Monday, 29 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 33 Year 2

How are we making use of the gifts, talents and capabilities that God has given us? Are we using our gifts, talents and capabilities as our own, to be used as we please, and perhaps to glorify ourselves? Or are we using such gifts, talents and capabilities for the greater glory of God? In today's Gospel, we read of a man of noble birth who gave ten servants one pound each to do business with. Most of the servants used their gifts, talents and capabilities to make more money for their master, and they were amply rewarded. But one servant, knowing fully well what sort of person his master was, still had the gall and the cheek to hand back the one pound to his master without doing anything to it. Such arrogance and refusal to use his gifts, talents and capabilities for the benefit of his master only led him to be condemned.

What about us? Are we using our gifts, talents and capabilities wisely for the greater glory of God? Or have we become selfish, complacent or arrogant, like that one servant, refusing to use our gifts, talents and capabilities in a righful way? Just as that one servant lost his one pound and was condemned, we too may lose our gifts, talents and capabilities if we are not careful.

Tuesday of Week 33 Year 2

What sort of state is your soul today in life? Are you consistently making effort to grow closer to God; or have you become lukewarm, paying more attention to what this world has to offer and losing focus in your faith and dependence in God's providence? In today's reading, the church in Sardis was once eager in faith for God but over time, it became more dead than alive in relationship with God. The reading also speaks of the church in Laodecia which was neither cold or hot in its zeal for God, but instead had also become lukewarm in faith. These churches in Sardis and Laodecia were warned by the Lord to wake up and change their ways and return to the Lord's fold.

What about us? Where do we stand? Have we become more dead than alive in our relationship with God? Have we become lukewarm in faith? God is inviting us to repent and turn back to Him, and dwell in His love and presence. It is up to us to take the initiative and make effort to change, open the door to our heart and soul, and let Him in.

Monday of Week 33 Year 2

When some of us first fell in love, we would have gone through a lot of effort to make our girlfriend or boyfriend special. We would note what he or she likes, his or her birthday, the first time we started going steady, and other significant events. We do all these because, we love being with the person, we want to make the person happy, we care about the person, and hopefully we would one day get married to the person. In other words, we make so much effort and spend much time trying hard to eventually earn a "degree in paktorlogy" ("paktor" is roughly translated as to date, with the intention and hope of marriage). But supposing one has gotten married already to the person for several years; is the love, determination and effort still vibrant? Are we making as much effort to stay married and to keep the flame of love alive?

In the first reading, John speaks of the church of Ephesus and the admonishment it received: "Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first." Just as a marriage needs constant effort, work and great doses of love, care and concern to stay vibrant, alive and exciting, members of the church too need to do their part with enthusiasm and vigour to keep the church vibrant, alive and exciting. We cannot let things wane, take things for granted or slack in our efforts. Our love must be consistent and strong. May we not lose or lessen our love, but keep it strong throughout the years, and give glory God in all we do.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Friday of Week 32 Year 2

In today's world, we have easy access to information, especially from the internet. But not everything posted or shared on the internet is true. Some people may have posted things which are lies, rubbish, nonsense or deceiving. Some of such persons do so for many reasons, including the intention to lead astray and bring about confusion. Some people even utter teachings which seem contrary or somewhat different to what Jesus taught, especially because they have picked and chosen what they want or like to hear or what suits them, and refuse to admit the truth. When we are faced with such a situation,what do we do?

In today's reading, John warns us: "There are many deceivers about in the world, refusing to admit that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. They are the Deceiver; they are the Antichrist. Watch yourselves, or all our work will be lost and not get the reward it deserves. If anybody does not keep within the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it, he cannot have God with him: only those who keep to what he taught can have the Father and the Son with them."

This is why we should not blindly agree to what certains persons have written or said, even though they may be so called persons of authority or importance. We should make every effort to understand our faith better through the various courses available to us, so that we would not be so easily duped by certain others. We also need to discern what we have heard, and verify its authenticacy. Let us not be so easily taken for a ride, and be vigilant and watch ourselves.

Thursday of Week 32 Year 2

In anything that we do, there needs to be some sort of preparation. We cannot expect to get good results or good progress if we try to get something done all of a sudden. For example,if we want to do well in an exam, we would need to begin studying early, so that we would have had enough practice to answer the questions efficiently and effectively. If we want to run a race, we would need to train our bodies early, so that running the race would not be that strenous to our bodies. If we want to climb a mountain, we would need to work out our leg and and hand muscles, so that we would be ready and prepared to withstand the pressure of climbing.

In today's Gospel, we are reminded that "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 faithful to our duty as Christians, then there is no reason to fear. We know that God will guide and care for us no matter what happens. Instead of becoming worrywarts or fret about such things, we should prepare ourselves and focus in building our relationship with God and also with others. If we have made the necessary preparations, we would be ready to meet the Lord at any time. Let us not slack or procrastinate, since the time to prepare is now.

Tuesday of Week 32 Year 2

When we try our level best to get a task done and the task is completed successfully, many of us would like to be appreciated or recognised for the task well done. Some of us hope to get into the good books of our boss, superior, bishop or leader. Others may hope for some form of reward, bonus, promotion or gift. But as Christians, what sort of attitude should we have when we have done something well or completed successfully?

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us: "when you have done all you have been told to do, say, "We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty."" Instead of expecting others to admire us, or reward us, or appreciate us, or say good things about us, we should be thankful and grateful to God for the gifts, talents and abilities He has given us to be able to get the task done. Instead of looking for rewards, praises or recognition to boost our ego, pride and personal gratification, we should give glory to God. After all, we do such things not to bring attention to ourselves or to build our own kingdom, but to build God's Kingdom.

Monday of Week 32 Year 2

As Christian leaders, we should be careful how we guide others, since sometimes the way we are guiding others may not necessarily be following God's will, but following our own agenda. Some Christian leaders may appear to be guiding others, but in actual fact, they are merely getting others to align to their ways. When there is dissent or disagreement from certain members, some of such leaders may reproach such members, or issue warnings to them to toe the line, or even have such members suspended, even though what is being dissented or disagreed is sensible and valid. This begs the question: are we as Christian leaders only expecting members to become "yes men or yes women" just to rubber stamp what we do, without proper evaluation, scrutiny or discernment?

In today's Gospel, Jesus cautions us: "Obstacles are sure to come, but alas for the one who provides them! It would be better for him to be thrown into the Sea with a millstone put round his neck than that he should lead astray a single one of these little ones. Watch yourselves!" When we try to enforce our own agenda, without any room for scrutiny or dissent; when we expect others to blindly or obediently accept our ways or our views; when we insist that only our way is the way to go; then we may be creating obstacles for others to grow and be of service to God. We may also be leading others astray, since we are concerned only with our own agenda, our ego, and our pride. May we come to realise what we are doing, and change our ways so that in all we do, we do it for the glory of God.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Friday of Week 31 Year 2

I remember some advertisements on television saying that "Home is where the heart is," In such advertisements, people are reminded and encouraged to go home to spend some time with their parents or family members, since one day, our parents and some of our family members may no longer be around. But as Christians, do we know where is our true home?

St. Paul in today's reading reminds us that our home on earth is only temporary. He tells us: "For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe. So then, my brothers and dear friends, do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord." How prepared are we to return to our true homeland? In our quest for happiness, we may have invested much time and effort in building our temporary home here on earth. How much time and effort have we put in preparing to return to our permanent home?

Thursday of Week 31 Year 2

If you had 100 sheep or 10 drachmas, and you lose one, what would you do? Some people would not have bothered about losing one sheep when they had another 99. In the same way, some people would not be too concerned about losing one drachma when they still have another 9. But to the people in today's Gospel, every sheep and every drachma was extremely valuable. The man who lost a sheep and the woman who lost a drachma were possibly quite poor, and losing even one could be disastrous. This is why they took so much effort and trouble to find that one lost sheep and drachma.

In the same way, God treats every one of us as extremely precious. He does not want any one of us to be lost. If we do get lost from time to time, God would come looking for us. When we are repentent and seek forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we have an opportunity to clean our souls and grow in relationship with God. When we do so, there would be "rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner," as Jesus said in today's Gospel. Are we willing to admit our sins, and seek forgiveness at confession, so that we could grow closer to God?

Monday of Week 31 Year 2

From a young age, many of us would have been taught and encouraged by our family, teachers, lecturers and peers to be the best we can be. Being the best you can be is not an issue, but the issue could occur if our objective or purpose leads us to become egoistic, self-centered, proud, conceited or ruthless. A person may begin to glorify oneself, thinking that he or she achieved and became the best one could be without any outside help, or as some may say, the person begins to think that he or she is self-made, instead of giving God the glory.

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind... There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead." St. Paul is cautioning us not to become entrapped in the ways of the world, where the me, myself and I is more important. When we allow ourselves to be consumed by the ways of the world, we only think of our needs, we begin to pursue only that which is for our success and happiness, and eventually there is no place for others, even no place for God in our lives. In the end, we may be building our own kingdom, instead of God's Kingdom. May we learn to be humble, giving thanks for the many abilities, gifts and talents God has given us, and use them for His greater glory.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Thursday of Week 30 Year 2

Evil exists, and evil will find ways and means to distract us and tempt us to sin. Some of us may think that we are capable and strong enough to resist temptation, but let us remember that the evil one knows our weaknesses and would use our weaknesses against us. Sometimes the temptations we face could be obvious, at other times, it could be very subtle. This is why, in today's reading, St. Paul advises us: "Grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put God’s armour on so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. That is why you must rely on God’s armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have enough resources to hold your ground."

Not only do we need to put on God's armour and depend on His care and providence, we also need to be consistent, committed and diligent in our prayer life. St. Paul also reminds us: "Pray all the time, asking for what you need, praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all the saints..." Sometimes we may feel tired, or we feel as if our prayers are not working or seem to be unheard; but God is listening; He may not answer our prayers straightaway, but He will not abandon us. Let us choose to put on His armour and continue to pray, knowing that God will guide us and protect us from evil.

Wednesday of Week 30 Year 2

Why do people obey? In some cases, people are not really obeying, but are simply complying to the instructions or demands of their superiors or leaders. People comply due to a number of reasons: some do so because it is in their best interest or advantage; some out of fear; some because of peer pressure; some for family, job or personal security. But how many of us obey according to the Christian context, that is to hear, trust, submit and surrender to God, letting Him be our providence and guide? How many of us are wholeheartedly, willingly, humbly, happily and faithfully obeying?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord – that is your duty... And parents, never drive your children to resentment but in bringing them up correct them and guide them as the Lord does. Slaves, be obedient to the men who are called your masters in this world, with deep respect and sincere loyalty, as you are obedient to Christ: not only when you are under their eye, as if you had only to please men, but because you are slaves of Christ and wholeheartedly do the will of God. Work hard and willingly, but do it for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of men... And those of you who are employers, treat your slaves in the same spirit; do without threats, remembering that they and you have the same Master in heaven and he is not impressed by one person more than by another." When we obey our parents, superiors or masters, we do so because we want to obey God and do things for the sake of the Lord. Our purpose and intention is to do what is pleasing to God. May we obey for the right reasons and right intentions, so that in all we do, may we give God the glory.

Tuesday of Week 30 Year 2

Over the years, I have come across couples who plan to get married but have not thoroughly thought about what exactly they are getting themselves into. Some couples, especially if the groom happens to come from certain ethnic groups, think that the wife would become like a servant or a slave to them, and they expect the wife to wait on them hand and foot. Some couples think that marriage is like a business contract, where either party can terminate the contract if he or she can no longer stand the other party, citing so called irreconcilable reasons. But what some of these couples do not realise that, as far as a Christian marriage is concerned, it is not something which we play play, since it is for keeps, or 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." As a couple, both the man and the woman must learn that there needs to be genuine love, concern, mutual respect and many other things which make a marriage work. Being egoistic or self-centered has no place in a marriage, and couples need to learn to care for each other and support each other for better or for worse. It is certainly not easy staying married, but we pray for God's grace that all couples will persevere and stay faithful, responsible and committed.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Monday of Week 30 Year 2

When there is light, we can see things clearly. We can go about in our various tasks with little difficulty. But for some of us, light can cause problems for us, especially if we have something to hide, or if there are "skeletons in the closet." When we have something to hide and we do not want others to know, we would go through great lengths to keep others in the dark, so that what we have said and done would not come to light. But for how long can we hide? Would we be able to face up to the truth, if it has come to light someday and somehow?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light." As Christians, we are supposed to be like children of light. But let us ask ourselves honestly: are we really like children of light? Or have some of us stubbornly and vehemently chosen to remain in the dark? Are we willing to come out into the light and let the Lord guide us to become better persons? Or do we prefer to remain entrapped and enslaved in the dark?

Friday of Week 29 Year 2

Before a person becomes a priest or a religious, the person would have gone through many years of formation, as part of a discernment process on whether the person is really suitable for priesthood or religious life. When a person has applied to enter the seminary or formation house and has been accepted, then it is the person's responsibility to be committed in going through the formation. This means that the person should not treat formation lightly, and do his or her best to discern carefully and continuously whether such a life is what he or she really wants. Once the person is ordained or has made the final profession, then the person should remain committed to his or her vocation. Likewise, a person who chooses to get married should be committed in staying married.

In today's reading, St. Paul implores us: "I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called." St. Paul is reminding us to be true and committed to the vocation we have chosen, since vocation is a life-long commitment and not something we can change as if we are changing clothes. Let us not be hypocrites in the way we live, but be genuine and true to our vocation.

Thursday of Week 29 Year 2

I believe most of us would want to live a harmonious life with our parents, siblings and other family members. I do not think anyone in his or her right mind would want to create division among family members. After all, we are reminded that "blood is thicker than water" and "united we stand, divided we fall." But sometimes, certain situations or circumstances could cause family relationships to become strained or even divided. For example, while we try to live harmoniously with our family members, there are also difficult situations where we need to choose whether to listen to our family demands and go against God's commandments; or observe God's commandments and risk division among the family. If you were to choose one or the other, with no middle ground or choice, what would you choose?

In today's Gospel, Jesus cautions us: "Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." There are times, situations or circumstances where we need to make a choice, and the choice we make could cause our family members to become divided; some supporting us and some going against us. Such choices may involve matters concerning our faith and morals, and if put in such a difficult or even dangerous situation, the choice we make could have grave consequences. May we make a right and good choice, and be prepared to face the rewards or consequences.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 29 Year 2

Throughout history, we have seen how certain ethnic groups have thought that God cares only for them and would protect them. One such ethnic group were the Israelites, and they thought that God would only their guide. These Israelites thought that they had a monopoly over God, and that God would only focus bringing salvation to them and them alone.

But the suprising thing is this: In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel." St. Paul reminded the Israelites, and us to, that God cannot be confined solely to us, since He has brought salvation to these pagans too. If God has given such pagans a share the same inheritance, then we should not segregate or avoid the many "pagans" in our society. Instead, we should be united with them in glorifying God in all we do, so that together, others would know what it means to be Christian.

Monday of Week 29 Year 2

Among the many exams we need to sit, one which could be said to be the most difficult is the exam of life. People seem to fail in this exam because they do not realise that the questions asked for each person is different, as each person has got a different question paper, and copying others would not be of any help. Instead, such an exam needs to be answered on our own, with help from God, since each and every one of us is an individual, different, unique, and special.

In today's reading, we are reminded that "We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it." This tells us that we are specially created for a purpose, and we are created different from others, works of art with no duplicates. Instead of trying to be like others; instead of trying to copy others; instead of keeping up with the Jones or trying to match the abilities and talents of others; we should be thankful and grateful for the gifts and talents God has given us, and develop our gifts and talents for the glory of God. If we come to realise that we are God's works of art; if we make every effort to glorify God by trusting in His providence and using our unique talents and gifts responsibly; then we would stand a good chance of passing our exam of life with flying colours, since we would be living life as He had meant us to live it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Friday of Week 28 Year 2

Are you a hypocrite? Do you do things for show, or do you practise what you preach? People are hypocrites when they are not being real, they put on a show but in actuality are not who or what they really are, and do not practise what they preach. Could you be guilty of hypocrisy in some form?

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us to "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is, their hypocrisy. Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear." We need to be truthful and honest about ourselves: are we really being who we are? Are we saying and doing things for our own benefit and glory, or just to sound good or look good, or just to please others? Are we being blind guides and causing others to stray? We may think we can run, but we cannot hide forever. One day we would need to give an account of our attitude, behaviour and conduct. When that happens, what would the consequences be? Jesus cautions us in the Gospel: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell." Let us thus be true, be real, be genuine in what we say and do, and make every effort and without pretense to walk humbly in God's presence, learning to love all, while trusting and depending on Him.

Thursday of Week 28 Year 2

What do you do when you have done something wrong? Some people choose to keep the wrongdoing under wraps, or pretend that it never happened, or sweep it under the carpet, thinking and hoping that no one would notice or investigate or interrogate further. Some people would try to find a scapegoat to put the blame on, refusing to take any responsibility for what had happened. How many of us are truly, humbly or willingly able to admit the wrongdoing, seek forgiveness and make amends where possible, and move on?

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus exposing the many wrongdoings and nonsenses that the scribes and Pharisees had been guilty of. Instead of admitting or acknowledging their guilt, they reacted towards Jesus' accusation in this way: "...began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions, setting traps to catch him out in something he might say." When we are proud, conceited or self-righteous, we may be behaving just like the scribes and Pharisees by refusing to change our ways. Are we setting ourselves up for eternal ruin and condemnation, by refusing to change our ways even though we have been given many opportunities to do so?

Monday, 22 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 28 Year 2

What sort of "spirit" are we living in? Are we living a spirit of self-indulgence? Or are we being "led by the Spirit?" Some of us may be living in a spirit of self-indulgence, especially when we are involved in "fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things." All these things would lead us away from God, as St. Paul in today's reading has cautioned us: "I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

However, if we are being "led by the Spirit" as mentioned by St. Paul in today's reading, then "What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit."

At the end of the day, we are invited to choose: whether to be led by a spirit of self-indulgence, or to be led by the Spirit of God. How we live our lives today, what sort of spirit are we being led, is up to us to decide, and we should be ready and prepared to face the consequences or rewards.

Tuesday of Week 28 Year 2

When people became Christians, they should have abandoned practises that contradict the Christian life, and have more trust and dependence on God. However, some still go back to old habits, attitudes, ways of doing things or behaviours which contradict how a Christian should live, especially when their prayers are not answered or when they do not get what they wish. Are we Christians only in name, as if it is some form of prestige or status symbol; or are we really and truly living as Christians, by showing our faith through our love?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "Christians are told by the Spirit to look to faith for those rewards that righteousness hopes for, since in Christ Jesus whether you are circumcised or not makes no difference – what matters is faith that makes its power felt through love." May we not take for granted our lives as Christians and show our faith through our actions, so that others may know that we are Christians by our love.

Monday of Week 28 Year 2

It is interesting to observe how some people could claim to be free, but they are actually not free in other ways. For example, a person could seem free, but is enslaved by being addicted or dependent on substances, such as certain drugs, tobacco, or alcohol; or a person could be enslaved in various forms of personal gratification, abusing our minds and bodies; or a person could be enslaved in certain habits or attitudes, making it difficult for us to be truly human. So, are such people really free? Are you truly free?

In today's reading St. Paul reminds us: "When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." We were freed and made sons and daughters of God, but perhaps some of us do not understand, appreciate or value the freedom won for us. We slowly lose our freedom when we sin and neglect to have the sin cleaned by promptly go for confession. We lose our freedom when we become indifferent towards God and towards others and become enslaved in our ego, pride and personal gratification. May we not allow ourselves to be enslaved by such yokes of slavery and end up jeopadising our eternal future.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Thursday of Week 27 Year 2

When I was a child, I thought that if I wanted something all I had to do was to pray really hard. A new toy for Christnas, a wonderful cake for my birthday, a raise in my allowance? I thought that all I had to do was ask. Eventually, of course, I figured out that the world didn't work that way; and God did not answer prayers the way I thought He would. I did not fully understand why God did not answer my prayer, but I reasoned that maybe He was still thinking about it, like how my parents would think about it when I asked them for something.

Later when I grew older, I began to understand why sometimes my prayers were not answered. In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us to be persistent in prayer. But being persistent in prayer does not mean that God will answer our prayer according to our whims and fancies. Persistent in prayer involves praying and asking God to answer our prayer, but at the same time having full trust and confidence that God knows what is best for us. God understands our hearts better than we do ourselves. If we open our hearts, we will receive what we really want and need, even if it's not exactly what we might think we want and need. May we remain persistent and hopeful, knowing that God will do what is best for us, for His glory.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 27 Year 2

What do we do when a person has said or done something wrong? Surely we would counsel the person, or even reprimand him or her for his or her words and actions. But sometimes, we come across people who practice double standards. When it comes to rich or influential persons, such people would be extra nice or kind to them; but when it comes to the poor or the meek or the marginalised, such people may treat them like dirt. What should we do, if we call ourselves Christians? Are we impartial, or do we practice double standards?

In today's reading, we see St. Paul being bold and willing to tell St. Peter off in his face. Even though St. Peter was an apostle and could be considered an influential person, St. Paul was impartial in his counsel. St. Peter was wrong by suddenly changing his attitude towards eating with pagans, just because a certain group of friends of James arrived. St. Peter may have been unwilling to create tension or issues with those group of friends of James, but his conduct was unbecoming of an apostle, who is supposed to be impartial, loving and fair to all, without fear or favour. Because of this, St. Paul gave St. Peter a piece of his mind: he told him off!

What about us? As Christians, are we being fair and loving to all, regardless of status, rank, or importance? Let us be impartial towards others, so that others would know and understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Tuesday of Week 27 Year 2

We sometimes hear people saying: "You cannot teach an old dog new tricks" or "a leopard cannot change its spots." Such sayings seem to imply that people, especially when they have reach a certain age or if they have certain attitudes, cannot change no matter how hard others try to help them. Some of us begin to tolerate such persons, or if they are so difficult to get along with, some of us even begin to avoid them or shun them. The funny thing is, what seems impossible to us humans is not a problem with God. God can change people, and a person who was once so mean, wicked, difficult, obnoxious or even dangerous, could change to become a better person.

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." God changed Paul by transforming him from a persecutor of the faith, to a great defender of the faith, and even eventually died for the faith.

So What does this mean to us? It means that God will take care of things, and we just need to be patient and trust in Him. 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.

Monday of Week 27 Year 2

Over the years, we have come across people who claim to be followers of Christ and they seem to have the gift of the gab. These people begin to go around appearing to be preaching the Good News, but we could begin to notice something strange or odd about the message these people are preaching. Quite often, these people would either preach fear or doomsday and they would try to entice people to give up their wealth; or these people would preach about receiving greater rewards from God if we are more generous in our contributions or love offerings. Some people become so easily taken in by fear of the end times, or by such easy access to God's grace and providence, that they are duped into parting with their cash and even property. More often than not, such so called preachers are only looking to enriching themselves, and then make a run for it..

In today's reading, St. Paul warns us: "if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one you have already heard, he is to be condemned. So now whom am I trying to please – man, or God? Would you say it is men’s approval I am looking for? If I still wanted that, I should not be what I am – a servant of Christ. The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realise this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ." St. Paul is cautioning us to be careful and vigilant, because there may be preachers claiming to proclaim the Good News, but they are actually giving us false teaching. Let us not be so easily taken for a ride, and adhere to true and proper preaching, for the good of our eternal future.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Friday of Week 26 Year 2

Some of us, at some point of our lives, may have been guilty of saying too much. Sometimes, we think we know it all, and try to show how much we know or how clever we are by giving comments, advice, suggestions, or even criticism, even though these were not asked for in the first place.This causes us to get into trouble for saying or asking certain things which should not be said or asked, or is not for us to be concerned about.

In today's reading, we are presented with God's response to Job's lamentation. Job had lamented why he was going through all sorts of sufferings and calamnities, and was trying to figure out where he had gone wrong. In response, God posed a number of rhetorical questions to Job, all of which are designed to show Job how small he is in relation to God's plan. In posing such questions to Job, God was reminding Job that His wisdom isn't like human wisdom; His ways are not human ways. Faced with such questioning, Job realised that he had said too much, perhaps he had overstep the line, and he said (possibly sheepishly): "My words have been frivolous: what can I reply? I had better lay my finger on my lips. I have spoken once... I will not speak again; more than once... I will add nothing."

What about us? Have we realised that there are times we have overstep the line? Have we realised that we said too much? Let us learn to know what to say and when to say things, and place our trust in God, knowing that some things are best not asked or said, but trusting and having confidence in His care and providence is the better way to go.

Wednesday of Week 26 Year 2

Things happen for a reason and sometimes we humans find it difficult to understand why such things happen in the first place. We begin to question ourselves, question others or even question God, asking or even demanding answers as to why such things have occured. Some of us even begin to blame others or even blame God for what has taken place. But the point is, things really do happen for a reason, and even though the reason may not be revealed or may not be so clear or understandable, are we humble and willing to put our trust in God?

In today's reading, Job questioned: ""How can a man be in the right against God?" "Can anyone be so rash as to challenge Him for reasons?" Sometimes we may never know why certain things have occured. Other times, we may get some understanding of why such things happen. But instead of looking for someone or something to blame; instead of looking for a scapegoat; perhaps we should learn from what has happened, and give thanks to God for His care and providence. Every cloud has a silver lining, and let us not lose sight of God, knowing that He will help us and transform us into something better.

Tuesday of Week 26 Year 2

Each of us may have faced some sort of problem, calamity, hardship, suffering, anxiety, stress, or depression at some point of our lives. When we are faced with such situations, what do we do? Some would give up and despair. Some would resort to abuse of substances. Some would start blaming others for their condition, or even blame God. How many of us would bravely, resolutely and unwaveringly go through the situation, trusting God and knowing that God would help us?

In today's reading, we come across Job who had been inflicted with one catastrophe after another. Satan was trying to make him curse God for the situation he was in. Yet, Job did not curse God or despair. He cursed the day he was born instead, wishing that he had not been born. Job did not put the blame on anyone or God, but expressed his feelings via figures of speech and exaggeration. Job still trusted in God to see him through his predicament. What about us? Are we patient and humble enough to trust in God's providence and help?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Monday of Week 26 Year 2

People can sometimes act strangely depending on the situation. When times are good, most people would enjoy the goodness and not think much about it. But what happens when bad times occur, when there is widespread disease, destruction, wars, persecution, suffering and other calamities that happen? Some people would begin to curse and fret over such misfortune or calamities. Some people would even think that there is no hope, causing some to even consider ending it all. But how many of us are able to give thanks to God, even in the face of such calamities?

In today's reading, Job was faced with one calamity after another. Facing one calamity was already bad enough, but facing so many in one day? It was certainly painful and shocking for Job, but what did he do? The reading tells us: "In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God." If we were in Job's shoes, would we be able to do the same? Would we still be thankful and grateful to God for all that He has done, and remain confident in His providence?

Friday of Week 25 Year 2

What does the word "time" mean to you? Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. For some of us, we feel as if we have no time or little time, since we seem to be so busy with so many things. For others, especially when we are sick or elderly, we may feel as if we have so much time in our hands. But do we really have so much time or so little of it? Is time really in our hands?

In today's reading, we are reminded that "There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven... What does a man gain for the efforts that he makes? I contemplate the task that God gives mankind to labour at. All that he does is apt for its time; but though he has permitted man to consider time in its wholeness, man cannot comprehend the work of God from beginning to end."This reading reminds us that ultimately, all time is in God's hands and all He does is apt for its time. Likewise, we too should learn to do what is necessary and apt for its time, and not overdo things. What has happened is past; what is happening is the here and now, and we should do what we can and leave the rest to God; and what may happen in the future should not concern us, if we trust in God's care and providence.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Thursday of Week 25 Year 2

I find it amusing to see how some people go all out to pursue some qualification such as a Masters degree or a Doctorate. These people are willing to make major sacrifices to achieve such qualifications, but how does such qualifications help a person become a better person, a more loving person, a more responsible person, or even a person who is more dependent on God's providence? A person could attain such higher qualifications, but if the person becomes haughty, proud, conceited, aloof, egoistic, or even vain, are such higher qualifications helpful or useful? Sure, you may get a better pay or position; some people may look up to you and admire your intellectual capabilities; but is this all there is to it?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Vanity of vanities, the Preacher says. Vanity of vanities. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity! For all his toil, his toil under the sun, what does man gain by it?" Vanity is defined as having excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, or achievements; being conceited; thinking that the world centres around oneself. Have we been vain or conceited in one form or another? What do we really gain by being so vain? All these things are temporary. Shouldn't we be striving more for that which is eternal?

Tuesday of Week 25 Year 2

It is easy for some of us to be fooled by appearances. For example, a person could appear to be holy or generous. The person could be doing a lot of good deeds, helping the poor, performing all sorts of corporal works of mercy, and other tasks. But does this mean that the person is really a genuine, good and holy person? Not necessarily so, since people could be doing such things to show off, to boost their ego, to look good, and win admiration from others.

This is why today's reading cautions us: "A man’s conduct may strike him as upright, the Lord, however, weighs the heart." Persons performing such good deeds and charitable tasks may be able to fool others, but they cannot fool God, since God sees all and knows our intentions. Thus, let us do what is just and what is right with love, justice and compassion, remembering that all that we do is ultimately for the glory of God.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Monday of Week 25 Year 2

If you had an opportunity to do some good for another person, would you do it? Some of you may say: "I would, but depending on the context and situation." That seems a fair statement, but saying it is one thing, doing it is another. It is easy to say "I would," but some of us could begin to make excuses if the situation or context is not so favourable or there does not seem to be anything to be gained from helping. If the situation is not dangerous, but does not provide any advantage or benefit, but a service to humanity, how many of us would really be willing to help? What more if the situation involves some danger or risk, but helping could deter a small crime or save a life, would we be willing to help, or would we mind our own business?

In today's reading, we are reminded to be good examples towards others. But being good examples is not sufficient. We also need to suppliment our being with doing. Today's reading reminds us: "My son, do not refuse a kindness to anyone who begs it, if it is in your power to perform it. Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Go away! Come another time! I will give it you tomorrow’, if you can do it now." If we are given an opportunity to show our love as Christians, would we, if it is in our power or ability, do it? Or would we procrastinate and make excuses? Ultimately, people will come to know God's love through our example and efforts, and may we be bold and humble enough to do as best we can, for the greater glory of God.

Friday of Week 24 Year 2

Do you believe that there is life after death? As Christians, we believe that there is life after death, but we sometimes come across people who seem to think that this life is all that matters. They rather spend more time and effort to accumulate titles, wealth, fame, and recognition, with the intention of winning admiration and respect from others. These people think that after this life is over and done with, that is it: we are finished, we are history. But is this what we Christians believe? As Christians, could some of us be thinking that this life is all there is to it and all that matters?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us that we Christians believe in the resurrection. He says: "Now if Christ raised from the dead is what has been preached, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ himself cannot have been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless and your believing it is useless; indeed, we are shown up as witnesses who have committed perjury before God, because we swore in evidence before God that he had raised Christ to life."

As Christians, we are reminded each time we recite the Nicene or Apostles creed that there is the resurrection of the dead. This means that we Christians affirm and believe that there is life after death. May we not fool ourselves into thinking that this life is all that matters or that this life is all there is to it, and make the necessary preparations for our eternal future while we have time and opportunities to do so.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Tuesday of Week 24 Year 2

Are you happy with the gifts and talents that God has given you? Some of us say that we are happy, while others may wish that they had certain gifts and talents that others have. But the thing is, God makes each and every one of us different. The gifts and talents of each and every one of us is unique, and God in His wisdom has granted such gifts and talents not for us to gloat or become proud and conceited, but ultimately for His glory and to proclaim the Good News. Are we using our talents wisely, or are we wasting our talents for selfish reasons?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink. Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its many parts. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it."

Our duties, responsibilities, or functions may be different; our gifts and talents may be different; but we are still brothers and sisters in Christ. We should put our gifts and talents to good use and do our duty with joy, enthusiasm and vigour, instead of trying to compare with others and feeling upset that we are not being given something better. After all, at the end of the day, we are part of God's family, and as a family we ought to be united with diversity.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Monday of Week 24 Year 2

When we are invited to dine with the sultan or with the king or with some VIP (Very Important Person), would we go straight to the food and eat to our hearts content? Surely we would wait until certain protocols and customs have been observed, then only when the time has come to eat, we would begin the meal with decorum, respect and table manners. But when we come for Mass, do we practice the same decorum, respect and table manners?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us of such decorum, protocol and table manners when we come for Mass: "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 relevant even today. When we come for Mass to the Table of the Lord, we are coming for a banquet with the Lord. Just as we would observe the proper decorum, respect and table manners when we dine with so-called important persons on earth, may we remember who we are dining with when we come for Mass, and observe the proper decorum, respect and table manners such as fasting an hour before Holy Communion, going for confession, and ensuring that our children do not eat during Mass, just to name a few.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Friday of Week 23 Year 2

In life, some of us take on a task for a variety of reasons. Some do so because they like a challenge and want to diplay their capabilities. Some do so because they expect some sort of reward, having a "what's in it for me" attitude. Some do so because they are being forced into it, and they get the task done half-heartedly. But how many of us are willing to do so for the glory of God?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "All the runners at the stadium are trying to win, but only one of them gets the prize. You must run in the same way, meaning to win. All the fighters at the games go into strict training; they do this just to win a wreath that will wither away, but we do it for a wreath that will never wither." We may want to win, we may want to take on a task, but we should check our intentions on why we are doing so. Are we wanting to win or taking on a task for our own gratification or to boost our ego? Or are we wanting to win or taking on a task to give God the glory and to strive towards our eternal reward?

Friday, 12 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 23 Year 2

Some of us may have heard of the words: "don't go looking for trouble." What these words basically mean is whatever we do and whatever state of life we may be in or we may be thinking of getting into, we should consider the consequences and weigh the costs. In other words, we should not play play when making a choice concerning a state of life, and think carefully and thoroughly before making any commitments.

In today's reading, St. Paul advises us: "About remaining celibate, I have no directions from the Lord but give my own opinion as one who, by the Lord’s mercy, has stayed faithful. Well then, I believe that in these present times of stress this is right: that it is good for a man to stay as he is. If you are tied to a wife, do not look for freedom; if you are free of a wife, then do not look for one. But if you marry, it is no sin, and it is not a sin for a young girl to get married. They will have their troubles, though, in their married life, and I should like to spare you that." What Paul is trying to tell us is basically this: be faithful, contend, responsible, dedicated, and committed to the way of life you are presently in or chosen and soon to be in. Don't go "looking for trouble" by trying to run away or shirk from your duties and responsibilities in whatever way of life you have chosen. May we be faithful to the state of life we have chosen, and in all we do, give glory to God.

Tuesday of Week 23 Year 2

As Christians, we sometimes come into conflict with a fellow brother or sister. Sometimes the conflict could be a small matter. Other times, it could be a serious matter. But whatever the matter may be, we should settle issues among ourselves, within our community. However, some of us are still stubborn and insisting that we bring such matters, no matter how trivial it may be, to court, such as the local magistrate, or even high court.

This is why St. Paul in today's reading admonishes us: "How dare one of your members take up a complaint against another in the law courts of the unjust instead of before the saints? As you know, it is the saints who are to ‘judge the world’; and if the world is to be judged by you, how can you be unfit to judge trifling cases? Since we are also to judge angels, it follows that we can judge matters of everyday life; but when you have had cases of that kind, the people you appointed to try them were not even respected in the Church. You should be ashamed: is there really not one reliable man among you to settle differences between brothers and so one brother brings a court case against another in front of unbelievers?"

The church has got a tribunal which has priests and lay people as judges and lawyers. Some people think that the tribunal is only for marriage cases, but it is much more than that. Cases between Catholics concerning an issue could also be heard. Why do we stubbornly and vehemently insist in getting unbelievers to judge our cases, as St. Paul questions us, when we have a tribunal which could do the same in a Christian way?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Monday of Week 23 Year 2

Yeast is a helpful ingredient when making bread. You need just a bit of yeast to make the bread rise. However, when you put too much yeast, the bread becomes spoiled and can no longer be used. That is why, when it comes to baking bread, one needs to know the proper technique and the amount of yeast needed, otherwise one's efforts in baking bread would not be fruitful.

In today's reading, St. Paul warns us that, just as a bit of yeast can make bread rise, a bit of sin not addressed and confessed will eventually darken and damage our soul. If left further unchecked, we may even lose connection with God, as the infection becomes terminal. That why we should not delay or think that we have plenty of time to go for confession and clean our soul, since the yeast of sin could create barriers within us and prevent us from making amends with God. May we not allow ourselves to come to a stage where we lose connection with God, and risk our eternal future.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Friday of Week 22 Year 2

Some of us seem to excel in coming up with conclusions about others or judging others. Just because a person is not doing things the way we expect; or we hear about the person doing this or that and we act upon such news without careful investigation; or we have already assumed certain things about certain persons wihout fully understanding the person and where he or she is coming from; we pass judgement on the person so quickly. Sometimes, we end up eating humble pie, or we discover a little too late that we have made a terrible mistake in making such judgments. The thing is, we are being reckless and presumptuous when we jump to conclusions or make judgements in this way. Unkind words and actions cannot be taken back, once they are said or meted out.

In today's reading, St. Paul cautions us: "There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God." This does not mean that we do not make judgements at all, but we should refrain from making impulsive or premature ones. Sometimes it may be best to wait and see, and let God guide us in our thoughts and actions, so that we would be patient and compassionate towards others. After all, we too have done wrong before, and yet God is ever patient and merciful towards us. Likewise, we too should do the same towards others.

Thursday of Week 22 Year 2

From a young age, many of us were told by our parents to study hard and excel in school. Even our teachers would sometimes pay extra attention to those students who were bright or hardworking, since these were the students who were obedient and were serious in their studies. When we went for higher studies, some of us may have been reminded by our parents to "study hard, work hard, don't break your parents hearts" (a so called idiom I recall hearing a few times, but have no clear idea where it originated from). But all these efforts in doing well and succeeding in life, are they an indication that a person would be wise? Sometimes we come across people who we consider wise but who may not be so highly educated, or may not be wise according to the expectations of the world, but we say that they are wise in a different way. In fact, can anyone really claim to be wise?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us: "Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human..." As humans, our so called wisdom is limited. We could claim to be wise to a certain extent, but we may not be so wise in the eyes of God. That is why we should not think too highly of ourselves, since all our wisdom, knowledge, abilities and skills ultimately come from God. Instead, let us remain humble and always be thankful to God for the many gifts and talents He has given us, and use such gifts and talents for His greater glory.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 22 Year 2

Some of us seem to like comparing one person or thing to another. For example, we may have been compared to a classmate or school mate who seemed smarter than we are; or we have been compared to another person who is more athletic than us; or we have compared one item to another. Even in church, we sometimes hear of comparisons: a parish priest being compared to the previous one; or a leader of a parish ministry compared to the previous one; or even one church compared to another. But as Christians, what sort of attitude should we have towards comparison? Should we compare in the first place?

In today's reading, St. Paul admonishes us: "After all, what is Apollos and what is Paul? They are servants who brought the faith to you. Even the different ways in which they brought it were assigned to them by the Lord. I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God made things grow. Neither the planter nor the waterer matters: only God, who makes things grow. It is all one who does the planting and who does the watering, and each will duly be paid according to his share in the work. We are fellow workers with God; you are God’s farm, God’s building." The reading reminds us that we should not be comparing one person or thing to another, since ultimately, we are serving God, not to boost our ego or to serve ourselves. Each of us have got our own task and our own talents and gifts, so we should use such talents and gifts not to show how great we are, but to glorify God. May we stop all these comparisons, which can create jealousy, enmity and resentment, and instead devote ourselves to serving God and serving others.

Tuesday of Week 22 Year 2

Life on this earth is a journey, and throughout this journey, we need to make choices. Sometimes the choices we make are spiritual, sometimes worldly. But whatever choice we make, we need to be prepared for the outcome, which could be good or bad. Some people choose to focus on only worldly matters, and limit or even totally ignore spiritual matters. Others choose to focus on spiritual matters, while not forgetting worldly matters, since we still need to live and survive. What about you? Are you only interested in worldly matters? Or have you made effort to grow spiritually and grow closer to God?

In today's reading, St. Paul reminds us that "An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit. A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men." At the end of the day, everything of this world is only temporary. Everything that the world has to offer won't last, and we too won't live forever. It is up to us to decide whether we want to risk our eternal future or make necessary effort and preparations while we still have opportunities to do so.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Friday of Week 21 Year 2

We sometimes come across people who call themselves experts in a particular subject or a particular field of study. Such persons may claim to know a lot about the subject or field of study, but as we know, many subjects or fields of study evolve or change over time. Nothing is permanent and nothing remains the same, since what we know yesterday, may become old news, or obsolete, or no longer relevant today or tomorrow.

In today's reading, we are reminded of an expert whose wisdom goes beyond any wisdom of man. The reading tells us: "As scripture says: I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing all the learning of the learned. Where are the philosophers now? Where are the scribes? Where are any of our thinkers today? Do you see now how God has shown up the foolishness of human wisdom? ...For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength." Since God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, let us not become so proud, arrogant or conceited about wisdom found here on earth. Instead, let us remain humble and do our part in remaining in right relationship with God, and submit to His wisdom, since His wisdom is ageless and limitless.

Thursday of Week 21 Year 2

In everything that we do, there needs to be some sort of preparation. For example, if we want to do well in an examination, we would need to study smart and get sufficient rest, so that we would be prepared and remain alert while attempting the examination. If we want to remain healthy, we would need to ensure we have healthy food, live a healthy lifestyle, exercise and go for regular medical checkups to detect any potential illnesses eatly. The same goes for our soul: if we want to keep our soul clean, we need to be regular in going for confession and doing penance. We do all these things because we do not know what is going to happen in the future, so we need to be well prepared.

In today's Gospel, Jesus warns us "Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming... You too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."Jesus is not asking us to be extremists and focus only in our spiritual life, but also to take care of our lives too. There is a time and place for everything, and if we remain alert and vigilant, then there is no need to worry, since we are making efforts to stand ready. May we not be caught off-guard, but remain prepared to be with the Lord.

Tuesday of Week 21 Year 2

Every once in a while, we come across people who try to scare others into believing that the world is going to end. They then try to cajole such persons into parting with their wealth, supposingly in preparation for the end of days. But if the end of days is really coming, why would anyone need wealth? Surely such wealth would not mean anything to anyone anymore, since the world would likely be destroyed and we would cease to exist as humans, and end up where we have chosen to be for all eternity. Such persons claiming such things are merely trying to cheat others of their wealth, and once they have gotten the loot, they would make a run for it.

In today's reading, St Paul reminds us: "To turn, brothers, to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we shall all be gathered round him: please do not get excited too soon or alarmed by any prediction or rumour or any letter claiming to come from us, implying that the Day of the Lord has already arrived. Never let anyone deceive you in this way." Instead of worrying too much about the end of the world, perhaps we should make more effort in remaining in good relationship with God. When we are in good relationship with God, then there is no reason to fret or fear, since God will be our help and guide.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Friday of Week 20 Year 2

What do you do when you are really down in the doldrums, when you feel as if there is no hope, when things look bleak and there does not seem to be any way out, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel? Would you give up and think that all is lost? Would you despair and go into severe depression, or even end it all? Or would you still trust in God, knowing that no matter how bad things may seem, He will help us out in His time?

In today's reading, we see how God is about to rescue the Israelites and give them life again: "Then he said, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They keep saying, "Our bones are dried up, our hope has gone; we are as good as dead." So prophesy. Say to them, "The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks."" This reading shows us that God is not going to abandon us, no matter how bad or hopeless the situation may seem. Are we patient and humble enough to wait for God to save us? Would we be discerning enough to recognise when He comes to deliver us?

Thursday of Week 20 Year 2

I believe most of us would not want to appear unkempt or smell bad, especially when we are outside. Even in our homes, we would want to keep clean. We spend a lot of time and effort in our personal hygiene, so that our bodies would remain fresh, clean and healthy. But all these efforts are only concerning our bodies. How clean have we been keeping our soul? Have we been keeping our soul clean by going for confession regularly, to remove the sins we have committed?

In today's reading, God cleansed His people from their iniquity and sins: "I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God." By doing so, God took the initiative to help His people remove their uncleanness and shepherd them so that they would grow and prosper as His people. In the same way, God is also wanting to remove the uncleanness from our soul, and we are invited and urged to do so by going for confession and doing penance. Are we going to allow God to cleanse us, or would we prefer to remain dirty?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Wednesday of Week 20 Year 2

Some people seem to think that only priests and religious are shepherds, and all others are sheep. Actually that is not the case, since each and every one of us are shepherds in different situations, and we have a responsibility towards the people under our care. For example, a person who teaches catechism is like a shepherd to those being catechised. If the person does not fulfil his or her duties in a responsible manner, those being catechised could be led astray. That is why each and every one of us who hold important functions or positions in church need to constantly remind ourselves that our duty and responsibility is to care and shepherd the flock with genuine love. We cannot slack or take things for granted or become complacent, since we would be accountable should something happen to the flock due to our neglect.

In today's reading, the prophet Ezekiel warned the shepherds of Israel of their impending judgement: "Shepherds, the Lord says this: Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shepherds ought to feed their flock, yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock." The shepherds of Israel in this case had not done their duty faithfully. Instead of caring for the flock, these shepherds were preying on the flock and caring only about themselves. As a result, the Lord took the flock away from these shepherds to prevent them from causing any further damage.

What about us? Have some of us become like these shepherds of Israel, only concerned about ourselves and not the least bit bothered about the flock entrusted to us? If we have been neglecting or slacking in our duties, let us change our ways and do our duty, before it is too late.

Tuesday of Week 20 Year 2

Can a person be successful, wealthy, well-known, famous or admired by others, and stay humble at the same time? Yes, it is possible, but it is certainly not so easy to do so, since such success, wealth, fame and other achievements could cause people to so easily become proud and arrogant. We have seen time and again people behaving one way before they attained success, wealth, fame and other achievements, and behaving in quite a different way after that. However, things become serious when a person becomes so proud, conceited and arrogant, even to the point of thinking that one is a god.

In today's reading, we come across the ruler of Tyre who became so bloated with pride, just because he had attained wealth and power. The prophet Ezekiel was sent to remind him and caution him not to be so proud, and that he was only a man, not a god. The reading does not tell us at this point what happened to the ruler of Tyre, but from different parts of scripture, we have come to know that people who are so proud and arrogant would later come to realise their folly, sometimes when it is a little too late. May we learn not to be so proud, arrogant and conceited, since all we have and all our achievements are from God, and what He has given us, He can take away. May we learn to remain humble and depend on Him, letting Him guide us so that in all we do, we would give Him the glory.