do we ask God with hope or perseverance, or do we so easily give up when help does not seem to come? Are we patient enough to let God do what is best for us? Or do we expect God to cure us immediately, and when He does not submit to our demands, we begin to go for other sources, hoping and expecting these to help us, only to end up being disappointed? Sometimes, such other sources may not only be unable to help us, but may cause us even more problems. Then what happens? What would we do?

In today's Gospel, we come across a Canaanite woman whose daughter is tormented by a devil. Jesus seemed reluctant to help her, since Jews generally do not have anything to do with Canaanites, and Jesus was a Jew "sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the Cannanite woman was persistent, patient and being humble enough to continuously call out to Jesus and seek His help. In the end, Jesus gave the woman what she wanted, saying: "Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted."

What about us? Are we going to grumble and pout when Jesus does not seem to be helping us? Or are we going to follow the example of the Canaanite woman, who showed us what it means to be persistent, patient and humble? May we let Jesus do what is best for us, in His time and for His glory.

Tuesday of Week 18 Year 2

Every once in a while, we come across difficulties and challenges in life. Sometimes we feel as if such difficulties and troubles are too overwhelming, so much so that we may be tempted to give up. Instead of continuing to fervently pray and depend on God's help, some may have doubted in God's providence and turned to other forms of help thinking that these would really help them, only to later find that they are of no help.

In today's Gospel, the disciples were battling with a heavy sea, and they doubted when Jesus came towards them, thinking that He was a ghost. Peter also doubted when he felt the force of the wind, took fright and began to sink, and Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. When we doubt, we begin to question whether God is able to help us. We fail to realise that God can help us, but according to His time. When we ask God for help, we cannot expect or demand that He will help us immediately according to our terms. Are we trying to control God? Let us be patient and persistent in prayer, knowing that God can and will help us. When and how? Trust and pray, go do your best today, and leave it in the hands of the Lord.

Monday of Week 18 Year 2

Every once in a while, we come across people who claim to be some sort of prophet of God. They start to tell others all sorts of messages, and sometimes people can be so easily duped by such so-called prophets. The fact is, being a prophet is not something which one takes upon himself or herself, and the message to be delivered is to be from God, not some message which sounds good or pleasing to others. Sometimes, the motivation behind such so-called prophets is to curry-favour or win over people who crave for good news, with the intention of gaining popularity, wealth and fame. Such so-called prophets are what we call false prophets, misusing the word "prophet" for their own ends and purposes.

In today's reading, we come across an example of a false prophet named Hananiah. The reading warns us of the consequences of being a false prophet: "The prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, 'Listen carefully, Hananiah: the Lord has not sent you; and thanks to you this people are now relying on what is false. Hence – the Lord says this, "I am going to throw you off the face of the earth: you are going to die this year since you have preached apostasy from the Lord."' The prophet Hananiah died the same year, in the seventh month." As we can see, a false prophet is asking for trouble, since such persons are not only deceiving others, but they would also face the wrath of God.

If any among us are behaving like a false prophet, let us take heed of the warning the reading gives us. Let us not think that God is not watching or ignoring our deeds, but stop our false ways and the nonsense we have been saying and doing. Let us repent and return to God's ways, before it is too late.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Among the many things that concern us in this life here on earth, one which ranks quite high is security. We are concerned about security not only in ensuring that our family and us are safe from robbers, brigands, thieves and other undesirable characters, we are also concerned about other forms of security such as wealth and property. To plan for the future and save up for a rainy day, we make much effort to buy insurance policies, make investments, save money in banks, because we are often thinking about our financial future and the future of our children.

The question is: as Christians, is it wrong to work for security for our families and for ourselves here on earth? Of course not. We still need to live and survive on earth. But what we should be aware of is our yearning for security here on earth should be put in its proper perspective. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us of a rich farmer who had a perspective for security which caused him to lose it all in the end. What was the rich farmer's mistake? What did he do wrong? He was greedy. He was "storing up treasures for himself." Jesus warned us before telling the story of the rich farmer by giving us this warning: "Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs." Greed causes a person to rely solely on material possessions for his security, since having material possessions makes him think that he is in control of his life, and he begins to depend only on himself for his security, forgetting that he has obtained all these riches only through the grace of God. Ultimately, he forgets that his life is in God's hands. Greed prevented the rich farmer from thinking of others and sharing with others what he has. Instead, he had plans to build more barns and thought of  hoarding or "storing treasures for himself" and for no one else.

So does this mean that having riches and wealth is sinful or wrong? No. Jesus is not condemning riches, but He is telling us to share our riches and our possessions. Jesus is telling us that, in the end, we cannot bring our riches with us when we die. Instead, life should be spent investing in things that really do matter, in things that will last. As St. Paul reminds us in the second reading: "Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him." In other words, our true security lies not in things in this world, but in Jesus.

The fact is, life is tough. We all know that. We face challenges each day. We work hard to make our lives more comfortable, and to do so, we accumulate all sorts of things, gadgets, gizmos and other conveniences. Sometimes, when we are so busy making our lives more comfortable here on earth, we forget about God, church and even our own families. We pressure our children to study hard and to get good jobs. No one is saying that these should be ignored or avoided, since these things have their purpose and importance, but they should not be the most important things in our lives. We should never let these things control our lives, because when we do, we become enslaved to them. We must never forget that we can never bring any of these things with us when we die. We entered into this world without having anything and we will leave this world without bringing anything.

Today, let us reflect the kind of lives we are living. Are our words, efforts and actions ultimately helping us to grow in relationship with God and grow closer to Him? Or are we leading ourselves astray, influenced and enslaved by the ways of the world, only to regret later? May we come to realise the condition our soul is in, and do the necessary while we have time and opportunities to do so, for the benefit of our eternal future.